Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The 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.


The beginning of the Columbia church takes us back to July 8, 1798 when Rev. Dedrick Christian Andreas Pick, V.D.M. (as he always signed his name), who at the time was pastor of the large German Flatts congregation ordained the first Columbia church consistory. A year later the church was incorporated. For several years the congregation used the barn of Coonrod Orendorf (still standing) for a place of worship. In 1803 plans were laid for a church building, which was completed, at least sufficiently for worship, in the year 1806, tho it was not wholly finished until New Years of 1810. It cost $4,000. On November 1, 1806, the first members were received, fifty-five in number, the Rev. John J. Wack, at the time the pastor of the old "Sand Hill" church (cf), conducting the service. Rev. John P. Spinner, for nearly half a century pastor at German Flatts, frequently preached at Columbia in its earliest days. The settlement of the first pastor, Rev. John Bartlett occurred in 1811, who remained three years. Rev. David De Voe began a four years' supply in 1816 while pastor at St. Johnsville. Mr. De Voe was an active pioneer in central New York, and organized several Reformed churches. After leaving Columbia he remained fifteen years longer at St. Johnsville, and later returned to supply Columbia during the years 1836-1839. He died in 1843. Rev. John Rawls was called in 1819, and came to the church from New Brunswick Seminary, where he had just graduated. He was ordained, and installed over the church by the Classis of Montgomery, and remained two years. Columbia seems to have been his only charge. Rev. Isaac S. Ketchum (cf Stone Arabia) occasionally supplied the Columbia pulpit between the pastorate of Rawls and that of Hangen, which began in 1826. Rev. John Rawls was called in 1819, and came to the church from New Brunswick Serninary where he had just graduated. He was ordained, and installed over the church by the Classis of Montgomery, and remained two years. Columbia seems to have been his only charge. Rev. Isaac S. Ketchum (cf Stone Arabia) occasionally supplied the Columbia pulpit between the pastorate of Rawls and that of Hangen which began in 1826.

Rev. Jacob W. Hangen came from the German Reformed church to Columbia at the age of twenty-three and served the church for six years, going to Mapletown and Currytown where he supplied for five years (1832-1836). After several other pastorates, the last in Trappe, Pa., Mr. Hangen died February 23, 1843, at the age of thirty-eight. During Hangen's pastorate at Columbia a great revival took place resulting in large accessions to the church. At this time a colony from Columbia, nearly all of whom were Mr. Hangen's members, under the leadership of Rev. George W. Gale (Union '14, Auburn '17), Principal at the time of Oneida Institute, settled at Galesburg, Illinois and founded Knox College. There were one hundred and seventy members of the church at this time. During 1834 the Rev. David De Voe supplied both Columbia and the church at Warren. In 1836 David De Voe returned to Columbia for three or four years supply. Following De Voe was the Rev. George W. Lewis a Lutheran minister who supplied the church one year. Rev. John H. Ackerson on his graduation from New Brunswick was called to Columbia, and ordained by the Classis of Montgomery and installed over the church in December, 1839, remaining pastor until 1841. For the three years following he was pastor of the Schaghticoke church, but in 1843 he was deposed from the ministry for unbecoming conduct. He died in 1849. While Ackerson was pastor (1840) the church was all but destroyed by a fierce wind storm, which occurred during a service. The structure was taken down and at once rebuilt. Deacon John Edick was killed in the reconstruction of the church. After Ackerson the church was supplied for a while by Rev. Jedediah L. Stark (1843-cf Mohawk), Rev. D. B. Hall (1844) and Rev. W. L. James (1852-1855).

Rev. Jedediah Lathrop Stark spent twenty years in Montgomery Classis supplying and preaching at Columbia, Mohawk, German Flatts, Frankfort, and Buel. His last service was at German Flatts. He died in 1862 at Mohawk. David B. Hall came from the Congregational church to Columbia. He was a Princeton ('42) man, and was supplying Columbia a couple of years when ordained an evangelist by the Pawlet Cong. Asso. 1846. The only pastorate he ever had was at Cleveland (cf). He died May 1, 1898 at Duanesburgh. He was a virile preacher, evangelistic and optimistic (despite a domestic affliction), and served the church over half a century.

Rev. Mr. James died at Kingston, October 20, 1887, aged seventy-six. The Particular Synod of Albany Minutes gives the name of Rev. Jas. Murphy as the supply of Columbia during the years and the name of (Woodbridge) L. James as supply for 1855. Rev. Dr. Murphy preached for the church in 1857, but in this year the church became the owner of a large parsonage and Rev. Eben S. Hammond who came to Columbia in 1857, was the first pastor to occupy this manse at Columbia Center, In the Synod minutes of 1858 the church is credited with fifty families and seventy-five members The next pastor of the church was the Rev. Henry Aurand who carne from the German Reformed church, and began his work in 1860, remaining thro 1863. He died in 1876. In order to meet the salary of Mr. Aurand the parsonage was mortgaged, to be later foreclosed, thus losing it to the church.

Rev. Andrew Parsons of the Richfield Springs Presbyterian church supplied the pulpit during 1864. Rev. Matthew Bronson occupied the pulpit during the years 1865 thro 1867 (an Asahel Bronson is on Record of Classis) and lived in the house next cast to the church. Columbia is reported "vacant" to Classis from 1864 to 1871. In 1871 Rev. James M. Compton began a five years pastorate, during which the church was extensively repaired. After preaching at Sprakers and Mapletown, Mr. Compton returned to Columbia in 1888 and passed the rest of his days there. He died December 12, 1891, and is buried with his wife in the church cemetery.

Rev. John W. Hammond supplied the pulpit during the winter of 1875-1876, during which time a great revival took place and twenty-seven united with the church. It was Mr. Hammond's last service since he died, November 23, 1876. In July, 1876, Rev. Rufus M. Stanbrough came to the field and remained thro 1881. The present parsonage was secured in Mr. Stanbrough's pastorate, the church and Sunday school showing decided gains. He had two other charges after leaving Columbia and died at Newburgh in 1905.

In 1883 and 1884, Rev. Peter A. Wessels was the pastor, during whose time the church sheds were built, the present parsonage and barn erected, and the church reincorporated. Mr. Wessels supplied for a time at Auriesville but has lived at Amsterdam now for a number of years without any charge. After a lapse of a year Theodore A Beekman became pastor in November, 1885, and remained two years. He came from the seminary to the church and was ordained and installed by Montgomery Classis. Mr. Beekman is at present in the Rosendale, N. Y. church. In 1888 Mr. Compton began his second pastorate. During the summers of 1892 and 1893 the pulpit was supplied by seminary students, Clinton W. Clowe, who is now pastor at Schoharie and S. G. Parent who is pastor of the Presbyterian church at Mariaville. Rev. William H. Shelland was called to the pastorate in 1894 and remained thro 1896 Nothing further is known of him. During the Summer and Fall of 1897 the Rev. George Reynold, pastor of the Richfield Springs Presbyterian church supplied the pulpit. The last settled pastor was Rev. Fletcher V. W. Lehman who supplied the summer of 1898 and who was ordained by the Classis of Montgomery and installed over the church in 1899, on his graduation from New Brunswick.

Since the year 1902 the church has had no regular services save during the summer time when the pulpit has been supplied by students from the seminary. The only other supplies have been the Synodical Missionary and later, occasionally, the Classical Missionary. The students who have supplied, and their present work, as far as we have been able to obtain the information, are as follows: 1902-Henry Van Woert, New Brunswick '04, now at Selkirk N. Y. 1903-Frderick E. Foerner, New Brunswick '05, now at Pompton, N. J. 1904-1905-Henry K. Post, New Brunswick '06, now at Freehold, N. J. 1906-John A. De Hollander, New Brunswick '09, now at Irondequoit, N. Y. 1907-William A. Worthington, New Brunswick '09, now at Annville, Ky. 1908-E. M. Gehr, a Union Seminary student Presbyterian) now at New Hampton, N. Y. 1909-Andrew Hansen, New Brunswick '13, now at Millstone, N. J. 1910-1911-Allen F. Markley, Western Theo. Sem. '14, now at Cleveland, Ohio. 1912-Steptien W. Ryder, New Brunswick '13, now at Aomori, Japan. 1913-Frank Blanchard, New Brunswick '16. 1914-15-Rev. F. V. W. Lehman.

Originally the church owned two and a half acres of land, but an acre or more was given to the cemetery, one of the best kept in all the countryside. There is an endowment of $1,200 created by the gift of Moses Isaman of $1,000 and the Myers-Oxner fund of $200 (originally $400). In the County Clerk's office at Herkimer is a record of Incorporation filed May 23, 1877, and an election of trustees recorded, June 27, 1877. Since its organization it is estimated that some thirty other church societies have gone out of this one church. The cemetery attached to the church contains the graves of a great many revolutionary soldiers.


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