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.
FLORIDA REFORMED CHURCH
The Reformed Church of Florida is situated at Minaville in the town of Florida, hence its name. When Classis was formed in 1800, it was called the "Chukonot" church, said to be a corruption for the Indian tern, "Chuctanunda," and which means "stone house." However, the Indian term "Chukonot" means "place of the tamerack." Minaville in those early days also called "Yankee Street" and not far away was "Remsen's Bush," where a Reformed church had been established before the Chukonot church was organized. In 1769 Lawrence Shuler settled about a mile east of the present site of the village. It was on a part of his farm of three hundred acres that the first church was built. The district in which the church was situated was called Caughnawaga, and was one of the eight district of Tryon county, which in 1784 became Montgomery county. When the Montgomery Classis was formed in 1800, two churches in what is now Minaville, were included among the twenty-four organizations, namely, --Chukonot and Remsen's Bush, the latter being the first congregation, whose house of worship was near the old burying ground, one of whose stones bears the burial date of 1786, and which building stood until 1846, --an unpainted, barn-like structure, with galleries, high pulpit, and sounding board.
The Remsen's Bush reformed Protestant Dutch church, as its title reads in the incorporation, and which bears date of February 9, 1789, was very likely organized soon after the settlement by Lawrence Shuler perhaps as early as 1784, the date usually assigned to it, tho we should give it an earlier date. The records at the County Clerk's office, after the one mentioned above are as follows, November 20, 1806, the Florida Reformed Dutch church incorporated and the act was recorded January 22, 1807. The present consistory are, J. F. Ernest, John McClumpha, Charles Patterson, and William Kelly, elders, and Arthur Luke, Elbert Van Derveer, Schuyler Van Horne, and Richard De Forest, deacons.
The oldest consistorial record extant bears date of June 2, 1808, which states the action whereby the Remsen's Bush and the Florida (Chukonot) churches were untied into one body. This body was incorporated, according to the county clerk's record on June 6, 1808, tho it was not put on file till January 13, 1810. The elders were, Christian Servoss, Isaac Vedder, and Jacob Sharpentine; the deacons were Ruloff Covenhoven, Jacob Staley, John Davenpack, and John Van Derveer, with Winslow Paige, V.D.M., and Jacob Sharpentine, trustees. The first church of the united congregation was erected in 1808, with the usual tall spire without and the three galleries within, square pews, high pulpit and sounding board. In course of time it was considerably changed, but lasted the congregation for seventy-two years, when, in 1880 and 1881 a new building was erected at the cost of $5,000. In 1858 a parsonage was bought and repaired at a cost of about $2,000, but this was burned in 1886 and the present house then erected at a cost of $2,500. The church has $2,300 in invested bonds. In 1882 Rev. J. H. Enders, for many years Synodical Superintendent, erected a chapel for the church in memory of his wife, which chapel, together with the church, was burned in 1912, and a fourth church building was then built in 1913. The earliest known preacher in this section was Rev. James Maier, as known preacher in this action was Rev. James Maier, as early as 1794, while the ministers at Schenectady and Albany, also, doubtless ministered here. The first settled pastor was Rev. Thomas Romeyn (1800-1806), who was born at Caughnawaga, the son of Thomas Romeyn, Sr., pastor there during 1772-1794. For a score of years he was pastor at Niskayuna. Ill health compelled him to give up the ministry in 1827, tho he lived until 1857. The trustees elected were, Nathan Stanton, Ruloff Covenhoven (Conover), John DeGraff, Samuel Jackson, Isaac Vedder, John Van Derveer, John Shuler, Hendrick Van Derveer and Tunis Hubbard. Successors to Mr. Romeyn in the Florida pulpit were, Winslow Paige (1808-1820), who died in 1838; Peter P. Rouse (1822-1828), who died in 1832; James Stevenson (1829-1854), who died in 1864 and lies buried at Minaville; John Clancy (1855-1860), in whose pastorate the parsonage was built and sheds secured; on leaving Minaville he gave up the active ministry and removed to Schenectady where he spent the rest of his life; Josephus Krum (1861-1865) ordained by the Classis, who went into the Presbyterian ministry, later becoming an Episcopalian, and is now preaching at Ottawa, Kansas; Gilbert Lane (1863-1873), who had been chaplain in the army, and who died in 1896. Rev. Richard A. Pearse came to the church in 1873 on his graduation from New Brunswick, and has already passed the forty year mark of a single pastorate. (A classmate, C. E. Lasher, has had the same experience at Guilford, N.Y.) The Rev. Sheldon Jackson, the noted Alaskan missionary, was born and spent his youth under the shadow of the old church at Minaville, and lies buried in its beautiful cemetery along with his wife, and children, and parents, and grandparents, and the parents and grandparents of his wife, his brothers and sisters, -- a multitude of kindred. Col. Samuel Jackson, his grandfather, was stationed at Plattsburgh during the war of 1812, Rev. Dr. Jackson was present at Plattsburgh during the war of 1812, Rev. Dr. Jackson was present at the centennial of the formation of the church in 1908 and delivered an historical address.
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