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.

Friday, January 15, 2016

1875 Lectures by David Dudley Field to Raise Money to Build Pelham's "Huguenot Memorial Forest Church"

Few in Pelham know that the original name of Pelham's beloved Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church was the "Huguenot Memorial Forest Church."  The church was so named because it was built in the midst of an ancient forest of chestnut and elm trees.  The founders placed it there for important reasons.  They wanted the church sited in the comforting and cooling shade of massive trees and hoped to enjoy Sunday worship with the windows open and the sounds of birds joining the harmonies of the choir as the congregants worshipped. 

On July 9, 1876 (the first Sunday after the Fourth of July that year), the Huguenot Memorial Forest Church opened its doors for worship.  The little wooden building became known for decades thereafter as the "Little Red Church."  That first Sunday, The Rev. C.E. Lord, D.D. delivered the sermon.  He spoke on “The Religious History of the Huguenots in America, and Reasons for the Erection of Huguenot Memorial Church”. 

Raising money to build the Little Red Church was difficult.  At precisely that time, the nation was in the throes of a financial depression that followed the Financial Panic of 1873.  One of the ways that money was raised to erect the Little Red Church in Pelhaam Manor was through "lectures" attended by patrons who bought tickets and during which money was solicited from attendees. Such lectures were announced to congregations at churches in the region. Congregants were invited to attend.

One man who gave such lectures to raise money to support construction of the Little Red Church was David Dudley Field.  Field was a famous lawyer (responsible for the famous "Field Code" of civil procedure in New York) who soon became a United States Congressman representing New York's 7th District for only two months in 1877. He was appointed to serve the unexpired term of Smith Ely, Jr. (who resigned his congressional term to serve as Mayor of New York City).   David Dudley Field carried the flag for a time to lecture throughout the New York region to paying audiences to raise money to support construction of the Huguenot Memorial Forest Church in Pelham Manor.  

David Dudley Field II, Depicted on a Cigar Box Label,
Copyright 1894 Schumacher & Ettlinger, N.Y.
NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

David Dudley Field II.  Photograph by Studio of
Matthew Brady.  Library of Congress Prints and
Photographs Division, Brady-Handy Photograph
Collection.  NOTE:  Click Image to Enlarge.

I have written before about the lectures David Dudley Field gave in 1875 to raise funds for the construction of the Little Red Church in Pelham Manor.  See Fri., Jan. 27, 2006:  Lectures to Raise Money To Build the "Huguenot Memorial Forest Church" Building in Pelham Manor.  Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog publishes an image of an 1875 advertisement for one of the lectures and provides more information about David Dudley Field and the lectures he delivered to support the Little Red Church.  

David Dudley Field II (Feb. 13, 1805 - Apr. 13, 1894) was an attorney who embraced legal reform.  He was among those principally responsible for pushing the nation away from common law pleading towards code pleading.  As part of this iniative, he was instrumental in the enactment of the so-called Field Code in 1850 by the State of New York.  See, generally "David Dudley Field II" in WIKIPEDIA, the Free Encyclopedia (visited Jan. 9, 2016).

Late in his life, Field traveled extensively.  Among his travels, during the early 1870s, he voyaged around the world.  Upon his return he gave lectures recounting his experiences in a presentation entitled, appropriately, "VOYAGING AROUND THE WORLD."  His lectures drew large crowd and he appears to have been an entertaining and interesting speaker.  

During the early spring of 1875, Field embraced yet another cause -- the construction of the Little Red Church in the midst of an ancient forest in the new settlement known as Pelham Manor.  Field gave his "VOYAGING AROUND THE WORLD" lecture "IN AID OF THE 'HUGUENOT MEMORIAL FOREST' CHURCH."  For example, he delivered his lecture at the Elm Place Congregational Church located on Elm Place near Fulton Street in Brooklyn on March 27, 1875.  General admission tickets cost fifty cents.  Tickets for reserved seats cost seventy-five cents.  Tickets were sold not only at the door, but also at local music stores, book stores, druggists, and other businesses.  Local newspapers carried advertisements for the event.  Below is one such advertisement followed by a transcription of its text.  

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Mar. 27, 1875, p. 1, col. 2
(Note:  Subscription Required to Access Via This Link).

The text of the advertisement immediately above reads as follows:

Has kindly consented to deliver his new and entertaining lecture, entitled as above:
Near Fulton street,
On SATURDAY EVENING March 27, 1875,
At Pelham.
Doors open at 7; lecture to commence at 8 o'clock.
GENERAL ADMISSION 50c.  Reserved seats 75c.
Tickets for saale at Swayne's, Bolles' and De Selding's
Bookstores, Chandler Bros', Slades' and Bunce's Music
Stores, and by Kitchen, Meeker, Weber Bros.' Pyle, Wynn, and Manney, druggists; also, at the door of the Church."

The efforts of David Dudley Field and those of Pelham Manor residents were successful.  On July 9, 1876, residents of Pelham Manor dedicated the Little Red Church as the nation's only Centennial Church and the first church dedicated to the memory of the Huguenots.  The beautiful little church building that was dedicated that day was the predecessor sanctuary to the magnificent stone sanctuary of today’s Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church on the southeast corner of the intersection of Boston Post Road and Pelhamdale Avenue.

A Glass Lantern Slide Created by Pelham Town Historian
William Montgomery Between December 10, 1916 and June
10, 1917. It Depicts the "Little Red Church," the Predecessor
Building to Today's Huguenot Memorial Presbyterian Church
Sanctuary. The Little Red Church was a "Centenary Church"
Opened in July 1876 in Part to Commemorate the Centennial
of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence.  NOTE:
Click on Image to Enlarge.

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