First Presbyterian Church
142 Stage Road | Monroe, NY 10950
Office: 845-783-1632 | Fax: 845-783-9082 | Email: fpcmonroeoffice@yahoo.com

Our History


It was as late as 1783 before we read of any minister of Christ turning his attention to this area. Silas Constant a licentiate under the care of the Morris (New Jersey) Presbytery, came to Blooming Grove, and on 4/20 preached his first sermon in Blooming Grove or Monroe, as one of his first preaching stations. Probably as early as 1783, he visited The Clove.

>A congregational meeting was held to form a church with a school connected, available to all children. A Mr. Daniel Miller offered to "The People of the Congregation" 2 1/2 acres of land situated in an oak grove, for the erection of the church and school. This land may be identified today as, what is now known as the "Seamanville Cemetery" on Spring Street, Monroe, New York.

Beginnings

THE FIRST CHURCH in the Monroe area was the Presbyterian Church. Monroe was settled in the 1760's by the English and Scots who wanted to move inland from their Long Island homes. These educated and God-fearing people knew that new lands were being opened up west of the Hudson River in the newly surveyed Cheesecock Patent. The patent had been surveyed by Charles Clinton, assisted by Andrew Cunningham in 1758. The lots of this area were surveyed into approximately 150 acres each, and a description of the quality of the land and the availability of water was included in the description of each lot. This information was available from the seven original owners located in New York, from whom purchases were made.

Soon the families left Long Island, sailed tip the majestic Hudson River to New Windsor, then followed the Murderer's (Moodna) Creek to the present Mountainville area. From that point, overland travel began, as well as many hardships. As families moved into the Monroe vicinity, the land was cleared, homes erected, farm work established and stone wall boundary lines erected. Many of these original stone walls still exist and may be seen today. With the eruption of rumors of war, families were divided on the issues—brother against brother, son against father, and fear for survival was very great. Each one had to make his own decision. All recognized the Colonies were not prepared to fight a war. Some of the men and boys went to work in the iron mines that were already established in the Sterling area. Others joined the armed services. This left the homes and farms in the care of the women and children.

It soon became very evident that the activities of the English forces in New York had to be delayed. The inhabitants of the Monroe area, as well as those in other areas, were required to help make available provisions for the English and to keep them contented by entertaining them, thereby giving the Colonies time to prepare for action. Miring this period, there were erected 13 stills within a radius of three miles. These, no doubt, helped to keep the English "happy"! (So much for the beginning of our area.)

According to the Preface of the Journal of Reverend Silas Constant, published in 1903 by Roellin, the following is stated: "It was as late as 1783 before we read of any minister of Christ turning his attention to this area. Then Silas Constant a licentiate under the care of the Morris (New Jersey) Presbytery, came to Blooming Grove, and on 4/20 preached his first sermon in Blooming Grove or Monroe, as one of his first preaching stations. Probably as early as 1783, he visited The Clove. The first sermon he delivered there was in the presence of a congregation assembled in an orchard belonging to the William Miller family and under an apple tree. The fruit of this tree was very large and delicious and was caIIed the Presbyterian AppIe. Thus it can be said of the Church, whose nucleus was gathered there, 'I raised thee up under the Apple Tree, where thy mother brought thee forth.'"

A congregational meeting was held to form a church with a school connected, available to all children. A Mr. Daniel Miller offered to "The People of the Congregation" 2 1/2 acres of land situated in an oak grove, for the erection of the church and school. This land may be identified today as, what is now known as the "SeamanvilIe Cemetery" on Spring Street, Monroe, New York.

The school, open to all people and the first in the area, was first held as an "open air" school. It began before the church building was enclosed. Soon after, a little school building was erected, southwest of the church. Later the school was relocated in the early 1800's, on -the second floor of a two-story building situated on the south side of the Seamanville Mill Dam. The school remained at this location until about 1812 or 1813, when the State of New York decreed that school districts be set up and elementary schools erected.

With the swing of education away from the church temporarily and with the beginning of the Sunday School movement, it was not long before the church became involved in Christian education. The Rev. Hosea Ball organized the first Sunday School in 1819. By the 50th anniversary of the Sunday School, the "Goshen Democrat" carried a report of its prosperous and efficient condition and that one of its former teachers was on her way to India as a missionary.

Times were changing and, in 1844, the Erie Railroad purchased some of the church property and located, its station in Seamanville. This building still stands and is now a residence, located on the south side of Spring Street, oposite the Seamanville Cemetery. The railroad soon discovered that the Tumers Station and the Seamanville Station were too close. This resulted in relocating a station one mile west of Seamanville toward the new center of Monroe.

A Glance At A Few Of The Leaders

WITH THE CHANGING TIMES came also a change of pastors. The Rev. Daniel Niles Freeland arrived in 1847 and saw the church through some major transitions. His pastorate of 34 years was the longest in the history of this church. In the early days of his ministry, the church outgrew its little meetinghouse within the Seaman ille Cemetery and erected and dedicated—February 15, 1853—the present church and within three years, had a new manse. During Rev. Freeland's pastorate, the church was the center of all activity, religious and social. The elders were all successful and dedicated businessmen. They had their meetings regularly and, after each meeting, one elder on behalf of him and his wife, would offer their home for a social that month. Everyone was invited, including our Methodist friends. The church had no trouble raising money and neither did the Methodists, as all cooperated.

This fellowship continued through Rev. T. B.Thomas' (1882-1901) pastorate. Our minister exchanged pulpits on an average of three church meetings a week. This practice continued until after World War I.

Rev. Archibald Parker came in 1902-1906. His term was short because of ill health. Rev. Wilson Eisenhart (1907-1912) found the old cemetery grounds in poor repair and through his efforts the brush was cut, plots marked. Rev. Dr. Edward Shaw (1912-1922) was followed by a young couple, Rev. and Mrs. Frederic E. Williams, whose young son born in the manse. Rev. Charles F. Robson and family arrived in 1927 and were here until 1942. Rev. Robson was a Scotsman and his singing of hymns with his rolling r's was a great asset to our communty. The church membership increased again. He organized a young married couples evening service consisting of about 100 couples, held regular Bible courses and conducted active evanelistic services.

In 1944, the Rev. Luke C. Ray came to Monroe. He set up the first deaconess group. A men's club was also organized and was very active. Ill health necessitated his moving to the warmer climate of North Carolina. Rev. Winslow D. Shaw arrived in 1948. During his active leadership, the church office was formally organized. A boys' choir was established and the Sunday School increased again. The electric carillon was given by Mr. Chauncey K Conklin in memory of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. George R. Conklin who had been so generous over many years with their time and money. Rev. Shaw left the Monroe church in December 1963, to serve in Annapolis.

The Rev. Deane F. Lavender arrived and became pastor in June 1964. He came from the Presbyterian Church in Lafayette, NY. The church continued to grow and remain active as our pastor became involved in all church functions. It was during Rev. Lavender's stay that we had a renovation of the sanctuary. The work was extensive and included a new ceiling, new pews, new lighting and an enlarged chancel. During the pastorate of this well-liked minister, the Monroe Presbyterian Nursery School was started with the untiring efforts of the women of the congregation. It has continued to grow and is still very active today.

Rev. Lavender left in 1970 and was replaced by the Rev. George R. Doering, Jr., in March of 1971. Rev. Doer was very active with the youth of the church and during his stay, many innovative youth activities were formed and and put into action. Rev. Doer left Monroe on January 31, 1975.

The Rev. Robert W. Dent arrived from Chambersburg Central Presbytesian Church on March 15,1976. Since the arrival of Rev. Dent, his wife Judy, and their two children, Douglas and Janice, there has been a change in atmosphere within the congregation. One can feel a warmth that has been generated by the Dent family, and a very responsive congregation.

Bob has been very active in all phases of the church with added emphasis on youth and visitation of congregation members. Bob's wife, Judy, has also been very active with the youth and has greatly enhanced the music program. As our pastor, Bob Dent administers his duties with an enthusiasm that at times seems to infect others. Bob seems to possess a rare combination of leadership and humility in the correct proportions. Bob officially retired on December 31, 2006. He and his wife Judy have now moved to Maine.

Rev. Alex Lever became our new pastor as of July 1, 2010. He joined us here in Monroe at the beginning of August 2010. He conducted his first service as our paster on Sunday, August 15, 2010. He was installed as our pastor on Sunday, November, November 7, 2010.

Pastors of our Church

  1. Rev. Silas Constant: Sept. 1783-Nov. 1785
  2. Rev. David Baldwin: 1792-1799
  3. Rev. Simeon R. Jones: 1799-1804 (1 yr.)
  4. Rev. Howard R. Powell: 1804-1806
  5. Rev. Porter: 1 1/2 years
  6. Rev. James H. Thomas: Oct. 1814-1816
  7. Rev. Hosea Ball: Oct 1819-March 1823
  8. Rev. John White: 1823-1824
  9. Rev. John Boyd: 1826-1834
  10. Rev. John Jay Thompson: 1836-1847
  11. Rev. Daniel Niles Freeland: 1847-1881
  12. Rev. T. B. Thomas: 1882-1901
  13. Rev. ArchibaId Parker 1902-1906
  14. Rev. Wilson Eisenhart: 1907-1912
  15. Rev. Dr. Edward Shaw: 1912-1922
  16. Rev. Frederic E Williams: 1923-1926
  17. Rev. Charles F. Robson: 1923-1942
  18. Rev. Luke C Ray: 1944-1947
  19. Rev. Winslow D. Shaw: 1948-1963
  20. Rev. Deane F. Lavender: 1964-1970
  21. Rev. George R. Doering, Jr.: 1971- 1975
  22. Rev. Robert W. Dent: 1976-2006
  23. Rev. Baron Ashfield: 2007-2010
  24. Rev. Alex Lever: 2010 - present