Friday, July 22, 2011

Cavendish Semiquincentennial: Universalists and First Baptist Church

The following information is from The History of Windsor County, Vermont 1891 Edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich and Frank R. Holmes, D. Mason & Co. Publishers

The First Universalist Society of Cavendish. — Among the early settlers of Cavendish were a number of members of the Universalist church. The first to preach this doctrine in the town were Michael, a son of Captain John Coffin, and William Farwell. Salmon Dutton, Captain Leonard Proctor, and James Smith were of this faith. From 1803 to 1809 Father Ballou, of Barnard, preached in the town. About this time a society was formed, and the General Conferences of 1812 and 1828 met at Cavendish. The society included the towns of Cavendish, Plymouth, Ludlow and Reading, and meetings were held once a month until 1827. The Rev. William Skinner preached his first sermon in Cavendish on Christmas Day, 1825. At this time he was a resident of Langdon, N. H., but removed to Proctorsville in May, 1828. He resided at the latter place till his death, excepting the years 1834-35, when he was located at Bennington. The present society was organized March 11, 1837, Samuel Adams being chosen moderator of the meeting, and Thomas Whitcomb, clerk and treasurer. The original members were William Spaulding, Samuel Adams, Asa Spaulding, 2d, Luke Parkhurst, William Smith, John Stearns, James Bryant, Asa Bond, Thaddeus Smith, Jonathan Chapman, Daniel Kendall, jr., Francis A. Foster, G. P. Spaulding, Abel Hill, and Thomas Proctor. The first minister was Rev. Warren Skinner, who continued to preach until March 1, 1845, during which period he took sixty members into the church. For the next two years Rev. G. W. Bailey supplied the church, with William Livingstone and J. Hemphill. In 1844 the present stone chapel was erected. The Rev. W. L, Barber was settled February 13, 1847, ^"<^ the following were his successors : Revs. H. H. Baker, 1852 to 1855 ; J. H. Willis, 1856 to 1859; Harrison Closson, 1861 to 1866; Miss R. A. Damon, 1868 to 1869; R. T. Sawyer, 1870 to 1872 ; John G. Gregory, 1872 to 1874; J. T. Powers, 1874 to 1878; Herbert Whitney, 1878 to 1881 ; W. H. Pratt, 1 88 1 to 1882 ; J. S. Geldhill, 1882 to 1884; A. A. Rice and John P. Eastman, 1884 to 1886. Since that date the society has been supplied by the resident ministers at Ludlow, services, being held in the afternoons.

The First Baptist Church.The town records state that on December 20, 1799, the Rev. Aaron Leland, of Chester, certified that the following persons were members of the Baptist church : Jesse Spaulding, Asaph Fletcher, Robert Davis, Garrabel Gerrald, Obadiah White, Samuel White, Noadiah Russell, Benjamin Lynde, John Russell, Eliphalet Chapman, Stephen Roberts, Frazier Eaton, Levi Manning, John Peck, Reuben Chapman, Perley Fassetts, Joseph Wilkins, Joseph Spaulding and John Spaulding.

A society was organized by Rev. Aaron Leland, in 1803, with forty- six members, and they worshipped in the Union church located in the center of the town. It was not until 181 1 that there was a settled minister, the first being Rev. Jonathan Gowing, jr., who remained five years. He was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Starkweather, and in 1821 the Rev. Ruel Lathrop became the pastor. He was succeeded by Rev. Ariel Kendrick. Down to this time the society embraced Ludlow and Cavendish, but in 1825 it was divided. The first pastor of the Cavendish society was Rev. Joseph Freeman, who remained until 1837, excepting the years 1831 and 1836, when the society was without a pastor. In 1834 the society built a brick church where the town hall now stands. The following ministers have been over the society : Enoch T. Winter, 1837-38 ; Moses Field, 1839; no pastor in 1840; Obed Sperry, 1841 ; Joseph Freeman, 1842; Daniel F. Richardson, 1843-44; Ariel Kendrick, 1845-46 ; Aaron Angier, 1847-49 ; Joseph Freeman, 1850 ; R. M. Ely, 1852-55; no settled minister in 1856-57; S. W. Miles, 1858; no settled minister in 1859; Mylen Merriam, i860; Sem Pierce from 1861- 62; S. F. Brown, from October, 1863, to November, 1875; no settled minister in 1876; L. B. Hibbard, January, 1877, to January, 1880 ; Foster Henry, January, 1880, to January, 1885; S. F. Brown, January, 1885, to June, 1886; George B. Wheeler, acting pastor since August I, 1888.

The society was presented by Benjamin F. White, of Boston, in November, 1850, with a church bell.

The brick church was destroyed by fire in 1875 and in 1878 the present wood building was erected at a cost of $4,500, having a seating capacity of 250. By the will of the Hon. Richard Fletcher, of Boston, the society in 1870 received a parsonage, a pastor's library of two hundred volumes and a fund of $4,000, the interest on $i,000 to be spent annually in increasing the library, and the interest on $3,000 to be spent annually either in repairs upon the parsonage or for the support of preaching. The only conditions attached to these bequests are that the society is never to be without a settled minister for two consecutive years, if so the property is to revert back to the heirs of the donor.

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