St. Paul’s Church of Fosters Meadow
1850’s to 1938
Today’s Presbyterian Church in Elmont, New York (formerly Fosters Meadow) is one of the first houses of worship built in the area and was constructed in the mid 1860’s. The church was originally established by the German population of Fosters Meadow as the German Evangelical Lutheran Church in 1864. The church became a Presbyterian church when it joined the Presbytery of Nassau in November of 1865 and was then known as the German Evangelical St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church.
In 1905 a new church was built to replace the original edifice to accommodate the growing population and was then still known as the German Evangelical St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church.
Today, the church is known as the Presbyterian Church of Elmont. The current church and cemetery are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. National Park Service) reference number 08000931. It is one of few buildings that remain from the area's longstanding German community and was placed on the national registry in 2008. The church is located at 525 Elmont Road in Elmont, New York.
The Beginning – Late 1850’s
The beginning of the St. Paul’s Church was started in the Fosters Meadow area of Long Island, New York in the late 1850’s.1 Services were conducted by ministers from different confessions from East New York, Brooklyn and East Williamsburg areas.
These early meetings were first held in the homes of devout people and were held in various locales on Merrick Road and Foster Meadow Road. After a time it was necessary to hold meetings in the old school house on the Hempstead and Jamaica Plank Road.2 The road today is known as the Hempstead Turnpike.
In February 1860 the trustees laid the ground work for a future church when they received a piece of land (100 x 200 feet) which Mr. Johann Seufert donated for a dollar.3
The number of believers had grown so much that in 1863 there was a need to build a house of God. A request by Mary Ann and John Seufert for a larger piece of land, namely two fields for $200.00, was the deciding factor on where to build.4
The 1859 Wallinger Map5 and the 1870 US Non-Population census6 show the Seufert farm on the east side of Foster Meadow Road north of Dutch Broadway.
The farm just north next to the Seufert farm in 1859 was owned by F. Freitzgel and on the 1870 census this farm was owned by John Helfrich. The two fields purchased from John Seufert for the church site would have been the fields next to either the Freitzel or the Helfrich farm depending who owned the land in 1864.
The land was bought on January 22nd, 18647 and soon after the construction of the church was undertaken. This is the site of the current church, now the Elmont Presbyterian Church, on Elmont Road in Elmont, New York.
On March 28th, 1864 the cornerstone8,9 was laid at the current location on Foster Meadow Road (Now Elmont Road in Elmont). The new church was to be known as the "The German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Fosters Meadow" and counted 40 members.10 The cornerstone services were partly conducted on the church grounds and partly in the Methodist Church, freely and kindly granted for the occasion. The Rev. Christian Weisel, pastor of the St. John the Evangelist Lutheran Church, Williamsburg, New York, was the service moderator.11
The new Fosters Meadow Lutheran Church was dedicated on 26th of December of 1864.12,13
1864 – Reverend Weisel
Rev. Augustus Weisel Jr., a Lutheran pastor, was given the pastoral charge in 1864 for the new Hicksville Lutheran Church under construction and for the Lutheran church at Fosters Meadow. The preaching in both places was to be mostly in German, but occasionally in English.14
During the April 18th, 1865 meeting of the Presbytery of Nassau, a petition from the German Lutheran Evangelical Congregation of Fosters Meadow asking to be received under the care of the Presbytery was read and referred to the Rev. Messrs. Morgan, Lee and Oakley with Ruling Elders E. Lange and D. Seeley, who were to visit the congregation and report to the Presbytery.15
The committee appointed to visit the Germans at Fosters Meadow, consisting of Messrs. J.J.A. Morgan, W.B. Lee, with Ruling Elders Seeley and Lange had attended to the duty assigned to them and reported that they met with these brethren and found quite a respectable congregation assembled.
The members of the congregation were very anxious to be taken under the care of the Presbytery and organized as a Presbyterian Church. Upon inquiring they found that there were about fifty families connected with the congregation and about the same number of communicants.
There was a Parochial School under the care of the church. They had built a very comfortable edifice and all shared a commendable spirit in fixing up the grounds. They were doing well in regard to the payment of the debt which remained on the church edifice. The committee was favorably impressed with the appearance of things in the church. The answers given by the congregation were satisfactory during these inquires having reference to the doctrines and manners of the life of the people.
The committee would recommend that their request be granted and that a committee be appointed to organize them into a Presbyterian Church, if the way be clear. In accordance with this recommendation, the Rev. Messrs. Neander, Oakley and Morgan with Ruling Elders Lange and Euylner were appointed a committee with the power to organize a church at Fosters Meadow.16
During the April 1866 Presbytery of Nassau meeting, the committee on the church at Fosters Meadow reported, the report was approved and the Presbytery directed that the church be placed on its roll with the name of the German Evangelical Church.
The report is as follows: To the Presbytery of Nassau,
The undersigned members of the committee appointed by the Presbytery at its meeting last fall to organize the German Church at Fosters Meadow, if the way should be clear, met with that congregation on the 13th of Nov. 1865 in the afternoon in their church building.
After devotional services suitable to that solemn occasion, and after the customary questions to the members present and to their satisfactory answers, they were solemnly declared and organized as the German Evangelical Church of Fosters Meadow in connection with the Presbytery of Nassau.
Then steps were taken by the members, forty in number, to nominate and elect three Ruling Elders: which having been done, these three Brethren, Henry Schlegel, Leopold Pflug and Mathias Conrad were ordained by the three ministers present as Ruling Elders of the German Church at Fosters Meadow. Signed: John Neander, J.J.A. Morgan, and P.D. Oakley17
1866 – Reverend Bielfeldt
In October 1866 during the morning Presbytery meeting, the Rev. Herman Bielfeldt from the Clarion Classis of the German Reformed Church was received as a corresponding member.18
At the afternoon meeting there was a call from the Fosters Meadow Church to Rev. Herman Bielfeldt and it was received and read. Mr. Bielfeldt presented a letter from the Classis of Clarion from the German Reformed Church and upon examination he was received as a member of the Presbytery of Nassau.19
In November a call from the Fosters Meadow Church to the Rev. H. Bielfeldt was read, and it being found in order, it was placed in his hands and he signified his acceptance of the same. It was resolved that the Fosters Meadow Church be and was thereby encouraged by the Presbytery to increase and supplement the amount of their pastors inadequate salary in every possible way.
Arrangements for the installation of Brother Bielfeldt were made as follows: The time was fixed on the last Sunday in November, the 25th, 1866 at 2:30 o’clock P.M. The Rev. P.D. Oakley to preside, preach and put the constitutional questions. J.J.A. Morgan was to give the charge to the pastor and the Rev. Mr. Huntting the charge to the people.20
Elders Euylner and Beard were appointed a committee to confer with the trustees of the Fosters Meadow Church with reference to the proper incorporation of their church.21
At the April 1867 Presbytery meeting the Rev. Mr. Bielfeldt requested dissolution of his pastoral relation with the Fosters Meadow Church. It was resolved that the church at Fosters Meadow be cited to meet the Rev.’s Oakley Huntting and Mason, with Elder Euylner at the Presbyterian Church in Jamaica at 3 o’clock P.M. on the 22nd of April to show cause why that relation should not be dissolved.22
The committee appointed to consider the affairs of the German Church at Fosters Meadow in relation to the application of the Rev. Mr. Bielfeldt for a dissolution of his pastoral relation, reported that after holding several meetings with the commissioners from the church and with the pastor, that they had under the power vested in them by the Presbytery, dissolved the pastoral relation of Rev. H. Bielfeldt on May 22nd, 1867 and appointed him to declare the pulpit of the Fosters Meadow Church vacant.23
In April of 1868 the Rev. H. Bielfeldt was granted a letter of dismission to the West New York Classis of the German Reformed Church.24
During 1867 the part of the congregation that joined the Nassau Presbytery took steps to change its name by law.25 The legally changed name of the church was changed from the original Lutheran Church name to the “The German Evangelical St. Paul's Church of Fosters Meadow." The name of the church was duly incorporated on the 27th Day of May, 1867.26
1867 – Mr. Oxce
In the October 1867 meeting, statements were made to the Presbytery with reference to reported irregularities in the Fosters Meadow Church and it was resolved that the session of that church be summoned to appear before the Presbytery at the adjourned meeting on the 14th inst. The Communications were received and read from the session of the Fosters Meadow Church and from the Trustees of the Congregation. 27
Mr. Paul Weeks also appeared as a commissioner from the congregation, together with the Elders summoned by the Presbytery. Rev. Messrs. Neander, Dickhaut and Oakley with Ruling Elder Eulner were appointed a committee to confer with the commissioners and Elders from the Fosters Meadow Church.28
The committee to confer with the commissioners and elders of the Fosters Meadow Church reported as follows: The committee on the Fosters Meadow Church begs leave to report that Mr. Oxce who was then preaching had never been licensed. He had also administered the Sacrament of Baptism in the congregation at Fosters Meadow and not having any papers testifying to his Christian standing, it was incompetent for the Presbytery to ordain him to the Gospel Ministry.
The report was approved. The Rev’s J. Neander and C. Dickhaut along with Elder Eulner were appointed a committee to take charge of the pulpit of the Fosters Meadow Church.29
During the April 1868 Presbytery meeting the committee appointed to take charge of the church at Fosters Meadow presented a report which was read and accepted and a committee of five were appointed to consult with the commissioners from the Fosters Meadow Church, with regard to the facts under debate and report to the Presbytery. Ministers Henry Losch, J. Leander, W.B. Lee with ruling Elders Wood and Converse, their committee offered a report which was accepted. The committee resolutions were laid on the table, and the following actions were taken.
1. That Mr. E. Oxce was to be taken under the care of the Presbytery as a candidate for the gospel ministry, after the usual examination upon experience at religion and his views in seeking the ministry.
2. That a committee be appointed to assign parts of trial to Mr. Oxce which he shall present at a future meeting of the Presbytery.
3. That in the meantime, Mr. Oxce was to be directed to procure from Germany authentic testimonials of his having gone through a regular course of learning. The Rev. Wm. Knox was appointed to the committee to assign his parts of trial.30
Later in the meeting, Mr. E. Oxce presented himself to be taken under the care of the Presbytery. He was accordingly examined as to his Christian character and his motives for entering the ministry, and his examination being deemed satisfactory, he was received under their care.31
In October 1868 it was resolved that the committee on the church at Fosters Meadow be directed to take charge immediately of the pulpit of that church and direct Mr. E. Oxce to discontinue his labors in the church.
That the session of the Fosters Meadow Church be instructed not to allow any person to officiate in the pulpit without consent of the committee. That Mr. E. Oxce will be cited to appear at a meeting of Presbytery to be held in New York during the sessions of Synod.32
On November 5th, a committee of three was appointed to investigate all matters which the committee may deem proper to traverse, with reference to the personal character of Mr. Oxce and his relations with the Fosters Meadow Church, and that his examination for licensure be postponed until the committee report.33
During November 13th the minutes of the last session were then read and it was resolved the Presbytery sit with closed doors to hear and to consider the report of the committee appointed to investigate certain matters with reference to the personal character of Mr. Oxce and his relation with the Fosters Meadow Church.
The report of that committee was then read and accepted and after discussion the following action was taken, Whereas Mr. Oxce, a candidate of this Presbytery, had repeatedly violated their orders by preaching and administering the Sacraments when forbidden to do so.
Therefore it was resolved that the name of Mr. Oxce be dropped as a candidate under their charge. It was further resolved that nothing has appeared in the report of the committee calling at present for the action of Presbytery and that the committee be discharged and their fidelity approved.
The committee on the Fosters Meadow Church was then appointed to take charge of that pulpit and the Rev. Mr. Dickhaut was added to the committee.
The action of Presbytery with reference to Mr. Oxce was then communicated to him on November 13th, 1868 and to the members of the congregation at Fosters Meadow who were present.34
The German Theological School was founded by the Presbytery of Newark in 1868.35 For almost two years, from November 1870 to October 1870, the young congregation was without a pastor and was partially served by students studying at the German Evangelical Theological School of Bloomfield, New Jersey.
In the matter of changing the name to the “German Evangelical St. Paul’s Church,” at Fosters Meadow, Queens County, New York, the following court action took place in 1869.
At a Special Term of the Supreme Court, held at the Court House, in the City of Brooklyn, Kings County, on Monday, the 27th day of September, 1869, the affidavits of Paul Weeks and Daniel Vogel, (two of the Trustees of the said church), and of Charles Rheinbeyer, Lena Rheinbeyer, and Elizabeth Conrad showing that the election held on the 10th Day of December, 1866, was unauthorized and illegal.
A.B. Tappen, Justice of the Supreme Court ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the order granted on the 9th day of August, 1869, authorizing said church to change its name, and empowering Trustees to file certificate of re-incorporation as “Trustees of the German Evangelical Lutheran St. Paul’s Church,” at Fosters Meadow was confirmed as valid.36
There have not been any records located that confirm that the Church name was ever changed back to the “German Evangelical Lutheran St. Paul’s Church,” at Fosters Meadow.
The Hempstead Sentinel newspaper article about the St. Paul’s Church written in 1904 best sums up the first six years of the church: “During this period the ministers serving the church congregation followed in rapid succession averaging about a year in their pastorate. Neither the congregation nor the pastors knew whether they were under the Lutheran reformed or Presbyterian Government”.37
“It is easy to imagine that this transition from the Lutheran confession to the Presbyterian confession was not easy. The experiences of that time speak loud. To take a closer look at this period of time is of no use, unless we learn; Disagreement and conflict in a church is to their harm and is not from God. It is to be regretted that many interesting papers of value of the origin of the congregation have been lost through the dispute.”38
During the April 1870 meeting of the Presbytery, the Fosters Meadow Church was congratulated with their relief from the financial and legal difficulties and a communication asking for aid for a minister was referred to the Presbyterial Committee on Domestic Missions.39
1870 – Reverend Schmoll
In the October of the 1870 Presbytery meeting the Rev. E.A.T. Schmall (correct spelling is E. T. A. Schmoll and is correctly entered in later Presbytery notes) presented himself to be admitted to the Presbytery. By motion, his credentials were referred for examination to a committee of three: the Rev.’s J.H. Hopkins, C. Dickhaut and Elder E.T. Robinson. Special committees consisting of Rev.’s Judson, H. Hopkins and Elders Thos. Smith and E. Kellum were appointed to meet with the Fosters Meadow Church and so adjust their affairs so that they could come in a regular manner before the Presbytery.40
The report of the special committee on the credentials of Rev. E.A.T Schmall were read and adopted as follows:
That so far as the written evidence is concerned there was no reason to question the authenticity of his papers but the committee could not verify the germaneness of the seals. Yet not withstanding this informality in his credentials, they recommended that his examination should proceed.
Having been subjected to the usual examinations, it was resolved that they be sustained and that he be received into the Presbytery and that the moderator advise him that he should beware of laying stress upon visions in his religious experience and that he should pursue his studies in three departments required of their ministers.
A call from the German Church at Fosters Meadow for the ministerial service of Rev. E.A.T. Schmall was read and also the minutes of the congregation at a meeting concerning the subject. The call was then placed in the hands of Mr. Schmall and accepted by him.41
The following committee was appointed to install the Rev. E.A.T. Schmall over at the German Church at Fosters Meadow on Sunday Oct. 23rd at 2 p.m., the Rev. Alex Miller to preside and put the constitutional questions. The Rev. James B. Finch is to charge the pastor, and the Rev. Conrad Dickhaut to preach the sermon and charge the people.42
A report of the committee on the Fosters Meadow Church, which report was read and approved and was as follows:
The committee appointed to arrange the minutes and roll of the Fosters Meadow Presbyterian Church would report that they met Nov. 10th with the Pastor and Elder L. Pflug of that church and again on Nov. 15th at Fosters Meadow, when the pastor and entire session were present, together with other members.
On inquiring, the committee ascertained that the church was organized by a committee of the Presbytery of Nassau, Nov. 15th, 1865, since which time no meeting of session had been held and consequently no minutes of session were kept. At the organization, 35 members were received, the names of these we ordered placed on the rolls of the church.
Since the organization, seven had been recorded on examination in the presence of the congregation. The examination was conducted by the pastor and apparently referred more to intellectual than spiritual acquaintance of reveled truth: the examination was assented to by the elders, and thus in this unusual way, their reception was an act of session and therefore they ordered their names placed on the roll.
Three of the members were reported as absenting themselves from the regular ordinances of the church concerning them, they advised the session first to track them with the design of showing them their error and entreating them to make a diligent use of the means of grace.
The Board of Home Missions having received the recommendation of Presbytery to appropriate $200 to supplement the salary of Mr. Schmall deferred action thereon, requesting the committee to inquire into the Presbyterial standing and prospects of this church. They therefore employed the occasion to advise this church to pursue a more official and consistent, concise following of church government.
And to insure it, inasmuch as they were unaccustomed to the usual course of proceedings, they advised them to invite a neighboring pastor to be present at their session meetings to advise and counsel. To enlarge their field of usefulness and increase their acquaintance with Presbyterianism and their knowledge of this, they further advised them to open their house of worship one Sunday afternoon in every month for preaching in the English Language, inviting some neighboring minister to fill the pulpit. The committee also instructed them to keep their ministers both in English and German languages.
This church occupied a promising locality and they were impressed with the apparent desire of those present to conform to their standards and their renunciation of the system of confirmation and promiscuous baptism of infants.
They would also call the attention of the Presbytery to the importance of calling for the sessional records of this and every church, that the irregularities of this church may not be repeated.
Therefore: 3 trustees, members of the church and 3 Elders and 2 Deacons.
The presbytery was worth $4,000, debt of $1,800, pen rents $156, Total income $231.
The Church is 5 miles from Jamaica, 5 miles from Hempstead and three miles from Springfield.
Signed; Rev’s Judson H. Hopkins, E. Kellum, Thos. Smith – committee43
In the 1871 Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church lists Ernest T. A. Schmoll as the pastor at Fosters Meadow.44
Rev. Schmoll was a serious man of God and a faithful worker. Under his leadership, the affairs of the church were put in order and he rose in prestige before the people. He was able to set up new church registers for all official acts, since the earlier records were not kept or had disappeared. Therefore, the registers of the congregation only go back to the year 1870. There were two sets of registers started, one in English and one in the German language.
The church records started in 1870 were for decades thought to have been destroyed in the St. Paul’s Church fire in 1905. Both of the original records in the English and German versions have recently been rediscovered and are digitized and available on ancestry.com.
Under his leadership, the congregation was able to build a parsonage that served for many years of service. The parsonage was built on the church property on the north side of the church facing Fosters Meadow Road (Elmont Road). The cemetery next to the church was enlarged and laid out, as well as a German everyday school was started. He was greatly blessed so that the church and the sect of God increased.
On June 27th, 1876 the Rev. Schmoll placed an ad in the “Country Board” section of the want ads in the New York Herald. The ad read: “GERMAN CLERGYMAN WITH SMALL FAMILY, residing in the country, will take two small children to board. Apply Rev. E. T. Schmoll, Queens, L. I.”45
The Rev. Ernest T. A. Schmoll’s death is listed in the 1878 Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church and the recorded date is the 27th of August, 1877.46
In The 50th anniversary booklet there is the following entry: “His mortal remains were solemnly and deeply mourned and buried in the cemetery next to the church”.
Pastor Schmoll’s death is not recorded in any of the St. Paul’s Church records. The only reference to his burial is listed in the 50th anniversary booklet. There have not been any other references or resources found regarding his burial.
In the St. Paul’s Church list of members who purchased burial lots, there is a “Pastors Lot” that is listed as lot number 20. In the German records there was a members name listed for lot 20 but it was erased and replaced with the wording, Pastors Lot, over the erased name. This change to the records was made shortly after Rev. Schmoll’s death. There are no records to support that the “Pastors Lot” was ever used for the burial of Rev. Schmoll. Today, the cemetery lot 20 has a monument with the name of Steinbrenner.
1878 – Reverend Wanderer
Adolph A. E. Wanderer was born on the 1st of November 1850. He married Fredricke H. Unglaub at the First German Presbyterian Church in Newark, New Jersey on the 26th of August 1875.47 They had two children together, Elise Fredricke and Emilie Karolina. Emilie was born in Fosters Meadow.
In January of 1878 a letter of dismission was presented by the Rev. A. A. E. Wanderer from the Presbytery of West Jersey and being in order he was received upon the customary examinations.
A call was read from the St. Paul’s Church at Fosters Meadow for his pastoral services and being found in order was placed in his hands and was accepted by him. The session of the church and the pastor elect were appointed a committee to make the necessary arrangements for his installation.48
The committee on the installation of the Rev. A. A. E. Wanderer at the church at Fosters Meadow reported as follows: Committee met in St. Paul’s Church Fosters Meadow Feb. 12th, 1878. The Rev. T.S. Bradner, moderator presided and put the constitutional questions. Rev. Dr. Siebert preached the sermon. The Rev. F. Noble delivered the charge to the people and Rev. P.D. Oakley the charge to the pastor.49
Pastor Wanderer was in the very first class of eight men of the newly formed German Evangelical Theological School of Newark (Bloomfield), New Jersey in 1868 and graduated in 1874.50,51 His first church was the German Presbyterian Church in Swedesboro, New Jersey from 1874 until 1878.
At the Fosters Meadow church, he was not only popular in the congregation, but everyone in the village, even the Catholic priest was his personal friend. He shared with the members their joy and sorrow and he was their friend and brother.52
In March of 1880 Pastor Wanderer started Sunday evening services and these services were occasionally held in English.53 These evening services were soon discontinued. A lively women's club was founded on April 19th, 1883, which was a blessing to the congregation.
By April of 1883 Pastor Wanderer had reduced the church debt from $2,600 to $700.00.54
In the Presbytery meeting in April 1884 the church at Fosters Meadow, through its pastor Rev. A.E. Wanderer, reported the gratifying intelligence that it has become self-sustaining and consequently would no longer apply for aid.55
The Interior of St. Paul's church was completely refurnished in 1887 by the Blum Brothers of Hempstead. The congregation was delighted with the elegance of the new surroundings.56
At the call of the moderator in September 1888, the Presbytery of Nassau met in the St. Paul’s Church, Fosters Meadow, on Monday September 17th, at 10:30 a.m. and in the absence of the moderator, the meeting was opened by the Rev. Charles E. Dunn, moderator pro tem. The meeting was opened with prayer, after which the following members were recorded as being present: Ministers George S. Bell, Chas. E. Dunn, Peter D. Oakley, Alex Q. Russell and Adolphus E. Wanderer along with the Elders Philip Baylis from Springfield and Jacob Rassweiler from St. Paul’s.
During the September 17th meeting, The Rev. Adolphus E. Wanderer presented a joint request from himself and his congregation for dissolution of their present relationship as pastor and people. A record was then read narrating the proceedings of a Congregational meeting duly called and held on the 12th inst. showing the reluctant consent of the congregation and the proposed change.
It was resolved to grant the request, and Mr. Wanderer was appointed to declare the pulpit vacant on September 30th. The clerk was directed to give Mr. Wanderer a letter of dismissal to the Presbytery of Jersey City.57
During the month of September of 1888 he followed a call to the First German Presbyterian Church in Paterson, New Jersey.
Pastor Wanderer was retired for three years when he passed away on December 16th, 1912 in Paterson, New Jersey. 58,59
1888 – Reverend Schweitzer
Pastor John Patrick Henry Schweitzer was born in Carlstadt, New Jersey on March 17th, 1866. He married Maria (Mary) Paula Hausser on the 1st of February 1888 in Bloomfield, New Jersey. They had four children together, John, Maria Paula Mathilde60, Elsa and Helen. John and Maria were both born in Elmont but John died when he was “stunden alt” (6 hours) old.61
Pastor Schweitzer entered the work fresh from the class of 1888 from the German Evangelical Theological School at Bloomfield, New Jersey.62
In October 1888, it being understood that St. Paul’s Church had called to its pastorate Mr. John P.H. Schweitzer, a licentiate of the Presbytery of Jersey City, who had not been able to obtain the necessary letter of dismissal, it was resolved that, pending his formal reception and examination, the Rev. George H. Payson and Mr. Schweitzer be a committee to make provisional arrangements for his ordination and installation. Upon the recommendation of the committee, the following order was approved.
The Presbytery was to meet for the reception and examination of Mr. Schweitzer at 3pm on Thursday, November 15th, in the St. Paul’s Church. The ordination and installation (if the way be clear) is to begin at 7:30 pm.63
The Presbytery of Nassau met according to the appointment in the St. Paul’s Church at Fosters Meadow on Thursday, November 15th 1888. Mr. John P.H. Schweitzer presented a letter of dismissal from the Presbytery of Jersey City, which being read and was found in order; he was received as a licentiate under the care of this Presbytery.
A call for his pastoral services from St. Paul’s Church was made, sustained, placed in his hands and formally accepted by him. After which he submitted to the customary examination in view of his ordination. The examination was sustained in every particular and the following arrangements were then adopted for his ordination and installation.
The service was held in the evening at 6:30 o’clock. The moderator that presided and put the usual constitutional questions, the Rev. Dr. Siebert, D. D., preached the sermon, the Rev. Dr. Knox, gave the charge to the pastor, and the Rev. A. E. Wanderer, formally a St. Paul’s pastor, gave the charge to the people.64
He continued the blessings of his predecessor and the congregation enjoyed a healthy growth. There was a strong desire to build a new church and committees were appointed to raise funds, but it remained difficult to collect.
The mission to New Hyde Park was started by him.65 Thirteen years before there was any attempt to organize a church in New Hyde Park, Pastor Schweitzer conducted religious services in Miller’s Hall. This was at the corner of Miller’s Lane and Jericho Turnpike.66
In 1894 the Rev. Schweitzer was welcomed with a call to the Corinthian Avenue Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
In October of 1894, the Rev. John P. H. Schweitzer asked for release from the pastorate of St. Paul’s Church and for dismissal to the Presbytery of Philadelphia. After hearing from Konrad Stiehler, a commissioner representing the congregation, it was resolved that his request be granted and Mr. Schweitzer was appointed to declare the pulpit vacant on October 7th. The church was granted leave to supply its pulpit for the next six months and the Rev. Charles Rutherford was the moderator pro tem.67
Pastor Schweitzer died at the age of 92 on March 11th, 195968 and is buried in the Northwood Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
1894 – Reverend Buttinghausen
Remi Justus Buttinghausen was born on the 30th of July 186969 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He married Lena Louisa Pauline Krumb on September 15th, 1892.70 They had three children together, Remi Jr. was born in 1893 in New Jersey, Paulus Timotheus was born in 1896 and George A. was born in 1899. Paul and George were both born in Elmont (Fosters Meadow) during Pastor Buttinghausen’s service with the St. Paul’s Church.
Pastor Remi Justus Buttinghausen graduated from German Evangelical Theological School at Bloomfield, New Jersey, in 1892.71 His first church was the German Presbyterian Church in Liberty Park, Camden, New Jersey, from 1892 until 1894.
At the December 8th, 1894 meeting of the Presbytery of Nassau, the Rev. Remi Justus Buttinghausen, a member of the Presbytery of West Jersey was received upon certificate of dismissal from said Presbytery. A call from the St. Paul’s Church was read, sustained, placed in his hands and accepted. Where upon, he with Rev. Charles Rutherford and Elder Hausmann, were appointed a committee to arrange for the installation.
On the recommendation of the committee the following arrangements were adopted; services to be held Tuesday, December 18th at 2 pm, the moderator to put the usual spiritual questions, the Rev. Charles Rutherford to preach the sermon, the Rev. Jacob Loch of the Evangelical Church of Brooklyn, to be visited, to give the charge to the pastor and the Rev. Adolphus E. Wanderer of the Presbytery of Jersey City, to be invited to give the charge to the people.72
He worked faithfully and at his best, but the many small communities that were established around the vicinity of the church made pastoring the rural congregation twice as hard. Also during this time a number of the faithful old members’ died.73
A church choir and youth club were founded, but both soon ended. A pipe organ was bought, a new horse shed built, as the old one burned down, and the pretty little church that was built at New Hyde Park74 are the monuments of the Pastor’s dedication.
During the meeting Presbytery of Nassau on April 9th, 1895 a commission report was submitted. The commission appointed to confer with the people of St. Paul’s Church presented a report which was accepted and adopted, as follows:
1. That the pastor have the privilege of preaching in Hyde Park as he can arrange without the sacrifice of any services in Elmont.
2. That the Hyde Park people be urged to attend the Sabbath service in Elmont in the morning as often as possible and always at the communion.
3. That the Hyde Park people continue their financial support of the St. Paul’s Church as heretofore and that all contributions made at Hyde Park be outside of their contributions to the Elmont Church.
4. The members of the Elmont Church as a whole refrain from discussing any matters concerning which there is disagreement baring of all questions to the judicious asking of the pastor and session.75
Soon after the fire in 1900 at the Presbyterian Parsonage, Mrs. Buttinghausen in taking up a carpet, felt a scratch on her right arm. Thinking it was a tack or something, paid no attention to it for some time. Then her arm later began to pain her and causing to some extent nervous prostration. Dr. Rave of New Hyde Park was called in who probed the spot and skillfully extracted a piece of mourning pin about half an inch long.76
Pastor Buttinghausen recognized the importance of establishing a mission at New Hyde Park. It was through his foresight that the chapel was built in 1902.77
Following a calling to the Park Avenue Presbyterian Church of Bloomfield, New Jersey, he resigned from St. Paul’s in April of 1903. During the April 14th 1903 meeting of the Presbytery of Nassau there is the following entry: Rev. Remi J. Buttinghausen presented a request for the dissolution of his pastoral relation’s with the St. Paul’s Church. Elder Charles Hoffmann testified to the concurrence of the congregation and it was voted to grant the request, the same to take effect at once.78
Rev. Buttinghausen decided to retire in 1949 due to a previous illness. “Since my recent sickness, I can’t go on and do my best work, and so I feel I must leave”.79 He retired from the Park Avenue Presbyterian Church.
Rev. Buttinghausen was honored by the Bloomfield Seminary (German Evangelical Theological School) in 1940, when he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from that institution.80
Rev. Buttinghausen D.D. was a Pastor Emeritus of the Park Avenue Presbyterian Church.81 He died in 1961 and is buried in the Bloomfield Cemetery, Bloomfield, New Jersey.
1903 – Reverend Espach
Augustus Charles Espach was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on February 22nd, 1870. Pastor Espach married Ella Kuhn on the 31st of January 1899. They had five children together while serving at St. Paul’s Church in Elmont. They were Ralph H., Carl A., Edgar W., Anna M. and Melvin J. Espach.
Rev. Espach was a graduate of the class of 1898 from the German Evangelical Theological School at Bloomfield, New Jersey.82 His first church was from 1899 to 1903 at the Jefferson Center Presbyterian Church in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania. In the month of May, on the 5th of 1903 Pastor Espach began his work with the St. Paul’s congregation.
In October 1903, the Rev. Augustus C. Espach presented a letter of dismission and commendation from the Presbytery of Butler to the Presbytery of Nassau which was received and found in order and Mr. Espach was received as a member of Nassau Presbytery. A call for the pastoral services of Mr. Espach was received from the St. Paul’s Church.
During the October meeting the clerk was directed to insert the date of the subscription which was lacking. The date of the meeting of the St. Paul’s congregation at which the call was voted was on May 5th, 1903.
The commissioner of the church was heard. The call was found in order, was placed in the hands of Mr. Espach and accepted by him. The Rev. Augustus C. Espach, Rev. Jacob Schmidt and Elder H. Guske were appointed a committee to arrange for the installation service.83
The report of the committee on the installation of Rev. Augustus C. Espach at Elmont was adopted, as follows: Time, Monday October 26th at 2:30pm. The sermon by Rev. Jacob Schmidt of Jamaica, the charge to the pastor, Rev. Sidney H. Barrett, the charge to the people, Rev. J. Howard Hobbs.84
It did not take long and the part of the congregation living in the area of the Mission at New Hyde Park expressed the desire to organize itself as an independent congregation. Twenty-five members were released from the congregation to become members in the newly formed New Hyde Park Church in October and November of 1903.85
In April of 1904 the congregation decided to build a new church86 at the current location.
Arrangements were made to sell the old church building and start the construction of the new church. The Old church was sold to Tom West of Valley Stream for $100.0087 and moved to the back of the church grounds and was used for services until the new church was completed.
On the 4th of September, 1904 the cornerstone was laid for a new church.88 The cost of the new church was $11,000.00 and this cost was paid off in two years. Both the original 1864 and the new cornerstone were placed together during the ceremony and are still located on the front of the Church at the Northwest corner.
1905 – The New Church
On Saturday, March 11th during the day in 1905, the old empty church was moved across the road from the new church. That evening the guard on duty was attacked and ran off. The old and empty church building was then set on fire by vandals and was totally destroyed.89,90,91
St. Paul’s new church was dedicated on March 12th, 1905 and featured stained glass windows and a beautiful round window on its facade. Among those who took part Sunday afternoon were, Rev. Dr. W. Seibert of Newark, Rev. Sidney Barrett of Springfield, Rev. Julius Nelson of Elmont, Rev. Mr. Magee of New Hyde Park and Rev. Schmidt of Jamaica. Music was furnished by the Bloomfield quartette. The formal dedication prayer was read by Rev. A. C. Espach, the pastor. 92
The original stained glass windows that were installed in 1905 are still part of the Elmont Presbyterian Church (St. Paul’s Church). Photos of these stained glass windows are available on the Foster’s Meadow Heritage web site at: https://fostersmeadow.jimdo.com/.
The New 1905 Church Description – from the Hempstead Sentinel newspaper93
“The Rev. Augustus Espach is now conducting services in the new Church one of the most attractive pieces of ecclesiastical architectures in this part of the Island. The interior is finished in cream, against which the ivy-leaf outline of doors and windows form a simple and most artistic contrast. The chancel is contained in the middle arch of a series of three; the organ loft occupying a smaller arch to the right of the pulpit, while the vestry room is beneath the arch to the left. All the windows and arches are pointed at the top, giving a decided suggestion to the Gothic to the whole, which is heightened by the exceptional combination of colors in the windows. The pews are oak and of a peculiarly graceful style. There is a seating capacity for about 500 in the Church, the gallery at the rear alone accommodating a large number of people. Artificial light furnished by incandescent lamps in the Church proper and hanging lamps in the Sunday school room in the basement. A spacious kitchen, furnished with the necessary cooking utensils, in the rear of the Sunday school room, allows ample provision for one of the most important features of entertainment, namely - refreshments. The stained glass windows in the side and front of the Church are in memory of Albert Huhenstein, George Bauer, Wilhelm Wicks, August Gustke, Johann P. Karkheck, Daniel Vogel, Conrad Stiehler, Albert Jagnow, Frederick Walter, George Lindner, Paulus Wich & Catherina Wich and Frauen Veren.”94
In September of 1905, a mission sewing club was launched with 24 members. The donations for the mission had quadrupled over the previous years.
A mission to Rosedale began in 190995 and Presbyterian services were held by Pastor Espach. For two years it was under his care and was known as the Rosedale Mission of St. Paul’s.96 He relinquished the work in 1911 and when the Rev. Sidney H. Barrett undertook it.
The old parsonage was rebuilt into a new one in the summer of 1913, costing $3,412.97. The parsonage is no longer standing and was demolished sometime after 1980.
Rev. Espach took charge of the German Presbyterian Church at Jamaica in the beginning of
1913.97 The church was “in a bad way” as reported at a meeting of the Presbytery of Nassau. He managed the church until a new pastor was elected.98
1914 – 50th Anniversary of the Church
The St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary original booklet is written in German. An English translation version is available on the Fosters Meadow Heritage Center web site.99
The 50th anniversary of the St. Paul’s Church was celebrated on Sunday, March 22nd and Wednesday, March 25th of 1914.100 The anniversary services were held in both German and English. On Sunday, Pastor R.J. Buttinghausen was the first speaker, a former pastor at St. Paul’s Church, gave a Festpredigt (sermon) in German. The next speaker was Pastor E.H. Cooke from Summit, New Jersey and his sermon was an Englische Predigt (English Sermon). A solo, “Gott ist die Liebe”, was rendered by Mr. Jacob Odenwald.
On Wednesday the first speaker was J.P.H. Schweitzer, a former St. Paul’s Pastor, and his talk was a Deutsche Ansprache (German Speech). Next speaker was Frank M. Kerr, D.D. from Hempstead, New York. His talk was an Englische Ansprache (English Speech). A solo, “Gott zu Dir”, was rendered by Mr. Hermann Karkheck.
The church registers date back only to the year 1870 and show that at during the period from 1870 to 1914 the pastors of this church performed the following:
1322 people were baptized, 529 persons were confirmed, 341 couples were married, 713 people were buried and 372 people joined
the community. 101
The 50th anniversary in 1914 mentions that there were four sons of the congregation that had entered the ministry and were preaching reconciliation. These were Wilhelm Kliesten, Herman Schulz, Christopher Bauer and Albert Jagnow.102
The Rev. Christopher Bauer and Rev. Augustus Espach graduated in the same class from the German Theological School in 1898. Rev. Bauer was born at (Fosters Meadow) in 1875 and began his studies under the Rev. J. P. H. Schweitzer, who was the pastor of St. Paul's church. At age 14 he became a student at the Bloomfield German Seminary and graduated in 1898 after an eight year course.103
In 1914 Rev. Bauer was pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church in Clara City, Minnesota.104
The Rev. William Kliefken graduated from the German Theological School in 1900. He delivered the oration at the commencement exercises of the Bloomfield, New Jersey Seminary.105 He was the pastor of the German Presbyterian Church in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1914.106
Rev. Albert A. Jagnow and the Rev. Herman W.J. Schultz graduated in the same class from the German Theological School in 1903.107 Upon graduation Mr. Jagnow was commissioned to go to the Island of Ruk.
The “Ruk” island is a reference to Truk in the Carolina Islands at the time in 1903. Today this area is known as the Chuuk Lagoon, also previously known as Truk Lagoon. The lagoon was known mainly as Truk (a mispronunciation of Ruk) until 1990. Other names included Ruk, Hogoleu, Torres, Ugulat, and Lugulus. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuuk_Lagoon
Dr. Judson Smith wrote to Mr. Jagnow: “This mission among the little islands of the Central Pacific is largely in territory under the jurisdiction of the German Government, and that government has indicated its desire that some part of our force should be German speaking people. We have none now in the field who speak German. German being your vernacular, and you having at the same time obtained education in English, so that you could easily confer with our English speaking missionaries in the Islands, you would be able to render a special service, giving instruction to the natives in German, which would be a great advantage at the present time”. His mission dates are listed from 1903 to 1907.108
Rev. Albert Jagnow of Lynbrook, missionary to the Carolina Islands preached on Sunday
September 9th, 1907 in the St. Paul's Church, taking for his theme the “Victory of the Gospel in the Carolina Islands”.109
The Rev. Albert A. Jagnow died a month later at the age of 34 on October 16th, 1907.110
In 1914 the Rev. Herman W.J. Schultz was the pastor of the First German Presbyterian Church in Paterson, New Jersey.
The Clerk of the Presbytery of Nassau, Rev. Alexander G. Russell, wrote April 17th, 1903, to the school faculty: (German Theological School) “I am directed by the Presbytery of Nassau to express to you the sincere gratification felt by all its members, because of the excellent examinations passed by Messrs. Jagnow and Schulz, candidates recently under Presbyterial care.111
During his service with St. Paul’s Pastor Espach, who was bilingual, decided to hold one service per month in English. English services were increased to two per month and then three. Services in German remained as one Sunday per month until the end of Rev. August Espach’s long pastorate in 1938.112
Rev. Augustus C. Espach retired due to ill health in October 1938 after serving as pastor for thirty-five years.113
Pastor Espach died at the age of 74 on the 11th of June 1944.114 Services were held at St. Paul’s Church in Elmont and burial was at the Greenfield Cemetery, Uniondale, New York.
1) Daily Long Island Farmer - 21 March 1914
2) Hempstead Sentinel - June 1904
3) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet - p. 4
4) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet - p. 4
5) 1859 Wallinger Map
6) 1870 US Non-Population Census - Hempstead area, John Seufert
7) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet - p. 4
8) Daily Long Island Farmer - 21 March 1914
9) Queens County Sentinel - 7 April 1864
10) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet - p. 5
11) Queens County Sentinel - 7 April 1864
12) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet - p. 5
13) Daily Long Island Farmer - 21 March 1914
14) Queens County Sentinel - 7 April 1864
15) Presbytery of Nassau Records - April 18 1865 - FM Petition pg. 404
16) Presbytery of Nassau Records – October 10 1865 - pages 419 & 420
17) Presbytery of Nassau Records – April 17 1866 - pages 13 & 14
18) Presbytery of Nassau Records – October 2 1866 – pg. 32
19) Presbytery of Nassau Records – October 2 1866 – pg. 34
20) Presbytery of Nassau Records – November 8 1866 – pg. 50
21) Presbytery of Nassau Records – November 8 1866 – pg. 50
22) Presbytery of Nassau Records – April 10 1867 - pg. 68
23) Presbytery of Nassau Records – October 8 1867 – pg. 86
24) Presbytery of Nassau Records – April 14 1868 - pg. 124
25) Daily Long Island Farmer - 21 March 1914
26) Hempstead Sentinel - 1 September 1904
27) Presbytery of Nassau Records – October 8 1867 - pg. 96
28) Presbytery of Nassau Records - October 14 1867 - pg. 98
29) Presbytery of Nassau Records - October 14 1867 - pg. 100
30) Presbytery of Nassau Records - April 21 1868 - pages 131 & 132
31) Presbytery of Nassau Records - April 21 1868 - pg. 135
32) Presbytery of Nassau Records - October 6 1868 - pg. 147
33) Presbytery of Nassau Records - November 5 1868 - pg. 154
34) Presbytery of Nassau Records - November 13 1868 - pages 155 & 156
35) Bloomfield College, Bloomfield, New Jersey - bloomfield.edu/about-us/history
36) Long Island Farmer - 18 Nov 1869
37) Hempstead Sentinel - 1 September 1904
38) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet - p. 5
39) Presbytery of Nassau Records - April 13 1870 - pg. 214
40) Presbytery of Nassau Records - October 11 1870 - pg. 7
41) Presbytery of Nassau Records - October 11 1870 - pages 8 & 9
42) Presbytery of Nassau Records - October 16 1870 - pg. 13
43) Presbytery of Nassau Records - April 11 1871 - pages. 20, 21 & 22
44) Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church - 1871 p. 809
45) New York Herald - 25 Feb 1876 - Rev. Schmoll newspaper boarding ad
46) Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church - 1878 p. 165
47) First German Presbyterian Church, Newark, N.J. – Church Records 1875 - 1914 pg. 16
48) Presbytery of Nassau Records - January 29 1878 – pages. 149 & 150
49) Presbytery of Nassau Records - April 8 1878 – pg. 155
50) German Theological School 1890-1891 - Alumni p. 8
51) Independent Press Bloomfield 1914 - German Theological School
52) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet – p. 8
53) Queens Co. Sentinel 5 March 1880 Rev. Wanderer – English services
54) Brooklyn Daily Eagle – 13 April 1883
55) Presbytery of Nassau Records - April 14 1884 - pg. 274
56) Queens County Sentinel - 10 April 1887 - St. Paul's Interior Refurbished
57) Presbytery of Nassau Records - September 17 1888 – pg. 387
58) Broadway Presbyterian Church Records, Paterson NJ - 1900-1918, p. 222 - Rev. Wanderer
59) Daily Long Island Farmer - 18 December 1912 - Rev. Wanderer Death
60) St. Paul’s Church Records - German Version, p. 139
61) St. Paul’s Church Records - German Version, p. 352
62) German Theological School Catalogue 1890-1891 - Alumni p. 12
63) Presbytery of Nassau Records - October 31 1888 - pages 401 & 402
64) Presbytery of Nassau Records - November 15 1888 - pages 402 & 403
65) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet - p. 8
66) Nassau Daily Review - Star - June 1936
67) Presbytery of Nassau Records - October 2 1894 - pg. 121
68) Rev. Schweitzer Death Certificate - 1959
69) Buttinghausen Birth and Baptism Cert. 1869
70) Independent Press Bloomfield, N.J. - 29 April 1949 - Rev. Buttinghausen
71) German Theological School Catalogue 1897-1898 Alumni p. 25
72) Presbytery of Nassau Records - December 8 1894 - pages 126 & 127
73) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet – p. 8
74) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet – p. 8
75) Presbytery of Nassau Records - April 9 1895 - pg. 133
76) Hempstead Sentinel - 22 March 1900 – Parsonage Fire
77) Nassau Daily Review - Star - June 1936
78) Presbytery of Nassau Records - April 14 1903 - pg. 332
79) Independent Press Bloomfield, N.J. - 29 April 1949 - Rev. Buttinghausen
80) Independent Press Bloomfield, N.J. - 29 April 1949 - Rev. Buttinghausen
81) Independent Press Bloomfield, N.J - 8 October 1959 - Rev. Buttinghausen
82) German Theological School Catalogue 1897-1898 - Senior Class pg. 5
83) Presbytery of Nassau Records - October 13 1903 - pages 340 & 341
84) Presbytery of Nassau Records - October 13 1903 - pg. 345
85) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet – pg. 8
86) Hempstead Sentinel - 14 April 1904 - Congregation & New Church
87) Long Island Farmer - 17 March 1905
88) Hempstead Sentinel - 8 September 1904 - New Church Cornerstone
89) Long Island Farmer - 17 March 1905 - St. Paul's Church fire
90) Hempstead Sentinel - July 16, 1905 - St. Paul’s Fire
91) Hempstead Sentinel - 16 March 1905 - Church Fire
92) Hempstead Sentinel - 16 March 1905 - New Church Dedicated
93) Hempstead Sentinel - 30 March 1905 - Church Interior
94) Hempstead Sentinel - 30 March 1905 - Church Interior
95) Daily Long Island Farmer - 8 Dec 1915 - Rosedale
96) Long Island Daily Press - 12 December 1932 - Rosedale Church
97) Daily Brooklyn Eagle - 4 February 1913 - Jamaica Church
98) Daily Long Island Farmer - 5 February 1913 - Jamaica Church
99) Fosters Meadow Heritage Center - https://fostersmeadow.jimdo.com
100) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet
101) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet, p. 9
102) St. Paul’s 50th Anniversary Booklet, p. 9
103) Hempstead Sentinel - 25 January 1906 - Rev. Bauer & Rev. Schweitzer
104) Bloomfield Theological Seminary Catalogue 1914-1915 (German Theological School) p. 28
105) Hempstead Sentinel - May 1900 - Kliefken Commencement Oration
106) Bloomfield Theological Seminary Catalogue 1914-1915 (German Theological School) p. 29
107) Bloomfield Theological Seminary Catalogue 1914-1915 (German Theological School) p. 30
108) German Theological School Catalogue 1902-1903 – p. 28
109) Hempstead Sentinel - 5 September 1907 - Rev. Jagnow St. Paul's Sermon
110) St. Paul’s Church Records - German Version, p. 374
111) German Theological School Catalogue 1902-1903 – p. 28
112) Nassau Daily Review Star - June 1, 1949
113) Nassau Daily Review Star - 20 October 1938 - Rev. Espach Retires
114) Long Island Daily Press - 13 Jun 1944 - Rev. Espach Death
About the author:
George D. Bauer, a great-great-grandson of the Bauer and Kiesel families of Fosters Meadow. The Bauer’s and Kiesel’s were founding members of the German Evangelical St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in 1865 and 1866. The Bauer and Kiesel family histories can be found on the Fosters Meadow Heritage Center website at https://fostersmeadow.jimdo.com/.