Guilford Parish

E-mail from Mary Sarah Bradley to Doug and Franklin Bradley, June 5, 1999:

I have a copy of the history of the Guilford Parish where my grandfather, John Ten Eyck De Witt was born, while his father, Richard De Witt was the minister. The copy was made on very old paper used for reproducing long ago, thus it is barely readable. I have just entered it into my Works program, using a magnifying glass at times to figure what it said. Since you are both going to be in that area soon I am sending it to you in this message:


The history of the church actually began at a meeting at the home of Jonathan Westbrook on February 15th, 1832, at which time plans for the building were made.

In November 1832, Jacob J. Schoonmaker, Philip Hasbrouck, Jacob H. Deyo, James Hasbrouck, Nathaniel J. LeFevre, and Benjamin Hornbeck of the town of New Paltz, yeoman and Peleg Stevens, Abraham Schoonmaker, and William Judson, Selah Schoonmaker, and Levi T. Van Keuren, of the town of Shawangunk, yeoman, received the deed to the church property from Joseph Hasbrouck, Jr. and his wife Jane. The land on which the church was built was part of a tract of land granted to James Graham and John Delavel, known by the name of the Guilford patent. The church and piece of land were conveyed to the above members of the church upon the special trust and confidence, and upon the express condition, that the same should be occupied for, and appropriated too, sacred uses, and the advancement of religion in the doctrine of the Dutch Reformed Church, and for no other purpose.

In 1832, the town of Gardiner had not been formed. It did not exist.

The Hasbrouck family had obtained the Guilford lands from Graham and Delavel in 1706.

The Guilford church was located on the right side of the road leading from New Paltz to Benton's Corners, at the intersection of the four roads New Paltz to Tuthilltown, Philies Bridge Road and New Paltz to Benton Corners.

The people of the area felt that the distance from New Paltz and Shawangunk churches was too great, so the need of a church resulted in its being built. The residents of Forest Glen, Kettleboro, Tuthilltown and Guilford made up the congregation.

It was built from the proceeds of an auction for pews and by subscriptions. The people who were the first members, paid approximately twenty-two dollars and a pew number was assigned to each of the families. The contractors were guaranteed a sum of fourteen hundred dollars. The church cost a little over two thousand dollars.

On the 9th of August, 1833, the certificate of incorporation was filed at Kingston.

The church was completed in the autumn of 1833.

The first pastor of the church was Rev. William Bush. He continued to serve the people for eighteen years. The stipulated sum paid was $500 dollars "with a parsonage and ten acres of land."

In 1835 a parsonage and barn were completed.

The Guilford Parsonage is still standing. It is located on Route 55, between Tuthilltown and Benton's Corner, and is the residence of the Rothenberger family.

The successor to Mr. Bush was Rev. J. N. Jansen. He was pastor from May 10, 1852 until 1864. Rev. Richard DeWitt succeeded him and remained until 1871. For two years the church was without a pastor. In the summer of 1873, Rev. Calvin E. Lasher was examined, ordained and installed.

In the 1850s the membership of the church must have been approximately 225.

In 1859 the church was repaired and somewhat altered.

It is rather interesting to note some of the ways of raising money for the church in 1860. Festivals in the grove adjoining the church were very successful. Fires from pine-knots, illuminated the grounds, a brass band was at one time added, and a substantial supper was sometimes served to 200 people. One of the festivals would net around $400.

Rev. Lasher continued to serve the community with great devotion until the church burned in November 1908, and even then continued ministerial work from his home in Guilford. He married Emma Hasbrouck and they resided at her ancestral home until their deaths. Rev. Lasher was honored and loved by all who knew him. It was his hope that the church would be rebuilt and many people offered sums of money, but the times were changing and it was easier to get to New Paltz and Gardiner. The population had decreased and the plans for the new church were forgotten.

The early records concerning the residents of Guilford are at Shawangunk and New Paltz Reformed Churches.

There never was a cemetery at Guilford. The residents usually buried their dead at Shawangunk, New Paltz, or in plots on the farms.

The Tuthill Chapel at Tuthilltown was a branch of the Guilford Church and services were held there after the Guilford Church burned in 1908, until the period of World War I. The Tuthill Chapel was turned over to the Gardiner Church in 1930. The chapel services were discontinued about 1925. Later the chapel was sold and is now used as a residence.

About the time of 1900, it was the custom of the farmers of this area, who had cattle to sell, to drive them over to the Guilford Church area. There the drove was assembled to be herded to Kingston on the following day. Dogs were trained to do a great deal of the work.

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Last Modified: Tuesday, April 11, 2000

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