Bitter Bonds

Church and Sunday in Old New York,
page 11 of 16

The bill for one of these karck-sacjes was paid by the deacons of the Albany church in 1682. Seven guilders were given for the black stuff and two skeins of silk, and two guilders for the making. When a ring was bought for the sack (I suppose to hold it open at the top), it cost four guilders. This instrument of church-collection lingered long in isolated localities. It is vaguely related that some karck-sacjes are still in existence and still used. The church at New Utrecht possessed and exhibited theirs at their bicentennial celebration a few years ago. The fate of the sacje was decreed when the honest deacons were forced to conclude that it could, if artfully manipulated by designing moderns, conceal far too well the amount given by each contributor, and equally well concealed the many and heavy stones deposited therein by vain youth of Dutch descent but American ungodliness. So an open-faced full-in-view pewter or silver plate was substituted and passed in its place. In 1813 the church at Success, Long Island, bought contribution plates and abandoned the sacje. Some lovers of the good old times resented this inevitable exposure of the amount of each gift, and turned away from the deacon and his innovating fashion and refused to give at all.

I ought to add, in defence of the karcksacjes, and in praise of the early congregations, that the amount gathered each week was most generous, and in proportion far in advance of our modern church-contributions. The poor were not taken charge of by state or town, but were liberally cared for in each community by its church; occasionally, however, assistance was given through the assignment to the church by the courts of a portion of the money paid as fines in civil and criminal cases. In New York a deacon’s house with nurses resident, took the place of an almshouse.

Often during the year much more money was collected than was needful for the current expenses of the church. In Albany the extra collections were lent out at eight per cent interest; at one time four thousand guilders were lent to one man. The deacons who took charge of the treasury chest in Albany each year rendered an account of its contents. In 1665 there were in this chest seelver-gelt, sea-want, and obligasse, or obligations, to the amount of 2829 guilders.


:: Previous Page :: Next Page ::

Books & articles appearing here are modified adaptations
from a private collection of vintage books & magazines.
Reproduction of these pages is prohibited without written permission. © Laurel O'Donnell, 1996-2006.