Solomon Froeligh was born in Red Hook, New York, on May 29, 1750. The son of a farmer, he convinced his father "to give him an education that he might fit himself to be a clergyman" in the Dutch Reformed Church (now Reformed Church in America). Froeligh received his training from Dirck Romeyn and Johannes Goetschius.
Goetschius was one of many pastors associated with the Great Awakening, and his 1748 arrival in Hackensack and Schraalenburgh, where Rev. Antonius Curtenius, an opponent of the Awakening, had been pastor since 1730.
The newly elected board of elders supported Goetschius and "refused to attend services lead by Curtenius." The church broke into two factions, each supporting one pastor and opposing the other.
Goetschius also promoted ecclesiastical independence from Classis Amsterdam for Dutch Reformed churches in North America so they could ordain pastors without the need to send them to the Netherlands. This association became known as the Coetus party and first petitioned for independence in 1738. This was finally granted in 1747, and the new Classis was formed in 1754.
The conservatives (or "old lights") opposed this and organized the Conferentie party in 1755. The Coetus-Conferentie enmity created strong division within several congregations.
Classis Amsterdam effected a union between the factions in 1770, but the results of this division would haunt the American churches long after creation of a denomination in 1792.
Froeligh was licensed to preach by Classis in 1774. His first pastorate was Fishkill, NY. He served Millstone and Neshanic from 1780 to 1786.
Froeligh settled in Hackensack, New Jersey, in 1786, where he attempted to unite a long-divided congregation. It was an uneasy union, and when lightning struck the church and cracked the stone over the door that was inscribed "Union makes strength", the superstitious congregation formally divided.
The True Reformed Dutch Church
Froeligh remained with the "independence" faction and was instrumental in creating a new denomination, which came to be called the True Reformed Dutch Church, uniting other groups similarly separated from the Dutch Reformed Church.
Froeligh was called before the DRC Synod in 1822, where he was suspended for secession and "contempt of ecclesiastical authority". In response to this, he wrote and published Reasons Assigned by a Number of Ministers, Elders, and Deacons for Declaring Themselves the True Reformed Dutch Church in the United States.
North Church, the faction that remained Reformed, began construction of a new building in 1823. Froeligh specified that the new building have a steeple 20 feet higher than South Church. "The Old North Church, located on the southwest corner of Washington and Madison Avenues, is perhaps Dumont's finest link to its past," according to the official Dumont, NJ, webpage.
The TDRC grew to 30 congregations with 10 ministers by 1830, after which point it fell into decline.
Froeligh died in Schraalenburgh (now Dumont), NJ, on October 8, 1827.
- Solomon Froeligh, Virtual American Biographies (from Appletons Encyclopedia)
- History of Dumont, Official Webpage of Dumont, New Jersey
- History of the Town of Fishkill, James H Smith, 1882
- Captain John Outwater and His Militia: Bergen County, New Jersey 1776-1781, Robert J. Shanahan, Jr, Esq., 1987
- Reformed Church in America, Classic Encyclopedia (based on the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica)
- Reformed (Dutch) Church, Christian Classics Ethereal Library at Calvin College