History From America's Most Famous Valleys
History of Montgomery Classis, R.C.A.
by W.N.P. Dailey,
Recorder Press, Amsterdam, NY 1916
To which is added sketches of Mohawk Valley men and events of early days, the Iroquois, Palatines, Indian Missions, Tryon County, committee of Safety, Sir Wm. Johnson, Joseph Brant, Arendt Van Curler, Gen. Herkimer, Reformed Church in America, Doctrine and Progress, Revolutionary Residences, Etc.
THOUSAND ISLES REFORMED CHURCH
Probably the first white man to gaze ont he beauty of the Lake of the Thousand Isles was Samuel de Champlain, the founder of New France, who, in 1615, took part in an expedition against the Iroquois. After him the first man of note was Father LeMoyne, the Jesuit priest while on his journey to the Onondagas in the summer of 1654. After LeMoyne came LaSalle, Frontenac, De L Barre, La Hontan, Hennepin, Charlevoix, et al. This church is in Jefferson county (called after Thomas Jefferson) at Alexandria Bay (named after Alexander LeRay, son of the proprietor of the tract). The site for the church and parsonage was given by Francis De Peau. "the church of the Thousand Isles" is the corporate and euphonious name of this Reformed church, which owes its origin to the indefatigable labors of Rev. Dr. Bethune, the noted hymn writer and at one time the pastor of our Utica church (cf). While pastor of the old Third church of Philadelphia (now extinct) Dr. Bethune made annual pilgrimages to the "Thousand Isles," usually preaching on Sundays in the school house at Alexandria Bay. The first Sunday school in the town was soon organized. Later Dr. Bethune met the Rev. Jerome A. Davenport, and sent him to the field, caring for him largely out of his own means, with no thought whatever of a church--just a sort of itinerant preaching at the Bay and in the surrounding communities. But Mr. Davenport's work soon outgrew the little stone school house, and compelled a church building. Mr. Davenport went to Wisconsin and later entered the Episcopal church. After two years spent in raising funds, a church was built costing $2,800, while in the following year a manse was erected which cost $825. The first consistory of the church was Alvah Ford, elder, and James Wordworthy, deacon. The first pastor of the church was the Rev. Anson DuBois, who came in 1850 and remained four years. He had just graduated from the Seminary (New Brunswick) and spent over fifty years in the pulpit. During Mr. DuBois' ministry here the church was organized in 1851, reporting to the Particular Synod the following year. Among the early patrons of the church, besides Dr. Bethune, were Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Throop Martin of the Owasco Outlet church, who largely contributed toward its erection and John G. Holland to whom a memorial tablet was erected. The building was dedicated in August, 1851, Dr. Bethune preaching the sermon. A Presbyterian church in Troy, N. Y. gave the bell. Very few of the members of the church were ever before connected with the denomination. The land for both church and parsonage were given by the estate of Frances DePeau.
The second pastor of the church was the Rev. George Rockwell, who stayed by the organization for twenty-three years. Relinquishing this pastorate owing to extreme deafness in 1877, Mr. Rockwell spent some time in Fulton, N. Y. and New York City, going for residence finally to Tarrytown, where he died in 1897. Rev. De Vries came to the work in 1877 and remained five years. Since 1884, Mr. De Vries has been the pastor of the Peekskill, N. Y. church. Rev. Dr. Egbert C. Lawrence followed De Vries in 1882 and resigned in 1886. has been in the Presbyterian ministry for many years, and has been spending a good many years as supply to vacant churches, making his home in Schenectady, N. Y. After Dr. Lawrence, the Rev. Charles P. Evans supplied the church for a couple of years. He is living at present in Watervliet. Rev. George Z. Collier was next on the field, coming in 1890 and remaining thro a part of 1896. Mr. Collier is now serving the Middleburgh church in the Classis of Schoharie. Rev. Isaac J. Van Hee came to the field from the Seminary (New Brunswick) in 1897, being ordained by the Classis. He remained thro 1901 when he accepted a call to the Fultonville church which he left in 1905. After pastorates at North Paterson (N. J.), Little Falls (N. J.), and Pekin, Ill., he entered the Presbyterian church. His principal task for some years has been in social work for the Ford Auto Co. of Detroit, Mich.
In 1901 the church called Rev. Charles F. Benjamin, a member of that year's class in the Seminary, who was ordained by the Montgomery Classis and installed over the church, and is its present pastor. The present consistory consists of Norman Hay, Noris Houghton. John Betz, C. B. Forsythe, elders, and C. W. Cornwall, George Russell, J. B. Reid and Fred Chayn, deacons.
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