United Methodist Church of Greenville and Norton Hill

A History of the United Methodist Church of Greenville and Norton Hill
On the Centennial of their Sanctuaries

Transcribed by Arlene Goodman from the original church booklet located in the Durham Center Museum

We gratefully acknowledge help from the following sources: Conference Records, Beers History of Greene County, Material from the Bronk House Library, Personal Scrap Books, Old Church Records, Old Deeds, Local Church Records, and reminiscences with Senior Citizens.

In 1774 the tide of emigration from the New England State and the Hudson River Valley began to flow into the Catskill Mountains and reach the valleys adjacent. This region is referred to in the newspapers of those days as the "Wilderness of the Catskills," and for many years the hardy frontiersmen who had pushed out into the forest for a few miles from the Hudson were kept in constant fear by the Indians.

In 1788 by request of Bishop Asbury, of the New York Conference, Rev. Freeborn Garretson, in charge of twelve young men, began his apostolic labors along the Hudson River and this region beyond. At this time there were no Methodist societies further north than Westchester, and the young itinerants met, not only indifference but open opposition. There were some small scattered Lutheran and Dutch Reformed Congregations along the banks of the Hudson, but experimental and practical religion was at a low ebb and in the new settlements, on the west side of the river, not even the forms of it were to be found.

The territory under Garretson was divided and each of the itinerants was given charge of a stated portion.

This present township was included in the Coeymans Patent, under John Crawford and was in 1790 made a part of the Albany Circuit.

From the time that Methodism was introduced into this region it continued to thrive. In his territory Crawford found ten Methodists and in the first year the number was increased to two hundred and sixty-four.

The work of erecting the first house of worship, called the "Old Stone Church," was begun at Coeyman’s Patent in 1791, and was completed the next year.

The Stone Church Society was the nucleus of Methodism on the circuit and the nursery of religion for this section of the country.

In 1807 the New York Conference held a session in this church and Bishop Asbury presided. All of the professing Methodists included in the Coeymans Patent were divided into classes with a resident leader and all were under the general supervision of the circuit rider in charge.

The existing records of the quarterly conferences of the circuit date back to 1800, and there the first mention of Greenville is made.

The class leader at that time was Stephen Benedict, who later conveyed the land on which the first church was built.

The next mention of Greenville, is in the minutes of a quarterly conference held at a camp meeting in Manhattan Hook in June 1808.

Th public collections reported for the fourteen classes or charges amounted to $16.00 for the quarter, total receipts $91.87. Disbursements $105.74.

In August 1809, a camp meeting was held in Greenville, Bishop Asbury presided with Nathan Bangs and Isaac Smith as circuit preachers. Meetings of the classes were held at private houses, with an occasional preaching service in school house, and in this way the spirit of Methodism was kept alive and the interest increased.

In 1810 this section was changed to the Hudson River District and continued until 1833 when the Delaware District appears in the minutes.

The first Methodist Episcopal church in the town of Greenville was at King Hill or Old Greenville, built by Jason Mapes in 1812. Land on which the church was built was conveyed, January 6, 1819 by Stephen Benedict and wife Miriam Benedict. The first society there consisted of twenty members and was organized by Seth Crowell some years previous to the building of the church.

The Methodist society of this village was organized February 8, 1825 at West Greenville, and consisted of fifteen members. Rev. Joel Squires, a local preacher, was in charge and during the same year the Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church, a frame building valued at $1500.00 was built. This building was on the northwest corner of the intersection of Route 81 and Ingalside Road.

This society continued with Coeymans until 1835 when the Catskill and Durham circuit was formed. This circuit included the following societies: Durham, Westerlo; Greenville, Oak Hill, Cairo, Pines, Woolcotts, Catterskill and Catskill.

The following is taken from the minutes of the first quarterly conference of the Durham and Catskill circuit, held in August 1835: "The preachers had care and work of nine churches, and the circuit extended from Catskill to Westerlo."

In 1853 the boundary of the district was again changed and this section was included in the Prattsville district. Since 1888 another change has been made and the Prattsville district no longer exists. The territory once included in it is now in the Hudson North District (formerly Kingston District), the most northerly in the New York Conference.

In 1856 Greenville was made a separate charge with Rev. Birch pastor.

In 1857 the church was moved from West Greenville to Greenville and rebuilt on the East side of South Street just north of the present parsonage (on land where the house of David Gumport now stands). The land on which the church was placed was owned by Hamilton J. McCabe who sold that land, a lot approximately 1/3 of an acre, to the Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church for $200.00 on January 4, 1858.

The second Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church was dedicated January 7, 1858. Bishop Janes preached the dedicatorial sermon from the text "For it became him for whom all things in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffering." Hebrew 2, Verse 10.

The rebuilt and enlarged church cost some $4,000.00 and much struggle and labor attended the enterprise.

In 1867 the parsonage was build on the lot adjoining the church on the south side. The parsonage cost about the same amount as the church. The lot for the parsonage was purchased from Bradley S. and Mary S. McCabe for $300.00. (This is the same parsonage being used now in 1973)

On February 2, 1873 the church burned and the already heavily burdened society felt utterly disheartened. Services had been held as usual about one hour before the fire was discovered. It was believed to have started from a defect in the chimney. Some furniture and a few seats were saved. The loss was only covered by insurance for about one half.

"The people are not dismayed by the calamity," but have resolved to rebuild at once on a new site and on a larger scale.

At the trustees meeting dated February 3, 1873 regarding measures to rebuild the church. "A committee from the Presbyterian Church, whose chairman was Rev. B. Bosworth reported and tendered the use of their church to the congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church as long as they see fit to make use of the same. Resolved – the kind privilege tendered to be accepted."

In the spring of 1873 the corner stone of the new church was laid. In the stone was placed a box of lead, containing church periodicals, a Bible, hymn book, and the names of the pastor and members.

This third Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church edifice was built on the west side of South Street on a parcel of land across from the parsonage and just south of the parsonage lot. On June 12, 1873 Bradley S. and Mary S. McCabe sold the land for the new church to the trustees of Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church for $550.00. The lot contained about 1.1 acres.

The new church was completed in a little less than a year from the time of burning at a cost of $10,000.00.

The new church was dedicated January 29, 1874.

On June 12, 1873 Bradley S. and Mary S. McCabe purchased the lot on which the burned church had stood for the sum of $300.00.

The Ladies Aid was formed immediately after the fire. A quote from an article states: But for the united prayers and work of the women the church would never have been built, as in those days, so it is now, but for the women of the church could not exist.

Just previous to the laying of the corner stone, for the Greenville church, some of the members living near Norton Hill desired to build a church at that place and the growth of this desire finally led to the formation of a new class and the erection of a church at Norton Hill.

About eight months after the laying of the corner stone, the church was completed at a cost of $10,000.00. This church was dedicated December 11, 1873.

Mr. Luman Ramsdell, who appeared to be at the head of all public improvements in the vicinity, headed the movement for the new church.

During the first year after its organization it was included in the Greenville circuit. The first pastor was Rev. John Wood.

The church in Greenville was renovated in 1908 and a new furnace, rug, and stained glass windows were installed. (A list of these memorial windows appears elsewhere in this book.)

In 1954 the church was again extensively improved. The chancel was remodeled to serve more satisfactorily, the floor in the Session room (dining room) was lowered to meet the level of the floor in the sanctuary, and enlarged completely equipped kitchen, powder room and toilet facilities were made. The cellar was excavated to give a fine basement where and additional furnace was installed to heat the dining and Sunday School areas.

Sunday School rooms were made over the dining room.

The sanctuary was redecorated with an accoustical ceiling, tile flooring was laid with a rug runner for the center aisle. Choir rooms was made on either side of the front entry.

A new Allen organ was purchased and installed on March 26, 1958 and used for the first church service on March 30, 1958. This has been a truly wonderful addition to the church and serves to make our worship services more meaningful. We have been most fortunate ta have Mr. Robert J. Tyrrell, who is a music teacher at Greenville Central School, as our choir director since 1949.

In 1929 the Norton Hill Church was redecorated and beautiful stained glass windows were installed. (A list of these appears elsewhere in this book)

A new Wurlitzer organ was purchased in 1948, a fine addition to the music worship of the Church.

The year 1956 found many willing workers in the process of a major redecoration of the sanctuary of the church. This included new flooring and wall paneling together with the necessary painting and carpeting in the aisles.

New Pews and lecterns were installed. Many of the pews were given as memorials to family members and loved ones. On Palm Sunday, April 14, 1957 a Rededication of the church was consummated.

The church acquired what had been the school house next to the church on July 15, 1940 for use as a church hall. It is adequately equipped to serve as Sunday School rooms and a dining room. There is a well equipped kitchen, also toilet facilities.

At various times throughout the years the two churches were served as a charge together with Medusa, Lambs Corners (Olin Chapel), East Durham, and King Hill.

From 1901 to 1917 Norton Hill appears, according to available records, to have been served with East Durham. From 1920 to 1933 Greenville, Norton Hill and Medusa were together.

The Medusa church burned in May 1932 and the Rev. Charles Divine finished out the conference year there until 1933 preaching in the Christian church.

Service at the King Hill church were discontinued in the late 1920’s or early 1930’s and some of the members united with the Greenville Methodist church. The building was sold and torn down to be taken elsewhere and used for a dwelling.

The Greenville and Norton Hill churches were each incorporated in 1947.

In anticipation of uniting the Greenville and Norton Hill churches in 1972, we thought it advisable to search the property boundaries. This was done and the following are the findings of the search on the Norton Hill property.

The building which is now the Norton Hill Church Hall had its beginning as a schoolhouse. On August 5, 1806, Daniel Norton sold 1/8 acre to the Norton Hill School District for $8.00. This is basically the land lying in front of the present church hall. There evidently was a schoolhouse on that property during the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century, for it appears on an 1867 map. The newer schoolhouse, the structure which is still standing, was built in 1871 at a cost of $1050.00. Due to an error in measurement (it would seem), the new schoolhouse was built behind the line of the original lot. To correct that error, on September 9, 1871, Lorenzo and Lucinda Hunt sold ¼ acre north of the original schoolhouse lot to School District No.1 for $50.00. It was intended that the two parcels should join. But once again, the measurements were faulty, and only the land behind the schoolhouse was sold to the School District, leaving the land in under the schoolhouse unaccounted for. On July 15, 1940, the Board of Education of the School District No. 1 "sold" the schoolhouse and lot to the Norton Hill United Methodist Church with a reversionary clause in the deed. A search done in the fall of 1972 disclosed that the land on which the schoolhouse stood had never been conveyed to the School District and thus was the possession of the successor-in-title to the original Hunt property. On November 13 and 18, 1972, the Board of Education and T. Merritt Elliott, respectively, signed corrective deeds conveying the whole property to the United Methodist Church of Norton Hill and removing the restrictive clause from the deed.

An additional piece of property, which lies mostly behind the store which is directly east of the present church hall, was sold to the church by the Norton Hill Public Hall Co., Inc., on August 12, 1936. The public hall lot was resold by the church to Lawrence Powell, then proprietor of the store, on November 29, 1939.

On June 20, 1873, about two years after their conveyance of land to the School District, Lorenzo and Lucinda Hunt sold a parcel of land west of the schoolhouse to the Methodist Episcopal Church of Norton Hill for $10.00 "for the purpose of a site for a meeting house or place of worship". In the deed it was stipulated that horse sheds must be built on the property. (They were.)

The Greenville and Norton Hill churches were united on January 7, 1973, under the name of United Methodist Church of Greenville and Norton Hill.

This union was accomplished by an almost unanimous vote after much consideration and work by committees from both churches and the able assistance of our Pastor, Rev. Mr. Lyman P. Taylor.

The Rev. Paul M. Allen, District Superintendent presided at the Uniting Convocation of worship on Sunday January 7, 1973 at 10:30 A. M. in the Sanctuary of Greenville, New York.

"He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church. Co. 1:17, 18.

List of Memorial Stained Glass Windows
In The Norton Hill Church

In memory of Addison and Eleanor Winegard - Given by Addie W. Williams
In Memory of W. Harrison and Loretta Ingalls
Mr. and Mrs. Reuben R. Palmer
Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Yeomans and Family
In Memory of Lorenzo and Lucinda Hunt - by Antoinette Gardner
In Remembrance of Henry and Carrie Goff
In Memory of Mary C. Hunt - by Ida Hunt Roe
Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Powell
Window in back of alter - Given in Memory of Francis E. Clark by C.E. of 1929

List of Memorial Stained Glass Windows
In The Greenville Church

In Memory of Susan Hagaman Collins - 1812-1875
In Memory of Mark Roe and Daughter, Mary Kate Roe
Griffin Shaw and Wife, Lydia M. Shaw
In Memory of Joseph P. Hallock and Wife, Lillis Hallock
Bradley S. MsCabe
Hamilton J. McCabe and Wife, Mary E. McCabe
In Memoriam - Steadman
Madison Stevens and Wife, Mary Stevens
Round stained glass window in front of church

The United Methodist Church of Greenville & Norton Hill

The Reverend Dr. J. Ralph Ward Jr.---------------------Resident Bishop

The Reverend Paul M. Allen---------------------District Superintendent

The Reverend Lyman P. Taylor---------------------------------------Pastor

Mr. Robert J. Tyrrell--------------------------------------Minister of Music

Board of Trustees

William McPherson (’74) Walter Ingalls, vice-Chmn, (’75)

David Horton (’74) Gordon J. Simpson, Sec-Treas. (’76)

Nelson Parks, Chmn. (’75) Leland Brown (’76)

Walter Ingalls (’75)

Administrative Board

*The Pastor--------------------------------------------------Lyman P. Taylor

Lay member of the Annual Conference (’76)-----------Lewis Rundell

Reserve Lay Member of the Annual Conference (’76)-David Elsbree

District Steward----------------------------------------James MacTavish

Chairman of Pastor-Parish Relations--------------Leland Cunningham

Vice-Chairman of Pastor-Parish Relations--------------Theodore Hunt

*Superintendent of Study Program--------------------Sue Von Atzingen

Director of Music-----------------------------------------Robert J. Tyrrell

Chairman of Parsonage Committee-----------------------Majorie Ewald

*Lay Leader & Vice-Chairman of Adm. Board-William Von Atzingen

*Chairman of Administrative Board-----------------------Lewis Rundell

Secretary of Administrative Board----------------------------Ella Powell

Chairman, Board of Trustees---------------------------------Nelson Parks

*President of United Methodist Women---------------------Ada Ventura

Chairman, Committee on Finance-------------------------Randell Ingalls

Church Treasurer---------------------------------------------Majorie Ewald

Financial Secretary----------------------------------------------Leone Hunt

Cashier-----------------------------------------------------------Goldie Winn

Membership Secretary---------------------------------------Leona Rundell

Health & Welfare Representative---------------------------------Eve Bott

*Chairman of Council on Ministries----------------------Richard Powell

*Secretary of Council on Ministries----------------------Betty McAneny

*Chairman of Ecumenical Affairs--------------------------Majorie Dedie

*Chairman of Education--------------------------------------Arlene Brown

*Chairman of Evangelism----------------------------------Edna McAneny

*Chairman of Missions------------------------------------------Ella Powell

*Chairman of Social Concerns--------------------------------Joyce Powell

*Chairman of Worship----------------------------------------Walter Ingalls

*Chairman of Stewardship (Task Force)--------------------Milton Dedie

*Chairman of Ministry to Person (Task Force-------------Ruth Stevens

*Children’s Coordinator--------------------------------------Arlene Brown

*Youth Coordinator-------------------------------------------Richard Dedie

*Adult – Family Coordinator-------------------------------------Ruth Ahlf

Chairman of Audit----------------------------------------Gordon Simpson

Greenville Area Council Representative-Joyce Powell, Lewis Rundell

Members-at-Large: Kathy Bear, Krista Ingalls (Youth); Linda Monkell, John Spalding (Young Adult); Emil & Paula Newkamm, Brunhilde & Lillian Simpson (Communion Stewards); Thomas Baumann (Head Usher); William & Anne McPerson, Howard & Katherine Ingraham, Bette Welter, John I. VerPlanck, Dorothy Rebmann, Thelma Rundell, Waldo Powell, Leland Brown, Curtis Cunningham, George Story, Mildred Reinhardt, David Horton, Edward Van Auken, Billy Yoemans, Nelson Parks, Merton Tripp.

Council on Ministries

Members of the Administrative Board whose names are marked above with and (*) asterisk.

Residents of Organizations

United Methodist Women--------------------------------------Ada Ventura

Youth Fellowship-------------------------------------------Andrew Elsbree

List of Pastors serving Asbury Methodist Church

This list begins with 1840. Though the earlier conference minutes form the Conference Historical Society, the pastoral name preceding this must be obtained.

1839-40 Daniel D. ? & W. F. Gould

1881-84 Robert F. White

1840-41 Wm. F. Gould & F. W. Sizer

1884-87 O. D. Ramsey

1841-42 Wm. F. Collins & Wm. Bloomer

1887-88 L. S. Brown

1842-43 Olaf Hedstrom & Wm. Bloomer

1888-90 Thomas A. Kenney

1843-44 J. D. Bouton, Reuben H. Bloomer & William H. Smith

1890-93 Orville Van Keuren

1844-45 J. B. Bouton & Wm. H. Smith

1893-94 Washington R. Hunt

1845-46 George Taylor

1894-96 George E. Archer

1846-48 Luther W. Peck & Chas. Kelsey

1897-99 George W. Rice

1848-49 F. C. Chatterton & Silas Fitch

1902-05 Morley P. Williams

1849-50 Aaron Rodgers

1905-07 John W. Leadbeater

1850-51 William F. Gould

1907-1910 Obed Mace

1851-52 O. P. Mathews & Zephania D. Scoby

1910-11 Joseph Carley

1852-53 William Goss

1911-13 George A Baird

1853-54 Jehemiah Harris

1913-15 George B. Mead

1854-56 Harrison C. Humphry & D. F. Wright

1915-17 Charles E. Libby

1856-58 James Birch

1917-18 Isaac G. Price

1858-60 Asa M. Hough

1918-20 K. M. Reynolds

1860-62 William Goss

1920-22 A. A. Platt

1862-64 Clark M. Eggleston

1922-23 Ernest E. Renn

1864-65 W. S. Stillman

1923-25 Fred Hults

1865-68 James M. Burger

1925-29 Arvid P. Lakeberg

1868-71 Robert H. Kelley

1929-34 Charles F. Divine

1871-74 Nehemiah O. Lent

1934-40 Ernest G. Glenn

1874-76 Thomas Elliott; David White, Asst.

1940-47 Charles P. Harder

1876-79 James H. Phillips

1947-56 Francis A. Potter

1879-81 Isaac R. VanDerWater

1956-65 Richard W. Moore


1965-70 Duncan MacKenzie


1970- Lyman P. Taylor

List of Pastors Serving Norton Hill Church

1873-74 N. O. Lent

1898-99 Windler

1874-75 T. Elliott, D. E. White, Wood

1899-1901 Robert Tarleton

1876-79 J. McConnell

1901-02 H. Judson Graves

1876-80 H. Rogers

1902-04 Fisher

1880-81 Wm. Wellesocks, J. W. Morrison

1904-07 Obed Mace, Joseph P. Carley, Geo. A. Baird, Rodney

1882-84 W. T. Albrecht

1917-21 K. M. Reynolds

1885-87 J. W. Morrison

1921-25 Chandler

1887-88 Malone Burnett

1925-29 Arvid P. Lakeberg

1888-89 Geo. L. McLane

1929-34 Charles F. Divine

1889-1890 M. S. Buckingham

1934-40 Ernest G. Glenn

1890- J. E. Appley

1940-47 Charles P. Harder

1892-94 W. E. Morse

1947-56 Francis A Potter

1894-95 Wm. H. Peters

1956-65 Richard W. Moore

1895-97 Howard F. Brown

1965-70 Duncan MacKenzie

1897- Henry C. Willington

1970- Lyman P. Taylor


Home            Table of Contents          Church Records Home Page