THE REFORMED DUTCH CHURCH OF HILLSDALE
(Also known as the Krum Church)
Transcribed by "The New York Genealogical and Biographical Society"
Edited by: Royden Woodward Vosburgh
New York, October 1912
and submitted here with permission from the NYGBS by Susan Stalker Mulvey
(Introduction to the Hillsdale Reformed Church Records which may be found at the NY State Library)
This church, usually known as the Krum Church, was situated in the North-western part of the town of Hillsdale, about three miles east of the village of Philmont which lies in Claverack. The church building disappeared many years ago, and the precise location of the graveyard which surrounded the church is not at the present time known to me. As the western boundary line of the town of Hillsdale is about two and a half miles east of Philmont, the site of the church could not have been far from the town line. In corroboration of the location, the following gravestone in the cemetery of the Reformed Church of Claverack is cited. "Johan Godfried Schumacher, b. May 13, 1731 Rhinebeck, N.Y. - Revolutionary Solider Nemis Heights, Stillwater, Saratoga, - died from exposure 1782. Buried in the Old Crum Churchyard near Philmont." From the first page of the church record it appears that the church was organized by Rev. Johannes Schuneman at Coxsackie, as a Reformed Dutch Church; on July 2nd 1776, the date of the organization, the first Elders and Deacons were also elected. The church building may possibly have been commenced a few years before this year, and it is possible that some steps were then taken to organize a Congregation, which failed.
The church was dedicated on July 5th 1776 by the Lutheran minister, Rev. Johan Friederich Reiss, upon which day a Lutheran church was organized and Elders and Deacons were elected. It is apparent therefore, that there were two separate and distinct church bodies, both using the same building and the same church record. The title of this joint congregation was "The Reformed Lutheran Unity Church." The church remained under this title until about 1800. On July 30th 1808, a reorganization was effected, by authority of the Classis of Rensselaer, and a church was organized known as the Reformed Dutch Church of Hillsdale. This church was attached to the Classis of Hudson, at it's organization in 1845. "A large part of its membership was dismissed to form the second Reformed Church of Claverack, at its organization in 1838. The name of the church is found on the roll of the Classis for several years, but the Church was never represented in Classis, and was formally dissolved by vote of Classis, 15 April 1851." ( Quotation from the Historical Sketch of the Classis of Hudson and its Churches.) The church at Mellenville was organized on December 24th 1838, as the Second Reformed Dutch Church of Claverack, it was composed of 91 members from Claverack, 16 from Hillsdale, 3 from Ghent and 2 from Kinderhook. Thereafter, it continued to draw away the members from the Hillsdale Church, which was without a Pastor after the year 1843.
The record here transcribed is at present (1912) in the custody of the stated Clerk of the Classis of Hudson. It consists of one folio volume, bound in parchment, the binding being in an excellent state of preservation; it contains 200 or more pages, about one half of which are unused. This copy shows each page as it appears in the original, the blank pages being omitted. With the possible exception of half a page or so, the ink is not faded and the characters are easily discernable. The paper is not in as good relative condition as the ink. The binding is loose and there are a number of detached sheets in the volume, some of the edges of which are worn away. The paper already shows signs of mould and dry rot, and this record will probably not last any longer than some of the older records, which have been used more frequently and which antedate it by 75 or more years. About the year 1900 this record was sent to the Classis of Hudson. For the 50 years before 1900, it was probably carelessly treated and it has consequently suffered accordingly.
The name Krum or Crum so frequently applied to this church, appears to have come from the long continued connection of the Krum family with the church, which a study of this record will disclose. The church edifice was situated near the old Krum homestead, which was built before the Revolution. John Joost Krum of Claverack was probably the pioneer of the family. He settled upon the Van Rensselaer Patent, which extended south from Kinderhook along the east side of the Hudson, to the north bounds of Livingston Manor, and thence on an easterly course 24 miles to Westenhook. It was surveyed for Hendrik Van Rensselaer, 25 October 1721. Later, the son of John Joost, Johannes Martinus known as Martin, acquired the rights to the land his father settled upon. Martin Krum married Elisabeth Niar [Nehr] at Claverack, 12 October 1756. They had 10 or more children, the first three of which were baptised in the Reformed Dutch Church at Claverack, others appear in the records of St. Thomas' Lutheran Church at Churchtown, as being baptised there; and the last two, Elisabeth and Jonas, were baptised at Hillsdale, by Rev. Johan Friederich Reiss.
The settlement in the eastern part of Claverack was known as New Claverack; the part near the Massachusetts line, the ownership of which for many years was claimed by both New York and Massachusetts, was known as Nobletown. Hillsdale was taken off from Claverack and formed as a district in 1782. Austerlitz, the town north of Hillsdale was taken off from Hillsdale in 1818. Hillsdale including Austerlitz was the scene of frequent riots and marauding, in connection with the boundary disputes. In 1791, Cornelius Hogeboom, the Sheriff of Columbia County, was killed at Hillsdale, while attempting to disperse an armed mob of anti-renters. About five sixths of Austerlitz, including all except the northern border, was originally called Spencer's Town; the central village of the town still bears the name of Spencertown. It was settled in 1757, by squatters from Connecticut and Massachusetts. Therefore, speaking generally, the Dutch or German settlement in the western part of the town, was known as New Claverack; the English settlement in the eastern part was known as Nobletown; and the part, later taken off as Austerlitz, also an English settlement, was known as Spencer's Town. Records concerning the English settlers will be found in the Proprietor's Records of Spencertown; the records of the Congregational Church of Spencertown; the records of the Congregation Church of New Concord, which are now (1912) at the parsonage of the Reformed Church at Ghent; and the records of the towns of Sheffield, Massachusetts and Salisbury, Connecticut.
According to the Manual of the Reformed Church in America, Fourth Edition, the Hillsdale Church was established in 1769. This same date appears in the Historical Sketch of the Classis of Hudson. I am not not able to find any authority for this beyond what appears in Zabriskie's Claverack Centennial, which was evidently taken from the minutes of the Consistory of Claverack and from the minutes of the General Synod. It appears that the Consistory of Claverack passed a resolution, dated April 9th, 1770, stating that those who "lived to the east" could have the services of the minister they were about to call, providing that those in the east raised enough money to pay for the services. At the time this resolution was passed, the Claverack Church was vacant. The minutes of the General Synod of October 1773 refer to the building of a new church at Claverack, and mention a disagreement that occurred concerning it. There is nothing in the original record of the Hillsdale Church to show that the church was organized before the year 1776. The facts as they appear there are clearly set forth on pages 1 and 2 of this volume. It is possible that services may have been contemplated for some years before, and the church may have been built or building in the year 1773, but there is nothing on record that was found, to show the organization, the dedication, or that regular services were held. The authorities cited above will be found, fully copied, at the end of this introduction, where they can be read and their contents weighed.
To attempt to give a surmise of the difficulties that beset this congregation at its inception would be but a waste of words. It may have been a question of raising money, or it may have been the demands of the Lutheran element for recognition. It is possible that the minutes of the Claverack Consistory may throw some additional light on the subject. It is certain from the facts, that the difficulty with the Claverack Consistory had not been settled, when the Hillsdale Church was finally organized and dedicated. The new congregation severed all ties with Claverack and went to Johannes Schuneman of Coxsackie to establish their organization. It is true that Claverack was without a Pastor during the year 1776, and consequently they could not have gone to the Claverack Pastor. But Claverack was intermittently supplied by Isaac Rysdyk of Fishkill and New Hackensack, and Gerhard D. Cook of Rhinebeck and Germantown. It is interesting to observe that Philip Jacob Gross, who soon succeeded Reiss as the Lutheran minister to this Congregation, came from West Camp and up to 1783, he served congregations principally on the west side of the Hudson. It appears that Reiss of Churchtown, although only nine miles from Hillsdale, was too near Claverack to be eagerly sought for. Happily all the trouble ended with the pastorate of John G. Gebhard at Claverack, and as the Manual says: "He was here the means of healing an unhappy division, bringing with him sagacity, knowledge of human nature, prudence, and self-control"
Families connected with the Congregation of Hillsdale will also be found in other neighboring church records: viz, Reformed churches at Claverack, Ghent, Taghkanick (West Copake), Kinderhook, Linlithgo, and Greenbush (Gallatin); Lutheran churches at Churchtown, Ghent, Manorton (Tar Bush), and Germantown. More modern churches, like Greenport, Mellenville, Ghent 2nd, and Ancram are omitted.
Summary of the ministers supplying the church at Hillsdale, and their connection with other churches. As practically all the handwriting in the record has been identified up to the year 1807, the visits of each of the ministers can be more particularly determined from the footnotes on the various pages. Thereafter the handwriting is mostly unidentified, and after the year 1815 the data in the Manual has been taken.
1. Johan Friederich Reiss, 1776 to 1779, while Pastor at Churchtown, Manorton, Germantown and Wurtemburgh.
2. Philip Jacob Gross, 1780 to Feb. 26, 1786. From 1775 to 1787, he was Pastor at West Camp and other Congregations on the west bank of the Hudson. From 1783 to 1787 he also took charge of the Congregations on the east side of the river, which Reiss had previously served.
3. Henrich Muller, July 17, 1786 to 1790, while Pastor at Albany.
4. Johan Friederich Ernst, 1791 to 1796, while Pastor at Churchtown, Loonenburg, Germantown and Manorton. He supplied Manorton from 1792 to 1793.
1. Johannas Schuneman, 1776 to 1787, while Pastor at Catskill and Coxsackie, and other Congregations on the west bank of he Hudson.
2. John C. Gebhard, 1781 to 1807, while Pastor at Claverack. He also supplied Taghkanick, from 1784 to 1802; Ghent from 1782 to 1787;* and Germantown occasionally.
3. Isaac Labagh, on Jan. 6, 1800; and again in 1812 and 1813. He was Pastor at Kinderhook, from 1789 to 1801; and at Greenbush (Albany Co.) and Wynant's Kill, from 1811 to 1815.
4. Herman Vedder, two visits, 1807 and 1809. He was Pastor at Greenbush (Gallatin) and Taghkanick; he also supplied Linlithgo in these years.
5-7. From 1808 to 1815, the church was supplied by John L. Zabriskie of Greenbush and Wynant's Kill, who was there from 1801 to 1811; by Jacob Sickles of Kinderhook; and by David De Voe of Mohawk Valley Congregations; but the dates and number of these visits can hardly be approximated.
8. Richard Sluyter, 1816 to 1826, while the colleague of Gebhard at Claverack.
9. Peter S. Wynkoop, 1823 to 1840, while Pastor at Ghent.
10. John S. Himrod, 1842 to 1843, who also supplied Mellenville.
Baptisms were also performed by John Gray in 1840; and by Ira C. Boice in 1849. See pages 84 and 85.
*Dates for Ghent from the Manual.
Photographs of the cemetery, click here.