Charlemont — The First Congregational Church In Charlemont
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
It embraced originally 16 members, and the council which organized it was composed of the Revs. Nehemiah Porter, John Emerson, and Roger Newton, who were in session three days. In the fall of 1788 the church-roll contained the names of Gershom Hawks, Elizabeth Nichols, William Negus, Oliver Avery, Martha Taylor, Fanny Brooks, Jesse Reed, Eliphalet Cutting, Mary Taylor, Dorothy Leonard, Joanna Crocker, Esther Rice, Samuel Rice, Dorothy Rice, Freedom Bice, Joshua Hawks, Reuben Hawks, Abigail Avery, William Rush, Hannah Thayer, Aaron Rice, Sylvanus Rice, Jonathan Hastings, Champion Crocker, Paul Rice, Dinah Rice, Abigail Thayer, Jonathan Hawks, Samuel Peirce, Abigail Peirce, John Ellis, Ruth Peirce, Miriam Peirce, Andrew Rudd, James Fales, Nathan Gould, Martha Gould, Josiah White, Rebecca White, Aaron Gould, Lydia Gould, Abel Wilder, E. W. Farland, Josiah Upton, Joseph Upton, Nathaniel Upton, Ebenezer Green, and Phebe Green. Of this church, too, Aaron Rice and Gershom Hawks were the first deacons, and Aaron Rice the church clerk. In 1796, Ebenezer Fales was elected deacon, and at a later date Abel Wilder was ordained to the same office.
As early as 1786 the town took steps to build a new meeting-house at some central point. Joshua Hawks, Artemas Rice, and George Kennan were appointed to select a site. They reported a suitable place between Artemas Rice's and John Brooke's, and it was voted that the house have the same dimensions as the old one,—the Heath meeting-house. The house was located about two miles east of the village, and was erected under the direction of Thomas Nichols, Gershom Hawks, and Othniel Taylor. It was not wholly finished until 1804. In that year the committee reported their work completed, and that they had rented 31 pews below, and 16 in the gallery of the church. This house was used as a place of worship until 1845, when the present edifice in the village of Charlemont was erected. In that year 42 members withdrew to form a church at East Charlemont, and for a number of years the town maintained two flourishing Congregational Churches. Then followed a season of declining interest, leaving the parent church often in a struggling condition. At present it is again fairly prosperous, and, in 1878, reported 31 male and 66 female members.
The Rev. Isaac Babbitt was settled as the first pastor of the church, Feb. 24, 1796, and was dismissed June 7, 1798. He was a native of Easton, Conn., graduated at Dartmouth in 1783, and studied theology with Dr. Burroughs. He was a strict Calvinist, a plain but not a forcible preacher.
The second pastor of the church was the Rev. Joseph Field, who was installed Dec. 4, 1799, and dismissed July 10, 1823. He was born in Sunderland in 1772, graduated at Dartmouth in 1792, and entered the ministry soon after. He married a daughter of the Rev. John Emerson, of Conway. He was the author of several valuable books, one of the best known being a "Treatise on the Trinity." While pastor of the church he embraced Unitarianism, and was dismissed on account of his views. He remained in town until his death, representing Charlemont in the Legislature seven terms, after 1828, and occasionally supplying the pulpit of the Unitarian Church.
The Rev. Wales Tileston was ordained the third pastor, March 16, 1825, and dismissed March 22, 1837. He was a native of Williamsburg, graduated at Union College in 1822, at Andover in 1823, and began preaching soon after. His ministry at Charlemont was blessed with many conversions.
The fourth pastor, the Rev. Stephen T. Allen, was ordained April 18, 1838, and dismissed April 24, 1839. He was a native of Heath, graduated at Amherst in 1833, and, after leaving Charlemont, became the editor of Merry's Museum.
The Rev. John D. Smith was ordained Nov. 20, 1839, dismissed Aug. 11, 1844, resettled June 21, 1848, and again dismissed May 19, 1852. He was born in 1812, graduated at Yale in 1832, studied theology at New Haven and Andover, and began to preach soon after. He was a son of Nathan Smith, M.D.,1 and himself became a physician. After his dismission he lived in Charlemont, and represented the town in the Legislature.
The Rev. Mathew Kingman was ordained the next pastor, June 6, 1854, and was dismissed Dec. 24, 1861. He was a man of ability and worth, but the church had become too weak to longer retain him.
The church was supplied with preaching for the next six years by the Revs. W. F. Bacon and A. P. Johnson. May 21, 1867, the Rev. Benjamin W. Pond was installed, and resigned April 17, 1870.
The Rev. P. K. Clark was next installed, Aug. 16, 1871, and died while pastor of the church, Jan. 6, 1872. He was interred at South Deerfield, where he formerly served as a pastor, leaving a wife, son, and two daughters, surviving members of his family.
The Rev. Henry G. Marshall was installed as his successor, Sept. 4, 1872, and was dismissed June 18, 1877. The Rev. Rufus Taylor then supplied the pulpit four months; and since April 21, 1878, Rev. Lincoln Harlow has been acting pastor.
Besides those mentioned as supplies of the church, the Revs. John Tatlock, George Lyman, T. J. Clarke, Edward Clarke, Levi Packard, and Samuel Fisk have served in that capacity.
The clerk and treasurer of the church in 1878 was J. H. Smead, and the prudential committee was composed of J. H. Smead, A. W. Leonard, and E. F. Long. The number of resident members was 75, and a Sunday-school, having 85 members, was maintained. M. M. Mantor, superintendent.
1 See medical chapter, History of Hampden County.
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