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Sermon by Reverend Abraham KeteltasAbraham Keteltas
Newbury-Port: John Mycall for Edmund Sawyer, 1777 
Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress (87)


  • Religion and the American Revolution
  • Battle of Long Island
  • Jamaica Minute Men- 1775
  • History of Jamaica Avenue
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  • About Reverend Abraham Keteltas
    Fiery Patriot of the American Revolution

    Courtesy Carl Ballenas Collection

    Reverend Abraham Keteltas lived on what is today Jamaica Avenue and Van Wyck Expressway in Richmond Hill, NY

    The following article about Reverend Keteltas is from the Long Island Democrat Newspaper dated Tuesday, February 17, 1885

    Reverend Abraham Keteltas
    One of Jamaica's worthies of olden times was Rev. Abm. Keteltas, grandfather of Jas. H. Hackett the actor. He owned a farm west of Jamaica village near the toll gate, now in part owned by Col. A. A. Degrauw. He married the sister of Wm. Smith, the historian of New York, and had 11 children.
    He seems to have been a little eccentric or odd in his manner. He went to Connecticut for ordination on the congregational way. He was for a time pastor of the French church in N. Y., and of the Dutch church in Jamaica, for he could preach in three languages, French, Dutch and English. In 1768 he was a candidate for member of the Assembly. His political proclivities were deemed by many as misbefitting a minister of the Gospel. At the outbreak of the Revolution he was a fiery patriot and openly proclaimed that he would shoulder his musket rather than pay the tax on tea. He was a leading spirit at all the patriotic meetings to stir up the spirit at all rebellion in Jamaica where most of the people, especially the Dutch and Espiscopalians were inclined to submission to the crown. He was elected a member of the Provincial Congress; but on motion of John Jay (July 9, 1776) he was allowed to attend only at such times as he might think proper, because; "he had solemnly been devoted to the service of God  and the cure of souls, and had good right to claim as exemption from all such employments as would divert his attention from the affairs of that Kingdom which is not of this world."
    When the British got possession of Long Island he fled to Connecticut, leaving his property and family, slaves and cattle, to the mercy of the enemy. His farm was stript of everything that the soldiers needed and his 100 acres of woodland cut bare. His house was occupied by the British General Skinner and other Tories and much injured.
    He wandered about New England during the war, supporting himself by preaching as occasion offered. Several of his sermons were so highly valued as to be printed. He seems to have been consulted on State affairs by Washington and Clinton during his exile on the Main. He returned home at the peace in needy circumstances. He sued his neighbor one Richard Betts, a Tory, for cutting off his woodland. He died in 1798 aged 66, leaving his family scanty means of support; and to crown their misfortunes the mansion house, though old and out of repair, was accidently burnt in March, 1799, by which a large family were rendered homeless. Mr. Keteltas' daughter Ann, a strong minded woman and a Presbyterian, married Thos. G. Hackett 1799, and was the mother of our townsman Jas. H. Hackett.