Mass. First church of Christ Amherst.

An historical review. One hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the First church of Christ in Amherst, Massachusetts online

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Online LibraryMass. First church of Christ AmherstAn historical review. One hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the First church of Christ in Amherst, Massachusetts → online text (page 1 of 12)
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NOVBMBBr^ Z, 1889.





Preface, 5

Historical Address l)y Kev. G. S. Dickermau, 9

Presentation of Portraits by Jolm II. WaslilnuMi

and tlieir Acceptance by Uev. I). W. Marsh, D. D.. 34

Address. The First and Second Pastors, by Eev. Chas. H. Williams. 36

Address. The Relation of the Chnrch to the Educational Institutions

of Amherst, by Prof. Wm. S. Tyler, D. D., LL.D-, 43

Address. Representative Men of the Parish, Church Buildings and

Finances, by W. A. Dickinson. 50

Address. The Material Progress of Amherst, by Henry F. Hills, (37

Reminiscences of Former Pastors :

Paper by Rev. Aaron M. Colton, 71

Paper by Rev. E. S. Dwight, D. D., 78

Letter by Rev. Henry L. Hubbell, D. D., 83

Address by Rev. Jonathan L. Jenkins, D. P., 86

Letter by Rev. F. F. Emerson, 88

Address by Rev. E. P. Blodgett, 91

Correspondence, 94

Hymn, by Dr. V. W. Leach, 99

Old Documents, 100

Appendix to Historical Address :

A. Ancestry and Families of the Founders, 103

B. Petition against Building Two Meeting Houses, 112

C. Origin of the Second Chnrch and Parish. 117
Statistical Tables, 122


'' Church and Manse, Frontispiece

^ Portrait of Dr. Parsons. 34

Portrait of Mrs. Parsons, 36

Second Meetinu' House and Old Parsons House, 53

Third Meeting House, 57


At a meeting of the Parish connected with the First Church of
Amherst, February 11, 18., Rev. Chas. /I. Williams.

7. Hymn 820. " Let Saints below in concert sing."

8. Historical Address, - - Rev. G. «S'. Dickerman.

9. Hymn 329. " Coronation."

10. The First and Second Pastors, Rev. Chas. H. Williams.

11. Hymn 10()0. " O God, beueatli thy guiding hand."




1. Organ Prelude.

2. Te Deum.

3. Prayer. Rev. J. L. Jeiildns, D. D.

4. Response.

5. The Relations of the Church to the Educational Institu-

tions OF Amherst, Prof. Wm. S. Tyler, D. i)., LL. D.

(I. Hymn. Composed by Dr. \'. W. Leacli.


7. Representative Men of the Parish, Church Buildings and

Finance, ... Wm. A. Dickinson, Esq.

8. Reminiscences,

Rev. Aaron M. Cohon, Rev. E. S. Dioight, D. D.

9. The Mateuial Progress of Amherst, Mr. Henry F. Hills.
10. Hymn TAT. "Oh, where ure kuigs and empires now."



1. Organ Prelude.

2. Anthem.

3. Address, Rev. J. L. Jenkins, D. D.

4. Reading of Lkitkus from Rev. F. F. Emerson and Others.

5. Address, Rev. E. P. Blodgett.

6. Prayer, Rev. Chas. S. Nash.

7. Hymn 1014. " Clirist is coming ! Let creation "


The following- is from an account of the Anniversaiy in the Hamp-
shire Gazette of November 12, 1881) :

" The day was bright and sunn}', an ideal Indian summer day, and
the occasion brought together a large number from the four villages
of Amherst, and from Hadley and other towns around. In the
audience were seen many aged people, some of Avhom could cover with
their memory half the space of time under review.

At the close of the historical address a pleasant surprise occurred,
Mr. John H. Washburn of New York, a son of Rev. Royal Washburn
a former pastor, and a descendant, through his mother, of the first
and second pastors, was introduced, and in graceful words presented
to the church the framed portraits of his grandfather and grand-
mother Rev. Dr. David Parsons and wife. Rev. Dr. Marsh of
Amherst accepted the portraits on behalf of the church.

At noon by the blowing of the self-same conch-shell that used to
summon the people to church, the assembly was called to dinner,
prepared by the ladies in the hall below. The Divine Blessing was
invoked by Rev. Dr. J. ]VI. Greene of Low^ell. After which more
than three hundred people were sumptuously feasted with good things.

At the evening exercises a crowded audience assembled, the cahn,
moonlight evening being favorable for both driving and walking.
After the opening anthem, finely sung by the choir, Rev. Dr. Jenkins,
pastor of the church from '(36 to '76, spoke in his usual bright and
interesting manner, giving recollections of his pastorate, closing with
a panegyric on the church, the church of New P'.ngland, as being the
conservator of all that is best and noblest in the state — a field of
action for the best talent and executive abilit}" of all.

Letters of regret were read from many who were invited to be
present, among them J. H. Sweetser of New York, Mrs. Electa S.
Boltwood of Kansas, Rev. Dr. G. L. Walker of Hartford, Rev. O.
R. Kingsbur}^, Dr. J. C. Oreenough and Mrs. Greeuough of Westtield,
Dr. E. S. Dwight was unable to be present, but sent an excellent
letter, which was read by Rev. Charles 8. Nash. Rev. Eorrest F.
P^merson of Newport, pastor from '80 to '83, expected until the last
moment to be present, but pastoral duties that he did not feel at
liberty to put aside, prevented his coming. His paper was read by
Rev. Dr. Marsh.

Quite a collection of old and modern portraits and photographs of
pastors and prominent men and women of the church and town, were
displayed in the lecture room of the church. Some interesting relics
were also shown, such as ancient books, manuscript sermons of the
older pastors, musical instruments used in the choir fifty years ago,
the manacles used to confine the famous Stephen Ijurroughs, etc.
Among the portraits were those of Rev. Daniel Clark, Dea. P^leazer
Gaylord and wife, Pres. Hitchcock, Edward Dickinson, Leonard
Hills, Dea. Ayres, 8. C. Carter, Aaron Belden. There were excellent
photographs of Rev. H. Kingsbury, Rev. Dr. IIubl)ell, Dea. Sweet-
ser and wife, Dr. (iridle}'. Dr. Smith, Miss P^sther Cutler and others.

A word of ju-aise ought to be spoken in regard to the music interspers-
ed throughout the exercises. Much time and thought had been spent
upon the preparation of suitable pieces, and the clioir and their leader
Mrs. Sanderson, won well-deserved laurels in their execution, espec-
ially in theT'e Deum^ the Dona Nobis, and the time-honored " Strike
the Cymbal." A quartette from the Agricultural College rendered the
chant " Remember now tliy Creator" in a most accui'ate and very
impi'essive manner. The oni' hundi'cd and lifticth anniversary is over
and now the church takes its strong and steadfast march along
towards its two hundredth vear."


By G. S. DTCKERMAN, Pastor.

Occasions similar to this on which we meet are growing familiar.
A trait of our times is love of the retrospect with endeavor to repro-
duce the life of a former period.

The past interests us as showing the fotmtam head of streams that
are flowing in the present ; and often we are led to wonder at the
depth and majesty of these streams as we trace them back to a quiet,
secluded spring.

We are interested, too, in the life of the past. It is so unlike that
of the present, not only in outward circumstances, but in many essen-
tial features, in modes of thinking, in ideas of dut}^ in the sentiment
and practice which prevailed. This gives a peculiar zest to studies
which might otht^rwise seem dull and covers them with an air almost
of romance.

But such a review is more than entertaining : it can teach us much.
There are lessons here to make us wise and strong, to raise our cour-
age and kindle our ardor. For how can we call to mind the deeds of
those who have gone before us and be uumoved? How can we reflect
on their high purpose, their fidelity to conviction, their steadfast
endurance in the way they believed to be right, with the far-reaching
results that have ensued, and not be made truer and better for the
work we have to perform?

In our old record book the first entry is, " Nov'"" 1735, 1 Began my
Ministry' at Hadiey." Then immediately below we read " Nov'"^ 7.
1731), David Parsons Jun. was ordained Pastor of the Chh of Christ
in Iladley 3*^ Precinct, which was gathered on that Day & consisted
of the Persons hereafter mentioned : "


David Parsous, Pastoi- John Cowls

Nath^' Kellogg Aaron Smith

John Ingram Ebeuezer Kellogg

Sam"' Hawle}' Jonathan Smith

Eleazer Mattuu Nath"^ Smith

John Nash Joseph Clar}'

Pelatiah Smith Jonathan Cowls &

P^benezer Dickinson Kichard Chauncey."'

Here are the names of sixteen men. The youngest of these was
the pastor whose age was twenty-seven and who was as yet unmarried.
The other fifteen were all householders and fathers of children, their
ages ranging from thirty-fonr to seventy-eight.

The method of founding a church through a band of chosen men
had prevailed from the beginning of the New England settlements.
In earlier times the number had been fixed at seven and tliese Avere
named pillars in allusion to the text of Provei'bs, " Wisdom hath
builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars." So the
churches at New Haven, Northampton and Westfield were organized
and probably most of those belonging to that period, though in many
cases no record is left of the event. But the usage with respect to
number was gradually modified to suit the exigency, and in the orga-
nization of this church the founders seem to have included all the men,
with a single exception, who intended to become members.

Having started in this manner, the next step was to receive into
tlie body such other Christians as might be ready to join them. This
was done on the first of January following, when twentj'-eight persons
" were added by recommendation from other churches."

One of these was David Smith, a man somewhat younger than any
of the founders but the pastor, and perhaps unmarried though, he
seems to have taken his wife not far from this tinu". These reasons
may account for his not being among the founders.

Besides him were twenty-seven women, the mothers, wives and
sisters of the men I have named. Among tliem were three recently
bereaved widows whose names remind us of Zechariali Field, Samuel
Boltwood anil John Ingram Jr., who had come with their f:imilies to
the settlement and had raUen tluis early bi'fori' the exposures incident
to life in a new country.

Zechariah Field had V)e('n a h'adiug man and among tlu> foremost
in the movement for a new precinct and tlie I'stablislanent of a church.
His nanu^ headed tile second petition to the (Jeneral Court lor this


object, and wiu'ii thv petition was granted, the first meeting of the
precinct was held at his house. Samuel BoltAvood had also been prom-
inent iu the movement and was one of the earliest officers of the
precinct, while j^ouug John Ingram was so related to a mrmber of
the families that his death, like that of the other two, must have
caused universal mourning.

The elder John Ingram was the patriarch of the settlement, his age
being seventy-eight, and, besides his son, he had four daughters who
were wives of founders and themselves members of the church. His
own wife was the sister of Ebenezer Dickinson, and the widow of
his son was a daughter of Samuel Boltwood.

Another who was advanced iu life was Nathaniel Kellogg, tlien in
his seventieth year. His wife was the sister of Samuel and Solomon
Boltwood. One of his sons had married Elizabeth Ingram and a
daughter was the wife of Ebenezer Dickinson.

Of the children of Zechariah Field two were married to Samuel and
Joseph Hawley, another to Moses AVarner, and his son John to a
daughter of Samuel Boltwood.

In this way all the families of the settlement were closely interre-

In the list of Christian women there are six whose husbands were
not in the church. Part of these afterwards had the joy of seeing
their husbands take the covenant and enter into '■'full conununion."

The whole number of families represented in the church by either
husband or wife was twenty-four. There were several others in the
settlement besides these — in all about thirty families.

A remarkably full record of these old families is to be found in
Judd's Histor}^ of Hadle}'^ to which I am greatly indebted for the
statements I here present.

I have intimated that the church was composed of adult members.
There were only three or four besides the pastor who were unmarried,
and only two of these who could be called, according to our way
of speaking, young people. These two were Elizabeth Smith and
Ruth Boltwood, maidens of seventeen. But let no one suppose that
there was a lack of the youthful element in this community or in the
congregations that gathered here for worship. I find the number of
sons and daughters in this group of families to have been over
one hundred and ninety, or an average of six to each household. I do
not mean by this that there were so many at the time the church was
organized, or at any t)ne time. Some died early, some were born at

*Appendix A.


a later date, while a uuinbei- were grown to maturity. But U'aviug
out these, a tine company remains of children and youth, not less
than eighty or ninety as I count them, of all sizes from the babe in
his cradle to youth and maidens whose lives were opening into man-
hood and womanhood. And these, we ma}^ be sure, played no small
part in this neAV enterprise. Then as now parents were intent on the
welfare of their children, and their first thought was of their religious

It is contained in the records that four days after the church was
started, the pastor l)aptized .Jonathan, the son of Jonathan and Sarah
Cowls, and that in less than a month later, he baptized three more
children presented by their parents. There is not a little meaning in
this, and as you read on down the long list of five hundred and eighty-
three baptisms, nearly all of children, in that one pastorate, and then
continue with the still longer list of the second pastorate, the meaning
becomes more impressive with every added name. During this
eighty years ministry of father and son there were baptized upwards
of fourteen hundred persons (1447), of whom not less than thirteen
hundred were children upon whom their parents sought the blessings
of the Abrahamic covenant.

This speaks volumes for the family life of the place. The family
filled the people's minds. And the life of each home was the stronger
and deeper for the whole community's being so much like a single
family, so bound together in ties of kinship.

There were no foreigners here then, and there were few Avho hail
not been all their life in this particular society. We can hardly
comprehend this at the present day, when our conununities are full
of strangers from various parts of the world : especially is it hard to
understand of a frontier settlement gathered in the woods.

But let us go back a step. Ask whence these thirty families
came. We find they were from old Hadley village and from Ilattield,
and there they belonged to a society Avliose kinships and common
interests were the same as we have seen here, only on a larger scale.
Hadley and Hatfield were almost like one conmumity, and they had
kept on their way together from the time of their connnon origin
eighty years before.

They had been planted as follows. The colony of Hartford, which
Thomas Hooker had founded with the company he led through the
wilderness from Dorchester, was in discord. Their great leader
had died, and tlie church to whicii he had ministered was rent


into two factions lieatU'd on tlie ont^ side by tlie " tv:iciiiu

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Online LibraryMass. First church of Christ AmherstAn historical review. One hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the First church of Christ in Amherst, Massachusetts → online text (page 1 of 12)