Olden Time - Chapter Seven
Facts about Men who Preached the Gospel
Transcribed by Arlene Goodwin. From the book entitled, "Ye Olden Time, as compiled from the Coxsackie News of 1889" written by Robert Henry Van Bergen, together with notations by Rev. Delber W. Clark, and edited by Francis A. Hallenbeck, 1935
Facts About Men Who Preached the Gospel and Those Who Propounded Law in the Days Long Since Past –The Introduction Of Yankee Ideas in Coxsackie—A Great Revival.
The subject of our article this week, as heretofore proposed, is about the early business men of Coxsackie. And here, we who are about seventy years of age, may say in this connection that whatever is here recorded is traditional history only, but pretty well authenticated.
A Noted Preacher
We have, in a previous article, located many of the early ministers of the Gospel in their several fields of labor. We omitted, however, one of the most noted preachers of the sixty years ago. We refer to the Rev’d Mr. Winegar, of the Baptist church. He lived in the old stone house now occupied by William Armstrong. *(The William Armstrong place is the residence of the sons of the late Irving Collier on the Kings Road.) The Baptist church edifice was erected at an early day and occupied the site of the present Episcopal church. It was partly demolished by the heavy gale in the early spring of 1854. (the most notable wind storm which ever occurred in this section of the country.)
The church membership being small in number, and other religious organizations being formed, and a large outlay being necessary to repair damages to the building, it was, on the whole, deemed prudent by the Baptist association to suspend for a while their church organization, to be resumed thereafter if circumstances demanded it. The building size *(the last entry in the minutes of the Baptist church, deposited at the Heermance Library, is Jan. 1851. The building was taken over in payment of a debt to the estate of Ambrose Baker. The first service of the Episcopal Church was held in the Baptist building, Oct. 17, 1852. The building was bought by the Episcopal congregation, and Consecrated as Christ Church June 15, 1853, and consequently it was the Episcopal Church destroyed March 18, 1854. See reprinted articles in Coxsackie Union-News, May to Sept, 1934.) was accordingly sold to the Episcopal church.
The Early Lawyers
The early lawyers of Coxsackie were Abram Van Dyck, John L. Bronk, Dorrance Kirtland, P. H. Silvester and Clinton Dewitt, all eminent in their profession. Van Dyck came from Kinderhook at an early day; married daughter of Judge Leonard Bronk and was associated as law partner with his brother-in-law, John L. Bronk. P. H. Silvester married a daughter of John L. Bronk and Clinton Dewitt married a daughter of Abram Van Dyke. Van Dyke died in the year 1835, aged 57 years. John L. Bronk died in the same year, being injured by a steamboat explosion at Coeymans Landing. He was 48 years old. Dewitt died in New York city in the year 1845, aged 33 years.
All these gentlemen died early in the full flow of their professional career, which continued almost up to the hour of their demise. Peter H. Silvester died more recently—in the year 1882. Although a bred lawyer, and enjoying a full and lucrative practice for many years, his literary taste ran rather in other directions. Belles-lettres and elegant literature were his specialties, and being a gentleman of means he had abundant leisure for the gratification and cultivation of his taste in that direction. He died suddenly, lamented by all his fellow citizens, at peace with all and without an enemy. After the death of Van Dyck and Bronk, Mr. Sylvester was associated with Dewitt for a time, occupying the office formerly occupied by Van Dyck & Bronk, but upon the retirement of DeWitt, and his removal to New York, he closed his office and finally discontinued all law practice.
Death Claimed All
DeWitt, as we have written it, located in New York while yet a young man, about the year 1841. His remarkable ability as an advocate gave him at once a proud and enviable status, and he was soon retained in several important cases in the courts of the city. Among other causes celebres was the "Polly Bodine" case. He was rapidly climbing the ladder of fame and would soon have reached with others the topmost round, but in the very zenith of this progress upward, disease and death claimed all. And if the writer should moderate an expression of the feelings which well up before him in making this record, he would, perhaps, make himself obnoxious to some charge of fulsomeness. In his early years DeWitt was his kind preceptor and guide, and this slight tribute of recollection must suffice for this writing.
Grew Up With The People
Van Dyck and Bronk and Kirtland preceded Silvester and DeWitt for many years. Kirtland came to Coxsackie from Saybrook, Conn., about the year 1804. *(Albany County Records show Dorrance Kirtland appeared on behalf of Elaikim Reed in a Real Estate Transfer in 1797. D. W C.) He lived on the farm now owned and occupied by Elisha Powell, in the Upper Village. He had a large practice; was appointed a Judge in Greene county and afterwards was elected Member of Congress for this district. He died in the year 1840, aged 69. Van Dyck and Bronk, however, were the early lawyers. They grew up with the people and were for many years the legal advisors of the whole town In their division of labor Van Dyck was, in the main, the office lawyer and counselor, while Bronk was the public advocate. Van Dyck prepared the brief, and Bronk, with remarkable forensic ability, was always the advocate who appeared in court.
Old Time Physicians
Of the early physicians who located in Coxsackie about the year 1804, and who had a large practice, Dr. Peter C. Adams, the progenitor of the Adams family, and Dr. Samuel Field, were among the first. Dr. Field came from Saybrook, Conn., and Judge Kirtland, before mentioned married the sister of Dr. Field before he came to Coxsackie. Dr. Field build the house afterwards and years ago owned and occupied by Thomas W. Gay, merchant, and now in the possession of Miss Elizabeth Gay. Dr. Field died in the year 1813. He had several sons. Samuel, a physician, died on Long Island. Richard was educated in the printing office, and was for many years Editor of the Catskill Recorder. John was an Episcopal clergyman, he married a rich widow in South Carolina, and preached for many years in Beaufort. William and Thomas each had farms in the town of Durham, Greene county, and Henry was a jeweler and died in Catskill. There were also four daughters. One died young; one married Raymond, a lawyer, of Hudson; another, Mr. Silvester, who was the father of John R. Silvester, who was a very expert telegraph operator and had charge of the office at Catskill for many years. The remaining daughter married H. M. Van Den Berg.
Had Never Seen Such Before
When Dr. Field and lawyer Kirtland emigrated from Saybrook, Conn., to Coxsackie, their goods and effects were transported on the sloop Charmer, and great was the consternation of the natives. The sloop was a larger vessel than any ever before seen in these waters, and her cargo, beside the usual household good, contained many things heretofore unknown in these parts, including a rotary grind stone, a wheelbarrow with one wheel locomotion, and also the Yankee carriage, with springs. This was particularly noted as a novel thing, and the people from far and near, it is stated, came to view it and the many other novelties now for the first time introduced into Dutch settlement. But perhaps, after all, these gentlemen from Connecticut were as much surprised on their first view of the black man (they had never seen a black man in Connecticut) as were the natives upon their first view of the little labor-saving appliances.
Peter C. Adams, John Ely, his son Edwin, were practicing physicians for many years. Ely, the elder, died in 1849 at the age of 75, and Edwin Ely, died in 1829. Dr. Shepmoes and Dr. Henry Adams located at the Upper Village and were contemperaneous with the Ely’s at the Landing and continued in regular practice for many years. These were followed at a later date by Dr. J. W. Spoor, Dr. Livingstone, Dr. Tomlinson, Dr. Boardman, Dr. Dorman and Dr. Burchell. *(Dr. Van Slyke adds Dr. Henslow.)
A Fatal Disease
It here occurs to us as a remarkable incident that during the cholera epidemic of 1832. Dr. Livingstone was the only man who recovered from an attack of cholera. He was under the care of Dr. A. D. Spoor, who had considerable experience in the treatment of the disease at Troy during the preceding summer. In the town of Coxsackie every one attacked, died, except Livingstone. The first case was that of Mr. French, a brickmaker, who lived in the house now owned by J. Cuyler Vosburg, diagonally across from the residence of Wm. K. Reed. Dr. Dorman, too, had remarkable success in after years, in the treatment and cure of cholera. He adopted and prescribed a regime which is now considered in the city hospitals, and by many prominent physicians everywhere, as the most reliable for its treatment, and the experience of succeeding years where cholera became epidemic, has accumulated testimony to such a degree that the calomel treatment is now considered the sheet anchor of medical practice and the common conclusion is, if the administration of calomel will not save the patient nothing can.
When we began this article the object seemed to be to give some general outlines of the early business men of the town, but here we are at the end of our space and have included only the lawyers and doctors. In a following paper we will try to finish what we know about the merchants, traders, mechanics, and perhaps the gentlemen of the town.
A Great Revival
Just here someone whispers in our ear that in a former article, discoursing about the churches, a great omission to the effect that no note was made of the fact that during the pastorate of Dr. Livingstone, I think in the year 1821, one of the most remarkable religious revivals occurred in the history of the town, nearly 400 names were added to the membership of the 1st Ref’d church. Dr. Ludlow assisted Livingstone in the prosecution of the work, which was surely in its results a phenomenal success. In this connection we can only mention a few of the best remembered names today, who were brought under the influence of this revival: Sickles Hallenbeck, son of Abram Hallenbeck Henry Mandeville, H. M. Van Den Berg, Wm. V. D. Heermance, Harriet Kirtland, John K. Lusk, father of Rev. Mathias Lusk, Maria Adams, Mrs. Thomas, Melantho Bellows, Ambrose Kirtland, Mrs. Myers, Mrs. Parslow, Mrs. Sanford, Miss Mary A. Sanford, Isaac Hallenbeck, Rhoda Adams.
An Eloquent Man
Among those recorded above we find the names of Henry Mandeville and Harriet Kirtland, Harriet was the daughter of Judge Kirtland. They were married soon after the revival and Mandeville, although the son of a blacksmith, located on Lafayette avenue, and a tailor himself by trade, with very meagre advantages of the early educational training, soon, under the auspices of the Dutch church, began his studied for the ministry. He completed his course and was ordained to preach. He proved to be one of the most useful and eloquent men of his day. He filled a Professor’s chair in a Western institution for some time; was then called to preach in the Collegiate church in New York city, and finally after many protests and objections by his congregation in New York, he accepted a call from Mobile, at a larger salary. He ministered among the people for years, very acceptably. A yellow fever epidemic in Mobile in the year 1858, was very fatal, and Henry Mandeville was a victim. His widow survived him several years.