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.


This village lies a mile east of Castorland, a station sixty-five miles north of Utica on the Black River division of the New York Central R. R. Behind Castorland is the story of an attempt to found in the wilds of the New World by an exiled nobility and clergy of the old regime in France, a secure retreat from the horrors of Revolution in the Old. In August, 1792, a French company bought a large tract in the Macomb Purchase, on both sides of the Black river, 610,000 acres. Later two-thirds of this was given up. Castorland means the "land of beavers", the Iroquois term being Couch-sach-ra-ge, "Beaver Hunting Country." A pamphlet descriptive of the place was published in Paris, where the details of the settlement were most elaborately planned--an impracticable Utopia, doomed at its inception to failure, tho many took shares. The founding of Castorland is a story well worth reading, tho terribly tragic in it conclusions. One finds its counterparts in the Jacobite settlement at Cape Fear, or the Huguenots at Port Royal, or Arcadie in Nova Scotia, or New Sweden on the Delaware, or New Amsterdam on the Hudson. Ancient Castorland lives now only in poetry and history, a story of highly colored but unfulfilled promise, of bright hopes forever deferred, of man's titanic but fruitless endeavor, of woman's tragic tears.

The Reformed church is situated on what is known as Macomb's Purchase who owned practically the land of the whole county. The western part was sold to New York City capitalists while the eastern section went to a French company at Paris (cf West Leyden). In the early part of the last century a French nobleman by the name of James Donatien Le Ray, Count de Chaumont, who had come to manage the land, gave to the Prussian settlement now called Naumburgh, sufficient land (about an acre) for school and cemetery purposes, and about thirty acres for the church. He could afford to be thus generous for he owned 348,205 acres in Franklin, St. Lawrence, Lewis and Jefferson counties. This was in 1852, and the church, which had been already organized in 1850, was a Lutheran body. In 1855 the Reformed church, by request of the Lutheran Synod, took over the congregation and Classis organized a Reformed church. Naumburgh is a small village about sixty-six miles north of Utica in Lewis county on the Black river, while the church is about a mile from the village. The first Reformed minister to serve the church was Rev. William Wolfe, who came in January, 1855. There were eighteen charter members. As long as New Bremen Reformed Church was in existence (cf) the pastors at Naumburgh supplied that pulpit also (six miles distant). The parsonage was built during Wolfe's pastorate. He remained until 1860. He went to 3d Hackensack, and in 1866 was preaching at Plainfield, N. J. Rev. Carl Becker was called in 1860 from 3d Hackensack, and was the pastor for nine years. In the early part of 1870 Rev. John Boehrer of Damascus, Pa. became the pastor, remained five years, during which time extensive repairs were made upon the church building. There were sixty-nine members at this time,and a Sunday School of thirty-five. Boehrer's pastorate began in fine spirit but its close ended in the refusal of the entire congregation to attend the services. He resigned on June 1, 1876. He worked for the American Tract Society for some years after leaving Naumburgh, and spent the last years of his life in Buffalo, where he died in 1913.

Rev. H. W. Warnshuis was ordained and installed over the church on June 26, 1877. In a brief period the church revived, the membership grew to nearly a hundred, the church became self-supporting, and the entire religious life of the community was quickened. This pastorate came to a close in April, 1889. Warnshuis later entered the Presbyterian church for work in Dakota. Rev. Peter A. Moelling came to the church in the latter part of 1880, and stayed until the summer of 1884. He was succeeded by Henry Unglaub in 1885, who remained three years. During the years 1889 and 1890 the pulpit was occasionally supplied by the late Rev. J. W. Geyer of New York and Rev. F. E. Schlieder of West Leyden. Rev. Wm. F. Barny of the Seminary at Bloomfield supplied the pulpit during the summer of 1891 and 1892. In 1893, on his graduation from New Brunswick, Barny accepted a call to Naumburgh and was ordained by Montgomery Classis and installed over the church. He spent four years, the last of the settled pastors, resigning September 13, 1896. John Bombin (now of Hackensack, N. J.) a New Brunswick student, spent the summer of 1889 on the field and George Schnucker the summer of 1897. He is now at German Valley, Ill. Rev. Theodore F. Hahn, an ordained missionary of the Presbyterian church, spent the summer of 1903 on the field. For the past fifteen years services have been held occasionally, conducted by the Synodical and Classical missionaries, and others.

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