our history

The present day Reformed Dutch Church in Prattsville, New York, was the Society of Schoharie Kill when it began in 1798.  For a few years church-goers in the little wilderness settlement on the Schoharie Creek met in a convenient house or barn.  By 1804 they were thankful to congregate in their new meeting house which they had built on the spot where we are now, the western curve of Main Street, Route 23.

Birth and baptism records show us that six-year-old Catherine Bird was the first person baptized by pioneer pastor Rev. Peter Labagh on May 30, 1798.  Surviving records of marriages and deaths from 1833 on show Luther Maben and Elizabeth Dutcher as the couple heading the list of marriages and Ophelia Osborn the first person mourned in death.  As is true of many early churches, no deed to the church property has been found.  A cemetery deed, though, does tell us that on June 16, 1803, Martinus Larroway and John Larroway deeded to Elder Henrich Becker and Deacons Isaac Hardenburgh and Lawrence C. Decker of the Dutch Reformed Church land on the east side of the Schoharry Kill “to bury all corpses of the deceased persons belonging to the above society,” (Huggans-Lutz Cemetery)

If Catherine Bird continued to live nearby, until the 1830’s, she would have referred to “the new meeting house”.  By then members had again united to reconstruct the church which had been destroyed by fire.  This is the structure we see today, changed in ways we shall discover, especially in 1971-2 when it was restored through the generosity of the O’Connor Foundation.

In Catherine’s day church members expected to see the pastor only once in three weeks or so because he had other assignments in the surrounding countryside.  With the distances and treacherous roads, traveling by horseback amounted to over 100 challenging miles round-trip for the dominie. (Dutch word for pastor)

Salaries were contributed by the various churches a pastor served.  But encouraged and underwritten by tanner Zadock Pratt, our church installed its own pastor Reverend Hamilton VanDyke (1833) at $400.00 per year.  He died in the pastorate April 26, 1836, at the age of 29 and is buried in the Benham-Pratt Cemetery, Maple Lane.

Farmers, tradesmen, craftsmen, professional people as well as many tanning workers were attracted to Prattsville, particularly in the years that the tannery was in full operation (1825-1845).  Growing prosperity and concern for the material needs of a spiritual leader motivated financial support from the Reformed Church people.  The Reformed Dutch Church, part of the Reformed Church in America, has survived for these 200 years, some years difficult especially those without a minister, and yet in all years rejoicing as members of God’s household, witnessing to the Gospel of our Lord and praying to continue in the years to come.

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