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First Congregational Church
and Society



June I2th and 13th, 1895


The Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Press




The First Church and Society of Bridgeport — originally
the Parish of Stratfield — looked forward to the two-
hundredth anniversary of its organization for some years
previous with increasing interest. The celebration was
carefvilly planned and most successfully carried out. The
decorations of the church were extremely effective; the
weather was perfect ; the attendance of interested and sym-
pathetic audiences was from beginning to end as great as
could be accommodated; the music — rendered by the com-
bined choirs of the First, the Second, the Park Street
Congregational Churches, and the Presbyterian Church —
was admirable ; in short, the occasion seemed to those
most concerned to be a delightful one in ever}- particular.
It appeared desirable to preserve a permanent record of it.
As far as practicable, to do this is the purpose of the pres-
ent volume.

One feature of the celebration was of necessity an inci-
dent of the occasion only. By dint of much research and
labor, and the contribution of many willing hands, a re-
markable loan-collection of relics was gathered and exhib-
ited in the Chapel. The Committee take this opportunity
of tendering their hearty thanks to all who lent their aid
toward this most valuable and interesting illustration of
the history which the celebration commemorated.

The proceedings in the several services were stenograph-
ically reported by Mr. F. G. Fowler. The lists of members
have been compiled by the sub-committee constituted for
the purpose — among whom it is not invidious to name Mr.
Richard B. Cogswell. While the result is avowedly and

— 4—

inevitably incomplete, his indefatigable industry has accom-
plished a task to which few could have proved equal, which
many will count invaluable. This volume has been edited
for the committee of arrangements, at their request, by its
chairman. The frontispiece has been added by their direc-
tion. The editor hopes that the result of his endeavors will
be accepted by the dear friends he has served for so many
years with the gracious consideration which he has always
experienced at their hands, and that one abiding fruitage
of the Bi-Centennial may be an increased consciousness on
the part of the citizens of Bridgeport of the inspiration to
be derived from its honorable history.


New Haven, Sept. lo, iSgs-



1. List of Committees, . . . . . . . . . T,8

2. The Letter of Invitation, -9

3. The Programme, ......... 10-14

4. The services on Wednesday afternoon, the 12th, including the

Historical Discourse, 15

5. The services on Wednesday evening, 47

6. The services on Thursday forenoon, the 13th, .... 68

7. The services on Thursday afternoon, ..... 109

8. The services on Sunday, the i6th, including the second part

of the Historical Discourse, ...... 142

9. List of Sites marked for their Historic interest, . . . ,156

10. Extracts from Letters, ......... 157

11. Lists of Members, 163

i695 1895


Committee of First Church and Society.

Rowland B
William B. Hincks,
Morris B. Beardsley,
Howard G. Hubeell,
Robert E. Wheeler,
N. Eugene Wordin,
Charles Sherwood,

Charles Ray Palmer,

Henry R. Parrott,
Henry C. Cogswell,
Silas Burton,
Willard p. Abernethy,
John T. Sterling,
Horace W. Smith,
Ebenezer Burr.

Cooperative Committee of South Church.

Samuel W. Baldwin, Edward Sterling,

Alexander Hawley,

Lewis B. Silliman,

Curtis Thompson.

C. R. Palmer,
H. C. Cogswell,

H. R. Parrott,
John A. Barri,

C. R. Palmer,
C. Sherwood,

L. B. Silliman,


On Exercises.

E. Burr.
On Music.

H. R. Parrott,
R. B. Lacey,

Mrs. E. Beardsley,
A. T. Goodsell,

Miss E. Durand.
On Invitations.

F. Russell,

O. H. Brothwell,

R. B, Cogswell.
On Hospitality.

M. B. Beardsley,
L W. Birdsey,

E. F. Meeker.

A. Hawlev,

E. Sterling,

F. C. Lyon,

Gti Reception and Information.


F. W. Parrott.


E. Burr,
E. C. Smith,


On Finance.

W. E. Seeley,
W. P. Abernethy,


J. C. Curtis.

Silas Burton,
W. A. Smith,

On Decorations.


A. H. Gamsby.

On Printing and Publicatioti.

H. C. Cogswell,
A. W. Stillman,

E. F. Strong,
C. Thompson,

N. E. Wordin.

On Historic Sites and Relics.

R. B. Lacey,
R. B. Cogswell,

S. W. Baldwin,
F. B. Hawley,

David S. Beach.

H. G. Hubbell,
F. Trubee,
H. Birdsey,

On Luncheon.

J. T. Sterling,
H. W. Smith,
R. E. Wheeler.

On List of Members.
A. H. Gamsby, R. B. Cogswell,

E. Sterling, O. H. Brothwell,

A. W. Stillman.

— 9-




The First Church and Societ)- in Bridgeport — the South Church co-
operating — cordially invite j'ou to be present at the celebration of the


of the organization of the Church of Christ in Stratfield, June 13th, 1695.

The exercises will commence on Wednesday afternoon and conclude
on Thursday afternoon, June 12th and 13th, 1895. They will comprise
a historical discourse by the Pastor, appropriate papers and addresses,
music, and a collation.

Please inform Mr. Charles Sherwood of your acceptance of this invita-
tion as early as June ist, if you desire arrangements made for your

Cordially yours.


Committee of Invitation.

Byidgeporty May ist^ tSqs,

-10 —







Organization of thf. Church at Stratfield, June i2th, 1695.

— II-


(Commencing at half past two.)

1. Organ Prelude

2. doxology.

3. Reading of Scripture

4. Prayer, By Rev. Frank Russell, D.D.

5. Anthem, " We Praise Thee, O God !" [. Baptiste Calkin.

6. Historical Discourse, . . By Rev. Charles Ray Palmer, D.D.

7. Hymn 1312,

" O God ! beneath thy guiding hand
Our exiled fathers crossed the sea."

8. Benediction

-12 —



(Commencing at quarter before eight.)

1. Organ Prelude

2. Anthem, " Great is the Lord." Dr. Calcott.

3. Prayer

4. Welcome to Invited Guests

5. Ancient Psalmodv — Hymn 97, K'ellte, 1561.

" All people that on earth do dwell."

6. Addresses From Invited Guests.

(1) The Rector of St. John's Parish, Rev. William H. Lewis.

(2) The Pastor of the First Baptist Church,

Rev. George W. Nicholson.

(3) The Pastor of the First Methodist Church,

Rev. Joseph Pullman, D.D.

(4) The Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church,

Rev. Henry A. Davenport.

7. Ancient Psalmody, IV. Billings.

" The Lord descended from on high."

8. Benediction



(Commencing at ten o'clock.)

1. Drum Prelude

2. Organ Voluntary

3. Anthem, " Send Out Thy Light." Gounod.

4. Prayer of Commemoration

5. Paper on the Limits of Stratfield Parish as Originally

Constituted Bj' Dea. Rowland B. Lacey.

6. Roll Call of Original Members of the Stratfield

Church, to be responded to by their Descendants.

7. Hymn 1046, " O God of Bethel, by whose hand !"

8. Commemorative Addresses.

(i) The Saybrook Constitution and the Connecticut

Churches, Prof. George P. Fisher, D.D., LL.D.,

New Haven.

(2) The Memory of the Fathers the Inspiration of their

Children, Hon. Euphalet W. Blatchford,

Chicago, 111.
Interlude, " The breaking waves dashed high."

(3) The Service of Learning the Service of the Churches,

Rev. Timothy Dwight, D.D., LL.D.,

New Haven.

(4) The Debt of a Community to its Founders,

Hon. Joseph Hawley, LL.D.,

U. S. Senate.

9. Letters from Absent but not Forgotten Friends.

10. Paper on the Relation of the Parish of Stratfield to

the City of Bridgeport, to be followed by a Greet-
ing from His Honor, the Mayor, Hon. Frank E.

11. Hymn loig, " O where are kings and empires now ?"

12. Recess for the Luncheon.

— 14-


(Commencing at half past two.)

" Should auld acquaintance be forgot?"

1. Organ Prelude

2. Anthem, " Praise the Lord." Randegger.

3. Words from the Mother Churches.

(i) First Cluirch in Fairfield, . . . Rev. Frank S. Child.
(2) First Church in Stratford, . . . Rev. JOEL S. Ives.

4. Hymn 329, " Ye tribes of Adam join,"

5. Words from the Daughter Churches. ......

(i) The South Church, . . . Rev. Frank Russell, D.D.

(2) The Park Street Church, Rev. Edward Grier Fullerton.

(3) Olivet Church Rev. Edwin K. Holden.

(4) The West-End Church, . . Rev. Cyrus F. Stimson.

(5) The King's Highway Churcli, . Rev. Wilson R. Stewart.

6. Hymn 854, " Happy the souls to Jesus joined."

7. Benediction


Organ Prelude, by A. T. Goodsell.

Reading of the Scripture and Prayer,


T/ie Scripture Lesson.

" We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us.

What work thou didst in their days, in the days of old.

Thou didst drive out the nations with thy hand, and plantedst
them in :

Thou didst afflict the peoples, and didst spread them abroad.

For they got not the land in possession by their own sword,

Neither did their own arm save them :

But thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy coun-

Because thou hadst a favor unto them."

[Ps. xliv ; 1-3.]

— 16—

"We have thought on th)' loving kindness, O God,

In the midst of thy temple.

As is thy name, O God,

So is thy praise unto the ends of the earth.

Thy right hand is full of righteousness.

Let Mount Zion be glad,

Let the daughters of Judah rejoice,

Because of thy judgments.

Walk about Zion, and go round about her :

Tell the towers thereof.

Mark ye well her bulwarks,

Consider her palaces ;

That ye may tell it to the generation following.

For this God is our God forever and ever.

He will be our guide even unto death."

[Ps. xlviii : 9-14.]
" Thou, O Lord, shalt abide forever
And thy memorial unto all generations."
"This shall be written for the generation to come :
And a people which shall be created shall praise the Lord."
Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth ;
And the heavens are the work of thy hands.
They shall perish, but thou shalt endure ;
Yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment ;
As a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be

changed :
But thou art the same,
And thy years shall have no end.
The children of thy servants shall continue.
And their seed shall be established before thee."

[Ps. cii : 12, 18, 25-28. J


Let us unite our hearts in prayer: —

Our Father, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all
generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or
ever Thou hast formed the earth and the world, from everlast-
ing to everlasting Thou art God. Thou dost sit above the
heavens watching the stream of human history, which Thou
didst Thyself form. This stream pours beyond our sight, for
Thou art ever calling hence from our number those that are
saved. Many have been the mightiest of men, filled with
Thee ; and they strove divinely for the truth. Thou gavest
them the truth and made it clear to their eyes, and they
handed it down to their children. They were also strong
because of Thine own presence with them. Thou didst
enlighten the generations by means of them. Thou didst
exalt some in every generation to be leaders of men, to work
Thy will on the earth. We bless Thee for those who sought
to know Thy will and to do it in Thy fear — for these leaders,
examples, benefactors on the earth. We thank Thee for the
gifts and graces with which Thou didst endow them ; for the
experiences by which Thou didst edify them ; for the charac-
ters Thou didst perfect in them ; that they have been in the
midst of Thine assemblies as golden candlesticks placed by
Thine own hand at the altar.

We praise Thee and we bless Thee for the throngs of
martyrs and apostles who have known Thee and lived to work
Thy praise on the earth, who have gone hence, leaving the
heritage of their good work and their influence on their chil-
dren behind them. To-day we almost see them in gathering
ranks about Thee, some gone so long we would question
whether they would recognize us, in the ranks of the glorified
before Thee ; and yet we know there is nothing that would
more heighten their joy than to see us carrying on the good
work which they so nobly commenced. We see them now in
the innumerable company of those that sing the song of
Moses and the Lamb ; and above them all we see the pierced
hands of the Great Head of the Church.

We bless Thee for Thy Church in this world — the Church
of the Living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. We

— 18—

praise Thee that Thou didst establish it, and hast preserved it,
and given honor unto it. We bring Thee thanksgiving that
it still stands ; that the glory has not departed from the temples
which Thou hast built. We praise Thee that the gospel of
redemption is preached among men, with altogether wider
extent and, as we would fain believe, with a deeper and more
pervasive spirit than ever before. Thy servants are not
retreating among men, they are sending Thy light with
increasing brightness into the life of the world.

When we look back to see older times of great darkness,
that there were nations living in wickedness, who knew not
the name of Christ, we are grateful to Thee that now His
name is known among all nations, and almost by all mankind.
May the whole earth be filled with the knowledge of Him, and
all flesh see Thy salvation !

Bless Thy people, as they have gathered to wait before
Thee. We praise Thee that in successive generations this
church has not failed. Thou hast kept it ; Thou hast given
wisdom and power and learning unto it. Thou hast declared
that the law should go forth out of Zion, and Thy law
has gone forth and men have received it, and have been
drawn near to Thyself, and have lived for Thee, and have
done with great courage and with great success that which
Thou didst require at their hands. We bring Thee thanks-
giving and praise for this church of Christ. We bless Thee
that Thou hast given it for preaching and for prayer, and to
spread the gospel among men, that the songs of Zion have
been learned here, and messages of divine grace and love
have come with power in the sanctuary, and thousands have
been moved to serve Thee and so order their household that
their children after them should be Thy children, and should
rise up to praise Thee.

We thank Thee for the privilege of coming together at this
time to rehearse the goodly things of the past, among which
Thy hand has been clearly seen, and to commemorate Thy
goodness to the children of men ; and of looking unto Thee
for the presence of Thy spirit in the work that is to come.
We pray that at the beginning of this commemorative exer-
cise Thy spirit may pervade every heart; that Thou wilt bless
us in hearing, bless us in praying, bless us in singing, and
bless us in speaking, that in all which shall be said, thought

or done may, on the part of every one of us, be such as to
reflect the influence of Thy presence among these Thy people.

We pray for Thy blessing upon Thy servant who shall
address us. We thank Thee for his exalted labors in this
place. We thank Thee that Thou hast been around about
him, and hast kept him, and we pray Thou wilt still continue
his years in whatever work Thou shalt appoint to him.

Bless us, we pray Thee, in the exercises of this afternoon,
this evening, and on the morrow. Do Thou dwell with Thy
people, and in all the future lead them.

We ask it in the great name of Jesus, the Head of the
Church, who died that we may never die, to whom be all the
glor3^ Amen.

Anthem, " We Praise Thee, O God."— J. Baptiste Calkin.

Dr. Palmer: My friends, it is desired, so far as possi-
ble, to register the names of all who are here to-day. A
list will be increasingly interesting as time goes on. The
register is in the vestibule ; I will thank any of you who
have not registered to do so before leaving the house.

I want to call your attention also to a collection of
relics in the upper room of the chapel, which may be seen
any time to-day or to-morrow.

I want to say further, before the close of these services,
a photographer will take a view of the house and audience
in it. I shall request you to wait a moment, at the close
of the services, for this purpose ; it will take but a moment,
and will represent the house, just as it is, to the genera-
tions who will come after us.


The text which I will prefix to my discourse is in the
thirt)'-second chapter of Deuteronomy, seventh verse:
" Remember the days of old. Consider the years of many
generations. Ask thy father and he will show thee ; Thine
elders and they will tell thee."

Two centuries of human history cannot be reviewed
in a day. Two centuries of the history of a single com-
munity cannot be set forth in a single discourse. I am
embarrassed at the very threshold of m}' task by its mag-
nitude and complexity. Yet that something be said on
this interesting anniversar}' of what has transpired since
the fathers in the fear of God and in Christian solicitude
for their families organized this venerable church, is a
most reasonable expectation. Relying upon your con-
siderate kindness, 1 address myself to my obvious duty.

It has always been an interesting fact to me that this
church originated in the period commonly spoken of as
"the dark days" of Colonial history. Many historical
students have set forth with graphic delineations the
special hardships, anxieties, discouragements, perils, and
calamities of the ten years from 1685 to 1695. There was
abundant cause for the gloom and depression which pre-
vailed. The Indian wars, in which it has been estimated
that one in six of the able-bodied men in New England
lost their lives, and which laid upon the colonies heavy
burdens of taxation, and wrought a very general demor-
alization; the political excitements which followed the
death of Charles II. and convulsed the colonies with the
fear of entirely losing the liberties, ecclesiastical and
civil, that the fathers had crossed the sea to secure, and
that the struggles of sixty 3'ears had made precious ; the
revolution in 1689, and the new movements that followed
it; the suffering and the losses ensuing from the raids of


pirates upon the coasts ; floods and storms and frosts of
unusual severity, with short crops and depressed trade;
the panic about witchcraft and satanic agencies, due to
an epidemic of superstition ; — these and other incidents of
that extremely critical period made it a time of despond-
ency and of apprehension to a degree hardly to be appre-
ciated by us in these more favored days. It is difficult
for us, without entering deeply into the history of " the
woful decade," as it has been called, even approximately
to measure the gloom which prevailed. Does it not add
dignity and sacredness to the beginnings we commemo-
rate that they were made in this particular period ? Does
it not enhance our estimate of the labors and the sacri-
fices of which the organization of this church was the
fruitage, to remember just when it was that an undaunted
faith and a resolute public spirit prompted them ? We
shall not do justice to the memory of the fathers unless
we recognize what discouragements they overcame.

Could we reproduce in imagination the site of our fair
city as it was two hundred and fifty years ago, we should
see it a wilderness, without inhabitants other than a tribe
of Indians on Golden Hill. About twenty -five years later
it became — so far west as Park Avenue — part of the town-
ship of Stratford, having been acquired by purchase.
West of Park Avenue the territory pertained to Fairfield.
The settlement of this site began in the pushing forth of
Stratford and Fairfield families in this direction. Abso-
lutely the first to locate here, it is said, were two Strat-
ford families, who came as early as 1665, that of Henry
Summers and that of Samuel Gregory.* Their homes
were near the corner of Park and Washington Avenues.
Next came John and Samuel Beardsley, and then the
community was fairly begun. By 1678 it was large
enough to have a school of its own with forty-seven
scholars, and to sue for release from school rates to
Fairfield. By i6go it had grown so large as to seek for
church privileges as well. Just when religious services
began to be held, one cannot say. But the movement

* Brothers-in-law.

— 22 —

which issued in the formation of this church seems to
have had its impulse in the presence of Mr. Charles
Chauncey. This young man came here, I imagine, as a
school master. He was made freeman of Fairfield on
March i8, 1690, but he had then been here for some time
and had already done duty as a minister, although not
ordained. He was the son of Rev. Israel Chauncey of
Stratford, and grandson of Charles Chaunce3^ the second
President of Harvard College, one of the Puritan Divines
silenced and driven from England in 1637.* Israel Chaun-
cey was his youngest son, a graduate of Harvard in 1661,
and one of the founders of Yale. His son Charles was
born in Stratford September 3, 1668, and graduated at
Harvard in 16S6. There is evidence of his being here as
early as 1687 ; there is a receipt signed by him dating
from 1688; I incline to the belief that he came here not
very long after his college graduation to teach ; that
while employed as teacher he began to hold informal
religious meetings, and that very gradually this kind of
labor developed into the relation of a minister which he
afterwards sustained. The earliest approach to a formal
organization seems to have been in the formation of the
Fairfield Village Society in 1693, when we find a vote that
" Mr. Chauncey for his encouragement in the ministry in
this place shall have sixty pounds in good provisions for
the year ensuing." This action of course implies that his
ministry had become a recognized fact. The household-
ers here had, some three years before the last named date,
begun the movement which culminated in the organiza-
tion of this church. A petition dated May 2, 1690, and
signed by forty-six taxpayers — thirteen of Stratford and
thirty-three of Fairfield — was sent to the General Court,
asking that they be exempted from paying any minister's
rates in Stratford and Fairfield, with a view to their pro-
viding for themselves. Although the Fairfield minister
approved the project, his townsmen generally did not ;
the representatives of Fairfield opposed it and the peti-
tion was refused. In May 1691 the application was

* Reached Plymouth in 1638.



renewed and the General Court granted liberty to the
applicants to procure and settle a minister of their own,
provided that such as belonged to Fairfield should still
pay their rates in that town. In October of the same
year they were released from this provision ; in Decem-
ber 1692 the town of Stratford voted land for a meeting-
house ; in 1693, as we have seen, a Society was organized
and the foundation of the first edifice was commenced ; in
May 1694 the General Court gave permission to organize
a church ; in June 1695 the humble edifice was completed,
and on the thirteenth it was first occupied and the church
was duly organized. Slow and tedious must this long
process have seemed, and persistent must have been the
sturdy promoters of it. As it was the first instance in
which a parish had been erected independent of town
lines, still further legislation proved to be necessary ; but
at length its liberties were satisfactorily settled and its
name fixed as Stratfield.

The first edifice stood in what we call Park Avenue, on
what became known as Meeting-house hill. The site was
acquired half from Stratford, half from Fairfield, and the

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Online LibraryConn. First Congregational old cata BridgeportThe bi-centennial celebration of the First Congregational church and society of Bridgeport → online text (page 1 of 21)