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A Memo Regarding The History of a Church in Chichester, NY

by Reginald Bennett
courtesy of Hope Gilsinger

For many years religious services were conducted in Chichester by a Methodist circuit rider.  In the course of time this proved itself an inefficient pastorate and Mr. William O. Schwarzwaelder, proprietor of the factory, village and church building brought the church under the care of the Protestant Episcopal Church.  He renovated and remodeled the building and as representative of the congregation on September 23, 1898 applied for admission to the Archdeaconry of Orange.  Clergymen were supplied from week to week from November 16, 1898 to February, 1899.

            From February to May, 1899 the Rev. W. G. Dickenson, M.D. was settled  as resident missionary.  Rev. Arthur W. Shaw succeeded him on June 1, 1899.

            The church was named "St. Paul's" by Mr. and Mrs. W.O.S. in honor of their Flatbush, L.I. home church.

            On June 4, 1899 the Sunday School had 34  scholars and 6 teachers.  By July 23, 1899 there were 64 scholars and 10 teachers.

            Mr. Shaw apparently worked hard.  He and his wife initiated church study groups, sewing classes and so on.  Success was intermittent.  He had 6 families with whom he conversed only in German.

            In 1900 the Easter services were largely attended, and a social party in the Fire House was a "great success".  The money received on this occasion  was used to help the Negroes in S.C. where Archdeacon Joyner served.

           

 
wedding circa 1960
(Emily Osborne is far right)
 

But on June 20, 1900 Mr. Shaw wrote that "the really and wisely religious people attend our church and are attached to it.  Those who prefer the ministrations of the Wesleyan body find gratification and excitement in their own chapel.  The irreligious are irreligious still.  Pre-school children are learning and forming habits of true religious exercise in our church and Sunday School.  We are in the position of giving much good to those who will come and take it.  Those who have eyes to see perceive this fact."

            St. Paul's welcomed attendance of members of other churches.  In 1898 one Sunday there were 11 communicants (2 were visitors).  Nine denominations "were present at the rail" :  Protestant Episcopal; Presbyterian;  Methodist Episcopal; Wesleyan, and Roman Catholic.

            Mr. Shaw started a "class in pedagogy keeping religious instruction directly in mind.  It failed to attract and arouse the public."

            "A boys' club was started.  It did some good in teaching the barest elements of parliamentary procedure.  It utterly refused to lend itself to intellectual exercises."

            On July 1, 1901 he wrote, "during the last 10 months the work has gone quietly forward. ---- A missionary in Pennsylvania wrote to  The Church Steward an account of his experiences which correspond exactly in all the large features with our own here.  That is, people are friendly and join in projects but lose interest as the novelty wears off.  A faithful few are different."

  

Christmas 1898
courtesy of Charles Zimmerman

          Apparently the Schwarzwaelders did what they could with effort, interest and money to help the church and the community in general.

{Nov. 27. I wrote the foregoing 10 days ago and since have been trying to find a definite record re the demise of the Episcopal Church in Chichester and its replacement by the Baptist.}