GRACE CHURCH, JAMAICA
CONSECRATED JULY 15 1822
On December 3rd 1829 Geo. E. Ryerson was arrested for stealing prayer
books,altar decorations and carpet from Grace Church.
Rev. Wm. L. Johnson commenced his labors here May 1st 1830, at a salary
of $600 a year and finding his own dwelling. He was then rich in Briiklyn
lots, being a better minister than a financier, he lived to see the end of
his wealth. Being a good classical scholar of a literary turn he published
several sermons. He died August 4th 1870 aged 70. Masonic honors were
superadded to the usual funeral solemnities.
In January 1837 a free school for negros was established by the church,
It had 53 scholars. Soon after this a Sunday-school was started; but it did
not succeed very well till Jeremiah VALENTINE became superintendent and Miss
Anne Van WYCK taught and drilled the scholars in singing. On December 30th
1856 the grateful scholars and teachers presented Mr. Valentine with a gold
pen and pencil worth$22; and January 1st 1869 they gave him a handsome Bible.
April 20th 1841 the vestry voted to repair the church, at a cost of
In 1860 the church was repaired, improved and beautified at a cost of
$3,200,stained glass windows being put in at a cost of $300,mostly given by
the ladies through Miss Anne Van Wyck; but on New Year’s morning of 1861 this
comely edifice was burned to the ground by a fire originating in the flues of
the furnace. The organ,two tablets containing the Lors’s Prayer,creed and
ten commandments, a communion table of English oak and graceful pattern, a
bell weighing over 400lbs.cast in 1748, two old locust trees and some
tombstones were included in the ruin.
On May 21st 1861 the vestry contracted with Hendrick BRINKERHOFF and
Anders PETERSEN to build for $14,900. a gothic edifice of Jersey blue
stone,43 by go feet. The corner stone was laid by Bishop POTTER July 6th
1861, and the building consecrated January 8th 1863. The rector being infirm
Rev. S. J. CORNEILLIE was engaged as assistant Nov. 1st 1852. Rev. Augistine
CORNELLl was settled as assistant in January 1864. Rev. Thos. COOK was called
May 10th 1866, at a salary of $800 per year, as assistant.
Rev. George Williamson SMITH was Called January 18th 1872. he was the
twelfth rector and twenty-second minister of this ancient paris. Hos salary
was $ 2,000 and the use of the parsonage, which was bought in May 1872 at a
cost of $8,000. He preached his farwell sermon August 28th,1881.
The church has been robbed several times, On Tuesday night December 17th
1835 thieves entered the church by plac ing a barrel under one of the rear
windows and so climbing inside; carpets, pulpit cushions,ect., to the value
of $50 were stolen.
On the night of May 31st 1866 the church was robbed of its carpets in the
center and one side asile. The theives entered in the rear by the northwest
On the night of Febuary 26th 1874 thieves entered the church by breaking
a pane of glass from the west window near the organ. They tore up the
carpets in the asiles,cut the letters from the altar cloth and destroyed on
surplice, leaving a gown and another surploce unharmend. Thevestry had a
burglar alarm put on; but on the night of June 17th, 1881 some theives set up
a ladder and took a pane of glass out of a rear window,detached the wires of
the burglar alarm and carried off the altar cloth, the rector’s black gown
and vest, and the communion wine.
The greatest benefactors of the church have been the KING Family. Rufus
King procured much help to the church from “Ols Trinity.” His son, Govenor
John A. King., besides bountiful contributions in money gave land for
enlarging the church yard at different times. In 1847 he gave a baptismal
font of Italian marble. In 1862 an organ was given the church in the name of
John A. King and Mary, his wife. Mrs James G. King gave a large Oxford Bible
and four large prayer books. Mrs James G. King sen. gave a beauitful stone
font. The bishop’s chair and books for the reading desk were gifts of the
King family. On January 15th 1867 Mrs. Charles King had three tablets for
the creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the ten Commandments set up in the rear of
the chancel. On the death of John A. King it appeared that he left $1,ooo to
the church to keep the burying ground in good order.
He lived in the house now George NOSTRAND'S. He was impoverished by his
unbound hospitality. The ministers were then itinerant and rode the circuit
on horseback, with saddle bags which contained their books and clothing.
Sometimes nine horses at once stood in Mr. DISOWAY'S stable, feeding from
his mangers, while the riders sat at his table and slept under his roof.
The Methodist congregation did not increase much for some years. In 1844
there were only 33 members; but under the ministry of Rev. M.E. Willing about
90 joined the church on probation.
In 1846 a second church was erected, on the corner of Fulton street and
new York Avenue, at a cost of nearly $4,000. The building committee consisted
of O.P. LEECH, A.D. SNEDEKER and Harvey PARCEL. At his death Mr. LEECH left
$300 to buy a bell for the church. An organ costing $500 was put in the
church in 1868. In 1866 an acre of ground was bought of Rev. J.M. HUNTTING
for $9000, and the place was used as a parsonage till 1873,when the old house
was sold and removed. The corner stone of a new church was Laid October 9th
1873 by Rev. R.C. Putney, the Pastor. The building was dedicated by the
pastor, Rev. William T. HILL, October 1st 1874. It was a frame structure 50
by 80 feet and cost about $ 14,0000.
A parsonage on the same lot with the church was completed in April 1874.
In the rear of the church is a Sunday-school building and lecture room. The
plan of the church and parsonage was devised and drawn by John C. Acker; who
with Rev. W.T. Hill, Isaac B. Strang, John B. Hopkins, John W. Selover,
Thomas W. Clary, Smith B. Crossman and Isaac B. Remsen constituted the
building committee. The total cost of the church property was about $ 40,000.
The present membership is about 240. Rev. Thomas Stephenson is now the
The Sunday-school in 1844 numbered only 34 scholars. In 1881 it had
increased to 149 scholars,and 29 officers and teachers; John C. Acker being
superintendent, Geo. E. Tilly assistant, and Richard W. Rhoades secretary.
The library has about 400 volumes.
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