Oral History of Sarah M. Dingee
as told to Edwin Hunt for the Commissioners Meeting held in the Church
Wednesday Evening November 27, 1918

I was born in Yorktown [on] Crompond Street, NY [on] July 23,1831 the oldest daughter of Nathaniel Hyatt and Julia A. Wildey Hyatt. On the last Sunday of October 1847, I with several others joined the M E Church Shrub Oak on probation, also the class with Stephen Knapp as leader, father of "G W Knapp the preacher". The class met at my uncle Jacob Wildeys', Gomer Street, as long as he lived. In May 1848, a large number was [sic] taken in full membership and I felt that I was one of the workers, and I tried to do my little bit. On January 10, 1849 Alfred Dingee and I was [sic] married by the Rev. John Sloat, Dingee had been a member for several years and of course he was ambitious to do something to help the church.

The Hyatt Brothers and Dingee got up a singing school with J. Prindle as teacher from Millplain, Connecticut. Soon after they asked the trustee if they could come down and sing in church, they gave their concert. About that time Mr. Potter left as organ[ist] in the church. They got a Miss Hart to play the instrument. Instead of the movies they had singing school to draw the young people to church. Prindle was here several years and helped when the new church was dedicated. I remember when they bought 1853 the acars (acres) from the Mabie(s) for a parsonage and Rev. L. B. Anders was the one that first occupied it. When Rev. Ganong was here the mothers of the church had several afternoon teas and raised money to build an addition. I was young but my dear neighbor Mrs. W. Lounsbury would have me go with her as in time they would need help etc. etc.

I think it was in '58 they began to talk new church. The ladies of Shrub Oak had a meeting [and] the first society was formed to raise money for carpets and help furnish the new church. They were successful, so when the time came they were ready. The building was long delayed on account of the civil war and hard times for poor farmers. The corner stone was laid June 25, 1867 by Bishop Janes. I shall never forget that H. W. Beecher said they would have harder work to raise the last [$]500 then the first [$]10,000. In December 19 [sic] Bishop Simpson dedicated the church with J. B. Wakely,  A. M. Cerbon and the pastor F. S. Barnum. It was a happy day and every one had a pleasant smile and glad to see you!!

Mr. Barnum came up to see us just before conference in '71 [and] asked to have a society formed and wanted me to work with Mrs. T. H. Fowler as President. I told him I could try. We worked in harmony till she moved to Peekskill, then Mrs. M. L. Strang took her place. The iron fence and foundation is a monument of our work. After the Dedication there must be a bell. Doc [sic] James H. Curry and A. Dingee went to Albany and bought the bell. Mr. Meneely and his workmen came and put it in place. The party was entertained at our home.

In 1883 Mr. Coons came as pastor, he was a large man and had big ideas: had a new barn for three horses; his daughter gave music lessons; then he talked pipe organ till he got them to say go ahead!! He worked faithfully!! He came to our place one day at noon I told him Mr. Dingee be in soon, they could talk at the dinner table. He wanted Dingee to go with him to New Rochelle to look at an organ. They went [and] found the place and organ packed in a large room wanted [$]600 for it. Dingee thought it would cost too to move and set it up. It was bought for [$]500 and one Smith came and set it up, was entertained at our home while here! ! I think it does its duty just as far as I know.

I have enjoyed the friendship of many, very many of the pastors and families, there is always a warm spot for our pastors and a welcome morning noon or night. Mr. Dingee was very hospitable and never better pleased then doing some little thing for their comfort and happiness. We remember Dingee was in the official board 26 years. Now I would say to those that have taken the position, a few I knew when they were "babe-in-arms," don't get discouraged, there is a light ahead. Keep the home fires burning, and when the master calls all will be well. If anyone would like to see me, I am at Maple Terrace Fram and would be glad to have them come. Rheumatism has claimed my limbs, I am just trusting and waiting. All is well, no fears.

Sarah M. Dingee
Mahopac Falls, NY