Christ's Lutheran Church in 1806

[ Reverend Quitman ]

Reverend Frederick Henry Quitman, 46, was a German immigrant and a physically imposing man: He was six feet tall, and he weighed about 300 pounds. (To enlarge the picture, click it.) He was pastor at St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Rhinebeck.

He was possibly the most thoroughgoing rationalist who had ever been ordained in the Lutheran church. For example, he denied the authority of both the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions.(1)

He was also active in establishing mission churches. During the spring of this year, he led a group of Lutherans residing in the Woodstock area in drafting the original charter of the "Lutheran Church, called Christ's Church in the Town of Woodstock."(2)

On page 88 of the book of Church Corporations in the records of Ulster County, New York, the following appears:(3)

This is to certify that on the First day of May of the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and six the following persons were elected trustees of the Lutheran Church, called Christ's Church, in the town of Woodstock, Ulster County and state of New York, vis. Philip Bomesteel [sic], Henry Simmon, and David Bonesteel to serve in that capacity in the following order namely, Philip Bonesteel for a term of three years, Henry Simmon for the term of two years and David Bonesteel for the term of one year in witness thereof we have put hereunto our hands and seals.

Witnesses:
Frederick H. Quitman,
Wilhelmus Reisley,
Andries Reisley (L. S.) Elders
Philip Shultis

[ Judge Jonathan Hasbrouck ]

Although this action took place in May, it was not recorded until November 5 of that year, when the pastor took the matter before Judge Jonathan Hasbrouck, pictured here, who acknowledged the paper and ordered it recorded. Below is the charter; to enlarge it, you can click it.


[ Charter of the church ]

A few words about church officers: From the founding of the church and for more than a century, the officers were elected on a yearly basis with staggered terms of office in order to be certain that there were always some experienced officers as well as new ones. Until 1961, the voting members of the council were men. Three kinds of office were available: trustees, responsible for the real property of the church (they bought, sold, leased, and held the deeds for church property; Henry Simmon, Philip Bonesteel, and David Bonesteel were the first trustees); deacons, who managed the financial aspects of the church, asking for subscriptions (yearly donations) from their assigned families and collecting the money that had been so pledged; and elders, who generally functioned in liturgical and pastoral areas, acting as readers during the services and visiting the sick, elderly, and housebound (Andries Reisley and Philip Shultis were the first elders). Usually, there would be three each of these office holders. Together they functioned like a modern church council, bringing forward important matters and making recommendations to the congregation at both annual and special meetings.(4)

[ Dr. John Kunze ] Pastor Quitman was secretary of the New York Ministerium (the synod that our church belonged to). Its president, Dr. John Kunze, pictured here, published during this year an English-language liturgy in the hopes that more Lutheran churches would begin using English. Most of his colleagues did not approve of English-language Lutheran services (apparently their attitude was that if German had been good enough for Martin Luther, it should be good enough for Lutherans in America), but by the following year, Pastor Quitman would be able to make English the official language of the Ministerium. Church historian Mark Anderson points out(5) that all the official records of the church for this year were written in English, in Pastor Quitman's handwriting--even though the official language of the New York Ministerium was still German. Apparently, the third-generation German families making up this small congregation were probably much more comfortable in English. The other Lutheran congregations that were using English at this time did not survive, and there is strong evidence that our congregation is the oldest continuing Lutheran church in America that has used English on a regular basis.

[ English liturgy of Dr. Kunze ] Anyway, to the left is a thumbnail picture of the cover of Dr. Kunze's English liturgy: The Liturgy, Gospels and Epistles of the English Evangelical Lutheran Church in New York. To see several pages of this liturgy, click the picture.

(There is some evidence that the church began by holding services in German and English on alternate Sundays, and that this practice was continued for nearly a decade.(6))

[ Church register ]

Above is the first page of the register wherein Pastor Quitman and succeeding pastors of our church recorded the names of church officers as they were elected on a rotating basis. Also recorded would be the names and dates of children who were baptized as well as their parents and sponsors. To enlarge the picture, just click it. A very important point is that this page and the subsequent pages are written in English, not in German and not in Dutch.

Christ's Church of Woodstock was now a church, but it was a church without a building. The members had already been holding services for the preceding four years in their homes, subject to the weather and farm work schedules. (You can find out about the Lutheran congregants before 1806.) Now circuit-riding Reverend Quitman was their official pastor, conducting services on different days in Rhinebeck (St. Peter's Church), West Camp (the Palatine Lutheran Church of St. Paul's), and Woodstock.

The Woodstock Region in 1806

According to region historian Alf Evers(7), the Catskills at this time

[ Robert R. Livingston, the Chancellor ] were largely a region of absentee landlords and struggling tenants. While landlords sailed for Europe (landlord Robert R. Livingston [pictured] took along his family coach lashed to the deck of the ship for the ladies of the party to use as a parlor in fine weather) or while they collected paintings or raced fine horses as the Hunters were to do, or edited Shakespeare as did Gulian Verplanck, their mountain tenants were very differently employed. In shadowy valleys beside cold and rushing streams, they entertained witches and repeated Old World lore while they fought the stubborn land with weapons not too different from those their ancestors had used in subduing the marshes and forests of northern Europe a thousand years before.

In his book dedicated specifically to Woodstock(8), Evers explained how the transplanted medieval manorial system prevalent in much of New York State, including the Catskill region, came about. Beginning more than six decades before our church was founded, the elder Robert Livingston (grandfather of Robert R. Livingston, the "Chancellor"), New York City merchant and owner of his Clermont estate in northern Dutchess County, had been purchasing thousands of acres in the patchwork Hardenbergh Patent that encompassed our region.

Most of his new holdings were part of "Great Lot 8," which included lands along the Saagkill (Sawkill) and Beaverkill. He and other great Catskill landlords--including Gulian Verplanck (whose "Great Lot 24" included parts of present-day Willow and Silver Hollow) and Henry Beekman (owner of much of "Great Lot 26," which extended southward from the Kaaterskill to the center of present-day Woodstock)--aggressively installed tenant settlers on their heavily forested lands. Livingston, after his marriage to Beekman's daughter, had become the principal landlord in this area, about which he had big dreams. He visualized that the tenants he was striving to recruit would clear the valley lands, cut trees to feed the sawmill he had built on the Sawkill near the present-day golf course, and haul the resulting boards and planks to the Hudson to supply the manufacture of gunstocks, houses, and ships.

Evers noted that the leases held by the earliest area tenants varied a great deal:

Some people had no leases at all. They had simply settled on land that appealed to them without consulting the legal owner. If they seemed industrious people Robert Livingston did not disturb them. There would be plenty of time later on to prod them into accepting leases. In the meantime their work in clearing the land added to its value year by year. Other settlers had brief lease agreements jotted down in the notebooks of land agents and owners. These usually provided for the tenant to pay the expenses of surveying his land and eventually drawing up a lease. The period of years--often five or more--during which the new farm would be in the process of partial clearing and therefore not very productive would be rent-free or subject to a very small token rent. After this period was over an annual rent of fifteen to twenty bushels of wheat per hundred acres was likely, plus three or four "good fat hens" and from one to three days' work with team for the landlord. A tenant had the right to sell his leasehold, but if he did he had to pay the landlord one-sixth of what he received.(9)

Eventually, the Livingston manor lord had a standard lease form printed, and the typical arrangement was the "three-life" lease: A tenant would be permitted use of Livingston land for three generations, and after the grandson of the original tenant died, the lease "fell in"--that is, the land would revert to a Livingston landlord. For this reason, a tenant was unlikely to build a sturdy stone house like those in Hurley; he rather favored wood frame house, a rough log house, or even a makeshift "wigwam" for summer occupancy only.

Examples [of some of the houses] which have come down to our days (most have not been able to weather the years) are roughly framed with logs flattened on the upper side used as floor joists and with rafters also of round timber. In these houses as in better ones doors were of the batten kind, with clinched handmade nails used to secure the battens.(10)

Particular stipulation variations in a lease might include how much wood the tenant was allowed to harvest from the landlord's commons for house building, heating, making or repairing of farm tools, and fencing; the reservation exclusively to the landlord of all sites for mills and mines; and the requirement for the tenant to help in fighting fires and in building and maintaining roads. The sites for sawmills were retained by the landlord, who might lease a mill under very restrictive terms.(11) During this year, Daniel Lumberd and John Eldridge leased 5 acres on the Little Beaverkill just below Yankeetown Pond, agreeing to build a sawmill there. Robert Livingston contributed $280 ($3,506 in 2006 dollars) toward the cost of construction, and he was to receive "a full one half part in quantity and quality" of everything they sawed "except logs sawed for tenants [for their own use]." At the same time, Henry Bogardus was negotiating with Livingston for a mill in Little Shandaken (Lake Hill), stating his hopes that

of the logs that we git out of your commons we would agree to let you have half of the boards but of the logs that the people should bring them off the land which is under possession [that is, occupied with or without benefit of lease] one fourth for it is allways customary that the people that bring the logs from their own land has half the boards and the sawyer one fourth and the Mill has one fourth.… If you will not build a mill nor let us have on any other conditions but such as you told me when we was at your house I think you cannot with any digree of propriety lay blame on your Tenants if they bring logs from off the land which they hold under improvement to Mr. Rouw's Mill which he is about to build on Mr. Desbrosses' land for you know we are under the greater necessity of having a sawmill in our neighborhood for our country is new and we must clear our land and burn our logs if we cannot have a mill…

In other words, Bogardus is implying that logs from Livingston land might end up in another landlord's sawmill. The deal fell through, nonetheless (and Livingston logs went to the Rouw mill in Mink Hollow).

At least six taverns were in business under licence from the 19-year-old Town of Woodstock.

Long before Woodstock had churches of its own it had its taverns.… Because Woodstock lay less than a day's journey from the Hudson River on increasingly used roads to the interior it was a logical spot for taverns at which travellers might eat, drink and sleep. Prospective settlers, speculators and teamsters hauling loads of choice lumber such as white pine, cherry, curly maple and straight-grained ash all passed through Woodstock and used its taverns.… [Local] law required every licensed tavernkeeper [such as local Lutheran Philip Bonesteel] to provide at least two beds for guests, with sufficient bedding; stabling and hay for horses were also required. Though heavy penalties were provided for selling "strong or spirituous liquors" without a licence, a tavernkeeper might sell "metheglin, currant wine, cherry wine or cyder" of his own making to be consumed on the premises. In addition he was required to display a sign with his name on it and to conform to many other regulations.… Taverns were not only centers for caring for travellers and entertaining local people. They were the places in which town meetings, auction sales and other serious pieces of business took place. The reason was obvious. Taverns were the only buildings which had rooms large enough to hold any but small groups.(12)

Only a few Woodstock-area men kept taverns; others farmed, hunted, logged, and made such wood products as shingles and barrel staves. In the late spring or early summer they peeled hemlock bark used for tanning, piling it in the woods and in the winter hauling it by sledge to smelly tannery of John C. Ring in the heart of Woodstock hamlet.

Women cooked, baked, washed, gave birth to children and then cared for them, and helped with the farm work.

Stray animals, including large troops of hogs driven up from Kingston, were fattening on bumper crops of acorns or beechnuts in the Woodstock commons, devastating the young trees and brush and interfering with forest regeneration.

New York City jewelry entrepreneur and land speculator Stephen Stilwell, determined to take advantage of the declining import commerce with war-ravaged Europe, decided to purchase from Baron Frederick August DeZeng and John G. Clark 10,000 acres of land in present-day Shady (soon to be called Bristol), advertised to contain a Forge "in complete order" (it was not in operation, however) with many outbuildings (many unfinished or only in a planned stage), supposedly suitable for manufacturing glass.

Isabella Bomefree, 9, a slave of the Dutch-speaking Hardenberghs in Hurley (and therefore speaking only Dutch herself), was the daughter of slaves James ("Bomefree") and Betsey ("Mau Mau Bett"). She had eight to ten older brothers and sisters, each of whom was regularly sold off after reaching an age deemed capable of slave labor. Isabella had one younger sibling, too. Her family lived in the cellar of the Hurley hotel owned by the Hardenbergh scion, Charles Hardenbergh. Here is how abolitionist Olive Gilbert, the literary mouthpiece of Isabella (in later life known as Sojourner Truth), recorded Isablla's description many years later of this childhood home in the cellar:(13)

A cellar, under this hotel, was assigned to his slaves, as their sleeping apartment--all the slaves [Charles Hardenbergh] possessed, of both sexes, sleeping (as is quite common in a state of slavery) in the same room. She carries in her mind, to this day [1850], a vivid picture of this dismal chamber; its only lights consisting of a few panes of glass, through which she thinks the sun never shone, but with thrice reflected rays; and the space between the loose boards of the floor, and the uneven earth below, was often filled with mud and water, the uncomfortable splashings of which were as annoying as its noxious vapors must have been chilling and fatal to health. She shudders, even now, as she goes back in memory, and revisits that cellar, and sees its inmates, of both sexes and all ages, sleeping on those damp boards, like the horse, with a little straw and a blanket.…

Catskill businessmen had taken over the publicly owned Schohariekill Road (approximately present-day Route 23A) and were attempting to convert it into a private "Little Delaware Turnpike," which, when completed, would stretch from Catskill all the way to the East Branch of the Delaware River (north of Roxbury).

Catskill bakery owner John Ashley harvested the tips of spruces on the shores of North Lake to obtain the "essence of spruce," from which he brewed (with water and molasses) and bottled spruce beer, as popular then as carbonated cola is today.

With various blustering threats and maneuvers, Neversink Valley landlord Gerardus "Gross" Hardenbergh, 62, had for the previous 4 years been pressing his "tenants" and those whom he insisted were squatters (even though they had fee-simple deeds he insisted were worthless frauds) to pay rent. He seized all the crops from the farm of James Bush and his three sons, including 600 bushels of grain and stored the booty in the local gristmill, which was then burned down by angry farmers. Hardenbergh dispossessed the Bushes, dragging Mrs. Bush by her hair from the house as she clutched her baby.

The New York state legislature enacted a law permitting Roman Catholics to hold public office.

The United States in 1806

[ Thomas Jefferson ]

Thomas Jefferson (Democratic Republican), 63, was President. The 9th Congress was in session. (The midterm elections that year would elect the 10th Congress.) A dollar in that year would be worth $12.52 in 2006 for most consumable products.

Houses and barns alike were constructed in those days with heavy beams joined with carefully and skillfully fitted mortise and tenon.

Making change was a formidable task. The coins in circulation throughout America included Russian kopecks, Dutch rix-dollars, various French and English specie (money in coins), and, most common of all, the silver dollars, halves, quarters, eighths and sixteenths minted in Mexico and South America. To confuse matters further, some coins went by different names in different parts of the country. The Spanish reale, worth 12½ cents, was a "bit" in the West, a "ninepence" in New England, a "shilling" in New York, and a "levy" in Pennsylvania. Even more befuddling, many rural Americans and shopkeepers persisted in reckoning their wares and wages by the outmoded English system of pence, shillings, and pounds. The rural American had a different problem; the farmer rarely used money at all. Some outlying farmers lived their entire lives without ever seeing a silver dollar. Barter or trade was the sole means of making purchases.(14)

U.S. exporters yearly shipped thousands of tons of pearlash (potassium carbonate) to Great Britain and other European ports for use in helping bread dough to rise. The pearlash was produced by burning wood, and the process led to deforestation of much of the eastern part of the continent.


Tensions with the British (and French)

As a result of the war in Europe, U.S. commerce dwindled to a third of its former value.

French naval forces were seizing American merchant ships bound for the UK, and British naval forces were seizing American merchant ships bound for French ports (if they had not first paid extortionist duties in England). Hundreds of American ships were captured. President Jefferson, of course, vigorously protested. The President sent William Pinckney and James Monroe to try to negotiate with the British, but they could only win a humiliating treaty that Jefferson would not even bother submitting to the Senate. Meanwhile, Congress passed the Nonimportation Act, which outlawed the importation of British goods that could be replaced by goods from other countries or produced domestically. Because of protests in New England, however, the law was suspended.


Candlemaker William Colgate opened his tallow chandlery and soap factory (later the Colgate-Palmolive Company) in New York City.

Some 200 cordwainers (shoemakers) in Philadelphia went out on strike, but their leaders were arrested and tried on charges of criminal conspiracy to get their wages raised.

Construction was authorized on the Cumberland Road, which would connect Cumberland, MD, with the Ohio River. Congress authorized the construction of the Natchez Trace, 500 miles from Nashville, TN, to Natchez on the Mississippi River.

Governor William Henry Harrison of Indiana Territory kept pressure on the Indians, grabbing their lands through promising aid to one group against another, penalizing one group for some misdemeanor, or corrupting another group. Shawnee Indian brave Tenskwatawa, known as the Prophet, preached that the Indians had to give up white ways and white artifacts, such as muskets, iron cooking pots, cloth, and whiskey. If they returned to ancient Indian ways, they would be able to gain sufficient power to resist the relentless pressure from American settlers. Possibly fortified with almanac knowledge, he amazed the rest of the tribe by accurately predicting a total solar eclipse; this confirmed his reputation as a seer.

Frontier lawyer Andrew Jackson, 39, shot and killed Charles Dickinson in a Kentucky duel. Dickinson had been spreading rumors about Jackson's wife, Rachel, whose earlier divorce from a Mr. Robards was subject to legal question. Jackson was seriously wounded in the duel--Dickinson's bullet had broken two of his ribs and had lodged itself deep in the left lung, where it remained the rest of Jackson's life, abcessing and giving him symptoms similar to tuberculosis.

John Chapman, 31, known as "Johnny Appleseed," continued distributing Swedenborgian religious tracts and apple seeds to settlers in the Ohio Valley. A small, wiry man with "eyes that sparkled with a peculiar brightness," he had a reputation for loving children and all living creatures, even mosquitoes. He made friends with all the Indians he encountered. He traveled barefoot, dressed in cast-offs or a coffee sack. He liked to read to settlers from the New Testament, calling it "news right fresh from heaven."


The Burr conspiracy

[ Aaron Burr ] Aaron Burr of New York, 50, with General James Wilkinson, 46 (who was secretly in the pay of Spain), allegedly plotted to establish an independent republic in the Southwest (the region south of the Ohio River, Louisiana Territory, and part of Spanish Mexico). (Burr insisted in his trial that he was interested only in a Mexican empire, not in separating Western states from the U.S.) Burr gathered several dozen adventurers at Blennerhassett Island in the Ohio River and began moving downstream in a luxury flatboat toward New Orleans, seeking allies along the way, making different promises to each: Irish rebel Harman Blannerhasset was promised the post of Grand Chamberlain once Burr had been installed as the Emperor of Mexico. Andrew Jackson offered to help Burr get elected to the Senate from Tennessee (but Jackson entirely withdrew from the scheme as soon as he learned that Wilkinson was part of it). Creoles in New Orleans and many American adventurers were excited by the prospect of invading Mexico. Both the Bishop of New Orleans and the Mother Superior of the Ursuline convent blessed Burr's scheme. Burr returned overland to Washington, where the Spanish Ambassador gave him $2,500 ($40,300 in 2006 dollars), thinking it was for splitting Louisiana and Mississippi away from the U.S.

Burr set up headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky, and began recruiting, sounding his pretext that he needed to make good his dubious claim to some 400,000 acres of land he had purchased in western Louisiana. He planned to wait in Natchez until his New Orleans contingent would declare independence and offer him the presidency; once installed in New Orleans, he would gather an army to invade Mexico. Burr and Blannerhassett, with their advance guard of ten flatboats, reached the mouth of the Cumberland.

Unfortunately for Burr, however, Wilkinson double-crossed him with a lurid letter to the President, who had actually been aware of the conspiracy for months but apparently had no problem with it as long as the adventure was directed against Spanish holdings. Now that the matter was public knowledge, Jefferson issued a warning proclamation to the nation and ordered Burr's arrest on charges of treason.

Meanwhile, Secretary of War Henry Dearborn wrote to Andrew Jackson about Burr's scheme, instructing him to "render abortive such an expedition" and hinting vaguely that Jackson himself might be a traitor. Jackson responded thus:

Henry Dearborn, Sir: Colo. B. [Burr] received at my house all the hospitality that a banished patriot was entitled to. But sir, when proof shows him to be a treator [sic] I would cut his throat with as much pleasure as I would cut yours on equal testimony.(15)

The 44-man 28-month expedition of explorers Meriwether Lewis, 32, and William Clark, 36, across Louisiana Territory, the Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest and back (since a ship did not pick them up from the Pacific Coast) ended in St. Louis, to the celebration and surprise of Americans who had given the explorers up for lost. The specimens, notes, and maps were received by scientists as a great treasure; President Jefferson received skeletons and hides of various animals, mountain ram horns, a tin box full of insects, cages of live birds and squirrels, two grizzly bear cubs, and gifts from the Mandan and Sioux Indians. Lewis was named Governor of Louisiana Territory.

General Zebulon Montgomery Pike, 27, explored the Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado (where he saw Pike's Peak), and New Mexico. Pike called the western plains "incapable of cultivation" and compared them to the "sandy deserts of Africa."(16)


Science and technology in America: Specifics

David Melville of Newport, RI, began using coal gas for lamps, replacing candle wax and whale oil. He introduced gas street lighting along Pelham Street in Newport.


Arts and culture in America: Specifics

Lexicographer Noah Webster, 53, distinguished between u and v and between i and j in his Compendious Dictionary of the English Dictionary. Many critics condemned some of the words he documented-- lengthy, sot, spry, belittle, and caucus-- as being vulgar New Englandisms.

Popular periodicals included the Philadelphia Repository and Weekly Register, Boston Weekly Magazine, Lady's Weekly Miscellany, and Christian's Magazine.

The World at Large in 1806

English textile mills shut down as supplies of American raw cotton disappeared. Lancashire New Lanark mill owner Robert Dale Owen, 35, continued to pay full wages in spite of being shut down, however.

Ireland's potato crop failed.


Napoleonic Wars

[ Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French ] Napoleon (to enlarge his picture, just click it) formed the Confederation of the Rhine, forcing Kaiser Franz II to renounce his title as Kaiser of the Holy Roman Empire, which was abolished after 1,006 years of not being Holy, of not being Roman, and-- for the past few centuries-- of not being an Empire. There were 27 million people in Germany, most of them now under the domination of the French. Prussia declared war on France. French forces defeated the Prussians in the Battle of Jena and the Battle of Auerstädt. Napoleon occupied Berlin.

Napoleon transformed his Batavian Republic into the Kingdom of Holland, making still another brother, Louis Bonaparte, its King.

The British blockaded the French ports from Brest to the Elbe in Germany; neutral ships were allowed to pass if they were not carrying goods to or from enemy ports. Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree, establishing the Continental System, closing European ports to British commerce.

French General Joachim Murat entered Warsaw.


The British cotton industry employed some 90,000 factory workers and some 184,000 handloom weavers.


World science and technology

English chemist Humphry Davy, 28, discovered how to isolate potassium and sodium with an electrolytic method.

The British Parliament granted another £20,000 to Edward Jenner, 57, for his smallpox vaccination discovery of 1798.


World arts and culture

Ann and Jane Taylor published Original Poems for Infant Minds: Rhymes for the Nursery, including "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."

French sculptor Clodion (Claude Michel) began work on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

German composer Ludwig von Beethoven, 36, produced Symphony No. 4 in B flat major, Opus 60 and Concerto in D major for Violin and Orchestra, Opus 61. German Sturm und Drang philosopher novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 57, married Christiane Vulpius, 41.

Notes

The copyrighted material cited on this page comes under the definition of "Fair Use."

See also the general sources.