Richard Mather Bayles.

History of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time online

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1, 1881. Calvin A. Hare became pastor of the South church
April 10, 1882, and remained until 1884, when T. Burdette Bott
was called. The membership now numbers about one hundred.

The First Baptist church of New Brighton has been recently
organized. The favorable location and the earnest work put
forth bid fair to establish a large Baptist interest here.
Rev. J. B. McQuillan was the first pastor. The church was or-
ganized in June, 1884, with thirteen members. In November
of the same year the church, having secured a lease of the Uni-
tarian house of worship on Clinton avenue, extended a call to
the Eev. J. B. McQuillan, then of Patterson, N. J., to become
their pastor. His pastoral term began on the first Sabbath in
January, 1885. A baptistery has been placed in the church,
and several candidates have been immersed, the first in New
Brighton for upwards of forty years. The church now num-
bers thirty-one members. It was duly recognized, according to
the custom of the denomination, by a council of the Southern
New York Baptist Association, on the 2d of February, 1886.
Mr. McQuillan resigned July 1, 1887, and the church is at
present without a regular pastor.

The introduction of Methodism on Staten Island is due to
the persevering efforts of a few zealous individuals connected
with the denomination in New Jersey and elsewhere. The first
Methodist sermon preached on the island was in November,
1771, by Francis Asbury, in the house of one Peter Van Pelt,
only twelve days after his arrival in America.

It is to the unwearied labors of Thomas Morrell and Robert
Cloud, two preachers attached to th^Elizabethtown circuit,
that this church is chiefly indebted for its organization. Of
Morrell it is said that he had been a soldier, and bore upon his
person scars of wounds received in fighting for his country.
He was also a man of more than ordinary abilities and acquire-
ments. Of the local preachers, William Cole was most prom-
inent, and during the intervals between the visits of the itin-
erants, frequently officiated in private houses, school houses,
barns or any other place that offered. .

On the fifth day of May, 1787, the first Methodist society on


Staten Island was organized, and the following persons were
elected trustees to take care of the temporalities of the church,
viz.: Abraham Cole (at whose house the meeting was held),
Benjamin Drake and John Hillyer, first class, to serve one year;
Gilbert Totten, John Slaight and Joseph Wood, second class,
to serve two years; Joseph Totten, Elias Price and Israel Dis-
osway, third class, to serve three years.

Measures were then adopted to erect a house of worship, and
the following appeal to the Christian community was promul-

" To all Charitable, well-disposed Christians of every denom-
ination of Staten Island. Whereas the Inhabitants on the
West end of said Island are destitute of any Place of Public
Worship, so that numbers, more especially of the poorer
and middling ranks of People who have not Carriages, &c.,
are necessarily precluded from attending the Worship of God
in a Public manner, their Children also lose the benefit of Pub-
lic Instruction, and it is to be feared the Consequence will be
to the rising Generation a settled Contempt for the worship of
God and the ordinances of the House.

"To remedy as far as human prudence can Extend the afore-
said, and many other Inconveniences that might be named, the
members of the Methodist Episcopal Church on said Island
have chosen trustees agreeable to Law in order to Erect a
Church for the Performance of Divine Service, and tis Supposed
by the Blessing of God this may be the means of not only
benefiting the present Generation, but that Numbei'S Yet un-
born may have reason to Praise God for the pious Care of their
forefathers. But as this will be Attended with a heavy Expence,
to which the members of said Church are Inadequate, they
hereby Respectful solicit the Donation of all such who are will-
ing to promote so Laudable an Undertaking, we therefore the
subscribers do hereby promise to pay or cause to be paid to the
said Trustees or any Person Impowered by them to receive it,
the sums affixed to our Several names, as Witness our Hands
this Seventh day of June, In the Year of our Lord one Thou-
sand Seven Hundred and Eighty-seven."

Then follow the names of eighty-seven contributors, whose
united subscriptions amount to nearly three hundred and fifty
dollars. The largest contributors are Gilbert Totten, 8; Israel
Disosway, 15; Benjamin Drake, 8; Mark Disosway, 5; Peter



"Woglom, 6; Joshua Wright, 5; Jacob Reckhow, 5; John
Androvat, 5; Peter Winant, sr., 4.15; John Slaght, 4.15.
Among the subscribers we find the names of individuals at-
tached to other churches, such as Bedells, Swains, Taylors, Lar-
zeleres, Micheaus, La Tourettes, Mersereaus, Pralls, Con-
ner, etc.

It is said of Israel Disosway, that in addition to his subscrip-
tion, which is the largest on the list, he gave the timber for
erecting the new church, out of his own woods.

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With the small sum realized by the subscriptions just men-
tioned, the first Methodist church on Staten Island was built on
the site now occupied by the Woodrow church in Westfield.
This building is described as a low, roughly built house, with
gable to the road, and having small windows and a plain batten
door, the fastening of which was operated by the old fashioned
latch-string. The interior showed a unique altar, high backed,
uncushioned seats, and bare rafters overhead. Its site was


amid the natural grandeur of the luxuriant forest, broken by
scattered clearings and the primitive habitations of a few hardy

That the trustees took excellent care of the temporalities of
the church will be perceived from the following extract from
the original " Day Book : "

" At a meeting held in the Methodist Church for chosing a
Saxon to serve for one year in said church to keep said house
swept and sanded and scraped when the Trustees shall direct,
and all other necessary dutys of a saxon for the sum of five
dollars ; Eichard Mier was chosen and accepted." Subse-
quently, the '' saxon" was allowed one shilling "for every
fire he makes in the stove," additional.

In 1842 the present church edifice was erected on the site of
the former. This edifice is considerably larger than the first,
and encroaches upon some of the graves in the surrounding
church-yard that were made near the old house.

This old burial ground contains many old graves of the early
inhabitants. The first white marble stone erected here, we are
told, is that to the memory of Rev. Joseph Totten, one of the
first members of the Methodist church on the island. He was
for twenty-six years an itinerant preacher of the gospel, and
died May 20, 1818, while in charge of the society of St. John's
church at Philadelphia. Immediately in front of the church
stands a plain marble monument, which marks the grave of one
of the most deeply revered preachers of the church, well known
as "old Father Boehm." The monument bears the following
inscription :

"Sacred to the memory of Rev. Henry Boehm, born in Lan-
caster, Pa., June 8, 1775, died on Staten Island, December 28,
1875. A centenarian, who was for seventy-six years an hon-
ored and beloved Methodist minister, as eminent for social,
Christian and ministerial virtues as for longevity : the associate
of Bishop Asbury and his compeers in labors on earth, he now
rests with them in heaven."

On the twelfth day of February, 1822, at a meeting held at
the house of James Totten, it was unanimously resolved to
build another honse of worship, in the town of Westfield, to be
called "The Tabernacle." A church appears to have been or-
ganized, and trustees duly elected. In August, 1823, a public
meeting was held- "in the Tabernacle ;" the edifice must there-


fore have been erected immediately. The building was removed
several years since, the establishment of churches at Totten-
ville, so near by, doing away with the necessity for a church
here. Its site was a few rods southeast of the railroad station
at Richmond Valley. Some of the foundation stones are still
lying there.

The membership of the original church was so large in the
neighborhood of Tottenville that in 1841 it was deemed advis-
able to organize another society there. This was done, and the
name "Bethel Church 11 given to it. A church was erected in
1842, and the society prospered. The church cost about
$14,000. It was destroyed by lire on Sunday night, January
10, 1886. The building at that time, with its furniture, heating
apparatus and organ, was valued at about $23,000.

St. Paul's, located also at Tottenville, was organized in 1860.
Immediate steps were taken to erect a house of worship. The
corner stone to this was laid September 6, 1861, and the walls
were rapidly raised, and the building advanced toward comple-
tion. A debt hung over the church until November 13, 1881,
when by a liberal effort it was cleared. The debt then amounted
to $4,500. Among the foremost names on the subscription for
that purpose and at that time were the following : Mrs. E. P.
Wood, $1,100 ; David C. Butler, $250 ; Henry Van Name, $200 ;
Aaron Van Name, $200 ; Paul Van Name, $100 ; Daniel Butler,
125 ; John S. Sleight, $100 ; Wesley Patten, $100 ; Sylvester
Joline, $100 ; Moses J. Van Name, $100.

The early Methodists did not confine their efforts to the town
of Westfield; for, not long after they had become domiciled
there, a small class, under the leadership of Elias Price, who
afterward became a local preacher, was organized in the town
of Northfield, which, in 1802, had expanded sufficiently to
warrant the creation of a new society, and the erection of a new
church, which now is recognized as the Asbury church at New
Springville. For more than thirty years this church was the
only place of public worship possessed by the Methodists of
Northfield and Castleton. It was connected in pastoral supply
with the church at Mariners 1 Harbor from 1839 to 1849, when
the latter church secured a minister independently of this.

A branch of this church, called Bloornfield church, was estab-
lished by the laying of its corner stone in June, 1885. It stands
at the head of Merril avenue, on a plot of ground which was


given by Joseph Ball, of Bloomfield, and Rev. J. B. Hilh'er of
New Springville. Its erection is mainly due to the labors of
Messrs. J. B. Hillyer and Thomas Standering, two local preachers
of the congregation.

In 1838 those residing along the shore in Castleton andNorth-
lield began to agitate the matter of building a new church
nearer their own residences, and at or near Graniteville. The
next year Mr. Robert, C. Simonson offered a lot of land on the
Pond road, Port Richmond, as a free gift, if they would erect a
church thereon. This offer was at once accepted by those re-
siding in that vicinity, and the proposed church at Graniteville
was abandoned.

The church on the Pond road was erected and dedicated early
in the winter of 1839, the conveyance of the lot from Mr. Simon-
son being dated December 1, 1839. The Westtield and North-
field charges were divided in 1840, and Daniel Cross became
the preacher on this circuit, which was called the Northfield
and Quarantine mission. In 1841 this was again divided and
made two circuits, that of Northfield comprehending Asbury
and Mariners' Harbor, while this was known as Quarantine and
Port Richmond. Of this Rev. R. Lutton became pastor. His
name appears with those of Benjamin Day and Jefferson Lewis,
between that date and 1848. They were succeeded by pastors
as follows: Alexander Gillmore, 1848-49; Charles E. Hill, 1850-51;
- Kelly, 1852-53; T. Pierson. 1854-55; N. Yansant, 1856-57;
M. E. Ellison, 1858-59; J. M. Freeman, 186061; R. S. Arndt,
1862-63; J. C. Winner, 1864; J. F. Hurst, 1865-66; - - Owen,
part of 1866; T. H. Smith, 1867-69.

The house erected on the Pond road, now occupied by the
German Lutheran church, continued to be their house of wor-
ship until 1853, when they erected the large and commodious
brick church edifice at the corner of the Shore road and Dongan
street, West New Brighton. The original building and lot were
sold April 28, 1853, to the German Evangelical Lutherans for
the sum of $1,500. The new church took the name of Trinity,
and was incorporated under that name January 10, 1853, the
trustees being Jasper G. Codmus, John W. Snedeker, Lewis
Edwards, Azariah Dunham and John Simonson. The land
on which the present church and parsonage is built, consti
tuted the lots numbered 45 and 46 of the estate of John Bodine,
Sen., and was purchased of Noyes P. H. Barrett, June 25, 1851,


Jasper G. Codmus, John W. Snedeker, Lewis Edwards and
John Simonson being trustees. It was subsequently discovered
that the title was defective, inasmuch as the land was con-
veyed to the above named persons individually, and before the
incorporation; therefore on the 10th day of July, 1869, the same
individuals quit-claimed the property to the trustees of the
church, and thus remedied the defect. The bell and clock in
the tower of this church were procured by the contributions of
the people residing in its vicinity. The stewards in 1885 were
William Snedeker, Noah Sellick, William Bamber, T. D. Lyons,
M. D., Benedict Parker, George Pero, E. L. Kennedy, Ephraim
Smith, C. E. Surdam, A. H. Richards and J W. Bodine.

In 1838 the Methodists of Mariners' Harbor resolved, inas-
much as a church for their accommodation had become a neces-
sity, to erect one nearer their own homes. Accordingly on the
6th day of April, 1839, a new society was organized by the
election of Peter Braisted, Henry Jones, Benjamin B. Kinsey,
John L. Richards and Daniel Simonson as trustees. The cer-
tificate of incorporation was recorded on the 4th day of May
following, and immediately thereafter that is, on the llth of
the same month a lot was purchased for the consideration
of $275, and during the following six months the church was
erected, and on the 1st day of December, 1839 it was dedicated.
For several years the same preacher served this church, and the
one on " the Neck" (now Asbury), but in 1849 the connection
was severed, and each church became independent of the other.
In 1854 a parsonage was purchased. The membership of the
church having rapidly increased, it was found necessary to erect
a new and larger house, which was accordingly done, and the
new edifice, which has since been known as the " Summerfield
Church," was dedicated on the 10th day of October, 1869. The
old church, which is the southwesternmost building within the
corporate limits of the village of Port Richmond, was sold for
$1,500, and is now occupied as an African church.

The new church is nicely finished and the interior tastefully
furnished. The society rejoices in the fact that it is clear of
debt. The minister's salary has been raised from $1,000 to
$1,500, and the church is now ranked as the fourth in the Eliza-
beth conference district.

Grace church was originally called the " North Shore Free
M. E. Church." It was organized under that name, January


23, 1867, being then composed of forty-eight persons, the most
of whom had withdrawn from Trinity M. E. church. The meet-
ing for organization was held in the Baptist church at Port
Richmond, at which place the first Sabbath services of this
church were also held, on the 27th of the same month. At the
first election of trustees, on the 18th of February, 1867, the
present name was adopted. The trustees then elected were
Read Benedict, Ward McLean, John Q. Simonson, William
Greer, N. P. H, Barrett, John S. Spragg, William Bamber, Dr.
Frank G. Johnson and George F. Heal. Previous to the erec-
tion of the present church a tabernacle, which cost $600, was
temporarily used for public worship.

The corner stone of the new church was laid August 1, 1867,
and the church was dedicated December 29, 1867. The church
lot is bounded on the north by Bond street, on the south by
Cornelius street, and on the west or front by Heberton street,
the land having been purchased of Cornelius B. Mersereau. The
building was erected at a cost of about $10,000.

The pastors of this church have been: Alexander M. Mead,
1867 to September, 1868; P. D. Day, September 15, 1868, to the
end of the conference year; John Coyle, 1869 to 1871; A. J.
Palmer, 1872; J. J. Read, Jr., 1873; W. I. Gill, 1874 to 1876;
T. H. Landon, 1877; Joseph A. Owen, 1878; J. S. Gilbert, 1879
to 1881; E. C. Dutcher, 1882 to 1883; R. S. Arndt, 1884 to

In July, 1872, the church known as St. Marks, at Pleasant
Plains, was dedicated. For a brief period it was considered as
under the patronage and supervision of the Woodrow church,
but in 1873 it became an independent organization.

The Kingsley Methodist Episcopal church, situated on Cebra
avenue near Saint Paul's avenue, Stapleton, is one of the oldest
of the denomination on the island. The traditional history,
strongly supported by documentary evidence, is that Rev.
Henry Boehm, a minister in the Philadelphia conference of the
Methodist Episcopal church, and stationed at Woodrow, organ-
ized a class in the spring of 1835, at the house of Widow White,
on ; 'Mud Lane," now known as St. Paul's avenue, and directly
opposite the present site of the church. The names of this class,
as nearly as can be ascertained, were: Mrs. James White, Wil-
liam Howard, William Thoon, Mr. and Mrs. Kirby, and Mr.


and Mrs. Capt. Hart. William Thoon was made the leader of
the class.

Public services were first held at the residence of Mrs. James
White, the lady above referred to, and afterward, until the first
church was built, in the "Village Academy."

The first board of trustees was elected on the 21st, and the
"Society" was incorporated on the 22d of July, 1835, under
the name of the "Methodist Episcopal Church of Tompkins-
ville, Staten Island." The board of trustees consisted of John
Totten, Joseph Smith, A. C. Wheeler, Henry Cole and Law-
rence Hillyer.

The present site of the church is the only one the society has
ever owned. It originally consisted of four lots, and was do-
nated by Mr. Caleb T. Ward, of Stapleton, in December, 1835.
on condition that it be used only for church purposes. Mr.
Ward, many years afterward, gave the land in fee to the society,
and an additional piece of land, so as to bring the site of its
western boundary to Marion avenue.

On the 8th of June, 1837, plans for a church building thirty-
eight by sixty feet were agreed upon, and estimates were re-
ceived for its erection. The contract was finally awarded to Mr.
J. H. Quilthot for one thousand one hundred and sixty dollars.
Mr. Quilthot mysteriously left the place before the house was
completed, and it is said was never heard of afterward. The
church, when it was finished, cost the society one thousand five
hundred dollars. The corner stone was laid about the 1st of
July, 1837, and the building was completed and dedicated about
the 1st of September, 1838.

In 1853 the building of a new church was agitated, the old
one being considered not well located and unsuitable. Nego-
tiations were entered into with Mr. Richard Smith for the pur-
chase of lots located on Richmond road, near Beach street, and
three hundred dollars was paid on them by the trustees of the
society. When the trustees made application to Mr. Ward for
the privilege of selling the old site, it was found that in at-
tempting to buy a new site before the old was sold, they had
reckoned "without their host," for Mr. Ward refused to re-
move the proviso in the deed, and so they lost their three hun-
dred dollars. The idea of a new location was then abandoned,
but the agitation for a new church continued, until finally, on
the 28th of May, 1855, the first church building was sold at pub-


lie auction. Mr. S. N. Havens was the purchaser, for two hun-
dred and fifty dollars, and he removed it at once to New
Brighton, and converted it into a dwelling house, where it still
stands. The present membership of the Sunday school is one
hundred and twenty.

For fifteen years after the organization of this church, it was
connected with other M. E. churches on the island in what is
called the "Circuit" plan, making the pastor of this church
also the pastor of all the others embraced in the circuit.
With this explanation, the first pastor was Rev. Henry Boehm,
who had been the travelling companion of Bishop Asbury,
one of the first bishops of the M. E. church in the United
States. Father Boehm, as he was afterward called, lived to the
advanced age of 100 years, and died on Staten Island the 28th
of December, 1875.

The society has had twenty-nine pastors, viz.: Henry Boehm,
two years; Mulford Day, two years; John S. Begle, one year;
Mr. Lutton, one year; Mr. Lewis, one year; Benjamin Day,
two years; George Wisnor, two years; Walters Burroughs,
two years; John Stephenson, two years; Mr. Miller, one year;
J. B. Graw, two years; D. F. Reed, one year; Mr. Bishop, eight
months; Rev. E. Clement, four months; William H. Dickerson,
one year; A. S. Burdett, fifteen months; C. R. Snyder, twenty-
one months; S. 1ST. Bebour, one year; J. B. Faulks, two years;
J. Coyle, three years; H. Spellmyer, three years; J. Cowans,
one year; G. Smith, one year; H. Simpson, two years; T.
Michael, one year; J. F. Andrew, two years; C. S. Woodruff,
three years; C. W. McCormick, one year; R. B. Collins, three

In April, 1885, this society completed a beautiful and com-
modious, parsonage at the cost of $3,500, It is situated on the
west side of the church, and has a commanding view of New
York bay and Coney Island. The whole church property is
valued at $15,000.

The above history was prepared for this work by Rev. R. B.
Collins, pastor of the church.

The corner stone of the second church building was laid
about the 1st of June, 1855, during the ministry of Rev. J.
B. Graw, and was dedicated to the worship of Almighty God
in December of the same year. The new church was known,
thereafter, as the " Stapleton Methodist Episcopal Church."


In 1870, during the ministry of the Rev, Henry Spellmyer, the
church was remodelled, enlarged and refurnished, at a cost of
$12,000. After these improvements, its name was changed again,
this time to Kingsley Methodist Episcopal church, Stapleton,
after Bishop Calvin Kingsley, of the M. E. Church, who while
performing a tour of Episcopal visitation of the world, and
when on his way home, was attacked by disease and died at
Berut, Syria, April 6th, 1870. The building has a seating
capacity for 700 persons, and with a commodious lecture room
for Sunday school and social meetings, has every covenience in
the way of room to carry on its work. The present membership
of the church is one hundred and thirty. The Sunday school
was organized in 1838, during the ministry of Rev. J. S. Begle.
William Thome was the first superintendent.

So far as is now known, the first of the denomination of Chris-
tians called Moravians, or United Brethren, on Staten Island, was
Captain Nicholas Garrison. It is said that the ship which he
commanded, while on a voyage from Georgia to New York,
was overtaken by an exceedingly violent storm. Among the
passengers on board was the Bishop Spangenberg, who remained
calm and undisturbed amidst the confusion and terror which
prevailed on board, spending most of the time in earnest prayer.
This ship was built for the purposes of the Moravian church,
most of the expense having been borne by Bishop Spangenberg
himself. She made many passages across the ocean, and on a
subsequent voyage was captured by a French privateer and
finally wrecked on the coast of Cape Breton island.

In 1742, David Bruce, a very zealous servant of God, was
sent 'to visit the scattered flocks in New York, and on Long
and Staten islands, and he was probably the first Moravian
preacher who ever officiated as such on Staten Island. Of those
most prominent in sustaining this church on the island the
names of Jacobus and Vettje Van Der Bilt are mentioned in
September, 1747, at which time the church in America compre-
hended three localities, viz., New York city, Staten Island and

Online LibraryRichard Mather BaylesHistory of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time → online text (page 41 of 72)