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Hortonville Presbyterian Church

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Hortonville Presbyterian Church - 150th ANNIVERSARY 1860-2010

As the early settlers came from their native Germany to Hortonville, New York in the mid 1800’s, they brought with them their faith, hopes and dreams as well as their skills, ideas and wisdom. They knew it was vital to have a central meeting place in order for the community to flourish. The first structure they built was a school and meeting house located on the southeast corner of the Hortonville Cemetery. The Rev. Ludwig A. Detzer was the first minister to hold services at the building and worshippers continued to worship there until the completion of the present church building in the 1860’s.

In a deed dated June 14th 1860, Charles and Betsy Horton, Isaac Clements, Elizabeth Clements and Thomas Casey donated land for the sole purpose of building a “House of Worship.” The site was chosen for its close proximity to the cemetery and because it was visible from the Post Office and Hortonville Square. This site was easily accessible and the terrain protected the structure from water damage. With laboring hands and loving hearts, the men and women began construction of the church. Using the abundance of stone and local timber, with the stately design fashioned by architect and master carpenter, John Robisch, the dream of a church became a reality.

On June 20th 1860, with 76 charter members, 4 Trustees and 3 Ruling Elders, the German Presbyterian Church was born. The first ruling elders were Christian Wagner, John Robisch and John Philip Fromm and the trustees were John Glassel, John Werlau, George Desch and John Fromm.

On February 16, 1861, the church presumably withdrew from the Presbytery of Hudson and independently re-incorporated as the Free German Presbyterian Church at Hortonville. In late 1875 it joined the “Classes of Orange” and became a Reformed Church affiliated with other churches in Mileses, North Branch, Callicoon Center, Youngsville and Kohlertown. Samuel Muery, a teacher, not an ordained minister, was asked to fill the vacancy of pastor because of his educational background. He served the congregation for thirty-six years.

In 1887, the steeple was remodeled and a bell was installed. At 3:00 p.m. on November 12, 1887, the new bell was rung for the first time. Our forefathers had seen to it that an Order of Bell Service was written. This included the following: “To be rung at 5 o’clock on Saturday afternoon as a reminder of Worship and the Sabbath. To be tolled the day before a funeral at the hour that the funeral would be held the next day. Bell to be rung as funeral cortege came I sight of church, and tolled as it neared the cemetery.”

The Ladies’ Aid Society was formed on February 6, l906 for the purpose of creating better fellowship, to promote spiritual knowledge and to give financial aid to the church. Meetings were held at Buddenhagen’s Hall (Hortonville Hotel) located at Beechwoods Road and Hortonville Road until 1914, when a room was built at the rear of the church. Today the group is inactive.

From 1919 to 1935, major renovations were undertaken at the church. The original wide pine plank floors were covered with narrow oak flooring, the pews that were made of pine were replaced with oak and a half-cellar was dug to put in the first furnace. The entrance was changed to its current appearance by enclosing the hall and adding the balcony. The sanctuary was renovated by removing the old wainscoted lower walls and the papered upper area and by lowering the ceiling. The oak woodwork, the new front doors and the present beams were added as we have it today. Since there are no records indicating when the gothic stained glass windows were installed, it would be reasonable to assume that they were done during this period.

On April 11, l938, the Hortonville Cemetery Corporation was formed as a separate entity. Previously, the administration of the cemetery had been a responsibility of the church.

On March 20, 1949 the congregation voted to join the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America. At the Presbytery meeting in Roscoe on April 19, 1949, our petition was presented and accepted. The Presbytery of Hudson appointed Reverend Joseph Kovach as Moderator and stated supply for six months. He then became our minister and served us through 1951, along with the Jeffersonville and Youngsville Presbyterian Churches. From 1952 to l956, the Reverend Leroy Hertzog was pastor of the same three churches.

In 1952, we purchased a Hammond organ. That same year, Frank Hess and family gave an automatic record player and chimes to the church. In 1954, automatic heat was installed.

From 1956 to July 1959, we were without a pastor and were served by supply ministers. These included Reverend Gilbert Dodd, Reverend Gordon Muir, Reverend Theodore Martin and Reverend Charles McClure.

The Presbyterian Churches of Cochecton and Hortonville became a yoked charge on April 12, l959. The Reverend Alfred O. Siegel was installed as minister to these churches and served until 1962.

The present sanctuary lights were gifts from Mrs. Ruth Hornung and Pastor Gordon Muir and dedicated in the fall of 1959. The Lewis Buddenhagen Family also donated the spring fed water system we still use today.

Due to the fact that the earlier records of our church’s incorporation could not be found new documents were drafted in April 1960. Our legal name became the Hortonville Presbyterian Church.

From October 1962 until October l964, we had no permanent minister. The Reverend Allan Dampman was called as the stated supply of Cochecton and Hortonville in October 1964. He later was installed as the moderator and permanent minister of these churches until August 1967.

In 1966, plans were made to build a manse at Hortonville. The property was a gift from Mrs. Lewis (Mary) Buddenhagen. Mr. Grover Hermann contributed $10,000 toward the manse fund and many of our members and friends also donated sizeable gifts. A ground breaking ceremony was held on April 30, l967 with the Reverend Allan Dampman, Mrs. Mary Buddenhagen and many of her relatives present. Construction soon began with Mr. Harry Phillips serving as architectural advisor.

From 1967 through 1970, we were again without a pastor and were served by several supplies. On March 24, 1970, the Western Sullivan Presbyterian Council was formed and included the Cochecton, Hortonville, Lake Huntington and Bethel churches. The Reverend Arthur Smith served the four churches from 1971 to 1978. The Reverend G. Shubert Frye was installed as an associate pastor and these two ministers served the churches throughout most of the 1970’s. Reverend Smith resigned in July 1978 and Reverend Frye continued to serve the Western Sullivan Presbyterian Council until April 1979. At that time the Western Sullivan Presbyterian Council dissolved. Reverend Frye then accepted a position of stated supply for the Hortonville Church and served until January l983.

For nearly a year and a half we were supplied by a lay preacher, Mr. Philip Pines. On June 1, 1984 Reverend Susan Strang was called to serve the Hortonville, Lake Huntington and Bethel churches and she continued to be our minister until July 1994. We celebrated 125 years in the service of the Lord by having a special worship service and dinner at the Lake Jeff Hotel in July 1985. A replica of the Hortonville Presbyterian Church as it was in l860 was built by Arthur Hartz for this celebration. During this time sanctuary fans, given by Frank and Sandy Perrotta, were installed, a sound system was given by Mary Cade, gifts of a Bible given at weddings was initiated , the Presbyterian Hymnals were dedicated and a capital improvement budget was set up supported by our fall fund raiser.

From February 1995 until July 1997, Leonard Bergman was our pastor. Double sided vinyl windows in the aid room and clear lexam storm panels on the stained glass windows were installed. Funds for these came from memorial gifts given by various families and friends.

In July 1997 Reverend Dae Chung was installed as the minister of the Hortonville, Lake Huntington and Bethel Presbyterian Churches and continued in this capacity until August 1999. A wooden cross , adorning the center of the church, was given in memory of Arnold Fahrenholz and front lighting over the podium and organ given by Gloria Buddenhagen, was added for illumination. A Technics Digital Ensemble was donated in memory of F. Allen Stephenson to replace the original Hammond organ. That organ had been played by Leona Buddenhagen for over 45 years with Jane Orcutt assisting since the 1970’s. Jane continues to be our organist and choir director today. Pew cushions, insulation and electrical upgrades were added in the sanctuary and new carpeting, kitchen linoleum and a fan improved the ladies aid room.

The three church council joined a nine church cluster in Sullivan County called the County Connection. Reverend Veronica Ostrowska became a ½ time designated pastor in Hortonville beginning in July 2000 and stayed until December 2004. A policy of giving cradle crosses to babies who were baptized was started in 2001 and the devotional, “The Upper Room”, became available to church goers. Our church was listed on the State Historic Register on November 13, 2002 and the National Historic Register on January 15, 2003. In June 2004, Douglas Doestch gave a Carillon Bell System to the church to replace the original chimes and had some landscaping done in memory of his grandparents, Ruth and Elmer Hess. The dream of having our own minister was too expensive and in 2004, we joined with Lake Huntington, Roscoe, Livingston Manor and later Bethel to form the For Faith Parish.

During this time of transition, the Rev. Dr. Randall Ruppart rented the manse beginning February 2005, and was our supply for about one and a half years. The For Faith Parish set up by-laws and established policy for the five churches to work together in this course of time. It was decided that they would hire one full time minister, a certified lay pastor and a visitation minister as the For Faith Parish Ministerial Staff. It is apparent that in order to survive the five churches must work together and support each other. This is happening through joint unity services, a joint choir and other activities.

The Reverend Nancy Asbury was hired as a full time designated pastor in January 2007. She came in March to live in the manse and began her duties with the five churches. In January 2008, Pam Allen, certified lay pastor, and in March, Ginny Bossley, visitation minister, were hired to officially fulfill the team for the For Faith Parish. Nancy left in April 2010 and now the five churches are continuing to work with Pam, Ginny and other supplies to fill our spiritual needs.

Music has been a big part of our community involvement. We’ve hosted chamber music concerts, talent shows, the transformation choir and other musical events. We’ve also supported local missions such as Interfaith Outreach United, the Delaware Youth Center, the Jeffersonville Food Pantry, the Federation for the Homeless, Habitat for Humanity, the Sullivan County Pregnancy Center, the Women’s Center in Liberty and Literacy Partners of Sullivan West Central School. In addition, we back our denomination’s mission program world wide.

Today the reasons for maintaining our church are just as meaningful as they were back when our founding fathers first conceived the idea of building a “House of Worship.” During the past 150 years, generations of our families and friends have supported and cared for our church, so even through adversity we have endured. However, as time goes on change happens. If we don’t choose it, it chooses us. We must all work toward the changes we truly want, so our little church on the hill will remain a beacon of God’s love to our families, our community and our friends.

County Route 131t
Hortonville, NY 12745
Tel: (845) 887- 5276


Sunday Service
Every Sunday @ 11:00 A.M.

Easter Sunday
11:00 A.M.

Christmas Eve Service
5:00 P.M.

hortonville history | historical photos | birthplace of dr. frederick cook | charles layton was first settler | hamlet named after charles horton

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