Reminiscences of New York by an Octogenarian (1816 - 1860)

By Charles H. Haswell

Active in NY's civic and cultural life a half-century, Haswell's meticulous notes on it were published in 1896, the same year Correction emerged as a separate agency. A century later Jackson Era devotee Hal Morris posted them on his Tales of the Early Republic web site, from where these passages have been excerpted with permission.
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Chapter X: 1827 - William Paulding, Mayor

ALTHOUGH I have very distinct recollections of the existence of the churches here referred to, and of the removal or destruction of some of them, I am unable to give the exact periods, etc., in all cases, and in consequence of the lapse of time (seventy years), deficiency in records, and the change of ministers, etc., I have had much difficulty in presenting this record. . . .
Trinity is regarded ranking as the one of the city's longest leading churches -- more than three centuries.

Episcopal: "Trinity," 1696, Broadway, facing Wall Street; 1776, burned; 1788, rebuilt and furnished with a chime of bells; 1839, taken down; rebuilt and opened May 21, 1846. . . . The Episcopal Charity School, "Trinity," was founded in 1704. . . .

Many Episcopal churches at this time were without chancels proper. There was an altar at the rear, with railings around it, where children were catechised. confirmation was administered, and the Communion'` received In front was the pulpit, surmounting a column, in front of which was the reading desk, which effectually hid the altar from tile view of the congregation.

In the lower end there were two or three pews assigned to colored persons, and the doors were lettered "For B men."

Trinity maintains a memorial to the thousands of American patriots who died in British prison ships in New York harbor during the War for Independence.

For more on the memorial, read the concluding section of Do 1776 Patriot Spirits Peer Through Prison Bars at Police Plaza? on this NYCHS site. For more on the British POW deaths, read Penitentiary Origins in the City of New York on this site.

In 1793 one hundred thousand pounds was received by the Corporation of Trinity Church, from the estate of John Leake,, deceased, and from that time the interest of this sum has been expended in the purchase of bread to be distributed amongst the poor of the parish. The donation is termed " The Leake Dole of bread,"

Roman Catholic "St. Peter's," formed, 1783; opened 1786, corner of Barclay and Church streets; 1838, rebuilt. "St. Patrick's," 1815, corner of Mott and Prince streets; later lengthened. "St. Mary's," 1826, formerly Seventh Presbyterian, in Sheriff, between Broome and Delancey streets, first Roman Catholic bell in the city; 1831, burned by a burglar; 1833, Grand, corner of Ridge Street. . . .

Lutheran: "First," 1660, in Fort Amsterdam. "Trinity," 1671 log church southwest corner of Broadway and Rector Street; 1741, rebuilt; burned in the great fire in 1776; 1805, ground sold to Grace Episcopal Church; 1744, congregation divided, part to an old brewery in Skinner Road (Cliff Street); 1767, reunited as "Christ" or "Old Swamp Church," corner of Frankfort and William streets, sold to colored Presbyterians; 1822, removed to "St. Matthew's" (Evangelical) Lutheran, Walker Street, between Broadway and Elm Street, now corner of Broome and Elizabeth streets; 1826, sold. . . .

The trustees of the Lutheran "Old Swamp Church" in its early days were offered a plot of ground of about six acres in Canal Street near Broadway, a part of the Lispenard Meadows; and the Board passed the following resolution: "That it was inexpedient to accept the gift, inasmuch as the land was not worth fencing in." . . .

The Collegiate Reformed Dutch Second Garden St. (Exchange Place) Church, built in 1807, was 66 feet long and 50 feet wide, with a circular end. It succeeded the First Garden Street Church built in 1693 that in turn had been successor to the Stone Church in the Fort that dated back to 1642.
Collegiate Reformed Dutch Church: Organized, 1628; chartered, 1696; site of first church, 1633, on Pearl Street (now No. 33); 1642, the "Church in the Fort," known as "St. Nicholas' Church." "South Church," 1693, Garden Alley (Garden Street), Exchange Place; 1766, enlarged; 1807, rebuilt; 1812, independent of the Collegiate Church; 1835, burned in the great fire, congregation divided, part building in Washington Square and part in Murray Street; then corner of Fifth Avenue and Twenty-first Street. "Middle," 1729, Nassau, between Cedar and Liberty Streets ; 1790, renewed; 1845, rented to United States for Post­office; 1861, sold; 1882, taken down. "North," 1769, on William, between Fulton and Ann Streets; 1875, site leased and building removed; 1839, Lafayette Place and Fourth Street; 1887, site leased and building taken down; 1854, Fifth Avenue and Twenty-ninth Street.

In Garden Street (Exchange Place) there was a free school organized in 1663, and in 1784 the Church built one opposite to it, which was removed to Duane Street and in 1835 to Canal, corner of Elm Street; 1847, on Fourth Street; 1861, Twenty-ninth Street and Seventh Avenue; now (1892) corner of Seventy­seventh Street and West End Avenue, and known as the Collegiate School."
The Collegiate Reformed Dutch North Church was built in 1769 on what was then called Horse and Cart Lane and is now William Street. In 1875 the site was leased for secular uses and building removed.

Presbyterian: "First." City Hall, 1716 Wall Street, near Broadway; 1748, enlarged; 1810 rebuilt; 1834, burned and rebuilt; 1844, sold; 1846, Fifth Avenue, between Eleventh and Twelfth streets. . . .

Methodist Episcopal: 1767, Rigging loft in Horse and Cart Street ( 120 William), between John and Fair (Fulton) streets; . . .

African Methodist Episcopal: "Zion," 1796, occupied a house in Cross (Park), between Mulberry and Orange (Baxter) streets; 1800, organized, then at corner of Church and Leonard streets; 1820, rebuilt; 1839, burned; 1840, rebuilt; 1864, removed to Bleecker, corner Tenth Street; 1813, a branch formed in Elizabeth near Pump (Canal) Street; 1820, rejoined; 1822, again separated.
Founded in New York, AME Zion now has churches around the world.
"Asbury," divided and known as "Asbury Church"; 1820, united with "Zion"; 1823, Elizabeth Street church burned; then "Broadway Tabernacle," then hall corner of Elizabeth and Grand streets, then in hall on Howard Street, then Fourth Street, then Third Street near Avenue D. 1820, "Mott Street" near Walker Street; then burned; then Elizabeth Street; 1835, Second Street.

Unitarian: "First Congregational," 1821, Chambers, near Church Street; 1843, sold; now "All Souls," corner Twentieth Street and Fourth Avenue. "Church of Divine Unity," 1845, Broadway, between Prince and Spring streets. "Church of the Messiah," a colony from the First Congregational, 1826, Prince, corner Mercer Street; 1837, burned; 1839, Broadway, near Waverly Place, then 1865 sold; 1867. Park Avenue and East Thirty­fourth Street.

Baptist: 1724, a church organized, then a house on Golden Hill (Gold and John streets); 1732, dissolved and church sold. "First," 1760, 29 Gold, between Fulton and John streets; 1802, rebuilt; 1840, sold and taken down; 1841, Broome, corner of Elizabeth Street. "Second," 1770, Rose Street; 1791, then divided as "The Bethel Church," and the Rose Street party as the "The Baptist Church in Fayette (1821, Oliver) Street." 1806, the Rose Street congregation built in Broome, near the Bowery; 1820, Delancey, corner of Chrystie Street; 1830, divided, one party going to Mott, then to Chrystie Street; the other retained the church in Delancey Street, which was abandoned, and ultimately sold for a stable; and the congregation removed to "The Sixth Street." . . .
The Crosby Street synagogue.

Universalist: "First," 1796, Vandewater Street, near Frankfort; 1803, purchased from the Lutherans, No. 488 Magazine (Pearl) near Cross Street; sold to "Zion" (colored) Presbyterian, prior to 1810, corner Augustus (City Hall Place) and Duane streets; . . . .

Synagogue: Prior to 1682 "Shearith Israel," 19 Mill (South William) Street; 1706, removed; 1729, rebuilt; 1818, rebuilt; 1834, Crosby, near Spring Street; 1860, Nineteenth Street, near Fifth Avenue. "Benai Jeshurun," 1824, Greene Street.

It was reported that the "Holy Light" in this synagogue had by some accident or unavoidable occurrence been extinguished, and as a consequence it became necessary to obtain a like light from the nearest synagogue, and one was received from Philadelphia.

This synagogue possesses four graveyards, the continued retention of which, in view of the readiness with which some Christian churches have sold theirs, has evoked much comment. The "First" (Beth Haim) 1656, corner of Bancker and Fayette (Madison and Oliver) streets; 1729, more ground adjoining was purchased, some of which was subsequently sold; a "Second," corner of Gold and Jacob streets, but not used; a "Third," on Sixth Avenue, near Eleventh Street, but partly used; and "Fourth," on Twenty­first Street, near Sixth Avenue. When the Common Council prohibited interment within the city limits, 1852, removed to Cypress Hills, L.I.

While some Episcopal, Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, and Unitarian churches have been removed from the lower part of the city, their sites sold, and new edifices constructed uptown-apparently with greater regard to the prominence of the location than to the field of their usefulness-the Roman Catholic Church, with that zeal and singleness of purpose in its advancement which has ever distinguished it, has not deviated from its mission here, by the blandishment of a fashionable congregation. It has not only retained existing churches, but has obtained others, in locations where a dense population and the prospect of useful work seem to have been the guide. "St George's" and the "Brick Church" in Beekman Street; the "Cedar Street" in Duane, and the Dutch and Presbyterian churches in Murray Street, were removed more to meet the wishes of a portion of their members than to the advantage of their churches; the latter, removed to head of Lafayette Place, was converted to a theatre. . . .

The service in these churches was very different from that observed by nearly all of the present time (1895). Thus: the ritual of the Common Prayer Book was uniformly and strictly adhered to at all times, whether Communion was to be administered or not, which Sacrament was administered only on the first Sunday in the month, and at Christmas and Easter; and, excepting during Lent, the church doors were never opened for other than burial service from their closing Sunday evening to the next Sunday morning, and in religious, moral, social position, and in integrity, I fail to recognize any improvement in the people at this time.

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