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First Churches

Early Worship - First Churches

In the early days, those inhabitants who did not care to travel as far as the old Bergen Dutch Church in Bergen, would worship God in their own homes and in small gatherings. On Sabbath mornings, the inhabitants along the Kill von Kull might have been seen entering their skiffs and going across to the north side of Staten Island to worship. The need of a church was very evident. Consequently, during the summer and fall of 1828 those persons who were interested in securing public Sabbath services, erected a small church on land given by Mr. Cadmus, situated on the old middle road, and on January 11, 1829, the First Reformed Church of Bayonne was organized as the Reformed Dutch Church of Bergen Neck, with Ira C. Boyce as pastor. Among the prominent factors in the movement were Richard Cadmus, Sr., Richard Cadmus, Jr., John Cadmus, Michael Cadmus, James C. Van Buskirk, John Van Buskirk, Jacob Cubberly, Jacob Van Horn, John- Vreeland, Jasper Zabriskie, and others. This church was the first to be erected in Bayonne. The original cost was $1,600, and the building accommodated about two hundred and fifty people. The edifice is still standing and belongs to the Republican Club. It is now on the corner of Avenue D and Twenty-ninth Street, but was originally built about one block south. The second and present edifice, on Avenue C and Thirty-third Street, was dedicated March 31, 1867. In the early sixties, the parsonage stood on Constable's Hook on the site of the present boiler works. This building was removed later, and is now standing on Ingham Avenue.

Early as 1831, the Methodists had a mission with Thomas G. Stewart as their pastor. On June 22, 1844, the "Bergen Neck M. E. Church" was incorporated. (Mattison M. E. Church and now First Methodist Church.)

There was, in 1845, a Methodist church standing on the northwest corner of what is now Avenue D and Twenty-fourth Street. This was the first and original building in which they worshiped. It was a small, frame, peak-shaped building and was called the ''Little Beehive," because of a swarm of bees which entered through a knot hole and stored their honey over the front door on the inside. This honey was taken out every fall, and sold for the benefit of the church. Thomas McDonald and Garrett Vreeland were the founders and main supporters of this little church. A new edifice was built on the east side of Avenue D near Twenty-ninth Street, the corner-stone of which was laid in 1854. In 1868 they moved this building to Avenue D and Thirty-second Street.1 The cornerstone for the present edifice at Avenue C and Thirty-first Street was laid in 1891.

The Reformed Church of Bergen Point was organized May 16, 1854, and Rev. Jacob C. Dutcher was its first pastor.
Those residents of Bergen Point professing a choice for the Episcopal service attended the church on Staten Island. In August, 1859, Trinity Church of Bergen Point was organized, with Franklin S. Rising as pastor.

The church building of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church at Bergen Point was consecrated March 18 of the following year.

These, then, were the first churches in Bayonne. They were lighted with home-made candles, and later with oil lamps, and heated principally by Gothic stoves that at times filled the church so full of smoke that the minister could scarcely be seen by the congregation. Reed organs were used; hymns only were sung; $1.50 was considered a substantial collection. The dominie's salary averaged from $400 to $900 per year, in addition to vegetables, wood, etc., donated by members of the congregation. From this, however, the religious population increased considerably, so that in 1870 there were eleven churches. To-day there are twenty-six churches, representing nearly every denomination. They can be classified as follows: Seventeen Protestant, seven Catholic, two Hebrew. There are also two Sisterhoods. About 8,000 church members, estimated.

Early Bergen Church Marriage Records.

Van Boskerk, Lourens, b. at Hackensack, and Fytje Cornelissen Vreelant, b. at Gemoenepau, both 1. at Pemmerpoch. 1709 Sept. 18.

Bruyn, Barend and Antje Borten, both b. and 1. at Pemmerpoch. 1714, Mar. 27.

Lisk, John, lives at Bergen point, and Catrientje Huysman, 1. on Staten Isld, both b. on Staten Island, 1767, June 20.

Van Tile, Michael, and Sophia Cubberly both of Pamrapaugh. 1797. Dec. 9.

Van Borckeloo, Wilhem Hermensen, from N. Utrecht, and Maria Cordeljon, the groom 1. at Constapelshoeck, the bride at N. Utrecht, received certificate Aug. 1. and m. April 5, at Amersfoort. 1697 Mar. 7.

1. Site of Garrett's Hotel.

Source: First History of Bayonne, New Jersey, by Royden Page Whitcomb, Published by R. P. Whitcomb, 24 East 37TH Street, Bayonne, N. J., 1904.


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