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.


Manheim is very nearly the central point of New York state and is five miles east of Little Falls. It has been an immemorial tradition in the community that the town was called by Dr. Wm. Petry out of his personal associations in a town of the same name in Baden, Germany. Manheim was set off as a town from Palatine on March 3, 1797, and on April 7, 1817, it was annexed to Herkimer county. Originally Sir Wm. Johnson owned all the land hereabout, the same having been granted to him a few years before his death by King George, some forty thousand acres in all, called the Royal Grant. The oldest patent of land in the town was given to Rev. Petrus Van Driesen who for a quarter century was in the old First Dutch church of Albany. This grant was made in 1737 and contained twenty-five hundred acres. With him was joined Rev. John Jacob Ehle, and both of these men conducted a mission among the Indians, Ehle keeping at the work at what is now called Fort Ehle (still standing), for upwards of half a century, or until his death, about 1780. Originally the town of Manheim was in what was known as the Stone Arabia district, created in 1772, but in the following year the same was changed to Palatine district. In March, 1778, the Indians and Tories invaded the settlement and caused general devastation, some scalps were taken besides quite a number of prisoners. Among the families who suffered were those of Cobus Mabee, Conrad, Joseph, Abram and Jacob Klock, Mabus Forbush, Robhold Ough, Adam and Rudolph Furrie, Henry Shafer, John and Michael Keyser, Calvin Barnes. Between 1786 and 1796 the supervisors of the town were: John Frey, Christian Nellis, Jacob Eaker, Frederick Getman, Samuel Gray, and Jacob Snell. Judging from the votes cast for Governor, in 1786 tbere were a thousand population in the town then, while in 1796 there were over six hundred electors, indicating a population of thirty-five hundred.

With the settlement of the town of Manheim in 1770 the people who were mostly German, soon formed the first church organization, and as they had to depend on the Stone Arabia Dutch Reformed church for preaching, naturally the organization followed that denomination. Among the influential men of that day were Jacob Markell (later a congressman), Michael Myers, Andrew Finck, Dr. Wm. Petry, John M. Petry, and others. Most of the inhabitants were unprogressive and uneducated. They did not keep up either their German language or adopt the English, but used what was called a Mohawk Dutch. But with the coming of the New England settlers, who were better educated and more enterprising, and with the English preaching and English teaching in the schools, the community assumed a higher condition in morals and education. Sometime before the Revolution there were four of the Snell brothers, Jacob, Joseph, Peter, and Suffrenus, who gave seven acres of land for the church and twelve acres for the school. So many Snells lived in the vicinity that the place was popularly known, and is in a measure to this day, as "Snell's Bush." The first church built was burned sometime during the Revolution. The second church, probably erected soon after the war, served the congregation until 1850, when it was taken down, part of its timber used in the construction of the new edifice. On January 8, 1850, at a meeting of the congregation it was voted to build a new "St. Paul's Reformed Protestant Dutch church" to be sixty by forty feet, and the following committee was appointed to build it: John Markel, Peter P. Snell, and Jacob Yoran. The consistory at this time consisted of elders, Peter A. Timmerman and Jacob Yoran; deacons, John Garlock and Levi Timerman. The "slips" (pews) were sold on February 3, 1851, for $4,464, and among the purchasers were eighteen Snells and ten Timermans. Peter P. Snell's family was so large that he bought two pews for $221, while Adam A. Feeter paid $141 for a single pew, and Jehoram Snell $136 for a pew.

All but half an acre of the nineteen acres given by the Snells was finally deeded to the church, an act of the legislature being necessary to consummate the deal and establish the title. In 1801 the Rev. Caleb Alexander who was travelling through the country wrote, "between Fairfield and Little Falls is a Dutch settlement called Manheim-rich farms, a meeting house and a minister. The church was at first called the Reformed Calvanist church, and was incorporated in 1792. Originally it as a German Reforrmed church, and is called "St. Paul's" in the incorporation article. It united with the Montgomery Classis September 27, 1822. Consistory minutes which are extant begin in 1850, all previous ones seeming to be lost. The membership roll begins in 1860 and the marriage register in 1872. An 1839 subscription list for a coffin cloth contains the names- of Jacob I., Joshua, Adam P., Simeon, Peter P., Peter, Frederick F., and George P. Snell, Adam H., David, Levy and Samuel Timmerman, Benjamin and Nicholas Petrie, John and Jacob Yoran, John and Hiram Gerlock, Adam Feeter, John Markell, Jonas Elwood, Joseph Casler, Henry Dockey, John Moyer, Henry Young, Daniel Getman, Isaac Smith, and Uriel Van Valkenburg. The first pastor at Manheim was the Rev. John H. Dysslin of St. Johnsville Reformed church (cf), (St. John's Reformed Church.) who began preaching here in 1770 and supplied the pulpit for nearly a quarter of a centry. Dysslin was a scion of Swiss nobility, coming to America to seek his fortune, shipwrecked on the high seas, and vowing to God while tossed about on the wreckage that if He would spare his life it should be devoted to God's service. He was rescued, brought to New York, returned to Switzerland for education, then returned and spent the rest of his life in the Reformed ministry (cf St. Johnsville).

In 1820 Rev. Isaac Ferris (Chancellor of New York University, 1852-1873, dec.) was appointed by the Board of Domestic Missions to labor in the Classis of Montgomery. He spent considerable time at Danube, Manheim, Oppenheim and Herkimer. He reports that Manheim had no ecclesiastical connection at the time with the Classis. The Fonda records give the names of the men elected July 3, 1816, for consistorymen, elders, Adam H. Timmerman, Lawrence Timmerman, and John Rasbach, and deacons, Suffrenus Snell, Peter P. Snell, and Adam Kilts. These were ordained by Rev. Daniel De Voe, who was called to this church and Oppenheim in 1816. He came from Middleburgh. Following him came Rev. Stephen Z. Goetschius who after a couple of years work seceded from the denomination and joined the "Wyckofites," and was suspended by the Montgomery Classis. Later (1828) he reentered the church and served Canastota as a supply for two years (1836-1837) and then went west. Following Goetschius in the pastorate was Rev. Isaac S. Ketchum (1822-1830), who was ordained here, and spent about the same time in the Stone Arabia pastorate (cf). Among the families in the church at the time shown by an old list were. those of Ayres, Altenburgh, Baum, Beardsley, Bloodough, Cook, Couch, Dockstader, Feeter, Fink, Garlock, Getman, House, Hart, Ingham, Johnson, Klock, Kilts, Loucks, Lipe, Markel, Nestle, Owens, Powell, Petree, Pettibone, Richtmyre, Rasbach, Snell, Shults, Shaver, Scott, Timmerman, Turney, Tacka, Vedder, Van Allen, Van Valkenburgh, Woolaver, Walrath, and Yoran.

Rev. John Manley (1831-1833) was the next pastor; he died in 1871. Rev. Jas. Murphy who was pastor at St. Johnsville (cf) supplied from 1834 thro 1836. Rev. Paul Weidman came to Manheim from a seventeen year pastorate at Schoharie, and remained here from 1837 almost up to the time of his death in 1852. This is what Corwin's Manual of the Reformed church says, but Rev. John DuBois began his work in the ministry here in 1843, remaining three years, and going next to Cicero (cf). And after this Rev. Abraham H. Myers came in 1848 and staid here thro February, 1852. He began his work in the Montgomery Classis at St. Johnsville (cf). After this the Rev. Paul Weidman returned for an eight year pastorate (1852-1860), relinquishing the active ministry of forty years in October, 1860. Rev. Rufus M. Stanbrough on his graduation from New Brunswick, came to field in the spring of 1861 and was ordained and installed over the Manheim church in October that year, serving the church at Indian Castle also, on the south side of the river. He also supplied the Stone Arabia church (cf) for a while. He remained until June, 1876. Later he was six years in the Columbia church. He died in 1905. Rev. Algernon Matthews, who succeeded Stanbrough in the Manheim church in November 1876, was born on the Isle of Geurnsey and educated in Germany, though graduating at New Brunswick in 1875. He remained with this church through 1878, and then entered the missionary work of the Presbyterian church in Canada.

During the year 1880 from November through October, 1882, the pulpit was supplied by the Rev. John Minor who had previously been pastor of the first Amsterdam church (cf). For several years the pulpit was supplied by the St. Johnsville and other nearby pastors. In the records are the names of Rev. David E. Van Giesen, George W. Furbeck and Rev. Philip Furbeck (cf St. Johnsville). In 1892 David T. Harris was received from the Methodist Conference and was ordained and installed over the church which he served for two years. He is now pastor of the West Copake church. Rev. Fred W. Ruhl was next called, coming to the church from Cicero, and stayed four years (1892-1895). Again the church began an itinerant supply. Rev. Louis H. Baehler's pastorate began in 1898 and continued thro a part of 1900, Mr. Baehler entered the Presbyterian church, retiring from the active work of the ministry in 1912, and spent the rest of. his life at Schenectady, where he died in 1914. A brother of Rev. Bachler, Rev. P G. M. Baehler, is in the Williamson. N. Y. Reformed church, while his father, Rev. P. B. Baehler served several Holland churches in New York, and the grandfather, was a preacher at Zwolle, Holland.

This was the last settled pastorate at Manheim, whose pulpit has been since supplied, mostly in the summer time, by seminary students, neighboring pastors, and the classical missionary. Among the supplies of the pulpit may be mentioned Rev. C. V. Bedford (1896), now of Hagaman, N. Y.; Rev. John A. Thomson (1892), now of Middlebush, N. J.; Benjamin F. White (1901), now of Germantown, N. Y.; Rev. Burton J. Hotaling (1904), now of Albany, N. Y.; Rev. Henry D. Cook (1905), now of Paramus, N. Y.; Rev. Daniel G. Verwey (1906), now of Walkill, N. Y., during whose surnmer services the church was repaired and renovated; and Rev. George S. Bolsterle (1907), now of N. Y. City. During 1908 the pulpit was supplied by a young Christian worker, Henry McIlravy, and in 1909 the Rev. R. J. Van Deusen, a Lutheran pastor, preached here in conjunction with Inghams Mills. During the summers of 1910 and 1911 the work was done by the student, Andrew Van Vranken Raymond, Jr., who is in the Presbyterian church at South Wales, N. Y. During the summer of 1912 the Rev. Arthur J. Wyman of the Little Falls Presbyterian church supplied, and in 1913 the classical missionary of Montgomery, Rev. W. N. P. Dailey, preached occassionally through the year. Rev Herbert D. Leland, now of Utica, supplied one summer, and Rev. Edward B. Irish of Fultonville, spent his 1914 vacation on the field ministering to its wants. The church cemetery has recently been cleared and beautified and may be seen for many miles, on the high land surrounding the church. The principal burials are the Snells, Timmermans, Yourans, Feeters, Garlocks and Markells. The oldest stone in the yard marks the burial spot of Peter Snell who was born in 1731 and died in 1804. Other burial spots not far distant, as the one on the Beardsley farm where many of the Kilts family are interred, and another surrounding the Lutheran ("Yellow") church, where many of the original settlers were buried, as the Keysers, Windeckers, Bellingers, Petries et al, were laid to rest, are interesting spots for the student of the early history of the town of Manheim. and the valley of the Mohawk.

(Note: The church has been closed for some time. It is owned by the Snell/Zimmerman/Timmerman families and maintained by them.)

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