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Sabbath Day – Going Local

June 1, 2017

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About a week ago I opened the archives of the White Plains Presbyterian Church, the congregation I serve, and started poking around. I do this from time to time when I have collected a new set of questions to explore. I was expecting beautiful weather over the weekend, with at least ten hours of sitting in a park while my son played with friends, so I grabbed a book of old church council records. In particular, council records from 1856-1891. It was riveting reading. These years mark both growth and controversy in the congregation. They include a congregation frustrated in their inability to get rid of a pro-slavery pastor on the eve of the Civil War, leading many to withdraw and found a new church in town. Even when the pastor finally left, few of these returned. And it included sixteen years of strong leadership by another pastor, which was not always welcome (by a small but vocal group), particularly on issues of race, stewardship, and the building of a new chapel. But the greatest discovery of the weekend was finding the records of church membership, baptisms, and deaths hiding in the back of the book. The church had long thought these records were lost. I even found a Mary Geary who joined the congregation in 1889 – a woman I had no previous knowledge of in my ancestry work.

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Thus I anticipated my Sabbath day last night with a head full of history and an excitement to dig back in to the records. I stayed up quite late reading the archive. My head was full of a century and a half of names of church members and leaders when I finally went to bed to let what I had read simmer.

As soon as I woke up today I started reading again, and then patiently pursued a hunch. Could I be blood related to the founding families of the congregation I serve? These would be the founding families of the original village of White Plains and Westchester County.

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Here’s what I found: As told in The Knapp Family in America: A Genealogy by Arthur Mason Knapp (1909), when Richard Saltonstall sailed the Arbella to New England in 1629, he had aboard two brothers, William and Nicholas Knapp (along with John Winthrop and Anne Bradstreet). As part of the Massachusetts’s Bay Colony, William’s children settled Watertown, Mass. I am 14 generations removed from William with only two name changes: Knapp>Scripture>Geary. The children of Nicholas settled Connecticut, Western Mass., and New York. In just two generations we find Nicholas’ grandson Timothy, (along with Timothy’s sons Moses, Daniel and Benjamin) on several of the founding documents of the White Plains Presbyterian Church dating 1727! We have a record of Moses measuring out a farm as early as 1720. The relationship is as follows:

Jeff Geary   b. 1969
   Alan Geary   b. 1942
      Albert Geary   b. 1916
         Clarence Geary   b. 1895
            William Geary   b. 1867
               Robert Geary   b. c.1839, married to
               Catherine Scripter   b. 1849
                  David Scripter   b. 1821

                     James Scripter   b. 1793
                        Samuel Scripture   b. 1755
                           John Scripture   b. 1716
                              John Scripture   b. 1688
                                 Samuel Scripture   b. 1649, married to 
                                 Elizabeth Knapp   b. 1654
                                    William Knapp II b. 1611 OR James Knapp c. 1626 (brothers)

                                       William Knapp Sr. b. 1578 (England) brother of
                                       Nicholas Knapp   b. 1606,
                                    Timothy Knapp   b. 1632 (who moved to Rye)
                                 Timothy Knapp Jr. b. 1680 (A Founder of White Plains Presbyterian)**
                              Moses Knapp   b. 1701 (laid out a tract of WP farmland in 1720)**
                              Daniel Knapp (owned land of the present Gilbert Hatfield House)**
                                 (Daniel’s cousin Lavinia Mead was married to Gilbert Hatfield)
                              Benjamin Knapp**
                              Gabriel Knapp  
                              Amos Knapp

** indicates these folks appear in the founding documents of the church.

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on the Corner of Lake Street and N. Kensico/Hall Avenue

Incidentally, Timothy’s son Daniel owned property that when he died was divided between his wife, his brothers, and his cousin Lavinia – who was married to Gilbert Hatfield. Here I am standing in front of one of the two Gilbert Hatfield Houses, raised in the late 1700s. (I have yet to locate the other one). This house is just blocks from my current home. It has been renovated several times, and has a wrap around restaurant attached, but one can still see the double chimneys typical of the eighteenth century. 

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With the rest of my day I visited the Stony Hill Cemetery, also on the White Plains Heritage Trail, did a lot of walking, a little reading, and attended my son’s elementary school ballroom dancing performance. All in all, a very satisfying and relaxing day.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Linda Schwiesow Nycum permalink
    June 2, 2017 2:31 pm

    WOW!!!! I was hoping with all my fingers crossed that you were going to find the Sass family in your books. But, I’m excited that you found what you did. That is definitely a milestone in your research!!

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