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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
Rev. Charles Wadsworth Pitcher

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[This information is from pp. 176-180 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

Portrait of Rev. Charles Wadsworth Pitcher

Portrait: Rev. Charles Wadsworth Pitcher

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Rev. Charles Wadsworth Pitcher, pastor of the Reformed Dutch church at Middleburg, Schoharie County, is one of the most able, progressive, and popular clergymen of his denomination and a highly esteemed citizen. He was born March 2, 1849, near Cohoes, Albany County, a son of the Rev. William Pitcher, whose birthplace was Red Hook, Dutchess County, N. Y. His paternal grandfather, who was an officer in the War of 1812, was a prosperous farmer and an extensive landholder at Upper Red Hook, where he died at the advanced age of fourscore years. His wife, Catherine Kipp, also attained a ripe old age. Both were members of the Dutch Reformed Church of Upper Red Hook. They had five children, none of whom are now living.

The Rev. William Pitcher was reared on the home farm, and obtained his elementary education in the district schools. He subsequently studied at Williams College and Princeton Seminary. He began his professional life as pastor of a Dutch Reformed church at Jackson, N. Y.; and three years later he assumed charge of the "Boght" church at Watervliet, three miles from the village of Cohoes. After a faithful service of thirteen years in that place he accepted a call to South Branch, Somerset County, N. J., where a church, small in numbers, had been but a short time organized. He labored there twenty-seven years, a long and successful pastorate, in which he built up a flourishing society. Going then to Greenwich, Washington County, N. Y., he there lived in retirement until his demise, at the age of seventy-three years. He was a gifted speaker, a sermonizer of especial note; and many of his pulpit discourses, published in book form, were forcible exponents of his theological belief. A man of strong personality and unusual sweetness of character, he led a pure, Christian life, and in a rare degree won the love and esteem of all with whom he came in contact. He was three times married. His first wife, Mary Ann Wadsworth, died in young womanhood, leaving one son, De Witt Pitcher, now a book-keeper in Hudson, N. Y. His second wife, Jane E. Wadsworth, sister to his first wife, was born at Bantam Falls, Litchfield County, Conn., a daughter of Henry Wadsworth, a prosperous merchant. She was a sister of the Rev. Charles Wadsworth, D. D., of Philadelphia, and James L. Wadsworth, who is now living retired from active pursuits in Darien, Conn. Of the children born of this union two are now living, namely: Charles W., the special subject of this sketch; and Jane E., wife of W. B. Warner, a photographer at Northport, Long Island. The mother died at the age of thirty-six years, and the father subsequently married Mary Ann McLean.

The Rev. Charles W. Pitcher received his elementary education in the public schools of South Branch, N. J., which he left at the age of sixteen years to go to New York City, where he was clerk in a jewelry store and in a dry-goods store for four years. He then continued his studies at a select school in Neshanic, N. J., and at Rutgers Grammar School in New Brunswick, which he attended two years, and after that at Rutgers College four years and at the theological seminary two years. On January 26, 1876, having previously been licensed to preach by the Newark Congregational Association, he was ordained to the ministry at Randolph, N. Y., and at once took charge of the weak and struggling society, which in 1883 he left in a most flourishing condition, it having doubled numerically and financially under his efficient labors. The ensuing four years he was pastor of the church at Stanton, N. J., which under his guidance was wonderfully revived, large numbers being added to the organization, which increased in usefulness each year, and, according to the stated clerk of the classic to which it belongs, reached the highest degree of prosperity in its history. From 1887 until 1891 Mr. Pitcher had charge of the Kirkpatrick Memorial Church at Ringoes, N. J., where his efforts were again blessed with success. Under his fervent and eloquent preaching of the gospel, great interest was awakened; and, during a great revival that followed, sixty members were added to the church in one Sunday, forty of the converts being baptized that day. Coming from there to Middleburg, he has here been exceedingly prospered in his religious work, the church having grown as regards both its membership and its influence. A faithful and conscientious worker in the Master's vineyard, he has not only endeared himself to his immediate parishioners, but has won the respect of the entire community.

On July 14, 1875, Mr. Pitcher was married to Anna M., daughter of Abraham and Ann E. (Naylor) Amerman. Her parents were natives and lifelong residents of Somerset County, New Jersey, where the mother died when sixty years old, and the father, who was a prominent citizen of South Branch, a miller and merchant, died at the age of threescore and ten years. Mrs. Pitcher is one of a family of four children, all of whom are living, the other three being: Theodore; Elizabeth, wife of Abraham S. Beckman; and Louisa, wife of H. V. D. Van Liew. Mr. and Mrs. Pitcher have had two children, namely: Le Roy, who lived but nine months; and Anna Lee. Mrs. Pitcher, a woman of culture, is a thorough musician, being a talented singer and a fine pianist. While at Ringoes she was leader of the church choir, the organist in the Sunday-school, and one of its corps of teachers. She is a very active member of the church and of its various societies, belonging to the Christian Endeavor, the Ladies' Missionary Society, the Ladies' Aid Society, and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She is president of the Woman's Classical Union of Schoharie County.

The Dutch Reformed Church of Middleburg is, with possibly an exception in Albany and Schenectady, the oldest society and worshipping in the oldest building in this part of the State. This house of worship was built in 1786, and has since been kept in excellent repair. The funds for its erection were collected by committees sent through the colonies for the purpose, the struggling little society here, organized about 1730, being too poor to give much toward it. The meetings were probably held in private houses or barns until a small frame building was put up for its accommodation in 1732. That building, according to Roscoe, was dedicated in 1737. It was burned with the village on October 17, 1780, and six years later replaced by the present edifice, in which the first sermon was preached November 18, 1787, the Rev. George W. Schneider being the minister. From the time of the first regularly ordained minister of the church, Hendrick Hager, who was settled in 1713, the following have held pastorates: Fred Higer, 1720; John Jacob Ehle, 1730; Reinhardt Erickson, 1732; Michael Weiss, 1736; Johannes Schuyler, 1736-55; John Mauritius Goetschius, 1757-60; Abram Rosekrantz, 1760-65; Johannes Schuyler, 1766-79; Rynier Van Nest, 1780-85; George W. Schneider, 1785-88; J. C. Boeffel, 1788-97; Rynier Van Nest, 1797-1804; David Devoe, 1812-15; John T. Schermerhorn, 1816-27; John Garretson, 1827-33; J. B. Steele, 1834-38; Joshua Boyd, 1840-42; L. Messereau, 1842-45; Jacob West, 1846-52; I. M. See, 1852-54; E. Vedder, 1855-63; W. E. Bogardus; J. S. Scott, D. D., 1865-70; S. W. Roe, D. D., 1871-76; J. D. Gardner, 1876-80; E. N. Sebring, 1880-85; D. K. Van Doren, 1885-90; and the Rev. Charles W. Pitcher, 1891.

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