Episcopal Church of
Transcribed by Diane Schnettler from a Church publication located at the Durham Center Museum
October 13, 14, 15 and 16, 1921
Rev. ROBERT L. MAUTERSTOCK, Pastor
Thursday, October 13th.
1:30—Devotional……………………………Rev. R. L. Mauterstock
2:00—Church History ………………………Wm. S. Borthwick
2:30—Addresses by Former Pastors
7:30—Devotional…………………………... Rev. A.G. Feare, Catskill, N.Y.
8:00—Address………………………………Rev. H.Y. Murkland, Orange, N.J.
Friday, October 14th
10:30—Devotional………………………… Rev. S.E. Sargeant, Franklin, N.Y.
10:45—Address……………………………. Rev. W.L. Comstock, Ravena, N.Y.
Address……………………………. Rev. R.S. Inglis, Newark, N.J.
7:30—Devotional………………………….. Rev. G.O. Wilsey, Ashokan, N.Y.
7:45—Address……………………………... Rev. H.B. Munson, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Address……………………………... Rev. R.S. Inglis
Saturday, October 15th
10:30—Devotional………………………… Rev. J.S. Lull, Windham
10:45—Address……………………………..Rev. E.A. Dent, New York City
2:00—Pageant, “The Lamp”………………..Anita Harris
Sunday, October 16th
11:00—Sermon…………………………….. Rev. Jacob Peets, Missionary from China
7:30—Praise Service………………………. Rev. R. L. Mauterstock
7:45—Anniversary Sermon………………...Rev. G. W. Grinton, Dist. Supt.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Addison Z. Smith George D. Hull Alex. Parks
BOARD OF STEWARDS
Ferris Wetmore Elisha N. Parks William Rogers
Addison Z. Smith Wm. S. Borthwick
President Epworth League …………………………………………… Miss Alice Smith
Sunday School Superintendent……………………………………….. Wm. S. Borthwick
Chairman Executive Committee ……………………………............... Addison Z. Smith
Historical ………………………………………………………………. William S. Borthwick
Finance ………………………………………………………………….Elisha N. Parks
Social ……………………………………………………………………Rev. R. L. Mauterstock
Educational ……………………………………………………………. Miss Celia Palmer
Music ……………………………………………………………………Miss Alice Smith
Transportation …………………………………………………………Edward J.
A thin skim of ice – the first of the season – greeted the morning of Thursday, October 13, 1921, the opening day designated to observe the One Hundredth Anniversary of the building of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Cornwallville, Greene County, New York.
Members of the various Committees were busy during the morning with the finishing touches of their work, and in the afternoon, shortly after two o’clock, the services that will live in the memory of many people were opened with Devotional Exercises in charge of Rev. R. L. Mauterstock, pastor of the church.
The choir was composed of eighteen voices. Mrs. Wm. S. Borthwick and Mrs. Clarence Armstrong alternated as pianists, and Alex. Parks accompanied as violinist.
The first hymn was Number 214, beginning:
“O where are Kings and empires now,
Of old that went and came?
But, Lord thy church is praying yet,
A hundred years the same.”
This was followed by prayer by Rev. J. H. Fyfe of Highland Mills, N.Y., and reading of the One Hundredth Psalm by Rev. S. E. Sargeant of Franklin, N.Y.
Introductory remarks were made by the Pastor, and Roger H. Stonehouse of Albany sang “I think when I read that sweet story of old.”
The subject of the day’s program was “The Past,” and Wm. S. Borthwick read a sketch of the history of the church for the past one hundred years, which will be found printed in another part of this book.
The pastor then read letters from the following former pastors: J. H. Hawxhurst, V.D. Mattice, J. W. Tetley, F. C. Sommer, T. Leroy Muir, P.S. Colman and G. E. Kerr.
Interesting remarks were made by the only two former pastors who were present at this service – J. H. Fyfe and S. E. Sargeant, who referred to their pastorates here as precious moments in their lives.
Mr. Stonehouse again sang, and the first service closed with Hymn Number 404 and the Benediction by Rev. J. H. Fyfe.
A fine supper was served in the Church Hall by the Young Ladies’ Philathea Class, which was the occasion of a very pleasant social hour much enjoyed by all, including a number of former residents who came home to see old friends.
The church was well filled in the evening, and the congregation joined heartily in the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation,” with Rev. A. G. Feare of Catskill as Devotion Leader, who, after prayer by Rev. J. H. Fyfe and a solo by Mr. Stonehouse, gave a fine short talk about Church and Home.
Rev. S. E. Sargeant touched the hearts of the congregation with a spiritual message.
In peculiarly well chosen words Mr. Feare then introduced the speaker of the evening, Rev. Harry Y. Murkland, D.D. of Orange, N.J., who had been unavoidably delayed in his arrival, but at once put his hearers in smiling attention by some humerous [sic] reminiscences of his ministry here in 1902-03, coming as he did from Metropolitan Temple, New York City, to serve his first country charge. Many things stand out clear in his memory, but none of them more so than the cordial reception given himself and wife by the Cornwallville people.
With his old-time well-remembered vim and clearness of expression he presented a message from the Word of God, paying his respects to certain cults and isms and leaving no doubt in the minds of his hearers that twenty years and various winds of doctrine had not blurred the vision of his duty as a preacher of the pure and undefiled religion of Jesus Christ.
The subject of Friday’s services was “The Present,” and began at 10:30 o’clock A.M. with a very impressive service led by Rev. S. E. Sargeant, who emphasized the value of prayer in the home and church. A touching preface to his remarks was a solo by Mr. Stonehouse, “Just for To-Day,” and the prayer by Rev. W. E. Morse of Durham fittingly closed his talk.
Rev. Wm. L. Comstock of Ravena was then introduced and spoke in a reflective way of the years he was here (1909-10), of the church-going habits of some families and of their prayer life and loyalty to the church, and the impress they have left on the hearts of the boys and girls who may now be preaching our prayer customs in other fields of labor.
“My Task” was the next solo, and Rev. R. S. Inglis of Newark, N. J., was called on for a message to take the place of Rev. R. E. Bell, who was not able to be present.
The Doctor referred to our American community and American ideals, and said that American political ideals were formed from religious ideals. He spoke of the knowledge of the Scriptures, which he believed is not so general as it was years ago. He gave a short sketch of the early settlement of Newark by the Puritans, and of the causes that led to changes in the character of its people.
“Faith of Our Fathers” appropriately closed the afternoon service.
Rev. J. H. Fyfe led the evening devotions, with Rev. R. L. Mauterstock in charge of the hymns. Prayer was offered by Rev. J. E. Parker of Cairo, and Dr. E. A. Dent of New York City.
The Scripture was read by Mr. Fyfe, who emphasized the keynote of the services as Progress.
Mr. Stonehouse sang “The Lord is My Light,” and then the Rev. H. B. Munson of Nostrand Avenue M. E. Church, Brooklyn was introduced.
Dr. Munson is a native of Greene County – born in Windham – and said that two of our former pastors had had close relations with him. He was converted under the preaching of Rev. S. Merchant, and received his exhorter’s license at the hands of Rev. J. P. Burger.
“You have heard,” he said, “that Christianity has failed; but there are some evidences that the present unrest is not a precursor of dissolution.”
He quoted a Bishop who said, “Unless there is Brotherhood, Neighborhood will destroy us.” “The earth is one big neighborhood, and unless there is brotherhood, in Brooklyn, Hunter, Pine Hill and the whole earth, neighborhood will destroy us. If Cornwallville puts anything ahead of the value of human life, what will you say to God? Jesus called Levi, Andrew and John, saying “Follow me, and I will make you.” Christ, the Risen, when traveling with two disciples to Emmaus, made as though he would go farther. Don’t you let him go farther.”
The audience will not soon forget the stirring appeal Dr. Munson made for acceptance of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Inglis was the next speaker and held the close attention of his hearers while he described in his own friendly way his first visit to this place fourteen years ago; of how his family came to know of this place through the acquaintance of Miss Alethia Carter of Newark, who had boarded here at Clark Wetmore’s and Ellsworth Strong’s; of their journey here; his own laughable experiences getting here; of his first sermon here; of his impressions of the people; of his later trips here; the healthful atmosphere, spiritual as well as climatic. He wove many interesting accounts into his talk, and finished about 10:15 P.M., even then too soon for many of his audience.
Saturday’s program was devoted to the future of the church.
Rev. J. S. Lull of Windham had charge of the Devotional Service in a very effectual way. Mrs. Edward Purcell of Aqueduct, Long Island, sang a beautiful solo. She was formerly well known here as Miss Dora Minor.
The pastor read a letter of regret from Rev. J. E. Jenkins of Oberlin, Ohio. He was pastor here in 1917.
Dr. Elmer A. Dent of New York City, Area Secretary for the Centenary, was introduced and gave a very interesting talk of the Missionary Movement, sketching briefly its history. He commented favorably on our church service flag hanging above the pulpit, with three stars on it representing the consecrating of the lives of Miss Edith Smith, J. Winfield Bronson and Miss Pearl Palmer for life service. He emphasized the bigger program of the church for the future, and urged loyalty to God and the Church, and his Benediction was, “God bless you and make you happy in all its work. Amen.”
The service closed with the hymn
"Be strong! We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do and loads to lift.
Shun not the struggle, face it – ‘tis God’s gift.
Be strong, be strong!”
A great dinner was served in the Hall by the Sunday School Classes of Mrs. Ichabod Cook and Mrs. Gideon Palmer.
In the afternoon the Church Hall was filled to overflowing. Letters were read from Rev. J. K. McDivitt of Jewett, Ohio, who was here in 1907-08, and also from Miss Pearl Palmer, who is at Tilton, N. H., preparing for life service.
The program of the afternoon was a Pageant of Religious Education entitled “The Lamp,” with the following program:
Introduction – the Quest of Youth
Place – The Hall of the Book
Time – To-Day
Part I – The Light on the Ancient Page.
Part II – The Light on the New Page.
Episode 1 – The Feeding of the Multitude.
Place – A Hillside near the Sea of Galilee.
Time – Late Afternoon.
Episode 2 – Helpers of To-Day
(a) – A Sunday School Party in America.
(b) – The Porch of a Mission School in India.
Part III – The Triumph of Light.
Thirty-four of our young people and children took part in rendering wonderfully well the carefully arranged plan of the Pageant in representing Bible characters in appropriate costumes, and also present-day characters in foreign lands, all showing the need of missionary work and the glad results of well-directed efforts in that direction.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 16TH
The weather was fine all through the Centennial, and Sunday was no exception – mild, still and hazy; a typical country Sunday, bringing to mind the words of an old poem:
still the morning of the hallowed day,
Mute is the voice of rural labor,
Sounds the most faint attract the ear,
Calmness sits enthroned on you unmoving cloud.”
People came from far and near and the church was filled at both services.
At 10 o’clock was a Love Feast with Rev. George W. Grinton, District Superintendent, in charge, leading in singing many old-time hymns and relating his first experience in this county a number of years ago. Fifty-two testimonies were soon given, full of fervor and enthusiasm.
The regular service began with the old hymn, “O for a thousand tongues to sing my Great Redeemer’s praise;” prayer was offered by Melvin H. Merchant; the choir sang an anthem, “He Leadeth Me,” and Rev. Jacob Peets, Missionary to China, was introduced. He gave a very interesting account of his work and experiences in China.
Dr. E. T. Iglehart, Missionary to Japan, had been announced to speak at this time, but a conflicting engagement prevented his coming.
Dr. Peets spoke of the steps necessary to bring the Gospel to the Chinese:
First – Learn the language.
Second – Tell them that God is love.
Third – Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Fourth – I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, and there is none other name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved.
The work is progressing rapidly. One quarterly Conference passed a resolution to keep the increase in converts down to a 25% increase.
The hymn “O Zion, haste thy mission high fulfilling,” was sung, after which Communion was administered, about one hundred partaking.
Our pastor had charge of the evening service of praise. Solos were sung by M. H. Merchant, Floyd Parks and Rev. R. L. Mauterstock; the choir sang an anthem,”Serve the Lord with Gladness,” and the pastor introduced Dr. Grinton, the District Superintendent, who preached the Anniversary sermon from the text Revelations II:7 – “He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.”
His sermon touched a great variety of the phases of church work, past and present. He mentioned the gain of one and one-quarter millions in Methodist communicants in the past ten years; referred to the tendency of America to copy other countries, which results in Sunday desecration and kindred evils.
“We should stand for the things we believe in,” he said. He quoted Dr. Hilles in opposition to the statement often asserted that the church is in a state of decay, and he paid respects to those “whose hearts sing for joy” as the world grows worse, for then Jesus Christ will come again soon, they say. “Jesus is coming,” said Dr. Grinton, “in a reign of peace and spread of the Gospel. We will toil, work, preach and pray to clean up communities. This is our task. The church is a social force and Jesus Christ is the chief corner-stone.”
As to pastors he said: “A man who loves people and will serve them, the people will take care of him. Sixteen men can do the work better than one man can do the work of sixteen men.”
He referred to the fact of twenty-five thousand men in the bread-line of the city, few of whom would probably be willing to go to the country to work on a farm – they would rather starve near the Bowery than come into a rural community to live.
“The church needs power, it needs life – natural, spiritual and eternal,” said the Doctor, and, coming to the conclusion, he said to his listeners, “Are you ready to render up your accounts to Jesus? There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. Dedicate your lives anew.”
Inviting them forward, an impressive and solemn altar service was held, and hymns and prayers and testimonies were given – a consecration service such as has not been witnessed here in many years, the Benediction was pronounced by the pastor, and in this spiritual atmosphere with the powerful, helpful influence of four days’ services, and the precious memory of a hundred years’ devotion of our heroes of faith, the Cornwallville Church enters its second century.
CORNWALLVILLE (N.Y.) METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
BY WILLIAM S. BORTHWICK
“Some men are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
It is so with responsibilities, particularly the latter, and this is especially true of the author of this sketch. To be singled out to make his maiden effort, not with the blush of youth upon his cheek, but with locks sprinkled with gray, to write an article of this magnitude at this age is astonishing. Why, his inexperienced mind has just grasped the thought that a preface may be written after the work is all finished.
Some things in his birth stand out unfavorably. Born in the last part of a week, of the last month of a year, the last in its decade, and in the last half of the century, and on Friday and in the afternoon at that, would not prejudice many persons favorably.
Other things are more favorable. The church had stood here fifty years when he was born, and of course fifty years since. His mother was born of the union of two of the prominent families identified with the church since its founding – viz: Smith and Jerome. Add to this, he has a sprinkling of Scotch Presbyterian and Down East Yankee.
This same dear mother, now at eighty-three, has told him with remarkable clearness many events that happened sixty or seventy-five years ago, and has penned with her own hand many names.
Other helps have been thirty-eight years of diaries to look over and drag from their hiding-places, some jotted gem of a church service of the past. Old Conference minutes have yielded valuable additions to the lifework of many a pastor. I am indebted to Rev. J. S. Lull of Windham for the use of about thirty copies of the Conference minutes extending back to 1858. Church record pages yellow with age have given out here and there a spark of spirit under the guise of a business meeting. And memory – more than once have I awakened in the night and had brought to my mind some event long forgotten and often laughable too.
You might say that I just happened to think of some person or event worth speaking about. No, there are no “happen-sos.” Whatever of good there is in this collection of past events, God is the Author.
To have known a live church and her doings for fifty years is a privilege. Don’t think church life is humdrum – not here, anyway. There is excitement, fervor, humor, pathos, struggle, happiness, joy and peace. At times one must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, eschewing evil. There is sorrow and grief beyond words, at times, but like a mighty army moves the Church of God.
So, with the hope that this sketch, necessarily brief and incomplete, of just one of the thousands of churches dedicated to the worship of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, may be an inspiration to better service to all who read it, the writer sends it on its way.
Among the earliest official records of Massachusetts there is a memorandum of articles needed there and to be procured from England. The list included beans, peas, potatoes, hop-roots, pewter bottles, brass ladles, spoons – and ministers. It is but just to add that in the original document the article here mentioned last stands first.
An old historian, in describing the establishment of the colony of Plymouth, gives the true sequence in the two stages of the process when he says they “planted a church of Christ there, and set up civil government.”
These statements seem to apply to the early history of this township of Durham. The first settlers of the town were Dutch, and within five years of their settlement here they organized a Dutch Reformed Church and built the first church in town near Oak Hill.
The early settlers of East Durham organized a class and commenced to build a church about 1795.
Many of the settlers of New Durham, which was the first English settlement in town and was located on the hill just north of where Platt Hill now lives, belonged to the Congregational Church of Connecticut, and among the first things they did was to build a log meeting house and to provide for regular meetings on the Sabbath.
Quite a number of the settlers about New Durham were Methodists, and they bought the church frame of the East Durham people and set it up on the hill in New Durham near the Presbyterian meeting house.
Among those who were members of this church in the early days were: John Jerome, Harris Giddings, Jabez Hubbard, Caleb Wetmore, Ezra Walker, Joseph Adams and Russell Goff.
Some very eminent clergymen were among their preachers. Phineas Rice, Nathan Bangs, Bela Smith (a native of Cornwallville) and Thomas Barrett, D.D. and M.D., and probably others preached on the hill.
This church is supposed to be the oldest church of the denomination in the county.
The church at Coeymans, Albany Co., is the mother church, and the circuit included Coeymans, Catskill, Durham, and a part of Delaware county.
This church was then a part of the Hudson River District of the New York Conference, and so remained until 1833, when it became part of Delaware District until 1852, when it was joined to Prattsville District until 1886, since when it has been a part of the Kingston District. It was while the church was on the hill that it was incorporated, a copy of which is here given as follows:
“This may certify that on the 21st day of Sept. 1819 an [sic] number of the mail [sic] members of the Methodist Society met at their meeting house in Durham in the State of New York agreeable to notice legally given when Harris Giddins was chosen President and Caleb Wetmore, Secretary and proceeded to elect trustees as the Law directs for the purpose of being incorporated and likewise that the said Corporation be known by the name and title of Methodist Episcopal Church in Durham, N.Y.
[“]Given under our hands and seals the day and year above written.
HARRIS GIDDENS, L.S.
C. WETMORE, L.S.
[“]Acknowledged before Moses Austin one of the Commissioners of the County of Green, Sept. 14, 1819.
[“]The foregoing is a true copy of the original. Examined therewith this 4th day January, 1820.
Wm. VAN BERGEN, Clerk”
As the forests were cleared away Meeting House Hill became very bleak, and moreover a majority of the members lived in the neighborhood of Cornwallville, hence in 1821 they moved the church building there.
Dr. Barrett was preacher then, and lived in Cornwallville and served the church many years.
The land on which this church is built included part of the present Cemetery here, which has been used as such since about 1825. It is worth notice that of the trustees who have served this church for the past one hundred years and have passed away, all but four are buried in this Cemetery, and also the following ministers: Rev. Bela Smith, Rev. William F. Gould, Rev. James W. Smith, Rev. John Battersby, Stillman B. Goff, Elijah Newcomb and Rev. George B. Feare.
Minutes of the annual and special meetings of the Church Society began in 1825, and though very brief and incomplete, we have them from that date to the present except the years 1827, 1829 and 1884.
A copy of the minutes of the meeting of 1825 follows:
“1st of March, 1825.
This is to certify all whom it may concern that at a meeting of a number of the inhabitants of the Town of Durham in the County of Greene and State of New York legally warned and held in the Meeting House in the South part of said Town: It was resolved and agreed to form themselves into a religious Church Society or Congregation by the name and stile of the First Methodist Episcopal Church Society of Congregation in the Town of Durham.
“Whereupon it was further agreed that the Board of Trustees to manage the temporalities of said Church Society or Congregation should consist of three of the members of said Church. And that we the subscribers Harris Giddins, Caleb Wetmore ware [sic] chosen by a majority of said as inspectors of the election and judges of the qualifications of the voters.
“Whereupon the vote being taken it appears that by a plurality voices that Jabez Hubbard, John Jerome, Caleb Wetmore ware [sic] chosen trustees.
“The trustees ware [sic] by lot divided into three clafses: 1st Clafs, Caleb Wetmore; 2nd Clafs, John Jerome; 3rd Clafs, Jabez Hubbard.”
Rev. Ira Ferris was preacher here in 1825, according to the Conference minutes, and our church minutes record the fact that Rev. Jesse Hunt was Chairman of the meeting in 1826, and in 1827 and 1828 the Rev. Moses Amadon was Chairman, making it appear that they were preaching here during those years.
The Rev. John Bangs had charge of a very large circuit in those days. In his Autobiography, in describing his experiences in 1831, he says: “We now come in order of time to Durham Circuit. Marvin Richardson was the Presiding Elder – the most solemn, solid orthodox and dignified of any elder that I was ever acquainted with. We had a prayer meeting appointed at 5 o’clock in the morning at brother Zoeth Smith’s. Nineteen persons were present; eighteen prayers were offered in one hour and forty minutes. This was about right, for they that make long prayers often devour widow’s houses.
"It will be seen and it should be very closely observed that the average time consumed by each prayer was about five minutes, and from this to seven minutes on ordinary occasions should be about the length of a prayer to be profitable. Be not as the heathens, for we are not to be heard for our much speaking.”
Among the first settlers of this vicinity was Thomas Smith of Haddam, Conn. One of his sons was Zoeth Smith, mentioned by Rev. John Bangs; one of his daughters married Jabez Hubbard, one of the first trustees, and another daughter married Harris Giddins, a local preacher here, and another son was Rev. Bela Smith, who became a travelling preacher of the New York Conference in 1809, and the next year was ordained by Bishop Asbury as a Missionary to Canada and travelled with the Bishop. He served faithfully until 1822, when failing health forced him to take a retired relation. He lived on the farm now occupied by Ralph Moore, and died in 1847. Two of his sons became preachers – one, Rev. Thomas Barrett Smith was named for Thomas Barrett, first pastor of this church. He married a daughter of Rev. Valentine Buck, who was Presiding Elder of Delaware District in 1844-45-46 and 47.
The name of Smith is common the world over, but it is worthy of notice that the descendants of Thomas Smith who came here one hundred and thirty-three years ago have been strongly identified with this church both spiritually and officially through all its history, and about thirty per cent of the ministerial support of this church last year (1920-21) was contributed by the descendants of this man.
Caleb Wetmore, a native of Canada, was one of the first three trustees of the church, and his descendants have been influential and prominent in the church down to the present. One of his sons (Charles) was an official for many years, being a trustee as far back as 1838, and a grandson (Clark) was a trustee for fifteen years; also steward and Sunday School teacher. Another grandson (Ferris) has been steward for many years.
The name of Strong has always been associated with the work of this church. Anson was the first of the name in this immediate vicinity – a nephew of Selah Strong, one of the first settlers in the town. Anson was well educated – a prominent characteristic of all the Strongs; he was a school teacher, town official and soldier of the War of 1812. His descendants have been very active in church work. One son (Ellsworth) was steward for fifty years and church clerk for eleven years. Another son (John B. Strong) was a faithful and respected supporter of the church until his death at the early age of fifty-six years. Both of these men married Smith girls – the wife of John, who outlived him twenty-eight years, known familiarly as “Aunt Rhody” and very earnest in public prayer at the prayer meetings from which she was seldom absent.
John Jerome came here from Delaware County in 1816, assisted very materially in building this church and was one of its first trustees. He and his wife, and eight children all sleep in our Cemetery, all having left their impress on the church life here in their day and generation; and his grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even great-great-grandchildren are now members of this church. One of his sons (Andrew) was Church Clerk for twenty-three years.
Ezra Walker married a daughter of Thomas Smith, and was a trustee of this church in 1834. His children, now all dead, were members of this church, and his only descendant now living here and a member of the church is Mrs. Platt Hill.
Joseph Adams, one of the early trustees, was, with his faithful wife, much devoted to the interests of the church. They lived on the farm now owned by W.S. Borthwick, and often walked down to church service twice in one day.
Russell Goff was one of the early trustees. His wife was a daughter of John Jerome. He was a very devoted Christian. Two of his sons were prominent in the church life – Stillman, who was a local preacher and Sunday School superintendent; and Ostrander, class leader, trustee and steward, have left examples of godly living.
Rev. Eli Denniston was preacher here in 1832 and again in 1834. He was born in Kortright, Delaware Co., and preached sixty-three years. To spend and be spent was his constant joy.
The minutes of our School District of 1832 show that Rev. Phineas Cook was elected a trustee of this District; he was on Durham Circuit in 1833, and Chairman at a school meeting in 1834. Associated with him in 1833 was S.M. Knapp, who also served Windham.
In 1835 and 1836 the Rev. Daniel I. Wright was pastor; also again in 1854-55. He built the house where Newman Sanford lives. He was on the active list forty-seven years – a man of great thought and power and eloquence; a superior preacher.
Andrew C. Fields was here in 1838 – a zealous, active soul-winner; a native of Hobart, Delaware County.
Reuben H. Bloomer was here in 1842; also Olaf G. Hedstrom, who was born in Sweden in 1807. He came to America with a company of adventurous youths at the age of twenty-two. He was converted and returned to Sweden and held prayer meetings. He came back to America in 1835 and preached with great success. He was appointed to the Swedish Mission in New York in 1845, where he did a great work and his Swedish Bethel Mission Ship became famous the world over. His converts went West and settled and formed churches. He was a man of large frame; eloquent and of undaunted piety and courage. Few have accomplished more according to their opportunities.
In 1844 the members of this church living in Durham village formed a separate church. Both churches then formed one charge under the pastorate of Rev. W.H. Smith, who was born in Roxbury in 1812.
Arad S. Lakin preached here in 1845. He lived in the house where Milo Vincent now lives.
Even at this date and earlier than this a Sunday School was in operation, for there was a teacher by the name of Sally Bunt who is even yet remembered by one of the oldest members of our School.
L.W. Peck was here in 1846-47. According to the minutes, he was a man of considerable prominence in the Conference, but by reason of his removal to another Conference we have no complete record of his service.
The years 1848-49 saw Silas Fitch as Pastor. Born at Franklin, Delaware Co., of Baptist parents, converted at fifteen, graduated from Wesleyan in 1838, Principal of Academies at both Franklin and Delhi, he joined the Conference in 1846 and after two years at Coeymans he came to this charge. Our church minutes, probably in his handwriting, record two special meetings in 1849 pertaining to repairs to the interior of the church. A plain practical preacher, he was called on for sermons and addresses far and near. He loved his work, and whatever interested his flock interested him. He loved children, and was a very successful pastor. He died very suddenly in 1885.
Rev. Aaron Rogers was pastor here in 1849-50. His parents came to Durham town from Connecticut when he was very small. He gained a good education and was an exemplary young man. He was recommended to the New York Conference by the Cornwallville Quarterly Conference. He was a successful pastor, serving acceptably many charges during his active relationship. Especially gifted in prayer, sermons and in his social life. He married Rebecca Rickerson, member of a well-known family here. On account of her poor health he took a retired relation in 1871, but continued to supply nearby places, including Cornwallville, Norton Hill and West Durham. He died in 1883 and is buried near Sunside.
Zephaniah D. Scoby was here in 1851-52. His health failed shortly after leaving here, and he went to Iowa, where he died.
Two ministers succeeded him in 1852-53, viz.: William Goss and George S. Hare; and Jeremiah Ham’s name also appears as being assigned to Durham charge. William Goss was a good solid preacher – Presiding Elder ten years and delegate to the General Conference twice.
Dr. Hare (he was Doctor of Divinity) was a faithful pastor, extraordinary preacher, an aggressive man; and delegate to the General Conference of 1880-84-88.
Another evidence of the Sunday School appears here in the form of a certificate of admission into the Sunday School which is in possession of the writer of this sketch. It reads as follows:
“Mary F. Smith has been admitted as a scholar into the Sunday School of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Cornwallville, Durham, and is entitled to all the privileges of said Sunday School during punctual attendance and good behavior.
Age 14. Register No. 7.
JAMES H. S. GOUGH, Supt.
ELLSWORTH STRONG, Sec’y
August 16, 1853”
It might be added that Mary F. Smith was a granddaughter of John Jerome and Rev. Bela Smith, mentioned previously, and is even yet at the age of eighty-three years, quite a regular attendant at Sunday School, and for over fifty years a teacher in this same school.
In 1851 Orrin Purdy Matthews was here, and again in 1860-61. He was born in Connecticut, converted at twenty-two, joined the Conference at twenty-seven, and served twenty different pastorates in thirty-seven years. During the last twenty-five years of his ministry he won thirteen hundred souls to Christ. The best there was in him he gave to making his preaching acceptable. He was a minister at all times and in all places; a preacher of more than ordinary ability, whom people delighted to hear, and yet he shunned not to declare the whole counsel of God.
The years 1856-57 were memorable years here on account of the pastorate of Loyal B. Andrus. He was born at Cornwall, Vt., in 1809. His conversion was a wonderfully vivid experience. He began preaching in 1843. He came here from Great Barrington, Mass. He was especially gifted in prayer, and his motto was the salvation of souls and the good of the church.
In the Fall of 1856 a wonderful series of protracted meetings took place and over seventy persons experienced religion and were received into the church here. Among that number were: Armenius Smith, Elizabeth Wetmore, William Wetmore, Wilbur Strong, Mary Strong, Mary F. Smith, W. Sidney Smith, F. Asbury Strong, Robert Freese, Nathaniel Freese, Louise Freese, Joseph A. Smith, Delia Newcomb, Walter Newcomb, Martin Schermerhorn, Mira Schermerhorn, Mrs. William Van Aken, Willard Brown and wife, Clark Wetmore, Harriett Wetmore, Benjamin Waldron, George Waldron, Cornelius Waldron, Mrs. N. L. King, Mrs. Jane Pelham, Sherman Austin and wife, David T. Jerome, Thomas Smith, Julia Smith, Caroline Smith, John Claver, Sr., Theodore Claver, Henry Battersby, Frederick Strong, Eliza Snyder, Catherine Snyder, Emily H. Owen. Nearly all of these have passed on to their reward.
The only child of Loyal B. Andrus was a son, John E. Andrus, for more than twenty-five years a prominent layman of the New York Conference.
Associated with Mr. Andrus here were Rev. William F. Gould and James Wright Smith.
Rev. Gould was here in 1839, again in 1850, and assistant in 1857-58. He married Margaret, a daughter of John Jerome. He died near Athens in 1874, and is buried here.
James W. Smith, who was assistant here in 1857-58 and 60, was a son of Rev. Bela Smith and served with great fidelity many charges through thirty-seven years of service. Rev. E. S. Osbon, who wrote his memoirs for Conference in 1887, said: “It is the sober judgment of the writer that, while many more brilliant men have labored among us, but few more faithful or godly men have served their generation.”
Alonzo F. Selleck was here in 1858-59. His exhorter’s license was given him by Presiding Elder Marvin Richardson in 1828, when he was twenty-two years old. He was an effective preacher for thirty years, of the pronounced evangelical type, sincere and friendly – a Christian everywhere, possessed of a powerful voice and a vigorous constitution although he was born in New York City. He is said to have delivered the first Temperance lecture ever given in Putnam County. He never received over $400 salary a year.
William L. Pattison, a Scotchman, came here in 1861 fresh from his first preaching appointment at West Point, where he had had one hundred and forty converts among the cadets. To do right was his highest ambition, and like his Great Master he went about doing good. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He had lost two wives under circumstances peculiarly sad. He had not a blood relative in this country.
In the early sixties the interior of the church was much changed. Previous to that time there had been galleries on three sides of the church, but at this time the one on each side was removed.
During these same years there lived here a local preacher – Rev. John Battersby, who traveled far and near, preaching with great power and success. Two of his sons (Henry and Charles) became ministers of the Gospel.
William Hall was here in 1862-63. He excelled as pastor, Sunday School and temperance worker. One of four future ministers among his converts at Andes, Delaware County, was Andrew R. Burroughs, who succeeded him here in 1863 – his first appointment, at the age of twenty-four. He was an earnest minister; his everyday life was a sermon, and his preaching ability above the average. His ministry was terminated by death at the age of thirty-eight, less than two months before the death of William Hall, who preceded him here.
We have the distinction here of having had as pastor one who now at the age of ninety-four years is the oldest member of the New York Conference – Rev. James H. Hawxhurst, now living at Ocean Grove, N.J. He joined the Conference in 1850, seventy-one years ago. He was here during the turbulent days of the Civil War. He was a vigorous preacher without any secession blood in his veins, and he spoke boldly. This letter penned with his own hand was recently received:
Ocean Grove, Sept. 14, 1921.
“My Dear Brother:
How I would like to write like you, but my eyesight has failed and I feel the loss.
“I would love to see Durham and Cornwallville charge, as I remember them so well and many I still remember – Liberty More at Durham and Zoeth Smith at Cornwallville. They represent many whom I will never forget, so true to God and loyal to the church and country.
“At that time political copperheadism had its day – some of my members would not have me marry them, and others would not hear me preach. A woman went out of the church one day for what I said in my sermon.
“Rummies and copperheads have had their day, praise the Lord, and the Nation is more alive than ever for God and humanity.
Yours very truly,
REV. J. H. HAWXHURST.”
The years 1866-67-68 were occupied by Robert Kerr. He came from Ireland with his parents in 1820, and settled at Windham. He early showed a taste for study. He was sweet-spirited and sincere. The law of brotherly kindness was the law of his life, and his ministry here is a fragrant memory of faithful service to the cause.
1869-70 were occupied by Rev. William W. Shaw, who at the time of his death two years ago was, next to Rev. J. H. Hawxhurst, the oldest member of the New York Conference. His record is one of laborious, faithful and successful service on hard fields. He baptized twenty converts in January and February, 1871, and during his entire ministry won over one thousand souls to Christ.
Rev. O.P. Dales was here in 1871-72-73. Of him it could of truth be said, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills.” Born at Harpersfield and dying at Pine Hill, his fifty-seven years as a minister of the New York Conference were all spent in the Kingston District and in sight of the Catskill Mountains. These valuable qualities are attributed to him: quiet, genial, a genuine Christian, under-rating his own gifts and expressing appreciation of others.
He was followed by James P. Burgar in 1874-75-76. He was a minister much beloved. Friendly to all, he did good work here with large revivals attending his efforts.
He was followed in 1877-78-79 by Sheldon Merchant. He was not a great preacher but as a pastor he had few equals, and revivals were characteristic of his ministry.
About this time the Greene County Sunday School Association held its annual meeting at Durham. The printed report from the various schools is very complete and interesting. The report of the School at Cornwallville says in closing, “The death of one of our most prominent members has had a good effect on the community.” The intention of these words is probably all right, but it might be misunderstood.
The years 1880-81 brought to us Milo Couchman, large of frame and large of heart, member of a well-known family at Cooksburg. He applied himself to the work of the Kingdom with great earnestness.
He went from here to Glasco, Ulster County, from which place the same year came Job Hiram Champion, a graduate of Union College and veteran of the Civil War. He served here in 1882-83-84. His army experience was exciting. He saw part of the Monitor-Merrimac fight, and was on the Monitor the next day as a visitor; was in the Peninsular Campaign, chaplain of a Pennsylvania regiment; had a horse shot under him at Fair Oaks. It is not strange that he brought qualities of courage and loyalty. He was widely known as a Free Mason. As a scholar, preacher, poet and patriot his ministry was noteworthy.
In April, 1885, a new bell weighing 1,024 pounds was placed in the church belfry at a cost of $221, and for thirty-six years it has sent out its call to worship, its mournful toll of the death of friends, and also in a number of cases its warning notes of fire.
From Port Ewen in 1885 came an Englishman in the person of Charles A. Howells, second cousin of the novelist William Dean Howells. A man of pronounced opinions, he took his work seriously and every department of church work felt his touch. He had no diffidence in presenting from Sunday to Sunday various causes for the financial support of the congregation, and he set a high and worthy example of giving liberally of his own means.
His first sermon was from Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us and let us run with patience the race set before us.” Other vigorous sermons were delivered from these texts: “If the righteous scarcely be saved where shall the sinners and ungodly appear;” “Lie not one to another;” “Beware of dogs;” “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”
In his sermons he hewed to the line, and the chips sometimes bruised the bystanders. His energetic efforts were not without success.
The missionary thermometer arose amazingly. A Women’s Foreign Missionary Society was organized with twenty-five members. Gracious revivals attended his labors here and at Hervey Street and Durham, and members were gathered in, many of whom remain unto this present, and they were carefully instructed in Bible truth and Church Doctrine.
You might like to know who were present at church on a stormy Sunday in January, 1886, thirty-five years ago: First, Rev. Mr. Howells himself, who had driven over from Durham; Reuben Moss, the Sunday School superintendent, and his daughter, Miss Lulu; Armenius Smith, Jared Woodard, Misses Delia and Belle Smith and Carlie Strong, Joseph Boughton, Annie Dutcher, Calvin Borthwick (from whose diary these facts are taken), Homer Russ and Embury Strong.
The small organ and the choir sat up in the gallery, and at times received the pointed attention of the preacher direct from the pulpit, as did also the small boy (that’s me) who thought to wander from attention of the sermon to the use of a pencil and paper that he had.
In 1877 Mr. Howells returned for the third year and preached from the text,”Behold the third time I am ready to come unto you.” This was a prosperous year; the church expenses amounted to $540 – quite a sum for this church in those days. The next year he went to Andes. Later he transferred to the Episcopal Church and was located at Sidney, N.Y. For a number of recent years he lived in Albany, then went to Oregon to live with a son, where he died about two years ago.
At a special church meeting on Feb. 11, 1888, the trustees were authorized to buy the house and lot of the estate of Miss Rachel Snyder, and adjoining the church to the West. This was done for the consideration of $300, and the property was known as the church parsonage and owned by the church until 1904, when it was sold to Charles Reynolds.
Up from the South (Shokan) one day in April, 1888, came Rev. Varner D. Mattice to shepherd us for two years. His first sermon was from the text “Behold now we see through a glass darkly, then face to face.” A girl who attended the service on reaching home told the folks that the preacher said “Now we see through a glass darky.”
Shortly after his arrival the church was presented with a Communion set, the gift of Addison P. Smith of New York City in memory of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher Smith.
During Mr. Mattice’s first Summer here, we listened to the following preachers beside himself: Rev. M.S. Buckingham, the Boy Preacher; Dr. Joseph E. King, D.D., of Fort Edward Collegiate Institute; Mr. Adolphus Schleiermacher, school teacher at Durham then, later member of the New York Conference, who gave us his first attempt at preaching, from the text “Ye are the salt of the earth.” Dr. E. H. Stokes, president of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, preached to us one rainy Sunday in September. He was boarding at Shady Glen then.
Mr. Mattice had a great revival here in February, 1889, there being forty-seven who sought Divine pardon. Religious fervor was at a high pitch. At one meeting there were one hundred and twenty testimonies in thirty-five minutes, and twenty-five persons who did not testify arose to show that they were believers. His sermons were prepared with great care and he won souls by a persuasive eloquence that was unusual. He stayed two years and was then succeeded by Rev. W. W. Shaw, who had been here in 1869-70. The first year of his second pastorate closed on Easter Sunday, March 29, 1891, and at the close of the service he performed the only wedding ceremony that I have ever seen in this church except one. The contracting parties were Duane Walker and Miss Emma Jones.
At the beginning of the second year East Durham was placed with the Acra charge, leaving two preaching places here, which has been the case since that time until 1919.
In October, 1891, Chapter 7480 of the Epworth League was organized with Miss Edith Smith as president. The literary and devotional meetings of the League were well attended and were very interesting.
During the Autumn of 1891 revival services were held with ten additions to the church.
The Conference year drew to a close with the understanding between pastor and people that there would be a change the next year, and with this idea in view about one hundred people gathered at the parsonage in Durham on a March evening in 1892 to give the pastor a farewell visit, but the powers at Conference decided that in the light of such a demonstration of affection the thing to do was to send Mr. Shaw back to us again, which was done, and the next Sunday morning the “new” pastor began the service with the hymn “God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform,” and choir and congregation sang with feelings better imagined than expressed.
During the Winter of 1892-93 the Epworth League had a lecture course. On December 2nd Rev. Alfred Coons lectured on “How to Make the Most of One’s Self.” On December 16th Rev. Edmund Lewis gave a fine talk on “Across the Continent.” On January 20, 1893, Rev. J. J. Dean lectured on “Progressive Man,” and on February 28th Rev. David McCartney gave the closing lecture of the course on “The Second Pentecost.”
In the Spring of 1893 Rev. Fred C. Sommer came to us all the way from West Fulton, Schoharie County. He had just completed his studies and administered his first Communion here May 28th.
In June and July of the same year extensive repairs were made to the church interior – new metal ceiling and side-walls were put on and decorated, which with new chimneys cost over $900, which was all paid or pledged at the re-opening of the church in August.
Mr. Sommer was here four years – in fact, he had always stayed at his appointments a long time with only two exceptions during his nearly thirty years of service. He has served only six charges since leaving here twenty-three years ago. He gave us long sermons, often an hour or more in length. One Summer he preached five long sermons from one subject. But the people liked him, believed in him and he had two revivals, the second of which in the Fall of 1895 was probably the greatest one in fifty years. Epworth League prayer meetings averaged an attendance of forty for the year, and the Sunday School much better.
Large and muscular in frame, direct in address and deliberate in speech, he commanded the respect of all and seldom took any driver’s dust on the road, and even in recent years, according to Dr. R. E. Bell’s experience with him on a drive from Poughkeepsie to his home a few years ago, he does not bring up the rear of the procession with his Ford car.
During his pastorate some other good preachers came occasionally, among them Rev. E. S. Osbon, Presiding Elder, who on one occasion gave a fine sermon from the unusual text, “Now Mephibosheth was lame on both his feet.”
Rev. L. A. Ferris, the saintly young preacher from Oak Hill, preached; also Rev. Thomas B. Smith of New York; John McConnell from Windham; Joseph Harkness from East Durham; Rev. F. J. Pohl, pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Durham; the Rev. H. B. Chown; old Dominie G. W. Thompson, with his quaint and unanswerable message on Temperance; and others.
During Mr. Sommer’s last year here (1896) the plan of raising the salary of the pastor was changed from renting the church pews to subscriptions.
On June 2nd of the same year Miss Edith A. Smith became a Deaconess of our church, and she thereby entered into a larger field of service of the kind she had done all her life.
The new pastor in 1897 was George O. Wilsey, who came from three years’ service at Jefferson, Schoharie County. Pale and slender, he seemed unfitted to combat the devil, the snowbanks of Rose Hill, and our persistent tendency to small salaries, and more or less nominal service. But he was fitted. The sinfulness of sin was repeatedly held up to our views, and the snowbanks of Rose Hill did not keep him on the Durham side of them always.
On one occasion after a snowy struggle he reached church here on Sunday morning only to find that he and the sexton, Darwin Russ, were the only attendants at church. After being warmed and dried by the church fire, as he was about to leave for home Brother Russ said to him, “This will do very well once, Dominie, but don’t let it happen again.”
In January, 1898, Rev. C. E. Lewis delivered a lecture here on “From the Stage to Pulpit,” and in February following Rev. J. H. Lincoln of Cairo gave an instructive lecture on “Climbing Life’s Ladder.”
Mr. Wilsey was very sympathetic and cheerful, and very few ministers have left more friends here than he. Repeatedly he has been called back to officiate at the funerals of those that he and we too have loved long since and lost awhile.
In January, 1900, he conducted a series of very helpful meetings. During this Winter Mrs. Maggie Van Cott (“Mother Van”) conducted revival meetings at Durham and East Durham, and preached here too several times with wonderful power.
Near the close of Mr. Wilsey’s fourth and last year here occurred the death of Armenius Smith, for many years a trustee and steward and always interested and helpful in church and community betterment in every way.
The struggle between license and no license used to be quite acute here, but however much the people differed, all will agree that Durham was a very wet town when Rev. John H. Fyfe drove here with his horse and buggy from Glasco in April, 1901.
One of the worst freshets in the last fifty years visited us on the first Sunday he was here. Six bridges of the town were either badly damaged or washed away.
His first sermon was from the text, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” His ministry here of one year was marked by his willingness to serve his people in every way, spiritually or socially.
Some of his texts were: “We all do fade as a leaf;” “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord;” “I will lift mine eyes unto the hills;” “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” His farewell sermon was from 1 Cor. 2:15, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”
Coupled with the great national sorrow in the tragic death of President McKinley, which occurred the year Mr. Fyfe was here, our own church and community was saddened by the death of two of our younger active members – Miss Cora Smith in July and Scott L. Smith in September.
It is a far cry from the historic precincts of the Metropolitan Temple of New York City to the town of Durham, and the difference is especially noticeable to a newcomer who wades in here in the Spring of the year. Whatever may have been his thoughts as to this difference, it was not noticeable in the outward appearance of Rev. Harry Y. Murkland and his wife, when they jumped lightly from the surrey of the late ‘Squire Randall of Durham onto our horseblock in front of the church on Sunday morning, April 20th, 1902. Fresh from work in the before-mentioned Temple and very new to country life, his first sermon to a country congregation was from the words, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
His sense of humor helped him over some new and trying experiences, and these he told to his people sometimes. One Sunday morning before beginning his sermon he said, “Some of you probably have noticed a very un-ministerial grin on my face, and since we are all one family anyway I may as well tell you about the cause of it. You know I have recently bought a horse, and when we started from Durham this morning I wanted to come to Cornwallville but he wanted to go to Oak Hill, and consequently we landed in the ditch.”
One of his new experiences was along the line of fuel. As he needed some wood, a tender-hearted brother sold him some large stove blocks. They were of the elm variety and well seasoned, and in speaking of it afterward he said, “I nearly lost my religion trying to split that wood;” and Rienzi Cross, to whom he was speaking answered, “I did, too, for I swore some trying to split some for myself.”
Mr. Murkland conducted Memorial Day services, and created some consternation in the hearts of some of the brethren by taking part in a ball game at its close. A Harvest Home Festival was held that Fall with a great display of fruit and vegetables.
Three weeks of special meetings were held in November, and eleven members were added to the church. The Sunday School at this time numbered 120, with an average attendance of 61.
The anniversary of the two hundredth birthday of John Wesley was observed by an address by Mr. Murkland from the words, “There was a man sent from God whose name was John.”
Special services were held again in November, 1903, and never was the Gospel message presented more clearly and impressively.
Almost his last service here was to conduct the funeral services of Darwin Russ, whose church activities for many years as trustee, steward, class leader and sexton had made him seem a fixture in our church life. His quaint sayings are well remembered yet by all who knew him, and his well-worn Bible was in the church for many years. This Bible is especially well worn at the familiar chapter in St. John that begins, “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me.” His prayers were nearly always the same, but no one doubted the earnestness with which they were offered.
At a prayer meeting one time of which he was the leader, he said after the meeting had proceeded at some length, “Now we will change the order of the meeting and testify for the Saviour. Sister Marthy Strong, you are the oldest, s’pose you speak first.” “Sister Martha” arose and with her smile and gentle voice answered, “I never did believe in hectoring anyone about their age,” and proceeded with her usually good testimony.
Over the mountains from Andes, in Delaware County, in 1904 came Robert S. Crawford, a Methodist of Methodists who could trace his Methodist ancestry back to Wesley’s time. He was a graduate of Wesleyan, a student and a great reader.
During his one year here occurred the death of Calvin Borthwick, for many years a Sunday School teacher and superintendent, and deeply interested in the welfare of the church.
In 1905 from the Central New York Conference came J. Wilbur Tetley, graduate of Syracuse and Cornell and a son of a former minister of the New York Conference.
For many years the maintenance of the parsonage at Durham and its inadequacy had been a source of friction, and it was during Mr. Tetley’s stay here that the problem was solved with much judicious skill on his part, so that on Dec. 5, 1905, ground was broken for a new parsonage at Cornwallville, and a Building Committee composed of Dr. Alex. Parks, Truman I. Smith and Wm. C. Latta supervised the erection of a two-story house 26x32 feet on a plot of ground purchased of T. I. Smith & Company. The house was ready for occupancy Sept. 1, 1906, at a cost of $2,352, which obligation was quickly and faithfully met by our people with money, lumber and labor.
On September 29, 1905, the annual Greene County Sunday School Convention was held here. About 120 visitors were present from thirty or more Sunday Schools from ten of the fourteen towns of the county. Seventy or more stayed over night. Rev. George W. Rockwell of Catskill was the presiding officer. The visitors were profuse in their thanks as to the manner of their welcome.
Three weeks revival meetings in November and December were very stimulating under Mr. Tetley’s forcible sermons.
In January, 1906, a Young Men’s Baraca Class was organized with Wm. C. Latta as teacher.
In February, 1906, occurred the death of Mrs. Amanda Smith, and the day following that of her sister, Mrs. Nancy Wagner, only surviving children of John Jerome, one of the first trustees, and they themselves warm supporters of Zion here.
The church receipts this year were $850, of which $760 were voluntary subscriptions. This besides the new parsonage expense.
Mr. Tetley conducted a very interesting course of study on Missions in India.
A fine baptismal font was presented to the church by the girls of Mr. C. F. Heyer’s Sunday School class.
In April, 1906, a Ladies’ Aid Society was organized with Mrs. J. W. Tetley as president. In the following two years over $600 were raised by its efforts, and the proceeds chiefly applied to furnishing the new parsonage.
In December, 1906, thirteen names were added to the Cradle Roll.
In the Spring of 1907 Norman McLeod, a two-year probationer, was appointed to this charge but decided otherwise, and Presiding Elder Frank L. Wilson after much labor secured the services of Rev. Joseph K. McDivitt, a graduate of Allegany College and Drew Seminary. He arrived in May and gave as his first text “Beauty for ashes,” and also an original poem as part of the sermon.
He was a bold speaker and the word of God was presented without fear or favor. He conducted six weeks of special services in November and December, which, just following an aggressive town campaign on the license question, brought out the strong characteristics of the preacher. These services brought valuable recruits to the church army.
At this time a new barn was built on the parsonage grounds at a cost of over $500, and a new pulpit and pulpit-chairs were added to the church furnishings.
A Two-Town Sunday School Convention was held here in June, 1908, and during the same month of the same year was held an impressive baptismal service at Parks’ Lake, at which time a number were received into the church.
Mr. McDivitt went to Tannersville the following Spring, and was succeeded by Rev. Wm. L. Comstock, who came from Charlotteville. He had a very successful pastorate here for two years, and won his way into the hearts and homes. He made an especially fine Memorial Day address May 30, 1909, and on the Sunday following in a talk to the children from the words “What I say unto you, I say unto all – watch,” he used his own watch for a fine illustration.
About the time he came, an organ with pipe organ effect was purchased and soon used in the rendering of a cantata, “The Great Light,” a production which used twenty voices and necessitated twenty-five rehearsals, and was nicely rendered under the direction of Prof. George Brown, the teacher of our school.
Oct. 17th of that year an automobile brought a load of people to our church service – the first of its species to do such a thing here.
In January, 1910, a new lighting system of gasoline replaced the smelly, hazy kerosene chandelier illumination that had blinked on several generations of worshipers.
The Epworth League presented the church with an individual Communion set.
At this time the Junior League was very interesting to a lot of the youngsters.
Stewart M. Hough was Sunday School superintendent now, and we could not claim to be a dyed-in-the-wool Methodist School, for he was a Baptist, two of the teachers were Presbyterians and another and Episcopalian, yet in spite of it, or rather because of it, the school prospered with 182 members and an average attendance of 61.
The teachers’ meetings of those days were not places where those who attended dozed through the sessions – on the other hand, many meetings were decidedly lively. Mr. Hough was very much interested in his work and introduced many things to stir up an interest in the Sunday School, and it was a great loss and it brought much sadness to our people when disease and death ended his important activities here, in May, 1910.
He was succeeded by Elisha N. Parks, who for seven and one-half years superintended the Sunday School work.
It was in September, 1910, that death removed Amasa Blakeslee, a former Sunday School superintendent and a power for good in our church for years. He was much respected, and his prayers will never be forgotten by those who heard them.
Special services were held in November of that year by Mr. Comstock, which were very beneficial to the church life.
Another great loss to the church and community was the death of Dr. Alex. H. Parks, a man long closely identified with the church at Durham before he moved here. He was a conservative man of keen foresight and deep spiritual convictions, and his sound judgment was a valuable asset in any project.
In the Spring of 1911, from away below Newburgh came a young Englishman, Rev. A. G. Feare, to our church life. His was not the Billy-Sunday-Sam-Jones type of preaching – in fact, I never saw him make a gesture in the pulpit, much less climb upon it – but his carefully prepared message shone forth like “apples of gold in pictures of silver,” and this presentation of spiritual truth was very uplifting to the hearers.
In August, 1911, Mr. and Mrs. C. F. Heyer removed to Hatfield, Pa. They had lived here about eleven years and their interest and efforts for the welfare of the Sunday School were very great and will be long remembered by many of our people.
Truman I. Smith died in March, 1913. He was one of the most enterprising and energetic men of this community in the last fifty years. In his official capacity as trustee and steward he worked with great earnestness for the prosperity of the church, spiritually and temporally.
During Mr. Feare’s ministry the Philathea Class of young ladies was organized, with Mrs. Alex. Parks as president.
Various improvements to the church were made – new cushions, the interior re-decorated, a galvanized iron roof on the church, a new Communion table and chairs, and a new hot-air furnace.
The biggest undertaking was the building of a new church hall 26 by 60 feet on land donated by Mrs. J. M. Lawrence and Mrs. Ella Lewis. This Hall was very substantially built from sub-base to peak; equipped with a stage, dressing rooms, furnace and commodious dining room, also an auditorium seating 175 persons, and all at a total cost of about $2000, which was in due time all paid for. The deed for this property, as well as the church and parsonage, is in the name of the trustees of the church.
Mr. Feare endured three years with us, followed by three years at Treadwell, and was then considered fitted (like two of his predecessors here, Mr. Murkland and Mr. Tetley) to go to Catskill, which is the seaport of Cornwallville and its residents know good ministers even before they see them, if they have been to Cornwallville.
Therefore it came to pass in April, 1914, we were without Feare because we had a Sargeant (Samuel E.), another Englishman, who came to us sweetly as we were having a maple sugar social. He entered into the work with great earnestness, and when he got a horse and wagon he went with speed, for, like Jehu, he drove furiously. Like Morgan’s men in Kentucky Belle, he was “now here, now there, now seen, now gone, now North, now East, now West.”
Like his Divine Example, he went about doing good and to relieve the wretched was his pride. He organized the Boy Scouts and stamped the motto of good deeds on their hearts, along with prayer to the Great Father.
Mr. Sargeant’s first year was also the first and only year here of Dr. Baragwanath as District Superintendent. The official brethren as well as the neighbors near by will probably yet remember the heartiness with which he sang “A charge to keep I have” on the occasion of his first Quarterly Conference here in our church.
In February, 1916, Mr. Sargeant was assisted by Harry Rundell in revival services, and sixteen probationers were the result of very interesting meetings.
In October of the same year the County Sunday School Convention was held here for the second time. Rev. J. Markarian of Windham was president, and Dr. Clark was the chief speaker, while 175 visitors received dinner and supper provided by our people.
On Oct. 25th of the same year Mr. Sargeant was married to Miss Mary Worthington of Richmond Hill, L.I., the wedding taking place in the parsonage here. If ever a preacher had a true helpmeet, it was she. The parsonage was open and free to all, and many young people will remember always the royal welcome there. The needy in humble homes received substantial help, sick rooms were cheered, and fully six years of helpful service were crowded into their almost three years of married life.
In May, 1916, occurred the death of Miss Martha Strong. There have been few if any members of this church in all its history so well educated in Biblical knowledge as she. A graduate of Fort Edward Collegiate Institute and for years a teacher there and a school teacher in many other places, her ability was recognized. When opportunity offered, her time and knowledge were freely given to the home church, and in the Sunday School her worth was much appreciated.
It was during Mr. Sargeant’s pastorate that one of our young men (J. Winfield Bronson) decided to enter the ministry, and he is now filling a worthy place as a servant of Jesus Christ.
In 1917 the Rev. John E. Jenkins came to us from Irvington-on-Hudson. He was a native Ohioan of Welsh descent, a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan and Drew, and came to us with as fine an educational equipment as a minister need to have.
Some features of his year here were: the visit of Mr. Kawashari, a Japanese classmate of his at Drew; the organization of a branch of the Red Cross; a series of Sunday evening addresses on various characteristics of Christ – His joy, unselfishness, loyalty, endurance, sincerity, self-reliance, and fearlessness.
During July and August a Vacation Bible School for the children was held – the first of its kind here.
It was during Mr. Jenkins’ pastorate here that the first meeting was held at which a program was outlined and committees appointed to prepare for this centennial observance.
During the Fall and Winter a series of group cottage prayer meetings were held.
1918 was the year we had a lot of substitute pastors. It was this way: George W. Rice was appointed to come here. In offering prayer here at a convention a number of years before he said, “Thou knowest, Lord, that it is a hard field.” We know it, too – most of our fields are hard, and our roads are hard, and our hearts as well sometimes, so we could hardly expect Mr. Rice to come to us – and he didn’t, and the poor District Superintendent had for a time one more orphan on his hands. But not for long, for in May T. Leroy Muir came to us. He was here twelve Sundays and portrayed Gospel truths in language sublime, and also at times quite the opposite. He was followed by Rev. P. St. John Colman, who was here for the month of August. His pictures of the Divine Message by the aid of the crayon, and his simple, sincere delivery will long be remembered.
In October Rev. Grenville E. Kerr, a retired minister, came to us. He introduced himself as one who had been appointed to come here ten years ago and had just arrived. He was a nephew of Rev. Robert Kerr, who was here in the sixties, and he stayed with us until Conference time.
His sermons were very good, and, as the church furnace was not working well, they were sometimes delivered under difficulties, as he himself said one time, that he read of the boys being gassed on the battlefields of France, but he never had expected to be gassed here in church in the United States.
On April 27, 1919, there appeared in the pulpit a tall young man from Round Top – Robert L. Mauterstock. We have had ministers from long distances and every point of the compass, but we have just learned that it is not necessary to go far away to find the thing we need. And here he is.
In the pulpit or in the gallery; in the male quartette or the solo; in the sick room or on the local polo grounds; in the prayer meeting or under the flivver; in the Grange or the Epworth League Convention; in the hay-field or rocking Bob – all things to all men, like Paul, that he might by all means save some.
This list of pastors would not be complete nor correct without reference to one more – the Reverend Robert Scott Inglis, Doctor of Divinity – no, I mean Dr. Inglis. We will agree with Rev. A. G. Feare when he said in introducing Dr. Inglis to an audience several years ago, “No man in America has captured my heart like this prophet of God.”
He has been here longer than any pastor we ever had. As he himself said one time when introduced to speak at a Sunday School picnic, “I ought to introduce these other ministers, for they have had four or five ministers at Cornwallville since I have been coming here, and fully as many at Durham. I am the old residenter here.”
He preached for us first in August, 1907. He was a city boarder then, and we looked at him as such – but not for long, for he bought a farm here and that magnet and various other attributes of our country, noted for fresh air and scenery, have brought him here, day and night, no one knows how many times; and as opportunity has offered he has come into our church and opened the box of ointment, very precious, and its odor will remain with us always. God bless him!
And what shall I more say, for time would fail me to tell of Bela Smith, Rhoda Strong, John Armstrong, Samuel Smith, John Parks, Joseph M. Smith, Moses Yale, Mrs. Sheldon, Charles Wetmore, George H. Sanford, Anna Earl, John Strong, Emily Owen, Julian Wetmore, Reuben Moss, Asbury Strong, Leah Snyder, Elizabeth Strong, Rebecca France, Aurelia Strong, Ella France, Mrs. Charles Brown, Diantha Smith and many others who through faith led prayer meetings at church and in homes; taught Sunday School classes; played the organ, piano or melodeon; fed the hungry, clothed the naked, sat up nights with the sick and afflicted; put meat, flour and vegetables into the Dominie’s buggy-wagon, perhaps nearly full already with children; gave large money to the church beggars, and widow’s mites to the needy; mowed their sick neighbor’s hay or cut his wood; prayed often with faces toward Jerusalem from these pews or the family altar or the secret place; took advanced ground in church progress with much opposition; taught the Word in Bible study classes; sang souls into the Kingdom; traveled long, hard, hilly roads, Winter and Summer, to get to meeting; made the ministers welcome even it was Monday or house-cleaning time; collected shekels to get things to make the sanctuary presentable; took part in social as well as spiritual programs; clubbed the wolf of hunger away from many a door; gave cups of cold water, hot coffee and pork and pancakes to weary passersby; obtained promises, some of them not yet fulfilled; quenched the violence of fire-water on many occasions by votes and petitions; preached most eloquent sermons from their beds of pain and years of helplessness.
But dimly have I brought before you these local heroes and heroines of faith – our sacred roll of honor. Up and down these very same roads they went; these stony fields they tilled, and brought sustenance from these unwilling acres.
In these same houses have been homes where mothers of Israel have toiled early and late, and washed and baked, and patched and turned, that wiggling boys and giggling girls might be brought up in the truth and admonition of the Lord.
Ay, call it holy ground, and let us resolve that these dead shall not have lived in vain, and that seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, we may lay aside every weight and the sin that doth so easily beset us, and run with patience the race set before us, looking to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith.
Presiding Elders and District Superintendents
1821-1822 – Eben Smith 1864-1867 – William Goss
1823-1826 – Daniel Ostrander 1868-1871 – Thomas W. Chadwick
1827-1830 – Phineas Rice 1872-1875 – Aaron K. Sanford
1831- – Marvin Richardson 1876-1879 – John E. Gorse
1832-1834 – William Jewett 1880-1883 – Lucius H. King
1835-1838 – N. White 1884-1887 – Benjamin H. Burch
1839-1842 – John B. Stratton 1888-1893 – Alfred Coons
1843- – Samuel D. Ferguson 1894-1895 – Elias S. Osbon
1844-1847 – Valentine Buck 1896-1901 – Philip Germond
1848-1850 – Stephen Martindale 1902-1907 – Frank L.Wilson
1851-1854 – Seymour Van Dusen 1908-1913 – Hough Houston
1855- -- Jarvis Z. Nichols 1914- -- T. H. Baragwanath
1856-1859 – John B. Beach 1915-1918 – Richard E. Bell
1860-1863 – Paul R. Brown 1919-1921 – George W. Grinton
Pastors of Church and Year of Appointment
1821- -- Thomas Barrett 1861- -- William L. Pattison
1825- -- Ira Ferris 1862-1863 – William Hall
1826- -- Jesse Hunt 1863- -- Andrew R. Burroughs
1827-1828 – Moses Amadon 1864-1865 – James H. Hawxhurst
1832-1834 – Eli Denniston 1866-1868 – Robert Kerr
1833-1834 – Phineas Cook 1869-1870 – William W. Shaw
1833-1834 – S. M. Knapp 1871-1873 – Orrin P. Dales
1835-1836 – Daniel L. Wright 1874-1876 – James P. Burgar
1838- -- Andrew C. Fields 1877-1879 – Sheldon Merchant
1839- -- William F. Gould 1880-1881 – Milo Couchman
1841- -- W. F. Collins 1882-1884 – Job H. Champion
1842- -- Reuben H. Bloomer 1885-1887 – Charles A. Howells
1843-1844 – William H. Smith 1888-1889 – Varner D. Mattice
1845- -- Arad S. Lakin 1890-1892 – William W. Shaw
1846-1847 – L. W. Peck 1893-1896 – Frederick C. Sommer
1848-1849 – Silas Fitch 1897-1900 – George O. Wilsey
1849-1850 – Aaron Rogers 1901- -- John H. Fyfe
1851-1852 – Zephaniah D. Scoby 1902-1903 – Harry Y. Murkland
1851-1852 – Orrin P. Matthews 1904- -- Robert S. Crawford
1852-1853 – William Goss 1905-1906 – Josiah W. Tetley
1852-1853 – George S. Hare 1907-1908 – Joseph K. McDivitt
1853- -- Jeremiah Ham 1909-1910 – Wm. L. Comstock
1854-1855 – Daniel I. Wright 1911-1913 – Adonis G. Feare
1854-1855 – H. C. Humphrey 1914-1916 – Samuel E. Sargeant
1856-1857 – Loyal B. Andrus 1917- -- John E. Jenkins
1856-1857 – James W. Smith 1918- -- T. Leroy Muir
1856-1857 – William F. Gould 1918- -- P. St. John Colman
1858-1859 – Alonzo F. Selleck 1918- -- Grenville E. Kerr
1860-1861 – Orrin P. Matthews 1919-1921 – Robt. L. Mauterstock
Church Trustees and Year of Election
1825 – Charles Wetmore 1868 – Armenius Smith
1825 – John Jerome 1869 – Ellsworth Strong
1825 – Jabez Hubbard 1870 – Joseph M. Smith
1826 – Zoeth Smith 1871 – Armenius Smith
1827 – John Adams 1871 – Darwin Russ
1828 – John Jerome 1871 – F. Asbury Strong
1830 – Jabez Hubbard 1872 – Zoeth Smith
1831 – Zoeth Smith 1873 – Joseph M. Smith
1832 – Gilbert Brainard 1874 – Armenius Smith
1833 – Fletcher Smith 1875 – Zoeth Smith
1834 – Ezra Walker 1875 – Darwin Russ
1835 – Andrew Jerome 1875 – Clark Wetmore
1836 – Jabez Hubbard 1876 – Joseph M. Smith
1837 – Russell Goff 1877 – Armenius Smith
1838 – Charles Wetmore 1878 – F. Asbury Strong
1839 – Fletcher Smith 1879 – Darwin Russ
1840 – Russell Goff 1880 – Clark Wetmore
1841 – Jacob Woodard 1881 – F. Asbury Strong
1842 – James Ransom 1882 – Darwin Russ
1843 – John B. Strong 1882 – Reuben Moss
1844 – Alanson Mabey 1883 – Clark We[t]more
1845 – Seba Osborn 1885 – Armenius Smith
1846 – John B. Strong 1885 – Calvin Borthwick
1847 – Zoeth Smith 1886 – Clark Wetmore
1848 – Charles D. Smith 1887 – Ostrander Goff
1849 – Elijah Newcomb 1888 – Armenius Smith
1850 – Charles Wetmore 1889 – Clark Wetmore
1851 – Charles D. Smith 1890 – Ostrander Goff
1852 – John B. Strong 1891 – Armenius Smith
1853 – Charles Wetmore 1892 – Clark Wetmore
1854 – Joseph M. Smith 1893 – Ostrander Goff
1855 – John B. Strong 1894 – Armenius Smith
1856 – Charles Wetmore 1895 – Clark Wetmore
1857 – Zoeth Smith 1896 – Ostrander Goff
1858 – Isaac H. Smith 1896 – Truman I. Smith
1859 – Charles Wetmore 1897 – Elisha Parks
1860 – Joseph M. Smith 1898 – Truman I. Smith
1861 – Zoeth Smith 1899 – Amasa Blakeslee
1862 – Jacob Freese 1900 – Elisha Parks
1863 – Joseph M. Smith 1901 – Truman I. Smith
1864 – Zoeth Smith 1902 – Amasa Blakeslee
1865 – Armenius Smith 1903 – Elisha Parks
1866 – Charles Wetmore 1904 – Truman I. Smith
1867 – Joseph M. Smith 1905 – Amasa Blakeslee
Church Trustees and Year of Election
1906 – Edward J. Parks 1913 – Addison Z. Smith
1907 – William C. Latta 1914 – Joseph Armstrong
1908 – Jerome Woodard 1915 – Alex. Parks
1908 – Osmer C. Sutton 1916 – Edward J. Parks
1909 – Edward J. Parks 1917 – Addison Z. Smith
1910 – Osmer C. Sutton 1918 – Alex. Parks
1911 – Jerome Woodard 1919 – George D. Hull
1912 – Alex. Parks 1920 – Addison Z. Smith
1912 – Addison Z. Smith 1921 – Alex. Parks
The Church Record Book has no account of the names of the earlier Stewards of the church.
It is known that Ellsworth Strong was Steward for fifty years.
In 1885 the Stewards were Reuben Moss, P. Embury Strong, Moses Yale, Clark Wetmore and Calvin Borthwick.
Since 1893 the following have served in that capacity: Ostrander Goff, Darwin Russ, Amasa Blakeslee, Armenius Smith, Clark Wetmore, Ferris Wetmore, Arthur Drace, William Rogers, William S. Borthwick, Truman I. Smith, Alex. H. Parks, Elisha N. Parks, Miss Martha Strong, Joseph Armstrong, Addison Z. Smith.
Sunday School Superintendents
The list is very incomplete before 1884.
1853- – James H. S. Gough 1896-1897 – Addison Z. Smith
1871- -- Zoeth Smith 1898-1899 – Calvin Borthwick
1875- -- Stillman B. Goff 1900- -- Melvin H. Merchant
-- F. Asbury Strong 1901-1902 – Calvin Borthwick
1884- -- Calvin Borthwick 1903-1908 – Addison Z. Smith
1885-1889 – Reuben Moss 1909-1910 – Stewart M. Hough
1890-1893 – Amasa Blakeslee 1910-1917 – Elisha N. Parks
1894- -- Jared L. Woodard 1918-1921 – Wm. S. Borthwick
Presidents of Epworth League
Since Its Organization – October 19, 1891.
1891-1893 – Miss Edith A. Smith 1909- -- Addison Z. Smith
1894- -- Rev. Fred C. Sommer 1910- -- Edward J. Parks
1895-1896 – Miss Martha Strong 1911- -- Addison Z. Smith
1897-1898 – Wm. S. Borthwick 1912-1913 – Miss Martha Strong
1899-1900 – Addison Z. Smith 1914-1915 – Wm. S. Borthwick
1901- -- Truman I. Smith 1916- -- J. Winfield Bronson
1902- -- Miss Caroline Strong 1917-1918 – Alex. Parks
1903- -- Miss Martha Strong 1919- -- Miss Gertrude Sutton
1904-1906 – Truman I. Smith 1920- -- Clarence Armstrong
1907- -- Wm. S. Borthwick 1921- -- Miss Alice Smith
1908- -- Rev. J. K. McDivitt
There is no record available which gives the names of all those who in years gone by were Class Leaders.
One of the Church Membership Record Books gives the following names as Class Leaders: Andrew Jerome in 1863; John B. Strong, 1865; Charles Wetmore, 1871; Bela Smith, Jr., 1876, and probably from that time until his death in 1881; Calvin Borthwick, 1876 and 1881; Stillman B. Goff, 1876.
Besides these Jacob Freese, Elijah Newcomb and James Taft were Leaders, and later in the eighties Reuben Moss was Leader; also Amasa Blakeslee and Darwin Russ, the latter for many years.
1826-1835 – Harris Giddings 1874-1875 – Ellsworth Strong
1836- -- Ellsworth Strong 1876-1877 – Stillman B. Goff
1837-1838 – John B. Strong 1878- -- Wm. H. Strong
1839-1843 – Andrew Jerome 1879- -- Fletcher Smith
1844-1846 – Charles D. Smith 1880-1883 – Calvin Borthwick
1847-1864 – Andrew Jerome 1885-1886 – Armenius Smith
1865-1872 – Ellsworth Strong 1887-1891 – Calvin Borthwick
1873- -- O. R. Borthwick