Barnet, VT Churches

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Ecclesiastical History

The First Congregational Church of Barnet

Prior to 1829, there had not been a meeting house built in the eastern part of town. In 1829, the people built a brick church near where the present Town Hall now stands. On the 21st of Sept., 1829, the Barnet Union Society met, with Rev. Leonard Worcester of Peacham as moderator, and Rev. Samuel G. Tenney, of Lyndon, scribe. On the following day, the new meeting house was dedicated. The First Congregational Church of Barnet was organized by Rev. David Sutherland, and Rev. Andrew Govan was ordained. The Barnet Union Meeting House Association was formed in 1853 at a meeting held in the school house near Solomon Steven's, and articles of association were drawn up by Lawyer Potts. The object was to purchase land, build a new church, and keep it in repair. The present house of worship was completed in 1854, and pews were sold at a cost from $40 to $85 to pay its cost.

The first pastor was Rev. Henry Fairbanks of St. Johnsbury. The following persons constituted the charter membership:
Dea. R. R. Moore
Solomon Stevens
Mrs. Sarah Stevens
Samuel C. Harvey
Mrs. Emily Moore Harvey
Dr. James Lang
John S. T. Wallace
Cyrus Anderson
Mrs. Cyrus Anderson
Mrs. Louisa C. Harvey
Mrs. Hannah N. Hall
Mrs. Sophronia V. Clarke
Mrs. Horace Emery
Mrs. Kate K. Potts
Mrs. Chloe B. Stanley
Mrs. Laura W. Stanley
James Smilie
Mrs. Ruth Clement
Mrs. Harriet W. Moore
Mrs. Emily J. Roy
Miss Laura Moore
Miss Harriet Moore
Miss Charlotte Moore
Miss Abbie J. Wallace
Miss Emeline H. Wallace
Miss Phoebe Stevens
Miss Julia S. Johnson

Rev. Benjamin Day was in service at the time of the split of the Barnet and McIndoes Falls congregations. Rev. Leonard Tenney was in service only a short time.

Ministers who have served the Barnet and McIndoes Fall Churches:

Name Settled Dismissed
Rev. Andrew Govan 1829 1832
Rev. Noah Cressey 1834 1835
Rev. Joseph B. White 1835 1840
Rev. E. Irvin Carpenter 1840 1842
Rev. Timothy E. Ranney 1842 1843
Rev. Austin O. Hubbard 1845 1850
Rev. James Johnson 1850 1851
Rev. Enoch H. Caswell 1851 1853
Rev. Edward Cleveland 1854 1856
Rev. Benjamin Ray 1856 ..


Ministers Who Served the Barnet Church:

Name Settled Dismissed
Rev. Henry Fairbanks 1858 1859
Rev. Joseph Underwood 1860 1866
Rev. Lyman Watts 1867 1871
Rev. George Powell (M. E.) 1872 1873
Rev. Nathan R. Nichols 1874 1880
Rev. Leonard Tenney 1880 1880
Rev. Mathhew A. Gates 1880 1882
Rev. Wilbur Rand 1882 1884
Rev. Joseph Boardman 1884 1903
Rev. James K. Kilbourn 1903 1908
Rev. Charles O. Day 1908 1909
Rev. William C. Clarke 1909 1917
Rev. Willis T. Sparhawk 1918 1919
Rev. Arthur E. Gregg 1919 ..
Rev. S. C. Reynolds 1915 1916


The United Presbyterian Church ("Barnet Center")

Barnet Center Presbyterian Church

The first sermon in Barnet was preached by Rev. Peter Powers of Newbury when there were very few people here and when it seemed probable that the town would be settled. One of the earliest entries in the existing town records is that on Jan. 24th, 1784, the town voted unanimously to choose the Presbyterian form of religious worship, "founded on the word of God as expressed in the Confession of Faith, Catechisms Longer and Shorter, with the form of church government agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, and practiced by the Church of Scotland." This act secured the "minister's lot" to the pastor of the Presbyterian Church. On the 17th of the following August, the town voted "to set apart Lot No. 87 for a meeting house and glebe."

There were several early ministers who preached in the church but cannot be considered ministers of the church. In June of 1789, William Stevenson went on foot to Cambridge, N. Y., and had an interview with Rev. Thomas Beveridge, by whose advice they applied for a hearing of Rev. David Goodwillie, who had lately come from Scotland. He came here in the fall of 1789 and remained three months, his services being so acceptable that the town gave him a formal call and Mr. Beveridge was sent here to take the necessary steps for his nomination. Such was the deliberate progress of events in those days that the petition was presented to the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania,sitting in New York City, when formal action was taken in sanction of the call. It was not until the 8th of February, 1791, that Mr. Goodwillie, in services at the meeting house, was duly admitted as minister of the Barnet congregation.

Pews in the early meeting house were sold to the highest bidder. Wheat was received in payment at the value of "five Shillings the bushel with two Shillings on the Pound in Cash". This meant that 10 percent of the value of each pew was to be paid in cash.

Names of Pew Holders No. Pew Price
William Shaw 1 35
John Gilchrist, Sen. 2 37
William Stevenson 3 38
Bartholomew Somers 4 40
Walter Brock, Esq. 5 30
Esq. Enos Stevens 6 40
Hugh Ross 7 39
William Gilfillan 8 36
William Warden 9 28
William Shearer 10 29
Rev. Mr. David Goodwillie 11 31
Archibald Harvey 12 41
Rob't Twaddle 13 60
Col. Alexander Harvie 14 72
John McLaren 15 66
James McLaren 16 61
John Goddard and Thomas Youngman and Edward Pollard 17 58
Reverend Mr. David Goodwillie 18 35
James Orr 19 31
Alexander Gilchrist 20 33
John Waddell 22 35
Alexander Roy 23 37
James McLaren 24 35
Walter Stuart 25 40
James Gilchrist 26 43
John Hyndman 27 38
John Hyndman 28 40

On July 7th, 1790, Mr. Goodwillie married Miss Beatrice Henderson and they came at once to this town, arriving about the 12th of September and began a remarkable ministry of forty years. As the first settled minister of the gospel, he received a grant of 340 acres as specified in the charter of the town. He also purchased a small piece of land on which he built a framed house, still called "the old Parsonage", into which he moved, Dec. 20, 1791.

Rev. David Goodwillie is more largely identified with Barnet than is any other man of his time, and his fame is likely to be permanent in the town. During his ministry, he received about 600 members to the churches in Barnet and Ryegate. He had been assisted during his latter years by his son Thomas, who was installed as associate pastor Oct. 26, 1825, and succeeded him in the ministry. Rev. David Goodwillie died on August 2, 1830.

In 1858, by the union of the Associate Presbyterian Church with other smaller bodies, the United Presbyterian Church was formed. It is still known by that name.

Ministers of the Barnet Center Church

Thomas Goodwillie 1825 to 1867
John Service 1868 to 1877
Robert N. Hammond 1878 to 1883
Duncan M. McKinley 1883 to 1909
William James Hawk 1910 to 1913
A. E. Brownlee 1913 to 1918
Francis H. Laird 1918 to unknown

The East Barnet Congregational Church

There was a meeting Jan. 28, 1876, of the ladies of this place (then called "Norrisville") for the purpose of organizing a society for mission work. At a meeting held May 3, 1877, it was voted to start building a chapel the coming summer. A. B. Norris gave the land on which to build the chapel. One of the provisions in the deed being that they should hold no card or dancing parties, he believing that these things were one of the worst evils of the times.

The building was dedicated as a chapel, Oct 24, 1877, by appropriate exercises. Rev. Edward Fairbanks delivered the principal address. The chapel has always been supplied by the pastor of Barnet, services being held in the afternoon.


The McIndoes Falls Congregational Church

With the opening of the railroad in 1850, both Barnet and McIndoes Falls villages increased in population. The present church building, the first in its place, was erected. Rev. Enoch H. Caldwell alternated the Sabbath services between the two villages. There was some rivalry and jealousy between the villages and each wished to be independent of the other, in church matters. The advisibility of dividing the church was considered, and a council was called to consider the situation. This body met at McIndoes Falls, Nov. 2, 1852, and advised that the Sabbath services should be held at McIndoes. This left Barnet without regular ministrations.

Rev. Edward Cleveland, who was also the first principal of McIndoes Academy, was pastor of the church for two years, rendering valuable services to both the cause of religion and that of education. Near the end of the year 1855, an "Association for Supporting the Gospel at McIndoes Falls" was formed, and this society concurred with the Stevens Village people in extending a call to Rev. Benjamin F. Ray. Mr. Ray was ordained and installed by a council which met at McIndoes, March 5, 1856, and released in September, 1858. It was during Mr. Ray's ministry that the division of the church into a separate one for each village was brought about.

Ministers who have served the McIndoes Fall Churches:

Name Settled Dismissed
Rev. Benjamin F. Ray 1856 1859
Rev. Moses B. Bradford 1859 1869
Rev. Submarinus G. Norcross 1869 1873
Rev. Josiah L. Litch 1873 1877
Rev. Nelson F. Cobleigh 1877 1881
Rev. Charles F. Morse 1882 1884
Rev. Cornelius C. Cook 1884 1886
Rev. Stephen F. Drew 1886 1891
Rev. William M. Gay 1891 1895
Rev. A. S. McGowan 1895 1897
Rev. Herbert R. Titus 1897 1899
Rev. Henry M. Kellogg 1900 1902
Rev. Arthur F. Eldridge 1902 1907
Rev. Henry T. Barnard 1907 1913
Rev. Charles B. Bliss 1914 ..

The Passumpsic Baptist Church

Among the first settlers in St. Johnsbury, Waterford, and Barnet, there developed a strong desire for a church of their own faith, centrally located, to minister to the needs of a people imbued with the "spirit of Roger Williams," of Baptist fame. Accordingly a call was sent to the Baptists of Barnet and St. Johnsbury, to meet at Passumpsic on Sept. 24, 1811, that village having been chosen as the most central point.

Name Settled Dismissed
Rev. Silas Divison 1812 1832
Rev. George B. Ide 1832 1833
Rev. J. Merriam 1833 1836
Rev. B. B. Burrows 1837 1841
Rev. Levi Smith 1841 1842
Rev. John Ide 1843 1845
Rev. N. W. Smith 1847 1849
Rev. J. R. Greene 1849 1852
Rev. A. W. Boardman 1852 1854
Rev. A. H. House 1854 1861
Rev. A. W. Boardman 1861 1863
Rev. E. Evans 1864 1867
Rev. S. T. Frost 1868 1869
Rev. J. W. Buzzell 1871 1874
Rev. N. W. Alger 1875 1883
Rev. S. A. Read 1883 1885
Rev. L. F. Shepardson 1886 1887
Rev. J. T. Buzzell 1887 1894
Rev. J. D. Skinner 1894 1898
Rev. C. D. R. Meacham 1899 1904
Rev. W. F. Basten 1904 1905
Rev. A. S. Gilbert 1905 1910
Rev. Archibald W. Mason 1910 1912
Rev. L. N. Sanford 1912 1914
Rev. S. C. Reynolds 1915 1916
Rev. A. N. Pierce 1916 ..

Rev. A, H. House died in service.


The Reformed Presbyterian Church ("Walter Harvey")

The Reformed Presbyterian, or Covenanter, Church was organized at Ryegate in October 1798. Rev. William Gibson, the first pastor, was installed July 10, 1799, and ministered to the various "societies" until April 13, 1815. Rev. James Milligan became pastor on Sept. 26, 1817 and remained in that capacity until May 17, 1839. During the pastorate of Mr. Milligan, a new meeting house was built just north of the Ryegate town line on land secured from Walter Harvey. The meeting house has always gone by the name "Walter Harvey". On June 20, 1844, Rev. James M. Beattie became pastor of the Ryegate and Barnet congregations, and alternated Sabbaths between the two towns. Mr. Beattie remained the pastor until, "on account of declining health", he was released on May 17, 1882. For almost a year, the Walter Harvey pulpit was filled by persons sent by the Presbytery. Among these was Daniel C. Faris, who preached for them during the month of March, 1873. On April 29, a call was made out for him, which he accepted on May 21, and on June 25, of the same year, was ordained and installed there as pastor. Mr. Faris was still in service in 1923. He was a son of James and Nancy (Smith) Faris and was born near Bloomington, Indiana.

A unique feature of the church is that psalms are used exclusively in worship without instruments.


The First Presbyterian Church of West Barnet

West Barnet Presbyterian Church

The First Presbyterian of West Barnet was formally organized as an independent congregation in association with the denomination known as the Reformed Presbyterian (General Synod) on Sept. 10, 1851. For the first seven years after organization, there is no record of meeting. On Jan. 6, 1859, an organization was formed which was known as the West Barnet Union Meeting House Association. The purpose of this organization was the erection of a meeting house to be used for public worship. Land was procured and the present building erected that same year.

The Rev. W. H. Reid was the first settled pastor. Unfortunately the early records were very imperfectly kept and there is no record of Mr. Reid's installation or dismissal, but from treasurer's reports and other records, it seems probable that his pastorate lasted about six years, covering the period between 1862 - 1868. In June, 1869, the Rev. John Bole, who had recently returned from Scotland, came to West Barnet. Early in the following year he was installed and remained in that position until 1886, when he retired from active service. For ten years following, there was no settled pastor. On May 5, 1896, Rev. Stephen P. Brownell was ordained and installed pastor. His pastorate extended for seventeen years. On Sept. 1, 1914, Rev. Francis Harvey Laird began his pastorate and was still in service in 1923.