Of worthy Huguenot ancestry, Rev. Ralph Watson Brokaw, pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Utica,
has proved a sturdy advocate of the faith and justly ranks among the leading divines of central New York. He is
a native of Middllebush, Somerset county, New Jersey, born February 14, 1855, a son of Peter Stryker and Adaline
Brokaw. The parents were direct descendants of Bourgeon Broucard and Catharine (le Fevre) Broucard, Huguenots who
came to America in 1675 and assisted in establishing the first Protestant church in North America in New York city.
The father of our subject was a merchant and farmer. He was an elder of the Dutch Reformed church and for many
years served as Sunday school superintendent. He took an active part in public affairs and held many county offices,
often occupying a seat as delegate at gubernatorial and other conventions.
Mr. Brokaw of this review was early attracted to the ministry and received his literary education at Rutgers College,
New Jersey, graduating with the degree of B. A. in 1874. He received the M. A. degree three years later. After
leaving college he entered the New Brunswick Theological Seminary and was graduated in 1877 with the degree of
D. B. In honor of distinguished services he was given the honorary degree of D. D. by Hamilton College in 1903.
He began his life work in 1877 as pastor of the Reformed (Dutch) church at Rerkimer, New York, where he remained
for five years. He served as pastor at Belleville, New Jersey, from 1882 to 1888 and then accepted a call from
Springfield, Massachusetts, as pastor of the Hope Congregational church where he was in charge for ten years. Since
1898 he has occupied the pastorate of the First Presbyterian church at Utica, discharging his duties to the general
satisfaction of his parishioners and of many friends of the church in this city. He has been an active worker in
the society of Christian Endeavor and has filled the office of trustee of that organization since 1884. He is also
a member of the board of trustees of the French American College at Springfield, Massachusetts, and for several
years was the contributing editor of the Christian Endeavor World of Boston. He has filled many ecclesiastical
offices and by his zeal and good judgment has assisted very materially in forwarding the work of the church and
spreading the influence of the gospel.
On the 9th of December, 1879, at East Hampton, Long Island, Mr. Brokaw was united in marriage to Miss Sarah Mershon,
a daughter of Rev. S. L. and Mary (Talmage) Mershoii. The mother was the youngest sister of Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage,
D. D., and the father was a prominent minister of the Presbyterian church. He received the degree of B. A. at Princeton
College in 1851 and was graduated at the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1854, when he also received the degree
of M. A. from Princeton College. Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Brokaw: Walter M., who was graduated from
Hamilton College with the degree of B. A. in 1906; and Ralph Leonard, who died in infancy.
In politics Mr. Brokaw is an independent republican. He accepts the principles of the party but does not feel compelled
to support indiscriminately any candidate the party may propose simply because he is in the right lineup. He holds
membership in the Delta Upsilon college fraternity and several fheological clubs. He is a man of strong social
characteristics who readily makes friends and has a legion of warm admirers in New York and other states. Thoroughly
devoted to his calling, he has found inspiration and pleasure in his work and has been instrumental in awakening
many to a sense of their duty to their Maker and to their fellowmen.
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Oneida County, NY
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