Updated: Jan 26, 2019
At a meeting of the villagers of New Harlem, which took place at 125th and First Avenue, on March 23, 1660, Daniel Tourneur was elected as Corporal to help defend and maintain peace and order in the settlement. No military force was needed, however, since a peace agreement had been made with the local Indians.
As the town grew and more settlers arrived, however, problems began to arise to the point where the villagers petitioned the Council of New Netherland for a court of justice. Stuyvesant granted the request, naming Daniel Tourneur, Jan Pietersen, and Pierre Cresson as Commissaries to make judgments on disputes and conflicts among the settlers. From the book "New Harlem past and present", the following was stated:
"These Commissaries, afterwards called Magistrates, turned their attention almost immediately to the religious needs of the community."
The nearest Church was at Stuyvesant's chapel located at 9th Street and 2nd Avenue, later called St. Mark's Church an eight-mile paddle over the treacherous currents of the East River. The authors continue:
"Through the Commissaries, who had the supervision of all such matters, and were all professors of the Reformed religion, this urgent need of a minister was made known to Governor Stuyvesant..."
Thus, the Reformed Church of New Harlem was organized. By the end of the year a dominie willing to minister to the people of New Harlem was found and services were being held. Dominie Zyperus, however, was not permitted to administer ordinances, which prevented him from performing marriages. Therefore, "most of the marriages of the day were performed by Dominie Selyns, pastor of Brooklyn church, who used to hold services in Stuyvesant's Chapel".
Later, in 1673, Daniel Tourneur also served as Private in New Harlem's first militia.
New Harlem past and present; the story of an amazing civic wrong, now at last to be righted, by Carl H. Pierce, W.P. Toler, and H.D. Nutting, 1903, p. 21-22.