Christ's Lutheran Church in 1880

[ The old church ]

Pastor William Sharts, conducting services in the third church building, which, like the second one, was known as the "Church on the Rocks," because it sat on a rocky ledge overlooking the Sawkill (about ¾ mile east of our present location--that is, north of present-day Route 212, across from the country club). (To enlarge the picture, just click it.)

[ Beer's Atlas map of Woodstock ]

Above is a map of the Woodstock village, published in 1878, showing the Church on the Rocks on the east side of town, just north of current Route 212 (known then as simply Saugerties Road) and north of the Sawkill. It is identified simply as "LUTH. CH." (To enlarge the view, click it.)

It was about this time that the Bible School became a vital part in the church life, under the tutelage of Eveyln Cramer.

[ Pine Grove Church ] In addition to the detailed and meticulous minutes that Pastor Sharts entered in the pastoral record book, he also maintained a separate record of all the texts he based each sermon on, where he preached, what the weather and road conditions were, and an idea of the attendance. This record seems to indicate that he did evening services not only at the Pine Grove Church but also at the schoolhouse known variously as Herrick's and Overlook.

In January, Pastor Sharts wrote the following entry concerning the satellite Pine Grove Lutheran Church, which had separated from Christ's Church eleven years earlier and now wanted the Christ's Church pastor to preach on a regular basis at Pine Grove (the picture above is the church, the one below a detail of one of the windows; to enlarge either picture, click it):(1)

From Anderson, Mark J., For All the Saints: Christ's Lutheran Church, Woodstock, New York, 1806-2006 [Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2006], pp. 64-65, citing the pastor's notes. (Close)
Services in Pine Grove.… W. T. Braby has forfeited his office by continued absence for nearly one year & by his open preference for the Ref'd Church, e.g., getting a Ref'd minister to bury his son. The reason why I record the affairs of P.G. in this [Christ's Church] book is that the book of that church is in the hands of the clerk [Braby?], who makes no entry of any kind as far as I can learn.
[ Detail of the window in the Pine Grove Church ] Whether the reluctant clerk returned the record books and additional entries were made there, we do not know, nor do we know the location of those books. As for the church building, it must have "passed into other hands," as Pastor Sharts had predicted three years earlier, and its people dispersed among other congregations.

Baby Evadora Russell was baptized into the congregation.

Annual fairs and festivals continued, as did the poor attendance at communion the pastor complained about.

At one point, Pastor Sharts laid a stone walk at the parsonage. For a water supply, he had a cistern built, requiring blasting.

The Woodstock Region in 1880

Prospectors were exploring the Woodstock area for coal, oil, and gas.

Meanwhile, William E. Hasbrouck wrote home from Leadville, Colorado, to his Uncle Woolvin in Woodstock, about his silver prospecting in the Rockies. He was amazed, he said, about the lack of observance of Sunday.

Business here is rather dull at present, the mines are on a strike there has not been mutch trouble yet only one man hurt and he only had his Ear shot off but that is a closer shave than I would [care] to have.(2) From Evers, Alf, Woodstock: History of an American Town, Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press, 1987, p. 144, citing a letter in his collection of W. E. Hasbrouck to "Uncle Woolvin." (Close)

A writer for the Kingston Weekly Freeman told of a black witch in the Town of Woodstock known as Aunt Zantee, who was believed to have "great powers as a sorceress." She was reputed to prevent butter from forming in a white neighbor's churn. A friend of the neighbor insisted that "Old Zantee has been in the churn."

Old Aunt Zantee was then seen to "be in the highest glee, singing, 'Lord alive! No had churning dar--and if they don't ax my pardon the debbil will be in that house in a little while.'" Sure enough, when the cows were driven home and the milkers went out with their pails not a drop of milk would come. A flock of sheep belonging to a white family became bewitched and ran back and forth at a headlong gait, finally dashing over the fence and running at full speed toward the Overlook. The farmer and his wife went over to Aunt Zantee's and not only begged her pardon but paid her well besides. "At once the cows and sheep returned to normal and butter quickly formed in the churn." After that the white farmer and his wife treated Aunt Zantee with the greatest respect. The old black witch's reputation expanded far beyond the bounds of Woodstock.(3) Quoted from ibid., p. 211. (Close)

The United States in 1880

[ Rutherford B. Hayes ]

Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) was President. The 46th Congress was in session. A dollar in that year would be worth $20.17 in 2006 for most consumable products. The amount of money per capita in circulation was $19.37 ($390.69 in 2006 dollars), a slight drop from the amount a decade earlier.

Only 2.5% of Americans 17 years and older were high school graduates; this number was a 25% improvement over a decade earlier, however. During this year, about 24,000 Americans graduated from high school (half again as many as a decade earlier), 12,896 from college (a third again as many as a decade earlier).

Immigrants from the British Isles and western Europe (especially Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany)--the so-called "Old Immigrants," most of them boasting a comparatively high level of literacy and accustomed to some level of representative government, who were either Protestant (most of them) or Catholic, were arriving during the preceding decade at an average annual rate of 159,300. The "New Immigrants," those from southern and eastern Europe (especially Italy, Austria-Hungary, and Russia), largely illiterate and impoverished, who tended to be either Catholic, Orthodox, or Jewish and who had little experience with representative government, were arriving at an annual rate of 18,100--11% of the Old Immigrants' rate. The New Immigrants huddled together in large cities, such as New York City and Chicago.

Some 4.29 million tons of iron were produced in the United States, more than twice as much as a decade earlier, more than four and a half times as much as two decades earlier, nearly a sevenfold increase over three decades earlier, more than 13 times as much as four decades earlier, 23 times as much as five decades earlier, and 195 times as much as six decades earlier. During this year, 1.39 million tons of steel were produced, 18 times as much as a decade earlier; in earlier decades--before the widespread use of the Bessemer method or the open-hearth method--hardly any steel was produced.

The South was at last producing as much cotton as it had in 1860.

Larvae of the gypsy moth (Porthetria dispar) continued to spread from Medford, MA, where French naturalist Leopold Trouvelot had brought the insect from Europe 11 years earlier with hopes to start a silk industry in New England. The moth population was exploding and defoliating American woodlands.

Presidential election of 1880

Though there was really little difference between Republican and Democratic voters or between official party platforms on such issues as currency, the tariff, and vain promises for civil-service reform, there was a pronounced difference in style, tone, and religious sentiment. Rank-and-file Republicans--particularly strong in the Midwest and the small-town and rural Northeast, among the grateful freedmen in the South, and among the several thousand Union veterans in the fraternal Grand Army of the Republic (GAR, often said to stand for "Generally All Republicans")--tended to adhere to Calvinistic creeds descended from Puritanism, stressing strict codes of personal morality and advocating government regulation of morality. Democrats, in contrast, still somewhat cursed with the Copperhead label from the Civil War, had a solid base among whites in the vanquished South as well as among immigrant Lutherans and Roman Catholics in the industrial cities of the North (where their votes were controlled by well-oiled political machines); the Northern Democrats, at least, took a less stern view of human weakness than their Republican neighbors and were more tolerant of imperfections. Education and prohibition figured large in local politics between the parties.

[ Chester A. Arthur ] The spoils of patronage--the awarding of government jobs (especially in the postal service) in return for party service, kickbacks, and votes--was vitally important within both parties and was essentially a big business like any other Gilded Age capitalist enterprise. Among the Republicans, those unabashedly advocating time-honored patronage and thoroughly opposed to any reform of the civil service were known as Stalwarts, a faction led by the handsome, imperious New York Senator Roscoe "Lord Roscoe" Conkling, 51, and his protégé Chester Alan Arthur, 51, pictured here, who had been ousted in a reform movement 2 years earlier as the Collector of the Port of New York and was now a practicing New York City attorney. Conkling, mocked 14 years earlier by rival Republican James Gillespie Blaine, 50, currently Senator from Maine, as having a "turkey gobbler strut," was continually depicted by cartoonists as a turkey. For his part, the flashing-eyes, demagogic Blaine led the faction known as Half-Breeds, who gave lip service to civil service reform but who really wanted to displace the Stalwarts as spoils beneficiaries. The two factions stalemated each other and deadlocked the party.

Republicans and Democrats differed very little on issues, but the race between them was fiercely competitive nonetheless. Each party was tightly organized. On Election Day, hordes of party faithful tramped behind marching bands on the way to the polls. The parties were able to turn out huge numbers of voters--nearly 80% of those eligible. Most of them voted a straight party line, too.

Through fraud and intimidation, solidly Democratic white supremacists had regained political power all over the South. Black plantation owner Blanche K. Bruce from Bolivar County in Mississippi, who had even been elected 5 years earlier to the U.S. Senate, continued to serve the remaining 1 year of his term; he was the second (and last) black to do so from that state, but otherwise the notion of blacks holding political office was now a relic of the dead Reconstruction era.

The economically dependent blacks who even tried to vote would be facing unemployment, eviction, and violence. Blacks (and poor whites as well) continued being forced into sharecropping and tenant farming; former slave masters were now bosses and landlords. Through the "crop-lien" system, the serflike small farmers could get food and supplies from storekeepers by agreeing to a lien on their expected crops, a lien they would never be able to fully pay off.

In Georgia, blacks owned fewer than 600,000 of the state's 37,700,000 acres.

In the South, the daily discrimination against blacks grew increasingly oppressive. Blacks were continually assaulted by harsh reminders of their second-class citizenship, and Southern white supremacists dealt brutally with any black who dared to violate the customary racial code of conduct.

As they had done the preceding 2 years, several thousand blacks, called "Exodusters," from Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas continued to surge into Kansas in search of better opportunity. The flow was stopped only when steamboat captains refused to transport black migrants across the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.

There was now more than 93,000 miles of railroad in the United States, a 26% increase over the mileage of only 5 years earlier, a 79% increase of a decade earlier, and a 166% increase of 15 years earlier.

Inventor Samuel Leeds Allen, 39, opened a factory in Philadelphia to produce the Planet, Jr., seed planter he had patented 12 years earlier: two tin wash basins fastened together with a metal band, with holes drilled therein--which could be rolled across the ground. His factory also produced a fertilizer driller, wheel hoes, potato diggers, celery hillers, and an animal trap.

Cattle drives on the 700-mile-long Chisholm Trail from San Antonio, TX, to Abilene or Ellsworth, KS (two "cow towns" on the Kansas Pacific Railway, where cattle could be transported to Chicago), continued on a large scale, reaching its peak during this year, with hundreds of thousands of steers driven north on the "Long Drive," moving at an average 12 miles per day through open, unsettled country.

Drought continued on a good part of the cattle range in the West.

German immigrant brewer Adolph Herman Joseph Coors, 33, bought out his partner, Jacob Schueler, for their 7-year-old Golden Brewery in Golden, Colorado Territory, which was producing Coor's Beer.

Michel Harry de Young, 31, became the sole owner and editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle, which he had founded 15 years earlier with his brother.

New Jersey inventor Thomas Alva Edison, 33, patented an improvement to his "method of preparing autographic stencils for printing," which he had first patented 4 years earlier. He licensed Albert Blake Dick, 24, to use the invention; Dick constructed a flat-bed duplicator suitable for office use and employed a strong stencil fabric made from a species of hazel bush that grew only on certain Japanese islands.

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The World at Large in 1880

The coffee rust (Hamileia vastatrix), which had appeared in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 11 years earlier, was spreading throughout the Orient and the Pacific, wiping out coffee plantations and causing coffee prices to soar.

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