May 3, 1833, Rev. Cyrus W. Hodges was called to the pastorate of our church, and on the nineteenth of the same month was publicly recognized as pastor. During his pastorate of four years, eighty-nine were baptized, among whom were Rev. Foster Henry, and J. R. Graves, D. D., LL.D.; John Field was chosen deacon, and N. N. Wood, D. D., was licensed to preach. As a matter of special interest the following record is taken verbatim from the church book.
"December 30, 1835. This is an important day in the history of our church. We have to-day solemnly dedicated a new and beautiful brick meeting-house, furnished with a good bell, to the worship of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The house was crowded to over-flowing; the services were highly interesting, solemn and deeply impressive. Invocation and reading select Scriptures, by Rev. L. Tracy, of Claremont, N. H.; introductory prayer, by Rev. R. M. Ely, of Windsor; sermon by Rev. Samuel Eastman, of Grafton; dedicatory prayer by Rev. J. M. Graves, of Ludlow; concluding prayer by Rev. Mr. Perry (Congregationalist), of Perkinsville; benediction by the pastor, Rev. C. W. Hodges."
June 29, 1835, Bro. Hodges wrote to The Christian Watchman: "You will rejoice to learn that God is still hovering over us in this section of the Green Mountain State. The number added to this church by baptism, since August last, is sixty. About one hundred have been baptized and added to the church in Windsor since September last. A precious company have been added to the church in Claremont, N. H., of which Bro. Tracy is pastor. In East Townshend, where we have an Academy soon to go into operation, the Lord has recently begun a good work. * * * Forty of the members of my church have united with some others and formed a church in Perkinsville, a village two miles and a half north. I never knew a church to commence under more encouraging prospects than this. Eight miles north of us is another village, called Felchville. In this village a meeting-house has recently been built, belonging in part to the Methodists and in part to the Baptists. Here we constituted a church last week of between twenty and thirty members, several of whom are able and willing to contribute liberally to support the Gospel." On May 6, 1837, letters of dismission were granted to Bro. Hodges and wife.
Bro. Hodges was born in Leicester, Vt., in 1802. When nineteen years of age he was converted and united with the Congregational Church in Salisbury. Being from the first strongly impressed in favor of Baptist sentiments, he soon exchanged his church relationship by uniting with the Baptist Church in Brandon. After a short course of study, he began to preach, being first settled in Minerva, N. Y.; from there he went to Chester, N. Y., and thence to Arlington, Vt. After two years of successful labor, he went to Shaftsbury, from which place he came to North Springfield. From here he went to Westport, N. Y., thence to Bennington, Vt., and then to Bristol, where he ended his days, in April, 1851. His wife, Annis H., survives him, and is now living in Bristol in her seventy-sixth year. She writes:"I don't know of any place where Mr. Hodges labored that the Lord did not bless him." The Historical Sketch of the Church in Bennington refers to him thus: "His memory is ever blessed by the many who were the happy recipients of his tender and Christlike ministrations. He was refined in the fire of affliction, and his ministry was passed in a constant struggle against increasing infirmity."
The next pastor of our church was Rev. M. D. Miller. As the records are very limited respecting his pastorate, the best that can be done is to quite from his own writings. In a letter dated Madison, Wis., April 9, 1878, he writes:"I was born Feb. 15, 1811, at Elizabethtown, Essex County, N.Y.; was married at Moriah, N. Y. Nov. 6, 1831, and ordained to the ministry at Monkton, Vt., June 30, 1835. Served as pastor at that place and at Charlotte two years. From there I removed to North Springfield. My first sermon at Springfield, from Isa. 43:10, was preached April 9, 1837. I do not recollect anything of special note during my pastorate of two years at Springfield; several were converted and baptized, but not a large number. In January, 1837, William Miller, who fixed the time of the second advent of Christ in 1843, gave a course of lectures in our church, which made a deep impression, but gained few converts. In June, 1838, Elder Grout was with us several days, including two Sundays, engaged in special effort; the results were favorable, but not very extensive."Following Bro. Miller on through the remainder of his life until the present time, we find him, after leaving our church, preaching successively in Danville, Windham, Willington, and Addison, this state; from Addison he goes to Madison, Wis., in June 1, 1853, then a city of three thousand inhabitants. This place he has since made his home, although laboring in various ways in the interests of the cause of religion in different parts of the state; at present he resides on a farm, just outside the limits of the city, where he hopes to spend the remnant of his days. In closing his letter he writes:"This review of my life work I cannot say I am satisfied with. Mistakes I have made, and in the light of past experiences, had I my life to live over again, it seems as though I might better it; still, it has been my aim, by the help of God, to make the world better by living in it. May God add his blessing!"
Here it is necessary to remark that the name of Jewett Boynton, Jr., as clerk of the church, appears for the last time under the date of September 9, 1837, having served in that capacity for twenty-two years. A melancholy item in a Western paper reads as follows: "Instantly killed, July 28, 1865, by being thrown from his carriage, Dea. Jewett Boynton, of Union, Wis., formerly deacon of the Baptist Church, Springfield, Vt." No regular clerk was chosen to succeed Bro. Boynton until July 12, 1845, when William Dyer was elected to fill the vacancy.
From the records it does not precisely appear when the pastorate of Rev. Benjamin Brierly began, nor when it closed; but probably it began in 1839 and ended in 1841. His name is mentioned under the date of February 1, 1840, in such a manner as to justify the inference that he must have been pastor for some months, perhaps a year. He was probably with the church about three years, in which time he sowed the seed, of which it remained for others to harvest the fruit. While but few were gathered into the church under his ministry, still many there are among us who remember his faithful service with love and gratitude.
A brief space here may be fittingly given, in order to bring before our mind's eye, the man himself, whom to see aright cannot but be to love. Rev. Benj. Brierly was born in York Co., England, Nov. 24, 1811, and died in Nevada, July 21, 1863. His early school advantages were very limited. When eight years old he left school that his labors might be made available to the support of the family; when ten years old his father came to America, and during his thirteenth year, his mother died; soon after which event he, together with his brother and sisters, followed his father to America. In 1831, he was baptized and united with the Baptist church in Cummington, Mass. Soon after his conversion he began a course of study for the Christian ministry which he pursued at Newton, Mass., and at New Hampton, N. H. At the latter place especially, his struggles were heroically maintained against poverty, when for weeks at a time he lived on potatoes and salt. Amid his privations however, he formed scholarly habits which subsequently gave him eminence in the Christian ministry. In the fall of 1835, he was ordained and installed as pastor of the Baptist church in Dover, N. H.; from that time until 1848, he was successively pastor at Great Falls, N. H., Springfield and Manchester, Vt., Manchester, N. H., and Salem, Mass.; then for a brief time he was in the employ of the American and Foreign Bible Society, which he was obliged to abandon on account of failing health. On Feb. 9, 1849, he sailed from Boston for San Francisco, where he arrived on the twenty-second of the following August; taking up a temporary residence at San Jose, he was made Chaplain of the first Legislature of the State. For a short time he was pastor at Sacramento, but concluding to make a permanent settlement in California, he gave up the pastorate at Sacramento, and came East for his family. In May 1852, he arrived at San Francisco with his family, where he became pastor of the First Baptist Church, in which relation he continued for six years; subsequently he was pastor for two years at San Jose, and for three years at Nevada, where death ended his earthly labors.
Mr. Brierly was a man well established in Christian doctrine, and from intelligent conviction loyal to his denomination. He was well read in general literature, and wielded the pen of a ready and vigorous writer. He was thoroughly devoted to his adopted country, and during the late civil war spoke and wrote frequently and effectively on the enormous guilt of treason and rebellion. Some of Mr. Brierly's discourses have been published; one in particular, before the annual meeting of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, is spoken of as a most able effort. But his greatest monument is found in his Christian character; "he lived for the good of others and not for himself alone."
The next pastor of our Church was Rev. D. M. Crane; he began his labors here in 1842 and ended them in 1845. Unfortunately the records do not even mention the name of Mr. Crane during the three years of his first pastorate. -- From a copy of the Minutes of the Woodstock Baptist Association of 1843, we learn that the membership of the church was then two hundred and fifty-six, which was probably the largest number ever in connection with our church at one time. Aside from recording the names of admitted members, the principal event recorded was the election of Levi Piper and Joel Woodbury to the deacon's office, Dec. 2, 1843. As the further events recorded were only the ordinary business transactions, of little interest to present here, a few extracts from an unpublished autobiography of Mr. Crane, will be given to supply the needful links in the chronological chain.
"The church in North Springfield," says the autobiography,"gave me a call to become their pastor without the unpleasant experience of candidating. * * * One of their deacons, authorized to engage my services, was present and heard my farewell sermon in Grafton. The conditions on which I would accept the call having been met, I entered upon my labors with them the following Sabbath. This church, having been blessed with a succession of pious, faithful and able pastors, had been among the first churches in Vermont; but from removals, deaths, and severe trials its fortunes had been reversed. A dark cloud rested upon it. Declining in membership and in pecuniary ability, its spirit of aggressiveness had yielded to discouragement, and its hope to despondency. A neighboring pastor made to me this remark: 'The North Springfield church has been strong and prosperous, but it is so low now it will never rise again. You have made a mistake in accepting its call.' Nevertheless it had life and elements of strength and prosperity; and in the community were materials which the Divine Spirit could use to increase its vital forces, and make it what it had been: 'The pillar and ground of the truth.' Already there were indications of a refreshing from the presence of the Lord. The church had wisely adjusted all its internal difficulties; their prayers were fervent and importunate; and their exhortations tender and impressive. A remarkable solemnity pervaded the entire community, which continued to increase until the following August, when a meeting of days was commenced at the Christian Chapel. The services were conducted by Adventists who gave Bible readings on the second coming of Christ. Day after day the Chapel was thronged. One afternoon I assumed the responsibility of inviting the advent brethren to adjourn their meeting to the Baptist Church; the invitation was accepted and the following evening services were held in our house. The assembly was large, attentive and thoughtful. Here the meetings were held afternoon and evening for more than a week; but while the interest was still increasing, notice was given that the Advent brethren would return to their own house for worship; whereupon notice was also given that a preaching service would be held in our church, every evening for the present. Unable myself to sustain the meetings announced, the services of Rev. B. Burrows, a neighboring pastor, were secured; the second evening he was with us, and preached to a large audience in demonstration of the spirit and power. Many, among whom were prominent citizens of the village and vicinity who had hitherto remained at home, attended the meetings and were deeply impressed. The interest widened and deepened from evening to evening; the members of the church realized their responsibility, and prayed and exhorted with increasing freedom and power. Those who had not been seen at the meeting were visited, invited to attend them, and urged to seek the Lord. Mercy drops had been falling all this time, but at length a copious shower came. Pews designated for inquires were thronged night after night, by men, women and children. Such agony of soul, under a consciousness of guilt and condemnation, as some experienced, I have seldom witnessed; but weeping endured only for a night, joy came in the morning. Soon the converts began to ask for baptism; and on ten successive Sabbaths we visited our Jordan, when eighty-four were buried with Christ in baptism; among whom were more than thirty heads of families, embracing the first citizens in the place, in character, position and influence. Thus the dark cloud which had so long overshadowed the church was lifted, and her future radiant with hope and prosperity."
It will be remembered that during Mr. Crane's pastorate, the subject of the Second Coming of Christ was very strongly agitated in our community. The scenes attending that agitation were of a marked character; but they have passed away, and it is not wise to revive their memory here. During the second year of Mr. Crane's pastorate, more than thirty of the church and congregation, embracing the two deacons, emigrated to the West. Had they settled in the same locality, they might "have constituted a respectable church as to piety, talent and means." At length, after three years of severe labor, the state of Mr. Crane's health was such as to necessitate rest, which was sought in resignation.
As Mr. Crane was called a second time to the pastorate of our church, allusion to his personal history will be deferred until the details of that pastorate shall have been given.
Rev. Nathaniel Cudworth succeeded Mr. Crane, beginning his labors in 1845, and ending them with us in the spring of 1849. Here, too, we find the records of the church strangely deficient as to what transpired during Mr. Cudworth's pastorate. One or two references to services performed by him as pastor, and the record of the admission and dismission of himself and wife, are all that the books show. In a memorial discourse preached by Rev. D. M. Crane on the Life and Character of Mr. Cudworth, we find a passage which supplies the requisite portion of history. Says the discourse:"After three and a half years of successful labor in Jamaica, Mr. Cudworth became pastor of this church. Here the state of things was unlike what he found in his former field. Some two years before, an extensive revival had left only a few unconverted; hence his chief work was to plant and cultivate, rather than harvest; to instruct Christians, and to guide the action of the church. He however baptized several, some of whom are still with us. Though his preaching was followed by no special work of grace, yet he performed much important and useful service. Those who enjoyed his ministry will ever affectionately cherish his memory, as a devoted and faithful servant of God."
Mr. Cudworth was born in Putney, Vt., Jan 2, 1814. At the age of thirteen he was converted; and when about twenty he began a course of study with the ministry in view, which he pursued at Brattleboro and Townshend, this state, and at Hamilton, N. Y. Sept. 29, 1841, he was ordained. His first pastorate was in Jamaica; second, in North Springfield; third, in Ludlow; and fourth, and last in Perkinsville. For two years he represented the town of Ludlow in the state legislature. He finished his earthly course, deeply lamented and greatly beloved, at Perkinsville, Aug. 2, 1871.
September 8, 1849, the church invited Rev. Baxter Burrows, a former licentiate, to preach for them one year, beginning with the first Sabbath in Jan., 1850. The invitation was accepted, and after beginning his labors, Mr. Burrows continued them until 1857. During his pastoral connection the church entertained the Association in 1853; appointed two additional deacons, J. M. Boynton and Orrin E. Averill, Jan. 3, 1857; and received sixty-one into membership, thirty-eight of whom were baptized. In referring to a revival under his ministry with us, Mr. Burrows says:"The converts were born alive; their voices were heard in praise, in prayer and in testimonies for Christ. They went right into the work, leading their associates to Jesus. Thus for weeks and for months the work went on, mainly through the instrumentality of the church and the young converts. Those who were added to the church have proved active and substantial members; two of them are now in the ministry, laboring in important fields. This revival season was my last special work; it lives fresh in my heart, and will never be forgotten."
Respecting Mr. Burrows' personal history it may be stated that he was born in Petersham, Mass., July 22, 1804; May 1816, moved to Chester, Vt.; April 3, 1823, was baptized and received into the fellowship of this church; studied under Rev. Mr. Fisher; in 1833 went to the Institute at New Hampton, N. H., where he remained three years; was ordained over the Baptist church in Grafton, N. H.; in 1837 became pastor of the Baptist church in Passumpsic, Vt.; in 1841 assumed the pastorate of the Baptist church in Ludlow; in 1849 became pastor at Grafton, Vt.; and after remaining there a year came to North Springfield, and entered upon the pastorate referred to above. Since closing his pastoral relation with us he has preached as supply for the churches in Grafton, Chester, Andover, Felchville, Windsor, Brownsville, South Reading and other places, as in the providence of God his services were called into requisition. He still maintains his church relation with us, and at present resides with his daughter at the south village. His wife departed this life in 1871, having died suddenly in a fit of apoplexy; being taken in her carriage while riding to her home from our village. She was a daughter of Jewett Boynton, Sr., the constituent member of our church who made his dwelling the place of meeting during our days of infancy; and a sister of Jewett Boynton, Jr., for many years our efficient clerk and an esteemed deacon.
In Jan. 1858, Rev. W. L. Picknell began his labors as pastor of this church. He and his wife, Ellen M., were received by letter March 5th of the same year. In looking over the records of his pastorate, the following events appear as the most prominent. In 1858, Mr. Picknell wrote the Circular Letter, read before the Association, on, "Individual Responsibility in the Church of Christ;" at Saxton's River, Sept. 26, 1860, he preached the Annual Sermon before the Association; during 1861, more than usual interest appeared in our meetings, and on three occasions there were accessions by baptism; the Association met with us that year, and was excellent in spirit and in result; on Nov. 2d of the same year, brother Wm H. Dyer retired from the office of Clerk, and brother Edson X. Pierce was chosen to succeed him, and has retained the position ever since. The year 1863 will long be remembered as one in the history of the church of unprecedented mortality. Pastor and people suffered severely from the desolations of diphtheria; "seven from the church and fifteen from the Sabbath School were borne by stricken hearts and weeping friends to the mansions of the dead." Few refer to the ravages of that year but with husky voice and moistened eye. The year, however, immediately following was one of mercy and of blessing; ten, the largest number of any single year of Mr. Picknell's pastorate, were added to the church by baptism. In 1865, Mr. Picknell baptized his daughter Nellie; he also gave wise direction to the action of the church in dealing with several cases of discipline; in 1866, brother A. J. Chandler was baptized, and subsequently licensed to preach; in 1867, the church entertained the Vermont Baptist State Convention; but alas! in the midst of the exercises of that body, suspension was necessary, that the church might bury their beloved pastor. Three days before the meeting of the Convention, after a serious illness of a few weeks, Mr. Picknell closed his eyes to earth, to open them in Paradise. Seldom has a bereft church submitted to the death of a beloved pastor with greater sorrow, than did ours on this occasion. The following just obituary notice, prepared by the able and graceful pen of the late Rev. H. Fletcher, D. D., is taken from the Convention Minutes for 1867, which is given as the best sketch of Mr. Picknell's life your historian has been able to obtain.
"Rev. William L. Picknell was born in Fairfax in the year 1823. Our knowledge of his early life is limited. He pursued his studies at the New Hampton Institution, and was ordained to the work of the ministry at Hinesburgh. In 1855 he removed to Windham, and in 1858 to North Springfield, where Sept. 28, 1867, he rested from his labors and entered upon his reward.
"Brother Picknell was a man of earnest and consistent piety, with as few imperfections of character as are often found in any one, yet he was always deeply conscious of his own unworthiness in the sight of Christ. His conceptions of man's sinfulness and need of a Saviour were very clear, and gave impressiveness to his preaching. He was marked by warm sympathies and strong affections. He ws a true friend, and had a strong love for souls. Not only was he faithful in public, but also in private.
"As a pastor, he was more than usually discreet and industrious. Free from ebullitions of passion, he preached and practiced forbearance. No rude expressions or cant phrases linger behind to tarnish his memory, or interrupt the steady flow of his influence. Simple in all his instincts and unbending in integrity, it is not strange that in life, he was universally respected, and in death as universally mourned. He lived for the single purpose of preaching Christ and him crucified. His ministry was a successful one. Affectionate and sympathizing, his family, the church, and his brethren in the ministry sadly mourn his loss, and tenderly cherish his memory. Death to him was a sweet release"
In the cemetery of this village a mark of respect of the church and community for Mr. Picknell's memory may be found in a pure white marble slab, enclosed by a neat iron fence, with this inscription:
"Rev. William L. Picknell, Died Sept. 28, 1867, Aet. 44 yrs. 10 mos. Remember what I have said unto you. This tablet is erected by my friends."
Rev. Cyprian P. Frenyear succeeded Mr. Picknell in the pastorate, beginning his labors in Nov. 1867, and ending Dec. 31, 1868. Mr. Frenyear, writing of this pastorate, says:"During the summer of 1868, the Sabbath School attained its greatest interest and largest membership, consisting of two hundred; but through the combination of unfortunate circumstances the pastor was constrained to resign and seek a new field of labor, though his people were in the midst of an interesting revival."Concerning the sad mistake of that pastorate, which led to difficulties not yet removed, it is perhaps but just and charitable to say, it consisted in being consummated too hastily after the death of Mr. Picknell. Had months, or even a year intervened, so that time could have healed the wound that death had made, it is believed that our people would have been prepared to have better appreciated Mr. Frenyear's worth, and to have co-operated with him more heartily in the work of the Lord. Brief however, as his stay among us was, amid scenes which sorely tried his soul, it was not in vain. The hearts of many were savingly reached through his earnest labors and tender appeals, of whom some have since made public profession of their faith in Christ. Rev. A. B. Earle the evangelist spent a few days with him in Gospel labor, and the gracious Lord gave the token of his approval. From a biographical sketch of Mr. Frenyear, prepared by his wife, the following facts are taken.
Mr. Frenyear was born of French parentage in Henryville, P. Q., July , 1836. His parents were Roman Catholic, and, his mother especially, strongly devoted to the faith of their church. After a long and severe conflict of mind, Mr. Frenyear was brought into the possession of a clear and peaceful hope in Christ, and united with the Baptist church in Fairfax, Vt., July 20, 1856. He was graduated from the Theological Institution at Fairfax, June 25, 1863; he was married to Miss Nellie L. York, July 24, 1863; was ordained July 29, 1863; was pastor successively at Middletown, Ira, North Springfield, Jamaica and Townshend, of this state; and on May 13, 1876, fell asleep in Jesus. His life, though short in years, was long in usefulness. In addition to the indefatigable labors of his pastorates, he prepared important papers of an historical character in the interests of the Baptist denomination in Vermont, and from his manuscript very much of value in this address has been taken. Appreciative and tender resolutions have been passed by the organizations he served; and many truthful and loving testimonials to the worth of his character have been tendered his estimable widow by his brethren in the ministry.
In 1869 the church was without a pastor, but in 1870 Rev. D. M. Crane accepted a second pastorate, which he continued to hold until April, 1875. It was during the early part of this pastorate that the present parsonage was built. It seems to have been the design of the Master, that Mr. Crane in his second season of labor with our church should sow the seed for others to reap the harvest, and bury the dead and weep with the afflicted. More than sixty persons, many of whom were aged members of the church, were buried during the five and a half years of his stay.
The brief sketch of Mr. Crane's life with which we must here be content, may be compressed as follows:He was born in Brookline, Vt., Feb. 29, 1812, baptized in June, 1828, uniting with the Baptist church in his native town; studied for the Christian ministry at Franklin and Pierce Academies, Mass., and at Brown University, R. I.; was married to Miss Bathsheba H. Phillips, March 1, 1837; and was settled successively as pastor at Brookline, Grafton and North Springfield, Vt., Northampton, Boston and Dorchester, Mass., Woonsocket, R. I.; Greenfield, Mass.; North Springfield, Vt.; and Winthrop and Northampton, Mass.1
The present pastorate, having begun in Aug. 1875 and not having yet ended, had not become a matter of history; accordingly it is left to the future historian.
In this connection, it was the purpose of your historian, to give a somewhat extended sketch of the officers of our church, but as much of the material therefor[e] can only be obtained with a large element of vagueness, it is necessary that the purpose be abandoned. This is to be regretted, since the character and efficiency of a church depend quite as much upon the officers and lay members as upon its ministry. How much then the prosperity of our church has been owing to the officers, may be judged from the mention of such men as, Beman Boynton, Silas Bigelow, John Kelley, Barna Bigelow, Jewett Boynton, Jr., John Field, Levi Piper, Joel Woodbury, J. M. Boynton, and O. E Averill, who have served the church as deacons; and Seth Houghton, Jewett Boynton, Sr., Jonathan Boynton, Jewett Boynton, Jr., Wm. Dyer and E. X. Pierce, who have served the church as clerks. While the material for a biographical sketch of most of these men has passed away from us, still their characteristics are remembered by many yet living, and their impress is felt by the church which survives them. They have earned a good degree, and their record is on high.
Here, properly, the historical sketch of our seventy-five years existence as a church ends, but that the real mission of the church may be the better seen and the more fairly judged, it is needful to turn the light of accomplished work upon the historical details above given.
Since our church began her separate existence, with the benediction of her holy mother and the good will of her sacred trio of sisters, five hundred and seventy-seven have been added to the original fifty-nine constituent members. As our community has never been in any wise a business centre, and the predominating inducements to move from rather than to our village, as would naturally be expected, our accessions have mostly been by way of baptism. Of our received members four hundred and eighty have united by baptism. Probably half as many more have been converted during the seasons of revival enjoyed, who have either made no public profession of discipleship, or have united elsewhere; so that it may be reasonably estimated, that not fewer than seven hundred and twenty persons have in our immediate vicinity been led to entertain the pardoned sinner's hope of Heaven through the instrumentality of this church. This result alone is sufficient vindication of the movement inaugurated seventy-five years ago to-day.
But the value of no church work can be estimated by the conversions alone. The property, intelligence and morals of the community in which the church is located must be considered in order to judge correctly of the real value of the work accomplished. An efficient church of Christ refines the morals, elevates the intelligence and quickens the legitimate industries of the community. Tried by this list, with a deep consciousness of our mistakes and imperfections as a church, we nevertheless are confident that we can appeal to our fellow citizens for an honest verdict in our favor in these respects.
Aside from this, two churches, one at Perkinsville and the other at Felchville, have come into existence and prospered as the legitimate children of our church. Nor is this all. In the town of Union, Wis., there exists to-day a strong and flourishing Baptist church, founded mainly by members who emigrated from this church. It is there, where Jewett Boynton, Jr., and wife, Samuel Axtell and wife, Luke Stoughton and wife, Levi Miller and wife, Lucius Page, Lathrop Cheney, David Graves, Harvey Bigelow, and others first covenanted together in church relationship, after leaving us to find a new home in the West.
Among those who have united with us by baptism, a goodly number have entered the Christian ministry, and many of them advanced to the first rank in our denomination, as men of learning, ability, piety, and usefulness. Geo. C. Chandler, D. D. - now of Oregon - formerly President of Franklin College, Ind.; Z. C. Graves, LL. D. President of Mary Sharp College for Females, Winchester, Tenn.; J. R. Graves, LL. D., editor of "The Baptist," Memphis, Tenn.; Philander Taylor, of Freedom, Ill., who has baptized nearly one thousand persons, besides rendering valuable assistance in many revival efforts; Lewis Ranstead; Charles E. Toothaker; Baxter Burrows; N. N. Wood; Bezaleel Hill; David Poor, now a superannuated Methodist preacher at Round Lake, N. Y.; Alonzo Leland, at present an editor in Idaho; Foster Henry, of North Bennington, Vt.; F. A. Lockwood of Boston, Mass.; and A. J. Chandler of Shaftsbury, Vt., were all saved one, led to Christ through the instrumentality of our church, and nearly all licensed to preach by us. Could we follow these men in all their winding paths, throughout the great field of he world, and see all that they have wrought for Christ, it would indeed furnish us with abundant occasion for rejoicing. This, however, we cannot do; we can only say their record is on high. God grant we may all hear it read to the ransomed "in the sweet by-and-by."
With a brief allusion to the Sabbath School and the Choir, this address must be brought to a close.
Our Sabbath School was first organized during the pastorate of Rev. Ezra Fisher - in 1831 or 1832. As there are no preserved records of the School, the facts here given have been gathered from consultation with those living who have its entire history. At first, the School was conducted in the interests of the children alone, and for many years was held only during those months which favored the attendance of the little ones. Mr. Fisher was the first Superintendent, and conducted the exercises by calling upon the children to recite passages from Scripture. In this work such an interest was awakened that many would prepare themselves to recite several chapters at a lesson. Finding the interval between the two services too brief to hear all who would recite, the School was divided into classes, which was found to work advantageously. From time to time the character of the exercises has been changed, until the present order worked itself into existence, which agrees substantially with that observed by Sabbath Schools in general. The first Concert was held while Edson X. Pierce was Superintendent, under whose administration the School reached its greatest prosperity, numbering over two hundred members, and including nearly the entire congregation. Those who have served the School as Superintendent are: Ezra Fisher, Zela Bartlett, J. M. Aldrich, J. R. Barnes, J. M. Boynton, Joel Woodbury, William Warner, E. X. Pierce, D. J. Boynton, Joshua Upham, and R. G. Johnson.
Of the past history of the Choir your historian is able to judge only in the light of its present efficiency. Its present leader, Mr. W. M. Cole, is well fitted for the position. Invariably during the present pastorate have the selections and renderings of sacred music been wisely and excellently made, so as to deepen and perpetuate the impressions of he sermons. Words cannot express the realized obligation of the present pastor to the Choir for their kind, harmonious and efficient co-operation invariably rendered.
To the community, who have ever taken a kind and helpful interest in the welfare of the church, much, very much of her prosperity is, under God, owing. While never having entered into covenant relationship with us, we nevertheless as sincerely hope that God has made us a blessing to you; and shall continue to pray that we may share the eternal felicities of Heaven.
In the sketch thus given the hope has been entertained that the present membership might be encouraged and stimulated to greater faithfulness in the work of the Lord. The past has truly been glorious. How can we recall it without being incited to like faithful, benevolent and prayerful endeavor with our fathers? As great a blessing may be wrestled from the future by us, as has been from the past by them. Brethren, it is for us to say whether it shall be or not. With the "mystic cord of memory" stretching back to hallowed seasons of revival enjoyed within the day of so many of you; with so great a cloud of witnesses in the faithful lives of those who have gone before us to join the Assembly of the Firstborn on High; with a wide, open and promising field for Gospel labor assigned us; with the two-edged Sword of Truth, which can never lose its keenness, in our hands; and with the Great Head of the Church, waving over us from the battlements of Heaven the Banner of Love, striped with the red blood of Calvary, and starred with the rich promises of inspiration, how can we but make the Future of our Church brighter than her Past has been?
1 Since the delivery of this address, the death of Mr. Crane has occurred at West Acton, Mass., Sept. 4, 1879.
===================[R. G. Johnson, The History of the North Springfield Baptist Church, 1878, pages 18-36. From a photocopy of the original. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
The List of Members shows the following from the Graves family (b=baptized):
1831. GRAVES, Serena W. b Leland J. b Zuinglius C. (Rev) b 1833. J. R. (Rev.) b Mary b Hannah b Huldah b 1862. Emily b
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