JAMAICA, LONG ISLAND, NY, HISTORY
The History of Long Island,
from its earliest settlement to the present time.
Peter Ross.
NY Lewis Pub. Co. 1902



[transcribed by Coralynn Brown]





JAMAICA


The Little Republic of Rusdorf - Ministerial Troubles - Mr. Poyer's Trials - The Revolution - Educational and Business Progress.



To Governor Stuyvesant must be awarded the credit of bringing this town into existence, the old village of which is destined to become in the near future one of the great railroad centres with the usual accompaniments of trade, business and industries of all sorts, of this part of the continent. Stuyvesant issued his first warrant for settlement March 21, 1656, and a more ample and more imposing document in 1660. When Gov. Nicholls sent Stuyvesant to enjoy the comforts of his Bouwerie, he confirmed all the rights and privileges which had been granted Jamaica by a deed dated Feb. 15, 1666, and Governor Dongan twenty years later gave it another charter mainly for the sake of the fee involved. On March 7, 1788, it was reorganized as a town by the state govenment and so it remained until it was swallowed up in the Greater New York.


Such in brief is what might be called the municipal history of Jamaica from beginning to end. There is much doubt about the origin of its name, but it is genearlly accepted as being a modernized rendering of the old Indian name Jameco - the name of a small tribe located on Jamaica Bay. How or when this name was first applied is not clear. The Dutch authorities called it Rusdorp - town in the country; and this was long its official designation. Some of the settlers called it Canorasset, others Crawford, but Jamaica, by whoever introduced, kept to the front and remained. Very likely it was called Jameco before the white man came along. But there have been all sorts of surmises and speculations over the name and the etymologists as usual have gien their fance free reins over it with wonderful results: even so staid a personage as the late Dr. O'Callaghan, the famous local historian, formulated a theory that the word was derived from the Indian name for beaver as translated by the French "Amique."


Where the first settlers came from is a point that hs not been exactly determined, but there is little doubt that they came over from Connecticut with the view of establishing a religious colony, or rather a colony where religious tolerance might be enjoyed. Those who signed the request to Stuyvesant, therein described themselves as "inhabitant of the town of Hempstead and settlers of this province," so it is very likely that some of them had been for a time residing in Hempstead and spying the land. They told the Governor that they wanted "a place to improve our labors upon; for some of us are destitute of either habitation or possession, others, though inhabited, find that in the place they are they cannot comfortably subsist by their labours and exertions." So they asked for the Governor's consent to settle on a tract of land "called Conorasset and lyes from a river which divideth it from Conarie see to the bounds of heemstead, and may contain about twenty families." This tract they had already "bought" from the Indians for "two guns, a coat and a certain quantity of powder and lead." Stuyvesant had to be petitioned three times before he consented, but when he did confirm the request he did it in a most handsome manner, giving them permission to elect magistrates and conduct their affairs on the same lines as Brooklyn, Midwout and other Dutch towns.

The names of the petitioneres were Robert Jackson, Nicholas Tanner, Nathaniel Denton, Richard Everit, Rodger Linas, Daniel Denton, John Eazar, Abraham Smith, Thomas Ireland, Thomas Carle, Edward Spray, John Rhoades, Andrew Messenger and Samuel Matthews. These fourteen may therefore be regarded as the first citizens of Jamaica. By 1660, when Stuyvesant gave the town a regular charter and the name of Rusdorp, there were some forty additional freeholders in the town. It was a little republic in itself; its town meeting regularly settled all its affairs and even regulated who should and who should not be admitted to citizenship. One Benjamin Hubbard, for instance, in 1649 had bought a house lot without having first obtained the sanction of the town meeting, so it required him to give assurance of his good behavior.

Of course with such additions to the population more land had to be secured from the local Indians from time to time, and we find several records of purchases made in exchange for such articles as soldiers' coats, kettles, "bottles of licker," powder, lead, guns, blankets and the like. The value of the Donegan patent of 1686 was that it clearly defined the limits of the township and showed that several of the original patentees were still prominent in the town.

The names given in this patent were, Nicolas Everit, Nathaniel Denton, Nehemiah Smith, Daniel Denton, John Oldfields, William Creed, Bryant Newton, Benjamin Coe, Jonas Wood, William Foster, John Everit, Edward Higbie, Daniel Whitehead, John Carpenter, John Furman, Samuel Smith, Richard Rhodes, Thomas Lamberson, Joseph Smith, George Woolsey, John Baylis, Thomas Smith, Wait Smith and Samuel Mills.


The town government seems to have gone at once into operation on receiving Stuyvesant's first permit (it should hardly be called a charter, although in effect it was one). The town meeting, as has been said, determined everything, subject, of course, to the Governor's veto, but Stuyvesant seems to have given the English settlements much more liberty than he did the Dutch, and so practically the town meeting of Jamaica was supreme within its bounds. Attendance at these meetings was compulsory and absence without cause was subject to a fine. A keeper was hired in 1661 to look after the cows and calves of the lieges, thus saving a lot of individual time and worriment, and they gathered in their crops in squandrons under appointed officers for mutual protection against any overt effort on the part of Indians. It must be said, however, that the settlers did all they could, according to their light, to deal justly with the red man, and held frequent conferences with his representatives while the conclusions seem to have been mutually satisfactory. In 1662 they hired Abraham Smith, one of the original patentees, to beat the drum on Sundays and on the days of public meeting. They laid aside a lot of ten rods square as a burying place and this, in 1668, they had reverently enclosed with a wooden fence.


The glimpse we get of the community show it to have been prosperous from the first and steadily advancing in material wealth, reminding us in many respects of the English settlements on the eastern half of the island. The population steadily increased, although as early as 1664 the adventurous, roving spirit of some of the early settlers asserted iteself and Daniel Denton, John Baylis and Luke Watson headed a new migration which passed over into New Jersey and there commenced the settlement of Elizabethtown. Denton, however, seems to have returned within a few years to Jamaica and resumed his original holding there. It is worthy of notice that in the petition to Gov. Nicolls for a tract of land on which to settle in New Jersey, Denton and his associates dated the document "from Jamaica, commonly so called." From this paper, in which they speak of the "deceas of the Dutch interest," in the Province, we see how thoroughly Engliah at heart were the pioneer settlers at Jamaica. They had fled from New England intolerance and from nothing else and built up right under the official dictatorship regime of Stuyvesant as complete a little republic as any of the communities in Massachusetts which sent representatives to the General Court. In all essential matters they were masters of their own municipal destinies - and so continued for many years.


While not a professedly religious community like Gravesend, or enrolled under clerical leadership like Southold, there is no doubt that from its inception Jamaica was a theocratic society - one in which the affairs of the little commonwealth were regulated by the teachings of the Scriptures rather than the statutes of their High Mightinesses. The life of the community revoled around its church and the recognized fathers of the church were the natural leaders of the people, so that for a long time the settlement was begun the story of its religious development is really the entire story there is to tell.

Stuyvesant's permission for settlement was dated March 21, 1656 , and it was not until 1662 that a town meeting decided to erect a house of worship, a meeting-house, and united in a call to the Rev. Zachariah Walker to join with them and become the first minister of Jamaica, which he accepted. It is not to be imagined, however, that during the four or five years which elapsed before this preacher that the community was without any regular religious services. Undoubtedly one or more of their number was quite capable of conducting public worship and fulfilling all the duties which could be performed by a lay preacher. Services would be held in any convenient barn or in the winter time in any hospitable kitchen. With the erection of the meeting house, however, the people had a place where they could worship God or discuss affairs of state or assemble for any purpose, religious or secular, as they saw fit. The little frame edifice (20 feet square) was at once the church and the Town Hall. About the same time a house was built for the prospective minister and a lot laid aside for his use. It would seem that an effort was made to try the experiment of listening to one of Stuyvesant's ministers before finally calling one from New England and accordingly in answer to a petition Stuyvesant sent there the Rev. Samuel Drisius, who was able to preach in English and who, on Jan. 8, 1661, delivered two sermons and baptized eight children and two women. Probably all this was done to please the irascible Govrnor and to pave the way to the peaceable settlement of the minister of their choice.

Mr. Walker seems to have won the affections of his people, although one would think from the records that he was as much a farmer as a clergyman. He received, however, much "encouragement" in the way of having his stipend increased and the like, but he decided on trying another spheree of operations and in 1668 removed to Connecticut.


The Rev. John Prudden, a Harvard graduate, then became Jamaica's minister at a salary of 40lb and the use of the minister's house and land. He was a Congregationalist and the majority of the citizens were Presbyterians and they seem to have been unable to agree, although what the real difference was between the two, considering the time and circumstances, it is difficult to realize. It is not so stated, but probably the people did not want any connection with the Congregational churches in Connecticut, while Mr. Prudden at that time regarded New England as the hub of the entire religious system. The Jamaica citizens seemed to have appreciated his services and were desirous of retaining him, but he retired in 1674. His successor, the Rev. William Woodruff, whose salary was fixed at 60lb, did not seem to please the people. Mr. Prudden, on full reflection, thought he might go further and face worse, so in 1676 Mr. Woodruff seems to have been released and Mr. Prudden once presided over the table in the meeting house. It was an amicable arrangement on both sides. Mr. Prudden became a Presbyterian and his salary was to be 40lb a year. Besides, he had the use of forty acres of meadow land and 19 of the brethern agreed each to bring him a load of firewood each year. then he was housed in the minister's home and to encourage him it was agreed that if he remained as minister for ten years the house and lot which had been set apart for the use of the minister should become his property.

Under him the congregation prospered. In 1690 a new and more commodious meeting house was erected - 60 feet long and 30 feet wide, and a year later the minister's salary was raised to 60lb with all firewood and other privileges. In the following year, however, he accepted a call to Newark, N.J. His ministry had extended six years beyond the ten which made the minister's house and his lot his personal property, but before leaving he transferred the holding to the congregation, receiving in return land elsewhere. Jamaica seems to have been invariably liberal in its treatment of its ministers and so Mr. Prudden's immediate successor, the Rev. George Phillips, the promise was made that if he should remain in charge until the close of his life his annual salary of 60lb would be continued to his widow. The minister's salary being paid mainly in produce, or as a result of sales of produce, sometimes a little difficulty arose in connection with the collection, owing to the dilatoriness of human nature, but such details were to be expected.


In 1699 a stone meeting-house was built partl y by subscription among the pople, and when that source failed by a rate passed by the trustees. By that time, it should be noted, several of the ratepayers were opposed to the Presbyterian form of worship and refused to pay the rate, but payment was finally made compulsory. It was a small square structure, forth feet square, surmounted with a belfry. Its interior was plainly fitted up with highbacked, uncomfortabel pews, and a high pulpit, high enough to bring the preacher on a level with the gallery, on the south side, had the usual huge sounding board, an arragement which good Dr. Prime used to think was an arrangemen of the devil. Much of the history of Jamaica coneterd around the church until it was demolished in 1813.
Its historic interest began immediately on its completion. The Rev. John Hubbard, who had been ministering to the people for some time, was formally called to the charge in January, 1702, and was duly installed and given possession of the minister's house and lot. He had hardly more than got accustomed to his new dignity when he was dispossesed of both church and manse in the summary procedures already recorded in a previous chapter of this work. [subscriber's note: I'll see if I can locate that.]


[FOUND IT in Chapter XII, 'Religious progress in Kings County]:
........in 1702 we find that the Episcopalian body began with the advent to the island of the Rev. George Keith, whom we have already met in a previous chapter. He was accompanied by the Rev. Peter (or Patrick, the names there being interchangeable) Gordon, who, it seems, had been sent out to America as a missionary by the English "Society for the Propogation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts." His work on Long Island was assigned for him before his departure, and so was his title "Rector of Queens county." His acquaintance with his recotorial field was, however, very brief. He was suffering from fever when he reached Jamaica, which was to be his headquarters, and about a week later, July 25, 1702, he was dead. He was buried beneath the stone church or meeting-house which had been erected about 1700 by the trustees of Jamaica by means of a tax levied on the inhabitants, after a plan of voluntary subscription had fallen through. On that fact was based one of the most noted conficts between Church and State which the history of the island records.


When the church and its adjoining minister's house were completed they were given over to the Presbyterian minister by a vote of a town meeting, although there was some understanding that other Protestant demoninations were to be permitted to use the church for their services when occasion required. In this way Keith seems to have preached from it pulpit. When Lord Cornbury became Governor in 1702 he ordered the English law of uniformity in religion to be enforced throughout the province and ordained that all meeting-houses and parsonages erected out of public moneys, by tax or otherwise, should belong to the Episcopal body, which he declared to be the established church. The missionaries of that body, thanks to this viceregal patronage, were then very active, and the adherents to the Church of England in Jamaica were consoled by frequent visits from them. Emboldened by Lord Cornbury's order, they not only held services in the stone church, but claimed its possession as a right. The crisis came on July 25, 1703, when the Rev. John Bartow visited Jamaica. On the day before he announced that he would hold services in the stone church, but the Presbyterian minister got into the building on the following morning ahead of him and so held the fort. Bartow walked into the sacred edifice and ordered John Hubbard, the Presbyterian divine, to stop his service. This the latter refused. In the afternoon the tables were turned, for the Episcopalian got into the building before the Presbyterians arrived. The latter announced that he would preach under a tree and so drew awy the bulk of Mr. Bartow's auditors. Not only that: those who went out carried with them benches and returned for mroe, so as to make Mr. Hubbard's hearers comfortable, and the noise and confusion that ensued forced the "established" divine to stop for a time. He finished, however, locked the door of the church, and handed the key to the sheriff as the representative of law and order. The other body soon afterward broke a window in the church wall, helped a boy through the aperture, and, on his opening the door from the inside, entered the church and put back the benches. They, however, took away the pulpit cushion, which they would not permit any to use but the Presbyterian minister.


Cornbury, when the matter was reported to him, summoned Mr. Hubbard, and the heads of his congregation before him, laid down the law and threatened them with its penalties. He also defined the statute as to the church building itself and forbade Mr. Hubbard from preaching in it. As it was either submission or prosecution, they submitted, and the stone church passed from their hands. But their humiliation was not yet ended.

In 1704 the Rev. William Urquhart was appointed "Rector of Queens County," and when he arrived at Jamaica and viewed his domain over he claimed the house and lands which Rev. Mr Hubbard dwelt as a parsonage, they having been set aside for the use of the preacher in the stone church by the same process of taxation. This view was indorsed by Conbury, and on July 4, 1704, the sheriff ordered Hubbard to vacate, which he did, and the triumph of the Episcopalian church in Jamaica was complete. The further history of the stone church litigation really belongs to the local story of Jamaica."



By that time, it should be remembered, the Presbyterians were no longer the sole dictators of Jamaica. The growth of population had long overstepped the old necessity of submitting a certificate of character on the part of prospective settlers to the town meeeting, and people had become citizens to whom Calvinism was a thing abhorred.


As early as 1657 we find Robert Hodgson, a preacher of the Quaker persuasion, visited Jamaica and was lodged in the house of Henry Townsend (one of the first petitioners to Stuyvesant for settlement priviledges), who for his hospitality was prompty fined eight Flemish pounds. A few months after Townsend, who seems to have adopted the views of the Society of Friends, repeated his offense by housing another preacher, and was again fined, this time at a higher figure. But Townsend never failed in his hospitality, and welcomed each wanderer and gathered a congregation to listen to the preaching of the new doctrine until Stuyvesant, tired of hearing such contumacy, sent down to Jamaica a squad of soldiers to see that his edicts were respected, and then Townsend and several others removed to Oyster Bay and so placed themselves beyond Stuyvesant's jurisdiction. But in spite of soldiers and local oppoisiton the number of Friends grew. They stubbornly held their views in spite of opposition, declined to pay the rate imposed for the support of the "priest of Jamaica," and had their goods distrained as a result, but held their ground. As a result their services were more numerously attended year after year, and Jamaica was declared in 1686 a place for holding quarterly meetings, although it was not until 1706 that they rected a meeting-house.


About 1702 a Dutch Reformed congregation seems to have been organized, meeting in the stone church, which, as has already been pointed out, was never intended, even by the Presbyterians themselves, for their sole use. It was not until 1716, that the Reformed Dutch people erected a little tabernacle of their own.

The year 1702 also marks the formal introduction of the Episcopalinan body, when, according to the authorities of that demonimation, Jamaica, Newtown and Flushing were spiritually united under one rector. After the forcible ejection of Mr. Hubbard the Rev. William Urquhart continued, in spite of strong opposition on the part of those he styed "nonconformists" and sometimes amid much and sometimes bitter controversy, to hold the church and the minister's house until his death, in 1709. Mr. Hubbard died in 1705, and was succeeded by the Rev. Francis Goodhue. We do not find whether he was elected to the pastorate by the people or was simply set down among them by the rascal who then represented Queen Anne. But he must have been a rather weak-kneed brother or he would never have accepted such a document as the following prior to entering his duties:


By his Excellency Edward Viscount Cornbury Captn Genl & Govr in Chiefe of ye Provinces of N. York, New Jersey & of all The Territories & Tracts of Land Depending theron in America & Vice Admiral of the same &c.:
To Mr. Francis Goodhue, Greeting.

I do hereby Licence & Tollerate you to be Ministr of the Presbyterian Congreagation at Jamaica in Queens county on the island Nassaw in sd Province of New Yorke & to have & Exercise the ffree Liberty & use of yor Religion pursuant to Her Matys pleasure therein signified to me In her Royal Instructions & during so Long Time as to me shall seem meet & all Ministrs & others are hereby Required to Take notice hereof. Given undr my hand & seale at ffort Anne in New York this day of this Instant January in the ffourth year of Her Matys Reign Annoq: Dui 1705-6.

Cornbury.

By His Excys Command
William Anderson D. secy.



Goodhue only lasted about a year and then went home to New England to die. With his departure the Presbyterian flock had no shepherd until 1710 when Rev. George McNish entered upon the work of the ministry among them. In July of the same year the Rev. Thomas Poyer was appointed Rector of Jamaica, Newtown and Flushing under the Episcopalian banner. Then the battle royal between the two forces was on. Both of these men were of marked ability and of earnest devotion to their work. Perhaps McNish was the brainiest of the two, the most brilliant of the two, but Poyer was one of those diligent, plodding individuals whose dogged perseverance makes up, in the way of actual accomplishment, for genius. It is not certain whether McNish was born in Scotland or in the north of Ireland, but his name demonstrates clearly that he was of the Scottish race. Mr. Poyer was a Welshman and came direct from the Mother County to at once enter upon his duties here. Mr. McNish came to America in 1705, in company with the sainted Mackemsie, and with him assited in the formation of the Presbytery of Philadelphia - the first in North America, and to him is generally awarded the credit of bringing about the first Presbytery on Long Island, in 1717. However, he remained a member of the Presbytery of Philadelphia until his death, in 1722.

McNish seems to have been a natural leader, and if Poyer lacked that essential quality to success in public or professional life, he had at least the backing and support of the representatives of the Royal Government, the authorities of the church and the powerful society in London which was then engaged in sending out men like him as missionaries to "propagate" the Gospel in foreign parts. Such were the two men who were destined to oppose each other in suppor of their respective standards in Jamaica for several years. The echoes of the battle rolled over Newtown and Flushing, over all of Queens County, in fact, but Jamaica was the battle ground; there the leaders resided and there was the centre of attack, the prize for the victor, the little stone church.


Certainly Mr. Poyer had officially the most exacting position of the two. Mr. McNish had his energies concentrated in Jamaica, and although he made his influence felt throughout Long Island, and seems to have travelled all over it doing missionary work, his parochial labors must have been light. But in Mr. Poyer's case there was steady parochial work all the time and a host of other trouble - pecuniary mainly - while the opposition confronted him at every step. From some of his letters we get a capital idea not only of his own little troubles, but of the condition of the places under which he set to hold spiritual supervision.

The first position in the struggle was won by McNish. Settling in Jamaica before the arrival of Poyer, he took possession of the church and for some reason or another, Mrs. Urquhart, the widow of Poyer's predecessor, vacated the minister's house and turned it over to McNish. Gov. Hunter saw to it that the church was turned over to Poyer, but McNish, "an independent North Britain preacher who has had the assurance in the fact of the contrary to aver that the Bishop of London as no power here," held on to the dwelling and the people, the ratepayers, not only refused to pay Mr. Poyer his stipend, but actually handed over part of it to Mr. McNish. To oust McNish from the dwelling a suit at law was necessary and Gov. Hunter seemed unwilling at first to spend his money in that manner; besides the Judge before whom the matter would likely come ws a Dissenter. Afterward he seemed willing to aid in bringing the case into court of law, but by that time Poyer hesitated about following such a procedure and aroused the ire of the Chief Executive. It seemed a paltry case throughout, one in which Poyer had the worst of it = his salary unpaid or only partly paid, his dwelling withheld, his appeals disregarded at headquarters, his congregation growing slowly, and personal indignities being heaped upon him on frequent occasions. But for gifts of money from the home society it is difficult to see how he could have maintained the struggle. His brother clergy, however, stuck to him all through and really forced the authorities to take some action - getting some special instructions in his case from the Queen in Council; but even all that had paltry practical results. Even a suit at law which he instituted for the recovery of his salary dragged along so slowly as almost to banish all yope of legal relief. Here are two of his letters to the Secretary of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, whose missionary he was, which are pathetic in their presentation of his case:


Jamaica, L.I., Novr. 2d 1714.

Honored Sir -
It will be five years the last day of next month since my most honored patrons the Venerable Society were pleased to order me to embark to proceed on my Mission which I obeyed and embarked that same day but there were more hindrance than one that detained the Fleet 'till the 10th of April and in the interim I was tossed about from one expensive harbor to another withh my family having my Wife visited on board with two fits of sickness and obliged each fit to bring her ashore for the help of a Doctor which was not a little trouble & charge to me and besides all this the 20lb I was forced to pay for our passage & the twice laying in of sea Stores put me to very great straits the 10th of April we left the Lands end of England and had a very tedious and uneasy passage of 13 weeks lacking two or three days. In this passage I had great experience of the goodness of God and often had occasion to reflect on the Royal Psalmist's expressions in Psalm 107.23 &c where he has these words - They that go down to the Sea in ships and occury their business in great waters these men seek works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep &c. I saw indeed & wondered and often expected in the great tempests we had to have been swallowed up of the merciless waves, but when we were in our trouble and almost brought to our wit's end We cried unto the Lord and he was graciously plesased to hear us and bring us tho' not into the haven where we would have been yet unto a Christian shore yea unto the Island where my Mission was to terminate about 100 miles from my Parish. Here the ship and part of her Lading was lost on the 7th July but not the life of one person.

The week following I did set out for this place where to this time I have not ceased (according to the ability that God hath given me) to instruct the Flock committed to my charge. I have laboured faithfully in my Lord's Vineyard and in my private advice from House to House as well as public discourses. I have exhorted them to faith in Christ and amendment of life and to live in Love. I have likewise endeavoured to possess them with as due a sense of the fundamentals of our religion as I could and the Great God has vouchsafed to give such a blessing to my poor yet well meaning endeavours the number of the communicants of the Church of England here before my time never exceeded 30 I have had above 60 - of the Independents who are the most numberous in my parish I have gained some and of the Quakers more some that were very rigid Independents since I came and that have reflected very much on our Church and constitution are now very frequently my hearers; and among the Quakers where my predecessor Mr. Urquhart thought it not worth his while to go I seldom have so few as fifty and often more than one hundred hearers.

And notwithstanding I have all along discharged the duties of Parish Minister yet have I never received one penny of the Salary due to me by the laws of the Colony how to come by it I can't tell; and without it or an augmentation of my Salary from my Right Honble & Right Revd Patrons I cannot live in this dear place. I live very near much below the character of a Missionary and yet am running myself in debt. I am spending my strength & yet cannot get a competency wherefore I humbly beg the Venerable Society will be pleased to consider my condition, it is very necessitious indeed.

But I will trouble you with no more at this time but refer you to the Revd Mr Vesey who I understand is safely arrived in London how I have led my life here and in how mean circumstances I am he can if you'll be pleased to enquire of him very well inform you.

I have no more to add but my most sincere & hearty prayers to the Lord to bless prosper & keep my most honored Patrons and when the time of their departure hence shall come may God who is the rewarder of those who make it their study and delight to enlarge Christ's Kingdom here take 'em to the eternally happy enjoyment of himself in Heaven is the prayer of
Honored Sir &c &c
Thos. Poyer.


Jamaica 15th Jany 1716-17
Honored Sir -
My suit at Law for the recovery of my Salary here is as backward as my last gave you an account, so that I have nothing new to add on this head but that one of my lawyers is dead which put a stop to it last Term & what progress will be made in it the next I cannot tell, you shall be acquainted of the proceeding by every opportunity.

The continuance of my troubles (which alas have no prospect of an end) and the tediousness of this lawsuit have almost wearied me out. I find a daily decay in myself thro' the continual fatigue I undergo in this large parish which consists (as I have formerly observed) of Three towns which I serve alternately & how I have discharged my duty to the Souls I am entrusted with is well known to my good God and Great Judge & will I hope be testified by some of my people.

I humbly beg the favour of you to give my most humble duty to my most Honble Patrons & acquaint them that their poor Missionary is labouring under many difficulties & reduced to the want of a great many necessieites; two Gowns and Cassocks I have already worn in their service a 3d is worn very bare and my family wants are so many and pressing that I know not how I shall procure another.

But pray give me leave to assure you that I am not reduced to this necessitious Condition thro' any extravagance in my way of living, 'tis well known as friends to the Church that I am contented to want many necessaries the better to be enabled to be hospitable, which is expected from the established Ministers here and which with my being conversant with them hath (I praise God for it) removed the prejudices of some and effectually brought others to see.

But under all my troubles this bears me up and is great comfort that God is so good to me as to continue his Blessing on my endeavours I have lost none but have gained many the number of my hearers consisting of about 400 & Communicants above 3 Score. I have this last week gained two families from the Anabaptists & Quakers and baptized them. Many are often coming over to us and I am assured more would, were there according to their desire a Mininster of the Church of England to preach to them in thie Town every Lord's day.

But this I leave to the consideration of the Honble Society and hope they will be pleased to consider my necessities and administer a little comfort to me in my troubles.

I pray God bless guide preserve and keep my most honored Patrons may they be enables to send out many faithful Labourers into Christ's Vineyard & amptly rewarded for all their pious and good deeds. This is what offers at present from
Your most humble Servt,
Thos. Poyer.



Mr. Poyer's appeals to the home authorities for help were backed up by his own people in the following statement which was forwarded to London:


February 6th, 1716
We humbly pray leave to lay before our Honble Patrons a true state of the case of the Church here and that as briefly as the nature of the thing will bear.

The Independents here being the most numerous do annually choose the Church Wardens & Vestry out of those of their own persuasions who are the most inveterate against the Church, every freeholder having a vote by Virtue of an Act of Assembly for settling the Ministry made in the year 1693 in which act there is a clause empowering them to call a Minister, the act also provides that such a Minister shall be inducted & established to entitle him to the Salary of 60lb per annum given by the same Act.

Now this Dissenting Vestry & Church Wardens have (as no other could be expected of them) after the death of the Revd Mr. Urquhart (who enjoyed the Glebe & Salary undistubed for about six years) called one Mr. Geo. McNish who because of that call has seized upon the Parsonage House & Glebe pretends to all and has actually received some part of said Salary. This call is the only argument on which they insist & on pretence whereof they defraud the rightful minister both of the Glebe and Salary contrary to the known laws and continued practice of all the other places in this Province that stand upon the same foundation. To confute therefore their absurd notion the case may be stated thus. In Feb. 1702 the Vestry & Church Wardens (being as always Dissenters) called one Mr. Hubbard a Dissenting Minister (one whom some of us have heard declare it a sin to say the Lord's Prayer). In the year 1704 Mr. Urquhart was sent here by the Venerable Society & Bishop of London and was immediately inducted and established by the then Governor of this Province the said call given to Mr. Hubbard (who nevr did officiate as Minister of the Parish) being deemed to be invalid because the person called was not qualified to accept & this proceeding of that Governor was declared to be right by another Act of Assembly in 1705 for the better explaining the former Act - Thus in like manner after Mr Urquharts death as is said before they called the said Mr McNish who being a Dissneter like the other not qualified to accept thereof, our present Governor for the reasons aforeasid on the arrival of Mr. Poyer immediately caused him to be inducted and established by the Chaplain Mr Sharpe on the 18th day of July 1710 which we think (with submission) makes the matter very clear that the Salary & Glebe can belong to none but him; for the Cure must not lie vacant for want of a call or presentation & not to call at all or to call a person in himself incapable of accepting is all one. And it can never be supposed that the Law intended any other than an Orthodox Minister for if otherwise nothing but confusion must ensue about the disposal even amongst the Dissenters themselves all having an equal right.

To this false argument of the Church Wardens & Vestry (as well as their principles) may be attributed the many affronts by them at sundry times given to our Minister even to the excluding him from sitting in the Vestry contrary to the Governors express Injunctions from the Crown signified to them.

Yet nonwithstanding the imperious behaviour of these our Enemies who stick not to call themselves the Established Church & us Dissenters we cn with Joy say our Church hath increased very considerably both in its number of hearers & Communicants by the singular care pain and industry of our present Labourious Minister Mr. Poyer who nothwithstanding the many difficulties he has struggled with has never been in the least wanting in the due execution of his Ministerial Function but rather on the contrary has strained himself in travelling thro' the Parish even beyond his strength & not seldom to the prejudice of his health which is notorioius to all the Inhabitants for almost 7 years last past in all which time he has not received one farthing of his Salary allowed him by the laws of this Province nor any private contributions that by the nicest search we can find out except about 18lb (this Country money) which was presented to him by some of his people at his first arrival here purely on the account of the tediousness of his voyage from England & his having with his family been shipwrecked on this island about 100 miles from his parishand at divers times since Gifts on the whole not amounting to Fifty pounds.



A year later Mr. Poyer reported a little progress in spiritual matters, but the situation unchanged in other respects. Writing to London, under date October 24, 1717, he said:


Jamaica, October 24, 1717.

The State of the Church in this Parish is much the same as my last gave you an account of savaing that I had two new members added to it since, & baptized besides several Infants & some adult persons.

And here I must desire you to pardon me while I acquaint you that I have undergone more trouble in the discharge of my Ministry here than I am able to tell you - for besides the frequent abuses and affronts I receive from some of the Enemies of our Constitution besides that they make it their constant endeavor to tire me with their ill usage and to starve me as some of the most inveterate among them do sometimes express themselves; the service of the three towns which this Parish consists of bears hard upon me, and affords me as much business as I am able to go through with. I serve them by turns every other Sunday besides frequent Lectures on week days. Now to do this and to visit my people which I am often obliged to who live distant from me many of them about 12 miles, I am necessitated to keep two horses which is very expensive & troublesome to me & consumes me more Clothes in one year than would serve another that is not obliged to ride for 3 or 4. In Newtown & Flushing for want of the convenience of private houses I am forced to make use of Public ones which is a very great charge to me for I bring some of my family generally with me. If I did not they would be half of the year without opportunities of public Worship.



Mr. McNish held the fort - the house and glebe - until his death in 1723, but the passing of that doughty antagonist made no difference in Mr. Poyer's worldly prospects. In fact they were worse, for the Presbyterians were actually at law with him for the recovery of the church building, and in this they were finally successful. Tired of it all, Mr. Poyer became anxious to give up the struggle, and wrote a touching letter to London asking to be relieved. The letter was dated June 16, 1731:


By this opportunity I beg leave humbly to represent to my Honble Patrons the Venerable Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts that I have been their Missioanry here 21 years & may without incurring the imputation of boasting say that my diligence in the discharge of my functions has been little inferior to any I pray God to give a blessing to the seed sown but so it is that besides the great and almost continual contentions that I have struggled withal amongst the Independents in this parish having had several law suits with them before I could have the Salary which the Country has settled upon the Minister of the Church of England several other law suits for some Glebe lands which we have lost and at last even the Church itself of which we had the possession 25 years is taken from us by a trial at law (with what justice I can't pretend to say) tho' I say I have endeavored as patiently as I could to bear up under all these trials besides the loss of two Wives & Several children yet the infirmities of old age bear very hard upon me insomuch that I find myself almost unable to officiate at the three towns of Jamaica, Newtown and Flushing as I have hitherto done and which is absolutely necessary for the Minister of the Parish to do.

The intent of these are therefore to beg that my distressed state and condition may be laid before the Venerble Soceity and that they will be pleased to permit me to quit my Mission and to return to Great Britain as being for the reasons aforegiven not capable of bearing such fatigues and discharging my duty as I humbly beg of my most honored patrons to consider my case & circumstances & I remain &c.

Thos Poyer



His resignation was accepted, but before the arrangements were completed he was called higher and passed away January 15, 1732.

We must now return to the Presbyterian camp.

Mr. McNish, broken in health, seems to have either retired from the active work of the ministry a short time before his death or to have obtained leave of absence, for he passed away at Newtown, New Jersey, March 10, 1722. It was under his successor, the Rev. Robert Cross, "an Iriah gentleman," Thompson called him, that the crowning victory of the restoration of the old church was won. The Dissenters - Presbyterians and Quakers - could not, however, avoid the payment of the salary for the maintenance of the Episcopalian minister, and this salary was paid out of the rates with grumbling and sometimes only after a legal process had been indulged in. The Quakers invariably paid under protest, when they paid at all. The result of the Revolutionary War put an end to all this.


In 1738 the Rev. Walter Wilmot, one of the best beloved of Jamaica's ministers, entered upon his work in the little stone church. His ministry was spiritually a success, and the historic tabernacle had all it could do to hold the worshippers. Under him the local Presbyterians lost much of the harshaness which had come to them as a result of more than a generation of fighting with Friends on the one hand and Episcopalians on the other. They had won the victory and Mr. Wilmot was essentially a man of peace, a man who had taken no part in the warfare and so was better able to heal up the wounds among the laymen, the result of years of friction. He was a native of Southampton and had married a daughter of the Townsend family, a family which had been locally famous for its devotion to the doctrines of the Society of Friends, even before that society was fully organized. She was a devoted Christian and on her marriage openly embrace the Presbyerian views held by her husband. His ministry was destined to be a brief one. Mrs. Wilmot died February 24, 1744, in the twenty-third year of her age, and her husband joined her on the 6th of August following, when in his thirty-fifth year.


Under a succession of ministers and itinerant preachers or student designated as "stated supply," the cause of Presbyterianism barely held its own in Jamaica for a long term of years after Mr. Wilmot passed away. At times the membership fell off greatly, and in 1761 we read that it had but twelve communicants. There were several causes for thisL The preachers were, as a rule, able men, but there was continual difficulty in the payment of the stipend, and there were the usual divisions in the congregation itself, so common in the history of Presbyterian societies, which led to schisms of more or less importance. During the Revolution the minister was Matthias Burnet, who was installed in 1775, when in the twenty-sixth year of his age. He seems to have been an amiable but rather a week brother, had married a lady belonging to an Episcopalian family and was opposed to the Revolutionary movement. It ws to his pro-British sentiments, however, that the stone church was saved, during the occupation after the Battle of Brooklyn, from the desecration which befel most of the other places of worship on Long Island. When the struggle was ended the feeling against him on the part of the people generally was so intense that he was compelled to resign. He removed after a time to Norwalk, Connecticut, where he accepted fully the views of the Episcopalian body and became rector of one of its churches. We are told, however, that he paid an annual visit to Jamaica, and in 1790 preached to a large congregation in the stone church. That fact is significant as showing how early the bitterness engendered by the great struggle had passed over - so far as Jamaica was concerned.


The stone church served until 1813, when it was pulled down and a more commodious structure was erected in its place and opened for worship in January, 1814. At that time the Rev. Henry Wood was the pastor.

The English Church, even after it had lost the stone building and turned forever from all thoughts of possessing it again together with the glebe, seemed to wax in strength, slowly, but none the less surely. Its official position was itself a tower of strength, and the payment of the stipend was above as well assured as anything wordly could be. The Rev. Thomas Colgan, who was the successor to the unfortunate and long-suffering Poyer, and who entered on his duties January 31, 1733, was a much more diplomatic and congenial gentleman. He aimed to make friends all around and to antagonize no one and appears to have succeeded. He seems to have accepted the situation as he found it and began holding services in the building then served as a court house. The old animosity seemed to die out rapidly, the law suits ceased, his stipend was paid as the law directed and he slowly built up a congregation. Six weeks after he began his work he was able to report that 200 persons attended his services in Jamaica. The court house soon proved too small for the work, and with quite an effort, aided by help from New York and elsewhere, the people secured a lot and erected a building for their own use. Under the name of Grace Church it was opened for service April 5, 1743. Governor Cosby and his family attended in state, the military lined the front of the building and the throng was so great that many persons had to be turned away. It was a memorable occasion - one which would have cheered the heart of poor Mr. Poyer beyond measure and set Mr. McNish to measuring out unstintedly the vials of destruction. Many gifts were made to the church, notably a Bible, Prayer Book, surplice and pulpit and communion table cloths by the wife of the Governor. After such an auspicious opening Grace Church flourished. Here are some extracts from Mr. Colgan's letters to the London society which used to get such dolorous reports from Jamaica:


Jamaica, Novr 22d 1740
We have yearly for these seven years last past increased in Church Members, so these buildings were genearlly well filled in time of Divine Service & the worship of God is duly performed with decency and good order, the several sects which are around us do look upon the Church with a more respectful eye than formerly, there being not wnting either in myself or people any Christian like or prudential means necessary to form a reconciliation & union amonst us, some itinerant enthusiastical teachers, have of late been preaching upon this Island the notorious Mr. Whitfield being at the head of them & among other pernicious tenets, have broched such fale & erroneous opinions concerning the doctrine of Regenearion as tend to the destruction of true religion & of a holy and virtuous life and therefore, I take this opportunity to beg that the Society would be pleased to bestow upon the people of this parish a few of Dr. Waterland's pieces on that subject & of his Lordship the Bishop of London's Pastoral letters upon lukewarmness and enthusiasm.


Jamaica Decr 15th 1741
However in the mean time be pleased to accept this general account of the State of my Mission there being three Churches belonging to my Cure, that of Jamaica, Newtown and Flushing. I must with a great deal of truth say that only only they are in a growing condition & the members thereof genearlly of an exemplary life and conversation but that the Church of England here was never in so much credit and reputation among the Dissenters of all sorts as at this day, their opinion being vastly more favourable than ever. Enthusiasm has of late been very predominant amongst us but is now in a declining state several of the teachers in that way as well as their hearers being found guilty of the foulest immoral practices and other of them have wrought themselves into the highest degree of madness - these occurences together with those good books lately sent over by the Society have taught people what the true spirit of Christianity is and what it is not & that it is to be found in a more sober rational Scheme than that delivered to mankind by Mr. Whitfield that Arch Enthusiast and his adherents, having nothing more to add but the promise of all due dilgence & fidelity in the discharge of all the Offices belonging to my Mission.


Jamaica March 23d, 1743
Our Church here is in a flourishing condition her being depressed of late by those clouds of error & enthusiasm which hung so heavily about her, has in effect tended to her greater illustration & glory.

If the Society would be pleased to order me some small tracts, such as The trial of Mr. Whitfield's spirit; An Englishman directed in the choice of his Religion, Bishop Stillingfleet's Unreasonableness of separation &c. I'm your most &c.

Thos Colgan

Jamaica Sept. 29, 1743
Our Church here was never in so thriving a way as at this time - for it has increased both in number & esteem with those who are without her pale, these eight or ten years last past more than it did for 30 years before being one of the oldest Missions from the Society - This must be an argument with them, that under the benign influence of Heaven and their pious Care & bounty, my faithful endeavours have not been wanting to promote and answer the end & design of my Mission to this place I would further acquaint the Venerable Society that since my last accounts I have baptized 17 persons belonging to 3 families in this parish, consisting of Men Woman & children who before were tainted with the corruptions of Anabaptiam & Quakerism & have now before me a fair prospect of doing the like good for others in a little time.


Jamaica Sept. 29, 1744
The several Churches belonging to my Cure (as those of Jamaica, Newtown & Flushing) are in a very peaceable & growing state, whilst other seperate Assemblies in this Parish are in the utmost confusion & this I can write with a great deal of truth that Independency which has been triumphant in this town for the 40 years last past is now by the providence of God in a very faint & declining condition which gives us hope that better Principles than such as issue out thence will generally prevail amongst us & that we shall be better united than heretofore.


Jamaica Sept. 29th 1746
Thse are to acquaint the Venerable Society that my endeavours in the work of my Mission are by the blessing of God attended with success a late & remarkable instance whereof we have in the conformity of a Family of good repute in ye Town from Independency to the Doctrine discipline and Government of our Church which considering all circumstances may be thought worthy of notice.

In my letter of the 26 March last I gave information to the Society of our being in a very likely way of having a Church erected in the town of Flushing a place generally inhabited by Quakers & by some who are of no religion at all which indeed has all along from the first settlement of the town been a great obstruction and discouragement to an undertaking of this kind but now by the kind providenc of God (who has raised up Friends & money for the purpose) the work is actually begun so that I have hopes of performing divine Service in this new Church in about 3 months time and also that the Society will bestow upon it a Bible & Common Prayer Book according to their usual bounty for certainly there can be no set of People within this Province who are greater objects of the Socity's pity & charity than those belonging to the town of Flushing of which I have been so truly sensible that it has brought me (if I may be permitted thus to express it) to my diligence in that place where error & impiety greatly abound nor have I been wanting (thro' the Divine assistance) in the other parts & duties of my Mission for the space of almost one and twenty years to approve myself a faithful Labourere & my trust in God is that I shall continue to approve myself such whilst.


Jamaica March 28th 1749
I have great hopes that our Church at Flushing will in a little time gain ground among the Quakers who are very numerous there, and it is somewhat remarkable and may be thought worthy of notice, that a man who had for many years strictly adhered to the principles of Quakerism, when that new Church was opened & a collection made he gave money for the use of that Church, but thinking he had not put enough in the Plate, went immediately after service and gave more to the Collector.



Mr. Colgan died in 1755 and then the "dissenters" tried their coup - long famous locally - of at once installing one of their own ministers, Simon Horton, into the vacancy, but Governor Hardy made short work of that and Samuel Seabury Jr. was inducted to the charge of the three towns. He was not a success by any means, and by 1760 he complained that the communicants in Grace Church were less than 20. Under these circumstances the full amount of his stipend was not forthcoming and the constant attention necessary to keep the church in repair was relaxed with the usual result. With the view of improving matters, Seabury got up the idea of having Grace Church incorporated, and the following document, which explains itself, was drawn up, signed and presented to Cadwallader Colden:


To the Honourable Cad3allder Colden Esq President of his Majesty's Council and Commander in Chief of the Provinec of New York and the Territories depending theron in America &c.

The Petition of the Minister of the Parish of Jamaica & Sundry of the Inhabitants of The Town of Jamaica on Nassau Island Communicants & professors of the Church of England as by Law Established.
That the Inhabitants of the town of Jamaica: Memers & professors of the Church of England as by Law Established: did some years ago by Voluntary contributions Erect & finish a decent & Convenient Church in the Town of Jamaica; for the Celebration of Divine Services according to the use of the Church of England, but that through the Want of some proper Persons to Superintend the Affairs of the SAme: With Legal Authority, the Building is now Considerably out of Repair, and There is Danger Least moneys contributed for the Repair of the Same may be Improperly Applyd to the Detriment of your Petitioners: & Thro' the want of Such Persons it also comes to pass yt Peious & Well Disposed People are Discouraged, in their designs of Establishing & Erecting proper Funds for the Support Of the Church & its Ministry Your Petitioners Therefore Humbly beg that yr Honour Takeing these things into Consideration Would be Pleasd to Grant us a Charter (Incorporating such Persons as upon Mature Deliberation shall be found Worthy) with such Privileges & Immunities as in Your Wisdom you shall think Proper And Your Petitioners as in Duty bound will Everf Pray
Aprill the 8th 1761
Samuel Seabury Jur Minister
Robert Howell
Benjamin Carpenter
John Huchiens
John Smith
Jacob Ogden
Joseph Olfield
Joseph Olfield Junr
Jhno Troup
John Comes
Thomas Truxton
Thos Braine
Benj. Whitehead
Samll Smith
William Sherlock
John Innes
Isaac Vanhook
Thos Hinchman
Adm Lawrence



The charter was granted, the church was repaired as the result of a subscription which netted 93lb 18d, but the people did not flock to Mr. Seabury's ministrations in any greater numbers than before. So he gladly went his way when an opening occurred for him at Westchester, and the Rev. Joshua Bloomer was installed in his stead. Mr. Bloomer commenced his ministry May 23, 1769, and soon was able to announce that his services were well attended - "crowded assemblies who behave with decorum." But the times were sadly out of joint and it was not long before he had some trouble in getting payment of his salary as it fell due. When the crisis came Mr. Bloomer found it necessary to close his church for a few weeks; some of his members were sadly persecuted by order of Congress, several even sent to prison or to Connecticut, but with the vistoy of August 27, 1776, all went well and the good, loyal minister was again permitted to pray for King George and the royal family without hindrance. In 1778, as a result of a lotter, $780 was realized for the purchase of a glebe, and with the money a farm of seventy acres was bought about a mile west of Jamaica village. It was not the first time a lottery had come to the aid of Grace Church. By one in 1747, the bell in its steeple had been bought. The glebe does not seem to have proven a profitable adjunct to the church, and it was offered for sale in 1786. With the cessation of hostilities, Mr. Bloomer seems to have passed over the crisis of the sentiment against everything British undisturbed, and ministered in his three charges until 1790, when he passed to his reward, and his remains were laid to rest in the chancel of Grace Church.


After Mr. Bloomer's death, however, the congregation began to dwindle, although most of the rectors were men of more than ordinary ability. In 1808 the money received at a communion season was only $234. There is no doubt that the influence and generosity of the King family was the most potent agency in carrying the church through its darest days, which may be said to have lasted from 1796 until 1815, and the first substantial token of that interest was a gift from Rufus King of real estate in New York sufficient to yield the record $500 a year. The same generous hand in 1820 started the movement for the erection of a new church, and as a result the second Grace Church was built and opened for service July 15, 1822. This building served the congregation until January 1, 1861, when it was burned to the ground and to the building which took its place, a beautiful gothic structure of stone, and which was consecrated by Bishop Horatio Potter January 8, 1863, the King family were princely subscribers, while their subsequent gifts were numeous and munificent.


The Dutch Church seemed to have had its beginning in Jamaica in 1702, and for a time its services were held in the little stone building erected by the Presbyterians. For some years the congregation was ecclesiastically attached to the Kings County Consistory, but in 1715 they managed to build one of the little octagon edifices such as the early Dutch congregations delighted in, but they failed to offer enough in the way of inducement and that project slept. Afterward when there were small congregations formed at Newtown, Success and Wolve Hollow futher attempts were made to get a clergyman to devote himself to the four, but it was not until 1741 that they succeeded, and the Rev. Johannes Henricus Goetschius settled among them. He and his successors were able men, but they did not attract large congregations somehow and the people did not seem to act as a harmonious unit with regard to this. During the Revolution the church was unceremoniously used by the British as a storehouse, the people were without any stated pastor, but Dominies Rubell and Schoonmaker, of Kings county, visited them at intervals and held services in Grace Church. After the war was over the Rev. Rynier Van Nest became the pastor of the four churches. It was decided, in 1794, to have haf the services in English, as it was thought that the younger people might wander away, seeing that the tongue of the motherland was thoroughly understood by only a few. But the old Dutch service continued to be a feature and old Dr. Schoonmaker, who was minister of the church when the old building was abandoned, June 23, 1833, delivered the farewell sermon in Dutch, although not over half a dozen could follow his words clearly.
The new church, a frame structure, was consecrated July 4, 1833, by which time the octagonal edifice had been demolished. With this change the congregation (it had parted company with the other Reformed Churches in the county) seems steadily to have waxed in strength. The building was burned to the ground on November 19, 1857, but on October 6, 1859, the present tabernacle was opened for worship. It cost over $20,000.


The Methodist Episcopal body had a congregation in Jamaica in 1784, but it was not until 1810 that they erected a church.
The first Roman Catholic Church, St. Monica's, was erected in 1839 and the first Baptist Church in 1869. In 1873 the German Reformed Church was erected.


From the consecration of churches we pass easily as a corrollary to the God's acre, where the fathers of the village sleep. There are several of these in Jamaica township, notabley that at Springfield and the quaint Hebrew cemetery at Woodhaven, but the oldest of them all is that in Jamaica village. It was first set aside - to the extent of ten rods square - in 1668 and with considerable additions has been used since then, although the oldest existing stones bear such comparatively recent dates as 1732 and 1737. It has been much beautified in recent years and the chapel at its gateway, the Chapel of the Sisters, built by Nicholas Ludlum, of New York, in 1857, in memory of his daughters, is an attractive piece of architecture. In Jamaica village also the Roman Catholic, Methodist and Protestant Episcopal Churches each have their grounds "sacred for the resting place of their dead." In the ground of the last named is the grave of Rufus King and of many of the other members of that famous family.


At first, as might be expected, agriculture and hunting were two industries of Jamaica most generally followed, the two industries in which the early settlers found their employment and amusement. It was not long, however, before the area of industry was widened. In 1663 John Ouldfield, at a town meeting, was voted a home lot and twenty acres of meadow land on which to settle and pursue his occupation - that of a tanner. He was admonished to stick strictly and constantly to his trade and to take care only to produce good leather. How he behaved himself after "getting in" we are not told, but as the eyes of the leaders of the community were upon him it is very likely that he fully met their views. In 1669 the settlers offered James Hubbard of Gravesend, ground on which to erect a mill, but he preferred to remain in Lady Moody's baliwick. Benjamin Coe, however, fell in with the offer in the following year and the people agreed to build a dam for the mill which he agreed to erect and work. It was part of the agreement that in return for the lot and the other bounties conferred upon him, he should grind the corn of the townspeople in preference to that of stangeres on days to be mutually agreed. Mr. Coe carried out his part of the agreement so well that they added ground for a grist mill. The milling business after a time fell into the hands of Joseph Carpenter and Caleb Carman on the same terms as Coe had received and which did not pan out very well with him, but whether owing to his imcompetency or neglect history sayeth not. The new firm, however, were also allowed to erect a saw mill and were to be permitted to feed it from the common lands of the township under a few restrictions pertaining to growing trees. Their wok according to the peculiar ideas of the time was to be done cheaper for the townspeople than for others, but even toward outsiders they were not permitted to make extravagant charges. This arrangement seems to have proved eminently satisfactory all around. Milling privileges were awarded in 1685 to Benjamin Coe and John Hansen, but there is no record as to how Coe profited in this venture by his first experience. There is also a record of half an acre of land being voted to a cooper on condition that he work at his trade, build a home "and supply the town with such cooper's work as they shall stand in need of." In 1704 permission was given to Jonathan Whitehead and Benjamin Thurston to establish a fulling mill to "full [shrink] all kinds of cloth, press the same for three pence a yard, and to full for the townspeople before other townspeople." For a long time the milling industry in Jamaica was a most important one, but little has been heard of it in recent years.


In 1676 the first record of a local school appears in the record, for in that year Richard Jones was given the use of the little stone church "for to teach scoule in for ye yere ensuing, provided he keep ye windowes from breaking and keep it deasent and cleane on Saturday nights against ye Lor'd Day and seats to be place in order." How Brother Jones fared and how long he kept "scoule" is not stated. Nine years later mention is made of a girls' school kept of "Goody" Davis. In 1705 Henry Lindley was licensed by Governor Cornbury to teach school in Jamaica and a similar authority was conferred in the same yar to Thomas Huddleston. The ministers of the Church of England generally were in receipt of small grants from the London Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to provice teaching facilities, but the amount was never, in the case of Queen's county, sufficient to securfe more than temporary service. Thus the Rev. Mr. Poyer complains, in 1724, that while there were schools in Jamaica, Newtown and Flushing, they were taught by Quakers or Presbyterians. A public meeting was called in 1726 to consider the possibility of establishing a free school, but nothing came of it, probably owing to theological differences. Still the educational facilities of Jamaica seem to have been ample at all times, and several of the teachers, such as James Lockhart, Thomas Temple and John Moore, all pre-Revolutionary schoolmasters, were men of more than ordinary education. In 1777 Andrew Wilson opened a grammar school, and in 1784 the Rev. Matthias Burnet, the Presbyterian minister, opened a private school, in which he proposed to teach Latin and Greek, and for which he was engaged "a person" to teach the common branches, writing, book-keeping, vulgar arithmetic and the like. The opening, in 1791, of Union Hall Academy led the way to other schemes of higher education. The history of that institution has already been referred to. In 1812 the common-school system of the state superseded all private enterprises to a great extent and put all the private schools in the commonwealth within a short time on a standard basis. Still even under that sytem, as it progressed, much was due to the work and intelligence of local teachers and superintendents, and in this regard we must recall the work of Henry Onderdonk Jr., who was the first superintendent of common schools under the law passed in 1844.


Jamaica has never figured much in the outside world. The General Assembly of the Province of New York met in the village in 1702 and again in 1753, and in 1790 it received a visit from George Washington, who seemed to have been fully satisfied with his reception and his entertainment. The village received a charter in 1814 and an additional patent of the same class in 1855. The town meetings were held at first in the meeting house, which has been generally spoken of as the stone church, but afterward when that place became the Episcopalian sanctuary they were held in the court house. That building was torn down by the British troops in 1777 for military reasons, and from that time until 1858 they were convened at various inns and public houses.

In 1858 a town hall was erected on Herriman street, near Fulton street - a wooden two-story structure, inconvenient and dangerous. It served its purpose, however, until 1870, when the present town hall was completed and was then converted into dwellings.


In 1827, so far as the records show, the first made road in Jamaica was laid out, and it was followed by several others, but it is not likely that any of these early highways are still used and their original boundaries are not now exactly determinable. In 1786 the people in town meeting decreed that no hogs should be permitted to roam about the streets, and we see plenty of other evidences of a desire to improve the amenity of the town much earlier than was the case in many other Long Island villages. It was not until 1830, however, that the township was divided into ten road districts, and a systematic effort mde at their improvement and maintenance.


While Jamaica was in all moral respects quite a clean community, yet the people seemed to be at all tiem in a condition to punish such evil doers as might run up among them. The early town meetings were liberal their scale of fines for contraventions of local laws and a significant appointment was that of whipper, to which office Joseph Prue was appointed in 1772. His work, it is true, lay principally among negroes, but still he stood ready to suitably admonish any one the law throught deserving of such treatment. In those early days theft was a capital offense, and as late as 1782 we read of two unfortunates - William Guthrie and Joseph Alexander - being hanged at Jamaica for stealing from a famer in Cow Neck. But hanging was too expensive a luxury to be indulged in by a country town like Jamica. Such corrective agencies as the lock-up or cage, or even the stocks, were much more in vogue. In fact as alte as 1808 new stocks were ordered to be erected.


When the Revolution was over, the redcoats gone and peace had been proclaimed, Jamaica celebrated the result with huzzas and ovations and feasting, and then quietly settled down to the even tenor of its days. Of course, it felt remotely the trend of the outside world, it had reverent funeral procession when the news reached it that George Washington ws no more, and it felt a revival of the old patriotic thrill when the news came in 1812 that war with Britain was again on; it was stirred up to its depths around each election time, but such flurries soon passed over and left little trace. Its splended fishing in Jamaica Bay seems to have attracted few adventurous spirits and the islands which dot that island sea, and which were included in the boundaries of the township, were untenanted and unknown. It had its newspapers - the Long Island Farmer was started by Henry C. Sleight in 1819, and the Long Island Democrat first saw light at Jamaica in 1835, - and these in a measure supplied the news of their day and more or less sage comment and communication was kept up with the outside world by means of lumbering stages, which run on the schedule time which was formulated each trip by the caprice and in accordance with the temper of the driver.


A revival, the great modern revival, set in in 1837, when the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad was opened. With that came, slowly at first but surely, wonderous changes. The once famous plank road of 1854 has already been spoken of, and other road improvements were soon in vogue. By and by the horse car supplemented the service of the railroad, bur the advent of the trolley and the introduction of something like rapid transit by the railroad brought the old village nearer and nearer, as it were, to Brooklyn.

As the means of transit increased the land boomers began to turn their attention in the direction of Jamaica, especially after it began to be understood that the elevated railroad system of Brooklyn was certain, sooner or later, to be extended there. Under their manipulation such places as Dunlin, Richmond Hill, Woodlawn, Clarenceville, Morris Park, Woodhull Park and half a dozen settlements were opened up and the lots disposed of with remarkable celerity. Even the old pre-Revolutionary village of Springfield - a place in fact not many years the junior of Jamaica village itself - felt the impulse of the change, and Woodhaven, founded in 1836 by John R. Pitkin, talked confidently of extending its manufactories. In 1863 Messrs. Lalance & Grosjean entered upon the manufacture of agate ware in an old factory building and extended the business so rapidly that in 1870 it was necessary o organize a joint stock company to operate and control it. The capital stock was fixed at $500,000 and the operations grew steadily year by year. In 1876 its buildings were destroyed by fire, but the calamity in the long run really helped the corporation, for the old structures were at once replaced with modern buildings, in which the most advanced appliances were introduced. The goods made by this establishment are now to be found all over the country.
Queens, another of Jamaica's suburbs, has also felt the impulse of the modern movement, and has gradually been opened up to settlement. It still, however, retains much of its primitive agricultural aspects, although in thte recent railroad changes which have been discussed it seems likely that Queens will, more than all the outlying portions of the old township, receive its share of the material prosperity so confidently anticipated.


Just as these lines were being penned a telegram brought the news of the death of one of the most devoted of Jamaica - ex-Governor Richard C. McCormick - at his home, 88 Herriman avenue, in that village. In this work he took a deep interest, made many valuable suggestions and promised to aid it from his rich stores of Long Island historical data. He was a most enthusiastic student of county history and had gathered together a valuable library containing published volumes of local history from all over the country, for, as he said, in such works the real story of the nation and its people is to be found. In conversation with the writer a few weeks before his death he told the story of a now forgotten movement to erect at Jamaica a statue of General Nathaniel Woodhull and regretted that that grand hero was apparently forgotten in the region where he was best known and where he gave up his life for his country.

Both the political and the business career of Governor McCormick were anything but commonplace. In recent years he had been engaged in mining operations, with offices at 1 Broadway, New York, but in earlier life he was active as a Republican, and had the confidence of such men as General Grant, Zachariah Chandler, and William H. Seward. This was considered somewhat remarkable, as he married a daughter of one of the most distinguished Democratic statesmen of the day, Allen C. Thurman, of Ohio.
Mr. McCormick was born in New York City on May 23, 1832, and was descended from several old Long Island families. He was elected Trustee of Public Schools for the Eleventh Ward in 1858, and two years later was a member of the Republican State Committee, taking an active part in the campaign of that year in support of Lincoln, as he ahd in the canvas four years previously, when General Fremont was his party's candidate. He was made Chief Clerk of the United States Department of Agriculture in 1862, and a year later became Secretary of the Territoty of Arizona. So well did he attend to his duties of this office that in 1866 he was appointed Governor of the Territory by President Johnson, and at once set about placing the people in a better condition for definding themselves against the hostile Apaches. It was on his advice that General Crook was sent to this section.

Governor McCormick served three terms as a delegate in Congress from Arizona, and declined a fourth nomination in order to accept the appointment of Commissioneer to the Centennial Expostiion. He was appointed Assistant Secretary of the United States Treasury in 1877, and Commissioner General to Paris Exposition in 1878. Returning to New York and settling in Jamaica, he devoted himself to promoting the large mining enterprises with which he had become identified. He was President and Director of the Boreel Mining Company and the Small Hopes Consolidated Mining Company, a Director of the Leadville Consolidated Mining Company, and a Trustee of the Citizens' Savings Bank. He served a term in Congress from the First New York District, taking his seat on March 4, 1895.

During Governor McCormick's stay in Arizona he kept Secretary Seward informed as to Maximillian's movements in Mexico. He was one of the founder of the Long Island Historical Society and the author of "Arizona: Its Resources," and of several other works, and was a member of the Union League Club, the American Geographical Society, and of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion. He was also a Commander of the Legion of Honro of France.


[Transcriber's note: There is a residential area in Scottsdale, AZ known as "McCormick Ranch," named for this person].

Blind Counter


LI INDEX

"