Rev. Glezen Fillmore, Founding Pastor of WUMC
Glezen Fillmore was born in Bennington, VT December 22, 1789. In 1807 he received his "exhorter's license," and in 1809 he moved to Western New York, was married, and ordained a Methodist minister. At that time no religious societies existed in the Western New York area, and Rev. Fillmore has the pioneering honor of being the first minister to be licensed in New York State west of the Gennessee River.
His early years in Western New York were filled with the drama and the day to day difficulties of frontier life, and also with the tribulations of war. On a cold winter day in December 1813, a raiding party of British grenadiers and allied Indian warriors burned the settlements of Buffalo and Black Rock almost to the ground. Rev. FIllmore had organized a general evacuation of his part of the county the night before. Upon their return, his house became a hospital and storehouse for the US Army. This exerpt from an article about Rev. Fillmore in the magazine Ladies' Dispensary published about the time of the Civil War gives a vivid picture of the rough conditions he faced in the early years. His house
... was at some distance from that of any other human being, and yet they were by no means alone. Bears and wolves were companions, with which, whether agreeable or not, they were quite familiar. On one occasion as a preacher was staying overnight, he was serenaded by a music the likes of which he had not heard before. On being informed it was a "wolf concert," and seeing only a blanket at the door for security... he regarded it as a proof of a special providence that all were found safe the next morning.
His first congregation in the area was in the newly rebuilt city of Buffalo, in a schoolhouse leant to him on Sundays by the Presbyterian congregation. He was so successful in attracting congregants that the concerned Presbyterian minister asked him politely to leave the area, and upon his refusal, other requirements were found for the schoolhouse Sunday mornings, and the loan of the building called in. He subsequently established the religious society that came to build the WIlliamsville United Methodist Church, and several thriving congregations in the Rochester, NY area as well.