Transcribed by Annette Campbell from a copy of the original
An Historical sketch of the origin and the organization and pastorates of the First Reformed Dutch Church of Athens, NY
Sermon preached by Rev. W. N. P. Dailey, Pastor, at the Seventy fifth Anniversary of the Dedication of the Church.
The Glory of Zion
An historical sermon tracing the first 75 years of the life and work of the First Reformed Dutch Church of Athens, NY
Preached on September 22, 1901
"Glorious things are spoken of thee, O City of God" --- Psalm 87:3
These inspired words of the Psalmist are all on fire with holy feeling, breathing out the irresistible passion of the Hebrew as he gives himself up to contemplation of the glory of the house of God. Nor are they the expression of a single soul, the word merely of one man, of one heart, of one Jew, but they are generic, in that they represent the whole nation. From Dan to Beersheba the gladdest note of the gladdest song of the millions is this, "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O City of God."
This exultant cry shows the place that the church held in the heart of the people of ancient days, to whom Jerusalem was next to the throne of God, and for which they prayed and worked, and unto which the tribes went bearing their garlands of Joyous and unending praise. The secret of all their enthusiasm was the inspiration of the temple, about which they built up their daily life.
If we look for the source of such a glad cry as this of the text we can imagine it to be the expression of some soul that is lost in the vision splendid of old Jerusalem, with its holy men and holy places, and holier scenes, and the most holy place of all within the veil,----a picture of Jerusalem, at it very best, for it is only by looking at the best, and cherishing the best, that the human heart can become enthusiastic over anything, and sustain its enthusiasm. And Jerusalem at its best was, indeed, a grand sight, in an environment of solemn surroundings, throbbing with intense life, its temple, like some mountain of gold, fretted with snow, the glory of the city, and the joy of all the land. As one looked above he saw the smoke of the incense and the sacrifice floating on the fleecy clouds toward the eternal throne of God. As he looked within he saw the priestly processionals moving grandly solemn along the sacred courts, while near and far the trumpeters called to worship.
By the vision of faith he saw the mystic ladder of Bethel, set against the sky, the angels of God climbing up and down on their ministries of love. The vision was splendid enough to give to any soul that experience which would find expression in these words, "Glorious things of thee are spoken, O City of God." There is a great passion prevalent in oriental lands of tattooing the human body with figures. In accordance with this custom the Hebrew often engraved the picture of the temple upon the palm of his hand, thus consecrating all the work of life, with all its product, to the support of the temple, and thereby proclaiming to the world that every act of his life should in harmony with the interest and the holiness, and the glory of the temple. Surely this was magnificent consecration, a type worthy of reproduction amid the advances of this twentieth century. But this, after all, was but an imitation of what God had done from the beginning, for he says to Zion,---"the mother could sooner forget her child, than I forget thee, O Zion, Behold, I have
engraved thee upon the palms of my hands." What else can any devout soul do, as he looks into the palms of God's hands, and sees there the picture of the church as it exists in God's intentions, and as it shall be when God's fullness of time shall come, and when God's work for the church is done,---what else can he cry, than to say, "glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God."
But the right of rapturous joy has not been limited to old Jerusalem, nor to the ancient Hebrew. It is as christian as it was Judaic. When the sacrifice of Christ was made on the cross, and the veil of the temple was rent, and the holy of holies made worldwide, then the right of an enthusiastic and holy joy over the church was broadened till it covered the whole world. And what was the right of Jerusalem in the day of its temple---is right of Athens, in this hour, in the day of this church and its people. From the foundation stones to the top of its spire, pointing heavenward, this church we may believe is engraven on God's hands, and of her "glorious things are spoken."
This is the reminiscent day, upon which we would go back to the origin of things, the beginnings of the church life, to search out the genesis of our organization, and then trace our steps on toward the present hour.
The earliest record of the Dutch Reformed Church of the Village of Athens since this was its corporate title, is written under date of November 22, 1824, at which time several persons assembled in the school room of Mr. Ebenezer King, the house now Occupied by William C, Brady, and determined to erect in the village of Athens a house of public worship.
Athens at this time was a village of twelve hundred, and contained three churches,---The Lutheran, which dates back to 1794; the Episcopal organized 1806, and the Quaker, since disbanded, which began with the century. The Lutheran church at this time had no pastor, its offices being performed by Rev. Mr. Prentice of the Episcopal church. The need of another church was strongly felt, and Dominie Wyckoff of the Leeds church and Dominie Livingstone of Coxsackie prepared the way for its formation. A Prayer meeting and a Sunday school had been sustained for years before this church was organized, Rev, Mr. Wyckoff preaching on alternate Sundays. Although articles for the incorporation of the Presbyterian church had been drawn up, it was still felt that a Dutch church would be more successful, To this day certain persons refer to the church on the hill as a Presbyterian church Rev. Issac N. Wyckoff of the Leeds Reformed church, Rev. Gilbert R. Livingston of the 1st Reformed church, Coxsackie, Rev. Dr. Porter of the Catskill Presbyterian church, and the Rev. Dr. Chester of the Hudson Presbyterian church were present and guided the business of the meeting. A committee consisting of David Shaw, Leonard Whitbeck, Ebenezer King, John Reed, Samuel Miller, Elijah Spencer, and Nathaniel Howland were appointed to solicit subscriptions and superintend the building of the church.
The subscription list, a copy of which was made by one of the committee is most interesting reading. It is under date of November 22, 1824 showing that the brethren proposed to strike while the iron was hot, and so, at this initial meeting subscriptions amounting to $1100.00 were received. The total amount subscribed was $1633.00 of which $1443.00 was paid in. The list is headed by David Shaw with a contribution of $500.00. Joseph Groom giving $250.oo which must have been great sums in those days, while not the least interesting subscriber, at least to this audience, was Woodbridge L. King, who now rounds out a service of seventy-five years for this church. It cost $2213.52 to build the church, and while it was begun very early in 1825 it was not till late in 1827 that the structure was completed. However it was, "so far completed in September 1826 as to be dedicated to God." This accounts for the date over the entrance of the church, 1825, while the organization, whose seventy-fifth anniversary we celebrate this week, was not perfected till 1826, in the report of the church at Catskill whose minister speaks of the house of worship recently erected at Athens. Indeed there is no record after the initial one of November 22, 1824, to be found in the Consistorial minutes until May 22, 1826, a year and a half after the church had been begun. At this meeting the church was organized, nineteen members enrolling themselves. From the Leeds church were taken David Shaw and wife, Leonard Whitbeck and wife, Jane Whitbeck, William A, Brandow and wife, Isaac Collier and wife, Garret W. Sager and wife, Mrs. Peter Winnie, Joseph Groom, Mrs. John B. Hamilton, Marie Scott, and Ebenezer King; from the Coxsackie church, Mrs. John Reed and Mrs. Casper Van Loon; while Mrs. Ebenezer King brought her letter from the church at Pelham. These chose Joseph Groom and Ebenezer King, as elders, and Leonard Whitbeck and Garret W. Sager, as deacons. A Board of Trustees was also elected, to act with the consistory, and consisted of Castil Seeley, Elijah Spencer, Casper Van Loon, John Reed, and David Shaw.
The Dutch Reformed Church of New York City came to the help of this struggling people, as she has come so often and to so many, and gave the church $300.00 to complete their building. The church was incorporated May 27, 1826, and in the following month a young man who was destined to play no mean part in our denomination, came to Athens and took up the work here, the Consistory agreeing to free him from all worldly cares in a promised salary of $15.00 a month. In answer to a petition from the Consistory the Classis of Rensselaer received the Athens church into its membership in 1826, and also ordained David Abeel as an evangelist in this church where he had begun his labors. He was hired for three months at first, but the people were so well pleased with him at the end of that time that they again asked him to remain, this time for six months, and increased his salary to $33.00 a month. At the expiration of his nine months with the church, Dominy Abeel was hired for a year, and again his salary slightly increased. Bur before his year was up he joyfully responded to a larger and higher service and became the first foreign missionary of the Dutch Reformed Church of America. He was but twenty-four years of age at this time, but the story of his consecrated life forms one of the brightest pages in all the history of the christian church. . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..
In 1842 he founded the Amoy mission, and remained there for two years, or, until broken down in health, when he returned to America, and died in Albany, September 4, 1846. The mission field of Amboy will remain his living monument, and to his undying power, let it be said, that we owe much of that tolerant spirit that is today unique with the Chinese of the Amboy district.
The successor of Dr. Abeel was the Reverend Cornelius Van Cleef, who was the first installed pastor of the church, and began work in May, 1828, remaining five and a half years in the pastorate. During his work here the Board of Domestic Missions annually helped the church with gifts ranging from a hundred to a hundred and fifty dollars, the obligation of which this people shall never be able to meet. We also find mention at this time of what was probably the first woman's society in the church known as The Fragment Society, but they must have gathered up a good many basketfuls, for in 1833 they gave $150.00 to the church toward the debt. It was in this same year that the question of building a chapel at the Collaberg school house was mooted, but nothing definite was done until 1837, when the chapel was built by the Athens church, its minister supplying its pulpit for six years. In 1859 the First Church of Athens sold the chapel to that congregation on condition that it would remain a Dutch church. In the sermon preached at the funeral of Dr. Van Cleef, which occurred in 1875, after he had served the church at New Hackensack for thirty-three years, Dr. Van Gieson, now of Poughkeepsie, spoke of his godly sincerity and the simplicity of his preaching, as well the exquisite beauty of his christian character. It was during his pastorate that one of the greatest of revivals that ever occurred in the town took place, sixty being received at one time, which fact led the chairman of the committee on the State of Religion at Classis to say,
"Where there is nothing there is a multitude," Seventy additions were made to the church in 1832 and thirty more in 1833, the membership at this time being 161. Through the efforts of Rev. W. B. Hill, two beautiful windows commemorate the life and work of these first two pastors. Rev. Enoch Van Aken of Kinderhook and, later, Rev. John Gray of Schodack were called to the pastorate, but both declined. The Rev. Joseph Wilson of Westerlo, was called and installed July 1, 1834. The church at this time seemed to be overwhelmed with pecuniary troubles, and many conferences are recorded, the sole topic of which was the relief of the finances. The pastor too, must have had his share, for under date of December 11, 1834 we find the Consistory officially notifying the congregation that they must see that the Dominy is kept in firewood. In March 1835, notwithstanding the condition of the treasury, a parsonage is bought of Watson Howland, the house now owned by Mr. Lanfare. The salary of the minister at this time was $550.00. Mr. Wilson finished his work at Athens in May, 1836, and accepted the principalship of the Poughkeepsie Female Institute.
He died May 1, 1878. Mr. Wilson was one of the very best ministers that have graced the pulpit of the old Dutch church,---a scholar, a theologian, a preacher, a man of God.
Because of the distressing financial condition oof the congregation, the church, after Dominy Wilson's departure, seems to have had great difficulty to secure a pastor. They called Rev. J. B. Steele of Middleburg, Rev. S. V. E. Westfall of Hyde Park, and Rev Elbert Slingerland of Waterford, all of whom declined. Next a call was made on Rev. Jefferson Wynkoop who accepted, and began on December, 1836. As an extra inducement to his coming on a salary of $500.00, the Consistory agreed to build a barn and fill it with hay for him. After a pastorate of four years Mr. Wynkoop entered the Presbyterian ministry, where he remained till his death, which occurred Aug. 21, 1885.
On September 15, 1840, the Rev. Edwin Holmes of the Third Reformed church of Albany was called to the pastorate, but the vigorous winters proved too much for him, and he resigned after a stay of six months, and Consistory quite reluctantly accepted the resignation. after two pastorates at Nassau and Chatham, running thro some eighteen years. his health compelled him to quit the active ministry, and he lived afterwards in retirement until he died, Nov. 23, 1873 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The financial state of the church in these days is best understood by the records which speak of the payment of the ministers in notes, the sale of the parsonage to meet the demands, even disposing of the land about the church for burial purposes---anything to make things go.
The pastorates of Rev. John Watson, just graduating from New Brunswick, which ran thro a period of two and a half years, and that of Rev. William A. Cornell, ordained and installed in the Athens church, which lasted four years, were but repetitions of former days in the experience of the church, the temporal affairs seemingly crowding out all other interests. No accessions to the church are reported for over four years, after 1836, and all the records at this time are very brief. We should liked to have known the true state of affairs in those troublous times, but evidently they were too painful for record with the struggling congregation. After leaving Athens, Mr. Watson preached for a while at Flatbush, and then entered the Presbyterian ministry. He died in Harlem, Ohio, April 22, 1864. Mr. Cornell after leaving Athens, had a pastorate of four years at Blooming Grove, and then retired. He died in August, 1876. During his pastorate the chapel was again for a time supplied, and the bell which now calls us to church was purchased, largely through the influence of William H. Morton, whose wife, Marie Waite Morton, was an active member of the church for sixty years, having joined on confession in 1832.
Rev. James R. Talmadge succeeded to the pastorate Nov. 21, 1849, coming to Athens from the Classis of Philadelphia. After a brief stay of but six months he resigned his charge, giving as his reason that the salary was not sufficient to meet the wants of his family, and went to the Middle Dutch church of Brooklyn.
In May, 1851, the Consistory engaged Rev. William R. S. Betts, who had already preached at Leeds for five years, to supply the Athens pulpit for a year at $25.00 a month. Altho this arrangement was continued for three years, mainly because of the pecuniary benefit to the church, it was seen all along that it was not conducive to the best interests of the people, and so was discontinued in May 1854. After leaving Athens Mr. Betts had two other charges in the Dutch Church and then went into the Presbyterian ministry.
The next pastor of the church, which had been without a resident minister now for over nearly five years, was Rev. William D. Buckalew, who had been reaching since graduation from New Brunswick for three years, in Currytown. His pastorate extended over three years and a half. The first annual report to Classis is recorded at the time in the minutes, in 1859, though others had been sent. The number of families is given as 70, members as 97, Sunday school 100, benevolent contributions $247.50, and congregational expenses $700.00. For a year and a half after Mr. Buckalew's departure in May, 1859, the pulpit was supplied by friends of the church, among whom were Dominie Talmadge, a former pastor, Rev. John Steele of Coxsackie, the Rev. Joseph Collier of Kingston, who was known thro the denomination as the "Children's pastor," Rev L. H. Van Dyck of Blooming Grove, Rev. William Letson of Ghent, Rev. William S. Moore of Unionville, Rev. John S. Lott of Franklyn, and Rev. Albert W. Knowlton of North Hampton.
Under date of October 27, 1959, a committee of three, consisting of W. L. King, P. G. Brandow and J. B. Whitbeck, were appointed to solicit subscriptions for a parsonage, and, later, under date of April 10, 1860, they reported having bought a house for the church at the cost of $1018.00, and had paid for the same with subscriptions received. This new parsonage is the house on the north-east corner of Second and Montgomery streets, and remained the property of the church until it was sold in 1881 for $1475.00, the proceeds being used toward building the present manse, next to the church, Certain services of the church were for a time held in this house.
Toward the close of the year 1860 the Rev. Cyril Spaulding of the Second church of Rotterdam was called to the pastorate and remained for over seven years. The church was not long without a pastor, for inside of five months they had called a young man, Alan D. Campbell, just graduated from the seminary at New Brunswick, and ordained and installed him Sept. 18, 1868. This proved to be the longest pastorage in the history of the church, extending over a period of fourteen years. In 1872 the Consistory make special mention of the death of David Whiting who had been an officer in the church for thirty years, a term of office in the history of the church equaled only by Staats De Groot, and exceeded only in that of our present treasurer, Elder King, who has served the church as an officer for upwards of forty-five years. In 1875, the church bought a lot on the south side of its property upon which to build a parsonage. The land upon which the church now stands together with the several lots on either side was originally in the possession of a Mr. Northrop. who, on going west, left the entire piece to be equally divided among the Presbyterians, or Dutch Reformed, and the Episcopalians. There was a twenty foot alley diving this tract of land in two parts.
The Dutch church chose the Northern half upon which to build their house of worship, and the other was possessed by the Episcopal church. The latter had more land than they needed, so, in some manner they were able to sell their share for $900. and the Reformed church bought one of the lots on the south for $400, of the buyer, thus giving themselves enough room upon which to build their parsonage, and what proved later the wisest plan, their chapel next to the church. This was in 1874, and the membership of the church was 189, and they had a debt of $650. to raise above the ordinary income. Thro the next five or six years the need of a chapel was more and more felt, especially on account of the Sunday school, but it was not till October, 1880, that anything definite was accomplished, and then it was decided to build a chapel if it could be done for $1300.
No mention is made in all these years in the records of the Consistory of any woman's organization, save one under date of Feb. 11, 1833; but we must not think, therefore, that the women were idle, for in the minutes of Feb. 5, 1880, we find the name of the President of the present Ladies Aid society, bringing in her gift to the Consistory of $540.00, which she had collected for the benefit of the church. The chapel was finished by the summer of 1881, and then the congregation set to work to build a parsonage next to the chapel. They sold the old parsonage, as has been already stated, and used the proceeds to build the new. Rev. Mr. Campbell left the Athens church in November, 1882, having accepted a call to the Reformed church of Castleton. A very short interval ensued when Rev. Herman Van Derwart of Glenville was called to the vacant pastorate, and began his labors here in January, 1883, following.
Early in the year 1884, a church debt which had been constantly growing, and amounted to $1725.00 was wiped out, and the congregation then turned their attention more and more to the spiritual affairs of the church. In September, 1885, the church received a gift of $650.00 from George M. Evarts of Jersey City, a man who in previous years of the history of the church had often befriended it. The marble slab in the chapel commemorates this gift. In March, 1886, Mr. Van Derwart resigned his charge to accept a call from the First Reformed church of Hackensack, N. J., where he still serves a large congregation congregation in one of our best churches. Six months elapsed, and then the Rev. William Bancroft Hill was ordained and installed pastor of the church. He was the fourth man to be ordained to the ministry in the Athens church, which we believe is a unique record, nor often repeated. In his coming the church received a new impetus along all her lines of work, temporal and spiritual. Large accessions to the membership of the church of such as should be saved, a deeper interest in all the means of grace, a flourishing and effectual work among the young people, both in society and Sunday school, and other evidences of wise leadership, and patient toil and prayerful counsel marked his pastorate. With the beginning of 1887, and because of the prosperity which had fallen on the church, the need of enlarging and repairing the building seemed to be imperative. The result of this movement was the expenditure of $7200.00, including gifts, and the church on the day of its complete renovation and re-dedication, was clear of all debt, $500.00 having been raised that day. Among those who took part in the services were Reverends Spaulding, Buckalew and Van Dewart, former pastors, Rev. Mr. Hill, pastor, preaching an historical sermon. All that is left of the old church are the side wals and rafters of the roof. Six months were spent in making the repairs and alterations. The annual report to Classis showed a membership of 209, with 240 enrolled in the Sunday school, and one hundred in the Christian Endeavor society.
The offerings for benevolence were $506.00 and for congregational purposes $1767.00. After a pastorate of three years, and a little more, Mr. Hill resigned in February 1890, to accept the pastorate of the Second Reformed church of Poughkeepsie, where he has since labored most successfully. In connection with the present pastorate he is also a teacher in Vassar College.--- After waiting almost six months the Rev. Barnas Freeman Asley was installed pastor of the church and served this congregation two years, receiving eighteen members into the church in that time. He resigned Sept. 16, 1892. After an interim of four months the Rev. William Wyckoff Schomp, was installed pastor of the church on Feb. 7, 1893. At the opening of the pastorate the membership register was revised by the dropping from the regular roll those who were away from the village, which brot the membership down to 176. Prominent among the events of this pastorate were the adoption of the free pew system, receipt of the Sara Jane Tolley legacy of $783.00, the introduction of steam heat, and the incorporation of the Ladies Aid society. Having received a call from the Reformed church of Walden, Mr. Schomp resigned the pastorate in July, 1827, after a stay of a little more than four years.
This brings us to the present pastorate which was entered upon in December, 1897, and closes on October first next. During this pastorate among the changes to be noted, are the return to the pew rental system, as well the retention of the envelope fund, the lighting of the church with electricity by the Ladies Aid society, the building of a complete kitchen to the parsonage, and many other improvements to the property. There have been fifty-four accessions to the church membership, which numbers today 168 in good and regular standing. There is a non-resident membership of about sixty. We are living so close to the events of the present pastorate, that there is no need to mention them here now...................................
Seventy years ago the 9th of this month, this church was dedicated to the Lord in song, and prayer, and sermon. The story of its life is the story of the faithfulness and loving kindness of the Christ. It has ever stood for the highest ideals of life, for christian truth, for christian character, for christian fellowship, and for christian charity. With a glorious history behind it, it need not be ashamed to unfurl its banner and flaunt it before a great world lying in sin and wickedness. With the prospect for such a bright future, it need never be ashamed to throw open wide its doors and hid many to come in to jion its working forces, and thus help carry forward the cause of Christ which is the cause of humanity everywhere.
The succession of the ministers
David Abeel, s.s. 1826 Died
Sept. 4, 1846
Cornelius Van Cleef 1828 Died June 13, 1875
Joseph Wilson 1834 Died May 1, 1878
Jefferson Wynkoop 1836 Died Aug. 21, 1885
Edwin Holmes 1840 Died Nov. 23, 1873
John Watson 1841 Died Apr. 22, 1864
William A. Cornell 1845 Died Aug, 1876
James R. Talmage 1849 Died June 29, 1879
W. R. S. Betts, s.s. 1851 Died 1883
William D. Buckalew 1855 Died Nov. 14, 1893
Cyril Spailding 1860 Died Aug. 9, 1896
Alan D. Campbell 1868 Died New Brunswick, N.J.
Herman Van Derwart 1883 Died Hackensack, N. J.
William B. Hill 1886 Died Poughkeepsie, N. Y.
B. Freeman Ashley 1890 Died Cleveland, Ohio
William Wynkoff Schomp 1893 Died Walden, N.Y.
W. N. P. Dailey 1897 Died Albany, N.Y.
Pastor, Rev. W.N.P. Dailey
Elders: 1857 Woodbridge L.
King Deacons: 1888 Ezra Hallenbeck
1873 Fred R. Lape 1897 John D. Rouse
1890 W. M. Collier 1897 Henry H. Edwards
1897 Henry Stranahan 1900 William Page
Those above and the following
Matthias Van Loan
1856 John B. Briggs 1893
Lewis Wolfe 1879 Joel A. Cooper 1889
President: Rev. W.N.P.
Dailey Churchman: W. M. Collier
Treasurer: W. L. King Almoner: Ezra Hallenbeck
Clerk: H. H. Edwards Delegate: F. R. Lape
Chairman of Committees
Building: W. M.
Collier Envelope Fund: William Page
Finance: F. R. Lape Missions: W. L. King
Music: H. Stranahan Pew: William Page
The 1st Reformed Church Choir
William Page, Director Mrs. C. P. Tremaine, Organist
Mr. William Page,
Bass Mr. H. G. McDonough, Tenor
Miss Dorothy H. Page, Alto Mrs. H. G. McDonough, Alto
Miss Tremaine, Alto Miss Jennie D. Brown, Soprano
Miss Harriet Rouse, Soprano
THE SUNDAY SCHOOL
Rev. W.N.P Dailey, Pastor
Supt., W. M. Collier Asso. Supt.,
Secy., Warren Brooks Treas., Mrs. H. G. McDonough
Supt. Prim. Dept, Mrs. W. N. Dailey
Supt. Home Dept., Mrs. E. Briggs
Mrs. W. M. Collier Mrs. Norman Cooper
Miss Katie Ostrom Mrs. J. B. Briggs
Mrs. C. P. Tremaine Mrs. W. N. P. Dailey
Miss Blanche Tremaine W. N. P. Dailey
Mrs. Archie Page Mrs. E. E. Briggs
The Ladies Aid Society
Pres., Miss Julia Gantley
Vice-Pres., Mrs. H. F. Dernell
Secy., Mrs. E. A. Gifford Treas., Mrs. E. E. E. Briggs
Womans Missionary Auxillary
Pres., Mrs. J. P. Mower
Vice-Pres., Mrs. M. Van Loan
Secy., Mrs. Anna Hallenbeck Treas., Miss Nellie Brandow
Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor
Pres.H. G. Mc Donough
Vice-Pres., C. F. Webber
Secy., H. H. Edwards Treas., Cora Van Loan
Chairman of Committees
Lookout, Bertha Talmage
Missions, Miss M. Van Steenberg
Social, H. H. Edwards Prayer Meeting, Florence Arnold
Pastor's Aid, Mrs. Archie Page
Kardia Circle of King's Daughters
Superintendent, Mrs. W. N. P. Dailey
Pres., Florence Traver
Vice-Pres., M. Romiett Every
Secy., Lottie Page Treas., Beulah Van Loan
The following is a copy of the original
subscription list for the building of the First Reformed Dutch church in the
village of Athens;---
We the subscribers, promise to pay to David Shaw, Leonard Whitbeck, Ebenezer King, John Reed, Samuel Miller, Elijah Spencer, Nathaniel Howard, Castil Seeley, and Casper Van Loon, the sum set opposite our respective names---payable, one half six months after date, and the residue twelve months after date, for the purpose of erecting a Dutch Reformed Church in the Village of Athens. Athens, Nov. 22d, 1824
Joseph Groomes..............$250.00 G. W. Sager................................$5.00
Elijah Spencer...................$50.00 Egbert T. Schoonmaker...........$5.00
Nathaniel Howland.............$50.00 Woodbridge L. King.................$2.00
Nicholas I. Van Loan..........$50.00 Henry S. Kinney.......................$3.00
Ebenezer King...................$50.00 John A. Van Loan.....................$3.00
Leonard Whitbeck..............$50.00 James Mullen............................$3.00
Casper Van Loan...............$50.00 John Adkins..............................$3.00
John Reed.........................$25.00 Jacob Van Loon.........................$1.00
Watson Howland................$25.00 John G. Tolley...........................$5.00
Samuel Miller.....................$25.00 Eli Pierce....................................$5.00
Jacob Brandow...................$25.00 Henry K. Shaw..........................$5.00
Abraham Van Buskirk.........$25.00 David Allcott.............................$5.00
Peter Groomes...................$25.00 John Folger................................$5.00
Castil Seeley......................$25.00 John Bennett.............................$5.00
Charles K. Tremain.............$15.00 Robert T. Hallenbeck...............$5.00
Nathan Clark......................$15.00 Isaac Collierslime......................$5.00
William Tolley.....................$15.00 Abijah Josdick............................$3.75
Gordon Dickson..................$10.00 Sylvester Salsbury.....................$2.00
Justis Howland...................$10.00 Andrew Sloven..........................$3.00
Casper Hallenbeck..............$10.00 William J. Warner......................$3.00
Thomas Stitt........................$6.00 Cornelius P. Van Allen.............$2.00
Ovid Goldsmith.....................$5.00 David Ostrander....................... $1.00
Total Subscription, $1394.75
Note---We have not inserted the names
nor the amounts of those who subscribed, but whose subscriptions were never
paid. This amounted to $200.00
The original bills contracted in the building of the church are interesting, showing how the work was done in those days, the material used, the way payments were made, etc. Under date of December 27, 1825, we find these bills, among others, and all marked paid, David Shaw $505.79; Castil Seely $907.25; Nathaniel Howland $295.75; William Marke $118.50; Warren Howland, $81.75; E. Dunham $50.62; Tolley and Stratton $28.55; C. Dowling $7.00; Leonard Whitbeck $25.00; Thomas Post $43.50.
A glance at the benevolence and expense of the church during the past ten years shows that $3700.00 has been contributed to the various boards of the church, while the congregational expense has been a little over $22,000.
While the membership has twice been reported as over 200 during this past decade, still the average membership has been 178, which is a few less than the present registration. The average enrollment in the Sunday school during these years has been 175, which is a third more than the present membership. The total additions to the church membership during the seventy-five years, so far as the record reveals is very nearly 700, fifty-eight of whom were received during the pastorate just closed. The oldest member of the church is Mr. Woodridge L. King, one of the original subscribers to the building of the church, who joined on confession of his faith in Christ in 1855, and who has served the church as an officer for upwards of forth-four years.
On Thursday evening, September 26, in response to an invitation issued by the Consistory, the congregation met in the church parlors, which had just been renovated under the direction of the Ladies Aid society, to listen to several addresses by friends of the church, and to hear the letters read from former pastors and others who were unable to be present. Among the speakers, who entertained in delightful reminiscence was Mr. W. L. King, for thirty-four years our efficient treasurer, and who was the one golden link that bound the past to the present. Though past his four score and eight, he revealed to us a refreshing memory and a youthful heart and his address was the "best wine" of the feast.
The president of the Ladies Aid society, Miss Julia Gantley, who has been for more years than we dare tell a most devoted friend to the church, gave us a word picture of the life of the Sunday School of the past, as well the part that women has played in the truest development of the affairs of the church. Rev. William Bancroft Hill of the First church of Poughkeepsie, who was once pastor of the church, was present and greatly interested all in the story of his own pastorate, accounting for the way in which the church was renovated at an expense of $7,000, and urging the members to a renewed consecration of their lives to the service of the Master in the church of their love. Mr. W. M. Collier, the superintendent of the Sunday school, read the various letters received from the former pastors and other friends of the church.
On the Sunday following, September 27, 1901, the Rev. W. N. P. Dailey, who had served the church nearly four years, preached his last sermons as pastor of the First Reformed Church of Athens. The morning sermon was upon the theme, "The mission of the First Reformed Church of Athens to the Community," and was a special plea for an intenser loyalty to the church, a greater devotion to the principles for which it stands, and a practical christian life in the world. In the evening the sermon was on the subject, "Supremacy of the Christ in the World of Ideal Character,"---a lifting up of Jesus before the hearts of the people, that they might "Behold the Man." After the evening sermon the pastor spoke this last word to the members of the church.
My Dear People:----For reasons which I need not mention I shrink from saying any word which shall be in the nature of a farewell. I cannot tell you how much it means to hold such a service as this tonight, nor can I bring myself to speak of the joy and blessedness of the fellowship so soon to cease. The thoughts which come trooping thro my mind tonight as I think of the sainted dead, to whom it was my privilege to minister in their early life, are too tender and sacred to put into words, while the vision splendid of the kindnesses and faithfulnesses of this people into whose faces I look tonight for the last time as pastor is beyond my power to describe. The last evidences of your good will and kindness of heart speak to us of friendships which we can never remember without heartfelt gratitude to God. We are too deeply moved by all these expressions of your affectionate regard to make suitable reply.
My own conscience has protested, again and again, against much that has been said in commendation and praise of me individually, and yet my heart has drunk in gladly every word that has told of your esteem for me and my work. Outside of the home I know of no relations in life that are more tenderly sacred than those of pastor and people,---that hold within themselves such possibilities of christian joy. An hour like this is a rich inheritance.
As a people you have ministered unto us more than we have into you, so that we leave you richer than when we came, in all that gives fullness to life, richer in our conceptions of truth, richer in spiritual purposes and sins, I wish that I might make you realize how profoundly conscious I am of all your labors of love toward me and mine.
Our paths shall soon separate but they shall evermore run parallel. Albany is not far from Athens, yet it is farther away than our sympathy and interest shall be from you.. You will always be in our thoughts, since no other congregation is to take your place. We shall follow with loving regard the history of each household in their communion, and the children welcomed into the church and dedicated to God in baptism we shall never forget.
We learned in these years of fellowship to trust implicity in the divine guidance, and to believe that better things are always before us in our Father's thought. And so the natural sadness of the present is overborne by the hopefulness with which we look into the future, rejoicing in the work given us to do until we all come at last to the Eternal Home where we shall go no more out from each others presence forever.