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A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times
13: The Reformed Nether Dutch Church

Prof. Jonathan Pearson and the Editor

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[This information is from pp. 334-388 of A History of the Schenectady Patent in the Dutch and English Times; being contributions toward a history of the lower Mohawk Valley by Jonathan Pearson, A. M. and others, edited by J. W. MacMurray, A. M., U. S. A. (Albany, NY: J. Munsell's Sons, Printers, 1883). It is in the Schenectady Collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at Schdy R 974.744 P36, and copies are also available for borrowing.]

[Copies of this book are available from the Schenectady County Historical Society.]

[The original version uses assorted typographical symbols to represent footnotes. To improve legibility, the online version uses the form (page number - note number.)]

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At the first settlement of Schenectady in 1662, there were but five Dutch churches and ministers in the Province, viz: those of

Of these the church at Beverwyck, founded twenty years before, was the oldest in the colony except that of New Amsterdam. Her first domine (1642 to 1647), was Johannes Megapolensis who now ministered in New Amsterdam; the second, Gideon Schaets (1652-1690). The latter probably assisted at the organization of the church at Schenectady, to which he occasionally ministered until his labors ceased in his own church in 1690.

The date and circumstances of this organization are involved in much obscurity, the early records of both churches being lost. But from occasional mention made in contemporaneous papers and records it is safe to say that the church of Schenectady was in existence between the years 1670 and 1680, and probably earlier. Thus, on the occasion of the death of Hans Janse Eenkluys, in 1683, the deacons petition the court at Albany for letters of administration on his effects and say * * * "dat eenen Hans Janssen op den 7 meert 1674/5 heeft overgedraegen aende aermen van Schaenhechtade zeecke syne plantage," &c. &c., in other words that Hans Janse, in 1675, made over to the poor of Schenectady his plantation, on condition he should be maintained in his old age and weakness, which they say they have done, and paid the expenses of his burial. Now this plantage was simply the "Poor pasture," and was the property of the church from Eenkluys' time down to 1862, when it was sold.

These facts seem to point to the existence of the church as early as 1674, for it is a well known fact that the Dutch churches were the guardians of the poor, the orphans, and the aged, who were without natural protectors and received and dispensed large alms and property for this purpose.

The next incidental mention of this church is found in the records of the city of Albany. In February, 1679, "the court and consistory of Schenectady request that Domine Schaets may be sent four Sundays in one year to administer the Lord's supper to said place and community, which request is granted in so far that Domine Schaets is allowed to go four times in one year to administer the Holy Sacrament, but not on a Sunday, whereas it would be unjust to let the community [of Albany] be without preaching." (335-1)

Thirdly, the prosperous condition of the poor fund of the church from 1680 to 1690, shows pretty clearly that it had been organized some years previous to the former date. At the close of the year 1689 Domine Thesschenmaecker audited the deacons' accounts and found that the unexpended alms contributed for the poor amounted to about 4,000 guilders, of which about 3,000 guilders had been loaned to individuals on bonds dating back in one case to 1681. Though the Dutch were a liberal people in matters appertaining to their church, it is not probable that such an accumulation of alms was made entirely within the ten years above mentioned, especially when their numbers are considered, and that in this time the parsonage house was constructed and their first Domine was called and maintained. It is fair therefore to conclude that the Dutch church of Schenectady was certainly an organized body in 1674, probably much earlier.

The first twenty years of the village was a struggle with the hardships of frontier life; its energies were spent in removing the forest and subduing the soil. For religious privileges it was dependent upon Albany; until in 1684, when the little hamlet having grown sufficiently strong in numbers and wealth, called its first minister. The earliest mention of Domine Thesschenmaecker in the church records is found in a book of miscellaneous writings, the first leaves of which unfortunately are wanting. (335-2)

From these accounts we learn the following facts:

  1. That Domine Thesschenmaecker came to Schenectady before the death of Domine Schaets (1690).
  2. That the first house of worship was then built.
  3. That the consistory this year (1683?), was building a parsonage house and fencing the lot. For although it is not stated that 't huys was for the Domine's use, we can hardly conceive of his being engaged in building, and the church in paying for, a dwelling for any other person.

Of the five houses of worship built by this church, the one above mentioned was the first. We know little about it except that it was small and inconvenient and that it stood at the junction of Church, State and Water streets.

The house erected for Domine Thesschenmaecker, who was an unmarried man, must have been of humble dimensions judging from the number and cost of the "glass Ramen" purchased for it in the above account. (337-1) It became the funeral pile [pyre?] of its first occupant when the village was burned in 1690. Its site is unknown though it has heretofore been assumed to be that of the present church, but an old deed of 1715, shows that lot was in possession of Daniel Jansen Van Antwerp from prior to 1672 to 1715, when he deeded it to the church.

1684-1690. Domine Petrus Thesschenmaecker.

Domine Thesschenmaecker best known for his tragical end, came to this country from Guiana whither he had gone from Utrecht, a young theological student, (337-2) and is first mentioned in following petition of date 1676:

To the Rt. Honorale Sr. Edmond Andrus Kt. of Sauemares: under his Royall Highness Duke of Yorke and Albany and dependances: The humble petition of Seuerall of the Inhabittanse of Esopus humbly shewith unto yor Honor,

Whereas this place is destitute of a minister for the Instruction of the people: It is our Ernest desiar and humble request with all Submission that yor Honor will be pleased to be aiding and assisting in the procuring one for us that can preache both Inglish and Duche, weich will be most fitting for this place, it being in its minority and having great charges is not very able to maintaine two ministares; nether to be at the charge of sending for one out of England or Holland; and we are Informed Mr. Peettar Tasetmakr is at liberty, who is a person well knowne to yor Honr and officiated in this [place] for sum time; And if to bee procured, is very well approved and much desired by moste, hee being a man of Sober life and conversaçon having Deportted himselfe to sattisfaction of ye Inhabitance, —

Wherefor wee Humbly pray that your honor will bee pleased to bee Instrumentall in the same and yor Honor humble Pettiçeners shall ever pray &c. (338-1)

This appears to be a sufficient certificate of his fitness for the sacred office, but whether he returned to Esopus on this flattering call is not known. It appears that at this time he had not been ordained, for in 1679 on application from New-Castle, on the Delaware, the Governor directed Domine Newenhuysen to examine and induct him into the ministry of the Protestant Reformed church. Probably he was then a resident of Staten Island.

After his ordination Domine Thesschenmaecker departed immediately for his new field of labors; for November 20th, following, he received a patent (338-2) for a lot of land at New Castle, 300 by 480 feet, respecting which the colonial secretary received a letter (338-3) dated January 17th, 1679-80, promising his fee of 40 shillings in wheat.

Here he remained three years until 1682, "when in consequence of some disagreement with his congregation he left and accepted a call from Schenectady." (338-4)

In the latter place he labored six years with reasonable success; and in spite of the distant mutterings of war between Britain and France the little community grew in numbers and wealth. The virgin soil of the neighboring flats and islands yielded abundantly, and the population, gaining confidence, ventured beyond the palisades of the village and gradually crept up the Mohawk river, occupying the fertile lands on either bank.

It was while resting in fancied security that the place was surprised, on the 8th day of February, 1690, and totally destroyed. The work of destruction commenced under such favorable circumstances was soon completed; — day dawned upon a ghastly scene, — the labors of thirty years in ashes, — sixty of the inhabitants slain, — twenty-eight captives selected for the long winter march to Canada, — and the miserable remnant, wounded and frost-bitten, painfully seeking relief in flight towards Albany. The French commander had ordered his men to spare the life of the clergyman, but his savage allies knew no difference between minister and people; — he was slain and burned in his house. (339-1)

Domine Thesschenmaecker left no heirs. A farm of "eighty acres and a proportional quantity of meadow ground" granted to him 3 Nov., 1685, on the south side of Staten Island, (339-2) was claimed by the inhabitants of Richmond county as a poor fund. (339-3)

For seven years from this sad event, till the peace of Ryswick in 1697, there was no safety north and west of Albany outside of the fortifications. Many forsook their plantations and sought places of greater security (339-4) and it is a matter of surprise that the hardy pioneers of Schenectady clung to the soil in the midst of such discouragements. It argues well for their pluck and endurance.

Until 1700 the church was without a pastor, and indeed it does not appear that the people had any religious privileges, except such as might be had by a visit to Albany, until 1694, when Domine Dellius began to minister to them occasionally. His first recorded visits this year were on the 11th of April and 9th of October, on which occasions new members were added to the church and children baptized. In 1695 he came four times, viz: on the 2d Jan., 27th March, 26th June and 9th October. In 1696 five times — Jan. 8th, April 15, July 1, Sept. 19th and Dec. 30th. In 1697 three times — April 6th, June 30th, and Nov. 10th, and in 1698 four times — 27th April, 20 July, 19th Oct., and 28th Dec. In all eighteen visits in five years.

In 1699 Domine Dellius returned to the Fatherland and Domine Johannes Petrus Nucella succeeding to his place as minister of Albany, visited Schenectady once — on the 31st of August. The following year he came twice, viz: on the 9th January and 25th May.

The number of members added to the church by these two ministers was twenty-five; the number of children baptized seventy-six, seven of whom were Indians.

Taking into consideration, therefore, the fact that at this time all children were christened, some idea may be formed of the small number and slow increase of the population when only sixty-nine were baptized in six years.

During the same period five couples were married by Domine Dellius and seven by Johannes Glen, "Justis Van de peace."

But no sooner was peace proclaimed in 1697 than both village and church began a new career of prosperity. Within five years a second minister was called, and a new house of worship was erected.

1700-5. Domine Barnardus Freeman, (340-1) Second Minister of the Church and Missionary to the Mohawks.

When Domine Dellius returned to Holland in 1693, his church gave him leave of absence for ten months, but subsequently commissioned William Bancker and others of Amsterdam to procure another minister in case he remained beyond that time.

Do. Freeman was a man of mature age, a native of Gilhuis in the county (Graafschap) of Benthem. In 1698 he was a member of the church of Amsterdam, and on the 9th of March of that year was licensed to preach by the Classes of Worden and Overrynland. Immediately after the above call from the church of Albany, he was ordained by the Classis of Lingen (16th March, 1700), and departed for his distant charge accompanied by Domine Johannes Lydius. On the 20th of July they arrived in Albany where the latter remained, while the former passed on to Schenectady, and on the 28th commenced his labors as pastor of the church and missionary to the Mohawks. His appointment to the latter office, brought about doubtless after his arrival in New York, furnishes a reason for the change in his destination.

Domine Dellius had filled the same office many years, and both for political as well as religious reasons it was considered important to continue so powerful an agency among the native tribes.

In regard to this matter the Earl of Bellomont, Governor of the Provinces, said to the assembled Sachems of the Five Nations on the 26th of August, 1700. * * * "I have sent to England for ministers to instruct you in the true Christian religion. I expect some very soon; for the present I shall settle Mr. Vreeman, an able good minister, at Schanectade, who I intend shall be one of those that shall be appointed to instruct you in the true faith. He will be near the Mohacks, and in your way as you came from [the] several castles to this town, [Albany], and will take pains to teach you. He has promised me to apply himself with all diligence to learn your language, and doubts not to be able to preach to you therein in a year's time." (341-1)

In a communication to the Board of Trade the Governor says: "I send your Lordships a copy of Mr. Freeman's Letter. He is the Dutch minister at Schenectady and a very good sort of a man." (341-2) * * *

The following is a copy of the letter referred to:

"Schenegtade the 6th Jan., 1700-1.

May it please your Excellency.

I have received your Excellcis letter of the 15th Novr, 1700, whereby I understand that your Excellcy was satisfied with what I had done to promote the Gospel among the Indians, I shall also use my utmost to intreat them to be firm in their allegiance to his Majty and for as much as appears to me they are good subjects to His Majty whereof they desire me to give your Excellcy an account.

Your Excellcy may remember that there are not above one hundred Maquasse in number, thirty-six whereof have embraced the Christian faith, ten whereof through the grace of God are brought over through my means, for I found but twenty-six.

I shall do my utmost with the rest. So wishing your Excellcy a happy new year and a continuation of your health, recommending myself to your favour,

I remain,

Your Excellcies most obedient Servant.

B. Freerman." (342-1)

As Albany was the headquarters of Indian trade as well as of the yearly Council held with the Five Nations, Do. Lydius was also appointed to instruct the natives in the Christian faith, and "ye bettar to enable him to serve them in ye work of the Gospell ye Interpretesse (Hillitie] (342-2) was appointed to be his assistant in that affair as formerly." (342-3) * * *

In the five years spent at Schenectady, Do. Freeman became well versed in the Indian tongue so as not only to preach, but to write in it. In this he was assisted by the Provincial interpreter, Lawrens Claese (Van der Volgen), a member of his church. And so attached were the natives to him that five years after he left Schenectady they petitioned Governor Hunter for his reappointment, "and that he live [with us] at our Castle and not at Schinnectady nor Albany." (342-4)

Probably his was the first attempt made to translate the church service, or portions of the Holy Scriptures into the language of the Mohawks. In addition to the morning and evening prayers, Do. Freeman translated "the whole of the Gospel of St. Matthew, the three first chapters of Genesis, several chapters of Exodus, a few of the Psalms, many portions of the scriptures relating to the birth, passion, resurrection and ascension of our Lord, and several chapters of the first Epistle of the Corinthians, particularly the fifteenth chapter, proving the resurrection of the dead. But his work was not printed." (342-5)

A copy having been presented to the "Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign parts," was given to their missionary, Rev. William Andrews, who was sent out in 1712, and by him printed in New York two years afterwards.

The salary of the early ministers of this church was one hundred pounds of New York currency ($250), house and garden rent free, pasturage for two cows and a horse, and sixty cords of wood delivered at the parsonage. The salary commenced from the day the Domine sailed from Holland and the expenses of the voyage until he arrived in Schenectady were paid by the church. The following is Do. Freeman's first bill, rendered August 25, 1700:

"16 mar. 1700 to 25 aug. the Consistory is indebted to Domine Freeman:

For current salary from the 16 march to the 25th of august, is five months and nine days and amounts to a sum of fifty pounds and something more, — is in sewant, gl. 2.000

Also expenses incurred on the voyage, in fresh provisions, wine, brandy, vegetables and hens, besides about three weeks expenses on the Isle of Wight, — is the sum of gl. 374

gl. 2.374

"Schenectady.

Barnhardus Freerman." (343-1)

The above bill shows that the expenses of the voyage were 374 gl. ($46.75), and that the whole amount of salary and expenses was 2374 gl. or $296.75. (343-2)

Trifling as this amount may seem, the little community were unable to raise it, and on the 3d of September, 1700, applied to the Common Council of Albany for permission to solicit contributions in Albany. In reply the Commonality advise "that they first goe and Visite there own Congregation, and if they do not obtaine said Sallary by them, then to make their application to the Commonality at ye next Court day."

On the 21st of September the application was renewed, "Whereupon ye Commonalty have concluded and doe allow and admitt two or more of said Church wardens of Shinnechtady to goe once Round for contribution to use as aforesaid from ye inhabitants of this Citty and no more, in ye time of the Sessions, which will be first and second of October next ensuing." (344-1)

When Do. Freeman was appointed missionary to the Indians by Governor Bellomont, he was promised a salary of 60 pounds; for expenses, 15 pounds, and for the interpreter, Laurens Claese Van der Volgen, who was his assistant 25 pounds.

The Governor expected to obtain this salary from the corporation for the propagation of the gospel at Boston, but in case he failed there, promised to secure it for him out of the revenue of the Province. (344-2)

It is presumed that said corporation declined to assume this burden, and as a consequence, the General Assembly passed an act in his favor. In a petition which Do. Freeman addressed to Governor Cornbury, in 1703, he affirms that "he has taken great pains in going to their [Mohawks] Castles and translating Divine things into their language for ye easier bringing ym over, and as he hopes with very good success; for wh reason a continuance of ye said salary was promised him by ye late Lieften't Governour, Capt. Nanfan, and confirmed to yr Petitioner by an act of Generall Assembly of this Province, wh said sallaries (tho' tis now two years since they were first settled) are unpaid, and no Warrants have yet passed for any part thereof." (344-3)

On the death of Do. Lupardus of Kings county, in 1702, the consistory of the churches there applied to Governor Cornbury for permission to call Do. Freerman, (344-4) who at the same time gave encouragement of his acceptance. The Governor answered:

"I have duly Considered the Within petition and having been Well Informed that Mr. Bar. ffreeman has misbehaved himself, by promoting and encouraging the unhappy division among the people of this province, do not think it consistent with her Majesties Service that the sd ffreeman should be admitted to be called as is prayed by sd petition. And the petitioners are hereby required not to call or receive the sd ffreeman." (345-1)

Fearing their minister might be enticed away from them, the Consistory of the church in Schenectady the next year presented to Lord Cornbury the following petition:

"The humble Petition of the Church Wardins of the Nether Dutch Church of the Town of Schoneghtede, sheweth:

That the four severall towns to witt: Midwout or Flatbush, the Bay, New Utreght and Brockland, by their Certain writing doth Indeavour to Draw Mr. Barnardus Freeman, Present Minister of Schoneghtende, from his Congregation, who are not able of themselves Without your Excellecy's assistance to gett another, and since we, your petitioners, have been att a great Charge and trouble with assistants thereuntofrom this County for Defraying the Considerable Charge of Mr. Barnardus Freeman's Passage and other Charges that doth amount to the Valiable summe of near upon Eighty Pounds, so that if the sd Mr. Barnardus Freeman should be Drawn from us, as they Indeavor to Doe, we could not Preted that such a small Congregation as we are can be able to Send for another, and they Who are of a greater Congregation could had another before this If they had not Endeavoured to Deprive us their neighbors; therefore we, your Lordship's and Councill's Petitioners humbly Pray that yr Lordships and Councill be Pleased to take this our Great Case In Your Great Wisdom and Serious Consideration to give Such Incouragements to the Instructing of the Indians, that we may be more Enabeled to the Paying of his Salary and your Petitioners as In Duty Bound Shall ever Pray.

Schoneghtende the 29th of May, 1703.

Read in Council 24th June, 1703, and rejected." (345-2)

Notwithstanding the above remonstrance and the fact that many persons in the congregation in Kings county were disaffected towards him, he visited the island and on the second of August, 1703, accepted the call under certain conditions. (345-2) It was not, however, until the summer of 1705 that he finally left Schenectady for Flatbush. The license thus to change his pastoral relations was granted by Governor Cornbury on the 26th of December, of the same year.

1703-28. Building of the Second Church. Domine Thomas Brower the Third Minister.

Soon after Do. Freeman came to Schenectady, the house of worship (346-1) then used was found to be unfit for the accommodation of the inhabitants and Indian proselytes, but as the little community had not yet fully recovered from the effects of the late incursion of the French and their savage allies, the funds necessary for a new house could not be raised without aid from abroad. A petition therefore was presented to Governor Nanfan in 1701, asking permission to circulate a subscription throughout the Province for this purpose. (347-1)

This petition being favorably received by the Governor and Council, on the 27 Oct., 1701, he issued his license to the inhabitants of Schenectady (347-2) to receive contributions from the people of the Province for the space of six months from that date, and directed all justices of the peace, schouts and other officers of his Majesty as well as ministers of the Gospel to use their utmost endeavors to aid this laudable object.

This appeal to the liberality of their neighbors was successful and the church was probably finished in the year 1703. The site was that of the first house of worship at the junction of Church, Water and State streets, and the dimensions, fifty-six feet north and south by forty-six feet east and west Amsterdam measure. The burying ground adjoined the church upon the west side and was fifteen feet wide by fifty-six feet long. (349-1) Speaking of Schenectady in 1710 the Rev. Thomas Barclay says: "There is a convenient and well built church which they freely give me the use of." (349-2)

Probably it was substantially built of stone, for after its abandonment in 1734, as a place of worship it was used for some years as a fort. (349-3) A wooden building would hardly have been devoted to such a purpose. By the year 1754, it had been either removed or used as a barracks, watchhouse and market, (349-4) by 1768 the site was clear and designated the Market Place. In 1792 the spot being vacant the consistory proposed to erect thereon a house at a cost of 170 pounds, (349-5) but it is believed this project was never carried out, for in 1794 they resolve to lease it to Arent S. Vedder for building purposes upon condition that it should never be dug up, save so far as was neeessary to lay the foundations or to set the fence posts, — that the foundation should not be laid farther west than where the old church's west wall stood and that the house built thereon should never be used for "Tap-drink-of-Vrolyk-huys (so als men deselve gewoonlyk noent." (349-6) To account for these singular conditions in a deed of conveyance, it is only necessary to remember that this was then looked upon as sacred ground and that here for sixty years, to 1720, the dead of the village were buried. (349-7)

The building above mentioned was never erected. The next year, 1795, the trustees of the common lands resolved to make an offer of this lot, (349-8) but if made, nothing came of it, for in 1800, the consistory directed that it "be properly ascertained and marked out," and in 1805 agreed to lease it to Anne McFarlane for $10 per annum but she was not allowed to dig upon it.

The removal of Do. Freeman was a disheartening event to the church. He had gained the confidence of the people and considerable influence over the neighboring Indians. To obtain another minister from Holland in their present circumstances was impossible. They were not only a small but a poor people and without aid not in a condition to support a minister.

For the following ten years they were destitute of the stated ministry, being only occasionally visited by the ministers of Albany and other more distant settlements.

Between the years 1705 and 1715, Domines Johannes Lydius and Petrus Van Driessen of Albany, Petrus Vas of Kingston and Gualterus Du Bois of New York made 24 visits to Schenectady, baptizing 152 children of whom 19 were Indians. In all this time the records show but one member added to the church.

Rev. Thomas Barclay, chaplain to the fort in Albany preached occasionally in Schenectady. In a letter (350-1) dated Sept. 26, 1710, he says:

"At Schenectady I preach once a month, where there is a garrison of forty soldiers, besides about sixteen English and about one hundred Dutch families. They are all of them my constant hearers.

"I have this summer got an English school erected amongst them, and in a short time, I hope their children will be fit for catechising. Schenectady is a village situated upon a pleasant river, twenty English miles above Albany, and the first castle of the Indians is twenty-four miles above Schenectady. In this village there has been no Dutch minister these five years and there is no probability of any being settled among there. There is a convenient and well built church, which they freely give me the use of."

"I have taken the pains to show them the agreement of the articles of our church, with theirs. I hope in sometime to bring them not only to be constant hearers, but communicants."

As early as 1713, the church applied to Governor Hunter for permission to call a new minister and received his license dated July 27 that year. On the 17th day of May the following year, the consistory addressed a letter to Willem Bancker, merchant of Amsterdam and Rev. Matthias Winterwyck of Alphen (Dalphin?) Holland, authorizing them to procure a minister for the church and promising him a salary of 90 pounds to commence on his arrival, a dwelling free of rent (350-2), fire wood at the door, a large garden, and free asture for two cows and a horse. The result of this negotiation was the arrival of Dominie Thomas Brouwer in July, 1714.

He probably came from the province of Overyssell, where he had two brothers living in 1728, the one Gerardus, at Zwoll and the other Theodorus, minister at Dalphin.

He made his will (351-1) on the 24th Nov., 1727, and died on 15th of Jan., 1728. (351-2) He left 25 pounds — one half to the church and the other for the poor; his gun, pistols, horse, table linen, etc., to various members of the families of Gerrit Symonse Veeder and Johannes Bancker, and his books, best clothing, linen, etc., to his two brothers above mentioned. He speaks of neither wife nor children.

1728-1736. Domine Reinhardus Erichzon the Fourth Minister. The Third Church.

The fourth minister of the church was Do. Reinhardus Erichzon, His call or Beroep brief was dated 30th March, 1728, two and a half months after the death of his predecessor.

He was probably a native or at least a resident of Groningen, North Holland and before his call to Schenectady had ministered three years to the churches of Hackensack, Paramus and Schraalenbergh, New Jersey.

The consistory of Schenectady agreed to give him a salary of 100 pounds ($250), a parsonage house in good repair, a garden kept in fence, pasture for a horse and two cows and fire wood (351-3) at the door.

During the eight years of his pastorate here he married seventy-nine couples, baptized about three hundred and fifty children and received two hundred and six members to the church.

Domine Erichzon left Schenectady in October, 1736, having received a call to the church of Freehold and Middletown, N. J.

His ministry in Schenectady seems to have been a successful one. Since the treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the country had been at peace, and wealth and population increased rapidly.

Our village was no exception, and before the church erected in 1703, had stood thirty years, the population had outgrown its capacity and it became necessary to erect a larger.

This matter began to be agitated soon after Do. Erichzon became pastor, and instead of appealing to their neighbors for aid as in the former case, the congregation was able not only to build a house which for the times was both substantial and spacious, but also to furnish it with a bell and clock.

As a preliminary step in this new enterprise, a subscription paper was circulated through the town in 1730, by which 322 pounds was obtained, and extending the appeal up the valley into Maquaas Landt, (352-1) a still further sum of £33-15 was subscribed in money and wheat. (352-2)

[Engraving: The Dutch Church of Schenectady (1734-1814): original size (61K) | 4x (188K), Drawn for J. W. MacMurray, U.S.A., A. Wild Photo-Eng.]

This sum did not amount to quite one-third the cost of the church, which was £1,167-17-10 [$2,919.73]; the remainder was probably derived from the accumulations of former years and from the sale of lands or leases, — the gift of the trustees of the common lands.

After thorough preparation the work was begun in the spring of 1732. Hendrick Vrooman was Baas (355-1) of the men of whom seventeen were carpenters, besides masons, glaziers, &c. His wages were seven shillings a day; the others were paid from five to six shillings. The Preeck-stoel (355-2) [pulpit] was built by Pieter Cornu for 20 pounds; — and Gysbert W. Van den Bergh of Albany, contracted to do the mason work for 80 pounds.

Among the first articles of hardware purchased were,

and before the close of the year the latter article was exhausted and more purchased. The same liberal supply was made for the year 1733. (355-3)

This house was dedicated Jan. 13, 1733/4, on which occasion Do. Erichzon preached in the morning. In the afternoon Do. Van Driessen of Albany, preached. The following Sabbaths — Jan. 20th and 27th, the pastor continued the subject of his first sermon. (355-4)

This third house was situated in Church street at its junction with Union street, and was eighty feet in length north and south and fifty-six feet wide; (355-5) — the trustees of the town conveyed to the church not only this site but also the land around the same ten feet in width, except on the west side, where by reason of the narrowness of the street, it was limited to five feet. (356-1) The building material was blue sandstone or greywacke from the quarries east of the village. It had two entrances, — one on the south end, — the other on the east side, over which was built a porch with a staircase leading to galleries. The roof was in the gambrel style, a few specimens of which still remain in the city. The belfry and clock tower stood on the north end. As seen from the east end of Union street it presented a pleasing and imposing appearance. The tub shaped pulpit fixed upon a narrow pedestal and surmounted by a conical sounding board, was built against the west wall, in front of which an open space was railed in called the Doop-huisje. Here the Domine stood while administering the rite of baptism.

There was a gallery upon all sides save the west, whether built with the church, or at a later day is not known, as no mention is made of it before the year 1788, when it began to be occupied by adult males who could not obtain seats below. In this as in other Dutch congregations the males and females sat apart; — the former upon raised seats called gestoelte, placed against the walls of the church, and the latter in slips or bancken upon the floor of the house.

Plaatsen in de Kerke (356-2)

[Engraving: Interior of Dutch Church of 1734: original size (69K) | 4x (282K)], Intersection of Niskayuna and Cross Streets (Union and Church Streets), Schenectady, N.Y. Pearson's Contributions. Franklin H. Janes, Architect, Albany, N.Y. J. W. M'M, 1883. A. Wild, Photo. Eng.]

In the first allotments of seats little regard was had to family relations, nor was there any exchange of sittings, and so long as the yearly rent was paid they were the property of the occupants, but in case of removal or death passed to the nearest relative of the same sex. Only in case of nonpayment of the customary rent was a seat forfeited. It was then allotted anew at the discretion of the consistory. Every transfer of a sitting cost the new occupant twelve shillings besides the yearly rent of five shillings for males and four shillings for females.

[Engraving: Plan of Church of 1734: original size (28K) | 4x enlarged (102K)]

During the eighty years that this church stood, but few and trifling changes were made in the slips or bancken first erected, and these chiefly by additions to accommodate the increasing congregation. The number of places (plaatsen) occupied by adults at different periods were as follows:

 Men's seatsMen in galleryWomen's seatsTotal
In 1734860218304
In 17541040328432
In 178812535346506

From 1788 to 1814 when the old church was removed, newcomers could not rent seats without great difficulty except in the gallery, which being chiefly occupied by boys and negroes was not considered quite respectable.

The people worshipped on the Sabbath almost to the beginning of this century even in the coldest winter weather without any other artificial heat than that derived from foot stoves. The first stoves used in this church were bought in December, 1792 and set up that winter. They were placed upon two platforms elevated to the height of the gallery and reached by climbing over the balustrade. It is said that the klokluyer was accustomed to replenish them at the beginning of the Domino's sermon and — to notify to the congregation of the importance of his vocation, — was particularly noisy in opening and shutting the stove doors. By this arrangement it is said that "the top of the church was comfortable but the people below had to carry foot stoves to keep themselves warm." So unsatisfactory was this first experiment in warming the church that the matter came up and was discussed by the consistory and the result was that the elevated platforms were removed and the stoves placed upon the floor of the church. (358-1)

1731-4. The Bell and Clock

On the 10th of February, 1730/1 a subscription was opened for a bell. The heading of this paper is as follows:

"Subscriptions of persons for the bell.

We the underwritten promise what we with our hands or by our orders have here subscribed and promised, to pay for a new bell for the Low Dutch church here at Schenectady and we promise to pay the same to the Domine and Consistory of the Low Dutch church of Schenectady, viz: — to Domine Erichzon, Dirck Groot, Cornelis Vander Volgen, Harmanus Vedder, Abraham Mebie, Jan Barentse Wemp, Wouter Vrooman, Abraham De Graaf and Cornelis Van Dyck, or to one of them, on or before the first day of May next coming. Done in Schenectady the 10th of February, 1730/1."

To this paper are appended 152 names and the amount raised was £45-6-6 ($113.31).

The bell was procured in Amsterdam and did "good and faithful service for more than a century" until it was cracked in 1848. It bore the following inscription:

"De Klok van de Neder-duidsch gemeente van Sconechiade door Haar self bezorght anno 1732.

Me fecerunt De Grave et muller Amsterdam." (359-1)

In 1740, the church had a public or town clock purchased probably at the same time with the bell.

The Charter

Although the church had owned considerable real estate more than fifty years, it had no corporate existence in law and could neither hold nor alienate property save through individuals acting as its trustees. Feeling the precarious nature of such tenure, when the church edifice was finished, the consistory petitioned the Governor and Council for a charter.

This application was favorably considered and on the third day of August, 1734, a charter was granted under the great seal of the Province.

Do. Erichzon died in January, 1752, and until 1755, the church had no regular pastor, being dependent on Do. Frelinghuysen of Albany, Do. Vrooman of New Paltz, or some divinity student temporarily filling the pulpit.

However the consistory opened a subscription for funds to pay for a minister when one should be called. One hundred and sixty-eight subscribers contributing from one shilling to thirty-six shillings, a fund of £165 was raised. The seat rents were increased and the income from these sources as well as rents of the mill, Eenkluys' "Poor Pasture," etc., sufficed for current expenses.

Parsonage

The ancient parsonage on the present church site had now stood fifty years or more and was falling to decay. It was doubtless the house mentioned in the deed of 1715, to Do. Brouwer and the consistory, (the deed is endorsed "'t Do huys") and was probably of wood, as were all other houses of its date.

It was therefore removed in 1753, and a new building of brick (360-1) erected on the same lot. It was one storey and a half high, with the usual pointed Dutch gable ends.

There were two rooms in front on the Union street side. The door was in the middle, over which was a gable.

This house stood about sixty years when it gave place to the church of 1814.

The Church of 1814

As early as 1805, the subject of repairing the old church was agitated. The church which had stood for so long in mid-street in Albany, had gone before the mareh of improvement and there was a feeling that Schenectady should follow in its wake. In 1810, the consistory appointed a committee to draw a plan and to report as to the possibility of a new church building, and still another committee to meet the wishes of those who desired to see the old church put in repair. The result of this was a decision to build anew on the parsonage lot. There was much opposition to this on the part of those whose affections clung to the old church in the street, as well as a considerable party who urged that this lot was not central enough but that the church should be built further to the east as population had extended in that direction. Petitions to this effect numerously signed by towns people and those residing on the roads eastward, are in the deacons' chest in the church tower.

The consistory's plan was adopted and in 1812, the two sites of the former churches were sold to the city to be thrown open to the streets, and the contracts for the new house of worship signed.

In the autumn of 1814, a new house was so near completion that it could be used for worship, and on the 20th November, the last services were held in the old building. (361-1)

The increase of this congregation had doubtless been much retarded by the want of seat room. This was felt many years before the church of 1734 was removed.

In view of this fact, it is singular that the church of 1814 should not have been built larger. It could accommodate but few more persons than its predecessor. (361-2) Indeed it may be said that from 1734 to 1862, a period of 128 years, the church accommodations of this congregation remained substantially the same. In the meantime the little hamlet grew into a village and the village into a city of respectable dimensions. It had but few competitors in the field, and though it became the mother church of this region, with one exception all her colonies were sent out some years subsequent to 1814.

Before closing this short account of this house it may be proper to mention the honored names of Nicholas Van der Volgen and his wife, who were considerable benefactors to it.

Many of the congregation remember the huge brass chandeliers and pleasant organ of the old church. These were their gifts, the former in 1792, the latter in 1797.

The great chandelier (groote Kroon) had eighteen lights, besides which there were seven lesser ones (Kleyndere kroonen] of six lights each, — costing altogether £67-10 New York currency.

[Engraving of Dutch Reformed Church: [ original size (12K) | 4x enlarged (50K)] The view is from the front, which is is shadow, but the spire is visible.]

The money for the organ was given in 1797, and suffered to accumulate until 1826 (?) when an instrument was obtained from Henry Erben, of New York, at the cost of 1,000 (?) dollars. This was consumed with the church in 1861.

Voorlezer and Voorzanger

The duties of Voorlezer and Voorzanger were usually united in the same person and defined by resolution of the consistory: —

Jan. 8, 1810, "Resolved, that in future the clerk of the church shall commence the public service in the morning with the reading of the ten commandments, a chapter of the Bible (362-1) and Psalm or Hymn at discretion, and in the afternoons with the reading of the articles of the Creed together with a Chapter and Psalm or Hymn." In addition to the above he had "the right and emoluments of burying the dead of the congregation." Next to the minister he was the most important officer of the church.

According to tradition the first Voorlezer of this church was Harmen Albertse Vedder, and the second his son Albert. (363-1)

To improve the psalmody of the congregation, on the 13th Feb., 1794, the consistory took the following action:

"The consistory taking into consideration the defective condition of the Dutch Psalmody in the public worship of this church: Resolved, that Cornelis De Graaf the chorister shall use his endeavors, in each family of this village and elsewhere, to obtain pupils in singing, on condition that each shall pay one shilling and six pence a month, the Consistory also adding thereto for each scholar for the term of six months, one shilling and six pence a month; provided a certificate be shown to the consistory signed by Mr. De Graaf that each scholar has diligently spent his time as he ought.

"Also Mr. De Graaf in singing shall try to observe the measure of the half notes and soften his voice as much as possible." (363-2)

If tradition tells the truth respecting Mr. De Graaf's singing, the advice last given was by no means inappropriate. It is said that while sitting on the "back stoop" of his house, then standing upon the site of Mrs. Abel Smith's house in State street, he beguiled the evening hours in summer by psalm singing, and that his voice could be clearly heard two miles up the river in a straight line.

Klokluyer

The sexton of the church was called the klokluyer, or bellringer, and his duties seem to have been not only to ring the bell but to keep the benches and seats in proper order and to dig and fill the graves. The earliest mention of this officer by the church records is the following:

"At a Consistory held this 1st July, 1696, it was resolved that Simon Groot, Senior, for ringing the bell and arranging the benches and stools in the church, shall receive annually out of the income of the church, or out of the deacons' money, the sum of 60 guilders seawant [$7.50], to begin on this 1st July."

Simon Groot, senior, mentioned in this resolution was the first of the name who settled at Schenectady, and the ancestor of all the Groots found in this vicinity. He and his five sons were carried away captive into Canada by the French and Indians in 1630.

The salary of the sexton down to 1735, was 60 guilders or $7.50. This year Hendrick Vrooman filled the office and was succeeded by Joseph Van Sice until 1747, at a yearly stipend of 6 pounds or $15.

Margarita Veeder (364-1), widow of Symon Volkertse Veeder, held the office during the years 1748/9, for £3-10 or $8.25.

From 1750 to 1758, Sara Marselis was klokluyer, the duties being performed for 4 pounds, or $10, "by haar neger Sees."

In 1759, Isaac Quackenbos' neger rang the bell; — and "Peeter Seesar" (Caesar) from 1760 to 1766, for 6 pounds per annum.

Jacobus Van Sice was sexton from 1771 to 1791, at a salary of 10 pounds, and was succeeded by his son Gysbert, who was dismissed from office in 1799 for an unfortunate indiscretion, as appears from the consistory minutes. (364-2)

It would appear from the following resolution of the consistory, that it was the duty of the sexton to preserve order in church during public worship.

"June 8, 1810. Resolved, That the sexton is authorized by this board to maintain due order in church during public worship, and that he shall be indemnified against any legal process, which may arise in consequence of correcting or turning out of church, the unruly and refractory; provided he do not essentially injure, or scandalously abuse any person."

Baptisms

The baptismal register (Doep-boek) of this church from 1694 to this time is entire with the exception of ten years during Domine Vrooman's ministry; and as all children were baptized, both colored and Indian as well as white, — legitimate and illegitimate, — it is the only authoritive source, if rightly interpreted, whence the descendants of most of the old Dutch families of this region can derive their pedigrees. In early times baptism was always performed in the church, unless unavoidably prevented and within a few days after birth; sometimes on the birthday. And it was the duty of the Domine to register each child so baptized with parents and witnesses (getuygen) names.

The number of registered baptisms from 1694 to 1852 is 11,396.

Marriages

The marriage register or Trouw-boek of this church contains the names of 2,543 couples married between the years 1694 and 1852.

Under the Dutch government of New Netherlands, marriage was considered a civil contract, and might be confirmed (bevestight) either by a magistrate or by a minister of the Gospel. Preliminary to such confirmation however, due notification of intention of marriage was required. The banns were published three Sundays or market days, by the minister of the church where the parties resided or by a magistrate in court, after which the marriage could be confirmed by any minister or magistrate on presentation of a certificate (attestatie) of such publication. No particular place was required for the marriage ceremony; — sometimes it was performed in church, at other times in private houses. (365-1)

As it was impossible or inconvenient to comply with the law of publication in all cases, a dispensation and license were granted by the Governor, on the presentation of a "penal bond of 500 pounds that there was no lawful let or impediment" to the marriage.

The first marriage by license recorded in the "Trouw-Boek" of this church was in 1717. (?)

The practice of issuing licenses ceased with the British rule in this State in 1783.

When a widow or widower with infant children married again, it was customary for the parties to contract with the Orphan's Court guardians, to protect and preserve the property of said children until they arrived at lawful age.

These were called Weesmasters or Orphan Masters.

Funerals

At funerals "no woman attended the body to the grave, but after the corpse was borne out, remained to eat cakes and drink spiced wine. They retired quietly before the men returned, who resumed the feast and regaled themselves.

Spiced wine and cakes and pipes were provided, and wine and cakes were sent to the friends of the family. The best room in the house was specially appropriated as the 'dead room' and was rarely opened but to be aired and cleaned. (368-1)

Wealthy citizens in anticipation of a death in their families, were accustomed to procure a cask of wine during their lifetime and preserved it for this purpose. (369-1) When the coffin was removed from the house, it was placed upon a bier at the door and covered with a pall of black cloth. (369-2)

The bier was then borne upon the shoulders of the bearers to the grave followed only by invited guests. The chief direction of the funeral ceremonies was taken by the Voorlezer assisted by the klokluyer, and all their charges were regulated by the consistory. (369-3)

Prior to the year 1800 there had probably been no hearse in the village; in all funeral processions the bier and pall were used; hence as it was not convenient to carry the dead great distances in this manner, the people in the country buried upon their own lands.

At a meeting of the consistory held April 7, 1800, it was "Resolved: That a herse be procured as soon as convenient for the use of carrying the dead of this congregation to the burying ground, and also for the use of the public, under such regulations as this board shall afterwards prescribe."

And again Dec. 3, 1800, having obtained a hearse it was "Resolved, That the herse and harness be kept by the sexton in some convenient place as near the burying ground as possible, to be provided by the consistory; and that whenever any of the citizens may want it, application be made to him, and that it be his duty to collect the fees."

Burial Places

The earliest public burying ground (370-1) in the village was on the west side of the first church at the junction of Church and State streets. After this plat of ground had been used for this purpose about 60 years another was selected without the palisades, — the grave yard situated between Front and Green streets, lately sold by the church for building lots — with exception of Yates' lot and vault.

In 1705, this spot together with all the land lying west of it to the fort, then covered with woods, was granted to Philip Schuyler for 18 pounds N. Y. currency, or 45 dollars. Two years before, Ryer Schermerhorn, the sole living patentee had granted 4 morgens of woodland lying to the eastward of the burying ground to Thomas Williams of Albany, who conveyed it April 7, 1709, to Arent Van Petten; from whom it passed to his son Frederick.

The following are abstracts from the conveyances of the burial ground made to the church:

Aug. 1, 1721. The patentees of Schenectady conveyed to the Dutch church a lot, "for a Christian burial place for all the Christians of the town of Schenectady and adjacent places;" …… "lying Eastward of the ffort of Schenectady, the south side butting the roadway [Green street] opposite over against Dirk Groot's pasture ground 160 feet, — on the west side 240 feet, and on the east end 338 feet long, butting the lot of Arent Van Petten; and on the north side [on Front street] is 195 feet long." (371-1)

This conveyance was confirmed by another conveyance to the church made March 1, 1733/4, by Jan Wemp and Arent Bradt, the surviving trustees of the common lands.

On the 7th of August, 1765, Frederic Van Petten for the sum of 125 pounds, conveyed to the church a parcel of ground for an addition to the east side of the burial ground, which parcel is described as follows:

"All that parcel of land on the East side of the town on the south side of a street that comes out of said town and leads by Jacob Fonday's to the Ael plaas, (371-2) [Front street], and also on the north side of a street [Green], that comes out of said town and leads back of his Majesty's fort by the house of Jacobes Van Vorst and Jeronimus Barheyt, — being putted and bounded as followeth: — On the north the Highway leading by Jacob Fonday's to the Ael plaas aforesaid; — on the West the church yard or burial place; — on the south the Highway that leads back of the Fort by Jacobes Van Vorst afsd; — on the east by a lott of ground [which the said Frederic Van Petten reserves for himself] laid out between the lott of Myndert Wemple and the hereinabove recited land, which lot is to contain in front along said street [Green] fifty feet and in rare [rear] along the lot of Zeger Van Santfort 53 feet all wood measure, and the above rented ground is also bounded on the east by a lot of ground heretofore sold to Zeger Van Santfort." (371-3)

A great majority of the towns people buried their dead in the common burying ground, but for those who coveted the honor or sanctity of a grave in the church, this privilege could be bought for about twenty times the price of a common grave.

The following were the rules for burying the dead in the church in 1759:

Monuments

No headstones are found at the graves of first settlers; the graver's art did not then exist among them and the marble and granite had not then been quarried.

The oldest gravestone [view poor-quality engraving: original size | 4x ] found in the city was a few years since taken from a cellar wall into which it had been built, having been used evidently as a whetstone many years after it had served the purpose of a funeral monument. It was a fragment of the blue stone found in the quarries east of the city; its dimensions were fourteen by seven inches and four inches thick, and bore the following inscription rudely and slightly cut:

Anno 1690

DEN XX8 MAY
IS MIN SOON
IN DEN HEERE
GERUST
HENDRICK

IANSEN
VROOMAN
IAN
VROOMAN

[Translation.] "On the 28th of May in the year 1690 my son, Hendrick Jansen Vrooman, rested in the Lord. Jan Vrooman."

The oldest gravestone in the church burying ground, was set up in 1722 and is of the same material as the above mentioned stone.

Endowments

Probably no church in the State, outside of the city of New York, was so munificently endowed as that of Schenectady. In 1740 she owned fully twelve square miles of land in this county, which, had it been conveyed by long leases and not in fee, would have been worth to her now from $300,000 to $500,000. All this magnificent estate has passed away; at this time she possesses barely a fine house of worship and the lot upon which it stands.

Several reasons may be assigned for the dissipation of this large property.

Inasmuch as the pew rents covered but a small part of the current expenses of the church, this deficiency was supplied from time to time by the sales of the patent lands, which were held of little account except for pasturage and timber, and were sold, therefore, at a low figure. Moreover, if tradition be correct, large portions also of this fair domain were frittered away in gifts to the relatives and friends of influential members of the congregation, under cover of conveyances with a mere nominal consideration.

Only a brief description can be given here of the chief pieces of real estate that have been owned by this church.

Church Sites

The first in order of time, was the old site at the junction of Church and State streets. It must have been reserved for this purpose from the first laying out of the village, before the year 1664. Its dimensions north and mouth were 56 feet, — east and west 46 feet, Amsterdam measure, together with a strip fifteen feet wide upon the west side for a burying ground. Subsequently it was extended south 84 feet towards the creek, — the rear line being 44 1/2 feet. (373-1)

After having been used for various public purposes, the consistory resolved in 1785, to build their new academy upon it; afterwards to erect a dwelling house upon it, — and finally to convey it to Arent S. Vedder, for the same purpose. But all these projects failed because it was manifestly unsuitable for a building site, and especially that portion which had been used for more than fifty years as a village burial ground.

The present church site was acquired from Daniel Janse Van Antwerp in 1715 — as seen in deed of which a facsimile is here inserted.

A strip along the east side was added by purchase as noted under head of Van Vorst.

De Arme Wey or Poor Pasture

Of all the ample domains of the church, De Arme wey was the longest held and the last sold. The title deeds of this property are lost if any ever existed; even tradition is at fault and the donor's true name has nearly perished from the remembrance of those who have been benefited by it.

The story has been told that Jan Rinckhout gave this property to the church, reserving simply "a small spot on which be erected a hut partly under ground," and there lived a hermit's life.

Rinckhout was a baker in Albany, but about 1670, removed to Schenectady having leased his house and bakery to Antony Lespinard "with privilege of baking for Christians and Savages." He was living in Schenectady as late as 1704, when his son Jurriaen dying made provision in his will that his wife, six children and father, Jan, should be maintained out of his real and personal estate here and in New York. It is certain that the church owned De Arme Wey seventeen years prior to this date. These facts therefore render it quite improbable that Jan Rinckhout was the donor.

Discarding tradition and romance, the evidence is clear that the true benefactor of "the poor of Schenectady" was Hans Janse Eenkluys, an ancient servant and soldier of the Dutch West India Company. He early came to New Netherland and was sent by Governor Van Twiller in 1632 to erect the arms of the States General at a spot called Kievits Hoek [Saybrook] at the mouth of the Connecticut river.

On the occasion of Governor Stuyvesant's visit to Rensselaerswyck in 1648, he was employed to clean the Heer Patroon's cannons and to fire the salutes. As early as 1668 he was an inhabitant of Schenectady, where he continued to reside until his death in 1683, after which event the deacons of the church, Johannes Pootman and Sweer Teunise Van Velsen, petitioned the court of Albany for authority to administer upon his estate, saying that on the 7th day of March, 1674/5, he (Hans Janse Eenkluys] had made over to the poor of Schenectady his plantation upon condition that he should be maintained in his old age and weakness, and that on the 2d of May, 1680, he had made the deacons of the church administrators of his whole estate.

They aver also that thirteen years ago (1670) he began to be very weak, that they had given him support while living and had paid the expenses of his funeral.

This Plantasie is first mentioned in the church books in 1687, when it was leased to Symen Groot, Barent Wemp and Gysbert Gerritse Van Brakel for 82 guilders ($32.80), per annum. The rent was paid chiefly in wheat at five skipples the beaver, or 80 cents a bushel.

About this time it began to be called De Wey, Hans Janse's wey, and De Arme Wey. (375-1)

In its original condition it consisted of eighteen morgens (about 36 acres) of the finest Mohawk flats, and was bounded by the river on the north, — the river road (a continuation of Front street) on the south, — the "Fonda place," on the west and the "Hansen kil" (now College brook) on the east, by which it was separated from the Boght.

This latter parcel of land consisting of 16 acres was purchased of Harmanus Van Slyck in 1806 for $1,750.

Several attempts were formerly made by the church to dispose of this property but without success.

In 1795, the consistory "Resolved to sell the Arme wey for not less than 800 pounds" ($2,000), at which price no purchaser was found; but in 1863, it was disposed of, including the Boght, at auction for about $11,000, and the avails were mingled with the general funds of the church.

Thus passed away Eenkluys' gift "to the poor of Schenectady" after having been in the possession of the church nearly 190 years. Long ago the old soldier's name was forgotten, but the results of his benefaction are perpetuated to this day, not indeed in the direction which he had indicated, but in that beautiful structure lately dedicated as a house of worship.

Among the honored names there emblazoned that of Hanse Janse Eenkluys, is entitled to special consideration.

Church Mill and Mill Pasture

This fine property, — the bequest of Sweer Teunise Van Velsen (alias Van Westbrook), the town miller, consisted of six acres of land bounded northerly by State street, southerly by the Sand kil (laterly called Mill creek), easterly by Dock street and westerly by the lot of Douwe Aukes Defreeze, which latter lot 140 feet front on State street (Amsterdam measure), was on corner of Mill lane and State street.

Defreeze was an innkeeper and next east of his lot probably stood Van Velsen's house, his grist-mill being in the rear on the creek. Both houses were burned in the massacre of 1690 by the French and Indians, at which time Sweer Teunise with his wife Maritie Mynderse perished in the flames. As he left no heirs here, his property passed to children of his wife by her first husband, Jan Barentse Wemp.

It was understood however before his death that he had made a will devising the half or third of his estate to the church; but no such instrument was ever found. Nevertheless his step-children to carry out his wishes released to the church the mill and six acres of land above described.

The church took possession of this property soon after Van Velsen's death and within about thirty years disposed of the entire front upon State street for building lots.

That portion between Ferry and Dock streets was divided into ten parcels varying in width from 45 to 53 feet (Amsterdam measure). The lowland in the rear called the Church pasture was retained until early in this century.

The Church mill stood upon, or near the site of the old brick mill now standing in Mill lane. It was usually leased for about 50 pounds New York currency. After holding it for 120 years, the church sold it in 1800 to David Burt and John J. Peck for $2,570. In 1813 it was turned into a cotton mill by Dr. Archibald Craig who built the present brick building.

The Sixth Flat

On the 20th May, 1714, Ryer Schermerhorn, the only surviving patentee of Schenectady, conveyed to the Dutch church, "A lot of land on the north side of the Mohawk river about 7 miles above Schenectady, called the Sixth flat, containing about seven morgens or fourteen acres;" — "Also 10 morgens, or 20 acres of Woodland behind said Sixth flat and so going up to a creek called by the Indians Toggutchero, — in English named 'Color creek,' [in Dutch Verfkil], at the east end of the 'Seventh flat,' and so on north behind the said flat into the woods as far as the bounds of the said town."

From a petition presented to the trustees of the town, on the 16th Jan., 1716, by Jacobus Van Dyck, in behalf of the consistory, it appears that these parcels of land had been purchased, but on account of pressing debts and urgent need they are asked to remit the purchase money. How long the church retained this farm and how or when they disposed of it is not known. (377-1)

On the 25th Jan., 1714/5, the trustees of Schenectady conveyed to the Dutch church a piece of woodland, "in the East end of the town, bounded north by the highway [river road to the Aqueduct] — south by the common woods, West by the woodland of heirs of Hendrick Brouwer, and East by the land of Claas and Tjerk Fransen" [Van de Bogart]. This land lay opposite to and this side of the lower (late Freeman's) bridge on the river road and was still in possession of the church in 1734.

How or when it was disposed of is not known.

The Burial Lot

As has been before stated the earliest burial place used by the founders of Schenectady was on the west side of the old church at the junction of State and Church streets.

Some were buried under the church, especially such as could afford to pay for this privilege.

The first mention made of the burying ground between Front and Green streets is in the deed of this plat given by the patentees of the town to the church, dated Aug. 1, 1721.

The Niskayuna Patent

This tract lay to the east and south of the Schenectady patent and extended from the Ael-plaats south to the north line of the manor of Rensselaerswyck.

On the 5th of August, 1738, a patent was obtained for this land by Arent Bradt and Jacob Glen in trust for the Reformed Protestant Dutch church of Schenectady, it was then estimated to contain 2500 acres, but owing to an error in measurement rectified in 1788, fell considerably short of that amount.

The west line of this church patent was the east line of the Schenectady patent, the starting point for which line at the Ael-plaats had been fixed by the citizens at the mouth of Jan de Laggers kil. (378-1) The consistory claimed and rightly too, that this point should be at the mouth of the Ael-plaats kil, thus claiming a strip of land from the east bounds of the town, of more than 1200 acres. This controversy was finally determined in favor of the church and Arent Bratt, only surveying patentee of the town on Feb. 5th, 1754, gave them a deed of conveyance of the property.

The whole number of acres conveyed to the church by these conveyances was 3621.

Finances

Memorandum

The foregoing compilation is in the main, from original matter collected by Professor Pearson and published imperfectly in the church history issued in 1880, on the supposed 200th anniversary of the founding of the Dutch church in Schenectady. It contains an abstract of facts of interest to the general reader and some additional notes as to peculiar Dutch customs as well as some conclusions by the editor.

In 1715, the church was called "The Reformed Nether Dutch church," which title in 1727 was transposed into "Nether Dutch Reformed church" (Nederduytse gereformeerde gemynte), or commonly the "Dutch church."

The authorities for the foregoing are records and papers in the "Deacons' Chest," the baptismal and marriage books here and in Albany county, records of Albany and Schenectady counties, as well as data in State offices and State library.

The Doop and Trouw books begin in 1694, prior registers having been lost in the flames of 1690. There are a few imperfect records kept by the treasurer, of somewhat older date.

This church with its vast estates and civil interests must have had many valuable papers pertaining to the ancestry of the people and defining many historical facts which are now but conjectures. A committee "to examine the papers in the old box belonging to this Board and to destroy all such papers as they may deem useless," was appointed in 1813, and they probably destroyed much history. It is said that the old records of Virginia were destroyed to cover up sins of the destroyers' ancestors and tradition has it that the consistory of this church in its business aspect was a close corporation for the benefit of its friends. However this may be, this committee swept out of existence the original titles to much of the land and doubtless obliterated the ancestral trace of many worthy as well as unworthy Dutch settlers whose descendants are numerous throughout the country.

The most valuable of these records were the Notarial papers of Schenectady kept by Ludovicus Cobes, schout and secretary from 1677 to about 1695, when he died. They contained all deeds, wills, marriage contracts, testimony of witnesses prior to trial, and similar miscellaneous official matter. On examining the Albany Notarial papers one feels the deepest regret that those of Schenectady should have disappeared. Possibly there were unpleasant facts but as facts they were worthy of preservation.

Whether they were destroyed with other unreadable Dutch documents by this committee, it is impossible to say now. They were appointed to destroy and not to preserve and they left no list of what went to the flames.

The Dutch quoted in the foregoing was "Mohawk Dutch." In Father Jogues' time (1643) there were eighteen different languages spoken at New York, presumably as many at Albany. A considerable number of the early settlers had Indian wives. (Domine Megapolensis says the Dutch are constantly running after the Mohawk women.) The children growing up with Indian relatives, among the tribes and with men speaking so great a variety of tongues built up a patois of their own, the "Mohawk Dutch;" many words met with in it defying the dictionary of the schools and yielding only to the explanation of very old men who had been familiar with this kind of Dutch and the Indian languages in their early youth. Many words are untranslatable save by the context.

Notes

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