At a meeting of the Presbytery of New Brunswick in Cranbury, October 5th, 1869. Richard McDowell and Thomas W. Schenk appeared as commissioners from the people of Dayton and vicinity and presented a petition to Presbytery for the organization of a Presbyterian Church.
The petition was granted and a committee consisting of Revs. Joseph G. Symmes, Joreph S. VanDyke and J. Gordon R. Mann with Elders Derrick, Perrkk and J. Gordon VanDyke was appointed to effect the organization, and Saturday the 16th of October, 1869, was fixed as the time. The committee reported to Presbytery that they had performed the duty mentioned. Rev. John H. Schofield was pastor-elect of the new organization which proceeded to secure funds and erect a church building which was dedicated August 31st, 1870.
Rev. Joseph W. Hubbard was installed pastor on November 10th, 1870. During the pastorate of Mr. Hubbard the manse was built and other improvements made.
On October 29, 1875, Rev. Adrian Westveer was elected pastor and was installed by Presbytery December 15, 1875. During his pastorate forty-six persons were added to the membership. The pastoral relation existing between Mr. Westveer and the congregation was dissolved on July 28th, 1879. During the years of his pastorate the congregation had a struggle with a debt incurred in building the manse during the time his predecessors served the church. The debt at this time, 1879, was about $4500.00
At the congregational meeting held February 19th, 1880, Mr. Samuel J. Rowland, a student in Princeton Seminary, was elected pastor. He was ordained and installed July 6th, 1880. The outlook was not very bright, but Mr. Rowland was equal to the emergency. He formulated a plan by which in a few months the money was raised and the debt all paid and "a neat surplus in the treasury." The Church was encouraged greatly and prospered spiritually as well as financially, many being added to the membership.
At a special meeting of the Presbytery, December 26th, 1882, the Pastoral relation was dissolved between Mr. Rowland and the congregation.
On April 9th, 1883, Mr. J. Stewart Dickson, a student in Princeton Seminary, was elected to the pastorate. In July of that year, 1883, the congregation decided to enlarge and refit the church. Plans were made for raising funds for this purpose. Mr. Dickson, on October 9th, 1883, was ordained and installed pastor. The church was enlarged and refurnished at a cost of about $2000.00. During his pastorate quite a number were added to the membership on confession and by letter. On June 14, 1886, Mr. Dickson's pastoral relation was dissolved to take effect July 4, 1886.
On November 17th, 1886, Rev. Thomas S. Long was unanimously elected pastor and was installed on the twenty-eighth of December following. Mr. Long was pastor for fifteen years. He preached his fifteenth anniverary sermon on the Sabbath preceeding his death, which occurred on the twenty-second day of December, 1901. The annual subscription card and monthly envelope plan of benevolent offerings was adopted soon after he became pastor. A new organ was purchased at a cost of $500.00 and an extension built in which to place it at a cost of $300.00. A Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor was organized on July 24th, 1888. In its early history the C. E. Society started a Chapel Fund and in the last year of Mr. Long's pastorate had raised about $1600.00. During the last months of his life Mr. Long solicited subscriptions to the amount of six or eight hundred dollars. It was the great desire of his heart to see a Chapel erected. He knew he had funds sufficient for this purpose and looked up plans for the building. Before the realization of his desires, the Lord called him from his earthly labors.
During Mr. Long's pastorate there were many additions to the membership and the Church was greatly prospered.
On April 28th, 1902. the Church extended a call to the Rev. James B. Clark and he was installed on May 27th.
The building of the Chapel received the first consideration of the new pastor. The Cnristian Endeavor Society and Mr. Long had secured about $2500.00. Additional funds were raised and the Chapel was started in 1903-04 and dedicated on February 13th, 1904, as "The Long Memorial Chapel" in loving memory of one whose last labors were devoted to the end.
During the long pastorate of Mr. Clark, many improvements were added to the buildings and grounds which greatly increased the measure of service and efficiency. Electric lights and steam heat were installed in the manse. Concrete walks were laid in front of the manse and Church. In 1911-12 the Church was refitted at a considerable outlay. The interior was lined with metal. Stained glass windows were presented. The floor was laid with a new career, the pews were painted and plates and an individual Communion service were also purchased. The re-dedication took place on March 31,1912.
Adequate mention should be made of those thoughtful donors who by legacies and generous gifts helped to make pos-sible many of the needed repairs. A legacy of one hundred dollars left by Miss Ellen Griggs, was used in wiring the Church for electric lights in 1902. Mr. Benjamin W. Miller gave fifty dollars for the purpose of laying walks about the manse and to the Chapel. Mr. Isaac B. Rowland also gave fifty dollars which was used in building a wall of cement blocks in front of the Church grounds. Mr. John H. Van Dyke gave to the Church a one thousand dollar Liberty Bond and Mrs. Mary Ann Ely left a legacy of fifty dollars.
After a fruitful ministry of almost twenty years, the pastoral relation of Rev. James B. Clark was dissolved on December 31st, 1921. Many were added to the membership of the Church during these years and the Church prospered in spirit and in service. The Rev. Mr. Clark died in Philadelphia on April 18th, 1922.
On May 8th, 1922, the Church extended a unanimous call to Mr. William F. Wefer, a student at Princeton Theological Seminary who was ordained and instated as pastor of the Church on May 26th, 1922. The parsonage was renovated during the summer. A water system and bath were installed with all modern fixtures. Through the kindness of the young ladies of the congregation, stationary tubs were installed in the kitchen, glass was put in the front doors and benches were placed on the porch.
The five years of the new ministry witnessed splendid growth and a widening of Church activities. The financial support of the local Church had in benevolences increased over one hundred percent. The Men's Brotherhood and or-ganizations for the various age groups among the young people-were founded, which aided in the development of social and recreational activities. Many additions were made to the equipment of the Church which greatly increased the efficiency of the service. On October 29th, 1922, a marble baptismal font was dedicated to the memory of Mrs. Mary Ann Ely, purchased through a legacy which she had bequeathed to the Church.
In December of the same year, the Ladies' Aid Society completed the erection of the kitchen addition on the Chapel at a cost of more than $900.00. They were greatly aided in the undertaking by a number of the men of the Church who assisted in the building. In 1923, a stereoptican lantern and screen were purchased by the Women's Missionary Society. In the Summer of 1924 a number of the men again responded to the call of need and painted the Church. Later the entire task was completed when the Ladies' Aid Society paid for the painting of the Chapel. Easter Sunday, 1925, was a day of happy realization in the history of the Church in the dedication of the new Odell Organ. The beautiful organ, costing $4000.00, was the consummation of the setting of a definite goal and the hearty co-operation of the people evidenced in the proceeds of a Harvest Home, the donations of the various organizations and the result of a community, campaign. At the same time new lights for the Church auditorium were presented by the Ladies' Aid Society and an out' door Bulletin Board purchased by the Men s Brotherhood. In the Summer oi' 1926, the Ladies' Aid Society paid for the decorating of the interior of the Chapel and at the same time, new lights were installed, the gift of various organizations.
The pastoral relationship between Mr. Wefer and the people was dissolved on June 28th, 1927, taking effect August 31st.
At a meeting of the congregation held after the morning service on April 1st, 1928, the Church extended a call to Mr. Karl H. Schoenborn, a Senior at Princeton Theological Seminary, to become pastor of the Church. He accepted the call and was ordained and installed in the Church on April 20th with the following persons taking part in the service: the Rev. J. Ross Stevenson, D. D., LL. D., President of Princeton Theological Seminary, preached the sermon; the Rev. Prof. Frederick W. Loctscher, Ph. D., D. D., LL. D., gave the charge to the Pastor; the Rev. William F. Wefer, predecessor of Mr. Schoenborn, gave the charge to the people.
Two sons of the Church have dedicated their lives to the Gospel ministry, the Rev. Charles Everett, D. D., pastor emeritus of the Presbyterian Church of Belinar, N. J., ordained in 1881, and the Rev. Peter K. Emmons, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Scranton, Pa., ordained in 1915.
1. "Brief Outline of History", First Presbyterian Church Directory, Dayton, New Jersey, July, 1930, pages 28-30.
See AlsoDayton First Presbyterian Church 1930 DirectoryDayton First Presbyterian Church 1933 Directory