Orange — Churches
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
At a meeting in November, 1789, the district, by a vote, agreed to treat with the proprietors of the meeting-house for the purchase of the same. In 1790 it was voted to petition the General Court to discontinue the fund raised by the religious society in Orange for the support of a minister. In 1792 the committee appointed to purchase the meeting-house reported it unadvisable to make the purchase. Shortly thereafter the district concluded to purchase it, and did so.
In 1796 it was voted that Samuel Pitts might bring into the meeting-house, two days in a year, such a minister as the committee should approve. In the same year, $150 were raised to hire preaching, and for this all the inhabitants, except "the denominations of peaple called Friends and Baptists," were assessed. In 1798 it was voted to present Rev. Mr. Easterbrook, of Athol, with $25 for his kindness in visiting the people of Orange in times of distress.
In 1799 the district ordered $180 to be raised for preaching, to be divided between the Congregational, Universalist, and Methodist denominations. In 1804 the committee on ministerial matters reported that, having maturely considered the matter, they recommended that a committee be chosen, to consist of two Congregationalists, two Universalists, and one Methodist, to lay out the money raised for preaching, and that it be the duty of the committee to confer together and endeavor to procure a teacher or teachers who would be likely to unite all of said societies into one, said teacher to be a person of good education, steadiness, and sobriety, the time for each society to occupy the meeting-house to be assigned by said committee. This report was accepted, and a committee appointed.
In 1805 it was resolved to raise no money for preaching that year, and in 1808 a similar resolve was recorded. In 1810 it was decided to hire no preaching except for Thanksgiving and the succeeding or preceding Sunday.
The First Congregational Church Of Orange.
Among the earliest entries upon the records of the First Congregational Church of Orange occurs the following:
"We, the subscribers, inhabitants of the adjacent corners of Athol, Warwick, and Royalston, being deeply sensible of the great disadvantages we labor under, by reason of the great distance from the meeting-houses of the several towns to which we belong, and expecting special advantages will accrue to each of us, to build a meeting-house within the bounds of Warwick, on the southeast corner of Benjamin Mayo's land, near Nathan Goddard's west barn, therefore we whose names are under-written do covenant, promise, and agree to pay to and for the purpose of building a meeting-house in said place the sums affixed to each of our names in this instrument, said sums to be paid in merchantable rye, at four shillings per bushel, or Indian corn, at 2s. 8d. per bushel, or cash equal thereto, in timber, nails, etc., to the acceptance of the committee that we hereby appoint to accept the same."
The instrument provided further that the house should be for a Congregational Church or Society, and that when the territory should be incorporated in any manner, the house might also be used for corporation-meetings. The agreement was made and signed in January, 1781, by Nathan Goddard and thirty-three others, who pledged for the erection of the meeting-house an aggregate of £110. The house was to stand between the houses of Nathan Goddard and Benjamin Mayo, each of whom was to receive £10 for land used for the purpose, and the dimensions agreed upon for the structure were 46 feet in length and 36 feet in width.
Provision was made that it should be completed by November, 1781, but it was not finished until March, 1782. The site chosen was the one upon which the Universalist Church at North Orange now stands; and this latter edifice, it may be added, is the old building remodeled and much improved.
Directly after the completion of the church edifice, the inhabitants voted "to choose a committee to hire a minister to preach in or near the new meeting-house in Warwick, said committee to agree with and settle with said minister."
In November, 1782, the Congregational Society in South Warwick voted to concur with the church in extending a call to Rev. Emerson Foster, and, as an inducement, he was to have a settlement of £100, 25 cords of firewood, and a salary of £60 a year for the first two years, the third year £65, the fourth year £70, and at that to stand thereafter.
He accepted the call, and was installed the following December. He was dismissed in 1790, and for a period of thirty-two years thereafter, or until 1822, the church was without a settled pastor.
In 1822, the Unitarian element predominating, Rev. Joshua Chandler, a Unitarian minister, was installed, and preached until his dismissal, in 1827. From that time forward the church was controlled by the Universalists until 1844, when they united with the Unitarians, and continued to use the house jointly with them until 1858, when the church was reorganized as
The Second Universalist Church Of Orange
The Second Universalist Church of Orange, and as such has continued to this day. The church was remodeled and beautified in 1832, and in 1875 was supplied with a clock for its tower. Rev. William Jewell is the present pastor. The attendants average from 75 to 100.
Meanwhile, the Congregationalists at North Orange held occasional public worship in dwelling-houses, and were supplied by Revs. Mr. Beckwith, of Athol, Mr. Tracy, of Peters-ham, and Mr. Lincoln, of Gardner. They met with some opposition from evil-minded persons, and this opposition went so far sometimes as to break up their meetings.
Third Congregational Church.
In 1834 they fitted up a dwelling as a chapel, and in 1843 organized the Third Congregational Church. Revs. Josiah Tucker, Charles Boyter, Samuel D. Darling, Willard Jones, and Benjamin F. Clarke preached for them until shortly after 1850, when worship was discontinued. The church was reorganized in 1858, and since that time has been moderately prosperous. Rev. John H. Garmon was the pastor in 1879, when the church had an attendance of from 50 to 75.
A Methodist Class
A Methodist Class was formed in Orange in 1795, with Savel Metcalf as leader, and 12 others in the class. In 1822 the society began the erection of a meeting-house, but did not complete it, the structure being eventually torn down in 1852. A second Methodist Church was organized, at what is now West Orange, in 1853. Both organizations passed out of existence several years ago.
A Methodist Society was organized in Orange Centre in 1875, and has now 40 members, who worship in the town-hall. The pastors have been Revs. L. B. Frost, Wm. E. Dwight, and H. S. Ward, the latter being the pastor in 1879.
The Second Congregational Society Of Orange
The Second Congregational Society Of Orange was organized at Irvingsville (afterward West Orange) in 1837, with 21 members. The members built a meeting-house in 1836, about a year before they effected an organization. Prior to 1842 preaching was supplied by Revs. Salmon Bennett, Dyer Ball, Abel Patten, Warren Allen, and Whitman Peck. Rev. Josiah Tucker was ordained as pastor in 1842, and preached also to the Congregational Church in Erving. After his dismission, in 1844, the pulpit was supplied by Revs. Erastus Curtis and Hiram Chamberlain until 1847. The church struggled through a precarious existence until 1860, when it was dissolved, and the church structure removed to Orange Centre and converted into a shop.
A Baptist Church
A Baptist Church was organized in 1834, with 29 members, and worshiped in the house of the Second Congregational Society at West Orange and the Union meeting-house at Orange Centre until 1860, when it was dissolved. The present Baptist Church at Orange Centre was organized in 1870, and built the present church-edifice in 1872-73, at a cost, including organ, of $10,500. The pastors, since 1870, have been Revs. J. H. Tilton, T. B. Holland, D. C. Eaton, and George W. Davis,--the latter the pastor now in charge. The church has now a membership of 70.
In 1833 a union meeting-house was built at South Orange (now Orange Centre), and for several years it was used in common by various denominations. The building, remodeled and materially improved in 1856, is now the edifice occupied by the
First Universalist Church
First Universalist Church, which was organized in 1858. The church society was organized in 1851, and was supplied by Revs. O. W. Bacon, C. W. Mellen, Lemuel Willis, J. Hemphill, and others. Since the church organization the pastors have been Revs. Asa Country-man, J. P. Atkinson, Lucius Holmes, E. W. Coffin, and C. L. Wait, the latter the pastor in 1879, when the membership was about 75. The church has a fund of $12,000 (bequeathed by Phineas Battle) and owns the church building and parsonage, valued together at $12,000.
The Central Evangelical Church, At Orange Centre
The Central Evangelical Church, At Orange Centre, was organized there in 1846, with 15 members, and until 1851 was known as the "Village Church." Previous to 1846, Rev. Chas. Boyter, who was sent out by the Home Missionary Society, preached two years, and continued his services two years after the church organization. Rev. Marshall B. Angier succeeded Mr. Boyter, and remained until 1852, when Rev. David Peck was ordained as the first settled pastor. In 1852 the present church edifice was erected. It cost, inclusive of land, clock, and organ, $24,000. Mr. Peck's successors in the pastorate were Revs. Edwin Dimmock, N. A. Prince, Daniel Phillips, A. B. Foster, Robert C. Bell, Marcus Ames, and A. F. Marsh, the latter being the pastor in 1879, when the membership was 184.
A recently-organized society, known as the Progressives, numbering about 100 members, worship in Putnam Hall, Orange Centre.
The town records relate that about 1796 a society of "Friends" or Quakers existed in the south part of the district. They were a community by themselves, had a school, and held public worship, but how long they continued as a society is not known.
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