Benjamin Chase.

History of old Chester [N. H.] from 1719 to 1869 online

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was signing the by-laws and paying one dollar annually.
On the first day of January, 1843, sixteen members of the
Presbyterian church adopted articles of faith and a cove-
nant, and were organized into a church by the Rev. Samuel
Ordway, and assumed the name of The Second Congrega-
tional Church in Chester. After the town of Auburn was
incorporated, in 1845, the name of the society and church
was altered to the First in Auburn. There is a list of mem-
bers of the church up to May 3, 1857, containing eighty-



six names. Rev. Samuel Ordway, "vrho had been stated
supply to the Presbyterian parish, continued to labor till
the summer of 18-16, when tlie Rev. James Holmes, a na-
tive of Londonderry, a graduate of Dartmouth in 1838,
commenced his labors and was installed pastor Dec. 5,
1849, and yet sustains that relation, but has asked a dis-

The Presbyterian parish deeded the society their prop-
erty, consisting of the meeting-house and lot, and the
parsonage. The parsonage was sold for six hundred dol-
lars, and widow Elizabeth Bebee made the society residuary
legatee, from which they received five hundred and forty-
five dollars and twenty-nine cents.

A new house of worship, with a vestry in the basement,
was erected in 1847, and dedicated in Feb., 1848, costing
about twenty-six hundred dollars. Miles Burnham gave
the land, and David Hall, of Roxbury, Mass., gave a bell.
The old Presbyterian house was sold and taken down.


Although there were individuals who were Baptists in
Chester, and might have been occasional preaching, there
was no organized church until 1819, when a church was
organized by the Rev. Williaji Taylor, of Concord, consist-
ing of sixteen members, of whom Capt. Pearson Richard-
son, Walter Morse, Jacob Green, and Timothy Smith of
Sandown, were prominent. Col. Stephen Clay and Josiah
Chase united afterwards, and were active members. Walter
Morse and Josiah Chase were the deacons. They wor-
shiped in Capt. Richardson's hall until 1823, when a meet-
ing-house was built on the west side of the Haverhill road,
on home lot Xo. 13, which cost about two thousand two hun-
dred dollars.

They had for preachers, besides Mr. Taylor, Rev. Josiah
Davis of Methuen, and the Rev. Duncan Dunbar, a Scotch-
man, afterwards of New York city. Gibbon Williams was
installed ; Geo. Kallock and John Upton were ordained


pastors. A difficulty arose about a preacher, a part of the
society believing him to be corrupt and a part adhering to
him, which for a time disorganized the church and society,
and they had no preaching, and their eai'ly records were
lost, and the meeting-house went to decay.

At a meeting of the Portsmouth Association, held at
Newton, 1845, a committee, consisting of brethren Ayers
of Dover, Gilbert of Northwood, Wheeler of Plaistow,
and Swain of Brentwood, were appointed to visit the
church in Chester and attempt to settle their difficulties.
The committee met the church Jan. 13, 1846, and recom-
mended to disband the existing church and organize a new
one, which was accordingly done, and a cluirch of fifteen
members was formed, and William Bell chosen deacon and
clerk. There are the names of sixty-three members on
the records, and James D. Bell and Silas F. Leonard are
the present deacons. The society had failed to hold their
annual meeting, and April 9, 1859, a meeting of the cor-
poration was held by a warrant of a justice of the peace.
At subsequent meetings in 1860, a constitution and by-
laws were adopted, to which twenty-two names are ap-
pended. It was also voted to sell the old house and land,
which was done ; the house for one hundred and ninety-
seven dollars, and the land for twenty-six dollars. A small
piece of land was purchased of Alfred S. Dearborn, near
the town-house, and where Wilkes West's shop stood, for
one hundred and seventy-five dollars, and a contract was
made with Hiram S. Pollard to build a house for twelve
hundred dollars, which was dedicated August 29, 1861.
Preaching has since been had by various individuals, as
stated supplies most of the time, paid for by voluntary


Methodism did not probably make much progress in
Chester before 1800.

In 1802 the Congregational parish voted to give in Levi
Hoit's tax, and not tax him in future, provided he should
pay for the support of the ministry in Poplin.


In March, 1805, William Wilson, 4th, John Locke, and
Widow Mary Moore, presented certificates that they belonged
to the Methodist society in Poplin, signed by David Batch-
elder, deacon.

About 1807, John Clark came to Chester from Sandown.
He purchased the farm of Deacon Adam and William Wil-
son. He was a Methodist, and he procured the Rev.
George Pickering, a gentleman of Southern birth, — a man
of education, tall, and of gentlemanly appearance, — who
preached in Mr. Clark's house the first Methodist sermon
preached at Long Meadows, probably about 1809. Mr.
Pickering afterwards preached in the Long Meadow meet-
ing-house. Mr. Clark named his oldest son for him.

Mr. Clark being a man of energy and means, occasion-
ally procured other preachers, among whom were Rev.
John Broadhead (who was once a member of Congress),
Cass, Newhall, and others, who preached in Mr. Clark's
house, the Kent house and barn, the Herrick house, and
school-house, which then stood near the pond shore.

When a new school-house was built, in 1827, at the site
of the present one, near the bridge across the Blanchard
mill-pond, the question arose whether that should be used
by the Methodists. The Rev. Mr. Manning was then
preaching to the Presbyterians, and had a strong antipathy
to the Methodists, and said that if they were permitted to
preach in it, he never would. The district, however, voted
that it should be open for religious and moral meetings,
and Mr. Manning was as good as his word, and refused to
preach in it.

There was a class formed early, and quarterly meetings
held. In September, 1826, there is an entry in a diary,
" Quarterly meeting at the Kent place." The old school-
house would not be sufficiently capacious for such an^occa-
sion, as people came from Hooksett, Candia and Chester
to those meetings.

In 1836 a meeting-house was built. A subscription was
started, and fifteen hundred and seventy-five dollars sub-
scribed, including four hundred by Mr. Clark. Mr. Clark









took a contract to furnish a site and build a house for two
thousand dollars, and whatever it cost more than others
paid, he gave.

December 4th, 1836, B. B. Hall was clapboarding the
extreme top of the eastern gable, standing on a saw-horse
which tipped over and precipitated him to the ground, bj
which he was badly injured, but survived.

The house was dedicated July 20, 1827.

Eev. Mr. Fales was stationed here in 1838, and after-
wards Messrs. Quimby, Stearns and Smith, and protracted
meetings mere held, and accessions made. But a dililiculty
arose between some of the members, and they became dis-
organized, and for a season meetings were not held, and the
old rec.ords are lost.

Since 1843 the desk has been mostly supplied by stu-
dents from the Biblical Institute at Concord. In 1858 and

1859 the Rev. Joseph Scott, who had completed his
studies, supplied, and was a man of talent, radical in his
ideas, inflexible and persevering in his purpose, taking a
high stand on the temperance and anti-slavery movements,
and was active in getting up and sustaining the Band of
Hope. He joined the New England Conference.

There were twenty-seven church-members in 1859. In
1861 there were eighty-four scholars in the Sabbath school.
In 1865 there were forty-one names on the list of members.

The succeeding ministers have been, Messrs. Marsh,

1860 ; Spencer, 1861 ; DeForrest, 1862 ; H. B. Copp, from
the Conference, 1863 ; R. J. Donalson, 1864 ; A. Folsom,
from the Conference, 1866.


There was a church organized in 1851, by Rev. Elisha
Adams, the Presiding Elder for Dover District, and Rev.
James M. Young, a member of the New Hampshire Con-
ference, supplying. The same summer a church edifice
was erected near the south line of No. 36, 2d P., 2d D., on
the road from Chester to Candia. It was built under the


direction of Joseph Smith, Amos Southwick, Samuel M.
Edwards, John Majnard, Isaac L. Seavey and Simon
Haselton, and dedicated in October. It cost about one
thousand dollars.

The following are the names of the preachers who have
ministered to the church and society :

James M. Young, two and one half years ; Charles U.
Dunning, two years ; George M. Hamlin, of the Biblical
Institute, one year ; Jesse Brown, two years ; Henry Nut-
ter, of the New Hampshire Conference, one year ; C. Henry
Newell, of the Biblical Institute, two years ; Edwin S.
Chase, one year ; Charles W. Harkins, one year ; Joseph
T. Hand, one year ; John Keogan, one year ; True Whit-
tier, one year ; Ezekiel Stickney, local preacher, one year ;
Abraham Folsom, of the New Hampshire Conference.

The average membership since 1854, has been about


Drunkenness, or intoxication from the use of intoxicat-
ing liquors, has prevailed since the days of Noah, and has
been condemned by all good men. From the earliest time
in the history of New England there has been legislation to
regulate the sale of liquors to prevent drunkenness.

By an act of the General Assembly of New Hampshire,
passed 5th of George II., all taverners, innholders and
retailers are required to procure a license. Taverners and
innholders were required to pay an excise of eight pence
per gallon on all wine, rum, and other spirits, and retailers
to pay six pence per gallon.

By an act 4th of George 11. , nobody was allowed to sit
tippling more than two hours, nor after ten o'clock at
night ; and no taverner was allowed to trust more than
five shillings, or retailer more than twenty shillings.

By an act passed in 1715, no apprentice or negro was
allowed to have any kind of drink without special allow-
ance of his master ; nor any other person after ten o'clock
at night, nor to sit more than two hours, nor to drink to


drunkenness, or other than strangers to remain in any
tavern on the Lord's day. Tything-men were to be chosen
to " inspect licensed houses, and inform against offenders,
and had power to bring them before the next Justice of the
Peace, without making information," and all persons were
required to assist them. The number of taverns or ale-
houses in the several towns was limited to, Portsmouth,
six; Hampton, three; Dover, three ; Exeter, two ; New
Castle, two ; Kingston, one, and Newington, one.

By an act passed February, 1758, it is provided that no-
body should be licensed in Londonderry without being
recommended by the selectmen, and not more than three
taverners and three retailers. In 1761 the selectmen of
Londonderry petitioned the General Assembly, represent-
ing that they had not so many taverners and retailers as the
public good required ; and an act was passed that the Ses-
sion might license so many proper persons, well qualified,
as will be for the advantage of the public, and no more.
A stringent license-law was passed in 1791.

At a meeting of the Haverhill Association, held at
the house of Rev. Nathan Bradstreet, in Chester, on the
second Tuesday of June (the 10th), 1812, action was
taken with a view to discountenance the improper use of
ardent spirits ; and it was voted " that no brother shall be
deemed wanting in generosity or hospitality if he neglects
to provide ardent spirits for his brethren, when they meet
at his house." Rev. Messrs. Smith and Church were also
appointed a committee to confer with the Londonderry
Presbytery on the subject, and to obtain their cooperation
with them in measures calculated to prevent the intemper-
ate use of ardent spirits.

The following preamble and rules of conduct were unan-
imously adopted at the same time and place.

The Haverhill Association being deeply impressed with
the numerous evils which grow out of the excessive use
of spirituous liquors, and feeling themselves to be under
sacred obligations to be patterns of sobriety, and to avoid
every appearance of evil, do agree to adopt the following
general rules of conduct :


1. This association agree that they will consider the
exhibition of spiritous liquors in their meetings as no part
of brotherly entertainment ; and they agree in common
cases of health to "wholly refrain in their use.

2. The members of this Association, being acquainted
with each other's determination, do decide that a brother
of this body shall not be deemed deficient in the rites of
hospitality, who omits in ordinary cases to set s])iritous
liquors before us in our common intercourse, bitt sliall be
considered as acting a decorous, brotherly and Christian

3. This Association do agree that they will, in their
parochial visits, in their social interviews and circles, in
their attendance on funeral and marriage solemnities, do
all they deem consistent with Christian prudence to dis-
countenance and suppress the common use of ardent spirits.

4. This Association, feeling a deep and tender concern
for the tcmjioral and eternal welfare of the peoj)lo under
their parochial care, bog leave to solicit their particular at-
tention to this important subject. They unitedly and earn-
esth' recommend, that they would refrain from the use of
ardent spirits in their friendly social intercourse ; and in
particular on funeral occasions, when God is calling us to
solemn thoughtfulness, that everything might be avoided
which tends to weaken the impression and render us less
mindful of our latter end. [Congregational Quarterly,
April, 18G4, p. 171.]

There was a Moral Reform Society formed in Chester,
December 29, 1814, for the purpose of restraining profan-
ity. Sabbath-breaking and intemperance. The members
were pledged not to drink too much.

These movements were good in themselves ; they were
setting the face Zion-ward, but being merely local and on a
low standard they did not get the community far that way.
I do not know what the Haverhill Association, or any other,
did at their private meetings, but I think that long after
this it was a custom, if not an indispensable one, to have ar-
dent spirits at ecclesiastical councils and ordinations, and I
know that it was at funerals and at weddings.

It is pertinent as a matter of history to describe the drink-
ing usages of the times, and I will not go back of my own
recollection. Chester was a farming town, and a large ma-


jority of the people did not use ardent or distilled liquor
constantly every day, though carpenters, masons and other
mechanics expected to be furnished with it. The land sur-
veyor could not run a straight line without it, and every
farmer used it during his haying and reaping. On all pub-
lic occasions, such as military trainings, raisings, and haul-
ings, it was universally fm'uished. A guest was not cordially
treated who had not the decanter placed before him. To
get absolutely drunk was disgraceful, but not to get rather
" tight." At the Long Meadows it was a custom for a por-
tion of the men, especially in cold weather, Sunday noon to
go to Captain Wason's bar-room and warm the outer man
by a good fire, and many of them the inner man with a
glass of liquor. I recollect one good deacon who would be-
gin to cough as though there was something in his throat,
and put one hand on his breast, observing that he did not
feel very well, and reach out the tumbler for a glass of
liquor. He apparently had much the same feeling when
asked to make a prayer at an evening meeting. He did
not feel well and would rather join with somebody else.

The minister did not live near the meeting-house, and
when a neighboring minister preached he, and some of the
deacons to keep him company, went into what was called
the session room and had a decanter of liquor placed be-
fore them.

At Chester a considerable portion of the congregation re-
sorted to Captain Richardson's tavern, and he stood during
the intermission in his bar to serve customers. The same
was true at Derry at Dr. Isaac Thom's store, and I saw the
same operation at Windham as late as 1832.

Then cider was a common drink at the table and in the
field. When a lad, if a neighbor happened in on an errand,
I had to draw a mug of cider to treat him with ; and had
to put up half a gallon or a gallon, according to the number
of hands, to carry into the field morning and noon. The
liquor itself, though drank alone, was supposed to be bene-
ficial at all seasons and in all temperatures ; but certain
mixtures and preparations were invented to adapt it to the
temperature of the occasion.


To clear the cobwebs from the throat in the morning and
give an appetite for breakfast in summer, green tansy or
wormwood was pomided, and the juice squeezed into the
liquor. Flip was a favorite drink for cold weather. To
make it, a " loggerhead " was needed, which was a piece of
iron about six inches long and an inch square, with a shank
or handle about three-eighths thick and two feet long.
This was put into the fire and heated red-hot. A quart
mug or pewter quart three-fourths full of malt or hop beer
sweetened, and the hot loggerhead thrust in to heat it and
make it foam, when half a pint of rum was poured in, and
a mug of flip was produced, which was drank quickly while
foaming. In taverns of good business one or more logger-
heads were continually in the fire in winter. Take half a
pint of rum, and add lemon juice to sour and sugar to
sweeten, and water sufficient, and you had a mug or bowl
of punch, good to cool you in hot weather. The rum
sweetened and hot water added made sling. Another mix-
ture was toddy. The rum was put into a glass tumbler
and a quantity of loaf sugar added. They had an instru-
ment called a toddy-stick. It was seven or eight inches
long and about an inch in diameter at tlie lower end, with
which they crushed the sugar and stirred it up, and water
was added and a little nutmeg grated in. The ringing
noise of the toddy stick against the sides of the tumbler
was very musical in the ears of the drinker. It was some-
times poured into a bowl and the bowl filled with milk,
which was milk-toddy. Still another mixture Avas egg-nogg.
One or more eggs were put into a bowl with sugar. To
beat up and thoroughly mix the eggs and sugar, they used
a piece of wood about eight inches long, three-quarters of
an inch in diameter, with a transverse piece two or three
inches long inserted in the lower end. This was taken
between the palms of the two hands, by rubbing which,
gave a revolving motion. The half pint of rum and milk
being added and mixed, made a bowl of egg-nogg.

During the war of 1812 spirits were very dear, and dis
tilleries were erected and potatoes were distilled ; and po-


tato whisky was produced, wliicli was a very nauseous ar-
ticle, but was drank with avidity by confirmed topers, and
more or less by all. The great wonder is, that all were not
drunkards. 1 do not suppose that the people of the Long
Meadows were very much worse than other people.

The store-keepers had license to retail spirituous liquors,
but not in less quantities than one pint, and that not to be
drank on the premises ; but all the traders in town, I think,
excepting John Bell, did sell by the glass. Capt. Benj.
Fitts did a large business at shoeing oxen, and it was a
custom for every owner of the oxen shod to go to Sweet-
ser's store and get a pint of New England rum, which
made the shop the resort of loafers.

At a town meeting held April 28, 1817, the selectmen
were instructed to prosecute all persons who should violate
the law relating to retailers.

At the June session of the Governor and Council in
1817, Samuel D. Wason, who had commanded the militia
company at the Long Meadows, was promoted to the office
of major. He called out the company to fill the vacancy
and treated the company and spectators to as much punch
as they would drink. Among the spectators Avere some of
the most respectable men of the parish, including church
members and deacons. They did not keep the pledge of
the Moral Reform Society, but many of them were a good
deal intoxicated. The next Sunday the Rev. Clement
Parker delivered a discourse advocating total abstinence
instead of moderate drinking, maintaining that ardent
spirit was entirely useless ; that a man could do more work
without it than with it. This is the first discourse, so far
as 1 know or believe, ever delivered taking so high a
ground. It caused a great deal of talk. One old man
asked for its publication, saying that he wished the world
to know how great a fool Mr. Parker was. Young men
said that it was the greatest folly to suppose that a man
could work at haying and harvesting without rum, and that
so long as they were able to purchase a gallon of rum they
would have it. It is possible that Mr. Parker's practice


was not always as good as his preaching, but the writer
was a convert, and has never tasted ardent spirit since.
There were two other young men who soon after abandoned
its use, David Currier and Pike Chase ; and there is one
man in town over seventy years of age (Amherst Coult)
who never drank any.

Since the foregoing was written a book has come to hand
entitled " History of Temperance in Saratoga County,"
which gives an account of forming a temperance society
there on the principle of total abstinence, in 1808, which,
though not relating to the history of Chester, may be in-
teresting to preserve. The prime mover was Dr. Billy J.
Clarke, who was born at Northampton, Mass., Jan. 4, 1778,
and removed with his father, first to Williamstown, Mass.,
then to Pownal, Yt., where his father kept a store, and Billy
was a clerk, dealing out liquors, against which his moral
sense revolted, and he studied medicine, and commenced
practice in Moreau, Saratoga county, X. Y. At the winter
term of the Court of Common Pleas, at Ballstown, in
1808, he attempted to organize a County Temperance Soci-
ety, but it was regarded by both bar and liench as visionary
and impracticable. But on a stormy night in March, 1808,
after a day of toil, visiting his patients, and wet and mud-
dy, he entered the parsonage and accosted its occupant.
Rev. Lebbeus Armstrong, and said, " Sir ! We sliall become
a community of drunkards unless something is done
speedily to arrest the progress of intemperance." Dr.
Clarke personally solicited a meeting of his neighbors,
which was convened at Mawney's tavern, April 13, 1808, at
which time it was resolved to form a temperance society,
and " that the members of this meeting wholly abstain
from all spirituous liquors." There are thirteen names re-
corded as members. The book gives a biographical notice
of Dr. Billy J. Clarke, Rev. Lebbeus Armstrong, Hon.
Gardner Stow, and James Mott, the only survivors of the
original members when the book was printed, in 1855.

But liquor continued to be drank to great excess. About
the first of December, 1821, a new store was opened, and

te:\iperance. 359

bj way of dedication, the owner treated free of charge, all
who called on a certain day. One individual imbibed rather
freely, and bought a jugful to carry home, but he never
arrived there, having been found dead in the road the next
morning. At the funeral it was thought that some of the
family were not as sober as they should be. This aroused
the Rev. Mr. Arnold to preach and talk against intemper-
ance. Things however went on in the old track. In
182G, Dr. Lyman Beecher preached his six sermons against
intemperance, which were printed and widely distributed.

Nearly if not the first organized movement on the
principle of total abstinence was at Andover, Mass. The
Rev. Jonathan Clement, afterwards of Chester, who was
then a teacher in the academy there, was one of the
first to sign the pledge. The first organized action in
Chester was in 1829. Dr. Justin Edwards, one of the
formers of the first society, came to Chester and spoke on
the subject. A call was issued for a meeting to consider
the subject. One deacon refused to sign the call on the

Online LibraryBenjamin ChaseHistory of old Chester [N. H.] from 1719 to 1869 → online text (page 29 of 60)