Reformed Dutch Church Records
The Dutch Reformed Church of Schraalenburgh
No history of Bergen County would be complete without a record of the First Reformed Church of Hackensack. She claims to be the fruitful mother of all the English speaking Reformed Churches of the county, and the benevolent step-mother of all the other Protestant Evangelical churches. She survives to-day after the storms and vicissitudes of over two hundred years, one of the oldest and staunchest of the denomination in America. Like an old, gnarled oak she has sent her roots all through the religious soil of the county and nourished the ecclesiastical growth in all her hamlets.
Two earliest records give the date of the organization as 1686, when under the ministry of Dominie Petrus Taschemaker, thirty-three persons united to lay the foundation of this ancient church. The original officers of the organization were Hendrick Jorense and Albert Stevense, elders; and Hendrick Banta and Volkert Hansen, deacons. Dominie Taschemaker was settled at New Amstel (now New Castle), on the Delaware River, serving the feeble congregation at Hackensack, with a good deal of sacrifice and devotion. He came four times a year to administer the Lord's Supper and baptize the children. Never their settled pastor, he did however excellent service.
The first settled pastor was Guilliam Bertholf, a very pious man who acted as "voorleer," in the absence of a regular pastor. He was sent to Holland by the people at their expense, where he fitted himself for pastoral work and came back a regularly ordained minister. For nearly thirty years this first pastor labored incessantly among his own people, and cared for the scattered colonies of Dutch settlers in New Jersey and New York States, laying the foundation of the present Home Missionary work of the Reformed Church. In 1696, ten years after the organization of the church, a building was erected on the spot where the present venerable sanctuary stands. Having been altered and enlarged several times, it is still known to-day as "the old church on the green." After Dominie Bertholf died in 1724, there came several pastors, all of them to the Dutch manor born and bred. Time forbids to enter into particulars, put the work of Curtenius and Goetschius, Errickson and Coens abides in its influence until the present time. The congregation which was scattered over a large territory erected another house of worship at Schraalenburgh where the pastor preached every other Sabbath to accommodate the worshippers in that part of the countv. In common with all the other Dutch congregations of that time, the church passed through the disturbing waters of ecclesiastical strife which weakened and rent in twain elements that needed all adhesion possible in order to flourish.
At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, after the death of Dominie Goetschius, Rev. Theodorick Romeyn (usually shortened into Dirck Romeyn), came as pastor, when peace and prosperity returned. He did not stay long however, leaving to settle in the old Dutch Church of Schenectady, N. Y., where he became instrumental in founding Union College. In 1799 the church called Rev. James V. C. Romeyn as colleague with Rev. Dr. Solomon Froeligh. The progress of theological thought in New England had begun to be felt in these staid old Dutch Churches. The younger men felt the impulse of the new doctrines and antagonized the older preachers. In 1823 this same Dr. Froeligh started in the old church a secession, partly from disappointed ambition and partly from aversion to new methods which were coming in vogue. Several other ministers took umbrage at the preaching of the new views, alleging that it was a departure from the good old ways. These seceding parties were suspended by their respective classes for insubordination and schism. For the time being, it engendered a gopd deal of strife and bad feeling; families were divided and churches broken up. But being a conservative and combative secession it did not make much headway, and to-day it is passing into oblivion. Dominie Romeyn labored in the church over thirty years, repairing the breaches of the secession and strengthening the church work. He was followed by his son James who continued the work for the short period of three years. Then followed the fruitful ministry of Dominie Alexander Warner who labored with his flock for over twenty-eight years and was succeeded by Rev. Dr. Theodore B. Romeyn, a grandson of Rev. James V. C. Romeyn. This church has had what no other church, as far as is' known, has ever had, viz., a succession of three generations of preachers of one name and family. Dr. Theodore B. Romeyn continued as pastor for eighteen years when he died and left as his monument, a strong united church. In 1886 the present pastor, Rev. H. Vanderwart assumed charge. For over thirteen years he has labored to keep this venerable old church true to her record and she stands to-day foremost in the county, having a large and growing membership, a flourishing combination of several societies, large congregations both morning and eveniug, verifying the promise of God that instead of the fathers shall he the children.
THE SECOND REFORMED CHURCH
was a swarm out of the old hive, settling in the upper part of Hackensack, on State Street. It was organized in October, 1855, and has had a steady, vigorous growth ever since. Its first pastor was Rev. James Demarest, Jr., who was followed by Rev. G. H. Fisher, under whose pastorate the church developed in everv department of activity. Failing health compelled him to resign and hand the reins to Rev. C. B. Durand, who continued for twelve years, when he changed his ecclesiastical views and entered the Episcopal ministrv. The present incumbent is Rev. Arthur Johnson, who has labored with much success in this important field, since December 12th, 1884. He was graduated from Princeton College in 1872, and at Union Theological Seminary in 1875.
A building site having been donated by Mrs. Maria Berry, the cornerstone of the new church-house was laid on July 30th, 1856, by Rev. John Knox, D. D. The church edifice was erected in 1860, at a cost of $3000.
THE THIRD GERMAN REFORMED CHURCH
was organized, as its name imports, by our German citizens, in January, 1858, in that part of Hackensack known as the Plank Road, in order to supplv the religious needs of the increasing number of Germans in our midst. During the forty years of its existence, owing to weakness, it has been served bv eleven pastors. At the present time it is not strong, owing to the death of many of its old supporters. Its present pastor, Rev. John Bonibin, a scholarly man and an earnest and devoted worker, has under his care about eighty members.
• CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH.
• The Christian Reformed Church ( formerly known as the True Reformed Dutch Church) has a history dating back to 1822, when differences in doctrine and practice, caused eleven (11) congregations to withdraw from the judicature of the Dutch Reformed Church, and organized as the Claseis of Hackensack of the True Reformed Dutch Church.
Six of these congregations are entitled to recognition in the history of Bergen County, and are situated at Ramseys, (formerlv Ramapo), Schraalenburg, (now Bergen Fields), English Neighborhood, (now Leonia), Paramus, (now Ridgewood), Englewood and Hackensack. In the year 1890 after an acquaintance of several years the two branches of the True Reformed Dutch Church, east and west, united, and for the sake of ecclesiastical, uniformity and compatibilitv with the Mother Church in the Netherlands, they assumed the name, Christian Reformed Church, still retaining their corporate title, observing the same form of church government and doctrinal standards, worshipped for a time in private houses, barns and halls, under the pastorate of Rev. Solomon Froeligh, D. D., until 1830, when Rev. C. T. Demarest served the church for one year, and Rev. Christian Z. Paulison was installed pastor. In 1839 Rev. C. T. Demarest was again called to Hackensack, and served the church jointly with Leonia, until 1852, Rev. Cornelius J. Blauvelt succeeding to the pastorate in 1854, remaining until his death in 1860. Rev. John Y. De Baun was with the congregation for twenty-seven years. The first church edifice was erected in 1833 on Hudson Street, enlarged in 1861, and again in 1867. In the year 1899 a new edifice in modern style, was built on State Street to replace the old one. The new church is called the Town Clock Church.
Rev. JohnC. Voorhis, who is the sixth incumbent since the secession, was called to this pastorate in 1887, since doing a good work, both in his church and in educational affairs, being a member and for several years President of the Board of Education. He was ordained in 1875, and became pastor of the church at Englewood where he remained twelve years, just prior to coming to Hackensack.
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
The Church known as the First Presbyterian Church was originally the result of a secession, owing to a dispute of Rev. C. Z. Paulison with the Claseis of the True Reformed Church. Thinking himself and his following aggrieved, they organized a church similar to the Seceder Church but entirely independent of it. Finally in 1871 the Consistory applied to the Presbytery of Jersey City for admission to the Presbyterian Church which was granted. Thus this church, organized in 1832 as an independent True Reformed Church, came eventually into the Presbyterian fold. There has been a succession of short pastorates until in 1891 Rev. R. Kuebler was called who continues to the present time. He was graduated from Union Theological Seminary in 1891. The church has recently been enlarged and is in a prosperous condition.
THE FIRST METHODIST CHURCH.
In 1837 an organization was effected by the Protestant Methodists, but disbanded after six or seven years. It was not until 1849, that the first class was established, and shortly afterward the First Methodist Episcopal Church was built on the rear of the same lot, upon which stands the present church and parsonage. The front was on Warren Street. The present church was begun in April 1874, the lecture room being dedicated in January 1875 and four years later the work was again taken up and the church completed.
ASBURY METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
was organized in 1868, when thirty-six members were transferred from the First M. E. Church, and on New Year's Day 1871, they dedicated their new church. One month later it was burned down. It was not until nearly ten years had elapsed, that the present church was built. They have now a membership of nearly 150, and church property worth probably $12,000.
HOLY TRINITY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.
Not until 1863 did the Roman Catholics of Hackensack have a church of, their own. Both the foreign and native born Catholic element is large ahd the'congregation worships in a commodious edifice on Maple Avenue under the pastorate of Rev. J. J. Cunnelly. Already a new church has sprung out of the old one and worships in a sanctuary of its own on Vreeland Avenue.
The Rev. Dr. Brann purchased the site of the present church from the late John C. Myers on March 31, 1867. The Rev. P. Corrigan the first resident pastor preceded Dr. Brann and officiated at Hackensack and Fort Lee, from September, 1863, to May, 1866.
THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
was organized in 1832 by Elder Griffiths, but for various reasons the membership dropped off until Deacon De Woff, his wife and daughter alone remained. It was not until 1870 that an effort was made to again establish a church of this creed, and in July of that year, eleven members united to form the First Baptist Church. Mr. George H. Atwood alone secured $1500 toward a fund for the erection of a suitable house of worship. At the completion of the building the first pastor Rev. Zelotes Grenell, senior, was installed on the day of dedication December 30, 1870. The pastorates have in no case covered a long period but have for the most part been vigorous and fruitful of much good.
CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH.
About seventy members withdrew from the First Baptist Church, and organized temporarily on May 5, 1896, at the house of Mr. William E. Taylor. On December 3, 1896, the church incorporated under the name of the Calvary Baptist Church of Hackensack, Bergen County, New Jersev.
The membership is now about eighty. The church property at Union Street and Central Avenue is valuable and the financial affairs, generally, in a nourishing condition. The various church helps, Sunday School, Young Peoples' Societies, etc., are active and growing.
The Protestant Episcopal Church known as Christ Church, dates back to 1861, and has attracted a large number of people. The noble edifice on State Street, with its rectory, tells of the zeal and labors of the present pastor, Rev. Dr. William Welles Holley, who has labored with his present charge for more than twenty-eight years. There are now about 600 members zealously working in their especial field. In its short life this church organization has given nearlv a quarter of a million dollars for the spread of the gospel.
Dr Holley is a native of Geneva, N. Y., and a graduate of Trinity College. He was ordained to the ministry in 1865.
established a church organization in February, 1898, and incorporated soon after under the name of the "First Unitarian Congregational Church of Hackensack." They worship in Odd Fellows' Hall. This society has many prominent financial people of the city among its supporters, and is doing a successful work in the broad field covered by the "Love to God and Love to Man," which they recognize as practical religion.
.MOUNT OLIVET BAPTIST CHURCH.
The colored people are quite weak, but succeed in keeping up the interest of two congregations of the Methodist and Baptist denominations. There are about fifty-four members in this organization, but they have church property valued at $2500. The work of organizing a congregation was commenced on Sunday. July 2d, 188V. The Mission was reorganized and recognized in 1892, when the lot for the present church building was purchased and paid for at a cost of $290.
ZION M. E. CHURCH
was organized in 1865, and Mr. L. H. Sage donated the lot on which the church stands, the building having been erected some three years later.