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I - An Indian Crossroads

II – 1600 to the French and Indian Wars

III The Battle of Saratoga and a Brave Chaplain

IV The Traveling Priest and Jesse Finne

V A Parish Incorporated

VI A Church Edifice Is Built

VII Fifty Years of the Good Life in a Small Parish

VIII Early Supporting Families

IX Trying Times

X Rebuilding and the Gift of a Bishop

XI Some Remarks from Rev. James L. Lowery, Jr.

XII The Future (a 1968 perspective)

XIII Changes (1968present)

 

Appendix I List of Missionaries, Rectors, and Priests in Charge (by years)

Appendix II Organ Description
Appendix III BibliographyDisclaimer

 

I – An Indian Crossroads

During the glacial epoch and the succeeding erosion, a river was formed, which was to become a major north-south passageway in the state of New York. Along the river, where the land was flat and fairly open, easy passage was found for the early travelers. Furthermore, the area teemed with fish and game. It is little wonder that the area of the “Three Rivers” had a strategic importance that predated the coming of the white man. The area around present-day Schuylerville was an old crossroads of Indian trails, often being used by war parties of Iroquois or Algonquin.

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II – 1600 to the French and Indian Wars

In the 1640s, the Jesuit priest and missionary Father Isaac Jogues, accompanied by the Sieur de Bourdon, is believed to have been the first European person to visit this region then known to the Native Americans as Sarachtitoge. Indians murdered the Roman Catholic priest on October 18, 1646 and a shrine was erected in his memory. It is located a good distance to the Southwest at Auriesville on the Mohawk River.

 

There is some question as to whether the first Christian religious ministrations in the area now known as Schuylerville were Anglican or Roman Catholic. But they definitely were missionary ministrations.

In the year 1702–1703, a military post was built and staffed in the area of Old Saratoga as a defense against Indians and French at the sight of the ford in the upper Hudson River where later a pontoon bridge would be built for the transmission of Washington County produce to the businesses and marts of Saratoga County. There was a succession of forts: Fort Clinton in the 1740s and Fort Hardy in the 1750s. Protection was most necessary in these times of massacre.

 

In the period of the French and Indian Wars, the Indians knew “Father Joe,” a Roman Catholic missionary priest, for his occasional ministrations.

In the same period, there was need for ministrations to the British military at the local post. Accordingly, the fourth Rector of St. Peter’s Church, Albany (mother church of the present Albany Episcopal Diocese), The Rev. John Ogilvie, whose tenure in the said position was 1750–64, was much in evidence wherever the forward posts of the British military were. His chaplainry work led him with the Johnson expedition against Fort Niagara, and in 1760 with Sir Jeffrey Amherst through Old Saratoga to Montreal. This man restored the fabric of Old St. Peter’s in Albany after a time of spiritual and material decay, ministered to the Indians of the Albany area, and to British garrisons beyond. It was he who held the first Anglican services in the area: missionary, chaplain, and pastor.

 

Dr. Ogilvie’s successor, a former Army chaplain named the Rev. Harry Munro, could not carry on all three of these works, and he was too blunt a man to shillyshally about it. Relieved at his own request of the Indian work, he carried on the parish work in Albany, and made missionary journeys to such places as Lansingburgh (North Troy), St. Choack (Hoosick Falls or Schaghticoke), Shaftsbury, Arlington (VT), Camden, White Creek (Cambridge), Stillwater, and Saratoga (Schuylerville), “being a journey of one hundred miles and upwards.”

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III The Battle of Saratoga and a Brave Chaplain

One of the ten or twelve great battles of history was fought in this area, ranking with Arbella, Marathon, Waterloo, and others. It was the Battle of Saratoga and it has been considered the turning point in the American Revolution.

 

Divided into two main engagements, the Battle of Bemis Heights and the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, it took place in the present settlements of Bemis Heights, Victory Mills, and Thomson from September to October of the year 1777. The leaders of the opposing forces were General John Burgoyne on the British side and General Horatio Gates on the American.

 

In the summer of 1777, the British had begun to carry out a planned three-pronged pincers movement to cut the former American colonies in two. Admiral Howe was to send a column north from New York. But that part of the plan never materialized (due either to conflicting military demands near Philadelphia or to his Whig politics in the day of a Tory government). Colonel Barry St. Leger was to proceed east from the Great Lakes along the Mohawk Valley with his Loyalist-and-Indian band. But his force was turned back by the colonials under General Nicholas Herkimer at the Battle of Fort Stanwix (Oriskany). The third and largest contingent of British invaded the Colonies from the north, leaving Canada under the command of Lt. General John Burgoyne. After engagements on Lake Champlain and at Ticonderoga, Burgoyne’s force, with General Simon Fraser heading the Advanced Corps, met the main body of American troops collected to oppose him under General Gates.

 

During the defeat of the British forces, the courage of one man especially impressed the troops on both sides of the conflict. Chaplain Edward Brudenel of the Church of England, attached to “Gentlemen Johnny’s” units, was called upon to bury the various war dead. During the second engagement on October 8, 1777 (the Battle of Freeman’s Farm), General Fraser, who had been badly wounded, expired. Chaplain Brudenel performed the Prayer Book rites for the burial of the dead at 6 PM in the evening on a hill in full view of the American forces, who cannonaded him until they realized the purpose of his public appearance. On occasions cannon shot fell less than fifteen feet away, showering his black coat with dirt. But such interruptions failed to halt the rites of the Church, until the earthly remains had been committed with due ceremony to the military grave. It is worth noting that the Americans soon ceased firing upon the good Chaplain, and that his courage is mentioned by both sides in the immense literature of this Battle.

 

A man of action, Chaplain Brudenel also personally evacuated Lady Acland (whose husband was a major commanding the British Grenadiers, and was wounded and captured in the Battle), along with her maid and her husband’s wounded valet, by the expedient of rowing them and himself down the upper Hudson River to a point behind the American lines. Such strength of character can be seen again in later Episcopalians who remained steadfast in difficult times.

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IV – The Traveling Priest and Jesse Finne
Let the words of Reuben Hubbard, Priest of God and traveling mission clergyman out of Stillwater, New York, tell the story.

“… I had passed on the road for some years, and had always made Schuylerville my place of stopping for refreshments. I had felt a wish to preach here, but knew none who would encourage it. On the fifth of March 1838, I was passing, and found the shed too full to admit my horse. The snow falling fast, I rode to the next tavern, which was kept by Mr. Jesse Finne. While there, warming myself, an acquaintance came in, and recognized me as a clergyman. Mr. Finne listened to our conversation; and asked if I was an Episcopalian. I replied in the affirmative, and that I had the honor to be a minister of that Church. He said that it had been his religion from his youth. At this his heart moved and I was invited to remain to dinner and did not leave the family until I had engaged to come there and preach.

 

… On the 19th of the same month I preached in their house to an attentive congregation. From that time on I have continued to hold services there. The first Baptisms were three children of John Finne, which are duly recorded in the registers of St. John’s Church, Stillwater. The first administration of the Lord’s Supper was at Mr. Finne’s, on the evening of Easter Sunday, April 19, 1840, to a sick and dying daughter of Mr. Finne…”

Thus the first celebrations of the Prayer Book liturgy took place in a tavern in Northumberland at the insistence of staunch Connecticut churchmen who had come over the hills from Reading and with the help of the missionary-minded priest from Stillwater. Both parties, it is reported, looked upon the meeting as the act of Divine Providence.

 

The first service in the village of Schuylerville itself was in the Academy on the First Sunday in Lent, February 25, 1844, the subject of the discourse being “Repentance.”

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V – A Parish Incorporated

Regular services having been held since 1838 by Rev. Reuben Hubbard, the next logical step was to form a parish and call a Rector. This was done on March 2, 1846, at a meeting held in Northumberland at the house of Jesse Finne. The latter and James Pickering were chosen Church Wardens. The original slate of Vestrymen were John Finne, Joseph Finne, Benjamin Losee, James Pickering Jr., George Upfold Gates, James G. Stibbins, John H. Preston, and Henry W. Merrill. Dr. Preston later served long and faithfully as a Warden during his many years of practice in the area from 1834 until his death in 1898. The date for the Annual Meeting of the parish corporation was set at Easter Monday of the Church Year. It has since been changed to December.

 

In the same year, conferences with the Victory Manufacturing Company resulted in the gift of a plot of land for a church edifice and a school building. (The present Church and parish house occupy a portion of the original grant.) At this point, readers of the parish history should remember two things. The first being that neither the present canon law nor civil church corporation law had been yet written. It was the practice in such occasions for a man to be Rector of several parishes at the same time, sharing his time between them. Even though the individual congregation was not self-supporting, the corporation might remain, and a parish be formed. The result, in the present Episcopal Diocese of Albany, is that many of the clergy hold plural benefices as rector of several cures at once. The second matter is that the public school system had not yet become standard throughout the region. It was often the practice of an Episcopal parish, the clergy being known as a learned ministry, to set up a private grammar school, with the Rector as instructor, and thus to serve the area in which the Church was set. Thus it is worthy to note that the intention of establishing a church and school is compelling evidence of outreach and service to the community.

 

In 1850, the Rev. Reuben Hubbard was forced to resign his multiple cure due to his removal to Yonkers. Dr. Charles H. Payn first appears in the Vestry minutes as one of the members deputed by that body to secure the services of a minister. No successor was found for some time to fill the shoes of the active Rev. Mr. Hubbard.

 

For some seventeen years thereafter, weekly services were held at the request of Dr. Payn by clergy of the Missionary Convocation of Saratoga County appointed to so serve. There was no regular Rector or Priest-in-Charge — an arrangement that was manifestly unsatisfactory. Thus, in 1868, influenced by a great happening in Schuylerville, and aided by a missionary grant from the diocesan Board of Missions, the Rev. George Fisher began his labors as resident Missionary in the Town of Saratoga.

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VI – A Church Edifice Is Built

The action that resulted in the permanent establishment of a resident pastor in Schuylerville, and a great leap forward in labors in the Lord’s vineyard, was the building a church edifice. The Parish Register and the pages of the Saratoga County Standard read as follows:

 

“It having been put into the heart of Charles H. Payn (the doctor who married into the family then living in the General Schuyler mansion) to build a Church in the honor of the glory of God, the cornerstone was laid on Tuesday in Whitsunweek, June 2, 1868; the Rev. J. B. Gibson acting at the request of the Bishop. The building, though not complete, was opened for service on the following Christmas Day – the font, purchased by Dr. Payn, was first used on Good Friday 1869; by persons then being baptized…

 

… The organ, built by Jardine and Sons, New York, and purchased by Dr. Payn, was put up during Easter Week 1869. The bell, cast at the foundry of Jones and Brothers, Troy, and purchased by Dr. Payn, was hung in its place in the tower on Tuesday in Whitsunweek, May 18, 1869…

 

… On Thursday, St. Matthias Day, February 24, 1870, Bishop Doane (the newly consecrated first Bishop of the brand-new diocese of Albany) consecrated the Church. Fifteen clergy were present. In the evening, twelve persons were confirmed.

 

… The Church is a fair reproduction of the best type of English rural churches, and was devised by the same architect who built the beautiful little churches at Caldwell and Bolton, Lake George. The stone was brought from Glens Falls.

 

… The following is a list of names deposited in the cornerstone: the Rt. Rev. Horatio Potter, DD, LL, D, DCL, Oxon., Bishop of New York; His Excellency Reuben E. Fenton, Governor of New York; Charles H. Payn, MD; (many missionaries and church officers); the Rev. R. F. Crary of Poughkeepsie, Architect; William Nichols of Albany, Master Carpenter; James W. Camp of Glens Falls, Master Mason; and Victory Manufacturing Company, donors of the ground.

 

… The following is a list of articles placed in the cornerstone: a copy of the Holy Scriptures, a copy of the Book of Common Prayer, the Church Almanac for AD 1868, a copy of the Church Journal, a copy of the Gospel Messenger, a copy of the Churchmen, a copy of the Constitution and Bylaws of the Church Missionary Convocation of Saratoga County, a copy of the Statement of the Missionary Convocation of North New York with a map of its field, several of the smaller planes and currency of the USA given by various descendants and relatives of George Strover, Esq., a list of names, as given above, and the following, taken from the Indian grave that was discovered in excavating the foundation of the Church: two flint arrowheads, two copper beads, and one crown of a human tooth, the enamel portion being perfect; and also a copy of the Saratogian…”

 

The Rev. J. H. Babcock took charge of the parish April 20, 1869. He was followed by the Rev. George Walker on June 5, 1870. The latter parson regularly ventured across the Hudson River to the wilds of Union Village (later Greenwich), and following the lead of Mr. Babcock, who had held one service in 1869, officiated on a continued basis for the benighted souls there, first in the Congregationalist convention, and then, when that congregation ceased to be, in the Unique Opera House: the missionary zeal which had such a part in the founding of St. Stephen’s parish was catching, it seems.

 

From 1871 on, there were again regular parish meetings, and elections of Wardens, Vestrymen, and Delegates to the diocesan convention. In this year, Dr. Payn and Dr. John Preston were elected Church Wardens. Both these worthies are memorialized in the stained-glass windows installed during the following two decades, along with members of the Bullard family, Coreys, Strovers, the Rev. Mr. Hubbard, and a Lt. Colonel Mudge who was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. Having sunk a building foundation into the ground, St. Stephen’s parish took deep roots in the community.

On October 9, 1875, the parish welcomed the Rev. George W. Dean STD as its new Rector and he ministered to the people until September of 1880.

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VII – Fifty Years of the Good Life in a Small Parish

The years 1875 to 1925 see a solid parish life flourish in a community whose existence is made more prosperous by the presence of gristmills, pulp mills, and cotton factories along the kills and creeks flowing into the upper Hudson River in the Schuylerville area.

 

Small but important aid from the Diocesan Board of Missions enabled the parish to retain its own resident priest, though he had to be shared with a new Greenwich parish across the river for brief periods around 1892 and 1896.

 

At this time the parish reached a high point both in numbers and income, the culmination coinciding with the prosperity of the First World War. Such Churchman employers as the Bullard family, one of whom was in the first group to be baptized in the new church edifice, and the Hon. John L. Dix, Governor of the State of New York, should also be mentioned. The Bullards brought men into the area to work in their grist mill and attendant properties and Governor Dix imported coachmen, gardeners, and domestics from England to staff is sizable estate across the river in Clarks Mills after his marriage to the daughter of Lemon Thomson, promoter of area pulp and paper concerns. The Dix establishment in Clarks Mills, until recently, housed the Schuyler Preparatory School.

 

Speaking of Governor Dix, a colorful story of his activities and relations with other parishioners has come to light through the recollection of a communicant who knew him. It seems that lightning had struck the church edifice, demolishing the top of the belfry and dislodging all of the roof plaster in the church proper. At a subsequent parish meeting, the good governor offered to pay for moderate repairs to the bell tower and the replacement of the plaster ceiling with the August Oak construction that now stands.

 

A young doctor’s wife sat in one of the pews at this meeting. With confidence in her artistic acumen, sharpened by education and experience, she rose to speak to the opinion that the original plaster ceiling pierced with contrasting beams offered a more fitting simplicity for a rural church of solid people. But this was an age when women were to be seen and admired, but not heard in public. Her physician husband unceremoniously yanked her back to the seat by her skirts, and Governor Dix’s offer was speedily accepted. And so the ceiling in the nave of the church bears its present solid oaken countenance.

Readers of this monograph will recall that the Victory Manufacturing Company had originally presented land in 1846 to St. Stephen’s parish for a church and a school. True to this intention, 1880 saw a newly arrived Rector, Rev. H.C.E. Costelle, begin work as master of the scholars attending classes in a building about on the site of the present rectory. Charges to the scholars amounted to the princely sum of ten cents per week in tuition.

 

The parish in this era represented a slice of life. Farmers, professionals, shopkeepers, executives, foremen, trolley-car conductors, tower workers, and laborers all shared in the life of the parish. All took part in the work of the church, at worship, in the Brotherhood of Saint Andrew Chapter and in the active Parish Aid Society. The Lowber family, descendants of the Strovers who had taken over the General Schuyler mansion from the original inhabitants in the wake of the 1837 panic, continued their loyal support of the parish that had begun with the building of the church edifice by Charles Payn, MD, a Strover son-in-law.

A number of Rectors served the parish of St. Stephen’s during this 50-year period. Rev. George L. Neide ministered to the parishioners of St. Stephen’s from 1882 until he was succeeded in 1884 by Rev. H.C. Hutchings who served briefly until 1885. In 1887, Rev. Aaron B. Clark took the position of Rector at St. Stephen’s. Rev. S. Stanley Searing replaced him in 1888 and served until 1889. Rev. J. Frederick Esch served as Rector from 1890 to early 1892. Rev. W.F. Parsons took over on July 7, 1892 and served until 1896. He was succeeded by Rev. Eleutheros Jay Cooke (1897–1908), followed by Rev. Willett N. Hawkins (1909–1912) who was succeeded by Rev. Alec B. Murray (1912–1924).

 

This period saw two flourishing pastorates: the rectorates of Eleutheros Jay Cooke, who served, resigned, and soon returned again to his beloved flock, and the Rev. A. B. Murray, pater familias, who had the extreme good sense to have a son marry into the Ostrander family of local eminence. These long and fruitful pastorates saw real self-support, and missionary giving. Much of the previous history of the parish vestry minutes is of the search for money for coal bills, repairs, and the salary of the Rector. These two Rectorates, for the most part, were blessedly free from such worries. A large brass plaque in the church chancel on the Gospel side commemorates the pastorate of Eleutheros Jay Cooke, who filled directory with three gracious ladies, kept it beautifully, and fulfilled the Priestly wish to die in harness and in the love of his people, expiring October 27, 1908 while watching William Howard Taft at a parade in Schenectady. He was a nephew of Jay Cooke, Civil War era financier, after whom he was named.

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VIII – Early Supporting Families

The support of faithful vestry, ladies, and a governor, as well as clergy, had much to do with the flourishing of St. Stephen’s Parish at the turn of the century. But nothing was more important to its life than the devotion, work, and membership of many faithful area families. Their role is legion and their importance vital. Brewers, Bullards, Elliotts, Grants, Langs, Montgomerys, Tices, and Varneys; these are but a few.

 

The Brewers: The Brewers were all but 100 percent Episcopalian from the beginning of the parish, commencing with Emma and Hattie Lucretia Brewer baptized in 1869 by Rector Babcock, with Mrs. H. D. Bullard, Mrs. J. D. Payn, and Dr. C. T. Payn are sponsors of the latter. One of this sizable family married her own Brewer cousin. From this clan issued Mrs. Frank Salls and Mrs. Christopher Jensen, among others.

 

The Bullards: The Bullards began as Dutch Reformed people. Their devotion as Episcopalians is due to intermarriage with the Davison family of Sherburne, New York. Peter I. Davison was a silversmith and jeweler in Sherburne and charter member of Christ Church there as well as longtime warden until his death in 1873. Two of his eight children, Helen and Peter, settled in Schuylerville, with a bachelor brother was a watchmaker and jeweler and his sister kept house. They played the organ, and were active founders of St. Stephen’s Church. Miss Davison’s marriage to Thomas J. Bullard brought him into the Episcopal Church. From this illustrious union issued Dr. Thomas E. Bullard and his progeny: Helen, Kenneth, and Richard.

 

The Elliotts: Perhaps the most numerous church family of this era was the Elliotts. 1912 saw 17 children and nine grandchildren in the church pews. When this family was growing, it just about filled the choir and Sunday School.

 

The Grants: The Patnauds, Pratts, and Johnsons of the present day descend from the Grant family. The original Grant parishioner came from Scotland to this country, married a New York State girl, lived in Toronto, and then came to Schuylerville to work on the railroad being built in the 1880s.

 

The Langs: Another large church clan was the Langs, who moved to the area shortly after the turn-of-the-century, some from Montpelier, VT, and others from Rouses Point, New York, to work in the Iroquois Paper Mill in Thomson. The Frank Lang family lived in the rectory between the period of the last resident rector and the refurbishing of the downstairs for parish house purposes.

 

The Montgomerys: A fourth-generation family in St. Stephen’s Church is the Montgomery clan of North of Ireland descent, they marry into an English Episcopal family named Todd, and came to work in the Thomson saw mill which later became American Hard Wood Board under the ownership of the Thompson and Blandy families. Lemon Thomson, who built the original sawmill, was great-great uncle to the present Arthur Montgomery and Mesdames Sherman, Lee, and Stoughton, and father-in-law of Governor Dix. For over 30 years, a Montgomery was superintendent of the boxboard plant and living in the big house in Thomson.

 

The Ellises and Hewitts: The Ellises and Hewitts became Episcopalian through a Miss Grace Tice who came as a teacher and married into the Hewitt family.

 

The Varneys: Another large and solid family are the Varneys, with whom the Towns are related. Their background was Welsh, Quaker, and Baptist, but there was no church of either of these denominations in Schuylerville when the family arrived, and there had already been Episcopal influence on one boy who had sung in the choir at the Church of the Messiah in Glens Falls, New York and so St. Stephen’s garnered another loyal family.

 

It is remarkable that a church that had so few families with long Episcopal tradition was able to gather in such fine families and to remain vital and strong through so many years.

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IX – Trying Times

The true mettle of a parish is only really tested when there have been hard times as well as fruitful. The time of testing soon came upon St. Stephen’s, Schuylerville. A regional exodus of fabric mills from the Northeast of the United States to the Southeast began soon after World War I. It was much felt in Schuylerville in the years 1924–28 when the Victory Manufacturing Corporation, with whose fortunes those of St. Stephen’s Parish had been so intertwined through the years, sold their power production facility to the Niagara Mohawk System and their buildings to United Board and Carton and moved away. The area water flow and sites had drawn a power station and a boxboard company, but the loss in population was never made up. The burden of this exodus also broke the health of the then rector of St. Stephen’s, Rev. W. A. Render. From 1928 on, the parish was forced to share a rector with St. Paul’s, Greenwich, with the priest living in Greenwich, in opposition to the former joint arrangements of the 1890s. St. Stephen’s was now “low man on the totem pole.” Non-resident Rectors under the shared arrangement were Fathers Frederick H. Chambers (1929–1930), Stanley C. Reynolds (1931–1933), Frederick L. Bradley — he of the catechism-first-then-football Saturday mornings — (1933–1940), Arthur W. Abraham(1941–1954), Samuel Arthur-Davies (1954–1957), George R. Kahlbaugh (1957–1962), James L. Lowery, Jr. (1962–1968), and William R. Harris (1968–1974).

Under Father Chambers, a brief renaissance took place, only to be aborted by the Great Depression. The rectory from this time on was the place of residence of the church sexton, the rent being his services to the parish.

It must be noted, however, that the parish corporation did not have to be broken, and St. Stephen’s Church never reverted to mission status. The rectory was ready for a resident pastor and a full schedule of worship and activities maintained. The parish had grit, and held on.

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X – Rebuilding and the Gift of a Bishop

Those who believe in the Communion of Saints know the “dear departed” to be very much with them. This fact is especially true with George Lowber, who departed this life in the 1940s, leaving a sizeable sum and the residue of his estate to St. Stephen’s Church. The bequest of this generous long-term vestryman and Churchman added sufficient funds to the small endowments possessed heretofore by the parish to give the congregation a yearly endowment income of about $1000. With the usual 1960s annual budget being not quite $6000, it may be seen that this represented no inconsiderable sum.

 

With bequest funds from Mr. Lowber, in the 1940s and 1950s, a temporary Hammond organ was purchased and the downstairs of the rectory renovated into a parish hall, kitchen, and office by the people of the congregation. Heartened by this help, the Parish Aid Society continued a series of suppers and sales that over a decade or two led to the raising of a sizeable additional Building Fund. The caretaker lived in the upstairs only and the downstairs of the rectory was converted into a parish house.

 

A part-share of the General Schuyler Mansion, 200 yards away also came into the parish corporation’s discretionary control under the terms of Mr. Lowber’s will. After careful consideration, and negotiation with the Old Saratoga Historical Association and the federal government, the legatees presented the mansion to the National Park Service to be restored by them to its 1790 architectural state and opened as a museum and part of the Saratoga National Historical Park. These actions were in keeping with the express wishes of Mr. Lowber and his sister, Jesse Lowber Marshall, third generation communicants at St. Stephen’s. The Old Saratoga Historical Association have a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service to furnish the building in period style and maintain the guide staff. In a very real sense, the focus of attention had turned full circle, and come again upon the battle wherein early Anglican ministrations had been bestowed upon the area. The Parish Centennial was celebrated in 1946 by a program featuring the Rev. George DeMille, Canon Historian of the Diocese of Albany.

 

The advent of the Rev. George R. Kahlbaugh as Rector in 1957, saw a renewed interest in the training of the younger generations — the future Church. The educational setup was reorganized and the whole parish made aware of this special ministry and work.

 

Under the leadership of Rev. James L. Lowery, Jr., who arrived in 1962, the Jardine pine organ in the church edifice was rebuilt, with the generosity of parishioners most important in this endeavor, and the parish house extended and redecorated, as well as being connected to the sacristy by a breezeway. The work of a Building Commission under Martin B. Munson was most important in this endeavor, as was a building fund campaign and the help of the Parish Aid Building Fund raised over the previous 20 years by dint of much hard “elbow grease.” Bequests from the estates of Josephine Gorey and Mabel Kahn also were of inestimable benefit. Mr. Munson received a special Bishop’s Award.

 

A great event in the 1960s life of St. Stephen’s Parish was the giving of a native son to be a Bishop in the Church of God. In the Cathedral of St. Paul in Detroit, C. Kilmer Myers, a Schuylerville boy and the son of faithful Churchmen Harry and Adeline Myers, was consecrated Suffragan Bishop of Michigan. Ever grateful for his fine Christian upbringing in the Old Saratoga Reformed Church of Schuylerville, Bishop Myers had become an Anglican while at Rutgers University, been ordained, and won national renown as an urban inner-city priest, first as Vicar of the Lower East Side Missions of Trinity Parish, New York City, and then as the founder and first director of the Urban Training Center for Christian Mission, an interfaith institute in Chicago.

 

Unfortunately, Harry Myers, father of the cleric, and longtime clerk and junior warden of the parish, did not live to witness the event in person. He died the week before. His gift of a son to the Church was gratefully acknowledged by the Diocese of Albany in convention assembled, in October 1964.

 

Bishop Myers was subsequently translated to become Bishop of California, one of the leading metropolitan diocese in the Anglican Communion, with its see in the city of San Francisco.

World War II and the period thereafter removed two other faithful pillars of the church from the scene: T. Kenneth Bullard, Esq. and Dr. Richard D. Bullard. Their generous spirit is still universally felt.

Kenneth Bullard established the Orchardmen avocation of his physician father as a full-time commercial enterprise. He ran the Orchards as a community institution, with as tremendous concern for people as for apples. His generosity to area and church were legendary. After Yeoman service as Vestryman and Warden of St. Stephen’s Church, he departed this life in the 1960s, leaving the entire area bereaved.

 

Dr. Richard D. Bullard, also a faithful warden of the parish, served as senior surgeon of the Saratoga Hospital, Naval surgeon, and earned military accolade for his heroic effort in ministering to the afflicted during the torpedoing of his ship in World War II. His brilliant career was cut short by an untimely death during the wartime.

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XI – Some Remarks from Rev. James L. Lowery, Jr.

Looking over the long period described above, it becomes most evident that St. Stephen’s Church could not have gotten along without three things. The first of these has been, for the greater period of its history, grants from the Board of Missions, usually of about $350 per annum. We have been dependent for our very life upon the missionary spirit and stewardship of others, off and on, almost from the very beginning. The second thing has been the stalwart support of the Parish Aid Society, still at its hard working ways. In fact, there have been times in our some 120 years of parish history when the yearly contributions from the works of the good ladies was at least equal to the total pledging of the families of the parish. The third matter, especially in years of late, as Board of Missions support ceased, has been the parish endowment funds. They have added a substantial grace note to the finances of the parish, and given us a wondrous, though undeserved, financial leeway. Gratefulness for such past help, and a desire to respond as best God may give us the ability to do, may be our goal.

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XII – The Future (a 1968 perspective as speculated by Rev. James L. Lowery, Jr.)

We have reviewed certain of the events and actions and people connected with the life of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Schuylerville in a period covering well more than a century. This is our past. But what of the future?

 

It is expected that the next years will see the spread of the Albany “megopolis” northwards all the way to the village of Lake George and eastwards to the upper Hudson River shores. As part of this growth, the area from Stillwater north to Schuylerville and from Saratoga Springs eastward toward us should become very thickly settled. Furthermore, the opening of the Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs and the coming 200th Anniversary of the Battles of Saratoga increases the tourist interest in the area, already brought about by the racing season, the Saratoga Battlefield, and the Schuyler Mansion. Traffic at local marinas, visitors at summer services, and the building of a new housing development in the village are indications of this anticipated growth, helped also by a new Boys’ Preparatory School on the former Dix Estate in Clarks Mills.

Thus in a decade or two, St. Stephen’s Parish, if it’s outreach is in consonance with its past history, may expect sufficient growth to become, once again, a parish with its own resident clergyman. However, such a plan will require present preparation, work, and prayer.

 

Accordingly, a two-phase strategy for the future was first outlined by the parish Vestry in the spring of 1965 during the course of certain of its meetings. The first phase is to build and maintain such a fabric in activities as to be ready for the future expansion, and to reach out to the present area by the offering of the parish facilities to serve the local community. The second phase is a concerted long-term effort to reach out and welcome all newcomers and unchurched in the parish area, as well as continuing service to the community. During the latter phase, a team ministry with Bethesda Parish at Saratoga Springs might be utilized, one of the team priests living in the Schuylerville rectory.

 

It is emphasized that this is a long-term plan, and that results will be some years in coming. But one may trust in the tenacity of this parish, as evidenced by its past history. There is a great past. There is a tenacious present. And there is a great hope for the future. May God bless St. Stephen’s Parish, and use her to His glory.

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XIII – Changes (1968–present)

In March of 1968, Fr. Lowery submitted a letter of resignation to the Vestry of St. Stephen’s to become effective August 1, 1968 because of his decision to pursue more specialized services that would, unfortunately, take him outside the Albany Diocese. Fr. William R. Harris assumed the position of Rector at St. Paul’s, Greenwich, in August 1968 and continued to provide St. Stephen’s the missionary services of his predecessors. With the installation of a new Bishop to head the Albany Diocese in 1974, the Vestry undertook to request the Bishop’s support in seeking a permanent Rector for St. Stephen’s. The search continued from February 1974 through August 1974 when the Rev. Joel MacCallum accepted the position. Renovations to the top floor of the Rectory were approved at that time to provide Fr. MacCallum with adequate lodging.

 

Fr. MacCallum submitted his letter of resignation to the Vestry on April 5, 1978 to become effective June 1, 1978, having accepted an Associate Rector’s position at St. Mark’s Church, Glendale, CA. Bishop Hogg then met with the Vestry regarding procedures to follow in searching for a new Rector. During this period, priests from neighboring communities were sought to provide services for the congregation. Through January of 1979, the Vestry continued to have difficulty in this venture. After long searching, at the Annual Meeting on February 5, 1979, the Vestry extended an invitation to the Rev. Franklin E. Huntress, Jr.to become the permanent Rector, and he accepted. With Bishop Hogg’s approval, Fr. Huntress assumed the position on March 18, 1979.

 

During Fr. Huntress’ early ministry at St. Stephen’s, many important repair and upgrade projects were undertaken. These included repairs to the stained glass windows at the rear of the church, refinishing of the front door, retarring of the roof to eliminate a moisture problem above the organ, repainting and renovating the Rectory, and the installation of plexiglass panels to protect the stained glass windows. It should be noted here that ceiling circulation fans were generously donated by Alice Peterson, a long-time active communicant of the parish, and installed in the church.

 

Fr. Huntress submitted his letter of resignation to the Vestry and congregation on October 21, 1985 to become effective December 2, 1985 in order to take up residency in New Bedford, MA, as Rector of St. Martin’s Church. The Rev. Guy Kagey, from Arlington, VT, agreed to provide Sunday services until such time as St. Stephen’s could secure another Rector.

 

Early in 1988, negotiations were entered into with the Rev. Monroe Freeman of Salem, NY, to accept the position of Rector. Fr. Freeman accepted and assumed his duties by the second quarter of that year. A subsequent letter of resignation was submitted by Fr. Freeman to be effective November 30, 1988. The Rev. Bernard Grainger took up services until a new Rector could be found.

 

The Rev. John M. Kettlewell was contacted by the Search Committee in September of 1990 to fill the vacancy as soon as possible. Due to renovations in the parish house and the apartment above delaying his arrival, Fr. Kettlewell assumed responsibility for the parish on December 23, 1990 until December 31, 2014. The Rev. Dr. Donna Arnold was contacted by the Search Committee in 2014 to become our Rector upon Fr. John’s retirement. She started in 2015.

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