Christ's Lutheran Church in 1811

By the previous year, congregant Henry Bonesteel had 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 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?" Anderson concludes that the "Church on the Rocks" might really be the second church building (north of 212 and on the ledge), which would have been built after the second Wigram survey in 1822 (which shows the original, south of 212, location) and before Nash came in the 1830s. Therefore, at this date, the church the congregation worshipped at, the first church building, would not have been on the ledge north of 212. (Close) Sometime soon thereafter 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).

[ Reverend Quitman ] The official pastor (on a rotating basis) was Reverend Joseph Prentiss (sometimes spelled Prentice), 32, who also acted as pastor on a rotating basis at the Episcopal Christ Church in Hudson. Rationalists such as the previous pastor and founder, Rev. Frederick Henry Quitman, 51, pictured here, who had prevailed upon Pastor Prentiss to take over the pulpit in Woodstock, felt that any ordained clergyman--Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Congregationalist, and (presumably) Lutheran--could be an interchangeable pastor for any one of those congregations.

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)

Reverend Quitman was still pastor of St. Peter's Church in Rhinebeck. He also served on a rotating basis a small Lutheran congregation that had four pews set aside for them at Trinity Episcopalian Church in Athens. Reverend Quitman was also president of the New York Ministerium (the synod), and he was working on a new catechism in the English language.

The Woodstock Region in 1811

[ Robert R. Livingston, the Chancellor ] Region historian Alf Evers(4)

Excerpted from Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town, Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987, 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, 36. 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's fully incorporated (by the state legislature) Woodstock Glass Manufacturing Society, operating in present-day Shady, just over the boundary from Livingston land, advertised for "five thousand cords of Furnace wood for which cash will be paid." A few months later they advertised window glass for sale "by the Box or single pane at the Woodstock Glass Factory…" They added:

Wood choppers take notice!
Constant employ may be had at the above Fact
ory and a liberal price given in cash
For chopping wood by the cord or acre.(5) Quoted in ibid., pp. 126. (Close)
In this way, the glassmaking venture was beginning the denuding of the primeval forests of the upper Sawkill Valley.

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.

New Paltz slave Isabella Bomefree, 14, originally of Hurley, worked very hard to please her master, John J. Dumont. Mr. Dumont was a reasonably kind master (beating her only infrequently), but his wife was a severe and very hard-to-please taskmistress. Here is how abolitionist Olive Gilbert, the literary mouthpiece of Isabella (in later life known as Sojourner Truth), recorded Isablla's description many years later of her relationship with her master:(6)

Quoted from Gilbert, Olive, Narrative of Sojourner Truth (a transcription with commentary of Sojourner's own words), 1850 (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997), p. 14. (Close)
[She] became more ambitious than ever to please him; and he stimulated her ambition by his commendation, and by boasting of her to his friends, telling them that "that wench" (pointing to Isabel) "is better for me than a man--for she will do a good family's washing in the night, and be ready in the morning to go into the field, where she will do as much at raking and binding as my best hands." Her ambition and desire to please were so great, that she often worked several nights in succession, sleeping only short snatches, as she sat in her chair; and some nights she would not allow herself to take any sleep, save what she could get resting herself against the wall, fearing that if she sat down, she would sleep too long. These extra exertions to please, and the praises consequent upon them, brought upon her head the envy of her fellow-slaves, and they taunted her with being the "white folks' nigger."… At this time she looked upon her master as a God; and believed that he knew of and could see her at all times, even as God himself. And she used to confess her delinquencies, from the conviction that he already knew them, and that she should fare better if she confessed voluntarily: and if anyone talked to her of the injustice of being a slave, she answered them with contempt and immediately told her master. She then firmly believed that slavery was right and honorable.

With financial help from New York State (an advance of $10,000 [$119,900 in 2006 dollars]), developers in Sullivan County cleared obstructions such as rocks and waterfalls from the Neversink to enable the rafting of lumber down to market. Unfortunately, a number of men were killed trying to raft the turbulent stream.

The New York State legislature passed a law permitting corporations (that is, limited-liability stock companies) to engage in manufacture. Lobbyists interested in protecting small privately owned tanneries, such as those on the Sawkill and Woodstock's Tannery Brook, managed to get tanning operations excluded from the act.

The United States in 1811

[ James Madison ]

James Madison (Democratic Republican), 60, was President. The newly elected 12th Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $11.99 in 2006 for most consumable products.

There was a great reluctance among American farmers to use the newfangled iron plow, because of their notion that iron would poison the soil. Good old American farmers continued to struggle with wooden plows.

Food sold to the public in the markets was often adulterated. For example, pickles were treated with copper to look green; bogus "China tea" was concocted from dried thorn leaves colored with poisonous verdigris; pepper was often mixed with mustard husks, juniper berries, pea flour, and storeroom sweepings.

One of the principal "necessaries" that settlers in the West used to get the Indians in debt (forcing them to cede more land) was liquor, which produced a pleasing sensation of well-being; even though often followed by most unpleasant headaches and nausea as the Indian recovered from the debauch. Some of the decoctions sold to them were brewed by methods dreadfully heartless, for the traders cared nothing for the well-being of the Indians. One recipe for "Injun whiskey" illustrates the standards(7):

Quoted in Wellman, Paul I., The House Divides: The Age of Jackson and Lincoln, from the War of 1812 to the Civil War, Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1966, p. 35. (Close)
Take a barrel of lake or river water, add three plugs of chewing tobacco and five bars of soap, stir half a pound of red pepper into the mixture, throw in some dead leaves, and boil until the liquid turns brown. Then add two gallons of alcohol and two ounces of strychnine, stir thoroughly, strain, and bottle.
The strychnine gave a stimulating sensation which made up for the small amount of alcohol used, and in this dilution was not fatal. The dead leaves gave "color," the soap gave "bead," and the red pepper "bite." The tobacco produced nausea--no Indian, the traders said, thought he was really drinking unless he was afterward sick as a dog. The awful brew was cheap and easy to make, and some Indians would trade a bundle of furs--or go into debt for like value--to get a bottle of the concoction. As one man said,
After a few drinks of the stuff, you could prop Indians up in the corners as if they were paralyzed, unable to close their eyes.
Quite naturally, such "whiskey" led not only to drunkenness and sickness, but to laziness and sometimes violence among the Indians themselves.

U.S. customs duties fell precipitously to half the 1806 level because of the loss of trade with the United Kingdom and France.

Tensions with the British (and the Indians)

American men were "impressed" (taken captive) from American ships and then conscripted into the British Navy at the rate of about 1500 per year. One American sailor was impressed from an American ship off Sandy Hook and forced aboard the British frigate H.M.S. Guerrière. The U.S.S. President, while searching for the Guerrière, accidentally disabled the British sloop Little Belt, an assault that resulted in 32 British casualties. The U.S. offered compensation in return for a British revocation of the Orders in Council that authorized British actions against American vessels.

[ Tecumseh ] Meanwhile, Shawnee leader Tecumseh, 43, organized an Indian gathering of some 5,000 on the banks of the Tallapoosa River in Alabama, exhorting them with these words(8):

Quoted from Zinn, Howard, A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present, New York: HarperCollins, 1980, 1995, 1999; Perennial, 2003, p. 127. (Close)
Let the white race perish. They seize your land; they corrupt your women, they trample on the ashes of your dead! Back whence they came, upon a trail of blood, they must be driven.
Governor William Henry Harrison of Indiana Territory, 38, met with Tecumseh and other Indians who were complaining of a purchase of lands which had been made from the Shawnees and other tribes.(9) Quoted from Moore, Frank, Speeches and Addresses by the Most Eminent Orators of America; with Biographical Sketches and Illustrative Notes, vol. 2., New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1857, p. 354. (Close) Tecumseh finished one of his speeches and then looked around for a seat. General Harrison ordered that a chair be brought to him. The person presenting the chair to Tecumseh said:
Warrior, your father, General Harrison, offers you a seat.
Tecumseh retorted without hesitation, and with great indignation, while extending his arms toward the sky:
My father! The Sun in my father, and the Earth is my mother. She gives me nourishment, and I repose on her bosom.
Tecumseh then suddenly sat upon the ground. The conference adjourned abruptly after the Shawnee warrior called Harrison a liar.

Soon afterward Harrison defeated some 1,000 Shawnees under Tecumseh's brother, Tenskwatawa, 43, known as the Prophet, in the Battle of Tippecanoe at Tenskwatawa's headquarters (Prophetstown). British arms were found on the battlefield in the wake of the Shawnee retreat, so the citizens of Vincennes, Indiana, resolved:

This combination headed by the Shawanese prophet is a British scheme.
The newly elected 12th Congress soon learned of this.

(Westerners were very unhappy because of an agricultural depression, basically caused by the difficulty of getting their products to market. They blamed the British, however.)

[ John Caldwell Calhoun of South Carolina ] [ Henry Clay of Kentucky ]

Western "War Hawks" in the new 12th Congress, with the slogan "Free Trade and Sailors' Rights," protested British interference in American shipping and demanded U.S. action against perceived British encouragement of Indian uprisings. Many were newcomers to Congress, having won in the 1810 midterm elections on a hawk program. The War Hawks included Representative John Caldwell Calhoun of South Carolina, 29 (pictured on the left), and Representative Henry Clay of Kentucky, 34 (pictured on the right), who was elected Speaker of the House. Representative Felix Grundy of Tennessee, three of whose brothers had been killed in clashes with Indians, argued that the House of Representatives should declare war against the United Kingdom; he advocated ousting the British from North America, in particular to wipe out the Indians' base in Canada. Speaker Clay proclaimed:

We are asserting our right … to export our cotton, tobacco, and other domestic produce to market. … I prefer the troubled ocean of war … with all its calamities … to the tranquil and putrescent pool of ignominious peace!(10) Quoted in Garraty, John A., The American Nation: A History of the United States, New York: Harper and Row, 1966, p. 194, and Athearn, Robert G., ed., American Heritage Illustrated History of the United States, vol. 4, A New Nation, New York: Choice Publishing, 1988, pp. 344-345. (Close)
(The Westerners were also interested in grabbing Canada from the British and Florida from the Spanish, who were allied with the British.) Representative John Randolph of Virginia, 38, however, argued against war, citing the common ancestral bond shared by the Americans and the British.

Federalists, opposed to the growing tensions with the United Kingdom, continued protesting the commissioning of regular army officers to command local militias, the discrimination against New England commerce, and the neglect of coastal defenses. Some Federalists even urged secession.

The charter of the Bank of the United States lapsed. State banks eager to take over its business lobbied against rechartering, pointing out that most of its stock was controlled by Englishmen. The little state banks began to extend credit recklessly.

The Knickerbocker of New York City defeated the Invincible of Long Island in a rowing race.

The New Madrid earthquake, centered around New Madrid, Missouri, rocked the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys; its shocks were felt over a 300,000-square-mile region (as far away as Detroit, Baltimore, and Charleston); the Mississippi River was turned to foam between St. Louis and Memphis, with its current running upstream for hours. The Earth's surface rose or sank between 5 and 25 feet over a 30,000-square-mile region. Aftershock tremors continued for months.

John Chapman, 36, 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."

Louisiana slave insurrection

Charles Deslondes, a slave from Saint-Domingue (Haiti), launched a revolt of slaves from a plantation upriver from New Orleans. The insurgents marched down River Road toward New Orleans, killing two whites, burning plantations and crops, and capturing weapons and ammunition. Planters organized militiamen and vigilantes, reinforced with U.S. Army troops from Baton Rouge and New Orleans. A free black militia offered its services, and one company accepted. When the two sides met outside New Orleans, 66 slaves were killed, with others missing or captured and held for trial. Only 2 whites were killed. Of the slaves who were tried, 21 of them were sentenced to death, shot, and decapitated; their heads were placed on poles along the River Road as a warning to other potential rebel slaves.

Marie Dorion, an Iowa Indian woman, led a fur-trading expedition to Oregon.

The skipper of the Tonquin, a vessel of John Jacob Astor's fur trading company, established the trading post of Astoria at Cape Disappointment, the mouth of the Columbia River.

The steamboat S.S. New Orleans, launched by Nicolas Roosevelt, sailed from Pittsburgh down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers all the way to New Orleans in 14 days. Regular service was set up between New Orleans and Natchez, Mississippi; the fare was $18 downstream and $25 upstream ($216 and $300, respectively, in 2006 dollars).

Work began on constructing the Cumberland Road from Cumberland, Maryland, westward, in spite of all the obstructionist tactics of states' rights forces in Congress. This route eventually would become U.S. 40.

Arts and culture in America: Specifics

Poet William Cullen Bryant, 15, published Thanatopsis, dealing lyrically with man's mortality.

Painter Washington Allston painted The Poor Author and the Rich Bookseller; and architect Charles Bulfinch designed the Collonade Row buildings in Boston.

Popular periodicals included Christian's Magazine and Niles' Weekly Register.

The World at Large in 1811

Russian adventurers landed at Bodega Bay in California and built Fort Ross as a trading post for sea otter skins.

Struggles for Latin American independence

[ Simón Bolívar ] Revolutionary forces in Paraguay overthrew the Spanish governor.

The Captain General of Caracas formed a junta and declared the independence of Venezuela, renouncing all allegiance to the puppet government that Napoleon had set up in Spain; the junta invited all Spanish colonies to revolt, and a commission was sent to enlist British support. The commission included Simón Bolívar, 28 (see his picture [from the University of Texas Portrait Gallery] on the right). Creole Francisco de Miranda, 55, assumed leadership of the revolutionaries. Juan Domingo Monteverde began military action against Spanish forces, and Bolívar joined him.

José Artigas wrested from Spain the Banda Oriental in Uraguay.

José Miguel Carrera toppled the conservative junta in Santiago, Chile.

[ Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla ]

Cartegena in the Viceroyalty of New Grenada (Colombia) declared independence from Spain.

The Mexican revolutionary forces of Creole priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (see his picture on the left) were crushed by Spanish troops under Felix Maria Calleja del Rey in the Battle of Calderon Bridge near Guadalajara. Hidalgo was captured, tried, and executed.

King George III, now blind, grieved the loss of his favorite daughter, Amelia, so much that he lapsed at last into permanent insanity. The British Parliament passed the Regency Bill, replacing the King with his son George, Prince of Wales, 49, as Regent.

Hampden Clubs were established to extend the franchise in England.

A British bullion report advocated the intrinsic value theory of money: Money is a measure of labor performed; governments can obtain money only by taxing or by borrowing; printing excess banknotes cheats creditors and causes inflation.

Great schism

Most Welsh Protestants abandoned the Church of England.

Luddite disturbances

After Nottingham textile manufacturers replaced craftsmen with machines, bands of "Luddites" (taking their name from a legendary "King Ludd") sacked one of Richard Arkwright's factories. They also broke into the house of James Hargreaves and destroyed his spinning jenny.

Napoleonic Wars

[ Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French ] Napoleon (to enlarge his picture, just click it) annexed Oldenburg in Germany.

Austria was financially bankrupt, but a new civil code was introduced there.

Napoleon made his baby son, Napoléon François Joseph Charles, King of Rome and Duke of Reichstadt.

Peninsular Campaign: British and Allied forces under Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, 42, defeated the French in the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro, but Wellington admitted: "If Boney had been there, we should have been beaten." General William Carr Beresford led the British and Portuguese to defeat the French under Marshal Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult in the Battle of Albuera.

Russian forces seized Belgrade.

Swiss climber Johann Rudolf Meyer scaled the Jungfrau (13,668 feet) in the Alps.

Egyptian revolution

Muhammad Ali, Ottoman Viceroy of Egypt, invited the Mameluke chiefs, who had ruled Egypt and Syria for the previous 561 years, to a banquet in the Cairo citadel and then massacred them all.

British colonial expansion

British forces directed by Thomas Stafford Raffles captured the French fortress of Batavia on the island of Java. Raffles took over the administration of the island.

British naval captain Philip Beaver surveyed the eastern coast of Africa.

Two Portuguese half-caste explorers completed their 9-year crossing of the African continent.

Chang and Eng, male "Siamese twins" connected at the chest, were born in Melange, Siam. When King Rama II heard of it, he feared that this was an evil omen and ordered the twins put to death. The twins somehow escaped execution, however.

World science and technology

Ludwig Berblinger, a tailor from Ulm, Germany, made several unsuccessful attempts to fly; German industrialist Friedrich Krupp, 24, opened a steel works to compete for Napoleon's offer of 4,000 francs to anyone who could match British steel production; and English engineer John Blenkinsop patented a two-cylinder steam locomotive operating with toothed wheel on a racked rail for use in the coal mines.

Scots physicist Sir David Brewster published his findings on polarized light; English scientist Sir Charles Bell published New Idea of the Anatomy of the Brain, distinguishing between the sensory and the motor nerves; English astronomer Friederich William Herschel, 73, argued that a nebula is a protogalaxy; Italian physicist Count Amadeo Avogadro, 35, proposed that equal volumes of different gases contain the same number of molecules; French chemist Bernard Courtois, 34, isolated iodine; French mathematician Siméon Poisson published Traité de Mécanique; and German physician Samuel Hahnemann, 56, published a catalog of homeopathic remedies.

World philosophy and religion

J. P. A. Récusat published Essai sur la langue et la littérature; Barthold G. Niebuhr began publishing his multivolume Roman History; and K. A. Böttinger published Kunstmythologie.

Arts and culture in the British Isles

Author Jane Austen, 36, anonymously published Sense and Sensibility, A Novel by a Lady, treating everyday life realistically; poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, 19, published The Necessity of Atheism and was expelled from Oxford as a result; painter Thomas Lawrence, 42, painted a portrait of Benjamin West, 73; and architect John Nash designed Regent's Park and Regent Street.

World arts and culture

Sturm und Drang philosopher novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 62, published Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit; German composer Ludwig von Beethoven, 41, produced Concerto No. 5 in E flat major for Pianoforte and Orchestra ("Emperor"); German composer Karl Maria von Weber, 25, produced Concertina for B flat Clarinet and Orchestra, Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra No. 1 in F minor, Concerto for Violincello and Orchestra in D major, Concerto for Pianoforte and Orchestra No. 2 in E flat major, and the opera Abu Hassan, with libretto by Franz Karl Hiemer; and German novelist Friedrich Heinrich La Motte-Fouqué, 34, published Undine.


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