Hawley — The West Hawley Church.
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
The West Hawley Church was organized Aug. 24, 1825, to accommodate the people living in that part of the town, and embraced, originally, the 44 members that had withdrawn from the First Church for this purpose. In 1831 the membership was increased by 12, the fruits of a revival, and in 1843 a like number was added from the same source. In 1878 there were reported 18 male and 23 female members, of whom 7 were non-resident. The church clerk was Willis Vincent, and the deacon Samuel Williams. This office was held by Ebenezer Hall and Zenas Bangs, and at later periods by Samuel Hall and Ebenezer Crosby.
For the first fifteen years of its existence the church was dependent on ministerial supplies, the Revs. Urbane Hitchcock, Dr. Packard, T. Packard, Jr., Anson Dyer, and Joshua Crosby serving in this relation. The Rev. Mosses Miller was installed as the first pastor, May 20, 1840, and retained his connection until Oct. 20, 1846. He was, prior to this settlement, the pastor of the church in Heath, and is mentioned at, greater length in a sketch of that town.
After a vacancy of little more than year, the pulpit was again occupied by a regular pastor. The Rev. John Eastman was installed Nov. 11, 1847, and continued with the church about eight years. He was born at Amherst, July 19, 1803, and had the honorary degree of A. M. conferred on him by the college of that place in 1851. He was licensed by the Franklin association in 1833, and ordained as an evangelist the following year. After he left, the church, the Revs. Lewis Bridgman, Joseph Baldwin, Robert Connell, Robert Samuels, John Eastman, and Lincoln Harlow supplied this people, the interest not being strong enough to maintain a regular pastor.
The first meeting-house was erected in 1825, and used until 1847, when the present structure was built. Repairs made subsequently render it a very comfortable place of worship.
No other church has been formally organized in town, al-though preaching has, been maintained by the Methodists and other denominations. The town, however, has produced a long list of ministers, who are briefly sketched below.