Anniversary of the Dedication of
thanks to Pat Olson of Binghamton, NY
the Old Church on the Hill
June twelfth, nineteen hundred and six
who transcribed and submitted the file to the site!
Rev. Samuel MUNSON,
Rev. Samuel SHEPARD, D.D.,
Rev. Henry NEILL,
Rev. Edmund K. ALDEN,
Rev. Reuben S. KENDALL,
Rev. Samuel H. TOLMAN,
Rev. Charles H. PARKHURST,
Rev. R. DeWitt MALLARY,
Rev. Edward DAY,
Rev. Frederick LYNCH,
Rev. Clayton J. POTTER,
The Meeting House of the Congregation Church
of Lenox was erected during the season of 1805, and dedicated
January first 1806. Therefore it is true that while we endeavored
to cherish every sentiment that might contribute to the
proper observance of the day, the letter was violated when
the commemoration services were held on the twelfth of June.
However, we felt that the day had been happily chosen. The
weather was perfect: a bright cool June day in the Berkshires
has yet to be improved upon.
Invitations had been sent to all the
living members of the congregation so far as their location
was known. Those who accepted were naturally the friends
living in nearby towns and cities, though two men came from
New Jersey and one from Indiana, to visit the church home
of their boyhood.
From across the country in every direction
came letters expressing regret at inability to be present,
and tender words in appreciation of high ideals gained in
the services of the old church. Doubtless there were many
hearts that on the appointed day, joined with ours in love
for this venerable place of worship.
Simple decorations of palms and flowers
were arranged about the pulpit and platform with beautiful
and dignified effect.
The choir was assisted by a number of
those who had occupied the singers' gallery in recent years.
The organist, Mr. Harold THOMPSON,
labored zealously for the occasion, and his efforts were
rewarded by the excellent rendering of the hymns and anthems.
The afternoon services, at 2:30, began
with an invocation by the Rev. George T. WASHBURN
of Meriden, Conn., a son of the church who has recently
completed thirty-nine years of service as a missionary under
the American Board in India. The Scripture lesson which
was read at the dedication of the church, from the first
book of Kings the eighth chapter, was read by the Rev. Edward
SEDGWICK of Lenox. Then followed the singing by the
congregation of the hymn "O where are kings and empires
now", in a way which showed that congregational singing
is not altogether a lost art.
Addresses were delivered by the Minister,
and by the Rev. R. DeWitt MALLARY, D. D., of Housatonic,
pastor of the church from 1880 to 1889; the Rev. Edward
DAY, of Nantucket, pastor from 1890 to 1898; and Deacon
Henry SEDGWICK who has worshipped under ten of the
eleven ministers who have served the church. Letters of
greeting were read from the Rev. Charles H. PARKHURST,
D.D., of New York, pastor of the church from 1874 to 1880;
and the Rev. Albert J. LYMAN, D.D., of Brooklyn,
who lived in Lenox in early life.
During the service a hymn, composed
for the dedication, and sung then, was again used.
At the evening service, prayer was offered
by the Rev. Charles H. WILLIAMS, of New London, Conn.,
who had once supplied the pulpit for some months.
Addresses followed, by the Hon. Francis
W. ROCKWELL, of Pittsfield, a great-grandson of William
WALKER, the chairman of the committee which contracted
for and superintended the construction of the Meeting House;
the Rev. Frederick LYNCH, of New York, pastor of
the church from 1889 to 1904; and the Rev. Fritz W. BALDWIN,
D.D. of East Orange, New Jersey, who attended the services
of the church and learned to revere it, during some years
spent teaching in the old Lenox Academy.
Between the services the invited guests
and the people of the congregation to the number of one
hundred eighty, enjoyed a bountiful supper in Sedgwick Hall,
served under the able management of the Curtis Hotel. All
who attended the services were asked to register their names
for reference at future anniversaries.
It will be noticed in the following
pages that the future of the church as well as the past
received due attention. In spite of many changes in the
community it was felt that the church had cause not only
to be grateful for its past, but hopeful for the future.
Altogether, it was a day calculated
to strengthen the ties, already strong, which bind the Old
Church of the Hill to many grateful hearts.
Clayton J. Potter
We are gathered here to commemorate the dedication
of this House of Worship, and to express our gratitude to
Almighty God for its preservation to this congregation for
one hundred years. We shall best prepare ourselves for entering
into the spirit of the day by recalling some of the important
events in the life of the church organization, which preceded
the erection of this House.
One of the first concerns of the inhabitants
of every New England town was to provide a Meeting House
to accommodate their services of worship. It was the first
public building to be erected or was preceded only by the
school house. The location was at the crossing of two roads
in the center of the little community, or on some near-by
hill that commanded the neighboring country.
Early settlements in Lenox, which began
in 1750, were very desultory and unstable. The people were
fearful of Indian depredations, and in 1755 there was a
general flight to places of safety, because of the approach
of the savages. However in 1767 the town was incorporated,
and in 1769 the Congregational Church was organized. The
final site of the Meeting House was determined by a very
interesting succession of events. Some time before the organization
of the church, two sites had been designated by the town;
for church and state were united until 1834, and all matters
pertaining to church life were determined in the annual
and special town meetings. One of the meeting had even adjourned
to a site appointed, and drove a stake to mark it. Both
locations were north of the present site, along the road
to Pittsfield. But fortunately neither of these was to be
the site of the Meeting House. Construction was delayed
for various reasons.
The ultimate choice of the town was
expressed in the action of the Proprietors in 1769, who
"voted to build on the sport sequestered for that purpose
by the heirs of Rev. Peter REYNOLDS, lying on the
East end of the mountain". That was the phrase used to designate
the eminence on which this House stands. The Rev. Peter
REYNOLDS of Somers, Conn., was one of seven men who
had purchased from an inhabitant of Stockbridge who was
an undesirable citizen, certain lands in that town, in order
the community might be relieved of his further residence
there. To compensate these men, the government gave them
4000 acres of uncleared land lying north of Stockbridge.
This tract covered all of what is now the present town of
Lenox, and perhaps the township; and in the records of the
time it was called the Ministers' Grant, in as much as five
of these men were ministers. [The implication, made in a
history of the town, that this tract of land belonged to
any Minister of the town by virtue of his office and that
the title to it was commuted later to his obvious loss,
To the Rev. Mr. REYNOLDS fell
the tract including this hill. His heirs, in consideration
of "the love, goodwill, and affection", they bore to the
people and town of Lenox, executed the following deed of
land. "Three acres of land lying and being in the Township
of Lenox aforesaid for the use, benefit and improvement
of siting a Meeting House thereon, a Burying Yard or Lot,
etc., for the benefit and utility of the people and town
of Lenox aforesaid forever, or so long as it shall be used
and improved for the purposes aforesaid."
To the generosity of the descendants
of this pioneer we are indebted for the surpassing beauty
and fitness of the location of this House and the church
yard about it.
In 1770 the first Meeting House was
erected. It was not thoroughly completed until five years
later. In size it was probably about forty-five feet by
thirty-five feet, and was "a suitable height for that bigness";
these being the dimensions appointed for the first Meeting
Houses in Richmond and Lenox before the division which resulted
in the formation of the two present townships. This building
stood a little southwest of the present House. Rev. Samuel
MUNSON became in 1770 the first pastor of the Church
and continued in that office until 1793. Two years later
Samuel SHEPARD was called to minister to the Church,
and remained its pastor until his death in 1846. The Meeting
House was in such a state of disrepair and was so limited
in seating capacity, that it was thought unwise to hold
his ordination services in it, and a staging was erected
outside for that purpose. Under his care the church life
was greatly invigorated. When he came to the organization
it had but a small membership. In 1806, when this House
was dedicated, there were over a hundred members. The town
also had increased in its number of citizens. In 1800, with
a population of 1041 it was nearly half as large as Pittsfield.
Naturally the church felt worthy of
a better House than the one in which it was worshipping
At the annual Town Meeting held in that
year on the fourteenth of March, the following item was
submitted to the voters: "Art. 16. To see if the town will
do anything about building a meeting-house." The phrasing
of this article indicates the truth of the statement made
as to the condition of the old meeting-house. The citizens
realized the need of doing something in the way of erecting
a new building, in order that they might worship in a comfortable
house and one less liable to collapse over their heads or
go to ruin between Sabbaths.
At this meeting it was "Voted, That
Eldad LEWIS, Esq., William WALKER, Esq., Samuel
COLLINS, Thomas STEEL, Elijah GATES, Elijah
NORTHRUP, Josiah NEWELL, Oliver BELDEN,
Junior, Caleb HYDE, Nathaniel MILLER and Joseph
GOODWIN, Esq., be a committee to digest a plan relative
to building a meeting-house in this town."
On April eighteenth a special meeting was called.
The following were the items of business:---
Article 1 -- To choose a moderator.
Article 2 -- To see if the town will
proceed in erecting a Meeting-house for the use of the Congregational
Society in said Town.
Article 3 -- To determine the spot where
the proposed house shall stand.
Article 4 -- To determine the time when
said house shall be erected.
Article 5 -- To provide for the expense
incurred in erecting said house, by a direct tax, subscriptions,
selling the pews, or otherwise as the Town may agree, and
ascertain the time when the same shall be paid.
Article 6 -- To ascertain the dimensions
of said house and the proportion of the several parts.
Article 7 -- To appoint such agents
or committees as may be though necessary to contract for
performing the work of said Building, and to collect materials
for the same, and to superintend the business in general.
Article 8 -- To give such agents or
committees instructions respecting any part of the business
assigned to them.
Article 9 -- To pass any other votes
that may concern the erection of said meeting-house and
may be necessary for that purpose.
On the appointed day the meeting convened.
Eldad LEWIS was named moderator. It was voted to
proceed to building.
The location was determined as "on the
meeting-house lot, on or near the place where present meeting-house
The building was to erected "within
two years from the first of October next," which would make
the expiration of the time limit fall in October of 1805.
It was voted to defray the expenses
of construction by the Public vendueing of the pews:
If such a sum proved to be deficient,
to tax the pews bid off proportionate to their value as
William WALKER, Joseph GOODWIN
and David BOSWORTH were named a committee to make
and report another plan for said meeting-house and to view
other meeting-houses for the purpose of perfecting their
The meeting then adjourned.
On May 2 the voters again came together
for further action.
It was voted that the "Body of the meeting-house
be sixty-four feet long and fifty feet wide, and a projection
for a tower of eight feet by twenty-six."
William WALKER, Caleb HYDE,
Oliver BEDLEN, Jr., Joseph GOODWIN, Josiah
NEWELL, Nathaniel MILLER, and Ebenezer WILLIAMS
were named a committee to contract for performing the work
of said meeting-house and to collect material and superintend
the business in general.
It was voted that the work be done "by
the job or jobs and not by the day."
This vote reveals the fact that at this
period there were used the two methods of the present, in
the employment of labor. But the method of construction
followed was different from that of to-day. The modern builder
of a frame structure such as this, goes to the lumber yard
and procures his timbers already sawed for his uses.
One hundred years ago, men went into
the forest of standing timber. They selected the trees that
were straightest and most sound. These they cut down and
carefully hewed to the desired dimensions. The big beams
and great timbers were then laid by to season and dry in
the sun and wind. Consequently the timbers put into the
structure of a century ago, whether it was a dwelling house,
or a meeting-house, were thoroughly seasoned. They did not
heave, and check or split, when once they took their place
in the building. Then too, men labored not so much to do
a "day's work" as to perform some definite task. They could
do a piece of work by the job and at the same time be faithful
The plan of the committee for square
pews, which had been submitted to the meeting, was accepted.
It was also decided that the building should "set with steeple
fronting the South." The bidding was to be for choice of
pews: the highest bidders having first choice. Joseph GOODWIN
was appointed vendue master. Each buyer was also to have
the privilege of paying a proportionable share of the price
of the building. At a meeting held the fifth of May it was
"voted that a bell be included in expense of said house,"
and that "the three pews in the tower be sold like the others."
These pews filled the space now occupied by the organ and
the seats for the choir.
The plan of arrangement of the pews
as accepted by the town, was in general, like the present
arrangement. There was a center aisle or "alley," as it
was often named in the old times, of six feet in width.
On either side of this space there were two rows of pews
seven in each row, these being the only pews in the house
that approached the square in their dimensions. They were
seven feet by five feet. Outside these pews were the two
side aisles each three feet and ten inches wide; and between
these and the wall were long narrow pews. These were four
feet wide and varied in length from nine feet to eleven
feet; those at the north end being longest. There were five
of these pews on each side of the meeting-house.
The pulpit was small in all dimensions
but height. The sides of the old box pews were carried much
higher up than are the pews to-day. Indeed no worshipper
when seated could see any one in the house except those
who sat in his own pew, and the occupant of the pulpit.
The gallery front was also quite high, affording a serviceable
screen for the boys and young men who sat behind it. It
was necessary, then, that the pulpit should be elevated,
in order that the minister might see all his congregation,
both on the floor of the House and in the galleries. It
was circular in form, and rested on a fluted post, with
a flight of stairs approaching it on each side. In front
of the pulpit and beneath it was the Deacon's seat. On each
side of the pulpit were four pews, extending their length,
eight feet, into the body of the house and even with the
front of the Deacon's seat. The two pews immediately at
the right and left of the pulpit, separated from it by a
narrow aisle, were a trifle wider than the others, numbered
one and two, and were marked in the plan, "Reserved". There
were forty-six pews in all: numbered according to the choice
made at the vendue. The numbers were painted on the pew
doors. The alley in front of the body pews was three feet
ten inches wide; the one at the rear was four feet, four
and three-fourths inches wide.
This is the plan of arrangement of Pews
adopted, and the house was built accordingly.
The entire amount provided for the erection
of the building by the public vendueing of the pews was
$6,811.00. The contracting committee "in case they judged
it expedient, were authorized to contract for a part payment
for said building in neat cattle or any other produce at
such prices as shall be fixed by indifferent persons mutually
chosen by said Committee and the person contracting."
The town records contain a detailed
estimate of the materials to be used in the construction
of the House, and of the cost of the larger timers. Five
hundred bushels of lime and fifty tons of sand were required.
The contracting committee was given power to make such variations
from this estimate as they should judge beneficial to the
building. They were also given power to appoint places on
the Meeting House green where horse sheds might be built
by those who applied for such permission.
The Town continued to hold its business
meetings in the "Old Meeting House" until May 1806, when
it was sold at public vendue. The total amount realized
from the sale was $205.51. So passed out of existence the
first House of Worship erected in this township. Some of
the timbers rendered further service in barns and dwelling
houses in the town.
The builder of the House was Benjamin
D. GOODRICH who was paid for building the Meeting
House and furnishing materials about $5,000.00 out of a
total cost of $6,619.00.
Hydes' "History of Lee" is incorrect
in stating that it was build by John HULETT who had
charge of erecting Meeting Houses in Lee and Richmond.
GOODRICH was a carpenter of whom
we know only that he was living in Richmond from 1805-1811.
Meeting Houses in Richmond, Lee, and
Lenox, were erected within a period of ten years; the Richmond
Meeting House in 1795, that in Lee in 1800, and our own
completed in 1805. It is quite probable that among the Houses
"viewed" by the committee appointed to draw plans for this
structure, these two were included. The Lee Meeting House
was sixty-four by fifty which was one foot shorter than
that in Richmond; and as there are the dimensions of this
structure, it is clear that all three were much alike in
The Richmond Meeting House was destroyed
by fire in 1882; that of Lee in 1857. Hence it is not without
special cause for thanksgiving that we gather to-day permitted
by a gracious Providence to worship as a church in this
House, for one hundred years. The House of God that is set
on a hill cannot be hid, not is it so liable to be destroyed
by a conflagration as one that is surrounded by other buildings.
As for the architecture; the building
is competent to speak for itself. There is a well proportioned
symmetry about it that bears evidence of no insignificant
architectural genius exercised in its construction. The
"high-shouldered" effect, so often seen in churches of this
type, has been fortunately avoided. These is not spire to
pierce the clouds that sweep over the Hill day after day;
or to give the appearance of something added for effect.
Instead there is a steeple which is an integral part of
the meeting House, and with its crown of gold speaks of
other crowns that are for those who faithfully worship beneath
Graceful without effort; solid and substantial,
without stolidity or dullness; it fulfills the beauty of
holiness and the dignity of worship.
Having followed the steps leading to
the erection of the building, we are prepared to learn something
of the dedication. The Pittsfield Sun of Monday, December
30, 1805, has this note: "The dedication of the new Meeting
House in Lenox is to take place on Wednesday next, and the
exercises of the day are to commence at half past eleven
o'clock." It is very singular that no later mention is made
of these dedicatory services. But we are not without some
authentic information of them. A letter written by a woman
in Stockbridge to her huaband, then absent, contains this
account; "Stockbridge, January 2nd, 1806. Agreeable to the
intimation in my last, we opened the year by attending the
dedication of the temple at Lenox, though necessitated to
go upon wheels. The audience was numerous, the building
spacious as it is, was not only filled, but crowded. The
day was favorable -- had it been sleighing the assembly
would doubtless have been much more numerous. Mr. SHEPARD
opened the exercises by reading the dedication of Solomons'
temple. Music succeeded. Mr. PERRY [Rev. David PERRY of
Richmond] made the introductory prayer. Mr. SHEPARD
preached from Ezra 6-16 "And the children of Israel, the
priests and the Levites, and the rest of the children of
the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God
with joy." To do justice to the sermon is beyond the power
of my feeble pen. You well know the animated, impressive
manner of our respected friend. This was an occasion peculiarly
adapted to call forth the energy of his genius. To me, and
indeed to others, it appeared one of the finest specimens
of pulpit eloquence. I expect it will be published tho'
I doubt whether it will in perusal shine with equal lustre.
Much of its brilliancy, I suspect, was derived from the
appropriate manner of the speaker. A prayer by Mr. HYDE
[Rev. Alvan HYDE of Lee] and a hymn composed by Doctor
LEWIS, but sung in a very ordinary tune, closed the
solemnities of the day." To this eye-witness we are indebted
for this account of the services held here one hundred years
ago last January.
So far as it known the sermon was never
published. That the preachers' ordinarily impressive pulpit
manner was intensified by the significance of the occasion,
is not remarkable. He had come to the church ten years before
and found in extremely needy in everything that pertained
to vigorous church life. The membership was small and the
spiritual interest was not greater. The congregation was
worshipping in a dilapidated building. The town in common
with the whole country was but beginning to recover from
the war of the Revolution; while there was further local
disaffection and distrust arising from difficulties connected
with that movement known as "Shay's Rebellion." The young
minister, only twenty-two years old, took hold of his problems
with all the strength of his energetic nature; the people
supported him loyally, and now he was reaping the harvest
of his faithful labors. In those days, $6,000.00 was no
small sum to take from a community of a thousand souls,
when a man received for the labor of his team but seventy-five
cents for the longest day in summer, and less when the days
were shorter. And while some may have paid the price of
their pew in cattle or the produce of the land, they would
still have been paying in a coin that was of highest value.
This material prosperity did not check
the spiritual development which had begun a few years before.
In 1808, fifty-six persons were received into the church.
The diary of Dr. SHEPARD, under date of March 5,
1815, has this entry. "This is a time of remarkable outpouring
of God's spirit upon this church and people. Many are still
inquiring what they shall do to be saved. May God still
continue the blessed work and enlarge his church." As a
result of this movement one hundred and sixty-one persons
were received into the church.
In the summer of 1840 the first alterations
in the floor plan of the Meeting House were made. The box
pews were now a construction of the past. The seats were
to be made modern in every way, and the so-called "slips"
were substituted for them. The broad "alley" was abolished
by the Committee on alterations, of which John HOTCHKIN
was a member. Two solid rows of slips occupied the center
of the Meeting House: then on either side were two narrow
aisles, and between these and the walls a row of slips set
a trifle obliquely to the length of the House. This change
in the position of the slips would have brought the gallery
supports into the two aisles; and to avoid this inconvenience,
and arch was built with supports at the sides of the aisle.
The owners of the original pews were assigned slips as nearly
equal in value to their former holdings as the committee
found it possible to arrange them. For it must be remembered
that each pew owner held a deed of his property, and as
carefully guarded his rights in this as in other matters.
The committee had been empowered to "lower the old pulpit
or make a new one", and as their report reads, "when they
came to examine the old Pulpit and view not only its uncouth
appearance but its want of proportion to the rest of the
House, they could not hesitate in determining what would,
in their opinion, be most agreeable to the taste, as well
as the wished of the Society." A new and lower pulpit was
The high front of the gallery was made
lower, that those seated there might be able to see the
preached in the re-modeled pulpit. The north end of the
House was of course a straight line, the present projection
being built much later. A semi-circle was taken out of the
vestibule at the center of the House in the rear of the
body pews, and brought inside the House proper; this was
done to give space for the placing of the stoves. In 1866
the floor plan was changed to the present arrangement and
in 1875 the pulpit was again lowered and refitted.
The projection which is occupied by
the present platform and pulpit was constructed in 1880by
a society of young women of the church. The vestibule was
renovated and partitioned in 1883; this work being done
as a direct gift to the church.
In 1838 a second bell which still calls
us to worship, was hung in the steeple. Stoves were used
sometime before 1836, for in December of that year a special
meeting of the society was called to decide upon a change
in their location. The winter was coming on and doubtless
the congregation felt the need of getting better results
from the ten dollars or less that was spent annually for
fuel. In 1850 the seats in the gallery in the porch were
appropriated "for the use of those who assisted in singing".
The recognition of the singers as such,
by the church, evidently stirred their ambitions; and three
years later a committee was named and given power to "investigate
the subject of procuring such an instrument of music as
they thought proper". This led the to the purchase for the
sum of $142.00 of a "Seraphim".
We may infer that this was not a special
importation of one or more of the Angelic host for the direction
of the music, but a prosaic instrument of the melodeon type.
In 1868 the society voted to allow an organ to be placed
in the church as a permanent accessory of worship. Evidently
the "Seraphim" had won the hearts of the congregation.
During the existence of this House of
Worship many friends of the church have testified to their
love for it by various gifts. We have spoken of the gift
of the site in the early days of the town. In 1832, Mr.
D. WILLIAMS, gave a strip of land in front of the
church that was to be forever kept open. His object was
to preserve the outlook from the church door; but the planting
of trees on other land, in later years, defeated the object
of this gift. It is a loss to us that we have not the privilege
of the view that met the eyes of the fathers when they came
to worship, and which many of you to-day recall. In 1849
the society voted to "permit a public clock to be placed
upon the Belfry of the Meeting House. This clock was the
gift of Fanny KEMBLE to the town. Not long after the placing
of the clock, we find an investigation of the damage done
to the Belfry by its situation there, and later the Prudential
Committee was requested to petition the Selectmen "to protect
the Congregational Meeting House from damage from the falling
of weights of the town clock". This clock did not have an
enviable reputation for telling the truth about the time
of day; it is said that the hands invariably pointed to
the same hour, which the people of Lenox affirmed to be
in the early morning, in denial of the insinuations made
by the inhabitants of other towns who held that the clock
always indicated the evening hour. The clock which to-day
performs its duties so faithfully and whose massive dials
serve to adorn the steeple, was paced there as a gift to
the church, by Mr. Morris K. JESUP in 1899.
The first Bible of which we find records
was given by William WALKER in 1818. The Bible which
is in use at present was given to the society by the Hon.
William P. WALKER in 1852. The baptismal font, and
tablets at the rear of the pulpit, were put in place in
1882, in memory of Sarah EGLESTON and Thomas EGLESTON.
The two pulpit lamps were given by Mrs. Robert E. HILL
in the name of her husband Robert E. HILL, in memory
of his grandfather, Dr. Robert WORTHINGTON.
In 1896, Mrs. Mary Hill BARRETT
presented to the church the present pulpit in memory of
her mother, Mrs. Jane Worthington HILL, "for many
years a faithful member of this church". The tablet in memory
of Dr. SHEPARD was given by Miss Eliza WILLIAMS.
In 1864 permission was given for the
erection of an iron fence with stone posts on the east and
south sides of the church lot. This fence was built by Mr.
Ammi ROBBINS, a resident of the town. To carry out
his wishes, his heirs two years later gave to the society
the sum of $1,000.00 the income of which was to be used
for the maintenance of the fence, and after that for repairs
of the church and grounds. Mention has been made only of
the gifts that are peculiarly related to the Meeting House
itself. There is one item found upon the records of the
annual meeting of the society, and earlier upon the records
of the annual town meeting, that we must note; each year
it was voted that a certain named person should act as sexton
for the ensuing year; "to ring the bell, sweep the Meeting
House and keep the keys". I wish that we the names of all
who have served in that office. While many references may
be made to-day to those who have officiated in this end
of the church or to those who have worshipped here, let
us not forget the unthanked by faithful sexton.
We recall at this service some of the
noted men who have spoken within these walls and the important
services that have been held here. In 1838 at an Independence
Day celebration the statesman Robert RANTOUL delivered
an oration in this place.
It was here in the summer of 1842 that
William Ellery CHANNING made his last formal public
address. Broken in health he came to the Berkshires to stay
his failing strength. His natural love of freedom was intensified
by the scenery upon which he dwelt with great delight. The
heights have always been the homes of freemen, and his great
passion was fed by these strong hills. Chadwick in this
life of Channing writes thus of what he terms the Sermon
on the Mount: "He spoke uninvited, finding the Berkshire
people forgetful of the salve and resolved to stir up their
pure minds. There could be no lovelier spot than that where
stands the Meeting House in which he spoke." Mrs. Charles
SEDGWICK wrote of this occasion: "Almost every one looked
eager and animated. I shall never forget Dr. CHANNING's
appearance in the pulpit that day. His countenance was full
of spiritual beauty, and when he uttered that beautiful
invocation towards the close of his address which would
not have been more characteristic or fitting had he known
that he should never speak again in public, -- he looked
like one inspired." He began with the impetuous introduction:
"Men of Berkshire, whose nerves and souls the mountain air
has braced, . . . I feel as if this public voice which now
addresses you must find an echo amidst these forest crowned
heights." And when he had spoken for an hour and a quarter
and had not strength to read all that he had written he
ended with that prayer which has been called his swan song:
"Oh come, come thou kingdom of heaven, for which, we daily
pray! come friend and saviour of the race, who didst shed
thy blood on the cross to reconcile man to man and earth
to heaven! Come Father Almighty and crown with thine omnipotence
the humble strivings of thy children to subvert oppression
and wrong, to spread light and freedom and peace and joy,
the truth and spirit of thy Son through the whole earth."
Dr. Samuel SHEPARD, in 1845,
here delivered a sermon on the fiftieth anniversary of his
ordination to the work of the gospel ministry. His theme
was "All things earthly, changing, and transitory," a subject
which might appear incongruous with his long continued relation
to the church. Dr. TODD of Pittsfield added a congratulatory
word from neighboring churches and their pastors. It would
be interesting to know how many similar occasions there
have been in the history of our own denomination, or even
of the church at large in this country. There have not been
many pastorates of half a century in duration. But in less
that a year another service was held here which was one
of sadness to the church. The faithful minister had received
a call to a larger service, and one that he could not refuse,
as he had others, during his life. Dr. TODD preached the
The personality of Dr. SHEPARD
was especially strong. He was a man with a great, frank,
generous heart. Decided in his opinions, his beliefs were
convictions. He was one of the very foremost ministers of
the county. No public gathering was complete without his
presence and participation. He was often called upon to
pray, an exercise in which he was gifted. On how many Sabbaths
have these walls re-echoed the fervent petitions that fell
from his lips! Possessing a voice that was almost incomparable
in compass and power, his sudden flights of eloquence in
the delivery of a sermon, which the magnetism of his person,
made a mighty appeal to the hears of his congregation. For
years after his death the stamp of his individuality was
upon the church; and it may be no exaggeration to say that
traces of it still abide with us. Tenderly did he care for
his flock and in death he was not taken from them. His body
lies but a step from the door, the only minister of the
church to rest with his people.
Here Henry Ward BEECHER and Richard
Saltor STORRS occasionally preached to appreciative
congregations. The former had a summer house in Lenox. He
so enjoyed the beauty of the landscape as it could be seen
from the door of the Meeting House, that he felt that to
be a door-keeper in this House of God was a happy occupation.
The Centennial Anniversary of the organization
of the church was observed here in 1869, with appropriate
exercises. A year later these services were held in commemoration
of the installation of the first pastor one hundred years
before. On that occasion trees were planted on the site
originally selected for the first Meeting House and also
on the place actually occupied by that House in the church
yard. The planting was done under the direction of Mr. Eldad
POST who at ninety years of age, was the oldest member of
the Church. It is said that Mr. POST gave to each
member of the committee in charge of the services, a but
of wood from the first meeting House.
Exercises in honor of the Centennial
Celebration of American Independence were held in the town
in 1876. The formal orations and address were pronounced
in the old Church on the Hill. In 1896, at a meeting of
the Berkshire South Conference of Churches, an address was
delivered by Dr. C. H. DANIELS, a memorial to Dr.
E. K. ALDEN, fourth pastor of the church.
One after another these occasions and
others stand out against the background of the past; meetings
oft he old Berkshire Sunday School Union; Church Conferences;
then the solemn gatherings of the members of the church
when they tarried after worship for attention to some matter
of discipline, or came together for "prayer and supplication";
the services held over the loved ones who were soon to be
borne yonder to their last rest; the baptism of the child
into the covenant with the fathers; a welcome given to souls
new born in the kingdom. There have been marriage vows here
taken; men ordained to the work of God's church, and established
in the service of this particular household. There is no
memory coming to you out of the past that is not more holy
and dear because it is thus associated with the House of
God. And the House itself is hallowed by its relation to
that beautiful and sacred field of the departed. It keeps
silent watch over the city of the dead. At these services
we company with their spirits. No one has been asked to
speak to you on this occasion but those who are bound by
ties of love and reverence to this church. May the fellowship
of these services increase our devotion and gratitude to
the Old Church on the Hill.
The Meeting House on the Hill
R. DeWitt Mallary, D.D.
--- An Appreciation
text involving people's names has been transcribed.]
Here is another minute this time taken
from the town records of Lenox: "1810, Maj. Gordon HOLLISTER
bid off care of meeting-house, ringing bell, etc., $15.00
for 1 yr. 1812 Maj. Gordon HOLLISTER bid off care of meeting-house
ringing bell, etc. $11.75 for 1 yr. .......
Here are three similar minutes from
the church record.
"1808, June 5: Deacon ISBELL
set apart to office of deacon by public service."
"1815, Dec. 1: Stephen WELLS
solemnly consecrated to office of deacon."
"1816, Mar. 1: Capt. Charles MATTOON
set apart to office of deacon by prayer and laying on of
text involving people's names has been transcribed.]
The services of the house on the Sabbath
consisted of a preaching service held in the morning, with
an intermission of one hour in the winter, from twelve o'clock
to one, and in the summer of one hour and a half; the Sunday
School session being held as now after the morning service,
from the first of May until the first of November. There
was no Sunday School held during the winter months. There
was frequently a half hour prayer meeting held during the
winter before the afternoon service, which was a preaching
The people who came from the outside
districts usually remained between the services and brought
their lunch with them. Those less religiously inclined ate
their lunch sitting in their wagons under the horse sheds,
and discussed the various topics of the day, Sunday papers
not being available in those days.
I remember well when the effort was
made to discontinue the second service, there being a strong
opposition to the change on the part of the older members
of the congregation.
The order of service was much the same
as it is to-day with the exception of the omission of the
call to worship, and the responsive reading. The people
stood during the long prayer; and during the singing of
the hymns, facing the choir. Later, the custom of standing
during the prayer was changed for the sitting posture; but
some of the congregation, not approving of the change, continued
to stand as before.
This church has always been noted for
having a good volunteer choir. I remember well those faithful
leaders, Major S. WILSON, Charles BANGS, James
THOMPSON, and Geo. O. PECK who gave their
time and talent to sustain the singing in the Sanctuary.
And I must not fail to make mention of the Orchestra composed
of one bass-viol, one double bass-viol, two or more flutes,
and sometimes a violin. Later a cornet was introduced and
a Melodian was added. Finally the present Pipe Organ was
installed: although objections were raised on the part of
some of the older members to its being put in.
Francis W. Rockwell
To-day we worship in the sanctuary of
our Fathers. "We sit ourselves down in the old places where
their shadows pass before us."
They sleep just beyond the portal! Here
they were tempered with the divine spirit. The spirit of
our Fathers loved above all others this temple of God. Here
in the very temple the Master walked among them. To be ever
with those whom he loves---'tis God's habit. 'Tis said,
when slow winks the sun to sleep behind yon western hills,
the Master and Night stand faithful watch over their loved
sepulchral dead and the sanctuary where the beacon fire
of the Almighty ever burns, 'till the golden king awakens
-- then the Master, and Day!
To go back to the old town before 1806,
to enter into the thought, feeling and spirit of our ancestors,
is an interesting but difficult undertaking. The history
of this church and congregation is a splendid record. Distinguished
men have been among its pastors. Upon the roll of membership
are the names of many who with honor served the town and
state. Their service has been worthy, enduring. The Fathers
have left this church a goodly heritage.
In 1806 Dr. SHEPARD's congregation was
composed in part of men and women who thirty years before
had experienced the struggle to establish in this country
a free republic. During the Revolution and the trying times
that followed, they had wrestled with the questions arising
under a new form of government and had taken part in the
varied controversies which naturally arose ere public affairs
had settled upon an accepted basis. These bitter contests
had left our forefathers with certain fixed and determined
opinions, with minds which had become alert by reason of
the crises passed through. They were of the stern Puritan
stock and their religion, as their opinion in public matters,
Men's List, admitted to the Lenox Church
previous to 1806, as shown by the catalogue.
1769. Amos STANLEY, Jonathan
HINSDALE, Ex., Thomas STEEL, Jacob BACON,
Before 1771. Enoch HASKINS, David
ALLEN, Deacon Elisha COAN, Timothy TREAT,
Samuel GOODRICH, Edward MARTINDALE.
1771. James RICHARDS, Jacob COAN,
James GUTHRIE, Ex., John GRAY, Noah ISBELL.
1772. Nathan FOOT, William ANDRUS,
1772. John IVES.
1773. Jacob COAN, Abijah TOMLIN,
Allen GOODRICH, Elisha PERKINS, Amos BENTON,
Isaac SMITH, Abraham NORTHRUP, Thomas BENEDICT.
1774. William LUSK, Gurdon HOLLISTER,
1775-1795. Lemuel COLLINS.
1779. Deacon John STOUGHTON.
1780. Moses WAY, Isaac HAMLIN.
1784. Daniel KEELER, David J.
CHAPIN, Josiah OSBORN, Joseph BAKER,
Job NORTHRUP, Ex., Daniel FELLOWS.
1785. Josiah LEE.
1786. Deacon Charles MATTOON,
Uriah JUDD, Peter B. MESSENGER, Olin LANDERS,
1789. Eldad LEWIS.
Before 1793. William HANDY.
1794. Thomas YALE, Joseph DENHAM,
David BOSWORTH, Jr., Thomas ROCKWELL.
Before 1795. Rev. Samuel SHEPARD,
William WALKER, Enos STONE.
1796. Andrew LOOMIS.
1797. Zadock HUBBARD.
1798. Jonathan TAYLOR, Elisha
1799. Jabez ELLIS, Jonathan SMITH,
Jonathan FOSTER, Oliver COLLINS, Deacon Nathan
ISBELL, Deacon G. HOLLISTER, Isaac SEARS,
Ex., Ichabod FORD, Jr., Edward DEWEY,
Allen METCALF, Deacon James WADSWORTH.
1799. Deacon Stephen WELLS, Jr. Rev.
Jeremiah OSBORN, Rev. Elisha YALE, D.D., Josiah
NEWELL, Jr., Daniel WEST, Josiah NEWELL,
Samuel FOSTER, David OSBORN.
1802. Joseph ROGERS, Thomas S.
1803. Jonathan SMITH, Eldad POST,
1804. John ROBINSON.
1805. Zepheniah DAVIS, Zepheniah DAVIS,
Lenox was incorporated in 1767. While
there had been previous services held, Dr. SHEPARD
states the church was organized in 1769 by Rev. Samuel HOPKINS
of Great Barrington. Later researches do not fix the exact
date. The Proprietors of Lenox on August 3, 1768, voted
money and appointed a committee looking to the settlement
of a minister. From 1770 for about twenty-two years, Rev.
Samuel MUNSON, a graduate of Yale in 1763, was the
The historical sketch, prepared by the
late Henry W. TAFT, Esq., in 1863, published with
"The Confession of Faith, Covenant and Catalogue of Members",
gives an outline history of the church.
Dr. SHEPARD gives the nine members
of the church as its organization as follows: Messrs. COLLINS,
TRACEY, STANLEY, HINSDALE, STEEL,
BACON, ANDRUS, LANDERS and RICHARDS,
while Mr. TAFT says, "it has been found impossible
to identify the names of" COLLINS, LANDERS,
ANDRUS and RICHARDS. The names of Amos STANLEY,
Jonathan HINSDALE, Thomas STEEL, Jacob BACON
and Thomas TRACEY however appear among those admitted
in 1769. Dr. SHEPARD says (Berkshire History 1829)
that Jacob BACON was "the first man to clear a spot
for settlement in the north part of the town on a hill west
of the county road" and that STEEL afterward settled
there and that RICHARDS was early in the village, while
COLLINS and ANDRUS were in the west part.
From the imperfect catalogue it would
seem that there were two hundred and five church members previous
to 1806, the time of the dedication of the present Meeting
House. Eighty-nine of these were men and one hundred and sixteen
women. From the record it may be inferred that sixty-one or
more members of the church were living in 1806. Some may have
been unable to attend the dedication on account of illness
or advanced years. Dr. SHEPARD says that when he came,
in 1795, there were but fifteen male members, but between
1795 and 1806 about one hundred were added as the record shows.
So that it is safe to say that a goodly number of church members
were present at the dedication of the Meeting House. There
were others present, invited guests, members of the Parish
and visitors. It was a goodly company. We have partial knowledge
of some of the eighty-nine men who joined the church before
1806. Naturally, in the early settlement of the town, many
remained but a short time and found a home elsewhere; for
the descendants of many of the early settlers are now to be
found in the state of New York, in Ohio, and throughout the
Of the eighty-nine men, who joined the
church previous to 1806, nineteen at least were here in 1774
and signed "the non-consumption and non-importation agreement",
the original of which is still preserved. Fifteen at least
served in the militia companies, and rendered service as they
were called upon in the War of the Revolution. Many of them
filled places of honor and trust in the community. There were
connected with the Parish others who signed the Non-Importation
agreement and who served in the war.
Time would fail to fully tell of all these
eighty-nine men; that must be left for their descendants or
for an historian who will gather more complete data. We briefly
allude to a few.
Amos STANLEY was the ancestor of
John and Orrilla, whom many of us so pleasantly recall. He
came to Lenox from West Hartford, Conn., about 1765. He was
one of the first selectmen of the town, was made a deacon
in this church in 1785, and died in 1811. He was one of the
signers of "the Non-Consumption and Non-Importation Agreement".
Jonathan HINSDALE, said to be the
original settler at Lenox.
Thomas STEEL came to Lenox about
1767. He also signed the agreement.
Thomas TRACEY, another signer,
first a member of the church at Pittsfield, a soldier of the
Revolution, died of small pox contracted in the service, and
was buried in 1776 in his farm, where his grave was located
a few years since.
Jacob BACON, thought to have early
removed to Lanesborough.
Enoch HOSKINS (HASKINS)
David ALLEN, lived near the River
Lot 19, First Division.
Deacon Elisha COAN lived just over
the line in Stockbridge.
Timothy TREAT lived in the northwest
part of the town.
Samuel GOODRICH, who signed the
agreement, was a merchant as early as 1773 and '74, was licensed
as an inn-holder in 1781 and '2, and was in the Revolutionary
War as a lieutenant and captain in the militia service.
James RICHARDS, who signed the
agreement, and was in Lenox as early as 1764, was buried in
his farm (smallpox) in 1777.
John GRAY, who signed the agreement,
was a son of Capt. Edward GRAY and removed to Dorset, Vt.,
where he died in 1814.
James GUTHRIE, who signed the agreement,
was in the war, and afterward became an Universalist.
Noah ISBELL, from Salisbury, Conn.,
1770, was ancestor of the late Deacon ISBELL whom some
of us recall.
William ANDRUS, sold fifty acres
on Williams' Grant east of Stockbridge in 1774.
Thomas LANDERS, from Stockbridge,
formerly from Kent, Conn., another signed of the agreement.
One of the first settlers, a good man and citizen who lived
near Lenoxdale. He was a short time in the army.
John IVES, lived on the road from
Meeting House to Rev. Samuel MUNSON's.
Abijah TOMLIN, lived in Lee near
Allen GOODRICH came from Pittsfield
and in 1793 removed to the state of New York. He also was
a signer of the agreement and served in the War.
Elisha PERKINS sells land in Stockbridge
Amos BENTON signed the agreement
and left Lenox in 1793.
Isaac SMITH lived in northeast
part of Stockbridge, land came over into Lenox.
Abraham NORTHRUP who signed the
agreement, and died in 1798.
Thomas BENEDICT who signed the
agreement and was in the army.
William LUSK, came from Weathersfield
in 1767 to Richmond and Stockbridge.
Gurdon HOLLISTER also signed the
agreement. He lived in the northwest part of the town.
Joseph MERWIN, sells in 1775, twenty-five
acres, part of lot 18 in 2nd Division, to Stephen MERWIN.
Lemuel COLLINS. He signed the agreement,
was the father of Dr. Daniel COLLINS and ancestor of
the BELDENS. He was in the army for a time. Under the old
Colonial Government he was a lieutenant in the north Regiment
of Berkshire Militia in 1771.
Deacon John STOUGHTON, came to
Lenox about 1779. Removed to Troy where he died.
Moses WAY. Moses and Abner WAY
sell to Timothy WAY forty acres in Hopkins' Grant,
part of the Minster's Grant in 1786.
Isaac HAMLIN, an early settler
from Sharon, Conn. Ancestor of Chauncey SEARS. (Great,
Daniel KEELER, who came from Ridgefield,
Conn., in 1773, signed the Non Importation Agreement, and
removed to Manlius, N.Y. in 1793.
David Justus CHAPIN, whose house
was burned about 1803, two of his children perishing in the
Josiah OSBORN in 1807 was associated
with James PORTER & Co. saw mill on Housatonic River
Job NORTHRUP, lived near Scott's
Josiah LEE, from New Britain, Conn.,
whose daughter married Gen. John PATTERSON. He removed
to the State of New York.
Deacon Charles MATTOON came from
Waterbury, Conn., in 1768. He signed the non-importation agreement,
and served in the Revolutionary War. His descendants are here
Uriah JUDD, came from Pittsfield.
His descendants are here to-day.
Dr. Eldad LEWIS, a surgeon in the
army, was in Lenox as early as 1776. He removed in 1816 or
'17. He died at Newburg, N.Y., about 1825. He was a prominent
man. He published the first newspaper here, "The Lenox Watch
Light". He was a strong Federalist. He delivered on February
22, 1800, a poetical eulogy on Washington. He wrote a hymn
for the dedicatory exercises when this church building was
opened one hundred years ago.
Joseph DENHAM, on highway from
Meeting House to East Street north side.
Thomas ROCKWELL, son-in-law of
John WHITLOCK, bought the coffee house of John WHITLOCK
in 1790 and sold it in 1793.
Lot KEELER and wife said to have
joined the church before 1795. There is no record of their
admission, but they were marked as dismissed in 1795.
Enos STONE and William WALKER
were the two men who joined the church when Dr. SHEPARD
came here in 1795. They were both signers of the Non Importation
Agreement in 1774. They were past middle life, and came forward
and ably seconded Dr. SHEPARD's work in building up
the church and community in all good works.
Enos STONE was born in Litchfield,
Conn. He was certainly at Lenox in 1772,, and it is thought
he came as early as 1770. He was a prominent man, was a captain
in the 12th Mass. Regiment in the Revolutionary war, was captured
and held a prisoner at Hubbardton, Vt., January 1, 1777, and
was afterward paroled, but not exchanged. Dr. SHEPARD
in 1829 mentions him as among the magistrates. He owned lands
at Brighton (now Rochester) N.Y., his son Enos STONE
being one of the pioneers there. He kept his residence at
Lenox until the spring of 1815 when he went to Rochester and
died there in September of that year. He daughter Mary married
Deacon Gurdon HOLLISTER, Jr. The N.E. History and General
Register October 1861, Vol. 15, p. 299, gives extracts from
his journal of 1777, including an account of his capture.
Thomas BATEMAN, signed the non-importation
agreement, and served in the army. Removed to Vermont in 1798.
Jonathan TAYLOR, in 1802 lived
on the north line of Stockbridge.
Elisha BANGS, signed the agreement,
was in the army. The ancestor of the Bangs family.
Jonathan FOSTER, from Wallingford,
Conn. A lieutenant in the army.
Oliver COLLINS, lived in Lee and
Deacon Nathan ISBELL.
Deacon Gurdon HOLLISTER, Jr.
Isaac SEARS, bought the hotel property
from Enos BLOSSOM in 1799 and sold it in 1802.
Ichabod FORD, Jr., lived on the
road leading from county road to the Furnace next Patrick
Deacon James WADSWORTH, at one
time lived in the village where Mr. Henry SEDGWICK
Deacon Stephen WELLS, Jr., a partner
of Rodolphus COLTON, a cabinet maker.
Rev. Jeremiah OSBORN. Pastor in
the states of New York and Ohio from 1806-1839, the date of
Rev. Elisha YALE, D.D. Born in
Lee (180), died in 1853. He joined this church October 20,
1799. For forty-eight years and seven months he was the pastor
at Kingsborough, New York.
Thomas S. CURTIS (firm of James
PORTER & Co.)
Eldad POST, came to Lenox in 1803.
He was a prominent man in the village life. The older people
well remember him. He was the father of Hon. Thomas POST.
Josiah CURTIS (firm of James PORTER
John ROBINSON, first at Stockbridge,
afterwards at Lenox, living near "the furnace".
Zepheniah DAVIS, from Hebron, Conn.
He bought land here in 1803.
Zepheniah DAVIS, Jr., bought eighty
acres in 1806 on the north of the highway leading from the
Meeting House to the East Street.
William WALKER, came to Berkshire
in his twentieth year, 1770. He was first at Richmond and
Stockbridge, and at Lenox about 1773. He was a merchant, a
builder, a surveyor, a soldier, a judge of the County Courts,
and Judge of Probate. He was with other Lenox and Central
Berkshire men in Capt. DIBBLE's Company in Col. John
PATTERSON's Regiment. They were minute men and marched
over the hills and across the state after the Lexington alarm.
The Regiment was stationed on Charlestown Neck during the
fight on Bunker Hill and, a few days afterward, became the
26th Mass. and then entered the Continental Army, enlisting
for one year. He was a lieutenant in the 15th Continental
Infantry and also adjutant. He was adjutant of the 26th Regiment.
In 1776 he was with the army in Canada. He cross the Delaware
with Washington, was at the battle of Trenton, December 26,
1776, at the battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777, and at
the battle of Bennington, August 16, 1777. He was also a recruiting
officer, etc. during the Revolutionary war. I mention here
briefly his military service since wherever he went Lenox
men were with him. Born in 1751 he died in 1831. He marched
as captain with a company of Lenox men to Sheffield in the
Shay's Rebellion. His middle life was one of great activity,
his old age full of sweetness and charm. He was interested
in the iron business at Lenoxdale and in the development (1789)
of the then western country, was a stockholder in the Phelps
and Godham purchase in Central New York, went there personally
as agent and opened one of the early land offices in the country.
His brother Caleb was also a solider. Tall and handsome, a
companionable man, he was respected throughout Berkshire and
the Commonwealth, and was regarded as a father in Lenox. Allen's
Biographical Dictionary describes him as "tall with white
locks and of great personal dignity." Gov. LINCOLN said he
was "the most venerable man he ever saw." He could control
an audience wonderfully. He was a worker and a leader. He
was president of the Berkshire Agricultural Society in 1820,
delivering the annual address. President of the Berkshire
County Bible Society from its beginning in 1817 to this death
in 1831. He was a member of the Congress of Deputies of Berkshire
held at Stockbridge, July 6, 1774, a member of the convention
which framed the Massachusetts Constitution in 1780, of the
General Court in 1778-'80, '84, '87, '91, '94, '95. On February
16, 1781, he was appointed by Gov. John HANCOCK as
Register of Wills for Berkshire County, resigned about 1785.
On October 16, 1783, he was selected by the two branches of
the General Court as State Senator "for the District of Berkshire."
On November 11, 1795, Gov. Samuel ADAMS appointed him
Judge of Probate for Berkshire County. He resigned in 1824
when his son, Hon. William P. WALKER, succeeded him
in that position. Together father and son they held this important
office nearly fifty years. On February 25, 1794, he was appointed
by Gov. Samuel ADAMS one of the justices of the Court
of Common Please for the County of Berkshire.
On June 16, 1808, Gov. James SULLIVAN
appointed him a Judge of the Court of Common Please (consisting
of three judges) for the County of Berkshire, which office
he held for about four years until a new system was established.
He was an associate justice of the Berkshire
Court of Sessions in 1809 and from 1811-1814. His commission
from Gov. Elbridge GERRY is dated September 3, 1811.
In 1824 he was a Presidential Elector
for the district of Berkshire, his certificate of election
being signed by Gov. W. EUSTIS.
As presenting a type of the New England
men of that day I call attention to the following beautiful
local tribute paid to William WALKER of Lenox, and
Alvan HYDE of Lee, by the Executive Committee of the
Berkshire Bible Society in 1834, said to have been penned
by Rev. David Dudley FIELD of Stockbridge.
"When this Society was organized, in 1817,
the Hon. William WALKER was elected president and Rev.
Alvan HYDE, D.D. vice-president. They were annually
re-elected to their offices afterward, until the decease of
Judge WALKER, in the autumn of 1831. Dr. HYDE
succeeded him as president, at the anniversary in 1832, and
held the office at his death the last month."
(And the records continues.)
"These excellent men, who contributed
so much to the formation, growth and prosperity of this Society,
resembled each other in several points of their history and
traits of character. Both rose to distinction by a course
of becoming and virtuous conduct. They were well behaved in
childhood and youth, disposed to avail themselves of the advantages
for knowledge, with which, in different degrees, they were
favored; they were gentlemanly in manhood, and grave and dignified
as they advanced in age. They were the friends of the Lord
Jesus Christ, the friends of each other, and of good men.
Both exercised a very happy influence, particularly in the
towns in which they lived, in the county also, in the church,
and in the world. They fellowshipped the benevolent enterprises
of the age, and aided them by their counsels, resources, and
prayers. Their names are identified with almost everything
of a general nature in this vicinity, which has for its object
the good of society. They were lovely and pleasant in their
lives, and the death of the latter soon followed that of the
Church members previous to 1806 who lived
on the East Street.
Thomas LANDERS, lived south of
the Sedgwick School House.
James GUTHRIE, lived near the DELAFIELD
Deacon James WADSWORTH.
Jonathan TAYLOR, lived south of
Uriah JUDD, grandfather of George
Noah ISBELL, from Salisbury, Conn.,
1770, lived on what is now corner of East and Housatonic Streets,
on land now owned by Mr. F. Augustus SCHERMERHORN.
Built a log house first. In 1798 he built the house where
Samuel HOWES lately lived. When built it was the largest
and best house on the East Street.
Deacon Nathan ISBELL, son of Noah,
after his father's death in 1801 lived in the house build
in 1798. He furnished a room in the second story called "the
lecture room", used for many years for neighborhood prayer
Daniel KEELER, from Ridgefield,
Conn., about 1773, and went to New York state about 1790.
Isaac SEARS, born about 1765. His
wife died in Lenox in 1799.
Thomas ROCKWELL, from Ridgefield,
Conn., 1770. He first settled on the BARTLETT Farm.
Zadock HUBBARD, owned part of BARTLETT
Farm and built the rear of the house about 1800.
Allen METCALF, lived on BARTLETT
Farm and built the front part of the BARTLETT House.
He had "the Coffee House" for a time.
Josiah NEWELL, lived on the BOURNE
Deacon John STOUGHTON, Jr., from
Windsor, Conn., lived north of the Bourne Road, where he owned
a farm. Magistrate in Lenox and was known as Deacon before
he came to Lenox.
Thomas YALE, from Meriden, Conn.,
Elmond DEWEY, now the MAHANNA
Joseph ROGERS had two acres on
East Street next to Phillip SEARS and Titus PARKER,
above Yokum Brook.
Thomas BATEMAN, near Russell HINES
near New Lenox.
Thomas S. CURTIS, lived on the
George MUNSON farm opposite the BARTLETT Farm.
Samuel FOSTER and Jonathan FOSTER
lived on the Pittsfield Road.
David OSBORN, the clock maker,
Deacon Stephen WELLS, Jr., and Stephen WELLS
lived in the village.
Josiah NEWELL's daughter married
Joseph TUCKER (his second wife).
Daniel WEST, was a tanner, near
the Congregational parsonage.
James RICHARDS lived on the road
running west from Cliffwood Street.
Edward MARTINDALE lived in the
northwest part of the town.
Abijah TOMLIN lived in Lee (below
the Porter Corner) as well as Moses WAY.
Daniel FELLOWS lived near and north
of the Meeting House.
Eldad LEWIS lived on Cliffwood
Andrew LOOMIS lived on the SHATTUCK
property on the old road which ran westerly.
Deacon Gurdon HOLLISTER lived on
Stockbridge Street, married daughter of Enos STONE.
Enos STONE lived on Stockbridge
Of the list of eighty-nine I have as yet
found nothing definite about the following. The records shows
that they were admitted to the church as follows:
1772, Nathan FOOT
1773, Jacob COAN,
1784, Joseph BAKER,
1786, Peter B. MESSENGER,
1793, William HANDY,
1794, David BOSWORTH, Jr.
1795, Lot KEELER and wife marked
as dismissed in 1795, no record of their admission.
1799, Jacob ELLIS,
[Note -- There is still another Jonathan SMITH
in 1803. The church record marks both as dismissed in 1811.
The Jonathan SMITH of 1799 and his wife Rebecca were
admitted by letter from Ashfield. They are marked as dismissed
in 1811 to join certain members of the church at Lee who
were about to remove to Ohio.]
Several of the early members of the
church lived in the territory adjoining Lenox, viz.:-- in
Stockbridge, Lee and Richmond.
What an interesting and delightful
chapter might be written on the lives and character of those
connected with this old church during the last hundred years.
There are some here whose parents' lives and their own span
the full century. We have spoken only of the fathers, of
those who joined the church previous to the time when the
present "church of the hill" was built. Who will speak of
the mothers in Israel? For us what a wealth of memories
cluster around those who have worshipped the Lord in this
our tabernacle! One cannot look upon the edifice itself
without rejoicing that it has withstood the summer's heat
and winter's storm for a full century, without thankfulness
for the influence of those sweet, christian lives that here
have found perchance their highest inspiration, and without
an increasing reverence and respect for the faith they cherished.
text involving people's names has been transcribed.]
That was indeed a beautiful hymn written
by Mrs. SIGOURNEY, for Dr. SHEPARD's Fiftieth
Anniversary of service here.
Where are the fathers" They who chose
'Mid these fair vales their happy
Here, where their native streamlet flows?
We call them, but they answer
Where are the father? Tell us where?
At wintry fireside sparkling
At hall, and board, and house of prayer,
We seek them, but they are not
Where are the fathers? Gone to rest!
Yon hallowed church-year, sadly
The swelling mounds on earth's green breast,
The silent tomb-stones teach
Where are the fathers? Risen to God!
It here they labored for the
Still may we keep the path they trod,
And join in Heaven earth's broken
COURAGE OF OUR OPPORTUNITY
text involving people's names has been transcribed.]
Fritz W. Baldwin, D. D.
text involving people's names has been transcribed.]