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250Tli JINNIVER.SAR.Y
OF THE

Congregational
Church,
DECEMBER
42,1885.

HISTORICAL

ADDRESS,

BY REV. SAMUELSCOVILLE.

POEM,
BY REV. JORN G. DAVENPORT.

THE

ADDRESS AND POEM , IN FULL, AS CORRECTED AND '
REVISED BY THE AUTHORS , TOGETHER WITH A
CONDENSED REPORT OF ALL TH E PROCEEDINGS, FROM THE STAMFORD
ADVOCATE.

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STAMFORD, CONN.:
1885.

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HISTORICAL
ADDRESSI
The Congregational church's celebration
of the 250th anniversary of its organization
was the event of the week in Stamford. The
incident could uot be otherwise than -interesting not only to its members, but to the
community at large, for the history of the
church was for many years after its organization the history of the town. Nor does
the peculiar interest of the occasion stop
here.
The church enjoys the unique
destinction of being the first of any denomination organized on Connecticut soil.
The celebration really began with the
services of Sunday morning, the 20th inst.,
though Tuesd.ty, the 22d, was the "great
day of the feast"-the day especially set apart
for the commemorative exercises. Sunday's
services began at the usual morning hour,
and were attended by a congregation occupying every pew in the main auditorium,
and a large proportion of the gallery seats.
The Sunday school was especially recognized
on ttiis occasion, a good part of the exercises being performed by the scholars and
teachers under the immediate direction of
the superintendent.
The singing of two of
the several Christmas and jubilee selections
was assigned exclusively to the primary
class, and right well did these bright and
clever children do their part. They sang
with such a precision and sweetnass that if
such a thing as audible applause was allowable in church they would have been
encored to the echo. The choir did excel.
lent service, as indeed might have been expected from such singers as Mrs. J. D.
O'Connor, Mr. H. S. Da~kam, Mr. H. A.
Perkins and others. The pastor, Rev. Mr·
S0oville, gave an address, exceedingly happy and appropriate, but necessarily brief.
He began with a word of.cordial welcome to
the ruany friendly and interested visitors
present who were not regular attendants,
and ended with an expression of thanksgiv-

ing for the kind Providence which had
marked the history of the church for so
many years, and of aspiration for its fllture
usefulness and success. Incidentally he referred to some striking and even amusing
contrasts between the scenes which attended
the ch:1rch in its infancy and the scene of
to-day.
Rev. R. B . Thnrston, a former
pastor who began his ministry here in the
spring of 1865, followed in a thoughtful and
interesting address, in which he incidentally
alluded to the sharp and significant contrast
between the present decorations of the
church and those which met his eye on the
occasion of his first Sunday's service as
mini~ter.
Then as now the chureh was
heavily draped, but instead of pine, box and
ivy to mark a joyous anniversary, it ,was
with funereal black as a token of public
grief and sorrow at the assassination of the
great and good President Abraham Lincoln.
The decorations of the church unmistakeably indicated that many zealous hearts and
busy hands had been at work upon them.
We do not think they have ever been surpassed in town for amount of material used
and tasteful elaboration in its arrangement.
A~ one result an atmosphere of home-like
comfort and festival enjoyment was created
which played its own appropriate part in
promoting the success of the celebration.
One feature was the embodiment of a very
happy thought.
A series of evergreenbordered panels were affixed at suitable intervals around the face of the gallery. These
contained the names and dates of the ministers who had served the church from its
foundation,from "Denton lfi41" to "Scoville
1879," and their consecutive arrangement
wa5 a very suggestive epitome of the
church's history for that long interval and
an appropriate reminder to all of the purpose,
spirit and meaning of the great occasion.
Sunday afternoon's meeting was entirely

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CONGREGATIONAL
01=£URCtt

devoted to a communion service in which a
large representation
of the member.hip of
si~t&r churches in town joined by invitatiou.
In the evening the church was again fil'.ed
at the "song and praise service," which, as
its designation indicates. was chiefly musical
in its character.
ANNIVERSARY

DAY.

An hour befor e thE>ope1,iog of the morning exercises, at 10:30 o'clock, the streetsof
the village presented a scene of unwonted
stir and movement, indicating that some
event of unus•1al internst wa~ at hand . The
neighboring towns of Norwalk, New Canaan,
Greenwich and Bedford were represented
in the thrnngs of well-dressed people who,
on foot and in carriages, were seen hastening to the gatheriug place of the children of
the old church.
By the hour of opening,
all the pews were occupied, though it was
not until the evening meeting that the capacity of the house was no longer adequate
to accommodate _the crowds which pressed
The exercises commenced
for admission.
by a prelude on the organ, played by Mr. J.
H. Swartwout, and this was followed by a
Te Deum, rendered by the quartette choir,
and the Doxology, in which the congregagation joined.
The Scripture selections
read were portions of the 44th, 89th and
67th Psalms.
Rev. R. B. Thurston, of
North Greenwich, Jed in prayer. The hymn
"Coronation"
followed, and then came an
address of welcome by Rev. Samuel Scoville,
the pastor. Rev. John G. Davenport. of
Waterbury, read an original poem, which
was well received, and which onr rea:lers
will be glad to find reproduced in full in
this issue. The feature of the morning ser-yice, however, which surpassed all others in
elaboration, and in the importance of its
relation
to the great occasion, was the
pastor's
HISTORIAL

ADDRESS.

In the Colonial Records, dated April 26,
1636, appears the following entry: '• Whereas there was a Dismission granted by the
C(hurch) of Watertou
in the Massachusetts dated 29th of Ma last to Andrew
Warde, Jo. Sherman, Jo: Stickland, Rob te
Coe, Rob'te Reynold and Jonas Weede with
,intent to forw anewe in a Cb: Covennte in
this river of Conectecott, the Gaid parties

have soe accordingly done with the publick
allowa11t1e of the rest of the members of
the said churches as by certificate nowe produced appears.
It is therefore in this present Cort ratified and contirmed, they promising shortlie publitquely to renew the (said)
covtnute upon notice to the rest of the
churches."
The '' present Cort" above referred to
was the first ever held in Connecticut, and
so far as Rppears was h~ld nuder the jurisThe churches rediction of Massachusetts.
ferre_d to were MassacbusettR churches, for
pr.::v10us to that date (1636) neither Mr.
Hook er's nor Mr . Wareham's church had arrived in Connecticut.
. This, confirmed by other Colonial records,
1s our "arraut for concludiug
that the
church at Wethersfield was formed some
tiwe duriug the judicial year of 1635 and
1636, with a strong probability that it was
early iu the year.
Iu 1640 this church, after considerable
conteutiou, was divided, and four of the
seven voting members, including the Pa,t'lr
Rev . .Richard Denton, left Wether,field in
th~ S;,riog of '41, and with others settled at
thti Rippowams under the jurisdiction of
the New Haven Colony.
According to
Hnutiugtou
they brought their records
with them, and so transferred the church to
this new field, a point, I believe, now
generally conceded.
And this is our warrant for believing that tbe church originally
organized iu Wether.,field was transplauted
to this place, aud that this present tiwe is
the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of
the formation of the Stamford Congregational Church. Organized in Wethersfield six
years before the settlement of Stamford,
it ante-dates the town of which it was the
formative centre by that length of time.
It was the first church organized in Connecticut, and from all that appears the first
church that ever occupied Connecticut
ground, for Mr. Hooker did not come to
Hartford till June, 1636, two months after
the action of the court recognizing the
church at Wethersfield as already having
been formed, and Mr. Wareham's church at
Wind8or waq but little, if any, before Mr.
Hooker's.
Ours is the first-born of Connecticut churches, the first fruits of the
wilderness.
The precise date of mouth and day is uncertain.
We only know that it was somewhere between March 29, 1635, and April
26, 1636, with a . strong probability, as we
have already said, of its being early in the
judicial year. One date midway between the
dates given above, is so associated with
the history of our forefathers in this Western World, and is therefore so fitting to our
:want-the
22d of December, the date of

250th ANNIVEllSARY.
the laniHng of the Pilgrims on Plymouth
Rock-that
in our uncertainty we have
adoptPd it. Let it stand as the Birth Day of
this Churc,h, as it is the anuiversary of the
landing of the first New Eu 6 1and colony.
In the presence of an eveut so interesting
and irnport1rnt we should prove ourselves
utterly wanting in our dnty to God and our
fathers. did we not mark the day thstt comm mo rates it with thankEgiving to the one
and with loving remembrance of the other ;
did we not perwit it to draw ue11rer together
the , children and the numerous foster children of the old church, and did we not
attempt to derive from the event instruction,
encouragement, and strength for the better
peformauce of the dnty that bas come down
to us from so long and so honored a line of
ancestry.
A quarter of a milleuinm of
history of a Church of Christ in the Wilderness-of
that church to which so many of
us belong-is
to pass before our eyes in
hasty review.
One of th<l rivulets
of
that river that " makes glad the city of
God" is to be traced, from the time it bnr,t
· out from ·the rocky soil, thr,rngh au era more
marked by mountain ever,ts than any since
the incarnation of the Sou of God, as it
broadens and deepens and still presses on
its eternal progress. It has divided and
poured its streams through many channels,
called by ma'ly different names, but they
have all been formed by the Grace of God,
and are all conveying to thirsty lips the
same water of life,aud our rejoicings to-day
shall be not the voice of the single rivulet
to which we resort, but the voice of all
that have
sprung from her or been
influenced by her-the
voice ofmauy waters
like that of the great company betore the
throne.
We felicitate ourselves upon this
propitious hour, and the pleasant duty that
devolves upon us.
It is irupoRsible not to detect in the events
of the century that preceded the settlement
of this country the hand of God in preparing the material out of which new churches
and the new institutions of a new nation
should be formed, and in tempering the ma
terial aright.
The fifteenth century discovered America, but it was not equal to the
far higher work of colonizing it. A Europe
that acknowledged a Cre,ar Borgia to be tbe
vice-gereut
head of the true church-the
of God; that permitted the Inquisition to
burn its victims by the thousands in Spain;
that saw without shudderiug St. Baithobmew massacres in France; tbat bought indulgences in Germany, and worshipped
splinters of the true cross in Eugfand, was
not fit-for the work, nor was the century following ready for this great matter.
Three
institutions were prominent in the landscape
at the opening of the sixteenth century in

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England:
the Monastery of the monk, the
Castle of tbe lord, and the Cathedral of the
ritualist.
But neither of these-neither
Monastery, Castle or Catbedrnl are colonizing agencies. Meudicaut orders of unmarried monks do not colonize;
the lord •md
his retainers cannot be transplanted
to a
wilden,ess ; the cathedral with its elab0rate ritual is not adapted to tbe frontier, and
the men that are trained und"r these institutions do not emigrate.
But what this century could not do itself,
it could grandly prepare the way for. The
sixteenth was the ceutnry of Copernicus,
who opened to men the knowledge of the
material heavens, It was the century of
Martin Luther who brought men face to
face with that wl:iich is above the heavens.
It was the century of the heroic struggle and
victory of the Dutch Republic against Philip
of Spain. It was the century of the creation
of a new England freed from all foreign
domination under Henry VIII, and ElizabPth; of Sir Eiward Coke and his digest of
EngUsh common law ; of 'fyndale and his
Bible of Latiwer and his preacbing. It wa~
the century of the awakening of the mind
of the common people, and of training and
bringing into promiueuce the great middle
class of active and intelligent men. It was
the century, as Froude tells us, "of the
most wonderful Spiritual movement which
the earth ha~ felt since the nations waited
for the star to rise out of Jacob, and the
sceptre to come forth from Israel." Whereever, according to this historian, the Teutonic language was spoken, or the Teutonic
nature was in the people, there was the
same weariness of ur,reality, the same
craving for a higher life. To meet the
demand
so created the rude printing
presses of that day were run day and night,
printing bibles, testaments and tracts. Men
whom Froude calls '' heroes, if ever the name
was deserved,"
scattered
these writings
broadcast. Taking their Ii ves in their hands,
hunted like wild beasts from hiding place to
hiding place, they struggled on, earning for
themselves a martyrdom, but for others a
free England, au Enelaud of the common
people, of men trained to a sense of individual responsibility,
conscious of their
rights as God-given, able to appreciate and
ready to defeud them; lln England of pure and
prosperous homes. Aud that also was true
in a measure of Holland, Germany, and
France- everywhere there had been this
awakening of the common mind . From
Europe, thus quickened and renewed, so
breatl'.led upon by the Holy Spirit of God,
to
came the colonies.
The Churchman
Jamestown;
the Pilgrim to Plymouth;
the
Puritan to Massachusetts; the Roman Catholic to Maryland;
the Dutch Reformed ~o

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CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

New York; th9 Huguenot
to Pennsylvania, and the Baptist to Rhode Island,
representing
every variety of the old home
elements, and everywhere
giving us a
sample of the best of the kind.
The
Catholics,
under
Lord
Baltimore,
bad
thrown off the lies of Je suitism; the
churchman acknowledged no foreign ecclesiasticlll domination ; the Puritan had separated from a church which acknowledged a
Henry VIII. to be its head; the Pilgrim, in
defence of the individual chur ch, bad separated from the Puritan and the state church,
and Roger Williams, in defence of the individual against the tyranny of the church,
had separated from everybody else. It also
came about through that inscrut able Providence th a t makes even the wrath and
foolishness of man to praise God and work
for good, that all these elements had been
subjected, and for the most part bad
subjected
each
other
to a similar
fire
of persecution,
that they
might
learn some lessons that would be of
great import .ance for their well being
in this western world. Each in turn bad
drunk of the cup of s:1fferiug for conscience
sake, and each, as opportunity offered, had
forced bis brethren to drink of the same.
The Roman Catholic consciAnciously thought
that he must force men into his beliefs and
forms, and wben in power he was not backward in using any instrument th1,t appeared
likely to secur#J so irnportant a re sult. But
when the English chnrch was established,
with Henry VIII. or Elizabeth at its head,
through its edicts of supremacy aud uniformity it pressed the sarne cup to the lips
of the Catholic a:id Puritan alike, and for
conscience sake made them both drink.
And lest so good a body of men as were in
the established church should be neglected
in this kind of training, a Puritan parliarnent
was raised up to do for them as they had
done for others. And it came about thatnot
only wen, the settlements of this new world
mostly made by men who had moved hithtr
from religious rnotives, but who bad also
learned to prize their faith by suffering for
it, and in sorne dim way had seen the hatefulness of that line of cond•1ct that made
them suffer. This training, together with
the largeue , s of the New Wor id and the necessities of a new setLlerneut, prepared this
country for that religious liberty that makes
it illustrious among all the nations of the
earth. It did not corne all at once, but it
carne, aud these chur.ihJs of many denominations and many creeds are , in part, witnesses, and in part cam;es, and iu part results of this heroic treatrnent and traiumg.
Of all men prominent in our history of
those early times, to Roger Williams belongs
the honor of haviug grasped the idea of ab·

solute religious freedom with a clearness
that has not been excelled in our day. Next
to him, and promineot among all bodies of
men of that day, for their appreciation of
the true spiritual nature of the church, and
for the sufferings they endured in attempting
to realize their lofty ideal ,stand the Pilgrims. The essential features of their faith,
as given in a tract issued by Brown, one of
their early leaders, are four: lst .-The New
Testament the source of all light in church
government.
2d.-A church a body self -assomat ed by a willing covenant.
3d.-In
church government,tbe absolute LordRhip of
Christ, whereby His people' 'obey to His will."
4th.-Church
officers, paRtors, teachers, elders and deacons, "tried to be mete and
thereto duly chosen by the church which
calleth them."
Holding to these tenets of
the independence of the local church with
the grasp of men fully persuaded, with conscience and a rich Christian experience on
that side, of course there was no place for
them in either the Eugland of the established church, or of Presbyteria?. Puritanism, and they were driven "forth to
seek an asylum elsewhere.
The story
of their wanderings, a real Christian Odyssey-of their voyage across the wintry seas,
and their landing upon Plymouth Rock, two
bun.Ired and sixty-five years ago to-day; of
their untold sufferings from the severity of
the climate, the insufficiency of food, and the
ravages of sickness; of their heroism that
never faltered, and their final success, is well
known; it has become classic in history. This
was the leaven that was afterward to be
thrown into the three mdasures of church
society, and government,
throughout thi~
whole laud, until all should be in a measure
leavened by it. From England, torn by
both religious and political dissensions,
other men, beside the Pilgrims, were looking across the waters to those peaceful
shores that, if wild, were as yet undisturbed
by the strife of parties or creeds, and in
1628 "men of fortune and religious zeal,
merchants and country gentlemen, the decenter wrt among the !llauy, who desired a
reformation iu church government, offered
the help of their pur,es to advance the
Glory of God by planting a colony of the
best of their countrymen on the shores of
New Eugland."
They appealed to the
Council of Plymouth, which ten years before had obtained a charter for all that part
of Awerica which lies between 40 and 48
north latitude, or from about the present
City of Philadelphia to the mouth of the
St. Lawrence River, frorn sea to sea and
obtained a belt of land extending three
miles south of the River Charles and the
Massachusetts Bay, and three miles north
of every part of the Merrimac River, and

250th



ANNIVERSARY.

e.xtending from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
This patent was confirmed b.v King Charles,
March 4, 1629, and the settlement of Massachusetts Bay immediately commenced.
Mr. John Endicott was sent over that year
with about three hundred
people, and
began a settlement which they called Salem.
The next year seventeen ships, one of them
bearing the governor and magistrate of the
colony, who had previously been chosen in
England, brought over a very large company . Of this company, Sir Richard Saistonstall, one of the magistrates, and a
number of famtlies. settled in Watertown.
They were for the most part from the
County of Essex, England.
It is with
some little surprise and amusement that
we read that this company, by reason of the
numbers that were flocking in from England. became straitened for room, and de termined to brave again the terrors of thi,
wilderness, and move to Connecticut, of
which they had received excellent reports.
The general court of Massachusetts objected. Bui already the Star of Empire was
moving westward,
and what
effectual
resistance was ever made to its mighty
progress.
In 1634
in
spite
of
. the
decision
of
the
Court, and in
that defiance of authority, which afterwards
undoubtedly was the cause of much of its
troubles, a pioneer settlement was accomplished, and a few buts builded at P.,quag,
now Wethersfield.
Of the methods of procedure in tbe:formation of the church, the
next year, we have no record. We only
know that in compliance with an act of the
General Court of Massachusetts, nuder whose
jurisdiction they were at that time, held in
March of that year, it must have been with
the approbation of the elders and churches
in that jurisdiction, viz: of Massachusetts.
There were but six men belonging to that
church, how many women we do not know,
as in the official action of the court they
were not reckoned, and wbat this small number did, except to fall into dispute, has
never been narrated, while there was doubtless much to tell. What the dispute was about,
that led to the disrnption of the church and
its removal from Wethersfield, will never be
known.
We can easily surmise, and our
guesses may reach the truth, that it was a
matter that need not have produced any
trouble, and which would not have done so
if the church and the colony biid pos@essed
more charity, or been le,s tenacious in their
opinions.
These men were men of convictions, they had looked death in the face, and
dared every hardship for the sake of what
they considered right, and they could easily
be separated one from another upor. matters
that would not affect people in less earnes
times. This alone is known, that it did no

continue without strenuous efforts on all Rides
to heal the difficulty . Commissionerd were
sent down from the General Court to secure
peace,but iu vain. A church committee eame
all the way through the woods from Watertown , 11nd another one from the Hartford
church, and Rev. John Davenport went up
from New Haven, all upon tbe same errand,
and all to meet with au eqnal failure.
The
breach in this little church of six male members, besides the minister, '1:r. Denton,
could not be healed, it involved the whole
settlement and at last, as a peace measure,
the majority of the church, and the minority
of th9 planters, agreed to"go west" and occupy the frontin post of the English settle- ,
ment of New England.
Those were eventful years which the church spent in Wethersfield. The winter of 1835-6 was one
of extreme severity,
causing
unheard
of suffering to the lately arrived and
poorly prepared colony. By the 15th of
November of that year the Connecticut
River was frozen over, and deep snow bad
already fallen. Two hundred and fifty years
ago, at this time of the year, provisions had
already generally failed in the settlements
ou the river, and famine and death looked
the people in the face, and at the time when
we are comfortably housed and abundantly
so1tle were
already
struggling
fed,
back to Massachusetts ; some were making
their way to the mouth of the Connecticut
River, that, if possible, they might find one
of the supply ships sent from Boston, while
those who kept the stations on the river
were
gathering
acorns
wherewith
to
eke out
their
scanty stores.
Surely
this church was born in a year when,
if ever, men needed the consolations and
encouragements of religioo.
Other events followed that equally called
for the ministrations of the Gospel. We may
be certain that when two years later the
Pequot Indians waylaid the people of
Wethersfield as they were going into their
fields of labor, and killed six men and two
women, and took two girls captive, religion, as administered in our little church
of that time, found a place where it was
neec1ed, and we may be certain that the inhabitants turned to the common centre of a
New Euglan<il village, the church building,
not only to hear the word ot God's Truth,
but for defence, and to consult upon the
public safety; and when hiter Wethersfield,
out of her small numbers, seut eighteen
men to the front, fully half, probably, of
her effective men, to take part in a most
hazardous enterprise, and returned after a
three weeks' campaign, having helped to
win the most important victory ever gained
in this Commonwealth, the destruction of
the Pequot fort, we may be sure that the



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CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.

C

hurch and its minister, and the rude it, it seems to have been acquired honestly.
edifice where they gathered, bad something It had been regnlarly purchased from the Into do with the matter, both of their going diaos,and the original deed was ratified by the
forth flnd of their returniug.
descendants of the original grantors, in
In two years more, in 1639, the three proof of which behold their very intelligent
towns upon the river, Hartford, Windsor,and marks, by at least three subsequent treaties,
Wethersfield, formed themselves by .volun- and all their claims and their murmurs were
tary compact into a distinct commonwealth,
fully satisfied. Nooe of the buildings of
the germ of that uuion which has made us this town stand on the sandy foundation of
a nation, and adopted a constitution, which injustice to the red man.
bas beAn declared to be "one of the most full
How the twenty-eight men with their
and happy constitutions of 'livil government families came to Stamford we do not know,
which has ever been formed," and which has but probably throur,h the woods to New
continued, with little alter1ttion, to this day; Haven, where they would doubtless stop
and perhaps to these towns belongs the over for a Sabbath to bear Mr. John Davenhonor of having adopted the most be11,utiful port preach, for our Fathers would take as
and appropriate seal and motto that was much pains to hear a good sermon in those
ever adopted by 11.nvState-three
vines, and days a~ some of theirdescendants will to avoid
the words, " Qui Transtulit sustinet." The avoid one in tbes. From New Haven they
freemen that belonged to that energetic and find a trail, and probably a rongh wood road
go-ahead church at Wethersfield, we may be road to Wepowage or Milford, which had
sure, bad their say and their doing in all then been settled two years. '!'here were
these matters.
also settlements begun at Pughquonnock or
Besides these there were the regular min- Stratford, and also at Unquowa or Fairfield,
istrations, of the Lord's Day, and the special where our company would probably find a
services for times of especial need. Taking welcome and such help as these dwellers in
it altogether the time of tbe church was not the wilderness could give.
But the jourwasted in Wetbersfield, and some of the seed ney, if made overland-and
it was, doubtsown in that field, has doubtless, ere this, less, by some-was a weary one at the best.
ripened harvests on a thousand fields. Even Forests must be cut through, rivers must be
the dispute that divided the church need not forded, and swamps most be waded, and
It the distance which is now Awept over in a
be considered as an unchristian quarrel.
was doubtless an honest difference of opin- few hours m palace car luxury m ..st have
ion upon m>ttters upoll which good m€n consumed many days of hardship before
might differ very strongly. At all events, it their
eyes
reoted upon
the
quiet
was a Christian act, when, for the settlement Rippowam harbor or upon the Matabaum,
of th" matter, the majority of the chnrch "morn revealer," the big bent of our enagree,'! again to try the hard~hips of the circling bills. And then the he:1vy work of
wilderness and leave their brethren in pos- a new settlement in the wilderness must be
session of the old places. With this Chris- taken up iu earnest, log houses must be
tian act the first chRpter in the history of reared, fields cleared, fem:es built, and not
this church closes, and the record is not one by any means least of all or last of all, a
to be ashamed of, and the song rises higher cburcb building must be raised where the
than the complaint.
ordinances of the Gospel can be adminisThe second chapter in the history of the tered.
Added to these trials was the conchurch opens npon new scenes. A purchase
bas been made of a building lot eight miles stant dread of the Indians.
The three
front upon tbe shining highway of Long Is- Sagamores who occupied this township,
land S,>uod, by sixteen miles dPep, one Piamikio, Sagamore of Roatan, and the tract
hundred and twenty-eight square miles, aud tb,H lies between Five Mile River and Pine
includes the present town ot Stamford, Brook; Wascusse, Sagamore of Sbippan,
Darien, and some part of Greenwich, New and Pouns, who occupied the lands north of
Canaan and Pouodridge; and twenty eight the village bills, seemed to !Jave been friendfamilies propose to t1tke possession and build 1.vdisposed, bot on thE!' border liue between
upon the lot in 1641. Tbe tract had been this township and Greenwich, Myaoo, whose
lately purchased of the Indians by tbe New name is still preserved in the beautiful
Haven Colonv, for tnirty-three pound sterl- Miauus river that flows upon our western
ing, and Mr. Andrew Warde and Robe't Coe, border, a bold and warlike chieftain, had
of Wether sfield, obtained it for themselves under him a band of vindictive warriors
and some twenty otbers by agreeing to pay trained in bloudv conflicts with the Mothe sarueamount, and also to adopt the New hawks, annoyed by the Dutch, iind as yet
Haven form of government.
The latter noquelled by the prowess of tbe English.
proved in the end to be the heaviest part of
'l'be very year ot the coming of this colothe puruhase price. One good thing about ny a plot for the destruction of all the stt-

250th

ANNIVERSARY.

tlements west of the Connecticut river was
discovered, and while a part of the Stamford
purchasers were on their way to their new
home, the General Court was writing letters
to the Hay for help to bring to nought the
mischievous plots of the Indians.
And it
was only in the second year of the colony
that the perfectly fiendish vengeance of
Kieft, Governor of New Amsterdii!YI, who
had caused more than an hundrPd of the
Hudson River Indians, who had flpd to him
for protection, to be butchered in cold blood,
drove eleven bands of Iudians into coafederacy for vengeance, aud brought more than
1,500 warriors into the fipJd. Fiom Manhattan to Stamford the coast was desolated.
The spirit of these savage foes was well
illustrated by Myano, of whom we have
already spoken.
Single handed he had
&ought out three D11tch settlers living
on the borders of the town, who had
given him offence, alone against three, with
bis boR and arrows ag,.inst their muskets,
and bad killed two before he was struck
down by the third.
That no attack was ever made upon
Stamford is owing, no doubt, partly to the
fact that this M.vano was killed so early in
the tronblous
times and bis band scattered, partly because Captain John Underhill, the first of Indian fighters, whose
name carried terror to every wigwam where
the story of the annihilation of the mighty
Pequot nation had been told, was a resident
of this town ; and more than all, perhaps,
to the fact that 0ur citizens were so well
prepared to repel an invasion.
Central in
the hamlet stood that strong rough church
building strongly barricaded and enclosed
A sentinel kept watch beby a stockade.
fore its door night and day.
Muskets
ready for instant use were kept inside-four
were the legal number.
Men came to its
services on the Sabbath as they went to the
field on the work day, gun in hand. Fiftynine men had gathered here by the autumn
of '42, and they were not a body of men to
be tdfled with in the defense of their homes.
Th., settlement of Stamford was no picnic
excursion, ana the ei!.rly years of its history
were no holidi!.y in the woods, but a very
sober, and, on many accounts, a very painful experience.
Never, perhaps, before or
since has the Church better fulfilled her
office of helper of the people than in tho~e
troublous tirn.,s. Her building was for the
protection of all, as her ordinances were
for their comfort
and encouragement.
Beautiful for situation, the joy of all this
little part of the earth was this Mount Zion,
during that early period.
Of the four wen who conslituted the male
oortion of the Church the name of Andrew
-warde stands first on the list. He had been

9

made a freeman by the General Court of
Massachusetts May 14, 1634, and was afterwards a member of the first Court held in
Connecticut
at Newtown, now Hartford,
and, being re-eletlted, was one of the live
worthies, as Huntington expresRes it, who
had in their hands the destinies of the new
settlements upon the river, and so of those
of the state.
He received many honors
while in Wethersfield;
was one of the five
who constituted the Provisional
Government here in Stamford in '41, represented
this colony in the higher branch of the
New HavAn Court, and what will, perhaps.
interest us most of all here to-day, gives us
one of his lineal descendants to preach to
us to-night, and five more of them to be
mPmbere of the same church with himself,
but with an intervi!.l of nearly 250 years.
Robert Coe, another member, was also
made a Freeman in Boston in '34.
He
came with his wife and three chi!dren to
Stamford, and represented the town in the
General Court at New Haven, and afterwards went with Mr. Denton to Hempstead,
Long Isli!.nd.
Jonas Weed,the third member, was made
a Freeman i11 Watertown May 18, 1631.
Re came to Stamford in '42. and <lied here
in '76. and left a large crop of descendants,
Weeds, in name only. in this garden patch
by the Rea.
The pastor of this little flock was Richard
Denton.
He was at one time a useful minister in Halifax, England, but when his
Majesty Chi!.rlAS I. required all the ministers, on penalty of fine and imprisonment
for disobedience,
to read and recommend
to their peoµle the " Book for Sports on
the Sabbath Dctys," which permitted and
encouraged all harmless recreations on the
Sabbath, and ;:,rohibited all unlawful games,
snob as bear baiting, bull baiting, except on
Sundays,, be took tbe opportuuity to tvitbdra,.-, and seek in New Eoglaud a place
where it should not be made imperative
upon a minister of the Gosµel to advise
from his pulpit bull baiting aod May-pole
festivities on the Sabbath.
He became the
pastor of the church io 1636, and came
with the first settlers to Stawford, and was
not only pastor but was elepted at the first
town meeting Oct. 19, '41, to be one of the
Provisional Goverumeut of five who should
administer the affairs of the new colony, of
which we have already spoken.
Rev. J. W. Alvord q11otes from Cotton
Mather the following description of this our
first pastor : " Our pious aud leiirned Mr.
Richard Denton, a Yorksbii·e man, who,
having watered Hi!.lifax in Englaud with his
fruitful mini,try was, by a tempest there
hurried into New England, where, first at
Wethersfield and then at Stamford his doc_

10

CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.

trine dropped as the rain and his speech distilled as the dew, as tbe small rain upon the
tender herb, and as the showers upon the
grass. 'fbough he were II little man yet he
had a great soul. His well accomplished
mind in bis lesser body was an Iliad in a
nnt shell. I tbink he was blind of an eye ;
neverthelesR, he waR not the least of the
seers of Israel.
He saw II considerable
portion of those things " wbicb eye bath
not seen." He adds : " At length be got
into heaven IJeyond tbe clouds, and so beyond storm, waitiug the return of the Lord
Jesus Christ iu the clouds of heaven, where
he will have his reward among the saints."
He differed from some of the church at
Wethersfield. on the subject of <lhurch
government,
was dissatisfied
with
the
policy of the New .Haven Colony, that only
professing Christian~ could bold civil office,
withdrew and planted a colony at Hempstead. Long Island. Mr . Alvord says he
returned to England in 1658, and died in
Essex.
He seems to have been a mau
before his time on the subject of church
government, but, perhaps, too impatient of
the times in which he lived, and too restle-s
in the pl'ogress that was being made towards
better things.
The names of three of these, Denton,
Warde and Coe, appear in the list of those
who were taxed to pay the New Haven
Colony for the 128 square miles which they
had taken off thll1r hands, and each has set
opposite his name as the amount of his tax
four bushels and one peck of com , and
each received in the nllotmect of land
which was made to tho new settlers
fourteen acres, located somewhere, probably, on the wood path between Noroton and Tornack, now Richmond Hill.
The policy of the New Haven Colrmy, to
which reference haR already been made, and
which onr fathers adopted as a condition of
gaining the land is summed up in tbis vote
of the colony after fourteen mouths' of deliberation, argument, fasting and prayer.
"The free burgesses shall be chosen out of
the church members."
Before this in their
plantation covenant which they had adopted
upon the first arrival of the colony, they
had solemnly pledged themselves to God,
•• That as in matters that c-oncern the gathering and ordering of a church so likewise in
all public affairs, they would be governed
by those rules which J the scripture holds
forth."
When we remember that there
could be admitted to membership in the
church but such as gave good evidence of
being regenerate men, we see in thia the
higheat ideal probably that has ever been
accepted by the founders of any state; that
th.i state and the Kingdom of God shall be
in perfect agreement; yea! that the Rtate

and the Kingdom of God shall in all outward things be identical.
This position seemed to them but the logical outcome of their faith. The church was
of higher origin and of greater worth than
the state. '• It is bP.tter then," as was said
by one of that day, "that the commonwealth
be fashioned to the setting forth of God's
house, which is the church, rather than to
accommodate the church frame to the civil
state." It was in line with the dominant purpose for which all had left their homtis in England and had come into the wilderness, viz. to
enjoy the gospel and build np their families
and social institntions upon its sure foundation. But excellent and logical as seemed
this ideal to those noble men, in practice it
did not work well. It failed as men have
always failed who do not recognize the es..
sential difference between son! and ' body,
between the church and the civil state. the
Kingdom of God as II power, and the Kingdom of God as an organization, and who
do not honor each in its place.
In this Mmote and frontier colony this
policy of the franchise limited to church
members was from the tirst distasteful to the
settlers. So great did this restiveness become
that quite a large portion of the colony, and
among them the Pastor Mr . Denton, preferred the jurisdiction of the Dutch rather
than of New Haven, and in II little more
than three vears after the settlement of the
colony mov"ed to Hempstead, Long Island.
In Jess than ten years the resistance to the
General Conrt at New Haven became so
pronounced as not only to disturb the peace
of the colony, but actually to threaten its
existence, and this bitterness was not allayed until twenty years later, in 1664,
under the charter of Kini? Charles, all the
colonists upon Connecticut soil were uuited
under the jurisdiction of the ConnE'cticut
Court held at Hartford, and the oppreSAive
resishrnce to the enjoyment of civil office
passed away . This period seems to have
The
been II trying one to the church.
danger which, it has been said, always
attendij pioneer work, viz., that of re.lapsing into barbarism, was present here in
the hard labors, scanty fare, and constant
perils of the colony. Added to these, the
withdrawal of the pastor, Mr. Denton, and
the continu11nce of the causes which Jed to
his removal, and we can well see that
the little church labored under great and
p eculiar discouragements.
And we can
hardly see that if it had not been a church,
and if it had not been in Connecticut, where
vou cannot kill anything that once gets
rooted among the rocks, how it could survive. But it was a church, 11 member of
the living body of Christ-and
it was .E!
Connecticut, and it didn't die, and it never
will.

...

250th

ANNIVERSARY.

In this period, probably among the first
buildings of the settle1m,nt, a church edifice
was erected, where the great business for
which they
bad wigrated , viz. : The
worship of God, could be attended to. It
was rough, but tliat was not a time for
polish, but for existence.
And it was built
that it might serve as a fort for defense if
occa&ion required.
Tradition says that it
had twelve foot posts and was thirty feet
to the peak where the four roofs like a pyramid cawe together.
It bad se11tsupon three
sides, and it was unwarllled in winter and
unshaded in summer.
Uncarpeted and uncusbioned, itsurpassed
any barn probably
in Stamford for unadorned and uncomfortable cheerlessness;
but it was the best they
could do, and that covered the whole with a
certain beauty that recommends it to men,
and we doubt not made it acceptable to God.
Every man by labor or tax helped to rear
it, and every ruan and bis family must help
to till it. Led by law, if not by desire, they
all came every S11bbath at the beat of drum,
that took the ~lace of a bell in t.bose days,
from their small and rude houses scattered
along on what i& now M11instreet and Atlantic street, along roads that were little more
than cart paths that lt,d them past each
others lots thi.t had but recently been fenced.
For no momentary enjoyment
was their
gathering; they were to have two serviceseach about two hours in length-unrelieved
No exby any change of place or positiou.
cuse of not hkiug the minister, or the singing, or of tinnday headach.,'s.
No man WiiS
excused because be wa,; not a member, possibly if he att1rnded the services regularly
the sovereign grace of God might reach biw,
but whether it did or not, Cl'llle he must.
When there was no minister the services
were held all the same, and no one must then
any more than at any other time neglect the
Blldembliug 1ogetber, as the manner of some
now is. And the little church lived on and
worshipped on.
But this losing a minister was a serious
matter in a colony established. for the most
part, for the enjoyment of Gospel privileges, and so remote that no ministers could
be found in the neighborhood, so when Mr.
Denton went away this church met and
prayed over the matter, and talked it over
until they felt sure that it was God's will
that they send Francis Bell and George
Slauson through the woods on foot to Boston, to !ind and bring back w1 h them if
possible one John Bishop, of
m they
had heard, or some ministi,r, " t \ so this
people might not be scattered and ~'-4fered
to sin against the ordinances of God." Mr.
Bishop is found and returns with them in
the sa'l'.le primitive fashion, bringing, it is
said, bis Hible under his arm. It would

11

seem that the little church bad met with more
than the usual lot of trouble so far, and,
with the corning of Mr. Bishop,sbowing snob
earnestness in seeking, and smih heroism
and un8elfishness in accepting, we hope,
that this part of the great vineyard, will
flourish
and bear abundance
of frnit.
Perhaps it did, and perhaps more good r&snlted than appears; and we know that always a great part c.f every good work is out
of sight; but, from all tbd.t is visible, Mr.
Bishop did not find Stamford a bed of roses.
Tuis is not strange under the circumstances.
'l'he colony bad been formed out of varioue_
and to some extent, doubtlese incongruous
el(lments. The labors of the colonist:! were
severe, and m,rny of the men were not
reconciled to the government of the colony
of New Haven.
The colony was upon the
borderB and exposed to both the dangers and
the demoralizing influences of frontier towns.
And perhaps they had got into the habit of
finding fault. Whatever were the causes
we !ind as a fact that a foru1al report is sent
to the General Court in New Haven in 1659,
that Mr. Bishop fiuds so mncb discouragement at Stamford, that he thinks of leaving
bis post. The mere possibility of so great
a disaster is sufficient to secure legislative
action, and the court declares that if no
reformation
is reported,
they will send
a commission
to ascertain
the
down
cause
of
complaints,
and
remove
whatever may hinder the '' work of God,"
under Mr. Bishop, "for," they add, " if
the ministry and ordinances fail, what will
the people do?" Io the October Conrt of
Magistrates, iu the same yeu, Mr. Bishoi;,
in the presence of two of the brethren of
the church, made a formal statement of the
uncomfortable,
unsettled state of affairs of
the church and town. The trouble, wh'i~
ever it was, would not down ; and next year,
at the request of Mr. Bishop, the Court
desired the Rev. Mr. Davenport. of New
Haven, and · Pierson of Guilford, to go to
Stamford to afford their counsel and help to
the well settling of these church affairs, and
two years later, the Ecclesiastical having
failed, they appeal to the Civil Element,
and a:itborize the Governor, William Leete,
and magi~trates, clothed with extraordinary
powers, to seltle the difficnlty. 'fhis last
effort seems to have been effective, for we
hear no more of the trouble.
The whole
incident shows not pnly the extent of the
difficulty, but the interest
felt in t.he
churches by the Legislature of the State.
In 1672, at the request of Mr. Bishop,
who found his 128 wiles of parish duties
rather onerous, the town secures Mr. Elipha,.
let Jones to be an assistant.
They accommodate him with a piece of land in his own
right, provide him with a house at the &own

12

CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.

charge, ,!!.Dd give hirn forty ponnds a year
for hiA servic es. He onl~ stayed four years,
and theu Mr. Bishop took upou hiR shoulders
again bis 128 square miles of parish laborR,
and bis pay, as usual, according to the records, sixty pounds, one third pllrt io wheat,
one-third pllrt iu purk, and o,1e-third part in
lo<lian corn, anti! he was reliP.ved of his
duties at his own req110st in 169:l, aud tbe
town voted biw au aauuity of forty pounds
as Jong a11 he lived.
Tbis annuity,
grauts of laud
together
with frequent
voted
by the town
from
time
to
time
showed
the
high
esti1unte
in which be was b~ld by the wwn. It -.as
the first of the long pastorates which have
marked this church, and p Prhaps was not
inferior to auy of them in pr11ctic11lusefulness. Io process of time i~ was foood that
the old weetiug house was too stmit for all
the people that occnuied this large parish,
and besideA, no doubt, it was felt to be too
rough to C(}nform with their improved condition. It has been a true Christian iustiuct
from the time of David, tb11t makes us
revolt from leaving tbe appliances of God's
house in a more shabby couditiou thau the
houses in wbiah we live.
In 1660 it
was voted that a new meeting house
should be erected.
It was also voted
that the new meeting house shall be of
stone, a vote that bas remained uuexecuted
more than two buudred years, and which
cornea perh<\ps to our hauds to be accomplished. But althongb the vote was all correct, it did not secure a new meeting house
Then, as always before and
in a hurry.
since, there were those who thought that
th3 old was good enough, aud the uext year
they dectded to resciud the vote and voted
to repair the house. Hut tbeu as alw11ys in
growiug times the patcbiug up of the old
was not satisfactory. aud agaiu it was voted
to build a new house, aud the cost was
assessP.d equitably upou the town. But the
matter was not pushed, aud wore than a
year later we fiud tLem unable to agr~e upon
the shape, so rue "'au ting it square and oth~rs
oblong. In their qnaudary they solewnly
resolve to leave it tu God in casting of lots.
The lots were ca-;t, and the Alwighty de<1ided in favor of a house thirty-eight feet
square, twelve foot i:;osts, with a kiud of
funnel on top. But it was not of stone.
They did not give the Alwigbty any chance
to decide that mattAr, they had already decided it for themselves.
It was cowpleted
in 1671. , Aud then the town bv a forwal
vote prescribe the order of sittings in it,
and appoint a committee to atteud to this
vexatious matter, and another to seat the
women.
It has always been the theory of New
England that the church building should

serve the community in temporal things of
a worthy kiud as well as iu spiritual.
In
harmony with tQis theory we find the town
votiug that a convenient
place shall be
made in the meeting honRe fvr receiviug tbe
"to ..-u ammnnision, '' and Lefr. Jonathan Bell
is chosen to take c~re of the "awmnnision,"
'l'ruly wMpons, both carnal and spiritual,
were taken from this house of God.
"December 18, 161}5, per vote outcry the
town doth sell the fort wood about ye meeting house to Stephen Clason for seventeen
shillings and niuepence."
And the church
b11ildiug ceaseH auy more to be a ruilitary
fortress except in a spiritual sense, and new
times bave come.
In these fifty years the inhabitants
of
Stamford hiwe increased to about five hundred, but the church continues srnllll. The
list of freewen in Stamford in 16ti0, given
in the Colouial records, contains ouly seven
names, probably all the male members
there were at that time in the town. No
wonder Mr. Bishop was discouraged.
And
this list contains ouly one name of tbe early
settlers of the town, showing that the
Rtrength of the colony must have goue with
Mr. Denton to Hempstead, and that the
church in Stamford, as late as that year,
mnst have been very small, lu this period,
in 1685, the line of separation
between
the towns of Greenwich aud Sttunford having been confirmed,
the present
territory of GrPeowicb passed out from under
the coutrol of this ecclesiastic,d soci11ty, the
beginning of a proce~s that was to go on
uatil the parish should cease to be bounded
territorially altogether.
Whether tlte debate and strug~le upon
what was called the half-way covenant that
was agitatiug the colo111es of New Haven
aud Hartford. both b~fore aud after their
union, and, in fact, the Mas,acbusettts
colony as well, awakened auy interest in this
little church, we canuot t"11. If any ever
joiued under the half-way covenant their
names have perished with the early records,
and thete is uothiug now to show it.
Again w beth er the stirriug events that
were convulsing England during this period,
the bringing a Kiug Charles to the scaffold,
the establishing a Protectorate nuder Cromwell, the Restoratic>n aud the Revolntion,
the b11ttle fields of Edge Hill, Marston Moor
and Nasebv, were beard or directly felt in
this community we cannot tell, probably
they were felt long after they occurred, but
there is no record of them. The regicides
that g11vesuch trouble to the other colonies
never co.we as far a, Stamford, and no disturbauce was felt by church or people by
any of these great events across the water,
Mr. Bishop had some discouragements
in the ministry
were not
but troubles

250th

ANNIVERSARY.

all confined to him,
For twelve of
those years Bunyan was shut up in prison
for doing what this village pastor was
permitted
to do and aided in doing,
preaching the Gospel. And Alleyn, author
of " Alarm to the Unconverted." died from
the sufferings he endured iu gaol. And
Baxter and Howe, and with them one-fifth
of all the English clergy were driven from
'jbeir pulpits, because they would not conform to practices opposed in their view to
the Gospel of Christ. 11, Fr«ucP. and t-housands
and thousands oflra,tors and their flocks, by
the revocatiou of the edict of N anteK, were
subjected to the cruelty of a merciless soldiery. How be,rntiful seems the quiet of
this long pastorate, aud the home like ministries of this little church in the contrast.
With the de11th of Mr. Bishop, the firijt
half-century peri0d in the history of this
church is completed. With a new man the
second half period will Op_!ln,
In November, 1692, the town by vote
manifest a desire to have Mr. John Dav'lnport, of New Haven, for their minister, and
appoint a comwittee to treat with hiw and
report.
The town, at least the voting portion of it, are not what they were fifty years
before. Then they were all church wembers, now they have a right to vote without
reference to their religious standing, yet
they bold iu their hands the selection of a
minister all the same. '£bis will need changing, or there will be trouble some day. Yet
they always appear in the town equ11lly with
the church anxious to secure a faithful pastor and an earnest preacher of the gospel.
lu April of '93, "The to.vn doth ingage to
finish the pasinedge
house, fence in the
Iott, digg a well, phmt an orcb11rd, and give
it to Mr. John D11venport when he is a settled minister in Stamford."
By different
votes at various times, they secure bi m a
salary of one hundred pounds a year and his
firewood, and see th11t the delinq aeuts are
made to do their part and "att.,nd to the
fence around Mr. D"'venport's pasture."
Wbiitever deficiencies there were in those
days the lack of care of the pastor by his
flock was not one of them. Tuis attention
would have been given doubtless any way
for it has al ways been the custom of the
New England churches, both then and
since to take good care of their ministers,
but in this case it seews to have be<1nclearly
deserved and appropriate.
Mr . Davenport
was a man eminent alike as a scholar and a
man,, as a preacher and a pll.Btor, a man
prevailing with God in prayer as well as
wise in the administration of affairs. We,
in this church, have a pecular interest in
him, because he was the grnndson of that
John Davenport, of New Haven, who was
instrumental in procuring for this church

13

its settlement at this place, and because so
many of his descendants have been influential memb ers of this church.
Every generation from his day to the prebent has
furnished 1t with a deacon for its s.,rvice;
and last Sabbath I baptised at this altar
two childr en of the fifth generation from this
John Dav enport . and the twenty-fourth in
the Jiue to which he belongs, reaching
b,wk in lin eal ,uale descent for more th11n
eight hundred years, within twenty years of
the Normau conquest of Englaud.
A contiuuauce of uubroken male descent which
we think cannot be eqnalled by any other
family in the state, anti by but very few in
the country.
P.,rbaps also this audience will appreciate
Mr. Ditvenport the more when they learn
that the poet of this occasion is his lineal
descendant of the tifth generittion.
Under Mr. Davenport's
ministry the
growth of the town made necessary some
increase of accommodations in the church
building, and resort is had to " galleries,"
bat it W>lSnot long before a new meeting
house, fifty feet square, was voted. '£his
waR in J11ly 1702, but the frame was not
ready for raising until M-ly of the next year,
aud in November of 1705, the floor had
not yet been laid ; two year, afterwards we
fiud them making provision for be11ting a
drum from tbe church turret to c11.llthe W<Jrshippers together, and ID 1710 they passed a
vote in town meeti11g for the orderly seating
of the congregation.
Upon the d ..ath of
Mr. Davenport ID February, 17131, a sp.,cial
town meeting w11.scalled, and by vote the
town agree that there shall be a day of humiliation kept, and ttJ call in such ministers
to >1ssistin the work as shall be thought
needful.
In September it was unanimously voted to
call Mr. W1·igbt. They engage to buy him a
home lot, build him a "credable, decent
dwelling house," and pay him a salary of
150 pounds.
He was a powerful preacher
and apparently served the church with great
acceptance uutil his death in L745.
With Mr. Wright f>1ssei away another
fifty year period in the history of this church
and another ch11pter i~ clo~ed.
It has been apparently a more peaceful
period, both at home and abroad, than the
previous one. No occ,.sion Reems to have
arisen for ttppeals to the Gener.,,] Court or to
neighboring ministers for advice or help to
settle difficulties, and both the church and
the town have prospered.
One marked
feature of the period bas been the organization of separate parishes on the territory
originally belonging to the first church.
Greenwich on the west had already withdrawn, and now in 1720, Bedford on the
north taking with it some from Long Ridge

14

CONGREGATIONAL
CHURCH

Chestnut Ridge forms a parish of its
own.
Io 1731 twenty-seven petitioners from
Greenwich and nineteen from Stamford
build a meeting house and petition the
Legislature for an act ol incorporation.
It was of course resisted by both these parishes, such is the reluctance of churc hts to
lose any of th eir branch es even for cu ttiugs,
but was passed neverth eless in 1733 and
the parish of titanwich began its existence.
For some reason not exolained the mother
church was more willing "to allow of a similar enterprise in New UimMn in 1733, and
gave eleven of its members to uuite with
thirteen from Norwalk to form that church .
She resisted the withdrawal of Darien for
ten years, but was compelled to yield to the
inevitable and the firot church in that town
was incorporated in 17-H.
Religious meetings were begun in the
north part of our present town limits in
1742 but it was not until nearly forty years
after in 1781 that this last separation from
the society was sanctiuned by the legislature.
It wat1 during the penod of 1708 tb11ta
eouncil was called at tiaybrook.
!Vlr. Jobu
Davenport, our pastor at that tttne, and
Samuel Hoyt, represer,ted F11irfield County
in that council, anct doubtless, Mr. Davenport, whow Dr. Bacon tiays iu his historical
diticourses, was not second to any otbtr
member, had a part iu frallling the fawout1
Saybrook platforw.
This counml is especially iuterebtrng to us at this time, because
it registert1 the highest w..terwark of the
Puritan Pr,suyteriau
tendency to form a
state church here in New England ll.ll they
had in O,d Eugland, under parllawent, in
Cromwell't1 tiwe, as dibtrngmbhed frow the
Puritan Pilgria.i tendency tht1t tt:nt1c10usly
gnardt:d the liberty of Urn rnd1v1dual churcu,
and aimed frow the first at a cowplete separation between church and etate.
The Assembly, in this instance, " ordained and required a meeting of the
Churches," and defrayed the exptnse of the
meeting out of the public treusury of the
colony, accepted the deli verauce of the
body, and "ordained that all the churches
within this Government ttiat are or shill be
thus united in doctrme, worship and discip.
line be, and !or the future shall be owned
and establiohed by law." A State Uhorch
could not have been handled more frtely
than that. But this teudeucy towards a
state religion was so contrary to tue deeper
convictions of the churches, it worked so
disastrously in cases of trouole among the
churcties, it showed such arbitrarine,s in its
efforts at the settlement of church difficulties that it coUld not stand against the
more
liberal Plymouth
leavenmg,
and
ow.1 exii11.11
at present to wod1ty tbb u..reness

I\Dd

of Plymouth iodependency and bring the
churches together in consociation of Christian help and fellowship, but without either
state or ecclesiastical authority.
The early part of this period the beginning of tue c"ntury seems to have been a
time of moral and religi0us decline. From
1688, for tweuty -tive years the mother
country bad been at war with France, and
ctt1ugers froru the French and their Indian
allies had kept the colonies iu a feverish
state, prevented the sale of lands and exerted
a baneful moral iuflueuce.
To this
influence the town of Stamford
from
frontier
position
was
peculiarly
its
exposed, adding greatly to the labor and the
discouragewents of th e ministry. No sooner
was what is called Queen Anne's war ended
th ,m the Gentral Assem bly took up the work
of reforming the morals of the people. They
recommend to the rev,rend elders of the
general association that the st ..te of religion
be strictly inquired into in every parish
throughout
this government.
'lhit1 was
clone, reports were made ari, actiou was
taken by the Gen eml Asse..-i ly unitedly
with the Geueml Associ,ition to meet the
emergency.
Things, however, did not
greatly improve until in the latter part of
the period, viz:. in 1735, began that series
of great revivals in New England, beginning
nuder the mimstry of Jounathan Edwards
in Northampton, that made the miclule of
the last ceutury remarkable in the history
of our ctiurches.
In 1740 Rev. George Whitefield made a
tour trow Hoston to New York and preached
in Stamford ou the way, but we have no
record of any especial re8olt in this town.
Although the work at this time was marred
by the excesset1 of 8ome itinerant revivalists
among thew H.ev. J11mes Davenvort, son of
the forwer pastor of this church, yet in
spite of all its defects it was good. It was the
breukiug up of the deadness into which
many of the churches of Connecticut had
fallen under the half-way plan of membership,aud the re-e8tablislling pure spiritual
religion in the place of dead torwalitim.
It was in this period that the great Methodist movewent beg,rn in Eugland, when
W hitetield could look down from the top of a
green knoll at Kiugswood on t\tenty thousand
colliers
grimy from the Bristol
and
see as be preached
coal pits
the tears waking white channels down
their
blackened cheeks,
when Charles
Wesley was btirring the hearts of wen with
his gospellovesongs,,rndJohn
Wesley was organizing those who would !lee from the wrath
to come iuto companies and regiments by
the ttiousand in the .\rmy ot the Lord.
And to hear the shouts and songs of salvation from both sides of the ocean, we

250th

15

ANNIVERSARY.

paths.
The year after he WILII Installed, Mr. Welle
procured a bell by subscription
a.nd had It placed
in the b elfry in the place of the boy snd the drum.
He ali:.o pro cured a clock, which. provinl'.( a Jatlure,
has so discouraged the peopl• that an hundred and
filty yearR
have not rallied
their
courage
sufll<-iently
to get anothi,r.
Also in the records
of 1747 we find this item:
·• Per vote the society
agree to sing acco rding to re~nlar sioµ-ing called ye
new way of si nuing in ye pnbli c wor~hip of God."
This appesrs to havA been the first attempt ma.de
by this church to arld to the some halt dozen tunes
that had been in Uf:le in th~ ~onJ;?rPgatiou for generationf:l, eha.nged ancl varied according as the memory of the 8inµers retained or lo st thP:m. In 1760
the society agrePs that •·Doctor Wa.ttes'es avartion
of ye psahus shall be introduced
into ye prisbeterian cougration."
On the whole our fatbers got
along with this matter of church sin~ing much
bett e r tlrnn in some places whore all innovation
was d eu o ,.1uced a<.ian insult to the mewory of the
fathers and as tending to the Papacy.
Th y said,
"If we once begin t" sing by note the noxt thing
will be to pray by rule,and
th en comes Popery."
were
And the services of the ~eneral assembly
som et im es called in to quiet the disturbance
that
aro~e from tlie propo~al to sing Qy note.
Eleven cases of disciplme arA entered on the
re co rds of liis mJnistry, principally for drunkenness and for censor ious spPaking.
People would
Rev Noah Welles who foilowed Mr. Wri ght.s eems get drnnk, and what is worse in a church, they

to ha~e beeo well adapted tor the time and· the wonld say unkiud things about ea.ch other.
And
emergency.
He was considered one of th e mofl;t those eleven cases or discipline did not exhaust the
eminent 3cholars of bis day among the cler gy and evil u or, we fear, cure it: the more is the pity.
untiring in his zea l as a pa stor , and what was of
Upon the death of Mr. Wells in 1776thepastorate
great importan ce at this criti ca l period a p e rf ec tly rPmaiued va.can t for six years. The ditisipations
etaun,·b clear-head ed and out-spoken patri nt , a.nd incident to a. terrible war, the la ck of the watch
he app~Rrs not to have hesitated
any more to care, and preaching of a. pastor, told disastrously
preach the duty of the citizen in the pulpit than upon the moral and spiritual
cba.racter of the
to practice it out of it. In '65 h e prea ched a ser- church, and Huntington
tells us that after a car~
mon denouncing the s tamp ar.t and in b1s Tbank~- ful examination of all the evidPnce he is forced to
giving sermon. Nov. 16th, 1775, be exhorted his believe that this chur ch shows five fold the irregpeople to a gra t ef ul acknowledgment
of th e_good - ularity and loost,ness in morals than marked her
ness of Ood &~ Fib.own in the r emarkable m1hhry
previous career.
But under the pointed prea-ching
RuccesPeA of tbe year. The church seems to have of John Avfl!ry, who was ordained January, 1782,
beeTl. nnited with th eir pastor in biR position, and and under the faithful
discipline
which be introAbraham Davenport, ou e of the stannchest
patridn cPd, the,:::;~evils we::-e gradually corrected, and an
ots of the time, was on e of the dr,a.conQ.
extensive and powerful revival in 1786 added 4:7
His common pl ·ce book, wh1rh was writt en and DAW m embers to the church.
indexed in his clear, b e:t.ut iful p enmanship, a.nd
A new chnrch building wa(I "rected in 1700, the
whicb,has kindly been put iutomy band, sho~s_him
one in whic-h many of th e older portion of thie
to have been a man an<i a po et as well aci a mrn1ster
church first hega.n their a.rquaintance
with the
and a pa.triot, writing now a. po eti ca l VP!f:lion or tht"l wor ship or God, nncl which is uow etandinR: in the
101st PRalm, and now re<'eipts for making rnrrant
villag-e, but devoted to diff erent uses than thoae
wine with cold wa.rer. and c uY"ing ham s. and rem- of tbesanctuary
.And in this church the first chimedies for curing ca.nce rc- as w ell and rules for mak- ney was builded a11d for the first time in an exising collateral bee boxes in whi ch to Ftore the sweets tence already of an hundred
and fifty years appliof his garden. A. copy of an Address by the .Associa- ances for beating
were placed in thfl ftudit·nce
tion of Connecticut to George III. upon bts acces- room. Thes e consisted of a l&rJi!e, awkward Russion tfl the throne, which roa.rls ra.thPr fulsome in sian-like brick furnace of home inventio11.. The
the ligUt of after events, and whi ch was pro~ably
first iron stove was put in in 1817. How delicately
the only inp;tauce in which ~he \Jungregahonal
we graduate the t e mperature
of our room by the
pastors of Connecticut
ever directly adrlres ~ed tbPrmow ete r.
How robustly
our fathers and
royalty, is entered upon the sarn~ pa ges.on whi ch mothers sat tbrongh the long services in the co ld
he gives remedies for th e c nr~ O! tlle d1sea.~e~ of wint er days in the~rs.
horses aurl swine. No m ere scno1ar nor preacuer,
Mr. A.very d1cn in 1791, and with bis death anbnt a kindly. thou ghtful nan as well.
.
other Jnlf century period is brought to a close.
The church bnilrling was also brought into the
'l'he feature wllich mo:st distinctly
marks thie
~ervicf' of the p eo plA for holding me etinazs , when p "'riod is the formation
or churches
in the town
the t >WD h ouse proved t oo Rmall to acC'ommod4tE' other than of tll e esta hli s hed order.
We have seen
them.
This was but following ConU'regationat pre- that the old chur ch <lid not allow her own memConi;zregationalists
h.:lve always nph elc!. ber.:; to set up for themselve1-J in different and r~
(~edent.
their ministry in a. careful scrutin)' of pnblic af- mote quarters ot the to~nship_without
a good deal
fairs, anit otfored their church edifices for th e pub- of opposition.
Hu,~ ~nil she. bear ~erself when
other bodies of Chr1st1a.n~ havmg & diff erent order
licJ:r;~~einstalled
over the church Dece mb er :llst, tlJe.n her own shall jostle .Uer in the very centre of
1746,and the next day makes n record ot'_tbe !lames tht, village itself'!
We shall see.
of all those who were in fnll commumon
111the
The Epis co pal church was the first t? try the
church at that time. The nnmber in all was 174, experim(•nt, and aftP.r a oarefnl exam1natton of the
of which 75 werQ mal es aud 99 were female~.
matter we are greatly pleased to be able to say that
A number 01 changes and innovation s made dur- on the whole we think the old church bore hereelf
ing his paotorate prove that the opirit of the times
very well. As e)lrly as 17tO Rev. James Wetmore,
was waking the peop!d and pressiug them into new

might eunpose that the Millenium bad
come and that men wonld die r.o more, but
be t~nslated.
Bnt tbe Millenium bad not
:iome and Mr. Wright was not translated,
but d'ied in 1746, and was buried among bis
own people.
.
.
The third half century penod of this
church, which we h1we made to begin _at
the death of Mr. Wright, opened upon stirring scenes and continued among such to
the end.
Louisburgh,
the Gibraltar of
Ameri ca, had fallen the year before, captured by the valor of New England troops,
and this year, 1746, a thousand men are
being raised in this colony to join the army
that is to operate against Quebec. Th e war
ra.ji!ed for two years longer. A short peace
and then another French and Indian war,
followed after ten years of civil debate
and resi'stauce, by the Revolution, which
left the colovies victorious, it is true, but
poor and '".ith the responsibility of _new and
untried national quest10ns upon their hands.

0

16

CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

of the chur ch of En gland, wa• preachin g in Stam ford once iu four weeks. In 1742 th e Episcop alians
made an app aal t o th e tow n for a g ran t o f l and o n
whi ch to bnil d, anr\ th e to wn havin g rece j ved a
fAvorabl e r e port from th e co mmitt ee appo int ed t o
look int.o th e m atter to s ee if it can b e d o n e without dh.m&ge t o the town. a rant ed th e pet iti on, and
a lot 45 b y 35 wtt.s giv en t h em. Thi s ac ti on ce rta i nly shows n o g r eat anta go nism to tL e Epi sco pal
chur c h, nor any Vff'"Y gr ea t re lu c tan ce t o acc omm odate th em . In 1751 111r. Dibbl e r ep or t s hi s p ar is h
prosp erous, and add s , "l pr eached lo.st Chris t ma s
to a num erous ass e mbl y . mnltitud fls of diRf:ent ers
came t o chur ch u.ud behav ed th em selv es with gr ea t
dec ency ." a thing gr eatlt t o the a edit of th e Con gregati onalista .
In 1759 we tln<i Mr. Di b bl e and hi e v estr y, aft er
enumeratin g the di Rabihti ee under ·wbi ch th e l ~pis copaliaus la.bor ed, p etiti o ning the Gen er al Ass embly tor permission
tn 8et n p a Rma.11 lott ery of
about two thouRand p ounrle lawful m on ey. Thi s
was p er empt oril y r efu Red . 111r. Dibbl e •ay e , n ot
becaufl e publi c Jott eri es w er e r epn g nant t o th e
prindples
o t th, As sembl y, b ut b ec au se it was t oo
great an act of Javor to th e eRtabli • h ed chur ch.
He may b e ri g ht, but w e are glad, and 1 pr esume
that all gooti Episcopalians
to-day ar e g la.1, that
thoy refu• ed the l ott er y: and su ch acti on can
hardly be ac cPpt e<l as evid en ce of any g r eat h os til ity to the 1-'pis copaliJLnA. But wh t-th er it b e or not
the Con g regational chur c h of Sta mford is n ot
re•ponsible for the acts o f th e Gen eral Assemblr
in Hartford.
Huntingt on in fers that be caus e wh en
they ask permi ssion to build a fence ar ound th eir
church, the lib erty ii n ot at onc e vot ed, but it is
put into the band s of th e se l ec tm e n, that thi•
shows r eluct&n ce to ar r ommodat e th em ; but th e
inference see ms to us unwarrant ed. Th a t ie tbeway
Stamford town meetings alway:,i d o , th ey are al ·
ways trying to flnd EIOme thing for th eir selectmen
to attend to . It is said that they w er e compell od
tr, pay their r egular tax es for th e s up!) ort of the
Congregational
minifl-t er s. even whil e taxing th e mselv&s s,-,verel y t os npp ortth e~r own ; thi s was tru e
at first, but only for a sh ort time, for we find it
voted as early as 1772 that tw o co ll ec t ors b e aprointed, on• to cnllc ct th e rates b el on gin g to the
Congre~ationalists,
anrl the oth e r thos e belonging
to the chur ch of Eugl and within thi• s oci ety.
That sh ort pPri o d ot lees than tbirt v y ear s i n
which diFisent trom the eRtabJi sb ed o rd er was n ot
p ...nni1ted t o excui;i;eon e fr oru its support, com, ar es
very favorably witb the length of tim e in whi ch
such injusti"e llas bPen ex er cised in England . fr om
the time of Erlward VI. and we ar e to r em emb er in
making up our verdi c t that at no tim e in th e
eighteenth cent11ry was diSRPnt in Congr ecl\-tioua.l
Connecticut pla ced nn<1er so heavy rlisabilities as
it Isat the pr eRent tim e in th e ninAt ee nth century
under the E •tabl lshm, ·nt in England.
As an exvr eElsin n o r th ~ gf"lneral fe eling of the
Congregational
chur ches of thi s p eriod up on this
matter I r ead extra r ts fr0m a p ilp er laid b efor e th e
general conv e nti on of Co n gr eg ati onit-1 chur ch es
wWcb met In Stamtord in 1773:
"We hkvP," they Ray." ind ee d a reli giouR es tabUsbm,mt, but it is of Ruch a kind a nd with su ch
universal tol eration that the c ons r ien ces of oth Pr
sects cannot be affec ted or wound ed hy it. whil e
every one is at perf ec t l ih er1 y t o wo rs hip God in
Huch a. way as i!:4most ag ree abl e to bi s o wn mind.
Wb&tever oppr essive m ea<1
nr es hav e b ee n her etotore artopt ed we re colle ct ,,.ith r eg r et and disapproll ; and
hation.
We r ejoi ce that th eF:e hav e cea..CJe
that there i s su ch freedom o f r elig iouR inquiry and
worHbip that no man n ee d b e in bo nd age. We d etnre not th e aid of ot.h er chur c h es , a ncl while we
stand fa8t in the constituti on we bav c ch oRen and
think in it s doc trin e an I di sc iplin e it is m oRtagr era.
ble to tbe scriptures, the un erring stan da rd of' faith
and worship, we w ould not oppress oth ers nor be
opprd•sed ours elves, but exer cise good will and

charity to our brethren
of other denomination,
with ferv ent prayers , that pea ce and holiness,
hberty,
truth , and purity,
may be established
mor e and m or e among tho!<!ethat name the name
of Christ and be univer sally diffu•erl amon2 mankind. "
That was Congreeationalism
in 1773, here In
Stamtord.
What oth er denomination
could or
wo ula have writt en that d ec laration at that day in
th eir pla ces of power and th en acted upon it.
Our br ,1thers, the Bapti f tr.:i.app Par to !Jave got
al o n g without any fri ctton in tl.Jeir dealings with
th e es tablish ed order. The r ec ords o f the Congregt1tional so ciety for 1772~ contain sev eral entries
of nam es o f tho se who ar"' exempted fron: paying
fo r the SUl)port of th e Con g re J,!ational mini ster, because they ar e m embers of the Baptist et.ciety.
And wb t~n Deacuu l.1
-.erris wanted to build a church
up at Baoga 'l on a lot for whi ch he had paid tou'"
p o nnd R, t en s hilling&, th er e sciems to have been no
'lbj ec tion offer,3<1, Nor afterwards t o the er ection
Jf a buil diu,z o n Riv er str ee t in this village.
And
thi s firty ~ear p eriod clo ses with c hnrchee of two
other d en omination s , establiPhed within ht>r own
b orders , it is true , but with thP fruit s and quick·
ening of a r evival lat ely enj oyed, with a new meeting hou se . with a bell in its tower, and a etoYe in
its audi en<,:ero o m, in a land.that badJu'ained itR ·free.
doll' and es tabli~hed its p l>litical institntions
largely upon th e pattern of til e New EnglaLd township,
inspir ed and mould ea b y her ord er. Surely the
chur ch may r ej oic e aud we may be glad with her,
at tLis point ot her history.
~ear,y tw o years of what we sh ould canin theRe
day• caudidatin g, foll o wed the death of Mr . Avery.
In Mar c l1, 1793, the church af1er " disr.oul'fling at
large up on c hur c h go vPrnment
with Da11iel
Smitu, " wh o was in some sort a grand c hiJrl of thia
c hur ch, th e gift t o u• ot that chur ch in New Cana,rn, wlli c h wa s f rmcct in part fr om our own members more than fl.tty y ears before, unanimously
vot ed to gh e him a call to settle, the association
advise th e same, th e societ)' approv e and vote a
salary of one hundr e d and fitty pounds, and be
was ordain ed .June 13, 1793.
Th e fi e ld wa s a promi s ing one. The church was
fair in numb ers a1Jd ttppar ently in spirituality.
and
more than fair in eorial position, and the vil1age
was advan cing in wealth and population,
and
probably
!lad not fall en m, c h b elow the rank
wbieb she had h eld h etor e the war, of the sixte enth
among th e t o wns of Conn ec ti cut, Mr.
Omith, a cc ording to all acc ou11tP, was a gentleman
of the old school, urbane and kind, an ablerreacher, a faithful pastor, and~ sincere Christian man ;
but th e chur eh whi ch . in 1746, wh en Mr. Welle
t oo k c•h a r -.,e of it, 11umbt-r Pd 17:l-,in 1832 unmbPred
but 130, and In 1838 but 10!, and this, notwithstanding
th e fad that revivals or some power
A letter
from one
wer e ex1wr1t u ced meanwhile
of ou;.· old et1t men,bers verbaps solves the my1:1tery
for tHJ: ··By r t a son of th e Fmalln ess of the Ralary
and th e s lown e~s in payin g it,(' h e societ y was i,tenerally a y ear b ehiud in payin g him I. P r.r s on ~mith
to
wa s obliged to resort to s ecular occupations
h elp uu t. H e w~s a small tarru er. k ept a boarding
school, a11d Uad a laqc e t'nmily. in c ludin~ farm
laborer s , servants and sch olars, twenty or more."
Wllat could a mau weigllt ed in that way do.
In 18!2 R ev . J o hn Alvord b egan work here as the
coll eague _oUlr. Smith, andbis faithful labors were
r a wa rd ed by a r ev ival mo re powertul
than was
ever experi enced in this chur ch before or since.
In 1~'16 th e. veu c ralile p a -tor who had h e ld bis place
h er e fifty-thr ee yea rs , di ed, and Mr , Alvord r~
s ign ed. This p eri o d was marked b y some important chang es. Tlu , µ eoi,le who were merely citizen s of th e t own, and not m emb..-rs or perhap,a att eudants ot tbi sc hurchorof
anyother,hadgrown
res t ive uuder the tax that. tt..ey wtre compelled to
pay for the supvort
of the winister.
Tilis disaffection led to resistance, and this to lawsuits, and

250th

ANNIVERSARY.

this breakin g down or an old f';,YRtC'm :rnd no new
tot· takiug its
one having u.1:1 yet beeu perfecled
place, prob ably accounts both for thP. meagre se.1Just referred to 1n too
sry and tne stow payments
case of Parson Smith.
Tl.le fOeling of the people,
and the diffi1·ulty tho miuiHtcr expe ri enced in col lecting llis salary arc illustrated
by a story told of
a certain blacksmith.
Hu wa!'-1visited l>y i\lr. Smith
for the am.-,unt ot tax charged against hirn. llnt
he says,'' !-'arson, I llavt, nevet· been to church and
I don't se6 wlly l shou l <l pay t or what I duu't get .··
"But," answered tlle wintster,
•·tlle l"hurch doors
wer e open for yo u, you co u Id have received b enefit if yon wonhl.''
'l'b e blacksmith vaidhis dollar.
But soon !'arson Smith rocri ved a lnll from our
frieud the Llacksrnith,
coutaiHing a. cllargc of two
dolh .rs for slloeing ilis horse.
The miuister went
at once to see about it. · 'Why, neighbor," h e said,
"what is th e meaning of tl..iis bill : I never got my
·'I know that, "
horse shod h ere in ti.le world."
said the blacksmith,
'·but tho dom·s of my shop
are open just as mnc!J a.s the doors of yunr meetingboui;; e,a nd youcoulct hav e had him i;;llod here if
you had wislJed.'' \\ ' lioth cr this rca~ouiug br,.n1gbt
the two dollars is not tolcl. At la st this old sys tem
broke down altogctller, tllo last ta::: was voted in
18::15,and iu Ht3U th e salary was raised Uy subAcripti on, aud frum that day to this I hcliove there
has b een a gradual increase in tile salary, nnd for
the most part. in the ease o f paying i t. Witil the
giving up of this tax tl10 last vestige of a pretence
of Congregationalism
to being a slate ch urch
passed uway, and from that time to tllis and l et ns
hope as l ong as s lrn s tan ds, HllC must dcpP nd for
her finau cial support
up on tlle williug gilts aud
contributionR of her members nud friends.
Methodi s m came int o n o ti ce iu the village in this
period, and bci;{an tu slJou l its lln.llt'lujahs aud
amens in the ear of th e quiet worshipp ers of this
town.
It llad c-rept in, so its r eco rds s tat e, somewhere about 178::i or 17~ !), but it was u o t s.trong
enough to form more than a single clas s for severThe t ow n reeords show that upon applial years.
cation the selectmen in 1814. were empowe red to
g ...Vf'l to th e trnstees of the ~Iethodist society a spot
of ground on tlle west side of the old burying
ground,
for the purpos e of erect ing a me eting
'l'h c site does not appear to Ltave been alhouse,
together satisfactory,
and we have heard it called
goose pond and mudhol e: but their enterpise and
zeal and the growtlt of th e village llae made it now
one of th e most desirable lo cat i ons in the borough.
Perhaps
th ey were n ot nltogeth ~r welcome, tiut
they soon made their place ~ood; welcome or not,
the~ came to stay and ~how the entllusiastic,
hop eful,Joy.1ul, exultant afpects ot our common faith.
In th e sp rin g of JS::l;J the Univers,~ lh •ts of this
part of tile t ow n came together and secured a setha.ci settled
tled pastor, and another denomination
on our territ ory.
In 1842 the first Catholic services ic Stamford
were held in a privat e house in West Stamford, and
the fl.rat rendezvous
stat ion of that migbty army
ot Cathvlics tbat we1e so speedily to camp on this
ground and cxrlla n ge tbeir private dwellmg
for a
stone church lar ge eno u gh for a cat h edral, was
opened.
Things were moving her e in Stamford during all
that long perio<l, and if the territory was no longit
er exclusively covered by the Congregationalists
was evidently being as well ca.red •·or as if it were.
Alao during this period the Sabbath School was
op e ned in thi s cllnrcl.J in HHS.
At the uentb of ~fr . Smitll we enter the fifth and
last of our fifty year periods.
It has been an era
of marvelous
cllanges i u all directions, and pro\Var has given the
gress , we beli eve, as well.
country
territory
and liberated
h er s lav es, and
pea ce has develop ed her doma.in and opened new
sources of powor tllat fifty years ago wer e n ot even
Imagined, and the whole world has felt the intl uences of this wondertul
period.
The t ow u has
increased from 3 500 in 1840 to nearly 16,000 in
0

17

1885, aih.1 n ew and br oader relations
and respousibilities and poasibilitics llave be~u cntort: d upon.
In this p eri od it i s but tair to say of her that she
has doue iltr part in line witu th e hi sto ry of two
and loya lly. She bas
hundred years, patriotically
felt the cilaugcs and, more slowly. perhaps, than
some young er 1n years, bas r espo nd ed to them.
And she ha s not beeu behiud the other chu rchea
in matters of educa tion. rPform, village improveJu til1s period a great
m en t and patriotic duty.
cha n ge must be noticed in her pastorate.
Before
thi s time tour uasturs had largely marked the four
fifty year periods.
Bishop, tl10 first; Daveuport,
tl.ie second ; Wells, the third;
and Smith, the
f?urth: but in tilis la ~ten\,i u l ess than forty years,
eight meu have lx.·ru ~11
ed the pla.c€ wili ch one man
wa s wont to llolcl fur llalf a cc nt.Ltry .
l sa11c J cnni11gs from 1847 to US5:3
•••• . _ .G years
James H oyt from 1~5:J to 1855 .... . .... . 2 years
Heury li . .Elliott from 1H5:) t o 1858 ...•.• a years
Jo seph A.nderaon from 1851' to 1861 .. .... :J vears
Leonard W. Ha.con fr uw 1862 to 1864..... 2 Years
H.ichard 13. 1'bnr ston from 18G5 to 1874-•. u y ea rs
G . Duckin gllau1 Wil cox trom Hs75 to '7U. .4 years
And the prc8eut in cumbent wh o has been ilere
but a. littl e ove r si x yea.rs.
What tilis indi cates , wil et her degeuerncy or improvement,
we are n ot compete nt to decide; proba.l>ly the change is not all good nor all bad. 'l'here
is this to be said, that her 111em1Jers have incr ease d
more in tllis t ra tha.u in any simi lar p eriod, and
more hav e been conve rted to God.
The departures
from h er whicll began in th6 last
cent ttl'y ilav e con tinued, and a. separatiuu that hurt
her more than any that pre ceded took place when
in l tl5:1, tw ent y-six m e1nbe rs took l ett ers to for~
the Pr es byt er ian cilur c h iu Stamford, and again,
when, in H:W~.eleve n t ook let t er s to form the !'r~sThe invasion
of her
byt erian chur ch in Darien.
t erritory and the separation of her members ilas
goue on for two huudr ed years.
It hf\S always
boon puinful.
She has always resisted aud lament
ed, uut louk at the result.
See wb•t God !Jatb
wrought.
Til e territory
whicil was o nc e h e rs is
now occupied by more lbnu twenty-five
ch urciles
of evang elical taitil of various t'orms of governm ent, of various methods of administration,
giving different em pha sis t o the matt e rs uf our common heritage. bnt recognizing one Lord ,o n e faith
one baptism, and t ogethe r better meeting and sat~
isfyiug the want , and doing m ore work than any
single churt:11, ilow e ,-er powerf'nl and oxcellent
could possibly a.ccomplish.
'
E'or moro thatJ au hundred ytars she supplied all
th e spiritual in struc ti on and all the ordinances 01'
the gospel that wa s giyen iu this town. and still
slte stands . 1'.,rom her ilas come many of the inthat
flufmces and from h e r much ot the material
has gone into the other churches and ilelp ed them
to make them the strong and etlicien t churches
that they are. tlhe bas sent out from her children
of the gospel of
more than a Plcore of preachers
through
the great
Christ, and th e co ntributions
channels of ou r or der hav e reached eve ry part of
our own land and every land on the wilole earth.
by one honored as a
It is said iu kiudly criticism
lect urer up on history as well as resp ecte d as a
townsman, that . the Congregational
church of New
England has n o art; thi s is true in pa.rt, but she
with
has that seuse of' vital uniou and communion
God, out of whi ch in all the ages has b ee n b orn the
high est schoo ls of art. The se New England townpeo pl e , this union
ships of happy and prosperous
of' the states, tbi s mighty natiou, tbe8e are her
works of art painted on the canvas of a. cou tinent
Th~
writt en in the volumes of tile ccnturieR.
map of the world has been c hanged in the last
have
two hundred a.nct fifty years, new dynasties
come a.nd gone. A nation or more tila.n fifty millions ilave occupied the ~ilderness
continent
in
which she made h e r pla ce, but h ere stands this
church witilin a. s tone's throw of h er first location
among ns , preaching in substance
the same doc

18

CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.



'I

tr\ne, bringing to men the same comforts of God's With you in light.
grace-she
stauds because she is established upon
We still in shadow. on this festal day
the Rock of Ages.
R~viewing all tne years. would at His f;et,
She has stood a quarter of a millenium, but she
The glory Jay,
1e not old. A church const.~ntly renewing its membership and continually
quickened by the Holy
It seems that ancient Stamford
Ghost, need never grow old, it is a branch of that
Ca.me down from Wethersfield,
tree ot life that grows on either side of' the river
A town's that's somewhat noted
of life, continually fruitful, and whose leaves are
For Its peculiar yield.
for the healing of the nations.
To-day she enters upon the last half of her third
It yearly sends forlh, labeled,
century.
She is fruitful still; lrnt two days ago
As b.c who 1:uns may read,
men and women ent~red into her communion and
To every town and hamlet,
babes were brought to her altars. Never before
The
choic est garden seed.
was sho so larg e in unmb ers , n ever before had i:;.he
so many children and youtlJ under her care never
Ia
every
fertile valleY
before was she so surrounded by a Christian brothThrougllout the co~mmonwea.lth,
erhood of churches, animated by the kindest feel·
It
strews
the germs of beauty,
ing and Christian well-wishing.
Of plent eousness and healtn.
Before the end of this period the most of us will
have passed beyond, but the old chur ch will stand,
It's very earliest venture.
her work, peculiar to herself, will go on; she will
At least 'twould t10 appear,
eee the millenium.
Was il:l tile ample stiipmeut
'rhat found its lodgement here.
The Rev. Mr. Davenport's poem, which

was read by himself, in a voice singularly
pleasant, flexible and expressive, bad no
other, and nee.ded no other title, tban the
following:
1635-STAJIIFORD, DECEMBER22-1885.
0 Hand Divine,
Tllat led our fathers all their weary ways,
Now from our thrilling heart strings deign to sweep
Exultant praise.
Our song would be
Glory to Him to whom all glory's due
Tho God our fathers loved ; to them, to us
Forever true.
His was the star
That threw its line of light a.cross the sea,
A finp:er pointing to the ptomisea land
Of liberty.
His was the dove
That sougbtthe shining portals of the west,
As if to ope before the exiles' feet
The gates of rest.

His was the cloud
That went before them through the wilderness,
Till these tair slopes along the sea arose
Their sight to blces.
His was the zeal
That here inspired, as broad and deep were laid
The grand foundations ou which church and state
Were firmly stayed.

His was the grace
That moved the thronging generations
To build aright the temple of our hope,
Forever dear.

goodly seed it furthered
Tc tllis sprayasprinkled coast,
Well winnowed and 8elected,
As we to-day may boast.
A

The germs of much that's worthy
Came thus without a. doubt,
U1:1efuland ornamental,
All warran tel.I to sprout.
Should one Mk," Bave the seedlings
01 Wetberi::-Jieldrenown? ' '
No nee<.1of words for answer,
Point Rim to Stamford town.
'l'ell him that the cc.,nsignment,
That met this region 's need,
With all its Woods aurl Hollys,
Held hut a single \Veed.

Sure seldom seed was planted
Beneath the azure dome,
O'er wllich the ages shouted,
A gladder "harve•t home."
But Wethersfield is famous
In quite another way;
It welcomes gue1:1tsso warmly
That tlley 're constrained to stay.
And that, although th e diet
Incliues a.t least to plain,
And rostllcticism suffera
For la.ck of porcelain. ·

And friendship's golden fruitage
Is seldom lully ripe,
For one may loug for fellows
Of quite a different stripe.

here

His was the power
That caused the swift and noiseless loom of time
To yield the sacred fabric of tho past,
A work sublime.
His be the praise
Honor, all honor to His peerless name ;
One fah.ily in ea, th and heaven to-day
We chant His fame.
O yon who once

dere worshiped Him whom now your eyes behold,
Touch witb your own celestial fire our notes
Bo poor and cold,

This central, ancient township
Has gained a name afar,
For its unnuwbered yeomen
Admitted to the bar.
One wonders whether Stamford,
In all her str en~th and pride,
Remembering Wethersfield that gave
To her its true and tried;
Has mourned
And kindly
And rendered
That made

at its depletion,
by it stood,
ba ck the quota
its i.umber good.

Perchance this generous borough
Mere justice has outrun,

250th

Had he but known
That 'twas the mule that halked in Deacon Hait,
He'd felt a sweeter charity f'or his
Immobile state.

And her indebtedness of old
Has canceled, two to one.
If so, and blame
Should thence
Stamford could
You furnished

or credit
at all proe:eed,
say, ' 'Yes, Wethersfield,
us the seed."

He had no thought
1'hat through "development"
the rolling years
Had robed the earth in aJI the wondrous wealth
That now appears.

As Samuel, the prophet, rehearsed to-day,
(In his philosophic
and genial w:iy ,)
The story whose pathos. power and play,
Enc!lained us an with its magical sway;

That all the world
J:!""'rom
mi ~roscopic germ to Sbakspeare
By one unceasing, upward impulse is
Together bound.

The tale set forth in a winning hgh t,
The men of lea:-ning and fervor and might
Who here bave stood in defence of the right.

,j

He never learned
That just bey0nd the gloomy gates of death
Probation waits for idiots and for babes
Who've lost thei>: breath.

We can see him now, as, with saintly niieu,
With dignified bearing a.nd brow serene,
He slowly crosses the village g:rflen.

He had not peered
Though magic glass of science that lays bare
The forces of tlie universe, at work
In earth and air,

A three-cornered
ha.the sustains without pride
Over hair well selected, and fittingly dyed;
His bosom is ruffled, but on the outside.
His gown and his gloves are of' mldnight hue;
His slip1,1ers are clasped, as is plain to view ;
·with a buckle of silver, good and true.

The el~ctric glow
He never saw. save in the lightning's
Or in the gleam that kindles northern
To mimic day.

He gracefully carries a gold-headed cane,
That a "dude" of the present would envy in v!Lin,
Too heavy 'twould prove for the size of his brai:::i.

is , not

The people fall back as the pastor draws mgh,
And wait till he pass ; they clearly descry
The halo that crowns hi,:n, just dropped from the
sky.
With sweetness and dignity due to his state,
He greets every citizen, hu1nble and great,
And counsels or comforts with wisdom and weight.

It's true he lacked
In points we deem essential to his weal;
Born j Qst a little early for his good,
Perhaps we feel.

To him and his,
The wiry path of thought was all unknown;
He never told his choicest secrets to
The telephone.
He never knew
The joy of flying with the wings of steam,
Nor felt the throb aniJ. thrill of music in
'.rhe engine's scream.
He never read
The signal service's prophecy
And thus forewarned, provided
That hovered nigh,

of "dry,"
for the storm

No gay resort
E'er tempted him beyond what he could bear·
Although Shippan's cool, crystal waves, at. times:
Seemed wondrous fair.

We follow him. too, with respect and with praise.
As he modest.ly walks his beneficent ways,
This messeng~r true of the Ancient of Days.
He's the type of a character vanished from earth
Of quaintness unequaled except by hi,il worth.
Of times quite unique the legitimate birth.

play,
skies

No paper cam'3
With rich array of gossip to refine,
And help the soul in searching for the depths
Of truth divine.

And on ward he passes. both honored and blessed,
"Heaven's
own repreEl-entativa" freely confessed,
Of all whom his grace-sweetened lips have addressed

;

'Twas never his
To ask for entertainment
at the "Board,"
And reap the benefit a stay in town
Would then afford.
He never spoke
In Congress of the Churches, having shown
That unity would c01.ne wnen every church
Should join his own.

He never heard
Of evolution;
did not know that he
Of paleozoic ape or earth-worm was
The progeny.
He never guessed
That "sin,. within him was some brutish
Through strict heredity producing there
The tumult uire ;

crowned

He had not dreamed
That Eden with its sweets that charmed the soul
Lay where unmeasured
leagues of ice now wreathe
The arctic pole.

A grandeur clings to the old divine,
With his stately manner and spirit fine,
That will live while the distant years decline.

He treads the green earth, but his home
here;
An ambassador he from a loftier sphere,
He bears his great offioe with reverent fear.

19

ANNIVERSARY.

He had not learned
That "until death shall part" means until one
Shall gain a legal residence out to ward
The setting sun.
sire

That all his pride
Was peacock blood disporting through his veins,
That'twas the lingering trace of wolf that sought
Unla,wful gains.

Vacation brought
A half day's toil amid the hills of corn
Or in the orchard, hung with golden fruit
Of sunshine born.
The throat might fail;
None ever cleemed the European air
A tonic competent to thrill the chords
To swift repair,

I

I

20

CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.

The brain grew weak;
No trip to California was planned ;
More frequent trips into the study. was,
The fl.rm demand.

Chaplets to day we weave
For the holy men and true
Who here proclaimed the right,
As the right came into view.

Yet, be it said,
The minister of old waS keen and strong,
And bravely at his parish post he stood,
And tarried long.

Their work was brave and grand,
Aye, grander than they saw;
Tl::ey made forever clear
The dignity of law.

The meeting kouse
In which the people gathered year by year,
Was such as seasoned men with heat aud cold,
Intense, severe.

Among the chosen spirits
Whose fame we now declare,
Appears an ancient grandsire
Whose name I chance to bear.

But more than all,
The doctrine that was taught as heavenly
Gave fibre to the sturdy soul that still
The message bore.

In reading o'er the records,
This thought did me impress,
The lasting force inherent
In simple '·no" or ''yes."

lore,

For in the sphere
The times affordM, his was thonght pi ofound ;
The deepest mysteries of life and God
He sought to sound.

If he, when called to Stamford
Resolving in his mind
To tarry at New Haven,
The summons had declined ;

En throned on high
Above the trifles of our earthly state,
He saw a changeless ·will that compassed all
Both small and great.

Why, this at least would follow,
I had not here to-day
Enjoyed good brother Scoville's
Rhetorical display.

In every place there could but be
The working of a stern decree
That had no ear for human plea.

I'm here to share the banquet,
Because it wa$!n't "no ..
The youthful parson answered,
Two hundred years ago.

The "non.elect" on every side,
Could never from God's judgments
But must his flaming wrath abide.

hide

For them no heavenly U1ercy pleads ;
No loving Saviour intercedes,
No Holy Spirit kindly leads.

But more than this, the Rev. John
Prepa1·ed himself one day,
AI!d visited a widow fair
Who dwelt across the way.
She "eminently pious" was,
(The record stands secure)
And, modest as a pale primrose,
And just as sweet and pure.

For them in vain the Lamb had bled,
His precious blood, on Calvary shed,
Was not their ransom from the dead.
He hardens, whom He will, to death ;
Hath mercy where he will, He saith
To whom we owe our fleeting breath.

The holy man said, "Let us pray,"
And on the sanded floor,
They knelt, th~ crown of heaven's grace,
Together to implore

0 faith subiime that still could pray,
That with unwavering trust could say,
"Holy and righteous is Thy way.''

Then rising, he devoutly said,
"The Lord makes known His will,
It is that Martha, though bereaved,
Should be a housewife still."

O faith amazing, that could stand,
And tell how matchless Love had planned,
And preach the word at God's command.
A.ye, preach the word, with power. to all,
Though sc,me on whom its accents fall,
Should wait in vain '·the effectual call;"
E'en bid the wretched sinner flee
From wrath that changless, dread decree,
Assigned him from eternity.

Wi,Jing a tear for him whose sands
Of life bad early run,
She answered with a heavenward glance
Hflis holy will be done."
And ere the waning spring had passed
To b1oorning summer tide,
The ladies of this pariah dressed
To match the pastor's bride,
And I have asked what fate had had
In store for me and mine,
,
If Martha had rebellious proved
Against the will divine.

Who, but a hero still could bless
The Lord of hos is, our Righteousness,
And his unmeasured grace confess ?
Ah, with what wonder and surprise,
He must have op'ed his blinaed eyes
Within the gates of Paradise ;

It takes one 's breath to think that, thus,
The things concerning him,
Depended wholly for a time
Upon a widow's whim.

And seen how love divine ddth leap
The barriers human thought may heap,
And its majestic circle sweep ;

No doubt 'tis well, in view of all,
That it resulted so;
Th"t Madame Martha was resigned,
Two hundred years ago,

And round and round each human
In tender, yearning passion roll,
Eager to gain supreme control.

soul
As thus I speak, another scene
Comes~learly into view,

250th
That early in the century
Thrill ed Stamford

pW!t

tllrough

and through.

A score of years, and mor e, had flown,
And the submissive pair
In a fond da~g bter' s love rcjoiued,

Sweet Abigail, the lair.
But her's the fat e of gentl e maids;
A suitor came to woo ;
And to him rev erence sh e gave ,
And her affection, too.
' Tw~ s Stephen, blessed martyr, he,
Longm eadow's chosen guide,
Who ca111eto Stamford's parsonage.
To find a blooming bride.
When but a boy, he woke one night
lln Deerfl eld's bloody so il,
To find his tatb er·s hcn1se iu f\ames,
Himself the Indians' spoil.
But no w. it is his heart that burne:,
Witll fir es he cannot quell ;
And th oug h a cap tive, in the bonds
He would forever dwell.

The wedding was in Rtamford ch urch,
And all th e aisles wore thronged;
Th e invitation was so broad
Tha.t not a so ul was wronged.
lleauty and learning both were there,
And wealth and fashion came;
And all the r egio n tllitll er sent
Its damsel and its dame.

The bride was dressed in opal silk,
With filmy lac es hun g;
Anet i:mowy apron to whose edge
Embroidered lilies clung.
Above h~r wealth of chesnut curls
A towering cap arose,
As delicate as ocean spray,
As white as drifting snows.
From this the bridal veil swept down
In many a misty told ;
And Stephen tllougllt his bride elect,
A marvel to behold,
He in his solemn rob(1 of black,
And sacerdotal bands,
Ap~eared a very priest of God
Awaiting his commands.
They enter through the br ea thless throng,
Aud at the altar stand,
Allll Fatller Williams pleads for grace
1'-..romheaven's all bounteous hand .
Then Father Davenport ascends
And turns tho Racred !i&ge,
And with emotion rea ds the words
Of psa lmist and of sage,
And from a cllosen t ext h e tell•
How 'mid fair Erlen'is bowers,
The marriage altar was adorned
With amaranthine flowers.

21

ANNIVERSARY.
And pray er he offers for the twain,
His dau ght e r and his son,
That they in love nnd sy mpathy
Forever may be one .
A hymn is sung, "liow ble s t the man
WhlllSC house Jehovah c heers;"

And forth they go, whil e loving friends
Are smiling 1hrough their tears.
hurri ed banquet is dispatched,
And then tLe palfreys gray
Are mounted, and with farewell words
The lov ers ride a.way.
A

From highest point of ea,teru ridge
They wave a fond adieu ;
A moment, anf\ the verdant hills
Hav e hidden them from viow.
The summer skies are bright above,
The flowers their incense breathe,
Thick-w ove n forest greeneries
Th eil path with beauty wr eathe.

They go to half a century's toll,
'l'o countless yea.rs of love ;
They go to sweeten earthly homes,
'l'o gladden rea lms &hove.
Aud _Abigail, the blooming bride,
Ot s111JJmerslong a.go,
Was one of m:u1y Stamford's sent,
To bless a world of woe.
But th,t is past, and we are here·
Tbe years hav e come and gone,'

b:~~
f>i
~:!!~eir

A~dh~~:~~!! eti11:!~l

sweet,

The fath ers bor e their burnen well
And entered into rest ;
And, close behind, their thronging sons
Have reverently pressed.
And her e th e altar fires have burned
'
Aud in th eir lleavenly glow,
Thousands rejoi cing , have forgot
Life's ceaseless wail <1nC.woe.
And mid the sorrow ..ud the Joy,
Tll1s chur ch of God has stood
Sustained by sturdy manhood'~ strength
And gracious womanhood.
On this 1:lad anniversary day,
Her children gather here
With gratular.ion and with love,
For her, th~ mother dear.

Though doc&des have to ce nturies passed
Binet, she began her course,
She stands to-day. with eye undimmed
And unabated force.
Her brow is radiant with the bloom
Of an immortal youth;
Her voice grown sweeter with the years
Still plead s for lov e and truth.

0 Mother Church, may future yeareJ
Grant tbee a wealth unpriced·
Dev'>tion of the sons of men,
'
The blessing of the Christ.

How 'mid the thorns of modern J;fe
The ca res that so aunoy,
'
The marriage altar still remains,
The bulwark of our joy,

Long may tlly prophet, SAMUEL,stand,
In faithful ser vi c e here.
And at the last with all his flock
In heaven 's fold appear.

And then in simple words and few ,
And tremulous and low.
He gives his daughter to the man
With whom she fain would go.

And here do thou, within the•e cour ts
Thy supplication make,
'
Till over thee millennial days
ILi cloudless glory b1eak.

..
22

The intermission from 1 till 2 o'clock, P.
was very pleasantly spent by the members and their numerous guests in discussing
in an appropiate
way the
appetizing
supplies which the ladies had prepared in
the lecture room in quantities inexbaustable,
even by the determined inroads made npou
them,
It goes without saying that tbes@
wholesome exercises were accompanied by
rcbanges, and muthe agreeable Jocial int <il
tual congratulations proper to so auspicious
and interesting an occasion.
The afternoon exercises, beginning at 2
o'clock, partook of the social and somewhat
informal character which the programme
F. A. Palmtr
was designed to promote.
Esq. occupied the chair, and Mr. F. W.
Nichols presided at the organ. The chief
interest of this meeting attached to the
series of short addresses by former pastors
.and by the pastors of other churches in the
These addresses
village and neighborhood.
were for the m ost part conceived in the
pleasant, semi-humorous spirit suited to the
time and occasion, exeept that those of the
former pastors, Rev. Messrs. Thurston and
Anderson, were too long and too serious to
come under this category. Rev. Mr. Pentecost was disposed to demur against the tendency to sigh for the "goJd old times." For
his part be thought the present was incmparably better than the past, and his chi\)f
cause for thar:kfulness to-day was that be
was not on the stage of life in those uncomfortable times two hundred or two hundred
and fifty years ago. There was much in the
old Puritan character to admire, no doubt,
but for his part, he thought they mu£t have
been very hard people to get along with.
They wert> always in deadly earnest about
small matters, and every one. from parson
to door-keeper bristled
with peculiarities
and "views" which they held with such grim
determination as if theii' very souls depended
upon it. He thought that as the warmth
and color and comfort of the modern church
surpassed the cold, narrow, straight-backed
and uncarpeted meeting-house, so Christianity is something
infinitely sweeter and
better to-day than it ever was before.
Rev. Jos.,ph Anderson, who was pastor
M.,

/



.CONGREGATIONAL
CHURCH
of the church from '58 till '61, was the next
speaker.
He preached the last sermon in
the old church on what is now Central Park
and the first sermon in the present church
edifice.
One of the thoughts which bad
impressed him to-day was the beauty and
significance of the organic unity of the
It had
church standing for so many years.
been bis fortune to serve three First
churches.
He thought they •were, more
than others, subject to two special dangersindolence and narrowness.
He congratulated this church on the fact _that its pastor
was the opposite of both.
Rev. R. B.
Thurston, also a former pastor, spoke at
some length.
He served the church for
nine years, beginning in '65.
The other speakers were Dr. Tatlock, of
the Episcopal, Dr . Vail of the Presbyterian,
Dr. Lathrop, of the Baptist, and .Rev. 1Mr.
Prilice, of the Methodist churches.
~ev .
F. W. Brathwaite, of St. Andrew's, who
was unable to be present, sent a letter c,f
kindly congratulation.
There was a call for
Rev. E
M. Grant, of the Universalist
cbureb, but be was not at the time present.
The speakers we1·e led into a good-humored
discussion of the claims of thair respective
churches to priority in the point of time.
Dr. Tatlock, in all sincerity, and with perfectly good taste, claimed to represent a
church
" many centnries " older than
250 years. Dr. Lathrop said that hi~ cb<1rch
traced its lineage 'way back to John the
Baptist. Mr. Prince related the anecdote
of the little boy who, studying the Old Testament, said to bis mother that "the people
were all Methodists then, they said amen so
often."
But Dr. Vail capped the climax
by declaring that Presbyterianism was originated "when Moses gathered the Elders
of Israel."
Dr. Tatlock incidentally referred to an iuteresting episode of ecclesiastical history in this state and town, not
generally known.
In 1818 his predecessor
in the rectorship of St. John's parish, after
nine petitions to the legislature had met
with as many refusals for the removal of
the "awkward circumstance" of Episcopalians paying taxes to support the Congregat~onal church establishcni:nt, conceived the

,,

I

)

250th

ANNIVERSARY.

plan of forming a political alliance with
what was then known as the "Jefferson
Democrats." The proposition was prusented
to certain leaders of that party at Redding
Ridge, in this county, who immediately
adopted it and for'wiirded a formal statement
of the plan to the office of the Bridgeport
Farmer for publication.
The movement
resnlted iu the successful and final removal
of the "awkward circumstance" aforesaid.
Much of Interest in the way of personal
and church reminiscences was brought out.
and the 1Deeting wa,; protracted till 5:30
o'clock.
Rev. Mr. Hicks read a pleasant,
congratulatory letter from Wethersfield, in

23

which, however, Stamford's claim of priority
was courteously called in questivn,
A kind
letter from the First Church of Hartford was
read, and one from the First Church of New
Haven. Addressas of a similar congratulatory and pleasant tone were made by Rev.
Mr. Anderson, of Norwalk, Rev. Mr. Ross,
of South Norwalk, Rev. James Hubbell, of
Danbury, and others.
In the evening the church was crowded,
and many who came a little late found not
even "standing room only."
Rev. Henry
Ward Beecher preached au able and characteristic sermon, which was heard by the immense congregation assembled with every
evidence of attention and interest.

/