Biography of Rev. Gerrit Mandeville
Tompkins County, NY Biographies





Mandeville, the Rev. Gerrit, was born at Pompton Plains, Morris county, N. J., on the 9th day of April, 1775. Of his ancestors, we only know that they came from Holland at an early day and settled near New Amsterdam. His father was a farmer, presumably a good one, certainly a careful one, as we learn from an anecdote which has come down from Revolutionary times, in which it is said: General Washington, while making his house headquarters, paid his farming a compliment by taking him to task as being unduly particular, in taking up and resetting one of a long line of posts in a new post and rail fence, because it had not been set quite deep enough. According to the Dutch custom of that time, of educating the bright boy for a preacher, Gerrit seems to have been dedicated to the ministry while quite young, and his studies directed towards it. He entered Hackensack Academy at an early age, and made so good progress that at the age of thirteen he was fitted for the high school of Flatbush, Long Island, known as Erasmus Hall. Here he completed his classical studies; becoming very proficient in Latin, Greek and Hebrew, as well as Dutch, in which language he preached much of the time while on his first charge; in fact, Dutch was his mother tongue, and English the secondlanguage he acquired. He studied divinity tinder Dr. John Livingston, and entered the ministry of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church when twenty two years of age. He was first settled in the town of Warwarsing, Ulster county, N. Y., where, and in the adjoining town of Rochester, he preached alternately about five years. While there he married a Miss Maria De Witt, of Warwarsing, a cousin of Simeon De Witt; and there his first son was born. At that time the conquest of the western wilderness had become the great ambition of the enterprising of the East; and Central and Western New York were the Great West to New England and New York then. Scouts went thither and brought back wonderful stories of the grandeur of its forests and the fertility of its soil; often bringing some of the earth with them to prove their statements. Armies for the conquest of this northern El Dorado were being recruited in every hamlet of the East; and Warwarsing contributed its full quota, no doubt stimulated in this by their townsman, Simeon De Witt, surveyor general of the State, who had taken much interest in the settlement of Central New York. The subject of this sketch concluded to join the army of occupation; so one day in 1604 he mounted his horse and started for the wilds of the West more wild then, perhaps, than now can be found between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. After a long ride through the wilderness he reached the hamlet of Ithaca at the head of Cayuga Lake. Here he found a Presbyterian Church newly organized, consisting of thirteen members, to whom he preached, and from whom he received a call to he their settled pastor. In the following year he brought his family from Ulster county, and was installed pastor of the little church. He held service here and at Trumansburgh on alternate Sundays until about 1812, when he removed to the town of Caroline in the same county, where he organized a Reformed Dutch Church-the church of his fathers-with which he remained connected during the remainder of his life, as pastor for twenty five years, and as occasional supply until his death. Mr. Mandeville was a man of much learning and ability; and his influence was for good, in the literary advancement of the town of his adoption, as well as were his moral and religious teachings. He taught school, preached, and cleared up a new farm, leading a life uneventful, perhaps, but active and useful. The Rev. Theodore L. Cuyler was once of his pupils; and that eminent divine teus with pleasure of the years he spent in study, on the farm among the hills of Caroline, with the good dominie. Those social reforms which came into prominence during his lifetime, temperance and abolition, had, as was fitting, his most earnest advocacy. He proclaimed and talked against the drink evil, when to do so was to run counter to the current of general thought and practice, even among the educated and moral class of that community. And so with slavery; while its apologists had the chief seats in the synagogue, it met with his most unqualified condemnation. While the cause of temperance made great advances during his life, becoming popular instead of being a term of derision, abolition was still a byword and reproach at the time of his death in 1853. Of his ten children, seven survived him.

From:
Landmarks of Tompkins County, New York
Including a History of Cornell University
Edited by: John H. Selkreg
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
Syracuse, N. Y. 1894


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