Lattingtown Baptist Church is historically significant as an example of a small community church that has served as such for over 200 years. The Lattingtown Baptist Church is located in the town of Marlborough, almost in the physical center of the town.
The Town of Marlborough, Ulster County, New York, is located on the west side of the Hudson River, about midway between New York City and Albany. It is bounded south by Newburgh (and Orange County), west by Plattekill, north by the town of Lloyd and east by the Hudson River. The township consists of the hamletso f Marlboro and Milton, and the neighborhoods of Lattingtown and part of Bailey’s Gap, where the towns of Marlborough, Lloyd, and Plattekill meet.
Part of the Dongan Purchase, the area bought by the colonial governor Thomas Tongan from the Esopus Indians on Oct. 25, 1684, these lands were granted to Captain vans. This grant was later rescinded, but not before Dennis Relje (now spelled Relyea), settled on Old Man’s Creek about 1695.
In 1743 the Precintt of the Highlands was established by the Provincial Assembly of New York. This included New Windsor, Newburgh, Plattekill, and Marlborough. An Act of Assembly in 1762 split away what are now Newburgh and New Windsor to form a separate precinct.
During the Revolutionary War, the town had both Tories and Patriots among its inhabitants. Lewis DuBois was a major in the Continental Army. His house is still standing on 9W just north of Marlboro village. Anning Smith, a patriot, and a Revolutionary soldier, lived in the Milton section of town. Both his house and Lewis DuBois’s house were fired upon by Vaughn on his sail up the Hudson to burn Kingston.
Early settlers began burying their dead in a field adjoining an old Indian burying ground on his property. His house still stands as well as the cemetery.
Some two hundred and fifty men from Marlborough signed the pledge of fealty to the Continental Congress. Thew Lewises were Patriots during the Revolutionary days, and were on the Committee of Safety. George Washington, according to an old tradition, stopped at the Lewises’ Inn. Nathaniel Hallock ran a mill, on the property that is now Cluett Schantz town park. The mill ground grain used by both the Colonials and the British.
In 1778 the precinct became a town. The town was named after the famous British General John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough. In 1800, Plattekill was peeled off Marlborough to become a town in its own rights. The town borders have remained the same since that date.
Several docks lined the Hudson River waterfront along an approximately eight mile stretch. The Woods conducted a boat building business at Milton. The famous “Mary Powell” docked at the Milton dock and many boats were filled with the fruit from Marlborough’s productive farmland for voyage to New York City.
The area had long been noted for excellent fruit grown on its many family owned farms. Marlborough is noted as the birthplace of the Antwerp raspberry. In the early and mid 1900s many cold storage plants were built to store and package the fruit.
Some of the Friends in the Milton section took part in the Underground Railroad following the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law. Frederick Douglas was a guest at one time. It is understandable that, in light of the Friends’ strong feelings about slavery and, in spite of their peaceful ways, several of the young men of the area joined in the fight to end slavery. Three are buried in the Friends’ Cemetery in Milton.
Members of the community were also active in the Women’s Rights movement. Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott wrote letters to or about Sarah Hull Hallock, who attended one of the early national meetings. Sarah Hull Hallock, through her will, established the Library in Milton named for her.
Marlborough has also been host to a number of writers and artists. Among the writers are Tristrom Coffin (“Lost Goldmine of the Hudson”), Mary Hallock (“A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West”) and Grace Taber Hallock. George Innis, whose works hang in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, as well as other museums, had a summer studio in Milton. James Scott of Milton was also well known as was his wife, Kirsten Scott, a pianist. Frederick Goudy, the name in type, lived in Marlboro and had a small printing press set up here. Dard Hunter, the name in hand-made paper also was part of the Marlboro community. The Elverhoj Art Colony, run during the 19 teens and 20s, by Anders Anderson, was at the foot of Old Indian Road in Milton. Elverhoj later became a summer resort for Fater DeVine and his followers. Most outdoor scenes for the film “The Fugitive Kind” were shot at Milton with many townspeople taking minor parts in the film.
With respect to the community of Lattingtown, it was named for early residents of the Latting family who came from a place also called Lattingtown on Long Island. When the ‘g’ got dropped is not known. Lattintown Road cuts across the town north to south. Old Indian Road cuts cross the town east to west. The Lattingtown Baptist Church is at the intersections of these two roads.
Lattintown is a small community (hamlet) that in the early years of the Town of Marlborough was the center of activities. Most of the early town meetings were held in Lattintown. More business was transacted there than in Milton or Marlboro. At Lattintown there was a school, churches, stores, wagon and shoemaker, harness maker, tailor, and mechanics.
Lattintown was a great place for horse racing on town meeting days. The militia had their training and courts were held there. It was the center of the population for many years. It was not until river travel and transportation became so important that Lattintown lost in prominence to the hamlets of Marlboro and Milton, both on the Hudson River.
The Lattingtown Church is located in the Morris Patent of 3600 acres granted by Queen Anne in 1714 to seven men including Lewis Morris. The land is a fertile valley between the steep banks of the Hudson River and the mountain range (called the Marlborough Mountains by locals) which rise to the west as much as one thousand feet. Lewis Morris’s daughter, Euphina, sold his share (667 acres) to Joseph Carpenter, John Latting, John Caverly, and Benjamin Stanton all from Oyster Bayin 1753. In 1763 Joseph Carpenter, John Caverly and Benjamin Carpenter deeded 114 acres to Lattin Carpenter (son of Joseph). Lattin Carpenter, unfortunately, was found waving the wrong flag. Latting Carpenter had his lands confiscated for being a Loyalist in Company 32 from New York. He was a 2nd Lieutenant. He later moved to New Brunswick.
In 1781 John Hawthorn and Daniel Graham, commissioners of Forfeitures, deeded the land to John Banker, weigh master in New York City. In 1795 Banker sold the land to Thomas Wygant, farmer in Marlborough. In 1808 Thomas Wygant sold ½ acre of the land to Matthew Benedict, Nehemiah L. Smith, and Noah Woolsey, Trustees of the Baptist Church at Lattintown.
The earliest records of the Lattingtown Baptist church are no longer available. The last living Trustee was Frank Craft and with his passing, the records were lost. However, information is still available with local historie, the 1864 pamphlet published by the Hudson River Baptist Association, and a pamphlet published in 1944, written by the Pastor, Pietro S. Moncada, for the f150th celebration of the Lattingtown Church and community.
For Several years prior to 1782 the pastor of the Baptist Church at the old village of Fishkill performed missionary labors at different places in Dutchess and Ulster Counties. In 1782 a branch was organized in the precinct of New Marlborough. This was in Plattekill, at that time, a part of the precinct of New Marlborough.
In 1782 through 1789 steps were taken to organize a church in Lattintown. Services were first held at the schoolhouse and at the house of Nehemiah L. Smith, Noah Woolsey, Matthew Benedict (who became the first trustees) and others. In 1789 a buranch of this Baptist Church of Pleasant Valley (Plattekill) was established in Lattintown. The church was incorporated January 26, 1807. In 1808 the church property was bought.
The Pleasant Valley Church (Plattekill) embraced members living both sides of the Marlborough Mountains. In 1812 a meeting was held for the purpose of constituting into a separate church those members of the Pleasant Valley Church residing on the east side of the Marlborough Mountains. Those present at the meeting individually signified their assent. The organization became known as the Baptist Church of Christ in Lattingtown and it was affiliated with the Warwick Baptist Association.
In September 1812 Aaron Perkins visited the church and preached. He was a young man planning on going into the ministry. He was invited to lead the Lattingtown Church and accepted. In February 1813, a man came before the church requesting to be baptized immediately. The church members tried to get him to wait for more favorable weather, but he would hear nothing of it. The ice was close to a foot thick and had to be cut. Still he insisted and thus was baptised. He remained a devoted member of the congregation for fifty years.
In 1820 the church held a revival and 54 new members were accepted. The pastor’s salary was $250 per anum. Pastor Perkins remained with the church for twelve years during which he baptized 160 members. The church was united in him. He was ardent and faithful, the congregation large and attentive, and Lattintown enjoyed years of happiness, usefulness, and prosperity. There are old people who lived in the vicinity, whose eyes glistened with delight as they spoke of the days and years when Elder Perkins preached in Lattintown, when the meeting-house with its capacious gallery, proved too small to accommodate the congregation, and those who arrived latest drove up to the sides and ends of the meeting-house and sat in their wagons and listened and loved to listen to the preached word.
During the time when Elder Perkins was pastor, 128 was the largest membership in any one year. Elder Perkins was married to Deborah Smith, granddaughter of Anning Smith, a Revolutionary soldier from Milton. He was father to Mary Jane who married Elisha E. L. Taylor, also of Marlborough. Mary Jane was mother to James Monroe Taylor who later became the President of Vassar College.
Perkins resigned in 1825 and was followed by Daniel Hill, and Elder Draper, under whose ministry the church prospered; and Brother Hadow who had recently come from Scotland. In January 1833 Elder Perkins returned.
On December 20, 1834, a new Baptist Church was constituted in Newburgh, Since, for some, the Newburgh church was closer, a number of the most active and most financially supportive of Lattingtown Church left the church to join the Baptist Church of Newburgh.
In 1835, the church was faced with a possible closing and so a meeting was called to discuss the problems. The local inkeeper was asked not to serve liquor on that day and he complied. It was August 20th and many of the local farmers were at their busiest season of the year. The attendance was small. The church members decided to hold on. On September 2nd there were thirty three converts baptized in the Hudson River with hundreds of people looking on, and the church was given needed encouragement. In 1836 Brother Samuel Barrett was given the call and accepted the position of pastor of the Lattingtown Baptist Church. The membership again was on the rise. In 1839 Brother Barrett left and was followed by Brother Davis who preached until 1841. During the time of Davis, the church attendance and membership again waned. In 1846 Barrett returned and was greeted with a full house. Barrett left the Lattingtown pulpit a second time and during the leadership of several others, the membership again fell. The church fell into disrepair; the roof of the meeting-house had gone into decay, the walls had fallen, the windows were broken; the storms beat and winds sung their requiem through the old edifice.
In 1863 Brother Cole, a missionary, asked to preach to the church. He brought much needed enthusiasm. A building committee was established and the old structure was given new life. One of the sponsors of the rehabilitation was the Amity Street Church in New York. (The Amity Chapel was years later moved to the southern part of Marlborough and still serves the community. It is on the National Historic Register.) The Rev. Joseph I Grimley was called to be the regular pastor. His pastorate was a long one and lasted until about 1890. Grimley died in 1894. In 1895 the Rev. Leighton Williams (later pastor of the Amity Church in Marlboro) conducted services and returned again in 1909.
Since there was no full time minister available, the church again went into a period of little activity and small membership. Woolsey (1908) reports that the last few years there were few sermons preached in the church. Local residents, among them Etta Wooley and Edith Mackey, continued with various programs. Mary Mosca recalls being in a play during this period.
In the summer of 1931 the Rev. Pietro Moncada visited the church, found it shut down, the weeds around it growing thick and tall. He was able to envision another rebirth of the church. He met with Frank Craft who was the only surviving trustee of the church and obtained permission to repair the church and preach from the pulpit. He interested people of varying creeds, colors, and nationalities, and reorganized the church under the name Mount Carmel Community Church. The grounds were cleared, a steeple was built on the front gable, a bell was obtained. The building was painted inside and out and a stone chimney was erected. A coal stove was installed and the balconies were closed in and adapted for Sunday School space. The Rev. Moncada conducted his first service in the church September 13, 1931.
In 1944 the church celebrated its 150th anniversary. On Sunday August 13th the Rev. Moncada preached at the church on the topic of ‘Looking Forward and Backward and Not at All.’ On Friday August 18th an historical pageant was given at the Canzoneri’s Hotel. Tony Canzoneri, once holder of the world’s Boxing Title, had a boarding house near the church. He often trained for his boxing matches at his boarding house. On the following Sunday, August 20th, there were culminating services held which included an address by Frederic Snyder, one of the best lecturers on the American platform. Moncada became ill in 1965 and Joseph Brock took over as pastor and served for three years.
It was in 1968 that David Ballou became pastor. His ministry started at Christmas in 1968. The church reverted to its original name, Lattingtown Baptist Church and became an independent church and congregation. In the fall of 1987 groundbreaking was begun on a fellowship and education building. Presently, this building is being used as the church for the current congregation of believers, and has again undergone a name change to Lattingtown Christian Fellowship to reflect its independent/non-denominational status.