Grace Greylock Niles.

The Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history online

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The United Brethren met with the Andover Fathers, Dr.
Samuel Spring and Dr. Samuel Worcester, at Professor
Stuart's home. A petition was prepared, signed by Mills,
Judson, Nott, and Newell, and later presented before the
General Association of Massachusetts at Bradford on June



Slavery and Birthplace of American Missions 421

27, 1 810. This led to the organization of the Board of Com-
missioners of Foreign Missions, consisting of five members
from Massachusetts and four from Connecticut.

The timely mission legacy of Mary Norris, widow of the
Andover Professor Norris, enabled the first five missionaries
ordained at Salem Tabernacle in the autumn of 1 8 1 1 , includ-
ing Hall, Judson, Nott, Newell, and Rice, to set sail on the
barge Caravan, February 19, 1812, for Calcutta, Bombay.
Mills withdrew his name in order that his friend Gordon
Hall might precede him to foreign fields. The Andover
Fathers also needed Mills to promote home missions and
organize Bible Societies.

The Massachusetts and Connecticut missionary societies
in 1 8 12 engaged Mills and the Rev. J. T. Schemerhorn to
travel through the Southwestern United States and found
missionary societies. In July, 18 14, Mills and the Rev.
Daniel Smith were engaged to make a second tour between
Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico. They arrived at New
Orleans, just after the defeat of the British by General
Jackson. In March, 1815, Mills reported that there were
80,000 families destitute of Bibles in the region, and that
there was not a single Bible to be found for sale in New
Orleans.

Rev. Samuel J. Mills, Jr., was ordained, June 21, 1815, at
Newburyport, Mass. During the following two years he
resided chiefly in Albany, Philadelphia, and Washington
organizing Bible Societies. He founded the American Bible
Society in New York City, May 8, 18 16, which was followed
by the building of the Bible House on the comer of Fourth
Avenue and 8th Street. At the same time he started the
first movement which lead to the organization of New York
City missions, and founded the foreign mission school at
Cornwall, Conn. While Mills resided with the Rev. Edward
Dorr Griffin, Pastor of Newark Congregational Church of



422 The Hoosac Valley

New Jersey, he promoted the United Mission Society, and the
Rev. Absalom Peters of Bennington Centre Church, Vt., was
later elected first secretary in 1825, The United Missions
are now merged in the American Board of Home Missions,
supported by Congregationalists. Mills also organized the
Parsippary School for training Negro missionaries, near
Newark, N. J., under the synod of New York and New
Jersey.

His last great work was that of the American Colonization
Society, aided by Dr. Finley at Washington, D. C, on Jan-
uary I, 181 7. Samuel J. Mills, Jr., and Prof. Ebenezer
Burgess of the University of Vermont were chosen to explore
the coast of Africa and establish a colony. Upon setting
sail for England, November 16, 181 7, Mills said: "We go to
make freemen of slaves. . . . We go to lay the foundation
of a free and independent empire on the coast of poor
degraded Africa."

After a conference with the London Colonization Society,
founded in 1792, Mills and Burgess set sail, February 2, 1818,
and arrived at the Sierra Leone Colony, March 12th, That
settlement consisted of a thousand Negro slaves, who had
been given their freedom and transported from Nova Scotia
to Africa. The American Colony was located under the
Liberian Government, and Mills and Burgess received a
slave-chain taken from the neck of a captive as a token of
gratitude from the Government. They set sail on the frigate
Success for New York, May 22, 1818. Mills, however, took
cold and died, June i6th. He was buried at sea, and thus
closed his brief yet heroic religious career. Professor Bur-
gess said of him: "He was no bigot. He silently communed
with the Baptist, prayed with the Methodist, loved the
Moravian, and praised the Friend."

Of the five Juniors of the first "haystack prayer-meeting"
of August, 1806, Harvey Loomis championed Home Missions.



Slavery and Birthplace of American Missions 423

He founded the First Church of Bangor in the Maine Woods,
during 1 82 1 . James Richards proved to be the only member
to become a foreign missionary. He set sail for Ceylon in
October, 181 5, where he died seven years later. Among the
first five missionaries, Hall, Judson, Nott, Newell, and Rice,
who set sail for Calcutta in 18 12, Adoniram Judson and Rice
became Baptists, and joined the Serampore Baptist Colony,
founded by Corey and Thomas of London. Newell, Nott,
and Hall remained Congregationalists and succeeded in
founding missions at Ceylon, Bombay, and Hawaii. Judson
died in April, 1850, at sea, where he was buried. He was the
most successful of the pioneer missionaries, and his youngest
son, the Rev. Edward Judson of the Judson Memorial
Baptist Church of New York, is among the successful
missionaries of Greater New York to-day.

During 18 15, the foreign missionary societies of Europe
and America united and established an institute at Basel,
Switzerland, for the education of missionaries. In 1900,
381 missionaries and 1190 native teachers had been trained
at Basel. The British Bible Society was organized in 1804;
and the Netherland, Scottish, Berlin, and American Societies
organized later, distributed Bibles printed in 427 different
dialects among the missionaries and native teachers.

Williams College as the Alma Mater of Samuel J. Mills, Jr.,
"Father of American Foreign Missions," was "surrounded
with peculiar consecration" to the Rev. Edward Dorr
Griffin in 1821, when he accepted the Presidency of the
College. Dr. Cox said in the Evangelist Magazine, August
14, 1856, that Mills and his labors was President Griffin's
theme in private and public. At Andover Seminary, Mills's
name became one of religious power. Thirty-nine of the
seventy-one members of the Society of United Brethren in
1837 had given their services either to home or foreign
mission fields.



424 The Hoosac Valley

During October, 1825, seventy-five of the eighty-five stu-
dents at Williams believed themselves Christians. Prof.
Albert Hopkins records later that an influx of impiety fol-
lowed, induced through the arrival of several men of corrupt
principles and dissolute life, spoiled before coming. They
were fitted only to taint and corrupt the moral atmosphere
of the college, and the Bible was stolen from the desk and
worse than burnt.

The Anti-Slavery Society and Temperance Society were
both organized at Williams during 1827. An ode, To the
Liberated Slave, ' written by one of the students, appeared in
The American Advocate, July 4, 1827. Between 1826 and
1828, William Lloyd Garrison published The Free Press of
Newbury port, Mass., and The Journal of the Times at Ben-
nington, Vt., advocating abolition of slavery.

Home missions in English Hoosac began in 1829, when
Prof. Albert Hopkins and Tutor Simeon Calhoun held
prayer-meetings in the district schoolhouses of White Oaks,
and among the fugitive slaves who had intermarried with
the degenerated settlers of the region. During 1832, the
Rev. Mr. Beman lead a revival in Williamstown and aroused
the students to a higher religious plane. Professor Hopkins
later organized the Noon Prayer- Meeting, of which Dr.
John Bascom said that it was the most firm, persistent, and
steadily influential means of religious life that he had ever
had occasion to observe. Similar services were subsequently
adopted in other colleges throughout the world.

The site of Mills's " haystack prayer-meeting " meanwhile
had been lost sight of. On April 26, 1852, Prof. Albert
Hopkins received a letter from a Baptist layman visiting
South Williamstown. He enclosed a gold dollar toward
marking the site with a cedar stake. During the spring of
1855, the venerable Bryam Green, the only surviving mem-

' Perry, Williamstown and Williams College, pp. 484-5.



Slavery and Birthplace of American Missions 425

ber of the original five haystack students, arrived in Wil-
liamstown and marked the site of the historic haystack with
a stake, in company with Albert Hopkins and Arthur
Latham Perry. The Williams Alumni Society purchased
the Whitman farm, including Sloan's Maple Grove. Ten
acres surrounding the site of the haystack was set apart as
Mills's Park and beautified by Prof, Albert Hopkins, and the
student members of the Landscape Garden Association.

A real haystack was restored to the site of Mills's prayer-
meeting at the semi-centennial in 1856. Dr. Cox said:
The celebration presented a melange of jubilation, so vari-
ous, so spicy, so rich, so complete, so augmenting in its
current to the close, that old men said with wonder and
delight: "We never saw the like!" David Dudley Field
rendered the opening address which was followed by Prof.
Albert Hopkins's oration on the Birth of American and Home
Missions. Gov. George N. Briggs of Massachusetts offered
a short address. His address was followed by the reading
of a report of Secretary Rufus Anderson, ^ of the American
Board of Foreign Missions. Anderson said :

We are met in the New World. The historical events we
commemorate occurred within the memory of some of us.
Nevertheless, they are important, and have and will have
a place on the historic page. And they make this, rather
than any and all other places, the Antioch of the Western
hemisphere. . . . Here the Holy Ghost made the visible
separations of men in this country for foreign work whereto
he had called them.

The odd Haystack Monument was erected in 1867. It
was a gift of Senator Harvey Rice of Cleveland, O., a member
of Mark Hopkins Class of 1824. He was bom in Conway,
Mass., and became the "Father of Public School System of

' Perry, Williamstown and Williams College, pp. 369-70.



426 The Hoosac Valley

Ohio." At the dedication of the monument, President
Hopkins said : ' ' For once in the history of the world a prayer-
meeting is commemorated by a monument. . . . Not only
was a prayer-meeting the birthplace but the cradle of
foreign missions, and the hands that rocked that cradle ruled
the world."

Owing to the bigotry of the Protestant English Con-
gregational and Dutch Reformed churches of Hoosac Valley,
much prejudice prevailed against the bigotry of the Irish
and French Roman Catholic missions. Father McGilligan
of Albany Roman Catholic parish was the first to visit
Hoosac Valley in 1818. The parish in 1839, under the Rev.
Father J. B. Daly, consisted of western Massachusetts,
New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, north to the
Hudson-Champlain divide.

The first mass of the Roman Catholic Church celebrated
in Hoosac Valley took place at Bennington about 1830.
Old St. Francis De Sales Irish Church was dedicated in 1854,
and the present St. Francis De Sales Cathedral was opened
in 1889. The French Roman Catholic Chapel of the Sacred
Heart of Jesus was organized in 1880.

On the lower and in central Hoosac, mass was celebrated
at Hoosac Falls in 1834, followed by the dedication of St.
Mary's Church in 1851. The Augustian Fathers built the
present church in 1871, with a branch mission chapel at
Buskirk Bridge. Mass was celebrated at Schaghticoke in
1835 and St. John's Catholic Church was dedicated in
1 842 with missions in Valley Falls and Johnson ville of Pitts-
town. St. Patrick's Church was founded in Old Cambridge
in 1839.

Mass was celebrated on the upper Hoosac in the Union
above North Adams during 1847, and St. Francis Irish
Catholic Church was dedicated in 1869, with branch mission
chapels in Adams, Williamstown, and Greylock. The



Slavery and Birthplace of American Missions 427

French Catholic Cathedral, Notre Dame, was organized in
1 87 1 and dedicated in 1888, with branch mission chapels in
Adams and Williamstown. St. Stanislaus Kodska's Polish
Catholic Church was recently organized at Adams and the
Russian Jewish Synagogue at North Adams in 1892, with
branches of the latter at Hoosac Falls and Bennington.
To-day the mingling chimes of the progressive creeds of
Christendom are heard echoing Peace and Good Will through
the Valley of Mingling Waters.

Christ's Church at White Oaks is connected with Wil-
liams College home missions. It was founded by Prof.
Albert Hopkins, February 5, 1865, and dedicated, October
25, 1866. The beautifying of the grounds about White
Oaks Chapel, together with the care of Mission Park fell
to Dr. John Bascom after the death of Albert Hopkins.
The Williams College Cemetery in Mission Park contains
the tombs and memorial monuments of several presidents,
including Edward Dorr Griffin, Paul Ansel Chadbourne,
Mark Hopkins, and Henry Hopkins; besides several pro-
fessors: Albert Hopkins, Sanborn Tenny, Arthur Latham
Perry, Cyrus Dodd, Luther Dana Woodbridge, and others.
The grave of Edward Payson Hopkins, the only child of
Prof. Albert Hopkins, who fell during the Battle of Ashland,
Virginia, while serving under General Sheridan, lies near
his parents. Dr. John Bascom says of Albert Hopkins:
"Wherever else the Alumni of Williams College may wander
for great men, their eyes will turn lovingly to him as their
type of Christian Manhood."

The greatest event between the semi-centennial in 1856
and the centennial of foreign missions in 1906 was the Civil
War. The first company to answer President Lincoln's
call for 75,000 volunteers on April 14, 1861 proved to be one
composed of 780 Green Mountain Boys under Col. John
W. Phelps and Lieut.-Col. Peter T. Washburn. They



428 The Hoosac Valley

arrived at Fortress Monroe, Va., May 13th, followed by-
five other volunteer Vermont regiments on May nth. These
regiments figured in the battles of Big Bethel, June loth,
and Bull Run, July 21st. Gen, George J. Stannard of the
2d Vermont Brigade repulsed one of the severest charges in
the Battle of Gettysburg. A monument of Vermont granite
now marks the site of Stannard's Victory. The 17th Ver-
mont Regiment during the Carnage of the Wilderness also
faced a bloody battle each day until the Fall of Richmond,
April 3, 1865, and the final surrender of General Lee to
General Grant at Appomattox Court House, April 9th,
following. Historian Benedict' asserts that: "The bril-
liancy and service rendered by the Green Mountain Boys is
denied by no student of history." Impartial judges admit
it to be remarkable that troops of one State, constituting
but an eighteenth part of the Northern Army, should have
had a leading part in all the decisive battles of the Civil War.

At the Centennial of American Foreign Missions, cele-
brated in October, 1906, the Rev. John Hopkins Denison
said: "There is sweeping over the world to-day a great wave
of international justice. No longer is the slave trade per-
mitted to be carried on unmolested in any part of the world."

A century and a half has passed since the burning of the
St. Francis Indian town by Col. Robert Rogers in Canada
during 1759. The Mahican and Mohawk warriors of the East
are now merged with the Sioux Nation, comprising 30,000
Indians. Their annual convocations are headed by native
priests of the Romanist, Episcopal, Congregational, and
Presbyterian missions, followed by 16,000 Christian Sioux,
scattered over a territory of six hundred miles in extent.

To-day the royal Mahican warriors of Stockbridge live
in Wisconsin; the Hoosacs. including the Schaghticokes
and St. Francis kindred, are in Nebraska and the Dakotas

' Vermont in the Civil War.








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Online LibraryGrace Greylock NilesThe Hoosac Valley, its legends and its history → online text (page 29 of 41)