Richard Mather Bayles.

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

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Bethlehem, Pa. After the arrival of the first colony of Mora-
vians in June, 1742, these three places jointly constituted a
field in which their evangelists labored. Among those who
thus labored in these early years were the Brethren David Bruce,
Aimers, Gambold, Jasper Payne, Thomas Rodgers, Thomas
Ynrrell, Neisser, Richard Utley, Owen Rice and John Wade.



In referring- to the early period of this church, Mrs. Bird,
an aged lady who was interviewed by Professor Anthon years
ago. said : " Mr. Gambold was a nice old man. The church on
Christmas eve used to be beautifully decorated with greens,
and artificial flowers, such as roses, pinks and such like, of their
own make. The pulpit was covered with flowers from top to
bottom, and the windows were also adorned. But the custom
of celebrating Christmas eve was not kept up in later years so
much as in earlv times."


Between 1742 and 1743, about a dozen different clergymen of
the denomination came occasionally to the island to officiate.
In 1756 there were only three communicant members on the
island, viz.: Jacobus Vanderbilt and his wife Yettje or ISTeiltje,
and the widow Elizabeth Inyard. The religious services were
usually held in a school house, which, as some say, stood on
or near the site of the present church, but as others say, with
more probability, at the corner of the roads at what is now
called Egbertville. In 1762, Richard Connor, Stephen Martino,
Jr., Tunis Egbert, Jacob Yander Bilt, Aaron Cortelyou, Ma-


thias Enyard, John Baty, Cornelius Cortelyou, Cornelius
Vander Bilt, Cornelius Van Deventer, Stephen Martino, Mary
Stilwell, Cornelius Martino and Peter Ferine, applied to the
church authorities at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for the estab-
lishment of a Moravian church on Staten Island. On the 7th
of July, 1763, the corner stone of a church and parsonage was
laid, and on the ensuing 7th of December the church was con-
secrated. The identical building is still standing, and is shown
in the illustration accompanying this notice. The custom of
the Moravians at that period was to combine church and par-
sonage under one roof, hence the arrangement and un-church-
like appearance of this old building. The last religious exer-
cises in this church, before its removal from the original
site, were held on Thursday, October 26, 1882. They were con-
ducted by Rev. W. H. Vogler, the pastor of the church.

The first regularly settled pastor was the Rev. Hector Gam-
bold, who had come to the field August 17, 1763, and pending
the completion of the parsonage was accommodated in another
house. On the 21st of December, he and his family moved into
the rooms now made ready for his occupancy, and here he found
his home during his long pastorate, which extended to the year
1784. Following him for brief periods were James Birkly and
E. Thorp, and in 1787 Frederick Moehring assumed the pastor-
ate. His term of service continued until 1793, when he was
followed by Mr. Birkly again. The latter remained till 1797,
when Mr. Moehring returned and exercised the pastoral func-
tion until 1803. His successor that year was Nathaniel Brown,
who held the position until removed by death in 1813. He was
a native of Nazareth, Pa., where he was born July 9, 1763,
two days after the laying of the corner stone of this church.
His father, Rev. Peter Brown, was for upward of twenty years
a missionary of the United Brethren on the island of Antigua,
and he had himself been a missionary to the island of Jamaica,
whither he was sent in 1789. His stay there was not long, his
return to the United States following shortly after the death of
his wife, Elizabeth Chitty. He afterward married Anna Cath-
erine Frederica Unger, in Maryland, about two years before he
came to this charge. He was followed by John C. Bechler, from
1813 to 1817, and others followed successively as named : George
A. Hartmann, from 1817 to 1837 ; Ambrose Rondthaler, from
1837 to 1839 ; H. G. Clauder, from 1839 to 1852 ; Bernhard de



Schweinitz, from 1852 to 1854 ; Amadeus A. Reinke, from 1854
to 1860 ; Edwin T. Senseman, from 1860 to 1862 ; Eugene Leib-
ert, from ]862 to 1867; Francis F. Hagen, from 1867 to 1870 ;
William L. Lennert, from 1870 to 1876; William H. Vogler,
from 1876 present incumbent.

The early dates and events given above have been derived
chiefly from denominational sources, the records of the church
having been destroyed during the revolution, when some Brit-
ish soldiers forcibly entered the parsonage at night, and after



wantonly destroying furniture and other articles belonging to
the occupant, carried off the archies of the infant church.
About the same time, probably on the same night, the house
of Caps. Christian Jacobson, in the vicinity of the church,
was also entered, and he was killed by being shot. He was
an eminently pious man, and captain of the Moravian ship
" Irene," after the retirement of Captain Garrison.

The society was incorporated April 15, 1808. The land on
which the church was erected was sold by John Baty to Thomas


Yarrell, the minister, and Henry Van Vleek, of New York city,
and Cornelius Van Deventer and Richard Conner, of Richmond
county, June 19, 1763, for 25 l()s. This parcel of ground con-
tained h've and a half acres, more or less, and was bounded on
the southwest by Cornelius Cortelyou, northwest and northeast,
by John Baty and southeast by the King's highway. A deed
of confirmation was given for the same, to the representatives
of the denomination, by Edward Baty, executor of his father,
John Baty, March 2, 1790.

The present church edifice was erected in 1845, being conse-
crated May 15th of that year. The old church was re-arranged
for school purposes and dwelling apartments in 1851. Mr. N.
J. Ostrander, superintendent of the cemetery, moved into a
part of the house in 1872.

The old church has the honor of having been the first house
of worship on the island in which an organ was used. This
statement is made on the authority of an old lady whose mem-
ory extended back into the pre-revolutionary time.

The Sunday school first organized July 19, 1829, has con-
tinued to flourish to the present time. On the 31st day of Au-
gust, 1873, the chapel and Sunday school building at the Four
Corners was dedicated. It was built on land donated for
the purpose by Mr. Cornelius Du Bois; the lot is one hundred
feet square. The whole premises are estimated to be worth over
seven thousand dollars.

The donations of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt to this
church of his forefathers have been munificent. When the
present church edifice was erected, he contributed the sum of
one thousand dollars toward its completion. On the 20th day
of December, 1865, he gratuitously conveyed to the trustees of
the "United Brethren's Church on Staten Island," eight and
a half acres of land on the east side of the original h've and
a half acres, and on the 30th day of October, 1868, about forty-
six acres more on the north and west sides thereof. A new
parsonage, a very handsome building of modern style, was
erected by the gift of William H. Vanderbilt in 1880, and Mr.
Vogler moved into it on the 21st of December of that year.
In 1882 Mr. Vanderbilt also purchased property of Mrs. Susan
Jane Fountain, comprising about four acres, with the buildings
on it, at a cost of five thousand dollars, and presented it to
the trustees of the church on condition that certain improve-


merits should be made, which conditions were accepted. This
stands on the opposite side of the Todt Hill road from the par-
sonage, and was given for a residence for the superintendent of
the cemetery. ' By this accession to the church propery its line
of frontage along the Richmond road was extended to nearly
four thousand feet in length. The old church was moved back
to its present, site, and protected by paint and repairs to pre-
serve it against the encroachments of time and the elements,
while the surroundings were improved and beautified. Up to
that time it was estimated that the Vanderbilt family had made
gifts to this society, in cemetery property, buildings and im-
provements to the amount of thirty-seven thousand dollars. In
addition to this, the society received by bequest of William H.
Vanderbilt, whose will bears date September 25, 1884, and whose
death occurred December 8, 1885, the princely gift of one hun-
dred thousand dollars.

The first Roman Catholic church on Staten Island was organ-
ized on the first day of April, 1839, at New Brighton. For some
time prior to this, however, a few individuals professing this
faith, assembled regularly every week in a small apartment of
the ll Gun Factory," an establishment which stood at the corner
of Richmond terrace and Lafayette avenue, and consisted of the
factory proper and a row of brick two-story cottages. The
ground on which the church v St. Peter's) was built, was do-
nated for the purpose by the "New Brighton Association," and
will revert when it ceases to be used for a church of that faith.

The first pastor was Rev. Ildefonso Medrano, a native of Old
Spain ; he remained until December, 1845, and was succeeded by
Rev. John Shanahan, whose brief pastorate terminated in August,
1846. Rev. James Rosevelt Bailey was the next pastor for a
still briefer period, from August to December, 1846. He was
afterward bishop of Newark, and later, archbishop of Balti-
more. Then came Rev. Patrick Murphy, who was pastor from
March, 1846, to February 11, 1848, when he died of yellow fever,
and was interred under the altar. He was immediately suc-
ceeded by his brother, Rev. Mark Murphy, who was succeeded
by the Rev. James L. Conron, in August, 1852. He continued un-
til within a few years of the present time. Rev. John Barry
has since been pastor of the church.

The two brothers Murphy were remarkably quiet, unassum-


ing, and faithful men. In the church is a mural tablet to the
memory of Patrick, in the following words :

" Hie Jacet
In Spem Beatse Resurrectionis


Presbyter Primus, ut creditur,

Qui in hac Insula Mortuus est.

In Hibernia natus juxta oppidum

Enniskillen, Seminarii S toe Maria

Ad Montes Aluminus, et in Neo-

Eboraco ordinatus, pastor

Ecclesipe hujus et Insulse

Totius Constitutus est. Ubi

Morum suavitate, Vitse integritate,

Zelo et eloquentia pro Deo et
fancta Fide, ita se commendavit ut
Ab ommibus vere bonus pastor, et
Quasi Apostolus Insulae haberetur,

Labore tandem et morbo gravi.

Oppressus, Anno eetatis stife 30 m -

Mense post ordinationem 15 mo - die llmo-

Februarii 1848, animam Deo reddidit,

Memoriam sui relinquens non cito

Perituram, sed qure diu inter

Fideles in benedictione


Requiescat in Pace."


Here lies,

In the hope of a blessed resurrection,
Believed to be the first priest

Who died on this Island.

Born in Ireland, near the town of

Enniskillen, graduate of Mount St. Mary's Seminary,

And ordained in New York, and
Appointed pastor of this Church, and

Of this whole Island, where,
By the amiability of his disposition and integrity of his life,


Zeal and eloquence for God, and

Holy faith, he so commended himself, that

By all he was considered a truly good pastor, and

As it were, the Apostle of the Island.
At length, worn down by labor and a fatal disease,

His soul returned to God,

In the thirtieth year of his age, and the

Fifteenth month after his ordination,

February the llth, 1848 ;

Leaving a memory not soon to be

Forgotten, but which shall long remain

Among the faithful in benediction.

May he rest in peace.

REV. JOHN BARRY. No face is more familiar upon the streets
of Staten Island than that of Rev. Father John Barry, whose
residence of twenty- seven years in Richmond county has re-
sulted in great benefit, not only to the church with which he is
connected, but to the community at large.

Father Barry was born in Cork, Ireland, January 6, 1830.
He graduated from " St. Vincent's Seminary," in that city, in
1850, and in the following year came to New York city. Shortly
after his arrival he entered "St. Joseph's Seminary," at Ford-
ham, N. Y., from which he was ordained to the priesthood in
1854. After his ordination he was appointed by Archbishop
Hughes first assistant at Old St. Patrick's cathedral, and re-
mained in this position for five years, serving also during the
latter portion of the term as chaplain and secretary to the arch-
bishop. It was while he held this honorable and important post
that the celebrated controversy between Archbishop Hughes and
Hon. Erastus Brooks took place. Father Barry was the bearer
of the bishop's letters to the "-Courier and Enquirer." Dur-
ing this time also the cornerstone of the new cathedral was laid,
Father Barry acting as deacon on the occasion. His valuable
services were shortly afterward rewarded by an appointment to
the Parish of Rossville, S.I., which then included the villages of
Richmond and Graniteville, though the archbishop had talked
of sending him as chaplain to the Sixty-ninth regiment, then
about to be ordered to the front.

Father Barry remained in this charge for nineteen years, dur-


ing which he erected and beautified the Rossville church, pur-
chased ground for and laid out and consecrated the cemetery.
He also built the Richmond church, and rebuilt the old church
in Graniteville. On the death of Rev. Father Conron he was
transferred to St. Peter's church, at New Brighton, where he
spent eight years, and still remains. During this time he has
completely changed the grounds and beautified the interior of
the church at great expense, besides lowering the debt of his
congregation. He also procured as a gift from Mr. William
McSorley a piece of ground adjacent to St. Peter's cemetery in
West Brighton, which he added to the cemetery, making it
the largest and best Catholic burying ground on Staten Island.
Father Barry is one of the most active, and at the same time
one of the most cordial of men. He bends his whole thought and
energy to the task before him. He is at present engaged in collect-
ing funds for the erection of a new Catholic school in the parish,
which is intended to be one of the most commodious and at-
tractive in Richmond county. Essentially a public man, Father
Barry has continually used his influence for the promotion of
all that is enobling and that is substantial among the people
with whom he has lived. The good work which he has ac-
complished, and the buildings which he has erected for charita-
ble purposes, will long remain when he has passed forever from
the scene of his earthly labors, monuments to his usefulness.

In October, 1852, the parish and congregation of St. Mary's
church, Clifton, were organized by the late Archbishop Hughes,
and the Rev. J. Lewis was appointed pastor thereof, and has
continued in the same pastorate ever since.

Immediately after his appointment, Father Lewis erected a
temporary chapel and schools at a cost of about $6,000; these
were used for five years.

In 1857 Archbishop Hughes laid the corner stone of St.
Mary's church, on New York avenue, and the edifice was
completed the following year, and cost about $58,000; it is the
handsomest Catholic church on Staten Island.

In 1858 and 1859 the rectory adjoining the church was built
at a cost of $10,000.

In 1862 Father Lewis purchased seven acres of land of the
Parkinson estate in Southfield, and laid it out as a ceme-


tery; he also built upon it a neat cottage for the keeper's

A large school house, an orphan asylum for the parish, a
residence for the sisters of charity, and another for the male
teachers of the school were built in 1864, at a cost of about
$36,000. These schools are among the largest on the island; the
books show a daily attendance of nearly four hundred pupils,
who are gratuitously instructed by six sisters of charity under
the supervision of the pastor. Father Lewis is entitled to com-
mendation for his zeal and fidelity in his efforts to promote the
spiritual and temporal interests of his parishoners.

St. Mary's hall for lectures, concerts, dramatic performances
and other meetings was erected in 1878 at a cost of $9,000.
It holds about eight hundred people and is complete for its
purposes, with scenery, footlights, dressing rooms and the like.
The " Catholic Young Men's Literary Union Hall" was built
by Father Lewis in 1883, for the young men of his parish.
Here they congregate in the evenings for recreation and literary
exercises. It cost $2,600. In 1882 Father Lewis built, at his
own expense, a very handsome chapel, in the heart of Stapleton,
for the convenience of the aged and infirm of his parish. It cost
$10,000, and is called the "Chapel of Ease of the Clifton
Parish," and was dedicated July 9, 1882. Father Lewis is de-
servedly held in great esteem among all classes on Staten Island
for his business tact and his unselfish devotedness to his

It is the fortune of few clergymen to spend a term of thirty-
five years in one pastorate, still less is it usual for any public
man to remain that length of time among one people, retaining
through it all their unqualified approval and respect. That
Rev. John Lewis, or Father Lewis, as he is generally called, has
done this and has at the same time accomplished such results
in the way of benefit to the church which claims his devotion,
speaks volumes for his good judgment and taste.

Father Lewis was born in France in 1821 and came to America
in 18f>l. Soon after his arrival he was appointed to establish a
new parish at Clifton, and how well he has succeeded is gener-
ally known throughout Richmond county. From the time
of his arrival at Clifton he devoted his whole thought to the
work before him, and what he has accomplished has been the
result of his constant and unwavering efforts. The commodious


church, rectory, schools, residence of sisters of charity, orphan
asylum, St Mary's hall, literary hall for young men, St. Mary's
cemetery, chapel of ease, in Stapleton, etc., make up to day one
of the most complete and beautiful parishes in the diocese of
New York and betray his clear-headedness, unflagging energy
and sound financiering abilities. It may be said to his credit
also that he has not confined himself entirely to the work of
his own denomination, but has been and is ever ready to lend a
helping hand in all liberal and charitable movements.

Father Lewis has been through life a hard student and has
attained for himself an honored position among the learned
men of his day. Refined in taste and manner without affec-
tation, with a countenance full of candor and goodness of heart,
a ripe scholar, speaking fluently five or six languages, of mature
experience, much enlarged by traveling, a thorough champion
of his own church, yet kind and forbearing to those who differ
from him, and ever ready to give credit to the honest convic-
tions of others; all these are the qualities which have enabled
him to make such a remarkable success of his undertakings on
Staten Island, and have won for him the love and esteem of his
fellow men.

St. Mary's Roman Catholic church, Port Richmond, was or-
ganized as an out mission of St. Peter's church, New Brighton,
about forty years ago. The Rev. Father Metrano celebrated
the first mass for about forty Catholics, which was the whole
number of that denomination living in the town of North-field
at that time. The place of worship was the old stone house
which still stands near the granite quarry at Graniteville.
Father Metrano continued celebrating mass there once every
month, for about three years, when he was succeeded by the
Rev. P. Murphy. Father Murphy's time was short ; he died
from an attack of yellow fever contracted while performing his
sacred functions to members of his flock in the yellow fever
hospital. After a service of about two years, he was succeeded
by his brother, Father Mark Murphy. At this time the num-
ber of catholics had increased to about one hundred and fifty
members. After a few years he purchased a large piece of land
on Quarry hill, and built a frame building, sixty by thirty feet,
two stories high, for a school house. He used it for a church,
intending to build a larger and more commodious building for
church purposes. He officiated for about eight years, when he


was succeeded by the Rev. Father Caro, who was appointed
pastor of St. Joseph's church, Rossville, and St. Mary's was
attached as an out mission. He served about two years. He
was succeeded by Rev. Father McCfausen, who officiated
about two years.

Up to this time there was no regular Sunday school. In 1858,
Rev. Father Barry of St. Patrick's, NewYork, was appointed pas-
tor. Services still continued to be held once a month, but after
a few years they were held twice a month. The catholic popu-
lation afterward increased to about four hundred, and services
were held every Sunday. During his time a regular Sunday
school was formed, and in 1873, T. F. Donovan was appointed
superintendent, a position which lie has since held. Father
Barry officiated for nineteen years. During his time the tract
of land which was laid out in previous years for church pur-
poses, was converted into a cemetery.

In 1877, the number of catholics had increased to live or six
hundred. The church authorities deemed it advisable to make
St. Mary's a separate parish, and therefore appointed Rev. H.
S. O'Hare, pastor. He served one year and three months.
In 1878, Rev. J. C. Campbell was appointed pastor. His ap-
pointment marks the forward stride of St. Mary's church. He
worked solely for the temporal and spiritual welfare of his
people. The end of the first three years of his pastorate found
the church completely clear of debt, and several needed im-
provements made in the old frame building which Father Mur-
phy had built thirty years previous, and which was still used
as a church. He next had the parish enlarged by getting it ex-
tended to Bodine's Mill creek. The number of Catholics
belonging to St. Mary's was now about eight hundred.

The old church was now too small to accommodate the grow-
ing congregation, and its location was such as to prevent a great
many from attending their own church. Father Campbell saw
.that something should be done to supply the wants of his
people. He accordingly, in 1882, purchased for one thousand
five hundred dollars, a large piece of property on the Shore road,
near Port Richmond, and erected on it one of the handsomest
church edifices on Staten Island, at a cost of thirty thousand
dollars. The new church is one hundred feet long by fifty-seven
feet wide, with slate roof, and has a steeple one hundred and
twenty-five feet high. The inside is finished in polished oak,


and has a seating capacity of six hundred ; all the windows are
of stained glass, and were donated by the members of the
church. The corner stone was laid by Archbishop Corrigan on
the 19th of August, 1883. It was ready for services the follow-
ing May, and on the 4th of that month it was dedicated by
Archbishop Corrigan. In April, 1885, Father Campbell pur-
chased a magnificent organ to be placed in the church, at a cost
of two thousand five hundred dollars. It was used for the first
time on the first anniversary of the dedication. He has since
purchased a large piece of property adjoining the church prop-
erty, to be used for church purposes. Daniel D. McCarthy
donated a bell weighing two thousand pounds, which is placed
in the tower of the church.

St. Joseph's church, Rossville, was built in 1851, and for
three years after that time was under the care of the church at
Clifton. About 1854 Rev. Father Caro became its pastor. He
was succeeded by the Rev. Bernard McCrausen in 1857. He
remained until 1859, when the Rev. John Barry became its
pastor, and the latter remained till the year 1877. Rev. Ed-
ward A. Dunphy succeeded him, remaining until the present
time. The congregation of this church comes from Kreischer-
Tille, Tottenville, Green Ridge, Eltingville, Annadale, Hugue-
not, Prince's Bay, Richmond Valley and Rossville. Thechurcli

Online LibraryRichard Mather BaylesHistory of Richmond County (Staten Island), New York from its discovery to the present time → online text (page 42 of 72)