From the Files of.......
Kathleen M. Smith
On May 20, 1710,
the Bensalem Dutch Reformed Church was organized. On that date, Reverend Paulus
Van Vlecq was installed as pastor at "Shamminii" (Neshaminy), Bensalem,
Jermentouw (Germantown), and the surrounding villages. This is said to be the
oldest Dutch Reformed Church record in Pennsylvania, and now belongs to the
Dutch Reformed Church at Churchville, Bucks County.
The Consistory Elders, as well as deacons, at Shammenij and
Bensalem, installed by Reverend Van Vlecq, on May 21, 1710: Hendrick van Dyck,
Senior Elder; Leendert Van der Grift, Junior Elder; Stoffel Van Sandt, Senior
Deacon; Nicholaus van der Grift, Junior Deacon.
In 1719, Reverend Malachi Jones, a Presbyterian minister,
received these members, showing that a new organization had taken place. The
Bensalem Church is now (1901) served from Eddington, Bucks County. Also, the
German Reformed Church finds here the nucleus out of which the first German
Reformed congregations were organized in 1725
A.D*. The record is contained in the journal of Reverend Paulus Van Vlecq
(1710-1733). This journal consists of sixty leaves, containing various treatises
on Hebrew and theology, personal accounts, and also a record of membership,
marriages, and baptisms.
After Reverend Van Vlecq's departure in 1713 A.D.,
Mr. Christoffel VanSandt, an elder, retained the book. When the Presbyterian
congregation of Neshaminy Creek was organized in 1719 A.D., Mr. VanSandt made
the entries during the ministry of Reverend Malachi Jones (1719-1723). After
that time it seems that the Dutch people withdrew from the Presbyterian
In 1730 A.D., a new effort was made to revive the Dutch
organization. Reverend C. Van Santvoort, minister in Staten Island, was called,
and on May 3, 1730 A.D., he installed a new consistory, but not until October 5,
1737 A.D. did the Dutch people in Bucks County secure a pastor, Reverend Henry
Dorsius. During this time the records were kept by one of the elders, recording
the baptisms from 1730-1738. Paulus Van Vlecq was living in New York state in
1702, and in 1709 at Kinderhook, New York, where he was a reader in the Dutch
*First German Reformed congregations in Pennsylvania. The first
German Reformed church in the United States was organized prior to 1721, by the
first Germanna colonists in Virginia, with Reverend Henry Haeger as
From "Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society, Vol. I", Edited by Professor William J. Hinke.
For the later history of Reverend Van Vlecq, see "Ministers of Presbytery of Philadelphia, 1711-1715".