History of St. John's Reformed Church
By Norman Edwin Thomas, Minister
When the 200th anniversary celebration of St. John's Church was being planned, it was thought that the celebration would be incomplete if it did not follow the outstanding precedent of the 175th celebration by updating and re-publishing Dr. Thomas' comprehensive history and membership record. What everyone had accepted as an extraordinary piece of work by Dr. Thomas is now received with even greater appreciation. The committee has come to realize that matching his quality of work is an enormous, and often impossible task.
The members of the Bicentennial Historical Book Committee were Roger Scofield, chairman, James Bellinger, Mrs. Elmer Brown, Mrs. Harlin Devendorf, Mrs. Elizabeth Horne, Wayne Miles, Mrs. Roger Scofield, Mrs. Ross Westhuis, and Rev. Ross Westhuis. All of these people contributed hard work and countless hours
The committee is indebted to several people who wrote specific articles. Mrs. Walter Wagner and Mrs. Ruth Walrath wrote the article on the Church School: Mrs. Edward Goralski, the article on the ministry of music; Mrs. Wilfred Forster, the article on the Guild for Christian Service; and Mr. Nellis Smith, the article on the Men's Club. Mr. Roger Scofield took the current photographs for the Bicentennial Edition.
When the 175th Anniversary celebration of St. John's, Church was first planned for the Fall of 1945 it was thought desirable that at last a permanent record be made of the great adventure which is her history. Booklets had been printed at odd times such as the occasion of the 150th anniversary in 1920, in 1933 , and in 1937 but never has a comprehensive history and membership record been published. This book therefore is long overdue. Yet it cannot be said even now that a full history has been written of St. John's. So detailed is it and so interwoven with the great episodes, of the early Mohawk Valley days that it would take many more hundreds of pages to do it full justice. Rather this is a summary. There are innumerable facts left out for want of time and space. For these silences the writer begs, to be excused.
Though this book has been well over a year in preparation it was at last published in haste and though it has been checked and rechecked, errors, undoubtedly remain. Need for economy caused the alteration of the book's format and forced the exclusion, of the 56 pictures of service men and women which bad been gathered. Their service records, however, are included.
The writer is indebted to the late Miss Helen Horn for the brief history of St. John's which she prepared for the 150th Anniversary booklet; to the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society for the transcription of our church records and to Royden W. Vosburgh, who edited them; to Lou D. MacWethy for his many publications of early Valley history; to Nelson Greene of Fort Plain for his detailed volumes on the History of the Mohawk Valley; to the Rev. W. N. P. Dailey and his History of Montgomery Classis and for his several letter; and to the late Howard Shafer and his unpublished Centennial History which deal with the history of St. Johnsville from 1938 to 1938.
The writer is indebted for personal help to Stanley Iverson, editor of the Enterprise and News who has who has made numerous books and pamphlets available; to Mrs. Lester Rockefeller for her assistance in the Reaney Library; to Milo Nellis for his stimulating comments and suggestions, also for several photographs; to Adam Horn and the Reaney Library for permission to reproduce several valuable early photographs; to Edward J. Sheehan at the County Archives Office and his able assistant; to Mrs. Seward Walrath for her detailed write up of the history of the Missionary Society; to Mrs. Luella Mosher and her fund of information concerning the Ladies' Aid; to Mrs. Metta Bartle and many others who like her have shared their memories; and to my wife who has always been, ready to listen, to offer helpful criticism, and to encourage.
"Grace be unto you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ."
IN THE BEGINNING
In the year 1787 the Constitution was adopted as the law of the Land, and the United States was born. In that same year the written history of St. John's Reformed Church began with its incorporation in accord with the then new State Law. Five men, Colonel Jacob Klock, Peter Schuyler, Jacob Fehling, Christopher Fox, and Jacob G. Klock, were elected Trustees of the "Reformed Calvinist Congregation in the upper part of Palatine District in the County of Montgomery," by the people who worshiped in the old log structure which has always been known as Klock's Church.
But the real history of our Church reaches back into time far beyond the year 1787; far beyond the year 1725 when Klock's Church probably was built; beyond the year 1519 when the Reformation began; beyond the medieval centuries; back almost two thousand years to the earthly Life of Jesus Christ our Lord. St. John's Church began when Jesus began to preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God; it began with His healing, His teaching, and His loving of mankind. It began with His dying on a Cross and His rising again. It began on the day of Pentecost when a group of uncertain, disillusioned failures were suddenly captured by a world~conquering Faith. For St. John's Church began when the Christian Church began, the true Church of which Jesus said, "When two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them."
The only Church is where Christ is. St. John's has grown out of the many centuries during which men have gathered in His Name. We are a part of the great stream of Faith; we are nurtured by the great men of old, by the Apostles, by the Gospel writers, by Paul, Ignatius, Augustine. They are part of us. We are nourished by their spiritual riches.
We are a Reformed Church, the Church of the Reformation, because the examples of these great followers of Jesus Christ were increasingly ignored by the established Roman church. As the modern era dawned in the 16th century the voices, of those who called for Christ were stilled. The Roman institution no longer remembered our Lord as a living Saviour. The grace of God had been supplanted by the bookkeeping of men. Forgiveness of sin was paid for, not prayed for. The divine Love that brought Christ to the Crow was lost to the glitter of gold.
Accordingly, in 1517, a monk of the Roman Church named Martin Luther, nailed to a chapel door at Wittenburg, Germany, his objections to the innumerable vices of Romanism prevalent at that time. A few years later a brilliant young French student named John Calvin voiced the principles of the Reformation by calling for a great advance to the true Church of the New Testament. His book entitled, "The Institute of the Christian Religion" proclaimed the sovereignty of God and the centrality of Christ and won immediate acclaim. Its popularity among the seekers after truth, however, won the unfavorable notice of Roman authorities. Steps were taken to silence him but John Calvin was safe in Switzerland, where he had found refuge in the city of Geneva. There the seeds of the Reformation bore the fruit of Faith. The Church of Christ was reborn.
Calvin agreed with Martin Luther on many things. Together they laid the foundations of what is known as Protestantism, which means, not "To protest against" as is popularly supposed, but "To testify for," to testify for Christ. This is the meaning and genius of Protestantism. On this basic article of Faith all Protestant churches agree. As years passed the Protestant Church in central and eastern Germany and in the Scandinavian countries took on the characteristics of Lutheranism, with its emphasis on liturgy, while in Switzerland, France, southwestern Germany, and the Netherlands, the Reformed Church with its emphasis on preaching, was the stronger.
The men and women who first formed the congregation of Klock's Church came to America in large part from the Palatine region in southwestern Germany. Thus it is explained why the congregation at Klock's Church called itself, "Reformed Calvinist." We are a Church of the Reformation; we testify to Jesus Christ our Living Lord. We are therefore a part of the true Church, as old and as eternal as Christ is.
Of the five original trustees, only one, Peter Schuyler, bears, a truly Dutch name. Although a large majority of the early congregation was of Palatine origin, St. John's nevertheless became affiliated with the Dutch Reformed denomination and it is important to understand how this came about.
When the Reformation sun dawned over Europe in 1517, Holland was a part of the Holy Roman Empire. The Emperor Charles V and his successor Philip II of Spain took vigorous steps to quench the light of the Reformation Gospel. They burned at the stake a many Protestants as they could find. In 1567 Philip sent a large army into the Netherlands under the dreaded Duke of Alva, and it was the Emperor's boast that he beheaded or burned at the stake 18,000 Hollanders. Many thousands more were exterminated by the cruel Spanish Inquisition. The Hollanders banded together under the leadership of William the Silent to resist the persecutors. In 1579 the Dutch Republic was formed, and two years later issued its declaration of independence. By 1594 the Dutch had succeeded in driving the alien armies out and Freedom's first banner was unfurled. The Dutch Reformed Church survived its test of bloody persecution and with its victory nourished the weds of religious freedom and democracy.
The free Dutch speedily established channels of commerce with the Orient. In 1609, while searching for a northwest passage to the east, the Englishman, Henry Hudson, in the employ of the Dutch, made his famous discovery and small colony was soon founded at New Amsterdam. The colony was founded primarily for the Indian trade, but as it grew a need was felt for spiritual guidance and in 1628 the first ordained minister, the Reverend Jonas Michaelius, arrived. His little congregation met at first in the loft of a horse~mill, and later the first church was erected near Bowling Green. That little stone church is now the famous Marble Collegiate, the oldest Protestant church with a continuous history in America.
But many of the early Dutch traders journeyed up the Hudson River to settle at Fort Orange, now Albany. There a colony flourished under the patron-ship of Killian Van Rensselaer, a wealthy jeweler of Amsterdam. In 1642 the First Reformed Church of Albany was established by the Reverend Johannes Megapolensis who subsequently made vigorous efforts to convert the Mohawk Indians to Christ. He learned the Mohawk tongue and frequently journeyed into their valley, to become the first Protestant missionary to the American Indians. He, along with the Dutch traders, almost immediately established friendly relations with the Indian people. In fact, the Dutch usually got along well with their Indian neighbors.
The story of how Domine Megapolensis and his friends saved the life of Isaac Jogues, a French Jesuit Missionary, by helping him to escape from the Mohawks, is often told. Domine Megapolensis hid Jogues and then helped him to board a vessel bound for New Amsterdam, from whence he made his way to France, only to return to Canada to be recaptured and killed. The shrine at Auriesville is dedicated to his memory.
Of perhaps even greater significance in the history of our Valley is the story of the Reverend Peter Tesschenmacher, who also became a martyr for Christ. Peter Tesschenmacher was educated at the University of Utrecht in Holland. He came to America and preached at Kingston; he journeyed to South America as a missionary and then returned to become the first minister to be ordained by the Dutch Reformed Church in America. He preached to the Delaware Indians and then in 1682 came to the Mohawk Valley. The missionary work begun by Donrime Megapolensis had been continued by his successors, notably the Rev. Gideon Schaats. During these years a new colony called Schenectady had been established and a Reformed Church was organized. Demme Tesschenmacher was called to this pioneer field and there he labored faithfully for eight years.
But in 1690, on a Saturday night, in the dead of winter, a party of French troops sent from Canada by Count Frontenac, accompanied and guided by a group of traitorous Mohawk Indians who had been converted to Romanism by the Jesuits at Fonda and transplanted to Canada some years before, suddenly attacked the settlement and viciously laid it waste. The church and the homes were burned, the town destroyed, 60 lost their lives, and the few who survived fled during the bitter night through the desolate wilderness to Albany, twenty miles away. Among those murdered was Domine Tesschenmacher. His head was severed from his body, impaled on the end of a pole, and displayed in triumph on the long march home to Canada.
Despite the terrible setback the town of Schenectady was rebuilt and has grown to be a great city, a stronghold of the Reformed Faith and the home of Union College, founded originally by members of our Reformed denomination. The Dutch continued to prosper and slowly made their way westward into the valley. Although after 1664, when the English wrested control of the new world from the Dutch, the new governors tried to subordinate the Reformed Church to the Anglican Church, they met with little or no success. The Dutch people rallied and established the American way of complete severance of Church and State.
One of the successors to Dommes Megapolensis and Schaats as minister at Albany's First Reformed Church was the Rev. Petrius Van Driessen. He preached there for more than twenty years, from 1712 to 1738. He journeyed frequently through the land of the Mohawks and won many converts and much appreciation. In 1722 he petitioned the King's council at Albany for a license to build a mission church in the Mohawk Country. A few years later in 1725, Hermanus Wendell sold a tract of land, part of the Harrison Patent, to Hendrick Klock and Christian Hauss, "excepting an acre of low land in a square ." Upon that same square acre, about a mile east of St. Johnsville, a rude log church was built which we know as "Klock's Church." We do out know when the church was built. We suppose that it was built by the Reverend Van Driessen and his friends shortly after 1725, as a mission to the Indians who lived nearby at Indian Castle, and as a place of worship for the new settlers on the Harrison Patent. Whenever this little church was built and whoever built it, the history of St. John's Church as an individual congregation began with its building.
Thus we see how the Dutch Reformed preachers prepared the way for their German brothers. The foundations for spiritual ties were laid. Many years afterward in 1829, St. John's turned to the Dutch Reformed Church and made it its denominational home.
We now come to the epic story of how the Harrison Patent came to be settled. We shall see who the people were who worshiped at Klock's Church.
LET MY PEOPLE GO
Four of the first five trustees of Klock's Church, Colonel Jacob Klock, his nephew Jacob G. Klock, Christopher Fox, and Jacob Fehling came from families which took part in one of the greatest mass migrations in history, the coming of the Palatines from their homeland in southwestern Germany to the new world.
The Palatinate was an ancient principality on the Rhine River about two thirds the size of Connecticut. Among its great cities were Manheim, Worms, Spires, and Heidelberg its capital, site of the famous University founded there in 1337. The province abounded in good farm land; the people prospered and were noted for both their hospitality and their culture. Their open~mindedness to ready acceptance of the principles of the Reformation and made the land a happy haven to thousands of refugees, fleeing from the blood purge of the Dutch Protestants at the hands of the Duke of Alva and his troops. Protestants fled from all parts of the Netherlands, from the Dutch provinces in the north and the Belgic Provinces in the south. It is likely that sometime during these years, among the many families which fled to the Palatinate for safety, at least one, of Dutch origin, was called Klock. The refugees found temporary peace in the new land; their children were educated in the fine schools there; they inter~ married with the Germans and in time became Germanized in language and customs. A member of the Klock family named Hendrick, born at Hesse Cassel in the year 1668, is of especial importance to us. For he in mid~life participated in the great migration to America, and after many adventures built a home one mile east of present day St. Johnsville.
A terrible series of wars broke out in Germany, from 1618 to 1648, during which seventy-five per cent of the German people were exterminated and the entire country ravaged. With the signing of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, Charles Louis succeeded his father as ruler of the Province and the period of wars turned to thirty years of peace.
In tragic time, however, the peace was shattered once again, this time by the savage enmity of Louis XIV, King of France, whose armies seared the beauty of the land, destroyed its produce and slaughtered its people. The first army came in 1674, a second in 1680; in 1688 a great horde of 50,000 troops reduced the land to a near wilderness. Protestants and Roman Catholics alike were, murdered. Another army marched its burning way in 1703, still another in 1707.
The cruelty of the repeated invasions was unhappily abetted by an unusually severe winter in the year 1708. It was said that by November, wood would not burn in the open air. In January of 1709 wine froze into solid blocks of ice, birds on the wing fell dead; western Europe was paralyzed. Even the swift flowing Rhone River was covered with ice and for the first time in recorded history the sea froze sufficiently along the coasts to bear even heavily laden carts. The fruit trees were killed, the vines destroyed. Husbandmen and vine dressers comprised more than half the subsequent emigration. In their desperate need, in the midst of the desolation caused by war, winter, and heavy taxes, the people turned to the one ray of hope, the new world. They eagerly responded to the many advertisements sent through the land by English companies. Soon the trickle of refugees became a flood. The Rhine roads were dense with weary travelers carrying their worldly goods in carts or bearing it all on their backs. Many traveled down the river by boat. Farmers along the way fed and sheltered them; the people of Holland especially offered them what meager hospitality they could afford until ships came to carry them across the Channel to England, where they encamped, 6500 strong, on the Blackheath, in London.
The British Government was alarmed by the unexpectedly large masses of German people. Though they dwelt in tents on the heath; were peace~loving, gentle folk; they yet had to be fed and the Royal larder soon ran low. A large group of the refugees was sent to northern Ireland; another group was sent to the colonies, Virginia and Carolina, in the new world. But the problem of settling the remainder seemed to be well solved to the mutual advantage both of Queen Anne's government and the Palatine people, when Colonel Robert Hunter, newly appointed governor of New York and New Jersey, proposed to send a group of 3000 Palatines across the Atlantic to manufacture naval stores. This proposal found favor became Britain's prosperity depended upon her navy; and her navy depended upon a goodly supply of tar, pitch, turpentine, and hemp. In 1696 John Bridget and several others had journeyed to New England and the Hudson Valley and had reported that naval stores could be manufactured there in large quantities. The British Government was greatly concerned because the Swedish Tar Company, the main source of supply, held a monopoly on the trade and increasingly made the stores difficult to obtain. Profiteering prices and unusual trade restrictions, especially in time of war, alarmed the British Government and forced it to seek a secure and sufficient supply elsewhere. Thus it seemed a happy thought to provide the Germans a home and at the same time to engage them in the manufacture of the badly needed naval stores. Another important factor in the minds of the British commissioners was the fact that the French were dangerously encroaching upon English settlements. Albany was weak; Schenectady had been ravaged; Boston was threatened; and the English allies, the Iroquois Indians, had been reduced from 2,800 to 1,321 fighting men, many of whom favored the French. Thus the English saw in the hardy Germans possible buffers against French invasion.
Arrangements were forthwith made for the passage to the New World. A redemptioner covenant was signed which made the Palatines virtual indentured servants. Ten ships were engaged to carry the migrants at the low rate of five pounds, ten shillings per head. At the end of December the ten ships met in the Thames River; the Palatines boarded them and then ensued six long months of misery . For the convoy refused sailing orders and plied the Channel Coast until April 10th, before getting under way. The people Suffered from the foul air and vermin; some below deck never saw the light of day. Little children died like flies; the fleet was decimated by ship~fever, a form of typhoid, carried by fleas and body lice. 2,814 Palatines embarked; but 446 died on the way. The first ship arrived July 7th, the last, August 2nd; one was wrecked off Long Island. Upon landing in New York the people met an unfriendly citizenry which feared the dreaded fever. The newcomers were encamped on Nutten or Governor's Island. Living wretchedly in tents, the numbers were further lessened during the summer by 250 deaths. Orphaned children were apprenticed out, most of them never to be seen by relatives and friends again.
In the Fall of 1710, 1,874 Palatines sailed up the Hudson to Livingston Manor, near present day Germantown, and to West Camp across the river. Several sites had been considered, such a the Schoharie valley, but were found to lack the necessary pitch pine trees. The British government already owned the 6,300 acres of West Camp and John Bridget had recommended Robert Livingston's land on the east side. Both tracts were surveyed and five towns were marked out, three on the east side of the river and two on the west. The Germans cleared the ground, built themselves simple huts, and faced their first American winter.
The cruel winter months left them bitter and rebellious. In May of 1711 they protested vigorously, indicated that they would not remain on the Hudson, and insisted that they be allowed to migrate to the Schoharie Valley. Unrest was abetted by the lack of suitable supplies necessary to the manufacture of naval stores and by the absence of the only competent instructor in the industry, John Bridget, who had returned to England. The Palatines were farmers and had no stomach for this alien business in an alien land. Justice was arbitrary; he food became progressively worse and in 1711 Governor Hunter was pre, occupied with the second Canadian Expedition, an attacking force which included 300 Palatines in its ranks.
But the decisive factor was the withdrawal of support by the British government, a change in policy which was the result of a change in party, for the Tories had superseded the Whigs and looked with little favor on the project. The government simply refused to pay the large bills entailed in supporting the Palatine people and soon Governor Hooter had spent over 20,000 pounds of his own money. By September 12, 1712, his personal funds were exhausted and he was forced to cast the immigrants adrift. The once promising naval stores enterprise was now a failure. The government turned to the Carolinas in the south for its new supply.
The financially orphaned Palatines were taken by surprise; they faced the winter with great anxiety. Many were forced ultimately to "boil grass" and the children to "eat the leaves of the trees. I have seen old men and women cry that it should almost have moved a stone. Several have for a whole week together had nothing but Welsh turnips which they did only scrape and eat without any salt or fat and bread," wrote the Reverend Haeger, one of the Palatine ministers.
Within the next five years many Palatines moved elsewhere, to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Southern New York. Some came to terms with Robert Livingston and settled permanently on his lands. But the larger part yearned for land of their own and determined to defy Governor Hunter. Deputies were sent the Indians in the Schuharie region who thereupon sold their lands for the third time, as they had in 1695, and again in 1710. In the autumn of 1712, 150 families moved up to Albany and Schenectady; but fifty of them pushed on, cutting a new road to Schoharie, where with the help of the Indians they survived the wilderness winter. The following March the other 100 families followed them, traveling with roughly~made sledges through snow three feet deep. Seven villages were established extending from present day Schoharie to Middleburg. Rude huts were built of logs and earth; bark was wed for roofing and skins covered the doorways.
Suffering was intense and would have been fatal had not the Indians guided the hapless pioneers to supplies of wild potatoes and strawberries. Corn was planted and additional supplies came from the Dutch Church of New York which sent liberal gifts of corn, pork, bread, and money. Because the farmers were without tools they ingeniously fashioned their own plows, shovels, forks, mortars, mixers, etc., out of wood. Later, when things were more settled, they manufactured their own household furniture. At the first the hausfrau did all her cooking in outside ovens until fireplaces could be built with the accompanying bar for hanging the pots. Pitch pine knots were used for light; deer and beaver skins were fashioned into breeches, skirts, and caps.
Large families were the rule, often with as many as twenty children; but a large proportion died. The maidens married young, were robust and strong; within one week of their arrival at Schoharie four children were born. Despite the lack of spiritual leadership the settlers were law-abiding and moral under the rule of listmasters, like Christopher Fox and John Conrad Weiser.
In the meantime trouble was in store for the Palatines. Seven Partners had purchased the Schoharie lands from Governor Hunter in Albany and considered the settlers there as mere squatters, without rights. Attempts were made to settle the land, but the Palatines forcibly chased the newcomers away. A sheriff came with a warrant for Weiser's arrest but the women of the community knocked him down, threw him into a hog pen and tied him to a rail upon which he was driven six miles back toward Albany. The Palatines wanted lands of their own. After much trouble a group finally left the Schoharie region for Pennsylvania at the invitation of the governor, to settle near the Susquehanna River. Another group was invited by Burnet the new Governor of New York, to settle on a tract of land on the Mohawk above Little Falls; still another group led by John Christopher Gerlach, was awarded the Stone Arabia patent. Others came to terms with the Seven Partners and remained in the Schoharie valley; but the group that interests us, made up of just a few, led by Hendrick Klock, chose to Settle on the Harrison Patent.
Unlike the Stone Arabia and Burnetsfield (Herkimer) Patents, the Harrison Patent was purchased by a group of aristocrats led by Sir Francis Harrison, purely for speculative purposes. They bad no intention of settling on the land. The Patent extended from a point east of "Garoga" Creek westward to East Canada Creek, and was purchased from the Indians in 1722 for 700 beaver skins. Hendrick Klock, however, paid 250 pounds for his tract, a great sum in those days, and it is a mystery how he was able to do this, for the Palatines were poor. It is supposed therefore that although Hendrick Klock, now in his fifties, lived for a time with his wife Maria Margaretha and four children among the Palatines in the Schoharie Valley at Hartmansdorf, his real Occupation was that of an Indian trader. Milo Nellis, local history enthusiast, bases this supposition on the fact that Hendrick Klock's family Bible records that he came to America in 1708, a forerunner of the great migration.
At any rate, Hendrick Klock had the means to pay a great sum of money for a large portion of the Harrison Patent. He bought lot No. 11, upon which the so-called Fort Klock was built by his son Johannes in 1750, and half of lot No. 13, which contained the reserved square. Upon this lot he built his home, later inherited by his son, Colonel Jacob Klock. Upon this lot also he was buried in the year 1760 at the age of 92 in the little cemetery beside 'Klock's Church.'
This briefly is the story of the Palatines. Four of the five original trustees were of Palatine origin. A man named Henrich Fahling landed in New York in 1710, lived with the Palatines on Nutten Island and then ascended the Hudson with them. Jacob Fehling was probably a direct descendant. Another man, John Christopher Fuchs, was in the same group, sent as me of the deputies to the Indians. He became a listmaster and then head of one of the Palatine villages in Schoharie. Christopher Fox was probably a direct descendant. During these years Hendrick's eldest son, Jacob, was growing into young manhood.
Years later in 1756 Jacob's brother, George, along with brother~in~law, Christian Nellis, who lived nearby on lot No. 12, secured title to the Klock and Nellis Patent, the land in the hills, Youker's Bush and Crum Creek. This land, too, was settled by German families. These for the most part were the people who laid the foundations for our beloved St. John's Church.
As has already been shown, it is probable that Klock's Church, the forerunner of St. John's, was built about the year 1725 by the Rev. Petrius Van Driessen with the help of Hendrick Klock and his friends. But the probability is so uncertain that it remains only a guess; the origin of the old church is shrouded in mystery.
Some have said that the old church was not built until 1756 when, it is supposed, 'old George' Klock, Colonel Klock's brother, built it. Others have maintained that it dates from the year 1770, the year the church is supposed to have been organized and upon which date we have based our recent anniversary celebrations. Still others argue that it was not built until after the revolution, about the year 1787 or 1788 when the church was incorporated. And yet, agreeing that no one knows the facts, it still seems most probable that the church was built long before these latter dates.
We have definite knowledge that the 'square acre' was reserved in Hendrick Klock's deed and that the Rev. Van Driessen sought and secured permission to build a mission station at that time. We know also that some years later he was granted a liberal gift of land by the Mohawk Indians in appreciation of his missionary efforts among them and that this land was in the same general neighborhood, opposite the Indian Castle, extending westward from East Creek. These are facts.
But there are no facts available which point to the year 1756 as the probable date or to George Klock as the builder. This is the date usually given but the tradition seems to be of phantom origin. Neither is there any evidence to support the 1770 theory. The Rev. Albert Dodd Minor, writing in 1881, cited the year 1770 as the year of organization but gave no reasons for choosing that date. Nor was there any celebration of the centennial anniversary in the year 1870, as there was at the Palatine Church, which was built in the year 1770. Even less credible is the year 1787 or 1788, for if the church were but four years old, the Consistory in 1792 would hardly have considered overtures to move to Zimmerman's Creek and build a new structure. Neither would the church be decayed and fallen apart by 1812 when Domine Dysslin died, nor would it have disappeared altogether by 1816.
The slight evidence available seems to indicate that 1725 is the most probable date for the building of Klock's Church. No other date seems to be as satisfactory, and we knew in addition that Stone Arabia and German Flats (Herkimer) settled about the same time by Hendrick Klock's comrades, saw the building of houses of worship almost immediately. Klock's Church was probably similar to them, built of wood with simple benches within, allowing ample room for the Indians, who lived nearby at their castle.
For some time too, the church was undoubtedly used as a school house. A teacher named Henry Hayes gave the children rudimentary instruction, which in the case of some of them, proved to be excellent training. George Bauder, of Stone Arabia, told the historian Jeptha Simms that he studied there in the church and that he also attended a Service there with his bride sometime before the Revolution. The high standards of the school are seen readily in the correspondence of Colonel Klock. Despite his Palatine background he used the English language easily. He wrote as a well educated man and was not at all the ignorant dolt described so inaccurately in Drums Along the Mohawk.
In later years a separate school house was built below the church. Its foundation was uncovered some years ago and Milo Nellis testifies to its location. Church and school served side by side, adjacent to the growing cemetery, close by Colonel Klock's home. The sacred triad was a symbol of the characters of our forefathers. Around the three institutions a new way of life prospered, a life free of persecution, intolerance, tyranny; and for long happy years, free of the scourge of war.
The Palatines were a peace loving people. They had fled from the repeated useless ravages of war to find peace in a new land. As they cleared the lush wild wilderness, built their homes, and planted their crops in the virgin fields, they took care also to make friends with their Indian neighbors. They desired not to rule or exploit, neither to conquer nor destroy; they simply sought to live at peace. Klock's church on the hill, the school, and the home symbolized a new way of life, the American way.
PEACE ALONG THE MOHAWK
One of the truths most difficult for the modern to realize is that there was a well~rounded culture, a crystallized 'way of life' in America before the United States was born. We so readily regard the past as merely a preview of the present that we forget that men were born, grew old, and died in the Mohawk Valley before the days of '76. When we view the dead past of history with attempted objectivity, we too quickly assume that superior air which regards all things past as inferior, is incomplete. We casually view the pre-Revolutionary days as mere stepping stones to the present. We forget that the people who lived in that day regarded their lives, their loves, their joys and sorrows, as all important. Little conscious of their destiny, they lived in and for their day as we live in ours. They were not in their own eyes the forerunners of a great nation; they were that nation.
A culture was established in the valley as closely knit and as definite as our own. The highest circles of society were entertained at Johnson Hall with as much fuss and finesse as may now characterize these same circles. People were rich, poor, middle class, artisans, farmers, boat~men. They loved and hated, and fought and sought, and the little things of life bothered them as much as in our day. There were snobs, back~slappers, agitators, social~climbers. Gossip flowed its swift and careless streams. Men courted and women let themselves be courted. People were people.
Peace held sway. The Dutch and Germans were hard drinkers. There were many taverns, several in and about Zimmerman's Creek; each tavern an imbiding place as well as an abiding place. Mugs of beer were quaffed with frequent gusto, as well as glasses of "the hard cider of the Mohawk, potent enough to cause the knees of a modem man to tremble." Ox~carts on the road and 'bateaux' on the river kept the taverns busy and roaring. Crews of from two to eight men operated the large and flat bottomed river boats which handled the bulk of the river traffic. Sharp~prowed, from 16 to 20 feet in length, they could carry as much as several tons of cargo. Nelson Greene tells how "Cleated boards ran along each side of these batteaux, on which men stood with faces toward the stern and set poles in the river bottom. Then they walked along the cleats and thus pushed the boat along." Twenty rapids had to be won between Schenectady and Fort Schuyler (Utica).
For the common people along the Mohawk, life was rough and hard, but it had room for recreation. Sports of all sorts were very popular. Fighting was frequent, impromptu, and without rules; horses raced along the public highway each year at Herkimer; foot racing was frequent sport and during the winter horse~sleigh races, were held on the river ice.
But leisure in those days was bard won. Farming, with its endless drudgery of chores, took its toll of time. Life and work were slow~paced. Men spent many days in the fields, planting their corn, wheat, hemp, flax, peas and potatoes, and accomplished no more than what could be done now in a few hours. Farm tools were crude and usually hand-made; the only machines were wooden; beams were joined with pegs; much of the cloth was home-woven. For the women as for the men life offered little rest. How much then they must have cherished the old Church with its quiet hours of worship and prayer! The pioneers roundabout, farmers, most of them, from the south, north, cast and west trudged many miles to attend the infrequent services. Preachers were scarce in those days and when Domme Rosencrantz or a fellow minister journeyed over the hills from Stone Arabia or Schoharie or Herkimer, the word was sent far and wide and Sunday in Klock's church would find the preacher busy with baptisms, weddings, and belated funerals.
How deeply grateful they must have been, filled as they were with the realization that they were free to worship as they pleased, free to live at peace, far from the terrors of the harassed homeland across the sea! Some of the younger people perhaps took it all for granted, but pioneers like Hendrick Klock must have told them often about the great adventure of coming to the new world. They must have instilled in the hearts of their children a love and thankfulness for freedom.
Perhaps, as Hendrick Klock's oldest son Jacob approached his fortieth year, about 1750, he rejoiced in the security of his home, and, as he thought of his wife and growing family be mused that God had been good to him. Perhaps, as he stood on the sacred hill above his home and looked down at the placid Mohawk, mirroring in its stillness the beauty of a drowsing sun, he thought in his heart that surely he was fortunate because he could look forward to years of peace and contentment. Life seemed so secure.
I have tried to point out the seldom~realized fact that life in the Mohawk Valley during those early years had reached a peak of economic, religious, and social stability. It is wrong to think of these as years of war and transition because once the land was settled, and, after months of back-breaking labor, cleared, the soil was found to be abundantly rich. Farming became well established despite the fact that wolves were so numerous that livestock had to be locked up at night. So rich was the Valley that it became the granary of the American colonies.
And it must be understood also that the mutual friendliness of settlers and the Indians would have endured had it not been for outside disturbances. The stronghold of the Mohawks was located at Indian Castle, a few miles west of Klock's Church. The Indians had thought highly of the old Dutch Domines Megapolensis, Schaats, and Van Driessen and now they regarded their white neighbors with esteem. Old King Hendrick, Sachem of the tribe, was a personal friend of many of the settlers in the arm. When preachers came to the old Church white men and Indians worshiped side by side. They were destined to become enemies, not of their own volition, but through the destructive influence of certain external forces.
One of these external forces was the onslaught of civilization itself. The Indian villages were invaded by the strange demoralizing habits of the white men. The Indian way of life was corroded by the 'acids of modernity.' They caught the diseases of civilization; its guns, its whiskey, and its lust; without catching also in sufficient quantities the vaccinating health of Faith. The Evangelical efforts of the preachers were offset by the few bad examples who practiced the opposite of what the missionaries preached.
A second external alien force was that of the French, spearheaded by the Jesuits at Fonda early in the 1600's. The French fought the Mohawks and the Dutch as much as they were able, as at Schenectady in 1690, but in the 1750's their rivalry with the English assumed precedence, becoming a struggle to the death. The Mohawk Valley, with its settlers, figured importantly in the ensuing French and Indian War. The star of Sir William Johnson was in its ascending sky. He energetically set out to enlist the settlers in the fray and many German Palatines and Dutch, along with hundreds of Indians, were included in the ranks at the Battle of Lake George in 1755 during which old King Hendrick was slain. The next year a fort was built near the Castle, designed for its protection, and Colonel John Butler was put in command. On Much 26, 1757, a force of French Canadians and Indians assaulted Fort Bull at Wood Creek, two miles cast of present~day Rome. In November of that same year a similar party attacked German Flatts, massacred many of the settlers, and destroyed their homes. The following April another force attacked the south side but this time they encountered stern opposition from the settlers led by Lieut. Nicholas Herkimer.
As the strength of the French waned and the might of the English grew the British forces took the initiative and the Valley knew the tread of the marching of countless feet. The first large force to pass through the Valley was led by Colonel Bradstreet who proceeded westward to Oswego to cross Lake Ontario and successfully attack Fort Frontenac at Kingston. The second force, led by Sir William Johnson, marched through in 1759 and continued on to Fort Niagara, where the English defeated the French and captured the Fort. The third army was the largest, made up of 10,000 men led by the great General Amherst, and it marched west and north in 1760 to the conquest of Montreal, the climactic blow which forever ended the tenure of the French Empire in the northeast. Included in these armies were the sturdy sons of the Mohawk Valley, learning the dread arts of war even as their fathers had learned them long before.
All this was but a tragic preview, a dress rehearsal to a drama of death, the outbreak of the Revolution in '75, a war which is regarded generally as the beginning of a new nation but which in the Mohawk Valley marked the end of a prosperous, well~rounded way of life.
To Jacob Klock and his friends, the outbreak of war was not a surprise. For the conflict grew out of a long series of differences mused by the third and most important external force, the activities of the British government led by King George III and represented in the Mohawk Valley by Sir William Johnson. Though it has long been the fashion in this locality to honor Johnson as the 'greatest' or 'most influential' man in the Colonies prior to the Revolutionary War; though he is lauded by his biographers and revered by old and young alike, in truth lie and all he stood for was probably the most evil thing to happen in the entire history of our Valley. That he accomplished some good cannot be denied; but a man's goodness and badness must always be measured according to his opportunity.
It is said that Johnson made peace with the Indians but in truth the Dutch and the Germans never had trouble with the Indians until be came. Had it not been for his influence the Mohawk Indians would have stood by their German friends during the War; the Valley would not haw been turned into a charred ruin and the bodies of two hundred Palatine sons would not have rotted beneath the August sun at Oriskany. In fact, had it not been for what Sir William Johnson stood for, the Revolutionary War itself might not have been fought.
He represented the medieval spirit of feudalism. He wanted to establish in he new world the privileges of landed estates which he could not attain at home. He wanted to become a feudal lord. He wanted to own a vast estate and he wanted vassals, not free men, to work it. Inevitably, he and all he stood for came into direct conflict with the sturdy Dutch-German valley settlers. They had paid dearly for their land in blood and sweat. They resented the aristocratic pretensions of Johnson Hall. This resentment found a leader in the person of George Klock, brother to Jacob, builder in 1760 of the stone house two miles west of St. Johnsville, now the home of Mrs. Ella Hillabrandt and her son. George Klock bought some land on the south side of the river which Johnson coveted for himself. A legal battle followed during which Johnson accused Klock of every villany imaginable including fraud and winebibbing. Yet in truth George Klock had paid well for his land while, in direct violation of British law, Johnson had negligible cost' title to the 'Royal Grant' west of Little Falls, consisting of many thousands of acres of land. Johnson proclaimed himself a friend of the Indians as he amassed wealth at their expense, devoured their lands, and at every opportunity did his utmost to offset whatever good moral influence the pioneer preachers of the Gospel might have had. His 'friendship' with the Indians was built upon a quicksand of liquor, lust, and blood.
Many of the Indian conferences at Johnson Hall ended as drunken orgies. His military alliances with the Indians depended upon a constant supply of liquor. When rum gave out at Fort Niagara, for example, the Indians deserted en masse. Johnson effectively helped demoralize the red men further by his utter sex abandonment. Legend has it that he fathered a hundred Indian children and the more deeply the impartial historian searches the valley records the less exaggerated this legend seems to be. One of the Indian squaws, Molly Brant, lived at Johnson Hall as his mistress and bore Johnson seven or more children. He took her as he took Catherine Weisenberg some years before without the 'bother' of marriage.
Johnson's encouragement of the scalp business was yet a greater evil. It began during the English conflict with the French. Johnson maintained that if he didn't pay the Indians for French scalps the enemy would pay them for English scalps. There is little evidence of real 'friendship' in this admission. This practice of course paved the way for his son's leadership of the Indians during the war. As a Tory, in company with Joseph Brant, he paid the Indians liberally for American scalps, a custom, incidentally which the settlers seldom indulged in. This then was Johnson's 'friendship' with the Indians, a friendship of liquor, lust, and blood.
Of course, Johnson did some good. He brought some settlers to the neighborhood of Johnstown; he was very able in settling disputes among the Indian tribes. As Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the Colonies for the British Government he was undoubtedly one of the most influential men of his time. But how much more, it seems to the writer, should the name of Colonel Jacob Klock and his neighbors be honored and revered. Instead of regarding him as a dullard and his fellow German farmers as ignorant backwoodsmen, as has long been the custom, they should be upheld as fine examples of the men who made victory in the Revolution possible; men of courage, energy, and principle, men who when all seemed lost yet went on to win. Colonel Klock and his friends are symbols of progressive America. Johnson for all his influence is a symbol of reactionary feudalism.
Colonel Klock and his neighbors, the Nellis's, the Failings, the Foxes, the Bellingers, the Zirnmerman's, and the Snells continued in the quest of freedom from all the old~world tyrannies. They were alert to anything which threatened this hard-on freedom and as early as 1774 they proceeded to organize a Committee of Safety to protect the Valley from the possible Tories in their midst, centering around Johnson Hall and Sir John Johnson (son of Sir William who died in 1774). The first meeting was held in a tavern in Stone Arabia; and later meetings were held frequently in Colonel Klock's home. It was this Committee of Safety which protested against Sir John Johnson's reactionary policies and soon formulated one of the most remarkable documents in Colonial History, an actual Declaration of Independence, 14 months before the real Declaration was proclaimed at Philadelphia in 1776. This Declaration was signed, among many others, by Colonel Klock.
This same Committee of Safety formed the leadership of the militia, the motley group of untrained farmers, which marched to Oriskany to be ambushed by St. Leger, Joseph Brant and his Indian friends. At this battle, during which General Nicholas Herkimer was mortally wounded, Colonel Klock was second in command. The militia fought heroically and though two hundred fell, seven Snell brothers and Klock's son~in~law, Colonel Ebenezer Cox among them, yet the enemy was stopped and the British strategy defeated. St. Leger's forces were not able to push through the valley to join Burgoyne's army coming from the north. Junction of the two forces at Saratoga might have turned that great victory for the patriots into defeat and the course of the war could readily have been reversed. All the men who fought and died at Oriskany August 6, 1777, came from the Valley; most of them were Dutch Germans, many of them were the very men who worshiped at Klock's Church.
But what is also of great importance, yet little realized, is that the war in the valley did not end at Oriskany but rather began there. With General Herkimer dead as the result of his wounds, responsibility for the valley's defense fell to Colonel Klock, then about sixty~five years old. Although Brant's Indians attacked again and again, General Washington nevertheless called repeatedly for more troops. Soon every able~bodied man was gone, either dead or fighting with the regular army. Colonel Klock had to rely on old men and boys both to defend the Valley from the Indians and also to plant, raise, and harvest the wheat and other crops . It was a hopeless task; yet Klock did not give up. He wrote letter after letter beseeching the regular army for troops adequate to hold their own against the enemy. But his pleas were denied. In November, 1778, he gathered his meager force together and marched through the bitter winter weather to Cherry Valley only to find that the village had been laid waste through the negligent inactivity of the commanding officer. He met jeers and reproaches for his late arrival from the regular army troops who had remained safely within the fort while the farms were laid waste.
And then, tragically, toward the end of the war, with his wife, family, neighbors all suffering from the near starvation caused by the repeated loss of the crops, with many of his friends shot or scalped by lurking Indians, Colonel Klock was forced to undergo the bitterness and shame of seeing one of his own sons turn traitor to the patriot cause and desert to the English forces in Canada. Yet the old man carried on, a bulwark in a barren land. In 1780, the 'Battle of Klock's field' was fought directly in front and to the west of his home. And then, after long agonies, finally came the peace. The land was laid waste; many of the sons of the Valley were dead; the people were destitute. Ridiculed by the many, honored by the few who really knew him, Colonel Klock lived until 1798, and was buried undoubtedly beside Klock's Church. And it is ironical that while the name of Johnson rings plaudits in the land, while a monument stands in the Cherry Valley church~yard honoring the colonel whose folly was responsible for the massacre there; yet the body of Colonel Klock lies forgotten, honored, and unknown. This story has been told in some detail because of the writer's belief that a great historical injustice has been done to a great man and a great people. We in 1946 cannot properly appreciate what it means to belong to St. John's Church except we better understand the men who first gathered in Klock's Church on the hill to worship Christ in spirit and in truth. The story of Colonel Klock is in a measure the story of Henry Failing, Christopher Fox, Jacob G. Klock, Peter Schuyler and the other stalwart men and women roundabout whose courage and Faith enabled our Church to stand through the ravages of war. The old Church on its lovely hill, overlooking the beautiful valley with its widely sweeping west~ward curve, witnessed the burnings, the scalpings, the countless raids, the hurry of flight, the steadier plodding sound of marching feet; and after it all was ended, when the final victory was won, it welcomed the homeless home.
THE FIRST DOMINE
Much of what has gone before is in a sense 'prehistoric,' filled with the blank spaces of uncertainty. Our factual knowledge of the history of St. John's begins with its incorporation, March 13, 1787, as the "Reformed Calvinist Church of the Upper Part of Palatine in the County of Montgomery," and the designation by the congregation of the five aforementioned trustees. This document of incorporation was signed March 20, 1787, by Johan A. Walrath and George Fox, and acknowledged before Jacob G. Klock, Esq., seven days later. Why the Church was not incorporated long before is readily understood when we realize that the State Incorporation law was not passed until April, 1784.The very next year after its incorporation Klock's Church found itself sufficiently strong to call a full-time minister and the congregation chose a vigorous young man of Faith who had been led in a striking manner to make the ministry his life's work. Born of noble birth in the town of Burgdorf, Canton Berne, Switzerland (the land that cradled and nourished the Reformation), John Henry Dysslin (born 12/18/1752) left his homeland for the brighter promises of America. His voyage was interrupted by severe storms, however; he was shipwrecked, and in the mortal danger of the seas he vowed to dedicate himself to God's services should his life be spared. He was saved by a passing ship which landed in New York harbor. He thereupon returned to Switzerland, was educated for the ministry, set out once again for America, and was called, ultimately, to Klock's Church where he served from July 13, 1788, until his death in the Fall of 1812, the second longest pastorate in our history.
On his first Sunday at Klock's Church he baptised John Frederick, the son of Christopher and Catherine Hess Fox, the first of the approximately 683 baptisms he performed. Domine Dysslin served with great devotion and energy, ministering to the countryside roundabout, and in addition to his regular pastoral duties he preached frequently at the Mannheim Church at Snell's Bush and also at the Church at Indian Castle.
The outstanding achievement of his ministry was the erection of the new Church at Zimmerman's Creek in 1804, a move which proved to be farsighted and wise, for although at that time there were as many houses at Klock's Church and at East Creek, as there were at Zimmerman's, yet the village at Zimmerman's was destined to grow and the land upon which the Church was built remains today the loveliest corner in the village. The first step in the erection of the new church was taken in 1792 when Jacob Zimmerman, a soldier of the Revolutionary War, and owner of a grist mill on the creek, offered a large grant of land adjacent to his mill for the use of the congregation of the then aging Klock's Church. This land included within its bounds what is now John Street, West Street, Saltsman, Cottage, and William Streets and was bounded on the east by Church Street, on the south by West Main, on the west by the creek, and on the north by the hills. The trustees of Klock's Church accepted Jacob Zimmerman's offer and gave him a note to the amount of $49.52 dated March 5, 1792. John L. Bellinger thereupon purchased the note as his contribution toward the new church.
The congregation continued to worship at Klock's Church, however, for some years before action was taken. About 1802 John L. Bellinger was elected treasurer and he took the lead in promoting the enterprise. Work was started and after the expenditure of $1861.05~1/2, a great sum for those days, the new building was ready by January 2nd, 1804, for its first Congregational Meeting, at which Conrad Hellicoss, Andrew Zabriskie, John L. Bellinger, Jacob Zimmerman, Adam A. Walrath, and Henry Beekman were elected trustees; and the eventful step of adopting a new name for the new church was taken. Its official title now became the "Dutch Reformed Congregation of Sf. John's Church in Palatine Town, Montgomery County."
The church debt was soon liquidated; by 1806 most of the bills were paid. The long list of generous givers includes friends from far and wide, as well as the local farmers and townspeople. The sum of $146.50-1/2 was received from several persons in Albany, New York, etc.," and $88.73 was sent from "several persons by collections at Schohary, etc." The Fort Plain congregation sent the large sum of $129.75.
Those who gave toward the building of the new church were as follows: Jacob J. Failing, Frederick Bellinger, Jacob Zimmerman, Gideann Hess, Andrew Shaver, Philip R. Fry, Frederick J. Bellinger, John Youker, Henry J. Faling, Michael Keller, David Fensher, Adam A. Wolrath, Jun'r., Henry Hase, Lorance Rangel, Jesse & Simeon Daytons, Joseph Bellinger, John J. Faling, John Simerson, John Sponknavell John D. Faling, Caleb Forkener, Henry Beekman, John L. Bellinger, Peter B. Cook, George G. Klock, Adam A. Walrath, John Gibson, Melkerd Porter, Jacob G. Klock, Charles Newkirk, Conrad Hellicoss, Andrew Zabriskie, Michael U. Porter, George Flander, James Van Valkenburgh, Frederick Klock, Henry J. Timmerman, John Berdsley, John J. Klock Jur,. Peter C. Fox, Peter Van Drieson, Henry Bellinger, John Tinque, Joseph Clock, John C. House, Daniel Fox, Andrew Agident, Frederick H. Bellinger, Jacob H. Failing, Robert Batten, Frederick J. G. Bellinger, Peter H. Nellis, Nathan Christy, Joseph Klock Junr., Henry Hart, Peter Van Allen, John Hess, Peter March, Peter Moshier, John Van Volkenburgh, Henry Flander, Thomas Scott, George Hawn, Jacob G. Klock, Jur., Samuel Scott, Catherien Windecker, Jacob A. Kelle,r Grover Gilliam, Isaac Honeress, Adam Klock, John Cole, Peter Kelts, George Cox, Peter Storms, James V. Valkenburgh, Ludiwick Herring, Benjamin Lyon, Frederick Klock, Christeann Groves, Nicholus Coons.
Many of the incidental purchases, such as shingles, nails, rope, etc., were made at Andrew Zabriskie's General Store. James Wright, Jerard Barnes, J. Gillinad, and Adam Bowers were the chief workmen.
The new white Church faced eastward toward Church Street and stood beside the highway not far from the place where the present church stands. It was built of wood in the pleasant colonial style, with pillars in front. In the interior 41 pews and boxes occupied the main floor and upstairs a gallery filled three sides. An old fashioned high pulpit stood at the center opposite the two front doors.
In those days the custom of taking weekly offerings at Sunday Services was unheard of. Funds were raised popularly through the sale of the church pews and boxes to members and friends in the congregation. Such a sale was held in June, 1804 when the congregation finally moved from Klock's Church to their new home, with the following results:
Pew No. 1 Deacons Seats
2 Joseph G. Klock ---------------------------------------------------------- $30.00
3 Henry Bellinger & Frederick L. Bellinger ----------------------------------42.00
4 Frederick Bellinger & Andrew Shaver -------------------------------------40.00
5 William L Walrath ----------------------------------------------------------66.50
Box No. 6 Andrew Zabriskie --------------------------------------------------50.00
7 George G. Klock -------------------------------------------------------------76.00
8 Jacob G. Klock ---------------------------------------------------------------52.00
9 One half Michael U. Porter; 1/4 Benjamin Lyon; 1/4 Conrad Hellicoss---50.00
11 Jacob J. Paling & Thomas Scott ------------------------------------------- 25.00
Pew No.12 Free
Box No.14 Christeann Groff, John T. Paling, Jacob Flander & Peter H. Nellis 26.75
15 Peter Kels, John Kring, Jur., Henry M. Smith, Henry Flander ------------- 40.00
16 Jacob & Christopher Fox, each one half ----------------------------------- 50.00
17 Frederick Gitman ----------------------------------------------------------- 50.00
18 Jacob Zemerman ------------------------------------------------------------92.00
19 Jacob H. Failing & Henry J. Zimmerman ----------------------------------- 98.00
Pew No. 20 John L. Bellinger & Henry Beekman ------------------------------70.00
21 Adam A. Walrath ------------------------------------------------------------ 53.00
22 Conrad Hellecoss & John J. Klock ------------------------------------------ 41.00
23 Elders Seats
25 John D. Paling --------------------------------------------------------------- 50.00
26 Peter Storms ---------------------------------------------------------------- 32.00
27 John C. House & Henry Hase ----------------------------------------------- 31.00
28 Frederick H. Bellinger & Henry Bellinger -----------------------------------30.00
29 Joseph Klock Jun'r., Mechail Keller, Henry Flander & Henry Hart -------- 30.00
30 John Cole & Samuel Scott -------------------------------------------------- 26.50
31 One half Catharien Windecker & John J. Faling; Christann Groff the
other half ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 25.00
32 Nicholus Shaver & John Euker --------------------------------------------- 20.00
34 Jacob Zimmerman, Henry J. Zimerman & Jacob H. Paling ---------------- 25.00
35 Cornelius C. Beekman ------------------------------------------------------ 25.00
36 Jacob A. Walrath & Adam Walrath ----------------------------------------- 32.00
37 John B. Klock ---------------------------------------------------------------- 35.00
38 Andrew Shaver & Frederick Bellinger -------------------------------------- 37.00
39 Henry Beekman & John L. Bellinger ---------------------------------------- 39.00
40 For ministers family
No. 1 George Flander ----------------------------------------------------------- 25.00
In addition to purchasing these seats the congregation also subscribed toward Rev. Dysslin's salary, pledging money, and some of them wood and wheat in addition. The list of subscribers includes many of those names already mentioned with the addition of John Banker, Melchert Bauder, Peter Isellord, Adolph Walrath, George Youker, Henry Borkdolph, John Vedder, John Ingersoll, Christeann Nellis, Jacob Youker, John Hase, and many others. From these long lists we may see how well supported the Church was in these early days. These pioneer leaders and their minister, Domine Dysslin, enlisted many in the work of Christ and His Church.
Much of what occurred during Domine Dysslin's ministry is unknown because two~thirds of the first Church record~book, kept in the German language, is lost, the pages torn out and destroyed. We do know, however, from the Treasurer's account book that the Domine's salary for the year 1804 was $117.19. It was increased to $119. In 1806 and to $120. In 1807. The salary of course was supplemented by sums subscribed toward ploughing the Glebe lands, food, wood, wheat, and other necessities.
We know also that Domine Dysslin made himself completely at home by marrying Anna, Colonel Klock's granddaughter; that he lived in the old Klock homestead, adjacent to the old church, and that the home was happy with the advent of five daughters and two sons. He was well regarded by the people and was considered by a missionary traveling through the Valley as "A Swiss, and a good character, and a man of learning."
And we know also that at his death in 1812 he was laid to rest in the churchyard on the hill. Tradition persists that his body rests at the site where once the pulpit of Klock's Church stood. No signs remain, no mound or stone; but in 1920 a tablet honoring his memory was placed on a large boulder near by.
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
It seems that the history of St. John's Church is replete with unsolved mysteries. One such is the date of the building of Klock's Church. Another, even more controversial, arises from the uncertainty as to how the village of St. Johnsville got its name.
The name was not adopted officially until 1838, the year Fulton County separated itself from Montgomery, forcing the creation of a new township, St. Johnsville, separate from the Town of Oppenheim across the county line. But the name St. Johnsville goes back to the year 1818, when Henry Lloyd, a West St. Johnsville storekeeper, newly appointed by President Monroe as postmaster, called a public meeting which decided to call the new post-office by that name.
It would seem to the casual reader that there is little mystery in the selection of the name St. Johnsville, for the only church in the vicinity, built in 1804, and attended and supported by most if not by all of the people present at the meeting, had borne the name 'St. John's' for fourteen years. It would seem obvious that the first post office was named after the Church. And so in fact have many authorities believed. In his New York Gazeteer, published in 1860, J. H. French states, as a matter of fact, that the Town of St. Johnsville was named from St. John's Church, built in the village at an early day.' In 1880 the Rev. Albert Dodd Minor wrote a brief history of the church and he, too, stated that the town was named from St. John's.
Nevertheless, the matter has been the subject of much controversy which in itself has an interesting history. It began with the publication of Jeptha Simms' famous Frontiersmen of New York in which he stated that the new white Church was not built until 1818; and, accordingly, that the name St. John's was not adopted until that time. Simms concluded that the first post-office was named after Alexander St. John, a road commissioner appointed by the State Legislature in 1811 to supervise the construction of the new turnpike from the highway two miles east of the village to Johnstown. St. John lived in Zimmerman's Greek for several years while the new road was under construction and, undoubtedly, won many friends. Because of the error in setting the year 1818 instead of 1804 as the date for the construction of the new Church it seemed logical to draw the conclusion that the village was indeed named after the surveyor,
This false belief persisted for some years without contradiction because the records of the Church from the year 1795 to 1816 were lost. But the Rev. Philip Furbeck, minister at St. John's from 1888 to 1892, uncovered the Treasurer's account book for that early period and found therein that the white church was erected in 1804, and that the name 'St. John's' preceded the name 'St. Johnsville' by fourteen years.
Another secondary argument advanced to uphold the belief that the first post-office was named after the road commissioner is that Henry Lloyd, the first postmaster, and his most influential friend, Christian Groff , were both fast friends of Alexander St. John and therefore took the name St. Johnsville in his honor. This seems superficially credible until one finds that both Henry Lloyd and Christian Groff were loyal supporters of St. John's Church. On July 10, 1816, two years before the post-office was established, Henry Lloyd pledged $ 3.00 toward the salary of the new minister, Rev. David Devoe. It was the custom in those days, as each new minister came, to take such a list of subscriptions. This sum was paid faithfully through the following years and by comparison with the average pledge, was a very generous sum. Christian Groff, Jr., was a member of a family which had long been closely connected with St. John's Church. His parents were married by its minister (Domine Dysslin at Klock's Church) and he was baptised by the same good Domine. When the new church was built, his father purchased several seats. While we do not know whether these two men were members of the Church or not because the records are lost, we are sure that both Henry Lloyd and Christian Groff, Jr., were loyal supporters and probably both were members. Thus, it would seem that whatever friendship the two men had with Alexander St. John during his stay at Zimmerman's Creek, that friendship alone would surely not be uppermost in their minds or in the minds of the people as the determining factor in selecting the town's name when their own church was named St. John's and had been for so long.
It is probable that this controversy would never have arisen had it not been for Simms' gross errors. He wrote that the white church was not built until 1818; it was actually built in 1804. He wrote, that Rev. Devoe was preaching in the old Klock's Church in 1815; when in truth, Klock's Church was no longer standing in 1815 and Rev. Devoe did not come to St. Johnsville until 1816.
Simms also cites two men, Jacob P. Fox and Daniel Groff, who were still alive when he wrote his book, as stating that they never heard that the name 'had the least reference to a church.' In honor to the memories of these men we cannot conclusively contradict them. But it must be said that when Simms wrote his book there were many more people in the village who remembered when the post-office was named. Simms did not trouble himself to inquire of them because of his errors in dates which in his mind made it impossible for the post-office to be named after the Church. These errors make it necessary to discount his opinion altogether and to rely on the logic of history. We cite therefore the earliest authority, J. H. French, who wrote in 1860; Washington Frothingham, author of the History of Montgomery County who wrote in 1892 that 'both theories are plausible, but to that of St. John's Church is given more credence'; and Royden W. Vosburgh, who in 1914 did much original research into the history of the Church on behalf of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, and concluded, "I am finally of the opinion that the village of St. Johnsville received its name from this church. Some historians who claim that the village was named after the surveyor Alexander St. John, have been obliged to place the date of the erection of the church as between 1815 and 1818, in order to give color to their claim."
And yet there is no final proof. As it is impossible to say that the post-office was not named after the Church, so it is impossible to say definitely that it was not named after Alexander St. John also. In taking the name of St. Johnsville the people probably intended to honor both the Church and the man. But because in the year 1818 St. John's was the only church in the village; because the Church sheltered the people and the people in turn supported the Church, it is very likely that when they took the name St. Johnsville thoughts of their St. John's Church were uppermost in their minds and hearts.
STAGE, COACH AND CANAL-BOAT ERA
THE JOHN JACOB WACK AND DAVID DEVOE MINISTRIES
In the interim that occurred after the untimely death of Domine Dysslin in 1812 and before the coming of the next minister, Rev. David Devoe, in 1816, the Rev. John Jacob Wack, born at Philadelphia January 14, 1774, minister of the churches at Stone Arabia and Canajoharie from 1805 to 1828, acted in the capacity of supply minister. He preached often at St. John's and on August 21, 1814, installed a new Consistory by ordaining Henry Beekman, (second husband to Domine Dysslin's widow), John J. Failing, and Andrew Shaver as elders; and John H. Bellinger, Christian Walrath, and Christian Klock as deacons. 'Minister Wack' incidentally later was called to Ephratah and died there in 1851.
The second installed minister at St. John's was the Rev. David Devoe who was called by the two consistories of St. John's and St. Paul's Church in Mannheim (Snell's Bush) at a salary of $600. In half yearly payments to preach "two thirds of the time at St. John's and the remainder at St. Paul's." Five months of the year he was to preach two sermons each Sabbath day, half in English and half in German. The call was signed by the St. John's Consistory and also by deacons Sufremas Snell and Peter B. Snell, and elders Lorence Zimmerman and John Rasbach of St. Paul's.
St. Paul's Church has always been associated somewhat closely with St. John's. Pastor Devoe and four of his successors, Murphy, Myers, and Knieskern, all preached there even as Domine Dysslin had before them. The first Snell's Bush Church was built before the Revolution on land donated by Suffrenus Peter, Joseph, and Jacob Snell. It was burned during the Indian raids and later rebuilt to be replaced in 1850 by the present structure. In the year 1801 a missionary, the Rev. Caleb Alexander, while traveling through the country, noted that "Between Fairfield and Little Falls is a Dutch settlement called Manheim: rich farms, a meeting house, and a minister (Domine Dysslin)." The Snell's Bush Church, like St. John's, remained an independent German Reformed body for many years. It was incorporated in 1792 but did not become affiliated with the Dutch Reformed denomination until Sept. 17, 1822. Pastor Devoe was the regularly installed minister there from 1816 until 1822 when a new minister, the Rev. Isaac Ketchum, was called to serve Snell's Bush alone.
Pastor Devoe also preached frequently at the Indian Castle Church, built in 1769-1770 by Sir William Johnson on land owned by Joseph Brant as a Church of England mission among the Mohawks at the village there. The famous Rev. Samuel Kirkland, missionary and founder of Hamilton College, preached there often in the early years but Sir William was unable to find a regular minister. After the Revolution several denominations held services there on alternate Sundays until 1800 when a Dutch Reformed congregation was organized. Domine Dysslin and Pastor Devoe preached frequently at the Castle Church and numerous baptisms of children from that region are recorded in our Church records. In modern times, however, the Church has been led by Lutheran pastors.
The Rev. David Devoe was raised in the vicinity of Beaverdam, high in the Helderberg mountains. We first hear of him when the Church at Beaverdam petitioned the Albany Classis to grant him a preaching license despite his lack of training, for it was said, "They are incapable of receiving benefit from the Word and ordinances, unless they be administered in the German language." David Devoe possessed a 'competent knowledge of said language.' After two years of prescribed studies at New Brunswick Seminary the Classis granted the petition and he was ordained in 1812. In May, 1813, he was called to Middleburgh also and he preached at both churches until he came to St. John's.
Pastor Devoe's zeal and energy led to the organization of the Second Reformed Dutch Church of Oppenheim, the forerunner of the present church at Youker's Bush. This new congregation led a precarious existence for some years until 1830 when Lutherans and Reformed combined to build a church on the old Dievendorf farm within the bounds of Lot 33 of the Klock and Nellis Patent, halfway between present-day Crum Creek and Youker's Bush. This church prospered until after 1850 when the congregation separated to start the two new churches at Crum Creek and at Youker's Bush. The church burial ground re, mains in fair condition until this day and the frame of the old church stilt stands as the 'wagon house' on the 'Franklin Snell' farm.
In addition to his local preaching Pastor Devoe made a missionary journey westward to organize churches at Fayette in Seneca County and at LeRay in Jefferson County. He covered 1254 miles on horseback, visited 143 families, and preached 58 sermons.
Toward the close of Pastor Devoe's ministry, in the year 1829, St. John's finally united in full with its parent denomination, the Dutch Reformed Church. At a meeting of the Classis of Montgomery, held at St. John's Feb. 11, 1829, elder Christian Klock presented an application for reception 'under the watch and care of Classis.' The Classis readily assented and as elder Klock signed the prescribed formula St. John's became a full-fledged member of the denomination. In later years the word 'Dutch' was removed from the denominational title for the good reason that it was no longer Dutch but American. The official title of our denomination is now "The Reformed Church in America" and the denomination, like our home church, includes within its ranks vast numbers of ministers and members and friends who are not at all of Dutch extraction. Each individual church has had to fight its 'battle of the languages' over the years. In the case of St. John's, even though the name of the Church was 'Dutch' the language was German. But by the time Pastor Devoe took his leave the American language had prevailed and now the name "Reformed Church in America" is entirely appropriate.
While at St. John's Pastor Devoe married 165 couples, administered 900 baptisms, and received 72 new members. Nevertheless, the Church did not seem to prosper and he resigned his charge in 1830. In later years he supplied at Columbia, at Warren, and at LeRay, then at Houseville, in Lewis County. He died in that region in the year 1844.
The years of Pastor Devoe's ministry saw a vast and significant change in valley life for they marked the building of the Erie Canal. While Domine Dysslin lived and when Pastor Devoe came in 1816 life in the valley centered around the stage coach. The highway had been greatly improved in 1800 by the laying of gravel and the raising of the center of the road bed eighteen inches to facilitate drainage. The Utica,Albany stage made its daily run, leaving Utica in the morning to arrive at Canajoharie by night and then to push on to Albany the next day. But at its best, stage coach travel was rough and tough, and one of the main enterprises in the village was the maintenance of taverns and inns for the benefit of wayfarers. Long journeys in those years took days and weeks, not hours as they do today. Life was slow. Industry was hobbled by the speed of the oxcart, the only means of overland freight transportation. When Pastor Devoe came to preach, therefore, he found a majority of his congregation to be farmers and he himself kept a cow and did the many chores of farming on a small scale. Others in his congregation were millers; farmers could not travel far to grind their grain. Others were tavern keepers from along the highway east, west, and north. All these taverns, of course, served beer and whiskey in those days when there was no soda pop, and water was not a popular beverage.
Many of the congregation were craftsmen: blacksmiths, joiners, carpenters. Men, and women too, were self-sufficient, accustomed to caring for their basic needs in their own way. People did not buy things they needed, they made them. Money therefore was scarce. Pledges to the church of fifty cents a year were very welcome. Farmers who wished a money return for their crops were forced to take their wheat laden oxcarts as far as Albany. Many of the farmers made their annual contributions to the church in the form of food. On certain days the parsonage would be overloaded with hams, quarters of beef, bags of potatoes, apples, flour; and perhaps the busy housewives would add a piece of precious homespun cloth.
The church and the taverns were the social centers; and in the eyes of the people there was no necessary conflict between them. Weddings were seldom held in the church, for example, but were frequently held in the various taverns. People did not of course have the many outside interests that plague us today. They spent more time at home. The young men and maidens courted one another as always, but people in this vicinity tended to intermarry rather than to go far afield in matrimonial quest. This custom led of course to the occasional marriages of first cousins and other blood relatives. In earlier days this custom was necessary because there were few others to marry except Indians.
There was then a tremendous upheaval in the valley when the new canal was undertaken. The influx of contractors and laborers brought many strange faces to the area, different characters, new ideas. It was the influence of the contractors in fact that helped bring about the appointment of the first postmaster, Henry Lloyd, whose store in West St. Johnsville helped fill the need for supplies for the men working on the lock at Minden. When the canal was finished life in the valley was transformed. Soon the drowsy lad sitting atop the towpath mule, pulling the barge along at the gentle speed of four miles an hour, was a familiar sight. But though it seems slow to us it was to the people in that day an epoch~making improvement which afforded cheap, easy transportation and, even more important, cheap freight transportation. It was as exciting to the villagers at St. Johnsville in that day to take their first canal~boat trip as it now is to us to take our first airplane flight. Many of the barges were elaborately equipped with fancy accommodations, abundant with frills and ruffles.
The completion of the canal in 1825 saw the coming of the Averill brothers to St. Johnsville and the establishment of a new tannery-distilling industry which provided jobs for many. This was especially fortunate for the village because many of the north-side hamlets began to decline when much of the traffic was removed by the canal to the south side. In 1800 for example, before the canal was built, the village at East Creek was larger than Zimmerman's Creek and transacted more business than the village of Little Falls. But after the canal was built the village at East Creek gradually declined as Mindenville prospered. Stores were built on the banks of the canal and barges would pull up to enable passengers to make their purchases. No meals were served on board; passengers were expected to fend for themselves. We can picture the passengers, ladies dressed in their innumerable yards of this and that, men, too, stiff in their high collars, high hats, and boots, chatting or dozing on the barge roof, forced to bend or bow low whenever a bridge was passed, enthusiastically welcoming an opportunity to stretch their limbs at the frequent eating stops along the way.
Reverend Devoe during these eventful years, when he was not engaged in one of his periodic missionary journeys, lived with his family in the new parsonage erected at his coming in 1816 amid surroundings which were ideally suited to the placid rural life of the times. The parsonage stood in the midst of the meadow, at the foot of the hills north of the church. It still stands, near its original location, on Cottage Street; but it has been turned to face northward. It is easy to picture the minister and his family energetically doing the chores, milking the cow, feeding the horses, ploughing, dragging, planting, cultivating, cutting the wheat, husking the corn, digging the potatoes. And we can picture him, too, making his calls on horseback, dressed in black frock coat, bow string tie, Bible in hand, guiding his horse from house to house and on Sundays making his way up the winding road to Snell's Bush or across the river at the West St. Johnsville, on his way to Indian Castle.
THE IRON HORSE.
THE MEYERS, STRYKER, MURPHY, MEYERS MINISTRIES.
The third ministry at St. John's, from August, 1830, to November, 1831, was that of Abraham H. Meyers, born July 4th, 1801, a graduate of Union College in 1827 and of New Brunswick Seminary in 1830 from whence he came directly to St. John's, bringing with him his bride, Hannah Blanchard, whom he had married while still a student. He was ordained and installed at St. John's October 26, 1830, and left a year later to accept a call to the church at Berne. He baptised 29 infants and adults; married 15 couples, most of them in Youker's Bush, and received 17 new members. We shall see more of Rev. Meyers for he returned to St. John's later and labored successfully for several more years.
The fourth ministry, almost as brief, was that of the Rev. Herman B. Stryker, from May 1, 1832, to May 1, 1834. Born April 2, 1794, at Port Richmond, Staten Island, the son of a minister there, Rev. Stryker graduated from New Brunswick Seminary in 1822. He was minister at Fairfield, New Jersey, and then at the Union Church at Amsterdam until he was installed at St. John's Feb. 5, 1833. Soon after his coming he undertook an intensive campaign to organize Sabbath schools in the valley and his father, Rev. Peter Stryker, preached in his place. This arrangement continued until 1834 when St. Paul's proposed once again to unite with St. John's in extending a call to a new minister. Pastor Stryker thereupon accepted a call to the Glenville 2nd Church in Scotia where he ministered for several years until 1837 when he was forced to resign because of ill health. He continued to preach occasionally many years longer until his death at Hugenot, Staten Island, Dec. 11, 1871, where he had acted as stated supply the last ten years of his life. During their stay at St. John's the two Strykers, father and son, baptized forty-three infants and adults, married nineteen couples, and received twelve new members.
The new minister, called by the two consistories at St. John's and St. Paul's, proved to be the Rev. James Murphy, born near Rhinebeck, New York, in 1788, a New Brunswick graduate in 1814. In coming to St. John's in 1834 from his pastorate at the Glenville 2nd Church he exchanged charges with the Rev. Herman Struyker.
St. John's during these years was united with the Second Church of Oppenheim (the original Youker's Bush Church) through a collegiate or joint Consistory which included six elders and six deacons, half from each church. This arrangement continued for many years except for the slight change in 1839 when St. John's added one deacon and one elder while the Second Church reduced its representation accordingly. Pastor Murphy thus preached at three churches and probably preached often at Indian Castle as well.
During his ministry ten new members were received into the church and eight baptisms were administered. Almost a year before he left St. John's his connection with St. Paul's ended through a misunderstanding. He had promised to reside in the parsonage at Mannheim if certain repairs were made; but when they were completed, he found that St. John's wanted his full-time services. It was not for long however, for in 18 3 7 he was called to the church at Herkimer, where he worked with Dr. Spinner in establishing a new church at Mohawk and at Frankfort. He died in Herkimer in 1857 having been honored with the degree of Doctor of Divinity. The Rev. Joseph Knieskern, minister at St. John's, participated in the funeral service.
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Following Pastor Murphy' pastorate Rev. Abraham Meyers returned to St. John's a second time to remain seven years until 1844. During this second ministry he administered 117 baptisms, performed 86 wedding ceremonies and received 118 new members. His obvious vigor and success testify to his able zeal for Christ. After leaving St. John's he labored long in His service. He returned to Snell's Bush in 1848 for a four year period and after many ministries died at Linlithgo March 9, 1886.
The years of these four ministries, from 1830 to 1844, were years of further change and growth in and around St. Johnsville and throughout the United States. In 1828 the stormy Andrew Jackson burst into the presidential office and a new and turbulent democratic spirit swept the land. In its wake came a surging power that was to revolutionize American life even more drastically than the building of canals. The year 1836 saw the completion of the Mohawk Valley's first bands of steel, the single track of the Utica-Schenectady railroad. As the Erie Canal had overshadowed the Stage-Coach and the oxcart so the railroad began to dwarf the importance of the canal. The State legislature sought to protect the canal by prohibiting the railroad from carrying freight except in winter, but the march of progress could not be denied, the iron monsters chugged their ruthless way; the age of speed had dawned.
The first locomotives and passenger carriages seem crude to us today but they seemed modern and streamlined to the people of the 1840's. It was a delight to clamber into a railway carriage, wooden and nearly springless as they were; and, sitting on top in the open air, to feel the swift rush of wind as they flew along at the mad speed of eight, ten, even fifteen miles an hour. For the first time in history a poor man could travel; a man no longer was forced to take a week's time out from work in order to journey a hundred miles.
St. Johnsville prospered during these years of pioneer railroading. The bountiful water of Zimmerman's Creek made the village a regular stopping point and the old wood-burning locomotives induced a thriving lumber industry. Acres and acres of land along the tracks were piled high with logs and cut wood of all sizes. The energy and business acumen of Absalom Thumb brought prosperity to himself and to many others in the village during these years until coal sup, planted wood as the locomotive fuel. Because St. Johnsville became a major stopping place a large depot was erected east of the present railroad bridge, which throve as a railroad restaurant in the days before dining cars and Pull, mans. In 1865, as the nation mourned the death of its great president, Abraham Lincoln, his body was carried in state through the valley on its way westward. The funeral train stopped at St. Johnsville and the restaurant employees were permitted to view his body.
The Mohawk Valley was the gateway to the great open spaces of the West. First on foot, then on horseback, by oxcart, by stage~coach, canal boat, railroad, the little village of St. Johnsville helped nourish the quickened life blood of the great growing land of the free.
By the close of Rev. Meyer's ministry in 1844 the basic pattern was set for the following decades. St. Johnsville was on its way toward becoming an industrial community.
THE DAWN OF MEMORY
THE KNIESKERN MINISTRY - 1845-1872
All that has gone before is beyond memory. Now dawns the years of St. John's history which in the year 1947, may yet be heard from living lips. There are those in our midst, Mrs. Loretta Cline, Mrs. Metta Bartle, Mrs. Al Fox, George T. Snell and others, who remember the venerable minister who preached at St. John's until '72.
Only two pastors at St. John's are honored with the old Dutch ministerial title of Domine. The first was Domine Dysslin; the second was Domine Joseph Knieskern whose pastorate of twenty-seven years forms an epoch in itself; an epoch which included the Mexican War in 1845, the westward expansion of the 1850's, and the tragic Civil War; a span of years that began with the presidency of James K. Polk and ended with that of Ulysses S. Grant.
Joseph Knieskern was born at Berne, New York, (near the birthplace of Rev. David Devoe) April 10th, 1810. He was-the first of St. John's ministers to attend Rutgers College where he graduated in 1838. He completed his studies at New Brunswick Seminary three years later. During his student days he was a beneficiary of the Reformed Church Board of Education and, contrary to custom, he resolved to repay the entire sum. By making payments continually over the years he was able to fulfill his resolve; he made the last shortly before his death. Sometime after his graduation from Seminary he married Miss Emily Williams and was ordained and installed as minister of the Second Reformed Church of Berne.
Upon coming to St. John's in May, 1845, the young preacher soon gave evidence of his progressive, effective leadership. Within three years the sum of $2,055 was raised to repair and renew the old white church. The building was lengthened, four feet in front, six in the rear; it was turned to face West Main Street; the ceiling was lowered, a new roof put on; part of the balconies were removed; and the pews were reversed, placing the pulpit between the two front doors. Another sum, raised by the Ladies' Aid, was used to purchase new carpets, a sofa, stoves, chairs, tables, and lamps.
Five years later, in 1853, a further sum of $530.00 was raised to purchase a new organ. The organ itself cost $500. The additional $30.00 was used to cut an arch in the ceiling. Of this amount $85.00 was raised by the Ladies' Aid by means of a festival. The following year another fund, of $441.00 was raised to paint the church and build a fence. Again the Ladies' Aid helped out by giving $96.
These were years of progressive activity at St. John's in spiritual channels as well as the temporal. Domine Knieskern conducted a number of revivals and at the climax of one, in March, 1859, received forty-five new members into the church at one time, a record that still stands. During his twenty-seven year pastorate he received 146 new members, married 258 couples and baptised 183 infants and adults.
His first St. John's wedding was that of 'Mr. Loadwick and Miss Brown' in 1845, the parents of our honored oldest member, Mrs. Loretta Cline. To Mrs. Metta Bartle falls the distinction of being the first living member of St. John's to be mentioned in the church record. A little baby girl, 'Maryette', daughter of Alvin and Caroline Timmerman Saltsman, was baptised by Domine Kneiskern June 5th, 1864. Other living members and friends who were baptised during those years were Katie, daughter of Peter and Anna Fox Nellis; George T., son of Oliver and Kate Ketchum Snell; and Seymour T., son of James and Mary Shults Bellinger.
Mrs. Bartle remembers well the parsonage in the meadow, the Domine, his wife, and daughter Helen. The figure of the tall, white chin-whiskered preacher, driving his horse and small carriage through the dusty village streets and the winding country roads was a near landmark of the times. He preached frequently at Snell's Bush and at Indian Castle but was especially busy with the congregation at Youker's Bush, still united with St. John's through the joint Consistory. After 1850 the original congregation decided to separate and form two new churches, the Crum Creek Lutheran and the Youker's Bush Reformed. In the years following, both congregations erected church buildings which are still standing on their respective crossroads.
During the honored Domine's ministry he too comforted his people through the vale and shadow of war. During the years of the Mexican War in the 1840's every able-bodied man between the ages of 18 and 25 was required to report every Fall for several days' training in the militia. Among the several who served actively was Martin Walrath, captain in the New York State Infantry.
But this was as nothing compared with the furor which resulted from the out, break of the Civil War in 1861. President Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers was answered by 300,000. The response from the young men of St. Johnsville was wholehearted and swift. A recruiting tent was pitched in the small village green at the corner of North Division and Main streets and to the music of fife and drum, hundreds volunteered to serve. Many St. Johnsville men served in the 115th 'Iron Hearted' Regiment, New York Volunteers, which when inducted at Fonda, August 26, 1862, numbered 1400. By the time it was mustered out at Albany, July 6, 1865, fewer than 200 remained. Lack of speedy communication facilities made the people news hungry almost to the point of desperation. The war was brought vividly and bloodily home when a young officer from the village, Major Jacob C. Klock, reminiscent of his famous forbear, Colonel Jacob Klock, was mortally wounded at the Battle of Winchester, and was brought home to die at the home of his brother-in-law on Railroad Street, now the residence of Mrs. Joseph Reaney on the renamed Kingsbury Avenue. The major was wounded in the shoulder, carried to the rear on an army~blanket stretcher, and somehow brought all the way to St. Johnsville by train. As he lay, enduring the weary weeks of suffering, the house was besieged by the families of the men in blue, ready to grasp eagerly at every straw of news. Major Klock's wound, by modern standards, was minor, but in that day, without the modern miracles of medicine and surgery, he came home only to die in his thirtieth year. There is no St. John's honor roll for the Civil War but we know that the streets of St. Johnsville were almost as empty of young men in those war years as they were so recently in the days of World War 11.
Civilians played their part too. Local citizens were responsible for the raising of funds needed for the payment of bounties to enlisting soldiers and their families. Supervisors George Timmerman and Peter F. Nellis led the way in raising these bounties, backed by justices Martin Walrath, Chauncey Nellis, and Jonathan Mosher. In September, 1864, James Bates, Alexander Don, and Morris Klock were appointed a committee to see that the recruiting quota was met and to raise the needed funds for the bounties.
Thus, as soldiers and civilians alike, men of St. Johnsville and St. John's labored for their country as they were to do again and again in World Wars I and II.
Through all these years-years of war, peace, war again, with its heartache, tragedy, and blood; years that saw the greatness of Lincoln and the darkness of his passing, the solemn hushed tribute of heads bowed in mourning as the funeral train stopped briefly by, Domine Knieskern continued to minister to his people in their need. His work as beloved pastor and friend went on year by year with benefit and success to all until a strange, tragic accident befell him. While conducting a burial service on a cold, wet day he contracted a severe cold which did permanent injury to his voice. The injury handicapped his work so much that he felt impelled to resign. He moved to Cortland, where he supplied the pulpit at the Presbyterian Church in Virgil for several years until his affliction made even that impossible. Nevertheless, he continued as teacher of the Men's Bible Class until, two weeks before his death, he was stricken with paralysis of the lower limbs. "He looked toward the end quietly and trustfully," and died September 7, 1895.
YIELDING PLACE TO NEW
THE LODEWICK, VAN NESTE, MINOR, FURBECK, AND
KINNEY MINISTRIES - 1872-1899
The last quarter of the nineteenth century in America was the age of big business, the hey day of laissez~faire capitalism. The great ingenuity of railroading encouraged the growth of tremendous industries, the manufacture of immensely complex machines, the mass production of all sorts of necessary commodities, and the rise of the new giants, oil and steel. The village of St. Johnsville took part in this industrial expansion. A condensed~milk factory was established; and with it the Allter Knitting Mills, the Ferguson Oar and Paddle factory, the Englehardt Piano Factory, and the large beginnings of the Union Mills. The population of the village continued to grow; many new homes were built, many of them on land once owned by the church. This growth brought with it the organization of two new churches, Grace Christian in 1874 and St. Paul's Lutheran in 1895. The years brought change; the old was passing away, yielding place to new. And with the new came a new 'Tower of the Lord' the building of the present St. John's Church.
The minister who was called to the difficult task of filling the gap left by Domine Knieskern's sad leave-taking was a tall young man from the Seminary named Edward Lodewick. Born at East Greenbush, New York, February 25, 1846, he too attended Rutgers College and then New Brunswick Seminary. He too brought his bride with him, Mary Elizabeth Mettler of New Brunswick. He appeared before Classis December 10 and was ordained and installed at St. John's the same evening.
His ministry here saw the sale of the Glebe lands and the construction of the new spacious brick parsonage. The old wooden parsonage in the meadow was found to be in a state of excessive disrepair. The trustees therefore petitioned the Supreme Court for an order to sell part of the church property in order to secure funds to liquidate the church debts and to erect the new manse. The lands north of the church were thereupon sold to the highest bidder for the sum of $6025, with the rights of the school district excepted and the church cemetery inviolate until the graves should be removed to Prospect Hill. The contract for the new parsonage was then awarded to the lowest bidder, John H. Knieskern. The cost proved to be about $4000.00 and it remains until this day a large, well-built residence, which with its renovations of recent years affords a pleasant, comfortable home. During the two years of Pastor Lodewick's ministry he administered 9 baptisms, and among those baptised was Carrie, infant daughter of Jordan and Anna Timmerman Kilts. He also married 21 couples and received 12 new members. It is interesting to note that few of the weddings took place in the church. Many were held at the parsonage; many at private homes, and many others at the various inns: the Shaffer Inn in Upper St. Johnsville, for example, or the Simmon's Inn, the Railroad Depot, Abner Powel's Inn, the Roof Inn, the Smith Inn, Peter Prine's Inn at Little Falls, Z. Cooper's Inn; and then in later years at the Empire House, Kyser's hotel, Brigg's hotel, and the Plank hotel. From 1845 to 1875 only three weddings took place in church; and two of these were at Youker's Bush.
Pastor Lodewick left St. John's to accept a call to the church of Pascack, at Park Ridge, New Jersey, where he remained twenty-nine years. III health compelled his resignation and he retired to Bound Brook, where he died September 14, 1909 .
An older, more experienced man came as the ninth pastor at St. John's. The Rev. George James Van Neste was born into an old pre-Colonial Dutch family September 22, 1822, at Weston, New Jersey. He attended the classical academies at Millstone and Somerville and then matriculated at Rutgers where he was found to be definitely hostile to religion. During his college years, how, ever, he was converted to Christ, and he became one of the nineteen members of his class to enter the ministry. Although his studies at New Brunswick Seminary were tragically interrupted by the death of his parents on successive days in November, 1844, he returned later and graduated in 1846, one hundred years ago. During his last year at Seminary he married Margaret Ann Buckelow. After successive pastorates at Bound Brook and Lodi, New Jersey; West New Hempstead, New York, and Little Falls, New Jersey, he accepted a call from the joint Consistory of St. John's and Youker's Bush. He was called at a salary of $1250 to preach at St. John's every Sunday morning and on every other Sunday afternoon or evening. On the alternate Sundays he was to preach at Youker's Bush 'Chapel.' Rev. Van Neste was installed October 5, 1875. The Rev. Peter Stryker, D.D., son of one of Rev. Van Neste's predecessors, the Rev. Herman Stryker, preached the installation sermon.
According to the local newspaper at the time, the Interior New Yorker, one of the forerunners of the Enterprise and News, "The church was handsomely decorated with evergreens and the pulpit adorned with a large anchor of flowers, upon its front; and upon the wall in its rear, with the cheering word "Welcome" neatly embossed in a green wreath, while some ten vases of flowers added beauty to the whole. Thanks to the ladies for this timely expression of interest in this occasion. The warm spirit of the services was fully sustained to the end, when the entire congregation, young and old, gave their new pastor a hearty welcome, in the shaking of hands, as they passed out of the sanctuary. Though many were detained by the rain, yet the large number present will never forget the impressions of those solemn services." ....... On the evening previous to the installation, the congregation surprised the pastor with a cordial reception at the parsonage. A large number were present with their gifts; the citizens' band enlivened the scene with music and after kind words by the pastor and Rev. Dr. Stryker and singing the doxology, etc., the company retired from the very pleasant hour's entertainment."
As has been stated it was not the custom in those days to take up weekly offerings at the services. Funds were raised entirely through pledges and the sale of pews. Soon after his coming Rev. Van Neste led the way in inaugurating a systematic program of benevolent giving which called for the taking of an offering the first Sunday of each month solely for missionary purposes. It was during this ministry too that the hour for the Sunday service was changed from 11 o'clock to 10: 30 and the Sunday School from 9: 30 to 12 o'clock.
Pastor and Mrs. Van Neste were much pleased with the "commodious and handsome parsonage and barn," but were not satisfied with mere personal comfort. He saw the urgent need for a "New house of Worship, which is very much needed in order to further our prosperity." But he was not to see the new House of God rising from the earth; for, after a ministry of only three years, he felt impelled to resign and soon accepted a call to the church at Kiskatom. After seven years there he preached at the Flatbush Church,Ulster County, New York, and then at Pottersville, New Jersey, until 1892. He died January 18, 1898. It was left to another minister to have the joy of working with the people in building the new church; but much is owed Reverend Van Neste, nevertheless, for his courage and his vision.
During his ministry he received 31 new members on confession of faith, and 10 by letter. He baptised 55 infants and 11 adults and he married 21 couples. Among the couples wed were Marshall E. Davison and Nancy C. Fox, May 6th, 1877. Mrs. Davison now resides with her daughter in Mindenville and thus has the distinction of being the first living member whose marriage is recorded in the church record. Among those baptised by Rev. Van Neste were Gertrude, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Adam Horn, October 18th, 1875, and Milo, the son of Mr. and Mrs. James D. Nellis, May 31, 1877.
For the tenth St. John's pastorate the congregation chose a young man, the Rev. Albert Dodd Minor, son of a minister, born in Centzenville, Michigan, January 12, 1850. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1876, but instead of attending seminary he pursued his studies in theology under private tutors. He was licensed, under special dispensation, by the Classis of Montgomery and was ordained and installed October 14, 1879. His father, the Rev. John Minor, preached the Ordination sermon. Pastor Minor was unmarried at the time and remained so until 1886 when he wed Isabella Randolph of Jersey City. In the interim his father, who often preached at Snell's Bush, his mother, and his brother, lived with him in the parsonage. Tall, dark haired, with mustache and side burns, courtly in manner, Rev. Minor made his rounds of preaching and calling, almost invariably riding in the saddle on a large beautiful horse. He was noted also for his fine singing voice.
Reverend Minor was called at a salary of $750. a year on the same preaching terms as the Rev. Van Neste, to preach at Youker's Bush on alternate Sunday afternoons or evenings. He sought immediately to reduce the burden of the church debt, and within a year, brought it down from $700 to $170. At the same time two men were added to the Consistory, making four deacons and four elders from St. John's and two elders and two deacons from Youker's Bush. Later on in 1884, the Board of Trustees met and dissolved in accord with an act of the State Legislature, and henceforth the Consistory had sole responsibility for all affairs of the church, temporal and spiritual. The board of trustees was revived during the ministry of the Rev. H. Curtis Ficken but it was in an advisory capacity only. The Consistory remains the sole official board of the church.
With the energy of youth at his command Pastor Minor quickly took advantage of his predecessor's pleas for a new church. A congregational meeting was called in September, 1880, and two committees were appointed; one made up of Elijah Bauder and J. P. Knieskern for construction or repairs, and the other of George Timmerman and Morris Klock for finance. Two weeks later the former committee reported that the church building was 'so dilapidated and going to decay that if more than trifling repairs were attempted, there would he no knowing where to stop.' The congregation voted to build a new church and a committee made up of Alvin Saltsman, Nelson House, and Morris Klock was appointed. Later William Saltsman, Wesley Allter, Oliver Snell, and Jacob H. Markell were added. The demolition of the-hallowed white church began March 28th, 1881, and the congregation worshiped temporarily at the old Union Church, now St. Paul's. The former debt had been liquidated entirely by this time and the people of St. John's set out vigorously to support the new enterprise. By April 8, 1882, $7764.56 had been contributed toward the general building fund, $4634.80 more for church windows, $14.00 for a new bell and $134.12 for the organ's reconstruction and repair.
The beautiful new church was dedicated in the spring of 1882 on the first clay of May. The Rev. Isaac S. Hartley, D.D., of Utica, was invited to preach the dedication sermon. The large, imposing red brick church, with its modern appointments, was said to be many years ahead of its time. The building and equipment cost about $13,000 of which $10,000 was already raised at the time of the dedication. Of this sum the Ladies' Aid contributed $1100.
The sanctuary was designed in the popular auditorium style of that day, with its curved seats and sloping floors. It was made notably attractive by the brightly colored stained~glass windows and by the unusual rich wood paneling. In addition, a beautiful as well as useful chapel with stained-glass windows and the same fine woodwork in the ceiling and lower walls, was built adjacent to the sanctuary. The architect of the new structure was Albert Fuller; the builders were the Hall brothers.
Pastor Minor, the members of Consistory, and the people of St. John's deserve the highest commendation for their courage in undertaking so great a task. They had ample excuse, because of the various controversies and difficulties that had arisen in the community, to content themselves with a small, cheap building, feeling that they could not afford better. Instead they went all out; they worked, they sacrificed, they gave, in order that their church should rise and remain a glory to God and a tribute to His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.
A major change was wrought in the life of St. John's at this time by the discontinuing of the preaching services at Youker's Bush. It was felt that evening services were needed at St. John's every Sunday and that the people at Youker's Bush would attend services in the village, if their chapel were closed. After a happy union of over fifty years, therefore, the joint Consistory came to an end. The Chapel did not close for some years, however, for it was found that the minister at Grace Christian Church was able to carry on in Pastor Minor's stead.
In the church records for the years of Pastor Minor's ministry many names are found familiar to us all. Among the 68 couples he joined in marriage were Chauncy Brown and Cordelia Schiffer, William Don and Katie Klock; Elroy Bartle and Marietta Saltsman; Charles M. Redfield and Carrie Keller, Melvin Haves and Ella Decker Hayes, George C. Markell and Mary Elizabeth Dillenbeck, AJ Fox and Lulu Snell, Joseph R. Kyser and Anna Flander.
Pastor Minor administered 83 baptisms, and as might be supposed, some of the children are now well known in our midst: Mabel Hyde, Howard Snell and Lester Hayes. He also received 50 new members into the church.
Pastor Minor's ministry, during which so much was accomplished, came to an end April 1, 1888. His resignation was accepted with real regret on the part of members of Consistory. He served at Mohawk and then at Fort Herkimer, but after 1895 he left the ministry.
The eleventh pastorate at St. John's was filled by a man of broad experience, the Rev. Philip Furbeck. The son of a minister, he was born December 29, 1832, at Guilderland, New York. He attended Union College, class of 1854, and New Brunswick Seminary, class of 1859. His first pastorate was in the Mohawk Valley at Fonda. He then served at Westerlo, Buskirk's Bridge, Farmer Village, and at Little Falls, New Jersey. He was called at a salary of $900.00 to preach at two services each Sunday, the first call since 1816 to be extended without the assistance of the Youker's Bush Chapel.
One of Pastor Furbeck's outstanding achievements at St. John's was the organization of the Christian Endeavor, a young peoples' group that met regularly every Sunday. Young folks in those days, before the inroad of automobiles and movies, spent most of their Sunday hours in church. They often had supper there too and remained for the C. E. meeting and the evening worship service. Attendance at the C. E. meetings was often as high as fifty or sixty.
During his four year ministry Pastor Furbeck united 26 couples in marriage, baptised 21 infants and adults and received 78 new members. Among those baptised were Viola Flander Moyer, Earl and Mabelle McKenzie. Reverend Furbeck was himself the father of a large family. One of his sons was Dr. Harry Furbeck who served later on the consistory. Another son, Ransford, was the grandfather of one of our present day active members, Mrs. Leo Walrath, and another, Howard, followed his father into the ministry.
At a meeting of the consistory held October 11, 1892, Pastor Furbeck requested the acceptance of his resignation after a relationship of four years, which was pleasant and very profitable to us as a people and pastor." He left St. John's October 31, 1892, for the Reformed Church at West Copake, New York. He served later at Taghkanick until his retirement in 1897. He died July 23, 1899.
The twelfth pastorate at St. John's was that of the Rev. Charles W. Kinney, called unanimously at a congregational meeting held on January 23, 1893, at a salary of $900. A medium~sized, sandy-haired man, Reverend Kinney came to St. John's from the Reformed Church at Shokan, New York. He was born in South Berlin, June 5, 1858; was licensed by the Classis of Saratoga in 1888, and served at Westerlo before going to Shokan.
As was often the case since Domine Knieskern's departure, the church found itself in financial difficulties. But it seemed that no system worked as effectively as the old method of selling or renting the pews. The envelope system was tried but the people were not ready for the change. The deacons therefore were admonished to take monthly collections. Nevertheless, St. John's always found a way to pay its debts and in April, 1896, the minister's salary was raised to $1000.
Youth work continued on a highly successful level. It is often true, despite the popular opinion to the contrary, that older experienced men are more successful with young people than the younger inexperienced ministers just graduated from seminary. At any rate, youth activities were at their peak during these years. In July, 1898, the Christian Endeavor Society through its representatives, Earl Youker and Eugene Flanders, sought permission to re-fresco, and re-carpet the church. The young people themselves carried most of the necessary expense.
During the seven years of Pastor Kinney's active and successful ministry he performed 40 wedding ceremonies, baptised 41 infants and adults, and received 92 new church members. Among those wed were Seymour J. Bellinger and Antha Franklin, Howard Flander and Etta Flander, Milton Devendorf and Leah A. McBride, Christopher Fox and Margie E. Snell, Raymond Hillabrandt ,ind Ella A. Frye, George A. Wittenbeck and Anna L. Ruller, and Joseph H. Reaney and Gertrude K. Horn. On Dec. 26, 1944, we knew the joy of congratulating Mr. & Mrs. Bellinger on their golden wedding anniversary. And on Sept. 9, 1946, we shared the same happiness with Mr. and Mrs. Chris Fox. Among those baptised were babies Guy Moyer and Roy Sutherland and adults Etta Hager and Harry Stichel.
On May 1st, 1899, Pastor Kinney, having accepted a call to the Presbyterian church at Hobart, New York, presented his resignation, to take effect the 21st of the same month. He was to return in 1920 to accept the honorary degree of Doctor of Fidelity and to speak on behalf of the former ministers as part of the 150th Anniversary celebration. He served later in the Mohawk Reformed Church and then at Saratoga, where he died April 11, 1931.
Thus was the old already yielding place to new. The great nineteenth century was about to end; a century that had seen great things and terrible things; the fiercest wars in history and the highest promises of peace; a century that saw the fall of slavery and the rise of a new life, the industrial way, the steam, boat, railroad way. And in the year 1899, the clamor of that new monstrosity called the automobile was already heard in the village streets. The Saltsman carriage shop had flourished for long years, a symbol of an era, the closing battlement of the age old love of a man for his horse; but the approaching dawn of the 20th century was set for its decline and fall. The age of gasoline and oil was approaching and soon men would take to the air.
What better symbol of the constant juncture of Faith and man could there be than the new sanctuary of brick with its tower rising high! The St. John's steeple was a symbol of man reaching always for better things, reaching to touch the hand of the God that made him.
THE NEW CENTURY
THE HOGAN, PERKINS, AND FICKEN MINISTRIES- 1899,1929
It may seem strange to start a chapter in 1899 and end it in 1929. Perhaps it would be better to end it in 1917 or not end it at all by bringing it up to the present day. And yet it seems too that the year 1929 saw the end of an era and the beginning of a new period in United States history and also in the history of St. John's Church. For, as it was with the nation and the world so was it with us; these were years of gradual growing prosperity; a period, which though interrupted by the tragedy of World War 1, nevertheless saw more people able to satisfy their physical wants than ever before; and as a somber corollary, also saw more people unwilling to satisfy their spiritual needs than ever before.
During these years the wheels of automobiles and the whir of wings heralded the age of speed, a new type of war from 1914 to 1918, and a new type of man in the silk shirt, flapper age of the twenties. Here in St. Johnsville the people prospered with the increased employment made possible through the growth of the Union Mills. They knew the disappointment, too, of the closing of the Englehardt piano factory. But in a few years the growing Little Falls Felt Shoe Co. took its place and five or six years later, in 1924, the Palatine Dye Co. came to St. Johnsville with the result that probably more people were employed in St. Johnsville during the twenties than ever before in its history. As the village prospered so did St. John's, in numbers, in financial matters, and in spiritual strength.
Is usually takes a congregation several months at least to make up its collective mind in regard to calling a new minister. But the succeeding minister, the Rev. Orville J. Hogan, was invited to candidate the very next Sunday after Pastor Kinney left. He won so many friends through his morning service and his memorial sermon preached in the evening to the Smith Post of the G.A.R., that he was called within two weeks, on June 11, 1899, at a salary of $900. He was installed as pastor October 3rd.
The Rev. Hogan was born April 4, 1861, at Indian Fields, New York. He was brought up in the region of the Helderberg mountains and he attended the old Guilderland Center Reformed Church. As a boy he suffered a tragic accident when he pulled the trigger of an old Civil War gun, the resulting explosion cost him an arm. The Rev. Hogan and two of his brothers, Jasper and Robert, were greatly influenced toward the ministry by the Rev. Samuel Gamble, minister at Guilderland Center from 1870 to 188 5. All three boys pursued their studies and at one time or other held pastorates in the Mohawk Valley. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1890 and from New Brunswick Seminary in 1893. He came to St. John's after a six year pastorate at Rocky Hill, N. J.
Pastor Hogan's ministry is well remembered with affection and joy. Soon after his coming a $400.00 note was paid off and the church found itself free of debt. The Ladies' Aid offered to install electric lights in the parsonage; and two new steel furnaces were bought for the church. These same furnaces, old and careworn as they are, still serve us today.
A series of fine gifts were made the church during these years. In 1900 the King's Daughters presented the church with a new individual Communion set. In 1908 two separate $ 1000 bequests were left the church, one by Barbara Klock, the other by Julia E. Bellinger. In January, 1909, Mrs. Catherine Bellinger gave another thousand dollars for the purchase of a new organ. Mrs. Metta Bartle thereupon offered another thousand dollars and thus the beautifully toned Bellinger-Bartle organ was purchased which to this day enriches our worship and bids us all join in singing the great old hymns of Faith.
The old organ had served well since its purchase in 1855 but by 1909 it was outworn. All through those years some lucky lad was granted the privilege of ascending back into the organ machinery to pump the blower while the organ was played. Glenn McKenzie, Harold Fox, and many others held this honored position of organ blower and they were paid an annual salary sometimes as high as $8.00 a year.
During the years from 1855 to 1909 the staid old psalms gave way in part to the newer, more personal hymns of faith. Led by the organ, congregational singing became much easier than in the older days of the pitch pipe and the heavy, slow melodies of psalms set to music. In 1909 the congregation delighted in the skilled playing of Mrs. Myra Englehardt, then in the midst of her wonderful service of approximately fifty years as organist. If there are any now who yearn to hear the older hymns let them visit the home of Mrs. Loretta Cline, who each day on her piano plays the old, old songs in her catalogue of memory.
Pastor Hogan's ten-year ministry was constantly active and consistently successful. He performed 59 wedding ceremonies; administered 91 baptisms and received 117 new members into the church. Among the couples wed were George Nellis and Lina Duesler, Edgar Cummings and Bertha Burley, E. A. Borst and Louise Whyland; John J. D. Cairns and Gertrude Smith; Winfield Duesler and Edna Saltsman; Jacob F. Smith and Carrie Hill; George Walrath and Bertha Snell; Calvin Ashley and Minnie House; Herbert Dodd Allter and Elizabeth Coso; Ed Cook and Laura McAllister, and Henry Sponable and May Duesler. Among those baptised were Lena Sabin, Hazel Fox, Anna Franklin, Roscoe Yoran, Georgiana Nellis, Norman Miller, Mrs. Luella Mosher, Charles Borst, Laura Wick, Odessa Taylor; Marietta Hyde, Roger Nellis, Nellie, Vivian and Hilda Gray; Kenneth Hogan, George Lampman, Richard Borst, Calvin, Richard and Robert Ashley; Carolyn and Viola Allter.
In March, 1909, Pastor Hogan submitted his resignation. He accepted a call to the Reformed Church at Closter, New Jersey, where he had the privilege of serving twenty-five years. After a long and splendid ministry he retired and now resides with Mrs. Hogan in Florida. In 1945 when St. John's was celebrating its 175th anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Hogan were celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary! The number of members of St. John's who remembered Rev. and Mrs. Hogan with their greetings at that time testify to the warm place they have always had in the hearts of the people here.
The fourteenth pastorate at St. John's was likewise filled by a man of some years' experience, the Rev. Frederick Perkins, born at Lock Haven, Pa., September 12, 1865. The Rev. Perkins attended Hamilton College and then Princeton Seminary where he was graduated in 1892. He held Presbyterian pastorates at Binghamton and at Lodi, New York, before coming to St. John's, where he was installed December 30, 1909.
It was during this ministry that the age~old custom of raising, funds by renting pews was finally discontinued. Pews had been sold each year since 1804, the year the new church was built. The Rev. Minor had tried without success to introduce a different system. But at last, in 1916, the new method of raising money through pledges was adopted. In more recent years members and friends have been accustomed to make annual pledges each year in January through the every~member canvass, which is undertaken by the members of consistory and friends. By this method the congregation pays its pledges either through the use of weekly envelopes or through quarterly or annual payments. Not only is the church supported this way but pledges are made to benevolences also.
Another accomplishment of the Rev. Perkins' ministry was the first action taken toward the organization of a men's club. The consistory sponsored a men's supper April 11, 1911, with J. Gammond as chairman of the committee, assisted by Alvin Saltsman, Alvin Snell, G. C. Butler, Lewis Vosler, J. H. Reaney, and H. D. Allter. Another supper was held Feb. 22, 1912. Three years later D. C. Brown, F. P. Klock and Harold Fox were appointed to lay plans for a men's club which were not to be realized, however, until five years had passed and another pastorate had begun.
In 1911 the Church and parsonage were painted and the church basement was renovated to make it fit for Sunday School use. A new Intermediate department had been organized.
In the year 1913, on February 17, elder Amos Hayes died, after a continuous service of forty-three years as deacon and elder. He was received into the church under Domine Knieskern's pastorate in 1859 and served under eight ministers since that time to share with George Timmerman who served forty~five years, and Wesley Allter who was to serve that length of time also, the distinction of holding one of the longest terms of office in St. John's history.
The spiritual highlight of Pastor Perkins' ministry occurred the same year that elder Hayes died. Forty~three members were received, a number which has not been exceeded since. The preaching of Evangelist Edgar E. Davidson of Newtonville, Massachusettes, for two winter weeks, was greatly instrumental in this achievement. The revival was sponsored by St. John's but it won the support of all the Protestant churches in the community.
During these years John H. S. Putnam, a member of St. John's, was studying for the ministry at Rutgers College and at New Brunswick Seminary. He was graduated in 1916 and then enlisted as a chaplain in the United States Navy.
The year 1913 was successful in every way. Attendance at prayer meeting doubled; the Sunday School averaged 41 per cent higher than the year before; evening congregations increased 35 per cent. During the summer $750 was spent for redecorating the church and chapel. A new carpet was laid and new furnishings purchased.
As the years went on the clouds of war gathered in the east and on Mother's Day, 1916, an offering was taken for the mothers of Belgium. In November another offering was given for Armenian sufferers. And on the home front the Ladies' Aid gave $450.00 for the installation of the new hot water heating system in the parsonage.
In April, 1917, the thunder of guns and the grim shouts of battle were heard; war was declared 'to save the world for democracy.' And on August 14, 1917, Pastor Perkins resigned to accept a call to the Presbyterian church of New Berlin.
During his eight years' ministry the steady growth begun notably by the Rev. Hogan continued. Pastor Perkins won many new friends for St. John's and left a strong congregation behind him. He received the large number of 131 new members into the church fellowship; he united 39 couples in marriage and administered 75 baptisms. Among those wed were Hiram C. Andrews and Estella L. Snell, George W. Walrath and Georgianna. Nellis, Eben Griffiths and Bessie Green, Roland W. Dockey and Anna F. Shaut, Philip C. Furbeck and Mabel A. Fraats, Burrell A. Gardinier and Carrie Rogers, Hilbert J. Smith and Florence M. Stichel, George Failing and Pearl Bellinger, DeWitt C. Brown and Erma Markell, Elmer J. Schiemer and Rena Stichel, Clyde Fitzer and Freda Moyer, William Derocher and Anna Rockefeller.
Among those baptised were Leona Miller, Adam Horn, Myrtle Walrath, Bertram Horn, Martha May Snell, Margaret Wilsey, Richard Ames Snell, Enda Gray, Joseph Ashley, Herbert Dodd Allter, Jr., Clayton and Dayton Van Duesen, Ruth Furbeck, Donald Hayes, Howard E. Snell, Jr., Harold Fox, Jr., Alice Ashley, and Muriel Horn.
Three years after he left St. John's Pastor Perkins left New Berlin to become Stated Supply at Binghamton. In later years he wrote to the St. John's consistory, expressed his affection for the Church and its people and requested an opportunity to preach his last sermon from its pulpit. But by the time the letter was finally answered it was too late; Pastor Perkins had left this life.
The period of prosperous spiritual and temporal growth continued very happily during the next, the fifteenth pastorate at St. John's; that of the Rev. Herman Curtis Ficken. Mr. Ficken was born in Brooklyn, August 28, 1873; he attended Bloomfield Academy and then New Brunswick Seminary from which place he was graduated in 1898. He was ordained and installed as minister at Schagticoke, Long Island. He then served at Lawyersville and later at Hyde Park on the Hudson from whence he was called to St. John's, October 25, 1917.
Mr. Ficken's long and successful ministry saw many notable happenings at St. John's; among them the revival of the Board of Trustees in 1918 to assist the Consistory in its work; and during the same year the celebration of Mr. and Mrs. J. Salem Snell's Golden Wedding Anniversary. The Men's Club was completely organized about this time and became during the twenties one of the most successful groups in the history of St. John's.
But above all, Pastor Ficken's ministry was highlighted by the celebration of the St. John's '150th' Anniversary in the year 19 20. The Anniversary began on November 7th with a Morning Worship Service. Mr. Ficken preached on the text, "It shall be a jubilee unto you," (Lev. 25:10) and as recorded in the local newspaper, "His address was impressive and scholarly and was illuminated with references to church life in the early days and the lessons to be drawn from the devotions of our forefathers. The Church was packed to capacity and among the audience were many whose family ties harked back to the days when the church was founded."
At the close of the Service the new Anniversary bronze tablet at the front of the church was unveiled and in the afternoon another tablet was dedicated on the site of the original Klock's Church. In this Service all the participants were direct descendants of the original founders of St. John's.
At the evening service the Rev. George W. Furbeck, son of St. John's eleventh minister, Rev. Philip Furbeck, preached the sermon. The following day was devoted to the history of the church. A number of exhibits of old deeds and colonial antiques was placed on display and the congregation was entertained by the singing of the cantata 'Ruth' by the choir. Tuesday was Organization Day; Wednesday was Reception Day; but the highlight of the week came on Thursday with the presentation of the Birthday Pageant, arranged by the Misses Helen Horn and May Youker.
The pageant consisted of six group scenes, taken directly from the past history of the church, beginning with the arrival of the choir, clad in garments ranging from 1800 to the early '60's, led by Clark Saltsman "resplendent in his long tailed coat and stock collar and fully armed with a tuning fork." The first group portrayed the "Landing of the Pilgrims," a reading pictured with real life impersonations of the pilgrim fathers. Group 11 was a portrayal of the two missionaries, Van Driessen and Ehl, receiving the charter for the first church. Group III impersonated the five original trustees in 1787. With this group was another of Domine Dysslin, his family, and other leaders of the congregation. The characters of the first pastor and his wife were interpreted by direct descendants in the fifth generation. This was an action scene of a typical wedding ceremony, complete with bride and groom. In Group IV, "Churchmen of 1804," ". . . actual church records were used and the meeting conducted with the same deliberation as of olden times. The churchmen arrived in tall hats, with lemon grater lanterns lit with tallow candles and gathered around the historic communion table for their deliberations. They gave the pastor a raise of $2.00 per year in salary, investigated the Poor fund which was rather low, recorded bids for church support ranging from four to six dollars each, some cords of wood and occasional bushels of wheat." Group V represented a meeting of the Ladies' Sewing Society "replete with silks and brocades, lace shawls and paisley shawls" called in 1848 for the purpose of helping with the refurnishing of the church. Group VI, the last, represented the builders of the new church in 1881 and included two surviving members, Wesley Allter and Horatio Bellinger.
Following this a formal document was read bestowing the honorary degree of 'Doctor of Fidelity' upon all St. John's ministers, past and present, and after a response by Rev. Mr. Kinney, who had returned for the occasion, the 150th anniversary came to a happy ending with the cutting of the birthday cake by the oldest members present, Mrs. Stephen Duesler, Mrs. Alvin Saltsman, Mrs. Harlan P. Walrath, and Mrs. Daniel House.
Thus ended the celebration which is still remembered with enthusiastic admiration and pleasure. As far as is known this was the first real celebration of any of the St. John's anniversaries. It was a banner year in every way: New members, 29 in number, were received and 15 baptisms administered; church membership totaled 306 and the Sunday School enrollment was 204. The sum of $409, was raised for missions; $283 for other purposes and $5,977 for congregational expenses.
Other fine things were accomplished in the ensuing years of Pastor Ficken's ministry. In 1921 the sum of $1500 was raised to repair the personage porches, to lay a cement floor in the garage, to raze the church sheds, and to move the barn to the rear of the lot for the use of the vehicles of the 'country people.' In December, 1923, another $1200 was raised to redecorate the church auditorium and Sunday School room. Nor was the progressive activity confined to our own needs; for St. John's participated wholeheartedly in the Tricentennial celebration of the founding of the Reformed Church in America, 1628 to 1928, by doing its part in helping to raise a ministerial pension fund of $ 1,000,000. St. John's contributed $1150, making the final payment of $964.41 in the year 1928, setting a new record of $1394 for mission giving in any one year.
During his twelve year ministry Pastor Ficken received the record total of 180 new members into the church fellowship, more, it is believed than any one ministry before or since. He also married 43 couples, among whom were Ogden Butter and Hazel Fox, Carrie Chambers and George Planck, Ludwig Keil and Rena Snell, Harold A. Foss and Harriet Jencks, Earl Wood and Elsie Gray, James Butler and Anne Crumb, Charles Guhring and Mildred Foss, Cadet Avery and Nellie Gray, Alvin Berry and Ethel Christman, Wallace Close and Geraldine Gray, Harlin Devendorf and Dorcas Dillenbeck, Arby Green and Hilda Gray, Dr. George Burgin and Ethel Hodge, Frederick Engelhardt and Myra McBride, and Harvey Nellis and Mabel Kramer.
He also baptised 113 infants and adults, among whom were Mary Lou, Barbara, and James Beeknian, Howard Snell Andrews, Richard Grant, Evadna Groff Porter, Margaret and Barbara Bierman, Ralph and Elizabeth MacWethy, Harry S. Huff, Suzanne and Jack Countryman, Mary Elizabeth Horn, Gordon and Ruth Whitney, Francis and June Gray, Margaret Wagner, Odessa Snell, Barbara Butler, Charles Heath, Eltha and Yula Lewis, George and Dorothy Hall, Walter and Audrey Kell, Geraldine Close, Donald Avery, Charles J. Miller, Lois and Louise Snell, Harlow Devendorf, Rosmarie Green, Margaret Cook, Charlene, Dorcas, and Elinor Guhring, Margaret Miles, Constance Miller, James Ogden Bellinger and Marie Countryman.
The year 1929 saw the end of the era. It had begun about 1900, the second year of the Rev. Orville J. Hogan's ministry. It saw the wonder of the automobile grow into a colossus of mass production and highway speed; it marveled at the first flight of an airplane in 1903; it helped in the laying of great hard-surfaced roads; it accepted, though gingerly at first, the miracle of electricity; it shuddered through the shocking horrors of the first World War; it rejoiced prematurely at the blood~won achievement of lasting peace. But in 1929 the most fantastic era in the history of mankind came to an end with the resounding thud of the fall of the ailing economic system from heights of world prosperity to depths of hunger and want. The closing of the local plant of the far-famed Union Mills, once the greatest organization of knit goods manufacturers in the world, coupled with the economic chaos which prevailed throughout the Mohawk Valley heralded the grim depression years, during which St. Johnsville suffered keenly.
Pastor Ficken resigned his pastorate November 19th, 1929, to close a highly successful ministry. He had accepted the call to the pulpit at Altamont, in the region where Orville Hogan was born, and he has ministered happily there through all the intervening years. As with the world so with St. John's. The era of St. John's numerical and financial prosperity, encouraged during the years of Pastor Hogan's, Pastor Perkins' and Pastor Ficken's ministries, was at an end.
THE WAR YEARS
THE CHRISTIANA, GEDDES, WESTRA, and THOMAS MINISTRIES
The sixteenth pastor at St. John's, the man who was called in February, 1930, to shepherd the St. John's flock through the grim difficulties of depression years, proved to be the Rev. Harry C. Christiana, born August 17, 1897, at Krumville, New York. He had been educated at the Mount Hermon School for Boys, at Syracuse University, and at Union Seminary, where he was graduated in 1924. During his seminary years he was director of religious education at the Flatbush Reformed Church in Brooklyn. In 1924, however, he accepted a call to the Reformed churches at Stuyvesant and Stuvesant Falls where he served until his arrival at St. Johnsville in April, 1930.
Pastor Christiana's first act was to enlist three capable men to fill the consistorial vacancies left by the resignations of elders F. P. Klock and C. C. Walrath and deacon Alvin Snell the previous winter. A congregational meeting was called immediately and Alvin J. Berry and Murray Duesler were elected elders to serve with J. H. Rowland and R. B. Beekman; and Roy Sutherland, Herbert Dodd Allter, and Fred Guhring were elected deacons to serve with Seymour Christman.
Depression difficulties soon presented themselves. During the twenties notes were taken on the local bank at fairly frequent intervals in order to finance some project or to meet a pressing bill; but means were always found of meeting the notes readily and the notes were liquidated in due course. By the time of Mr. Christiana's arrival, however, a note for $600 had been taken out and another for $400 was taken in December, 1930. It was only after great effort that the smaller note was finally met and it was not until April, 19 3 2, that the larger note was paid. Diminished contributions led inevitably to further difficulties, however. So difficult were they by September, 1932, that a motion was passed to close the church entirely, should St. John's be unable to meet current expenses by December 1st. Yet, in spite of all, the financial storms were weathered. Pastor Christiana found time to publish a booklet containing an up-to-date brief history of the St. John's, a complete list of members, and a directory of officers, Sunday School teachers and pupils, consistory members, etc., the first complete directory ever to be published in the entire history of St. John's. In a personal message in the preface to the booklet the pastor wrote, "Now we are all ready to go ahead and do the best we can for these times." He reported an average attendance of seventy at the worship services and a Sunday School 'small but doing nicely.'
Pastor Christiana proved himself to be a youth leader of unusual ability. On his own initiative he started a community-wide Boy Scout troop and established it so successfully that it has continued -until this day. Mr. Christiana also organized the Daily Vacation Bible School; which in cooperation with the other Protestant churches in the village, was revived in 1941 during the pastorate of the Rev. Peter Westra. Pastor Christiana received 21 new members into the church; married 9 couples, among whom were Emerson Monk and Adeline A. Gleason, James Carlton and Gertrude Lenz, Arthur Galusha and Alice Moyer, Karl Kuhl and Martha Snell; and he baptised 32 infants and adults, among whom were John Hall, Richard Bellinger, Nellis Van Slyke, Norman Miller, Fay Guhring, Cynthia Williams, Joan Devendorf, Ellen Guhring, Martin and Mildred Walrath, Gordon Hough, Fred Sullivan, Bernard Avery, Walter and Frederick Wagner, Kenneth and Jesse Watkins, Marietta Hyde, and Richard Borst.
Pastor Christiana presented his resignation and ended his ministry at St. John's December 31st, 1934. He accepted a call to the Reformed Church at Fultonville and ministered there until June, 1947, when he was called to the Reformed Church at Port Ewen, New York.
The seventeenth St. John's pastorate began on June 21st, 1935, with the ordination and installation of Robert Arthur Geddes, born and raised in the Fort Washington district of New York City, educated at Rutgers University and at New Brunswick Seminary, and called directly to St. John's.
With the worst of the depression years now ended the church began the long climb back to normalcy. By December, 1935, the $1000 note was paid off and for the first time in several years the congregation was free of debt. The congregation grew in numbers also. A total number of 44 new members were received during Pastor Geddes' four and one-half year ministry.
April, 1936, marked the close of the long and notable service of Mrs. Myra McBride Engelhardt who had held the position of organist forty~nine wonderful years since 1887. All who knew her mourned her passing. It seemed fitting that she should be taken while she sat within the walls of her beloved church. The last thing she saw on earth was the organ she had played so well and so long.
Further sorrow marked Mr. Geddes' ministry. He had brought with him to the parsonage, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. George Geddes. But with the passing of the months Mrs. Geddes was stricken and died. It was left to the minister's bride, Mrs. Irma Heath Geddes, of Highland Park, New Jersey, to carry on. Mr. Geddes, Sr., was of great help to the church during his son's ministry. He served on the consistory for several years as deacon and clerk.
Probably the outstanding event of Pastor Geddes' ministry was the dedication of the tower chimes on Palm Sunday, March 21st, 1937. The chimes were given to St. John's by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Reaney in memory of his mother, Mrs. Margaret Reaney. By 3 o'clock in the afternoon when the dedication service started, the church was filled to overflowing. Every nook and corner was filled with members and friends and visitors who had come from far and wide to hear the chimes ring out their message of faith. The service as arranged by the minister, the Consistory, and organist Cyrus Van Slyke, included musical selections by the choir accompanied by Mr. Van Slyke and the singing of the dedicatory song, "Come Unto Me," by Mr. Ramon Borroff, accompanied by his wife who wrote it in honor of the occasion. The congregation joined in the sacred act of dedication through the reading of responses and then, as each of the twenty-five chimes was pealed for the first time, it was dedicated by the minister with an appropriate word of Scripture. The dedication sermon, "The Call to Prayer," was preached by the Rev. Dr. John W. Beardslee, Jr., President of New Brunswick Seminary. At the close of the Service the chimes rang out their joyous sound, playing the age-old, best-loved hymns.
During his ministry at St. John's the Rev. Geddes joined 21 couples in marriage, among whom were Willard Harper and Helene Lenz, Hugh Brown and Leila Hillabrandt, John Cairns, Jr. and Hilda Pietrocinni, Jack Bickerton and Margaret Bierman, Harold Lasher and Dorothy Bruce, Burrel Ross Kiefling and Marion Hill, John Finch and Marguerite Walrath, Melvin Gray and Mary Sabo, Elvin Dean and Hazel Warn, Harold Countryman and Doris Van Slyke. Among the 23 baptised were Marilyn and Philip Walrath, Corliss Frederick, Doris and Marcia Plank, Richard Dygert, Susan and William North, Helen Lenig, Milford Decker, James Cook, Jr., Lucille Keil, William MacWethy, Kathleen Corte, Shirley Brigeman, John and Loretta Geraldine Laraway, Robert Hook, Elizabeth Blankman, and Jon Guhring.
At a meeting of the consistory on November 16th, 1939, Pastor Geddes tendered his resignation to accept a call to the Reformed Church at Minaville, New York. He left St. John's at the end of December and ministered at Minaville until the fall of 1944 when he accepted a call to the old historic Reformed Church at Tappan, New York.
It may be said that the crises of economic dislocation caused by the depression were now over. Under Pastor Geddes the congregation successfully weathered the storms. Increasing numbers of St. Johnsville residents found employment in St. Johnsville and in several industries at Fort Plain, Little Falls and Canajoharie. By 1940 the corner had been turned.
The eighteenth pastorate at St. John's was also filled by a young man from New Brunswick Seminary. Peter J. Westra was born and raised in South Dakota. He took his Bachelor's degree at Central College, Iowa, where he graduated in 1937, but came East for his seminary training. In his second year there he was married and when he and his bride arrived in St. Johnsville in June, 1940, they found a parsonage that had been completely modernized and redecorated. Through the diligent efforts of the Ladies' Aid Society which had the house papered and painted; the many hours of labor given by some of the men, especially Edward Cook and Alvin Berry; the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis M. Fowler who had new hardwood oak floors laid in all rooms on both floors and a cement floor laid in the cellar; and the generosity also of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Reaney who installed a beautiful all new modern kitchen, a new bathroom, and a new General Electric oil burner, the parsonage was thus renovated and transformed into an up-to-date, pleasant home.
The young minister quickly displayed both initiative and a talent for organization. In the summer of 1941 he took the lead in arranging a two-week Daily Vacation Bible School which has proved to be more successful year by year, enrolled about ninety children, and enlisted the full support of all the Protestant churches. In the fall of that same year Pastor Westra's leadership encouraged the reorganization of the men's club, after a lapse of about eleven years. In 1942 a subscription list was circulated by George T. Snell and the sum of $737 was raised to paint the exteriors of both the church and the parsonage. In that year also, for the second time in its history, the congregation of St. John's gave more than $1000 to missions. This achievement was the result of the gifts made by the Missionary Society, by the Sunday School, the church benevolences, and a gift of $500 given by Mr. and Mrs. Fowler and Mrs. Suits to our "Kentucky Mountain Work."
Another notable gift was that of two beautiful Christian and American flags for the church auditorium by the Rev. Dr. and Mrs. David Davy. These flags in company with the marble baptismal fount given by Mr. and Mrs. Herbert D. Allter in memory of their baby daughter, the pulpit furniture and brass cross, candelabra, and vases given by Mr. and Mrs. Reaney, the palms given by Mr. and Mrs. Fowler, and the flowers which adorned the communion table each Sunday comprised an attractive and meaningful worship setting.
In the fall of 1943 Pastor Westra and the Rev. Franklin J. Schweiger of St. Paul's Lutheran Church together undertook the first Released Time School in the history of St. Johnsville. As provided by New York State law pupils are permitted to leave the public school one hour each week for the purposes of receiving religious instruction. This Released Time School has grown steadily and in the year 1946-1947 embraced all grades from the second to the eighth and demanded the energetic efforts of all four ministers.
During his busy ministry Pastor Westra joined 12 couples in marriage, among whom were Deward C. Manclow and LaMoyne Gray, Dr. Bernard Feldstein and Catherine McGinnis, Dr. Martin Mangels, Jr. and Mary Lou Beekman, Burton Cretser and Audrey Hoffman, Charles Britt and June Gray, Virgil Christman and Mary Elizabeth Horn, and Charles McCormick and Evadna Porter.
Among the 40 infants, young people, and adults Mr. Westra baptised, were Judith and Lawrence Fowler, Edward and Charlotte Ann Blankman, Margaret Bowman, Ann Cairns, Elaine and Allen Walrath, Deborah and Barbara Turpin, Peter Markell, John Alofs, John Paul and Donna Lee Westra, Linda, DeWitt, and Alice Vogel, Garry Beard, Donna Lee Johnson, Katherine Plank, Jerry Czek, Barbara Dunlap, Gail Manclow, Vivian, Marjorie, and Patricia McDuffee, Mary Lou Mangels, Janet Hook, Barbara Doxtater, Jeanine McMahon, Robert Dean, William Gray, and Carole Miller.
Mr. Westra's work at St. John's attracted favorable attention from the Reformed Church, Board of Domestic Missions. In December, 1943, he received a call from the Board to go as a missionary to Hammond, Indiana, to start a new church in the fast growing suburb of Riverside Park. He left St. John's in January, 1944, after a three and a half year ministry. His leadership, supported by the faithful consistory, had accomplished many good things. A number of new people had become interested in the Church; many of them were to become members. The outbreak of war of course disrupted the life of the church by taking away most of the young men and some of the young women, but in some ways it served to deepen the sense of need for spiritual guidance.
The nineteenth pastorate began on June 11, 1944, with the ordination and installation of Norman Edwin Thomas. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he was educated at Rutgers University and at New Brunswick Seminary from whence he came directly to St. John's.
Perhaps the outstanding event during the Thomas ministry was the 175th Anniversary celebration in November, 1945. The Consistory designated Sunday, November 11, as Anniversary Day and invited the Reverend Dr. William Weber, Professor of Religious Education at New Brunswick, to preach the sermon at the morning service. The Anniversary address at the evening service was given by the Reverend Dr. John W. Beardslee, Jr., President of the Seminary, and at that service also, greetings were sent by several former pastors of St. John's and brought in person by fellow ministers in the village, the Rev. Roland C. Updyke and the Rev. L. Alden Smith.
The Anniversary banquet was held on the following Tuesday evening and the Community House was filled with members and friends who greatly enjoyed the chicken dinner prepared and served by the ladies of St. John's. The diners were entertained by songs by Mrs. Harlin Devendorf and Adrian Gray, accompanied by organist Mrs. Clarence C. Lull; by the playing of an original piano composition, "Anniversary Etude," by Mrs. Mildred Walrath; and by the group singing led by Harold Fox. Men's Club president Nellis Smith presided; Consistorial vice-president Vernon Fusmer spoke on behalf of the church organizations; former pastor the Rev. Harry Christiana brought personal greetings; and then the Rev. Dr. Raymond B. Drukker, Director of Kentucky Mountain Work, gave the main address, which proved to be an inspiring call to Christian service.
Another highlight of the evening was the cutting of the birthday cake.. As Mrs. Melvin Hayes, the oldest resident member, was unable to come, the honor of the first cut fell to George T. Snell who, 25 years before, had donated the 150th Anniversary cake. Following him were Miss Carrie Kilts, Miss Mabelle McKenzie, Earle McKenzie, Mrs. Lina Nellis, Mrs. Ai Fox, Mrs. Metta Bartle, Mrs. Elmer Snell, and Harry Stichel.
Another important part of the banquet program was the presentation of the anniversary fund financial report. The congregation had been invited to purchase anniversary years at a cost of $5. each. Any year could be chosen from 1770 to 1945, the 175 years of St. John's history. The goal of the fund campaign was therefore $875. Over $700 of this was spent during the summer of 1945 to defray the cost of painting the interior of the church and also to repair and restore all the stained glass windows. Fund treasurer Earl Hook brought the happy news that the goal of $875 was more than achieved. In fact, the final tally made months later revealed that almost $1050 had been received. The more than $300 that remained from the fund after all the anniversary expenses had been met was applied toward the cost of publishing this book.
The 175th Anniversary year was notable in several ways. The sum of $1860., the highest amount in St. John's history, was given to benevolences. The sacrificial giving of members and friends to the denominational boards through weekly envelopes; the generosity of the members of the Missionary Society and the Ladies' Aid; the hearty response to the emergency fund; and a second gift of $500 by Mr. and Mrs. Fowler and Mrs. Suits to the Kentucky Mission all together made this high total possible. During this year also 36 new members were received into the church, the largest number since 1913.
During the year 1944, the church received two gifts from Mr. and Mrs. Reaney. The first, $64,105, to be set up in trust as an endowment fund, and the second, $22,750, to meet the pressing need for a new church hall and enlarged educational facilities. Minimum plans called for a new combination church hall and dining room, a new kitchen, and most important, at least five new Sunday School rooms including larger, fully equipped nursery and kindergarten classrooms.
In November, 1946, the St. John's congregation began another worthwhile project, the Reformed Church United Advance Fund. The denomination set the sum of $2,500,000 as a goal to be won by June, 1948, and St. John's accepted the sum of $3150 as its quota. This fund was used for relief in war~torn Europe, China, and India; for repairs and construction in our several colleges and seminaries; for the restoration of our mission facilities destroyed during the war; and for the furtherance of our work among the Negroes in Alabama and the Indians in the West; in short, for the advance of the Kingdom of God on every front.
Mr. Thomas also became personally involved in the sending of relief to several European countries after World War 11. In January, 1947, he received a leave of absence to act as chaplain and livestock attendant on the relief ship SS. Mt. Whitney, bound for Poland. While in Poland, he was able to tour several of the war-torn cities and also Studthof, one of the notorious Nazi concentration camps. During this leave of absence which lasted almost four months, 1460 horses, 40 heifers and two registered purebred Belgian bulls were delivered for the rehabilitation of devastated farm areas in Poland.
Pastor Thomas received fifty-five new members into the fellowship of' the church; has joined 22 couples in holy wedlock and has administered 40 baptisms. Among the couples wed were William Hoffman and Jean Livingston, Barbara Markell and Stanley Kaney, Barbara Bierman and Joseph Pamkowski, Mae Rusaw and Richard Warn, Alexander Nunes and Constance Miller, Frederick Wagner and Doris Bellinger, Betty Jane Snell and Clyde Mosher, Frederick Klossner and Loretta Geraldine Laraway, Corliss Frederick and Eleanor Harris, Gordon W. Davis and Kathleen Corte, Herman Fredericks and Rosmarie Green, Adam Klock and Lois Snell, James Beekman and Mildred Walrath, E. Robert Hall and joy King, Paul Walter and Charlene Guhring, Elmer Hawkins and Elsie Vosburgh, Martha Savary and ReVere Dockey, and Helen Lenig and Wesley Smith.
Among those baptised were Janet Fowler, James Robbins, Demis Kay and Georgine Lampman, Charles Herning, Dorothy Hoag, Eileen Pitts, Betty Coppernoll, Wayne Maier, Jeannette Cretser, May and Philip Kraft, Margaret Wagner, Gary Jubar, John Cairns III, Carol Manclow, Daniel Dahlen, Louis Roblee, Joya and Jan Noel Ryerson, Leslie and Lois Davis, Jean, Janet and Helen Wheeler, Frederick Pierce, Janis Rae Davis, Toni Elizabeth Beekman, Candice Lee Wagner, Maurice Everett, Douglas Beard, Douglas Frederick, Noel Marie Thomas, and Kenneth and Nanette Fay Mereness.
Mr. Thomas brought a dynamic and inspirational ministry to St. John's Church during the war years. At a special consistory meeting in June, 1947, he tendered his resignation to accept a call to the Bellevue Reformed Church of Schenectady, New York. In 1957 he accepted a call to serve the historic First Reformed Church of Albany, New York, and then in 1969 he became Dean of New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Surely a high point in his years -of outstanding ministry was his opportunity to serve as the president of the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America in 1961.
THE CROUNSE, SHORT, GEDDES AND WESTHUIS MINISTRIES
The twentieth pastorate began on October 3, 1948, with the installation of Ernest Crounse. Born in Schaghticoke, New York, he attended Hope College and New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Before coming to St. John's, he served pastorates in the Trinity Reformed Church of Schenectady, New York and in the Reformed Churches of Coeymans, Clarksville, and Schoharie, all in New York State. From 1944 to 1946 he was a chaplain in the United States Army.
Pastor Crounse had one of the longest and most successful ministries at St. John's. Due to the generosity of church members, the facilities of the church were enlarged. The church building was beautified and embellished.
On January 28, 1951, the Reaney Memorial Sunday School Building and the Herning Memorial Room were dedicated. The Rev. Norman E. Thomas, then pastor of the Bellevue Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York, returned to preach one of the dedicatory sermons, and Dr. Bernard J. Mulder, General Secretary of the Board of Education in the Reformed Church of America, preached the other. Greetings were brought from the St. Johnsville Ministerial Association and Montgomery Classis. The large congregation present joined in a litany of dedication.
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Reaney had visualized the erection of a Sunday School Building already in 1947 and Mr. Reaney had established a fund prior to his death in that year. However, materials were in short supply and the times were uncertain, so the construction was postponed. When construction began in 1950, material and labor costs had increased so much that Mrs. Reaney had to add to the original fund set aside. The total cost of this attractive, useful building was $60,000. The architect was Myron Jordan of Richfield Springs and the contractor was Raymond Olmstead of Canajoharie.
Among the outstanding features of this building upstairs are six classrooms equipped with blackboards and tables and chairs corresponding in size to the age of the students using them; bathrooms for the boys and girls; a storage closet for the church custodian; and, a convenient office for the church secretary. Down, stairs it has a large fellowship hall used as a dining room and meeting room with a stage at one end and a modern, well-equipped kitchen at the other end. This building has made possible an added dimension in the education of the children and the fellowship life of the whole church.
While the Sunday School Building was being constructed, Elder George A. Herning died on September 27, 1950. In his memory Mrs. Herning and his son Charles redecorated a room downstairs in knotty pine and furnished it with maple furniture. It has been a very functional room, a place where the Consistory, the Guild, and the Youth Fellowship have met through the years. Undoubtedly it has served welt its dedicatory purpose, to be used for "the Glory of God and the Fellowship of Man."
On Sunday, November 1, 1953, the Reaney Memorial Organ and the Fowler Memorial Window were dedicated. For the sermon, Pastor Crounse preached a moving message entitled "Expressions of Faith." Again greetings were brought from the St. Johnsville Ministerial Association and Montgomery Classis. Also, the gathered congregation joined in a litany of dedication.
The organ is an excellent quality instrument and has been greatly admired and appreciated. It was purchased from the Austin Organ Company of Hart, ford, Connecticut. It was the last of many remarkable gifts which Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Reaney had given to the church through fifty years of membership. Mr. Reaney died March 31, 1947 and Mrs Reaney March 25, 1951. Before she died, Mrs. Reaney established a fund, the interest of which is to be used to perpetuate their pledge to the church through the years.
The stained glass window is a beautifully striking portrayal of the Gethsemane scene in the life of Jesus Christ. In the border of the window are twelve symbols, each representing an apostle. The window was given by Mrs. Lewis M. Fowler in loving memory of her husband and her mother, Mrs. N. J. Suits. The artist was Albrecht Holz, and it was made by the Payne~Spiers Studios, Inc. of Paterson, New Jersey.
Mrs. Suits died in September, 1948 and Mr. Fowler on February 7, 1951. Mr. and Mrs. Fowler contributed to the work of God's Kingdom in many parts of the world. Together they worked and worshiped in St. John's. Previous to this time they had recovered the seat cushions in the sanctuary, and they had given the brass offering plates in memory of Mrs. Suits.
Then on October 27, 1957, another generous gift from Mrs. Fowler, new lighting fixtures for the sanctuary, were dedicated. Pastor Crounse preached a sermon appropriately entitled, "That Men Might Not Walk in Darkness." Again, greetings were brought from the St. Johnsville Ministerial Association and Montgomery Classis and the congregation Joined in a litany of dedication.
The splendid lighting fixtures which are rheostatically controlled provide the proper amount of light for every need. They were installed after the problem of church lighting had been studied for more than two years and many experts in the field of church lighting had been consulted. Mr. Charles Rockwell Ellis of Syracuse, New York, was the architect and Mr. J. Warren Powers of Valley Electric Company, Canajoharie, New York, installed the wiring and the new fixtures.
During his ministry Pastor Crounse guided a thriving organization called the 20-30 Club. Composed of couples of all ages, it was a center of social life in the church. Members have fond memories of their many enjoyable times together.
Pastor Crounse received a commendable total of 250 members into the church, baptized 112 babies and adults, and married 43 couples. He carried on an active ministry at St. John's. He is remembered as a conscientious pastor who had a warm, sincere relationship with his people.
Among those received into church membership were Rev. and Mrs. Curtis Ficken, Joan Austin, Milford Decker, Mr. and Mrs. Herman Decker, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Snell, Sue Snell Williams, Janet Snell Steuding, Mrs. Harlow Devendorf, Mrs. and Mrs. Adam Crouse, Mrs. Paul Dahlen, Mrs. Imogene Nichols, John James Cairns, Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Francisco, Mr. and Mrs. Leo Kraft, Mrs. Bertha Wagner, and Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Brown.
Others were Mr. and Mrs. Wilfred Forster, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hoffman, Patricia Hoffman, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Reese, Harris B. Dunlap, Jr., Ronald Brown, Robert Hook, Richard Austin, Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Frasier, Mr. and Mrs. Wilfred Kraft, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Smith, Mrs. Karen Crouse, Elaine Walrath, Judith Fowler, Joan Huff, Crista Kraft, Mr. and Mrs. Roger Scofield, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Crosier, Mrs. Bertha Weir, and Ralph Weir.
Still others were Mrs. Jane Goralski, Elmer Brown, Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Fowler, Mrs. Gail Carter, Mrs. Barbara Dunlap Lewis, Mrs. Janet Hook Snyder, Mrs. Jaqueline Sharpe, Paul Hoffman, Doug Smith, Richard Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Adam Klock, Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Paul, Mr. and Mrs. Albert Johnson, Mrs. Clara Amidon, James Conboy, Mrs. Ellen Bond, Mrs. Janice Marino, Mrs. Diane Moore, Janet Fowler, William Gray, Richard Greene, Gary Beard, Law, rence Ouderkirk, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Wagner, Mrs. Joan Brundage Z1pp, Monica Kraft, Richard Crounse, James Crosier, Mrs. Diane Brown, Donald Hoffman, Allan Walrath, Cornelius Paul, Mr. and Mrs. William Beisher, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Triumpho.
At a meeting of consistory on October 1, 1957, the Rev. Crounse tendered his resignation to accept a call to the Second Reformed Church of Syracuse, New York. There he presided over the merger of the First and Second Reformed Churches and welded the two into a strong, united congregation. In March, 1969, he moved from Syracuse to Albany and is now serving the Third Reformed Church of Albany, New York.
The twenty-first pastorate began on December 15, 1957, with the installation of Stanley Garret Short. Born on June 6, 193 1, in Kingston, New York, he was educated at Rutgers University and New Brunswick Theological Semi, nary. He served the Reformed Church of Spotswood, New Jersey until he accepted the call to St. John's.
Perhaps the outstanding characteristic of Pastor Short's ministry was a dynamic youth program. He led a large, enthusiastic group of young people. They worked and saved their money until they were able to take a five day trip to Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Youth from Albany, Schenectady, Fonda, Canajoharie, Fort Plain, and Herkimer joined them on the chartered bus for the trip.
Under the guidance of Pastor Short they sold candy, conducted food sales and did baby~sitting. They washed cars and windows and raked leaves. Wherever an opportunity presented itself, they seized it, thereby industriously earning the necessary money for the trip.
On October 11, 1959, the Children's Memorial Chapel, another generous gift from Mrs. Mabel Fowler, was dedicated. Dr. D. Campbell Wyckoff preached the sermon entitled "The Child and the Church." The Charlton School Choir from Burnt Hills, New York, sang the anthem, and the congregation joined in a litany of dedication.
The Children's Chapel was given by Mrs. Fowler in memory of her daughter Arlene Mabel Fowler who died in infancy. Designed by Mr. Herbert W. Holmgren of New York City, the chapel has been a beautiful and inspirational meeting room for many groups. The general contracting was done by Mr. Leo Kraft. The original stained glass windows were made by the studios of George L. Payne, Paterson, New Jersey. The Baldwin Electronic Organ was installed by the Roberts Piano Company, Schenectady, New York.
In addition to completely remodeling the chapel room, the gift also included a custom~made communion table, lectern and matching pews; bronze cross, candlesticks and offering plates; cabinet and robe closet; Heywood, Wakefield folding chairs; imported English damask dossal curtain; drapery; indirect lighting and antique bronze central lighting fixture; Gulistan carpet; and a Revised Standard Version Pulpit Bible.
On November 14, 1959, Pastor Short resigned his pastorate to close a ministry especially successful with the youth. He enrolled in a graduate program of Religious Education at Syracuse University from which he received a M.A. in 1960. He served as interim pastor of the Westminister Presbyterian Church, Syracuse, New York from 1959 to 1960; as minister of education in the Central Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan from 1960 to 1961, and in the La Jolla Presbyterian Church, La Jolla, California from 1961 to 1964. Since then he has been the minister of education at the Calvary Presbyterian Church in Riverside, California. His work in Christian Education has been acknowledged by several professional magazines, and several items of his professional work have been published.
The twenty~second pastorate began on October 2, 1960, when Robert Arthur Geddes returned to St. John's and was installed as minister. The Rev. Geddes had served St. John's Reformed Church immediately after graduation from seminary from 1935 to 1939; the Florida Reformed Church of Minaville, New York from 1940 to 1944; and the historic Reformed Church of Tappan, New York from 1944 to 1947. Then he was called to the the Synodical Supervisor of the Particular Synod of New Jersey and served in this challenging position until he returned to St. John's.
Pastor Geddes was an able, strong leader. Shortly after he arrived, he convinced the consistory of the vital importance of an active church membership. The membership was reviewed, and a vigorous attempt was made to encourage active membership. Now a decade later, the consistory continues to seek enthusiastic participation from all church members.
Also, the room of the west side of the church sanctuary was replaced, and a new garage for the parsonage was built. When the old slate shingles on the west side of the church started to leak, they were replaced by asbestos shingles which have provided fine protection against the elements. For some time the parsonage garage had been inadequate. The new two~stall garage is an attractive, functional building constructed of concrete block with brick veneer.
The sizable gift of $ 3,000 was received by the church from the estate of Mrs. Lila S. Snell. Also, Mr. Dewitt Snell, her husband, gave $5,000 to the church in memory of his late wife with the stipulation that the income from the principal be used as a Scholarship Fund to assist young people of the church in the pursuit of higher education. Subsequently, gifts of $2,500 and $3,000 were received and added to the principal. Members of St. John's getting a college education have been appreciative of the scholarship aid.
Some creative projects were undertaken to expand the witness of the church to the world. An Easter Dawn Service at El Rancho Drive-In, Nelliston, New York, was sponsored by this church and others in the Tri-village area of St. Johnsville, Fort Plain, and Canajoharie. A community survey was conducted to determine which residents of the village were church members. Also, Pastor Geddes was community-minded, participating as an officer in several organizations.
Pastor Geddes placed an intense emphasis on benevolent giving. During his ministry, the giving for benevolent purposes increased notably. Undoubtedly, the outstanding achievement of the church in this area was making and fulfilling a pledge of $6,000 to the United Synod Advance of the Particular Synod of Albany. This feat can serve as an inspiring precedent for future years.
But mixed with joy and happiness were sorrow and sadness for Mr. Geddes during this ministry. On April 5, 1961, his wife, Mrs. Irma Heath Geddes, suffered a heart attack and died as she was leading a Guild meeting. She had been a devoted wife, a loving mother, an industrious worker in the church. The congregation joined Mr. Geddes in mourning her passing from the Church here to the Church above. The Irma Geddes Memorial Library was established by Mr. Geddes in her memory, and adults and young people have since enjoyed reading much fine Christian literature.
During this his second ministry at St. John's, Pastor Geddes received 81 members into the church, baptized 53 babies, young people and adults, and married 37 couples. Among those received into membership were: Judith Austin, Douglas Beard, Toni Beekman, Richard Brundage, Lon Scofield, Gerald Crosier, Eleanor Castrucci, Dale Francisco, William Forster, Molly Nusom, Robert Smith, Glenn Thompson, Gary Wick, Gordon Frasier, Marguerite Frasier, Dennis Frasier, Barbara Geddes, Robert Geddes, Arthur Moshinskie, Sr. and Pearl Moshinskie.
Others were Nellie Sheldon, Ada Thorpe, Earl Huff, Roger Blencoe, David Geddes, Judith Greene, Dale Hook, Linda Pross, Sandra Warn, Sylvester Snyder, Elizabeth Snyder, George Rosset, Grace Rosset, Mary Lou Barlow, Alice Dingman, David Rosset, Gary Warn, Catherine Geddes, Kenneth Snell, Sharon Snell, David Crouse, Kay Crouse, Dawn Francisco, Lillian Rosset, Cynthia Smith, Nancy Snyder, Harry Hayes, Carrie Hayes, Leland Scofield, Betsie Crosier, Judith Frasier, Charles Heath, Kathryn Heath, Zylphia Thomnson, and Gary Johnson.
At a special consistory meeting on January 24, 1967, the Rev. Geddes tendered his resignation to accept a call from the Rockaway Reformed Church of Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. After a sad beginning with the death of his late wife, he had married Catherine Warn and worked hard to lead the church in a relevant direction and into creative programs so that it might serve a changing world.
The twenty-third and present pastorate began on July 9, 1967, with the ordination and installation of Wesley Ross Westhuis. He was born in Waupun, Wisconsin, educated at Hope College and Western Seminary, after which he was called to St. John's.
Surely the outstanding event or series of events during the present minis, try has been the 200th anniversary celebration. The first event was the annual congregational meeting on Sunday, January 18, 1970. Mrs. Leo Walrath and her hardworking committee prepared a delicious meal and decorated the Fellowship Hall with a display of old articles. The Rev. Ernest Crounse returned to deliver an inspiring address. Each organization reported on its previous year and the Senior Choir honored their members of longest service. Many people dressed in old fashioned clothes, and everyone enjoyed a delightful evening.
The second event was a sacred concert given by the Northwestern College Choir of Orange City, Iowa, on Good Friday evening,, March 27, 1970. The choir arrived late in the afternoon after traveling on the bus nonstop for two days because of an early Spring snowstorm. They ate a tasty meal prepared by the Ladies' Guild. People of the entire community attended the concert, and their hearts were lifted by the beautiful music. That evening members of our congregation hosted the choir members, and the next morning they boarded a bus headed for New York City. All the arrangements for this event were made by St. John's devoted choir director, Mrs. Edward Goralski, and her committee.
The third event was the Church School Children's Day Program given by the members of the Church School on Sunday, June 14, 1970. Using the east front steps of the church building as a stage, the children presented outdoors a four~scene pageant of our church's history. The descriptive material was written by Mrs. Lawrence Fowler, the Church School Superintendent, using this book as published in 1947 as her basic source of information. Awards were presented to the members of the Church School and the Calvin Choir for attendance, and a 200th Anniversary plaque for the church building was presented and received. The unusual program was enthusiastically received by the large crowd gathered on the front lawn. After the program the people enjoyed a good, old~fashioned Sunday School picnic while they were being entertained by Mr. Edward Goralski and members of his St. Johnsville High School Band. Mrs. Lawrence Fowler and Mrs. Walter Wagner, the co~chairmen of the youth committee, and many others worked long and well on this event.
Other anniversary events which we are anticipating are the Guild Smorgasbord in September, the return of four former pastors in October, and a prayer vigil in November to conclude the 200th Anniversary celebration. Returning during October will be the Reverends Norman Thomas, Harry Christiana, Peter Westra, and Robert Geddes. Also, this historical book is being updated and will be re-published. Mr. Roper Scofield, editor of the ENTERPRISE AND NEWS, is chairman of the historical book committee.
During this pastorate the congregation of St. John's decided to personalize their benevolence giving by pledging a $500 portion of the support of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Smith, teachers at Annville Institute in Annville, Kentucky. Several generous gifts have been received. A legacy of $10,000 was received from the estate of Mrs. Seward Walrath, a legacy of $5,000 from the estate of Mr. Eben Griffith, and a legacy of $8,000 from the estate of Mrs. Alvin Berry. As this is being written, the congregation is working toward meeting their pledge of $6,000 for the denominational Capital Fund Development Campaign. The denomination has set a goal of $6,000,000 for the erection of new buildings on its seminary and college campuses and its missionary properties.
Also, much work has been done to keep the church properties well maintained at St. John's. The inside and outside of the church building and the out~side of the parsonage were painted. The old garage attached to the parsonage was razed. The east roof of the church building was replaced. The Deagan Tower Chimes which had tolled for over 30 years were replaced by a set of Schulmerich carillons.
The present ministry has received 31 members into the church, baptized 33 infants, young people and adults, and joined 17 couples in marriage. Among those received into the church were Linda Crosier, Timothy Crosier, Thomas Crosier, Barry Forster, Richard Kimball, Mary Eckler, Alice Crosier, Joan Capece, Joseph Capece, Chester Smith, Marion Smith, Bonnie Wick, Arthur Moshinskie, Jr., Glen Nichols, Jr., Robert Warn, Nancy Beard, Gerald Fox, Eleanor Fox, Diane Bateman, Cynthia Forster Joan Klimes, Mr. and Mrs. Egidio Battisti, Darlene Battisti, and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wagar.
Among those baptized were Holly Lynn Nichols, Scott Fowler, Kari Moshinskie, James Hext, Dana Moore, Paula Smith, Brian Smith, Kathy Smith, Scott Smith, William Smith, Loretta Smith, Debora Crosier, Tarrod Cairns, David Johnson, Jaculine Kretser, Timothy Moore, Tabatha Snell, Steven Marino, Todd Westhuis, Tara Rockefeller, Tabatha Rockefeller. Christopher Coupas, Sally Moshinskie, Peter Nichols, Stephen Smith, Jason Cairns, Jennifer Nusom, Tina Wagar, Keith Gardner, Deborah Manchester, Michael Manchester, and Tracey Crosier.
The present ministry has served during a time of affluence, of war, of "generation gap." It has shared in deep sorrow and tremendous joy. It has served with the overriding conviction that Jesus Christ is the Lord of riches, the victor in struggle, the bridge over the gap.
In summary, let's remember Dr. Thomas' concluding remarks. "Thus we have seen how St. John's Church began grew and revived again with the passing of the years. Ours is a wonderful history because it proclaims that despite the frailty of man God does great things in and through him. These pages tell what God, not man, hath wrought. St. John's is no museum of things past, no dry and dusty relic of an outworn creed. St. John's is pulsating Life, a Church, part of the living Body of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"The curiosity which first led us to look backward has turned to interest and now to love; love for those who have labored so long and so well, who by offering humble service have been exalted as the hands and feet, the arms, the lips, the voice of God. We cannot know what the future will bring, but we do know that all our yesterdays can become preludes to greater tomorrows if we will place our lives and our Church 'Into thy hands, 0 Lord.'"
Peter Schuyler, trustee 1787-
Christian A. Wolrath, Deacon 1812-1819, 1827-1833; Elder 1833-1835
Col. Jacob Klock, trustee 1787-died 1798.
Christopher Fox, trustee 1787-
John J. Failing, Elder 1814-1816.
Jacob G. Klock, trustee 1787-died 1814.
Jacob A. Walrath, Jr., Deacon 1816-1819, 1822-1824
Jacob Fehling, trustee 1787-
John L. Bellinger, trustee 1792-1803; elder 1804-1812; treas. 1800-1805.
George G. Klock, Jr., Deacon 1816-1820, 1829-1831
Conrad Lown, trustee 1792-
Peter Klock, Elder 1818-1820, 1823-1825; Elder & treas 1835-1841
Cornelius Beekman, trustee 1792- Elder 1808-1812
Joseph Hees, Deacon 1818-1820.
Henry Beekman, trustee 1804-1807; Elder 1814-1816
Jacob D. Flander, Deacon 1819-1820; Elder 1834-1836, 1840-1842
Adam A. Walrath, trustee 1804-1805.
Henry Hese, Deacon 1819-1821.
Jacob Zimmerman, trustee 1804-1805.
Henry Failing, Jr., Elder 1820-1823, 1830 -1832
Andrew Zabriskie, trustee and treas. 1805- 1807.
Jacob J. Failing, Elder 1820-1824.
Joseph G. Klock, trustee 1804-1810; treas.1808-1811; Elder 1812-1818; 1819-1820
Henry Walrath, Deacon 1820-1822.
John J. R. Failing, Deacon 1820-1821, 1838 -1839
Jacob H. Failing, Elder, Trustee 1806-1814; Elder 1828-1830; 1833-1837; 1838-1840
Frederic Shaver, Deacon 1820-1822.
Christoffel Fox, Deacon 1821-1822; Elder 1822-1824
William Walrath, Trustee 1803-
Adam A. Walrath, Jr., Deacon 1821-1823.
John F. Bellinger, Trustee 1812; Elder 1819; 1828-1825;1833-1834
William N. Shaver, Deacon 1822-1824.
Thomas Failing, Deacon 1822-1823.
Conrad Hellicoss, Trustee 1804-1805; 1808-1810; Elder 1816-1818; 1825-1827
Ashbel Lomes, Deacon 1823-1825; Elder 1826-1828; 1831-1833, 1836
Adam Walrath, Trustee 1804-1823.
John G. Klock, Deacon 1823-1824; Elder 1824-1826
Jacob A. Wolrath, Trustee 1806-1819.
John Kring, junr., Elder and Trustee 1805- 1809
John C. House, Elder and Trustee 1805-1809; Elder 1818-1821; 1825-1827; 1830-1832; 1838-1840
Joseph Kring, Deacon 1824-1826.
Adam A. Gray, Deacon 1824-1826.
Nicholas Gray, Deacon 1825-1827.
Andrew Shaver, Trustee and Elder 1806-1819
Johannes Hese, Elder 1826-1828.
Anthony Walrath, Deacon 1826-1827.
Nicholas Shaver, Deacon 1806-1809; Elder 1809-1812
John Shaver, Deacon 1826-1828, 1830 -1832
William L. Wolrath, Deacon 1806-1809; Elder 1811-1814
Jacob H. Flander, Deacon 1826-1828; Elder 1836-1838
Christian Klock, Trustee 1809-1811; 1814- 1816; Elder 1819-1821; 1824-1826; 1833-1834; 1835-1836; 1836-1837
William Walrath, Elder 1827-1829.
Adam J. Walrath, Elder 1827-1829.
Jonas Snell, Deacon 1827-1829, 1833-1837; Elder 1839-1877; Treas 1841
John H. Bellinger, Deacon 1809-1815.
Henry House, Deacon 1828-1830; Elder
George A. Walrath, Deacon 1809-1812.
John J. Zimmerman, Deacon 1812-1814.
John D. Flander, Deacon 1828-1830.
John B. Klock, Jr., Deacon 1812-1814.
Henry Heese, Elder 1829-1831, 1834-1835, 1838
Henry J. R. Failing, Deacon 1829-1831; Elder 1852-1854, 1876-1880
Christopher Flander, Deacon 1843-4851; Elder 1852-1854, 1876-1880
Christian House, Deacon 1830-1832, 1838-1839; Elder 1842-1844, 1847-1849
Hiram W. Anderson, Deacon 1846-1851
Henry J. Haise, Deacon 1846-1848; Elder 1851-1858; Deacon 1859-1863; 1868-1870
Henry Markle, Elder 1831-1833.
John Hase, Elder 1831-1833.
Jacob Zimmerman, Jr., Deacon 1831-1833.
Solomon Flander, Deacon 1846-1847.
Joseph J. Klock, Deacon 1831-1833; Elder 1834-1836
Jonathan Thum, Deacon 1848-1850.
Daniel Flander, Deacon 1849-1851.
Peter Hase, Deacon 1831-1833.
Christian Vedder, Deacon 1850-1858.
Samuel W. Smith, Deacon 1833-1834.
Nathan House, Deacon 1853-1855.
John A. Shafer, Elder 1833-1836, 1841- 1843; Deacon 1852-1860
Abraham Vedder, Deacon 1855-1859.
Jeremiah House, Deacon 1855-1857; Elder 1859-1863
Daniel Groff, Deacon 1833-1835.
John Adam Snell, Deacon 1833-1834.
Elias Haise, Deacon 1857-1859.
John Hays, Elder 1835-1837.
Jonas House, Deacon 1858-1860.
John Hays, Jr., Deacon 1833-1834, 1836-1837
John Y. Edwards, Deacon 1859-1863.
Charles W. Fox, Deacon 1860-1877.
John A. Walrath, Deacon 1834-1835; 1836-1837
George H. Kline, Deacon 1960-1862.
John J. Haise, Deacon 1862-1868.
Peter Hayes, Jr., Deacon 1834-1836; Deacon 1838-1842; Elder 1842-1844; 1848-1850
Nelson House, Deacon 1863-1869; Elder 1869-1882
Elijah Bauder, Deacon 1863-1871; Elder 1880-1882, 1889-
John Reese, Deacon 1834-1835.
Jacob J. Klock, 1,935-1837.
Amos Haise, Deacon 1869-1880; Elder 1880-1913
John J. House, Deacon 1835-1837, 1842- 1844; Elder 1846-1847, 0849-1851
Walter Bellinger, Deacon 1870-1875.
James Bellinger, Deacon 1871-1880; Elder 1880-1886
Peter Flanders, Deacon 1836-1840, 1843- 1845
Stephen Duesler, Deacon 1875-1877.
Henry Hays, Elder 1836-1838, 1843-1845.
B. McNeil, Trustee 1875-1879.
Jenison Giles, Elder 1839-1843.
J. H. Markell, Trustee 1875-1894; Deacon 1880-1889; Elder 1889-1895; Treas 1889
Daniel Leonard, Elder 1839-1841.
Edward Leonard, Deacon 1839-1841.
John W. Riggs, Deacon 1839-1841.
David Helligas, Trustee 1875-1884.
George Timmerman, Deacon 1839-1841; Elder 1841-1885; Trustee 1875-1884; Treas to 1882
Lauren Pettit, Trustee 1875-1879.
Morris Klock, Trustee 1875-1883; Deacon 1880-1883
Jonas Dusler, Deacon 1839-1841.
Wesler Allter, Trustee 1879-1884; Deacon 1880-1882; Elder 1882-1923
Isaac Dusler, Deacon 1840-1842. 1880-1982; Elder 1982-1923.
Elias Saltsman, Deacon 1840-1844.
Clark H. Markell, Deacon 1890-1882; 1883 -1885; Elder 1885-1892
Lewis Benedict, Deacon 1841-1842; Elder 1842-1846
Horatio Bellinger, Deacon 1981-1884.
Augustus Smith, Deacon 1841-1843; Elder 1846-1848; 1850-1852, 1855-1857, 1862-1881
Oliver Smith, Elder 1881-1895.
Herman M. Vedder, Trustee 1880-1884; Elder 1882-1890; 1894-1920; Treas. 1882-1885
George Chawgo, Deacon 1841-1852. 1890-1894
Dr. Francis B. Etheridge, Deacon 1842-1844, 1851-1855
Oliver Snell, Deacon 1997-1899.
Robert Klock, Deacon 1992-1890; Elder 1890-1894
Christopher Bellinger, Elder 1843-1845, 1849-1851, 1853-1855, 1858-1859, 1860-1862, 1863-1869
John S. Vossler, Deacon 1882 --1894.
Oliver Suits, Deacon 1884-1895; Elder 1885-1889
Andrew Wylie, Deacon 1885-1886; Elder 1886-1892
Alvin Snell, Deacon 1929-1930.
Seymour Christman, Deacon 1929-1932;
Richard Davis, Treas. 1885-1887.
Peter S. Fry, Deacon 1886-1891.
Roy Sutherland, Deacon 1930-1934; Elder 1939-1939; Deacon 1945-1946; Elder 1946-1949
James D. Nellis, Deacon 1886-1890.
Dr. Charles M. Klock, Trustee 1883-1884; Treas 1887-1889-1891
J. Frederick Guhring, Deacon 1930-1933; 1939-1940; Elder 1933-1937, 1940-1942
Horace M. Hyde, Deacon 1889-1895.
Edwin Smith, Deacon 1889-1891.
Franklin Snell, Deacon 1890-1898.
Chris Fox, Deacon 1932-1933, 1936-1940; Elder 1940-1944
Edward Knight, Deacon 1890-1892; 1899-
Jesse Smith, Deacon 1891-1895; Elder 1895-1899
George Planck, Deacon 1932-1939, 1941-1944; Elder 1939-1941, 1944-1946
George Markell, Treas. 1891-1892, 1899-1900
Earl Hook, Deacon 1932-1939; Treas. 1932 -1933; Elder 1941-1945; Deacon 1946-1947, 1952; Elder 1953-1955, 1957-1959, 1969; Treas 1963-1964
Ervin Handy, Treas. 1892-1899.
Jacob Lepper, Deacon 1894-1898. .
Clark Saltsman, Deacon 1895-1897, 1920-1924
J. Arthur Loucks, Deacon 1932-1935; Elder 1935-
Stephen J. Duesler, Deacon 1897-1901.
W. E. Hayes, Deacon 1932-1933.
Reuben B. Beekman, Deacon 1898-1912; Elder 1912-1932
George Lampman, Deacon 1933-1936; Elder 1936-1940; Treas 1933
Howard L. Furbeck, Deacon 1898-1904.
Lewis M. Fowler, Elder 1934-1940.
Alvin Saltsman, Elder 1899-1912.
George Geddes, Deacon 1936-1940.
Jordan S. Kilts, Deacon 1901-1913; Elder 1913
Clifford Hoffman, Deacon 1939-1943.
Elmer Schiemer, Deacon 1940-1941; Elder 1941-1946
Edward R. Hall, Treas. 1900-1903.
DeWitt Shiffer, Deacon 1903-1907; Treas. 1903-1907
Harold Fox, Deacon 1940-1942, 1945-1946; Elder 1942-1944, 1946-1952, 1956-1960
G.H. McCormack, Deacon 1904-1908.
Amon Nellis, Deacon 1907-1911, 1915- 1916
Harry S. Huff, Jr., Deacon and Treas. 1940-1945
Bartlett Porter, Treas. 1908-1913.
Vernon A. Fusmer, Deacon 1942-1944; Elder 1944-1946, 1952-1958
Herbert Dodd Allter, Deacon 1908-1920, 1924, 1929, 1930
Preston Herdman, Deacon 1943-1945; Elder and Treas 1945-1946
Frank P. Klock, Elder 1911-1930.
Roscoe Yoran, Deacon 1911-1915.
Wm. Max Fowler, Deacon 1944-1946; Elder 1946-1952
Alvin Knieskern, Deacon 1911-1920; Elder 1920-
George A. Herning, Deacon 1944-1946; Elder 1946-1951
E. A. Briner, Deacon 1912-1914. Elder 1946-1955, 1957-1960
Charles C. Walrath, Deacon 1913-1823; Elder 1923-1930
Weston Doxtater, Deacon 1946-1949.
Nellis Smith, Deacon 1946-1949; Elder 1949-1955, 1957-1960
Adam J. Horn, Deacon 1947-1951; Elder -1951-1963; Treas 1913-1917, [sic] 1950-1963
Harris L. Dunlap, Deacon 1946-1949; Elder 1950-1953, 1955-1959
Ai Fox, Deacon 1916-1924.
Stanley K. Iverson, Deacon 1946-1947.
Melvin Snell, Treas. 1917-
Lloyd Blankman, Deacon 1949-1950.
Murray Duesler, Deacon 1922-1930; Elder 1930-1937
Martin Walrath, Deacon 1949-1952; Elder 1952-1954, 1955-1957
Calvin L. Ashley,-Deacon 1920-1922.
Thomas Blank, Deacon 1950-1952.
Joseph H. Reaney, Deacon 1923-1929.
Robert Curtis, Deacon 1950-1956.
Jacob Rowland, Deacon 1924-1926; Elder 1926-1932
Floyd Austin, Deacon 1951-1960; Elder 1960 -1964
Alvin J. Berry, Deacon 1926-1930; Elder 1930-1933; Treas 1927-1932
Richard Snell, Deacon 1952-1960, 1963 -1964
Charles Porter, Deacon 1952-1954; Elder 1965-1956
George Rosset, Deacon 1962- Treas. 1964
Willard Beard, Deacon 1953-1959; Elder 1959-1963
Robert Failing, Deacon 1963-1964; Elder 1964-1966, 1967
Harold Hoffman, Deacon 1954-1959; Elder 1959-1961
Earl Huff, Deacon 1963-1966.
Stanley Brown, Deacon 1963-1964; Elder 1964-1968
Gordon Frasier, Deacon 1956-1959, 1961- 1963; Elder 1963-1967, 1968
Arthur Moshinskie, Deacon 1964-1966, 1968 - 1969
James Conboy, Deacon 1959-1960; Elder -1960-1963.
Eugene Wagner, Deacon 1964-1960; Elder 1965
Calvin Francisco, Deacon 1959-1963; Elder 1963-1966
Wilfred Kraft, Deacon 1965 -
William Forster, Deacon 1959-1960; Elder 1960-1964
Richard Warn, Deacon 1965-1967.
Herman Decker, Deacon 1966-1968.
Karl Kuhl, Deacon 1960-1961.
Lawrence Fowler, Deacon 1966 -
William Beischer, Deacon 1960-1963.
Harry Hayes, Elder 1966-1968.
Melvin Gray, Deacon 1960-1963.
Charles Heath, Deacon 1969 -
Roger Scofield, Deacon 1960-1962; Elder 1967-
Joseph Capece, Jr., Deacon 1969
Garry Beard, Deacon 1970-
Omitted -- List of members, 1970
THE CHURCH SCHOOL
No part of the life of our Church is more important than our Sunday School. There is no greater loyalty than that found among our officers and teachers; there is no greater challenge than this: to bring the living Christ home to the hearts of the young.
Long ago, about the year 1833, our Sunday School was organized under the leadership, it is believed, of the Rev. Herman Stryker. The enrollment quickly grew to more than 100 and encouraged the growth of a sister Sunday School in the original Youker's Bush Chapel. Rev. Mr. Stryker devoted much of his time to the organizations of Sabbath Schools up and down the Valley and conventions were soon held annually. In the year 1876, during the pastorate of the Rev. George Van Neste, the County Sabbath School Convention was held here.
After 1833 the Sunday School gradually became the social center of the Church. Large numbers of children, young people, and adults too, attended the elaborate picnics which were held annually in the vicinity. Many walked miles to get to the picnic grounds; many more rode on gayly bedecked hay wagons to the music of the brightly clad brass band which was hired each year to provide entertainment. These affairs were held annually through the remainder of the 1800's and well into the 1900's. Many of our people well remember the bountiful refreshments that were served: the gallons of lemonade, the innumerable chocolate cakes, and the ice cream.
The first available detailed record which we have concerning the Sunday School refers to its activity during the year 1878. Herman M. Vedder was Superintendent at that time and it is reported that the School had raised $482.02 for a new organ, map, and library, and other expenses; and had raised $149.00 for missions!
Wesley Allter succeeded Herman Vedder as Superintendent sometime during the eighties; he in turn after 1900 gave way to Frank Klock who continued to serve until 1930. Mrs. Fred Horn took the Sunday School helm at that time and continued to serve until 1946 when Miss Elena Moyer became Superintendent. Mrs. Vernon Fusmer was Primary Superintendent, and Harold S. Fox was Assistant Superintendent.
In 1950 Mrs. Leo Walrath became Superintendent of the Church School. Mr. Calvin Francisco filled in for her in 1957, when she could not lead because of illness. She then continued to serve until 1963. During this time those who served as primary superintendents were Mrs. Vernon Fusmer, Mrs. Charles Britt and Mrs. Roger Scofield. Harris Dunlap was treasurer for many years. Mrs. Walrath looks back to this time as being many happy and rewarding years of work with the children and the teachers.
Mrs. Alan Zipp, the former Miss Joan Brundage, served as Superintendent from 1964 to 1967. She was succeeded by Mrs. Walter Wagner in 1968 and in 1969-70 by Mrs. Lawrence Fowler. Mrs. Wagner served as assistant during the years 1967 and 1969 and again as Superintendent in 1970-71.
In the history of our Sunday School several class records stand out. One of these was the Men's Class, probably the largest in our history, which was led by Professor F. Yale Adams during the 1890's. Another was the class of boys taught by Edward C. Cook in the early 1900's. Miss Helen Horn is well remembered as teacher of the largest women's class in our history from about 1915 to 1920. The enrollment consistently numbered 60 young women. Wesley Allter taught a class for many years until his death in 1913. Mrs. R. B. Beekman was much beloved by the members of her girls' class. Mrs. Edward C. Cook, Miss Renna Rockefeller, and Mrs. Alvin J. Berry did highly successful work in the Primary Department for many years. Mrs. Berry has one of the longest records; she has served as Primary Superintendent and also as Secretary~treasurer of the entire Sunday School.
After a decline in enrollment during the 1930's, the attendance began to increase in 1944, when the Church undertook to send a Church School bus to Ephratah, East Creek and Indian Castle to bring children and young people to our Church School who would otherwise have been unable to attend. This bus service continued for several years. When it was discontinued, members of the Church began to pick up some of the children. Finally, this too was discontinued in about 1949. During this time the enrollment gradually decreased.
In January of 1951, the Church School met for the first time in the new auditorium and classrooms. These new facilities were a great help to the Church School program.
The following year, 1952, the Church School held its first Sunday after~ noon Christmas program and party. This was continued each year with much success until 1969 when the program was presented as part of the regular Sunday morning worship service.
The newly remodeled Children's Chapel was completed in 1960. The young people from grades 4 and older then began to hold a worship service in the Chapel before going to their Church School class. The younger children continued to meet in the auditorium for worship prior to classes. In the last few years, the worship services for grades 3 and above have been held in the classroom as part of the class curriculum.
The annual Children's Day program for 1970 was held in June as one of the special bicentennial events. It was in the form of an historical pageant and was followed by an old~fashioned picnic with lively band music.
As we look back on the 200 years of the history of our Church School, we also look ahead to its future. It is our deepest prayer that God, by his Holy Spirit, will lead and guide all those who serve in the Church School, to bring the children and young people of our community into a closer relationship with Himself and to know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Omitted, Church School enrollment, 1970
THE MINISTRY OF MUSIC
One of the most taxing of all services in the life of any church is its ministry of music. Loyalty to the choir entails not only a Sunday morning hour but a week day evening as well. Yet, as no other service when faithfully rendered is more taxing, neither is any other service more appreciated or more vital to meaningful worship.
It was the custom in early days for the German and Dutch congregations to sing the psalms without accompaniment. The chorister or song leader was thus the central figure as he set the tone with his pitch pipe. Despite the strangeness of these old psalm melodies to our modem ears our forefathers sang with force and with fervor. When they had little food and less comfort they sang never~less and their epic course down the Rhine to Holland, England, and to America was marked by song. Whether at funerals or at weddings, in sorrow or in joy, they sang. In the course of time instrumental music became popular and organs came to take the place of the old pitch pipe. So far as is known the first organ to be installed at St. John's was purchased in the year 1855 during Domine Knieskern's ministry. It is likely that Mrs. William Saltsman was the first organist. Mrs. Saltsman's six sisters sang in the choir during those years and for a long while their father, Elder George Timmerman, sang with them.
When Pastor Minor came in 1879 Horace Shaffer was chorister and then or soon after Miss Carrie Whyland became organist. In 1887 Miss Whyland was succeeded by Miss Myra McBride (later Mrs. Engelhardt) who thereupon served as organist for fifty years, perhaps the outstanding record of service in all various phases of the history of St. John's. Mrs. Engelhardt passed away in 1937 in the very sanctuary where she had played so long. She was succeeded by Cyrus, Van Slyke who served faithfully until 1945. The vacancy caused by his resignation was filled by Mrs. Clarence C. Lull.
During most of the - years of Mrs. Engelhardt's service as organist she was assisted by Clark Saltsman who acted as chorister and choir leader. This custom was revived when Rev. Thomas became choir leader. He was replaced in September, 1946, by Mrs. Harold Settle, who served until February, 1947.
The faithful and loyal leadership of the "voice of music" has continued to carry on in many and varied ways, adding to the beauty of the worship service at St. John's.
The new Reaney Memorial organ was dedicated Sunday, November 1, 1953. The members of the Organ Committee were Mr. Earl Hook, chairman, Mrs. C. C. Lull, organist, Mr. Harris Dunlap, and Mr. Robert Curtis. November 12 was the date of the Inaugural Recital on the new Austin organ, performed by Dr. Elmer A. Tidmarsh of Union College, Schenectady, N.Y.
In 1955 Mrs. Edward H. Goralski became Choir Director of our church. The choir directors of the area Reformed Churches organized the Palm Sunday Youth Choir Festival beginning in 1961. Young people from the churches participated in these annual sacred music festivals. It was at the first Palm Sunday Festival that new robes for the junior Choir were worn for the first time, after much effort and preparation by their director, Mrs. Lull.
Due to conditions of health, Mrs. Lull, after faithful and devoted service, resigned her position as organist and Junior Choir director. Mrs. Mildred Walrath Don became church organist. Mrs. Goralski now assumed all choir duties. A variety of choirs and vocal groups were maintained at various times; the established Junior and Senior Choirs, and in addition Cherub and Youth Choirs. In the 1960's the Junior Choir received the new name "The Calvin Choir", and so it has remained.
Members of St. John's Senior Choir participated in a massed choir at a special Festival of Faith service celebrating the 325th Anniversary of the First Church in Albany, Reformed, held on October 22, 1967, while Rev. Norman Thomas was pastor there.
The members of the Consistory have continued to help in the betterment of the music program. A new piano was purchased for the Children's Chapel, and the Senior Choir now has not only an adequate rehearsal situation, but in addition a beautiful atmosphere. Also members of the choir have been able to fellowship at the close of the church year, when the Consistory graciously takes them out as dinner guests for an enjoyable evening.
The beautiful new green and gold Senior Choir robes were dedicated on Palm Sunday, 1965, and members of the choir wear them with deep gratitude and great pride.
A number of the Senior Choir members have given greatly of dedicated service through many years. The faithfulness and loyalty of members Mrs. Dorcas Devendorf, Mrs. Lina Nellis, Mrs. Elizabeth Horne, Mrs. Nell Horn, and Mrs. Ethel Grant, hold a special place of esteem in the heart of St. John's Church. And to each and every one, as members of the choir come and go, we express appreciation for their service in the music department of our church.
THE GUILD FOR CHRISTIAN SERVICE
One of the most important reasons for the long and happy history of St. John's Church is the Ladies' Aid. Although by constitutional rule membership on the consistory is restricted to men, women have always played a major part in our various activities. At first their services were given individually or in small groups as the need arose. There was no organized society as we know it today. The earliest record of this individual participation mentions the name 'Catherine Windecker' and her contribution toward the building of the White Church in 1804. She contributed generously to the Church through the purchase of half of a pew and also through repeated donations toward the minister's salary. In the year 1820 the name 'Widowe Caty Beekman' is found among the subscribers. In 18 21 we find the names, 'Widowe Elisabeth Flander, Widowe Jacob Flander, and Widowe Peter Nelles.' In the list of purchasers of pews in 1835 are the names 'Nancy and Alida Beekman.' Among the pew holders for the year 1846 were 'Widow Klock, Mrs. Scram, Mrs. A. Whyland, and Mrs. Beekman.'
The contributions of the ladies of the church are thus mentioned individually until the year 1848 when they grouped together to raise funds to furnish the newly redecorated sanctuary with 'suitable furniture such as carpeting, sofa, and stoves, chairs, table, lamps.'
The list of subscribers is as follows:
Mrs. Geo. Timmerman, Mrs. E. Whyland, Mrs. Jonas Snell, Mrs. Sarah Snell, Mrs. H. W. Anderson, Mrs. J. H. Egans, Miss Mariette Timmerman Mrs. C. Crouse Mrs. F. Etheridge, Mrs. David Helligas, Mrs. E. Fox, Mrs. E. Bauder, Mrs. Delos B. Curran, Mrs. A. Hough, Mrs. Stiles, Mrs. Sarah Carter, Mrs Henry Failing, Mrs. J. E. Wagoner, Mrs. James Curran, Miss L. Saltsman, Mrs. D. Lodawick, Mrs. Enoch Snell, Mrs. Geo. Crouse, Mrs. J. Crouse, Mrs. Noah Yale, Mrs. Kretser, Mrs. M. F. Wilson, Mrs. Benj. Richardson, Mrs. Stephen Yates, Mrs. John Nelles, Mrs. E. S. Knieskern, Mrs. M. Chawgo, Mrs. Magdaline Lipe, Mrs. C. Kingsbury, Mrs. K. Klock, Misses F. & J. Butler, Mrs. Eve Klock, Miss Anna Lasher, Miss Lucy Klock & sister, Mrs. Robert Nellis, Mrs. Garret Timason, Mrs. J. Mosure, Miss H. Candler, Mrs. Aaron Smith, Mrs. N. D. Smith, Mrs. Burns, Miss Catharine Sanders, Anna E. Smith, Mrs. MGinnis, Mrs. Henry Sanders, Mrs. J. Sanders, Mrs. Peter Schram, Mrs. N. Cox, Miss M. A. Klock, Mrs. S. R. Haight, Mrs. C. Countryman, Mrs. H. Countryman, Mrs. Geo. H. Adams, Miss Anna Snell, Mrs. Jacob H. Failing, Mrs. F. Card, Mrs. A. Powel
Although there was no organized ladies' aid at this time they succeeded, nevertheless, in raising the then large sum of $ 126.7 5. It was during these years that the custom was begun by which every lady of the church was asked to contribute 10c a month to a separate treasury to be used by the ladies as needed. This system seems to have worked very well. When the new Church was built in 1880 and 1881 the ladies were able to contribute all of $1,100 of the total cost of $13,000. Mere monthly contributions of course were not enough to raise this large sum. Probably most of it was raised by hard work over hot kitchen stoves at church suppers. The records of St. John's are dotted with church suppers, bazaars, and sales of one sort or another. In times of stress and in times of prosperity the ladies have banded together again and again to help meet various needs. And this happy willingness to work still characterizes them. Bazaars have been held year after year in the autumn and this custom was revived again in 1946 after the lapse of the war years. The ladies have put on church suppers beyond numbering.
One Ladies' Aid meeting dates back to the year 1916 when on April 13 a monthly meeting was held at the Chapel at which Mrs. Elisabeth Gammond was re~elected president. Fifteen members answered the roll call at that meeting. Mrs. Gertrude Cairns was elected president in 1917 and was in turn succeeded by Mrs. Luella Mosher in 1920. Mrs. Mosher served fourteen years during which time she missed only two meetings - and succeeded in almost doubling the membership rolls. Mrs. Seward Countryman was elected president in 1934 and Mrs. Mary Robinson Wilson in 1935. Mrs. Mosher was called to serve a second period of years from 1936 to 1940, when she was succeeded by Mrs. Harold S. Fox. Mrs. Fox served until 1945 when Mrs. Countryman was again elected to be succeeded by Mrs. Preston Herdman in 1946.
In so short a space as this one cannot properly measure the great contribution which the Ladies' Aid has made to the material and spiritual welfare of our Church. The Society has taken complete responsibility for parsonage repair for many years, among other things, and has made frequent gifts toward the church budget, though this has not been necessary in recent years. The Society did an extraordinary thing in 1946 when it gave $500 to the United Advance.
The Ladies' Aid was changed on February 6, 1959, to the Women's Guild for Christian Service. Today we have a membership of 23 with Mrs. Kathryn Heath as President, Mrs. Jane Goralski, Vice President, Mrs. Mable Hook, Secretary, and Mrs. Loretta Forster, Treasurer. The Secretary of Service is Mrs. Betty Triumpho; Education is Mrs. Dorothy Snell; Spiritual Life is Mrs. Ruth Walrath; and Organization is Mrs. Judith Westhuis.
The Guild has continued to have its annual Fall public dinner in the form of a smorgasbord, its annual bake sale under the direction of Mrs. Elizabeth Horne, and its Spring rummage sale. They continue to maintain the parsonage and to support the National Department of Women's Work both home and abroad.
Presidents of the Ladies' Aid and Guild since 1947 have been:
1947-1948 Mrs. Thelma Herdman 1958-1963 Mrs. Loretta Forster
1949-1953 Mrs. Luella Mosher 1964-1966 Mrs. Ruth Walrath
1954-1956 Mrs. Gertrude Fox 1967-1968 Mrs. Carrie Hayes
1957 Mrs. Lina Nellis 1969-1970 Mrs. Kathryn Heath
Mrs. Alvin Berry was treasurer of both the Ladies' Aid and the Missionary Society for many years and continued to be the conscientious treasurer of the Guild for Christian Service after the two former organizations merged.
THE ST. JOHN'S MISSIONARY SOCIETY
The St. John's Women's Missionary Society was organized on February 14, 1894, during the Reverend Kinney's ministry by Mrs. Margaret Zoller of Fort Plain and 'Miss Bellinger' of Herkimer who gathered 16 charter members together and started to hold regular meetings at several of the ladies' homes. Mrs. C. W. Kinney was elected President, Miss Estelle McKenzie, Recording Secretary, Mrs. Allie Thurson, Corresponding Secretary, and Mrs. Clark Saltsman, Treasurer. The Society grew through the year and by October its membership had increased to 30. Its first gifts of $5.00 each were made toward the building of the new Reformed Church in Johnstown and to the Reformed Church Women's Boards of Domestic and Foreign Missions. In 1895 larger gifts were sent to, Indian missions in the west; the first missionary Christmas box was made up; and a meeting of the Montgomery Classis Missionary Union was held here. The Society sent innumerable gifts of money, sewing, clothing, magazines and toys to missions all over the world.
The Society met faithfully through the years and after 1932 its meetings were held in conjunction with the Ladies' Aid on the first Friday of each month. The Missionary Society prepared the program for the combined groups and often invited an outside speaker to present the needs of the particular mission fields. Among the many men and women who addressed the combined societies was the renowned 'Desert Doctor' of our Arabian Mission, Dr. Paul Harrison.
The Society made annual pledges to both domestic and foreign boards which it was able to meet through the payment of individual dues by the members and through the sacrificial hard work entailed in preparing suppers, luncheons, elephant sales, cake sales, rummage sales, and other such projects.
The history of the Society was unusual in the long terms of service of many of its officers. Mrs. Seward Walrath was Recording Secretary from 1900 to 1960; Mrs. R. B. Beekman held the office of Corresponding Secretary from 1896 until 1931, Mrs. E. L. Dillenbeck was Treasurer from 1911 until 1924; Miss Margaret Wilsey was Treasurer from 1925 until 1935; and Mrs. George Wittenbeck has been Treasurer since 1935. Mrs. Stanley K. Iverson now heads the Society as President and Miss Mabel Hyde is Vice~president.
Presidents of the Missionary Society
Mrs. Charles W. Kinney 1894-1899 Miss Helen Horn . . . . 1930-1932
Mrs. Philip Furbeck 1899-1910 Mrs. Harry Christiana 1932-1934
Mrs. George C. Markell 1910-1911 Miss Helen Horn . . . . 1934-1937
Mrs. Frederick Perkins 1911-1913 Mrs. Seward Countryman . 1937-1938
Mrs. Fred Horn, Sr. 1913-1921 Miss Mabel Hyde . . . 1938-1944
Mrs. Herman C. Ficken 1922,1929 Mrs. Stanley Iverson . . . 1944-1947
Mrs. Richard Snell . . . 1951-1959
THE MEN'S CLUB
St. John's has long upheld the proposition that 'it is always fair weather when good men get together' through its flourishing Men's Club which was first organized in the fall of 1918 during the ministry of the Rev. Herman C. Ficken. Need for such a group had long been felt. As early as May, 1915, Pastor Perkins appointed a committee consisting of D. C. Brown, F. P. Klock, and Harold Fox to lay plans for a Men's- Club of some kind. The plans finally materialized three years later under the impetus of Pastor Ficken's leadership. He called a meeting at the parsonage for the "express purpose of forming a club ... to stimulate interest in the church, to play a leading part in the welfare of the community, and to enjoy fellowship and good speakers." The organization's first president was Calvin L. Ashley; Harold Fox was elected vice,president, Howard B. Hodgson, secretary, and Adam Horn, treasurer.
At first the meetings were held twice a month from October to April at the various homes of the club members but by the fall of 1919 the year old Club had grown too large and meetings were thereupon held in the Church. The two monthly meetings were designated "Speaker's Night," and "Fellowship Night" respectively. In 1920 monthly meetings were inaugurated; each meeting was assigned a season and the year ended in the spring with the annual outing. The club membership reached the 100 mark early in the '20's; there were never less than 60 men present, and not a single meeting was omitted during Pastor Ficken's entire ministry.
Other presidents who served from 1918 to 1929 were Harold S. Fox, George H. Hall, and Lou D. MacWethy. Herbert D. Allter served both as secretary and vice president; Irving H. Devendorf served as secretary for a time and Fred Guhring as treasurer.
Entertainment was provided by a men's quartet which consisted of Messcrs Mather, Fox, Ficken, and Hodgson: by George Planck's and Loren Cross's orchestras, and by H. Fred Kornbrust's Melody Boys.
Among the outstanding personalities who addressed the Club through these years were Judge Charles E. Hardies of Amsterdam, Surrogate Fox Sponable of Nelliston, Judge Don Beekman of Schoharie, Dr. William M. Collier, president of George Washington University, Paul B. Williams, editor of the Utica Press, Dr. J. Addison Jones, president of the General Synod of the Reformed Church, and many others.
As may be expected a large and vigorous men's organization such its this could not help but contribute much to the church. It provided a never failing source of spiritual inspiration, social interest, and fellowship. It contributed much in material ways also. At the close of World War I it raised funds to render gifts to the returning soldiers of the church, it raised large sums to purchase shrubbery for the church grounds and it made several contributions toward the operating expenses of the church.
All that has gone before may be described as the first half of the club's history for with the close of the Rev. Ficken's ministry in 1929 the club's activities subsided. Eleven years later, on September 9, 1941, the Rev. Peter J. Westra appointed Harold Fox, Vernon Fusmer, and Earl Hook as a committee to look into the possibility of organizing a new Men's Club. The first meeting of the new club was called for October 14. Vernon Fusmer was elected president and under his leadership the club undertook a well rounded program highlighted by a Fathers and Sons Banquet, held at the Community House early in 1942 which was acclaimed by all as an enjoyable and inspiring affair. The speaker of the evening was the Rev. Dr. Milton J. Hoffman of New Brunswick Seminary, formerly a Rhodes scholar, whose forceful address was seconded by a fine talk by 11 years old Charles Herning who spoke on behalf of the sons present.
Vernon Fusmer was succeeded as president in turn by Harold Fox, Clifford Vogel, George Herning, Nellis Smith, by Harold Fox a second time, and by Earl Hook. George Snell long served as treasurer.
In March 1945, during George Herning's presidency, the Men's Club held the first Basketball Banquet in honor of the Varsity and junior Varsity teams of the high school. The dinner, held at the Community House, and served by the ladles of St. John's, was enjoyed by 152 men of the community who were addressed by Coach Bob Lannon of Syracuse University. The second annual Basketball dinner was held in April, 1946 during Nellis Smith's presidency. Max Fowler headed the Banquet committee. Again every seat was taken at the banquet tables and the men enjoyed a talk given by Coach Reaves H. Baysinger also of Syracuse University. A third sports banquet was held in June, 1947 at which Coach Andy Kerr of Colgate University was guest speaker.
An outstanding event sponsored by the Men's Club was the address given by Vadabonceur, well known radio commentator, during Harold Fox's first presidency. Another address was given by a fellow commentator, H. R. Ekins, in April, 1945. The club itself has enjoyed talks by the Rev. Dr. Luman Shafer, secretary of the Board of Foreign Missions; Chaplain Floyd Armstrong of the Army Air Forces; Chaplain Luther K. Hannum of Sing Sing prison; Miss Catherine Faber of The Netherlands, and many others. The final meeting of the 1945-46 season was a spaghetti supper in honor of the veterans returned from the war. The church dining hall was filled with men and former pastor, Rev. J. Westra, returned to present to the assemblage an inspiring, forceful message.
The Men's Club again became active in 1952 when they created a recreation center in the basement below the sanctuary. In February of 1954 they began to sponsor Boy Scout Troop 72 which meets in the basement recreation room. The troop began with 17 members under the leadership of Vincent Stock. The Men's Club gave the new troop a flag and various club members also donated Scout equipment.
In 1956 the Men's Club purchased a movie projector for the church. In 1957 they continued their work with the Scouts, then under the direction of Wilfred Forster and Adam Klock, by sending a Scout to the National jamboree. In 1958 they donated money for a Boy Scout camp, a two~story building on the 48 acres of land north of St. Johnsville. They also contributed funds to the Charlton School for Girls. In 1965 Vernon Thompson became Scoutmaster, succeeded by Lee Safford in 1969.
At their monthly meetings the men often were entertained by the St. Johnsville High School Band, the A cappella Choir, and mixed choruses. Many out~side speakers were brought in. The Father and Son banquets continued from 1951 to 1956 with such famous guests and speakers as Buddy Hassett, Hal Schumacher, Sal Maglie, "Lefty" Gomez, George Burns, Clem Labine, "Bud" Podbielan, and Eddie Waitkus. From 1966 to 1970 the Men's Club held Basketball Banquets to honor the coaches and players from St. Johnsville. Local coaches spoke at these events.
Nellis P. Smith has been secretary, treasurer of the club for many years. A list of presidents follows:
1951 Willard S. Beard 1961 Robert Failing, Sr.
1952 Stanley W. Brown 1962 Vincent Troutman
1953 Wilfred Forster 1963 Roger Scofield
1954 Melvin Gray 1965 Richard Warn
1955 Gordon Frasier 1966, 1967 Harlin A. Devendorf
1957 Calvin Francisco 1968 Earl Hook
1958 Melvin Gray 1970 Gerald Fox
1960 James Conboy
THE ANNIVERSARY HONOR ROLL
1757-In memory of Johan Jost Snell, great-great-great grandfather of my mother, Alice Lent Crouse. Under the Snell-Timmerman Patent of 1755, he took up the land in 1757 and together with his sons began clearing the land now known Snell's Bush. He gave the land and was associated in the building of the first church known as St. Paul's Snells Bush Church. This remains the site of the present church known as the Dutch Reformed St. Paul's Church in Snell's Bush. He was also one of the first two elders of the Stone Arabia Dutch Reformed Church under its first pastor in 1743. By Frieda R. Crouse.
1855-In memory of the birthday of her father, Charles H. Rider. By Mrs. Oliver Hayes.
1875-In memory of the birth of my father, Mr. Albert Charles Rosset. By George Rosset.
1880-In memory of the marriage of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alvin Saltsman. By Mrs. W. Stephenson Hopkins.
1881-In memory of the birth of Miss Mabel Hyde. By Mrs. Robert Perry.
1884-In memory of the birthday of Mr. Lewis Martin Fowler. By Mabel Fowler.
1889-In memory of the service of her great-grandfather, the Reverend Philip Furbeck, as minister at St. John's and also in memory of the birthday of her parents, Mr.
and Mrs. Philip Furbeck. By Mr. and Mrs. Leo Walrath.
1898-In memory of the marriage of our parents, Mr. and Mrs. Amos Gray, on October 8. By the Gray family.
1907-In memory of the year her parents, Mr. and Mrs. L. D. MacWethy, came to St. Johnsville and purchased the Enterprise and News. By Mrs. William Lenz.
1907-In memory of the year of my marriage. By Mrs. May D. Sponable.
191 1-In memory of my first year of teaching in St. Johnsville. By Mrs. Elizabeth Horne.
1912-In memory of the marriage of her parents, Mrs. and Mrs. Hilbert J. Smith. By Mr. and Mrs. Seth Baker.
1914-In memory of the year Nellie Odell and Adam Horn were married. By Adam Horn.
1914-The year I came to the United States. By Rose Herning.
1917-To honor Rev. and Mrs. H. Curtis Ficken for their years of faithful and devoted service in St. John's Church. By Mr. and Mrs. Harry Huff.
1921-In memory of the year of her marriage. By Mrs. Harriet Foss.
1924-In memory of the year Mr. Lewis M. Fowler started the Palatine Dyeing Company, Inc. in St. Johnsville, N. Y. By Mrs. Mabel Fowler.
1926-In memory of the birthday of Miss Arlene Mabel Fowler. By Mrs. Mabel Fowler.
1926-In memory of the year I joined St. John's Reformed Church. By Robert C. Failing.
1927-In memory of the birthday of our daughter, Rosemarie Green (Mrs. Herman Fredericks). By Mrs. Arby Green.
1928-In memory of the year we joined St. John's Church, with Rev. H. Curtis Ficken as minister of St. John's at that time. By Mr. and Mrs. James D. Bellinger.
1932-In memory of the year of our marriage. By Mr. and Mrs. Charles Heath.
1936-In memory of my husband, George M. Nellis, who died May 19, 1936. By Mrs. Lina A. Nellis.
1936-In memory of the year of my marriage to Floyd Austin. By Mrs. Elinor Austin.
1942-In memory of Hilbert J. Smith. By Mrs. Florence M. Smith.
1945-In memory of the service as Organist and Choir Director from 1945 to 1961 of Mrs. Clarence C. Lull, now Organist Emeritus. By Margaret H. Popple and Ruth-Ellen Ostler
1947-In memory of Mr. Joseph H. Reaney. By Mrs. G. Stanley Elkington.
1947-In memory of my last year of teaching in St. Johnsville. By Mrs. Elizabeth Horne.
1949-In memory of my mother, Colice Jones Horn. By Mary Elizabeth Brown.
1950-In memory of the death of my father, Fred J. Hook. By Mrs. Carleton J. Horn.
1951-In memory of Mrs. Joseph H. Reaney. By Mrs. G. Stanley Elkington.
1952-October 5, 1952, the date that Mr. and Mrs. Wilfred Kraft joined St. John's Church by transfer of certificate. By Mr. and Mrs. Wilfred Kraft.
1954-In memory of the year of our marriage. By Mr. and Mrs. Carleton J. Horn.
1955-In memory of the year she became a member of St. John's Reformed Church. By Mrs. Edward J. Goralski.
1957-In memory of joining the church. By Mr. and Mrs. William Beischer.
1957-In memory of the year of our marriage. By Mr. and Mrs. E. Currier Brown.
1959-In memory of the birth, on December 7, of our daughter, Elizabeth Horn Brown.
By Mr. and Mrs. E. Currier Brown.
1964-In memory of the year of our marriage. By Rev. and Mrs. Ross Westhuis.
1968-In memory of the wedding of James and Alice Crosier on May 18. By Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Crosier.
1969-In memory of the marriage of our daughter, Miriam Eleanor Feldstein, to Curtis Allen Case, on June 26. By Dr. and Mrs. Bernard Feldstein.
1969--In memory of the graduation of our son, Roger Lon Scofield, from the United States Naval Academy. By Mr. and Mrs. Roger Scofield.
1970-In memory of the rebuilding of our Ford Dealership as a result of the disastrous fire which completely destroyed our main garage in February of this year. By Robert C. Failing.
In memory of Donald Avery and Bernard Avery, sons of Mr. and Mrs. (Arlene Gray) Cadet Avery. By Mr. and Mrs. Cadet Avery.
In memory of Alvin J. Berry and Mr. and Mrs. Seymour Christman. By Mrs. Alvin Berry.
In memory of all my memories of St. John's Church. By Elizabeth Horn Hayes.
In memory of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Reaney, who made many generous donations to this church. By Adam Horn.
In memory of my mother, Mrs. Mary E. Horn. By Bertram Horn.
"UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN By JAMES D. BELLINGER
Learn to make the most of life, lose no happy day.
Time can never bring thee back, changes swept away.
Why was our loved one taken from us away?
We know not why, that's far beyond our say.
He is not here, so he surely must be up there;
Now do not mourn for long, for he is in God's tender care.
Gaze through that open door and let the Sunshine into your soul,
Think clean thoughts, speak kind words, and make good deeds your goal,
Now, Friends, live as Jesus asked you, and avoid all crime and sin,
And when your final day's work is done,
You'll rejoin your deceased friends and kin again.
(If this were not so, Jesus would not have told me so.)
THE ST. JOHN'S HONOR ROLL
WORLD WAR I
G. W. BEEBE, M. D. , ERNEST MOSHER, ANTHONY A. BEEKMAN, LESTER MOSHER, WILLIAM A. BOLSTER, CHAP. J. H. S. PUTNAM, OGDEN BUTLER, ELMER J. SCHIEMER, JAMES S. BUTLER, L. EUGENE SNELL , RAYMOND COUNTRYMAN, GUY SNELL ,SILAS LELAND DINGMAN, FRANK VAN ALSTYNE , ALEC DON, LEON J. WALRATH, EDWARD EVERHARDT, CLYDE WELLS, ALTON FLANDERS, PEARL WELLS, RANSFORD FURBECK, LEONARD H. M. WITNEY, EDWARD HOOK, GEORGE H. HALL, CLIFFORD H. LAMPMAN, C .REXFORD HALL, CARL LIEBER, GEORGE C. BUTLER, LEO POMEROY, JOHN CORNELIUS DEVENDORF, HARRY C. KELLY, EARL CORNUE , ROLAND L. SMITH, ALBERT CRAMER ALFRED J. SNELL, ROY C. SNELL , HARRY McMAHON
WORLD WAR II
HERBERT DODD ALLTER, JAMES M. COOK, RALPH ANDERSON, BURTON R. CRETSER, HOWARD SNELL, ANDREWS LOREN N. CROSS, FLOYD R. ARMSTRONG, BERNARD DAVIS, CALVIN L. ASHLEY, JR., GORDON W. DAVIS , DR. ROBERT A5HLEY, ELVIN R. DEAN, CECILSETH BAKER, HARLOW E. DEVENDORF, JAMES ANTHONY BEEKMAN, LELAND DURFEE, CLAUDE M. BOTTOMLEY, JR., WILFRED FORSTER, CHARLES A. BRITT, WILLIAM MAX FOWLER, E. CURRIER BROWN, CORLISS FREDERICK, DR. FREDERICKC.CAIRNS, J. VINCENT FREDERICK, JOHN D. CAIRNS, CHESTER L. GETMAN, RICHARD F. CARTER, RICHARD J. GRANT, BERTRAM W. CASLER, BROOKSBY GRAY, CLAUDE CHRISTMAN, MELVIN W. GRAY, GEORGE H. HALL, JR., GLEN E. MERENESS, EDWARD R. HALL, EUGENEA.MILLER, ALVIN S. HOPKINS, JAMES C. MILLER, JANET S. HOPKINS, NORMAN W. MILLER ,EARL HUFF, JR., WILLIAM C. NELLIS, ALICE C. HYDE, WESTBROOK C. POPPLE, BURRELL ROSS KIEFLING, FRANKLIN W. SPRINGER, ADAM A. KLOCK, FRED SULLIVAN, LIPE KLOCK, JR., NELLIS VAN SLYKE, HERBERT Q. KRAMER, MARTIN A. WALRATH, DONALD LENIG, EDWARD T. WARN, RALPH V. MAcWETHY, JOHN A. WARN, WILLIAM JAMES McMAHON, RICHARD S. ZEITLER,
RONALD BROWN, GARY JOHNSON, RICHARD BRUNDAGE, DAVID ROSSET, DANIEL DAHLEN, LON SCOFIELD, DAVID DAHLEN, GLENN THOMPSON, DENNIS FRASIER, GARY WARN, CARL GOODBREAD, GARY WICK,
Marine Pfc. Dennis Frasier made the supreme sacrifice for his country. He was killed in action in Vietnam on May 26, 1967, near Tam Ky.
Dennis was born on August 12, 1947 in Broadalbin, N. Y., the son of Gordon and Marguerite Wight Frasier. The family moved to St. Johnsville in 1950 and became members of the Reformed Church in 1952.
The young Marine was a 1966 graduate of St. Johnsville Central School, where he was a prominent athlete in baseball and basketball. He had joined St. John's Church in 1960.
Dennis began his Marine Corps training in August, 1966, at Parris Island and Camp Lejeune. He left on January 20, 1967 for Vietnam. He was a member of the First Division, Third Battalion, Fifth Marines.
Omitted, Statistical Record of the church.
MAY THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AND THE LOVE OF GOD AND THE COMMUNION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE WITH YOU ALWAYS -Amen.
Historical Documents; St. John's Reformed Church
Historical Documents; St. John's Reformed Church
The site of
this church was within the limits of the Palatine District. This district was
formed as the town of Palatine, on March 7, 1770; it embraced the territory
on the north side of the Mohawk, extending from Anthony's Nose to Little Falls,
and reached northward to Canada. The town of Manheim was set off from Palatine,
on March 3, 1797; on April 7, 1817, it was annexed to Herkimer County. The western
part of what remained of Palatine, usually spoken of as the "Upper" part, was
formed into the town of Oppenheim, on March 18, 1808. When Fulton County was
formed, the new county line, bisected the town of Oppenheim; the most northerly
two thirds of the town retained the name and became a part of the new county.
The remainder, on April 18, 1838, was formed into the town of St. Johnsville;
the name of this town was taken from the Postal Village of St. Johnsville, the
principal settlement within the town.
Gazeteer of the State of New York, page 409.
The items below are copied from an explanation appearing on the map. "Explanation of Klock's purchase granted 21 Dec. 1754 to"
Note: These are not the names of the original Patentees, as implied by the explanation.
The important points of this preamble and deed are as follow: Hendrick Klock,
the father of George Klock, obtained a deed for one half of the lot, from Jacob
and Anna Wendell, after the death of Harmanus Wendell. Title to the other half
of the lot was secured by George Klock, on Apr. 16, 1757, at which time THERE
WAS NO CHURCH BUILDING UPON THIS LOT. Notice that an UNDIVIDED HALF is conveyed
in each deed; this removes the possibility of the church being located on the
other half of the lot which had been previously conveyed to Hendrick Klock.
Mss.English 725 XC 19 Sept. 9, 1761. Petition, John Casper Lappius, minister,
William Seeber, and Adam Young of the congregation of the German Reformed Church
at Cannojoharie, for a license to collect money to build a church.
Copy of a portion
of the letter, abstracted above; see Doc. Hist. N. Y. 8vo, Vol. 4: 335-6; or
4to, Vol. 4: 214. "I furder must Complaint to your Honour out of my Lazareth
that Wicked Ury Clok has puzzled into the kears of some people upon the land
called the Switzer mount, that your Honour had ordered me to make them all sign
a bond for all the Costs which would arise from that Action, under the Name
of a petition, which your Honor know as wel as I that never such a thing has
been don, the ignorant people have most Eaten up my little flesh and bones,
which I thought they would tare in pieces, would it not been good that Clok
should be paid once for his Devilish seditious humour?"
Montgomery County Wills, Book I, page 159. Will of Jacob Klock of Palatine, dated May 8, 1798. Wife Catharina. "I give & devise unto my Grand Child Anna Dyeslin the wife of Reverend (John) Henry Dyeslin" 100 acres from the farm upon which I now live, on the easterly of my said lot, "to begin at the Mohawk River, Running into the Woods, along the division line of Christian Nellis Esq. and myself, to a patent granted to George Klock, William Nellis and others * * " To my Grandchild Eva Klock, the wife of Christian Klock, "the remainder or westerly part of my said farm above mentioned, and the Improvements that are on said part as above devised, to be held by said Eva Klock." To my son Adam Klock, the farm on the south side of the Mohawk River, where he now resides. Grandsons, John March, Peter March and Henry March. Executors, John L. Bellinger, Adam A. Walrat and Robert Anderson. Will recorded, June 27, 1798.
Book 3, page 219. Mortgage, dated Dec. 27, 1801.
It is unnecessary
to abstract all of the deeds transferring land in Lot No. 13, as the main purpose
is only to show the deeds relating to the particular part, where Klock's Church
stood. The maps which follow on the next two pages, will be of aid in following
these transfers. The most northerly part of lot No. 13, Harrison Patent, is
the first to be eliminated. On June 23, 1820, Christian Klock and Eve his wife
sold 50 acres of the lot to Jacob Sanders. In the map dated Dec. 16, 1836, this
lot is shown as Lot No. 9, the remaining part of it having been sold to Adam
Nellis. In the second map, this tract of land is entirely eliminated from the
map, and it is not further considered. On June 28, 1826, 40 acres were sold
to John H. Zimmerman. In the 1836 map, this land is shown as Lot. No. 7, and
belongs to Joshua Webster. On Dec. 5, 1835, a tract of land supposed to contain
about 180 acres was sold to John A. Veeder; it consisted of Lots No. 2, 3, 6
and 8 as shown on the map of 1836. An abstract of the deed follows.
Book 48, page
213. Deed, dated April 21, 1842.
Here we have the first mention in an instrument of record, of the burying ground, which supports the belief that there was a Church upon this lot. The sole and only mention of the church that I have been able to find, is a receipt for an account against the church, from Jacob G. Klock, dated Jan. 4, 1805, for which see page 100. Jacob G. Klock was the son of George Klock, the elder; he married Anna Nellis on Apr. 7, 1763, which marriage together with the baptisms of some of his children are recorded in the record of the German Reformed church at Stone Arabia. He was the owner of lot No. 16 of the Harrison Patent, and the creek flowing through this lot was first known as Klock's creek.
Book 60, page
388. Deed, dated Oct. 18, 1850.
is mentioned by the Rev. John Taylor, in his missionary tour through the Mohawk
and Black River Countries, in 1802; see Doc. Hist. N. Y. 4to ed, Vol. III, page
from Stone Arabia to the Palatine Stone church is correctly given as four miles;
but the distance along the road from the Stone Church to the site of Klock's
Church is only two and a half miles; the distance of St. John's Church in the
village of St. Johnsville is three and a half miles. The distances as reported
would seem to indicate that the church referred to by Mr. Taylor, was St. John's
Church, and I believed this to be so for a time. The documentary evidence in
the Treasurer's account book seems to me to indicate clearly that St. John's
Church had not been erected in July 1802. Furthermore, I believe that if there
had been two churches, that Mr. Taylor would have mentioned both of them. Hence,
I regard "4 miles" as an error in distance made by Mr. Taylor.
KLOCK'S CHURCH BURYING GROUND
At the present day, the burying ground at the site of Klock's Church, is the strongest argument to support the belief that a church stood there. I copied the inscriptions on the gravestones in this burying ground, on May 3, 1914. A considerable number of the graves are unmarked; and there are many roughly hewn limestones, not even shaped like gravestones, which bear no traces of inscriptions. The burying ground occupies the central part of the 7.72 acre lot, indicated on the map dated April 21, 1842; it adjoins a private burying ground in the rear part of the 3.60 acre lot of Robert Nellis. The ground is now occupied by an orchard. On the rear of the seven acre lot, are several stone terraces extending one above the other along the rising ground. These terraces were constructed while Moses Quinby owned the property, and were used in the cultivation of grape vines. In my opinion, the orchard was set out by Moses Quinby, or if not by the Nellis brothers. To the rear of the orchard, on the southeasterly side, is a space about eighty feet square, on level ground where there are no trees. Near the center of this space are two stones, broken off or else sunken deep in the ground, evidently the head and feet stones of a grave, which faced in an easterly direction. Tradition has it that the Rev. John Henry Dysslin was buried under the pulpit of Klock's Church. Mr. Leslie Nellis pointed these stones out to me, as marking the spot where the Rev. Mr. Dysslin was buried; he stated that his grandfather, Robert Nellis, was the authority for this statement. And added that in his opinion, this grave marks the spot where the pulpit of Klock's Church stood. I am willing to believe that Mr. Dysslin was buried at the spot, over which the pulpit of the church once stood, but not that he was buried inside of a fast decaying edifice that was soon to be pulled down. It is my opinion that Klock's Church was pulled down before Mr. Dysslin's death
As the grave stones which were copied seem to be pretty well grouped, it was not thought necessary to indicate their location upon a map. Particularly as if a map had been made, it would have consisted principally, of unmarked graves. The numbers opposite the inscriptions, refer to notes which follow after them. There are between 75 and 100 graves, that are now visible.
1. Here-lies the body-of Margaret Klock-widow of-Johannes Klock, deceased-who departed this life-January 14th 1800-aged 87 years, 1 month-and 11days.
2. (Next inscription illegible; limestone.
3. In-memory-of Anna Klock-wife-of Jacob I. Klock-who was born-February 15th 1752-and departed this life-October 17th 1804-aged 52 years 8 months-and 2 days.
4. Here-lies the body-of Dorata Klock-daughter of John I. Klock-she was born, the 20th day of September 1777-and departed this life the 4th day of Feby. 1800-aged 22 years 4 months-and 14 days.
5. Dd. THIS LIFE-JO. KLOCK-1822
6. *-BETTY KLOCK Dd. IN 1831-& HER AGE 27 YER-1 M. & 22 DAYS
7. By. K. (Footstone to No. 6.)
8. *-Do. Klock-Dd. 1805-FIRST W. TO JGK
9. *-1802-EVE KLOCK-AGED 3 YEARS-6M & 6 DAYS
10. *-Wm. KLOCK-AGED 3 M. 18 DAYS
11. *-Eth KLOCK-Dd. 1836. 4th-WIFE TO J. G. K.
12. CMG KLOCK-Dd. IN 1817-3d W TO JGK
13. *-J. G. KLOCK-DEPARTED THIS-LIFE 1846 HIS-AGE 87 YEARS----MONTHS 10 DAYS
14. N. KLOCK-Dd. 1828 HER-AGE 17 (?) Y. 6 M. 23 D.
15. In Memory-of Elizabeth wife of-George Putman-who died, Feb. 1st 1830-AE 34 years, 5 months-& 4 days.
16. In memory of-Catharine wife of-Ashbel Loomis-Died May 28, 1831-in her 41 year.
17. C. L. (Footstone to No. 16.)
18 Dewitt C.-Son of-David & Lydia-Hose-died Feb. 13-1847. AE 2 yr's-3 mo's & 26-days.
19. D. C. H. (Footstone to No. 18)
20. ELISABET D. NELLIS-WAR GESTORBEN MAY-16 IN JAHR 1793 ALT-WORDEN 66 JAHRS 3- MONT
21. (Next stone similar in appearance to No. 20; limestone, inscription illegible.)
22. HIER RUHET IN GOTT-ELISA. BEDARABOL-1ST GEBOREN IN JAHR-1756 UND GESTORBE-N DEN 18 MERDZ. ANNO 1790
23. ------------- CHRISTIAN NE------, -------------GESTORBEN ANO 1771 (?) AET-WORDEN 74 JAHR
24. (Companion stone to No. 23; inscription illegible; limestone
25. Here ley-H. K.-1760-92
26. Here lies the-Body of Asher Cox-who departed this-life June ye 30th 1771 in the-28th year of his Age- (Verse, not copied.)
27. Here-Lies the Body of-Shepherd Cox who De-parted this Life June ye 3d-1749 in ye 23 year if-his Age
28. From the private burying ground of Robert Nellis.
28. Robert Nellis-Born-May 4, 1785-Died Oct. 4, 1868
29. Katie Dysslin-wife of-Robert Nellis-Born July 2 1793-Died Nov 22, 1868
Notes to inscriptions on gravestones.
1. Gravestones No. 1, 3 and 4 are of red sand stone, the type that lasts so well. The inscriptions are perfectly preserved.
5 to 13. This appears to be a group of one family. The stones are of rough limestone, of no particular shape. The most pretentious stone is No. 13, which has been cut in the shape of a gravestone. Three of the wives of Joseph G. Klock are buried here.
8. The inscription on this stone is copied exactly as it appears.
13. On page x, I have already alluded to my lack of reliable data, concerning the Klock family. This is the gravestone of Joseph G. Klock, who was probably the son of George Klock, the elder. He was elected a Trustee of St. John's Church, on Dec. 26, 1804. He succeded Andrew Zobriskie as Treasurer of the Board of Trustees, on Aug. 22, 1807. At the time of the incorporation of July 6, 1816, he was the senior Elder.
According to the deed from Christian Klock to Jacob Saunders, dated June 23, 1820, but not fully abstracted on page xi, Joseph G. Klock was the owner of the northwesterly part of Lot. No. 13, in the Harrison Patent; the part which lay to the west and northwest of Christian Klock's land. The gravestone of Joseph G. Klock, although of comparatively recent date, is difficult to read as to the dates, because these dates were evidently carved by an amateur and because the stone never had a smooth surface. In making the copy, I was unable to distinguish between the figures "8" and "6". At first, I decided that the date of death was "1848"; but later, from an examination of the Surrogate's records, I found that Joseph G. Klock died on June 11, 1846. It will therefore be seen that a doubt is thus created, as to his age at the time of his death. I believe that I am correct in reading his age as 87 years. And with this in mind, I assume that he was a son of George Klock, the elder. If he was 67 years of age at the time of his death, he was more likely the son of George G. Klock; this would explain the passing of the title of the land from George G. Klock to him. There was no Joseph G. Klock, a soldier in the Revolution; however there was a Joseph Klock. My reason for supposing Joseph G. Klock to be a son of the elder George Klock, is that I consider a man of an age between 25 and 30 years, was too young to have been on the Board of Trustees of the church, from 1804 to 1807. As a matter of fact, I do not know which George he was the son of. If he was the son of the elder George, he was probably the youngest child, for Jacob G. Klock was married in 1763.
18 & 19. This grave was the last interment that took place in the burying ground. It is in a group of old rough limestones, which appear to be among the oldest in the burying ground. This burial was evidently made on top of old graves.
20. Elisabet D. Nelles has died May 16, in the year 1793, was aged 66 years, 3 months
21. This stone and No. 20 are isolated and by themselves; only one other grave near them.
22. Here lies in God, Elisabedar Abel. Is born in year 1758 and died the 18th March, year 1790. Refer to the copy of the inscription for the name of this person. I am unable to say definitely, where her first name ends and her last name begins.
23. Christian Ne(llis). Died year 1771. Was aged 74 years. Several words are illegible on this stone. I believe this to be the gravestone of Christian Nellis, Senior. The year date 1771 is fairly legible.
24. This is a small rough limestone, with inscription fairly legible. It is of the same general type and appearance as the stones in group 5 to 13. And by comparison with them, it could easily have been erected about 1800 or 1820. I do not believe that a limestone erected in 1760, would have a legible inscription upon it now. Possibly this is the gravestone of a person born in 1760, and who died in 1792. I considered this possibility when I examined the stone; but concluded that there was little evidence upon the stone to warrant the supposition that the figures "17" had been obliterated. I believe this to be a commemorative gravestone, erected after the year 1800, to mark the grave of Hendrick Klock. I know of no person with initials "H. K." who could have died in 1760, at the age of 92 years, unless it was Hendrick Klock, the pioneer settler.
26 & 27. These two gravestones are by themselves and are not near No. 25. They are large and pretentious in appearance; the inscriptions have been carved upon them by a stone cutter, and differ materially from the rude inscriptions which have every appearance of amateur work. The stones are of limestone and appear to be in about the same state of preservation as other limestones bearing dates after 1800. The surface of the stones is not so rough as the rudely carved stones. The dates are clear; no mistake has been made in copying them. Still, I cannot bring myself to believe that those stones were erected in the years shown upon them. If the stone cutter has made a mistake in cutting the date 1749 and it really was 1794, it is possible that my doubts would not have arisen
According to Simms, * George Klock, the elder, had a daughter, who married Col. Ebenezer Cox, who was killed in the battle of Oriskany, in August 1777. Abstract of the will of Ebenezer Cox, of Tryon County; see Calendar of Wills, page 79.
Wife Elizabeth, sons and daughters. Real and personal estate. Executors, Robert Cox, Jacob G. Klock and John Frey. No witnesses. Will proved by testimony of William Petrie of Kingsland District, Tryon Co., Physician, and Jacob G. Klock of Palatine District, same County, esquire as to handwriting. Dated Feb. 18, 1777; proved, March 26, 1779.
Elisabeth Klock, daughter of Jurrie (or George) Klock and Maria Catharina Walraad, was baptised in 1750; see Stone Arabia German Reformed records. The above may to some extent explain the presence of these two Cox gravestones, in the Klock graveyard.
28 & 29. These two gravestones are at present lying flat upon the stone wall which separates the Klock burying ground from the private Nellis burying ground, which has been mentioned on page xvii. The graves are the only ones left in the Nellis burying ground. All the other bodies have been removed, to the village cemetery at St. Johnsville. According to Mr. Leslie Nellis, Robert Nellis was twice married. When a young man, Robert Nellis was by trade a tailor; Mr. Leslie Nellis has in his possession, a book of accounts kept by his grandfather, showing charges for coats and other articles, that were made for his customers. Katie Dysslin was a daughter of the Rev. Henry Dysslin; for her baptism, see page 78; for her marriage to Robert Nellis, see Vol. II, page 8.
I have copied all of the gravestones in this burying ground, because of the influence that they may have, in forming conclusions as to the date of the erection of Klock's Church. In my opinion, this was a private burying ground similar to many others in the neighborhood, that about the year 1786, the church was erected in the burying ground; and that after that, it became the burying ground belonging to the church
ST. JOHN'S CHURCH
The site of this church is in the village of St. Johnsville, about one mile west of the site of Klock's Church. Besides the church lot now in possession of the Congregation, there was formerly adjoining the church lot in the rear, a Glebe lot, containing about seven acres. The burial grounds of the church were situated at the westerly end of the Glebe lot, and extended on both sides of Zimmerman's Creek. All the land in question, was within the bounds of Lot No. 15, of the Harrison Patent. According to tradition, this lot was owned by Jacob Timmerman (or Zimmerman), a Revolutionary soldier, who wished to have the church near his homestead, and accordingly gave the land with the understanding that a new church should be erected upon it, to supersede Klock's Church. There is no instrument of record, showing that the title of the Church lot and the Glebe lot, was transferred to the Congregation. About, 1850, the ownership of the land was questioned, and a lawsuit was narrowly averted. Fortunately, it is not necessary to rely wholly upon tradition, for the historical facts concerning St. John's Church. Certain positive facts are briefly conscrated below; the authority for them is the Treasurer's account book, parts of which are transcribed in this volume, and to these reference can be made for further details.
The church land was paid for either partly or wholly, by a note to Jacob Zimmerman the owner of the land, given by the Trustees and dated March 5, 1792; the amount of the note was $49.52. The note was purchased by John L. Bellinger, and charged off by him in his accounts of money expended towards building the new church; see page 97. In my opinion the work upon this new church edifice, had not proceeded far enough in July 1802, for it to be noticed by the Rev. John Taylor, when on his missionary tour; see page xvi. The church was partly completed, on June 6, 1803, at which time John L. Bellinger opened his accounts in a new book, obtained for that purpose; see accounts, page 96 to 100. A meeting of the Congregation was held, "in the New Church" on January 2nd 1804, when Trustees were elected; see page 114. The seats and pews in the church were sold, on June 15th and 23rd 1804; see pages 105 and 106. A new salary list was made out for the Rev. John Henry Dysslin, presumably to cover his services in the new church; his salary commenced on June 1, 1804; see page 107. In my opinion, the date when this church may be said to have been completed was June 1, 1804, and I consider that this date is proved by the facts
just stated. John L. Bellinger settled his accounts with the trustees, on March 11, 1806, at which time most of the debts of the church had been paid; see page 114. Particular attention should be paid to the fact that this church was erected during the pastorate of the Rev. John Henry Dysslin. I am firmly of the opinion that the village of St. Johnsville received its name from this church. Some historians, who claim that the village was named after the surveyor Alexander St. John, have been obliged to place the date of the erection of the church as between 1815 and 1818, in order to give more color to their claim. From the fact that repairs to the parsonage was necessary in the fall of 1806, it seems probable that Mr. Dysslin did not live in the village near the new church, but that he remained on his farm, which his wife had inherited, under the will of Col. Jacob Klock. And that he died there, and was buried near where he died, on the spot where the pulpit of Klock's Church had formerly stood. In the year 1848, during the pastorate of the Rev. Joseph Knieskern, $2,000 was raised for the renovation of the church edifice and it was newly furnished. For further particulars concerning these repairs, see the Rev. Albert Dod Minor's historical sketch. Appendix 11, page xiv. In 1853, $500 more was subscribed and an organ was purchased. Again in 1856, as a still further evidence of the energy, and prosperity of the Congregation, another subscription list was circulated, and over $400 was secured for painting the church and building a fence. All the subscription lists referred to here, with dates etc. will be found completely copied, in the back part of the second volume of the transcript.
Reference to the church land in the village of St. Johnsville, have been found in the following deeds, which are briefly abstracted.
Mont. Co. Deed, Book 18, page 286. Aug. 29, 1818. Jacob Timmerman and Magdalena his wife to Henry Failing Junr. Conveys part of Lot No. 15, in the Harrison Patent. "Beginning in the west side of the creek in the South Bounds of the Glebe land * * * to a stake near the church to the south bounds of the Glebe land, thence along the same * * *
Book 27, page 292. Jan. 2, 1829. Jacob Zimmerman and Lany his wife to Henry Failing Junr. "Beginning at the southeast corner of the Glebe lot belonging to St. John's Church * * * "
Jacob H. Failing owned land, bordering on the Glebe Lot. Later, Henry Failing leased a part of the Glebe Lot, for many years, which was used as a brick yard.
Book 41, page 56. April 1, 1837. Daniel Zimmerman and Lavina his wife, to John W. Riggs. Conveys several parcels, among them "that certain piece of land on which the grist mill of Daniel Zimmerman stands.
bound southerly by the Glebe Lot and a public road, westerly by said Glebe lot, and the lands of Jacob H. Failing and northerly by lands of the Messrs. Averills and easterly by lands of Jacob Zimmerman * * * "and said parties of the first part also convey all their interest and right to all other lands and every interest therein, that they or either may have derived from Jacob Zimmerman, and father of said Daniel the granter, by Deed or Will." Note: this deed signed by Daniel Zimmerman, only. Recorded, May 22, 1837.
Book 41, page 57, April 1, 1837. Jacob Zimmerman and Elizabeth his wife, to John W. Riggs. Conveys several parcels; one "subject to a lease which John Dysslin holds of a small Turning Shop near the said saw Mill." The deed also contains the same clause of conveyance of interest, "derived from Jacob Zimmerman, the father of said Jacob the granter" etc. Recorded, May 22, 1837.
Book 41, page 59. April 18, 1837. Quit claim deed from Daniel Zimmerman and Lavina his wife, of the town of Le Roy, Jefferson Co. N. Y., to John W. Riggs. Same as deed recorded on page 56, but signed by Daniel Zimmerman and Lavina Zimmerman and conveys her right of dower. Recorded, May 22, 1837.
All these conveyances are subject to the rightful claims of Magdalena Zimmerman, the widow of Jacob Zimmerman Sen., deceased, and of her daughters Christina and Eve. By a series of other transfers, which it is not thought necessary to tabulate, the property came into possession of Azel Hough, before the year 1850. By virtue of the "conveyance of interest" clauses in the Zimmerman Deeds, Azel Hough, in the year 1852, claimed to own the Church land. At a meeting of the Consistory, held on March 15, 1852, resolutions were passed concerning the claim of Azel Hough, and a Power of Attorney was given to H. Baker, to take the necessary legal steps to compel a determination upon this claim. The case never came to trial. Soon after, on Oct. 18, 1856, Azel Hough died.
The first parsonage of St. John's Church stood near the center of the Glebe lot; the Rev. David Devoe was the first Pastor to occupy it. In 1874, the Glebe lot was sold, by virtue of an order of the Supreme Court. In the petition for the sale, it is stated that the disposal of the Glebe lot was deemed necessary, because funds were required to liquidate the debts of the church and to erect a new parsonage. Furthermore, that the old parsonage was not in a convenient location for the church, and that it was in such poor condition, that to renovate it would cost as much as a new building. On July 11, 1874, bids were opened for the erection of the new parsonage; the highest bid was $490.67 and the lowest was by John H. Knieskern, amounting to $3387.,(?) to whom the contract was awarded on July 13th. The deed of sale of the Glebe lot was dated Aug. 1, 1874. An abstract of it follows on the next page.
Book 93, page 393. Aug. 1, 1874. Trustees of the Dutch Reformed Saint John's Church in the town of St. Johnsville, sell the Church Glebe Lot, to William H. Saltsman and Clark H. Markall, pursuant to order of the Supreme Court, dated April 27, 1874, and entered April 29, 1874. Lot contains about 7 acres. The rights of School District No. 2, excepted, subject to the terms of their lease. The burial grounds situate at the westerly end of premises, on both sides of the creek, are also excepted, unless the bodies shall be removed by their relatives, in which case and then, the land occupied by the burying ground is conveyed.
Since the execution of this deed, all the bodies have been removed from the old burying ground on the Glebe lot, to the village cemetery; and now in the year 1914, nothing remains to indicate the spot where it was.
The funds derived from the sale of the Glebe lot amounted to $6025.00. At a meeting of the Trustees held on March 4, 1876, a report was presented showing how these funds had been expended.
that parsonage fund can be legally used to build barn & parsonage fences.
Jacob H. Markell, L. Pettit, Geo. J. Van Este: Committee
The new parsonage, which cost approximately $4,000, when finished, is a substantial brick residence, which stands upon the church lot just east of the church, and faces on Main Street. The present church edifice, also built of brick, was erected in the year 1881, during the pastorate of the Rev. Albert Dod Minor. The demolition of the old church was commenced on March 28, 1881.
RECORD OF INCORPORATION
The records of the incorporation of this church follow; those that are given elsewhere in this transcript, are summarized, with reference to page where the complete copy can be found.
March 13, 1787. Trustees of the Reformed Calvinist Church of the upper part of Palatine; see page xvi.
Jan. 2, 1804. The Trustees of the Dutch Reformed Congregation of Saint Johns Church in Palatine Town; see page 114.
July 6, 1816. The Dutch Reformed Saint Johns Church in Oppenheim election of officers. Joseph G. Klock, Conrad Helligas, and John F. Bellinger, Elders; Joseph J. Klock, Jacob A. Walrath, Junr, and George G. Klock, Deacons. For a complete copy, see Vol. II, page 2.
Montgomery County Church Corporations, Vol. I, page 55. Jan. 29, 1820. The Dutch Reformed Church in the town
of Oppenheim. Election of officers. Christian Klock, Henry Failing, Junr., Jacob J. Failing, John C. House, Elders; Henry Walrath, John J. H. Failing, Henry H. Hose, Frederick Shaver, Deacons. Signed by George C. Klock and Abraham Shafer. Certificate that the officers were ordained on Jan. 30, 1820, signed by David Devoe, V. D. M. Acknowledged, Jan. 31, 1820; recorded, Feb. 3, 1820.
After the town of St. Johnsville was formed in 1838, the name of the church was changed to the Dutch Reformed Saint John's Church in the town of St. Johnsville. The northern part of the Congregation of the St. Johnsville church, worshipped for many years in the church at Youker's Bush, a church which was in Collegiate relationship with St. Johnsville. The incorporation records which follow, tell the story of this church, as it appears in the county records.
Montgomery County Church Corporations, Vol I. page 62. Meeting held on Nov. 28, 1821, at the house of Peter Kline, in Oppenheim. The Second Reformed Dutch Church at Oppenheim, organized. Officers elected, David H. Phipps and Frederick J. Bellinger, Elders; Henry P. Cline and Philip Craymer, Deacons. Signed by Peter Cline and Thomas Wilbur. Officers ordained at the house of Peter Kline, on Jan. 4, 1822, by David Devoe, V. D. M. Acknowledged, Jan. 5, 1822; recorded, Jan. 29, 1822.
Montgomery County Church Corporations, Vol. I page 105. Sept. 25, 1830. Meeting held at the new Meeting house, situated on the land of John F. Bellinger near Nicholas Smith and John House. Organized, the Lutheran Congregation of Euquersbush (Eukers) in the town of Oppenheim. Trustees elected. Nicholas J. Smith, Warner Nellis and Joseph Diesler. Signed by Peter Smith and Adam Thumb. Acknowledged, Mar. 4, 1831; recorded, Mar. 14, 1831.
Fulton County Church Records, page 40. State of New York, Montgomery County. We, the undersigned, two of the Members of the Church hereafter named, do certify that on the 15th day of May, 1855, the Male members of full age belonging to a Church in which divine worship is celebrated according to the rites of the Reformed Dutch & Lutheran Churches & not already incorporated, met at the place of public worship heretofore occupied by said religious association, in the town of Oppenheim, Fulton County, N. Y., for the purpose of incorporating themselves & did then and there elect by plurality of votes, Christian House, Christopher Bellinger & Benjamin Groff as Trustees of said Church; and the said persons did then & there also determine by a like plurality of voices, that the said Trustees & their Successors in office should forever be called & known by the title of the Trustees of the Reformed Dutch & Lutheran Church. And it is & was further agreed that the denomination subscribing the greater sums shall have the right to select the hour of the day when they will respectively worship, to be determined at each & every Annual Meeting for the purpose of electing Trustees. And the property of said church shall belong to each denomination, in proportion to the amount of Stock each denomination shall own at the time of the dedication of said church. Signed, sealed and witnessed, this 15 day of Dec. 1856. Joseph Kneiskern ( L S) Christopher Flander (L S). Witnesses acknowledged, Oct. 3, 1857; recorded, Oct. 6, 1857.
THE YOUKER'S BUSH CHURCH
From 1830 to 1887, this church was a Collegiate church, in connection with the St. Johnsville Church, and was under the control of the St. Johnsville Consistory. The organization of this church was accomplished by the Rev. David Devoe, when he organized the Second Reformed Dutch Church of Oppenheim, in the year 1821. As the Second Church, it had a precarious existence in the central part of the old town of Oppenheim, and never had a church edifice. It is presumed that divine services were held in the homes of the members; and possible occasionally in the Free Communion Baptist Church and Society of Oppenheim, which was organized on May 27, 1820. From the Minutes of the General Synod, June 1822, page 13; under the head of report of the Committee on Missions, the following appears;
"Early in October last, a letter was received from the Rev. David Devoe, reequesting to be appointed to labour a part of his time in the employment of the Committee, which appointment was made * * * he has organized a church in the north part of the town of Oppenheim, in the county of Montgomery, distinguished as the Second Reformed Dutch Church in Oppenheim. A petition has been received from the officers of said church, imploring missionary aid."
Extracts from the Reports of the Missionary Society of the Reformed Dutch Church in North America, 1823-1830:
Rep. 1823, page 7. Mr. John C. Vanderveer, a licentiate, visited churches in the Classis of Montgomery; he commenced his tour on Sept. 21, 1822. "The church at Oppenheim (2nd) he found very small in numbers, composed principally of new settlers, and those thinly scattered over a population belonging to the Methodist and Baptist denominations. Here he continued three weeks, preaching as opportunity offered, and visiting daily from house to house."
Rep. 1830, page 25. Report of the General Agent, Rev. John F. Schermerhorn, to the Board of Managers. Vacant churches which need assistance, in Classis of Montgomery: Johnsville, Eukersbush, Palatine S. Church. * * * * Page 28. "Johnsville in connection with Eukersbush, and Palatine Stone Church, offers to be an eligible settlement, and should a popular man be sent there, very little, if any aid would be required from the Missionary Society. It is very important that these places should be occupied immediately."
The members of the Lutheran Body united with the members of the Second Reformed Dutch Church, and together they erected a Meeting House at Youker's Bush, which in the Lutheran articles of incorporation, is referred to as being "new" in the year 1830. Thus, the approximate year date of erection is obtained. This church stood about a mile and a half east of Crum Creek, and half a mile north of the town and county line, as it is at present, and which separates the towns of St. Johnsville and Oppenheim. The spot is about two and a half miles due north of upper St. Johnsville, and southeast of Twin Church Hill. The site of the church was probably within the bounds of Lot No.
33, of Klock and Nellis' Patent. It was on the Dievendorf farm. This farm of 100 acres was purchased from the Diefendorf's by John F. Bellinger, and in 1839, it was conveyed by him to Christopher Bellinger. No deed could be found on record, showing conveyance from John F. Bellinger, of the land occupied by the church. The burying ground adjacent to the site of this church is still in existence. It is kept in good order and is regarded by the neighborhood as inviolable. Within the last few years, a Mr. Amos Hays has built a new fence around the plot.
The Lutheran part of this Society was incorporated, on Sept. 25, 1830. The organization of the Dutch Reformed part of the Youker's Bush Church was perfected, on Jan. 1, 1831, when, at a meeting of the Consistory of St. John's Church, the number of officers of the church was increased to six elders and six deacons, one half from St. Johnsville and the other half from Youker's Bush. The Youker's Bush Church is not mentioned at all in the records of the Classis of Montgomery, as it was considered a part of the St. Johnsville Congregation. So far as I have been able to ascertain, the ownership of the Youker's Bush property was vested in the Lutheran Trustees, although it is probable that the members of the Dutch Reformed Body, were represented on the Board. The St. Johnsville Consistory was equally divided between St. Johnsville and Youker's Bush, until Jan. 1, 1839. At that time the representation of Youker's Bush, was reduced by one elder and one deacon, four of each of the officers being elected from St. Johnsville. The Lutherans seem to have been the predominating influence in the first Youker's Bush Church.
On Dec. 15, 1856, the Youker's Bush Congregation met at the church, and incorporated themselves into a new Society, for the purpose of erecting a new church edifice. The location of the new church was about a mile and a half east of the site of the first Youker's Bush Church. The church was erected on the northeast corner of the four corners, where it now stands; it is about three miles north by east of St. John's Church. Deeds dated in the year 1858, relating to adjacent property, mention the road leading east and west past the new Dutch Reformed Church and the red School house, now the school of District No. 5, in the town of Oppenheim. The new church was erected in 1857, and it is evident that in this church the balance of power was vested in the Dutch Reformed Body;-another monument to the ability and zeal of the Rev. Joseph Knieskern. For further details, see the articles of incorporation on page xxv.
When the Rev. George J. Van Neste was called to St. Johnsville, on Aug. 9, 1875, his salary was $1250; of this amount the Youker's Bush Church paid $225. The preaching at Youker's Bush was on alternate Sunday afternoons, approximately one quarter of the services. When the Rev. Albert Dod Minor was called in 1879, his salary was $750; $600 paid by St. Johnsville and $150 paid by Youker's Bush. Towards the close of Mr. Minor's pastorate, about the year 1887, the Youker's Bush Church dropped, and the Dutch Reformed services there ceased. At that time the Youker's Bush Church united with Grace Christian Church of St. Johnsville, a Society that had been organized in 1874. The edifice is still in the hands of the Christian Church Body.
The reproduction of the title page of the first volume of this record, shows that the Rev. John Henry Dysslin, was the pastor of three German Reformed churches: Palatine District (now St. Johnsville), Canajoharie Castle and Snell's Bush. The Canajoharie Castle Church was the Indian Castle Church, which is still standing in the town of Danube, Herkimer County, near the village of Indian Castle. This church was erected in 1769, by Sir William Johnson, who personally paid for the entire cost of the building, which amounted to (English pounds) 459:1:11, or $1,150. although others had promised him assistance. Sir William built the church as a mission of the Church of England, its purpose being to foster religion among the Indians who lived at the Upper Mohawk Castle. The Rev. Mr. Hall declined to accept a call to the church and in a letter dated Oct. 2, 1772, Sir William Johnson writing to the Rev. Dr. Burton, complains that the church is vacant and that he can find no one to supply it. In later years services were held in this church by various denominations, each occupying it on different Sundays; among them Dutch Reformed, German Reformed, Lutherans and Presbyterians. The Congregation was so heterogeneous that they could never agree upon a pastor. The Rev. Mr. Dysslin may not have supplied this church during his entire pastorate at Palatine or St. Johnsville. On Mar. 12, 1800, the Reformed Dutch Church at the Castle was Incorporated, with the Rev. Diederich Christian A. Pick as minister; see Montgomery County Deeds, Book 7, page 191. The Rev. Mr. Devoe appears to have supplied the Indian Castle Church frequently, as his record of baptisms will show; it was also supplied by the Rev. Joseph Knieskern.
The Snell's Bush Church was supplied by Revs. Dysslin, Devoe, Murphy, Myers, and Knieskern, all while at St. Johnsville. While space will permit but
little, a number of extracts concerning the Snell's Bush Congregation follow. This church is located in the village of Manheim Center, town of Manheim. No early records of the church can be found. The Minutes of Consistory begin in 1850; Members, 1860; Baptisms, 1860; and Marriages, 1872. No time is available to verify the information contained in the following extract; see page 342, History of Herkimer County, by Hardin and Willard, 1892.
"For several years previous to the Revolution, Suffrenus, Peter, Joseph and Jacob Snell, of Snell's Bush, made a donation of seven acres of land for a church lot and twelve acres for school purposes. A church was built there and burned in the Revolution, but was afterwards rebuilt. It stood until 1850, when it was taken down and the present edifice erected; it is known as the Reformed Dutch church. The school-house in that district occupied the school lot, but eleven and one half acres of the latter were transferred by the Legislature to the church. Rev. Caleb Alexander made a missionary tour through the county in 1801, and wrote: "Between Fairfield and Little Falls is a Dutch settlement called Manheim; rich farms, a meeting-house and a minister."
The Snell's Bush Reformed Calvinist Church was incorporated, on Dec. 8, 1792; see Montgomery County Deeds, Book 4, page 84. The Rev. John Taylor mentions this church in his Missionary tour in the Mohawk, in 1802; see Doc. History of New York, 4to, Vol. III, pages 674 and 686.
"Manheim, the last town in the County of Montgomery, --extent 6 by 6--vacant; not a large congregation."
"Manheim, 8 miles from the Stone chh. in Palatine. This town is about 7 miles square. One Dutch Reformed ch. Vacant. Mr. Dysling supplies about half the time in this town and half in Palatine: a Swiss, and a good character, and a man of learning."
The Manheim church, known as St. Paul's Church, remained a German Reformed church until 1822. The authorities for this statement follow. From the Minutes of the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church. June 1821, page 10; abstracted from the Report of the Committee on Missions.
Isaac Ferris, a Licentiate, was on Aug. 4, 1820, appointed Missionary for two months to labor within the bounds of the Classis of Montgomery. He commenced his missionary labors at Manheim, on Sept. 6, 1820. "The German Reformed Church in that place, has no ecclesiastical connecion with the Classis of Montgomery." His services continued there, until Nov. 5, 1820.
From Minutes of the Classis of Montgomery, Vol. B, page 77. Sept. 17, 1822. "The following Communication was received from St. Pauls Church Oppenheim (should be Manheim). "Resolved unanimously that application be made to the Classis of Montgomery to be received under their watch and care. And that the Elder Jacob Markle be authorized to sign the Formula in such case made and provided. Signed Isaac S. Ketcham, Preas.; Jacob Markle, Clark."
St. Pauls' Church of Manheim received under the watch and care of the Classis; also the Congregational Church at Salisbury. A call presented from these churches on the Candidate, Isaac S. Ketcham; he was examined and his examination was sustained. In August 1823, Mr. Ketcham reported to the Classis that he had given up Salisbury; after which it was supplied by Rev. David Devoe; see Mts. Cl. Mont. Vol. B, p. 99.
ST. JOHN'S CHURCH BECOMES DUTCH REFORMED
A peculiar situation arises from an examination of the records, concerning this matter. It will be noticed that the word "Dutch" appears in the articles of incorporation, for the years 1804, 1816 and 1820. In the Ref. Chh. Manual, 2nd edition, published 1869, Dr. Corwin states that the church became Dutch Reformed, in 1812. It can readily be understood that when this edition was printed, authentic records were not so readily obtained as at present; but why this date has been allowed to pass unchallenged, for so many years, is not so easily explained. According to Prof. James I. Good, D. D., the historian of the German Reformed Church, the Palatine or St. Johnsville church, had no connection with the Pennsylvania Coatus, or with the early German Reformed synods. Nor have I been able to establish any such connection, by examination of the published records of the German Reformed Church. The most curious part of the whole situation is, that though Mr. Devoe was installed by the Classis of Montgomery, as pastor of St. John's Church of Oppenheim and St. Paul's Church of Manheim, "to perform such farther duties as is commonly performed by Ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church," neither of his churches were Dutch Reformed. Another feature is, that in 1821, Mr. Devoe organized the SECOND Reformed Dutch Church in Oppenheim, a church which is regularly reported in the Minutes of the Classis of Montgomery, when at the time there was no FIRST Reformed Dutch Church in Oppenheim. Mr. Devoe was a regular member of the Classis of Montgomery, and in the usual rotation, he held the offices of Stated Clerk and President. But his churches were not represented in Classis and made no reports. On a number of occasions, when making out the list of members present at the meetings of Classis, the words "without charge" appear after Mr. Devoe's name, instead of Oppenheim. Mr. Devoe's call was approved on July 9, 1816, at an extra session of the Classis of Montgomery, held at the house of Jacob Heese in Palatine. Extracts follow from the original Minutes of the Classis of Montgomery, in support of the foregoing statements.
Meeting, Jan. 7, 1817. Present, Rev. David Devoe and Joseph G. Klock, Elder, from St. Johns and St. Pauls churches in Oppenheim & Manheim.
Meeting, May 6, 1817. Questions. "The following question proposed by the Revd Jacob R. H. Hasbrouck is hereby referred to the Part. Synod for their decision. 'Has any Classis a right or power to install any one of their members a pastor in a congregation which is not subject to their jurisdiction or the jurisdiction of the Dutch Reformed church.'"
From Minutes of the Particular Synod of Albany. Oct. 8, 1817. Report of the Committee appointed to answer the above question. The Committee, "Report, as their opinion, that there is no impropriety in installing a Minister as Pastor over any congregation whatever, because the very fact supposes a certain degree of content to such connection in the congregation, i. e., a willingness to enjoy the word and ordinances of life under the administration of our church, tho' in all things not a full ecclesiastical standing as a component part of the church. Instances of this description have been known to exist in other bodies and have ended in bringing much congregations into full jurisdiction. The consent of the congregation, either tacit or explicit, being wanting, there can, in the opinion of your committee be no right or power to proceed to such installation. John M. Bradford, James Murphy, Garret Putman."
The report of the Committee was adopted by the Synod.
Minutes of the Classis of Montgomery. Meeting, Sept. 2, 1817. Statistical reports. * * * * "The Congregation served by the Revd. David Devoe are not under the care of Classis & made no report." * * * * The installation of Mr. Devoe was reported at this meeting.
Oct. 24, 1821. Present, Rev. David Devoe, withouth charge.
Sept. 17, 1822. St. Paul's Church of Manheim, admitted; see page xxix.
Feb. 1824. Statistical report. Vacant, 2nd Ch. Oppenheim.
Sept. 1825. Petition to the Particular Synod of Albany, to divide the Classis of Montgomery. To be in Classis of Montgomery, Douw Van Olinda: Palatine, Osquack, Danube; David Devoe: Oppenheim, Indian Castle, Le Ray; Isaac S. Ketcham: Manheim; (others not copied.)
Feb. 14, 1827. David Devoe to supply 2nd Church Oppenheim.
Feb. 11, 1829. Classis convened at St. Johns Ville Church, Oppenheim. Receiving Churches. "Mr. Christian Klock laid on the table of Classis an application from the church at St. Johns Ville for reception under the watch & care of this Classis. The application being found duly authenticated & regular it was resolved on motion that such application be granted on condition that the delegated Elder subscribe the formula of Classis."
Mr. Christian Klock signed the formula on the above date. This is the last time that Mr. Devoe's name appears in the Minutes, while he was connected with the St. Johnsville Church.
Thus it can be seen that, as it was hoped and expected by the Committee of the Particular Synod, the installation of Mr. Devoe in the St. Johnsville Church, brought the church into full communion with the Dutch Reformed Body. Prior to Feb. 11, 1829, the church was an independent German Reformed Church, not in connection with the Pennsylvania German Reformed Synod.
PASTORS OF THE CHURCH
The dates that follow the pastors' names cover the periods that they served the St. Johnsville Church.
1. JOHN HENRY DYSSLIN, July 13, 1788 to 1812. The approximate date that Mr. Dysslin's pastorate ceased can be determined from his salary receipts, copied on page 113. It would appear that his salary was paid to about Sept. 1, 1812. The phrase "Late Minister" appearing in the last receipt, is not conclusive proof that Mr. Dysslin was dead in March 1812, as the same phrase was applied to Andrew Zobriskie, who was styled as the "Late Clerk" when he turned over his accounts to his successor. However, to my mind, it is reasonably certain that Mr. Dysslin died in the fall of 1812. References to Mr. Dysslin, will be found on pages xvi, xxix and 2, which need not be repeated here. Mr. Dysslin married Anna Klock, the granddaughter of Col. Jacob Klock. His name appears once in the Land Papers; see Vol. LII, page 15, ibid., as follows.
"To the honorable the commissioners of the land office of the State of New York. Gentlemen, I propose to purchase of you all that certain tract of land which lies vacant between Canada Kill, a tract of land granted to John Brackan, another tract granted Petrus Van Driesen & another tract granted to George Klock, William Nellis and others, that said lands are situate in Palatine District in the county of Montgomery, for which land I will pay at the rate of four shillings per acre in six months from the date hereof. Dated, New York this 7th day of Sept. 1791. John Henry Dysslin at Palatine District County of Montgomery."
On July 16, 1814, Letters of Administration were granted to Ann Dysslin, relict of the late John Henry Dysslin, of Oppenheim, to administer his estate; see Montgomery County Letters of Administration, Book 2, page 142. Mr. Dysslin's widow married again before 1819, to Henry Beekman; see Vol. II, page 65. Letters of Administration for the estate of Henry Beekman were granted on May 4, 1827, to Anna Beekman and Henry Markell. The unrecorded will of Anna Beekman is now among papers belonging to Mr. Leslie Nellis. The will is dated Sept. 12, 1848. It states that she lives with her daughter Catharine, the wife of Robert Nellis, who is appointed her Executrix; bequests to three of her granddaughters, the daughters of said Catharine Nellis; for record of her funeral, see Vol. II, page 163. The Rev. John Henry Dysslin left a numerous family, as can be seen by an examination of the vital records of the St. Johnsville Church.
JOHN JACOB WACK. On Aug. 21, 1814, he installed a Consistory: see page 116. He probably supplied this church after the death of Mr. Dysslin. He was pastor of the churches at Stone Arabia and Fort Plain (Canajoharie) from 1805 to
1828. Subsequently he preached at the Tillaborough Dutch Reformed and Lutheran Church in Ephratah; he died at Ephratah, N. Y., May 26, 1851.
2. DAVID DEVOE, May 3, 1816 to Feb. 13, 1830. These dates are taken from his record of baptisms. His call was dated July 9, 1816; and he states in the record that he commenced preaching under the call, on July 28, 1816. The name of Mr. Devoe is first mentioned in the Minutes of the General Synod, in the year 1806; see meeting of June 1806, page 355, ibid.
"Church of Beaver Dam." "A petition and memorial was laid on the table of Synod from the Consistory and a number of the members of the Congregation at the Beaver Dam, and ordinances, unless they be administered in the German language, and praying that a certain Mr. Devoe, who has a competent knowledge of said language may be licensed as a preacher of the Gospel, and be sent to them as their pastor."
Page 357. "Church of Beaver Dam." "The petition and memorial of the Consistory, and a number of the members of the congregation at the Beaver Dam, was taken up, and the following resolution, after mature deliberation, was adopted, viz: The General Synod consent, in this instance, to dispense with what may be found deficient in the preparatory studies of Mr. Devoe, and therefore refer him to the Classis of Albany, and instruct that Classis be examine, and, according to his qualifications and proficiency, either license him, or appoint a course of private studies, as they may judge most for edification, agreeably to Article VIII, of Church Government."
The Minutes of the Classis of Albany for this period are missing, but the information concerning Mr. Devoe was obtained from the Minutes of the Particular Synod of Albany, from which it appears that after about two years more study, Mr. Devoe qualified himself sufficiently for licensure
From minutes of Particular Synod of Albany, Oct. 11, 1808. The Classis of Albany report that since their last session, they have examined and licensed Mr. David Devoe as a Candidate for the Holy Ministry.
At the meeting of the General Synod, June 1812, Mr. Devoe was Secundus to the Rev. Cornelius Bogardus, from the Classis of Albany. In the minutes his name appears as "the Rev. David Devoe"; presumably, he was ordained about this time.
Meeting of the Particular Synod of Albany, Feb. 17, 1813. "The Classis of Albany reported that since the last session of Synod, Mr. David Devoe a Candidate belonging to their Body, has been regularly ordained in the congregation at the Beaverdam &since that time dismissed from them to join the Classis of Montgomery."
When Mr. Devoe was dismissed to the Classis of Montgomery, his pastorate of the Beaver Dam Church did not terminate, for that church transferred with him. Abstracts follow, from the Minutes of the Classis of Montgomery.
May 25, 1813. A call laid on the table from the church of Middleburgh for the Rev. David Devoe. The Rev. David Devoe received as a member, dismissed from the Classis of Albany. Call accecpted.
Sept. 28, 1813. Beaverdam reported as belonging to Classis of Montgomery. Rev. David Devoe, Minister of Beaverdam and Middleburgh.
May 31, 1814. Rev. Winslow Paige reported that he had installed Mr. Devoe at Middleburgh.
Sept. 26, 1815. Mr. Devoe suspended for 3 Sabbaths; he had been found guilty of indiscretions with a person in his Middleburgh congregation. Trial at Middleburgh, Aug. 26, 1815.
May 28, 1816. Mr. Devoe produced a certificate of dismission from the congregation at Beaverdam which was approved.
July 9, 1816. "A call was laid on the table of Classis, from the Congregations of Oppenheim and Manheim for the Revd. David Devoe, which was read and approved * * * The Revd. David Devoe presented a certificate of his dismission from the Congn. of Middleburgh, which was also read and approved."
On Nov. 28, 1821, Mr. Devoe organized the Second Reformed Dutch Church at Oppenheim. By Sept. 17, 1822, his connection at Manheim had been dissolved because at that meeting of the Classis, Manheim called Isaac S. Ketcham, a Candidate. At this same meeting of the Classis, the Reformed Dutch Church of La Ray was admitted, having been organized by Mr. Devoe. Reference has been made in the first extract on page xxvi, to a missionary trip made by Mr. Devoe in the fall of 1821. The report of the Committee on Missions, in the Minutes of the General Synod, 1822, mentions that Mr. Devoe had organized churches at Fayette, Seneca county, and at Le Ray, Jefferson county. Furthermore that on this trip Mr. Devoe had preached 58 sermons, visited 145 families, and traveled 1254 miles; he was paid for his services, $120, on June 5, 1822. Some extracts follow, from the Reports of the Missionary Society of the Reformed Dutch Church, 1823-1830.
Rep. 1825, page 19. "The Rev. David Devoe was appointed by the Board on the 15th day of November last (1824), to labour for one month in the church at Le Ray, and to visit other churches in its vicinity, formerly organized by him, and to be allowed agreeably to his request, two thirds of the usual compensation. No report has yet been received as to the fulfillment of this appointment."
The Treasurer's account shows no payment to Mr. Devoe.
Rep. 1827, page 14, abstracted. The Rev. David Devoe, in May 1826, visited Martinsburg, Lewis County and Leray or Laraysville, Jefferson county. He received $24, in the accounts of the Treasurer.
Rep. 1828, page 18, abstracted. The Rev. David Devoe visited Leray in July and November, 1827; also Martinsburg and Turin. On Nov. 20, 1827, he was paid $46.
The total amount received by Mr. Devoe from the Missionary Society for all his services during its existence, was $100, according to the Treasurer's final summarized report.
For a complete list of the places in Central New York, visited by Mr. Devoe, his record of baptisms had best be consulted. When Mr. Devoe gave up his
charge at St. Johnsville, his salary was in arrears.
In February 1831, he is reported by the Classis of Montgomery, as without charge. Then for several years, his name disappears from the record of the Classis. On April 15, 1834, a letter was read by the Stated Clerk, from Rev. David Devoe, containing his apology for not attending Classical Meetings. Classis resolved that the reasons assigned in said letter were satisfactory and that he be excused. On Sept. 16, 1834, he was reported as Stated Supply at Columbia. At this same meeting, Mr. Devoe was appointed to preach at Osquack, and to reorganize the church there if expedient. At the meeting of Feb. 25, 1835, he reported to Classis that he had found no encouragement at Osquack. At this meeting, he was reported as Stated Supply at Columbia and Warren. He is last reported at Columbia, at the meeting of Feb. 7, 1838. On Feb. 7, 1838, it was "Resolved that application be made to the Board of Domestic Missions for an appropriation of $100, in behalf of the Rev. D. Devoe labouring in Leray, Jefferson County, N. Y." Thereafter in the yearly statistical reports, made out in the month of April each year, he is reported as follows. In 1840, "labouring in the western part of this State". In 1841, at Houseville, town of Turin, Lewis County; in 1842, 1843 and 1844, absent, without charge. At the meeting of the General Synod in June 1844, the death of the Rev. David Devoe of the Classis of Montgomery, was reported; see ibid. page 313. A summary of the leading events of his career follows.
Licensed by the Classis of Albany, 1808; ordained by the same, 1812. Beaverdam, 1808-1816; Middleburgh, 1813-1816; St. Johnsville, 1816-1830; Manheim, 1816-1822; S. S., 2nd Oppenheim, occasionally, 1822-1827. Also S. S., Danube (Indian Castle), occasionally, 1816-1830. Laboring for the Missionary Society, 1822-1827. S. S., Columbia and Warren, 1834-1837. S. S., Leray, Turin, etc., 1838-1841. Without charge thereafter; died in 1844.
3. ABRAHAM H. MYERS, Aug. 1, 1830 to Nov. 6, 1831. He was born July 4, 1801. Graduated from Union College, 1827; New Brunswick Seminary, 1830. He married Hannah Blanchard, before graduating from the Seminary. Licensed by the Classis of New Brunswick. On Sept. 14, 1830, at a meeting of the Classis of Montgomery, a call was presented to Classis by Elder E. Failing, from the Reformed Dutch Church in the town of Oppenheim, on the Candidate Abraham H. Myers. On Oct. 12, 1830, Mr. Myers presented his letter of dismission from the Classis of New Brunswick. After his examination, which was sustained
he was ordained and installed as pastor in the church at St. Johnsville on Oct. 26, 1830. On Oct. 29, 1831, "the Rev. A. H. Myers having received a call from the Reformed Dutch Church of Berne, Albany county, and having obtained the consent of his Consistory to his removal, requested dismission to the Classis of Schoharie. His life continued under his second pastorate.
NOTE. Owing to lack of time, the records of the remainder of the pastors have been but partly compiled from the various Classical records. Therefore I have been obliged to refer to the Manual of the Reformed Church, for the dates of a number of their charges; the dates taken from the Manual are marked *; and they have note been verified.
4. HERMAN B. STRYKER, May 1, 1832 to May 1, 1834. He was born April 2, 1794. Graduated from New Brunswick Seminary, 1822; licensed by the Classis of New Brunswick, 1822. From Report of the Missionary Society, 1823, page 5, (abstracted). In the month of August last (1822), Mr. Herman B. Stryker, a licentiate, was appointed Missionary for two months, to the congregations of Athol, Caldwell, Johnsburgh and Warrensburgh, in Warren county, N. Y. He arrived in Caldwell, on Sept. 15, 1822, where he found a Presbyterian Missionary in charge. Then he proceeded to Johnsburgh, where he remained two weeks. He also visited a small settlement recently formed in the 14th township and preached the first sermon delivered there. In reporting on this trip, it is stated that there is but one Dutch Reformed Church in the territory visited, and that the field is largely being covered by the Presbyterian Missionary at Caldwell. Before coming to St. Johnsville, Mr. Stryker's charges are reported in the Manual were as follow: Fairfield, N. J. and Missionary to Little Falls, N.J. 1823-1827*; General Agent of the Missionary Society, 1826-1827*; Union Church in Amsterdam, 1827-1833*; also Missionary at Johnstown, 1830*. From Minutes of the Classis of Montgomery, May 1, 1832. Present, Henry Failing, Elder of St. Johnsville. "A call was presented by the Elder from St. Johnsville upon the Revd. Herman B. Stryker, which was read and approved." He was installed at St. Johnsville, on Feb. 5, 1833. The following is abstracted from the Minutes, Apr. 29, 1834:- Report from St. Johnsville. The pastor, Rev. H. B. Stryker, has been engaged a considerable time in a Mission in the Mohawk valley for establishing Sabbath Schools, during which time the church has been supplied by Rev. Peter Stryker, father of the pastor. As it seemed to be for the best interests of the congregations, to allow St. Johnsville and Manheim to unite, the pastoral relation with Rev. H. B. Stryker was dissolved, to take effect May 1, 1834.
On Feb. 3, 1835, the Rev. Mr. Stryker was dismissed to the Classis of Schenectady, from the Classis of Montgomery. His subsequent charges follow: Glenville 2nd (Scotia), 1834-1837*; without charge 1837-1861*; Huguenots, 1861-1871*. I assume no responsibility for the dates from the Manual, as it can be seen that at least two of them do not agree with the records of the Classis of Montgomery. From the Christian Intelligeneer, Dec. 21, 1871, page 2, (abstracted.) Rev. Herman B. Stryker was born at Port Richmond, Staten Island, Apr. 2, 1794, where his father was pastor at the time. He died at Huguenot, Staten Island, on Dec. 11, 1871. His funeral took place from the church at Huguenot, on Wednesday Dec. 13th. He was the son of the Rev. Peter and Elizabeth Stryker. He united with the North Dutch Church, of New York City, in the eighteenth year of his age. He was married to Blendina Cadmus, on Feb. 26, 1818; she died Sept. 23, 1871. In 1823, he was ordained and installed pastor of the Reformed Dutch Church of Fairfield, N.J. From 1837 to 1861, he was without charge on account of ill health, during which time it was his delight to preach for this brethren and in vacant churches, as frequently as he was able. For a period of more than ten years, he was stated supply and pastor of the Reformed Church of the Huguenots, in which charge he entered into rest.
PETER STRYKER, Supply, 1833 and 1834. While the Rev. H. B. Stryker was engaged in his Sabbath School mission work, his pulpit was supplied by his father, the Rev. Peter Stryker. From Manual, 4th edition, page 762; He was born in New York City, Dec. 23, 1763. Studied under Livingston; licensed by Synod of Reformed Dutch Churches, 1788. North and South Hampton, Sept. 15, 1788-Aug. 19, 1790*; Staten Island, 1790-1794*; Belleville, 1794-1809*; S. S., Stone House Plains, 1801-1809*; Amboy Presbyterian, 1809-1810*; Belleville and Stone House Plains, 1810-1814; S. S., Stone House Plains, 1818-1826*; Missionary to Berne, 1827-1829*. A. M. Columbia College, 1804*; died 1847*.
5. JAMES MURPHY, May 1, 1834 to July 5, 1837. He was born near Rhinebeck, in 1788*. Graduated from New Brunswick Seminary, 1814; licensed by Classis of New Brunswick, 1814. Rochester, Wawarsing and Clove (High Falls), 1814-1825*; Glenville 2nd (Scotia), 1826-1834*; also Missionary at Rexfordville, 1830*. From Minutes of the Classis of Montgomery, Apr. 29, 1834. Calls presented from St. Johnsville and Manheim, on the Rev. James Murphy, which were accepted. Mr. Murphy presented a letter of dismission from the Classis of Schenectady, and was received as a member. Calls to be effective, on
May 1, 1834. Third Tuesday in Sept. 1836, the pastoral relation between Rev. James Murphy and Manheim was dissolved. The reason was that in the summer and fall of 1835, Mr. Murphy had promised to come and reside at Manheim, if certain repairs to the parsonage were made, which was accordingly accomplished. Mr. Murphy's excuse for not going there to reside, as he had promised to do, was, that he had received a new call from St. Johnsville, for all of his services, which he felt that it was his duty to accept. May 10, 1837, a call on Rev. James Murphy, to set as Collegiate pastor at Herkimer, was approved, and his pastoral relation with St. Johnsville was dissolved on July 5, 1837. He was Collegiate pastor at Herkimer, with Dr. Spinner, for three years; at the end of this period, Dr. Spinner was dropped. Sept. 18, 1838, petition to Classis to organize church at Mohawk; Dr. Spinner and Mr. Murphy appointed a committee to undertake it. Statistical reports: Apr. 16, 1839, Herkimer, J. P. Spinner and J. Murphy; Frankfort, J. Murphy. Apr. 21, 1840, Herkimer, J. Murphy and J. P. Spinner; Frankfort and Mohawk, J. Murphy. Apr.21, 1841, Herkimer, Frankfort and Mohawk, J. Murphy. Apr. 20, 1842, Herkimer and Mohawk, J. Murphy; Frankfort, vacant. May 18, 1842, pastoral relation with Herkimer, dissolved and Mr. Murphy dismissed to the Classis of Albany. He was pastor of the church at Coeymans, 1842* to 1843. Mar. 28, 1843, a call from Herkimer on Dr. Murphy was approved and he was received, dismissed from the Classis of Albany. May 14, 1849, pastoral relation dissolved. Sept. 18, 1849 to Sept. 17, 1850, without charge; Sept. 15, 1851, S. S. at Columbia; Apr. 20, 1852, without charge; Apr. 15, 1853, absent (Columbia vacant); Sept. 20, 1853 and Apr. 18, 1854, present from Columbia. Aug. 2, 1854, the Church at Frankfort requested to be recommended to the Board of Domestic Missions for aid, to enable them to settle their Pastor elect; request granted. Rev. James Murphy, called by Frankfort, and signified his acceptance to take effect Sept. 1, 1854. The pastoral relation with Frankfort was never dissolved by Classis, it being terminated by Mr. Murphy's death. His active service at Frankfort ceased in July, 1856; see 25th Annual Report of the Board of Domestic Missions, page 9.
From Minutes of Classis of Montgomery, Oct. 7, 1856. "IX. Sustentation Fund." "Whereas this Classis have before them the circumstances of the Rev. James Murphy D. D. who in consequence of age and protracted illness has become entirely unable to perform his professional duties, Therefore Resolved, that the Rev. James Murphy D. D. be recommended to the Board of Direction for aid from the sustentation fund to the amount of at least one hundred dollars."
The second installment of the appropriation for the Rev. Mr. Murphy, amounting to $25, was paid on Jan. 2, 1857; see Minutes of the General Synod, 1857, page 140. No further installments were paid, as the Rev. James Murphy, D. D. died at Herkimer, on Jan. 13, 1857. His funeral took place at the Reformed Church in Herkimer and was largely attended by his clerical brethren of the Classis of Montgomery, as well as by a goodly number of his former parishieners of the Church of Herkimer. The Rev. Joseph Knieskern, of St. Johnsville, took part in the service. Commemorative resolutions on the death of Dr. Murphy were passed by the Consistory of Herkimer, and were published in four newspapers, among them the Christian Intelligencer, for which see his obituary, published Jan. 29, 1857, on page 122. The obituary states that he commenced his ministry in the twenty seventh year of his age.
Summary of his charges after 1834. St. Johnsville, May 1, 1834 to July 5, 1837; Manheim, May 1, 1834 to Sept. 1836; Herkimer, July 1837 to May 18, 1842; Frankfort, 1839 to 1841; Mohawk, 1840 to 1842; Coeymans, 1842 to 1843; Herkimer, Mar. 28, 1843 to May 14, 1849; S. S. at Columbia, occasionally, 1851 to 1854. Pastor at Mohawk, Sept. 1, 1854 to July 1856; died Jan. 13, 1857. (He spelled his name Murphey; in the records it is Murphy.)
6. ABRAHAM H. MYERS, Nov. 1, 1837 to Nov. 3, 1844. After the close of his first pastorate, Mr. Myers served the following churches: Beaverdam and Berne, 1831-1833*; Belleville, 1835-1837*. On Nov. 21, 1837, the Rev. Abraham H. Myers was received by the Classis of Montgomery, dismissed from the Classis of Bergen. He accepted a call from St. Johnsville, and was duly installed as pastor, on the same day, Nov. 21st. On Sept. 17, 1844, the pastoral relation was dissolved, to be effective on Nov. 1, 1844, and Mr. Myers was dismissed to the Classis of Washington. His subsequent charges were: S. S. Schaghticoke and Berne, 1844-1848*; Manheim, 1848-1852*; Glenville 1st, 1852-1854*; North Esopus (Port Ewen), 1855-1856*; Germantown, 1856-1862*; S. S. at Esopus, 1862-1865*; Saddle River, 1866-1872*; Easton, N. Y., 1872-1875*; Linlithgo (Livingston Memorial Church), 1875-1878*; after which, emeritus. From the Christian Intelligencer, Mar. 17, 1886, page 13. "Rev. Abraham H. Meyers, one of the oldest ministers of our Reformed Church, died at Port Ewen, N. Y., March 2, 1886, in the 85th year of his age. He was born at Westerlo, N. Y. July 4, 1801. * * * He ministered to thirteen different churches, including Port Ewen and the adjoining Church of Esopus. His last charge was at Linlithgo, which he
resigned in 1878, and was declared emeritus. * * * His Master called him very suddenly. Stricken with paralysis, he was never conscious, but quietly fell asleep in Jesus. His funeral took place in the Port Ewen Church, and was largely attended. * * * His mortal remains were buried in the cemetery at Port Ewen."
7. JOSEPH KNIESKERN, May 31, 1845 to Sept. 21, 1872. A call from St. Johnsville, on the Rev. Joseph Knieskern, was approved by the Classis of Montgomery on Sept. 16, 1845, upon which day he was received as a member, dismissed from the Classis of Albany; his installation was set for the second Tuesday in October. The greater part of the Rev. Joseph Knieskern's life work, was spent in the St. Johnsville Congregation. He was an earnest worker, a zealous and popular pastor. His pastorate was the longest ever enjoyed by the St. Johnsville Congregation, only being approached in length by that of the Rev. Mr. Dysslin. During the first half of his pastorate, he accomplished great results for the temporal benefit of his congregation. He rebuilt and refurnished the church at St. Johnsville, and installed an organ, at a total cost of nearly $3,000, which was raised by subscriptions. He was chiefly instrumental in causing the erection of a new church edifice at Youker's Bush. The Spiritual needs of his congregation were equally well cared for. He conducted a number of revivals:- a particularly notable one in March 1859, when 40 new members were received into the church. In his youth he was poor, and was a beneficiary of the Board of Education, in preparing himself for the ministry. He returned all the money that he received from the Board, the last payment being made shortly before his death. He married Emily S. Williams. His obituary notice, as it appears in the Minutes of the General Synod, June 1896, page 488, is copied in full. This notice is largely compiled from a longer notice, which appeared in the Cortland Evening Standard, and which was copied by the Christian Intelligencer, issue of Sept. 18, 1895, page 8, to which reference can be made for further information.
"Joseph Knieskern, died at Cortland, N. Y., September 7th, 1895. He was born at Berne, N. Y., April 10th, 1810. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1838, and from the Theological Seminary at New Brunswick in 1841. The same year he was licensed to preach by the Classis of Schoharie, and ordained and installed pastor of the Second Reformed Church of Berne and Knox. In 1845 he accepted a call to the Reformed Church of St. Johnsville, where he remained
as pastor for twenty-seven years. A severe cold, contracted at a burial service, resulted in permanent injury to his voice, which later compelled him to resign his charge. It was through struggles that he entered the ministry, receiving aid from the Board of Education. This fact is mentioned for the sake of witnessing to his character; as he was not content until the last of the entire sum had been repaid; the final payment bringing him one of the happiest hours of his life. His ministry at St. Johnsville was quiet and uneventful. He was faithful and earnest in the discharge of the many duties of his office. His people remember him there as an interesting and instructive preacher; a faithful and effectionate friend and pastor, commanding the respect and confidence of the entire community. While at St. Johnsville, he supplied for several years the churches of Manheim and Indian Castle. After resigning his charge he removed to Cortland, N. Y., and regularly supplied the Presbyterian Church in Virgil for several years until infirmities of age and voice terminated his service. He, however, continued to labor as teacher of a men's Bible class in the Presbytarian Sabbath school. About two weeks before his death, he was stricken with paralysis of the lower limbs. He looked toward the end quietly and trustfully until he fell asleep.
8. EDWARD LODEWICK, Dec. 10, 1872 to Feb. 23, 1875. He was born at East Greenbush, N. Y., on Feb. 25, 1846. He was baptised in the Reformed Church there on Apr. 13, 1846; parents, Henry C. Lodewick and Sarah Ann Van Sindren. His mother was a granddaughter of the Rev. Ulpianus Van Zinderin, who in 1746, became minister to the "Five Churches on Long Island." He prepared for college at Albany and New Brunswick. Graduated from Rutgers College, in 1869; New Brunswick Seminary, in 1872. At the end of his second year in the Seminary, he was engaged during the summer, by the Congregational Home Missionary Society, and labored successfully during the vacation period, at Northfield, Washington county, Maine, where 33 souls were converted through his efforts. Upon graduating from the Seminary, he married Miss Mary Elizabeth Mettler, of New Brunswick. He was licensed by the Classis of Rensselaer, in 1872.
The Classis of Montgomery met at St. Johnsville, on Dec. 10, 1872. The Licentiate Edward Lodewick appeared, and presented the following papers: A professorial Certificate from New Brunswick Seminary, Certificate of Licensure from the Classis of Rensselaer, and a letter of dismission from Rev. Mr. Anderson of the Church at East Greenbush. His letter of dismission from the
Classis of Rensselaer, arrived before the close of the meeting of Classis. Mr. Lodewick signified his acceptance of a call from St. Johnsville, which was exhibited. His examination proceeded forthwith, and it was sustained. He was ordained and installed as pastor of the church in St. Johnsville, in the evening of the same day, Dec. 10th. He was pastor of the Church of Pascack, at Park Ridge, N. J., 1875 to 1903, for nearly twenty-nine years. Ill health compelled him to resign the charge in 1903, and he removed to Bound Brook, N. J., where he died on Tuesday night, Sept. 14, 1909; his wife survived him. See Minutes of General Synod, June 1910, page 828, from which a part of the foregoing had been copied.
9. GEORGE JAMES VAN NESTE, Sept. 1, 1875 to Dec. 29, 1878. His charges, as reported in the Manual, follow: licensed by Classis of New Brunswick; Bound Brook, 1847-1853*; Lodi, 1853-1865*; West New Hampstead, 1865-1869*; Little Falls, N. J., 1869-1875*; Kiskatom, 1879-1886*; Flatbush, Ulster Co., N. Y., 1886-1888*; Pottersville, N. J., 1888-1892*. His call to St. Johnsville was dated, Aug. 9, 1875. From an obituary by the Rev. David Cole, in the Christian Intelligencer, issue of Feb. 2, 1898, page 8.
Rev. George J. Van Nest, died on Jan. 18, 1898. He was of the seventh generation from Peter Van Nest, who emigrated from Holland and settled on Long Island in 1647. The grandson of the original settler, also named Peter, was called to Somerset county, N. J., by a business appointment in 1694, and in 1712, he bought lands at points near Millstone, N. J., this locality in the early days being called Van Nest. His parents were John G. Van Nest and Sarah Wortman; they were married at Weston, April 14, 1814. The Rev. George James, who was their fourth child, was born at Weston, N. J., Sept. 22, 1822. He was prepared for college in the Classical Academies at Millstone and Somerville. He graduated from Rutgers College in 1842. He entered New Brunswick Seminary immediately after his graduation and expected to enter the ministry in 1845. His course was interrupted however, by the death of both his parents, at the beginning of his third Seminary year. His father died Nov. 29, 1844; his mother, Nov. 30, 1844. He finally graduated from the Seminary in the class of 1846. On Sept. 23, 1845, he married Margaret Ann Buckelew, the daughter of Peter Buckelew of New Brunswick, just before entering his last year at the Seminary. She died on March 24, 1892. The funeral of the Rev. Mr. Van Nest was from the Reformed Church at Millstone. See also Minutes of
the General Synod, 1898, page 238; and Manual of the Reformed Church, 4th edition, page 837. This closes the list of Pastors of the St. Johnsville Church, for the years covered by the two volumes of the Church Records, which have been transcribed.
NOTE. The extracts which follow, have not been copied for the purpose of adding any historical facts, to the data which has already been presented; but merely to bring out certain points already referred to. To those who have read the foregoing pages, the errors that follow, will be easily discernible. Those who have not read the foregoing pages, are advised to skip these pages also.
From the Frontiersmen of New York, by Jeptha R. Simms. Vol. I, p. 285.
"The First Church at St. Johnsville. In this connection I should mention the fact that a German Reformed church was erected at St. Johnsville, then known as "Zimmerman's" in 1770. This structure was built of wood, was of good size, and stood not far from its burying ground, yet to be seen about a mile eastward of the village. It was finished with a sounding board, as were nearly all churches at that period. When erected it was intended also to benefit the Indians in the neighborhood, having seats for them and the slaves of the white citizens. This edifice was demolished about the year 1818, near which time a church was erected to subserve its purposes within the present village. The first labored in this church I am unable to state. Rev. John Henry Dysslin, a man of good repute, was its pastor from 1790 to 1815, when he died. The Rev. David Devoe was its pastor from 1816 to 1830, during which time the old church was demolished, and the one in the village erected. The second edifice gave place to a new one constructed of brick in 1861."
From the Frontiersmen of New York, by Jeptha R. Simms. Vol. II, p. 383.
"The dwelling of Old George Klock, as called to distinguish him from his son, I infer, stood not far above John Klock's, and was perhaps best known as Fort Klock. He had two sons, Col. Jacob and George, and a daughter Margaret*, who married Col. Ebenezer Cox--and after his death at Oriskany, married Hunter Quackenbush. Col. Klock, who married a daughter of Christian Nellis--then a widow Helmer--lived where Jonas Snell now lives, three-fourths of a mile below the village. The place has never been out of the Klock family, and Mrs. Snell was a Klock. On the land of one of the Klock's was erected
Note * The name of the wife of Hunter Quackenbush, was Elizabeth; see pg. 27
at an early period, a Reformed Dutch church, a small edifice built of wood. It had neither a steeple or bell, but had the sounding board of the times, over its one-man pulpit. This church had some seats to accomodate Indian hearers. Dominie Gros occasionally preached in this church before the Revolution. Rev. Henry Dysslin, reputed a good scholar, was one of its last pastors. George Bauder, a Stone Arabia boy of the Revolution, assured the writer that the first Sabbath after his marriage in Kringsbush, he took his wife to this church. He thought the edifice was demolished about the year 1818. He died at Palatine Bridge, 1857 or 1858. -- Henry Smith and others."
NOTE by Ed. In the above quoted volume, page 386, it is stated that Henry Smith was 94 years old in the year 1862. He (Smith) said that he attended school in the old Reformed Dutch church below St. Johnsville, at the age of 8 or 9 years. The school was taught by Henry Hees. If this statement can be believed, it makes Henry Smith attend school in the years 1776 or 1777, in the church which I have called Klock's Church. According to Mr. Sheldon E. Klock, as related to me, on May 2, 1914, the first School-house in this vicinity has been erroneously located, as being near the house of Adam Klock; Lot No.11, Harrison Patent (see page x). Mr. Sheldon E. Klock stated that the first school-house, was located just west of his residence which is built upon the site of the homestead of Col. Jacob Klock (see map of Apr. 21, 1842, page xiii.) He said that this fact was told him by one of the elder Klocks (I think it was a son of Joseph G. Klock, but I neglected to note name), at a time when through digging, the foundations of this school-house were brought to the surface. I mention this here along with the rest of the tradition; I consider it to be fully as reliable as 94 year old Mr. Smith's recollections. Possibly Mr. Smith did go to school in a building on this spot, in 1776 or 1777; again the building may have been used for religious purposes, in case a minister happened to be in the locality. But bear this in mind:- the site of the school-house and the site of Klock's Church are at least 10 chains apart; anyone doubting this can go there and make the measurements!
Historical Sketch, by Rev. Albert Dod Minor, copied from Vol. III, St. Johnsville Church Record.
"In 1756, George Klock, the great-grandfather of our deacon, Morris Klock, built a church a little north of the late residence of Jonas Snell, about a
mile east of the present site of our church. The clergyman who first ministered in this church, was a Rev. Mr. Rosenkrants, without doubt, the Rev. Abram Rosenkrantz, a clergyman of the German Reformed Church, who was settled at Canajoharie, 1756-1758, and subsequently at other points in this valley.
There was no church organization until 1770. In that year, this church was organized as a German Reformed Church. The name of the church, as given in the early records, was St. John's Church of Oppenheim. (The territory now covered by this village was originally included in the town of Oppenheim.) The village that has grown up around the St. John's Church, undoubtedly has taken its name of St. Johnsville from this church. In 1790, the Rev. John Henry Dysslin became the pastor of this church. As nearly as can be ascertained, this same year, 1790, was about the time that the church built by Mr. Klock was abandoned, and the second building was erected. The father of our Elder, George Timmerman, assisted in preparing the timber for the edifice. It was built upon the site that it occupied at the time of its demolition but facing the east, thus standing with its side to Main St. It was ten feet shorter that at the time that it was abandoned, had an old-fashioned high pulpit, which was opposite to the doors, instead of between them, and had a gallery around three sides.
In 1812, this church organization withdrew from the German Reformed Church, and entered into connection with the Reformed Church in America, then known as the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church.
In 1816, the Rev. Mr. Dysslin was succeeded by the Rev. David DeVoe; he, in 1830, by the Rev. Abram H. Myers; he, in 1833, by the Rev. Herman B. Stryker; he, in 1834, by the Rev. James Murphy; in 1837, the Rev. Abram H. Myers became the pastor of this church a second time; in 1845, he was succeeded by the Rev. Joseph Knieskern.
During Mr. Knieskern's pastorate, in 1848, the church building was turned so as to face Main Street; ten feet were added to it length, six to the front, and four to the rear; the Pulpit was lowered and placed between the doors, and the pews were reversed; the gallery was taken down from the right and left sides of the building. At the time the church was newly furnished. In 1853, the organ was purchased.
In 1872, the Rev. Mr. Knieskern was succeeded by the Rev. Edward Lodewick; he, in 1875, by the Rev. George J. Van Neste; and he, in 1879, by the Rev. Albert Dod Minor.
Of the ten pastorates of this church, that of Mr. Knieskern was the longest, being of twenty-seven years duration; and that of Mr. Dysslin the next longest, extending over a period of twenty-five years.
Upon only four occasions have more than ----- been added to the church at any one time, upon the confession of their faith; viz. in Nov. 1838, 31 additions; in Nov. 1842, 28 additions; in March 1859, 40 additions; in April 1870, 16 additions.
The demolition of this second church building (erected about 1790, and renovated in 1848) was begun on the 28th of March 1881. " Albert Dod Minor.
"The materials for the above sketch were principally obtained from members of the church, and are believed to be reliable. A. D. M."
Note by Ed. In justice to Mr. Minor, it must be said that he wrote the above sketch, without the Treasurer's Account book, which I believe was discovered during the pastorate of the Rev. Philip Furbeck, 1888-1892. Mr. Minor's description of the second church edifice, and of the alterations made in 1848, were probably secured at first hand from the church members, and in my opinion, they can be regarded as the most authentic in existence. I should have copied this description in my introduction, if I had not intended to reproduce this whole sketch here.
In which some thirty different localities mentioned in the first volume, were identified and discussed, has been omitted on account of lack of room. Other subjects, omitted for the same reason, were title searches of Sheldon E. Klock property, from will of Christian Klock, 1849, to present; Lot No. 12, Harrison Patent, from Christian Nelles Sr., 1767, to Jacob C. Nellis, 1843; Lot No. 11, Johannes Klock to Adam J. Klock, about 100 years; Robert Nellis property, commencing with as unrecorded Quit Claim deed from Henry Beekman and Anna his wife, to Jacob Dysslin, dated Apr. 5, 1822, showing disposition of 50 acres of the 100 acres willed by Col. Klock to Anna Dysslin. Also a large mass of data on the Van Driessen Patents, to prove that no church was ever erected upon them; and more or less tradition about the Dysslin family.
CERTIFICATION OF COPY
State of New York
County of New York
Minnie Cohen, of the City and State of New York, being duly sworn, says that she is the official stenographer in the employ of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society; that she copied the following record of the Dutch Reformed Saint John's Church in the town of St. Johnsville, Montgomery County, N. Y., from the original first volume of the Church Record thereof, when the said original record was in the office of the Society, and that the within copy is a correct and accurate transcript therefrom and the whole of the said original record, to the best of her knowledge, information and belief.
Sworn to before me this 16th day of June, 1914
George S. Evans
Notary Public, No. 1006, N. Y. County, Register No. 5010.
I, Royden W. Vosburgh, of the City and State of New York, Archivist of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, hereby certify that I have compared the within copy of the first volume of the record of the Dutch Reformed Saint John's Church in the town of St. Johnsville, Montgomery County, N. Y., with the original first volume of the Church Record thereof, when the said original record was in the possession of the Society, and that I have found the same to be a correct and accurate transcript thereof and the whole of the said original record.
IN TESTIMONEY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused to be affixed the seal of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, this 16th day of June, in the year of our Lord, one thousand nine hundred and fourteen.
Royden W. Vosburgh