The Trinity Episcopal Church celebrates its 200th anniversary | News

PLATSBURGH – The Parish of the Trinity Episcopal Church celebrates its 200th anniversary throughout the year.

It is the oldest parish in the deanery of the North Adirondacks.

The Dean, The Right Reverend David K. Ousley, is the priest in charge and the 26th rector of the church located at 18 Trinity Place in Plattsburgh.

“It was chartered in 1821, September 30,” said Martha Bachman, church historian.

“They encountered other places early on. There are stories, although I could not find any documentation on this, that the door originally opened on the north side of the church instead of the south.

“But I tend to think that’s not true because I really looked at the building a lot.”

The gray stone structure, built from 1830 to 1831, is the second oldest church in Plattsburgh after the First Presbyterian Church, established in 1792.


Reverend Joel Clapp became the first rector in March 1822.

“We are an Episcopal Church,” Bachman said.

“We use the Book of Common Prayer. The Book of Common Prayer delimits the services for Rite One, Rite Two, Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer. We follow the principles of the Episcopal Church across the country.

“The English Church is the Anglican Church, and in the United States it is the Episcopal Church. As time went on and we became an independent country, we formed our own.

“Originally, before the Revolution, our churches were all the Church of England, which is the Anglican Church. With the Revolution, it ended.


The gray stone structure, which can accommodate 300 people, was redesigned in 1861, the same year as the stained glass windows were installed.

“We don’t know the mason’s name,” she said.

“It’s built with stone, locally mined stone. There was a large wooden spire at the top, but it became unstable and was either taken down or blown out. He was not replaced.

“The church had the traditional box benches. People bought their bench. There have been some upgrades and things have changed since then, but basically the interior is pretty much what it used to be.

New steps have been installed up to the balcony, but the old curved steps remain.

“They were paying 10 cents a week for a boy to pump the organ bellows, so they could play the organ,” Bachman said.

“At one point we had a bench in the back for the colored minions. Lafayette (Mason) and his mother, Dinah, were baptized here. Mrs. Ransom (Margaret Bird) brought them in shortly after their release, and they were no longer slaves because New York had banned slavery. They were brought in to be baptized. They were obviously living on the Ransoms.


Lewis Ransom, Esq. was a founder and administrator of Plattsburgh Academy, where the first church services were held with visiting clergy from Vermont, according to “A History of Trinity Episcopal Church 1821-1971, Reflection & Hope.”

In the certificate of organization of the church, it is stated: “The ransom has been called for the presidency here since no rector is present and chaired and by a majority of votes, Said Lewis Ransom and the Lieutenant John RL Skinner were elected guardians of the church, and William Swetland, MM Standish, Lyman Foot, William P. Taylor, Timothy F. Cooke, Anselm Parsons, John Lynde and Anson J. Sperry were elected vestrymen of said church congregation or society and Wednesday in the week called Easter week … “

The certificate was signed and sealed by Ransom, Cooke and Taylor in the presence of Anson J. Sperry. It was recorded by Caleb Nichols at the Clinton County Clerks Office, Liber G of Deeds, page 97.

Many names of priests and parishioners – Beaumont, Lynde, Bailey, Platt, Sailly – adorn the streets of Plattsburgh and the stained glass windows of the church or the artifacts given in their memory.

Swetland, the “great lawyer of upstate New York,” married Elizabeth “Betsey” Ketchum Delord, widow of businessman Henry Delord.

“We have William Swetland up front on the east side,” Bachman said.

One of the interesting windows near the entrance to the church is dedicated to Brigadier General Carlos Adolphus Waite.

Born in Plattsburgh on May 5, 1797, he was the son of John and Esther (Babbet) Waite.

A career officer in the army, he died in Plattsburgh on May 7, 1866.

Like many parishioners in Trinity, he is buried in Riverside Cemetery, along with his parents, siblings, and wife, Mary Van Wyck.

“He was a soldier,” Bachman said.

“He went to Texas. He was the commander of the Texas Army (department) before the Civil War. He married a local girl. When Texas seceded, they allowed him to return home because he had been seriously injured in the war with Mexico, but they kept the rest of the men confined to Texas for over two years.

“It was part of the military’s efforts to bring camels into the southwestern United States believing they would be in the desert areas, a good form of transportation.”

There is a window dedicated to Dr Samuel Beaumont, cousin of Dr William Beaumont, “The Father of Gastric Physiology”.

“The Beaumont family was very active in this congregation,” she says.

“Samuel was very involved with William, although William takes credit for it.”


The Rev. John Henry Hopkins Jr. was the 12th rector of Trinity installed in April 1872.

“He was the author of ‘We Three Kings’,” Bachman said.

“He didn’t write it while he was here. He wrote it when he lived in New York, and I think it was when I believe he came here. John Henry Hopkins also designed the seal that the church uses for that day, and he also designed a fellowship set. We always use that fellowship set on holidays and special occasions. “

His father, Bishop John Henry Hopkins, was the eighth presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States.

“He went to Philadelphia to be ordained,” Bachman said.

“He lived in Pittsburgh or near Pittsburgh. John Henry grew up and also became an Episcopal priest.


The church survived the Great Plattsburgh Fire of 1849.

“When the city of Plattsburgh burned down, the parishioners – the men were on the roof and the women were carrying water – and the men beat the embers when they hit the roof,” Bachman said.

“We had a slate roof, so this church didn’t burn down. The Presbyterian Church and much of the rest of the city burned down. But, our church is still standing.

“At one point the church needed to raise $ 6,000 for repairs, and they collected it over a weekend. It is said in the report of the Sacristy that the rector requested three weeks of vacation.

Every Thursday the church hosts a free community meal.

During the winter months, the coats are hung in plastic bags along the railings along the rectory, so participants can take them with them if needed.

“The rectory was built in 1907 with the same gray stone as the church,” Bachman said.

“There are beautiful woodwork and it is a very beautiful building. “


Since the beginning of the Episcopal Church, parishioners have collected money and given it to the men of the church.

“Women were not allowed to help decide how to spend church money,” she said.

“But from the 1960s, various churches began to give women more important roles. Then, in the 1970s, women began to be ordained. It was at this time that women began to play a role and could be part of the sacristy.

“Until then, only men could be in the sacristy. It was a male dominated world. The Sacristy is a body in every church. There is an elected sacristy with two directors. Their duty is to oversee church governance, finances, politics.


Services take place Sunday at 10 a.m. in person and virtually via Facebook Live.

In September, Trinity hosted a tent brunch at Buster’s.

“We decided to celebrate for a full year,” Bachman said.

“For example, we collect items to create a time capsule that we are going to put in church. We are going to make a quilt with each member who signs it. We cut out the squares.

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Jerry B. Hatch