Whately — Religious Societies
Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.
The early settlers of Whately did not possess many church privileges before the incorporation of the town, but attended meetings in Hatfield and Deerfield, going over foot-paths, and fording the streams on the way. The elders rode on horseback, but the younger members of the family trudged along on foot, carrying their shoes in their hands until near the meeting-house, when they put them on; and after the meeting they removed their again on their return home at the same place. But, anticipating the organization of the town, David Scott secured the Rev. Rufus Wells, of Deerfield, to preach for the people eight Sabbaths, from March 6th to April 28th, at £1 per service which was paid by hint and his neighbors. But, on the 9th of May, 1771, the town voted to raise £30 for preaching; and on the 4th of June it was voted to hire Mr. Wells to preach six weeks on probation, and to provide him a boarding-place in town. They engaged board at 5s per week, at Daniel Morton's, and also arranged to have the first meetings held near there.
At the expiration of the six weeks' probation, the town voted to give Mr. Rufus Wells a call to settle in the gospel ministry. The conditions offered were as follows: a "settlement," as it was termed, of £133 6s 8d; a salary of £55 for the first year the first year; and to rise 40s. yearly till it amounted to £75. It was also voted "that Mr. Wells be allowed £6 yearly for wood, to take place at such time as he sets up housekeeping." The committee to make these proposals to Mr. Wells were Nathan Graves, Daniel Morton, and Salmon White.
The settlement was paid in land, the town giving to Mr. Wells 60 acres lying east of the old parsonage at the hamlet. The approval of the ministers of Deerfield, Sunderland, and Conway having been obtained, Mr. Wells was duly recognized as the settled minister of the town, and steps for the organization of a church were taken. A town-meeting was accordingly held, Aug. 13, 1771, when it was voted "that Wednesday, the 21st of this August, be kept as a day of fasting and prayer by ye inhabitants of ye town of Whately."
"Voted that Messrs. David Parsons, of Amherst, Joseph Ashley, of Sunderland, Jonathan Ashley, of Deerfield, and John Emerson, of Conway, be the persons to perform the services of the day of fasting."
On the appointed day, the invited ministers being present, after the exercises had been concluded, a number of persons, dismissed from. the church in Hatfield, were embodied into the Church Of Christ In Whately