Center Presbyterian Church
Centre Presbyterian Church
Windham, N. Y.
From the The Windham Journal Print, date unknown
of the Centre Presbyterian Church
Windham, N. Y.
Rev. Leonard B. Van Dyke
1835 – 1860
Rev. William Addy 1861 – 1865
Rev. Charles Kendall 1866 – 1873
Rev. Benjamin T. Phillips 1874 –1876
Rev. Rufus King 1876 – 1876
Rev. Richard G. McCarthy 1876 – 1883
Rev. Benjamin Parsons 1884 – 1889
Rev. Hiram H. Kellogg 1889 – 1891
Rev. Chester C. Thorne 1891 – 1907
Rev. Charles E. Hoyt 1907 –1909
Rev. Jacob Markarian 1910 – 1919
Rev. Charles F. Robson 1920 – 1927
Rev. John J. McClelland 1927 – 1932
Edwin Lynne Wade 1933 –
Nathan Osborn James Robertson
Abijah Stone George Robertson
Charles Stedman G. Huntington Doty
Alfred Atwater S. Henry Atwater
John A. Newell Humphrey Potter
Dwight B. Hitchcock Munroe W. Carr
Lawyer Mellen Clark Distin
Oswald R. Coe Oscar Fuller
John S. Patterson Irving Brockett
T. Burdette Johnson
(missing).......terian Church by the name and style of the Centre Presbyterian Church of Windham, to wit,”
Rebecca Osborn Abijah
Mary Robinson Eli P. Robinson Alathea Stone
James Robertson Lucinda Finch Consider Camp
Sally Osborn Roma K. Ives Fanny Hinman
William Doty Eliza Parker Clark Finch
Sally Camp Merritt Osborn Phebe Robinson
Curtis Mattoon Amelia Keeler Thos. H. Southard
Julia N. Doty Ebenezer Beers Eleanor Osborn
Stephen S. Keeler Desire Mattoon Henry Osborn
Lydia Fancher Humphrey R. Potter Rebecca Stimpson
William S. Robinson Sally Sherman George Robertson
Maria Robertson Elias E. Kinkaid Catherine Southard
Alvin Smith Diedamia Brockett John M. Robertson
Lois Beers Alexander Reynolds Nancy Potter
Ornan Stimpson Aletta Smith Lydia Barney
Kissiah Goodrich Elizabeth Robertson Eunice Robertson
Eliza Ann Robertson Electa Lamoree Lucy Osborn
Clarissa Ives Mary Hunt Sally Ann Young
Rev. Alfred Garder was then appointed Moderator of the Church.
On motion the Church voted unanimously “that those members of this Church who were Ruling Elders of the First Presbyterian Church of Windham be Ruling Elders of this Church to wit”.
James Robertson Abijah
Consider Camp Henry Osborn
Of this number, Henry Osborn was appointed the first Clerk of Session on April 29, 1834, a position which he filled for several years.
The site now occupied by the Church was donated in 1834 by Merritt Osborn for a cemetery. Several interments were made here but owing to the water from the creek pouring into the newly dug graves, the ground was abandoned for burial purposes. During the latter part of the same year (1834), the Presbyterian Society bought from Colonel George Robertson one acre of land for $30.00, located just east of Windham village where the remains of those buried in the Merritt Osborn Cemetery were reinterred; this acre of ground is now the “old part” of the Windham Village Cemetery.
The Osborn plot was then used as the Church site, and on this site a building was erected during the succeeding months and dedicated to the worship of God, Thursday, January 1, 1835, with a sermon by Rev. David Porter, the singing being led by Captain William Doty. On the following Sabbath morning Rev. Leonard B. Van Dycke preached as a candidate, administering the Sacrament in the afternoon; he was unanimously chosen the first pastor of the Church, beginning his labors February 15, 1835, and continuing until December 1860, when failing voice made it necessary for him to resign. His successor was Rev. William Addy of Union Theological Seminary who was the regular pastor for five years.
The next pastor was the Rev. Charles Kendall of Massachusetts who preached until his death on March 19, 1873—serving eight years; Rev. M. Kendall also supplied the Ashland Church from the year 1869. Then came Rev. Benjamin T. Phillips of Kingston, N. Y. whose pastorate lasted but six months. (Note: Rev. Benjamin T. Phillips, who followed Mr. Kendall, was from New York City, and served for two years; he was followed by Rev. Rufus King of Kingston, N. Y., whose pastorate lasted but six months.) From 1876 to 1883 Rev. Richard G. McCarthy of San Francisco, Cal. was the regular pastor, he being succeeded by Rev. Benjamin Parsons, a retired missionary from Turkey, who preached until 1891.
Rev. Chester C. Thorne, still remembered by many, also a graduate of “Union,” next filled the pulpit; a Godly man of exceptional intellectual ability, he formed a host of friends, going in and out among us for sixteen consecutive years. Rev. Charles E. Hoyt was then called, remaining as pastor from 1909 to 1909. During the summer months of 1909, following the resignation of Mr. Hoyt, George H. Allen Jr., then a theological student, supplied the pulpit. The next regular pastor was Rev. Jacob Markarian, a native of Tarsus, the birthplace of the Apostle Paul; he came to us in 1910 and remained until 1919, when he tendered his resignation. While here he endeared himself to all by his genial and pleasing personality, and his perpetual good humor. During the spring and summer months of 1920 the pulpit was supplied by the Rev. Charles Herald, a retired minister from Brooklyn, N. Y., a man with snow white hair, long in the service of his Master, whose very presence was a benediction.
Rev. Charles F. Robson, a native of Scotland, came to us from Durham, N. Y. being installed on October 27, 1920, and remaining with us until April 3, 1927, when he resigned to accept his present charge at Monroe, N. Y. During his pastorate the Church enjoyed a remarkable period of enthusiasm and progress. It was then that the Church was redecorated, the present carpet laid, the memorial windows put in and the pipe organ installed; to Mr. Robson we are greatly indebted for his untiring efforts which culminated in the acquisition of this beautiful instrument.
Following the resignation of Mr. Robson, Rev. Jon J. McClelland severed his connection sat Knowlesville, N. Y. and was our beloved pastor until September 1932 when failing health compelled him to relinquish the pastorate; he passed away about a year later at West Have, Conn.
The Church was then without regular preaching until the spring of 1933, when Edwin Lynne Wade, a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary, came to us from Philadelphia, Pa. And was ordained and installed June 29, 1933. He occupied the pulpit of the Hunter Presbyterian Church on alternate Sunday evenings, and is also holding weekly Sunday afternoon meetings in the Union Chapel in Mitchell Hollow.
Our records are to meager to give much help as to the musical part in the services in the early days of our Church. The first musical instrument used in this Church was a melodian, and we think the first organist was Mrs. Charles Stedman. This melodian furnished the Church music for a number of years and was replaced by the little reed organ which now rests quietly in the organ room of our Church. The melodian was then moved form the Church to the little session room, a separate building, which stood about thirty feet east of the Church edifice. At the weekly prayer services, before the installation of the melodian, G. Huntington Doty always pitched the tune by the tuning fork and Miss Amelia Tremain, soprano, led the singing. In those days, during the singing the Church hymns, the congregation always rose, turned their backs to the minister, and faced the choir in the gallery.
Captain William Doty, father of G. Huntington Doty, was the first choir director, while Miss Rose Doty, his grand-daughter, was the second organist; her assistant was Lydia Porter, daughter of Orrin Porter. Our records do not tell how long Captain Doty served as choir leader but he was succeeded by Orrin Porter, who served until 1866. G. Huntington Doty was next called to leadership, which office he very creditably held for twenty years. Some of the choir members, under his leadership, so far as can be determined, were: sopranos, Amelia Tremain, Sarah Lewis Doty, Sarah Barney Hitchcock, Ella Graham Townsend, Harriet Mansfield and Frank Osborn Baldwin; altos, Anna Sheffield Delamater, Julia Bump Johnson, and Alice Doty Peck; tenors, John A. Newell and Dr. Alfred Doty; basses, G. H. Doty, I. B. Steele, C. Brainerd, Alfred Atwater and C. C. Peck.
Boan Rossiter succeeded Miss Rose Doty as organist, holding this position for a short time; Mrs. Ella Cobb Cornell was now called to become the organist, later being followed by Mrs. Ella Graham Townsend, who was the permanent organist until about 1887. During the preceding year the Church had been redecorated and remodeled by Chesterfield & Cryne, and the choir was from the gallery to the present location on the main floor. Josiah C. Tallmadge was now the choir director, succeeding G. Huntington Doty, resigned; Mr. Tallmadge held this position until his removal to Catskill, in 1895.
Mrs. Rose Graham Tallmadge succeeded her sister, Mrs. Townsend, as organist, which position she held until failing health compelled her to resign. Her husband, Benjamin I. Tallmadge, succeeded his brother as choir director, where he served faithfully and well until the time of his death; no record would be complete if we failed to express our deep appreciation for those many years of unselfish and conscientious services which he so willingly rendered, Mrs. Bertha Johnson was next chosen organist and served as such for a number of years; she was followed by Mrs. Frances VosBurgh Steele, our present organist, who is very ably carrying on its important work which is so closely associated with our spiritual progress. Mrs. Steele is also the present director, assisted by Mrs. Mynette Tallmadge. The musical history of this Church has always been most creditable, the choir memorial window representing the honor and respect in which the faithful deceased musical workers are held.
Many will remember during Dr. Herald’s ministry in this Church, one Sunday morning, the Doctor turned and faced our reed organ, referring to it as “the old Church whistle”, and we believe this was really the first move toward the procuring of our present organ. This instrument, which was purchased in October 1923, has between 2500 and 3000 pipes with tones exceptionally mellow and sweet; it weights more than then ten tons and cost nearly eight thousand dollars. Through the history of our Church the services have on many occasions been greatly enriched by visiting musical artists. One feature worthy of note is the frequently singing at Easter time of the Old Easter Anthem, old yet ever new and dear to the hearts of all.
Colonel George Robertson, in his history of the Presbyterian Church writes in 1877 of a Young Peoples’ Benevolent Society which had been active for over forty years; this would seem that the society was organized very soon after the Church itself, or about 1837. Its object was to raise money for the Home and Foreign Missionary Societies, also for the American Bible Society and Tract Cause. Quarterly meetings were held, when dues were collected and forwarded to the societies. Early accounts show that the calls of all the various Boards of Benevolent Societies were well responded to. It is also interesting to note in passing that several were made Life Members of the American Bible Society at a membership fee of $20.
Colonel Robertson further states that there was in existence at this time a Foreign Missionary Society, but no record is found of the date of organization nor the first officers. During the pastorate of Rev. R. G. McCarthy, the Ladies Home Missionary Society was formed, with Mrs. McCarthy the organizer and first president. Each member “agreed to give one penny each week to the Home Missionary cause, the money to be put in mite boxes furnished for that purpose”.
In March of each year this money was to be sent to the Presbyterial Treasurer. The two organizations have continued throughout the intervening years, fulfilling their intended purposes, and today still exist as individual societies.
A Sabbath School was undoubtedly organized at an early date although no records are available, but referring again to Colonel Robertson’s history, we find that in 1877 there was in existence a flourishing Sabbath School, composed of eighty persons of all ages, from five to seventy years. A custom of this period was the monthly concert in which all classes of the school participated, and at which time every member was expected to recite one or more passages of Scripture. This Church has never since been without an active Sabbath School, led by earnest Christian Superintendents, of which the following is a partial list, viz:
G. Huntington Doty
John A. Newell
Charles Stedman S. Henry Atwater Frederick Atwater
John S. Patterson Lawyer Mellen Clark Distin
Oswald R. Coe T. Burdette Johnson
Our present Superintendent, Mr. Johnson, had labored faithfully and courageously over a long period of years and our school is now manifesting genuine interest in things of the Kingdom.
On the evening of June 23, 1889, pursuant to a notice given by the Pastor, H. H. Kellogg, a meeting was held in the Chapel of this Church to consider the feasibility of forming a Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor. The meeting was called to order by Rev. H. H. Kellogg and opened with prayer by J. S. Patterson. After singing and some appropriate remarks by the Pastor, “on motion of J. C. Tallmadge, Resolved that it is the purpose of this meeting that a Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor be organized in this place.” The Pastor then appointed a nominating committee consisting of the following,--J. S. Patterson, J. C. Tallmadge, Julia A. Johnson, J. Alice Peck and Ida Kingsley. This committee reported at a meeting the following Sunday evenings, suggesting for President, Rev. H. H. Kellogg,--Vice President, Dorville S. Coe,--Secretary, Irving Brockett,--Treasurer, J. C. Tallmadge, who were duly elected the first officers.
The first Prayer Meeting Committee consisted of Mrs. J. Alice Peck, Mrs. Julia Johnson, Mrs. J. S. Patterson, Mr. Clark Distin and Mr. J. A. Newell. The Lookout Committee was Miss Ida Kingsley, Miss Lucia Cobb, Miss Laura Brockett, Mr. Lawyer Mellen, and Mr. J. S. Patterson. The meeting adopted, temporarily, the Model Constitution of the United Society, later approving a similar one formed by themselves.
List of First Members
Rev. H. H. Kellogg
J. S. Patterson
Clark Distin J. C. Tallmadge Dorville S. Coe
J. Alice Peck Julia A. Johnson Ada Stanley Moon
Mrs. Clark Distin Laura Brockett Ida Kingsley
Lucia Osborn J. A. Newell Irving Brockett
Mrs. J. S. Patterson Minnie Kingsley Lucia Cobb
Later, Reception and Social Committees were added, on December 31, 1889, Mr. J. A. Newell was elected the second president. This society on June 2, 1892, entertained the annual meeting of the Catskill Mountain Local Union of Christian Endeavor at Windham. At the International Convention in July 1894, at Cleveland, Ohio, the Windham society received a diploma for being one of the twenty-five societies containing the largest number of “systematic and proportionate givers.”
This organization is still functioning under its original Charter and has been a valuable auxiliary of the Church; meetings are held regularly each Sunday evening, prior to the preaching service, and they are continuing the long established custom of contribution $20 yearly to the Missionary Societies.
On June 4, 1933, at the invitation of our present pastor, five young people met at the Manse for the purpose of organizing a Junior-Intermediate Christian Endeavor Society, the first in several years; this organization was completed June 7th with Mr. Wade in charge. Due to the rapid growth of this society it became necessary to form two separate groups, Junior and Intermediate; this was accomplished on November 12th, since which time Mrs. Wade had been the efficient leader of the Junior group with Mr. Wade continuing with the Intermediates. The total membership of the two societies is now about sixty, ranging in ages from seven to seventeen. The young people show intense interest and enthusiasm, the meetings are will attended and several contributions have been made to workers in the mission fields. The Junior officers are, President, Evelyn Moore, Vice President, Harold Munson, Secretary, Mildred Shufelt, Treasurer, Wallace Cammer; the Intermediate officers are, President, Robert Blakeslee, Vice President, Evelyn Case, Secretary, Dorothy Lightsey, Treasurer, Margaret Bernhard.
Returning once more to the Church edifice, we find on the records of January 4, 1869, on motion S. P. Ives, “Resolved, that this society proceed the coming spring, to remodel the seats, desk, walls, chimney, etc”. This resolution was amended as follows, “That this society will proceed to repair the Church in good modern style, including fence and Church property.” This resolution was unanimously carried and the following committee appointed to raise funds, George Robertson, A. W. Doty and H. Camp.
On February 1st the following building committee was appointed, viz. H. Camp. George Robertson, Sherman Munger, George Peck and Charles Stedman, to procure plans and reports at a future meeting. On March 1st, the following resolution was adopted, “Resolved that the Centre Presbyterian Society authorize and empower the committee on building, chosen at the last meeting of said society, to make such repairs and alterations to the Church of said Society as in the good judgment of the committee may be deemed appropriate, necessary and expedient, and that they have full power to contract for, and do all and every act necessary for the making of such repairs.”
At the annual meeting, held the following January, the committee reported a deficiency of $54.75, and Elbert R. Barney was appointed to raise this balance. Later at an informal meeting, a sale was held, apparently disposing of the “left overs” from the remodeling programme. These consisted of stove pipe, lumber, white lead, 175 pounds of iron rods, etc., and brought $17.80.
The Ladies Aid Society was organized on March q11, 1885 with the following officers:
Pres., Miss Helen Osborn
Vice President, Mrs. Chas. Stedman
Sec., Mrs. Truman Johnson Treas., Mrs. Edwin Hunt
The part played by this organization in the history of the Church can never be estimated; not only have they supported every progressive Church movement, but they have also been the leaders in many constructive programmes, and are directly responsible for the attractive appearance of our Church today. The records show that they co-operated and were undoubtedly very instrumental in the redecoration of the Church which took place in 1886. At this time a new carpet was purchased, this presumably being the red one, so well remembered by all our members. The present black walnut pulpit and the five large chairs, together with the chairs now used in the choir were also purchased at this time, the old ones being sold at auction.
In 1887 a new Chapel was erected on the south end of the Church building, the foundation being started the second week in October and the building raised the first week in November. Completed and opened for services in February, dedicatory services were held in June 1888, with the opening sermon by the Rev. Mr. Pohl of Durham, N. Y. Here again the Ladies Aid assumed a large part, if not the entire burden, of the debt incurred. The little building, which for more than fifty years had been the Chapel and Session room, was later sold for $50.00 and is now said to be the woodshed of Wilson Green. The iron fence, still surrounding the Church-yard, they purchased through S. Henry Atwater, it being erected in July, 1888.
A large heater was purchased and placed in the basement of the Church in 1902; this was used until the installation of the present heaters in 1924. The money for the new heaters was raised by popular subscription, and many will remember the “bee”, held for making the necessary excavations to enlarge the basement. A heating system was also installed in the Manse that same winter.
The present pews were bought in 1905, during the redecoration of the Church. Mrs. William Delamater circulated a subscription paper and was successful in raising most of the necessary amount; the balance was paid by the Ladies Aid (as usual); T. G. Sellew furnished the pews. The Church was not redecorated again until 1922; this was during the pastorate of Mr. Robson and has already been referred to. It was during this same year that the building was wired for electricity, replacing the acetylene gas machine which has been in use since 1910.
In 1909 our communion table was presented to the Church by the younger girls’ needle club, which was under the leadership of Miss Edna Brockett and Mrs. Daisy O. Mulbury; the table was purchased trough Mr. Edward S. Delamater, a former Windham boy, who was also largely influential in helping us to procure our organ. Our individual communion set was also acquired at this time, a gift of the Ladies Aid.
Our first organ, previously referred to, was replaced , in 1914, by our Boardman & Gray piano, another evidence of the loyalty of the ladies. They also assumed the entire responsibility of building, equipping and decorating the new kitchen, dining room and class room, which was annexed to the building in 1929. Since 1865, when our Manse was purchased at a cost of $1300.00, they have also been responsible for all improvements and alterations made in and about the place.
The Pulpit furniture and Bible, now in use in the Chapel, came to us, a gift from Presbytery, when the Centreville (Sunside) Church was dismantled; it was largely through the instrumentality of Mr. John J. McClelland that this gift was made possible. The Bible now used in our Church was presented to us by Mr. Wheeler K. Doty in 1911.
Would that we might delve into the Spiritual life of this Church and the activities of those who lived and labored, and have passed on to their reward, but time and space will not permit. Thus the history of the Centre Presbyterian Church, during the past century, draws to a close. Yet no history would be fitting or complete unless we pause to acknowledge the manifold blessings showered upon this Church, and the Divine Guidance which had kept us in the way throughout all these years.
In Zechariah 4:6 we read, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts”. So it has been with us, there have always been the “faithful” who, led by the Spirit, have carried forward those high ideals on which this Church was established.
We give thanks to Almighty God and praise His Holy Name for bringing this flock so far along its way. And now, as the history of another Church-century begins, there comes the challenge to “stand fast in the faith” and to “forsake not the assembling of ourselves together”. May the future years be rich in the Service of our King.
Here gracious God,
For evermore draw nigh;
Accept each faithful vow,
And make each suppliant sigh;
In copious shower
On all who pray
Each Holy day,
Thy blessings pour.