History of Cairo Church

By Grace Story Webber, Cairo Township Historian
Published in the Catskill Daily Mail July 1, 1952


Newspaper article courtesy of Linda Larsen. Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin


(Editor’s Note: this is the seventh in a series of articles on the early history of Cairo, compiled by Mrs. Webber. The last article dealt with the settlement of patroon James Barker at Woodstock, Town of Cairo, and the first recorded church service in that town. Today’s deals with founding of Calvary Episcopal Church in Cairo. In the last article it was also stated that Nany Taylor married Charles Cole. She married Harvey Cole. Charles was a younger brother.)

On the 13th day of August, 1832, "the male person of full age belonging to the church met at their place of Worship in Cairo" and incorporated themselves, Rev. Ephraim Punderson was chairman and Ira T Day, and Henry E Hotchkiss certified the proceedings.

Eli Brooks and George Wicks were elected Church Wardens. And Ira T. Day, Horace Austin, John Lennon, Amasa Matten, Henry E. Hotchkiss, Hiram Hine, Wm. C. Howe, and Harlow Hine were elected Vestrymen. According to these early records two more names, Amasa Keith and Herman H. Smith, appear as taking part in the business meeting.

Just where these first services were held is not known, but the church must have been erected immediately, for in May of the following year the "Pews and slips were auctioned." This procedure was the method employed for what latter became known as pew rental. The slips referred to were long, narrow seats.

The report of the treasurer was tersely given—"The Treasurer, being called upon, reports the following: since the organization of the society he has received $1,919.50, including $475, received as a donation from Trinity Church, New York, and the residue contributed by person mentioned in the report." And further reports that "he had just paid bills to the amount of $1,819.72, having a balance in the treasurer’s hands of $99.78 and further reports that there are several subscriptions which remain yet unpaid." As we learn that "the salary of the clergyman for the entire year was only $125, we figure that the church building was constructed for about $1,500."

Church Consecrated

"On the ninth Sunday after Trinity, August 4, 1833, Calvary Church was consecrated by Bp. Onderdonk of New York, and in the afternoon two people were confirmed, viz: Mrs. Amy Wicks and Miss Cynthis Hine."

In May, 1833, "a committee was appointed for the purpose of contracting for the purchase of an organ for the Church." "In September of 1840 a committee headed by Mrs. Horace Austin raised the necessary funds for a bell and clock, and in June of the following year we find—"Received from Mr. Hank’s factory at Troy, a church bell, weight 520 lbs., cost at less than $.29 per lb., $175." This old bell was installed.

In May, 1840, the Rt. Rev. Benjamin Onderdonk again visited the Parish for an ordination when the Deacon-in-charge, the Rev. George Sayres, was raised to the priesthood.

In September of the same year the Rev. Mr. Sayres made the first written list of communicants as follows:

Eli Brooks, George Wicks, Harlow Hine, H. E. Hotchkiss, Harry O Lemily, Arzealy Wicks, Laura Day, Elizabeth Clinton, Lucy Plank, Mrs. Hotchkiss (Acra), Caroline Byington, Mary Keith, Maria Wicks, Miss Scott, Mrs. Byington (Acra), and Miss Hotchkiss (Acra).

In September, 1861, two weddings occurred at the unusual hours of 6:30 and 7:30 A. M. and of one of these the Rector received a $20 fee, which was no doubt as unusual as the hour of the ceremony, for he mentions it in his official record.

In 1869, a portion of the Diocese of New York, was set aside forming the Diocese of Albany, and in 1871 we find Henry Hotchkiss, Edwin Darby and Horatio Day elected as delegates to the convention to be held at Saint Pater’s, Albany.

Rector in 1871

Careful checking of the records finds no mention of a rectory until 1871 when we read a minute in the vestry book thanking a Dr. Nelson of Rhinebeck, for his generous gifts making possible the purchase of a rectory and repairs on the church. At the same meeting the vestry voted their thanks to the Hon. Henry Meiggs of Lima, South America, for a gift of $500.

May, 1882—"A committee was appointed to draft resolutions expressive of thanks to Miss Charlotte Austin and Mrs. E. H. Wicks for their gifts of new church windows and the painting of the church."

An interesting note at the foot of the page, recording a vestry meeting, Lewis B Lenson, who had been sexton for about 10 years, died Nov. 25, 1888. His compensation for above service for above time was about $60 in all."

June 1892—Bishop Doane being sick, the Rt. Rev. Bishop Coleman of Delaware, visited this parish and confirmed the following persons: Mrs. Emerson Canniff, Mrs. Nora Ford, Miss May Ford, Miss Laura Lewis and Master Winslow Beatty.

The year 1894 saw many changes. In March, the pipe organ was given in memory of E. D. L. Wickes, and a committee was appointed to look into the condition of the rectory. The following month, a resolution was adopted authorizing the building of a new rectory and that it should not cost more than $1,500.

The Rev. Mr. Zorn resigned as rector and the vestry asked a young parishioner, Wardell Webster Jennings, to act as lay-reader. A short time later, Mr. Jennings began his studies for the priesthood and he is now rector of a church at Saratoga, California.

Mortgage Issued

In November of this same year we find the record of a mortgage issued for $1,200 and in December the vestry borrowed an additional $500 to pay indebtedness of the Rectory building. Later the total costs of the Rectory is given as $2,103.50.

In 1906, the Church and Rectory were equipped with electricity and during this year the mortgages was paid and on Advent Sunday it was "destroyed by fire."

In 1907, the interior of the church was remodelled; the galleries were removed; two windows added; the chancel rebuilt and a pulpit, made by the Rector, the Rev. Mr. Mills, was added to the church.

In 1910, the vestry was refurnished and recarpeted by Mrs. Helen Davis, Miss Mary Davis, Miss Daisy Johnson and her sister, all of whom were summer guests in Cairo.

In March, 1911, the sum of $10 was sent to the Rev. Wardell W. Jennings in Munich, Germany, for the purchase of a chair for the library in connection with the American Church in Munich.

Legacies of $600 from Lewis Wickes, $1,000 from Julia Lennon and one-third of the income of $21,000 from Charles Austin are also recorded.

Made Missionary

In 1922, the Rector of Calvary Church was made the missionary of Gloria Dei, Palenville, and St. Paul‘s Oak Hill, and four years later Christ Church, Greenville, was added, making a missionary charge of four churches.

In 1928, the work of again remodelling and redecorating the church was started at the encouragement of Gaston Wynkoop, the Senior Warden at that time. At this time the chancel was again built, the pipe organ enlarged, the panelling and altar constructed. The old altar was removed to the rear of the church as a children’s altar and the entire interior was redecorated.

The history of Calvary Church has given four men to the priesthood: the Rev. Wardell Jennings, the Rev. John B. Day, the Rev. Marshall Day, and the Rev. Herbert Goodrich.

List of Memorials and Donors:--Chancel Window in memory of George Wickes, Sr.; Organ in memory of E. D. L. Wickes; Baptismal font, of Mrs. Henry Meigs; Memorial windows, Lewis H. Wickes, Madge Persons, Effie Walters, Mrs. Francis Walters, The Hines Family, the Church School and Alexander and Julia Swart; Vesper lights on Children’s alter, Mrs. Wilhelmina Blackshaw; altar cross on High altar, Rev. Wardell Jennings.

Also, Missal stand in memory of Wm. Wogian; Priest’s stall in memory of Rev. W. C. Grubble; Litany desk in memory of Mrs. Seymore Adams, given by Mrs. W. T. Lewis; Eucharist light on High altar in memory of John Alden given by Susan Alden; Credence table in memory of Rev. Ictavious Edgelow given by his widow and son; Altar erected in memory of Fannie Palen by Mrs. Rosalie Greene; Tabernacle in memory of Clara Travis given by Jessie and Dean Travis; Chancel panelling in memory of Joshua and Harriet Deane given by Alla Deare.

Also Chalice and Paten in memory of Chauncey Vibbard, Jr., given by Hortense Vibbard; Alms, Basins and Altar lace given by Miss Katherine Teschemacher; Missal in memory of Gaston Wynkoop given by Mrs. Anna Wynkoop; Processional cross given by Mrs. Caroline Meek in memory of John Meek; Pulpit given by the Rev. W Howard Mills; Marble Cross given by Mrs. Jack Mason. There have been many gifts of money and time for the improvement of the property by parishioners and friends.

Clergy List

List of Clergy: 132-1834—Ephraim Punderson; 1834-1837—Moses Birt; 1837-1838 Henry H. Prout; 1838-1839—Joseph F. Phillips; 1840-1844—George Sayers; 1845-1847—Wm. Walsh; 1847-1850—Norman C. Stoughton; 1851-1852—George Sayers; 1852-1853—Norman C. Stoughton; 1853-1862—Robert C. Fairbairn; 1864-?—Robert B. Cross; 1864-1866—Charles H. Gardiner; 1866-1868—Henry H. Prout; 1868-1870—Edward Pidsley; 1870-1872—Erastus Webster; 1872-1873—E. H. Saunders.

Also, 1874-1875—Wm. Chas. Grube; 1875-1877—Richard Harding; 1878-1879—F. B. Crosier; 1879-1890—Wm. Chas. Grubbe; 1879-1892—Chauncey Vibbard; 1892-1894—J. T. Zorn; 1894-1902—Sam D. Van Loan; 1903-1904—H. P. Lyman Wheaton; 1905-1907—W. Howard Mills; 1907-1909—C. Thacher Pfeiffer; 1909-1911—Bryant Gray Harman; 1911-1916—Octavious Edgelow; 1916-1919—Benjamin T. Trego; 1920-1921—Harry J. Fenwick; 1922-1924—John Montgomery Rich; 1924-1926—Cilver Alford; 1926-1935—Harle E. Hood; 1935-1935—(3 mo.) Rev. Clarkson; 1935-1941—Chas. B. Alford; 1942-1943—Paul F. Williams; 1944-1945—Wm. John Shane; 1946-1949—Francis A. Willard; 1949-1951—Robt. J. Evans; 1951-? Richard B. Clark; and Arthur Clum April 1st 1952, now resident minister.

(I wish to thank Mrs. Floyd Hempstead and Mrs. J. R. Marshall in helping to collect this material)


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