A Little Octagonal Church

In August 2007 I wrote a little bit about Baltus Berentsen Van Kleek. He had been born in Holland, crossed the “pond”, settled in Flatbush NY, moved briefly to Bergen New Jersy (about 5 years), and later moved to, and died in, Poughkeepsie NY.

During the five years he lived in Bergen, New Jersey, Barent may have witnessed the raising of a little octagonal Church (William Day headed the construction of the new building). It’s official opening day was on 23 May 1681 with Rev. Casper Van Zuiren, from Long Island, delivering the Church’s first sermon.  Barent must have been impressed because, in fact, he joined that Church on 2 July 1683.

According to the book, Brief History of Old Bergen Church, p.2-3: “It’s [Bergen’s] windows were quite high from the ground probably as much for protection from the Indians as to prevent the children from looking out during the services. The archways over the door and windows were ornamented with small bricks imported from Holland… The church was surmounted by a brass rooster used as a weathercock.”

Old Bergen Church, NJ

Watching the resurrection of this little church may have influenced Baltus when he moved to Poughkeepsie, a place that was lacking  its own religious building.

According to the 1718 Deed Conveying First Property, Poughkeepsie’s first  Church lot was “butted and Boundett Vz on the Nort Sid to the Rood that Runs to the Eastard to the forsaid Cap’t Barendt Van Kleecks”.

Part of Baltus’ land was given to “the Inhabitance and Naborhood of Pochkepsen… to bild and maentaen a proper mieting house to worship.” (Anniversary Discourse and History of the First Reformed Church of Poughkeepsie, by A.P Van Gieson).

I think it is safe to say that if Baltus gave up land to give to his new Church, he was most likely very dedicated to it. In May 1800, Henry Livingston drew a map of Baltus Van Kleek’s original Poughkeepsie homestead. On the map, the Church is clearly drawn, with an adjoining cemetery and stones. Baltus lived and died in the shadow and the light of this  Church.

For more information on Barent Baltus Van Kleek go to: http://webpages.charter.net/ghshepard/Baltus_Barents.html

For more information on the History of the Bergen Church please take a look at the following webite: http://www.njcu.edu/programs/jchistory/Pages/O_Pages/Old_Bergen_Church.htm

For an e-book version of Anniversary Discourse and History of the First Reformed Church of Poughkeepsie go to, http://www.archive.org/stream/anniversarydisco00vangi/anniversarydisco00vangi_djvu.txt

Published in: on 30 September 2009 at 12:15 pm  Comments (1)