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Within it was severely plain like most of the country churches of that, period, large, square pews each with its little door occupying the center of the room with narrow straight backed benches around the sides. The pulpit, narrow and high, with its lofty sounding board, faced the door, while a gallery for the singers ran around the other three sides. For many years the house was unheated except as some sister might bring her foot stove but later a large box stove was set up near the door. No porch, No porch, no spacious vestibule, no 'stained. glass windows, no soft cushioned pews added their attractions. No swelling notes of the organ or chime of sweet toned bells summoned the people to worship yet here sabbath after sabbath large congregations were wont to gather, to praise God, and to keep alive that "faith of their fathers holy faith" to which so many of them were "true till death."
In the mean time Mr. Powers had been dismissed from the church at Newbury and though he moved over to Haverhill and preached there for a few years longer religious interest seems to have been at a very low ebb, and in 1783 it was voted in Town Meeting "not to have Mr. Powers to preach any more." From that time until the building of the church on Ladd St. in the south part of the town in 1790 but little money was raised for church purposes and it is said that at one time not a sermon had been preached in the place for a year.
In 1790, however, a powerful revival of religion swept over the town and the spirit came down like a mighty rushing wind, "In every
house from the Dow Farm to the Piermont line the inhabitants were wailing for sin" and many from all parts of the town joined the newly organized church.
However it was not long before the reaction came, the religious zeal of the people abated, the once flourishing church was reduced to 12 members and "a covering of sackcloth was spread upon the tent of Zion."
For several years dissensions had been rife in regard to the places for holding church services and the question of dividing the town into two parishes was again and again discussed the proposed dividing line being just below the Fisher Farm. The subject was brought up in Town Meeting several mes but the division was for some r. son bitterly opposed by Gen. Moses Dow and many other influential men of the
A committee was elected from each end of the town to "settle all disputes between the two ends of the town" and it was decided "to hold meetings for Publick Worship on the Lord's Day, Alternatively at each end of the town and if through Badness of the Weather or Inability of the Preacher, he should preach Two or More Sabbaths at one end of the town the same is to be made up to the other end of the town before the year comes to an end." As the population of the town increased it was very difficult to find preachers with whom the whole parish were satisfied and petitions were presented in Town. Meeting from time to time asking that the petitioners might be excused from helping to pay the salaries of ministers with whose religious views
(4) It is to be regretted that but few of these old churches of a century and a half ago, so typical of New Hampshire and Vermont, are still in existence. In almost every instance they have been allowed to decay and finally have been torn down.
A most notable exception is the old "Dana Meeting House" at New Hampton, which, thanks to a movement started by the late Rev. A. J. Gordon, the beloved and lamented pastor of the Clarendon Street church of Boston, has been kept in perfect repair and where services are held for a few sabbaths each summer. No attempt has been made to adorn or modernize this beautiful old structure, merely to correct and prevent as far as possible the ravages of time.
they had no sympathy and whose church they never attended.
We find on record the plea of one Thomas Nichols to be excused from taxation for church purposes accompained by the following certificate.
"This may certify that Mr. Thomas Nichols of Haverhill is and has been for a number of years sentimentally a Baptist and has when called on, punctually paid his proportion for the support of the ministry in that denomination.
(Signed) Ezra Wellmouth Minister of the Gospel of the regular Baptist denomination, Rumney. A true copy, Attest.
Joseph Ladd. Town Clerk. Haverhill, N. H. Jan. 24, 1804.
It seems that his petition was granted but not until he had paid his minister's tax for the year-.61 cents.
Other men more prominent in the early history of Haverhill protested against the injustice of this taxation. among them Gen. Moses Dow, John Hurd and Asa Porter.
The statute remained in force, however, until the passing of the Toleration Act in 1807
Finally in 1814 "the people began to flow together again" to hear the word of God, under the preaching of Rev. Grant Powers, a grandson of the pioneer and he says that before the close of the year 1815 more than sixty were called to the church. "Some became pillars and remained so until this day though some have fallen asleep."
It was during this revival of interest in spiritual things that the town was finally divided into two parishes by an Act of the Legislature. Samuel Morey of Orford, Jonathan Merrill of Warren and Samuel Hutchins of Bath, being the Committee appointed to "run the line."
The people in the north end of the town had long been desirous of having a settled pastor and services in their own church every Sabbath.
Finally on June 10th, 1815, thirteen of the members of the Ladd St. church who lived at Horse Meadow and Brier Hill with a few from Bath, met to perfect a separate organization and on June 15th, the North Parish Congregational Church was formally and legally organized. The Rev. Samuel Godard, their first pastor was the moderator of the meeting, and was assisted by the Rev. David Sutherland of Bath.
Steven Morse and John Punchard were elected Deacons, and John Kimball chosen Clerk and Treasurer.
A most binding Covenant and eight Articles of Faith were adopted with this preamble.
The object we have in view to have a written Covenant and Articles of Faith is not to sit ourselves up as a party and to practically say "we are more holly than thou" but think it is a duty we owe ourselves, our posterity for Jesus Christ, that we make. known to the world what appears to us to be the plain meaning of the fundamental principals of the word of God and that by these truths that we may adhere steadfast until the end.
Neither do we adopt these articles of faith as terms of communion but on the contrary our communion table will always stand open to every man who gives clear evidence of conversion to God, the blood of the Cross and who walketh uprightly.
Desirous of being united together of the same mind and judgment, we declare the following to be a brief summary of our view of divine truth.”
Then follow the eight Articles and the Covenant.
(5) At the risk of being tedious I will give the list of church mem
(5) Information regarding any member of the North Parish church will be most gratefully received by the writer of this sketch. For this reason the complete list has been given, hoping it may meet the eye of some descendant or relative who will be kind enough to communicate with her.
Miss Moira Brewster
"All are vanished now and fled." As far as we know not a single member of the North Parish Church is now living. Mrs. Hubert Eastman who died Nov. 20th, 1904, at the advanced age of 85, was the last one to pass from the church militant to the church triumphant. At the time of her admission to the church we find this record. Nov. 1st. 1849.
"Also Mrs. Hubbard Eastman who was a member of the Congregational
church in Worcester, Vt.. but by reason of a scism in that church she could not bring a letter, presented her case and wished to become a member of this church.
"Voted that inasmuch as her christian character is without reproach among us and she is in no way personally and directly involved in the scism of the church in Worcester, she should be received into this as though she were regularly recommended by letter."
Though the church records are few and far between they are often right to the point as for instance, Sept. 8, 1815
"Voted to give Sally Chase a letter of recommendation. 9th. Gave a letter of recommendation to said Sally."
The names of the pastors are not given excepting as they are sometimes. referred to as presiding at church meetings. We have no account of the salaries paid to the different ministers or how the money was raised. That they depended on outside help to some extent we see by the following entry. Sept. 2nd, 1816. Voted the thanks of the church be communicated to the N. H. Missionary Society for aid they have afforded the chh. the season past. Voted the clerk be directed to communicate the vote of thanks to the Missionary Society, soliciting further aid."
The records give but little information as to the actual business of the church, referring mostly to the admission of new members either by letter profession and the dismissal of members as they removed from the place or joined other churches in the vicinity.
From 1817 to 1827 we find no records, although the Treasurer's Book shows that Communion services were frequently held and contributions received during that time.
The contributions were very small however, hardly enough to
pay for the Communion wine used. In fact, the church was at one time owing the Treasurer the sum of $5.97 for wine, etc., which was made up to him by the kindness of the Ladies' Auxiliary, an association having the ambitious title of title of the "Society for Educating the Heathen Youth." This is the first "Ladies' Aid Society" of which we have any record in town. They held their meetings the first Monday of each month and we find it recorded that on Sept. 22, 1819, they had on hand $15.97, of which they paid the Treasurer of the State Missionary Society $10.00 and later gave their church treasurer the $5.97, the balance due him. We are glad he was no loser on account of his generosity, and that the "Society for Educating the Heathen Youth," permitted its funds to be used for "such other purposes as the church shall from time to time judge to be most for the promotion of the Cause of Zion."
A few extracts from his book will show that he must have had to use some ingenuity, to say the least, in keeping his accounts. The first entry is:
April 7, 1816, Contributions
Under this last date the Treasurer cheerfully adds "nearly 100 communicants-three churches and our own."
Among those who are mentioned as administering communion from time to time are Rev. Mr. McKeen, Rev. David Sutherland, Mr. Jonathan Hovey, Rev. David Smith, Rev. Sylvester Dana, Rev. Mr. Porter and Rev. Mr. Dutton.
How many of these were regular settled pastors we do not know certainly not all of them.
In 1833, John Kimball, with several others, having taken a letter of dismissal from this church and a letter of reccommendation to the church at Haverhill Corner, John Carr was chosen clerk, which office he held until 1847, when the Rev. Samuel Delano took charge of the church. He kept the records himself, his last entry being in 1831. He was full of zeal but very eccentric. It is said that when a faithful sister once remonstrated with him for some oddity, he replied, "Madam, I must be Sam
Delano or nothing." During his pastorate, Dea. Perley Ayer and Deacon Elisha Swift were quite active in church work and were frequently sent as delegates to other churches at the time of Installation of pastors, etc.
Although he calls himself the pastor of the North Parish, his congregation was getting scattered, the house was getting sadly out of repair, and he preached in various other places, sometimes at the Brier Hill School House and later as new churches were built in these parts of the town, at the Union House at the Center, or at the Brick church (Baptist) at North Haverhill Village.
Among his notes we find, 1848, Jan., "First Sabbath. Very cold. blowing hard, meeting very thin, and the ordinance of the supper deferred. 1850, March 3. Com
munion service. Day very cold. Few present. Interesting and profitable time. May 5. Day rainy. Few present.
ing. day. etc.'
Solemn and interest-
His pastorate terminated in 1851, and after that time we have but cne more item, "the Rev. Mr. Strong being pastor and Dea. E. Swift, clerk-April 5, 1855, (a sad commentary on the downfall of one of their members) 'Voted to excommunicate M. N. M. from the church, on the charge of Disordely Conduck in particular for Drinking Speretous Lickers.'
This closes the written history. of the North Parish Church, but of its unwritten history who can tell?
Its life as a separate organization was brief, lasting only forty years, yet it satisfied the spiritual aspirations and crystalized the re
As this older generation passed away and the succeeding one became interested in other churches in the town, the old building was neglected and fell into disuse as a place for holding services although Town Meetings were still held there until the erection of the Town House at the Center.
At last the building was sold to Mr. Lafayette Morse and used as a barn. It was moved away in 1882 and the Cemetery extended to its present boundaries, being enlarged by the addition of the beautiful corner lot. Of the row of stately poplars, but one remains, standing like a lonely sentinel at the foot of the street.
The pewter communion set, or (6) "Table Furnature" as it is styled in the Treasurer's Book, together with the books of the clerk and treasurer, were carried to the home of Mr. Joshua Carr in Brier Hill for safe keeping.
Later, that home being broken up by the death of its members, they were sent to the Historical Rooms at Concord, where they will be carefully preserved.
Those who care for the annals of the past will find these records. quaint and interesting reading, though they are far from complete.
The life of this church, brief and uneventful as it was, covers a period in the early part of the 19th century singularly lacking in occasion or opportunity for heroic adventures or deeds of high renown yet most important as a strong and necessary link in the chain binding together the pioneers, the heroes.
(6) Extract from Treasurer's Report :--1817. Jan. 14. Contribution by Brother John Morse toward table furnature $1.00 1817. July 17. To cash paid Dea. Morse, the bal. due him for the Table Furniture $1.32 1817. July 17. To cash paid Dea. Horse, the bal. due him for the Table Furniture $1.32