West Camp- Asbury 
Methodist Church

Transcribed by Scott Wichmann
Article courtesy of Audrey Klinkenberg


Credit for the formation of the Methodist society at West Camp, or Asbury as it was called later on, goes unquestionably to the Rev. John Crawford, one of the Rev. Freeborn Garrettson's young preachers sent in 1788 up the Hudson by the New York Conference to open that area for Methodism.  After he had made a beginning at Coeymans, he moved southward along the king's highway to West Camp where he was successful in forming another society. 

The Rev. Edward White, a competent Methodist historian of the 1880's, who became pastor at Asbury, is our most fruitful and reliable source of information concerning this now extinct church.  Mr. White has written, concerning John Crawford, "After traveling thirty miles he came to the place now called Asbury, where the road from West Camp Landing to the Kauterskill Clove crosses the old Kings  road.  Jacob Trumpbour, who lived at the junction of these roads opened his house  for a preaching service and he and his family were among the first converts.  A  society was soon formed and grew rapidly until it
became one of the four principal  appointments in the circuit, ranking with Durham, Coeymans and Greenville in the  number of members and amount of class contributions.  John Crawford was again  appointed to the circuit in 1791 and also in 1793 and the bachelor preacher found a  special attraction in the home of Jacob Trumpbour for in 1794 he married his  daughter
Catherine who took him to her own home where he found a goodly  inheritance which he enjoyed through a long life. . . ."

Elizabeth another daughter of Jacob Trumpbour married Rev. Robert Dillon who traveled the circuit in 1803.

Christina a third daughter married Jeremiah Eligh a well known Methodist,
Jacob the only son became a judge and was one of the surveyors for the Erie Canal.  The homes of Trumpbour, Crawford, and Dillon were places of rest to Bishop Asbury  in his visitations of the circuit. . . . (1)

Bishop Asbury's journeys through New York were not of frequent occurrence; but when he did travel through he on several occasions made it a point to stop at West Camp, or Crawford's as he on occasion called the place.  (2)  

Edward White has left his account of a visit made several years later.

Another visit was made in the spring of 1807.  Conference was to meet at Coeyman's Patent May 2nd and the society at West Camp expected much comfort from his tarrying with them.  They were building a new church and hoped his presence might be a great inspiration.  But he was greatly delayed in his journey.   Bridges were swept away by floods, rivers were broken up and could not be crossed, roads were bad, and the bishop was at Cornelius Cole's, in Hurley, on Thursday evening, tired and weary, with fifty miles hard travel from Hurley to  Coeymans, where Conference was to convene, on Saturday morning. . . .  

Crawford's was about half way on the journey and it is a well
authenticated  fact that he dined there and walked over to the new church and calling the carpenters and a few neighbors together he prayed that God would make that sanctuary the birthplace of many souls.  It was an interesting event and long  remembered. Christina Russell, eldest daughter of John Crawford, delighted to relate the incident and tell how her father
took one of her hands and the bishop held the other as they walked along the field to the church together.  (3)

It would seem that the year 1807 thus marks the building date of the Asbury
church.  The society at the time was apparently eighteen or nineteen years old.

An 1816 class list gives the names of the West Camp society at that time.  Jacob Trumpbour was the class steward, in which capacity he served from 1800
to 1819.  Other members were:

Martin Nash, class leader, moved west in 1822, and died there.  Christian
Nash, his wife, Rev. Robert Dillon a located minister, a circuit preacher from 1791  to 1811, Elizabeth Dillon his wife, Catharine Crawford wife of Rev. John  Crawford, Jeremiah Eligh one of the pillars of the church, Christina Eligh, his wife,  James H. Dikeman a famous schoolmaster from Connecticut who taught in the  schools of the vicinity for over thirty years a brother of Wakeman Dikeman, a local  preacher in New York, Martha, (Jacob Trumpbours second wife,) Nellie  Trumpbour, niece of Jacob, Jane Trumpbour wife of Judge Trumpbour, (she and  her husband died in Kingston,) Jacob T. Crawford son of Rev. John Crawford,  James Whitney, who afterward moved to Port Byron N. Y. and died there, his  family returned to West Camp, Sally Whitney his wife, Samuel Cash a farmer  employed by Rev. John Crawford. Widow Hannah Carnwright and her daughter. Phoebe Carnwright wife of Christian Carnwright, and Jane Schutt.  Several  prominent members of the class died in 1815.  The most noted one was Rev.  Thomas Woosley (sic) a located minister, who traveled circuits from 1794 to 1811 when he located and resided at Asbury.  He died in 1815 and was buried in the little graveyard near the church.  (4)

It will be seen that while Asbury church was not strictly speaking a family church, the Trumpbours, Crawfords, and Dillons constituted a considerable bulk of the membership.  

Something concerning the economy of the Asbury society has been furnished us by Mr. White. The amount apportioned to this class on (sic) preachers salary in 1816 was thirty dollars exclusive of apportionment for house rent.  The amount contributed was thirty dollars and twenty-eight cents.  Collections for house rent, three dollars. Among the contributions are five bushels of rye and two and a half pound of wool.   (5)

Obviously, agriculture was the chief occupation of the inhabitants of West Camp.

Edward White, who was pastor at Asbury in 1888, lists the pastors for the preceding century. 

From 1788 to 1821 West Camp was in the Albany Circuit.  Some of the other appointments on this Circuit were, Coeymans, Greenville, Durham, Scotts Patent, Gilboa, Windham, Hunter, Round Top, Indian Ridge, Berne and Rensellarville (sic).

Preachers
1789  John Crawford
1790  James Campbell
1791  Samuel Wigton, John Crawford
1792  Robert Green, David Valleau
1793  Samuel Wigton, John Crawford
1794  Jonathan Newman, David Bartine
1795  Samuel Coates, Daniel Johns
1796  Robert Green, Joseph Lovell
1797  Robert Green, H. Jefferson, W. Storms
1798  William McLenahan, Anning Owen
1799  Robert McCoy, Eber Cowles
1800  Matthias Swain, William Williams, Thomas Woolsey
1801  Barzallai Willy, Smith Arnold
1802  William Vredenburg, Alexander Morton
1803  William Vredenburg, Robert Dillon
1804  John Crawford, Gideon A. Knowlton
1805  Seth Crowell, Henry Stead
1806  Andrew McKain, Griffin Sweet
1807  Zenas Covell, John Finnegan
1808  Datus Ensign, Samuel Howe
1809  Nathan Bangs, Isaac B. Smith
1810  John Crawford, Samuel Merwin, Jacob Beeman
1811  John Crawford, Ephraim Sawyer
1812  Andrew McKain, Jesse Hunt
1813  Henry Stead, John Kline
1814  John B. Matthias, Wm. M. Stillwell
1815  Luman Andrews [Andrus?], John B. Matthias
1816  Phineas Rice, Isaac Lent
1817  Arnold Schofield, James Youngs
1818  Andrew McKain, Bela Smith
1819  Gershom Peirce, John Crawford
1820  Gershom Peirce, Jno. D. Moriarty
1821  Daniel I. Wright, John D. Moriarty

From 1822 to 1830 the Asbury Church (West Camp) was supplied from the
Kingston Circuit.  Other appointments in the Kingston Circuit were Hurley, Kingston City, Woodstock, Olive, Saugerties, Prattsville, Yankeetown, (Palenville)  and Bristol (Malden).

Preachers
1822  John D. Moriarty
1823  John D. Moriarty, John Kenneday
1824  David Lewis, John Kenneday
1825  David Lewis, Friend W. Smith
1826  Daniel I. Wright, Ira Ferris
1827  Daniel I. Wright, J. D. Marshall
1828  Stephen L. Stillman, J. D. Marshall
1829  S. L. Stillman, E. Andrews, H. Wing
1830  J. Tackaberry, E. Andrews, F. W. Smith

In 1831 the Kingston Circuit was divided and the Saugerties Circuit was organized.  Among the preaching places were Saugerties, Woodstock, until 1848,  Yankeetown, Kiskatom, Catskill, High Falls, Asbury, (West Camp) and Bristol.

Preachers
1831  J. Tackaberry, David Poor
1832  D. Poor, D. B. Ostrander, D. I. Wright
1833  E. Denniston, G. W. Lefevre, D. Holmes
1834  C. Foss, G. W. Lefevre, T. Edwards
1835-6  D. Webster, E. Crawford
1837-8  H. Wing, S. S. Strong
1839-40 J. G. Smith, W. Bloomer
1841  O. V. Amerman, H. Lamont
1842  O. V. Amerman, D. Buck
1843-4  D. Webster, J. Davies
1845  S. M. Knapp, J. Davies
1846-7  James Burch, R. H. Bloomer
1848-9  B. Redford, D. Lyman
1850-1  D. I Wright, G. C. Bancroft
1852  Ira Ferris, Jeremiah Ham

In 1853 the Saugerties Circuit, was divided and the Palenville Circuit was organized.  The appointments were, Palenville, Kiskatom, High Falls, Manorville  Asbury, West Camp and Quarryville.  In 1858 the circuit name was changed to  Kiskatom, but was afterwards changed again to Palenville.

Preachers
1853  Ira Ferris
1854  Parley Stoddard, C. D. Sitzer
1855  Parley Stoddard, Thomas E. Fiero
1856  O. P. Matthews, N. O. Lent, H. Wood
1857  O. P. Matthews, J. W. Gorse, O. P. Dales
1858  John W. Gorse
1859-60 Job C. Champion
1861-2  Adee Vail
1863-4  James M. Burgar
1865-6  William S. Stillwell
1867  W. S. Stillwell, J. J. Dean
1868-70 J. W. Gorse
1871-3  Lyman S. Brown
1874-6  Edwin Clement
1877-9  Milo Couchman
1880-2  Edwin F. Pierce
1883-5  Lorenzo G. Niles
1886-7  Edward White

From 1858 to 1877 Asbury was separate from the Palenville Circuit.  The pastors who resided at Asbury during that time were as follows:

1858-9  Robert Kerr
1860-1  Isaac R. Vanderwater
1862-3  Alonzo F. Silleck
1864  Lyman S. Craw
1865-6  Adelbert Gaylord
1867-9  C. W. Lyon
1870-2  James W. Smith
1873-5  A. R. Burroughs
1876  Alonzo F. Silleck  (6)

The Asbury church was returned to the Palenville Circuit in 1877.  There were in 1888 four appointments on the circuit:  Palenville, Kiskatom, High Falls, and Asbury.  Edward White's account ends at this point, he having brought the story down to the time of his own pastorate there.

There is an interstice here and there, however, which may be filled in. Nearly all that has survived concerning Asbury has been in relation to those who lived there rather than to the church itself.  The Rev. George Coles, in 1820 serving on the Schenectady Circuit, started in late May for New York City where the New York Annual Conference was to be conducted.  He has left his own record of part of the journey, a portion of which involves West Camp; on the way, a severe storm overtook him.  

I had left Cairo before the storm came on, and hoped to reach my lodgings
in time to obtain a shelter from its fury:  but I was disappointed.  About nine o'clock I missed my way, and for an hour was lost in the woods.  At last I discovered a light, and made toward it.   But between me and the light there appeared to be a stream of considerable magnitude, as I judged by the noise of the water passing over rapids, or falling over a milldam; and the darkness was so dense that I could not tell on which side of the stream the building stood in which the light appeared.  Providentially, however, the light was nearer to me than the  stream, and the good man of the house kindly put me into the right path, which in  a short time brought me to father Trumpore's (sic), in West Camp.  I had never  been there before, or I might have found the way without difficulty.  The family  had gone to bed.  I had to knock pretty loud at the door, and tell them who I was,  and why I came so late at night.  The old gentleman got up and let me in, directed me to a room, and bade me good-night.  Then for the first time in my life I slept in a damp bed; for my clothes were so completely saturated with the rain, that I hardly had so much as a dry thread on me. I did not like to give the family trouble at that time of night, or, I dare say, they would have made a fire, and given me a  cup of tea, which would have been very acceptable.  Taking all things into account,  I think I might have fared better; but, on the whole, I am glad that I did not fare worse. (7)

Traveling was hazardous at best and hospitality was the rule rather than the
exception.  There is nothing about the quiet countryside of Asbury today which would suggest the rude conditions which prevailed there a century and a half ago.

The Rev. John Tackaberry in 1831 served on the Catskill and Saugerties Circuit, but recently formed out of the lower part of the Coeymans Circuit. None of the preachers the preceding year had lived on that lower part and as a consequence, there had been a good bit of neglect of the work there. Tackaberry, in a letter to the Christian Advocate, had this to say:  

Our first quarterly meeting was held at the Asbury church, West Camp,
where lie the remains of the Rev. Thomas Woolsey, said by those who had the pleasure of sitting under his ministry, to have been a useful polemic preacher.   When it was known that the meeting had been appointed at West Camp, many found fault, and inquired "where I would get them entertained, when they came to the quarterly meeting:"  but two families engaged to keep all that came, if none others should offer to assist; and I believe our
friends found themselves as well accommodated as they had ever been at
quarterly meeting.  Here the cause of God had suffered for many years, and the society at one time had dwindled down to eight members, and the congregations very small indeed; but at that meeting  several came to the altar. . . . In this revival, the family of our beloved father in the Gospel, the Rev. John Crawford, has shared largely, seven of his children and  children-in-law having obtained a sense of God's pardoning favor.  But, now, the  society is increased, the congregations large, and things wear entirely a new  aspect.  (8)

John G. Smith and William Bloomer reported in 1840 concerning three revival
meetings conducted on the Saugerties Circuit.

Our second meeting commenced in the Asbury church (West Camp) on the 15th of January, was protracted about two weeks, and resulted in an accession of thirty-five to the church.  Of this number many were heads of families in the vigor and bloom of life.  In this place the work is still progressing. (9)

There was nothing remarkable about this meeting; the results simply show that the same response to revival preaching was being made here as elsewhere at that particular time.  A report from the Asbury Circuit states that in 1841, 
                Within three months past about 100 have professed conversion, most of
                whom have joined on probation; others are crying for mercy.  Prospects are
                cheering.  (10)

The figure given is presumably for the whole circuit, not for West Camp
alone.

The Rev. Alonzo F. Selleck was assigned to Asbury in 1862.  There was but one church building on the circuit, the one at Asbury.  The societies in the other two places on the circuit, Malden and Quarryville, met in schoolhouses.  Concern about the Civil War so dominated the interest of people that they tended to be diverted from the more traditional concerns of the Church.  Mr. Selleck was returned to Asbury the following year, the
thirtieth of his ministry.  His health having deteriorated, he in the spring of 1863 bought three acres of land in West Camp, thinking to regain his health by resorting to gardening as a diversion.  The next year, 1864, he obtained a superannuated relation to the Conference and continued to live in his own modest house.

The failure of his appointed successor to occupy the charge left it open,
and he in connection with Brother Craw, a local preacher, was engaged by the presiding elder as a supply.  While he was not entirely released as he expected, he was relieved of the care of the churches, and did but little preaching during the  year.  (11)

Some twelve years later, in 1876, the circuit was again left without a preacher and Selleck was employed for that year as a supply.

In 1870 the Asbury church was subjected to a remodeling, at a cost of $700.  The work undertaken, no description of which has survived, was presumably on the interior of the structure.  The Rev. C. W. Lyon was pastor.  The whole circuit at this time seems to have taken a new lease on life, for in place of having to use schoolhouses for services, Quarryville built a church worth $2,000, and Malden one valued at $15,000.  Two new
Sunday Schools were organized.  (12) 

In December, 1870, notice was given of a reopening ceremony to be conducted at Asbury, 7 December, with the Rev. J. B. Wakeley as principal speaker.  It was being noted that the church had been "enlarged, remodeled, and beautified."  (13)  By this time, the Rev. J. W. Smith was assigned pastor.

Although the Asbury church society continued in existence for many years
after this date, it never achieved the prosperity enjoyed by some of its neighbors.  The church building passed into the hands of the Grange in 1917 and was subjected to such interior alterations as would fit the building for its new use.  The sale price was $350.  (14)  The church, a plain, box-like structure, never had a steeple, possibly because of the fact that in the day
when it was built such features as steeples and church bells were frowned on in orthodox Methodist circles.  Obviously, too, the plainer the building could be made, the smaller the cost of construction.  

Not until 1938, however, did the cemetery attached to the church pass out
of the hands of the Methodist church.  A resolution was passed in the Conference session that year authorizing the conveyance of the cemetery to the Asbury Cemetery Association, which proposed to maintain the old burial ground.  (15) [see note at end]

It is not difficult to discover the most pertinent reasons for the extinction of the Asbury church.  It was to a considerable degree a family church; when the members of that family died or moved elsewhere, they left few successors to sustain the church.  Like the Old Stone Church at Coeymans, the one at Asbury was built close to the king's highway; when
modern methods of travel came into existence, including the developing commerce up and down the Hudson River, the highway diminished in consequence.  The coming of the railroad along the river bank helped make the primitive roads of decreasing consequence.  Asbury was never a community; it was simply a neighborhood.  When villages began to grow in that vicinity, the populace gravitated toward these places.  The churches in
the settlements grew and those in the open country tended to become superfluous.

Asbury, or West Camp, will continue to be considered of consequence by Methodist historians and by the New York Conference because of the part it played in the opening of that area to Methodism, because of its relation to Bishop Asbury, and because of the ministerial activities of such men as John Crawford, Robert Dillon, and Thomas Woolsey.

--by the Rev. William R. Phinney

The reference on page 11 to the authorization by the New York Conference in 1938 to convey the cemetery property to the Asbury Cemetery Association is correct.  However, it was never completed locally.  I personally went to the
County Clerk's Office and had excellent cooperation from them in searching the records of such a transfer of title, and there is no such record.   The title to the property is still held by the Conference Board of Trustees. Paul M. Allen, 1984)

Notes:

1) Prattsville District Register, Periodical published in Palenville, N. Y., by the Rev.  Edward White.  Vol. 4, #2, Apr., 1887, p. 26.
2) Another name, applied to the locality but less well known than West Camp
and  Asbury, was "Trumper's Corners."  It is quite possible that this name is of later  origin.
3) Pratts. Dist. Reg., Vol. 4, #2, Apr., 1887, p. 27.
4) Ibid., p. 28.
5) Ibid.
6) Ibid., Vol. 4, #3, Mar., 1888, pp. 43, 44.  Mr. White's spelling of proper names is  not always consistent or accurate. 
7) Coles, George, My First Seven Years in America, New-York:  Carlton &
Phillips,  1852, pp. 172, 173.  George Coles was an Englishman who found it something of  an effort to become accustomed to American ways and customs and hardships.
8) Christian Advocate, Vol. 6, #9, 28 Oct. 1831, p. 34.
9) Ibid., Vol. 14, #32, 27 Mar. 1840, p. 126.
10) Ibid., Vol. 16, #23, 19 Jan. 1842, p. 89.
11) Selleck, Alonzo F., Recollections of an Itinerant Life, New York: Phillips & Hunt,  1886, p. 161. 
12) Christian Advocate, Vol. 45, #19, 12 May 1870, p. 146.
13) Ibid., Vol. 45, #48, 1 Dec. 1870, p. 384.
14) New York Conference Minutes, 1919, p. 47.
15) Ibid., 1938, p. 184


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