Edward Thurston Hiscox, was born August 24th, 1814, in the town of Westerly, Rhode Island. He remained at home on the paternal estate until thirteen years of age, when he accepted the invitation of an elder brother, residing in another part of the State, and with him he, spent several years, visiting home only at occasional intervals, He was religiously instructed from his infancy, his mother being a pious member of the Society of Friends, and his father, with his ancestors for many generations, belonging to the Seventh-day Baptist connection. Indeed, the Rev. William Hiscox was the first pastor of the first church of that denomination in this country. His son, Rev. Thomas Hiscox, having been educated in England, succeeded his father, and was an honored and influential minister of the Gospel. The advantages for obtaining an education which the young Edward enjoyed, were such as the children of that day possessed, and they were extremely limited. He was fond of reading and study, however, from an early period of childhood, and eagerly perused the few books within his reach. For some years after he left home he had access to a considerable library, and though he enjoyed but little leisure time, he accomplished a wide range of general reading. From the very nature of the case, these efforts were not critical and systematic, being prosecuted, by himself without teacher, associate, or guide; and, to a great extent, in hours taken from needful rest. Still, whatever gain or progress in knowledge was made in after years, much must be referred to this period of his life. It was during these years that the ground was examined, the foundation laid, and many of the scattered materials gathered for subsequent use.
At length the way was opened to gratify a long-cherished desire to pursue a more systematic course of study; and by the generous aid of an older brother, he entered the Plainfield Academy, in Connecticut, then and for many years one of the best high-schools in New England. His classmates were young men fitting for college, and with them he pursued the classics and other required studies, and with such success, that at the close of the first year he was prepared to enter college himself. But obstacles arose; his sight was much impaired by too close application, especially at night; and for two years any considerable effort at reading or study was impracticable. And besides, the want of the necessary pecuniary means seemed to raise a barrier to his further progress, even if nothing else should prevent. But out of all this darkness light arose. The religious training of his earlier years began to show its results, and at the age of fifteen he obtained satisfactory evidence of his conversion. He was away from home at the time, and surrounded by circumstances calculated to discourage even a convert of maturer age. Four years passed before he made a public profession of his faith; but in September, 1834, he was baptized into the fellowship of the First Baptist Church at Wakefield, R. I., by the Rev. Flavel Shurtleff, pastor. Immediately after uniting with the church, he commenced attending and taking part in all social religious meetings accessible to him. In this way, his talent for usefulness in the church was developed; and thoughts of the Gospel ministry, which had possessed his mind at intervals for a long period, became more deep and frequent Still, feeling himself entirely unfit for the work, he was induced to engage in teaching, and for a year he devoted his energies in that direction. At the expiration of that time, one of his brothers, who was engaged in a lucrative business, placed an establishment at the young man's disposal, with all the capital necessary to command success. Though not to his mind, the generous offer of his brother proved too tempting, and he accepted it. But before the expiration of the first year, the crisis of 1837 came on the flattering prospects of pecuniary success were blasted, and he closed his business without profits and without regrets. In February, 1838, he received a license from the church at Wakefield, to preach the Gospel. For a few months he gave himself to study, and then he was invited to the charge of the male department of a boarding-school about to be established in Lebanon Springs, N. Y. This invitation was accepted, but at the expiration of six monthly he was requested to supply the pulpit of the Baptist Church in that place, the pastor having removed. After preaching there for half a year, he resolved to go to Hamilton; and entering nearly a year in advance, he completed his collegiate course in the summer of 1843. The winter following he spent in supplying a church in the eastern part of Connecticut, and in the spring of 1844 he accepted a call to become the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Westerly, R. I., his native town, the church having given him a similar invitation the year previous. On the first of May, 1844, one month after his settlement, he was married to Miss Caroline Orne, of New Hampshire, a graduate of Mrs. Wiliard's celebrated seminary at Troy. During the three years of a most happy pastorate at Westerly, a commodious and pleasant meeting-house was built, and almost entirely paid for; the church enjoyed an interesting revival, took a position in advance of the other churches in the place, and became one of the largest and strongest in the rural part of the State. At length he accepted the invitation of the Central Baptist Church in Norwich, Connecticut; and he commenced his labors in that beautiful city April 1st, 1847. At that time the church was much embarrassed by a heavy debt, contracted in building their meeting-house; but in the course of three years this was paid off, the house of worship greatly improved, and both the church and congregation considerably increased. His pastorate there extended over a period of five years and a half, and then he accepted the unanimous call of the Stanton Street Church, removed to the city of New York, and entered upon the pastoral care of the church, September 1st, 1852.
[History of Stanton Street Baptist Church, NYC, 1860, pp. 116-121. Formatted by Jim Duvall.]
A New Directory for Baptist Churches, bt Edward T. Hiscox, 1894.
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