South Perinton Methodist Church and Lewis H. Smith Family Research Notes
Following are notes and impressions from my genealogy trip to Western New York
June 16 through June 20, 2017
The South Perinton Methodist Church was beautiful and serene. I went there nearly every day of my research trip. The attraction to the cemetery was strong, too strong to resist. The first day I went was Friday the 16th. I had no idea where to find my ancestors grave sites. I started looking behind the Church. There I found a group of inlaws to Sarah Smith Wilson, among who were a son of Mitchell N. Wilson and Sarah; Mitchel’s parents and brothers, including Reverend Robert O. Wilson. On the same row were several Mott Family members.
Description of Smith Family Headstones
I kept looking and in the west third section of the cemetery I found my direct line ancestors and some anunts, uncles, and cousins. The joy and sweetness are hard to describe. I saw Samuel Mott Smith and his wife, Elizabeth Lapham Beal—the same Elizabeth whose parents are buried in the Quaker Cemetery in Farminton. Just north was a set of headstones for Sarah S. Smith Wilson, Samuel’s sister, and her husband, Mitchel N. Wilson. Buried there also were there son, Oliver Wilson and right next to them, their daughter, Sarah. East a couple of rows is an obelisk which is Lewis H Smith’s headstone and his son’s Lewis H. Smith. Right next to them was the headstone for his wife, Phebe Ann Mott Smith. One more row east is a memorial for Lewis and Phebe’s oldest daughter, Eliza Smith Haight and her husband James and son Nicholas. I believe that her husband and son died in Dutchess County, which is where I found them initially from a cemetery transcription. Either they were moved to this cemetery or when Eiza died in Wayne County, someone built a memorial for the little family. Just west of them are my 4th great grandmother, Phebe Haight Mott, wife of Samuel Mott and his sister, Martha Mott. They are also Edwin Mott’s sisters.
Floris Lint and Her Ancestor Mary Smith Wilkinson
Like I said, the Spirit was so strong and sweet. I didn’t want to leave. I tried making some headstone rubbings of Lewis’s obelisk. It didn’t work. The years of weather have left the stone pitted and the inscriptions difficult to read. That day I tried crayon. Later I tried sidewalk chalk. I even tried play dough to see if I could get an inscription of various headstones. Nothing was successful. So, I resort to taking pictures and hoping I could manipulate the pictures in Photoshop to read images.
I lingered long in the cemetery and didn’t want to leave. After a while, I went to leave but came across a little old lady who was tending graves under a tree closer to the Church. I stopped to talk to her. Her name is Floris Lent. She is 95 years old. She has never married and is a family historian. She is descended from the Wilkinson’s in the cemetery and Abraham Lapham’s son, William Sarvey Lapham. He is the brother to my 4th great grandmother, Deborah Lapham. We’re cousins. She started telling me about different people in the cemetery and the founding of the Church.
She showed me a headstone for Mary Smith who married Joseph Wilkinson, of the same family that street the Church is on was named for. (One or two rows west of Mary and Joseph is a headstone for Lewis Smith, who served in the civil war. Don’t know if there is a connection, but I needed to record this information while I’m thinking about it.) She said Mary was born in the Poughkeepsie area in Dutchess County. That is the same place Samuel Mott and Phebe Haight are from. I was dumbstruck. Smith? From Dutchess? Could she be a sister to Lewis? I started video recording her stories to see if there is anything I can glean from them for my research.
She invited me to come to her house, which is right across the street, and she’d show me her genealogy. I took her up on that on Tuesday, June 20. She showed me a lot of her records, and I took some of her Wilkinson research with me to put into FamilySearch. She knew I was interested in the Smith family and the origin of the Church. She told me that her ancestor, Joseph Wilkinson, husband of Mary Smith, paid $1,000 to pay off the mortgage for the Church. She said that the Wilkinsons were involved in the beginning of that Church. Well, it is beginning to appear to me that my family members were deeply involved with this Church, more than I thought. Eventually she found some notes from a Fairport historian. If these records are accurate, Mary and Lewis are not siblings. Still, are they related somehow? I snapped a picture for future reference. Something deep inside tells me there is a reason why I lingered on Saturday; a reason why I met Floris. Perhaps is it just so that I can make sure her records make it to family search. Yet, I feel like there is more. A connection that I can’t explain. It just feels like it’s there.
Smith Connections with Methodist Church
On Sunday, June 18, 2017, I decided to attend Sacrament Meeting at 9:00 in Palmyra and the Methodist service at this Church at 11:00. I’m so glad I did!! There is a beautiful stained glass window right behind the minister’s pulpit. The dedication plaque reads: “Sacred to the memory of Rev. Oliver Wilson and his wife Helen; Mitchell Wilson and his wife Sarah; Lewis M. Wilson.” My family is intimately involved with this Church! This was made even more clear to me when I combine a snippet of information by I garnered visiting with Church and a record I found while visiting the Wayne County Historian’s office on Monday, June 19.
The first important point is one I learned on Sunday. This Methodist Church and the Methodist Church in Macedon are interconnected. In fact, one of the ladies I was talking to who attends that congregation said she is secretary for the Church in Macedon. They also told me that the minister sometimes preaches at both churches. The second fact, discovered at the Historian’s office was astonishing. The Historian’s office had a transcription of vital records from the Methodist Church in Macedon. I located a transcription of my great great grandparents wedding!! Samuel Mott Smith and Elizabeth Lapham Beal were married in 1868. Not in a Quaker Church as I have assumed for years. But in the Macedon Methodist Church. It gets even better. They were married by Reverend Robert O. Wilson—Mitchell N. Wilson’s brother! I’m dazed. As I mentioned earlier, this changes a lot!
In fact, there is something that I need to find about the South Perinton Church that is intricately connected to my Smith family. I don’t know how or what, but I know it; it’s there.
While I’m talking about the Smiths and the research at Lyons, I will insert this here even though it doesn’t pertain to this cemetery. I found some Macedon Vital records that were transcribe from three or four years, about 1846 to 1849. I don’t know where these records came from so I don’t have a primary source. I copied several records, but one death caught my attention. In the book about Mott genealogy, it lists the children of Phebe Haight and Samuel Mott. It says that Millie (Parmelia) had a twin, Lewis H. Smith. That is verified by the headstone in the South Perinton Cemetery. The book also lists another son, Leonard Smith, born in August 1840. I have never found anything relating to Leonard until now. Death record for Leonard H. Smith, died July 17, 1847, native to Macedon, age 6, with dropsy on the brain as cause of death. It all fits. I think I have finally found Leonard. (see notes on Dropsy of the Brain for more information.)