The Yorktown Herald

Shrub Oak Methodist Church Rededication Service April 22

The rededication of the Shrub Oak Methodist Church following its restoration from heavy damages suffered in the severe windstorm of November 25, 1950 will take place on Sunday afternoon, April 22d, at 2:30 o'clock with the Rev. Kenneth E. Hoover, District Superintendent and former pastor, leading in the act of rededication.

This large and beautiful edifice of Gothic architecture, measuring 50x90 feet, was designed by the then well-known architect, William F. Martin, a resident of Shrub Oak, and costing at the time about $39,000. The interior of the church is finished in black walnut trim and the windows are filled with stained glass quarterings with lead work. The stone for the church was hauled by ox and cart from Piano Mountain and the Stoney Street Quarry. The walnut for the interior was also obtained from this region. The bell, which calls the community to worship, weighs 1,950 pounds and was made in a bell factory in Troy, New York, at a cost of $1,000.

The building was started June 5, 1867 with the cornerstone being laid on June 25, 1867 with Bishop James, Dr. Daniel Curry, Rev. J. B. Wakely and the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher assisting at the ceremonies. It was not until December 13, 1870 that the church was dedicated. The property at that time consisted of the church, a wooden parsonage and about six acres of land, the latter being valued in 1881 at $6,000.

The old church, which was torn down in mid-October, 1906, stood on the site of the house now owned by Mrs. Genevieve Martens and occupied by Robert Semlear, just south of the cemetery.

On April 13, 1796 Pierre Van Cortlandt, the son of Stephanus Van Cortlandt, sold 1 1/4 acres of land for five shillings to certain persons as trustees to build a Methodist Episcopal Church. Pierre's father, Stephanus, obtained Shrub Oak and the surrounding lands as a grant from two Indian Sachems, Pewemind and Oskewans of the Appamaghpaghs tribe, a division of the Mohegans in 1683.

The church was finished on June 13, 1827. On that same day 3/4 of an acre was purchased which adjoined the 1 1/4 acres on the north side. This parcel of ground was used for a burial ground.

After the present day church was built the old building was used by the Roman Catholics for a time for their services. The 3/4 of an acre, mentioned in the above paragraph, was purchased on June 13, 1827 by the church through John A. Nelson from David Reed. This plot, costing $100, was to be used for burial purposes. Trustees of the church at that time were: A. Conklin, Thomas Wildey, and Thomas Curry. On March 10, 1834, the church bought a parcel of land for $600 from Hannah and Frederick Horton for the benefit of the minister. Trustees then were T. Curry, J. B. Hallock, John Roake, Hiram Mabie and S. Wilken.

On the present grounds in the rear of the church there stood for many years two large sheds which protected the horses and carriages in which the worshipers came to church. Quite some time ago and after the era of automobiles one of the sheds was torn down as it came in need of repairs to make room for tennis courts, etc. and the other was repaired, a cement floor added and one end used as a summer kitchen by the Lades Society of the Church for suppers and fairs. On January 11, 1948, due to the heavy snows of that winter the shed collapsed. Just previous to that, however, a fund had been started for enlargement of the church school room in the main church and additional plumbing and heating. After the shed collapsed it was felt greater space was needed than was being planned by the Church School so the church Board and various organizations of the church got together and planned the present Parish Hall. While it is not completely finished, there being a few minor details to be completed, the Parish Hall has an assembly hall 70x30 feet and a kitchen 20x15 feet a furnace room and other facilities. It was built with much of the materials contributed and all of the labor being done by volunteers, skilled in their special fields. The volunteers were not all members of that church or faith but many were interested people of other faiths and churches. The actual amount raised for this building to date was $8,812.09, all contributions from one source or another which were started off by Rev. Joseph L. Germeck Episcopal Rector in the Township in March 1948 when he organized a benefit show in the auditorium of the Shrub Oak School in which undertaking he was assisted by many of the churches in the township. The proceeds were divided between the Shrub Oak Methodist and Yorktown Presbyterian Churches, since the latter had also suffered the same type of loss to the building on their property during the same storm. Father Germeck turned over $400.00 to the Shrub Oak Fund, which was the first of the many good-will and interchurch relationships now going on in the communities. The present Parish Hall was started about Oct. 7, 1948 and was first used by the Women's Society of Christian Service for their annual fair in July 1949. The building is now used for Church School, various church organization functions and for many community projects. It was also used for church services from the time the main church was damaged November 25, 1950 until Holy Thursday of this past Easter Season, when the church was restored and ready for use again.

The building is of laminated construction. On Dec. 11, 1948, 35 men, of whom 8 were professional carpenters, got the building enclosed and the major outside construction completed.

Listed below are the pastors of the Shrub Oak Methodist Church from 1872 to date Daniel DeVinne, W. F. Collins, P. Chamberlain, Lorin Clark, Thomas Sparks, A. N. Molyneuz, L. B. Andrus, M. Van Deusen, Wm. M. Chipp, E. R. Keyes, O. V. Amerman, B. M. Genung, W. C. Smith, Peter C. Oakley, James W. Smith, P. S. Barnum, Silas Pitch, D. D. Gillespie, David Buch, A. M. Osbon, Aaron Coons, H. W. Taylor, D. H. Hannaburgh, John P. Hermance, E. H. Barden, S. J. McCutcheon, H. C. Earl, John O'Neill, A. M. Gay, H. W. Ackerly, Edwin Corneille, L. C. H. Adams, John S. Graham, Charles Reynolds, James T. Van Burhalow, George E. Wright, John K. Benedict, Osmon P. Hoyt, Kenneth E. Hoover, George Baird, Joseph E. Spencer, Robert E. Chiles, John H. Blackledge and Dorland R. Russett, the present pastor.

Credit goes to Richard Guerin of Shrub Oak for the extensive research into the past records of the Church.

Source: The Yorktown Herald, Vol. XXVI No. 47, April 19, 1951

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