Amos Callender—the Man, the Myth, the Legend

Amos Callender 1st Clerk.jpg

Deacon Amos Callender was the first clerk of Session, First Church’s governing board, and the man who saved our minutes book by taking it on horseback to Batavia in a pillowcase when the British burned Buffalo in the War of 1812. What else do we know about him?

Deacon Amos Callender arrived in Buffalo from his native Milton, Vermont, in 1807 or 1808. He possessed a superior education for the time, though he was not a college graduate. He worked as a bookkeeper, teacher, deputy postmaster, and surrogate of the county. The causes of education and religion were important to him, and some say he was responsible for sustaining schools and worship in early Buffalo.

The first gathering for worship after the War of 1812 was held in his home. He was described as “a man of great firmness and equanimity of temper, of the most inflexible integrity, ever ready to perform any duty, always wise, discreet, and charitable towards the feelings and infirmities of others. Buffalo had no more useful citizen than Deacon Amos Callender.”

Deacon Callender served as ruling elder at First Church until his removal to Black Rock in 1840. Ultimately, he removed himself to Central Presbyterian Church* and remained a ruling elder there until his death in 1859. He was married three times and had six daughters. Two were well-known Buffalo residents, Mrs. Wm. Ketchum and Mrs. Willcox.

“It may be truly said that Deacon Callender led an active, useful life. Few men have had the opportunity of doing so much good by active labor, by precept and by example. His memory will be cherished with esteem and gratitude by all who knew him and could appreciate a truly good and upright man.”

Source: An Authentic and Comprehensive History of Buffalo by William Ketchum (1864)

*First and Central Presbyterian Churches consolidated in 2008