Rowe — Religious Societies

Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.

      The first religious society dates from the settlement of the Rev. Cornelius Jones, in 1770. He and his family composed the first members of the Church of Christ in Myrifield, which was formally organized about 1774 with. a few additional members, viz.: Deacon Archibald Thomas and his wife, Elizabeth; Deacon Jonas Gleason and his wife, Lucy; and one or two others.
      In the fall of 1776 the church-roll contained the names of Aaron and Eunice Gleason, William and Mary Hartwell, Abiah and Abigail Lamb, James and Thankful Thayer, Hannah Thomas, Mary McAllister, Jedediah, Elizabeth, and Rachel Lamb, Mary Wilson, Lucy Chapin, Esther Eddy, Gideon Chapin, Sarah Chapin, Abigail and Henry Wilson.
      The meetings were first held at the house of Rev. Mr. Jones, but a plain meeting-house was built soon, after the church was formed, and was used as a place of public worship--uncomfortable and rude as it was--until 1793, when the town built its first meeting-house, as will be seen by reference to the extracts from the town-books. Mr. Jones served the people of Myrifield until his removal in 1780. Occasional preaching was then had until Nov. 21, 1787, when the Rev. Preserved Smith, who had graduated at Brown University the year before, was installed the first pastor of what is yet known as

The Church Of Christ In Rowe.

      The Church Of Christ In Rowe, at that time orthodox Congregational, but since 1833 Unitarian in belief. The members of the church at that period, and before 1800, in addition to the foregoing, were Obed Foot, James Tackett, Eliasaph Barker, Humphrey Taylor, Caleb Rogers, Eli Town, Abigail Town, Isaac and Mary Cummings, John and Elizabeth Adams, Nathan and Abigail Foster, Molly Wells, Ephraim Hill, Isaac W. Clary, Benjamin Shumway, Milo Streeter, Eunice Smith, Paul Thayer, Hannah Merrill, Nathan Wheeler, Chas. Handy, Stephen Gleason, Jonathan Cressy, Isaac Langdon, Eliphalet Cutting, Joel Hall, Caleb Blakeslee, Joshua Dodge, Rhoda Dodge, Silas Munson, Festus Foster, David Tuttle, and John W. Blodgett.
      The withdrawal of the orthodox element of the church and other causes had a depressing effect upon the membership of the church, and left the society in a weak condition. In 1878 but 25 members were reported, who were under the pastoral care of the Rev. W. M. Bicknell, who has maintained this relation since December, 1867.
      The Rev. Preserved Smith entered upon his pastorate in the fall of 1787, and after a useful ministry of more than sixteen years he asked for a dismissal, which was given May 30, 1804. A vacancy of a few years followed. On the 6th of January, 1808, the Rev, Jonathan Keith was settled as pastor, but only remained till Jan. 10, 1812. The following December the church recalled the Rev. Preserved Smith, and he entered upon a second pastorate, which extruded through more than twenty years, and was terminated only on account of the infirmities of age. Mr. Smith was a man of great force of character and strong logical powers. Toward the close of his ministry he discarded Trinitarian views, but did not avow himself a Unitarian, and the church was nominally Congregational until his pastorship had been terminal.
      The settlement of the Rev. William L. Stearns, Jan. 29, 1833, induced the orthodox element to withdraw and settle a minister of their own, the Unitarians retaining the original title of the church and the property secured by it. Mr. Stearns was dismissed Dec. 14, 1849, and on the 12th of June following, the Rev. Stillman Barber was inducted to the pastoral office, which he occupied but two years. The Rev. Sumner Lincoln then became the pastor, and served the church until, 1860. In that year the Rev. Addison Brown supplied the church, and the following two years the Rev. Hiram Norton maintained the same relation. After a vacancy of several years, the present pastor, the Rev. W. M. Bicknell, was settled.
      The society worshiped in the old meeting-house until the summer of 1845, when the present church was erected, the old house being used for town purposes until ten years later, when some of its staunch timbers were employed to repair the new church. This is now an attractive edifice, with sittings for 225 persons, and is valued at $1500. Adjoining is a neat and comfortable parsonage.
      The first deacon of the church was Archibald Thomas, who had formerly filled that office in Mr. Morehead's church in Boston. His colleague at Rowe was Deacon Jonas Gleason. They were succeeded by Nathan Foster, Silas Nash, John Thomas, and Moses Gleason. Daniel Gale is the present acting deacon. A Sabbath-school is maintained by the church in summer. It has from 40 to 50 members and supports a library of 200 volumes.

The Congregational Evangelical Society.

      The movement to form this society was made in the early part of 1833, by Daniel G. Spooner, Lewis Goodenough, and Pardon Haynes, the petition being signed March 4, 1833, by Isaac Pierpont, Gideon Langdon, Sylvester Nash, Amzi Langdon, Thomas Harrington, John A. Winslow, Abijah Burnap, A. Ide, Anson Browning, and Josiah Carpenter. The organization was effected March 11, 1833, when Anson Browning was elected Clerk; Thomas Harrington, Treasurer; Sylvester Nash, Amzi Langdon, and Isaac Pierpont, Prudential Committee.
      This was the beginning of the Second or Orthodox Congregational Church of Rowe. The following summer, meetings were held in the barn of Thomas Harrington, the preaching being supplied by the Revs. Erastus Dickinson and Samuel Ware. In 1834 a meeting-house was built a little south of the old house of worship, which was used for church purposes until 1856. It then became a public hall, and ten years later was removed to the village of Rowe, where it is now known as "Union Hall."
      The first pastor of the church was the Rev. John C. Thompson, who was ordained Oct. 28, 1835. He remained not quite two years, terminating his connection June 19, 1837. The Rev. Andrew Govan was installed the second pastor, Sept. 5, 1838, and dismissed Aug. 29, 1842. After an interim of seven years the Rev. Benjamin F. Clark was installed, but only remained with the church until October, 1850. The pulpit was thereafter supplied by the Revs. Noah Cressy and Jeremiah Pomeroy, but removals and deaths diminished the membership to such an extent that it was not deemed advisable to continue the organization, and the church was dissolved about 1856.

Rowe Methodist Episcopal Church.

      The early records of this body have not been preserved; but it is said that a class of ten members was formed as early as 1800, and that preaching was supplied in connection with other classes in the western part of the county, forming a circuit. The meetings were held at the houses of the members, principally in the eastern part of the town. But on the 31st of March, 1828, Solomon Reed executed a deed for a church-lot to Elisha Brown, Horace Blakeslee, Josiah W. Reed, and John I. Bassett, the trustees of the Methodist Society, on which a plain frame meeting-house was erected in that year. It has since been thoroughly repaired, and is valued at $1000. The present trustees are James Streeter, Thomas Wilcox, J. W. Fisk, Andrew Stone, and Samuel Woffendon.
      No list of members prior to 1840 has been preserved. In that year Horace Blakeslee was the class-leader, and John A. Winslow and Levi Carpenter stewards. There were in addition 31 members. In 1878, James Streeter was the class-leader, and 28 persons comprised the membership. A Sunday-school is maintained through the year, which has about 35 members, and a library of 200 volumes.
      As near as can be determined, the clergymen employed here have been the Revs. Elijah Ward, Timothy Carpenter, Samuel Carpenter, Shadrach Bostwick, Peter Van Ness, Michael Coates, Joseph Mitchell, Joseph Crawford, Freeman Bishop, Elijah R. Sabin, Daniel Ostrander, Daniel Brumley, C. Hammond, J. W. Lewis, William Bardwell, Edward A. Manning, L. B. Clarke, J. W. Jordan, Edward Day, Moses Spencer, G. R. Bent, Lorenzo White, Randall Mitchell, E. J. Stevens, N. J. Merrill, John H. Lord, W. H. Adams, Alfred Noon, A. M. Osgood, W. E. Dwight, W. E. Knox, Burtis Judd, and L. P. Frost.

The Rowe Baptist Church

      The Rowe Baptist Church was organized in the western part of the town, July 15, 1810, with 27 members, among them being Samuel Carpenter, Rhoda Carpenter, Asa and Hannah Paine, Ebenezer and Sally Rice, Lucy and Lydia Corbet, Nahum White, Rufus Scott, Ichabod Hill, Ephraim Fellows, Sylvia Hibbard, Ephraim Hill, and Olive Scott.
      The first meeting-house and parsonage were erected in the western part of the town, but in 1876 a very neat little church was built in the lower part of the village, which was consecrated in November of that year. Here regular services are maintained and attended by 34 members, under the spiritual direction of the Rev. Jacob Davis, since 1877 the pastor. A Sunday-school of 70 members is also attached to it,--C. H. Scott, superintendent.
      In addition to the pastor mentioned, the church has had the following ministers: the Revs. Samuel Carpenter, Arad Hall, Edward Davenport, Nathaniel Ripley, B. F. Remington, James Burke, George Carpenter, E. D. Fish, Charles Brooks, J. M. Wilmarth, S. P. Everett, Wm. A. Millard, Rufus Smith, and H. C. Coombs.
      The native or resident ministers of Rowe have been the following: Rev. Joseph W. Clary, born in Rowe in November, 1786; graduated at Middlebury in 1808 and at Andover in 1811. He died at Cornish, N. H., 1835.
      Rev. Noah Cressy became a resident of Rowe at the age of eight years (about 1785), and lived here until he had grown to manhood, when he removed to Charlemont. He graduated at Williams College in 1805, and was licensed to preach in 1806.
      Rev. Sereno W. Streeter was born in Rowe in 1810, and graduated from Oberlin, Ohio, in 1836. These three were Congregationalists.
      Rev. Preserved Smith, Jr., was born in Rowe in 1789, graduated at Brown University in 1812, and was licensed as a Congregationalist in 1813, but became a Unitarian in the following year. Rev. Festus Foster, another Unitarian, was also a resident of Rowe.
      From this town have gone as Methodist ministers the Revs. Laban C. Cheney and David Todd.

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01 Ju1 2005