John Leverett Merrill.

History of Acworth, with the proceedings of the centennial anniversary, genealogical records, and register of farms online

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Boyter, Jonathan Leavitt, D. D., Abner B. Warner, D. S. Brain-
ard, and others, have been stated suppHes in this church.


The Baptist Church in Acworth was constituted November 8,
1809, consisting of seventeen members. For some time previous
to this date, several Baptist families resided in town, who often
met together for prayer and conference. After the organization
of the church the members met regularly for religious service, in
school-houses and private dwellings, and as they were destitute of
a pastor, Joseph Blanchard was chosen to lead them in spiritual
things, and a good state of religious feeling was enjoyed. Fre-
quent conversions occurred, and accessions were made to the church
from time to time. The services, also, of neighboring pastors
were frequently obtained, to preach and administer the ordinances ;
and their labors, with the prayers of the faithful, were blessed
in very many Instances to the conversion of souls. This state of
things continued with little variation, until 1818, when the church
felt their need of a suitable place of worship. Accordingly a neat
and commodious house of worship was erected on a site about
one-fourth of a mile east of the center village.

It was not until November, 1822, that this church secured the
labors of a regular pastor, the Rev. Theophllus B. Adams, of Wil-
mot, N. H. We here find a period of thirteen years of destitu-
tion of ordained ministers, yet from the records it appears that
they were favored with the labors of two licensed ministers, David
Cummlngs and Alfred Abel, who w^ere very successful In winning
souls to Christ. The church was edified and blessed under their
ministrations, and in order to have the ordinances maintained and
administered, these brethren made frequent exchanges with or-
dained ministers. It was the practice of this church not to forsake
the assembling of themselves together on the Sabbath, even when
they had no one to break to them the Bread of Life, and these
seasons of destitution of the preached word by His servants were
highly Interesting and profitable. Much of the interest enjoyed
by this church, when they had no one to go in and out before
them, and to preach the gospel, may be attributed to the faithful-
ness of the devoted brother, Joseph Blanchard, who was elected to

* Tliis sketch was written by Rev. J. L. Wliittemore, auci approved by the church.


the office of deacon. Rev. Mr. Adams continued in the pastorate
of this church about nine years. He was regarded as an accept-
able and successful pastor ; a revival was enjoyed under his min-
istry. In May, 1831, he resigned, and settled with the Baptist
Church in Unity.

The church was again supplied by Rev. David Cummings, as
formerly, until November, 1833, when Rev. Levi AValker assumed
the pastorate, preaching one-half of the time here, and the other
half in Unity. He was succeeded by Rev. Charles Farrer, who
supplied this church and the Unity church alternately, as his pre-
decessor had done.

Some time in 1838, the church employed Mr. J. R. Greene, of
Cavendish, Vt., as supply, and in June, 1839, the church voted to
give him a call, which he accepted, and on the 10th of July follow-
ing he was ordained to the work of the gospel ministry, by an eccle-
siastical council called for that purpose. His term of service with
this church was short, but it was attended with the Divine blessing,
and many were gathered into the fold of Christ as the fruit of his
labors. In the winter or spring of 1840, Mr. Greene resigned, and
in April the church voted him a letter of recommendation, and dis-
mission to another field of labor. They then secured the services
of Rev. Charles Farrer, a former pastor, for some part of the time.
His labors were discontinued in 1841, and he was succeeded by
Rev. Charles M. Willard, who remained but a short time. In
1842, Rev. Leland Huntley supplied the pulpit one-half the time
for one year ; 1843 appears to have been a year of destitution of
preaching except as the church could obtain occasional supplies.

In the spring of 1844, the church obtained the services of Rev.
Charles R. Nichols for one-half the time. During this year, the
church desiring a more eligible and convenient location for their
house of worship, it was accordingly taken down and moved to
the center of the town, and rebuilt, remodeled, enlarged and fin-
ished in a more modern style ; and on the 15th of June it was re-
dedicated to the worship of God. Soon after the re-opening of
the house Mr. Nichols closed his labors, and the church was again
left without a pastor.

In the autumn of this year, the Lord directed one of his ser-
vants this way, the Rev. A. H. House, who became pastor of the
church, and unlike many of his predecessors, gave his entire time
and energies to the work of the ministry. It does not appear
from the records that a revival was enjoyed or any accessions


made to the church, yet he was regarded as a good pastor. In
the year 1846, the church was again without a pastor, but in Oc-
tober of this year they secured the services of Rev. Lorenzo Tandy,
a licentiate, who preached one year without any particular change
in the prospects or condition of the church.

In November, 1847, Rev. David AYright, residing in Claremont,
commenced preaching one-half the time for this people, without
anything of special importance in the church. He was succeeded
by the Rev. Caleb Brown, September 1, 1849. Mr. Brown's min-
istry extended from this date until November, 1851, and even af-
ter this date he is spoken of as supplying, on one or two occasions.
Though no special revival was enjoyed under his ministry, yet he
is spoken of as an acceptable preacher. The services of the Rev.
Amzi Jones were enjoyed by this church a part of the time dur-
ing the years 1853-4. The church was united under his labors,
and his preaching was acceptable.

The Rev. David Gage commenced to labor one-half of his time
as pastor of this church in May, 1855, and continued without in-
terruption until the spring of 1862, preaching alternately to the
church in Acworth and Marlow. Mr. Gage continued in the pas-
torate longer than any of his predecessors except Mr. Adams,
and his ministry was characterized by great harmony and peace
among the members, and though no general or special revival was
enjoyed, yet the church was often blessed by heavenly seasons,
and additions were made to it as the result of his labors.

In September of 1862, the church was blessed with the preach-
ing of Mr. W. H. Eaton, a licentiate of the Baptist Church in
Hopkinton, N. H. After supplying the church for some months
they voted him a unanimous call, which he accepted, and accord-
ingly was ordained publicly to the work of the gospel ministry,
by an ecclesiastical council, June 18, 1863. Nothing of special
importance occurred until the next year, when the church was
called to pass through a sevei'e trial in the death of one of her
most devoted and efficient members, Dea. John Pearson. In this
brief sketch we cannot say all that might justly be said concern-
ing this worthy brother, but his sterling worth is still fresh in our
memory, and it will never be effaced. Suffice it to say that through
life he maintained an exemplary walk and an Increasing attach-
ment to the church. In the same year, 1864, while the church
wai lamenting the loss of their senior deacon, the pastor offered
his resignation, thus adding sorrow to sorrow. The records of the


church show the deep regret they felt in parting with one whose
Libors and preaching had been blessed to the edification of the
church, and the good of souls.

The resignation of Mr. Eaton in August, 1864, is followed by
a long period of destitution of pastoral labor, or the preaching of
the word, except occasional Sabbath supplies. But in this inter-
val, which extended from August, 1864, to March, 1867, the mem-
bers availed themselves of the privileges of the Congregational
and Methodist Churches, where they were regular attendants upon
the means of grace. Besides, it was the practice of this church
to meet statedly for prayer every Sabbath evening, in this time
of destitution, and those seasons of prayer on "Grout Hill" will
long be remembered as the place where the Lord has met and
blessed his people.

In March, 1867, the Eev. J. L. AVhittemore, the present incum-
bent, visited this church by request of a former pastor, and after
supplying a few Sabbaths entered upon the duties of the pasto-
rate at once, by the unanimous vote of the church. Public ser-
vices were commenced at this time in Union Hall, in the South
Village of this town, the church feeling themselves better accom-
modated there than at their church in the center. Many of the
families connected with the Baptist denomination had moved, or
had their residences in the river valley of this town, and therefore,
to have their house of worship more easy of access, an effort was
made in the autumn of 1867, to take it down and rebuild it at the
South Village. This effort was crowned with success, so that on
the 2d of July, 1868, the house of worship was again re-opened
and re-dedicated to the worship of Almighty God. In connec-
tion also with the above named services was one of public recog-
nition of their pastor, which service had been deferred to some
appropriate place or opportunity.

"Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." During the fifty-nine
years of its history, this church has received to its communion
253 members. Present membership, 67. The following persons
have been elected to the office of deacon: Joseph Blanchard, Jo-
seph Chatterton,, Dan. Orcutt, John Pearson, Horace Campbell,
"VVinslow Allen, Elisha Kempton, George W. Young.


As was the case in many towns, the Congregational Church had
a commencement nearly coeval Avith the charter of the town.


The hardships common to pioneer life, and the trials connected
with their depressed circumstances were met and endured with
Christian fortitude, and a high tone of piety, for those days, ex-
isted throughout the town. The Congregational Church was all
that was needed, and fully satisfied their desire. After a time, as
other people settled in town, the Baptist denomination formed an
organization, and built a house of worship. These two were then
all that were needed, or could be properly supported.

In 1833, Mrs. Dorcas Campbell, wife of Isaac Campbell, came
into town. She was a native of Blairsville, Penn., and inherited
much of the activity and energy common to the people of that
State. Before coming to Acworth she lived for a time in New
York city, and was converted under the preaching of the Kev.
Cyrus Prindall, and joined the Bedford Street Methodist Episco-
pal Church, from which she brought a letter, when she came to
Acworth, but there being no M. E. Church in town she united
with the Marlow M. E. Church, and with her husband attended
meeting in that place. In the year 1834, Eev. J. L. Smith
preached in Marlow and vicinity, and Mrs. Campbell invited him
to come and preach in Acworth. In compliance with her invita-
tion, he made a week-day evening appointment, and preached in the
school-house on " Grout Hill." This is the first sermon that we
know was preached in Acworth by a Methodist clergyman. There
was at this time but little interest in Methodism in town, and but
little was accomplished. The next year Kev. J. L. Smith was ap-
pointed to another field of labor, and nothing was done for the
benefit of Methodism here. Isaac Campbell and wife still attended
meeting in Marlow, but were very desirous that something might
be done to secure Methodist preaching in their immediate vicinity.

In 1836, J. L. Smith and N. Ladd were appointed to the Mar-
low circuit. Early in that year, Eev. J. L. Smith began preach-
ing in the school-house in the south part of Acworth. During
this year some interest was awakened, and Lois Brown, dauo-hter
of Francis Brown, was converted and joined the class in Marlow,
but as she could not avail herself of the privileges of a church at
a distance, she for the time united with the Baptist Church, and
when a Methodist Church was formed she removed her relation to
that. She afterwards married George Houston, and died in 1814,
early in life, but rich in faith. During the year 1836, Henry Smith
invited Kev. N. Ladd to come to his house and preach — the first
family that opened their doors for Methodist preaching. During


this year some interest was manifested, and a few individuals were
converted and united with the Marlow church. From this time
until 1842, there was no Methodist preaching in town.

In the winter of 1811, Ebenezer Jones and wife, members of
the Congregational Church, became interested in Methodism as
they saw its workings in Marlow, under the pastoral labors of the
Kevs. H. Nutter and C. H. Eastman, consequently they were in-
vited to come and hold meetings in the South Acworth school-
house, which was accordingly compKed with. A good degree of
interest was manifested, which was the commencement of a revi-
val. These were followed by Sabbath evening appointments, the
first of which was filled by Rev. H. Nutter, who preached a plain
and impressive sermon. At the close of the sermon, the following
hymn was sung by one present :

" Alas ! and did my Saviour bleed !

And did my Sovereign die !
Would be devote that sacred head

For such a worm as I ? " &c.,

which had its Immediate effect upon the congregation. At the
close of the meeting an appointment was left for Eev. A. Quimby,
who found the house full to overflowing. The revival interest
continued to deepen and increase until it was thought advisable to
establish Methodist preaching, which was done in 1842, by an-
nexing Acworth to Marlow circuit, and appointing Revs. H. Nut-
ter and C. H. Eastman to the pastoral care of the two churches.
During this year a class was formed by Rev. H. Nutter, consist-
ing of the following persons, viz. : Ebenezer Jones, leader, Mrs.
Mary A. Jones, Eleb Hardy, Loren Morse, Luke Nichols, Mrs.
Mary Moore, Mrs. Dorcas Campbell, John B. Hardy, Mrs. Hep-
zibah Hardy, Susanna Ware, John Osgood, Mrs. Nancy Mason,
Mrs. Roxanna Osgood, Miss Lois Brown, Enoch George, Mrs.
Hannah Ware, Mrs. Sarah George. Of this number ten have
died, viz. : Mrs. Jones, John B. Hardy, John Osgood, Roxanna
Osgood, Eleb Hardy, Susanna Ware, Nancy Mason, Lois Brown,
Dorcas Campbell, and Sarah George. The year commenced with
favorable indications for establishing a Methodist Church in town,
and the interest continued through the year, so that at the next
conference Acworth was made a separate charge, and Rev. H.
Nutter appointed to the pastoral care of the same. During this
year, the first Sabbath-school connected with this church was
formed, and William Hayward was chosen superintendent.


In 1843, another class was formed, in the middle of the town,
numbering twenty-four members, and one in the east part, num-
bering seven. Having no church edifice, meetings were held dur-
ing the summer in the town-house, and during the winter in
"Concert Hall." The year's labors, though at times hard, and
performed under discouraging circumstances, on account of the
prejudices existing between different denominations at that time,
were blessed in the conversion of some who connected them-
selves with the chui'ch. The success which crowned the united
labors of pastor and people, caused them to feel that they needed
a house of their own, and resolve to build one, which was soon
commenced under the supervision of William Hayward, Ransom
Severns and Elijah Cram, building committee. The house was
completed in 1844, at a cost of $2,500 ; located at the center of
the town ; material, wood ; size, 40 by 56. It was dedicated in
October, 1844, by Rev. Elihu Scott, who preached to a large and
attentive audience. The members of the church at this time num-
bered about sixty. A small debt still remained upon the house,
but it was soon cancelled, and it was deeded to the trustees of the
M. E. Church.

Mr. Nutter closed his labors in connection with this charge this
year, and was followed by Rev. J. Perkins, who preached during
the years 1845-6. He was a faithful laborer in his Master's vine-
yard, and was much beloved by the people of his charge. In
1846-7-8 he was one of the council of the Governor of New
Hampshire. In 1851-2 he was Representative of his district in
the Congress of the United States. He died in 1854, at his own
home, in Winchester, aged 61 years, full of faith and hope of
heaven. Mr. Perkins was followed by Rev. L. Draper, who re-
mained during the year 1847. By his personal effort the debt of
the church was paid. In 1848-9, Charles Greenwood was ap-
pointed to labor one-half the time in this town. In 1850, S. P.
Heath, a man of earnest piety, labored with and for the people of
this charge, and was much beloved by them. In 1851, Charles
H. Chase and George N. Bryant preached alternately at Unity
and Acworth. Peace and quietude prevailed throughout our
church. In 1852, Charles H. Chase lived at South Acworth, and
preached a part of the time at the center, and a part in the school-
house at South Acworth. Some interest was excited and a few
were added to the church.

In 1853, Rev. J. M. Blake preached one-half the time in Gil-


sum, and the other half in this town. He was devoted to the
work, and labored with the energy and zeal of one who feels the
importance of the trust committed to his care. The members of
the church were becominor discouraged on account of the distance
many of them lived from the place of worship. The bad travel-
ing in winter, and the close proximity to the other churches, ren-
dered it very hard to sustain meetings. Mr. Blake conceived the
idea of moving the church edifice to South Acworth, believing
himself, and seeking to inspire in others the feeling that it would
be a success, for it seemed reasonable that many who did not at-
tend meeting might be influenced to do so, and the society could
be much better accommodated. The necessary plans were made
for moving it, and Mr. Blake spent much time in making these
arrangements, and his efforts seemed to meet with Divine approval.
In 1854, he preached in Gilsum and Alstead, and in 1865 in Cor-
nish. Here in the midst of labors and usefulness he was pros-
trated by sickness, from which he never fully recovered, but after
a time he was able to preach one sermon on the Sabbath, which he
did for about two years, and performed some manual labor. In
1857, while visiting friends in Bristol and Hill, he preached twice,
which effort so overcame him that he became convinced that his
work was nearly done, and what remaining strength he had must
be spent in providing a home for his family. Before that work was
fully accomplished, he was called from labor to reward. In Cor-
nish, on the 24th of July, 1858, after having returned from busi-
ness out of town, and having eaten his supper, he was taken sud-
denly with bleeding at the lungs, and in one-half hour calmly and
peacefully fell asleep in Jesus, aged 40 years.

In 1854, being in an unsettled state in regard to moving the
house, there was no preaching until December, when Eev. David
Culver was sent by the presiding elder to preach the remainder of
the year at the school-house at South Acworth, and was returned
in 1855 to preach another year. During this year, the work of
finishing the church, which had been moved to South Acworth
the preceding autumn, was completed, under the superintendence
of Harvey Howard, Benjamin Nichols, and Isaac Campbell, at a
cost of $1,800. It was finished on the 9th of July, and reopened
on the 10th. The dedication sermon was preached by Rev.
Newell Culver, presiding elder of Claremont district, which was
followed by a ministerial association of the preachers of Clare-
mont district.


In 1856, Nelson Green received an appointment to labor in
Gilsum and Acworth, and we had preaching only one-half the
time. Nothing of importance occurred, except that in our new-
location the congregation increased, and the Interests of the church
beojan to brighten.

In 1857, Ira Carter lived in Springfield, Vt., and supplied here
part of the time ; but living at a distance, but little time, except
the Sabbath, was spent with the people of his charge. This
seemed to have a deleterious effect upon our interests as a church,
and it was thought best to secure the services of one who would
live among us, and unite with us in all our services during the
week as well as on the Sabbath ; and Rev. Artemas C. Field, licen-
tiate of the Congregational Church, was hired to preach, by per-
mission of the presiding elder, during the years 1858-9, living
with us.

In 1860, Rev. A. K. Howard received an appointment to this
place. During 1860-1-2, he officiated as pastor.

In 1863, Rev. Chester Dingman was sent to this charge. He
labored faithfully for the good of those committed to his care.
Believers were quickened, and twenty-five persons professed a
hope in Christ. Of this number, fourteen united with the
Methodist Church, two with the Baptist, and two with the
Congregational Church. In 1864, Mr. Dingman was returned,
and labored to promote the interests of the church during the

In 1865-6, Rev. J. H. Hillman, an earnest worker in the cause
of Christ, ministered to this church in spiritual things.

In 1867, Mr. J. H. Lord dispensed the words of life from the
sacred desk.

In 1868, Rev. H. Dorr was appointed to South Acworth. A
good degree of Interest has been manifested. Ten persons have
professed a hope in Christ, eight of whom have connected them-
selves with the church. Our house of worship has been repaired,
at a cost of $300, and we now have a pleasant and convenient
home in which to worship the God of our fathers, with none to
molest or make us afraid.

We have an interesting Sabbath-school, numbering 132, with
an average attendance of 75 ; 275 volumes in the library ; M.
E. Smith, Superintendent, and Frank Howard, Librarian. The
church membership is 53 in full communion, and 8 probationers.


The people of Acworth have been noted for the unanimity and
earnestness with which enterprises of a public nature have been
prosecuted. This trait in their character may be seen in the cor-
dial support given to the military system of the State. While
this system required a certain amount of service which by many
communities was deemed a hardship, the people of Acworth re-
garded such service as both an honor and a pleasure. Through
the first half of the century, a military spirit was fostered and en-
couraged. The war of 1812-15 called many of the young men
of that period into active service. Capt. James M. Warner and
Capt. David Blanchard were of this class, and after the close of
the war it was through the influence of these young officers and
others, that a military spirit was diffused among the people, which
was felt in every household. About this period, in addition to the
two militia companies then existing, a light infantry volunteer com-
pany was organized. Ithiel ISilsby was its first Captain. It was
composed of fifty men only, each of whom, according to its rules,
must be at least five feet ten inches in hight. Being well officered
and tastefully uniformed, it was accounted a fine company. The
uniform consisted of black coat faced with scarlet trimmings, with
four and a half dozen gilt buttons, and twelve yards gilt cord ;
black pants, with cord up the seams. The first uniforms were
made from cloth which Miss Sally Nesmith had manufactured
from wool taken from a flock of sheep she had purchased from the
estate of Joshua Lancaster, after his death. Most of these uni-
forms were made up by her. The following incident is related to
show the spirit of the company : — Early one morning the chickens
and children at James Davidson's were awakened by martial music
and the firing of guns. It was the light infiintry, come to escort
their Captain to the muster ground, which they did in fine style,
after partaking of a bountiful breakfast. This was a frequent
practice. It was disbanded in 1827.



A company of cavalry, extending through the Sixteenth Regi-
ment, was organized at an earlier period, and Acworth furnished a

Online LibraryJohn Leverett MerrillHistory of Acworth, with the proceedings of the centennial anniversary, genealogical records, and register of farms → online text (page 16 of 33)