Greenville Presbyterian History

Notes on the History of the Church
Greenville Presbyterian Church

Transcribed by Jackie Towner from LDS Film 0533479, item 4. 

The number of names that have been attached to this church and settlement are very confusing. In March 1790, the western part of Coxsackie was taken off and formed into a town by the name of Freehold. The marriage records seem to indicate that the particular settlement in the town of Freehold, was first called Lottania, though the Rev. Beriah Hotchkiss spoke of himself as "minister of the gospel in Freehold." On April 18, 1794, the church adopted the name of Congregational Church of Greenfield; and on that day called the Rev. Beriah Hotchkiss. In the year 1796, the immediate locality where the church stood went by the name of Newry. This name was retained for about four years and on March 3, 1800, it was resolved to readopt the name of Greenfield for the Society. The town of Greenfield was formed from Coxsackie and Freehold on March 20, 1803. On April 6, 1808, the name of the town was changed back again to Freehold, and on March 17, 1809, the final change was made to Greenville. The name of the Society was changed to Greenville about the same time. On Aug 16, 1814 the Society incorporated under the name of the "Trustees for the Greenville Religious Society." When the Society became Presbyterian, in 1824, the name was changed to the "Greenville Presbyterian Society." On October 3, 1826, a new incorporation was affected with the name: "The Trustees of the Presbyterian Society of Greenville."

The first church edifice was erected in 1793, a little southwest of the present site. It was never completed. About 1800, it was bought by Benoni Austen and moved to where the Episcopal Church now stands. It became a dwelling, afterward a tavern, and then a students dormitory. On November 12, 1799, it was voted to build a new meeting house. It was raised August 27, 1800; it stood near the present site. "This edifice had a lofty spire, a spacious gallery, unpainted box pews, and an octagonal pulpit supported by a lofty column. The builder was Elon Norton. The site was the gift of Augustine Prevost. It was dedicated September 8, 1801." At a society meeting held on September 19, 1803, it was voted that the pew ground be sold for the purpose of finishing the meeting house. The sale was to commence on October 3rd. Thomas George was appointed contractor to finish the church; and Daniel Miller and Francis Hickok, a building committee. In 1845 changes were made in this church edifice. At a meeting of the Board of Trustees held March 20th, 1844, at which James Stevens was chosen moderator, it was voted to enlarge and remodel the house of worship; and raise two thousand dollars for the purpose. The building was increased in width, the tall spire was taken down and a dome substituted. The square box pews which occupied the body of the church, the south and northwest corners, and a portion of the galleries, and in which a part of the congregation sat with their backs to the preacher, were removed and replaced by the steps of more modern times. The galleries which had extended along three sides of the building were also removed from the two sides, and the quaint pulpit taken away. The removal of the galleries on the sides made it possible to substitute long windows in place of small ones, which had been one above the other. The rebuilt church edifice was burned to the ground, shortly after midnight early Sabbath morning, January 9th, 1859. In 1860, the present church was erected on the same site.

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