William Colbert was born near Baltimore, Md., on April 20, 1765. He began his career as a Methodist minister with an appointment to the Tioga circuit as an itinerant missionary in 1792. George Peck (
Early Methodism Within the Bounds of the Old Genesee Conference From 1788-1828) wrote that Colbert was remembered by those who heard him preach for his intolerance of noisy children, crowded barns and other unfavorable meeting conditions. He was, however, a dedicated, thoughtful Methodist, holding appointments in Western New York (1792-93, 1797) and taking charge of the entire Albany District as presiding elder for two years (1802-1804). The District embraced territory south from Albany to about Newburgh, and west to the furthest settlements in New York State.