Chapter 26


IN THE winter of 1846-7 there was a revival and a deep yearning for unity among the Perfectionists of Central New York. Cook's invitation and Noyes's visit to Syracuse commenced the movement. Meetings were held in different places. John B. Foot was the leader of a small congregation at Lairdsville, where he lived. Thither Burt, Gould and others repaired each Sunday. At one of the meetings Foot was appointed a delegate to Putney for the purpose of bringing about a union of the eastern and western divisions of Perfectionists. At the same time the Putney Perfectionists sent Cragin to Central New York on a similar errand.


Pulaski, New York, June 9, 1847.

Dear Brother Miller:
I had an Opportunity of becoming considerably acquainted with Brother Cook. He is great in business. He can "beat them all concave," as he says, in selling goods. Woodward returned the other day from New York, and began to complain of the clerks, that they had not sold as many goods as they might, intimating that he could have sold more than all of them. Cook, who is always ready to face anybody, stepped up to Woodward and said, "J can sell three dollars to your one all day long, week in and week out." Woodward accepted the challenge, and Monday they had the tri~. Woodward sold about twenty-five dollars' worth and Cook between eighty and ninety dollars'. . . . But Cook says he is not contented there; it is too confining; he wants to be his own mas-


ter. I have been studying his character considerably during this visit, and I discover that he will need some working over before he will become fruitful in spiritual things. The other evening I had quite a talk with him on the subject of defects in our characters that must be overcome. He invited me to point out, if I could, any weaknesses in his character. He did not claim that he was free from them, but thought it was doubtful whether any one could see them but himself. I remarked that, unless I was greatly mistaken, I could point out a leak in his character; that he had a numher of acquaintances among worldly persons who had an influence over his spirit, and in their presence his spiritual man was not allowed to have a place in the circle. It set him to thinking, but I was rather doubtful ahout its having any effect. On the whole I am satisfied that Cook possesses valuable material, and when he has been broken, hewn and polished he will be a strong man.

Yours in love,


Syracuse, New York, June 18, 1847.

Dear Sisters: . . .
I am bold in declaring to the believers here and wherever I have been, that Putney is the West Point Academy to educate officers and teachers. 1 see no better way to accomplish the subjugation of this State to God than to pick out those who possess the qualities that will fit them for such officers and send them to Putney to receive the necessary discipline. . .

I am beginning to have some light skirmishes with Cook respecting the movements at Putney. A few days since, after hearing me read one of your letters about overcoming bashfulness, he said I could say to you that he was a little afraid you


might go to the other extreme and have too much liberty. I replied, when his confidence in Brother Noyes was as strong as mine he could have no fears on that ground. I would not allow him to compare our position with anything that he ever saw in this State. Neither he, I said, nor any one else in this State has ever been qualified to take the lead of Perfectionists. I plainly see that he is fastened to us in heart and cannot get away, though he thinks he has too much independence to cog in with our body. . . . He has been at the house several hours since dinner, and says he wants to be with me all the time. I just told him that he had so much fire and power in his character that it would be necessary for God to put him through a severe course of discipline before he would be a safe man in the field. I have become so well acquainted with him that I am free to say whatever I wish without giving offense. .

Robinson is inclined to reject the testimony be gave acknowledging John leader the Sabbath that John was here. This I learn from Cook. Well, 1 am not surprised, for I know that every one in this State must pass through the same trials that we have been through at Putney in order to be perfectly joined to John.

Yours in love,


Syracuse, New York, June 30, 1847.

Dear Harriet:. . .
I left this place a week ago today, and after two hours' ride on the railway I found myself at Dr. Gould's. They seemed very glad to see me. The next day we started with a private team for East Hamilton, and arrived at Brother Ackley's in the evening. I took with me fifteen copies of The Berean to supply the subscribers in that vicinity. Daniel Nash and wife


called to see us in the evening. They are in full fellowship with us. They kept me talking half the night. The next day we went to Hatch's. He was perfectly wild with delight to see me. . .

On Sunday we had a meeting of the believers at Nash's. It was, I think, quite a profitable one. I talked considerably, and read to them the article, "Our Relations to the Primitive Church." I can say without hesitation, the body of believers in East Hamilton and vicinity are one with us. Hatch, Ackley and Nash are ready for marching orders under the command of J. H. Noyes.

It was our intention, when we left Oneida Depot, to visit Foot and others in Clinton and Lairdsville, but we could not get away from the brethren at East Hamilton till Monday morning, and Dr. Gould was obliged to be at home that day.

Ackley is a first-rate soldier. His wife is following hard after him. Nash is good, very teachable, has been faithful to the East ever since he came out seven years ago. He is altogether more teachable than his brother Seymour. Hatch will make a first-rate trumpeter in the war. He certainly possesses a wonderful talent for gaining the attention of people. When 1 was there two years ago I did not see his wife, and was fearful from what I heard that she would be a difficult case to manage. On becoming acquainted with her I was happily disappointed. I gained her confidence, and she opened her heart freely. The three families I have mentioned only need the benefit of the school at Putney a few years to make them useful in the army of God.

Hatch and others, while we were together last Sabbath, proposed to have a convention about the 10th of July again. I did not oppose it directly, but cautioned them against precipitancy; told them that God was now canvassing the whole State. "Yes," cried Hatch, "we are having a convention all the time. Cragin is the representative of the East, and he is holding


a convention in every part of the State." That ended the matter.

The East Hamilton brethren are very anxious that I should visit Foot and other believers in that region. When we have taken that fort, the whole State is ours.

On my return to Gould's Monday night I found your letter, which was very exhilarating to my wearied spirit. It was tedious to he in company with Gould. He needs a resurrection as much as any one. I feel that I have got to make war upon him. .

Yesterday morning I took a letter from the office from Mary Mabie. Feeling quite anxious to see Abbott, I took the cars in the afternoon and arrived here at six. Abbott left the night before. I felt a great responsibility in relation to his case as soon as I read Mary's letter. Last night I rolled the burden upon Christ, and this morning I felt relieved and my mind clear. 1 sat down and wrote him a long letter. I have put him on trial till next winter. . . . If then he gave evidence that he was clothed in his right mind, we would take the question of his moving to Putney into consideration. No one gets to Putney by my agency without paying the full price, namely, confiscating the personal pronoull and branding soul and body "national property."

The miracle on Harriet Hall will produce a tremendous shock. Cook read that part of the letter to two of the clerks in the store. He said it made them turn pale. When I read it to Gould, it knocked concave for the time being his eternally doubting, damning spirit, that is always pushing its horns against faith. Methinks I hear the knell of unbelief already sending its dolorous sound through this whole region.

Cook says he is going to write John to stop his magnetic operations upon him, or he will have to quit the store. Every time that I fetch round here he becomes sick with his business


and unfit for anything. He says, when he gets through his year with Woodward he will want three months for repentance.

Yours, C. C.


Syracuse, New York, July 2, 1847.

Dear Brother Noyes:
My soul is full and running over this morning with love and glory. . . I have had a longing desire to see you all at Putney, and if I were differently circumstanced should do so . . .

David Wilder called on me this morning. . . . I said that the time was past for quarrelling among those who were called of God, and that I considered myself one with the Putney folks; that this was the center from which T expected the light and glory of the gospel to go forth; that I felt you were just right, and were now presenting a bold front to the armies of hell. .

I think your visit at this place last winter will eternally tell.

I sometimes feel as though it is utterly impossible for me to sell goods any longer, but that I want to be off. I want to stand right out in the street and holler "Whoo-rah We have come. We are here. Clear the track." . . . So you see I am like a horse harnessed for the fight. All I want is the rider to say:

"Go!" But at present I am strongly checked in.

Brother George Cragin is gone to Owasco. He is first-rate and a little better. A few more of the same sort would not be out of place. His advice to Abbott was good.

And now my business, rather that of Arnold Woodward, is calling me, and I must draw to a close by saying, take care of yourself and yours. We hear good things of you.

Yours in love,



Lairdsville, New York, July 10, 1847.

Dear Brother:
I came to Brother Foot's house last evening expecting to hear through him from Putney I learned however that he had gone to Putney and had not returned. I at once saw that God was making a move for bombarding this castle. Mrs. Foot wished to know what I thought would be the result of his visit. Said I: "Reconciliation with Noyes." I made up my mind that I would not move from this place until Foot's return. This evening about teil o'clock Foot came in, and the moment I got hold of his hand I knew all was right with you. He said be had a first-rate visit, and the night before he left was reconciled to you. My spirit of war was turned into love, and as he began to relate the account of his visit I began to rejoice, and nothing but the fear of waking up the children prevented me from shouting worse than a Methodist. Now the State is ours. Glory to God, "who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ." We can now prepare for organizing disciplinary schools in our own way.

After dancing around the room awhile I told Foot my mission here for the present was accomplished. I made up my mind several weeks ago that I would not look toward Putney until this fort was taken. Foot says it was well he put off for Putney to make his peace with you before I came here. . .

I attended the meeting yesterday. School-house well filled. After most of the people had assembled, in came Alexander Wilder, Clerk of the church. Brother Foot asked me whether he had better read the allusion to Wilder in the interesting document he brought from Putney relating to the recovery of Mrs. Cragin and Harriet Hall. I told him I thought he had. He said he thought so too Brother Foot then opened the meet-


ing by making a few remarks upon a passage of Scripture, after which he gave quite a full account of his visit to Putney, including his leaving and going back and finally his reconciliation with you. Then he stated that he had the testimony of three witnesses to the recovery of Mrs. Hall; and that the testimony of Mrs. Hall cast some reflections upon one of their number present. I sat fronting Wilder, and his countenance as Foot began to read betrayed the working of a hellish spirit within. I then addressed the meeting, and had great liberty in speaking. Brother Burt spoke to the point, also Charles Lovett. Afterward Wilder took the floor, assuming one of his most exquisite attitudes. He declared himself independent, the line was drawn, quoting Scripture from Job. He was under great excitement, and as a whole it was one of the most foolish, nonsensical speeches that a sane man ever uttered. He probably thought I would reply, as he had called the document that had been read a lie. But I left the speech to its own refutation, and no notice was taken of it by others. All present said it was an excellent meeting. I was introduced to all the believers in that section, and was greeted with much affection, receiving invitations to visit them all. Wilder after the meeting handed the church records to Foot, but did not speak to him.

The document on Harriet Hall which Foot brought with him from Putney was a bombshell that did great execution. They were all much delighted with the idea of your coming here this fall to attend conventions.


These interchanges opened the way for two important Perfectionist conventions in Central New York the following fall.

The first of these was called by John B. Foot, and notice was given in the The Spirit~iol Mo gozine. It assembled on the 3rd of September 1847 at the Baptist Meeting-house in Lairds-


ville, Oneida County, New York, and continued three days. Delegates were present from most of the Perfectionist colonies in the State of New York. Also the Perfectionists at Newark, New Jersey, were represented by William R. Inslee: and those at Putney, Vermont, by John H. Noyes and Harriet A. Noyes.

At the opening session John B. Foot stated that his objects in calling the Convention were acquaintance of believers with each other, acknowledgment of each other, and cooperation. He mentioned his invitation to Noyes and the Community at Putney and expressed a desire that the meeting might result in unity of east and west.

Jonathan Burt was chosen Moderator, and William H. Cook Secretary.

After some further remarks on the subject of union, Charles Jones of Deruyter made a long speech against "fussing and fixing things for God to do." He called Noyes's name in question, and this brought on a discussion of Noyes's character and position. The majority expressed themselves as satisfied with Noyes's claims.

In the afternoon it was proposed that Noyes should preach. He consented, and preached from this: "He that bath the Son bath life, and he that bath not the Son bath not life." While Noyes was speaking Alexander Wilder and Dr. Lee stalked in. Soon afterward Wilder and Jones went out together and engaged in private conversation. Jones then returned and launched a terrific tirade on the cure of Harriet Hall. He was not answered at the time, but many said that they abhorred his spirit.

In the evening at a gathering in Foot's house Noyes said that he thought Jones's story must have arisen from the fact that Mrs. Cragin was concerned in the cure. The next morning when the meeting opened Foot spoke of Jones's accusations. He said he did not usually take notice of such persons, but he


felt called to testify of the people at Putney, that he saw nothing while among them that savored of licentiousness. Next Dr. Gould, after intimating that exceptions might be taken to one of those concerned in this miracle, said that he was personally acquainted with her, and if ever there was true repentance it was iu her case. Mr. Inslee followed to the same effect. Noyes then said that, as allusion had been made to Mrs. Cragin, he would advise any one who wished to know her to read her articles in The Spiritual Magazine for the last year; that she had passed through this suffering not for herself alone but for others; and that in his Opinion she was now one of the most spiritual of the Putney women.

Just at this time, when there was unanimity of feeling throughout the meeting, in came together Dr. Lee, Alexander Wilder and Charles Jones. The latter commenced speaking as soon as there was an opening. Although he apologized for his speech the night before, yet he reiterated the charge of licentiousness. The Moderator attempted to silence him, but without avail. Finally Foot brought in a resolution stating that the primary object of the Convention was "to facilitate acquaintance and promote union between believers at Putney and those in the State of New York," and requesting each one who favored that object to enroll as a member. Jones refused to enroll and left. Dr. Lee went home at noon, and Alexander Wilder at the end of the day.

After the roll was taken the following resolutions, brought in by Otis Sanford, were unanimously passed:

1. Resolved, That we recognize written and printed testimony as a valuable auxiliary of the spirit of life.

2. Resolved, That we heartily approve of the general course of the press at Putney, and believe it to be an appointed and useful agency of God.

3. Resolved, That we will cooperate with the brethren at


Putney by circulating their publicatious, procuring subscriptions, and furnishing means and matter for the paper.

After the close of the meetings Otis Sanford in consequence of learning that Noyes was the author of the Battle-Axe Letter, which he had never seeu before, retracted his assent to these resolutions.

During the remainder of its session the Convention discussed particularly the necessity and exceeding value of unity, and the idea that holiness of heart, which had been the chief interest hitherto, must now go forth into the outward man and take possession of the body and of the world. In the afternoon of the last day David A. Warren discoursed at length on the elementary principles of salvation from sin, and Noyes followed with a sketch of the consequences to which salvation from sin must lead : the admission of the Primitive Church into this world, association, community of interests, victory over death, the reign of God.

The other Convention was called by John B. Foot and John Corwin through The Spiritual Magazine. It met at Genoa, Cayuga County, New York, on Friday the 17th of September 1847, and continued three days Delegates from all parts of the State were present, besides John H. Noyes and Harriet A. Noyes from Putney William H. Cook was appointed Moderator, and William C. Gould Secretary.

After a day of informal conversation and preliminary addresses, the statement was adopted as the preamble of the roll

"The object of this Convention is to bring together Perfectionists, particularly the eastern and western divisions, for the purpose of acquaintance, acknowledgment of each other, and cobperation."

After the roll was made, a Committee consisting of Noyes,


Edward Palmer 2nd, John B. Foot, John Corwin and William H. Cook reported two series of resolutions. The first was the series passed at the Lairdsville Convention expressing approbation of the Putney publications. These were discussed and unanimously passed. The second series of resolutions was as follows

1. Resolved, That we will devote ourselves exclusively to the establishment of the Kingdom of God; and as that kingdom includes and provides for all interests, religious, political, social and physical, we will not join or cooperate with any other organization.

2. Resolved, That, as the Kingdom of God is to have an external manifestation, and as that manifestation must be in some form of association, we will acquaint ourselves with the principles of heavenly association, and train ourselves to conformity with them as fast as possible.

3. Resolved, That one of the leading principles of heavenly association is the renunciation of exclusive claim to private property.

4. Resolved, That it is expedient immediately to take measures for forming a heavenly association in Central New York.

5. Resolved, That William H. Cook be authorized on our behalf to visit Perfectionists throughout the State for the purpose of stirring up their minds in relation to association and ascertaining the amount of men and means that are in readiness for the enterprise.

6. Resolved, That William H. Cook, Jonathan Burt, Edward Palmer 2nd, John B. Foot, Joshua Phelps, John Corwin, William C. Gould, Zenas Havens, Philo Gilbert, Joseph C. Ackley, Edward M. Palmer, William Jones be a Committee of Twelve on our behalf to prepare plans, and make arrangements for a future convention of those who are found ready for action.


A free and animated discussion followed, and at the end of the day the entire series of resolutions was passed without a dissenting voice.

Sunday was given up mainly to free testimony and devotional exercises. In the afternoon Noyes addressed believers, urging them to enlist in the army of heaven, substitute Christ for death, make no excuses to him on account of worldly engagements, but face the furnace prepared for them by the prince of this world as Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego faced the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar. This discourse was followed by a full surrender of many hearts to the present call of Christ. With great fervor the strongest men of the Convention came forward and pledged "their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor" for the enterprise of establishing the Kingdom of God in this world.

After the Lairdsville Convention Noyes said privately that he would contribute a thousand dollars toward an Association of the Putney type in Central New York. There was however at this time no thought of giving up the Putney Community. On the contrary the plan was that Putney should be primarily a publishing Community, and that the Central New York Association should engage in some profitable industry and support the press. Two possible sites for the New York Association were talked of before Noyes left Lairdsville, John B. Foot's farm at Lairdsville and Jonathan Burt's Indian sawmill near Oneida. Noyes thought that the latter would be chosen, though he had never been there. The fact that Mrs. Burt was an unbeliever stood in the way. But Mr. Burt had prevailed on his wife to attend one of the sessions at Lairdsville, and Noyes after meeting her expressed the conviction that she would be converted and that her conversion could be taken as a sign that God would prosper an Association on the Indian sawmill site.




In the fall of 1834 Chauncey F. Dutton, a young man who had been associated with Mr. Noyes at New Haven, came to Chittenango, where I then resided. He preached Christ in us a whole savior, and faith the only condition on our part. I was startled by this doctrine , it swept my own works all by the board At first I was disposed to challenge its truth I followed Dutton from the meeting to his stopping-place and engaged him in argument, but before leaving him I was convinced. The next day I made a public confession of Christ in me a present and everlasting savior from all sin. Following this confession a spirit of quiet joy and peace came upon me, which I had never before experienced.

The third day after my conversion Dutton gave me a copy of The Perfectionist which contained Mr. Noyes's theory of the second coming of Christ. I read it with great attention, and finished just before dinner, which I had taken with me as usual to the shop where I worked. While sitting upon a bench eating and at the same time musing upon what I had read, I said in my heart, "It is the truth, every word of it." Immediately something like an electric spark struck the top of my head and spread a quickening glow through every part of my body. My mind was illuminated to understand the Bible as I had never understood it before. I wanted to share my all with God's people. I had long been praying for the millennium; it now seemed to me that the dawn had commenced.

In the fall of 1845 Mr. F- S- invited me to a partnership in the purchase of what was called the Indian sawmill near Oneida. He was noted as one of the earliest New York Perfectionists and, though I had but little acquaintance with


him, I held him in high esteem as a man of faith and spiritual experience. . . . With these considerations I resolved to accept the proposal provided I could sell my property at Chittenango. Very soon a young physician came into town proposing to settle, and found my place just the one that suited him. It cost me about $1,800, and I sold it for $900. With this sum however I was able to pay for my share of the sawmill and purchase a forty-acre timber lot. I got possession of the mill in September, thoroughly repaired it, built me a house and moved into it in January 1846.

My winter's work in felling trees and getting the logs to the mill was a heavy tax on my energies, so that in the spring I found myself quite prostrated. During my sickness the spring freshet carried away our dam. All things seemed to be against me, and I became considerably discouraged. I gradually recovered my health however, and was able to resume business in the course of the summer.

But meanwhile I had awakened to the fact that I had not bettered my condition by the change I had made. . . . I felt as though God was frowning on my circumstances, and I resolved to get out of them in some way.

My own means were all invested in the mill and wood-lot, and I had incurred a considerable debt. . . . To buy out Mr. S- would increase my debt more than I could carry. On the other hand his only offer was to take my half interest and give me a mortgage as security.

About this time my brother Horace was discharged from the Worcester insane hospital, and came on a visit to me. On learning the state of things he proposed to have his property sold and the proceeds used to purchase Mr. S-'s share of the mill; and I entered into an arrangement with Mr. S- to buy or sell at a stipulated price for cash, agreeing upon a time long enough ahead, as I supposed, to give ample opportunity


to accomplish my object. However we were one day behind the time agreed upon, and I had to give him one hundred dollars extra to get the property.

During the interval between the two Conventions Noyes visited some of the leading New York Perfectionists and outlined to them confidentially his understanding of the sexual implications of salvation from sin. Consequently there were whisperings and questionings. Mrs. John B. Foot and Mrs. Otis Sanford wrote privately to William H. Cook that they had no doubt promiscuity was the order of the day at Putney. They urged him to sift the matter to the bottom, and proposed that he should call another convention in which such practices should be reprobated. This communication did not prevent Cook's accepting the chairmanship of the Genoa Convention and becoming the special executive agent of the Committee of Twelve charged with forming plans for a "heavenly association" in Central New York.

"After the lapse of several weeks," writes Jonathan Burt, "Mr. Cook issued a call for a meeting of the Committee of Twelve at Manlius. Only a part of the Committee attended. Mr. Cook laid before those present a plan for an Association in Syracuse. He was a salesman in a flourishing store there, and evidently had an ambition to manage a great mercantile business as a basis for support. The plan was not favorably regarded, and with that meetmg all action of the Committee as a body ended."

Individual members of the Committee however continued to work toward Association. William C. Gould soon after the Manlius meeting went to Putney to study Noyes's Community on the ground. He remained about a month, and was there at the break-up. Joseph C. Ackley commenced early in October a semi-communistic arrangement with two other families, those of William S. Hatch and Daniel P. Nash, of Beaver Meadow. John B. Foot offered his farm at Lairdsville as a site for the Association. "Come on, beloved, with all your effects," he wrote October 17th to the Beaver Meadow group, "and we will go the heavenly road together. Otis Sanford offers to rent me his half of the farm for five years at less than the former rent. This will give us room, and our trades and callings will give us business. Let us hear from you soon" This plan also fell through. But nothing could stop the forces loosed at the Genoa Convention. Two weeks later the first steps were taken toward a concentration of New York Perfectionists around Burt's Indian sawmill near Oneida.


Chapter 27: Case of Mary Knight | Contents