Remembering the Past: Rahway Information Wanted & Facts About Linden Churches

by Diane Norek Harrison

RAHWAY-I received an e-mail asking readers for some help with past information.

“I have been working on my family genealogy for the last year or so and just found out that my great uncle was a driver for Haines Dairy in Rahway in 1942.  His name was Edgar Baylis and I am looking for any info on the dairy, the area (he lived on Montgomery St.) him or anything related.”

If anyone has information, pictures or anything related to this and want to help my contributor and have the information printed in my column, please contact with what you know.

Linden Churches

LINDEN-This is my own research from 1923: Religious services were first held in the winter of 1866, in the school house, under the auspices of the Reformed (Dutch) Church in America. The church record says the first Sabbath school was established in May, 1867. After various vicissitudes it was determined to organized a church, and a delegation from the south classis of Bergen met May 10 and 11, 1871, and laid the cornerstone of an edifice on the corner of Henry St. and Wood Ave.

At this time of the organization there were only 11 members. It was the first church built in the neighborhood, had a seating capacity of 400, and cost $18,000. The Rev. Oscar Gesner, who had been pastor with the exception of a few months since the church was organized, was installed in the spring  of  1871. The classis of Newark, of which the church was a member, July 22, 1875, installed Howard H. VanVranken, a licentiate of the classis of Michigan, as pastor. His resignation took place Oct. 1, 1877, and when he left the church it was virtually disbanded, but twenty-one souls were added to the membership under his ministry.

The classis of Newark reorganized the church in Oct. 1877, a new consistory was elected and properly installed, the Rev. Gesner was again called to the pulpit, and it was agreed that it should be a free church, supported entirely by voluntary contributions. The Rev. Gesner had charge of the pulpit for about 8 years.

Members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Linden attended services in Rahway and other places until 1874, when the presiding elder granted a supply from Rahway. The Rev. H.D. Opdype, from Rahway began preaching on the Sabbath afternoons, and in 1875 the Rev. Alexander Craig, with the help of some students from Drew Theological Seminary, held regular services.

The school house was purchased, refitted, and a Sunday School organized. A church building was erected in 1878, and the present past (1932) is the Rev. Martin L. Rhodes.

Grace Protestant Episcopal Church of Linden was organized in 1875 by a few residents in the immediate neighborhood that had formerly attended services at Rahway and Roselle. A neat gothic structure was built east of the railroad station, on an eligible lot of ground. The pulpit has for most of the time been occupied by supplies; there is at the present writing no regular rector.

In a little realty office on Blancke St., May 2, 1909, was laid the foundation of the St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church. The mission was under the change of the Franciscan Fathers of New York City, and the church, then located in the realty office building, was dedicated Oct. 10, 1909, with Rev. Francis Koch as resident priest.

A transfer of mission was made Aug. 26, 1910, to the Benedictine Fathers of Newark, and one of their number, the Rev. P. Meinard, was placed in charge. Father Meinard on his arrival was obligated to live in the old realty office, but with his ability and energy he started on his uphill work to build up the mission.

If you would like to see my column continue, I need some new contributors to show there is an interest. After Sept. 4, my column will only be printed with readers’ memories or past material since my own material is shrinking. Start sending you memories or past material for any of the towns listed below.

If you have your own memories or past material for Clark, Elizabeth, Linden, Rahway  or Roselle you can email me c/o or send “copies” of your material to me c/o CMD Media 1139, East Jersey St,. Suite 503, Elizabeth NJ, 07201.

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