Article Number Thirty Seven - History of the First Presbyterian Church Con't

Written by Joshua G. Borthwick and originally published
on April 5, 1884, in the Catskill "Examiner". Copy provided by the Durham Center Museum and retyped by Annette Campbell



The founders of the Church and Society appear to have acted upon the principle that "whatever is worth doing at all, is worth doing well."
 
Accordingly they availed themselves of the laws of the State "in such cases made and provided."  They appointed Christopher Lord, the senior deacon, and Daniel Brown, the clerk of the society, to certify to the regularity of their proceedings, which they did as follows:
 
"We Christopher Lord and Daniel Brown, appointed by the Society or Congregation of the church at Durham, in the town of Freehold and county of Albany, do hereby certify that agreeable to the law of this State, entitled 'An act to enable all religious denominations in this State to appoint trustees, who shall be a body corporate, for the purpose of taking care of the temporalities of their respective congregations, and for other purposes therein mentioned,' which act was passed April 6, 1784, after due and regular notice given, an election was held for the appointment of trustees of the said Society, when by a plurality of votes Lemuel Hotchkiss, Daniel Coe, David Cowles, Joseph Hart and Elihu Hart were duly elected to serve as trustees for the said Society, and that we have divided by lot the said trustees into three classes, to-wit: Lemuel Hotchkiss and Elihu Hart, first class; David Cowles and Daniel Coe, second class, and Joseph Hart, third class."
 
Then follows the date, their signatures, seals, etc., all of which was witnessed by William Cook, James Holcomb, Abner Mather, and  John Canfield. it was sworn to by John Canfield before Henry Glen, one of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas for the county of Albany, and "registered in the Clerk's office of the City and County of Albany in Book No. 1 of Church Patents, pages 55 and 56, this 22nd day of January, 1793.  Signed, "B. Lusk, Clerk."  The correctness of the copy was attested by Daniel Brown, Society Clerk.
 
This Daniel Brown was a prominent man in those days. He was a brigadier-general in the war of 1812, and is referred to on pages 30, 269 and 270 in the  "History of Greene County" just published. The late Robert Hotchkiss told the writer that when a boy, he was permitted to deliver a horse which his father, George Hotchkiss, had sold to the general and that the horse was ridden by him into the war.
 
But to return to the history. I appears that the affairs of the Society did not move on very harmoniously. They were without a minister, although the appointed several committees "to treat with Mr. Bird for to see if he will be persuaded to settle among us in the gospel ministry," but all their efforts in that direction failed. Moreover, those who were in favor of building the meeting-house on Canfield hill persisted in their efforts to bring that project to a successful issue, but that did not prevail, although much time and no doubt much patience was called for before the matter was adjusted.
 
But finally they met at the house of Linus Hopson on the 24th day of March, 1795, and with Mr. Ambrose Field as moderator of the meeting they voted "That we build a house of public worship near the place where the old meeting-house now stands, a little West of Selah Strong's dwelling house, where the stake was formerly set for that purpose."
 
At a subsequent meeting held April 6, 1795, they appointed "Ambrose Field, Jairus Chittenden, Jonathan Baldwin, Moses Austin, John Palmer and Silas Hull as a committee to secure the necessary funds for the building of the house."
 
April 22, 1795.---According to adjournment they met in the old meeting-house and appointed Silas S. Fordham, Contractor and Joseph Hart and Selah Strong Advisory Committee, and they voted "That we submit the bigness of the aforesaid house to the judgment of the contractor." It appears that hitherto they had neglected to elect a treasurer for the Society, hence at this meeting they chose Jonathan Baldwin to that position. Then the record is as follows:
 
"This afternoon, received a Billet from the Northern committee accompanied by the committee and clerk and heard the minds of their constituents and
 
"Voted, That we think it not consistent with the interests of this people to move from the place which we have fixed upon for building a house of public worship;
 
"Voted, That we invite and request the Northern people to unite with us in building the house;
 
"Voted, That the committee proceed to procure material for building said house and hold out the papers for subscription."
 
So this always troublesome question of location was settled for the third time in three years and each time in favor of meeting-house hill, but probably not to the satisfaction of all, so that the matter was not passed to a consummation that year.
 
The next Society meeting was held Dec. 16, 1795, at the house of "Capt. Elihu Hart." He was a physician and lived in Broadway where the Derick Wyncoop house is situated. At this meeting they voted
 
"First, That we make choice of  Mr. Bela Strong instead of Mr. Selah Strong, to serve as a committee, he declining to serve as such;
 
"Second,  That the said house shall be fifty-five feet in length and forty-five in width, and that the committee, if they think most convenient, may alter five in length and width, and no more;
 
"Third, That if any would wish to build a Steeple, they have free toleration;
 
"Fourth, That the Committee proceed immediately to procure materials, and carry on said building.
 
"Fifth, That the meeting be dissolved. Dissolved accordingly."
 
Their efforts at this time were crowned with success, and the year 1796 witnesses the construction of the house. This consummation, so earnestly longed for, had been delayed for four years by the want of union among them in regard to the site. Were these people obstinate?  No, we think not; but they were very decided in their opinions, and were not willing to call any man "Master."  They had assisted in conquering the British Lion, and were engaged in subduing the forests and the stony fields to the uses of husbandry, and it took time to learn subjection to each other. And it must be confessed that except in the central location Meeting-house hill had little to recommend it as a suitable place for a church.
 
 
  Home            Table of Contents        Borthwick Papers Home Page

History of the Towns Home Page    Townships Home Page