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AUSTERLITZ, COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Capt. Franklin Ellis98
The first recorded action regarding a religious organization in this town is found in
the records of the meetings of the original proprietors of the
"Spencer's-town" grant. It occurs in the minutes of the meeting of April
16, 1760, and was the twelfth resolution adopted, and reads as follows: "Whereas,
there is a Right and a half in Spencer's Town Ship that is without any owner in
particular, but is owned by the propriety in general, by a grant for taking one general
Deed of the natives, it is now voted, that one Right of said right and a half shall be
given to the first gospel minister settled in said propriety." And also "Voted
to give a deed to Mr. Jesse Clark, provided he settles here in the function of a
minister." Mr. Clark did settle on the land, and in 1761, March 31, a meeting was
called to "pitch the meeting-house," meaning, to select a site for a
meeting-house. No action was taken, however, in that direction. The meeting voted to give
Mr. Clark a salary o!
f £50 for 1761, £55 for 1762, £60 each for 1763-64-64, and £65 yearly thereafter. Also
to give him £60 towards building a house. It was further voted, "that we will meet
on Sundays for publick worship at Mr. John Spencer's house."
The first meeting-house was erected about the fall of 1771, the first mention of it
being in March, 1772, when a proprietors' meeting was held in it. It stood a little
east of the present church, and faced the north. It was repaired in 1789, and again about
1825, the latter time at a cost of about $2500. At this time it was turned, facing the
east, and moved back to its present position, and, as the resolution states, "fitted
up in modern stile." It was again repaired in 1863, at a cost of $2500. The
original frame is still in use. The parsonage was purchased in 1868, of Mrs. Lucretia P.
Beach, for $1300. The present valuation of the church property, including its interest in
the cemetery lot, is about $4000.
The first pastor was Rev. Jesse Clark, who was long and familiarly known as
"Priest Clark." He served about thirty years.
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