by Denyce Cribbs
In my last post, I talked about finding The Salisbury Newsletter in our library’s surname files. It’s a great example of family history newsletters that were printed and distributed before websites took over. In the issue I was looking at (Summer 1996) there were several articles featuring The Old Dutch Church in Kingston, New York, which was first organized in 1659. I found the church’s current website (http://olddutchchurch.org) to learn more about its history:
Often referred to as “The Cathedral of Kingston,” the Old Dutch Church was a part of the Dutch Colonial village of Wiltwyck which was a trading outpost in the colony of New Netherland. The original church structure, built on the present site in 1660, actually was one corner of the Stockade which Peter Stuyvesant ordered built as fortification. Wiltwyck later became the village of Kingston after the British took over the colony and renamed it New York. The original structure was largely destroyed by fire in the Esopus Indian raid of 1663. Rebuilt and enlarged several times, the church was again burned during the American Revolution by British forces in October of 1777.
During the Revolution, the church, and its congregation, aligned itself with the rebel or patriot cause. As a result, in November of 1782, Gen. George Washington visited the church. A hand-written letter by Washington regarding his reception at the church is proudly on display in the Narthex of the church. It is significant to note that during the entire eight years of the American Revolution, this was Washington’s only reference to a religious institution.
The present structure was designed by renowned architect Minard LaFever and was completed in 1852. Constructed of massive cut, native bluestone, the imposing edifice is crowned with what was at one time the tallest steeple in New York State. By city ordinance, no structure in Uptown Kingston can be constructed taller than the steeple of Old Dutch Church. This has allowed for the unique historic character of Uptown Kingston to be preserved and our steeple stands a beacon which forms part of the skyline of the City of Kingston and can be seen, literally, for miles.
The church is the site of the Daughters of the American Revolution Memorial Day Ceremonies each year and is a focal point in the Annual George Clinton Recognition Day. It also takes part in special events such as the re-enactment of the Burning of Kingston and Dutch Colonial Church Services.
In 2008, Old Dutch Church was declared a National Historic Landmark by the Federal government and in 2009 we celebrated our 350th Anniversary! We are an active and open congregation with Sunday School and services weekly at 10:30 am. We also have Choir, fellowship, arts series and mission & outreach to the local and global community. We hope to continue to serve for another 350 years!
The Old Dutch Church also has a website dedicated to genealogical records (http://olddutchchurch.org/history/genealogy). Links lead to baptismal, marriage, and burial records, along with a Revolutionary Soldiers Burial list. You may have ancestors tied to this church. To aid your search, The Salisbury Newsletter I was looking at listed some of the first members of this church. See if you are interested in any of these names:
Anthony Abrams, Nancy Abrams, Andries Bartel, Hendrick Breeze, William Buswell, Peter Dingman, Peter Fonda, Abraham Lansting, Dirick Hansen, Samuel Hitchcock, Hendrick Hollenbeck, John Holliday, Matthew Holliday, Thomas Mesick, Stephen Muller, Francis Ott, James Patten, Jacobus Salsbury, Jonathan Salsbury, Joseph Salsbury, John Schermerchon, Robert Scharp, Jeremiah Shane, Johannes Spoor, Christian Spring, Adam Tod, Benjamin Van deBerge, Cornelius Van Buren, Isaac Van der Poel, Jonathan T. Witbeck, Peter W. Witbeck, an Tobias Witbeck.