When Oldenbarneveld was New & the place that called Wicks away from Buffalo


unitarian church barneveld

Unitarian Church of Barneveld . Photo Courtesy of Village of Barneveld Website

I am not sure in what year Wicks purchased Rubble Manor in Barneveld, but records indicate it was built in 1809. I don’t think by looking at the church record, that Wicks had any significant involvement with the church. He was busy with an incredible amount of architectural projects and traveling.

But, because the village was composed of about 300 people when he lived in Barneveld, I am sure he attended functions and services from time to time … Wicks also donated the front door which I understand is still in place. I would imagine Howard Brown, King’s Chapel Unitarian Minister and brother-in-law of Wicks may have attended when visiting the family in Barneveld.

Here is a partial account of what life was like in Barneveld, and quite a contrast to the life Wicks knew in Buffalo, I am sure … provided by the Village of Barneveld website, 1800’s:

“The population of Olden Barneveldt by 1804 was estimated at between 200 and 300. An 1802 account mentions a school of fifty children. In 1850 there were 60 private dwellings and in 1876, the population was approximately 300.

The United Protestant Religious Society, an interdenominational body, was organized in the village in 1804. The first church, Unitarian, was erected in 1816, which remains the oldest Unitarian Church west of the Hudson River. The church remains active today. Also still active are the Methodist Church, erected in 1848, and the Episcopal Church, established in 1904. An 1817 description by Jacques Milbert, French Artist, mentions the Unitarian Church:

“It (the settlement) is surrounded with hills covered with luxuriant and varied

vegetation, and through the valley winds a pretty brook. A church newly constructed by its whiteness contrasts with the laughing verdure and around it are grouped pretty houses, one of them remarkable for its elegance, the residence of the agent of the Holland Land Company. On this day the roads from different directions terminating in the village, were covered with a file of wagons and saddle horses from the surrounding country.”

Rev. John Sherman, grandson of Roger Sherman, the Connecticut signer of the Declaration of Independence, became pastor at the Unitarian Church in 1806. He was intrigued by a nearby falls and in 1822 purchased 60 acres surrounding it from the Holland Land Company and built the Rural Resort on its banks. In 1825 the Rural Resort expanded to accommodate sightseers to the falls, the lowest of which is still called Sherman Falls.

The village was incorporated by the legislature in 1819 as “Oldenbarneveld” (combined into one word). In 1833, it was again incorporated as the Village of Trenton, with a slight change in boundaries. Since then the boundaries have changed twice, first in 1864, and again in 1870. In 1970, village residents voted in favor of eliminating the village charter and operating under New York State Village Law.

Objections to the name Trenton were due to a considerable amount of mail and freight which was sent to Trenton NJ by mistake. In 1903 the Federal government granted the request for a change and gave the name of Barneveld to the Post Office and Rail Road Station. From that time on, the village was blessed with two names, Trenton, its legal name, and Barneveld, the more popular one. In 1975, the residents voted in favor of changing the legal name of the village from Trenton to Barneveld.

The local fire company was organized in 1834 and the Barneveld Library Association was formed in 1874 and a library built in 1877. The village first proposed a municipal water system in 1910. Several propositions were presented to the residents, with the majority against the plan. In 1934, another proposal was approved and the project finally competed in 1940. The village originally had three water troughs, which served as a main source of water when private wells and springs went dry. These tubs also served as public drinking fountains and for watering livestock. One of these tubs is still in use.

Boon erected the first frame house in the settlement in 1794. Also in 1794, Thomas Hicks built and occupied a house beside Cincinnati Creek. The third oldest house, also erected in 1794, was built for Francis Adrian van der Kemp. In 1809 Mappa constructed the stone Mappa Hall at a cost of $13,000. All four houses still stand. Since 1900, only about a dozen new houses have been constructed in the village, giving the village a distinct, well-settled and richly historic atmosphere.”


About Stories, Old & New

My background is in Public Relations with a B.S. from Syracuse University. I would like to publish "Rabbitwild - A Shelter in the Wilderness", written by my Great Grandfather, William S. Wicks, a gifted early American Architect and Naturalist. Wicks, a member of the first group to purchase 100,000 acres of Adirondack Wilderness with the idea that it should remain a "forever wild" preserve, in fact designed and built "Rabbitwild" within the Adirondack League Club. And so, this blog isn't about me at all, but about remembering Wicks, his legacy, love and loyalty to natural design. By happenstance, he created the same appreciation in me for all that is beautiful, by nature.

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