Christ's Lutheran Church in 1809

Until church members had a building of their own, they held services in their homes, subject to the weather and farm work schedules. In 1809 or a year or two prior to that year, congregant Henry Bonesteel donated a plot of land for a church building, located about ¾ mile east of our present location, "on a small rise of ground north [or south?] of the modern route 212 and overlooking the Sawkill where it twists by the present-day golf club, which was at that time a mill on the stream."(1)

From Moseman, Magda, and Anderson, Mark, eds., Perspectives and Patterns: Christ's Lutheran Church, 1806-1976 [Woodstock, NY: self-published monograph, 1976]. In 2006, Mark Anderson learned that the original church building was not up on the ledge and north of Route 212 but was actually south of 212, between the road and the Sawkill. "This is congruent with the reported statement of Allen Nash, who transferred into the church from Rhinebeck in the 1830s when he said that there was an old, unusable church building still standing half-way between the one on the Bonesteel lease (on the ledge) and the mill at the east end of town (present golf clubhouse). Interesting, eh?" (Close) The first church building was completed at that site. "It was often designated as 'The Church on the Rocks,' for this elevation is caused by a ledge of rock"(2); Quoted from Frederick, Rev. Walter, "Historical Address, Woodstock, N.Y., May 3, 1931," p. 9, itself citing, without attribution, Traver, Charles H., D.D., of West Camp, "History of Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, N.Y., 1806-1906," an earlier source from the centennial, when Reverend Frederick was pastor. (Close) although that church (the "Church on the Rocks," might really be the second church, built sometime between 1822 (the second survey of John Wigram, showing the original location) and the 1830s, when Allen Nash reported an "old, unusable church" (see footnote 1). [You can click here to see the new church represented in an 1810 survey map.]

[ Reverend Quitman ] For a while during this year, circuit-riding Reverend Frederick Henry Quitman, 49, pictured here, was the official pastor, conducting services on different days in Rhinebeck (St. Peter's Church), West Camp (the Palatine Lutheran Church of St. Paul's), and Woodstock. There is some evidence that the church was holding services in German and English on alternate Sundays.(3)

From Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], draft, citing Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town [Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987], p. 225. (Close)

Pastor Quitman also had close connections with congregations in Athens, including one Episcopalian congregation (the Trinity Church), who as yet (and for the next two years) had no building of their own and so held services in the Lutheran Church in that village. We may suppose that the pastor's connections with these congregations enabled him during this year, to prevail upon the 30-year-old Joseph Prentiss (sometimes spelled Prentice), who had been acting pastor for both the Lutheran and the Episcopalian congregations at that church building as well as another Episcopalian congregation in Coxsackie, to replace him on a rotating basis as pastor at Christ's Church in Woodstock. Rationalists such as Quitman felt that any ordained clergyman--Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregationalist, and (presumably) Lutheran--could be an interchangeable pastor for any one of those congregations.

Pastor Quitman then went on to pursue his duties as pastor for his other congregations (especially his congregation in Rhinebeck) and as president of the New York Ministerium (the synod), which directed him to prepare a new catechism in the English language.(4)

Here Anderson, ibid., p. 22, is citing Neve, J. L., A Brief History of the Lutheran Church in America, trans. Joseph Stump [German Literary Board, 1904], p. 51. (Close)

In general, pastors and congregations belonging to Ministerium, including Pastor Quitman, were not in favor of the evangelical revivals that were just beginning to be popular among American Christians--in particular, among the Methodists.

Since the Methodist movement grew out of Episcopal roots and shared much of the emphasis on "experimental religion" that dominated Lutheran piety, one might expect that Lutherans would cooperate with them fully.(5) Here Anderson, p. 33, is citing Nelson, E. Clifford, ed., The Lutherans in North America [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1975], p. 92. (Close)
Such was not the case in the New York Ministerium, however. Indeed, President Quitman had little regard for the Methodists (in spite of his conviction that a pastor ordained by them could serve a Lutheran congregation, or vice versa). For example, he had written to his son:
New sects spring up daily. We are surrounded with frantic Methodists, Erastians or New Lights, Baptists, Universalists, etc. There is continually preaching (so called) in our neighborhood. The Methodists are at present in camp-meeting two-mile beyond the flats.(6) Here Anderson, p. 46, is citing Kreider, Harry J., History of the United Lutheran Synod of New York and New England, Volume I, 1786-1860 [Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1954], p. 71. (Close)

Henry Bonesteel's daughter was baptized by Pastor Quitman.

[ Record of baptisms, 1807-1809 ] [ Record of officers, 1807-1810 ]

Above are two pages from the church register. On the left is a record from 1807 through 1809 of the names and dates of children who were baptized as well as their parents and sponsors (with a big splotch of ink). On the right is a record of the officers of the church from 1807 through 1810, as they were elected on a rotating basis. To enlarge either picture, just click it.

The Woodstock Region in 1809

A meeting of Republicans (Democratic-Republicans) was held at Philip Bonesteel's Woodstock tavern to support the widely unpopular (at least in the Northeast) Embargo Act of outgoing President Jefferson. Blacksmith James Bogardus of Willow chaired the meeting, farmer and tavernkeeper Isaac Elting of Wittenberg was secretary.

Resolved… this meeting reposes full confidence in the wisdom and patriotism of the government of the United States… whatever plans and conspiracies may be set on foot for its subversion or destruction…they will support it with their lives and fortunes.….(7) This excerpt and the material on local politics is from Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town, Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987, p. 234. (Close)
The meeting not only endorsed the act but condemned the Federalist Party, which was opposed to it. Republicans and Federalists in the county were aroused for or against Bogardus and his meeting. The Republican Ulster Plebeian of Kingston defended the resolution, but the Federalist Ulster Gazette accused Bogardus of "gross and palpable insults" and denounced him as "Doctor Bevier's man of Straw"; Federalist Dr. Ben Bevier was a former Woodstock resident and was now a candidate for the New York State Assembly. About the same time that Congress repealed the Embargo Act, replacing it with the far less sweeping Non-Intercourse Act, resolution writer Isaac Elting switched to the Federalists and was on the local election committee for Bevier. County Federalist boss John Suydam sent a Captain Black to Woodstock, "his pockets full of federal handbills." According to the Plebeian, the captain was not even an American citizen but rather "a loyal subject of his majesty George III" and "an advocate of British taxation as in duty bound" (this decades after the Revolutionary War!). Bevier carried Woodstock by a single vote, but the Republicans carried the county.

[ Robert R. Livingston, the Chancellor ] Region historian Alf Evers(8)

Excerpted from ibid., pp. 23ff, 41, 150ff. (Close) has described the Catskills as largely a region of absentee landlords and struggling tenants, in a manorial relationship more or less transplanted to upstate New York from medieval Europe. The principal landlord for tenant farmers and tavern keepers in the Town of Woodstock was "Chancellor" Robert R. Livingston (pictured), but actually running the Chancellor's affairs with his Catskill holdings of about 66,000 acres, however, was his son-in-law, Robert L. Livingston, 34. The Livingstons dwelled in their Clermont estate on the other side of the Hudson.

The typical official arrangement under which the tenant held his land was the "three-life lease": A tenant would be permitted use of Livingston land for three generations, and after the grandson of the original tenant died, the lease "fell in"--that is, the land would revert to a Livingston landlord. (For this reason, a tenant typically build a wood frame house or a rough log house, rather than the stone houses like those found in the Hurley or Marbletown lowlands.)

The Livingston landlord expected the tenants to increase the value of the land by clearing it, cutting the trees to feed the sawmill he had built on the Sawkill near the present-day golf course, and hauling the resulting boards and planks to the Hudson to supply the manufacture of gunstocks, houses, and ships. Stipulated in the typical lease was an annual rent of fifteen to twenty bushels of wheat per hundred acres, plus three or four "good fat hens" and from one to three days' work with team on the common land. A tenant could sell his leasehold, but he had to pay the landlord one-sixth of the sale.

[ John Wigram ] Livingston--through his agent John Wigram, pictured here, the town supervisor who resided on Wigram Lane (Rock City Road) near the barn now known as Parnassus Square, and who farmed there with the help of his slaves--initiated several legal proceedings against recalcitrant tenants whom he considered scofflaws and trespassers, those who failed to pay rent and who cut the landlord's timber for sale as boards, shingles, and other uses. Livingston "regarded the tenants' own shiftlessness and dishonesty as responsible for most of their troubles."

The life of the tenant on Livingston land was not especially easy. The men worked at subsistence farming, they hunted, they logged, they produced maple sugar, they did part-time blacksmithing, and--with wood harvested from the still-large Woodstock forests (much of it belonging to the Livingston landlord, its harvesting thus constituting trespassing)--they produced charcoal and made such wood products as shingles and barrel and hogshead staves. In the late spring or early summer they peeled hemlock bark used for tanning, piling it in the woods and in the winter hauling it by sledge to smelly tannery of John C. Ring in the heart of Woodstock hamlet. (A few Woodstock tenants were sawmill operators [on sites reserved by the Livingston landlord] or tavern owners.)

Women cooked and baked in fireplaces, washed on the rocks beside a stream, sewed and spun flax and wool, churned butter, gave birth to children and then cared for them, and helped with the farm work, especially at harvest and slaughtering times: They made soap from ashes and animal fats, they dried apples, they pickled and preserved.

Samuel Stilwell, intent on building a glass factory on land in present-day Shady (soon to be called Bristol) that he had purchased from his bankrupt speculator brother Stephen (just over the boundary from Livingston land), had collected a solid group of New York City investors and formed the Ulster Glass Manufacturing Company. The Ulster Plebeian gushed about this in its editorial:

Among the useful establishments springing up… we feel a pleasure in noticing [at least one] of no inconsiderable magnitude which [is] contemplated in this vicinity. … [A] glass house which is to be erected in Woodstock by the Ulster Glass Manufacturing company. Sand, supposed to be suitable for making glass, is found in abundance near the site.… [It is a consolation] to reflect that the injustice of Europe, which aims to prostrate our prosperity, essentially contributes to encourage, invigorate and perfect these improvements.(9) Quoted in ibid., p. 125. (Close)
Stilwell, determined to take full advantage of the decline of import commerce as a result of the war in Europe, petitioned the New York State Legislature for an act to incorporate the Woodstock Glass Manufacturing Society.

Dr. Jacob Brink of Lake Katrine, known in Woodstock and its environs as a "white witch" and "conjurer," was often called upon to deal with the black magic of reputed witches in the area. He was frequently called upon to contend with the "Mink Hollow witch," Becky Demilt (or Demill), reputed to be tall and thin, with black hair and snow-white skin, walking on a club foot adorned with three stockings and riding a black stallion.

Isabella Bomefree, 12, a slave in Hurley who had been brought up on the estate of Dutch-speaking masters had for several months been the property of English-speaking John Neeley and his wife, who frequently beat her because of her imperfect understanding of their English commands. Fortunately, during this year, fisherman Martin Scriver bought Isabella for $105 ($1,338 in 2006 dollars) and installed her in his rude tavern for farm chores and other errands. He and his wife were kinder in their treatment of Isabella. She was also able to learn English without beatings.

Catskill bakery owner John Ashley harvested the tips of spruces on the shores of North Lake to obtain the "essence of spruce," from which he brewed (with water and molasses) and bottled spruce beer, as popular then as carbonated cola is today. Unfortunately, he was not successful in marketing his beer, so he turned his attention toward developing an alum mine in the Kaaterskill Clove instead.

Catskill businessmen, including surveyor and land speculator William Cockburn, had taken over the publicly owned Schohariekill Road (approximately present-day Route 23A) and were attempting to convert it into a private "Little Delaware Turnpike," which, when completed, would stretch from Catskill all the way to the East Branch of the Delaware River (north of Roxbury). They bought up all the land they could, including the North Lake properties of John Ashley, for about 12½ cents per acre ($1.59 per acre in 2006 dollars). This was a desperate attempt to recover from the business slump brought on by President Jefferson's Embargo Act of 2 years earlier.

Hudson attorney Elisha Williams was one of the investors in that land. During this year, he successfully defended Amos Eaton, who was being prosecuted for forgery in regard to a mortgage on some acres in the Catskills (and was probably renumerated with even more land).

Garden seeds grown and packaged by the "Shaking Quakers" of New Lebanon, NY, began to be advertised in newspapers of the Woodstock region. Until then, gardens of Woodstockers were quite limited in scope.

Author Washington Irving, 26, published the comical A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty (under the pen name Diedrich Knickerbocker), describing an impish St. Nicholas who brings gifts down chimneys, a work that inspired rave reviews even in Europe (the first American book to do this).

The United States in 1809

[ James Madison ]

Thomas Jefferson (Democratic Republican), 66, was President, succeeded during this year by James Madison, 58. The newly elected 11th Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $12.74 in 2006 for most consumable products.

Democratic-Republican (or, simply, "Republican") James Madison, a quiet, scholarly, and somewhat stubborn man, was inaugurated President. George Clinton of New York, 70, his running mate, was inaugurated for his second term as Vice President.

Most people, except the wealthy, slept on straw mattresses. Due to the small size of the houses that predominated among the poor and middle class, the parents of a family typically enjoyed the only private room--assuming there was even that. Small children and adolescents frequently slept together, two, three, and four to a bed. The boys shared their beds with apprentices or other male houseguests as well. (Even travelers barely acquainted with one another slept together at roadside inns.)(10)

Quoted from McCutcheon, Marc, Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians (Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books, 1993), pp. 91, 92, 98. (Close)

Much of the American population had rotten teeth, along with chronic toothache and halitosis. Very few people did anything to clean their teeth. False teeth were invariably ill-fitting and had to be removed at meals. Some wealthy people had transplanted teeth, but few enjoyed them as long as five years without their falling out or becoming infected.

Tensions with the British (and French)

A convention in New England was being summoned to nullify the hated Embargo Act, but Congress withdrew it just in time and substituted for it the Nonintercourse Act, resuming trade with all nations except the United Kingdom and France.

American men were "impressed" from American ships into the British Navy at the rate of about 1500 per year.

The British Ambassador, David Erskine, assured President Madison that the United Kingdom would repeal the 1807 Orders in Council, so the President withdrew the embargo against the British. While more than a thousand American merchant ships were sailing for British ports, however, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs George Canning repudiated Erskine's reassurance. The embargo was reestablished.

At the urgings of Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin, who was worried about the government deficits, Representative Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Relations, introduced legislation that permitted American ships to go anywhere except France and the UK. This Macon's Bill No. 1 met with all kinds of bickering debate, however.

George Hicks of Brooklyn ran the following ad in the New York Post, offering a $25 reward ($318.50 in 2006 dollars) for the return of his runaway slave:

Negro woman named Charity, and her female child … 25 years of age, 5' high, of a yellowish complexion … has lost the use of one of her fingers, occasioned by a fellon [sic], took with her several suits of clothes.(11)
Quoted in Wallechinsky, David, and Wallace, Irving, The People's Almanac, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1975, p. 150. (Close) Elizabeth Ann Seton ("Mother Seton") established the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, beginning as a parochial school near Baltimore, MD.

John Chapman, 34, known as "Johnny Appleseed," continued distributing Swedenborgian religious tracts and apple seeds to settlers in the Ohio Valley. A small, wiry man with "eyes that sparkled with a peculiar brightness," he had a reputation for loving children and all living creatures, even mosquitoes. He made friends with all the Indians he encountered. He traveled barefoot, dressed in cast-offs or a coffee sack. He liked to read to settlers from the New Testament, calling it "news right fresh from heaven."

Illinois Territory was formed out of the western part of Indiana Territory.

Governor William Henry Harrison of Indiana Territory kept pressure on the Indians, grabbing their lands through promising aid to one group against another, penalizing one group for some misdemeanor, or corrupting another group. In the Treaty of Fort Wayne, Harrison acquired for the United States some 3 million acres of land on the Wabash River for less than half a cent per acre.

Shawnee Indian brave Tenskwatawa, 41, known as the Prophet, preached that the Indians had to give up white ways and white artifacts, such as muskets, iron cooking pots, cloth, and whiskey. If they returned to ancient Indian ways, they would be able to gain sufficient power to resist the relentless pressure from American settlers. Indians traveled from Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota to hear his message at his village along Tippecanoe Creek in Indiana Territory. Meanwhile, the Prophet's brother Tecumseh, 41, was visiting other Indian villages and organizing various tribes into a confederation to oppose the encroachment of the whites. Tecumseh was enraged at the bargain sale of land on the Wabash, because those who sold the land had no title to it.

Governor Meriwether Lewis of Louisiana Territory, 35, died mysteriously in Nashville, TN, on his way to Washington, DC.

Science and technology in America: Specifics

The 100-foot-long steamboat Phoenix, with a domestically built engine, designed the previous year by New York inventor John C. Stevens, sailed from New York City to Philadelphia under the command of mariner Moses Rogers; Mary Kies of Connecticut patented a new process for weaving straw hats; and Abel Stowel of Massachusetts designed and produced a screw-cutting machine.

William Maclure published a detailed geological survey of the U.S.; and surgeon Ephraim McDowell, of Danville, KY, removed an ovarian tumor from Jane Todd Crawford of Greensburg, KY, who survived the operation.

"Hamilton's Essence and Extract of Mustard" was sold as a remedy for numbness, gout, palsy, swelling, and rheumatism.

Arts and culture in America: Specifics

English philosopher Thomas Paine died in obscurity at the age of 79 in New York City.

The Grand Panorama view of New York City and the surrounding region opened to the public for an admission of 50 cents for adults, 25 cents for children ($6.37 and $3.18, respectively, in 2006 dollars). A lifetime ticket could be purchased for $2 ($25.48).

A cricket club began operation in Boston.

Popular periodicals included Lady's Weekly Miscellany and Christian's Magazine.

The World at Large in 1809

David Thompson, 37, fur trader for the Hudson's Bay Company, built a trading post in what would later be Idaho.

Struggles for Latin American independence

Ecuador gained its independence from Spain.

In the name of "economic freedom," the British Parliament repealed the Statute of Apprentices of 1563 and other laws that had protected British workers.

Lancashire New Lanark cotton mill owner Robert Dale Owen, 38, alienated his partners when he proposed that the mill stop putting children under 10 to work and build schools, nurseries, and playgrounds instead.

The Pall Mall section of London was lighted by gas.

London banker David Ricardo published The High Price of Buillion, Proof of the Depreciation of Bank Notes, which became an authoritative text to determine British economic policy.

The United Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire concluded the Treaty of Dardenelles.

The insane King Gustavus IV of Sweden was deposed in a coup d'etat and was imprisoned in the château of Gripsholm. Charles, the Duke of Sudermania, formed a provisional government and was proclaimed King Charles XIII.

Napoleonic Wars

Peninsular Campaign: French forces under Marshal Soult doggedly pursued the British through the Portuguese mountains, decimating them, until their General, Sir John Moore, turned and held the French off in the Battle of Lugo. While Marshal Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult, 40, awaited reinforcements, the British slipped away to Corunna, where they hoped to escape with the fleet. Unfortunately, the fleet was absent, so the British needed to face their enemy in the Battle of Corunna.

Moore was killed and was succeeded in command by Sir Arthur Wellesley, 40. Marshal Soult occupied Oporto, while the British built up reinforcements in Lisbon. Wellesley advanced secretly to the River Duoro and defeated the French in the Battle of Oporto, forcing them to abandon their artillery and their wounded and flee from Portugal.

The British then invaded Spain and joined with local forces to defeat the numerically superior French under Marshal Victor and Joseph Bonaparte in the Battle of Talavera de la Reina. Wellesley was created the Duke (Viscount) of Wellington with a £2,000 annual pension (in spite of Whig opposition).

British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs George Canning, 40, resigned in protest over the handling of the Peninsular Campaign by the War Office. Robert Stewart, 41, Marques of Londonderry and Viscount Castlereagh, 40, Secretary of War and the Colonies, took the resignation as a personal insult. Castereagh challenged Canning to a duel, wounded him in the thigh on Putney Heath, and disgraced him. Castlereigh now resigned office, too, as did Prime Minister William Henry Cavendish Bentinck, Third Duke of Portland. The Chancellor of the Exchequer Spencer Perceval took over the government and appointed Richard Colley, the First Marquis Wellesley, 49, brother of Wellington, as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Foreign Secretary). Robert Banks Jenkinson, Second Earl of Liverpool, took over the War Ministry.

[ Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French ]

Napoleon (click the picture to enlarge it) returned from his Spanish campaign to find that the Austrians were preparing to attack the French garrisons west of the Rhine. He quickly organized forces against Austria. An Austrian force crossed the River Inn, and another Austrian force advanced from Pilsen in Bohemia and closed in on Ratisbon (Regensburg). French forces under Louis Nicolas Davout, Duke of Auerstaedt advanced on Ratisbon to meet the Austrians. The French were victorious in the Battle of the Five Days (at Thann, at Abensberg, at Landshut, at Eckmühl, and at Ratison). Napoleon seized Vienna, but his forces were defeated by Archduke Karl's Austrians in the Battle of Aspern.

The French retreated to the tiny island of Lobau in the Danube; crowding 100,000 effectives and 20,000 wounded there. Refusing to retreat further, Napoleon engaged and defeated the Austrians in the Battle of Wagram, sustaining 30,000 casualties (the Austrians sustained 26,000 casualties).

In the ensuing Peace of Schönbrunn, Austria was forced to cede much territory to France, Bavaria, the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, and Russia. Austria also was obliged to join Napoleon's Continental System. Klemens Wenzel Lothar von Metternich-Winneburg, 36, was named Foreign Minister of Austria.

All the property of the Teutonic Order was confiscated.

Russian forces seized Finland (which had been under the control of Sweden).

Napoleon annexed the Papal States in Italy. Pope Pius VII was taken prisoner.

The European war was extended to the New World, where the British captured the French Caribbean colonies of Martinique and Cayenne.

Napoleon divorced Empress Josephine de Beauharnais, 44, for "reasons of state" after his lawyers find a slight technical irregularity in his 1804 marriage to her.

British expansion into India

The Treaty of Amritsar between the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh and the United Kingdom established the northwestern boundary of the British East India's territory at the Sutlej River.

World science and technology

German physiologist Samuel Thomas von Sömmering invented the water voltameter telegraph; and English inventor George Cayley built a glider.

Chilean guano nitrates were imported, not for fertilizer but for explosives.

French biologist Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck published Système des animaux sans vertèbres as well as Philosophie Zoölogique, suggesting that giraffes obtained their shape from generations of stretching to get food and insisting that acquired characteristics can be inherited; English physicist William H. Wollaston invented the reflecting goniometer; and German mathematician Karl F. Gauss published Theoria motus corporum coelestium.

World philosophy and religion

French author François de Châteaubriand published Les Martyrs.

Arts and culture in the British Isles

Poet George Gordon (Lord Byron), 21, published English Bards and Scotch Reviewers to insult his critics at the Edinburgh Review; and painter John Constable, 33, painted Malvern Hill.

World arts and culture

Italian composer Luigi Carlo Zenobio Salvatore Cherubini produced Mass in F Major. Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn died at the age of 77.

German Sturm und Drang philosopher novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 60, published the novel Die Wahlverwandtschaften ("The Elective Affinities"); and German composer Ludwig von Beethoven, 39, produced Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat major, Opus 73 ("The Emperor").


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