Gambar halaman

The Reformed Dutch Church in Fishkill, in the revolution, was built of stone in 1731. In shape it was quadrangular, and the roof came up from all sides to the center. From the apex of the roof ascended the cupola ; in that the bell was suspended, and surmounting the cupola was the bird which veered with the

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]


wind and told from what quarter of the compass it

The window lights were very small, set in iron sash frames, with port holes in the upper story for a place of defence against Indian incursions, which the settlers were exposed to. In front of the church was a large oak tree, whose giant arms extended across the street. One large limb came in close proximity to a window in the upper story. This church was used as

a prison in the revolution, and the celebrated spy, Enoch Crosby, who figured in Cooper's writings as Harvey Burch, was confined there, and tradition says that he made his escape on one dark stormy night by leaping from an upper window to a limb of this tree. The tree was taken down when the present edifice was erected. The father of the writer recollected attending church there with his parents before they left Fishkill. He informed the writer that the pulpit was on the east side of the church, and a gallery extended all around. It is not definitely known what year the present edifice was commenced, for the records of that period of the church's history is lost, but from information derived from aged residents of the town, it must have been only a few years after the revolution.

An old and highly respectable inhabitant, who was born in 1774, and whose death occurred some years since, informed me that after peace was proclaimed, a great Fourth of July celebration took place in Fishkill, and he went with his father to the village on that day to witness the celebration. The old church then existed. He went into the gallery to hear the oration. The church was densely crowded, when the galleries began to give way, and a general rush was made for the doors. He being small, succeeded in getting out very soon; but no serious accident happened. As near as he can recollect, he was then some ten years of age. When this church was rebuilt, it was enlarged and extended further west on Main street, covering Madam Brett's family burying plot, where she and some of her children and grandchildren repose-underneath the present church. One grave was not disturbed, and

was where a grandson of hers was buried, 98 years ago, and who was a son of Robert Brett. This grave lay at the furtherest east end of the plot, and some twelve feet from the present edifice, which was far enough so as not to interfere with the building when erected. A tower and steeple were added to the church ; the height of the spire is 120 feet. When the present church was built, the congregation was poor, they having just passed through a seven year's war, which had impoverished them, and with little or no money, they undertook to. erect a church, which took some ten years to come plete.

They had only a few years before separated from the church at Poughkeepsie, the latter having abandoned their old ground in what is now known as Market street, where their first church was built about 1718, and commenced building a new church on the opposite side of the street, near the Poughkeepsie Hotel, in 1782, where the old burying ground is still to be seen. In 1822 they abandoned that site, and built a new church on the old Glebe property, which belonged to the two congregations before they separated. This church was destroyed by fire in 1857, when the present edifice was erected on the same site. It is one of the finest churches in the county. There was a great deal of spirit manifested between the two congregations, which should have the finest church. Poughkeepsie had got the start of Fishkill, and commenced building in 1782. Their church was nearly finished before Fishkill had commenced. Their structure was much like the present one at Fishkill, only when Fishkill had completed theirs, it was thought to excel Poughkeepsie. The

church at Fishkill went up slowly; the walls are three feet thick and thirty feet in height, and the timbers placed upon the walls that support the roof and tower, are of oak, and of such enormous size that it must have been attended with a great deal of labor to have placed them there, and the building appears as durable now as when first finished. The architect's name was Barnes, and the boss mason was Manney. Every stick of timber, load of stone, lime and sand, was hauled and carted on the ground by the congregation, gratuitously. Not one cent was paid for carting any of the material that was used in the building.

There was then no church in the town below the village ; all came to church at Fishkill Village, if they went anywhere. Much of the wealth of the town was there, in this and the Episcopal church. The inhabitants would come from below Fishkill Landing, south as far as Pollipel's Island, to Fishkill, on the Sabbath, to attend the Dutch and Episcopal churches. General Swartwout, Abram Brinckerhoff, Christian Dubois, and Cornelius C. Van Wyck, were among the number that composed the building committee, and whenever any timber, stone, limė, sand, or brick, was wanting, they promptly responded to the call. General Swartwout bestowed most of his time in assisting while the church was building, and it was a common saying in the neighborhood where he lived, that General Swartwout and all of his hands, have gone again to work at the church. It was said that he neglected his farm for the interest of the church; and he furnished one hand at his own expense all the while the church was building. He gave the shingles for the roof. The

timber was mostly obtained from the Highlands, which was then of little value, for the country abounded with heavy forest. Large trees were taken down, whose diameter at their base was three and four feet. The congregation turned out in full force, with horses, oxen, carts, wagons, negro slaves, and hauled the timber to the spot. But their funds gave out before the main structure was finished, and it would not do to stop building ther, and to obtain a loan was almost impossible, for there was but little money in the country, so impoverished was the country after the war. Long Island then was an old country, and they concluded to try to raise some money there. The building committee sent Abram Brinckerhoff there to try to borrow a sum sufficient to finish the church, in which he succeeded, giving the building committee for security. This money completed the church, with the exception of the spire, which for the want of funds stood nearly three years without covering, and it was not entirely completed until 1795, when the spindle, ball and bird were placed upon it. There has been no alteration of the exterior, except a recess in the rear of the church. The interior has been remodelled several times, but with little or no improvement. Originally the galleries were supported from the ceilings, with iron rods fastened to the timbers above the arch. Then there were no columns in the church to distract the view, and the pulpit and side pews were elevated six inches above the floor.' The first alteration was made in 1806, when the iron rods were taken down, the pulpit and side pews lowered, and columns placed underneath the galleries. The second alteration was made in 1820,

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »