St. John's Episcopal Church

Church History

Our Roots

St. John’s traces its history back to the first Anglican services held Western New York. Nearby Fort Niagara fell to the British in 1759 during the French and Indian War, and Anglican services replaced Catholic services in the chapel of the French Castle. These services are thought to be the first Anglican and the first Protestant services held in all of Western New York.

The Founding of St. John's Episcopal Church

As the settlement grew around the Fort in the 18th and 19th centuries (now the Village of Youngstown and the Town of Porter) several faith communities were formally organized, including St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1868.  The original congregation met in private homes and for a time shared worship space with a Methodist congregation in the Brick Church on Main Street, now a residence.

Ordnance Sgt. Lewis Leffman

The present church building was built in 1878 on land donated by Ordnance Sergeant Lewis Leffman. Sgt. Leffman was one of Niagara County’s most well know personalities, and when he died, his obituary appeared on the front page of the New York Times. The Visitor’s Center at Old Fort Niagara has a display featuring Sgt. Leffman, who served the Fort for over 40 years. Many of the original members of the church were attached to the Fort’s garrison, and assisted with the construction of the church.

Parish Records and Genealogy Services

St. John's has baptism, confirmation, marriage, and death records dating back to 1868.  Genealogical services are available for a nominal fee. Call the parish office at 716-745-3369 for more information.