Adirondack Missions: The Episcopal Church in Warren County.
By George Edmed DeMille.
No place: no publisher, c. 1975.
Chapter I. The Environment
Christ’s Holy Catholic Church, of which the Adirondack missions form a small part, is a divine institution. But it lives and works in a human environment, and its history, whether local or regional, cannot be understood without consideration of that environment—its geography, its economics, its politics, its sociology. We must begin our narrative, then, by attempting to draw a picture of a landscape.
The Adirondack Missions, as at present constituted, cover all of the townships of Chester and Horicon and part of Johnsburg, in Warren County, and parts of the townships of Schroon, North Hudson, and Newcomb, in Essex County. They cover approximately 2500 square miles. From Brant Lake, in the southeast, to Newcomb, in the northwest, is a distance of 40 miles.
It is a country of rugged beauty, entirely mountainous, but these are often described as the friendly mountains, none of them in this area above timberline—Gore and Pharaoh only reach about three thousand feet in height. It is a country of lakes and ponds, ranging from Schroon and Brant Lakes, several miles long, to tiny hidden ponds tucked away in the forest. It is a country of rushing streams, clear, unpolluted, homes of the native brook trout. But it is not an, easy country in which to make a living. Serious farming is out of the question. The growing season is short, frost may strike in June and August, and a hundred acre tract will contain possibly two cultivable fields and a mountainside. However, though this country is not a country for corn and wheat, it does grow one [1/2] thing—timber. Pine, hemlock, spruce, balsam, some hardwoods—these are the crops of Warren and Essex Counties.
When, immediately after the American Revolution, settlers from New England flooded into up-state New York, they were mainly farmers, looking for better land than they found in the hills of Vermont and western Massachusetts. They therefore wisely located in the Mohawk, Champlain, and St. Lawrence Valleys, the Iroquois farm lands of central New York, and largely avoided the Adirondacks.
However, there was a slow seepage of settlers into our area. The first federal census, that of 1790, showed that the township of Queensbury, then a part of Washington County, had a population of 1080. Most of what was to be Warren County was unbroken wilderness. During the next decade, this number had grown to a little over four thousand, and there were now people living in Chester, Thurman, and Lake Lucerne. In 1813, Warren County was set off from Washington County. The lumbering age in the Adirondacks had begun; this was also the age of local tanneries, because the mountains had plenty of hemlock trees, the bark of which was used in tanning.
It is interesting to study the population figures of northern Warren County from its beginnings to our own time. The township of Chester grew from 508 in 1800, to a maximum of 2247 in 1880. Then it steadily dropped until 1920. Horicon, first separately enumerated in 1840, had then a population of 659. It likewise grew until 1880, when it reached its greatest figure, 1633. In 1960, the census gave it 833. To this day, one walking the woods will come upon an old foundation, or a mouldering log cabin, mute witnesses to a pioneer family which seventy years or more ago gave up the struggle with a beautiful but harsh environment, and “went west.”
Chapter II. Enter the Episcopal Church
The story of the Episcopal Church in Warren County begins with one man. In 1838 John Alden Spooner, a direct descendant of John Alden of the Pilgrim colony, was graduated from the General Theological Seminary in New York. He was thus resident in the seminary during the years when the impact of Tractarianism on the American Episcopal Church was at its height, and that impact was particularly strong in the seminary. He graduated strong in Tractarian churchmanship, and also, like so many of his contemporaries in that seminary, filled with missionary zeal. In 1839, being then in deacon’s orders, he came to the growing village of Glens Falls. In 1840, he was there ordained priest by Bishop Onderdonk of New York, and within a year he had established parishes in Glens Falls and Fort Edward, and had revived an older foundation at Sandy Hill (Hudson Falls). With sometimes one, sometimes two assistants, he worked these three places, and made them strongholds of the Episcopal Church.
But his work did not stop there. In 1840, he reported to the convention of the Diocese of New York as follows:
“In one short mission northwards from my station, I held services at Ticonderoga, Warrensburg, Chester and Minerva; at Minerva, 40 miles from Glen’s falls, I baptized two children not included in the above report.” [The forty mile jaunt to Minerva must have been quite an undertaking in 1810. I suspect that it could have been made only on horseback.] [3/4] This journey was the beginning of the work of the Episcopal Church in the area we are studying.
In 1839 Joel Potter came to the town of Chester, and built near what is now the Wells House in Pottersville the second building in that place. It already boasted one log house. This seems like an unpromising location for an Episcopal Church, but there a church was built. Local legend, which cannot be verified, but which sounds to me most probable, accounts for the location in this way. In Schroon Lake village there lived a fairly wealthy Episcopal layman. In Friend’s Lake lived another, probably John Thurman. Each wanted an Episcopal Church nearby. Being good Anglicans, they eventually compromised, drew a line between their respective dwellings, and determined to locate the church exactly half-way between. The result was a location beside the old Military Road, half a mile from Potter’s store, and still half a mile from the village of Pottersville.
In 1845, Christ Church, Chester, was duly incorporated, and received into union with the convention of the Diocese of New York. A lay delegate from the new parish made his appearance and was seated. His name is given as John R. Furman—undoubtedly an error. It was John Thurman.
On February 11, 1846, Bishop McCoskry of Michigan came to Pottersville, consecrated the church building, and baptized a child of the resident priest. [Due to the suspension of Bishop Onderdonk, after one of the most famous ecclesiastical trials in the history of the 4merican Episcopal Church, New York was without a diocesan, and bishops of other diocese were employed to perform episcopal functions.] This priest was the Rev. William H. Hickox, just received into the Diocese of New York from Western New York. He had been assigned to Pottersville by the Missionary Committee of [4/5] the diocese.
This start was premature. Pottersville was a long way from New York City, there was no bishop to watch over things, and the result was that in 1848 the Rev. Mr. Hickox moved to Westport, and Pottersville entered on a long vacancy. However, in the convention journal of 1850 there appears this queer entry in Bishop Whittingham’s report. “On Tuesday, the 27th of August, I said Morning Prayer, preached, and confirmed four persons in Zion Church, Chester.”
During this long gap in church activity things were happening that promised well for the future. The lumbering industry in Warren County was at its height; every year the Schroon River and the Hudson River carried thousands of logs to the mills at Glens Falls and Thurman. Little tanneries were springing up throughout the area. And as a result, the population was growing. In 1852 a tannery was started at North Creek—the beginning of that community. In 1850 the hamlet of Adirondack on the east side of Schroon Lake was born. In 1838 the town of Horicon at the foot of Brant Lake was formally organized. In 1800 the total population of the town of Chester was only 508. In 1850 it was 1850. And in 1860 it reached its all time high of 2412. Furthermore, in 1854, the Diocese of New York which for nearly a decade had been without effective leadership, gained a strong head when Horatio Potter was elected provisional bishop. Bishop Potter had been rector of St. Peter’s Church, Albany; he knew up-state New York, its needs and possibilities. The result of these forces was a new start for the church in Pottersville.
In 1855 the Rev. Robert T. Pearson was appointed to the vacant cure. On August 28 of that year the bishop reported, “I preached in the afternoon in Christ Church, Pottersville, confirmed eleven and one in private, and addressed them.” In the convention journal of that year we find for the first time a full report from the parish. [5/6] It numbered twenty families, with one hundred fifteen persons, there had been sixteen baptisms, and the rector commented, “in May last the church was reopened for divine service and the people came in goodly numbers, some from homes seven miles distant. Occasional services are held in the surrounding villages.” In 1856 the rector reported that “the church edifice has recently been painted and repaired, through the liberality of one or two persons, and a melodeon placed in the choir.”
Then came a temporary setback. The Rev. Mr. Pearson left, and in 1858 one of the wardens reported, “We have no minister in this Parish, and have had no Church services this year or more. May God grant us some relief.” But this time there was to be no long gap. In 1859 the Rev. James E. Kenny was rector and missionary. [Ordained in New York City, March 10, 1859.] For the second time Pottersville was represented in diocesan convention, Thomas Mills, John H. Vosburgh, and Andrew Van Benthuysen taking their seats as lay delegates. The rector’s report to convention is highly interesting, and deserves quotation in full.
“In connection with this parish there is a missionary field of over 40 miles in diameter, which contains, scattered throughout many, who in other lands, have been wont to worship at the altars of the Church, but for several years have been deprived of the privilege, there being no clergyman within 33 miles of the church, on the south, and over $0 on the north. P.M. service is held regularly at Minerva, six miles northwest, where the congregations are very large, 2 from there have been confirmed, and 13 baptized. On the second and fourth Sunday, P.M. service is held west of Chester, seven miles southwest; 2 there have been confirmed, and 6 baptized. In addition to these regular services, Divine Service is held whenever or wherever an opportunity offers. As regards temporal matters, a glebe of 4 acres adjoining the church has been deeded to it during the past year, on which a substantial rectory has been built.”
It is evident from this inspiring report that young Mr. Kenny was a true missionary, and that he visualized Pottersville, with its church and rectory, as a strategic center from which he meant to evangelize a good part of Warren County.
The following years seemed to be carrying out the progress which attended Mr. Kenny’s efforts. In 1860 he stated that he had held services in twelve different communities, and had started a day school with twelve pupils. In 1861 he had performed thirty-five baptisms, and had one hundred thirty-five catechumens. And then, silence. For the succeeding years there are no reports. In 1863 Mr. Kenny removed to the church at Pine Plains, in Dutchess County. The following year he was back in Pottersville. The next fact to appear in the convention journal is in 1865, when the bishop visited Pottersville for the first time in several years, and confirmed five.
In 1868 something happened which in the long run was to have a great effect on the fortunes of the Episcopal Church in Warren County. This was the incorporation of the Church of the Holy Cross, Warrensburgh. Warrensburgh was rapidly becoming a village considerably larger than either Chestertown or Pottersville, and much more wealthy. The new parish, equipped eventually with a beautiful stone church, rectory, and parish hall, was to prove a remarkably stable parish, near enough to the missions in the northern part of the county to act at times as a sort of foster mother to them.
 But in the late sixties, the story of the parish at Pottersville was one of unrelieved gloom. In 1866 the Rev. Mr. Kenny left for the second and final time. One of the wardens reported:
“We have had no Minister in this Parish for the last year, or no services held in this Church but once consequently the members are scattered round, and attend different places of worship. We need a minister very much,”
In 1868, when the warden made the last report of the parish to the Diocese of New Yeah, the note is equally sad.
“The Parish has been without a Rector during the past four years, except about four months in 1868. Rev. E. Pidsley came into the parish about the first of February last, and officiated as rector until the first of July, when he left.
We would be pleased to have another Minister sent us, but cannot offer much inducement.”
Chapter III. A New Diocese and a New Bishop
In 1868, after years of discussion, the unwieldy Diocese of New York was once again divided, and the Diocese of Albany was erected. On the Feast of the Purification, Feb 2, 1869, William Croswell Doane was consecrated its first bishop. Bishop Doane was a comparatively young man—only forty-two, with a strong physique, boundless energy, a dominating will, and his active mind was filled with grandiose plans—for a cathedral, schools, a hospital, a sisterhood. But he was also missionary-minded. Such leadership, located now not in distant New York City, but in the comparative nearness of Albany, was bound to have its effect on the north-country missions.
Within two weeks of his consecration, he set out on a visitation, planning to cover the whole diocese in this first year. Early in July he entered Warren County, and on the 8th of that month he was in Pottersville. His comments are interesting.
“On Thursday, July 8, in the morning at Christ Church, Pottersville, the Rev. Mr. Capers said Morning Prayer, I baptized an infant, preached, and celebrated the Holy Communion. There is a forlorn hope here; a few church people, from whom pecuniary support has died or drifted away. The Church is beautifully situated, but, as it seems to me now at any rate, in the wrong place. The parsonage is sadly out of repair. The congregation was large and interested, and we must try the Mission once more. If the Church were at Chester, or if a generous [9/10] bequest, not yet received of a church and lot, at the Glen, four miles away, could by consent be applied here, I should have more hope.”
By September of 1870, the parish once again had a rector, the Rev. John S. Clarke. In the convention journal of that year there is a very full report from Pottersville, containing details about the parish otherwise unavailable. The wardens were Thomas Mills and Isaac Mills. Among the vestrymen appear these names: Andrew Van Benthuysen, Edward Rawlins, and Amos Agard. I quote these names because nearly a hundred years later these family names were still to be found on the parish rolls—evidence of the persistence of many north country families. There were 58 baptized persons, and 23 communicants. The total income of the parish for the preceding year had been $145.50, of which $18 had been given to extra-parish purposes. The salary paid the rector was $107.50, which was supplemented by a grant from the missionary committee of the diocese. [The total stipend seems to have been $200 a year.] The rector reported that he had officiated for seven Sundays at Schroon—the first evidence of Episcopal Church activity in that growing village.
In 1871 the Bishop made his visitation to Pottersville on May 4, when he confirmed four persons. He noted, “Thirty mile drive today. Raining and roads very bad.”
In this same year, 1871, there came a new factor into the life of Warren County. The Adirondack branch of the D. and H. Railroad reached North Creek. This meant that Warren County could now be reached by public transportation. Enter the summer visitor-but not the tourist. If you were a well-to-do New York family, and wanted to spend a summer in the mountains, you started, about July 1, [10/11] by taking a train from New York City to Albany, then you took the D. & H. to Saratoga. There you changed to the newly completed Adirondack branch. Getting off at Riverside, you were taken by stage to Pottersville, where you boarded a lake steamer, which eventually decanted you at Schroon Lake village. There you settled in at your summer hotel for the months of July and August. This, then, was the heyday of the summer hotel—a hotel where people came and stayed for a month or more; at the Wells House in Pottersville, the Rising House in Chestertown, Harry Down’s Chester House. And this influx of stable summer visitors was to have its effect on the Warren County missions.
In 1871 the Rev. Mr. Clarke had this to say in his report: “The Missionary above mentioned has regularly officiated on alternate Sundays, at Schroon and Chester, the former ten, the latter six miles distant, with tolerably fair congregations (consisting, almost, of summer visitors) during the months of July, August, and September.”
Everything looked promising, but again history repeated itself. Mr. Clarke left. For a year the Bishop tried having a local lay reader hold services. This was abandoned, and all work in Pottersville stopped. In 1876 it was, announced by the committee on nonreporting churches that Pottersville, having made no report for three years, was no longer a parish in union with convention. Not until nearly half a century had passed was Pottersville again to have a resident priest.
Chapter IV. Help From Warrensburgh
As we have previously noted, the population of the town of Chester reached its all-time high in 1860. From this point on, it slowly decreased—a sure sign of a decaying economy. And that decay was of course reflected in the melancholy history of Christ Church, Pottersville.
But in nearby Warrensburgh, the situation was far different. That community had grown steadily, and was prosperous economically to an extent that made it, in comparison with the northern part of the oounty, almost metropolitan. And the prosperity of the community had its result in the life of the parish. The Church of the Holy Cross, with its charming group of connected buildings—church, parish house, rectory—all of enduring stone, had become a stable, almost an ideal village parish. In 1877 its reported income was $1322.59, almost ten times the last reported income of Pottersville. In the 70s, the rector of the church was the Rev. William M. Ogden. Not content with running successfully, as the figures show, his fine village parish, he saw it as a base of operations, a base from which he could spread and strengthen the struggling Episcopal Church in the northern part of the county. Late in 1876, he began to hold services in the neglected north; when Bishop Doane visited it in April 1877, he was delighted with what he found. And on April 12, he organized the mission of the Good Shepherd, Chestertown.
In 1878, Mr. Ogden had this to say:
“The report includes in one the Statistics, Services, etc. of the Mission Stations of Chester, Pottersville, [12/13] Schroon and Millbrook. During months of July and August I was assisted by Rev. Mr. Westover, Deacon, and several of the city and neighboring clergy. The Rev. Mr. Prime’s engagement dates from November 15, 1877. At Chester, by the generosity principally of Miss Trueman and Mrs. Russell, a neat chapel has been fitted up and furnished with reed organ, etc. and a Sunday School has been established. At Schroon, by the generosity of Col. Clarke and family a lot and house has been procured which will be altered to serve for a chapel early in the spring.”
Certain things in this report call for comment and explanation. From this point on, both Chestertown and Schroon village were to prove relatively stable missions. The wealthy benefactor has made his appearance. There were now clergy among the summer visitors, and Mr. Ogden knew how to put them to work. The Rev. Mr. Prime mentioned was a full time assistant to Mr. Ogden, who was planning to make of his field an associate mission—half a century in advance of his time. Mr. Ogden’s salary was $800, adequate at the period; and the assistant received the same salary—an unheard of arrangement.
On September 8, 1878, Bishop Doane made his visitation, and grew positively lyrical at what he found. I cannot forbear quoting at some length his description of his day.
“Off for the Adirondack visitation by rail to Thurman, then driving to Starbuckville. A most pleasant welcome awaited me from one of the two faithful Churchwomen who have held up and revived the Church in that part of the Diocese. After dinner, a lovely row down the Schroon River....It was through [13/14] a bit of unspoiled nature. No living creatures but ourselves and two birds all the way. And the wooded banks, the lovely windings of the river, and the unbroken solitude and silence were very impressive.
In the afternoon, in Christ Church, in Pottersville, I preached and baptized two children. Mr. Ogden has done a hard, earnest, successful work in this region, during the summer....I spent the night on the large island, at the head of Schroon Lake, very agreeably, with the kindest hosts
Sunday, September 9.... In the schoolhouse in Schroon, I preached and celebrated the Holy Communion. The congregation was admirable, though `the season’ was over....From Pottersville we drove to Chester. I found the little Chapel here—a meeting house made over—very churchly and attractive, and crowded to the outer step with a very interested and impressible congregation.”
In 1879 the Board of Missions voted to drop the Associate mission, Mr. Prime left, and Chestertown and Schroon Lake were set up as separate and independent stations. From this point on for a number of years, the story moves from Pottersville at the center to Chestertown and Schroon Lake village, at the extremes. In 1880 the Rev. Aubrey Todrig was designated missionary in charge of these two places and also of Pottersville. On July 4 the Bishop made his visitation. In the morning he preached and celebrated in Chestertown, and then went, partly driving and partly by boat, to Schroon, where a chapel had been built, and where he confirmed seventeen persons-a record number. Chestertown being organized as a mission, had but one warden, and now the warden was Ralph Thurman, who became for [14/15] a long period the angel of the mission. The Thurmans had money.
Mr. Todrig stayed only a year, but was succeeded immediately by the Rev. Charles D. Flagler, just ordained deacon. He again stayed only a year, but in 1883 the Rev. Clement Whipple took charge. It will be noted that in spite of these frequent changes, there were no sizable gaps. In 1882 the Bishop confirmed at Chestertown, and present was the Rev. Mr. Ogden, who seems to have kept up a steady interest in the fortunes of his stepchild. In 1884 Schroon Lake also had a resident clergyman, the Rev. William A. W. Maybin.
Mr. Whipple’s 1884 report from Chestertown is of great interest. The offerings for the year had reached the unexampled sum of $2964.24. Much of this, no doubt, was building fund. He stated, “Last summer the old building, where for many years the congregation had worshipped, was removed, and in its place has been erected a small chapel.” This is the building still in use. And during the summer Mr. Whipple held services every Sunday afternoon at Pottersville. On May 3, 1884, the little chapel at Chestertown was consecrated.
In 1887 Mr. Whipple moved from Chestertown to Lake Luzerne, where he was to have a long and successful ministry. He was followed at Chester by the Rev. Joseph T. Zorn, who first had charge of both Chestertown and Schroon Lake, but in 1888 moved to Schroon as full time priest there. The Rev. Alfred Taylor succeeded him at Chestertown. In 1888 Mr. Taylor held the first services at Bartonville, four miles from Chestertown. This was a tiny hamlet at the foot of Brant Lake, later to be known as Horicon. That we have this history of rapid clerical change, but no gap, is probably due to the fact that Mr. Thurman continued warden.
The beginning made by Mr. Taylor at Bartonville—which we will henceforth call by its modern name of Horicon—proved an immediate success. In 1889, twenty persons were confirmed at [15/16] Chestertown, fifteen of whom came from Horicon. What happened in 1890 deserves full quotation. Bishop Doane informed convention that:
“Wednesday, the 9th, after a long and tedious drive through mud that was only not impassable but is impossible to describe, I came late to the little Church at Chestertown, where I preached and confirmed five persons. On Thursday morning, I consecrated St. Paul’s Chapel, Bartonville—a pretty and convenient Church, largely due, as is the Mission itself, to the energy and interest of the Rev. Mr. Taylor; and a great comfort to me as indicating what we ought to have more of; aggressive growth and advancement in the Diocese. I preached and confirmed eight persons and celebrated the Holy Communion. The Rev. Mr. Taylor read the Instrument of Donation, and the Rev. Mr. Ogden the Sentence of Consecration.”
The church thus consecrated is still one of the most attractive of the little wooden churches in the diocese. It will be noted that Mr. Ogden had not lost interest in the missions he had helped to revive. [He died in 1891, while conducting service in his parish church.]
The report to the convention of 1891 from both Chestertown and Horicon was excellent. Chestertown had twenty-one baptisms, Horicon twenty-three, of which thirteen were adults; evidence of genuine missionary work among the unchurched. Chestertown had fifty-eight communicants, Horicon thirty-five. Furthermore, during ,this year Chestertown was given by the Thurmans a rectory. All this indicates what the Church could do provided it had continuing lay and clerical leadership.
 Unfortunately, this stability is just what the sister mission in Schroon Lake did not have. We have noted that the Rev. Joseph Zorn had moved from Chestertown to Schroon. There he remained only a year, and apparently he had no successor. In 1892 the diocese had a roving diocesan missionary, the Rev. Walter Stewart, whose job it was to work throughout the diocese, particularly in places without stable clerical leadership. In 1892 he visited Schroon, and his report of that visit gives us our first glimpse of that mission for several years.
“Last summer I went up to Schroon Lake. In some old copies of the Convention Journal I had seen parochial reports from St. Andrew’s Chapel there, but none had appeared for four years. I wrote to the Junior Warden (Col. Clarke) who invited me to go up and visit the place. On doing so I found that summer services had been held during the past four years, but the expenses had been so great that no money was left in the Treasury for winter services. I remained there for some time, officiating on Sundays and trying to revive the work. It seemed too bad that, with about fifty communicants among the residents of the place, and with a nice chapel, these poor people should be without the comforts of the Church. The natives are almost entirely dependent upon what they can make during the short summer season when the city folks come here.” [This was to a large extent true fifty years later.]
Stewart was able to raise $600 for the support of a missionary, and in 1893 the place was again filled by the Rev. Galbraith Perry, also Pottersville. The reader will have noted that many of the [17/18] clerical names we have mentioned al a names and nothing more, we know very little about them. But the Rev. Mr. Perry shows up as a real character. He was a product of the Ritual movement, which began in the late sixties. In 1870, while a student at the General Seminary, he had been in trouble for his advanced sacramental views. Later, as assistant at Mt. Calvary Church, Baltimore, he was presented for trial because he used prayers for the dead. In his first report for Schroon, he stated that he had held during the year fifty-six communion services—a startling innovation, when the small church normally held to the old routine of one such service a month.
In 1896, both Schroon Lake and Chestertown received a serious blow. In that year both Bayard Clarke and Ralph Thurman died. Men of some wealth, convinced churchmen, they had done much to keep the two missions with which they were associated going concerns. Now both Clarke and Thurman were at least upper middle class people. They were the carriage trade, and people suppose that the Episcopal Church caters only to the carriage trade. But in 1896 the convention journals contain a report from Christ Church, Pottersville—which had not reported separately for decades. The wardens in this report were John Agard and Edward Rawlins, among the vestrymen we find the names of Bibby and Van Benthuysen. These were not carriage trade names, but those of north country working men. That, in spite of the long period when the church in Pottersville had either been completely closed or served from Schroon or Chestertown, these families stuck to the Church, is a striking testimony to the long endurance, the persistence of the laity. I do not suppose any of them could have discoursed at length on the Apostolic Succession or the Sacramental System, but they were Episcopalians, and Episcopalians they would always be.
Chapter V. A New Century
Let us for a moment take stock of the situation in our missions at the turn of the century. Chestertown had a church and a rectory, and had achieved a continuity of parish life. Priests came and went, but there were no disastrous gaps. And it had itself become a strategic center for the spread of the Church. Its daughter mission in Horicon had a charming little church, and because of its nearness to Chestertown, could easily be worked from there, and was stable. Pottersville, the mother mission, had had no resident priest for decades, and had become practically a summer chapel. The old rectory, in a ruinous condition for years, had finally been torn down. Schroon Lake, with church, rectory, and parish hall, had an intermittent existence; priests came and went, there were gaps, and the future was anything but bright.
In 1900 the Rev. Guy Harte Purdy became rector of Warrensburg. We have seen how under Ogden, Warrensburg had proved a source of strength to the northern missions. Fr. Purdy was to be an even more important figure in the history of the missions than his predecessor. He will reappear frequently in these pages.
The succeeding years were on the whole years of quiet progress. In 1902 Good Shepherd, Chestertown, received a bequest of five thousand dollars under the will of Mary Thurman. This was placed in the hands of the Trustees of the Diocese, invested, and produced about two hundred dollars a year, to be applied to the salary of the missionary. This holds true to this day.
In 1909, the Rev. Thomas Bellringer, young, energetic, being [19/20] in charge of Chestertown, a new venture was made. On the east side of Schroon Lake, about halfway up, was a hamlet, originally called Mill Brook, renamed Adirondack. Services had occasionally been held here in the past, but Mr. Bellringer set out to make it a permanent station, although he was already responsible for all four existing churches. In 1911 Bishop Nelson, coadjutor of the Diocese, visited all of these places, and confirmed four at Adirondack. In 1913, six more were confirmed there. In 1914 a disused one-room schoolhouse was bought, and converted into a usable chapel, complete with bell. It continued in use until 1940.
But this gain was more than balanced by a loss. In 1914 the chapel at Schroon Lake, beautifully situated on a promontory in the lake, was burned. Not for years was an attempt made to replace it.
In 1915 the Rev. Charles Alford became missionary at Chestertown. Fr. Alford was a former Methodist minister. He carried over into the priesthood something of the Methodist zeal, and proved an excellent work-horse. He remained at Chestertown until 1923—the longest tenure of office of any priest in this territory since its beginning. Although the stipend was pretty small—six hundred dollars from the Board of Missions plus two hundred from the Thurman Trust—he managed to bring up a family, and to range all over the territory. Not only did he hold services in all the places we have mentioned, he even got up to a queer little hamlet called Grassville, at the end of a dirt road that ran from the shore of Brant Lake, and was inhabited exclusively by members of the Monroe family.
It is an indication of how difficult his financial situation was, that in 1914 his stipend from Horicon was only “horse hire”. But the horse and buggy days of the Adirondack missionary were almost at an end. In 1915 Fr. Alford reported to convention:
“The gift of a 1915 Ford 5-passenger touring car has [20/21] made it possible to minister to the five stations under my charge each Sunday and hold three weekly evening services... About 9000 miles has been traveled in making pastoral calls, taking those who could not otherwise get away from home, and especially those who were convalescent, out for a ride. We have tried to make it a real missionary car to minister to the spiritual and temporal needs of the Parish.”
It is a commonplace among historians and sociologists that the coming of the automobile made profound changes in the daily lives of Americans. But no one has yet made a study of what changes the new means of transportation wrought in the church life of the time. As we shall be seeing, the automobile drastically altered the strategy of the Adirondack missions.
In 1923 Fr. Alford concluded his relatively long incumbency in this mission field. Some figures from the convention journal of his last year will demonstrate what he left to his successor.
Adirondack 13 9
Chestertown 23 4
Horicon 44 19
Pottersville 19 1
Schroon Lake 21 3
Ever since he had become rector of Warrensburg, Fr. Purdy had taken a lively interest in the missions to the north of him-giving them encouragement, filling in during vacancies, thinking out a strategy for the future. By this time he had become head of the vast Archdeaconry of Troy. This gave him an official status. On Father Alford’s departure, he promptly took over the missions, and saw that services were maintained. He continued to do this [21/22] through the year 1924.
In October, 1922, the Rt. Rev. G. Ashton Oldham became Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of Albany, and was given as his assigned jurisdiction the missionary work of the Diocese. In his address to the convention which met in May, 1925, he discussed at some length the Warren County Missions. Since his address reveals a whole new strategy for the area, although lengthy, it must be quoted. “The third adventure to which I call your attention is the beginning of aggressive advance work in what are known as the ‘Chestertown Missions’. This isolated and difficult field demands rather unusual qualities so that, although we have been anxious to get at this work for some time, we have been forced to wait until we should secure just the right man for the job and in this we feel that we have at last succeeded. The work is to begin, and probably center for some time, at Pottersville; but oddly enough, just at the very start of our project, in fact at the very time when the priest, the Rev. Clyde B. Blakeslee, is enroute from South Dakota to his new field of labor, a sudden calamity has fallen in the complete destruction of the Pottersville church by fire. Nevertheless we are not discouraged, nor are we to be deflected from our plans. The work is there to be done and must be attempted. A rectory has been secured and arrangements made for the present to hold services in the village schoolhouse. A new church must be erected at the earliest possible moment. A small structure constructed so as to withstand the rigors of that climate will suffice and it can probably be built for not more than $5000.00. Towards all this there is $1000.00 of [22/23] insurance, and the people of that vicinity have already out of their poverty pledged the sum of $500.00 which is evidence of interest such as augurs well for the success of our plans. I therefore take this opportunity to suggest that the clergy of the Diocese ... lend a brotherly hand to these our brethren in distress.”
I do not think it imaginative to see behind this pronouncement of Bishop Oldham the guiding hand of Guy Harte Purdy. Furthermore, it is also the pronouncement of a change in strategy made possible by the automobile. In place of a priest at Chestertown and another at Schroon Lake, there was now to be one at Pottersville, chosen because of its central location. And it is worth noting that even after the coming of Fr. Blakeslee, Fr. Purdy kept Chestertown under his own charge for several years.
The plan went through. A charming cottage in Pottersville was bought for thirteen hundred dollars, and thus after decades, Pottersville had a resident priest. It must have gladdened the heart of John Agard, senior warden, to see this happen. Pottersville was wisely chosen as the place of residence for the missionary because it was central. The longest run from here was to Schroon Lake, only nine miles on a main road. The church in Pottersville was built, a small but practical wooden structure on the site of the old church.
The new missionary plunged into his work with zeal. He had adequate financial support. This was in the days of Coolidge prosperity, and the Board of Missions had money to spend. From the Board he received an annual salary of $1800—quite ample for a country priest, and this was supplemented by some small sums from the various missions. His report to the convention of 1926 said that at Schroon Lake, long neglected, the congregation was “very [23/24] much alive”, and he was preparing a large confirmation class. Years ago, it will be remembered, the church had burned, and no attempt had been made to replace it. However, the insurance from the burned building had been carefully tucked away by Henry Bohrmann, most cautious of parish treasurers, and there was now available $6500. Fr. Blakeslee planned to erect a two-story building, the basement serving as parish hall, and the upper story as the church proper. This, it was estimated, would cost about ten thousand dollars. Construction was begun, the basement built, and then funds ran low, and everything came to an end. The basement proved to be impractical for service purposes, and the mission, discouraged, began to wilt.
Fr. Blakeslee’s first report was also his last. Successive convention journals show no report from any of his missions. This is significant. No doubt a priest in a mission field has more important things to do than fill out reports, but a consistent failure in this respect is a bad symptom.
In 1928 the coadjutor, Bishop Oldham, was in effectual command of the Diocese, Bishop Nelson, prematurely aged, having turned over most of the administration to him. He determined that the whole missionary policy of the Diocese needed a fresh look. To accomplish this, he employed Fr. Purdy, whose qualifications were evident, to survey the whole of the missionary operations of the Diocese. The outcome was a report, printed in the convention journal of 1929, a survey with recommendations for the future, which effectively determined the missionary policy of the Diocese for three decades. It cost the Diocese $400. The report has this to say about the Warren County missions:
“If we adhere to the normal definition of a parish by which we consider that a man is responsible for half the distance between him and the nearest parish in any [24/25] direction, we would have in this field a territory of some twenty-five hundred square miles. This field is a definitely rural population, complicated by a considerable summer population and a definite mountaineer problem. While the stipend allotted to the field is large, yet there cannot be any possible hope that this field will ever be even in a measure self-supporting. The work done, however, is of sufficient importance to receive the very substantial support of the Diocese. In the field there are four established missions and one preaching station which are served regularly.”
It will be noted that there is no mention of the missionary in this report; an indication that Fr. Purdy was far from satisfied with the way the work was being done.
Largely as a result of this excellent survey, a new position in the Diocese was created—that of diocesan archdeacon, and Fr. Purdy was given that position. For over a decade he held that job. Since Bishop Oldham, a notable preacher and a force in the Church at large, was frequently out of the Diocese, the Archdeacon was often in fairly complete control of the day by day operation of the Diocese.
Chapter VI. Rebirth
In May, 1937, a new missionary arrived in Pottersville, the Rev. George E. DeMille. At first glance, he seemed a strange choice to head the rather rough missionary work of the area. His whole life, since graduation from college in 1920, had been academic and scholarly. He had taught in high schools, college, and university, and in his baggage when he arrived in the north was the manuscript of a book on American church history.
When he moved, as he did, from New York City to Pottersville, he stepped into a strange world, a world that was economically one hundred years behind the times. The country as a whole was now emerging from the great depression of 1929. But the depression had not affected Warren County very much; it was in a perpetual depression. What Fr. DeMille found was a barter economy. For ten months of the year, the problem for the average person living in this area was to live without cash expenditure. This can best be explained by taking a representative example.
Charles Higley was treasurer of the Pottersville mission. He came of an old north country family, but he had been out in the modern world, as a soldier in France in World War I, and after the war as a motor mechanic in New York City. But he longed for the life of the north country, left the city, moved back, married, and raised three children. His way of life was characteristic. He had bought a small cottage, with some land around it. He had a large vegetable garden, which he carefully cultivated, and his wife canned everything. It was one of their aims in life to have, by the first of [26/27] October, two hundred cans of vegetables in the cellar. His children needed milk. Not having enough land to pasture a cow, he bought two goats, and the children were raised on goat’s milk. He did not have a wood lot, but a neighbor did, and another had a “wood machine”—a Ford motor mounted on a table and equipped with a circular saw. By combining forces, three families were provided with a winter’s wood. Beginning about the middle of May, he was able to pick up jobs which paid cash. This brought in a cash income of perhaps two hundred dollars a year.
It was not an easy life, but it suited Higley. He did not think of himself as the “forgotten man,” nor of his children as underprivileged. He was a respected member of the community, and a pillar of the church. His oldest daughter eventually graduated from the state college at Potsdam. Higley was a fair sample of the north country man.
When Fr. DeMille moved into this situation, he soon discovered that there was a sharp line drawn between “native” and “city feller”. If he was to do a successful piece of work, he must get on the right side of this line. He had a secure but small income; sixteen hundred dollars from the Board of Missions, and two hundred from the Thurman fund. This gave him financial security. But he must live, as near as possible like his people, do the things they did. Fortunately he liked to garden, and made himself a small vegetable garden. He was an avid trout fisherman, and the area was full of trout streams. He hunted a bit. And he bought himself a small wood lot, and enjoyed cutting his firewood, which parishioners with trucks were happy to haul to the rectory. This policy worked.
One of the problems was property. There was the unusable cellar at Schroon Lake, the church in Pottersville needed a coat of paint, Horican a new roof and a furnace, the rectory an interior [27/28] reconstruction to make it satisfactory. And there was no cash. But if cash was lacking, goods and especially labor were to be had. The average man, in these communities, had to be a fair carpenter, a plumber, a house painter, and even a bit of an electrician. Such a man could be hired, particularly in the winter, for three or four dollars a day. Often such labor could be had for nothing. Because of this situation, all the property projects we have mentioned were accomplished, with a minimum of cash expenditure, by 1940. Particularly was this true in Schroon Lake. The missionary discovered that there was tucked away in a savings account, $1800—the balance of the insurance from the fire years before. This was not enough to complete the building according to plan, but with the help of a local contractor, the cellar became a charming little church, with a small parish hall and a kitchen. In 1938, this was formally consecrated by Bishop Oldham.
But the real work of a priest is not bricks and mortar; it is souls. While the property improvement did give a lift to the morale of the parishioners, it was only the stage for the real work to be done. Fr. DeMille had two policies. One was constant parish visiting. To do this, he drove some twenty thousand miles a year, and found Episcopalians, not only in the villages where missions were already established, but in North Hudson, North Creek, and North River.
A firm believer in religious education, he wanted to teach his children himself. This he could do by setting up in each of the missions a program of released time education. There were four centralized schools, the one place where the children living on dirt roads and remote farms were brought together. Principals were cooperative, and a fair number of completely unchurched children were baptized and confirmed. Every summer, in cooperation with the [28/29] Protestant clergy of Chestertown and Schroon Lake, he held a Vacation Bible School, in which children received a week of intensive religious instruction. In 1939 Bishop Oldham at his annual visitation was delighted to find awaiting him not one, but two confirmation classes, children and adults, totaling twenty-nine; probably an all time record for these missions.
In all this work of revival, Fr. DeMille was fortunate in having excellent lay help. In Pottersville there was Mrs. Jane Tutner. She was an Agard, and we have seen what that name means in the annals of the Pottersville mission. Intelligent, well-mannered, she knew the countryside and everyone in it, and was continually suggesting to the missionary people worth approaching. Mrs. Bertha Drury, who lived in Riverside, herself carried on in a way a missionary activity of her own. She never preached, never distributed tracts. Her method was simple; to call up a neighbor without church connections on Saturday, and invite the neighbor to ride to church on Sunday. This mixture of propaganda and friendliness brought three families into the church. Miss Helen Persons taught in the central school at Horicon, situated just two doors from the church. During the first six months of Fr. DeMille’s tenure, she was one of the three people to attend church in Horicon. Her particular function was to use her contacts in the school to induce unchurched children to attend the released time program. Schroon Lake had one of the rarest things to be found in a rural parish. Mrs. Johndrow, who played the organ without pay, was not the usual amateur, but a highly competent professional, who could have occupied the organ bench in a large city parish. North Hudson, hardly a community, but a string of houses along Route 9 eighteen miles north of Pottersville had a leader in Jack Ward, at whose house Fr. DeMille held services while the Schroon Lake church was being rebuilt. Ella [29/30] Potter, in Chestertown was a retired school teacher, at this time in her seventies. A little dried up person, who could not have weighed over a hundred pounds, she was full of energy and zeal. Her particular vocation was to be sponsor. Her name appears in the parish register as sponsor to 110 children. Now Miss Potter took her responsibility as sponsor seriously. The child’s name and the date went into a little notebook. And parents and parish priest were hounded to make sure that the child went to church, was present at released time instruction. This process continued until eventually the child was confirmed, and the name could be struck out of the notebook. Finally, one other lay person must be mentioned—one whose work was unobtrusive, but central and vital. Dorothy Eleanor DeMille combined an ability to manage a rectory economically with a simple, deep sacramental religion, and without her help the missionary’s work could never have been carried on.
When Fr. DeMille left, in the early spring of 1941, there was no gap. He was followed, at a two month interval, by the Rev. Carl M. Truesdale. Fr. Truesdale, a tall, rotund, jolly baohelor, a good preacher and a devoted pastor, carried on the work to great advantage. Coming after the rather cold and reserved Fr. DeMille, his popularity was a real asset. When he went into service as a chaplain, in 1943, the parish morale had been so built up that although there was no resident priest for two years, church life went on. Fr. DuBois, from Elizabethtown, held occasional services. at Schroon Lake, where an energetic Women’s Guild held card parties and suppers, building up reserves against the return of their parish priest. For a time services were held in Horicon and Chestertown from Bolton Landing, and for one winter Fr. DeMille, now located in Ticonderoga, held services on alternate Sundays in these two churches. Furthermore, he was continually being called over for [30/31] baptisms, weddings, and funerals. When Fr. Truesdale came out of service, where he had made a remarkable record as a front line chaplain, he returned to the Warren County Missions, and continued his successful ministry until 1930. He was followed, without any substantial gap, by the Rev. Robert G. Field, just ordained, and he in turn by the Rev. Walter Perkins. Fr. Perkins had been trained for the ministry in a new project—a local training program for older men who could not spend three years in seminary. This project was directed by Fr. DeMille.
Beginning about 1940, the picture we have drawn of the economy of the north country was no longer accurate. World War II had stimulated the whole economy of the United States, and the Adirondack area shared to some extent in that prosperity. The automobile was bringing into the mountains not only the well-to-do summer visitor, who stayed put, but the tourist—flocks of tourists, who moved from place to place, but in every place spent money. There were some new industries developing in an area that had had very few. And after 1950, the Welfare State was pouring money into the mountains. The Diocese of Albany, under the inspiring leadership of Bishop Barry, was in a mood of great optimism, and willing to spend more money on its missions. Expansion was in the air. Therefore the Episcopal Church began to think about new starts in the north country.
At the foot of Gore Mountain, near North Creek, was a large house called Big Shanty, the residence of a family named Hooper. Mr. Hooper had been a pioneer of the mining of industrial garnet on Gore Mountain. His wife was a devout churchwoman, and tried to make her home something of a church center. Fr. DeMille during his tenure at Pottersville, had discovered church families living in this neighborhood, and had held an occasional Eucharist at Big Shanty. At his suggestion, therefore, the Diocese decided to start [31/32] a mission at North Creek. In 1947 the beginning of this work was entrusted to the Rev. J. Alan diPretoro, rector of the church at Lake Luzerne, who began holding services in North Creek in that year. There appeared to be a congregation, and in the following year he bought two pre-fabricated garages, and with the help of men of the local church, converted them into a usable small church. In 1952, St. Christopher’s Mission, North Creek, was admitted into union with the convention of the Diocese of Albany.
Back around 1840 it had been discovered that right in the heart of the main range of the Adirondack Mountains, just south of Mt. Marcy, there was a remarkable bed of iron ore. This had been briefly worked, but finally abandoned, partly because of transportation difficulties, partly because there was in the ore an impurity difficult to remove. A century later, around 1940, it was discovered that the impurity was a mineral called titanium, much now in demand for the manufacture of paint. The railroad was therefore extended through North Creek, the mines were reopened, and the company which owned the mines built, here in the midst of the wilderness, a company town called Tahawus. Bishop Richards, now suffragan in charge of mission work, decided that this was an opportunity for the Episcopal Church. The company, anxious to build up morale in this isolated community, cooperated eagerly. Somewhere in the woods they discovered an old log house, took it apart, and rebuilt it in the community as an attractive little chapel, which was worked from North Creek.
The improved economy was also reflected in the lives of the older missions. In Schroon Lake, the parish hall, which was only the partitioned off rear of the old cellar, was no longer large enough for the activities of the very active women’s guild. It was therefore turned into a sacristy. By 1953, the mission had enough [32/33] money in hand to put up a separate building. It was therefore built, at a cost of $3250. When one considers what St. Andrew’s, Schroon Lake, had been like in 1937, this is a remarkable achievement. At the same time, or slightly after, the Chestertown mission likewise erected a parish hall attached to the church.
In 1935 there came a drastic change in the strategy by which the missions were operated. From the time of Archdeacon Purdy, in the 1920’s, this strategy had been one of centralization. The coming of the automobile had outmoded the old conception of a church in every hamlet, worked by a resident priest. Purdy’s idea, and it had worked well, had been to use Pottersville as a center, and to operate from there out. This strategy had justified itself by its results. Furthermore, both Fr. DeMille and Fr. Truesdale had insisted that the various missions should be forced to forget local pride ‘and local animosities, and to learn to work together for the common good.
In 1951 David E. Richards was elected Suffragan Bishop of Albany, and given charge of diocesan missions. Stimulated by the improved economy, and by the success of Bishop Barry’s money raising, he abandoned the Purdy strategy of centralization. True, it could no longer be strictly applied in the changed situation. In 1937, one priest could just manage to work five places, though it was almost a man-killing job. But the addition of North Creek and Tahawus made this impossible. Bishop Richard’s plan was therefore to have a priest living in Chestertown, one in Schroon Lake, and one in North Creek. Therefore both Chestertown and Schroon Lake had to buy rectories, subject to mortgage, and North Creek to rent a house. Since both Chestertown and Schroon Lake had just completed and paid for parish halts, and since each had now assumed responsibility for a substantial part of the salary of the priest, both were given a [33/34] financial, burden that proved excessive. The evidence of this is found in the vestry minutes of St. Andrew’s, Schroon Lake, on Jan. 13, 1959.
“Fr. Haviland using a chart which he had prepared informed us of the financial status and budget for the ensuing year (1959). It was a very realistic and concise budget but it was the general feeling that it was more than we could do.”
In 1957 Bishop Richards was elected by the House of Bishops Missionary Bishop of Central America. He was succeeded at suffragan of Albany by the Rt. Rev. Allen W. Brown. Bishop Brown had spent his whole clerical life in the Diocese of Albany, working his way up from small country missions and parishes, to the city parish of Christ Church, Hudson. At the time of his election as bishop he was Dean of the Cathedral of All Saints. He therefore knew the Diocese of Albany as only two men before him—Bishop Doane and Archdeacon Purdy—had known it. Above all, he knew and liked small places. At once he saw that the situation in the Adirondack Missions needed radical alteration, and that a reversion to the Purdy policy was necessary. Fortunately, a golden opportunity to do this was given by an unforeseen piece of good fortune. What now happened is the theme of our next and final chapter.
Chapter VII. Barry House
About halfway up the eastern shore of Brant Lake was the summer residence of the Untermeyers, a famous New York Jewish family. It was much more than the usual summer home; it was an estate. In the spring of 1959 Judge Irwin Untermeyer, the owner of the property, offered a considerable part of it to the Diocese of Albany. Why he did this, the present writer has. never been able to discover. Bishop Barry immediately accepted the gift.
What thus came into the possession of the diocese was a three story house on the lake front, standing well back from the road, with a spacious lawn between it and the road) a cottage, and two boathouses, all in excellent condition, with an assessed value of around $150,000. The Diocese already had a retreat house, on Eagle Lake near Ticonderoga, the gift of Eliot Spalding. But this house was now, after ten years of diocesan use, in need of considerable repair. Bishop Barry, with his fertile imagination, at once saw in this new acquisition a golden opportunity to accomplish two things. The new house would take the place of the Eagle Lake property as a retreat and conference center. But it could also be made to serve as headquarters for an associate mission, which would run the six missions of our study.
Back in the early days of the Diocese of Albany, the associate mission set-up had been tried, and had worked with great success, notably in Clinton County, but nothing of the sort had been attempted for decades. Now it could be revived. In a letter addressed to his suffragan, Bishop Brown, Bishop Barry stated something of what he [36/37] hoped the new organization would be. To handle the six missions, there must be three unmarried priests. Thus, each would have two missions to cover each Sunday. “It goes without saying that we will try to provide the Eucharist in every place every Sunday... I would further hope that the clergy could linger awhile, make friends with the people, and do whatever pastoral work was needed at that time.” The priests serving the missions, in his scheme, would follow a rule of life, with a daily Eucharist, and daily Morning and Evening Prayer, but with no attempt at “strict obedience to the monastic procedure.” And every effort “should be made to provide comfortable living and good food.” This combination of sound churchmanship and sound commonsense was characteristic of Frederick Barry.
During the summer of 1959 the Rev. Schuyler Jenkins, rector of the Church of the Messiah, Glens Falls, ably supervised the moving of furniture from Eagle Lake to Brant Lake; some necessary changes were made in the interior of the new acquisition, and by September 1 it was ready for occupancy. The house had a large living room, a dining room where some twenty-five people could be fed, ample kitchen facilities and equipment, a separate apartment for a caretaking couple, and sleeping quarters for twenty-odd people. But the vital center of such an operation had to be the chapel. There were two boathouses. The larger of these, standing on a point which jutted into the lake, had a large upper room, which became the chapel. Since it was difficult to get to in the winter, a small room in the main building became the winter chapel.
The setting was thus excellent. But the basic need was to find the right people to run it. Here the Bishop was lucky. The Rev. D. Delos Wampler had been trained as an electrical engineer, and had worked for General Electric. After seminary and ordination he had served for six years in Delaware County, operating three [37/38] small churches there, and was already thinking in terms of an associate mission in that location. He was now offered the leadership of the Brant Lake venture, and accepted it. He proved to be the right man in the right place. Thoroughly a disciplined person but without any tinge of extreme asceticism, an admirable conductor of retreats, yet withal a good practical manager, the Adirondack missions were to him something more than a job. They were a vocation.
Three men were needed to serve church families sparsely scattered over such a large area. The first associate was the Rev. Edward T. H. Williams, who had already served the Diocese acceptably as Director of Religious Education, and who was also an excellent retreat master. He remained for a couple of years. One other older man, the Rev. Donald Davis, made a real contribution, remaining for twelve years, and dying while at the House. But in general the priest associates were young men, just out of seminary, and sometimes in deacon’s orders when they arrived. Thus, with Fr. Wampler in permanent residence, two things were achieved—stability in the person of Fr. Wampler, and we have seen how important that was—and a flow of fresh ideas and fresh enthusiasm, as the younger men came and went. It was an ideal arrangement, and the missions flourished as never before.
Bishop Barry, with great practicality, had specified that the clergy at Barry House should have good food—not always easy to come by. Again he had a piece of luck. A Mr. and Mrs. Allen Girvin, then living in Florida, had advertised for a housekeeping job in a church-related institution. They were hired, arrived in the late summer of 1959, and proved a God-send. Mr. Girvin was the sort of handy man who can do carpentry, electric wiring, plumbing, as well as rake leaves and cut grass. He was accepted by the community, and served for a time on the school board. Mrs. Girvin was, as this writer [38/39] well knows, an excellent and ingenious cook. And to them, this was not just a job, but a vocation. After sixteen years, they remain.
The other side of the work of Barry House, its function as a retreat and conference center, was as successful as the handling of the Adirondack Missions. I have before me a list of the meetings of this sort for a period of one year—a list too long to quote entire, but a selection will give some notion of the diversity of people and organizations to whom house and staff ministered.
Northern Adirondack Deanery, women’s meeting
Church Counseling Service, Board
Diocesan Altar Guild
Cathedral Altar Guild
Clergy Stipend Committee
St. George’s, Clifton Park, confirmation class for three weekends
Trinity, Watervliet, retreat
Standing Committee meeting
The influence of Barry House in this direction was not confined to the parishes of the Diocese of Albany. During this same year, it was used by St. Andrew’s Church, Poughkeepsie, by Episcopal churches at Elmsford and Staatsburg, by the Union Presbyterian Church of Schenectady for a marriage encounter, by the Wilton State School for an outing for patients. In all, between September 1, 1974 and the next September 1, 1,462 people in organized groups made use of Barry House, and 83 individuals were given rest and overnight hospitality.
During the past decade, there had been a remarkable growth of friendly cooperation between the Anglican Diocese of Albany and its Roman Catholic sister. In this cooperation Barry House shared. In 1972 the Roman diocese had a priest, Fr. Paul Roman, who had charge [39/40] of religious education in a number of Warren County parishes. Bishop Brown and Bishop Broderick, who were good friends, discussed the matter, and arranged that he should live at Barry House, using it as a center for his work. The arrangement worked out beautifully. Fr. Roman shared in the life and the worship of the house, and when he was transferred, his successor, Fr. John Turner, did likewise.
Episcopal seminaries are now recommending that their students spend at least one summer during their course in what might be called clinical training—participating in active church work in a parish, a hospital, an institution of some sort. The seminaries began to use Barry House for such a purpose, and between 1964 and 1972 eight seminarians spent a summer there, seeing what the rural ministry was actually like.
From the beginning of Barry House, Fr. Wampler had envisaged a more adequate chapel than that over the boathouse. The capital funds drive celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Diocese made funds for a new chapel available. Accordingly a beautiful chapel attached to the main building was erected. On May 25, 1974, the Rt. Rev. Wilbur E. Hogg, sixth Bishop of Albany, dedicated the Chapel of Christ the Light.
The dedication of this chapel brings to an end our story of the Adirondack Missions—a story of over a century of missionary work. It has been a story of work carried on under difficulties, of gaps and temporary defeats, but it ends in triumph. In this country of mountains and lakes, of forests and rushing streams, the Episcopal Church has not only survived. It has grown. Hardworking priests and devoted lay people have made their contributions. But above all, the Holy Spirit has been at work.