By 1809, land grants to discharged Revolutionary War soldiers, water power, the famed eel fisheries, and lumbering had made settlement along the east bank of the Oswego River desirable. The Reverend Isaac Teller, a Methodist circuit rider from the Cortland circuit, discovered Fredericksburgh (as Fulton was then called) and, finding his words well-received, made several return trips.
In 1818, two circuit riders began a powerful revival in this growing area. By 1820, the revival had spent itself, perhaps because of a total of 400 souls had been converted and they had run out of people!
It was in April of 1826 when “Agreeable to previous notice, nine men met to form the First Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Volney.” The land for the first church building, believed to be the first in Oswego County for the Methodist denomination, was given by Norman Hubbard with the stipulation that it always be used for church purposes. Land was broken in 1928.
It was in 1826 also, that the cornerstone for the first lock for the Oswego Canal was and the importance of Fulton's now becoming part of the Erie Canal System meant that Fulton had a steadily growing population needed to meet the demands of this increasing commerce.
As early as 1838, our church hosted the Methodist Black River Conference. In addition, graduations from Falley Seminary, a Presbyterian Seminary until 1849 when it was run by the Methodist Conference, were held in the church.
In 1893 a group broke from the First Methodist Episcopal Church to establish another congregation in the southern part of the village. The State Street Methodist Episcopal Church was built on the northwest corner of South Fourth and State Streets, where it flourishes and serves today.
In 1893, Dr. Daniel Lake, a devoted and faithful servant of his church, offered to exchange his home, which occupied the northwest corner of North Third and Oneida Streets for a "commodious parsonage."Dr. Lake's generosity meant that First Church now owned the corner property plus the adjacent original property given by Norman Hubbard.
The May 15, 1894 cornerstone-laying ceremonies also saw the origin of a collection to build a parsonage on the site of the original church which was to be torn down. The new church would have frontage on Third Street of 80 feet and 104 feet on Oneida Street. But a parsonage was only one project of First Methodist Episcopal Church during the first decade of the 1900's.
In 1903, the church received its first scholarship to Syracuse University. Said scholarship was to be awarded each year at a regular meeting of our Board of Trustees "to that member of the Sunday School in good standing who shall seem most deserving of the honor."
The following year (in 1904) a pipe organ was installed in the First Methodist Episcopal Church. "The cost of the superb instrument and its installation will probably not exceed $6,000."
It was made possible by the generous offer of Mr. Andrew Carnegie, who gave $1,500 on condition the balance of the purchase price should be raised and paid in cash." (The Fulton Times)
One hundred years after Isaac Teller first happened upon the two small settlements at the Oswego River Falls, the First Methodist Episcopal Church had a membership of 289, a Sunday School of 280, and Epworth League of 75 and a church property worth fully $30,000.
The next great anniversary observation at First Methodist Episcopal Church, Fulton was the Centennial of the First Methodist Episcopal Society of Fulton, 1926.
The designated dates of the celebration were April 15-18.This three-day song service to a historical review of the past hundred years. Another feature of the day was the launching of the drive for the Memorial Fund for which a nucleus of $6,500 had already been secured.
Another part of the Centennial observation was the ground-breaking for the Parish House (later to be called the Century Church House). The Rev. A. E. Legg had proposed the idea of a parish house that the church might better serve the community.
In November of 1940, a great celebration was held when Reverend Charles Bollinger announced that the balance of the church mortgage had been paid by two dedicated members. The church was now debt-free! In this same year, the three branches of the national Methodist Church unified and our corporate title was changed to “First Methodist Church of Fulton, New York.”
In 1942 the congregation bade farewell to Rev. Bollinger and welcomed the Reverend Webster Melcher. This was six months after Pearl Harbor and First Methodist members helped with Red Cross work and assistance to local servicemen and continuing the Scouting program. Dr. Legg's vision of a parish/community house had been fulfilled when by 1951 the following groups met there: The Red Cross Blood Bank came ten times a year, the Rotarians and Kiwanians, and the Masons were among service groups holding banquets there, the Garden Club's Annual Flower Show and speakers for large groups.