Deerfield — The Orthodox Society

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

      Oct. 1, 1838; a portion of the First Congregational Society organized a new body under the title of the "Orthodox Society." A church of the seceders had been formed June 2, 1835. In 1838 a meeting-house was built on Memorial Lane. The first stated supply for the pulpit of this society was Rev. Pomeroy Belden, 1837-42.
      Mr. Belden, son of Aaron, of Whately, was horn in 1811; graduated at Amherst College in 1833; Andover Theological Seminary in 1836. He married, in 1836, Louisa Tenny; (2d) 1841, Miranda Smith, of Hadley. Ordained evangelist Aug. 8, 1837; installed pastor at Amherst in 1842; died March 2, 1849.
      Rev. Henry Seymour, son of Horace, of Hadley, was born in 1816; graduated at Amherst College in 1838; Union Theological Seminary, in New York, in 1842. He married, in 1844, Laura I. Fish, of Shelburne; (2d) 1851, Sophia Williams, of Hatfield. Settled pastor March 1, 1843; dismissed March 14, 1849; settled at Hawley Oct. 3, 1849, where he is still in charge.
      Rev. Alfred E. Ives was born in New Haven in 1809; graduated at Yale College in 1837; studied theology at New Haven; pastor of Colebrook in 1838-48; settled here Sept. 5, 1849; dismissed in 1855; removed to Castine, Me.
      Rev. Robert Crawford, D.D., was born in Paisley, Scotland, in 1804; came with his father to Canada in 1821. After a few years of frontier life in the woods, he became an operative in a cotton-mill at Hoosick Falls, N. Y., in 1826. After three years there, and two or three more in a mill at Bennington, Vt., he entered Williams College, graduating in 1836; was a year or two tutor there. He studied theology at Princeton, N. J., and at the Union Theological Seminary in New York, and was ordained pastor at North Adams, Aug. 20, 1840. He married, Sept. 30, 1840, Ellen M., daughter of President Griffin, of Williams College. Jan. 13, 1858, he was installed in Deerfield, where he still remains, an example to his fellows and an honor to the town. He received the honorary degree of D.D. from Jefferson College in 1858; he was State Senator in 1863.
      Meeting-Houses.—Previous to Philip's war the settlers worshiped in the garrisoned houses, and made no attempt, so far as we learn, to build a meeting-house. The first one erected was about 1684; this was doubtless of logs, the walls daubed with clay, and the roof thatched. Oct. 30, 1694, the town voted "to build a new meeting-house" on Meeting-house Hill "the bigness of Hatfield meeting-house, only the height to be left to ye judgment and determination of ye committee." The location was also left to the same body. It stood a few rods west of north from the soldiers' monument, a frame building about thirty feet square, two stories high, with hipped roof, on the centre of which rose a steeple with spire and vane. Three doors led to the interior, which was furnished with eight long seats on each side of a narrow aisle, running from the front door to the pulpit, which was perched against the wall opposite; a gallery occupying the other three sides, the front one containing four rows of seats, and those on the side three each. This building was covered with shingles and clapboarded. Two years after the vote to build it was so far finished that a committee was chosen "to be seaters, to seat, yt is to say, to determine where every person to be seated shall sit in ye new meeting-house. Ye Rules for Seating to be Age, State, and Dignity."
      The galleries were not completed until about 1701, when a new classification of the sittings was required. At a town-meeting, Oct. 2, 1701, "As to estimation of seats, ye town agreed and voted that ye fore seat in ye front Gallery shall be equall in dignity with the 2d seat in the body of the Meeting-House; that ye fore seat in ye side Gallery shall be equall in dignity with the 4th seat in the body of the Meeting-House; that ye 2d seat in the front Gallery, and ye hind seat in the front Gallery, shall be equall in dignity to ye 5th seat in ye Body;" and so on, gravely settling the grade of each seat in the house. A more difficult job, it would seem,—that of "dignifying" and grading the congregation,—was left to a committee of Capt. Wells, Lieut. Hoyt, Ens. Sheldon, Sergt. Hawks, and Deacon French, to be done by "age, estate, place, and qualifications."
      In 1803 the trustees of Deerfield Academy had leave of the town to "build pews for students in the back parts of the North and South Galleries." The boys were seated in the former, the girls in the latter. In this building Mr. Williams began and ended his ministry. Here, in 1709, he had leave "to build a pew for his wife and family to sit in, in one of the places left for a guard-seat." At the same time, Samuel Williams, Jonathan Wells, and Samuel Barnard had leave to "build a sete or pue in ye other gard-seat place." In 1713 the dignity of the front gallery seat was lowered one peg, and made equal only "to the 3d seat in the Body."
      Third Meeting-House.—The town voted, Oct. 25, 1728, to build a new meeting-house, to be covered in 1729. The next April the selectmen were instructed to "procure a suitable quantity of Drink and Cake to be spent at ye Raising of ye Meeting-house." This house was forty by fifty feet, and covered the spot on which stands the soldiers' monument, the front on the west line of the street, the south end ranging a few feet south of the Dickinson Academy, two stories high, roof two-sided, with a steeple rising from the centre, surmounted by a brass ball and cock, the same cock doing duty since 1824 on the spire of the brick meeting-house. By this arrangement of the steeple, the bell-rope came down to the centre aisle, in front of the pulpit. Like the old house, there were three doors of entrance and galleries on three sides, the pulpit on the west side, opposite the front door, with deacons' seat in front, facing the same way. Pews were gradually erected in place of long seats, but not until 1787 was the whole lower floor occupied by them. In 1768 the steeple was taken down, and a new one built from the ground at the north end; this was square at the bottom, and afforded a porch for the north door, and stairs to the north gallery. An elaborate porch was built over the south door, with stairs to the south gallery; the old inside stairs at the northeast and southeast corners were removed. A larger bell was procured, a clock bought by subscription, the cock new gilded, and set sentinel over all. The main building was furnished with new windows, newly clapboarded, and painted stone-color, the doors being chocolate.
      In 1818 the town was divided into two parishes. The north part, the "First Congregational Parish in Deerfield," retained the old meeting-house.
      Fourth Meeting-House.—December, 1823, steps were taken in this parish to build a new meeting-house, and the corner-stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies, Jan. 1, 1824. The building, of brick, was dedicated Dec. 22, 1824. The cost of the structure was about $6000; the site, paid for by a subscription, $530. The old cock, with feathers new burnished, was restored to his perch, where he has seen the generations of men come and go, and faced the storms of one hundred and fifty years.
      The Orthodox Society, at the old street, built a meeting-house on Memorial Lane in 1838.
      The Second Congregational Society, at Bloody Brook, built a meeting-house in 1821; this was removed to a new site in 1848; large additions and repairs were made in 1865.
      A meeting-house was built for the Monument Society in 1848. In 1871 it was sold to the Catholics, by whom it is still occupied.
      The Methodist meeting-house at Bloody Brook was built in 1848.
      The meeting-house for the Baptists at Wisdom was built in 1810-11.

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03 Aug 2005