A HISTORY OF THE EAST CANAAN CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF CHRIST
By Mrs. David Carlson
1967 marks the two-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Second Ecclesiastical Society of Canaan, Connecticut, on October 2, 1767. In 1769 the East Canaan Congregational Church was formed with the exodus of a group of members from the First Ecclesiastical Society of Canaan. It seems fitting that we take a journey into the past and pay our respects to those who began and continued our church.
On January 3, 1737 and 1738 at New London Courthouse, a group of hardy
English pioneers bought lands in an area of wilderness known only as the “Western lands,” inhabited by Indians and a few Dutch families. It is believed that the Daighton family, of Dutch descent, settled in this area in early 1722. These Dutch had bought lands from the Indians and by county grants, and were required to exchange these early deeds for a certain amount of property when the town was settled in 1738. The first deed of land was sold to David Lawrence on January 4,
1737. Thus, the sixtieth town to be settled in Connecticut was named Canaan in
May, 1738, and incorporated in October of 1739.
This settlement was bounded on the west by Salisbury settled in 1745; Norfolk on the east settled in 1758; on the south by Cornwall settled in 1740; and on the north by Sheffield, Massachusetts, settled in 1733 and New Marlboro, settled in 1759. By these settlement dates of adjoining towns we can realize how virgin the territory was in 1738. Thirteen years later, in 1751, Litchfield County was organized and there was much discussion about the proposed location of the new county seat. The choice was among Canaan, Goshen, Cornwall, and Litchfield. Goshen was considered the geographic center of the county area. However, in 1751, the town of Litchfield became the County Seat by vote of the Connecticut General Court. At that time, the county consisted of eleven towns although fifteen towns were added later to the county.
One of the first duties of a new settlement was the construction of a meeting house which would serve as both church sanctuary and center of town meetings. In December, 1739, Josiah Walker, Benjamin Kellogg and Daniel Lawrence were appointed as a committee to agree with John Hart to fit his house so that it could be used as a meeting house on the Lord’s Day. Needless to say, the church was Congregational.
Actually the “Congregational Way” existed in England as early as 1580. Robert Browne believed that a church existed wherever two or three gathered together by covenant to live by the law of Christ. A church was organized when its members bound themselves by the mutual covenant agreement and elected elders, in this period of New England history, Congregationalism was the established state religion. The church and the town government were identical and all inhabitants were taxed for its support, unless they could certify formal association with another religious belief or ecclesiastical tradition. In 1727 members of the Church of England were exempt from tax payments and in 1729 Baptists and Quakers were included within this exempt status.
On April 29, 1740, it was voted “that ye town shall build a meeting house for ye worship of God, voted that ye said meeting house shall be built 40 foots in length and 50 foots in width and 20 foots post-it.” At the same meeting it was voted “that said meeting house shall be built at ye east end of ye first ministry lot by ye six rod highway which goes through the town” The following May a vote was passed to request the General Assembly to send a committee “to stake a place for a meeting house for ye worship of God.” The church was organized in March of 1741. The first ministers were supported by a tax levied on the town and by merchandise taxes. The first minister was Rev. Elisha Webster who served from 1740 until 1752.
The Association of Congregational Ministers in Litchfield County was founded July 7, l 752, and embraced the pastors of all the churches within the county. In order to prevent the introduction of unsound men into their association, this group examined those who had received a call to settle in the area before an answer to such a call might be given. An example of this practice is recorded on September 20, 1768: “Mr. Samuel John Mills, having offered himself to examination in order to his being approved for ordination in the work of the gospel ministry over the Church and people of Torringford, was examined and approved, and recommended to them as a meet person, qualified to settle with them in that work.” It was also customary for destitute churches of that day to request the Association to recommend to them suitable persons to be employed as candidates for settlement.
The second minister of the First Ecclesiastical Society was the Rev. Daniel Farrand, who was ordained in 1752, two months before the dismissal of Rev. Webster. Mr. Farrand was the pastor for more than fifty years, serving until his death on March 28, 1803. During his pastorate the Second Ecclesiastical Society was established in Canaan, in 1767. David Whitney and others appeared before the General Assembly at New Haven in October to request permission to form this new ecclesiastical society.
The General Assembly sent a committee “to view the circumstances and situation thereof and inquire into the present funds and estate of said Town and the expediency or inexpediency of dividing by the line prayed for and generally any other matter which might be necessary and conducive to the just settlement of a division of said town into two societies and to report same.” Because of the large Canaan Mountain which separated to two regions, the fourteen miles which must be traveled from the north to the meeting house, and the adequate funds for the support of the ministry, the committee recommended that the town be divided into the two societies.
The Connecticut Courant, the only newspaper published in Connecticut at the time, began its existence on October 29, 1764. In that first issue there is the news that five hundred sheep were killed by wolves in the town of Canaan. The first issue also reported news from England by way of Boston as late as September 5, 1764.
In December of 1767 it was voted, by more than two-thirds of the inhabitants present, that the Second Ecclesiastical Society would build a meeting house for the divine worship of God. The site selected for this meeting house was
approximately half-way between Canaan and East Canaan villages about one hundred yards west of the old Pond House (on the comer easterly from the Lawrence Gay house). This is not the present location of the church. Although the construction began on schedule the intervention of the Revolutionary War and other difficulties postponed the completion of the building for seventeen years. The first meeting house of the Second Ecclesiastical Society of Canaan was built by Isaac Lawrence.
The first minister to serve this new congregation was Rev. Asahel Heart, born in Berlin, Connecticut. He was graduated from Yale College in 1764, was ordained into the ministry in 1770, and was installed as the local minister on March 14, 1770. The following persons participated in his ordination service: Rev. Champion of Litchfield offered the first prayer; Rev. Clark preached the ordination sermon; Rev. Lee of Salisbury was the prolocutor of the Council; Rev. Bellamy of Bethlehem gave the ordaining prayer; Rev. Farrand of Canaan gave the charge; Rev. Robbins of Norfolk gave the eight hands of fellowship; and Rev. Bordwell of Kent offered the concluding prayer. We might measure the devotion that these early ministers had when we note the distances they traveled for this event. Although the town roads were judged to be rather good for the times, Count DeChastelleaux rode from Canaan to Norfolk in 1780 and declared that it was necessary to be “continually bounding from one large stone to another which crossed this road and gave it the resemblance of a stair.”
Rev. Heart died while pastor in Canaan at the age of thirty-two in 1775, less than two weeks after the Battle of Bunker Hill and the beginning of the Revolutionary War. He left a legacy to the church: “My will and pleasure, therefore, is that my executor pay a legacy of five pounds to the Church of which I am pastor for the above purposes as to be laid out for them for vessels or their furniture for the Lord’s table, when and in what manner they shall judge … beneficial for the Church.” In the young settlement of Canaan the War meant many hardships. The colonists were very patriotic and devoted to the ideals of freedom. Many Canaan young men were called to serve in battle.
As more people arrived in the region, Canaan began to develop in size and importance. Before 1775 there were iron furnaces operating in Canaan; the first iron ore was discovered about 1732 in lands appropriated by the colonies to Yale College and occupied by a Mr. Bissell, located in Salisbury. The iron industry became a very large operation in Salisbury, Lakeville, Lime Rock, and East Canaan. The furnaces in East Canaan, within a short distance from the church site, were probably in operation prior to 1776 and continued untill923. The industry called new people into the area who were directly employed in the iron industry
and in peripheral occupations. One of these was the manufacture of charcoal,
requiring a week of constant attention. The charcoal which was used as a fuel in the production of iron determined the purity of the ore. The woods in the East Canaan area bear mute testimony to the charcoal industry in the form of many circular depressions still to be found, some measuring thirty-five feet in width.
On June 2, 1777, it was voted “that the society will purchase a parsonage for the use and benefit of the society to the value of 500 pounds which shall, be and remain forever toward the support of the gospel ministry in said society, and the legacy given by the last will and testament of Rev. Asahel Heart to be included in the said 500 pounds.
For seven years the Second Society was without a minister during the war period. On September 20, 1777, the ordination date for Rev. William Bradford was set to be “the last Wednesday of October next.” He was to receive eighty pounds annual salary.
In 1779 the Rev. John Davenport became the pastor after much discussion concerning salary. He was to receive two hundred pounds money as settlement, fifty pounds per year in hard money and seventy pounds as yearly salary, one-half in hard money and the other half in country produce. Very little is known about these early ministers.
On May 30, 1782, a call was given to the Rev. Amos Thompson to become the local minister. He was born in New Haven on August 7, 1731. He was a great great-grandson of Anthony Thompson who came to America from England in
1637 and was one ofthe founders ofNew Haven Colony in 1638. Amos Thompson was graduated from New Jersey College (now Princeton) in 1760, received his Master of Arts degree in 1763, and was ordained in 1764. He was sent to Loudon County, Virginia, where he established two churches. He was absent from his churches in Kittocktin and Gum Spring during his service as a Chaplain in the Continental Army, for which duty he received $266.42. Rev. Thompson apparently was a man of means because when he came to Canaan he brought with him several indentured slaves. One of these slaves was Jupiter Mars, whose son James was born in Canaan in 1790. James Mars wrote a brief autobiography telling about his experiences as a runaway slave. When Rev. Thompson returned south the Negro slaves did not want to return with him. They hid in the Woods and the homes of sympathizing Norfolk families. Joseph Mars
was sold to Mr. Bingham of Salisbury and James, his brother, went to live with Mr.
Manger in Norfolk. They were to remain slaves until their twenty-fifth birthdays. From wills on file in the Loudon County Court House, it is known that Rev. Thompson also owned several mills and tracts of land. A second will on file in Loudon County was made in 1786 while he was a resident of Canaan. In it he
gave his wife Jane lands which he had purchased in Canaan and in New Marlboro.
Massachusetts, Rev. Thompson presented his farm and house, valued at $1800.00, to the Second Ecclesiastical Society on the condition that they raise enough to make $5,000.00, thus creating the permanent church fund, the interest of which
was appropriated for the support of the minister. (We are indebted to the Ketocktin
Chapter of the D.A.R. for much of the information on Rev. Thompson)
The Rev. Joshua Knapp was installed as minister on October 14, 1790, and remained until 1796.Eighteen years before he came as minister in East Canaan, Rev. Knapp was ordained on November 8, 1772, at the Consociation meeting in Winchester. Present at his ordination was Deacon Andrew Bacon representing the East Canaan Church. In 1795 Rev. Knapp was appointed by the General Association as a Missionary. He had served his first pastorate at Winchester Center from 1772-1789, a church which was organized in the same year as was East Canaan. Following his ministry in Canaan, he served in New Hartford and Wilton, Connecticut, and Hamilton, New York. He died in Torrington in 1816 at the age of seventy-two.
In 1798 it was voted that all obligations be deposited in a separate house from the church records in case of fire. In the same year, the Missionary Society of Connecticut was created. Before this date, Connecticut had been performing missionary work in Vermont and New York for more than twenty years.
The Rev. Solomon Morgan began his service as minister in Canaan in June of
1798. He was born in Groton and had served pastorates in Voluntown, Plainfield, and Canterbury, Connecticut, before coming to Canaan. During his ministry, in
1801, a committee was appointed to find a place for a burying ground near the center of the ecclesiastical society. In 1802 and 1803 Rev. Morgan made a missionary tour of Vermont. He died in 1804 and it was voted “that the Society continue the salary of the late Solomon Morgan, so long as the neighboring ministers supply the pulpit, for the use of his family.”
In April of 1805 it was voted to give the call to the Rev. Pitkin Cowles with the annual salary of three hundred thirty-three and one-third dollars. He was born in
1777, and installed on August 28, 1805. The participants in the installation service
were: Rev. Ami Robbins ofNorfolk offering the first prayer; Rev. Giles Cowles as the preacher; Rev. Samuel Mills ofTorringford giving the consecrating prayer; Rev. Nathan Perkins, D.D., had the charge; Rev. Charles Prentice of South Canaan gave the right hand of fellowship; and the Rev. Jonathan Miller offered the closing prayer.
Rev. Cowles was a descendant of John Cowles who had settled in Hartford in 1640 and had been a member of the General Assembly. Rev. Cowles was graduated from Yale College in 1800, was married in 1808, and raised seven children. His daughter, Elmira Canning Cowles, married Elissa Whittlesly, who later became a minister of the East Canaan church. During the War of 1812 Rev. Cowles served
as Chaplain under General Sterling at New London. Among those drafted into
military duty were Deacon William Pierce, who became a sergeant, Gershom
Hewitt, and Nathaniel Dean.
In 1815 the Congregational Educational Society was formed to assist ministerial candidates and institutions of learning. During the year 1819 there was a robbery of almost all the contents of Mr. Winterbothams store, following many small incidents. When the stolen objects were finally located they were found packed “underneath the great pulpit of the Church.” The Rev. Joseph Eldridge described this pulpit which is also shown in the seating-plan of the church in 1808. “The pulpit was a high semi-circle, the structure descending to the base of the building affording ample room. The entrance was from the pew of the clergyman’s family, made by causing a large panel to fall inward by pulling a cord terminating under
the church.” “These were the last days of the poor old church and it was soon taken
down.” On the Sabbath following the 1819 theft, Rev. Cowles delivered a sermon based on the text: “It is written My house shall be called the House of Prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (The above quotes are from the appendix to the Centennial Sermon by Rev. Joseph Eldridge, 1869). During his pastorate, $25.00 was to be paid to the person who could lead the singing for a year. In 1820, Rev. Cowles organized a Sunday school, one of the first in the state, and presented each member with a Bible.
During these years several other religious traditions had become active in Connecticut and there was much agitation to dis-establish Congregationalism as the state religion. In Connecticut this finally happened in 1818 and in Massachusetts in 1834. At the former date there was a Methodist Meeting House (1816) and a Quaker Meeting House in Canaan Valley, in addition to the Fast Canaan Church.
In 1821 “Seth Andrews and associates for building a meeting house have liberty to take down and remove the meeting house in Canaan Second Society to a place of ground belonging to Samuel Forbes, Esq. Also, to rebuild the same at their expense with such additions and alterations as they may think proper which house is to be considered the property of said society.” Nothing more is recorded about the construction of the meeting house until November of 1822 when arrangements were made for its dedication. In December, 1822, a Society committee was authorized to employ one suitable person to ring the bell for the term of a year at the following times: from the first of May until the first of October at noon of each day; and from the first of October until the first of May at nine o’clock each evening; on each Sabbath day at nine o’clock in the morning, at meeting time in
the forenoon and afternoon; and for deaths, funerals, and lectures. Until the
dedication of the building, public worship was held in the school house of the first district. During 1823 local inhabitants were permitted by the Ecclesiastical Society to build horse sheds at the meeting house. The Society selected a committee to procure suitable places within the Society to hold singing meetings and authorized
it to prosecute any deliberate disturbances of the meeting house when assembled for singing. The Society committee also was authorized to raise the hind seat in the gallery for the use of the singers.
The Rev. Pitkin Cowles completed his pastorate of twenty-eight years a few months before his death on February 3. 1833. During his ministry he had led several revivals of religion”.
The Rev. Henry Woodbridge, who apparently came from the Presbyterian Church in Delhi, New York, was ordained pastor at the house of Ezekiel Daball on October 2, 1833. The ordination service included the following: Rev. Edward Tyler of Colebrook, introductory prayer; Rev. Timothy Woodbridge of Osterlitz, New York, the sermon; Rev. Charles Prentice of South Canaan, the consecrating prayer; Rev. Talcott of Warren, the charge to the pastor; Rev. Joseph Eldridge of Norfolk, the right hand of fellowship; Rev. Leonard Lathrop of Salisbury, the charge to the people; and Rev. David Perry of Sharon, the concluding prayer.
“And thus Henry H. Woodbridge was ordained to the work of the Gospel Ministry
and installed bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of North Canaan,” attested by Henry Woodbridge, Pastor. During his pastorate in Canaan careful formal church records were maintained for the first time and former records copied into the church books. A form letter was composed for admissions and recommendations for dismissals of church members. Also some rule about the acceptance of members from other churches who had been received by letter of transfer was approved. Rev. Woodbridge ceased to be a minister in 1842. During this period the first train came to Canaan.
The church had not had a settled minister for three years at the time that the Rev. Daniel Francis became the minister from 1845 until 1850. During his pastorate it was voted in May of 1846 that purchasing a Communion Set should be considered; in July it was finally decided to purchase a set ofBrittania Ware “as befitting our pecuniary circumstances.” The set of two tankards and six goblets cost fifty
dollars-plus transportation and is on display in the church sanctuary.
The deep interest of the Congregationalists in the support of higher education is indicated by the fact that these people had founded such institutions of higher learning as Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Bowdoin, Amherst, Williams, Smith, and Wellesley.
In 1846 Christ Episcopal Church in Canaan was organized. As a result of the purchase of the new Communion set, it was voted in 1849 that the old set be given to a church or churches in Michigan at the discretion of the Rev. Brown, a missionary of the Connecticut Domestic Missionary Society. In May of 1850 the first clerk of the church, Deacon-George Lawrence, was appointed. At the same time the church was facing severe financial difficulties which necessitated the departure of Rev. Francis as minister.
The Rev. Elisha Whittlesly was installed as the next minister on June 4, 1851. At the installation service the invocation was delivered by Rev. Morse of Torringford, the prayer by Rev. Rice of Salisbury and by Rev. Barber, the sermon by Rev. Joseph Eldridge of Norfolk, the charge to the pastor by Mr. Keys of Canaan, the right, hand of fellowship by Rev. Peirce of Goshen, the charge to the people by Rev. Goodwin of South Canaan, and the concluding prayer by Mr. Lee of Winchester. Rev. Whittlesey served the Canaan church for only two years, resigning because of ill health. In 1871 he was the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Canaan.
The Rev. Hiram Eddy, who was not a native of Canaan, supplied the pulpit for three years before he was formally installed as minister in 1856. In a single Communion thirty-nine people received the sacrament during this period of religious revival. Rev. Eddy resigned his pastorate in 1860 to become a chaplain of the Second Connecticut Volunteers during the Civil ‘War. He was taken prisoner at the first Battle of Bull Run and was imprisoned in five Confederate prisons, being released after a year. From 1882 until 1885, following his retirement, he served as a minister of the Old Parish Church in Sheffield, Massachusetts. By 1854 the old meeting house was in need of repairs and it was eventually decided, after much discussion, to repair the existing structure rather than to build a new one. This decision meant the preservation of the church sanctuary which continues in use in 1967.
In 1858 the presence of that “great mountain,” as Canaan Mountain is known, was the focal point of a discussion on the division of the political boundaries of the Town of Canaan. The distance from the center of the town where town meetings were held seemed to influence the attendance. It was decided, therefore, to divide
the political areas into Canaan and North Canaan. The Second Ecclesiastical
Society and the area known as East Canaan were located in North Canaan.
In February, 1861, it was voted to call the Rev. James Deane as pastor. Coming from Hartford, he resigned before the completion of a one year term in order to volunteer for military service. The church presented him with a sword upon his departure. In 1961 the sword was returned to the church where it is now on permanent display by Rev. Deane’s grandson, John Moore.
The Rev. Edward Willard was employed to complete Rev. Deane’s term. During the Civil war period it was extremely difficult to obtain regular pastoral service. Many ministers had enlisted as chaplains. The Town of North Canaan had fifty two persons associated with the Union Army. A son of a previous minister, Colonel David Cowles, gave his life at Port Hudson on the Mississippi.
From 1863 until 1866 the Rev. Henry Grant served as minister, resigning to go to Savannah, Georgia, in order to establish a Congregational Church there. He was succeeded in 1866 by the Rev. Mason Noble, who came from the Madison Square Presbyterian Church inNew York City. Following two years of ministry here he became the minister of the Old Parish Church in Sheffield, Massachusetts. During this period, some of the revenue for the church’s work came from the sale of pews or slips. On July 28, 1869, the Church celebrated the Centennial Anniversary of its founding. On the afternoon of this celebration day, the Rev. Isaac Powell was installed as the minister. At his installation the sermon was given by Rev. E.P. Powell (his brother), the installing prayer by the Rev. Thomas Crowther, the
charge by Rev. Lee, the right hand of fellowship by the Rev. W.E. Bassett, and the address to the people by the Rev. Doubleday.
On this day, the Rev. Joseph Eldridge ofNorfolk gave the Centennial Address. He emphasized the fact that many people were migrating to the western regions of the nation. He said that “the young, often most promising, have gone forth to act their part elsewhere in our broad land.” Often whole families sought new homes in the West.
On January 5,1870, the following article was added to the discipline of the Church: “All the resident members ofthe Church shall attend upon the services of the sanctuary and be present at the communion seasons of the Church both of which they have solemnly covenanted to do, and if any resident members of this Church be absent from either of these seasons for more than six months without presenting to the Church satisfactory reasons for the same they shall be dealt with by the
Church and unless they make due confession and immediately reform their names shall be stricken from the rolls of the Church. This law shall be strictly enforced.” The Rev. Powell declared that this Article 8 is not to be understood to mean those who are absent on business or travel.
During this time, there still existed a church Committee whose duty was to investigate all charges against church members. The causes for investigation included intemperance, Sabbath breaking, absence from Church and from communion seasons without due cause, unchristian attitudes, and slander. In order to be admitted as a member, any candidate was carefully investigated.
The Rev. Powell was forced to resign from his pastorate in May, 1874, because of ill health. However, he and his wife were asked to remain members of the Church as long as he did not wish to become permanently established elsewhere. In 1881 they became members of the First Congregational Church of Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he had a school. At the age of sixty-five years, in 1903, he died in Mississippi.
From 1874 until 1880 the Rev. Lewis Reid was the minister. At one point during his ministry he carefully revised the membership list. In an old diary there is mention of his preaching in the school house in Canaan Valley, at Pine Grove, and at tent meetings in Clayton. A new organ was purchased during his pastorate.
The Rev. William E. Bassett was minister from 1880 until 1882, his heirs being paid four hundred dollars for the period which he had served before his death. On September 26, 1881, there was a special service for the memorial of President Garfield. The Rev. Bassett preached and The Rev. Eddy offered some additional remarks at the service.
From 1882-1884 the Rev. William J. Thompson was pastor. He left the church because of financial difficulties. One Sunday when Rev. Thompson was ill with malaria, the pulpit was supplied by The Rev. Eugene F. Atwood. The Rev. Atwood was the next minister from 1884 until 1886, having been the State Chaplain for the Grand Army of the Republic.
During this period of the importance of railroad transportation, from Hartford through Canaan and from New York City to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, there are many references to fires started along the tracks by the locomotive engines. Once several cars crashed from the tracks after hitting some rocks, but no one was
injured. In Great Barrington about this time, there was a balloon ascent which attracted a large crowd.
In 1886 the Conference Room was moved from the side of the Church driveway to its present location behind the sanctuary. The Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor ofEast Canaan raised $137.00 to attach the Conference Room to the church building and to build the basement under it.
During the latter part of the nineteenth century the Town of North Canaan had grown in size as a commercial center and as the cross-roads of the railroad. In April 1887 several members withdrew from the church in East Canaan to organize another Congregational Church, called the Pilgrim Church Congregational. The new church was dedicated on September 5, 1888, and its first minister was the Rev. Dwight Stone.
The Rev. Horace Hoadley was installed as the minister of the church in East Canaan on April3, 1888. At the time the moderator of the Association was the Rev. Hiram Eddy and the scribe was the Rev. W.G. Temple of Sheffield, Massachusetts. The installation service included the following participants: Rev. W.H. Muller of Ellsworth, the invocation; Rev. Professor Lewis Brastow ofNew Haven Theological Seminary, the sermon; Dr. Eddy, the ordination prayer; and the charge to the pastor, Rev. Goodenough of Winchester; Rev. DePeu of Norfolk, the right hand of fellowship; Rev. Hoddard of Salisbury, the charge to the people; and Rev. D.S. Porter of Kent, the closing prayer.
The first Children’s Day ofthe Church was observed on Sunday, June 10, 1888. The name of the Church was changed on January 3, 1890, from the “North Canaan Congregational Church” to the “East Canaan Congregational Church.” During the same year, the Rev. Horace Hoadley resigned from his ministry to the Church, effective October 1. He wished to devote himself to work through the Evangelical Alliance, after a year’s study of social science at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
On October 24, 1890, the Rev. HenryUtterwick of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was called to be settled as the new minister. He began his work on May 1, 1891, the pulpit having been supplied by the Rev. N S. Moore during the interim. His installation took place on August 4, 1891. The Association officers were: Rev. Goodenough of Winchester as moderator and Rev. Wright of Kent as scribe. The worship leaders included: Rev. Pierpont, Cornwall Second Church, the scriptures; Rev. Starr of Cornwall First Church, the prayer; Rev. Goodenough, the sermon;
Professor M.L. D’Ooge, Ann Arbor, Michigan, the installation prayer; Rev. John Goddard, the charge to the pastor; Rev. Hanna of South Canaan, the right hand of fellowship; and Rev. Powell of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the charge to the people.
During these years there were three worship services on each Sunday. Often the minister would conduct the afternoon service in Canaan Valley or at tent meetings in Clayton. In 1893 Rev. Utterwick visited the World’s Fair and gave a report about it to the Church. The Conference Room was repainted and repapered by the Endeavor Society and Lend a Hand Club. In the latter part of 1900 Rev. Utterwick attended an International Convention of Congregational clergymen in Boston. In
1894 there was a small pox alarm in the area. In 1896, during the Rev. Utterwickts
vacation, Rev. Hunter, who had preached for several years with the McCall
Mission in Paris, France, told of his work.
Rev. Utterwick announced on March 10,1901, that he would resign from his ministry in Canaan on May 5th, after ten years of mutually agreeable work. He had received an appointment for literary work succeeding the late Dr. Daniel Van Pelt. He transferred his church membership to the Forest Avenue Congregational Church in New York City.
The Rev. C.W. Hanna, then minister of the Falls Village and South Canaan churches for the past twelve years, accepted a call to the East Canaan Church on May 26, 1901. During his pastorate there were several new customs established. For example, services were held under the trees in front of the sanctuary, and a new form of letters of dismissal and recommendations was adopted, the deacons were to occupy the chairs on the platform instead of the east front pews. Two young men were appointed to collect the Sunday offerings and to act as ushers. The first to serve this position appointed by the minister were James Garfield and Edward Goodwin. At one evening meeting there was a flute solo with organ
accompaniment. Rev. Hanna was installed on July 2, 1902, after having served the congregation for more than one year.
The participants at Rev. Hanna’s installation service were: Rev. J.B. Lewis of Mill River, the scripture reading; Rev. E.C. Gillette of Pilgrim Church, Canaan, the prayer; Rev. Joel Ives of Mill River, preached the sermon; Rev. Goodenough of Winchester gave the prayer of installation; Rev. W.S. Steams of Norfolk gave the right hand of fellowship; Rev. N.H. Calhoun ofWinsted, Second Church, the charge to the pastor; and Rev. J.C. Goddard, the charge to the people.
During this time there were many exchanges of pulpit preachers and several evening lectures illustrated with stereopticon views. The Rev. and Mrs. Hanna celebrated their Silver Wedding Anniversary on May 13, 1904, at the parsonage. The strict Congregationalist views must have relaxed a bit through the years because the pulpit was supplied by the Rev. George Langdon, minister of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and Miss Fannie Simpson, woman revivalist.
Two new events during Rev. Hannas pastorate included a December Christmas Party in 1905 and a special Easter service in 1906. During 1909 the Church and Chapel were being renovated with new paper and paint, general repairs, and a new window on the south side of the Chapel. In 1910, Rev. Worthy F. Maylott, then secretary of the Winsted YMCA and later to become East Canaan minister, conducted a morning service.
On Easter Sunday of 1912 and additional Sunday services the illness of the church organist and several choir members necessitated that the music be performed from a Victrola in the sanctuary. The East Canaan Church was represented at the 25th Anniversary of the Pilgrim Church on June 17, 1912. In September of the same year the Minister, the clerk, and his wife attended the annual meeting of the Litchfield Northwest Conference at Warren, Conn., traveling on the Berkshire Division Express Railroad to Cornwall Bridge, then over the Kent Mountain by automobile to the church erected in 1818. In November of 1912 a former minister, the Rev. Atwood, gave an address on prison life and work. The Rev. Charles Hanna presented his letter of resignation to the church on June 15, 1913. He had served for twelve years, years which saw many new days of celebration and the surge of revivalism in the Church. His next pastorate was in East Granby. Connecticut.
The next minister was the Rev. Worthy Maylott who, with his wife, became members of the East Canaan Church on September 19, 1913, by letter of transfer from the Methodist Church in Cobalt, Ontario, Canada. Both of them represented the church at the September meeting of the Litchfield Northwest Conference. His ordination took place in October, 1913, with the following involved: Rev. V.M. Blackman of Warren, the prayer; Rev. J.E. Tinker of Ellsworth, the scriptures; Rev. George Judson of Winsted First Church, the sermon; Rev. E.W. Snow of Winsted Second Church, the ordaining prayer; Rev. W.S. Steams of Norfolk, the right hand of fellowship; Rev. W.E. Page ofTorringford, the charge to the pastor; Rev. J.C. Goddard of Salisbury, the charge to the people; and the Rev. E.C. Starr of Cornwall First Church, the concluding prayer. Dming this year, through the
efforts of the Honorable E.S. Roberts, the Governor, Attorney General, and
Executive Secretary of Connecticut spoke at the Lincoln Day exercises.
During this period of the church’s history, 1914, there are several church groups: the ladies’ Aid Society, Clover Club, Cheerful Workers, Junior Young Peoples’ Society of Christian Endeavor, Senior Christian Endeavor, and the Brotherhood.
The Rev. Maylott resigned as of October 15, 1914, in order to assume pastoral duties at the First Church in Derby, Connecticut. The pulpit was supplied from October 15 until November 28 by the Rev. M.B.J. Fuller, who preached on December 5th as a pastoral candidate. A call was extended to him, which he accepted; he preached his first sermon as the East Canaan minister on December
19, 1914. During the following year special repairs were made on the church building and the parsonage. During Rev. Fuller’s vacation period two former ministers, Rev. Maylott and Rev. Hanna, supplied the pulpit. On April21, 1918, Rev. Fuller resigned from this local pastorate.
The Rev. Robert Fletcher ofBeacon Falls accepted the pastoral call on July 10,
1918, to begin service in East Canaan on September 15, 1918. In October the Church was closed by the health officer for two weeks because of an epidemic of Spanish influenza. The East Canaan Congregational Church was incorporated on May 1, 1920, with the understanding that incorporation would not deprive the Ecclesiastical Society of its rights or duties. The Ecclesiastical Society was the body of citizens authorized to collect the religious taxes when Congregationalism was the established state religion, to hold the Church property, and to be responsible for financial and material affairs. The Church, on the other hand, was the body of confessing Christians charged with responsibility for all spiritual concerns. It was possible to be a member of the Ecclesiastical Society without being a member of the Church.
On January 1, 1921, a committee for the celebration of the centennial of the construction of the church building in 1822 met. The committee included N.E. Stratton, Miss Ella Alling, Mr. Charles Sage, J.C. Stevens, and Mrs. H.S.
Lawrence. A new pamphlet of the churches history was published. The committee
planned one Sunday service and two weekday celebrations for the centennial. A cabinet was given by Mr. and Mrs. A.A, Lawrence to house the old communion set which was purchased in 1847 and replaced in 1906.
The centennial celebration began on Sunday, June 25, 1922. At the morning service the welcome was given by the Rev. Robert Fletcher and the sermon was preached by Professor Tweedy of Yale College, with the theme “Not only to refrain from doing evil, but also to do good.” Special music by the choir was sung with a solo by Miss DeHart of Canaan. In the evening Professor Tweedy again addressed the congregation, this time on the subject “The Value of Money.” The
special choir music in the evening was supplemented by a duet by Miss Marguerite
Gaylord and Mrs. H.F. Lawrence. On Tuesday, June 27, the Rev. C.W. Hanna
gave a discourse on “Early Colonial Local History.” Addresses were given by three former ministers, Rev. Henry Utterwick, Rev. M.B.J. Fuller, and Rev. Worthy Maylott. In addition, there was an address by Rev. Hazeltine and special choir
Old Home Day was celebrated on Thursday, June 29, 1922. The morning service was conducted by Rev. Johnson of Norfolk and Rev. Goddard of Salisbury who spoke of their respective colonies in relation to Canaan colony. After a dinner served by the ladies of the church, the group gathered for addresses by Rev. Starr of Cornwall colony, Rev. Hazeltine of Canaan colony, and, Mrs. Mary Adam of the Pilgrim society, with closing remarks by Rev. Fletcher. On Sunday, July 2,
1922, the Rev. Sherwood Soules, Secretary of the Congregational Churches of
Connecticut, spoke of the history of Congregationalism in the state, as the closing event of the centennial observance.
Rev. Fletcher received a letter on July 16th from Samuel Eddy who stated that he would like to give the “small bond” to the Church. He wrote that “as this bond is probably one of the survivors of the direct descendants of the “Iron Men” created in this Valley by Grandfather Forbes, what can be more appropriate than that its proceeds should be used for the betterment of the meeting house at East Canaan, where so many of his descendants have worshiped.”
It seems that we also had a composer in our midst since a solo was sung by Miss DeHart one August Sunday morning entitled “I Will Hold Thy Hand,” composed and written by Mrs. H.F. Lawrence. Rev. Robert Fletcher offered his resignation from the, church on November 7, 1926, after eight years of service.
The resolution to incorporate the East Canaan Congregational Church finally was passed unanimously by the congregation on January 1, 1927. The certificate of incorporation was not placed on file in the office of the Secretary of State in Hartford, Connecticut, until December 1, 1927. During the interim period after Rev. Fletcher’s resignation, from November 27, 1926 until February 27, 1927, the
pulpit was supplied by the Rev. Ralph Krout and a ministerial candidate the Rev. Charles Mesner.
The Rev. Charles Mesner became pastor of the East Canaan Congregational Church on February 27, 1927. He had been born on April26, 1879, in West Pleasant Plain, Iowa. His mother was a Quaker and he was educated at Nebraska Central College about 1908. His theological education was taken at the Presbyterian Seminary in Omaha, Nebraska, for two years, he received the B.S. degree from Hartford Divinity College in 1912, and undertook graduate study at Harvard Divinity College for one year with five years of seminars at Brown University. He apparently believed in education as a very forward-looking man who believed wholeheartedly in progress and scholarship. On July 4, 1921, he married Miss Ida Wild in the Friends’ Meeting House in Fall River, Massachusetts. He served many pastorates in Maine, Nebraska, Illinois, Brooklyn, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. All were Quaker except the two Congregational Churches in East Canaan and Blandford, Massachusetts. The church in Illinois
was in a coal mining town. He also served the church which Herbert Hoover
attended. His last pastorate was the Friends’ Meeting House in New Bedford, Mass., where he died on October 18, 1953. His widow continues to live in New Bedford. (For this information, the author talked with Mrs. Mesner in New Bedford and her daughter, Mrs. Mary Spahn, of Huntington, Long Island, New York.)
The Brotherhood was re-organized on April 11, 1927. It began with nineteen men and the minister. During their first year, they sponsored a 4-H Club, provided two gallons of paint for the parsonage, and worked on other church and parsonage projects, such as painting and roof repairs.
A new memorial bell was given on February 22, 1928, by Mrs. Nettie G. Lawrence in memory of her late husband, Deacon Anson A. Lawrence. It was installed on that date and a service was held in June of the same year. The new bell was cast
by the Old Meneeley Bell Foundry of Watervliet, New York. It replaced the bell which had been used since the 1822 construction of the church building, with the inscriptions “Doolittle and Fecit 1822” on one side and “W.B.B. Hartford, Conn,” on the other side. This original bell was placed on the Soldier’s Monument in the triangle park in East Canaan which was begun in 1919. In September of 1929 three marble tablets were set on the monument with gold leaf lettering by George Hall of Ashley Falls, Massachusetts. On January 5, 1929, the Brotherhood purchased and installed an electric organ blower at the cost of $156.65.
After sixteen years of service, the Rev. Mesner resigned on August 15, 1943, in order to accept a call on September first to the First Church of Blandford, Massachusetts. The church was served by several interim ministers: the Rev. E. Russell Bourne of Sheffield, Mass., Dr. Spear of Lakeville, Rev. Ried of Salisbury, Rev. M.B.J. Fuller, and several students from Hartford Theological Seminary, Mr. Glenn Rosser, Mr. Morgan, and Mr. Roland Goering. Mr. Goering occupied the pulpit for six Sundays and presided over the 1944 annual church meeting. There was much enthusiasm over the preaching of this young man. However, it was
again war time and many ministers were serving as chaplains.
The Rev. Richard Haynes became pastor of the East Canaan Church on June 18,
1944, while still a student at Hartford Theological Seminary. The church voted to give him the right to render communion, to baptize and to officiate at funerals although he would not be licensed until the following year. He was recommended by the Seminary as an outstanding scholar and by Dr. Theodore Green of the First Church in New Britain where he was serving as a student worker. Mr. Haynes was born in Oneonta, New York, on August 23, 1922, and was graduated from Cornell University and eventually from the Hartford Seminary.
In 1945 the duties of the Church Committee were revised so that “they shall have charge of the spiritual affairs, special services and all work which would better our fellowship between members of our own church and neighboring churches,” quite different from the church committee of the early century which was their brother’s keeper. In 1945, for the first time, the church had a Business Committee. On
April 13, 1947, Mr. Haynes resigned to accept a call to the pastorate of the Williamstown Westdale Federated Church and the Amboy Center Methodist Church in New York. In his letter of resignation, he stated that “as a Presbyterian he could not receive ordination as long as he remained here so it seems best that we make this change.”
The 125th anniversary of the church building was celebrated from October 5-19,
1947. The general committee for the celebration included Harry Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. D.E. King, Howard Knight, Charles Fuchs, Julian Brown, Harry Moseley, Rev. Worthy Maylott, Albert VanVlack, Mrs. Elizabeth Weaver, Mrs. Myra Couch, Mrs. Charles Goodwin, Mrs. Dewey Canfield and Mrs. Robert Van Vlack. On Sunday, October 5th, communion was administered by Rev. M.B.J. Fuller, pastor from 1915 to 1918. On October 12th Dr. James English ofHartford,
Superintendent of the Congregational Christian Churches of Connecticut, preached on “The Measure of a Church-It’s Spirit and Progress.” The members of Pilgrim Church attended as a group. On Wednesday evening, October 15th, the
Mendlessohn Chorus of Waterbury, Connecticut, entertained and the Silver Tea was held at 2:30P.M. There was a display of antiques and each Society gave a brief history. Mrs. Elsa Borg Gillette was guest soloist. At the morning service on October 19th, Rev. Worthy Maylott and Rev. M.B.J. Fuller each gave a message
on “Our Church.” A letter from the Governor of Connecticut was read along with messages from Rev. Mesner, Rev. Haynes, and Rev. M.B.J. Fuller. At the evening service the Rev. James Potter of Norfolk offered the dedication prayer and Mr. Allerton Eddy unveiled the bronze memorial tablet erected in loving memory of all the ministers who had served the East Canaan Church. Rev. Maylott and Rev. Mesner were present at the evening service and gave messages. The service was closed with a benediction by Rev. Mesner of Blandford, Mass.
The Rev. Miss Edith Wolfe was called to settle as the pastor in January of 1948. She had been born in Newark, New Jersey, on April30, 1921, graduated from Montclair Teachers College, Montclair, New Jersey, and Union Theological Seminary, New York City. She began her active work on February 15, 1948. She was our first lady minister, a very energetic young woman who managed very successfully to keep the teen age group busy painting both at the parsonage and at the church. During her pastorate the manual was revised, a new furnace was installed in the church, the exterior of the church was painted, the roof re-shingled, the basement repaired, a furnace room constructed, and a newspaper published. She resigned on September 23, 1951, to accept a call to the Federated Church of Christ in Brooklyn, Connecticut. At the present time Miss Wolfe is the executive secretary of the Women’s Board of Missions for the Pacific Islands, affiliated with the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Miss Wolfe was succeeded by the Rev. A. Avery Gates. He was born in Nova Scotia on April 30, 1888, and was graduated from the University of Chicago, Temple University, Crozer Theological Seminary, and Chicago Theological Seminary. He came to East Canaan from Penacook, New Hampshire. During this time the church records were photostated and the originals were placed on file in Hartford. We are indeed fortunate to have these old records since many churches have lost theirs by fire or neglect. The church choir began wearing robes, offering a uniform appearance. The Sunday school children attended the first part of
church worship with their families. In 1954 the Second Ecclesiastical Society was
dissolved by merger with the East Canaan Congregational Church.
On May 16, 1954, another milestone in the history of our church took place. After due deliberation, it was voted to enter a yoked arrangement with Pilgrim Church Congregational, our daughter church in Canaan. Each congregation would maintain its own identity but be served by one minister.
On September 1, 1954, Rev. Gates resigned in order to accept a call to the First Church of Newington, Connecticut. He was succeeded by the Rev. John Knight as the first minister called under the yoke agreement. He was born in Fanwood, New Jersey, in 1916, graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1947 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and from Yale University Divinity School in 1950 with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. He had served a pastorate as assistant minister in Berlin, Connecticut from 1948 until 1950, and came directly from a church in Hyde Park, Vermont.
The Rev. Alexander Fraser, who had served as interim minister, was elected the minister emeritus of the East Canaan and Pilgrim Churches. He had been born in May 1878 in Aberdeen, Scotland, and was educated at Colgate University. He served as a Presbyterian minister from 1916 until 1948, and since that time has served as chaplain at Gould Farm in Monterey, Massachusetts. He served as interim minister on two occasions, from April through December 1959 and February late 1961.
During the ministry of Rev. Knight there was a serious drive for a new organ. The goal was achieved with the result of a new Wicks organ. One group which made it possible were some young people from Winthrop, Maine, who were on their way home from a concert in New Britain. Through the efforts of Norbert Noyes, our church organist, who knew their director, they performed a musical choral program in the church. In return, they stayed overnight and had breakfast in various homes of the community before returning to Maine. The Adam Duyser and Canfield
funds were also used toward the purchase of the organ, plus many individual pledges. The organ was dedicated with a special performance by Richard Geddes, director of music at the Norfolk Congregational Church, Rev. and Mrs. Knight were both very active in the choirs and all other aspects of the Church and Sunday school.
During this period the Protestant churches of Canaan combined choirs to Present “The Crucifixion” by John Stainer. There was also cooperation of the choirs on special holidays during this time while the Pilgrim and East Canaan choirs were combined. The Book of Remembrance was instituted to provide an attractive method of memorializing gifts to the Church. A special repository for the Book
was made by Mr. Wheeler Barford of Twin Lakes, and was given by Mr. and Mrs. Barford to the church. The lettered calligraphy in the first edition of the Book was performed gratuitously by Mrs. Ruth Eaton. During Rev. Knights pastorate two young Canaan men, Wilbur Stowe, Jr., and Georpe Condon, Jr., began their studies for the ministry. Pilgrim and East Canaan churches contributed funds for their education. At this time the merger of the two churches was discussed, but it was preferred to continue the yoked pastorate without full union.
For several years young people from our churches have attended summer conferences sponsored by the denomination across the state. In 1957 the Silver Lake Conference Center was established by the Connecticut Conference of Congregational Christian Churches, located in Sharon. Several of our ministers have served there during retreats and regular summer sessions.
Rev. John Knight resigned in March of 1959 to accept a call to the Congregational Church in Somers, Connecticut. In December, the Rev. Louis Thompson accepted a call to become minister of the Pilgrim and East Canaan churches. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in December of 1916, was graduated from Tufts College with a B.A. degree in 1943, from Bangor Theological Seminary, Maine, with a
B.D. degree in 1941, and did graduate study in guidance and counseling at Springfield College. He was ordained into the ministry in 1943 and had served as pastor in Monson, Massachusetts, from 1951 until his call to Canaan.
During this time in East Canaan the pew cushions were re-covered, a new floor was laid in the vestibule and cement steps and an iron railing were built on to the conference room entrance. The parsonage was discussed at great length. After long study it was considered too expensive for the church to remodel it, although the church could not reach a decision to sell the property. Finally, the parsonage was sold and the proceeds were to be placed in a fund to buy or build another parsonage should the need ever arise.
Rev. Thompson was with us only a short time but was well known and loved through his pastoral calling. He was always able and willing when the need arose. He died very suddenly at his home in Canaan of a heart attack in February 1961. The church contributed to a fund in his name at the Bangor Theological Seminary. Rev. Thompson had served as secretary of the Southern Berkshire Radio Religious Council which presented a program over W.S.B.S., in Great Barrington. The chairman of the Council, the Rev. Nehemiah Boynton, III, of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, presented a tribute over the air in memory of Rev. Thompson. The tribute reads in part: “In the book of Acts it is written of Barnabas that he was ‘a
good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.’ As I think of Mr. Thompson, I can find no better way to describe him… And why do I speak thus? Let me tell you one incident which is first-hand and typical… One day I found myself ministering to a member of my parish who is an epileptic at Monson State Hospital. For those of you who have visited inside the walls of such an institution, you know how
friendly many of these folks are, yet also how cruelly society shuns them and too
often forgets them. But on this visit of mine, I happened to ask if there were any local clergymen from the town of Monson who took an active interest in these patients? The eyes of my listeners lit up. Yes, there was one especially. He had come to minister to them regularly and had really shown the love of God through his care and concern for them. But unfortunately he had left the church in Monson a number of months earlier. But maybe I knew him? He had taken a parish further west somewhere. His name was Thompson, Rev. Louis Thompson.”
Rev. Thompson was followed by the Rev. Loring Roberts, who became pastor September 1, 1961. He had been born in Abington, Massachusetts, in November of 1929, educated at Curry College, Wilton, Massachusetts, and at Harvard Divinity School and Tufts Theological School.
The following persons participated in his installation service: Rev. Victor Ford of the First Church, Torrington, offered the Lord’s Prayer; Rev. Ernest Bangston, Jr., of Winchester Center, the pastoral prayer; Rev. L. Wayne Dunlap, Canaan Methodist Church, the sermon “The Challenge of the Modern Ministry”; Mr. Allyn Perkins, moderator of the Litchfield North Association, the act of installation; Rev. Alexander Fraser, the installation prayer; Rev. Lawrence Stone, Old Parish Congregational, Salisbury, charge to the minister- Rev. Rolland Ewing, Center Congregational Church of Torrington, the charge to the congregation; Rev. Robert Hoskins, First Church, Sharon, the right hand of fellowship for the association; and Rev. Frank Blaikie, rector of Christ Episcopal Church, Canaan, the right hand of fellowship for the community.
1962 was the 75th anniversary of the founding of Pilgrim Church. Our choirs, which were still combined at the time, participated in the morning and afternoon services. Howard Knight and Miss Gertrude Brinton read parts of the litany in the service.
During the pastorate of Rev. Roberts there were Sunday morning Bible study groups with the men and high school discussion groups. The high school Pilgrim Fellowship took a trip to Washington, D.C., among other active programs. Rev. Roberts was also a very good chef, as his roast beef dinners attested.
In 1962 it was finally voted to purchase the former Costello property which is located on the east side of the church driveway. The following committee was selected to carry on the plans to make it a useful property: Holbrook Stevens, Mrs. May Somerville, James Smith, Mrs. Eleanor Adam, and Mrs. Eunice Moseley. This project required a great deal of work to tum an “ugly duckling into the attractive building it is now. One of the methods of raising money for this purpose was the sale of non-interest bearing bonds for twenty-five dollars each. In 1963
the former East Canaan parsonage was sold. The organ chimes were installed and
dedicated. In 1964 a plaque honoring all who were buried in the old burying ground behind the church building was established.
In May 1966, the Rev. Loring Roberts resigned from his pastorate in order to accept a call to Terryville, Connecticut. The pulpit committee sought candidates for his replacement and, in spite of the yoked arrangement, which some believed would be a detriment, there were several applicants. During the interim period, Rev. Wilfrid Bunker of Cornwall served as the minister from May through June,
The Rev. Robert Loesch accepted the call to become pastor of the yoked parish, effective July 1. 1966. He was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, in 1941, was graduated from Oberlin College in 1963, and Yale University Divinity School in
1966. He was ordained at the First Congregational Church of West Haven, Connecticut, in June of the same year, where he had served for two years as assistant minister. Twenty people from the Canaan churches attended the ordination service. On October 3, 1966, he was installed as minister of both churches. Participants in the installation service included the following persons: Rev. Wilfrid Bunker, call to worship; Mr. Ambler Travis of Pilgrim Church, Old Testament reading; Rev. Dr. RobertS. Paul, Professor of Church History at Hartford Seminary Foundation, the sermon; Rev. Lawrence Stone of Salisbury Congregational Church, covenant of installation; Rev. Alden Hebard, Church of Christ Congregational in Norfolk, installation prayer; Rev. Lawrence Stone, statement by the vice-moderator of the Litchfield North Association; Rev. Dr. Russell Loesch, pastor of the Community Church of Cedar Grove, New Jersey, charge to the minister; Rev. Donald Frazier, pastor of the First Congregational Church of West Haven, Connecticut, charge to the people; Rev. Robert Loesch, celebration of the Lord’s Supper; and Rev. Alexander Fraser, pastor emeritus of East Canaan and Pilgrim Churches and pastor at Gould Farm, Monterey, Massachusetts, the benediction. The musical parts of the service were performed by the combined choir of our two congregations, with the organist Mr. Norbert Noyes, choir director and organist at East Canaan, and Mrs. Archie Peace, organist
and choir director of Pilgrim Church. The deacons who assisted at the Lord’s Supper were Albert VanVlack and James Smith of East Canaan, and Howard Rudolph and Archie Weaver of Pilgrim Church. This celebration included two unusual features: Rev. Loesch is the son of Rev. Dr. Russell Loesch and the son-in law of Rev. Donald Frazier, both participants and active ministers within the
United Church of Christ tradition. His twin brother, William Loesch, is a ministerial candidate at Andover, Newton Theological School, Massachusetts, and chaplain to Protestant families at the Columbia Point housing project in south Boston.
In January of 1967, there was an Ecumenical Service of Prayer at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Canaan. It was attended by a large number of Catholics and Protestants, the first such service for all local Christians in Canaan’s history. The following clergymen took part in the service: Rev. Father Michael Malley and Rev. Father Henry Balchunas of St. Joseph’s Church, Rev. Father Frank Blaikie of Christ Episcopal Church, Rev. William Foster of the Canaan Methodist Church,
and Rev. Robert Loesch, of Pilgrim and East Canaan Congregational Churches. As an outgrowth from this ecumenical service, a sacred choral music concert including participants from all the local churches was presented on May 14, 1967, in the East Canaan church. Participants in the choirs represented Methodist, Episcopal, Seventh Day Adventist, Roman Catholic, and Congregational churches, plus the choir of the Augustinian Recollect Seminary in Norfolk.
In addition to these two ecumenical events during 1967, the East Canaan Church celebrated the two hundredth anniversary of its founding. The Anniversary Committee responsible for these events consisted of the following persons: Miss. Eunice Moseley, Albert VanVlack, Mrs. William Somerville, Orson Benedict, Miss Emily Burmeister, and Rev. Robert Loesch. On Sunday, March 12th, Rev. Miss Edith Wolfe, now working in Honolulu, Hawaii, was the guest preacher at the morning service, with a reception afterwards at the Parish House.
On April 20th, 1967, a luncheon was served at the Pilgrim House arranged by the cooperation of the Women’s Fellowship of Pilgrim Church and the Ladies Aid Society of East Canaan Church. Special guests included more than fifty men and women from the First Congregational Church of West Haven, Connecticut. Dr. James English, minister emeritus of the Connecticut Conference of the Congregational Christian Churches spoke about the history of the Conference which was founded in 1867, thus celebrating its centennial year. On May 7th there was an afternoon concert celebrating the Bi-Centennial Anniversary in the East
The names of those who have served as pastors of the East Canaan Congregational
Church and the dates of their ministry are:
William Bradford 1776-1779
John Davenport 1779-1781
Amos Thompson 1782-1788
Joshua Knapp 1790-1796
Solomon Morgan 1798-1804
Pitkin Cowles 1805-1833
Henry H. Woodbridge 1833-1842
Daniel D. Francis 1845 -1850
Elisha Whittlesey 1851-1853
Hiram Eddy 1854-1860
James Deane 1860-1862
Edward P. Willard 1862-1863
Henry M. Grant 1863-1866
Mason Noble, Jr. 1866-1868
Isaac P. Powell 1868-1874
Lewis H. Reid 1874-1880
William E. Bassett 1880-1882
‘Villiam J. Thompson 1882-1884
Eugene F. Atwood 1884-1886
Horace G. Hoadley 1887-1890
Henry Uttenvick 1891-1901
Charles M. Hanna 1901-1913
Worthy F. Maylott 1913-1915
M.J.B. Fuller 1915-1918
Robert Fletcher 1918-1926
Charles ,V. Mesner 1927-1943
Richard H. Haynes 1944-1947
Edith ‘Volfe 1948-1951
A. Avery Gates 1952-1954
John Knight 1955-1959
Alexander Fraser 1959-1961
Louis Thompson 1959-1961
Loring Roberts 1961-1966
Robert Loesch 1966-
I would like to thank all those who helped me gather information for this history of the East Canaan Congregational Church.
Special thanks to: Mrs. Roger Pratt for the use of the diaries of Mary J. Emmons; Miss Ruth Peirce for several booklets, including Joseph Eldridge’s Centennial Address, the 1767-1875 membership list, and the James Mars Life story Rev. Robert Loesch who did research in Hartford; and Mrs. Fred (Bernice) Couch, who did all the typing of the three drafts of the manuscript.
Mrs. David Carlson, Historian
East Canaan Congregational Church
World Book Encyclopedia
East Canaan Church Records Volumes 1-3
Ecclesiastical Society Records
Connecticut State Register and Manual 1928
Connecticut American Guide Series, 1938
Crissey, History of Norfolk
History of Litchfield County, Connecticut
Connecticut Quarterly Magazine
Centennial Address by Rev. Joseph Eldridge
Mary J. Emmons Diaries
Life of James Mars, A Slave Born and Sold in Connecticut, 1864
Connecticut Western News, Bicentennial Edition (1938) and assorted articles
Records ofD.A.R. in Leesburg, Virginia
Allen Biographical Dictionary
Contributions to the Ecclesiastical History of Connecticut, William Kingsley, New Haven, 1861
Allen, Sp. Ann 526, Litchfield Centennial 116