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REFORMED PROTESTANT DUTCH CHURCH OF ALBANY.
It is but recently that any important investigations have been made to bring to light the origin and early history of this church. It was the good fortune of Dr. O'Callaghan, a few years ago, to find among the archives of the Patroon, the most ancient documents that can reasonably be supposed to exist, respecting its origin. They are published at length in his History of New Netherlands establishing the time of the building of the first church, and giving minute particulars of the call of the first pastor. In the first volume of the Annals of Albany, an attempt was made to gather, in a brief narrative, the particulars of its history and the succession of its ministry, derived principally from the church records. Earlier records than those in the archives of the First Church have since come to hand, by which we are enabled to correct some erroneous data in that narrative, from reliable entries, and to present a synopsis of the transactions of the deacons, in collecting and disbursing the alms of the church, during a period, almost uninterrupted, of half a century, from 1665 to 1715. The entries in these records are valuable in many respects. They show not only the amounts collected on various occasions, but also the customs and observances of the church; the dates of the deaths of important personages; the times of the arrivals of the pastors; the names of merchants doing business here; the prices of articles of merchandise, and of the currency in use; as well as other facts more or less important, and worthy of preservation, which arc no where else to be found. Indeed it is all the record we have of the period it embraces, in the history of the church, except a few brief entries in the minutes of the common council, and a record of baptisms.
In the pages which follow it is purposed to avoid the repetition of any matters that have been published, except to correct errors. On page 91 of the first volume of the Annals of Albany was given a table of the succession of the pastors of the church, from 1642 to 1805, Without having settled all the dates beyond doubt, a corrected list is here given of such of them as, by later discoveries, are found to have been erroneously stated.
1671 to 1680, Rev. Wilhelmus Van Nieuwenhuysen.
1695 to 1700, Rev. Johannes Petrus Nucella.
1700 to 1710, Rev. John Lydius*
1746 to 1759, Rev. Theodorus Frielinghuyzen.f
THE DEACONS' ACCOUNT BOOK.
The earliest record that has been found of this church, is a book of about six quires, in vellum binding, provided with buckskin thongs, in place of clasps, which was begun in 1665 by Stoffel Jansen Abeel. That earlier records have existed is made certain by a stray leaf of a book, evidently the last one of a quire, dated 1656, of part of which I have procured a faesimile to be printed.
This record exhibits the income of the poor fund, and the disbursements to those who were entitled to its benefits. When we consider the very humble charge which was placed under Dom. Megapolensis in 1642, and the very slow growth of the colony during the whole of that century, we observe with no small surprise, the magnitude of the collections that were taken up in the church, ostensibly for the poor. It is found that in 1647 the deacons loaned 300 guilders to the patroon at 10 per cent (O'Callaghan's New Netherland, I, 471). And the first item on the stray leaf of 1656, records a loan to a woman, on security. The book under consideration opens with an inventory of the investments of the surplus moneys in the hands of the consistory belonging to the poor, as follows:
* An entry in the Deacons' book shows that Dom. Lydius and Dom. Freerman of Schenectady arrived together on the 20 Oct. and that the former preached his introductory sermon on the 28th of that month, 1700.
f A letter has been found, written at New York on the 10th October, 1769, which establishes the fact that he sailed on that day, and that gossip and predictions of a fatal voyage were rife, which led to the tradition of his. loss at sea, and which is no where authenticated but by the garrulous Mrs. Grant. The tradition seems to have grown out of the ominous breaking down of the bench in the pulpit of a new church in which he preached on the Sunday before his departure. The Rev. Dr. De Witt says he went to Holland on business growing out of the impending controversy concerning the ccetus. The time, place and manner of his death is not known. He published a catechism which was printed by Weyman in New York, the introduction to the second edition of which is dated at Albany, 1748.
The twenty-one following leaves contain the entries of Deacon Abeel and his successors, illustrating the terms of these loans, and containing the credit entries, as well as other transactions. Entries are made to the names of Wynant Gerritsen, 1665, Claes Ripsen [van Damn, 1667, BarentMeyndersen, Doctor (Meester) Cornelis Van Dyck, Keesie Kroenen, Sander Leendersen Glen, Geurt Hendericksen, timmerman, and Claes Vijlspiegel, in the hand writing of Jan Provoost, which is a very beautiful style of penmanship; quite a contrast to that of Deacon Abeel, which is obscure, and that of his successor Jacob Senermerhooren, which though plainer is coarse. Then follow transactions in 1668, in the hand of Jan Vinhaeghen, with Teunes Cornelisen Slingerlant, Jan Martense, Willem Jansen, Klass Vijlenspiegel, Hans den Kluyt of Schanechtade, and Guert Hendricksen, timmerman. The debit entries in the account of the latter, are 32 gilders each month, " cassa in sewant betaelt," that is paid in wampum currency. The credit is made in December thus: "Angenomen een kint van Karsten die Noorman om het selve te onderhouden den tyt van een Jaer van kost en dranck voor die somma van 32 gull, in seewant jeder maent, 384;" which is, a credit for the board of Karsten de Norman's child one year. The next three entries are made by Mester Jacobus Dehinsle, in 1670, against Zacharias Sickels, Jan Tomas, and Tys Barentsen. Cornelis Van Dyck makes two entries in 1672 against Swarte Meerte and Cornelis Stevenson. The last entries preceding the regular monthly transactions of the djÉptonry, are in the hand of Dierck Wessels, in 1675.
We new come to the accounts proper, written in the uncomely character of Stoffel,**nsen Abeel, and the most obscure in the book, except that of Marten Gerretsen van Bergen in 1671, and the certificates of Dom. Schaets. To exhibit the subject clearly, the Dutch and English are given in opposite columns. The currency is wampum, or sewant as it is written, the Indian money of the country, in gilders and stivers. The translations must be taken with a grain of allowance, on account of the rudeness and obscurity of the.original. The orthography of proper names sets all rules at defiance.