Rev Frederick Henry Quitman

Rev Frederick Henry Quitman

Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Death 26 Jun 1832 (aged 71)
Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York, USA
Burial Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York, USA
Plot In the middle of the churchyard, north of the Old Stone Church
Memorial ID 14478967 · View Source
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The Rev. Dr. Frederick Henry Quitman, the son of Stephen Henry and Anna Quitman, was born August 7, 1760, in the Duchy of Cleves in Westphalia [on an island!], in the lower Rhine. His father held an important office in the Prussian Government. The son, manifesting at an early age a great love for books, more than common intelligence, and superior talents and application to study, was placed by his father, into the celebrated school of Halle. After receiving the advantage of a liberal education Henry then transferred to Halle University. Under the guidance of George Christian Knapp (1753-1825), August Herman Niemeyer (1754-1828), Johann Salomo Semler (1725-1791), and other eminent professors in that distinguished seat of [Pietist, then Aufklarung Rationalist ] learning.

Aware of his talents and abilities, his immediate family and friends were not in favor of his entering the ministry. But his predilection for that profession was too strong to be yielded.

After completing his academic course with honor and spending two years as a private docent [a tutor] to the family of the Prince of Waldeck Frederick became connected with the Lutheran Consistory of the United Provinces. In 1783 he was ordained by that body and sent out to be pastor of the Lutheran congregation in the Island of Curacao. Rev. Quitman remained in this situation, useful, respected, and happy, for the space of fourteen years. During the summer of 1795 he was induced, when political convulsions [a slave rebellion in Curacao!] forced him to convey his wife and children to New York. He had the intention of returning after a short time to Holland. But all overruling Providence frustrated this design, and opened to him a far more extensive, field of action in our own land. Thus, "he was determined to spend the residue of his life on this side of the Atlantic."

For more than thirty years Dr. Quitman divided his time among a number of small and scattered Lutheran churches in the Hudson River Valley. These congregations were dispersed groupings of German speaking farmers and craftsmen. At the time there was a profound shortage of German speaking Lutheran pastors willing to serve in the rustic wilds of New York. Dr. Quitman often preached seven or eight times a week in either German, Low Dutch, or English. "In is preaching he was brief, biblical, practical and impressive inculcating with great energy the Christian gospel… [and] He never used a manuscript in the pulpit."

First, in the associated churches of Schoharie and Kobles Kill [until 1798 ]; and afterwards in those of Rhinebeck, Wurtemburg, Germantown, and Livingston.

The Old Stone Church Parsonage [i.e., "The Quitman House"] was built for Rev. Quitman in 1798 [and was enlarged during the ministry of Rev. Fredrick M. Bird]. Dr. Quitman's call required him to preach eighteen Sundays and three festival days at Rhinebeck-eighteen Sundays and three festival days at Germantown—nine Sundays and one festival day at Wurtemburg, and seven Sundays and one festival day at Livingston.

As his salary he was to receive from St. Peter's thirty pounds New York currency—which was $750—ten bushels of wheat, and the use of the parsonage and church lands-from Germantown thirty-five pounds and eight bushels of wheat, fire-wood, and use of parsonage and church lands, or twenty-five pounds additional if he did not choose to use them-from Wurtemburg thirty pounds and eight bushels of wheat-from Livingston twenty-five pounds and eight bushels of wheat.

His call from St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Wurtemburg had a resolution attached, that he should notice the names attached to the call, and that he should be free from all pastoral duties to those who contributed nothing to the support of the church.

In 1815 Dr. Quitman relinquished the charge at Germantown and Livingston, having prevailed upon them to call a minister for themselves. And, in 1824, in consequence of increasing infirmities, he was forced to relinquish his call at St. Paul's (Wurtemburg). Four years subsequently, he was compelled by the same cause, to the deep regret of his parishioners at the Old Stone Church, to retire from all public labors. Growing weakness had confined him to his dwelling and chamber until Tuesday the 26th of June last [1832], when it pleased the parent of mercies to release him by the hand of' death from the sorrows and troubles of' this changeful world. He was twice married, and left behind three daughters and four sons, one of whom [John Quitman] fills the station of' Chancellor of' the State of Mississippi.

After the decease of the venerable Dr. John Christopher Kunze (August 5, 1744-July 24, 1807), Dr. Quitman was raised to the Presidency of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of the State of New York and Adjacent Parts; to which from one term to another, he was unanimously reelected, until 1825 when he declined reappointment due to his inability to travel [i.e., he served as Ministerium President from 1807-1825]. In 1811 he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Harvard University. And, so long as the condition of his health permitted him to attend their meetings he continued at the head of the Board of Trustees of Hartwick Seminary, through the partiality of his colleagues.

The subject of this brief memoir possessed in frame of uncommon vigor [Dr. Quitman's personal appearance was very imposing." He was "well-proportioned and ever erect frame stood full six feet high and was of great bulk, weighing generally about, and sometimes above three hundred pounds." ], a mind of extraordinary power. Gifted with an astonishing memory, an acute judgment, untiring industry, Dr. Quitman gathered for himself and others large stores of general knowledge, and especially of theological science. He had "a fine personal appearance, and a cheerful disposition." As a preacher, he was universally confessed to be mighty in the Scriptures, convincing, eloquent, pathetic; and as a catechist, few in our country have equaled him.

Besides the toilsome functions of a pastor, Dr. Quitman assumed those of a teacher both of sacred and of' classical literature. Lutheran historian Abdel Ross Wentz notes that, "Dr, Quitman… instructed many young men in those parts in their theological branches." He was rarely without students in one or other of these departments. Long before missionary efforts were employed by our communion in the State of' New York, and while the number of its clergymen was very small, Dr. Quitman was accustomed to pay an annual visit to outlaying destitute settlements and new societies riding a circuit of from one to two hundred miles. On this visits Dr. Quitman would daily dispense the word of salvation, and administer the ordinances of the Gospel. On these trips his dwelling was the abode of hospitality; and his conversion independently of the information it yielded, was marked by pleasantly good humor, and very unusual variety of topic and illustration. One of the most striking traits of his character was frankness that abhorred all concealment and artifice.

For example, once an aged female member of his congregation examined Dr. Quitman's face and asked, "Dominie, have you had the small pox?" "No, mother," he replied, "it has had me!"

Another time an elderly man, being displeased with Dr. Quitman exercise of pastoral authority stated with a taunting air, "And what are ministers then?" The Doctor stated, "we are grindstones to grind rough people smooth."
Although constitutionally ardent, and occasionally betrayed into vehemence by collision with of similar ardor, Dr. Quitman cherished no feelings of ill will toward anyone, and gladly acknowledged merit wherever he discerned it.
The Rev. G.A. Linter, D.D., relates a story that illustrates the broad and liberal views of Dr. Quitman. Once, the Doctor was invited to preach at a gathering of Free and Accepted Masons. A member of St. Peter's [the Old Stone Church] heard about it. The concerned member came to the Parsonage to express is opposition to the matter. The member said to Dr. Quitman "My dear Pastor, I have understood that you are to preach before that Society which is in league with the Devil; and I could not rest till I had come and told you my feelings on the subject."
"I am sorry," said the Doctor, "that you feel so, and to satisfy you that I intend to do no evil, I will read you the sermon which I have written for the occasion." So he produced the sermon; and, as he read the text, the simple-hearted man exclaimed, "My dear Sir are you going to preach to these Freemasons from the Holy Bible? Then, I have no objections. If it is all right, I'll come and hear you." So he did, and was much pleased and edified by the sermon.

The fear of man or the fear of consequences never drove Dr. Quitman from a purpose formed under the conviction of duty. And whilst liberal [i.e., an enlightened Pietist Lutheran] in his principles, and most heartily opposed to schemes that seem to favor the imposition of a yoke upon the brethren, Dr. Quitman was nevertheless equally averse from controversy, and from all tendencies to lawlessness [i.e., antinomianalism] and confusion [i.e., lack of good order]. Dr. Quitman's grand aim in the sacred desk [the pulpit], was the inculcation of the plain, but practical and mighty truths and lessons of the religion of the crucified and exalted Redeemer.

"In the year 1825, his health failing, and becoming feeble with age, he had to be carried into the pulpit where he preached sitting down and where he engaged in the regular Service of the sanctuary."

What amount of good resulted from the services of our departed friend cannot now be fully known, and will be disclosed in the final issue of human affairs. Dr. Quitman's example of indefatigable diligence, whilst enabled to work in the vineyard of the Lord, is well adapted to stimulate the zeal of those who have succeeded him in the same momentous vocation. And the last years of Dr. Quitman's life, though cheered by domestic affection and Christian hope, present an instance, calculated to inspire habitual humility and prayerful dependence on God, of the feebleness and imbecility, to which, in God's unsearchable wisdom, many of the most richly endowed among his children are suffered to be cast down.

Rev. Chester H. Traver, D.D. wrote, "He was a man of commanding presence, highly respected by all just persons, but fearless anywhere. A large congregation assembled in 1832 at St. Peter's Church [the Old Stone Church] to pay tribute to his worth as a man, a citizen, and as a pastor and preacher." Dr. Quitman was buried in the churchyard in a grave that is located roughly half way between the Parsonage [the Quitman House] and St. Peter the Apostle Lutheran Church [the Old Stone Church], the congregation that he faithfully served for years.

The inscription on his grave reads:

"In memory of Frederick Henry Quitman, D.D.,
born in the Duchy of Cleves, Westphalia, August 7th 1760, died at Rhinebeck, June 26th, 1832."

Dr. Quitman's publications are: A Treatise on Magic, or the Intercourse between Spirits and Men (1810); An Evangelical Catechism, or a Short Exposition of the Principle Doctrines and Precepts of the Christian Religion (1814); Three Sermons, Preached Before the Evangelical Lutheran Synod in the town of Claverack, New York, September 1817 [the 300th anniversary of the posting of The Ninety-Five Thesis by Martin Luther in Wittenberg, Germany] (Hudson: William E. Norman, 1817); and a hymn book.

Dr. Quitman lived with his family in the parsonage at St. Peter the Apostle Lutheran Church (The Old Stone Church). The Quitman House has been restored and preserved by volunteers working with the Rhinebeck Historical Society.

Works Cited
The Minutes of the 27th Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of New York and Adjacent Parts held in Albany, New York, October 15, 1832. Hudson, NY: Ashbol Stoddard, 1832.

Erb, Peter C., ed. Pietists: Selected Writings. New York: The Paulist Press, the Library of Spiritual Classics, 1983.

Jennson, J.C. American Lutheran Biographies. Milwaukee, 1890.

Morris, John G. Fifty Years in the Lutheran Ministry. Baltimore: James Young, 1878.

Wentz, Abdel Ross. The Lutheran Church in American History. Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publishing House, 1933.
Wolf, Edmund Jacob. The Lutherans in America. New York: J.A. Hill and Co., 1889.

Compiled from Various Sources and Edited by
The Rev. Mark D. Isaacs,
M.A., M.Div., S.T.M., D.Min., Ph.D., Th.D., D.D.
Pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Wurtemburg
Founded in 1760
371 Wurtemburg Road
Rhinebeck, New York, 12572

Taken from The Minutes of the 27th Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Ministerium of New York and Adjacent Parts held in Albany, New York, October 15, 1832, (Hudson, NY: Ashbol Stoddard, 1832), p.15. Light edits and clarifications have been included to deepen the understanding of the modern reader.
He served churches in Rhinebeck, Wurtemburg, Germantown, and Livingston (Rev. William Isaac Hull, "The History of the Lutheran Church in Dutchess County, N.Y." The Lutheran Quarterly, July 1881, p.7). For 18 years the Rev. Dr. Quitman was also "the forceful president of the New York Ministerium…" and as a private tutor of theological candidates "he instructed many young men in those parts in the theological branches (Wentz, p.60)."
At this time the Halle Institution in Halle, Germany was the Mecca of the world-wide Lutheran Pietist movement.
Dr. Quitman's "German Rationalist" approach to philosophy and theology made him a favorite scapegoat for orthodox Lutheran Confessionalists later in the 19th century.
J.C. Jennson, American Lutheran Biographies (Milwaukee, 1890), p.76.
Edmund Jacob Wolf, The Lutherans in America (New York: J.A. Hill & Co., 1889), p.306.
Wackerhagen, p.57-58.
Rev. William Isaac Hull, p.9.
The Rev. Dr. Quitman served as pastor of St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Wurtemburg from February 18, 1798 to August 23, 1825.
Dr. John Christopher Kunze, educator and Lutheran pastor was born in Leipzig, Germany. He was a coadjutor to Henry Muhlenberg—the patriarch of American Lutheranism—and professor of Oriental Languages at Columbia University (1784-1787) and professor at Hartwick Seminary until his death in 1807.
April 23, 1851 letter from Rev. Augustus Wackerhagen, D.D. (1774-1865), his son-in-law, John G. Morris, Fifty Years in the Lutheran Ministry (Baltimore: James Young, 1878), p.57
John G. Morris, p.61.
Abdel Ross Wentz, The Lutheran Church in American History, (Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publishing House, 1933), p.60.
In the days prior to the founding of theological seminaries such as Hartwick (1797) and Gettysburg (1826), potential Lutheran pastors would often study privately with a well educated pastor prior to ordination.
John G. Morris, p.58.
Rev. George Neff, D.D., "Historical Sketch of St. Paul's Church of Wurtemburg," June 28, 1871.
Rev. Chester H. Traver, D.D., (1848-1929), "History of Wurtemburg Church," published in The Rhinebeck Gazette, September 18, 1915.
Dr. Abdel Ross Wentz notes that "The Quitman Catechism… [was controversial] because it denied the inspiration and authority of the Bible and set at nought al the main doctrines of the Lutheran Confessions and the Apostle's Creed… did not sell (Wentz, p.117)." A copy of Dr. Quitman's Catechism is on display at the Quitman House in Rhinebeck, New York, two copies available in the rare book room at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
A copy is in the rare book archives of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Family Members



In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees


  • Created by: Rev. Dr. Mark D. Isaacs
  • Added: 2 Jun 2006
  • Find a Grave Memorial 14478967
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev Frederick Henry Quitman (7 Aug 1760–26 Jun 1832), Find a Grave Memorial no. 14478967, citing Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Peter, Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Isaacs (contributor 2158097) .