Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

The Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883

Volume I, Page 289

Old Dutch Church of Albany.--A good old lady assured me over 30 years ago, that when a little girl she attended worship in the old Albany Dutch church; and that when a small box stove was put in to warm it, it stood upon silts in the geographical centre of the church; and that when the sexton went out on a staging erected from the gallery to it, to replenish its fuel, she was afraid his shaky footing would fall. This shows the knowledge people then had of the tendency of heat to rise; and they thus sought to warm the whole church. -Mrs Rebecca Veeder, who was a Staats before marriage.

Tithing-men.-At the period under consideration, the churches of New England and New York were provided with tithingmen-persons appointed to keep order in the galleries, having authority to change the position, or even impose corporeal punishment, OIl such as disturbed the congregation. Cornelius Van Schaack, who was for a long time sexton of the old Dutch church in Albany, and during the Revolution, was much of the time its tithing man. Often might this officer have been seen during the service to enter the gallery with a hickory gad, and lay it over the backs of mischievous children, or noisy, half-grown boys, if they did not see him coming and escape punishment by creeping under the benches, which was not unfrequently done.-(James Lansing.) Tithing-men were continued in many of the New England churches to as late a period as 1825.

Before the Revolution, constables in Albany were required, as a part of their duty, if they saw children at play on the Sabbath, to correct them; and those guardians of order were often seen to enter the door-yard of a rich man, and flog his peace-disturbing boys, regardless of what parents or guardians might say or do.-(James Lansing, a former surrogate of Montgomery county.)

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