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 first church in Lodi (Seneca county) was Presbyterian, organized in 1800 by the Rev. John Lindsay who remained with the church until 1805. The town of Lodi was formed in 1826. While the church was called the "First Presbyterian Church of Ovid", it is not to be confounded with the later organization in Ovid village in 1803, which was organized by Rev. Jedediah Chapman. The 1800 organization, changed in denominational name, and, later, in location, is today the "Reformed Church of Lodi." During Lindsay's pastorate the first building was erected, but after his going there was no other Presbyterian minister, the church becoming Dutch Reformed in 1809. In the interim services were, however, occasionally held, among the preachers being Revs. John Stuart, Lewis Williams, M. Misner (Bapt.) and Rev. Wm. Clark. These men also preached in the churches of Ovid village, Lodi, and Hector. The 1803 organization erected a primitive log church in 1804 on ground donated by Judge Silas Halsey who had come into the country from Long Island in 1792. It stood with its gable end toward the road, the entrance from t south, and the pulpit in the north. The building was never completed, yet it served for twenty- five years. It was organized in Halsey's barn which served as the house of worship until the hewn-lo church was built. The ministers mentioned in connection with the 1800 organization (which worshipped for several years in the court house) also served this church, which was made up largely of persons at variance with the other church. From 1804 to 1806 Rev. John Stuart supplied the pulpit, and in 1828 when the Reformed Dutch church of Lodi village was erected.

In the Presbyterian record book under date of February 27, 1809 is a record of the election of elders and deacons in the new "Protestant Reformed Low Dutch Church of Ovid." Stephen Voorhees, Tunis Covert, John Groenendike and Joshua Covert were made elders, and James Vanliew, Nicholas Huff, Daniel Bassett, an Peter Rappleye were made deacons. This consistory was installed by Rev. Abraham Brokaw (cf Glen), who was installed pastor of the church in 1809 by Rev. Conrad Ten Eyck of Mayfield (Montgomery county). Originally Lodi belonged to Montgomery, then to Cayuga, then to Geneva, and came back into the fold of the Montgomery Classis a century after its organization. Under Brokaw's ministry the church grew until in 1822 it numbered some two hundred members. This was the year that the "Wyckofite" or "True Reformed Church" (cf) was organized and Brokaw was one of the malcontents who joined the secession movement. As a result, locally, a majority of the consistory, but a minority of the membership, went with their minister (already suspended by the Classis) and organized another church which he served until 1838 when he was succeeded by Rev. Archibald McNeil who continued in the field until 1865, after which time there was occasional preaching until 1873 when it ceased altogether and the building erected by the secessionists was taken down in 1876. Rev. Brokaw died July 17, 1846, and is buried in the cemetery attached to the old church in which he ministered. He was eighty-six years old. On his grave stone is the data-"Born in Somersett county, N. J., April 23, 1760. Ordained in the Reformed Dutch church in 1798. Seceeded in 1822."

After the secession the new consistory elected were, John Kelly, John I. Sebring, Falkord Sebring,and Rulolph Voorhees, elders, and Cornelius Wyckoff, Stephen C. McCoy, Joseph W. Smith and Joseph Stull, deacons. These were installed by Rev. Jacob R. H. Hasbrouck (cf Mapletown). The litigation caused by this division was at last settled in favor of the Reformed Dutch church but it cost the total value of the property to defend the title. During these days of trouble the congregation was frequently preached to by missionaries of the Reformed church, among them being, Rev. Sam. Van Vechten, John Van Derveer, Ferdinand Van Derveer, Johathan F. Morris, and John F. Schermerhorn. Having lost their church property, they met in various places, at times in the homes, again in wood sheds or barns. But amid all this distress the people of the Dutch church were loyal and kept to the faith. The next pastor was Rev. Abraham Messler (1825-1828) during whose ministry a new church was erected. In December, 1824, the following committee was appointed to super intend the building of a new church: John P. Nevius, J. H. Halsey, Tunis Covert, Henry Montgomery, and John De Motts. The church was erected at Lodi village (De Mott's Corners). A subscription paper extant is nine feet long and holds the names of one hundred and eighty-one subscribers who gave $3,520.

Rev. Messier was installed pastor of the church in June, 1825, the service being conducted by Rev. David R. De Fraest of Cato (cf). The church was dedicated November 9, 1826. On July 24, 1828, Mr. Messler resigned to enter a missionary work in New York City. Two pastorates followed, in Pompton Plains and at the 1st Raritan (N. J.) in which latter he died, at the close of a half century pastorate on June 12, 1882. Messler was a prolific writer, a trustee of Rutgers, and President General Synod in 1847. The next pastor at Lodi was Rev. Asa Bennett (1828-1838). Later he was pastor at Constantine, Mich. (1843-1845), and died in 1858. It was while Bennett was pastor that the Farmerville church was organized (1830), the child of the Lodi church. A house was also bought at this time for the minister to dwell in, and was so used until the coming of Rev. Van Neste when another parsonage was obtained. During Bennett's ministry two hundred and sixteen members were received.

Rev. John A. Liddell succeeded Bennett (1838-1848), during whose ministry a hundred and twenty-one new members were received. Mr. Liddell was a Glasgow graduate, an attractive and able preacher. He served the church at Cicero for a year after leaving this field, and died in 1850. After a year Rev. Garret J. Garretson was installed in September, 1849. Rev. Gustav Abeel, a Rutgers trustee for forty years, then in the Geneva church, preached the sermon, as he did also for Mr. Liddell eleven years previously. Mr. Garretson remained three years (1849-1852), and died within a couple of months after the relationship was dissolved. After an interim of a year, Rev. Geo. J. Van Neste was installed in November, 1854. Van Neste was connected with the celebrated family of that name in the Dutch Reformed church. He remained until November, 1865. During this pastorate the church numbered two hundred twenty-three members, its largest roll. One hundred and thirty-four were received while he was pastor. After several pastorates he took up the work at St. Johnsville (cf), and later was pastor at Flatbush, and Pottersville, N. J. at the latter place dying in 1898, Rev. John Addison Van Doren was next called, and accepted (New Years, 1866), but a serious illness prevented his being installed. He remained here but six months. In 1866 he became the first pastor of the Annandale, N. J. church, arid remained in that field until 1873, when he retired from the active pastorate; Rev. Isaac H. Collier from Nassau, N. Y. was installed by Geneva Classis January 29, 1867, and remained until September 25, 1869. Forty-five were added during this ministry. Leaving Lodi Mr. Collier had pastorates at Saratoga and Montville, N. J. when he entered the Presbyterian ministry; and while supplying the Oakfield, N. Y. church died, February 19, 1881. For more than a year following the close of the Collier pastorate the pulpit was supplied by Rev. Alexander McMann, who had been in the Ithaca Dutch church for seven years (1831-1837), and had gone into the Presbyterian body in 1862. He died in 1893. The next settled pastor was Rev. H. P. McAdam, who delivered an interesting address at address at the Centennial. Mr. McAdam began his work about New Year's, 1871. In the autumn of 1871 repairs upon the church were begun under the committee, S. S. Gulick, Peter Lott, P. V. W. Bodine, Voorhees Minor, and Covert Osgood. The expense incurred was $6,500. Six months later, July 14, 1872, the church was burned. Two hundred of the members and friends of the congregation at once subscribed toward a new church and the congregation began to build under the direction of the former committee of repairs, and $20,000 was spent, the new church being dedicated July 15, 1873, Rev. Wm. W. Brush of Geneva preaching the sermon. Rev. McAdam remained thro a part of 1884 when he went to the Wolcott Presbyterian church of Utica, later pastor of the Worthington (0.) Presbyterian church, and has been living retired at Saugerties since 1905. The present parsonage was built in this pastorate. His successor at Lodi was Rev. Chester P. Murray (1884-1886), a Presbyterian minister who reentered the work of that church and is now living in Cleveland O.

Rev. William H. Ballagh succeeded Murray, remaining thro 1892. Mr. Ballagh died at Palmyra, N. Y. in 1892. The next pastor was Rev. Charles F. Porter (1888-1904), an Auburn graduate who came from the Alden Presbyterian church to a sixteen year pastorate at Lodi. For several years now Mr. Porter has been connected with the New York State Library at Albany. Rev. Frederick Perkins of Bainbridge (Ga.) took up the work in 1905 and remained thro 1909, going next to St. Johnsville where he is now pastor. Succeeding him was Rev. Seth Cook who was installed in 1909 and in the Fall of 1914, going to the Dryden, N. Y. Presbyterian church. Rev. E. J. Meeker, who had served the churches of Mohawk and Glen, next took up the work in December, 1914, and is the present pastor. The Reformed church of Lodi has sent many men into the ministry, evidencing the sort of work that has been accomplished there thro the years. Among these have been Revs. Elbert Nevins, Arad Sebring, John Minor, James Wyckoff, William Cornell, Minor Swick, G. DeWitt Bodine, John V. N. Schenck, Elbert Sebring, Charles Wilson, and John Van Neste. A son of Rev. Isaac Collier, William M., after the Spanish-American war became the American Ambassador to Spain.

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