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     Editor's note: These are excerpts about John Gano from A History of Baptists in New Jersey. -- Jim Duvall
John Gano
By Thomas S. Griffiths, 1904

[p. 68]
     John Gano, born in Hopewell, July 22nd, 1727. The writer copied these items from the old minute book of First Hopewell. John Gano called to exercise his gifts November 19, 1752, and did so on January 20th, 1753; licensed April 14th, 1753; ordained May 29th, 1754.

[p. 258]
     John Gano and Mr. [Benjamin] Miller were dear friends. Mr. Gano was a chaplain in the army and after the surrender of Cornwallis, at Yorktown, Va., he heard of the death of Pastor Miller and said: "Never did I esteem a ministering brother so much as I did Mr. Miller, nor feel so sensibly a like bereavement." His labors at Scotch Plains were very successful. Forty were baptized the first year of its organization, sixty-eight in the next year.
[p. 259]
     ". . . Letters of dismission were asked for from Scotch Plains in June 12th, 1762 and they were constituted a Baptist church on June 19th, following Rev. Mr. Miller of Scotch Plains and Rev. John Gano of Morristown being present."
[p. 263]
     [James] Manning had been authoritatively licensed to preach the Gospel in February preceding his marriage. On April nineteenth, a month after being married, he was officially ordained to the Gospel ministry. Both ceremonies were observed at Scotch Plains. His ordination services were participated in by his brother-inlaw, Rev. John Gano, and Rev. Isaac Eaton, his first instructor, assisted by Rev. Isaac Stelle, pastor of Piscataway and by pastor [Benjamin] Miller of the "Plains Church" where Mrs. Manning's parents were influential members.
[p. 266]
     Rev. John Gano of Hopewell and graduate of its school was the first pastor of Morristown church, settling in 1754 and remaining three or four years, then
[p. 267]
removing to New York City and becoming pastor of the first Baptist church. Could Mr. Gano have remained at Morristown, its early history would have been different from what it is. Abel Morgan, Isaac Stelle, Benjamin Miller, Robert Kelsay and others lived and died in more retired places and God only can estimate their life work and so with Mr. Gano. All that region would have felt the influence of his presence.

     The writer copied these minutes from the old minute book of first Hopewell church: "John Gano called to exercise his gifts, November .19th, 1752. He did so, January 20th, 1753. Licensed April, 14th, 1753, and ordained (at Hopewell) May 29th 1754." The secret of the abnormal condition of our Baptist churches in the early days was their steadfastness. Their contentions for the "faith once delivered to the saints;" sermons and disputations on baptism and on the terms of coming to the Lord's table were frequent and had the largest publicity whether in Rhode Island in Penepack, or in Charleston, S. C. Rev. J. M. Carpenter preserved these incidents of Mr. Gano. He knew them as facts.

     Baptist churches, especially guarded against the admission of unconverted persons. The first happening at Morristown in Mr. Gano's charge was: An old colored woman asked membership in the church. Being very ignorant, her case was deferred and thus for six times. The last time, going down the aisle, she muttered,

"Well, Kate is a Christian. By and by, she will die and then she knows she will go to Heaven and Jesus will meet her at the gate and say: 'Kate, where do you come from?' 'From Morristown.' 'Have you been baptized?' No, I went to John Gano repeatedly and he refused me."
     Overhearing her, Mr. Gano called out: "Stop, Kate, comeback here! You are not going to Heaven with such a story as that, about me." He baptized her and she was an ornament to her profession. Another was: Going from Jersey City to New York, crossing the river in an open boat, deeply laden with passengers in a fierce storm, the peril of sinking was great. The oarsmen were most profane cursing because a priest was aboard. Mr. Gano was quiet. Landing safely, he turned to the boatman, said: "Thank God, there is a Hell for sinners." At midnight, he was awakened by the man begging him to pray for him. In six weeks, he baptized the man near the place where he had been cursed. These preachers were not mealy-mouthed. They used language that signified the coming doom of the unsaved. Our great denomination was not built up on platitudes of the Fatherhood of God and the choices of the natural will.

     The first candidate Mr. Gano baptized was Hezekiah Smith, the New England Baptist Apostle. Later Mr. Smith removed to Hopewell and Mr. Gano was a chaplain in the American Revolutionary army and heard General Washington

[p. 268]
say at Newburg, in 1783, that "Baptist chaplains were the most prominent and useful in the army." A legend in the Gano family is, that: Mr. Gano baptized General Washington at Valley Forge in the presence of forty-two witnesses, about 1780. Later he moved to Hopewell, united with the church there and entered the school.
[p. 465]
     Rev. Samuel Jones preached the historical sermon at the Centenary of the Philadelphia Association in 1805.

     He named eight pastors in the mission work of that body. Six of them were pastors in New Jersey, Messrs. Robert Kelsay, of Cohansie; Isaac Eaton, of Hopewell; John Walton, of Morristown; Isaac Stelle, of Piscataway; Benjamin Miller, of Scotch Plains; John Gano, of Morristown.

[p. 483]
     Morgan Edwards names graduates eminent in official position, in politics, in law, in medicine, in merchandise and in the ministry. He also names ministerial students, graduates of Hopewell, James Manning, first President and founder of Brown University; Samuel Jones, who had a school at Pennepack, John Gano, pastor of First Baptist Church, New York City; Hezekiah Smith, Baptist Apostle to New England.

[From Thomas S. Griffiths, A History of Baptists in New Jersey, 1904. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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