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The Free Will Baptists

During the 1830's the Free Will Baptists built a church about two miles south of Collins Center. The congregation could not afford a resident minister, thus becoming dependent on visiting ministers and members of their own congregation. It is written that the most popular of the preaching members was a Mrs. Smith, yet nothing more has been located to determine who Mrs. Smith may have been.

This church did not survive after the first generation of leaders. In 1868, the church building was dismantled, and the Free Will Baptists in the Town of Collins were forever vanished.


The Campbellites

This is another religious cult that was short lived in the Collins / Collins Center area. Although the congregation built a sizable meeting house just east of Collins Center, the church did not survive once its founders had parished.


The Society for
Human Welfare

While this group was actually centered in the North Collins area, many Collins / Collins Center residents followed the cult. This cult developed as the Spiritualist movement reached the area (approximately 1850's). While the group did not survive, the originating members were extremely active in Spiritualism (including affiliation with other state wide groups), the Temperance Movement, the Abolition of Slavery and the Women's Rights Movement.


The Dowie Movement

This group was organized near the turn of the century. Their main belief was that the world would cease to exist during the year 1900. While little is written about the group, I suppose it is safe to assume that once the world continued to exist, the members of the cult grew weary of their chosen belief.


The Catholic Church

While the first Catholic Church was built in the Village of Gowanda (Town of Collins side) in 1888, it was forty years prior that the first mass was said. Masses for Catholics were said by visiting missionaries or the resident Priest from Dayton, in the homes of private individuals. Within ten years of the time the church was constructed, the congregation had increased so greatly, that the area was finally allowed a resident priest. In 1959, a new church was built to meet the needs of the continuously growing congregation.

In March, 1955, however, a group of Collins / Collins Center Catholic residents held an organizational meeting at the Collins Center Grange Hall. In May of the same year, construction began on the new Catholic Church in Collins Center. From June 26, 1955 until December 1955, masses were said for the growing congregation, at the Grange Hall. On December 18, 1955 mass was read in the new church, located on Sisson Highway.


Other Religious Groups in the

Town of Collins

Village of Gowanda / Town of Collins Side

While the Village of Gowanda is an entity of its own, it is also separated into two townships, Persia and Collins, and two counties; Cattaraugus and Erie. We shall briefly look at those religious establishments which are, or have been, located in the Town of Collins portion of the Village of Gowanda.

The Presbyterians

The first Presbyterian Church was organized in 1827 with twelve charter members. It was organized as a unit of the Buffalo Presbytery. It was called "The Presbyterian Society of Lodi." The first Church structure was built in 1835, but was destroyed by fire seven years later.

The Evengelica Lutheran Church

Later named: Trinity Evangelica & Reformed Church

The church was formed by a group of German descendants reared in Lutheran methodology in 1887. A church building was constructed the following year. In 1961 the members merged with the Congregational-Christian Church, and designated the new group as The United Church of Christ in America.

The Assembly of God

This group organized during the mid 1900's. They first conducted services in the Grange building (the former Catholic Church) on Erie Avenue. Later, the group purchased a house on the Cattaragus side of the village in which to hold their meetings. More recently, the group has built a large assembly hall and school located at the end of Allen Street.

Religion on the

Cattaraugus Indian Reservation

Again, the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation is a separate entity, however much of it is located within the boundaries of the Town of Collins. Therefore, we shall take a brief look at the religious organizations located on the reservation. The churches, which are historically significant to the Reservation, have already been named throughout this portion of our historic recollection. I shall proceed by giving a brief explanation of the religious groups and their dates of establishment.

The Quakers --- 1806

The State Baptist Convention --- 1854

The United Mission Presbyterian Church --- 1856

Church built 1857
Stands today: Route 438

The Methodist --- (approximately 1880)

The Mormons --- 1952

The Assembly of God --- 1959

The Teachings Of:
Handsome Lake

The most important revival for the Native American came from the prophet: Handsome Lake. Handsome lake was a Seneca Indian. After suffering years of alcoholism, a miraculous recovery took place. His recovery helped him gain great stature amongst his people. He began calling for a return to traditional Indian values. These values included repudiating the individualism of white culture and restoration of communal Indian qualities.

Handsome Lake claimed to have met with Jesus, thus saving himself and receiving a message to save his people. He claimed that Jesus told him that following the white man's ways was losing his people. These words inspired many of the Iroquois to refute what they had learned from the white man, giving up such deprivations as gambling, and whiskey.

Although Handsome Lake's preaching insisted on the return of Native American values, they also insisted that the Native American listen to the teaching of white missionaries. He also encouraged his male followers to give up hunting and take up farming. Since the females had been the traditional farmers in Native American customs, this placed them into more domestic roles. The women who resisted the change were deemed witches!

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This page last updated: January 21, 1999