Our Old Dutch Church in British New York
In the 18th century, leading up to the start of the American Revolution in 1776, Staten Island was a prosperous outpost of the British Empire and, like Manhattan, had a mix of peoples, albeit limited. It was not true diversity, but it was a distinct step forward compared to the other American colonies; a genuinely different way of approaching things.
With British dominance, the Dutch never got the opportunity to control their narrative.
Our Congregants played a major role in civic and economic life.
For example Daniel Corsen, from the prominent early family whose cemetery became our Burial Place, was County Clerk.
The County Clerk is the oldest surviving public official in government, since 1683, and actually goes back as far as the Pre-Colonial era.
1748 Petition for a road to a dock for a ferry.
In 1747 Corsen recorded "earmarks" of fellow
Congregant Families Mersereau and De Groot,
to identify livestock ownership.
Our Congregants were served 1686 to 1717 by Voorlezer Kroesen and a mix of visiting Ministers and other Voorlezers.
On January 19, 1776 Corsen was one of ten freeholders involved in the selection of men "to represent this county in Provincial Congress." which would govern the New York colony going into the Revolution and subsequently, New York State, following the British surrender at Yorktown. In 1781, the earliest record of a town election in Castleton, Corsen was elected one of two commissioners of roads, key to economic development.
Rev. Cornelius Van Santwoord was called in 1717, serving until 1742.
Raised and educated in Leyden Holland, he was accomplished and admired. Van Vantwoord also preached at Bellville N.J.
Van Santwoord lived on property contiguous to that referred to in our original deed of 1688.
In 1742, perhaps due to difficulty in obtaining salary from the dwindling congregation, he moved to Schenectady.
In 1751 the close relations between
the Church on Staten island and at Bergen N.J.
led to the united call of Peter De Windt.
The agreement drawn up by the Consisteries show that their contribution for the minister's support is very specific, each to have a righteous half of his services and each to make a righteous half of the payment.
The Church at Bergen was to furnish the parsonage and the firewood, while the Church on Staten Island engaged to give "an able riding horse, with all that belongs to it." After that it was stipulated that "The Domine was to look out for his own horse."
Domine De Windt commenced his labors in the two churches in 1751, but he remained only a few months because his
credentials were proven by the Classis in Holland to be forged.
In 1753, William Jackson was called.
He would shepherd our Old Dutch Church into a new building and a new Nation.
Staten Island. Built 1716 Destroyed 1780
When the united Congregations of Staten Island and Bergen put a call to Jackson, Student of Divinity, he immediately set out for Holland. Upon his return in 1757 he was installed at both churches. The two Congregations paid him 100 pounds for his support while absent and waited for four years and three months for his return. He was an original trustee of Rutgers, and received degrees from Yale, Columbia and Princeton.
His 36 year ministry would preside over the construction
of the Bergen Church,
the destruction of the
Staten Island Church
octagonal Church during the American Revolution,
and the building
of our new church