History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Forts & Firesides of the Mohawk Country
by John J. Vrooman, 1951
Published by Baronet Litho Co., Inc., Johnstown, NY
REFORMED DUTCH CHURCH
STONE ARABIA THOUGH the settlement at Stone Arabia had, its beginning about 1712, it was not until 1723 that a Patent was issued. It is interesting to note the names which appear on this document, many of them still frequently encountered in the Valley, while others, due to removal of the original settler, perhaps to Pennsylvania, where large numbers of Palatines were settling, have disappeared locally. The names of the grantees as given are: Casselman, Coppernoll, Dillenbeck, Dygert, (Diegart), Emiger, Fox (Vocks), Fink (Feink), Erhart (Erchart), Ingland (Ingold), Garlock (Garlack), Lawyer, Nellis (Nelse), Piper (Pieper), Seeber (Siebert), Shawl (Scheel), Shaeffer.
This Patent, known as the Stone Arabia Patent, and the one at German Flatts, known as the Burnetsfield Patent, were of great importance in that they were the first issued which make a direct distribution of land to individual settlers, in such amount as represented a reasonable and immediately usable acreage in
contrast with the enormous acreage contained in some of the patents given to court favorites and politicians. The entire extent of the Stone Arabia Patent as issued to this group of twenty-seven settlers was but 12,700 acres, whereas the estate of Sir William Johnson at his death consisted of some 700,000 acres!
This settlement was made in the virgin forest and the first and enormous task of the settlers was to clear enough land to put in subsistence crops. Yet busy as they were, raising enough to live on, they found time in 1729 to build a log church. This was on the site of the present frame building which is the Lutheran Church, and was part of the land of William Coppernoll ofSchenectady, the only Hollander among this group of Palatines. The contract for the land was dated June 2nd, 1729, and conveyed fifty acres.
In 1733 a new frame structure was begun but a controversy arose as to the name to be given it. This proved an insurmountable stumbling block, for the Lutherans withdrew and continued in the log edifice while the Reformed group went on with the new building. This would seem to indicate that William Coppernoll, who would have been of the Reformed group, must have been joined by other Hollanders in the ten years following the settlement. The tract of fifty acres originally conveyed for the church was equally divided between the two groups.
The Reformed Church is the result of a European revival known as the "Reformation" and as the name implies affected the churches of Holland. The term "Reformed" indicates a belief in the symbolic presence of the Christ in the Communion in distinction to the belief of a physical presence as held by Luther and his followers. The term "Protestant," so long used, indicated a protest against the assumed authority of the Church of Rome and its interpretation of the Scriptures. The title "Reformed (Dutch) Church" was adopted in 1867. The seal of the Church is based on the seal of Prince William of Orange. In 1826 the pillars were added to the seal with superimposed stars to suggest an ecclesiastical and heavenly life. The motto above is in Latin, which translated means, "Without the Lord all is vain." The motto below, in Dutch means, "Union makes strength."
- The oldest record book of the Lutheran Church at Stone Arabia states the fact that the original Church here was organized by Domine Ehle in 1711, which of course is in error as the Domine did not come to America until 1722. But it is an error of a few years only, for it is known he did found the Church soon after his coming into the Valley, probably about the year 1725.
At the time the settlement was made at Stone Arabia the road along the north shore of the river was opened only as far as Fonda, and it was not until 1726 that a move was made to extend it westward to the present Utica. A realization of this fact helps one to grasp the picture and to realize the difficulties encountered in making the settlement. The river was still the chief artery of commerce.
The Reverend Johannes Schuyler is named as the minister in the earliest records of the Dutch Church, which are dated October 24th, 1743. The Reverend Schuyler is buried beneath the pulpit In the "Old Stone Fort" at Schoharie, which then was the Dutch Church. He was its pastor at the time of his death in 1779. His wife was Annatie Veeder of Schenectady, whom he married in 1743. Their sixth child, Philip, was the builder of the present stone building at Stone Arabia which he finished in 1788. He is said to have been five years in completing the work at a cost of $3,378, and at that time it was perhaps the finest church edifice west of Schenectady, the only possible exception being the Fort Herkimer Church. It was the Reverend Schuyler's sister Elizabeth who married Gose Van Alstyne of Canajoharie, whose house is still standing and has been previously described.
Prior to the building of the stone edifice, both the Lutherans and Reformed groups had frame buildings at Stone Arabia and the "Battle of Stone Arabia" was an effort on the part of the settlers to protect their homes and these churches from destruction in a Tory raid of 1780. The local "post" was known as Fort Paris (after Isaac Paris, one of the early settlers) and was in charge of Colonel Brown of the militia. Word had been sent by General Van Rensselaer of the Colonial Army in pursuit of the raiders, who were under Sir John Johnson, that Colonel Brown should attack the enemy as soon as they appeared and that he, General Van Rensselaer, would attack from the rear. This was a logical and well laid plan as Sir John Jay encamped the night before the battle between the two Colonial forces.lively
Colonel Brown, faithful to his orders, left his fort and was only about a mile from it toward the enemy's location when he engaged them. General Van Rensselaer failed to follow theenemy and attack from the rear as agreed, with the result that Colonel Brown's force, much smaller than that of Sir John, was cut to pieces and the Colonel killed. The Indians, who were a part of the raiding force, scalped and stripped their victims and all retreated up the Valley en route toward Canada, after burning most of the houses and both churches. They were engaged the next afternoon by General Van Rensselaer at the "Battle of Klock's Field."
The bodies of the slain at Stone Arabia were buried in a trench close by Fort Paris. The battlefield is identified by a large inscribed boulder. The body of Colonel Brown was removed later and placed in the churchyard of the present Dutch Church, and a fitting monument erected. In the church cemetery are the graves of many Revolutionary soldiers. The location of Fort Paris was a half mile southeast of the church, near the crossroads. Nothing remains of it today.
There is a striking similarity between the churches of this period, such as this one, the one at Palatine, the Fort Herkimer Church, and the "Old Stone Fort" at Schoharie. These four buildings are outstanding, historically and architecturally, among the very few of this age remaining within the entire United States. Their appealing simplicity, the enduring strength of their massive stone walls and the quiet charm of their steeples is indicative of the life and character of their congregation for "By their works ye shall know them."
Please check this information with Stone Arabia, written by W.N.P. Dailey.
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