Buckland — Religious Societies

Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.

      The early settlers of Buckland were long dependent on the neighboring towns for their religious instruction, many belonging to the churches in Charlemont and Ashfield, and a few to the Shelburne Church. But in October, 1785,

The Congregational Church Of Christ

      The Congregational Church Of Christ was formed, with the following constituent membership: Samuel Taylor, Lemuel Taylor, Thompson Maxwell, James Butler, Enos Taylor, Elias Carter, Tertius Taylor, Josiah Brown, Nathan Brackett, Jonathan Brackett, Anna Carter, Sybil Maxwell, Martha Johnson, Sarah Butler, Eunice Taylor, Deborah Carter, Susannah Brown; Hannah Brackett, and Samuel Carter.
      From this period till 1800 other members were added, as follows: Jonathan Whiting, Othniel Taylor, Samuel Edson, Eliza Griswold, Rhoda Griswold, Abraham Stebbins, Lydia Stebbins, Chandler and Jemima Burgin, Elias Carter, Benjamin Ballard, Jacob Spafford, Seth and Mary Wyman, Samuel Truesdell, Abigail Carter, David Johnson, Prudence Johnson, Dina and Rebecca Whiting, Sarah Harris, Lucy Pomeroy, Mrs. J. Spaulding, Joseph Shepard, Edward Damon, James Brackett, Zebulon White, Joseph Taylor, William Flower, Samuel Moody, Joseph F. Griswold, and Mrs. John Wood.
      In the winter of 1799 a revival took place, by means of which 17 members were added to the church. In the same way there was an addition of 66 in 1822, and 44 in 1842. In 1851 the church had more than 200 members, but this number was diminished by removals and other causes until there were less than 100. In the winter and spring of 1876 a general revival prevailed, which increased the membership by the addition of 45. There were, Jan. 1, 1879, 55 male and 84 female members, 1G of whom were non-residents.
      On the 23d of June, 1793, Elias Griswold and Chandler Burgin were appointed deacons. Four years thereafter these offices were held by Benjamin Ballard and Lemuel Taylor. In 1807, Nathan Sherwin was a deacon; and at later periods Enos Pomeroy, Joseph Griswold, John Potter, Silas Trowbridge, F. Forbes, H. L. Warfield, and Charles Howes have served in that capacity.
      The church was first supplied with preaching by the Revs. Jacob Sherwin, of Ashfield, and Jonathan Leavitt, of Heath, but on the 15th of October, 1794, the Rev. Josiah Spaulding was installed the first pastor, and remained with the church until his death, May 8, 1823, aged seventy-two years. He was a native of Plainfield, Conn.; graduated at Yale in 1778, and was ordained to preach in 1780. Previous to coming to Buckland he had been settled over the churches of Uxbridge and Worthington. He was an author of merit, as a Christian was irreproachable, and his ministry of twenty-eight years had a powerful influence in Buckland. His tombstone is inscribed with this epitaph: "Merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come."
      The Rev. Benjamin F. Clarke was ordained as pastor of the church Feb. 4, 1824, and was dismissed May 2, 1839. He was born in Granby, Jan. 18, 1792, graduated at Williams in 1820, and finished his theological course at Andover in 1823.
      The third pastor was the Rev. Preston Cummings, who was installed Jan. 1, 1840, and remained until Dec. 31, 1847. He was a native of Seekonk, a graduate of Brown University in 1822, and ordained to the pastoral office Aug. 22, 1825, at Lebanon, N. Y.
      The Rev. Asa B. Smith was next installed, March 22, 1848, and remained until the summer of 1859. He was a native of Williamstown, Vt., and graduated at Middlebury in 1834. He was ordained as missionary in 1837, and labored in Oregon and the Sandwich Islands until ill health compelled him to return to this country.
      In the fall of 1859 the Rev. P. Cummings became the acting pastor of the church, and served in that capacity several years.
      In 1864 the Rev. Charles Lord was settled as the pastor, and continued in this relation until his death, in April, 1872, while he was on a visit to New York.
      Since 1873 the Rev. L. C. Guild has been the acting pastor of the Buckland and East Charlemont Churches.
      The first meetings of the church were held in dwellings, and for a short time in a barn. In 1793 the frame of a meeting-house was put up at the village of Buckland by Col. John Ames, in which worship was thereafter held, although the house was not completed until 1800. The nails used in this building were wrought by hand by Jabez Brooks. There is a tradition that the town appointed a meeting to decide whether a house should be built that year, and that so anxious were the people of the northern part of the town to have a house, and to have it located at a point no farther from them than the centre, that they emphasized their opinions by bringing building material with them; and at a later period their zeal to complete the house led to the death of one of the young men of the town. While several teams were engaged in drawing lumber the wagons came in contact with each other at the creek crossing, near Deacon Forbes' present place, with such force that one of the drivers, Thomas Carter, was thrown off and killed.
      The meeting-house was used at its old site, on the south side of the square, until 1846, when it was rebuilt in its present location; and subsequent repairs have rendered it an attractive and comfortable place of worship. The basement has been fitted up for a hall for town-meetings and other appropriate public gatherings. A Sunday-school is held in the church, having at present 125 members, and H. L. Warfield as superintendent.
      The Congregational ministers hailing from Buckland have been the following: Rev. Jesse Edson, who graduated at Dartmouth in 1794, was licensed to preach in 1795, and died while pastor of the Halifax, Vt., Church, in 1805, aged thirty-two years.
      Rev. Washington A. Nichols, who was born in Buckland in 1808, graduated at Amherst in 1834, and at Andover in 1838, and removed to Chicago.
      Rev. Lebbeus R. Phillips was born in Ashfield, but in early life moved to Buckland, graduated at Williams in 1836, and was licensed soon after.
      Rev. David Rood was born in Buckland, April 25, 1818, graduated at Williams in 1844, and was ordained a foreign missionary in 1847. In that year he embarked for his field of labor among the Zulus of South Africa.
      Rev. Lathrop Taylor was born in Buckland, Aug. 3, 1813, graduated at Middlebury, Vt., in 1839, and at Andover in 1842, and was ordained the following year.

The Baptist Church Of Buckland.

      The organization of this body is obscured by contradictory statements, one account placing the origin as early as the 22d of July, 1789, "when 10 persons were delegated from the Ash field Church to form a branch in Buckland." It is probable that the mission was not successful, and that the church was not permanently established until November 21, 1828, although occasional Baptist meetings may have been held meanwhile in the southeastern part of the town. There being no records, a full list of the constituent membership cannot be produced; but among the early members were Deacons Japhet Chapin, Harris Wright, William Putnam, and Nathaniel Dodge; Heman Farnum, William Farnum, Dr. Lawson Long, Samuel Taylor, Henry Green, Newell Townsley, Mantor Ware, Lurana Putnam, Elmina Wright, Julia Farnum, Lucy Ware, Mary Dole, Esther Green, Louisa Long, Submit Townsley, Rachel Willis, Lydia Daniels, Noah Willis, and Rufus Trowbridge.
      The meetings were first held in the school-house, but some time about 1832 a small church was built at the centre, which was occupied as long as the church maintained an existence. It was then used for other purposes until 1869, when it was taken down and removed to Ashfield, where it was rebuilt for a Baptist Church.
      Among the clergymen who served the Baptist Church in Buckland were the Revs. Linus Austin, James M. Cooley, Benjamin F. Remington, John K. Price, Amherst Lamb, A. B. Eggleston, P. P. Sanderson, James Parker, James Clark, and one or two others for a short time. No regular meetings were held after 1800, and at present but one member of the extinct church is left in town.
      Rev. William Wilder, a Baptist minister, was from Buckland.

Buckland Methodist Episcopal Church.

      Methodist meetings were held as early as 1795, though no church organization was formed until many years after,-- probably not until 1820. Lorenzo Dow was one of the early preachers who proclaimed the word in the western part of the town, in a grove, or at the house of Edward Forbes, who was one of the early members, if not the first, in Buckland.
      After 1825 the future of the society was so encouraging that measures were taken to build a church, but not until April 3, 1828, was this purpose acted upon. At that time a committee, composed of Eliphaz Woodard, Levi Sprague, Jonathan Youman, Alexander Ward, James Clark, Cale Pelton, and Oliver Rawson, was appointed to build a house on the last street at the centre, at the foot of the street leading up Putnam Hill. It was completed in that year, and used until the summer of 1849, when it was taken down and more eligibly located on the upper street. Recent improvements have changed its appearance and rendered it an attractive place of worship, and it is said to be valued at $2000. The society also owns a parsonage in the village, rated at $500. The trustees are Graham K. Ward, Alfred Rood, S. A. Ruddock, Anson Goodell, William B. Caswell, Joseph Ballard, Cyrus Howes, Jonathan Howes, and Alfred Perkins.
      Buckland, first connected with other points in forming a circuit, finally became a separate station, and since 1873 has been connected with the church at Shelburne Falls. The ministers who have preached in town have been the Revs. Ibri Cannon, Orrin Peir, Henry Hatfield, John Nixon, Samuel Avery, John J. Matthias, Moses Amidon, Robert Travis, J. B. Husted, Alexander Hulin, Elias Crawford, John Luckey, John Parker, H. H. White, William Todd, Joel Knight, Noble Shepard, Philo Hawks, Ziba Loveland, Erastus Otis, Otis Wilder, Windsor Ward, Daniel Graves, Simon Pike, Wm. Gordon, ______ Oakes, C. C. Barnes, Wm. Taylor, E. K. Avery, S. Drake, Leonard Frost, Proctor Marsh, P. R. Sawyer, Henry S. Shedd, George W. Green, Homer W. Clarke, Moses Palmer, A. G. Bowles, Solomon V. Johnson, Solomon Cushman, George E. Chapman, A. S. Flagg, M. Leffingwell, Austin. F. Herrick, L. Fish, J. Capen, J. H. Gaylord, J. W. Lee, E. J. Moore, W. D. Bridge, C. N. Merrifield, J. H. Lord, Fayette Nichols, John Cadwell, J. M. Avann, W. H. Cook, W. J. Parkinson, and (1878) W. S. Jagger.
      The number of members reported was 41; in the Sunday-school, 40. Graham K. Ward superintendent.

The Shelburne Falls Methodist Episcopal Church

      The Shelburne Falls Methodist Episcopal Church has its house of worship on the Buckland side, the membership of the church being from both towns. It was organized in the fall of 1842, with 12 members, but a board of trustees was not chosen until ten years later. This was composed of John Kellett, Albert Pelton, E. A. Baldwin, Zorah Scott, Edward Bannister, Samuel J. Mantor, Luther Ballard, Peter Edwards, D. A. Barnard. Their first meeting-house was built about this time, and was destroyed by the great fire, July 22, 1876. The present house was immediately built on the old site. It is a large two-story frame, containing below two business rooms, and in the front above several offices. It is valued at $4000. The trustees in 1878 were Edwin A. Stebbins, A. W. Ward, Alvin Goodnow, Lester T. Brown, Nelson Sprague, Jared G. Gragg, Walter Turton, and Oswin Johnson.
      In addition to the regular preaching which is here maintained, the church supports a Sunday-school, which has 88 members, and which is superintended by Edwin A. Stebbins. In 1878 the church membership was 77, and the Rev. W. S. Jagger was the pastor. Other clergy have been, in the order named, from 1842 to 1818, the Rev. G. W. Green, H. Clark, A. A. Cooke, W. Ward, ______ Taylor, S. Cushman, A. G. Bowles, S. W. Johnson, Wm. Butler, John Butler, P. Wallingford, L. Fish, L. Brewster, J. H. Gaylord, W. J. Pomfret, D. K. Merrill, C. H. Vinton, E. W. Virgin, J. W. Fenn, J. M. Avann, William H. Cook, W. J. Parkinson, W. S. Jagger.
      Rev. Lucius Carter, an Episcopalian, and Rev. Windsor Ward, a Methodist, were from this town.

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