Emily C. (Emily Carrie) Hawley.

Historical sketch of the First Congregational Church of Brookfield, Connecticut, and of the town of Brookfield online

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Online LibraryEmily C. (Emily Carrie) HawleyHistorical sketch of the First Congregational Church of Brookfield, Connecticut, and of the town of Brookfield → online text (page 1 of 8)
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Historical sketch of the First Con

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Arms: Or. a Cross, engrailed per pale gules and sable— Crest— A brock, or badger, proper.



First Congregational Church








Often I think of the beautiful town ;

Often in thought go up and down
The pleasant streets of that dear old town,

And my youth comes back to me."

— Longfellow.


When invited by the anniversary committee to pre-
pare and deliver the historical address on the occasion
of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the
Congregational Church at Brookfield, Connecticut, it
was understood that the address should present not
only the history of the local church, but also a general
view of the early conditions, both civil and religious
which obtained in Connecticut during the first period
of its existence.

I have devoted considerable space to a historical
sketch of the town of Brookfield, with which the life
of the church was closely identified from its beginning ;
for thirty years this ecclesiastical society was the only
one in existence in this community.

The Addendum has been prepared chiefly that a
record of church and town officials might be quickly
available for future reference.

In arranging the souvenir I have introduced such
features, in the nature of photographs and views, as
would make the book more valuable.

Emily C. Hawley.

Brookfield Center, Conn., August 17, 1907.


Brooks Coat of Arms Frontispiece

Plan of First Meeting House Opposite Page 21

Second Church Building " » 24

Captain Garry Brooks " " 36

Rev. Marion L. Burton, Ph. D " " 46

Deacon Alfred Somers " «« 52

The Mill Dam— The Half-way Falls of the

Still River " << 77

Stone Arch, Still River, Brookfield . . " " 84

Main Street, Brookfield " " 88

Village Street, Brookfield Center ... " " 94

Still River, Brookfield " " 107

Frederick S. Curtis " "113

Henry B. Hawley " "117

Junius F. Smith, M. D " «« 121

Rev. Albert E. Dunning, D. D " " 134

Sidney E. Hawley " " 147

Henry B. Hawley, Jr " " 150



I. Connecticut: Early Settlements — Founders ... 7
II. Settlement of Newbury-Brookfield and Aboriginal

Dwellers 12

III. Building the First Meeting House 18

IV. History of the Second Church Edifice 24

V. Pastors of the Congregational Church 35

VI. Deacons of the Congregational Church .... 49

VII. Organizations Within the Church 54

VIII. Anniversaries — Sesqui Centennial 64

IX. Congregationalism: Origin and Principles ... 70

X. Brookfield Iron Works 77

XI. Brookfield Center 90

XII. The Hills 100

XIII. History of the Town of Brookfield Continued . . 109

XIV. Town Affairs 123

XV. Sons and Daughters of Brookfield 134

Addendum 151



Early Settlements — Character of the Founders

It has been said that love of native land is a uni-
versal passion.

To us, the sons and daughters of New England, our
native soil is hallowed soil. We can never forget,
should never forget, that it was the pursuit of liberty,
civil and religious, that brought our Pilgrim ancestors
to these shores in 1620. We, of Connecticut, live too
near to Plymouth Rock ever to forget that struggle ; it
quickens our pulses and nerves us to endeavor when-
ever we recall the past.

But a few weeks since some of us stood on the site
of historic Jamestown, Virginia, and looking out upon
the Hampton Roads, saw that splendid naval pageant,
which had gathered from every land, to honor the three
hundredth anniversary of the first permanent English
settlement in the New World (1607).

We felt it to be an occasion for national congratula-
tion, as we realized that within three centuries a na-
tion has arisen here the most progressive on the globe
— a nation having the greatest continuous empire ever
established by man.

8 Historical Sketch

Connecticut has a history of peculiar interest, of
course to us it would be of deep significance.

The beautiful valley of the Connecticut River, and
our splendid coast line on Long Island Sound, appealed
to the early settlers of the Massachusetts colony and
within ten or twelve years after the landing at
Plymouth Rock the exodus into the great wilderness
of our present state had commenced.

Consider for a moment the character and equipment
of the men and women who, two hundred and seventy
years ago, and more, laid the foundations of our

They were not adventurers, on pleasure bent, many
of them were ministers educated at the universities of
England, men of culture and high standing. A
considerable number were persons of liberal means.
They were, moreover, led by high ideals. They had
come hither that they might plant in the virgin soil
of this New World the seeds of progress, which,
germinating, should bear fruit to bless the whole civ-
ilized and uncivilized world.

In 1635 the famous English preacher, Rev. Thomas
Hooker, who had settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
three years previous, started with one hundred persons
for the Connecticut valley in search of larger liberties.
Their journey through the untried wilderness, without
shelter by day or night, showed them to be persons of

Early Settlements 9

no mean purpose. This party of Pilgrims laid the
foundations of our capital city, Hartford, and the
adjoining towns, Windsor and Wethersfield; the in-
fluence of Thomas Hooker impressed itself upon the
Connecticut colony for generations, and is recognized
to this day.

In 1639 all the "free planters" of this colony met
at Hartford and adopted a written constitution;
Thomas Hooker had preached his famous sermon de-
claring the right of the people to choose and limit the
power of the people and this constitution was the out-

In 1638, three years after the settlement at Hart-
ford, Rev. John Davenport, with a distinguished
company of men of means from England, attracted by
the beauties of the Long Island shore, settled at New
Haven, founding there a Puritan colony, known as the
New Haven Colony.

In 1639 they adopted the Bible as their constitution,
and granted the rights of citizenship to church mem-
bers only. Their government was known as the
House of Wisdom.

The churches of New Haven, Milford, and Guil-
ford were formed first by the choice of seven persons
from among the brethren who were called "pillars" ;
the others joined themselves to these seven pillars by

10 Historical Sketch

This plan of founding a church seems to have been
peculiar to these towns; from this, came the phrase,
"A pillar of the church."

The Saybrook Colony, antedating the others, was
merged into the Connecticut Colony.

For a period of about thirty years the Connecticut
and New Haven Colonies maintained distinct govern-
ments, until the days of the Royal Charter in 1662
which united all the Connecticut colonies under one
government, and included some fifteen towns, with a
population of eighteen thousand souls.

The Royal Charter was the most liberal ever granted
by a monarch to his subjects.

Charles II. signed the document through the appeals
of the diplomatic Winthrop, one of the truest friends
Connecticut ever had.

The united colonies of Connecticut lived under this
charter for over one hundred and fifty years, or until
the adoption of the Constitution in 1818.

In 1686, when this precious charter was in danger
at the hands of a royal governor, its concealment in
the oak occurred.

Our Connecticut officials on their visit to Jamestown,
Virginia, this summer, May, 1907, carried with them
a scion of the Charter Oak, which they planted in the
soil of Virginia, the tribute of the Puritan to the

Early Settlements 11

From these unusual antecedents came our great
commonwealth; and who shall deny to us, their de-
scendants, the just pride which we take in our historic
state, and the fact that the ideals of the Pilgrim and
Puritans have become the realities of to-day in our self-
government and personal liberty ?



The early settlers here were from the Puritan
Colony of New Haven, as it was known before the

They came from Milford and called the settlement

Inasmuch as the first settlers here did not purchase
their territory of the Indians, as did the early settlers
of Danbury in 1684, Newtown in 1705, and New Mil-
ford in 1707, we can secure no exact date when a set-
tlement was made, but believe it to have closely fol-
lowed that of the neighboring towns, namely, soon
after the year 1700.

All early records having been lost, or destroyed, I
find myself obliged to be confined to the records now
in the hands of the clerk of this church, which begin
in the year 1755, with the exception of certain valuable
items of interest found among the records at Newtown
and New Milford, which give light upon very early
events connected with the settlement at Newbury.

Newbury embraced three (3) parcels of territory be-

Settlement of Newbury-Brookfield 13

longing respectively to New Milford, Newtown, and

The ancient boundary line between the towns of New
Milford and Newtown crossed our present village street
near the Congregational parsonage, and just south of
the present Episcopal Church. The northern half of
Newbury therefore lay within the town of New Mil-
ford ; that portion of Newbury on the south of the
boundary was within the town of Newtown ; while the
western part of Newbury was included in the town of

The male inhabitants of Newbury were, until some
time after the Revolutionary War, regarded as legal
residents of one of these three towns above mentioned,
and so enrolled for military and town affairs ; namely,
a man residing near this church was a legal resident of
Newtown, until the date of our incorporation as a
town. When Newbury organized for ecclesiastical,
school and society affairs, it became known as The
Society and Parish of Newbury.

The Parish of Newbury, Incorporated in 1754

In 1743 a memorial was sent to the General Assembly
from Newbury, praying that they be set off as a distinct
society, and their bounds as a parish be fixed. But this
was not to be secured without opposition, as it would

14 Historical Sketch

seem, for I find in the records at Newtown in the year
1743 that Rev. Thomas Toucey (pastor of the Congre-
gational church at Newtown from 1715-1724 and a
resident of that town in 1743) was appointed by that
church "to oppose the formation of a new ecclesiastical
society in Newbury," now Brookfield. In 1752 the
bounds were agreed upon and Newbury was permitted
to have church privileges for five months each year,
from September to March. In 1754 the Assembly
granted the petition of the memorialists, and the Society
of Newbury was incorporated, and the bounds re-
mained as fixed two years previous. Newbury man-
aged its own affairs, and was known as the Society
of Newbury for about thirty-five years. In 1759 the
Society of Newbury petitioned the General Assembly
to have the New Milford part of Newbury annexed
to Fairfield County. About the year 1768 the in-
habitants of the Society of Newbury took action in
regard to securing town privileges, and for a period
of nearly twenty years regularly petitioned the Gen-
eral Assembly to grant them such privileges. That
opposition arose from the three towns in whose bor-
ders they lived there is no doubt.

The Society at Newbury annually appointed com-
mittees for several years to wait on the inhabitants of
New Milford, Danbury and Newtown "to secure their
consent for town privileges."

Settlement of Newbury-Brookfield 15

In March, 1788, at a lawful meeting of the in-
habitants of Newbury, being lawfully warned, it was
voted that "this Society will make application to the
next General Assembly for town privileges," and it
was also voted that "Amos Wheeler, Esq., be an agent
to present our memorial and secure the act of incor-
poration." The Society was successful, and the town
was incorporated in May, 1788, and received the name
of Brookfield in honor of its first and then-time pastor,
Rev. Thomas Brooks. The first town meeting was
held June 9, 1788, the moderator being Col. Samuel
Canfield, appointed by the General Assembly; people
were present from surrounding towns.

In December, 1794, it was voted to build a town
house, building to be 34 feet long by 24 feet wide, two
stories high, and built "convenient for hanging a bell
upon." It was voted that the town house be near the
meeting house. The building was completed in 1796,
and seated, and a bell placed in the tower. This bell
was replaced in 1829 by a new one, which is in use at
the present time. A second town house was built in
1875-76, which is the building in which town business
is transacted to-day.

The original survey of the land which constitutes the
town of Brookfield was about eighteen square miles ;
of this survey, New Milford contributed 8 1 /- square
miles, Newtown 6 square miles, and Danbury 3^4

16 Historical Sketch

square miles. This represents about 11,380 acres of

Town Limits as Fixed by the General Assembly in 1752

The north boundary line of Brookfield begins on the
east at the Housatonic River, at the northeast corner
of the John Warner farm, and running westerly to the
Gallows Hill Cemetery, passes through it and continues
west until it intersects the New Fairfield line ; thence
running southwardly on the New Fairfield line to a
certain stone marker at the lower end of Beaver Brook
Mountain ; thence running easterly to the south end
of Bound Swamp, and continuing easterly to a point
below Abel S. Taylor's house on Whisconier Hill and
to the mouth of Pond Brook where it empties into the
Housatonic ; thence northerly on the Housatonic River
to point of beginning.

Aboriginal Dwellers

The oldest inhabitants of Brookfield recall the last
of the Indians who frequented this vicinity ; they came
at certain seasons with their baskets ; a pathetic rem-
nant of the once powerful Red man. DeForrest, in his
history of Connecticut, relates that "the Indians were
accustomed to pass down the Housatonic, and up the
Still River during the summer season and plant in

Settlement of Newbury-Brookfield 17

the valleys." Indian arrowheads and implements have
frequently been plowed up by the farmers in the
meadows adjoining the Still River at Brookfield.
Newbury was, in reality, in the midst of several peace-
ful Indian tribes. On the south and east the Pootatuck
tribe built their wigwams and gained their living from
the waters of the Housatonic. On the north, at the
"Great Falls" at Lanesville, lived for long that power-
ful "tribe, one thousand strong, whose sachem was the
wise Wehononague ( Waramaug)," of whom Rev.
Daniel Boardman of New Milford wrote, "This
sachem is distinguished for his abilities and virtues,
and his name should be recorded by the faithful his-
torian." The Pootatucks at Newtown at last joined
themselves to the tribe at the Great Falls, and later a
considerable number joined the Scaticooks tribe at

In 1743 the Moravian missionaries visited the Great
Falls and the sachem and many of his followers em-
braced Christianity. It may be added here that in
March last (1907) the Moravian Church celebrated
its four hundred and fiftieth anniversary (450) all
over the world. The sect did pioneer work in this
country and has been recognized as "an ancient Episco-
pal Church" by the British Parliament.

The Indian names which still abide with us are
Pokono and Whisconier.



In old New England days ecclesiastical and town
affairs commingled. It is sometimes difficult to deter-
mine whether the church was running the town or the
town controlling the church. Civil and religious meet-
ings convened at the "meeting house." In Connecticut
all persons were required by law to contribute to the
support of the churches, and to attend a place of wor-
ship on the Sabbath and on fast days.

In January, 1755, the county court, sitting at Fair-
field, in and for the county of Fairfield, passed the
following vote : Whereas, the inhabitants of the es-
tablished Religious Society of Newbury, Fairfield
County, at their lawful meeting January 21, 1755, by
a vote wherein more than two thirds of the inhabitants
of said Society were present and qualified by law to
vote, declare it necessary to build a meeting house in
said Society, and now make application to this court
to appoint and fix the place whereon their meeting
house should be erected and built as by their memorial
on file.

This court does thereupon appoint Samuel Olm-
stead of Ridgefield, Stephen Burr and Joseph Sand-

Building the First Meeting House 19

ford of Fairfield, all of the county of Fairfield, a
committee to fix the place whereon said meeting house
shall be erected and built, and make return of their
doings to the county court to be held in Fairfield in

April next.

Signed by Thadeus Burr, Esq.,

Clerk of the Court.

The committee appointed by the court to select a
site for the Newbury meeting house performed its
task ; but the same was not acceptable to the court, and
this body appointed a second committee, namely,
Increase Mosely, Benjamin Stiles and Gideon Walker,
all of Woodbury, to select the site, and return report
to the court at its next sitting. In October, 1755, the
Society "approved of the findings of the committee
appointed by the court" and accepted the site selected
by said committee for a church building. The site
was the one on which our present church stands.

December 10, 1755, at a meeting of the parish of
Newbury, a building committee, having in charge the
construction of the first meeting house, was appointed ;
namely, Joseph Murry, Benjamin Dunning and Robert
Bostwick representing the three sections of Newbury.

The first meeting house was forty-six (46) feet in
length, by thirty-six (36) feet in width, and the posts
were twenty (20) feet long.

The Society voted to cover the front side of the

20 Historical Sketch

roof of the meeting house with cedar shingles and
the back side of the roof with chestnut shingles. Also
voted to cover the upright of the house with oak clap-
boards. To secure means to build, a tax of four (4)
pence on the pound was laid on the whole list of the
inhabitants of Newbury. In June, 1756, the Society
voted to lay a tax, to cover the meeting house, and
Amos Northrop, Esq., collected the same.

In November, 1756, it was voted to purchase half a
box of glass for glazing the meeting house. Although
there were no pews placed in the edifice for some little
time (benches being used), and the interior was not
plastered, yet the meeting house was ready for oc-
cupancy in the summer of 1757, and the Society of
Newbury approached the great events which make
September 28, 1757, memorable in its history; namely,
that on this date the church was formally organized ;
the church building or meeting house was dedicated,
and the first settled pastor, Rev. Thomas Brooks, was
ordained and installed over the church.

At a General Assembly, holden at New Haven in
October, 1757, a memorial was presented by Joseph
Murry, Joseph Smith and others, a committee for
building and finishing the meeting house in Newbury,
stating that said house was built and covered by taxing
the inhabitants; the committee prayed the Assembly
to grant a land tax of one penny per acre on all the


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Building the First Meeting House 21

uninclosed land in the parish for four years to enable
the Society to complete the house of worship. This
was granted, and the interior was gradually completed.
Pews were placed in the meeting house in 1759 ; they
were of the square box type, seating a considerable
number each. Galleries were added later, and the
interior of the building was plastered in 1790. There
was a sounding board beneath the pulpit, also. I have
learned that the pulpit was a gift from the New
Mil ford Society, being one formerly used by them in
the old Congregational Church. It is a pleasure to
chronicle the fact that New Milford was always favor-
ably disposed toward the new enterprise at Newbury,
and inclined to assist the settlers here toward securing
a church.

In 1760 the meeting house was seated. The Society
voted that "all persons upwards of fifty (50) years of
age shall be seated in the first rank," and all under
fifty years shall be seated "by the first three years'
building list," and the "last year's list." Society also
voted that the Rev. Thomas Brooks have a pew at the
left of the pulpit.

In 1815, when the pews were sold at auction, the
proceeds to be applied to the salary, provision was
made for "seating the poor," as the introduction of
the "sale of pews" did away with the custom of "seat-
ing the meeting house." For some years the "tithing

22 Historical Sketch

man" was regularly appointed to "care for those in
this Society who on the Sabbath day are disorderly."

Provision was made for sweeping the meeting house
at regular times. I am told by Elmer H. Northrop,
Esq., that as a lad he performed this task and that of
ringing the bell for three dollars a year. It was even
intimated to him by a church official that he ought to
contribute something to the support of the gospel from
his salary.

This meeting house was occupied by the First
Ecclesiastical Society of Newbury-Brookfield for
about one hundred (100) years. For sixty-seven (67)
years the church building was without a steeple. In
the year 1824 the steeple was added; this has caused
some people to believe that a second edifice was built
in 1824, which is not the case.

The bell which called the people to worship was the
bell in the town house hard by, which was placed there
in 1795; what method was used previous to 1795 is
not stated. It is sorrowful to relate that a bell never
graced the steeple of the old First Church at Newbury.


In Connecticut all persons were required by law to
contribute to the support of the church. Rate bills
were issued for the raising of the salary of the minister,
and these "rates" were made and collected in same

Building the First Meeting House 23

manner as rates of respective towns. This system pre-
vailed for a long period, but came at last to an end
with the selling of the pews.


Sabbath-day houses, or "Sabba-day houses," as they
were called, stood south of the meeting house on land
owned by John Peck, Esq., but now by the family of
Arza Peck. These little houses occupied a position
about opposite Mr. Peck's residence on the south side
of the road. Their purpose was to afford a place for
those who lived at a distance to congregate during the
intermission between the Sabbath-day services, and
warm themselves at the open fireplaces, which were
a feature of these houses ; the meeting house being
without a fire for years. The Sabbath-day houses also
gave opportunity for social intercourse between friends
and neighbors. Permission to erect such houses was
usually secured from the town meeting by those per-
sons desiring to build them.



In December, 1852, the First Ecclesiastical Society
of Brookfield appointed a special committee of eight
persons to take action in regard to building a new
church edifice. In April, 1853, this committee reported
to the Society that they had raised a given amount of
money, and the Society thereupon appointed a building
committee; namely, Messrs. Hiram Fairchild, Beers

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Online LibraryEmily C. (Emily Carrie) HawleyHistorical sketch of the First Congregational Church of Brookfield, Connecticut, and of the town of Brookfield → online text (page 1 of 8)