History Of The
Methodist Episcopal Church
Of
Catskill, N. Y.
1886Ė 1946


Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin from the original pamphlet located at the Catskill Public Library. This history covers the years 1887-1946. For the history of the church from 1800-1986 click here.


During the last year that the Rev. Alfred Coons was pastor (1887) Rev. W. S. Winans came to Catskill to reside, also Rev. John W. Grose, a retired minister from Asbury. They were both very helpful and took an active part in all the services of the church. At the Conference held in the spring of 1888 the Rev. Angelow Ostander was sent to Catskill, and served as pastor 1888-1889-1890.

He was a successful pastor, and during the time he was here, the Presbyterian, Reformed and Baptist Churches united with our own in securing the services of the evangelist, J. Wilbur Chapman, and union meetings were held successfully for a time, and there were many converts; a number joining our own church.

1891-1892-1893 David McCartney was pastor. He was a very earnest and faithful pastor, and during his pastorate, the lecture room was decorated at a cost of $200. John B. Foote and M.C. Clay were the committee, who had the work in charge.

In the spring of 1894, Rev. Chas. A. Holla was sent to Catskill by the Conference, and served during the years 1894-1895-1896. He was an earnest and eloquent speaker, and during his pastorate many improvements were made to the church property, in all about $2,000. During September, 1894, the stained glass windows were put in, at a cost of $500. They were purchased of John Morgan & Son, New York. Galvanized wire netting to protect them was purchased of Wooley & Co., at a cost of $37.23.

George W. Holdridge was employed to build a stone wall in front of the church, and Lawrence W. Brooks was appointed by a committee to have an iron fence placed upon it. He took a great interest in having the work properly done, and presented the lamp which adorns the arch over the steps. The work was so satisfactorily done, that a vote of thanks was extended to both of these brethren. In December, 1894, Joseph Keeler had placed a tablet in the church tower, which he presented to the church, with the inscription, Methodist Episcopal Church.

He was presented with a vote of thanks by the Official Board.

On June,11th, 1895, Mrs. William S. Van Brocklin, representing the parsonage committee appeared before the Official Board and said the ladies thought the time had come, we should have a new parsonage, either to buy one already built or secure a suitable lot on which to build one. The board at once appointed a committee to take the matter under consideration, consisting of W. Van Brocklin, John A. Foote, Orliff Heath, and Chauncey Smith. On June 11th, 1895, the pastor was granted a vacation of two months for a trip abroad, and was presented with $250 as part of his expenses. Most of the time during the pastorís absence the pulpit was acceptably filled by the Rev. J. K. Wardle of Hudson. On return of the pastor he gave the church the benefit of a course of lectures descriptive of his travels abroad which netted the church $250.01. On May 10th, 1896, the pastor was granted a vacation of two weeks in which to attend the General Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, and in order that his wife might accompany him, a sum of money was given him for that purpose. J. B. Foote also attended the general conference that year as an alternate, the regular delegate being unable to attend. January 29, 1897, Pastor Holla reviewed the work of the year 1896 from which we glean a few items of interest. "First, the highly commendable work of the Kingís Daughters, Ella Fuller, President. These young ladies have on their own account distributed food, clothing, and fuel, to many destitute and needy families, and on Christmas afternoon gave a dinner and Christmas tree to 33 poor children to whom otherwise the day would have been a cheerless one. The Junior Epworth League under the direction of Miss Lillian Bassett, is also filling an important mission in the church. It has an enrollment of 137 children with an attendance of 100. They average attendance at prayer meeting is about 70. The Sunday school has now an attendance of 235 with John B. Foote as Superintendent, and a corps of over 30 teachers and officers."

On April 1st, 1897, the Trustees sold the parsonage in the rear of the church to Frank S. Mackey for $2,000.

On April 2nd, 1897, the committee appointed to select a suitable site for the new parsonage reported in favor of the James Ford property on Summit Ave., adjoining the Charles A. Nicollís place, and it was purchased for $1,000. John B. Foote, Lawrence W. Brooks and Orliff T. Heath were appointed the building committee for the new parsonage. The contract for the same, was given to S. J. Mott to do the carpenter work, and Geo. W. Holdridge to do the mason work. The new parsonage was completed in October 1897, and the Ladiesí Aid society having furnished it throughout, Pastor Bell moved in. The parsonage committee reported the entire cost of the parsonage, including lot $5,008.84. It is considered one of the best on the Kingston District.

At the annul conference of 1897, Rev. Richard E. Bell was appointed to Catskill, and served 1897-98-99. He was a very able speaker, and beloved by all. Many regrets were expressed by the members of the church and congregation when he was sent to another charge.

As there was an inquiry for more church sheds, the trustees ordered ten more new ones built, and Lawrence W. Brooks and Chauncey Smith were the committee who had the work in charge. During the fall of 1898, a new boiler for heating the church was installed.

At the Annual Conference held in New York, April 4th, 1900, and Rev. Edmund L. Hoffecker was sent to Catskill to succeed Brother Bell who went to Tarryton. He served as pastor for one year and at the 1901 Conference was transferred to Saugerties, and the Rev. Frank Beale was sent to Catskill, and served as pastor, 1901-02-03. He was a kind hearted, successful as a pastor, and well liked in the community.

In August, 1902, the roof and attic of the parsonage was burned, but the loss was fully covered by insurance. The fire was supposed to have been caused by a defective, electric light wire. At that time the Church records were destroyed.

At the Conference of 1904, Rev. Frank Beale was transferred to Hudson and the Rev. Robert Knapp to Catskill, where he served for four years, 1904-07. He was well liked, and worked for the interest of the Church, and it was with regret we learned that he had been sent to another charge. He was a splendid financier, introduced the "Penny A Day Plan," when he first came to Catskill and worked it very successfully during his pastorate.

It was reported at the official meeting held May 6, 1904, by Mr. O. T. Heath, that Mrs. Mary Brolley had presented the Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Catskill, with $3,000, and that the amount was already placed to their credit in the Catskill Savings Bank. The Official Board in a series of resolutions thanked Mrs. Brolley for her very generous gift.

On September 12, 1905, Brother John B. Foote, died at his residence on Jefferson Heights, in his eightieth year. He was born in Franklin, Delaware County, October 11, 1826, and came to Catskill at the age of fifteen. For fifty-six years he was engaged in the work of the Sunday School. And for thirty-six years as it Superintendent. During a period of over sixty years he was church trustee, steward, recording steward, president of the Board of Trustees, class leader and reserve delegate to the general conference of 1896.

Kindliness, cheerfulness, loyalty and faithfulness were among the virtues of his life and these qualities commanded the love and respect of the Church and community.

December 31, 1905, new hymnals for the church were purchased at a cost of $235.50.

April 16th, 1906, Rev. John W. Gorse entered into rest.

November 11th, 1907, Mrs. Lawrence W. Brooks presented the Church in memory of her husband, with a beautiful individual Communion Service, and also the embroidered linen. Resolutions of appreciation were sent her by the Official Board. At a meeting of the Official Board held January 13th, 1908, the pastor, Rev. Robert Knapp, was granted a vacation for the month of February and was presented with $100, for the purpose of visiting his wife who had gone to Florida for the benefit of her health. During the pastorís absence, Rev. O. D. Ramsey, and the Rev. Foster A. Coons supplies the pulpit.

In December, 1908, there was paid to the church treasurer $1,000 by the executors of the last Will and Testament of Brother Lawrence W. Brooks. This sum was given in trust and the income is paid annually to the running expenses of the church.

Another bequest was made to the church, of $1,000 by Brother James D. Mattice. This was also given in trust, the income of which annually must be paid to the poor and needy of the village.

At the Annual Conference of 1908, Pastor Knapp was transferred to Tarryton, and the Rev. Clark Wright was sent to Catskill, and served as pastor 1908-09. He came to Catskill under a great sorrow, having just lost his wife, and within the year his only daughter. He was a very fluent speaker, kind an courteous, and made many friends, not only in the church, but in the community as well. Dr. Wright was ill the latter part of his pastorate, and at the Conference in 1910 retired from the active ministry, and now resides in Yonkers.

At the Conference of 1910, Rev. H. Y. Murkland was sent to Catskill, and served as pastor 1910-12. He was an eloquent speaker, and commanded the attention of his audience. He made friends throughout the community and was concerned in all that pertained to the best interest of the village.

The Rev. William S. Winans entered into rest Sunday, October 27th, 1911. He was buried from the church during the session of the District Conference.

In June, 1911, $160.07 was expended for cap and gowns for the vested choir. During the summer of 1912, about $2,800 was laid out in improvements. A new steel ceiling was put in, the lighting system was changed from gas to electricity in the church proper, new maple flooring put down and polished, the interior of the church painted, velvet carpet put down in the aisles and on the pulpit platform, cushions re-upholstered, new pulpit furniture and communion table, and pews newly varnished. The front vestibule was also newly painted, and a maple floor put down. The lecture room was also calsomined and other improvements made.

We were sorry to lose Brother Murkland, who at the Conference of 1913, was transferred to the Central Church of N. J., but was very glad when the Conference sent to us Rev. J. Wilbur Tetley, who has already served one year, 1913, and is on his second year. We hope there will be many more to follow. Under the direction of Brother Tetley, every department of the Church is in a flourishing condition. Special mention should be made of the Ladiesí Aid Society, which has been of great assistance to the Church, financially and socially, under the presidency of Mrs. Richard Van Hoesen for many years, and Mrs. Nelson Mattice.

July 10th, 1913, the church sheds were partly destroyed by fire, and were damaged to the extent of $700. As the insurance was for only $300, the loss to the Church was $400.

In looking back over the fifty years just closing, we find that the Church has had eighteen pastors, during that time. Seven of these have already entered into rest.

They are Revs. Sanford I. Ferguson, Z. N. Lewis, J. Millard, J. K. Wardle, Edmund Lewis, Angelo Ostrander, David McCartney. Those living are Revs. George Clark, Thomas Lamont, Alfred Coons, Charles A. Holla, Richard E. Bell, Edmund L. Hoffecker, Frank Beale, Robert Knapp, Clark Wright, H.Y. Murkland, and J. W. Tetley.

The Catskill Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated Nov. 10th, 1864, and the fiftieth anniversary was held on Sunday, Nov. 8th, 1914, which day marked another golden milestone in our history.

Special music was rendered by organ and choir, and large congregations were present at the morning, afternoon, and evening services. At the morning service after the organ prelude and congregational singing, Rev. George Clark, who was former pastor here 1873-75, offered prayer, after which Rev. Clark A. Holla, who was pastor of the Church in 1894-96, preached an eloquent sermon from the text found in Philippians 4th and 8th.

At the afternoon service held at 2:45, a history of the Church from the year 1800 down to the present time was read by John A. Foote. Addresses were made by Drs. Clark, C. Holla, and reading of letters from former pastors unable to be present.

Greetings from Dr. C. G. Hazard of the Presbyterian Church, Rev. Maurice Hamm of the Baptist Church, and Rev. John A. Dykstra of the Reformed Church completed a most inspiring afternoon. In the evening Dr. T. H. Baragwanath, District Supt. of the Kingston District, preached the sermon to a large audience.

John A. Foote, Com.


Picking up the record where John A. Foote left off in 1914, it is the privilege of the committee to briefly sketch some of the happenings in the Methodist Church during the intervening years.

Dr. George W. Downs came to the church in 1915 serving for two years. He was a very friendly man, who went about doing good, ministering not only to the people of his parish but to many others, particularly giving of his time and money to help those who needed food and clothing. Two bequests were given the church in the care of the Trustees during this period. James D. Mattice left $1,000 and Mrs. Arvesta Smith $300.

Rev. A. George Feare came as Dr. Downsí successor in 1917, serving for 5 years. He was a young pastor who did much for the youth of the village. He had a most thriving Epworth League, whose members were loyal and useful in the service of the church. In 1918, Mrs. Martha E. Brolley left a considerable sum to the church amounting to $9,899. Mr. Feare, at the close of five faithful years went to Walden, N. Y.

Rev. Alfred M. Wilkins came in 1922 and remained as pastor for 2 years. It was during his pastorate that the Menís Banquet was brought into being. This helpful church feature was continued for many years until the war years caused its suspension.

Rev. Grant E. Robinson was appointed to Catskill in 1924 and remained for 4 years as its pastor. It was said of his friendliness that the parsonage was the backdoor of the church. He was a lover of children, holding the boysí club in the basement of the parsonage. During his tenure many were added to the church.

Rev. Charles E. Rignall came to Catskill in 1928 when the church was much in need of repairs. With excellent committees formed from the men of the church and the Ladiesí Aid, a sweeping program of renovation took place, involving the expenditure of $22,000. A new seating arrangement was made with new pews; an up-to-date organ costing $8,000 was installed; the entire interior of the church and Sunday School rooms were decorated, with numerous other repairs. It was a job well done, reflecting credit upon pastor and people. Mr. Rignall applied himself just as vigorously to spiritual affairs as the records of the church will bear out. The records show that Hattie Winans left the Ladiesí Aid Society $200, June 6, 1932.

Rev. Robert L. Ross came to Catskill in 1933 remaining for 2 years. He was a man of rich culture, having an extensive library and possessing wide sympathies, word has come that he passed away within the year.

Rev. Lee H. Ball followed Mr. Ross, serving for two years 1935-6. The church records reveal a most active period showing many children baptized and many added to the membership. He was faithful in pastoral visitation work.

Rev. Orson O. Rice came to Catskill in 1937 and is now in his 9th year as pastor, serving in this capacity longer than any other minister. During this period the denominational name was changed to Methodist Church, the word, Episcopal being dropped. Looking at the financial record the following bequests were made: Mrs. Emma Thorne gave $100 on March 31, 1927; Lawrence W. Brooks estate, $660, Sept. 9, 1940; Frank Woodard left $1,000, June 10, 1943; Anonymous gift of a $500 Savings Bond. Dr. Floyd Weed gave a $1,000 Series G. bond in memory of his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Seymour Weed, June 14, 1945.

During the year 1945 it became increasingly evident that the church was entering a period during which extensive repairs were necessary. Although the time did not seem propitious due to unsettled economic conditions, Mr. Rice, with great foresight and untiring effort, so instilled the church workers with his enthusiasm that a concerted effort was launched to raise the money for the ambitious project. The plan involved sandblasting the exterior and painting the woodwork, putting a new roof on the church, redecorating the interior of the entire church and Sunday School rooms, landscaping the grounds, securing a living memorial for Dr. George Coles Stebbins, together with sundry repairs and additions. The financial program is to cover 3 years with the members making their pledges for that period. $4,500 has been received during the last half of 1945 for the building fund. The trustees have contributed $1,750 as a loan to the church, making it possible to pay all bills at once, without borrowing from the bank As money comes in to this fund it will be turned over to compensate the trustees. $3,700 has been received for the Memorial Bells, enough to cover the all the cost. The 82-year-old church looks like new, fully justifying the effort that has been put forth.

The 12th chapter of Hebrews calls our attention to the fact that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who were true to the faith. The faithful men and women who served with the pastors during 30 years, many of whom have gone to their heavenly reward might rejoice could they behold our church today. It is not possible to give a complete list of some of the leaders, but the following are representative: C. E. Bassett, G. W. Holdridge, W. A. Haines, R. M. Van Hosen, G. F. Moon, Elias Lasher, O. T. Heath, E. Austin, Wm. Thorne, E. E. Whitcomb, L. J. France, Burdette Dewell, B. C. Sandford, J. C. Salisbury.

At the present time the church is enjoying a spiritual uplift under the impetus of the Crusade For Christ in Evangelism, under the guidance and leadership of our pastor, Mr. Rice. Our congregation feels that we are fortunate in having a pastor with vision and with the courage of his convictions to inspire us.


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