History of First Presbyterian Church of Bordentown
Our church's history
We are both proud of and humbled by our church's history. For over 150 years, thousands of people have been nourished in our congregation - worshiping, serving, and growing together.
On April 25, 1848, a committee was appointed by Rev. Henry Perkins, Rev. John Hall, D.D., and Rev. Daniel Deurelle following the acceptance of a petition to organize the Presbyterian Church of Bordentown by Rev. Charles Hodges, D.D. of the Presbytery of New Brunswick. This committee met in Bordentown on May 14, 1848 and proceeded to organize with the following committee persons: On profession of faith, John Wilson, Agnes Wilson, Mary Wilson, and John Jordan; on certificate from other churches, John Allan, Margaret K. Allan, Margaret Thomas, Mary Ann Mathlen, Mary Monroe, Janet Baird, Margaret Baird, Amos Baird, Elizabeth B. Scovel, Alfred B. Seymour, and Mrs. Seymour. At this time, John Allan was installed as the ruling elder, having been previously ordained in Scotland. The Rev. A. Scovel became the stated supply and served until 1861. During Rev. Scovel's ministry, the first house of worship was constructed on the corner of Park and Second Streets in 1851 and was entirely free from debt.
Our present church building was built and ready for occupancy and was dedicated on January 15, 1869. The old church was moved to a lot opposite Park street and was used for years as an opera house. There have been many renovations throughout the years which included a new pipe organ and steam heat. On September 14, 1914 it was determined that it would be necessary to remove the steeple which had been struck by lightning on a number of occasions.
Our first installed pastor was Rev. Joseph Greenleaf, Jr.. Rev. Greenleaf, Jr. was born in New York City. He graduated from Columbia University in 1860, attended Princeton Theological Seminary from 1860 to 1863 when he graduated. He was installed on May 8, 1866 by the Presbytery of Burlington.
The first method for generating funds or donations was to rent a pew. The pastor was first permitted to rent a pew for his family and then all of the families in the congregation were permitted to make their choice. This method of raising money was discontinued in 1879 and was revived for a brief period and then finally discontinued October 1, 1906. Since that time, our church has innovated a wide variety of fund-raising activities, from art shows to oyster suppers.
Our church is rich in history and we continue to update the church and supporting buildings while always looking back with admiration at those who dedicated their lives to forming this congregation through faith and prayer.
Bordentown area history
The area was settled in 1682 when Thomas Farnsworth, an English Quaker, moved up river from Burlington to make a new home for his family on a windswept bluff overlooking a broad bend in the Delaware River. Farnsworth Landing then became the center of trade for the region. Joseph Borden, for whom the town is named, arrived here in 1717. By May 1740 he had a line of stage coaches and boats traveling between New York and Philadelphia.
With patriots Francis Hopkinson (a signer of the Declaration of Independence), Colonel Kirkbirde, Colonel Hoagland and Thomas Paine in residence, the area became a hotbed of revolutionary fervor. In retaliation, the town was occupied by the Hessians in 1776 and pillaged and burned by the British in May and June of 1778.
Other famous residents included Joseph Bonaparte, ex-king of Spain and Naples and brother of Napoleon and Clara Barton, who in 1843 started the first free public school in New Jersey in the original schoolhouse which still stands near the center of town. Ms. Barton later founded the American Red Cross.
Although the town hosts a rich history, it is also a modern community with much to offer residents and visitors alike. Situated at the northern tip of Burlington County and bordering Hamilton Township, it is located at the crossroads of the American Revolution and today's modern highways. Serviced by the New Jersey Turnpike, Routes 130 and 206, and Interstates 295 and 195, Bordentown enjoys easy access to the cultural and commercial advantages of Princeton, Trenton, New York and Philadelphia.
The revitalized business district of the "little city with a lot of charm" offers visitors a pleasant diversion. The town's beautiful and historically significant architecture houses many interesting shops and restaurants, as well as a friendly and caring community.
© 2016 First Presbyterian Church
First Presbyterian Church of Bordentown
420 Farnsworth Ave.
Bordentown, NJ 08505