Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Description of Churches in the Pelhams Published in 1913

Local churches have played a critical role in the development of our community.  Consequently, the histories of our local churches serve an important role in understanding the history of the Town of Pelham.  Moreover, those church histories continue to evolve.  Witness the recent announcement of the merger of the parishes of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Pelham Manor with the Church of Saint Catharine's in the Village of Pelham with both parishes continuing to celebrate masses and sacraments at both churches and Our Lady of Perpetual Help serving as the parish church.

On December 20, 1913, The Pelham Sun published a lengthy article detailing the early histories of several churches and church-related institutions in Pelham including the Church of Saint Catharine (referenced throughout the article, erroneously, as "St. Catherine's"), the Congregational Church that began as The Union Sunday School, and the Ladies' Guild of the Church of the Redeemer.  The brief histories, together with a series of interesting photographs, serve as a fascinating snapshot of the early development of a number of Pelham churches and church-related organizations.  

I have written extensively about Pelham Churches and their histories.  For examples, see the lengthy list of postings, with links, at the end of today's article.  

Saint Catharine's in April, 2011.
Source:  Wikipedia.

Immediately below is the text of the article published in 1913 regarding the histories of various Pelham churches and church-related institutions.  

"Churches in the Town -- Various Denominations
St. Catherine's R. C. Church

St. Catherine's R. C. Church in North Pelham from a small beginning has developed into a strong parish under the active and wise leadership of its rector, the Very Rev. Mons. Francis McNichol.

St. Catherine's was originally a part of St. Gabriel's Parish of New Rochelle.

The first church was built in 1896 by the Rev. John Kellner on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Farrell.

On December 8, 1897, Pelham was made a parish, and the Rev. Francis McNichol, who was born in Kingston, N. Y., but at that time stationed in New York, was appointed pastor.

When he arrived, the church was a little wooden structure, mortgaged up to the roof.  Now, just look at the building here reproduced, nay, not one building but many buildings, a complex of beautiful architecture and especially fit for the purposes for which they were intended.  

Having built the edifice, he completed the interior furnishings.  His relative, Senator James McNichol, of Philadelphia, Pa., came to his assistance by providing a magnificent organ, and Mrs. McNichol gave one of the altors [sic].  The Stations of the Cross, Sanctuary, Lamps, etc., were donated by others.

Later more land was purchased and the rectory was built in 1899.  The parish now has a frontage on both First and Second avenues.

In 1903 the Lyceum was erected and the money to pay for it was presented to the rector by his personal friend, the late Adrian Iselin, Sr.  Mr. A. G. C. Fletcher was the architect and Peter Doern had the building contract.

The large convent was built in 1906, and the Sisters of St. Francis took possession of it December 8, 1906.  The Sister Superioress is Sister Amelia, a charming lady of brilliant education and executive ability.  

In February, 1907, the Grammar School, with its eight grades, graduating into High School, was opened.  Now more than one hundred scholars attend the parish school.  The Sisters are regularly graduated teachers with State diplomas.

In 1908 the present church, a Gothic structure, cruciform in shape was erected, and on Noveber 8, 1909, it was dedicated by his Excellency, Archbishop Aversa, Papal Delegate to Cuba and Porto Rico.  Two Archbishops and many prominent men of the clergy and laity gracced the occasion by their presence.  Among the latter were Adrian Iselin, Sr., Supreme Court Justice Keogh, William E. Iselin and John George Beresford.  

The present Trustees of St. Catherine's are Daniel J. Kennedy and William Barry.

The parish incudes the three Pelhams.

Congregational Church

Historic retrospection reveals the fact that the plans of the Almighty are like the lilies, pure and white; in due season they will unfold.  The shut leaves of the Divine plans concerning men, nations and organizations cannot be torn apart by human intelligence.  Time alone reveals the outermost series of the flower of the Divine plans, in which the possibilities and probabilities of the fabric of human organizations are bound up and which grow into considerable proportions.  An organization, however insignificant and poor in the beginning and with a building not at all inviting or pleasing to the sense of esthetic beauty, and possessing no other ornaments than the dew drops of the early morning to gild its spire, belfry tower and slanting roof, is often a more noble spectacle in the eye of Providence than the loftiest and most beautifully ornamented cathedral or edifice, for within the sacred confines of such a building are found the men and women, the stuff out of which heroes and heroines are made; men and women who make history, and who place themselves in a position, frame of mind and attitude to be the mediums through which the Almighty unfolds His plans.  A perusal of church records reveal in a measure the unfolding of the Divine plans in relation to the Church of the Covenant, Congregational in North Pelham, New York.

On the 29th day of August, 1875, 29 persons met and organized themselves into an organization called The Union Sunday School.  Mr. Jared Macey, of East Chester, was the temporary chairman and Eli Trott was made the permanent presiding officer and Superintendent of the Sunday School; S. B. Carlisle, of New York City, was Clerk.  The committee on drafting a set of by-laws and constitution for the school comprised S. B. Carlisle, John Clark, Richard Sherwood, and Alexander Macey.  S. B. Carlisle was Assistant Superintendent  of the School; Anna B. Macey, Secretary; Jared Macey, Treasurer; Anna W. Strathan, Superintendent and teacher of the primary department; John Clark, Librarian.  The Trustees of the school were E. Trott, John Clark, W. H. Penfield, C. M. Lyon, William Brinkerhoff and Richard Sherwood.  The songs sung were from the Moody and Sankey books.  The teachers were from out of town and were conveyed in a vehicle from Mt. Vernon, for which the sum of from three to five dollars per load was paid.  The funds of the school were placed in the Metropolitan Savings Bank in New York City, from which all bills were paid by check.

This nucleus of people was somewhat prophetic in vision, seeing the far side of near things and the near side of far things and the near side of far things, namely, the building of human character for time and eternity.  They believed that the human mind, however, enriched by and with secular acquisition, and strengthened by exercise, and yet, unaccompanied by an ardent and sensitive heart, might be a sort of light, with which to illumine other minds in secular things.  But it could not inspire.  It might shed a cold, moonlight radiance upon the path of human life, but it couldn't set free the ice-bound fountain of love to God and man within the human breast; it couldn't warm the human flower of love toward man as brother toward brother, and make it bloom.  They believed that if a hundred thousand men could employ themselves in constructing a pyramidal tomb for their dead Egyptian king, they could organize themselves into an organization known as the Church of Christ, and erect for their living King, Jesus, a living temple, a house of worship in which to constantly offer Him their tribute of praise, and make it possible for the ingathering of others in the future, to improve in morals and character, and shape their eternal destiny.  Thus, in the year 1880, the church building was erected, and, on the seventh day of October, 1888, a meeting of this mucleate, known as the Union Sunday School of Pelhamville, N. Y., discussed the promotion of a church organization, and at an adjourned meeting on the second day of November 1888, at which 21 persons were present, they resolved themselves by a unanimous vote into the organization which is known to-day as the Church of the Covenant, Congregational, with the proviso that the Church of the Covenant, Congregational, should assume and pay all debts of the Union Sunday School, which amounted to one thousand dollars.  On June 12, 1895, the Church of the Covenant, Congregational, was incorporated, and the committee on incorporation was as follows:  Mr. T. R. Scott, George Glover, John J. Fairchild, William S. Algie and Edward Patterson.  The trustees were J. R. Scott, W. S. Algie, Alexander Anderson, E. A. Patterson and I.C. Hill.

The stated and regular pulpit supplies and ministers were as follows:  Henry Randall Wait, in 1888; S. W. Laidler, in 1892 to 1893; Rev. Henry W. Brown and Rev. A. H. Robertson, in 1894; Rev. F. B. Kellog, in 1901; Rev. R. G. Goddard, 1902; Rev. I. E. Smith, in 1903; Reverends Wayland Spaulding and George Avery alternating morning and evening from 1904 to 1910.  The present incumbent, Rev. C. Conal MacKay, D. D., arrived on the ground, by invitation of the New York State Home Missionary Society, September 18, 1910, with a view to placing the church in a position to call and maintain a resident pastor, change the church to a new location, and erect and new and better church edifice for the growing people of the community, and better facilities for the religious and social functions of the present organization.

A thorough reorganization of the church took place in all the societies of the institution, and on the 26th day of October, 1910, the present pastor was unanimously called to the pastorate, and on the 16th day of November, 1910, the church authorized the change of location and purchase of the new site, known as lot number 34, situate on the corner of Central and Maple avenues, in Chester Park, North Pelham, N. Y.  The Rev. C. Conal Mackay, D. D., and George F. Meinecke, with Rev. Chas Shelton, of the Home Missionary Society of New York State, as a committee, selected the site.  Already, through the solicitation of the pastor, stones neough have been donated by Mr. Miller, President of the New York, Westchester and Boston R. R. Company, with which to erect a new building, for which plans and specifications have been drawn.  

Lack of money prevented the beginning of the new church building, but the outlook is bright this coming spring and plans are being put into action at this time for that purpose.

The Trustees of the church comprise nine men, Mr. George F. Meinecke being President; Alexander Calderwood, Treasurer; E. F. Griffin, Secretary; and the stated meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month.  Two auditors are appointed yearly and are Mr. George Meinecke and Mr. E. F. Griffin, who pass upon all accounts of all societies in the church.  The deacons are two in number, Mr. George F. Meinecke and Mr. Charles T. Johnston.  The clerk of the church is Miss Charlotte Kurtze; Treasurer, Alexander Calderwood; Organist, George Lambert; Assistant Organist, Mrs. Charles Butler.  The church supports financially seven benevolent societies of the Congregational denomination, as well as others outside the denomination.  

The Ladies' Auxiliary is a valued financial and social adjunct to the church, and has for its President, Mrs. Belle Foatelle; Mrs. M. A. Calderwood, Vice-President; Mrs. E. F. Griffin, Secretary; Miss Charlotte Kurtze, Treasurer.

Another most helpful social and financial adjunct to the church is the Young People's Dramatic Club, which presents a number of entertainments during the year, to the enjoyment of all who attend, is under the guiding eye and instruction of the pastor.

The Sunday School has on its roll 118 members, and its quarters are too cramped to admit of many more members.  The church services begin one hour later in the morning than the Sunday School, which is the hour of eleven, and in the evening at 7.45, and the seating capacity is nearly taken up at each service.  The morning service at 11 o'clock is most unique, in that a very large number of the Sunday School scholars are the attendants, the adults attending the evening service.  Miss Dorothy Kurtze is the pianist for the Sunday School, Mr. Meinecke is Superintendent, and Mr. Clarence McDonald is Assistantable , and Lucien Buchanan is acting secretary and treasurer.  The school songs are up-to-date, and many of them are from the old music masters of the school of classics.

One of the most indefatigable workers in all the societies of the church is Mrs. M. A. Calderwood, whose labor of love for the church and all with whom she comes in contact is as colossal as her figure and is the moving spirit among the old and the young alike.  The church has in vogue at the celebration of the Lord's Supper the individual communion cup, purchased by popular subscription, through the kindly efforts of Mr. E. F. Griffin.  The church has about 150 parishioners which includes those who attend the morning and evening service; 63 members have been received into church fellowship during the past three years.  The church maintains a praise and prayer service each Wednesday evening at 7.45 and has for a regular attendance about thirty-two worshippers.

This briefly culled historic narrative would be incomplete without mention of the name of the late Mrs. John T. Logan.  She was President of the Ladies' Aid in the year 1901 and up to her death in 1909.  Her motive in uniting with and working for the Congregational Church, in every aspect, was the public good universally and eternally recognized as being the noblest motive within the human breast.  She served the church wisely and well, and with that fidelity to service that cultivates the peace and virtues of a devout and holy life, which receives the approbation of God.

It is a common experience that the people have a conscious want of leaders, and that they are not particular in the choice of their leaders, and that [illegible] leadership in the hands of inferior individuals are fraught with mischief, and that the smaller the individual unqualification for leadership, the greater the mischief; and that the greatest part of humanity lives by faith in good leaders who are so few and far between.  It was no mistake, either by human or Divine selection, when Mrs. John T. Logan was made President of the Ladies' Aid, the Boys' Brigade and a leader among all the people in the church, for when the question arose as to how this and that should be done, and the means provided for the doing, the answer was forthcoming:  'I know of but one person who can help us out of our plight, and that is Mrs. Logan.'  She was a born leader, but she believed that her Christian exaltation was greater than leadership, for leadership implies the mere glorification of self, while Christian exaltation iplies a useful mission to be fulfilled, which is a fountain head fro which blessings flow unto others.

The noble work which she did for the Congressional Church was recognized in memoriam by the erection of the alcove to the church where stands the sacred desk upon which the Holy Bible rests and from which is expounded the truths which inspire such splendid leadership and Christian qualifications exemplified her Devine Master, Jesus.


History of the Ladies' Guild

During the first week of September, 1903, Miss Josephine Offinger and Miss Louise Minard met at the home of Mrs. David Lyon and formed an organization called 'The Young People's Society.'  They elected the following officers:  President, Mrs. David Lyon; Secretary, Miss Josephine Offinger; Treasurer, Miss Louise Minard.

In a few weeks the membership increased to twenty-five.  The name was later changed to that of 'Ladies' Guild of the Church of the Redeemer.'

The objects of the guild are to assist the church in a social and financial way, and to take charge of charity work needed in the village.  To this end, the guild has always acted as one concerted body, obtaining funds by holding bazaars, cake sales, socials, concerts, dinners, etc.

Through the efforts of the society, about $500 was contributed to the organ fund, a new piano was bought for the Parish House, the memorial altar to the late Rev. Dr. C. W. Bolton was given, and also a set of altar cloths and communion linens.

Moneys have been given to the renovation of church property and to the support of the church, assistance has been given to the needy, flowers or fruit sent to the sick, and for a few years  a Christmas Tree has been given to the Sunday School.  Donation parties at Thanksgiving time have been held up to within the last two years.

The guild is concentrating its efforts towards a building fund for a new Parish House and has over $1,200 in bank for that purpose.  

Five marriages have taken place among members, each bride being favored with a 'shower' of gifts fro the guild and friends.

The guild has lost thirty-five members by removal and two by death since its organization.

The members who joined the society in its infancy are still active members.  It is the oldest church organization in North Pelham.  The officers for the present year are:  President, Mrs. David Lyon; Vice-President, Mrs. Edward C. Logan; Secretary, Mrs. I. C. Hill; Treasurer, Miss J. Offinger; Treasurer of Charity Work, Mrs. Ellsworth Totten.

Those interested in our church and its work, and not connected with any other church organizations in the village, are most cordially invited to join us.  We meet the first Wednesday evening of each month in the Parish House on Fourth avenue, North Pelham.  

Mrs. I. C. HILL,

Source:  Churches in the Town -- Various Denominations, The Pelham Sun, Dec. 20, 1913, p. 3, cols. 1-5.  

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Below is a list of examples of previous articles I have published on the Historic Pelham Blog regarding the various churches of The Pelhams.

Mon., Mar. 07, 2005:  What is That Bell Resting on a Stone Pedestal in Front of the Richard J. Daronco Townhouse at 20 Fifth Avenue?

Mon., Jul. 25, 2005:  The Columbarium at Huguenot Memorial Church in Pelham Manor.

Fri., Oct. 21, 2005:  Christ Church Dedicated its Columbarium in 1943 As Part of Its Centennial Celebration.

Tue., Dec. 06, 2005:  The Origins of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in the Village of Pelham, New York.

Fri., Jan. 27, 2006:  Lectures to Raise Money to Build the "Huguenot Memorial Forest Church" Building in Pelham Manor.

Thu., Mar. 2, 2006:  A Lecture in 1877 to Raise Money for the New Huguenot Memorial Church in Pelham Manor.

Thu., Jun. 29, 2006:  A Biography of Lewis Gaston Leary, Early 20th Century Pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pelham.

Wed., Oct. 25, 2006:  A Biography of the Rev. Henry Randall Waite, Ph. D., a 19th Century Pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Wed., Nov. 08, 2006:  The Time Capsule in the Cornerstone of the Church of the Redeemer in the Village of North Pelham.

Wed., Dec. 20, 2006: A Brief History of St. Paul's Church in Eastchester Published in 1907.

Mon., Jan. 01, 2007:  Dating an Undated Glass Lantern Slide Showing the Little Red Church (Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church).  

Fri., Jan. 05, 2007:  The Early Years of Grace Church, City Island -- Once a Church in Pelham.

Wed., Feb. 28, 2007 Lord Cornbury Installs John Bartow as Rector of the Parish of Westchester, Eastchester, Yonkers and the Manor of Pelham in 1702.

Tue., May 08, 2007:  Rev. Francis Asbury, Methodist Minister, Preaches in Pelham in 1772.

Fri., Jun. 15, 2007:  Photograph of St. Paul's Church in Eastchester Published in 1914.

Tue., Jun. 19, 2007:  A Brazen Burglary at The Little Red Church in 1904.

Mon., Aug. 06, 2007:  1714 Letter Reporting on the Establishment of the Church at East Chester Built in 1692.

Wed., Aug. 8, 2007:  A Description of an Eyewitness Account of Interior of St. Paul's Church in Eastchester During the Revolutionary War.

Mon., Aug. 13, 2007:  1865 Comments of Rev. William Samuel Coffey of St. Paul's Church in Eastchester Regarding the Tenure of Rev. Robert Bolton of Pelham.

Wed., Aug. 15, 2007:  Plan of Pews in St. Paul's Church 1790.

Thu., Aug. 16, 2007:  Biographical Data About Rev. Charles Eliphalet Lord Who Served as Acting Pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church, 1874-79.

Fri., Aug. 31, 2007:  Announcement of the First Services Held in the Little Red Church of the Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church on July 9, 1876.

Thu., Sep. 6, 2007:  Information About St. Paul's Church, the Battle of Pelham and Other Revolutionary War Events Near Pelham Contained in an Account Published in 1940.

Wed., Sep. 12, 2007:  Announcement of Planned Construction of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in Pelhamville in 1895.

Thu., Sep. 13, 2007:  Dedication of St. Catharine's Roman Catholic Church in the Village of Pelham in 1896.

Tue., Sep. 18, 2007:  Installation of the First Full-Time Pastor of Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church in Pelham Manor in 1877.

Fri., Sep. 21, 2007:  The Ringing of the Bell of St. Paul's Church of Eastchester on the 100th Anniversary of the First Service in the Stone Church.

Thu., Nov. 08, 2007:  Brief History of St. Paul's Church in Eastchester Published in 1886.

Thu., Mar. 26, 2009:  Excerpt from Book Published in 1860 Provides Memories of Sundays at St. Paul's Church Before 1838.

Fri., Aug. 14, 2009:  The Consecration of the Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel at Christ Church in Pelham Manor on April 28, 1887.

Mon., Aug. 24, 2009:  1878 Advertisement for Services of The Union Sabbath School Society of Pelhamville.

Fri., Dec. 25, 2009 1906:  Christmas Day Celebration at Christ Church in Pelham.

Sat., Jan. 25, 2014:  Putting the Finishing Touches on the Lovely New Church in Pelhamwood in 1923.

Fri., Feb. 28, 2014:  Brief History of the Role Churches Played in the Growth of the Pelhams Published in 1926.

Thu., Mar. 6, 2014:  An Account of the Dedication of the Little Red Church at Four Corners on July 9, 1876.

Wed., Apr. 9, 2014:  Brief History of St. Catharine's Parish Published in 1927.

Thu., Apr. 17, 2014:  More on the Lutheran Congregation that Met in the Pelham Picture House During the 1920s.

Fri., Apr. 18, 2014:  The Union Sabbath School of Pelhamville.

Thu., Jul. 23, 2015:  The Home at 45 Maple in Chester Park Built to Serve as a Church.

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