Everett Schermerhorn Stackpole.

History of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes online

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preach to them. They also informed us that a considerable Number of their
Communicants & others of their Congregation had separated from them &
held a separate meeting in a private House in the Town on the Lords Days &
at other Times. And the s* Committee was further informed by divers of s"*



Church that at s<i separate Meeting there were very disorderly vile & absurd
things practiced (such as profane singing and dancing, damning the Devil
spitting in Persons Faces whom they apprehended not to be of their Society
&c) greatly to the Dishonor of God & Scandal of Religion.

(Signed) Jon* Gushing

John Moody.

It may be that the spitting in the faces of some persons was
not intended as an insult, but to drive out evil spirits, since the
same thing is now practised in some countries at the baptism of
infants. I have often seen it in the Baptistery at Florence,
Italy. The "profane singing and dancing" might have been
nothing more than has been practised by Shakers, like the old
Israelites praising the Lord with the tabret and with the dance.
Many forms of worship seem absurd and vulgar till we get used
to them, and then they are too good and sacred to be disturbed.

The Rev. Joseph Roberts preached for a short time after Mr.
Gilman ceased to officiate. The latter died of consumption, 13
April 1748. Sickness probably had much to do with his mental
disorders. "He was buried at Exeter, whither he was carried
in procession by the young men of the town. He was greatly
beloved for the excellencies of his character and disposition."
His seems to have been a case of religious hallucination, caused
by feeble health, overstrain of nerves, and the friendly influence
of an unwise adviser. No records have been preserved of the
results of his ministry, and we know nothing about baptisms,
marriages and deaths during his term of office. In those days
such records were the minister's private property, which usually
he took away with him.

Mr. Gilman married, 22 October 1730, Mary, daughter of
Bartholomew Thing of Exeter, who died 22 February, 1789.
They had children : Bartholomew, born 26 August 1731; Nicholas,
born 13 June 1733; Tristram, born 24 November 1735, who
was graduated at Harvard and became minister of the church at
North Yarmouth, Me.; Joseph, born 5 May 1738, who became
a judge in Ohio and died 14 May 1806, and Josiah, born 2 Septem-
ber 1740, who died 8 February 1801. The inventory of Mr.
Oilman's estate shows that he had a good library, considerable


real estate in Exeter, valuable furniture and one Negro slave,
besides three gold rings and a pair of gold buttons, etc.

It was during the pastorate of Mr. Gilman that the parish of
Madbury was formed of people living in Dover and Durham.
The petition for the same was addressed to the Governor, Coun-
cil and House of Representatives, convened the loth day of
May 1743, and was as follows:

The Petition of Sundry Persons Inhabitants of the Westerly part of the Town
of Dover & the Northerly part of Durham in said Province Humbly Shews
That your Petitioners live at such a distance from the meeting houses in their
Respective Towns as makes it difficult for them & their Families to attend
the Public Worship there especially in the Winter & spring seasons of the year
which induc'd a number of your Petitioners some years since at their own cost
to Build a meeting house situated more conveniently for them where they have
some times had preaching in those seasons of the year at their own expense,
tho they were not Exempted from paying their Proportion at the same time
to the standing Minister of the Town.

That the Towns aforesaid are well able as your Petitioners apprehend to bear
their annual charges without the assistance of y« Petitioners and that they
might be Incorporated into a new Parish whereby they might be accommodated
their children & servants (as well as themselves) have more Frequent oppor-
tunity of attending Publick Worship and all of them Recp the advantages of
such an Incorporation which considering their present circumstances they think
would not be a few, and the Towns not Injured.

That your Petitioners conceive a parish might be erected with out prejudice
to the other parts of the Town of Dover by the Following Boundaries viz.,
Beginning at the Bridge over Johnsons Creek so called, where the dividing
Line between Dover and Durham Cross the Country Road & from thence
running as the said Road runs until it comes even with Joseph Jenkins his
house & from thence to run on a North West & by North course until it come^
to the head of said Township which boundaries would comprehend the estates
and habitations oC y<= Petitioners living in Dover & the making of a parish
there will greatly contribute to the settling the lands within said Boundaries
& those that Lay contiguous as well as be very convenient for y Petitioners.
Wherefore they most humbly pray that a parish may be erected & Incorporated
by the Boundaries aforesaid with the usual powers & Priviledges & that such
of y« Petitioners as live within the Town of Durham may have liberty to Poll
off into the same, or that such a part of the said Township may be annexed
thereunto which would be the better way as will accommodate the Remote
settlers in said Township near the said Boundaries as well as your petitioners



or that they may be Relieved in such other way & method as this Hon^u
Court shall see fit, & yo - petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray &c.

Thomas Wille
John Roberts
Samuel Davis
Samuel Chesley
Thomas Bickford
Daniel McHame
James Huckins
Ralph Hall
William Bussell
Azariah Boody
Timothy Moses

John Demeret

Zachariah Edgerly
Francis Drew
Daniel Young
William Twombly
Isaac Twombly
Joseph Evans Jr.
John Evens
Henry Bickford
Henary Bussell
Joseph Hicks
John Tasker
Derry Pitman
Paul Gerrish Jr.
John Bussell
Job Demeret
David Daniel
James Chesle
Reuben Chesle
Henery Tibbetes
[N. H

John Huckins
James Jackson
Zachariah Pitman
Ely Demerit
John Foay Jr.
Solomon Emerson
Jacob Daniel
Joseph Rines
Benjamin Hall
William Demeret
William Allen

Nathiel O Davis

Joseph Daniel
Samuel Davis Jr.
Jonathan Hanson
Robert Evens
Jonathan Daniel
William Hill
Stephen Pinkham
Benjamin Wille
John Rowe
Hercules Mooney
Joseph Twombly
Abraham Clark
Joseph Jackson
James Clemens
William Dam Jr.
Morres Fowler
Robert Wille
Abel Leathers

Province Papers, Vol. V.]

Nothing resulted from this petition and another petition was
presented 17 January 1754, and Madbury was incorporated as
a parish 31 May 1755, and impowered to raise money for the
separate support of preaching, schools and paupers, but remained
as before with respect to province taxes, highways, etc. This
parish was vested with full town privileges 20 May 1768. The



the following, here arranged alpha-
Reuben Gray,
Capt. Hicks,
James Huckins,
John Huckins,
Robert Huckins,
William Huckins,
James Jackson,
James Jackson Jr.,
Joseph Jackson,
Antony Jones,
Benjamin Leathers,
Joseph Libbey,
Timothy Moses,
Timothy Perkins,
Zachariah Pitman,
John Roberts,
Joseph Ryans, »

John Smith,
Ebenezer Tasker,
John Tasker Jr.
Ens. John Tasker,
William Tasker,
Nathaniel Tibbetts,
Isaac Twombly,
Joseph Twombly,
William Twombly Jr.,
Benjamin Willey,
John Winget, Jr.,
Daniel Young,
Noah Young.

second petition was signed by

betically :

Azariah Boodey,
Charles Bickford,
Henry Bickford,
Thomas Bickford,
Ebenezer Buzzell,
Jacob Buzzell,
John Buzzell,
John Buzzell Jr.,
Joseph Buzzell,
Henry Buzzell,
William Buzzell,
William Brown,
Samuel Chesley,
James Clemons Jr.,
James Crown,
James Davis,
Samuel Davis,
Joseph Daniels,
Eli Demeret,
Ebenezer Demeret,
John Demeret,
John Demret Jr.,
Job Demeret,
William Demeret,
Zachariah Edgerley,
Lieut, Emerson,
John Evens,
William Fowler,
Paul Gerrish,
William Gliden,
Thomas Glovier,

The next settled minister was the Rev. John Adams, son of
Matthew Adams of Boston and nephew of the Rev. Hugh
Adams. He was born 19 June 1725 and was graduated at
Harvard College in 1745. The two factions in the church that
existed in the time of his uncle's pastorate were still quarreling,
and old Mr. Adams' party, "who had for a long time been
separated and were a distinct body by themselves," were thought
by the other party to have been too influential in the choice of
the new minister. Gradually the opposition subsided with the
lapse of time and the departure of some from the church militant.
The articles of agreement with the Rev. John Adams contain
some interesting touches of history:


Articles of Agreement made and Concluded upon the third day of October
ano que Domeney 1748 and in the twenty Second year of his maiesties Reign
Between John Adams now Residing in Durham in the provence of newhamp-
shire Clerk of the one Part & Philip Chesle David Davis Stephen Jones Jun
Benj* Smith Job Runals Nath Rendal Joseph Wheler Jos Glidden Sam' Wille
Daniel Rogers Benj* Mathes & Joseph Sias all of Durham afore said as a Com-
mittee of the said town lawfully chosen & appointed to contract & agree with
the said John Adams for his sallerey as the Gospel minister of the s<i town of
the other part as follows that is to say where as the said town have lately
invited & caled the said John Adams to settel among them the inhabitants of s*
town in the office & capasaty of a Gospel minister to them which call the said
John Adams has been Pleased to accept & we being chosen for ye purpose afore
said Have bargained & agreed and by the Presents Do Covenant Bargain &
agree to & with the said John Adams to pay him and the s<J town shall hereby
be obliged to pay the sd John Adams the yearly salary of five hundred pounds
old tenor bills of Public Credit during the time that he shall continue in the
gospel ministry in the sd town the sd yearly salary to commence the twenty
fifth day of March next and for the Preventing of iniustice & dispute between
the sd town & the said John Adams by the alteration & change of the Value
of the said bills it is further agreed by the sd parties to these Presents that the
sd bills shall be fixed according to the following Rules of Computation with
Respect to the said sum that is to say comparing the same with Indian Corn
at thirty shillings old tennor a bushel Pork at three shillings old tenor a pound
& beaf at one shilling and six pence old tennor a pound and in case the sd
specis of Provision shall be dearer & the Price thereof Rise then the said yearly
salary shall be increased & such a farther sum added thereunto as shall be equil-
ent & Proportionable to the Rising & Increas of the Price of such Provision
above the Respective Prices herein before mentioned and in case the prices
of the said Kinds of Provision shall fall & be lower than the Respective sums
aforesd than the sd yearly sallery shall be abated & such a sum deducted from
the same as shall be Equelant & Proportionable to such fall & lowering of the
sd Prices and in case one of said Kinds of Provision only shall alter in the price
either derer of cheper then one third of the sd sum of five hundred pounds
shall folow the sd price or the Rule of that Kind of Provision & be either in-
creased or deminished in Proportion as aforesaid & the other Remaining the
same then two thirds of the sd five hundred Pounds shall folow the said altera-
tion in manner aforesaid —

And it is hereby farther covenanted & agreed between the sd Parties to
these Presents that ye said John Adams shall have hold & enioy the Parson-
age house which the late Reverant Nicolas Gilman occupied & improved in
said Durham and the ten acres of Parsonage land lying near to sd house which
he improved also being part of the Parsonage lands belonging to sd town dur-
ing the time of his ministry as afore said & the said John Adams doth hereby
covenant and agree to and with the sd Commite that he will accept the afore
said sum of five hundred Pounds to be paid in manner afore said with the
mprovement of the said house and land as afore said in full of all demands
and claims for salary from the said town for his service in the capasaty afore
sd and that he will Keep the sd house in good tenentable Repair at his own


own proper cost & charge. In testemoney whereof the said Parties to these
Presents have hereunto interchangably set their hands and seals the day and
year first above written.

Then follow the signatures of the persons above named. The
acceptance of his call is also spread upon the town records as

Durham, New Hampshire, October third 1748.

Whereas it has pleased the Soverign Ruler & Dysposer of all things to
incline and dispose the generalaty of the People of this place to attend to my
Preaching amongst them with such satisfaction & approbation as that the
freeholders of said town at there meeting held here on the day last Past
were very unancmus in giving me an invitation & call to settel among them
in the work of the ministry & to undertake & ingage in the office & duty of the
Gospell ministry of the said town and after due Deliberation upon this weighty
afTair & considering the great unaninity of the people in this case which is the
more Remarkable because of former Divisions among them I esteem the voice
of the people in this case to be the voice of God and ading to this some par-
ticuler call from God & secret intimation to my own Breast inclining me there-
to I accept of the said invitation & call Promising as the Lord shall anable me
faithfulley to the utmost of my ability to Discharge the Duties of that defficult
and Important affair and in all things according to my Power to behave my
self as becoms a minister of the Gospele of Jesus Christ & to be contented
with such Satiesfaction Salery and Reward as shall be agreed between the Com-
tee of ye town and my self. In testemony where of I hereunto subscribe my
name as in the Presents & in the favor of the Lord the day and year above
writen —

John Adams.

On account of fluctuating prices the salar>' of Mr. Adams was
changed, in 1774, to seventy-two pounds ten shillings of lawful
money, half to be paid semiannually. New difficulties arose
and he was dismissed 16 January 1778, after thirty years of serv-
ice. He removed to Newfield, Me., in 1781, where he preached
and practised medicine till his death, 9 June 1792. He mar-
ried (i) 13 October 1752, Sarah Wheeler of Durham, (2) Hannah
Chesley of Durham, and had fourteen children. About a cen-
tury after his departure from Durham a copy of his manuscript
records of marriages and baptisms during the years 1749-63 was
obtained by Miss Mary P. Thompson from one of his descend-
ants. There are one hundred and twenty marriages and three
hundred and thirty-three baptisms. The Rev. John Adams was
a man of ability in mechanics and music as well as in the work
of the ministny^ He took an active part in the events that led to
the Revolution and was chairman of the first committee in Dur-


ham of Correspondence, Inspection and Safety. It is said of
him that at times he was greatly depressed and at other times his
genius flashed out in bursts of eloquence. Toward the close
of his pastorate in Durham prejudices were excited against him
"by a false and slanderous attack on his character by a worth-
less woman." Thus the lie of a disreputable person sometimes
outweighs the truth as proclaimed and lived throughout thirty
years, and those who believe such a lie are about as guilty as the
liar. When he preached his farewell sermon in Durham, he
requested his audience to sing, after his reading, a metrical ver-
sion of the I20th Psalm, which certainly ministered to mortifi-
cation, if not to edification.

It was during the pastorate of the Rev. John Adams that the
parish of Lee was formed. A house of worship must have been
built in Lee quite early, for 28 October 1765, the town of Dur-
ham voted thirty pounds lawful money to "repair the meeting
house near Little River." The first meeting house stood
in the burial ground at Paul Giles' corner. The Rev. Samuel
Hutchins was the first minister. The Rev. John Osborne
preached there many years, though the Congregational Church
in Lee was not organized till 3 December 1867.

After the dismission of Mr. Adams the church was in a weak
condition. The members were few and scattered. A confes-
sion of faith was for the first time adopted and nine males and
ten females subscribed to it, after the installation of his succes-
sor. They were Curtis Coe, Abednego Lethers, John Edgerly,
Thomas Bickford, Benj^ Smith, Walter Bryent, Valentine
Mathes, Jeremiah Burnham, Joseph Stevens, Phebe Mathes,
Bethiah Bickford, Hannah Mathes, Margaret Frost, Sarah
Edgerly, Mary Chesle, Abigail Burnham, Hannah Small, Eliza-
beth Bryent, and Abigail Thomas. There may have been a few
more church members at that time, but, if so, they did not sign
the new covenant and creed.

The Rev. Curtis Coe was born in Middleton, Conn., 21 July
1750. He was graduated at Brown University in 1776. He
began preaching at Durham as early as 18 August 1779 and was
ordained and installed there i November 1780. It was agreed
that he haVe the use of the parsonage house, to be repaired, and
£75 in money annually, to be computed according to the price
of certain articles. Mr. Coe resigned his pastorate i May 1806


and became a home missionary in Milton, N. H., and in other
towns. He married, 22 February 1781, Ann, daughter of Judge
Ebenezer Thompson. The dismissing council declared that
"Mr. Coe's character is unspotted" and that they esteemed him
"a man eminent for piety and a faithful minister of the New
Testament." He died in South Newmarket 7 June 1829.
Descendants of his are now living in Durham.

It was during the pastorate of Mr. Coe, in 1792, that a new
meeting house was erected on the site of the former one, where
now is the Sullivan monument. The plans for this meeting
house were drawn by Judge Ebenezer Thompson, perhaps
acting as agent for Noah Jewett, to whom the town records
ascribe the plan. The meeting house was sixty feet in length,
fifty feet in width, and the posts were twenty-nine feet high.
It had a portico at the front door and another at the back door,
with "good handsome hewn stones at the doors." The house
had broad galleries around three sides and a lofty pulpit at the
east end, with a sounding board over it and deacons' pew in
front of it. At the west end was "a steeple with a spire and a
weathercock or vane thereon." In this steeple hung a bell,
which could be heard at the mouth of Oyster River. "The
plastered arch overhead" was "painted a sky color interspersed
with scattered clouds." The contract specified that the meet-
ing house should be like that at Amherst, N. H., built also by
Edmund Thompson. The old meeting house was sold at auc-
tion to Capt. Joseph Richardson for £40. It pioved to be rotten
and so the town released him from paying £20.

At vendue at the house of Joseph Richardson the building
of the new meeting house was struck off to William Smith, at
£760. April 13, 1792, the committee, which consisted of Valen-
tine Mathcs, Ebenezer Thompson, Ebenezer Smith, Joseph
Young, Bradbury Jewell, E<lnuind Pendergast, Zebulon Durgin,
Jonathan Woodman, Jr., Noah Jewett, Edmund Thompson and
John Blydenburgh, located the house as follows: "The sill on
the fore side or southern side shall be placed and leveled as
follows, viz., the west end to be placed exactly where the north-
west corner of the old meeting house stood, and to be ex-
tended easterly exactly over the sajne ground where the back
side of the old meeting house was placed, and to be carried on
the same line until the sixty feet is completed, and the other sills

Rev. Curtis Coe


to be squared accordingly." The house had an "electric wire,"
or lightning-rod, at a cost of £5, 185.

Pews were sold at prices ranging from £19 to £34. The fol-
lowing persons were purchasers: John Blydenburgh, Noah
Jewett, Ebenezer Thompson, Joseph Chesley, Samuel Edgerly,
Stephen Cogan, Ebenezer Thompson, Jr., Jeremiah Mooney,
George Frost, Jr., Zebulon Durgin, Joseph Richardson, James
Leighton, William Ballard, Eliphalet Daniel, Edmund Thomp-
son, Benjamin Thompson, George Dame, Samuel Edgerly, Jr.,
Jacob Crommett, Capt. Jonathan Woodman, Samuel Joy, Joseph
Wormwood, Col. Samuel Adams, Stephen Evans, Samuel
Edgerly, Thomas Pinkham, Lieut. Benjamin Chesley, John
Stevens, Capt. Joseph Young, William Smith, Ebenezer Doe,
Valentine Mathes, Esq., Valentine Wormwood, Benjamin
Smith, Reuben Bickford, Jonathan Chesley, Edward Pender-
gast, Timothy Meserve, Bradbury Jewell, Curtis Coe, Joshua
Davis, John Bennett, Stephen Durgin, John Smith, 3d, and Robert
Lapish. The thirty-one remaining pews were struck off to
W^illiam Smith at £4 each.

While the new church was in process of erection, meetings were
held in Jonathan Edgerly's Bark House, so called, which stood
near his tannery, near the Falls. Mr. Edgerly lived where Mr.
David H. Fogg now lives, on the north side of the road to the
Point, in the vicinity of the Pound. Town meetings were held
in this Bark House in 1796, after the new meeting house was
completed. Some town meetings were held in Joseph Richard-
son's tavern. In March 1798, the town meeting was held in
the school house, erected the year before, near Widow Griffin's.

About this time towns were ceasing to pay taxes for the sup-
port of ministers and poll parishes were formed. New denomi-
nations were coming in, and the Baptist Church at Madbury,
of which the Rev. William Hooper was minister, attracted some
of the Rev. Curtis Coe's parishioners, who for some reason did
not take kindly to his preaching. The dissenters seem to have
been led by Col. Timothy Emerson, who sued the town for
ta.xing him for ministerial support. A letter from the Rev. Wil-
liam Hooper is recorded in the town records, dated 31 December
1802. He stated that the following persons from Durham were
regular members of his church and society and had contributed
that year to his support, viz., Jonathan Steele, Andrew Simpson,


James Durgin, Jeremiah Emerson, John Ffrost, Jonathan Ches-
ley, Jonathan Chesleyjr., John Anglers, Robert Bickford, Samuel
Langley, Samuel C. Drew, John Bickford, Nathaniel Demeritt,
Andrew Stevens, Benjamin Smith, Israel Demeritt, Robert Burn-
ham, Philip Chesley, Edward Wells, Joseph Daniels, Elijah Gove,.
John Winkley, Robert Leathers, Jr., Thomas Jones, Andrew
Emerson, George Grover, John Stevens, John Emei-son, Joshua
Ballard, William Emerson, Ephraim Hanson, Samuel Stevens,
Andrew Bickford, William Bickford, Anne Stevens, Elizabeth
Stevens, and Love Davis — thirty-six in all, while the total mem-
bership of the church at Durham Falls was not more than half
that number. This indicated either decided opposition to the
Rev. Curtis Coe or to the system by which they were taxed ta
pay him. There was a wide call for a complete separation of
church and state. Methodists, Baptists, Quakers and others
were building denominational churches. The above persons were
temporary Baptists for financial as well as ecclesiastical reasons.
March 28, 1805, Jonathan Steele and fifty others petitioned for
a poll parish in Durham. In 1807 and 1808 nothing was voted
by the town for the support of the ministry.

After the dismissal of Mr. Coe the church was without a pastor
for more than eleven years, declining in numbers and strength.
The Rev. Samuel Greeley was paid $32, for preaching four Sab-
baths in 1807, and widow Margaret Frost was paid $16 for board-
ing him. Probably there was preaching by others from time to
time, of which there is no record. There were no additions to
the church from 30 October 1790 to 22 June 1817, nearly eight-
een years. At the latter date there were only seven members
of the church. In 1814 the Rev. Federal Burt came to Durham
as agent of the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Christian
Knowledge. From that time until his ordination he preached
here at intervals, a considerable portion of that period. Thus he
became interested in the people and the people in him. With the

Online LibraryEverett Schermerhorn StackpoleHistory of the town of Durham, New Hampshire : (Oyster River Plantation) with genealogical notes → online text (page 18 of 34)