The Island at the Center of the World

Church and Sunday in Old New York,
page 7 of 16

He pointed out the abundant materials for building creditably and cheaply, — fine oak wood, good mountain stone, excellent lime; and he did more, — he supported his advice by a subscription of a hundred guilders. Director Kieft promised a thousand guilders from the West India Company; and Fortune favored the scheme, for the daughter of Domine Bogardus was married opportunely just at that time; and as has been told in Chapter III., according to the wise custom of the day in Holland, and consequently in America, a collection was taken up at the wedding. Kieft asked that it be employed for the building of a church; and soon a stone church seventy-two feet long and fifty-five feet wide was erected within the Fort. It was the finest building in New Netherland, and bore on its face a stone inscribed with these words: “Anno Domini 1641, William Kieft, Director-General, hath the Commonalty built this Temple.” It was used by the congregation as a church for fifty years, and for half a century longer by the military as a post-building, when it was burned.

There was no church in Breuckelen in 1660. Domine Selyns wrote, “We preach in a barn.” The church was built six years later, and is described as square, with thick stone walls and steep peaked roof surmounted by a small open belfry, in which hung the small, sharp-toned bell which had been sent over as a gift by the West India Company. The walls were so panelled with dark wood, the windows were so high and narrow, that it was always dark and gloomy within; even in summer-time it was impossible to see to read in it after four o’clock in the afternoon. Services were held in summer at 9 A. M. and 2 P. M., and in the winter in the morning only. The windows were eight feet from the floor, and were darkened with stained glass sent from Holland, representing flower-pots with vines covered with vari-colored flowers. This church stood in the middle of the road on what is now Fulton Street, a mile from the ferry, and was used until 1810.

These early churches were unheated, and it is told that the half-frozen domines preached with heavy knit or fur caps pulled over their ears, and wearing mittens, or wollen handt-schoenen; and that myn heer as well as myn vrouw carried muffs. It is easy to fancy some men carrying muffs,—some love-locked Cavalier or mincing Horace Walpole; but such feminine gear seems to consort ill with an Albany Dutchman.


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