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January 11, 2013

Faithful church founder remembered

PLATTSBURGH — A 30-year-old Long Islander founded the First Presbyterian Church of Plattsburgh.

The Rev. Frederick Halsey was recruited by Judge Thomas Tredwell to come to nascent Plattsburgh.

Halsey was born March 2, 1761, in Westhampton, Long Island. He died Aug. 6, 1838, in Plattsburgh. He married Laetitia Platt, and they had seven children. Laetitia was the eighth child of Charles and Caroline (Adriance) Platt.

“Charles was the guy who came here first,” said Jim Bailey, who is the historian for the First Presbyterian Church.

“He was the brother of Zephaniah. The Platts were down in Poughkeepsie organizing the grants, the soldiers’ rights to organize this town. Charles was the pioneer who came up with the first group in March of 1785 to chop down the first trees, build the first dam and put in the first saw mills. Charles was the founder of Plattsburgh, physically.”

Halsey was a graduate of Columbia College and a licentiate of the Presbytery of Long Island, according to former church historian Ed McShane in “Highlights of the History of the First Presbyterian Church of Plattsburgh, New York.” 

ESTABLISHING CHURCH

In August 1795, Halsey arrived here to start a secondary school, the Academy, and the Presbyterian Church, which was formally organized on Oct. 1, 1797.

In a letter dated Aug. 3, 1794, and reprinted in the church’s 1997 bicentennial booklet, Tredwell wrote the following to Halsey:

“If you are willing to take both these charges upon you, and would make us a visit, soon, and things could be agreeable to both sides, you will have an opportunity of procuring a good Settlement, in as beautiful a part of the Country as I ever saw; and in a place where your labors are likely to be useful as anywhere at all.”

The fledgling congregation met in the blockhouse on Cumberland Avenue and later the court house. The academy was established in front of his home at Halsey’s Corners, a stone’s throw from Punki’s Shear Perfection today.

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