History of the Town of Schaghticoke

the results of research about the history of the town of Schaghticoke

Tag Archives: Methodist church

The Poet and the Church

This was a newspaper column in late December, 2013, hence the choice of poem below. I have been dilatory in updating this blog, but busy writing and researching new things.
Back in the fall, the Melrose Methodist Church celebrated its 160th Anniversary. Thanks to a correspondent, I have more to add to the history of the Church. Christopher Phillipo directed me to the Reverend Joseph C. Booth. He was a Methodist minister, and as was typical of the sect, spent just a couple of years at each church to which he was assigned. Booth was minister at Melrose from just 1912-1913, but must have found something here which attracted him, as when he retired in 1927, it was to Avenue A.
Joseph Booth was born in Gursley, England, about 1864. He attended school there, and emigrated to the U.S. in 1893. Perhaps he had already met his future wife in England, as he married Elizabeth Ambrose, born in Cambridge, England, in 1895, shortly after she emigrated. As I said, Methodist policy was to move its ministers frequently, and move Joseph and Elizabeth did. He was a minister in Redford, near Saranac, NY in 1894, Elizabethtown from 1895-1898; Schuyler Falls from 1899-1900, Chazy from 1900-1905, Warrensburg from 1906-1908, Williamstown, Massachusetts from 1909-1911, Melrose from 1912-1913, Mayfield from 1914-1918, Waterford from 1919-1921, Troy from 1922-1924, and Brandon, Vermont from 1925-1927.
Early in their marriage, Joseph and Elizabeth had a child who died. About 1912, her father, William Ambrose, aged 69, and sister, Sarah, 42, moved in with the couple. Though Joseph and Elizabeth became U.S. citizens in 1911, William and Sarah did not. The 1930 census showed them in retirement in Melrose, owning a home worth $1800, living next door to George Strait, the Methodist minister. The Straits would have lived in what is now the Halloran Home on Avenue A. William was now 84. Elizabeth died in 1936, her obituary reporting that “she had been in ill health for about 42 years.” Shortly after, Joseph married his sister-in-law Sarah. He died in 1942 and she in 1949. All are buried in Elmwood Cemetery, their names on the same stone.
In addition to being a minister, Joseph was a poet. About 1915, The Troy “Times” began to publish his poems. Mr. Phillipo links to about 20 of them on his blog: http://doesnotevenrhyme.blogspot.com. I felt the following poem was particularly appropriate for this time of the year.
“Father Christmas!” by Rev. Joseph C. Booth (1927)

Old Father Christmas, bending ‘neath the weight
Of centuries, comes down his frozen track,
With variegated gifts piled in his pack,
The birthday of the Christ to celebrate.
In honor of this great, eventful date,
Let us, in preparation, show no lack;
Let not our heart be cold, our hands be slack,
But joyfully responsive and elate.
In harmony with God’s stupendous gift,
With self-denying efforts crown the day;
The hungry feed, financial burdens lift
And drive the pangs of poverty away;
Hail, Father Christmas, may thy coming prove
A glad memorial of redeeming love!
Melrose, N. Y.

Troy Times. December 24, 1927: 20 col 2.

160th Anniversary of the Melrose Methodist Church

Many of the religious establishments in the town of Schaghticoke were and are located in the village of Schaghticoke. I have already written about several that were located outside the village: the very first, the Dutch Reformed Church, was in Old Schaghticoke. St. John’s Lutheran Church was in two locations in what is now the Melrose area of town, before joining with Grace Lutheran Church at the south end of Speigletown. There was another Lutheran Church at the junction of River Road and Allen Road for some years in the middle of the 19th century. There was a Methodist Church at Schaghticoke Hill, once a sizeable settlement just south of where the Tomhannock Creek crosses Route 40. According to Anderson’s Landmarks of Rensselaer County, that church began as a Sunday school in 1790, and was part of the Pittstown circuit of the Methodist Church until 1863. Then its history joins that of the church I will discuss now, the one in the Melrose part of town.
Again according to Anderson, the Methodist church in Melrose began in Grant’s Hollow about 1853. It was part of a circuit which included the church in Raymertown. In 1863, the church began to share pastors with the Methodist Church at Schaghticoke Hill. The original trustees were John D. Perry, Jr., Oliver H. Perry, Frederick S. Cole, and Daniel H. Viall. Mr. Viall co- owned Grain Cradle and Fanning Mills and a general store on the Deepkill, the stream that runs through Grant’s Hollow. Isaac Grant and his wife gave land to the society and a church was erected on Mineral Springs Road for $600. He and his wife had also supported the Lutheran Church. Mr. Grant was the founder of the Cradle Factory, and the source of the name of the Hollow. As for the other trustees, all three were young married farmers who had moved out of the area by 1870: Oliver Hazard Perry to Ohio, Frederick S. Cole to Iowa, and John Perry to parts unknown.

In 1882, a Presbyterian Church at Melrose was organized by Adam Hayner, Alexander Reid, T. Newton Wilson, George Sinsabaugh, and C.C. Schoonmaker. Mr. Wilson gave the land where the church was built the same year, at the corner of Route 40 and what was then Depot Street, and is now Church Street. The train depot was at the foot of the street. The church was part of the Presbytery of Troy. As for the other men, Adam Hayner was a 55 year old area farmer, and the other men owned the property surrounding the church site: G.W. Sinsabaugh owned the inn at the bottom of Church Street, now the Hegarty home, C.C. Schoonmaker had the property where the Esquire Pharmacy was for many years, and Alexander Reid had the land behind and next to the church.
From 1905 to 1906, the Methodist and Presbyterian churches united, literally. The Methodist church purchased the Presbyterian, and moved the Methodist building from Mineral Springs Road to Church Street. The front section of the current building was the original Presbyterian Church, the back, the original Methodist Church. The Methodists also acquired what is now the Halloran home on Avenue A for use as the parsonage. According to research by George Somnitz, the home was given to the Methodists by a Mr. Bullard, who had built it as a summer home. The Hallorans bought the home in 1972. The Methodists bought a new organ, a “great two manual Johnson organ…having a width of eighteen feet and being twenty feet high.” A contemporary newspaper article notes that “through the splendid endeavours of the leading spirits in this church the entire property …was purchased or placed here…at an expense of about $10,000.” At the time, the church was lit with acetylene gas. The first pastor of this new combination was Reverend W.W. Brunk. He was 35 years old, with a wife, Addie, and two small children.

Over the years, the church has been modernized, with purchase of a new organ in 1964, and completion of a chime system in 1980. The Methodist section is used for Sunday School and church suppers. The basement kitchen and upstairs dining area are connected by a handy dumb waiter. From 1958 to 2001, the church shared a pastor with the Valley Falls Methodist Church. The church was independent, with a part-time pastor from 2001-2005, then united with Pittstown from 2005-2008, then Waterford from 2008-2011, now with Mechanicville, with pastor Jennie Deyo.