Wendell — Churches
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
In November, 1774 a Congregational Church was organized in what is now Wendell, by James Ross, John Crosbee, Jonathan and Josiah 0sgood, Silas Wilder, Thomas Osgood, Richard Moore, Wm. Larned, Henry Sweetser, James Ross, Jr., Joseph Russell, Francis Kidder, John Wetherbee, Moses Sawyer, John Ross, Nathan Brewer, Lemuel Beaman, Zachariah Drury, Benjamin Glazier, and Luke Osgood,-20 in all, to whom were a few days later added 13 females. On the 29th of November, 1774, a council convened at Shutesbury, from churches in Montague. New Salem, Westminster, and Warwick, received the organization as a "visible, regular Church of Christ." Rev. Abraham Hill, of Shutesbury, preached to them occasionally, but, by reason of his Toryism later on, he lost favor with them. During Mr. Kilburn's, term the church appointed a committee "to treat with those members, whether communicants or otherwise, who publicly neglect their duty or have been guilty of moral scandal publicly known."
In July, 1781, the town resolved to hire "more preaching," and further, that "the meeting-house spot "be on the north side of the county road, and the east side of the town. This is the site occupied by the present Congregational Church in Wendell Centre.
In October, 1781, it was decided to build a meeting-house, 55 feet long by 40 wide, and to raise £50 to set up the frame to inclose it, and to lay the lower floor. Mr. Babcock, who was called in January, 1782, to settle in the ministry, was to have a settlement of £100, and his salary to be £40 a year for the first three years, and then to rise 40s. annually until it reached £60. When the meeting-house was about to be raised, in 1783, it was agreed to allow Jonathan Crosbee for what rum might be expended in raising the house.
In 1791, Maj. Erving by will bequeathed to the town of Wendell, for the benefit of the clergyman of the parish and his descendants in that office, a lot of land. His will set forth that,—
"I am induced to do this with a view that in time they may get men of superior eminence as divines for your pastors, likewise men of philosophical learning, who may enable you by their instructions to explore the bowels of the earth and discover the riches thereof, and be further useful to you in agriculture or any other branch of natural history."
In 1795 the seats in the front gallery east of the division, and the south half of the seats in the women's side gallery, were appropriated to the use of the singers. In 1795 the owners of pews in the meeting-house were Joseph Sawyer, Lemuel Beaman, Elisha Washburn, Lemuel Leach, John Prentice, Joshua Green, Edmund Stiles, Zachariah Drury, Luke Osgood, Jonathan Crosbee, Abel Howe, Joseph Johnson, Josiah Austin, Josiah Osgood, Nathan Brewer, Elihu Osgood, Samuel Osgood, Nathaniel Johnson, Jr., Richard Moore, Daniel Porter, Nathan Wilder, Jr., Henry Sweetser, Ezra Allen, Zedekiah Fisk, Wm. Lawrence, Luke Osgood, Samuel Harris, Oliver Dresser, Jonathan Orcutt, A. Fisher, Ephraim Howe, Josiah Ballard, Jonathan Osgood, John Ross, Calvin Butler, Isaac Rogers, Oliver Dresser, Jr., Hannaniah Rand, Silas Wright, Stephen Whitney, Ephraim Ross, Josiah Ballard, Samuel Pearks, Daniel Fisk, Ephraim Lock, David Whittaker. In 1812 the pew belonging to the town was sold to Samuel Cobb for one year for $2.90.
Although the old church building was begun in 1783, it was not completely finished until nearly ten years thereafter. In 1846 it was replaced by the present edifice, and it was in that year that the church-bell first sounded in Wendell.
Rev. Joseph Kilburn, the first pastor of the church, was installed in October, 1783, and continued in its service until his death, in 1816. Mr. Kilburn was succeeded by Revs. Hervey Wilbur, John Duncklee, William Claggett, Salmon Bennett, N. S. Dickinson, B. B. Cutler, and others. Rev. A. Stowell supplies the preaching at present, and preaches as well at Erving. The attendants number about 80. It is worthy of reference that Jonathan Osgood was a deacon of the church from 1781 to 1808, period of twenty-seven years ; Nathan Brewer served thirty-seven years; Levi Stone and Joshua Green each twenty-nine years.
THE BAPTIST CHURCH.
The origin of the Baptist Church in Wendell may be traced to June 11, 1799, when, at the request of the Baptist Church in Shutesbury, a council was convened at Wendell to advise with said church and sundry members thereof, who have manifested their desire of embodying into a church by themselves." After inquiry into "the circumstances of the brethren and friends in Wendell," it was voted without dissension that "this council view it expedient and promising to tend to the upbuilding of the cause of Christianity for the brethren and sisters in Wendell to embody themselves into a church by the name of 'The Baptist Church of Christ in Wendell.'" The names of those who formed the church were David Boynton, Foxwell Thomas, Aaron Fisher, Jonas Fisk, Ephraim Locke, Jason Phillips, Cornelius Moore, Jabez Sawyer. Aaron Fisher, Jr., and 17 women,-2h in all. Among the pastors who served the church after its organization may be noted Ezra Kendall, Samuel King. David Goddard, Aaron Burbank, Lysander Fay. William Leach. Norman Clark, John Hunt. Rev. H. S. Davis is now the pastor. The average number of attendants is about 80. The church held occasional public worship in school-houses and other places until 1819, when a meeting-house was erected about half a mile east of Wendell Centre, In 1845 the building was removed to the present site, and remodeled and improved as it now appears.
The town records note the existence in Wendell in 1812 of a Methodist Church society, and of a Universalist society in 1819, but beyond such brief notices no further historical data can be obtained save that among the members of the former were Luther Stone, Joel Drury (1st), Joel Drury (2d), _______ Needham, Abel and Silas Drury, Ebenezer Johnson, James Austin, Abel Death, and Nelly Stone.