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HISTORICAL ADDRESS, 



THE CHURCH OF CHRIST 



VERNON, CONNECTICUT. 



ALLYN STANLEY KELLOGG. 



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THE CHURCH OF CHRIST 



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VERNON, CONNECTICUT. 



AN HISTORICAL ADDRESS 



BY 



ALLYN STANLEY KELLOGG. 



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INTRODUCTION 



The following address, relating to the formation and 
early history of the Church of Christ in Vernon, Con- 
necticut, was prepared at the solicitation of its pastor, 
by Allyn S. Kellogg, and delivered by him at the church 
on Sunday, January 2 2d, 1888. 

As it embraced also some account of the daughter 
churches in Rockville, Mr. Kellogg was asked to repeat 
the address in that city. Ill health prevented its public 
delivery ; and in its revised form it is now published as 
of interest to the churches alike of Vernon and Rockville. 

Newtonville, Mass. 
April, 1894. 



Allyn Stanley Kellogg, son of Allyn and Eliza White 
Kellogg, was born in Vernon, October 15th, 1824. He was for 
many years Clerk of the Church, and was particularly interested in 
all things relating to its formation and early history. 

He died at Newtonville, Massachusetts, April 3d, 1893. 



ADDRESS 



A year or two ago, the elder of the Con- 
gregational churches then existing in Rockville, 
celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of its organ- 
ization. In his historical discourse on that 
occasion, the pastor recounted the steps by 
which thirty-five members of the original 
church in Vernon, with "tender expressions 
of love and respect for the parent church," 
and with the full approval of their remaining 
brethren, separated themselves from its fellow- 
ship. They left the home in which they had 
been richly blessed, and in which some of 
them had been nurtured from their youth, 
that they, with others, might take up the 
duty to which they were providentially called ; 
of establishing Christian institutions in the 
Northern part of the town. 

I am requested to speak of those earlier 
religious institutions in Vernon, from which 
those in Rockville sprung. There is time 



only to recite the principal facts, preserved in 
the public records, relating to the origin and 
formation of the First Church and Society in 
Vernon, and to sketch briefly the history of 
that church and society, for the three-quarters 
of a century before a second church was formed. 

These facts are a part of Rockville's history. 
As early, at least, as 1739, the power of this 
wild stream had been brought into use, in a 
saw-mill, a grist-mill, and in iron works; and 
near to these there were dwelling-houses. And 
so, for almost a hundred years before a church 
was established here, there were people here 
who were united in all civil and ecclesiastical 
relations with those who lived South of this 
valley. They had the same religious teachers. 
They took part in the earliest efforts made to 
secure the preaching of the gospel within this 
town. They helped to found the church in 
Vernon. And it was in that church, that most 
of the founders of the first church in Rock- 
ville received strength for their undertaking. 

The ecclesiastical history of Vernon prop- 
erly begins with the settlement of the town of 
Bolton, in which the larger part of Vernon 



was then included. The General Assembly 
authorized the settlement of this tract of land 
in May, 1718, under the direction of a com- 
mittee appointed for that purpose. This com- 
mittee made fifty allotments for settlers, one 
of which was expressly " designed for a 
minister's lot." 

In October, 1720, "the Governour, Council, 
and Representatives, in General Court assem- 
bled," incorporated the town by the name of 
Bolton. " And, for the setting up and main- 
taining the worship of God there," as the pur- 
pose is expressed in the enactment, a tax was 
laid upon " all the lots in said town, but that 
laid out for the minister." This tax was con- 
tinued for several years, until it amounted in 
the whole to thirteen pounds ten shillings on 
each allotment ; a sum much greater for those 
days than would now be the forty-five dollars 
by which we should express it in federal money. 

A meeting-house was built two or three 
years after the town was incorporated. In 
May, 1725, when the town had increased to 
more than thirty families, liberty was granted 
to the people " to imbody in church estate," 



8 



with liberty "to call and settle an orthordox 
minister among them, with the approbation of 
the neighboring churches." In October, of 
the same year, a church was formed, and the 
Reverend Thomas White was ordained its 
pastor. 

All these acts affected alike the proprietors 
and the inhabitants of all parts of the town. 
Mr. White was for thirty-five years the minis- 
ter of the whole town. The people who lived 
in the North part of Bolton shared in the 
expense of supporting him, and, so far as was 
practicable, attended upon his ministrations. 
The church communicants dwelling there were 
members of the Church of Christ in Bolton. 

As the families in the Northern part of the 
town increased in number, the difficulty of 
attending public worship was so great that, 
as early as 1748, the people there "obtained 
liberty from the church, of having the word 
of God preached amongst themselves, for the 
winter season," and in that year the town 
released them from half their minister's rate. 
The next year, in 1749, they asked that such 
winter privileges be confirmed to them by the 



legislature, saying, "That Providence hath 
cast our habitations at a great distance from 
the place of publick worship in said town, by 
reason of which we are not capable of attending 
said worship in the town, especially in the 
winter season, some of us living seven miles 
from the meeting-house, and the most of us 
above five." 

Their prayer was granted. Liberty was 
given them " to hire an orthodox approved 
minister, or candidate for the ministry, to 
preach among themselves from the last of 
October to the first of May, annually, and 
that during that time, .... if they shall 
procure preaching of the Gospel among them, 
they shall be exempted from payment of minis- 
terial charges in the parish to which they 
belong." 

This was the beginning of a separation, in 
ecclesiastical matters, from the older part of 
the town. In the final petition for a new 
society, in 1760, the inhabitants of this part 
of Bolton refer to this privilege of meeting by 
themselves, for worship, for about ten or a 
dozen years past, and say, "which privilege 



10 

we have carefully improved." There is found 
no other evidence to this effect than their own 
sufficient testimony. This winter parish was 
doubtless organized according to law, having 
a committee and collector, and a clerk to 
record its proceedings. But no local record 
or tradition has preserved even the fact that 
such separate religious worship was ever 
maintained. 

The eighteen persons who petitioned the 
General Assembly for winter privileges, in 
1749, describe themselves as "inhabitants of 
the North end of Bolton, viz., inhabiting North 
of a due East line drawn from the Ditch com- 
monly called the T Ditch, cross said town." 
This " T Ditch " is often referred to.* It was 
simply the legal landmark for town boundaries, 
at the East end of the line between the towns 
of Hartford and Windsor. Its arms marked 
the direction of the lines between those towns 
and the town of Bolton. The place is now 
the Northeast corner of the town of Man- 
chester. North of this line, the line between 
Windsor and Bolton was parallel with the West 



* See map. 



II 



line of the present town of Vernon. It ran less 
than a quarter of a mile West of the site of the 
church now standing at Vernon Centre, and 
met the North line of Bolton at the place 
where West Street, in Rockville, now enters 
the town of Ellington. More than one-third 
of the town of Vernon lies West of that line, 
and was then chiefly in the Second Society 
in Windsor, which included more than the 
present towns of South Windsor and East 
Windsor. The meeting-house of this society 
was in the principal street near the river, 
nearly a mile and a half North of the present 
church in South Windsor. The people living 
in the Eastern part of this society, in the dis- 
trict called Hockanum, were, it was said, at a 
distance of eight or nine miles, " as the roads 
go," from the public worship they supported. 
As will appear, the ecclesiastical relations of 
this territory were the source of the principal 
difficulties encountered in procuring the forma- 
tion of a new society. 

The next year after the winter privileges 
were granted to a part of Bolton, the people 
there took the first step towards becoming 



12 

a separate ecclesiastical society. The Colony 
records show that, in May, 1750, " Benjamin 
Stoughton and others, inhabitants living on a 
certain tract of land in the Southeast part of 
the town of Windsor," prayed " to be made 
a distinct ecclesiastical society, with certain 
limits." At the same time, " Isaac Jones, 
Moses Thrall, and others, inhabitants living 
part of them in the town of Bolton, and 
part of them living in said Windsor," prayed 
"to be a distinct ecclesiastical society, with 
certain other limits." Neither of these petitions 
is preserved ; but it is evident that they con- 
flicted with each other, each of them including 
the district of Hockanum within the limits it 
proposed. Without this district, both Wap- 
ping, where the former petitioners lived, and 
the North part of Bolton, were too small to 
constitute a society. The people in Hock- 
anum generally desired to unite with the 
people in Bolton. But it seems probable that 
the movement to secure such a union was 
hastened by the action of the petitioners in 
Wapping. 

Both petitions were referred to the same 



13 

committee, which reported in each case, in 
the following year, that the people were but 
few, and a new society was not necessary at 
present. The town of Bolton had voted to 
oppose the petition from the North end of 
that town. 

In May, 1754, the application for a new 
society was repeated ; one that should include 
a district about two miles in width, lying in 
Windsor. This petition was negatived, with- 
out referring it to a committee. 

Three years later, in May, 1757, the matter 
came before the General Assembly in a new 
form. In brief, Governor Roger Wolcott and 
other principal inhabitants of the Second 
Society in Windsor, and many of the prin- 
cipal inhabitants of the town of Bolton, 
headed a petition asking " that another dis- 
tinct ecclesiastical society may be formed out 
of Windsor and Bolton, or out of Windsor, 
with such bounds and limits as your Honours' 
committee sent to view the land judge reason- 
able and just." This readiness to accept what 
was reasonable and just, in the view of judi- 
cious men, shows the spirit of the whole 



14 

paper; although it is evident that most of 
the signers favored the plan for forming a 
new society from Bolton and Windsor. The 
petitioners acknowledge that by reason of the 
different sentiments among them, "contentions 
have already arose to a considerable degree, 
which are likely to increase and continue, to 
the disturbing of the peace of Societies, to 
the disadvantage of religion, by breaking that 
love and friendship that ought to be in every 
community." 

The one hundred and eight petitioners 
included the people in the North part of 
Bolton, and most of those living near them 
in Windsor. But Wapping still chose a 
course of separate action, and twenty-six peti- 
tioners asked, expressly, for a new society that 
should include " Wapping and Hocanum, 
with the other lands in the Southeast part 
of Windsor." The papers in this case are 
numerous, and show that the whole subject 
was warmly discussed. The Assembly de- 
clined to appoint the committee asked for; 
perhaps in despair of harmonizing the various 
conflicting interests. 



15 

Another three years passed before it seemed 
best to ask again, and for the fourth time, for 
a new society. In May, 1760, forty-four in- 
habitants of the North part of Bolton, and of 
the East part of the Second Society in Wind- 
sor, presented their memorial to the General 
Assembly. They say, " Our difficulties are so 
extreme that we are obliged to seek relief." 
They carefully state these difficulties; their 
great distance from their places of divine wor- 
ship, with their "roads exceeding rough and 
bad traveling." And even in regard to their 
meeting separately in winter, they say, " Yet 
there is a new difficulty. We are so increased 
that no dwelling-house will receive or hold us 
with any tolerable comfort. And hoping that 
we shall still much more increase, both in 
number and estate, and that the smiles of 
Divine Providence will still continue with us, 
it gives us great hopes of success." They ask, 
therefore, to be made a distinct ecclesiastical 
society, with the bounds which they describe, 
and proceed to show that the societies from 
which they would be taken would be well able 
to do without them. 

>* Of TH2 



i6 



Time has made their necessities evident to 
their neighbors, and has doubtless allayed the 
excitements of earlier years. There is now 
no counter petition from Wapping, and the 
town of Bolton, which had hitherto opposed 
a division by any line farther South than the 
" T Ditch," now votes, " That the upper end 
of this town be set off agreeable to the bounds 
of the memorial now sent to the General 
Assembly." 

The Assembly appointed Messrs. Zebulon 
West, of Tolland, and Silas Long and Jona- 
than Porter, of Coventry, a committee to view 
the situation and circumstances of the pro- 
posed new society, and to report the facts, 
with their opinion thereon, to the Assembly, 
in October next. This committee reported, 
in October, 1760, that they "find that within 
the limits prayed for, there are dwelling up- 
wards of sixty families ; " and recounting the 
facts of the situation, they say, " Wherefore 
we are of opinion that it is very needful that 
there should be made a distinct ecclesiastical 
society, and most fitting and best that the 
bounds and limits be as prayed for." 



*7 

The General Assembly accepted this report 
of the committee, and Resolved and Enacted 
that the inhabitants living within the limits 
and bounds mentioned, "be made into a dis- 
tinct Ecclesiastical Society, by the name of 
the Society of North Bolton." 

The territory of North Bolton Society was 
the same as that of the present town of 
Vernon. It was taken from four different 
ecclesiastical societies. Much the largest part 
of it was taken from Bolton, the Southern 
boundary being a line running nearly East, 
from a point one mile South of the " T Ditch." 
The inhabitants of this section numbered a 
little less than three hundred. The number 
living in that part of the society which was in 
the town of Windsor was perhaps one hundred. 
This Windsor part was a little more than a 
mile and a half in width, and had belonged to 
three societies which all bounded on the town 
of Bolton. At the North end, was a tract 
nearly half a mile in width, on which were 
living two families, which was in Ellington 
Society. South of this was a strip half as 
wide, having no inhabitants, that was in the 



i8 



North Society of Windsor, or Scantic Parish, 
which had been formed in 1752. The re- 
mainder of this tract was in the Second 
Society of Windsor. All this territory lying 
in Windsor became a part of East Windsor, 
when that town was incorporated in 1768. In 
May, 1789, it was annexed to the town of 
Bolton. 

Thus far the course of events has been 
traced directly from the original public records 
and documents. But from this point, from 
the moment the Society was given existence, 
the most important sources of history are 
wanting. The Society records, a complete 
record of its acts for one hundred and fifteen 
years, and all papers in the custody of the 
clerk, were destroyed by fire, in 1876. A few 
facts are preserved in the accounts and papers 
of the Society Committee, for a part of this 
period, and in scanty notes taken by me from 
the records, many years before they were lost. 

The powers granted to the inhabitants of 
the new Society were soon called into action 
by a writ issued by Thomas Pitkin, Justice of 
the Peace, commanding John Dart, Constable, 



19 

to warn a Society meeting, to be held at the 
dwelling-house of David Allis, on Wednesday, 
November 12, 1760, at one o'clock, P.M. This 
first meeting of the Society was organized by 
the choice of Isaac Jones as Moderator. He 
was the oldest member of the Society, then 
seventy years of age, and his name stands first 
on all the petitions from the North part of 
Bolton, and on the record of original members 
of the church formed there. John Chapman 
was chosen Clerk and Treasurer, Titus Olcott, 
Moses Thrall and Aaron Strong Society Com- 
mittee, and John Paine Collector. It was 
voted, " That the present Committee shall 
invite Mr. Bulkley Olcott to preach with us 
upon probation." It was also voted, " To hold 
the Sabbath day meeting at David Allis's 
dwelling-house, till the first of May next." 
These two votes relate to the subjects that 
chiefly occupied their attention for some years ; 
the settling of a minister, and the providing of 
a place for public worship. 

Plans for building a meeting-house were at 
once formed. On the 28th of November, a 
little more than two weeks after the first meet- 



20 

ing, it was voted, " To build a Meeting-house, 
to be 50 by 40 feet, with 24-foot posts." Two 
months later, on the 27th of January, 1 761, it 
was voted to apply to the County Court for a 
committee " to affix a place to build a meeting- 
house." This was in the regular course of 
procedure then required by law, and still per- 
mitted by law. The Court records, at Hart- 
ford, show that " Zebulon West, of Tolland, 
Esqr., and Messrs. Jonathan Porter, of Cov- 
entry, and Solomon Gilman, of Hartford," 
were appointed a committee for the purpose 
stated. This committee met on the 25th of 
February, and fixed upon a place " on the 
southward part of land belonging to Mr. Sam- 
uel Bartlett, near to the highway that leadeth 
westward from Mr. David Ellis's." Hardly a 
fortnight later, March 10, the Society voted to 
build at the place selected by the committee. 

Apparently, the people expected to enter 
at once upon the work of building. But no 
strange thing happened when there arose 
strong objection to the location of the meet- 
ing-house ; and on the 15th of May, before 
the report of the committee was acted upon 



21 



by the Court, it was voted to apply to the 
County Court for another committee " to affix 
a place for building." But at the June term, 
the Court accepted and approved the report 
of its committee, and established the place 
therein mentioned, to be the place for building 
the meeting-house. It was now not lawful to 
build elsewhere. But so far was this decree 
from disposing of the question, that several 
months later, on the 23rd of September, the 
Society voted to apply to the General Assembly 
for a committee to affix a place to build a 
meeting-house. If such application was made, 
the request was refused. The place estab- 
lished by the Court must have been accepted, 
at length, and on the last day of 1761, more 
than a year after the first vote to build, it was 
voted, " that the meeting-house be 46 by 36 
feet, with 22-foot posts; " a somewhat smaller 
house than was at first proposed. John 
Chapman, David Allis and Seth King were 
appointed a building committee. 

The place where this house was erected 
is about half a mile East of the present meet- 
ing-house at Vernon Centre, on the top of the 



22 

hill still known to some as the " Old Meeting- 
House Hill." It was usual to choose an ele- 
vated place for a house of divine worship. 
This house stood in the most sightly place 
near the centre of the Society. When first 
built, it could be reached only from the East 
and the West, by the highway already men- 
tioned. Several years later, highways were 
opened leading to it from the North and from 
the South. There were no newspapers in those 
days; and what other sites were proposed, 
and for a time preferred, we cannot now rea- 
sonably conjecture. 

The meeting-house was raised on the 6th 
of May, 1762, and was first used for divine 
worship on the 20th of June following. It 
could then have been little more than a shelter 
for the congregation. Slow progress was made 
in fitting the building for use ; for it was more 
than two years and a half after it was raised, 
December 13, 1764, when the Society voted 
to accept the account of the committee for 
building. The house was then far from being 
completed. In 1768, it was voted that the 
committee " provide a lock and key, and bolts, 



23 

to fasten up the meeting-house." Pews were 
built in 1770. Probably before that time the 
house had been furnished only with benches. 
The house was not plastered until 1774, twelve 
years after it was first occupied for public 
worship. 

This slow progress in building was not due 
to indifference, or to fitful zeal. But the peo- 
ple were poor, and money was scarce, to a 
degree that can now hardly be understood. 
It was a heavy burden for a people of such 
slender means, to bear the expense of building 
a house of worship, and of settling a minister. 
They endured well the hardships of those 
times. There was a like slow progress in 
finishing the meeting-houses erected a few 
years earlier, in the neighboring societies of 
Tolland and East Windsor ; parishes stronger 
than this in numbers and in wealth. * 

This meeting-house was of the prevailing 
style of architecture for country churches; a 
plain four-sided building, without a steeple. 
It fronted the highway on the South by one 

* Waldo's History of Tolland, p. 27, 1755-1760. Stiles's History 
of Windsor, pp. 298, 310. 1755, 1759, 1767, 1769. 



24 

of its longer sides, having doors, also, in the 
East and West ends. It was not dwarfed by 
the horse-sheds and the school-house, the only- 
buildings erected near it ; and standing on ele- 
vated ground, and for a long time surrounded 
by the original forest, it had a dignity which it 
were vain to seek in the structure that has 
stood for sixty years, having substantially the 
same frame, — the East wing of the old Frank 
Factory, in Rockville. (Built in 183 1 and 
1832. Cogswell, p. 15). 

The interior of the house was arranged, 
also, after the almost universal fashion ; with 
nearly square pews having straight-backed 
seats; with galleries on three sides, and, high 
above the stairs, in each front corner, a negro 
pew. 

The pulpit, on the North side, was consid- 
erably elevated above the pews ; and over this 
was the sounding-board. This was a structure 
of considerable size, and wrought into some 
striking form, of which we cannot now obtain 
an exact description. It was fastened to the 
wall, above the pulpit, and was also suspended 
from the ceiling, by an apparently slender rod. 



25 

This sounding-board was considered an indis- 
pensable aid to hearing. It was certainly a 
never-failing source of wonder and of awe to 
successive generations of children in the con- 
gregation. All persons who have attempted 
to describe it have made statements similar to 
that of tne late Rev. Dr. Perrin, who said but 
a few months before his death, that in his child- 
hood he used to look up to it with wonder, 
and ask himself, — " What if it should fall ? " 

The other work laid upon the Society in 
its earliest years, was that of settling a min- 
ister. It does not appear that during the first 
year any one had preached there as a candi- 
date for settlement. At the end of that year, 
at the annual meeting held in November, 
1 76 1, it was voted, "to hire a candidate to 
preach the gospel to us the year ensuing." 
On the 10th of March following, it was voted, 
"to send to the Association for advice, in 
order for calling a candidate upon probation." 
This was the usage of the times, continued till 
a much later date, to apply to the Moderator 
of the local Association, to recommend some 
one as a candidate. 



26 



Only three Sabbaths passed after the above 
vote, before the people were ready to take the 
first step towards settling a minister. On the 
29th of March, 1762, it was voted, "to call 
Mr. Ebenezer Kellogg upon probation, in 
order for settlement." After a trial of three 
months, on the first of July, it was " Voted, to 
call Mr. Ebenezer Kellogg to settle in the 
work of the ministry in said Society." It was 
voted to give him as a salary, ^55 the first 
year, and so to rise by £1 yearly, to ^65 ; and 
also to give him ,£100 settlement at the end 
of one year after his ordination, and £50 at 
the end of the next year. On the 9th of 
September the vote was changed, naming a 
salary of ^60 the first year, to increase by £1 
yearly, until it reached £70. One month 
later, it was voted " to accept Mr. Ebenezer 
Kellogg's answer, dated October 7, 1762." 
The salary remained unchanged through Mr. 
Kellogg's life. After the adoption of the 
federal currency, the sum was expressed by 
# 2 33-33> instead of £70. 

All these preliminary measures were taken 
by the Society alone, there being as yet no 



2 7 

organized church to take part in them. The 
church records contain no account of the 
formation of the church, except a single line, 
written by Deacon Francis King, as late as 
1818; "The Church in Vernon was formed 
October, 1762." This doubtless rests on the 
authority of a paper written and signed by the 
first pastor, and dated January 3, 181 5, in 
which he says, " Sometime in October, in the 
year 1762, a Church was gathered and em- 
bodied in said North Bolton Society." But 
there is good reason for supposing that while 
the thirty-five original members of the church 
had been dismissed from the church in Bolton, 
as early as October, and then made such 
arrangements for organization as were needful, 
they were not "embodied into a church state," 
to use the language of those times, until the 
Council met, on the 24th of November, to 
ordain the candidate called by the Society. 
This is directly inferred from the fact that the 
call of the Church, and the candidate's accept- 
ance of the call, was upon that day. This fact 
appears by the following paper, the earliest 
church paper on file : — 



28 



Att a meeting of the Church of Christ in North 
Bolton, Novbr 24th A Dom. 1762, att the house of Mr. 
John Chapman in s d North Bolton ; 

It is unanimously agreed by this Church that nothing 
shall be deemed a Vote or Act of the Church wherein 
there is not the explicit consent or agreement both of the 
Pastor and of the major part of the brethren of the 
Church present at the meeting. 

Voted allso by this Church to give M. r Ebenezer 
Kellog a Call to settle with us in the work of the Gospel 
Ministry. 

Isaac Jones, 
Titus Olcott, 
John Chapman, 
Isaac Brunson, 
Charles King, 
David Allis, 
Seth King, 
Thomas Darte, 
Asahel Root, 
Thomas Chapman, 
Jabez Rogers, 
Solomon Loomis, 
Nathan Messenger, 
Caleb Talcott. 



I concur w* y e Article above, 
relating to Chh Discipline, 
& also accept of y e Call of 



afrs d Chh. 



Ebenf Kellogg. 



(This paper was signed by all the original male members of the 
Church but two; Hezekiah King and Stephen Payne, who were 
probably unable to be present at that meeting.) 



2 9 

These votes were the first church acts; 
taken, doubtless, immediately after the Council 
had declared these disciples to be duly consti- 
tuted a Church of Christ, and before it pro- 
ceeded to examine the candidate who was to 
be ordained. He was to be constituted the 
pastor of that Church ; and it was not in order 
to proceed to his ordination until the Church 
had called him to be its minister, and he had 
accepted that call. 

There is no record of this ordination, and 
the most diligent inquiry has failed to dis- 
cover any facts respecting it ; the name of the 
preacher, or of others who took part in the 
exercises. The Council was the North Con- 
sociation of Hartford County, which included 
churches so distant as those of Stafford on 
the one hand, and Farmington and Canton on 
the other. Probably most of the Churches 
not remote from that place were represented 
in this Council. 

The Church then formed was known as 
the " Second Church of Christ in Bolton," 
until the town of Vernon was incorporated, 
in October, 1808, when the Church and the 
Society took the name of the town. 



30 

The ministry of the first pastor continued 
till his death, in 1817, nearly fifty-five years 
from the time of his ordination. Yet the 
history of the Church and Society during this 
long period, — a period that covered all the 
great events of our early national history, — 
presents but few facts that need here be men- 
tioned. The principal fact is one shown by 
the record of church communicants; that 
there were almost yearly additions to the 
membership, and that but few years passed 
without receiving some upon profession of 
their faith. Taking into account the changes 
by death and removal, the resident church 
members seem to have increased in quite as 
great a ratio as the population of the Society, 
which somewhat more than doubled during 
this period. 

The record of business transacted by the 
Church is valuable chiefly for its brevity, as 
showing an absence of contentions, and but 
few occasions for church discipline. The only 
church acts for more than thirty years, that 
seem worthy of record, were of five different 
dates, in the choice of deacons. 



3i 

The spirit in which the pastor labored, 
and the events of his ministry which he 
thought most worthy of mention, may best be 
learned from his own words, spoken to his 
people in 1812, in his review of fifty years of 
labor among them. His text was 1 Thessa- 
lonians, 2: 19. "For what is our hope, or 
joy, or crown of rejoicing ? Are not even ye, 
in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at 
his coming ? " Of his own ministry and its 
results, he said : 

" I was ordained pastor over the church 
and congregation in this place, November the 
24th day, in the year of our Lord and Savior 
Jesus Christ, 1762, and the 24th day of the 
present month completed the term of fifty 
years. Through which period of time, I have 
been detained from attending on public wor- 
ship, and preaching on the Lord's day, by 
reason of infirmity (if I recollect right), not 
more than twelve Sabbaths. And having 
obtained help of God, I continue to this day, 
testifying unto you, both aged and in young 
life, the grace of God through our Lord Jesus 
Christ, for the salvation of your souls. 



32 

" I am sensible I have labored among you 
in much weakness, and have reason to ex- 
claim, in the words of the prophet, ' My lean- 
ness ! ' ' My leanness ! ' However, I am not 
conscious of having knowingly withholden from 
you the whole counsel of God, nor neglected 
to teach and inculcate upon you the doctrines 
and duties of the Christian religion, as they 
are revealed in the gospel of the Savior. 

" The success of my ministerial labors 
among you, I know not ; God knoweth ; but 
hope that I have not altogether labored in 
vain, and been of no service to you on 
spiritual accounts. It hath pleased God, in 
the course of my ministry among you, to 
favour his people with three or four seasons of 
the awakening influences of his Holy Spirit, 
whereby an unusual attention was given to the 
word of his grace ; several put upon this inter- 
esting inquiry, what they should do to be 
saved ; some few hopefully converted to God ; 
and it was a refreshing time to His saints. 
These seasons of uncommon awakening were 
in and about the years 1772, 1782, 1800 
and 1809. 



33 

"At other times, some few in almost every 
year since my ministry have felt so much of 
the importance of religion and spiritual con- 
cerns as induced them to publickly profess it, 
and join to the Church. 

" The number who have become members 
of this Church, by solemnly covenanting with 
God and His people, since my ministry, is 
339. And the number of those who have 
been dedicated to God in baptism is 825 ; 28 
of whom were adult persons. The deaths 
which have taken place since I was settled 
here are about 389, and the marriages, 235. 

" Time in its nature is fleeting. It bears 
all the living along with it. One generation 
passeth away, and another generation cometh. 
It has been so from the beginning of time, 
and it will continue to be so till time shall 
end. Some of us, who yet are of the number 
of the living, are far advanced in life, and 
according to the course of nature must expect 
shortly to be numbered with the great congre- 
gation of the dead. 

"As to myself, the time of my departure is 
near at hand. And in view and prospect of 



34 

that solemn day, I am supported with a 
believing hope that I trust in Christ as my 
all-sufficient Savior, and that I have not 
labored altogether in vain among you ; but 
through the rich and free grace of God in 
Christ Jesus, have had some souls given me 
as seals of my ministry, and who will be to me 
a crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord 
Jesus." 

Not one of the thirty-five original members 
of the Church who first received him as their 
pastor, was present to listen to these words. 
By death, and by removal from the place, all 
had long since passed from his pastoral care. 

Mr. Kellogg continued to preach pretty 
regularly for about four years after the close 
of his half century of ministerial service, 
except for a time in 1815. In that year, there 
was another season of uncommon awakening, 
more fruitful of manifest results than any that 
had preceded it. This was principally in con- 
nection with the labors of Rev. Hervey Talcott 
and Rev. Cornelius B. Everest. 

The infirmities of age finally withdrew him 
from pulpit labors early in the year 181 7. 



35 

He died on the 3d of September, 18 17, in the 
81st year of his age, and in the 55th year of 
his ministry to that people. 

Ebenezer Kellogg was born in Norwalk, 
Connecticut, April 5, 1737; was graduated 
at Yale College in 1757; studied theology 
under the Rev. David Judson, of Newtown, 
Connecticut, and was licensed to preach May 
28, 1760. He did not make a public profes- 
sion of religion till he was twenty-one years of 
age; yet he said, "from my youth, and even 
from childhood, I have been in the fear of God." 

Like many others of his day, he read his 
sermons without any action. They lacked the 
refinements of style, and the graces of delivery, 
which are now more commonly found and 
more highly valued. But they were serious 
discourses, carefully setting forth the most 
important doctrines and duties of religion, 
and they were so founded on the word of 
God, that his people were instructed in the 
way of life. 

There is testimony which cannot be quoted 
here, to his faithful labors in one of the revivals 
referred to. There is special evidence to his 



fUHIVEHSI 



36 

efforts to promote spirituality in the Church. 
What characters were formed under such in- 
fluences, may be seen in some of those who 
came to manhood in the latter part of this 
ministry, and who were foremost in the early 
business and religious activities of Rockville. 

There is still one cord unbroken, binding 
back the present church life of Rockville, to 
the ministry of that first pastor in Vernon. 
With his own hand he recorded the last 
admission to the Church during his lifetime ; 
— "Anno Domini 1817, May 25, Eliza, wife 
of George Kellogg, recommended by Revd E. 
Cook, of Orford." (Now Manchester.)* 

The records of the Ecclesiastical Society, 
after the completion of the meeting-house, 
related almost wholly to matters of routine; 
the choice of officers, the laying of taxes, and, 
till 1796, when a separate School Society was 
formed, as required by law, the care and control 
of the public schools. 

In May, 18 10, a part of the town of East 
Windsor was annexed to the Ecclesiastical 



* Eliza Noble Kellogg was born at Middletown, Conn., 
March 7, 1799, and died at Rockville, September 21, 1892. 



37 

Society of Vernon. This tract was bounded 
on the West by a line drawn from the South- 
west corner of the town of Ellington, to a 
point in the then South line of East Windsor. 
It was one mile in width at the North end, and 
a little wider at the South end, and included 
most of the present village of Oakland, now in 
the town of Manchester. After the adoption 
of the State Constitution, in 1818, all Society 
lines were practically obliterated. But this 
territory continued to be a part of the Vernon 
School Society, until 183 1. 

The second pastor of the Church in Vernon 
was the Rev. William Ely ; a native of Say- 
brook, Connecticut, a graduate of Yale College 
in 181 3, and of Andover Theological Seminary 
in 181 7. He came to Vernon directly from 
the Seminary, and first preached there Sep- 
tember 28, 181 7. He received a call from the 
Church On the 4th of December, but was not 
ordained until the nth of March, 1818. The 
Church increased in numbers during his brief 
ministry, fifty persons being received by pro- 
fession. In a biographical sketch of Mr. Ely 
by the Rev. Dr. Calhoun, it is said of him, 



3« 

"he was particularly interesting and profitable 
to the young, and the youths of Vernon 
received his special attention." He is held 
in grateful remembrance, as having established 
the Sabbath School in Vernon, in May, 1818; 
one of the earliest in Tolland County. This 
School had marked success under his care as 
Superintendent. It was for many years main- 
tained only in the summer season, and included 
in its membership only such as were called 
" children," perhaps all of them under the age 
of fifteen years. The early methods of con- 
ducting a Sabbath School, and its relations to 
the Church, were very different from those 
now common. Soon after the close of Mr. 
Ely's ministry, a Sabbath School Society was 
formed, which chose the officers of the School, 
appointed persons to solicit and enroll pupils, 
and provided for the expenses. This oversight 
and responsibility were at length assumed by 
the Church, by general consent, and almost 
informally. But for forty years, or more, after 
the Sabbath School was founded, there is not 
a single reference to it in the Church records. 
Mr. Ely was dismissed February 21, 1822. 



39 

He was afterwards, for about fifteen years, 
pastor of the church in North Mansfield. He 
died in Worcester, Massachusetts, November 
2, 1850, aged 58 years. 

After a vacancy in the pastoral office of 
more than two years, the Church voted, on 
the 19th of May, 1824, "to give the Revd. 
Amzi Benedict a call to settle with this 
Church, as their pastor." The call was ac- 
cepted, and Mr. Benedict was installed on the 
30th of June, 1824. 

The principal event connected with this 
ministry was the building of a new meeting- 
house, which was dedicated April 4, 1827. 
This is the house of public worship now stand- 
ing at Vernon Centre, having been moved a 
short distance from its original site, changed 
in the structure of its front and steeple, and 
remodeled in the interior. 

Mr. Benedict was dismissed, at his own 
request, on the 10th of February, 1830. He 
continued in the work of the ministry, except 
when he was for a while engaged in teaching, 
until he died, in Brooklyn, New York, 
November 17, 1856, aged 65 years. His 
death resulted from a railway accident. 



40 

On the 2 2d of September, 1830, the 
Church in Vernon invited the Rev. David L. 
Hunn, who had been preaching there since 
July, to become their pastor. He did not 
accept the call, but continued to preach as 
stated supply, until the close of March, 1832. 

A revival of religion was in progress when 
he began to preach there, which continued 
through that and the following year. This 
was an era of remarkable revivals. The char- 
acteristic means used for promoting them was 
the "protracted meeting," usually continued 
for four days, in which the minister was 
assisted by neighboring pastors, and other 
preachers. Such a meeting was held in 
Vernon, commencing on the 6th of Sep- 
tember, 1 83 1. Of this meeting, the Rev. 
Mr. Hunn said, in a published account of 
the revival, that "it was in all respects the 
most interesting and efficient meeting of the 
kind that has been held in this region." More 
than 80 persons united with the Church upon 
profession, during the years 1831 and 1832; a 
much larger number than in any corresponding 
period of the Church's history. 



4i 

The fourth pastor of the Church was the 
Reverend Chester Humphrey, who was or- 
dained October 4, 1832. The Church con- 
tinued to increase in numbers. In the five 
years before another church was formed, it 
received to its membership more than eighty 
persons; in nearly equal numbers by profes- 
sion and by letter. Many of these, as of those 
received after the revivals of 1830 and 1831, 
were living in the North part of the town. 
The growing industries there brought hither 
many professed Christians, who became mem- 
bers of the church in Vernon. They brought 
hither many others, chiefly persons in early 
life, who came under the prevailing religious 
influences of the place. Attendance upon the 
Sabbath worship at Vernon was expected, and 
was as general as could be secured from such 
a distance, of two and a half to three miles. 
(One of the distinct recollections of my child- 
hood, is that of the large number of men from 
this part of the town who used to pass my 
father's house, every Sunday, on foot, in going 
to meeting at the Centre and returning. One 
man, for a time, made the journey on such a 



42 

lowly beast as some of the ancient prophets 
rode. But the most noticeable sight of the 
day was the large team wagon of the Rock 
Company, with four horses driven by John 
Chapman, Junior, full loaded with girls from 
the Rock Factory.) There were many local 
religious meetings, and the daily presence of 
Christian example. And thus about one- 
fourth of all the additions to the Church in 
Vernon, for the seven years preceding the 
formation of the Second Church, were from 
that part of the town which became the espe- 
cial care of the new church. This district 
was of much narrower limits than the present 
city of Rockville. All but one or two of the 
sixty families enumerated here in 1836 lived 
on a tract but half a mile in width, on the 
Northern border of the town. Hardly ten of 
these were on the South side of the river. 
The fact should be noticed, that only six of 
the thirty-five members who were dismissed 
from Vernon, in 1837, to found the new 
church, were received at Vernon before 1830. 
Clearly, the providence and the grace of God 
were alike preparing the way for a living 
church on this ground. 



43 

The measures taken to form a Second 
Church and Society in Vernon were fully 
described in the Historical Discourse already 
referred to. There was no occasion for action 
by the original Ecclesiastical Society. Those 
of its members who proposed to form a new 
Society, withdrew from the old Society, indi- 
vidually, in the manner provided by law. 

The subject was first presented to the 
Church in Vernon, at a meeting held on the 
nth of November, 1836, when, as appears by 
the record, " a petition was made by several 
members residing in the northern part of the 
town, for permission to meet and enjoy the 
ordinances of the gospel by themselves, during 
the ensuing season." A committee was ap- 
pointed, to consider this petition, and report 
at a future meeting. This committee con- 
sisted of the pastor, and Deacon Flavel Tal- 
cott, Messrs. Thomas Wright Kellogg, John 
Chapman and George Kellogg. At a meeting 
held one week later, "the committee reported 
in favor of granting the petition. The report 
was accepted, and a motion carried to grant 
the petition." 



44 

There was no occasion for further action 
by the Vernon Church, until the preparations 
for forming a new church were nearly com- 
pleted. Those of the Vernon members who 
were engaged in this work, then presented a 
request that their covenant relations with the 
Church in Vernon might be dissolved. The 
record shows, that at a meeting of that 
Church, held October 2, 1837, "a vote was 
passed to dismiss the following persons, agree- 
ably to their request, with a view to their 
being organized into a Church." This is fol- 
lowed by the names of the thirty-five members 
who were thus dismissed. 

The Church in Vernon, by this act, parted 
with about one-sixth of its resident members, 
and with no small part of its working force. 
Yet the work undertaken by those who went 
forth for this high purpose was so evidently 
one to which they were called of God, by His 
providences, that they were, in the prayers of 
their remaining brethren, recommended to the 
grace of God, for the work to be fulfilled. 

The whole work accomplished by the 
Church during this period cannot be suflfi- 



45 

ciently understood from its records, nor from 
considering its whole influence within this 
town. The impulse of migration, strong from 
the first, carried away from the town one-half 
of its seven hundred members, and scattered 
them in nearly every Northern State this side 
of the Mississippi. Of a goodly number of all 
these, it is distinctly known that they answered 
the call of duty, in founding and sustaining 
other churches, and that as godly men and 
women, they upheld the honor of the Christian 
name. 

Seven of the early members became 
preachers of the Gospel ; Salmon G. King, 
Allen McLean, Francis King, Joel Talcott, 
Eliot Palmer, Cyril Pearl and Lavalette 
Perrin. All but one of these were natives 
of Vernon ; all were children of members of 
the Church there, were baptized by the first 
pastor, were there taught the way of life, and 
there professed their faith in Christ. All left 
the place in early manhood, and labored long 
and faithfully in the Christian ministry, except 
Francis King, who preached for several years, 
and then used the office of a deacon well in 
his native town. 



4 6 • 

Two others should be named, children of 
the church, and there instructed, but provi- 
dentially led to profess Christ elsewhere ; 
Ebenezer Kellogg, a grandson of the first 
pastor, for nearly thirty years a professor in 
Williams College, preaching also in the early 
years, as his health permitted, whose voice 
was sometimes heard in the church in which 
he was baptized. Also an early missionary, 
Lauren Andrews. His life work was in the 
Sandwich Islands, where he was for forty years 
useful as a missionary, the author of a grammar 
and a dictionary of the language, and as Judge 
under the Hawaiian Government. 

And thus, by the dispersion of its members, 
and of the preachers it had reared, that church 
in Vernon scattered abroad the godly influ- 
ences it had graciously received ; so that it 
may well be said, its line hath gone out 
through the earth. 



47 



The present Church at Vernon Centre was dedicated 
on the 4th of April, 1827. The following " Order of 
Exercises " for the occasion is reprinted from a copy 
received from Mrs. Pearl, of Vernon Centre ; perhaps 
the only copy that has been preserved. 

The sermon was preached by the Reverend Amzi 
Benedict, the pastor of the Church, from Genesis xxviii. 
17 : "And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this 
place ! This is none other but the house of God, and 
this is the gate of heaven." Mr. Benedict also offered 
the Dedicatory Prayer, which is to this day remembered 
as being peculiarly solemn and impressive, " as if he were 
talking face to face with God." 

The music for the occasion was under the direction 
of Mr. Salmon Phelps, of East Hartford. The choir was 
a large one, and had been under his instruction through 
the winter. The music for the selections from the 
Psalms was doubtless that of English composers, who 
took the words from the Psalter, rather than from our 
common version of the Scriptures. 



ORDER OF EXERCISES 

AT THE 

DEDICATION OF THE CHURCH 
IN VERNON, 

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4TH, 1827. 



3npoeatton anb HeaMng tfye Scriptures. 

Chorus. — 

O, praise God in his holiness, 

Praise him in the firmament of his power ; 

Praise him in his noble acts, 

Praise him according to his excellent greatness ; 

Praise him in the sound of the trumpet. 

Praise him upon the lute and harp ; 

Praise him in the cymbals and dances, 

Praise him on strings and pipes ; 

Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. 

Prayer. 

OLD HUNDRED. 

Great God, we to thy honor raise 
These walls to echo forth thy praise ; 
Do thou, descending, fill the place 
With choicest tokens of thy grace. 

Here let the great Redeemer reign, 
With all the graces of his train, 
While power divine his word attends, 
To conquer foes and cheer his friends. 

And, in the great decisive day, 
When God the nations shall survey, 
May it before the world appear, 
That crowds were born to glory here. 



Recitative. — One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I 
will require. 

Chorus. — That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the 
days of my life : to behold the fair beauty of the Lord, and to visit 
his temple. Amen. 

Sermon. 

Chorus. — I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into 
the house of the Lord, for there is the seat of judgment, even the 
seat of the house of David. O pray for the peace of Jerusalem. 
They shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and 
plenteousness within thy palaces. I was glad when they said unto 
me, we will go into the house of the Lord. Amen. 

<£ortdubmg prayer. 



In God's own house pronounce his praise ; 

His grace he there reveals ; 
To heaven your joy and wonder raise, 

For there his glory dwells. 

Let all your sacred passions move, 

While you rehearse his deeds ; 
But the great work of saving love 

Your highest praise exceeds. 

All that hath motion, life and breath, 

Proclaims your Maker blest ; 
Yet when my voice expires in death, 

My soul shall praise him best. 

Chorus. — Hallelujah to the God of Israel. He will save us in 
the day of fight. Hallelujah, the Lord is our defender ; he will save 
us in the day of fight. God is great in battle, for he is the Lord of 
hosts. Hallelujah, he is our refuge, I will praise him for evermore. 

Benebictton. 



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