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Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Brett Family and Non-Conformity, Part 2

After coming to Niagara County, New York, USA, three of Thomas BRETT’s daughters remained there. One was most likely a Universalist and the other two were active members of the Methodist church in the town of Newfane. (Please see last week’s post for details.)

Second daughter, Rachel BRETT, was married to Joseph BARKER in the Swaffham, Norfolk parish church and had her sons baptized there, but then they moved to Cambria, Niagara County, NY.  They were the family “pioneers” coming to the U.S. about five years before Thomas Sr. and the other children. Rachel and her daughter, Martha, are buried next to her father, Thomas BRETT, in the North Ridge community cemetery. I have not been able to confirm that she was  a Universalist like her father.

Universalism: “Universalists are Christians who believe in universal salvation, meaning that all people will eventually be reconciled with God.” The faith did not become a widespread religious movement until English Universalists came to America in the late 1700s to escape religious persecution. Because of its inclusive doctrine, Universalism became popular in America, and the Universalist Church of America was formed in 1793.

Universalists were best known for supporting education and non-sectarian schools, but they also worked on social issues including the separation of church and state, prison reform, capital punishment, the abolition of slavery, and women's rights.

The Universalist faith declined after the Civil War. As the concept of damnation became less central to many American religious groups, the Universalist faith seemed less unique in its teachings, and its membership waned. In 1961, The Universalists merged with the Unitarians to form the Unitarian Universalist Association, whose website, www.uua.org, details the above history.

“The First Universalist of the Town of Cambria [Niagara County, NY] was organized in 1867, consisting of 34 members; at the present time it has 50.” (1878) A brick church was built in 1868 on donated land at a cost of $6000. Two wooden churches nearby housed a catholic and a German Lutheran congregation with a community cemetery dominating the landscape, directly behind the Universalist and the Lutheran Churches. There was a Methodist Church on the same road a short distance away. Source:_______. History of Niagara County, N.Y., New York: Sanford and Co. 1878

©2012, Susan Lewis Well

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