The Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow
The following is taken from "First Record Book of the 'Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow' Organized in 1697 and now The First Reformed Church of Tarrytown, N. Y.," An original translation of its brief historical matter, and a coy, faithful to the letter, of every personal and local name, of its four registers of members, consistorymen, baptisms, and marriages, from its organization to 1791, by Rev. David Cole, D.D., Yonkers, N. Y., Published by The Yonkers Historical and Library Association, 1901.
II.--BRIEF HISTORICAL DATA
Preface for the Kind Reader.
Correctly stating why and when this special Church Record, according to Christian Church usage, was made, to its full satisfaction, to wit:
About the year of our Lord Jesus Christ 1680, his Royal Majesty of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the faith, &c., was pleased to agree, by prerogative, consent and license, to grant to the Hon Lord Frederick Philipse, to purchase without restriction ("vryelyck") at a real estate sale, a certain (stretch of) land and valley lying in Westchester County in America, beginning at the North of Spuyten Duyvil Creek, and extending Northward along the River, to the Kill of Kitchawang (i.e., the Croton River), as specified in the license and patent granted by the State--the (patent) which was called Philipsburgh.
(So many words of the next paragraph are gone, that exact reproduction of it is impossible. But enough of it remains to show its meaning, which is as follows:)
After the above mentioned Lord Frederick Philipse had bought and come into possession of his land tract, he contracted with a number of people to come and live upon it without charge ("vry") that the land might be quickly put to use and settled.
(This statement is introduced to account for the presence of residents at Tarrytown from 1680. It is well known, however, that there were Dutch settlers there long before that.)
And then further (this record is made) to testify with what kindly feeling these early Christian settler conducted themselves amid the heathendom (of the region), and lived as real Christians among the heathen (i.e., the Indians), deeming it right and necessary, on the Lord's Day, to come together at a convenient place, and with each other to pray to God with their whole hearts. (The rest of the paragraph is gone. Of course there had been no regular preaching. The meetings had been neighborhood gatherings for singing, prayer and praise--what we now should call "prayer meetings." No doubt these had been maintained in the settlement for two or three decades at least, before the formal organization of the church in 1697.)
And next (we put on record that these people) thought it imperative to look for a Reformed Church minister, willing to preach and administer the sacraments (for them) three or four times a year, that the congregation might thereby be, by the grace of God, benefited through the communion ("the bonds") of His Holy Sacraments, after the usage of the Christian Reformed Religion.
And since the Reverend Church Servants (i.e., the Consistory) find that down to now, this third day of November, in the year of our Lord 1715, this church has kept no record of its affairs, we have thought it necessary and right to make up a written record of what has already past, as full a one as we can find out that is in strict accord with facts. And in line with this begun work of entering a record in this book, (we have resolved) by one of our members of Jesus Christ--such a man as we judge competent and well informed--to go on and keep correct and progressive Minutes. Whatever comes up or is learned that is true, will follow on (in our Minute-Book from this time).
Lastly, We, your servants, have thus resolved to take by the hand and bring forward these trifling but necessary matters, as far as we can possibly do so, that thereby we may, as our bounden duty, show all thankfulness for the many favors your servants, our parents of blessed memory, but especially we ourselves, your present servants, men and women, have from time to time received from your Right Hon. Lord Father of blessed memory, also from your blessed thoughtful mother, Lady Margrieta, also from your father's last and lawful wife, Lady Catharina, and further still, from yourself, the Right Hon. and Respected, very wise and foresighted, our Master, Lord Adolphus Philipse, for the many favors done to us, your faithful servants, men and women, through various favorable provisions and good instruction. We beg, with all reverence, that your Lordship will receive this trifling expression according to our small desert, and we shall feel obliged, and will continue to be your Lordship's
Very Humble and well disposed servants.
(After such an emphatic declaration of purpose to go on from 1715, and keep regular consistorial minutes, we should expect to find before us a voluminous record of church doings at least down to 1775. Instead of this, however, besides the always brief statements of financial balances made by the treasurers of the church and poor funds at the close of each year, and recorded in books 6 and 7, we have no further reading matter between the covers of the old book, except the three paragraphs which will now follow, and after which we shall proceed at once to give in succession the four great register of the church.)
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