Richard B. (Richard Briscoe) Cook.

The early and later Delaware Baptists online

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challenger was one Coles, another Methodist
preacher. Here the victory was decisive, for
twenty-two of the audience were baptized the
next day, and soon after as many more by Rev.
Lewis Lunsford.'^ — MaterialSy Del., pp. 248,

delawaee baptists. 27

3. The Sounds Chuech, 1779.
The second Baptist Church in Delaware was
the Sounds, in Baltimore Hundred, Sussex
County. In 1791 it had no *^ temporalities,"
no meeting-house, no fixed salary. They held
their meetings in the dwellings of Tull and
Wilegoos. It has ceased to exist. It was
formed August 12, 1779, with twenty -five
members, through the labors of Messrs. Baker
and Hughes, and was one of the ten that
formed the Salisbury Association in 1782.
From this church, says Edwards, sprang six
ministers : John, Samuel, and Jonathan Gib-
bins, Eliphaz Dazey, Gideon Farrell, and Ed-
ward Carter Dingle, the latter a son of a cler-
gyman of the Church of England. Messrs.
Baker and Hughes first supplied it with preach-
ing ; then the neighboring pastors. The Rev.
Jonathan Gibbins was their first Pastor. He
was born in Broad Creek Hundred, December
16, 1751 ; called to the ministry in this church,
and ordained April 16, 1787, by Rev. Messrs.
Hughes and Dazey, when he assumed pas-
toral charge of this and of the Broad Creek

28 the early and later

4. Broad Creek Church, 1781.
This church was in Sussex County, and was
the third organized in the State. It was con-
stituted May 31, 1781, through the labors of
Messrs. Hughes and Baker, with forty-seven
members. In 1791 they had no house of wor-
ship, but worshipped in the dwellings of the
members in rotation, and had the Lord's Supper
administered quarterly. The minister's " in-
come, twenty pounds, including perquisites.''
It helped to form the Salisbury Association.
It decreased in ten years from forty-seven to
twenty-three, because several families emigrated
hence to Georgia and other Southern parts about
the year 1784, and a considerable number were
detached to form a church, in 1785, at Gravel-
ly Branch. The first ministers of this church
were its founders. Rev. John Gibbins was the
first Pastor. He was born in the neighbor-
hood, raised a Presbyterian, and was one of
the first converts of Messrs. Baker and Hughes.
He was called to the ministry by the Sounds
Church. After his ordination at Fouling Creek
he travelled abroad till 1784, w^hen he returned
and became Pastor of this church. He rem-


edied the defects of his early education by per-
sonal industry so far as to be master of his
mother tongue. Says Morgan Edwards (" Ma-
terials, Delaware/' p. 253): "In a conversation
I had with him in 1786 he lamented that he
could not read his Testament in the language
of Christ and his apostles, rather than dej)end
on translations, without which knowledge of
Greek he deemed it impossible to study the
gospel critically. He was therefore determined
to visit Rhode Island College, but the small-
pox broke his resolution at Wilmington, where
he died in 1786." This shows that special
training for the gospel ministry was appreciated
in Delaware at an early day. He was brother
to Eev. Samuel Gibbins, to whose labors the
churches in Sussex County, Delaware, and in
other States, owe great obligation. Of the Gib-
bins family, as of the household of Stephanas,
it may be said, " They have addicted them-
selves to the ministry of the saints."

His successor, Rev. John Benson, was born
in Worcester County, Maryland. He was bred
a Presbyterian. After he became a Baptist he
employed himself in reading sermons to the
peoj^le when no minister happened to be pres-


entj and afterward began to preach in the as-
sembhes of the church. He continued this
course till June 14, 1790, when he was ordain-
ed by Rev. Messrs. Hughes, John Pollard,
Jonathan Gibbins, and Edward Carter Dingle,
and at once took pastoral charge of this church
in conjunction with that of Gravelly Branch.
He was assisted in his work by Deacon Joshua
Gibbins. He died in 1818 or '19.

Rev. Joseph Flood, born at Welsh Tract,
November 2, 1767, converted and baptized
there in 1790, and ordained at Cow Marsh,
December 11, 1791, became Pastor, August
11, 1792.

5. Cow Marsh Church, 1781.
The fourth church constituted was the Cow
Marsh (or Mount Moriah) Church, in Kent
County, July 18, 1781. John Sutton, Pastor
at Welsh Tract, preached here in 1780. Then
Messrs. Isaac Stelle, R. Kelsay, William Worth,
and others performed a like service. In 1782,
James Sutton came and baptized. Others were
baptized here and at Welsh Tract, and twenty-
six were formed into a church by Messrs. Boggs
and Fleeson. Seven of these were from the


AVelsh Tract Church. They joined the Phil-
adelphia Association in 1786; had no house of
worship in 1791, but met for worship at the
dwelling of Job Meredith, Sr. They were pre-
paring to build in 1781, and had a considerable
sum subscribed, but their active friend, Luff
Meredith, died, when the design was abandon-
ed. They were talking of putting it into exe-
cution when Edwards wrote in 1791. The
Mispillion is in part the offspring of this
church. Rev. Eliphaz Dazey became Pastor,
April 21, 1787, taking upon him also the
oversight of the Duck Creek Church. He
was born October 26, 1754, in Sussex County,
Delaware, and ordained July 12, 1784. He
resigned October 25, 1788, but revisited them
for a considerable time. Messrs. Farrell and
Dewees administered the ordinances among
them for some time.

6. Bryn Zion Church, 1781.
The Duck Creek (or Bryn Zion) Church,
Kent County, was organized November 24, 1781 .
It was a branch of the Welsh Tract Church
from 1733 until its constitution into a church.
This church consisted of three branches — the


one near Duck Creek, another at East Landing,
and the third at Georgetown. The latter branch
originated through the preaching of Messrs.
Fleeson and Boggs, who went there by invita-
tion of a Mr. Parsons, a Methodist. They re-
peated their visit, and otlier ministers succeeded
them, until sixteen persons were converted and
baptized, and joined the Duck Creek Church.

The tract of land known as Duck Creek
Hundred was settled in 1733 by a number of
Welsh families, some of them Independents
and some Baptists. Of the Baptists, there
were eight or ten families who came from the
Welsh Tract. The Independents had a church
and a house, which they called Mount Zion.
This church wasted away, and the Baptists wor-
shipped in their house while it stood, and re-
built it in 1771, when the lot was conveyed
to them. The house was of brick, thirty by
twenty-five feet, and, as the historian says, "ac-
commodated with a stove." It still stands, and
is in the neighborhood of Smyrna. They had
preaching before their organization by Rev.
Enoch Morgan, Rev. Hugh Davis of the
Great Valley, Pennsylvania, and Rev. David
Davis of Welsh Tract. Rev. Griffith Jones


settled among them in 1749, and continued
until his death in 1754. In the spring of 1766
Rev. William Davis of New Britain, Pennsyl-
vania, settled among them, but soon died. Tlien
Rev. Messrs. David Davis, John Sutton, John
Boggs, and others ministered there till they
numbered thirty in all, when they petitioned
the Welsh Tract Church for permission to be-
come a separate church, having continued a
branch of the Welsh Tract for forty-eight years
— 1733 to 1781 — and were received into the
Philadelphia Association in 1786. In 1791
the membership was seventy-four, and the min-
ister's revenue was eighty pounds, or about four
hundred dollars. While the Independent
Church flourished the Baptists often worship-
ped and had administered to thorn the Lord's
Supper in private houses, as in those of James
Hyatt and Evan David Hughs. Their Pastors
after organization were Rev. Eliphaz Dazey,
who resigned October 25, 1787, and Rev.
Messrs. James Jones, John Patten, and Gideon
Farrell, who were co-Pastorr^. Dr. and Rev.
James Jones was born at Welsli Tract, April 6,
1756, and died in 1829. He was there licensed
to })reach November 2, 1782, and was educated


at Newark Academy, where he also, as Ed-
wards says, studied "physic." April 7, 1789,
he took joint oversight of the church with Rev.
John Patten, who was ordained the same day.
The latter was born at Cow Marsh, December
15, 1752, and called to the ministry and licensed
by the church there June 14, 1788. Rev.
Gideon Farrell, associated with them, has been
mentioned in connection with the Welsh Tract

7. MispiLLiox Church, 1783-1848.
The Mispillion, in Kent County, Avas the
sixth church, and was organized May 10, 1783.
Messrs. Boggs and Fleeson preached there in
1781. They repeated their visits, and baptized
some candidates, five of whom joined the church
at Cow Marsh. Messrs. Baker and Hughes
then labored here and baptized, when twenty
converts were collected and constituted a church.
They joined the Philadelphia Association in
1785, but in 1789 requested release to unite
with the Salisbury Association. They had no
house in 1791, and worshipped in the house
of C. Dewees. Says Mr. Edwards (p. 270) :
" This church hath, in eight years, decreased


from twenty to eleven, owing to deaths, emi-
grations, and no additions equal to losses ; and
it is to be feared it will soon cease to be, as
their minister intends going to the Western
World ;" by which was probably meant Ohio.
The church continued to exist, however, and it
was not until 1848 that its name disappeared
from the Minutes of the Delaware Association.
The Rev. A. S. Bastian, Milford, near which
the Mispillion Church is located, sends the fol-
lowing particulars : The church was incorpo-
rated in 1796, when they began to build their
first meeting-house. They met for business on
Saturday noon, when they usually had a ser-
mon. The first board of Trustees consisted of
Peter King, Vincent Beswicks, and Cornelius
Dewees. The latter was one of the charter
members of the church, and served as Clerk of
the church until his death in 1837. The only
surviving members of the church are Miss
Martha Cathel, her sister, Mrs. Mary B. Clif-
ton, and a Mrs. Stettzer, who removed to the
West years ago. Daniel Clifton, Esq., elected
Trustee in 1839, is the only Trustee left. The
old church-building, with its high pulpit, re-
mains, and is occupied by an aged colored man


and his family as a dwelling. Being a cripple,
and living in the old church-building surround-
ed by graves and situated in a lonely place by
the edge of the forest, he is dreaded, and re-
garded by those of his neighbors who are su-
perstitious as a wizard.

Rev. E. Dazey and Rev. Joshua Dewees
were Pastors of the church. The latter was
born in the neighborhood, May 3, 1742. He
was bred a Presbyterian, called to the ministry
of this church, October 29, 1785, and ordained
by Messrs. Fleeson, Boggs, and Dazey. " jNIr.
Dewees's transition from a state of nature to a
state of grace," says Morgan Edwards (p. 272),
" was tedious and distressing. His relation of
that transition put me in mind of what John
Bunyan saith of himself in his G-race Abound-
ing, etc. But it will not be long before he
makes another transit from a state of grace to
a state of glory, for his lungs are ulcerated."
The above Pastors were followed by Rev.
Joseph Flood, who served the church for
many years; Rev. S. Snead, 1804; Rev. Sam-
uel Broadaway, from 1807 to 1809 ; and Rev.
Peter Meredith.

delaware baptists. 37

8. Gravelly Branch Church, 1785.

The Gravelly Branch, Sussex County, was
the seventh church organized through the min-
istry of Messrs. Baker and Hughes. When
they had baptized about twenty-three converts
they constituted them into a church, July 30,
1785. It entered the Salisbury Association the
same year. A revival took place in this church
in 1788, whereby thirty-five members were add-
ed to it. Messrs. Baker and Hughes, as was
their custom with the churches they gathered,
labored with this people for a while. Rev.
Jonathan Gibbins then became Pastor, and in
turn was succeeded by Rev. John Benson. The
Pastor's salary was then (1791) forty pounds,
or about two hundred dollars. They had no
house, but worshipped in the dwelling of John
Willis, ^' where," says Edwards (p. 267), ^'a
movable pulpit stands." They were then pre-
paring to build. They afterward built, but the
church has ceased to exist. Though in early
times some of these churches had no meeting-
house, yet eventually each church succeeded in
building one for its ow^n accommodation.

38 the eakly and later

9. The Bethel, built 1786; constituted
1839; dissolved 1872.
The Welsh Tract Churcli had out-stations,
from which large accessions of members were
received, " in the town of Elk," Maryland, and
in New Castle County, Delaware, which latter
they called Bethel, and where, in 1786, they
built a house. The history of Bethel is some-
what interesting. David Morton, a Baptist,
coming into New Castle County to live, invited
Mr. Boggs, the Pastor, to preach at his house.
The audience so increased that a private house
would not hold them. " One day," says Mr.
Edwards (p. 236), '^as Mr. Boggs was preach-
ing out of doors, a storm arose and dispersed
the assembly. This induced two wealthy men
present (Messrs. Porter and Louden) to talk of
building a meeting-house in the place. The
talk had at first the air of pleasantry, but ended
in seriousness, and a house was built in 1786,
measuring thirty-two feet by twenty-eight, and
denominated Bethel." It was not, however,
until 1839 that it was received as a church of
sixteen members into the Delaware Association.
We have no definite record, but it had prob-


ably just been constituted. After tliirty-two
years its name appears for the last time in the
Minutes of the Delaware Association of 1871,
with five members.

From the above it seems tliat Messrs. Baker
and Hughes were instrumental in the formation
of the Sounds, Broad Creek, Gravelly Branch,
and Mispillion churches, but not directly in that
of the Cow Marsh and Duck Creek. Never-
theless, I have included all under the head of
their work, because their coming and labors
led to the revival among the Baptists that re-
sulted in the formation of all these churches
and the raising up of a numerous and zealous
ministry. The origin of the Baptists in Wil-
mington I shall consider under a separate head,
though Mr. Hughes was one of those who la-
bored successfully in that city.

The writer has not deemed it necessary up
to this point to make material addition to what
Edwards and Benedict have already furnished
concerning these churches. They seem, how-
ever, at this point, destined to play an import-
ant part in the religious history of Delaware^
and be great in number and influence, if they
only continue as they have begun in the Mis-


sionary spirit and the aggressive labors that God
ever blesses with success.

10. First Church, Wilmington, 1785.

This chiircli was formed October 8, 1785,
Their brick house of worship, thirty-five by
forty feet, was built in the same year, and still
stands. A graveyard surrounds the church.
Says Morgan Edwards (pp. 273-275) : " There
were Baptists in Wilmington long before a Bap-
tist Church existed in town ; particularly Mrs.
Ann Bush, a member of Welsh Tract Church ;
she settled here in 1748. In 1764, Mrs. Eliza-
beth Way, a member of Brandywine Church,
came to the place. About 1769, Mr. John
Stow, a member of Philadelphia Church, moved
hither with his family. The residing of these
Baptists in town induced Baptist ministers to
preach here in a transient way, but they made
no proselytes, insomuch that it was supposed
that Wilmington was no soil to plant Baptists
in. The first time that a prospect opened to
the contrary was in 1782, when Rev. Philip
Hughes came to print a volume of hymns.
He preached here and gained some attention."
In the month of April following (1783), Mr.


Thomas Ainger and family came from Phila-
delphia "to Wilmington Bridge." He was "a
visible member" of Arch Street Presbyterian
Chnrch, Philadelphia, but his wife was a pro-
fessed Baptist. And now, as Edwards says,
"What Baptists could not do a Presbyterian
did for them." It was mainly through him
that a Baptist Church was established in Wil-
mington. This family invited Rev. Messrs.
Fleeson and Boggs to preach at their house.
"They compb'ed, and serious impressions were
made on the minds of the hearers. Mr. Fleeson
judged it best to hold meetings in the town,
which was done. And in the spring of 1784,
Mr. Ainger and his family moved hither."
"His family, including his apprentices, was
then large, wherein he constantly held family
worship, which consisted in reading the Bible,
singing psalms, and prayers. One Sunday
evening he read the twentieth chapter of Rev-
elation, and found a strong impulse to com-
ment upon it, particularly on the twelfth verse.
This diffused a seriousness through the family,
and laid a foundation for a religious society in
which good was done. Two of his apprentices
and some others attribute their conversion to

4 *


this society. It quickened four more who had
been converted previously. The converts were
baptized by Rev. John Boggs, May 25, 1784.
Their names were — Thomas Ainger, Rachel
Ainger, Noah Cross, and Mrs. Ferris."

''The same year (1784) Rev. P. Hughes
came to town to print his book on Baptism,
which detained him near two months. He
preached all the while, sometimes at Rev. Mr.
McKannan's meeting-house, which still stands
near the old Baptist meeting-house, and some-
times at the town school-house, which collected
many hearers. By him were baptized four per-
sons who had been awakened at said society —
viz. Robert Smith, John Redman, James Mc-
Louchlan, Henry Walker." " Messrs. Fleeson
and Boggs continued to visit the place alternate-
ly — viz. one each week. More were baptized
by them, insomuch that a sufficient nnmber of
materials for a church were prepared at AVil-
mington." The candidates for baptism were
baptized in the Brandywine. Some of those
baptized — nine in number — had united with
the Welsh Tract Church. These, obtaining
letters of dismission for the purpose, were con-
stituted, with six others, into a " gospel church,"


October 8, 1785, and united with the Philadel-
phia Association the next year. The council
was composed of the following : Messrs. Flee-
son and Boggs, Abel Griffiths, and Eliphaz
Dazey. The constituent members, sixteen in
number, were as follows : Thomas Ainger,
James McLaughlin, Thomas Williams, Henry
Walker, Joseph Tomlinson, John Redman,
Robert Smith, John McKim, Curtis Gilbert,
Sarah Stow, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Mattson,
and four others who, it seems, were Baptists
before this — John Stow, Elizabeth Way,
Thomas Stow,, and Abigail Ainger. Four
of the constituent members became ministers
— viz. Thomas Ainger, James McLaughlin,
Henry Walker, and Curtis Gilbert. In five
years this church increased to fifty-four mem-

The publication of Rev. P. Hughes's book
on Baptism in Wilmington, and the earnest
preaching of believer's baptism by him and
others, which led to the formation of the Bap-
tist Church, aroused great opposition. The
pulpits of two churches thundered against the
Baptists and their principles, but there was
one man, Father McKannan, Pastor of the


First Presbyterian Church, who acted wisely ;
he not only invited Mr. Hnglies to preach for
him, but this " veteran divine taught his au-
dience to love their neighbors as themselves"
(Edwards, 278). A few months ago (1879)
the writer was present at the dedication of the
new lecture-room of the First Presbyterian
Church of Wilmington. The Pastor, Rev. B.
F. Duval, pointed to some beautiful Corinthian
columns that sustained the roof, remarking that
they had adorned the old meeting-house, now
used by the Historical Society of Delaware,
when " Father McKannan " preached in it over
one hundred years ago. When the writer's
turn came to speak he did not fail to refer to
the noble Christian charity of the "veteran
divine " displayed upon the occasion mentioned.
Rev. Thomas Fleeson, Pastor of London
Tract Church, was called for six months, and
then for six months more, but regarding it
as an unlimited call, removed with his fam-
ily to Wilmington. He had been instru-
mental in gathering the church and build-
ing their house. He and Mr. Boggs not only
preached for the church, but collected funds for
tlie church -building. The first stone was laid


by Mr. Fleeson, who made '^ an excellent pray-
er u}X)n the occasion." "He saved a great
part of his time to officiate to them (in connec-
tion with the church of which he was Pastor)
between the constitution in 1785 and 1788,
when one of their own members rose up to take
pastoral charge of them — viz. Rev. Thomas
Ainger" (Morgan Edwards, 273-275).

There are some particulars concerning the
founder and Pastor of this church worth re-
lating. Thomas Ainger was born in Philadel-
phia, May 12, 1755, bred a Presbyterian, bap-
tized on profession of his faith and repentance,
May 25, 1784, called to the ministry Aj)ril 25,
1786, licensed May 19, 1787, and ordained l)y
Rev. Messrs. Samuel Jones, David Jones, and
Eliphaz Dazey, October 28, 1788, when he be-
came Pastor of the church, in which office he
continued until his death in 1797. He was
buried in the churchyard, where his tomb re-
mains. He had serious impressions made on
his mind in early life, which wore off, but re-
turned in manhood with more vigor and per-
manency. " He followed them to full commu-
nion in the Presbyterian Church, but was all
the while a stranger to the liberty of the chil-


dren of God.'^ This liberty he obtained about
the spring of 1780 from reading the eighth
chapter of Romans, and particularly the first
verse: "There is, therefore, now no condem-
nation to them which are in Christ.'^ This he
read with new eyes. His fears vanished, and
confidence came in their place. He had fre-
quent misgivings of heart in reference to the
validity of infant baptism while a Presbyterian,
which he strove to suppress, but happening to
be on the banks of the Schuylkill when Bap-
tism was administered, he saw it to be so con-
formable to gospel history that he resolved to
go and do likewise. He administered the or-
dinance himself afterward in the same river.
He was one of the council that recognized
the Roxborough Church, and was the first
Baptist minister (according to Rev. D.
Spencer) to preach at Chestnut Hill, Phila-

" For a few years after Mr. Ainger's death
the church was supplied by the occasional la-
bors of Mr. John Boggs, Sr., Gideon Farrell,
John Ellis, and Joseph Flood. Mr. Flood
did, indeed, exercise the pastoral care of it for
a short time, when he was excluded for im-



moral conduct — ^ for holding and preachinpc
the doctrine of polygamy ' (Minutes Delaware
Association, 1803) — and afterward went to
Norfolk, Virginia, and was the cause of much
evil and confusion. But during the ministry
of Mr. Flood, notwithstanding the blemishes
of his character, and before they were known,
there was a very considerable revival, and
many were added to the church " (Benedict's
Abridged Baptist History, p. 304). Thomas
Ainger was Pastor till 1797. Five years later,
Rev. Daniel Dodge came, whose long and suc-
cessful pastorate of seventeen years terminated
in his resignation in 1819. He baptized two
hundred and fifty-nine converts while here.
His influence was great for good while in Del-
aware, and he is held in loving remembrance
by the people who knew him. There are but
few such persons living, linking the present
generation with the past ; among these few is
the venerable William Almond, father of the
present Mayor of Wilmington. They love to
recall the eloquence and zeal of this man of
God. Often have they seen him come down
from his high pulpit after preaching, singing
an inspiring hymn and urging sinners to come


to Christ. Mr. Dodge was born at Annapolis
Royal, Xova Scotia, in 1775, but his father
was a native of Ipswich, Massachusetts. Most

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Online LibraryRichard B. (Richard Briscoe) CookThe early and later Delaware Baptists → online text (page 2 of 8)