First Baptist Church

Catskill, N. Y.

150th ANNIVERSAY PROGRAM
October 4th – 24th
1803 -- 1953


Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin from a pamphlet located at the Catskill Public Library


"In the Heart of Catskill For The Hearts of Catskill"


History of Church

The First Baptist Church of Catskill was organized on July 20th, 1803 beside the open fireplace of Hiland Hill with only seven charter members. Services were held in the Hill home and later in the school house. In 1823, when it membership reached 80, a small building was erected on Clarke Street not far from its present site. It is now used as a dwelling.

In a few years it was apparent that this building was not large enough. In 1840, a new building was erected on Main Street, with the membership then reaching 102. But after 11 short years of use, it was destroyed by the great fire of 1851, which wiped out several buildings, including two other churches. Soon a committee was appointed, and a new church was in use the following summer of 1852.

All went well with these hopeful people until August 7, 1871 when the red wings of fire destroyed this building after only 20 years of use. During the fire one member was struck down by a falling cornice, and another narrowly escaped being crushed by the collapse of the front wall.

The Society was far from able to meet the financial drain which so abruptly came. The parsonage was sold. Baptist Churches of the Hudson Valley took up generous collections. With this, the $3,000 insurance (the church was valued at $15,000) and by borrowing the balance, the present gothic structure was erected in 1873 at a cost of about $22,000. A debt of $9,000 was to be carried by a membership of less than 150.

Thus in a 50 year period (1823-1873) hardly the life span of a person, these First Baptist people had erected four churches, a record perhaps without equal. But three years later an unfortunate controversy developed which divided the church. The old records show it reached a point one night when the doors of the church were barricaded by heavy timbers to keep the choir from its rehearsal. The barricade was removed, and the rehearsal went on until the opposition shut off the gas and ordered the choir to leave. Eventually the church was reorganized, and the controversy which threatened its existence subsided.

Then however, there was an unhappy aftermath, for The Society, weakened by the split, was unable to meet payments on its heavy debt. In 1879, the bondholders pressed their claims and threatened foreclosure. But, the good people of Catskill and the loyal members of the church came to the rescue and the property was saved. Through the ensuing years the debt was slowly reduced by great effort until 1897, when the balance of $3,400 was cleared up with the help of John D. Rockefeller, through our Baptist State Convention. The membership at that time was 172.

In the last 50 years the church has had its lights and shadows. It built a parsonage in 1902. It reached its highest peak of membership in 1910 when the record showed 258 on its rolls. Later it dropped to 158. Since 1942, under the pastorate of Rev. Louis V. S. Hutton, the church received 170 new members and raised over $8,000 for property improvements. Its 150th Anniversary finds it free of debt with a happy and united membership. Its Sunday School numbers over 100. Four of its young men are now studying for the ministry.

Those who gave us this organization have long since passed from the earth. So have their children and their children’s children. The churches they so lovingly erected in 1840 and 1851 have gone, and their ashes mingle with the dust beneath the sturdy foundations of our church today. It is with faith in God and a desire to serve our fellowmen that we look toward the tremendous days of the future.

* * * * *

A few great names in one way or another have been associated with the church. John Mason Peck, one of the great names in American Baptist history was its third pastor and ordained here in 1813. Luther Rice, another famous Baptist, preached the ordination sermon for Mr. Peck’s successor, Reed Burrit, in 1818. In 1931 when the Covered Wagon visited the church, the entire Home Mission Board of the denomination assisted in the unveiling of the John Mason Peck plaque. Among the speakers were Coe Hayne and Dr. Austen Kennedy De Blois. Dr. E. T. Dahlberg, president of the American Baptist Convention in 1947-48 spoke twice in its pulpit in 1948. Arthur Lofgren, president of the National Council of Baptist Men has filled the pulpit during the pastor’s vacation. Jack Wyrtezen has conducted a number of rallies which have resulted in many decisions. Early this year, Rev. Marcellus Williams, Field Secretary, Bacon College (Indian Baptist College) was a guest speaker. (Mr. Williams has refused offer from Warner Bros. Studio, Hollywood, for a full time acting position, because, as he puts it, "He prefers to serve his Lord and Master.")

Pastors & Events   1803-- 1953

1802 -1808—Truman Beeman……………Church Organized, July 20th

1809-1810—Peter Thurston….…....Church Incorporated, Aug. 10, 1809

1812-1814—John Mason Peck…….…..………..Ordained, June 9, 1813

1815-1817—John Lamb………..…...……..…Acting Pastor. 66 Members.

1818-1822—Reed Burrit.....Ordained, Oct. 15, 1818. Luther Rice, Preacher

1823-1825—Richmond Taggart……………...First Church Erected 1823

1825-1827—Batholomew Welch...Ordained, Oct.12, 1825, Membership 71.

1829-1831—Peter Simonson…..Sunday School Organized, April 18, 1830

1832-1833—John Dowling…………..…………..Ordained, Nov. 14, 1832

1834-1835—Thomas Dowling…………….…….Ordained, Jan. 16, 1834

1825-1835—Henry Whitman….………Hired for 3 Months. 14 Baptism

1836-1838—Samuel Wilson……..2 Members Excommunicated for Profanity.

1838-1845—Samuel B. Willis.....Second Church Erected, 1840—102 Members

1846-1847—E. F. Platt……………..….….Church Burned, April 14, 1851.

Third Church Erected, 1852—Valued, $15,000.

1853-1857—J. M. Hope……………..$400 Balance of Church Debt Paid.

1857-1860—George Webster………………………..Second Pastorate.

1860-1862—A. J. Chaplain………………………..….No Data Available.

1862-1866—George Webster…..…...Parsonage Purchased. Cost, $3,000

1866-1873—W. C. McCarthy…………….Church burned, Aug. 7, 1871.

1873-1876—A. C. Williams…..…Fourth Church Erected, 1873. Cost $21,812.

1873-1878—P. Franklin Jones…..….Great Controversy.."Church Closed Until Further Notice."

1879-1884—B. B. Gibbs….Bondholders Threatened to Foreclosure, 1879.

1885-1889—H. J. Baldwin...............Second Baptist Church Organized. (Colored).

1889-1890—J. H. Fisher………………Pipe Organ Installed, Cost $1400.

1890-1892—H. J. Baldwin…………....2 New Furnaces Installed. $267.00.

1892-1898—R. H. Rollins…………….$3400 Church Mortgage Burned. Church Repaired, Redecorated, Recarpeted, $700.

1898-1901—Robert Elder……………………....Deacon Palmatier Died.

1901-1906—George W. Rockwell……..Second Parsonage Built. ( $3,595)

100th Anniversary of Church, 1903

1906-1913—C. J. Burton……Highest Membership Peak, 258 Members.

1913-1916—Maurice R. Hamm…………..….Boys’ Brigade Organized.

1916-1919—E. J. W. Burston…….….E. B. Wilson Est. Left Church $3,850.

1920-1924—W. W. Sawin…..…Church Property Renovated. New Windows. Lights, etc. ($2,500).

1925-1927—George W. Rockwell…………………Second Pastorate.

1927-1932—Clarence E. Brown…………...New Constitution Adopted.

John Mason Peck Plaque Installed 1931. Visited by Covered Wagon.

1933-1941—Ira M. Stanton…….John Mason Peck Pilgrimage Instituted.

1942 -- Louis V. S. Hutton…….…..$8,000 Raised For Improvements. 170 Additions to Membership. 

Four Young Men

Our church has four young men who an now in higher institutions preparing for the ministry. They are:---

Robert Earley, baptized 1947. Graduated, C. H. S. 1947, with state scholarship rating. Graduate, Providence Bible Institute, 1951. Now entering second year at Grace Theological Seminary. Winona Lake, Ind.

Robert Reither, baptized 1947. Graduate, C. H. S. 1948. B. Y. F. Pres., ’47 & ’48. Graduate, Kingston Business College, ’49. With Central Hudson and S. S. Supt. 1949-51. Bob Jones University, 1951-52. Now entering second year at Gordon College of Theology and Missions, Boston.

Terrence Lane, baptized 1948. First Class Scout and selected to represent Catskill at he Valley Fore Boy Scout Jamboree, 1950. President, B. Y. F. 1951-2. Graduate, C. H. S. 1953. Entered Providence Bible Institute, R. I., September 1953.

Daniel Darling, baptized 1949. Graduate, C. H. S. 1948. Member of West Point Military Band, 1948-1953. Entered Eastern Baptist College, Philadelphia, September, 1953.

150th Anniversary Committee

Henry Van Loan ,Albert Salvato, Mrs. Jay Adams, Floyd Parks, Miss Ruth Lewis, *Mrs. George Cotich, (*Deceased)

1953 Church Directory

Rev. Louis V. S. Hutton…………………………….Minister

Mrs. Jay Adams………….Clerk and Treasurer, Benevolence

Albert Salvato……………………………………….Treasurer

Evelyn Vandermark…….……Sunday School Superintendent

Mary Johnson……………………….Organist, Choir Director

Raymond Smith………………….…………………….Sexton

Deacons Trustees

George Cotich, Chairman         Floyd Parks, Chairman

Joseph Gallt, Margaret Stewart, Harold Cole, Wilbur Smith, Mrs. Aretas Smith, Clifford Bronk, David Felter, James Packer, Harold Adams, Mrs. Henry Van Loan, Richard Ogdon, Robert Kugler, Mrs. Blanche Pflegl,  William Heath, Edith Smith, Mrs. Harold Adams, Secretary, Mrs. Lyle Post, Secretary-Treasurer

Sunday School

Mrs. Clarence Smith, Beginners,  Mrs. Louis V. S. Hutton, Junior Dept., 
Mrs. Albert Salvato, Beginners,  Ruth Lewis, Junior Dept., Mrs. Henry Van Loan, Primary Dept,  Mrs. Cortlandt Lane, Junior Dept., Mrs. Matthew S. Story, Primary Dept,  Mrs. George Wagner, Junior Dept., Mrs. Robert Kugler, Primary Dept,  Evelyn Vandermark, Junior Inter., Joseph Gallt, Junior Boys 

Mrs. Blanche Pflegl……………………..Young People

Mrs. Winnie Edson………………………………Adults

Jack O’Grady…………………………………Secretary

Goldie Vandermark……………………………Secretary

Mrs. Clarence Smith…………………………..Treasurer

Mrs. John Vandermark…………………………..Pianist

Loyal Baptist Daughters Baptist Youth Fellowship

Harriet Rockefell, President, Letitia Dallas, President, Mrs. Clarence Smith, Vice President, Charles Kruppenbacher, Vice President, Mrs. Fred Guldenstern, Secretary, Sandra Hallenbeck, Secretary-Treasurer, Mrs. Harold Adams, Treasurer,  Evelyn Vandermark, Mrs. George Stewart, Sunshine Comm. Mrs. Blanche Pflegl, Counselors, Mrs. Louis V. S. Hutton, Pianist, 

John Mason Peck Fellowship The Baptist Gleaners

Mrs. Jay Adams, President,  Evelyn Vandermark, President, Mrs. nche Pflegl, Vice President Mrs. Matthew S. Story, Vice President, Mrs. Louis V. S. Hutton, Secy.-Treas. Goldie Vandermark, Secretary, Mrs. Edward G. Denton, Chairman, Mrs. George Wagner, Treasurer, White Cross Mrs. Charles Smith, Sunshine Chairman

Church Officers

Harriet Rockefeller, Mrs. Joseph Gallt……….…Financial Secretaries

Margaret Stewart, Albert Salvato, Harriet Rockefeller….Finance Comm.

Mrs. Claude Rockefeller, Mrs. Emmett Deere…….….Flower Committee

Terry Lane, Leititia Dallas, Joan Cross…………….…..Junior Deacons

George Cotich, Chairman: Robert Kugler, George Wagner, David Felter, Clifford Bronk, Terry Lane, Clay Salvato, Joseph Gallt, Henry Van Loan…………..Ushers.


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