History of Methodism in the Prattsville District

History of Methodism in the Prattsville District

Pub. In Prattsville District Register 1884
History of Methodism in the Prattsville District 
By Rev. E. White 
Chapter XVII.  
West Camp

Transcribed by Scott Wichmann
Article courtesy of Audrey Klinkenberg

West Camp is a small hamlet on the west shore of the Hudson River, eight miles south of Catskill village. It was first settled by a company of German Palatines who came to this country about 1710. The colony made settlements on both sides of the river, hence the names, East Camp, and West Camp. The latter name was afterwards, and for many years, applied to a large section of the country, lying back from the river toward the foot of the Catskills, and on either side (of) the border line of Ulster and Greene Counties. The colonists were a religious people. They brought pastors with them; built a church as their first duty, and for many years the Lutheran pastor at West Camp was the only minister preaching the gospel to the settlers there. The first Methodist preacher to visit them was John Crawford. He came up the river in 1788 with the famous band of twelve pioneer preachers under Freeborn Garrettson and was assigned the territory between Albany and Kingston on the west side of the river. He landed at Coeyman’s and after exploring the large field given him and meeting with much discouragement, he found a preaching place and a home with a Dutch family whose house was on the old Kings road about a mile north of Coeymans. This highway called the Kings road, or the Colonial road, was the main route of travel on the western side of the river from Albany to Kingston, Newburgh and New York. It was built in colonial days for military as well as commercial uses. It was a busy thoroughfare in early times and is still used for local travel from Saugerties to Coeyman’s. It runs along the bluffs and leads through an infinite variety of charming scenery. The limestone rocks and crags covered with clinging vines, the oaks and hickorys (sic) and pines which overshadow the highway, the clusters of cedars which crown the knolls, the old Dutch homesteads with quaint houses and barns, the towering Catskills in the west, the occasional glimpses of the river valley, with the Berkshire hills beyond, these are a few of the features of this picturesque old road. It was along this highway that the young circuit rider rode from Coeymans (south?) northward to find suitable preaching places for the organization of the first circuit. After traveling thirty miles he came to the place now called Asbury, where the road from West Camp Landing to the Kauterskill Clove crosses the old Kings road. Jacob Trumpbour, who lived at the junction of these roads opened his house for a preaching service and he and his family were among the first converts. A society was soon formed and grew rapidly until it became one of the four principal appointments in the circuit, ranking with Durham, Coeymans and Greenville in the number of members and amount of class contributions. John Crawford was again appointed to the circuit in 1791 and also in 1793 and the bachelor preacher found a special attraction in the home of Jacob Trumpbour for in 1794 he married his daughter Catherine who took him to her own home where he found a goodly inheritance which he enjoyed through a long life. He continued to labor as a circuit preacher for many years, traveling such circuits as Delaware, Columbia, Ulster, Lake Champlain and Albany, but his home was always at West Camp and there he came to visit his wife and family as frequently as his duties would afford the privilege. Elizabeth another daughter of Jacob Trumpbour married Rev. Robert Dillon who traveled the circuit in 1803. Christina a third daughter married Jeremiah Eligh a well known Methodist, Jacob the only son became a judge and was one of the surveyors for the Erie Canal. The homes of Trumpbour, Crawford, and Dillon were places of rest to Bishop Asbury in his visitations of the circuit as he relates in his journals. The good bishop was engaged in the work of strengthening the churches and holding conferences. These duties led him every year to travel through the states of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia and he sometimes visited Delaware, Ohio and Rhode Island. His first visit to the appointments north of Newburg, was in 1791. On July 29, 1791 he came from Massachusetts, through Albany to Coeyman’s preached to three thousand people in a barn and says he found a promising society there. The next day he crossed to Hudson and went by way of Rhinebeck and the mountains into Connecticut. His second visit was in August 1792. He came from Lynn Mass. to Albany where he held a conference. On the 20th, he came to Coeyman’s Patent and preached in the new stone church, the same day he “hasted to Hudson” and the next day to Rhinebeck on his way to New York. After this his route was changed. There were few, if any, Methodists in Hudson, but there were promising societies at Esopus now called Kingston and at West Camp or Crawford’s as the bishop calls it. So from that time he always traveled the Kings road on his visit to the appointments along the river. His first reference to this route in his journals is in July 1793. He had come up through the wilderness and mountains, up Lackawanna and the twelve mile swamp, and lodged in the middle of the swamp. Next morning he set out in the rain without breakfast. When he came to the ferry a man took him to his house and gave him some bread and butter and some buckwheat and then charged him four shillings and two pence although he found his own tea and sugar.” On the 10th he reached Marbletown and preached there. He makes no record of his work during the next three days in which was journeying, on the west side of the Hudson, from Marbletown in Ulster County, to Coeyman’s in Albany County; except this brief record, " I found the work of God going among the Low Dutch; these of all the people in America we have done the least with.” There were revivals going on at that time in Esopus, Hurley, and West Camp and in these places the time was profitably and delightfully spent. He had been traveling alone until he reached the scene of these revivals but the new converts found such delight in his company that they accompanied him on his journey. He no longer says “I” but “we”. On the 13th, writing of his journey from West Camp he says, “We rode to Coeyman’s Patent, we had a good quarterly meeting, many newly converted souls testified of the goodness of God and of the power of his grace.” He tells us he went “from thence to Albany reluctantly.” In 1795 he visited Coeyman’s Patent on September 5 and preached to “over a thousand people.” On Monday he was sick but rode thirty miles to West Camp and came in much wearied, but found a comfortable lodging at Mr. Trumpbours where he remained until Thursday, when he rode to Marbletown. In 1799, he made another visit, and we find the record full of interest. “Monday July 8, 1799 rode to Coeymans Landing, and then to the stone chapel; here we had the good news of souls converted at prayer meeting. Rode in the rain and damp six miles to Brother Blodgett’s upon Hocketuck, Albany county, and circuit. Here also I found the labors of Anning Owens had been blessed in the awakening of some young women. Our congregation was large; I gave an exhortation and a prayer in much weakness of body. We rode back the same evening a few miles to Father Waldron’s. Wednesday, July 10, I rose at five o’clock, very unwell; but must needs ride in the heat and dust over hills and rocks thirty-five miles, and came to Crawford’s and Dillon’s about four o’clock; weary as I was, I could not feel satisfied without prayer and exhortation. “We have ridden in three days upwards of sixty miles and held a meeting each day. Thursday, 11. We rode nine miles to Cockburn’s, in Ulster County; here I gave a small exhortation to a small congregation; it was a day of small things but it may not be so always. “Friday, 12. I rode fifteen miles to Hurley and stopped at Cornelius Coles, no appointments had been made but we called a meeting in the evening.” The other visits of Bishop Asbury to West Camp are recorded as follows: “Thursday, July 7, 1803. We came through Albany and stopped to dine at Dole’s tavern three miles beyond; here Brother Whatcoat discovered that he had left my coat and my cloak behind. I bore the loss with some patience. Finding we had two hundred miles to reach Trenton, and only six days to accomplish the distance in, we continued on to Blasdale’s at Coeymans Landing; reflecting on this and the journey of fourteen hundred miles still to Kentucky, and Brother Whatcoats indisposition withal, I felt somewhat moved. On Friday we came to John Crawford’s, near the Catskill Mountains, making thirty miles without food for man or beast. On Saturday we reached Cole’s, at Hurleytown, on Esopus Creek. The drought, and heat, and dust, in nine hundred and ninety-nine miles from Baltimore to this place made us suffer but my mind was supported and my health preserved.” Another visit was in the spring of 1807. Conference was to meet at Coeyman’s Patent May 2nd and the society at West Camp expected much comfort from his tarrying with them. They were building a new church and hoped his presence might be a great inspiration. But he was greatly delayed in his journey. Bridges were swept away by floods, rivers were broken up and could not be crossed, roads were bad, and the bishop was at Cornelius Cole’s, in Hurley, on Thursday evening, tired and weary, with fifty miles hard travel from Hurley to Coeymans, where Conference was to convene, on Saturday morning. He gives this brief account of Friday’s journey. “On Friday we made forty miles over desperate roads and lodged at a tavern seven miles short of Coeymans Patent where the Conference was to sit.” Crawfords was about half way on the journey and it is a well authenticated fact that he dined there and walked over to the new church and calling carpenters and a few neighbors together he prayed that God would make that sanctuary the birthplace of many souls. It was an interesting event and long remembered. Christina Russell, eldest daughter of John Crawford, delighted to relate the incident and tell how her father took one of her hands and the bishop held the other as they walk (sic) along the field to the church together. The church which had been enlarge(d) and remodelled (sic) is still standing and is without doubt the oldest church in use on the District. In front of the church is a well kept grave yard where (rests) the bodies of Rev. John Crawford and his wife, Rev. Thomas Woolsey and many other faithful men and women who have worshipped within its walls. The church is still sustained by the benevolence and piety of those who are worthy successors of them “who through faith and patience now inherit the promises.” The church was named Asbury, and the same name is now applied to the surrounding neighborhood. The bishop was at Crawford’s again in 1810. We quote from his journal as follows: “Sunday, July 8, 1810, I preached in the chapel (at Rhinebeck) to a small congregation. Monday, crossed the North River, came through Esopus to John Crawford’s hungry enough. We reached New Durham. We prayed at Runyun’s and gave away books. The people came to hear me; spent with labor and sorrow how I could preach. I hope the truth was felt. Lodged with Father Hubbert’s. We bent our way up Catskill, and crossed the mountains to Middleburg. Some foolish boys were at cards. We were however respectfully treated. I prayed heartily for the family, and gave away some good books, and blessed the house-hold in the name of the Holy Trinity. Shall our blessing be lost. We directed our course toward the New Sharon Camp Meeting. I know not if the people might not starve in the mountains, were it not for the saw mills and lumber.” He came again two years later and says, Monday June 1st 1812. We halted awhile at Esopus: dined at Widow Scotts. We have had a home here for many years; the Lord heard prayer for the father, who died in peace. We lodged at John Crawford’s. I suffer from high fevers. On Tuesday we rode through the heat, thirty-four miles to Coeyman’s Landing and preached at six o’clock. O for patience and faith!” This was Bishop Asbury(’s), last visit to West Camp. His conferences became more numerous every year and his journeys more extensive. He passed through Hudson, Durham, and Rensselaerville in 1813 and was at Albany for a day in 1814. He continued to travel until the time of his death which occurred at Spotsylvania March 21, 1816. A class paper in our possession dated, 1816 gives the names of the members of the West Camp class at that time. We copy the names and give brief account of the persons mentioned. Jacob Trumpbour, class steward from 1800 to 1819. Martin Nash, class leader, moved west in 1822, and died there. Christian Nash, his wife, Rev. Robert Dillon a located minister, a circuit preacher from 1791 to 1811, Elizabeth Dillon his wife, Catherine Crawford wife of (Rev.) John Crawford, Jeremiah Eligh one of the pillars of the church, Christina Eligh, his wife, James H. Dikeman a famous schoolmaster from Connecticut who taught in the schools of the vicinity for over thirty years a brother of Wakeman Dikeman, a local preacher in New York, Martha Trumpbour, (Jacob Trumpbours second wife,) Nellie Trumpbour, niece of Jacob, Jane Trumpbour wife of Judge Trumpbour, (she and her husband died in Kingston, ) Jacob T. Crawford son of Rev. John Crawford, James Whitney, who afterward moved to Port Byron N. Y. and died there, his family returned to West Camp, Sally Whitney his wife, Samuel Cash a farmer employed by Rev. John Crawford. Widow Hannah Carnwright and her daughter. Phoebe Carnwright wife of Christian Carnwright, and Jane Schutt. Several prominent members of the class died in 1815. The most noted one was Rev. Thomas Woolsey a located minister, who traveled circuits from 1794 to 1811 when he located and resided at Asbury. He died in 1815 and was buried in the little graveyard near the church. The amount apportioned to this class on preachers salary in 1816 was thirty dollars exclusive of apportionment for house rent. The amount contributed was thirty dollars and twenty-eight cents. Collections for house rent, three dollars. Among the contributions are five bushels of rye and two and a half pound of wool. In the next chapter we shall present some interesting recollections of the first members of the church and give some account of the preachers who have labored in this south eastern part of the district. Prattsville District Register, V. 4, #2, Apr., 1887, pp. 26-28

James H. Dikeman the Connecticut schoolmaster who came to West Camp about 1810 and taught in the public schools in that vicinity for twenty years, was a man of eccentric habits but a useful and devoted Christian.  Many are the stories told of his quaint sayings, and peculiar methods of instruction.  He was a well-known character throughout Ulster County, and his name is still a household word among the "old folks."  One of his notions was a disposition to write his name everywhere, and it is still to be found inside drawers, old trunks, and on fireplaces, in old books, under the seats of old chairs, as well as in many more unlikely places.  He was a neat scribe and kept the class papers and the church records in a praiseworthy manner. 

Robert Dillon was a native of Ireland, and after coming to this country spent several years in the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  He traveled some of the hardest circuits and finally located at Asbury on a farm given him by his father-in-law Jacob Trumper (sic).  The substantial stone house which he built near the church is still standing.  His grave and that of his wife is in the field by the house.  After his location he retained a located preacher's relation to the church, and frequently went on long preaching tours, not returning for months.  He never told the story of his journey but probably he went over the territory of former circuits.  He always went  on horseback.  In his later days when his flowing looks (sic) became white, he had a patriarchal appearance which attracted general attention.  He had many conflicts with his quarterly conference, and the presiding elders gave him many a lecture on certain peculiar views which he persistently held, and certain features of his conduct which were contrary to the discipline and he finally withdrew from the church.  But he paid it occasional visits however, some of which were more amusing than profitable. It is said that on one occasion when a love-feast was about to be held in the Asbury Church, he left his house a few minutes before the time for service and marched along the road singing a hymn very lustily.  He continued his song as he entered the church and passed round by the altar. Then still singing he came down the other aisle and marched along the road to his home.  At a camp meeting at Kiskatom in 1827 he had a determination to preach from the stand, but Phineas Rice, the presiding elder in charge of the meeting, would not permit him on account of his previous conduct.  But at the close of the morning service Dillon announced his purpose saying to the crowd, "There will be preaching in the Northwest corner of these grounds in a quarter of an hour."  He then went to the appointed place, mounted a stump and started his sermon.

John Crawford, who commenced the work in 1788, continued to hold his relations to the New York Conference until his death in 1850 in the 90th year of his age.  His family have a good photograph of him taken shortly before his death; also his ordination parchments, a plan of one of his circuits, a number of written sketches of sermons and other interesting
relics.  His journal, which was very valuable to the church, was taken by Rev. D. W. Ostrander to be prepared for the press, but was unfortunately lost, and will probably never be recovered.  Father Crawford continued to preach occasionally until he was in the days of old age and extreme feebleness, and retained his affection for the church until the close of life.

 Sketches of the most prominent pioneer preachers in the circuit have been
furnished in former chapters of this history.  There are others however who deserve more than a passing notice.  John C. Tackaberry was stationed here in 1831.  He was a native of Wexford, Ireland.  His preaching was fervent, pungent and often pathetic.  He particularly excelled in "doctrinal  discourses."  He wrote his sermons with great care but preached without notes.  It was his habit to cite authorities sacred or secular, and he was often called "Book, Chapter, and Verse," from his method of quoting Scripture in his sermons.  Many others spoke of him as "a walking concordance" and it is affirmed he knew the New Testament by heart.  He was a man of slender build, taller than average, of light complexion and pleasing countenance.  In social intercourse he was bright.  Few excelled
him in wit and repartee but his language was always chaste.  Rev. W. H. Dykeman of New York brother of Dykeman the school-master says of Mr. Tackaberry, "I tested his friendship for nearly twenty years and I never knew a man to show more unswerving fidelity to his friends in storm and sunshine."  He died in New York, May 9, 1852, aged 55 years.  His last words were "In the Word of God is my trust, his promises are my support."  Rev. David Poor, who traveled this circuit with Mr. Tackaberry, is still living.

John Kenneday was one of the preachers in 1823.  He is spoken of as one of the most beloved of the early Methodist itinerants.  Bishop Janes said of him after his death:  "As a Christian pastor Dr. Kenneday was eminent in his gifts, in his attainments, and in his devotion to his sacred calling, and in the seals God gave to his ministry.  In the pulpit he was clear in the statement of his subject, abundant and most felicitous in his illustrations,
and pathetic and impressive in his applications.  His oratory was of a high order.  His presence, his voice, his fluency of speech, his graceful action, his fine imagination, and his fervent feeling, rendered his elocution effective and powerful, and gave to his preaching great attractiveness and popularity.  Out of the pulpit, the ease and elegance of his manners, the vivacity and sprightliness of his conversational powers, the tenderness of
his sympathy, and the kindness of his conduct towards the afflicted and
needy, and his affectionate notice of, and for, the childhood and youth of his congregation, made him the greatly endeared and beloved pastor."

Other men of note were John B. Matthias, John D. Moriarty, Arnold Schofield
and Phineas Rice.  The following list shows the names of the pastors who preached in West Camp and Palenville from 1788 to 1888, one hundred years, also the circuits with which the appointment has been associated from the earliest pioneer work until to-day.  From 1788 to 1821 West Camp was in the Albany Circuit.  Some of the other appointments on this circuit were, Coeymans, Greenville, Durham, Scotts Patent, Gilboa, Windham, Hunter, Round Top, Indian Ridge, Berne and Rensselaerville.

1789 John Crawford.
1790 James Campbell.
1791 Samuel Wigton, John Crawford.
1792 Robert Green, David Valleau.
1793 Samuel Wigton, John Crawford.
1794 Jonathan Newman, David Bartine.
1795 Samuel Coates, Daniel Johns.
1796 Robert Green, Joseph Lovell.
1797 Robert Green, H. Jefferson, W. Storms.
1798 William McLenahan, Anning Owen.
1799 Robert McCoy, Eber Cowles.
1800 Matthias Swaim, William Williams, Thomas Woolsey.
1801 Barzallai Willy, Smith Arnold.
1802 William Vredenburg, Alexander Morton.
1803 William Vredenburg, Robert Dillon.
1804 John Crawford, Gideon A. Knowlton.
1805 Seth Crowell, Henry Stead.
1806 Andrew McKain, Griffin Sweet.
1807 Zenal Covel, John Finnegan.
1808 Datus Ensign, Samuel Howe.
1809 Nathan Bangs, Isaac B. Smith.
1810 John Crawford, Samuel Merwin, Jacob Beeman.
1811 John Crawford, Ephraim Sawyer.
1812 Andrew McKain, Jesse Hunt.
1813 Henry Stead, John Kline.
1814 John B. Matthias, Wm. M. Stillwell.
1815 Luman Andrews (sic), John B. Matthias.
1816 Phineas Rice, Isaac Lent.
1817 Arnold Schofield, James Youngs.
1818 Andrew McKain, Bela Smith.
1819 Gershom Peirce, John Crawford.
1820 Gershom Peirce, Jno. D. Moriarty.

From 1822 to 1830 the Asbury Church (West Camp) was supplied from the
Kingston Circuit.  Other appointments in the Kingston Circuit were Hurley, Kingston City, Woodstock, Olive, Saugerties, Prattsville, Yankeetown, (Palenville) and Bristol (Malden).

1822  John D. Moriarty.
1823 John D. Moriarty, John Kenneday.
1824 David Lewis, John Kenneday.
1825 David Lewis, Friend W. Smith.
1826  Daniel I. Wright, Ira Ferris.
1827  Daniel I. Wright, J. D. Marshall.
1828  Stephen L. Stillman, J. D. Marshall.
1829  S. L. Stillman, E. Andrews, H. Wing.
1830  J. Tackaberry, E. Andrews, F. W. Smith.

In 1831 the Kingston Circuit was divided and the Saugerties Circuit was organized.  Among the preaching places were Saugerties, Woodstock, until 1848, Yankeetown, Kiskatom, Catskill, High Falls, Asbury, (West Camp) and Bristol.

1831  J. Tackaberry, David Poor.
1832  D. Poor, D. B. Ostrander, D. I. Wright.
1833  E. Denniston, G. W. Lefevre, D. Holmes.
1834  C. Foss, G. W. Lefevre, T. Edwards.
1835-6  D. Webster, E. Crawford.
1837-8  H. Wing, S. S. Strong.
1839-40 J. G. Smith, W. Bloomer.
1841  O. V. Amerman, H. Lamont.
1842  O. V. Amerman, D. Buck.
1843-4  D. Webster, J. Davies.
1845  S. M. Knapp, J. Davies.
1846-7  James Burch, R. H. Bloomer.
1848-9  B. Redford, D. Lyman.
1850-1  D. I. Wright, G. C. Bancroft.
1852  Ira Ferris, Jeremiah Ham.

In 1853 the Saugerties Circuit, was divided and the Palenville Circuit was organized.  The appointments were, Palenville, Kiskatom, High Falls, Manorville Asbury, West Camp and Quarryville.  In 1858 the circuit name was changed to Kiskatom, but was afterwards changed again to Palenville.

1853  Ira Ferris.
1854  Parley Stoddard, C. D. Sitzer.
1855  Parley Stoddard, Thomas E. Fiero.
1856  O. P. Mathews, N. O. Lent, H. Wood.
1857  O. P. Mathews, J. W. Gorse, O. P. Dales.
1858  John W. Gorse.
1859-60 Job C. Champion.
1861-2  Adee Vail.
1863-4  James M. Burgar.
1865-6  William S. Stillwell.
1867  W. S. Stillwell, J. J. Dean.
1868-70 J. W. Gorse.
1871-3  Lyman S. Brown.
1874-6  Edwin Clement.
1877-9  Milo Couchman.
1880-2  Edwin F. Pierce.
1883-5  Lorenzo G. Niles.
1886-7  Edward White.

From 1858 to 1877 Asbury was separate from the Palenville Circuit.  The pastors who resided at Asbury during that time were as follows: 

1858-9  Robert Kerr.
1860-1  Isaac R. Vanderwater.
1862-3  Alonzo F. Silleck.
1864  Lyman S. Craw.
1865-6  Adelbert Gaylord.
1867-9  C. W. Lyon.
1870-2  James W. Smith.
1873-5  A. R. Burroughs.
1876  Alonzo Silleck.

In 1877 Asbury returned to the Palenville Circuit.  The Circuit has four appointments, namely, Palenville, Kiskatom, High Falls and Asbury.  Church property is valued at $10,000, and there are two hundred and thirty members in society at this date.

Prattsville District Register, V. 4, #3, Mar., 1888, pp. 42-44.

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