THE SCOTCH PLAINS BAPTIST CHURCH.
Scotch Plains Baptist €burcl)
Organization on tbe f Iftft of jF!ugu$t 1747
One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary
on the Tiftb of jfiugwst i$97
Rev. J. H. Parks, D. D, and Judge James D. Cleaver
and published by the ei)urcl)
Scotcl) Plains, Hew Jersey
« I«97 •
PRESS OF A. D. BKEKEN,
i() WARREN ST.,
Allen County Public Library
900 Wobstsr Street
PC Bex 2270
Fort W£yii3, IN 46801-2270
The trustees of the Scotch Plains Baptist Church
adopted the following Preamble and Resolutions,
Feb. 12, 1896:
"Whereas the One hundred and fiftieth Anni-
versary of the organization of this Church will
arrive in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight
hundred and ninety-seven, and will be a period in
the history of the Old Church, which ought of
right and of gratitude to God, to be marked with
suitable and appropriate ceremonies of observance,
congratulation and thankfulness;
And, Whereas, in the opinion of this Board, it
would be a fitting item of such a celebration to
have prepared for permanent preservation a con -
densed history of the life and prominent events
which have marked her career;
Therefore, be it Resolved, that Dr. James H.
Parks and Judge James D. Cleaver be, and they
are hereby appointed to go over the records of the
Church and of this Board from the date of the
founding of the Church down to the date of the
Anniversary in 1897, and collate and arrange in
Chronological order the prominent and interesting
events which have come to the Church in her long
and eventful career, as the first Standard bearer of
religion in this Community — as the Mother of
Churches, and as one of the pillars of piety, law,
liberty of conscience and civil order for the State.
Resolved, that the paper so prepared shall, when
approved by this Board be printed for distribution
on the Anniversary day aforesaid; and afterwards,
together with the observances of the day be put
into a Souvenir volume to be sold to any persons
desiring to have them."
The Committee have accordingly endeavored to
prepare a reliable History as to facts and dates.
They acknowledge valuable help received from
the History of Baptists, by Dr. Armitage, The
Baptist Encyclopedia by Dr. Cathcart, The Bi-
centennial of the Piscataway Baptist Church, The
One hundred and fiftieth Anniversary of the
Hightstown Baptist Church, The Minutes of the
Philadelphia, New York and East New Jersey
Associations ; as well as from the memories of some
of the older members of the Scotch Plains Church.
There are many human organizations which have
so ennobled humanity and exemplified ^reat
principles of truth, that their history deserves to
be recorded and perpetuated. Though they were
originated by human foresight only, yet their
existence and usefulness will ever be held in
But the Church of Christ is not a human organ-
ization. It is one of the Divine institutions among
men. It was divinely organized. Its laws and
discipline were divinely enncted. Its officers
were divinely appointed and its members are
divinely qualified. Hence we come to the study
of the history of a Christian Church with a peculiar
interest. "We are tracing the dealings of God with
his people. We are scanning the efficiency of a
divinely appointed means, to the accomplishment
of its end, and we are recording the degree of
faithfulness with which the Church has fulfilled its
divinely appointed mission.
The Scotch Plains Baptist Church was organized
in August, 1747. This entire region at that time
was known as the Province of East 'New Jersey,
and was under the dominion of the King of Great
Britain. All of its inhabitants were loyal English
subjects. The country was sparsely settled. There
were no railroads, nor post offices, nor telegraphs
— in fact no public means of transportation, nor of
conveying intelligence. The surroundings were so
different from those with which we are familiar,
that we can scarcely realize them.
There were few Baptist Churches at that time in
all that is now known, as the whole State of New
Jersey, and these were widely separated. One
was situated at Middletown, one at Piscataway,
one at Cohansey, one at Cape May, one at Hope-
well, one at Kingwood and one organized only two
years before, at Hightstown.
There were a number of Baptist families living
in this immediate vicinity, and identified with the
Piscataway Baptist Church. The distance from
and inconveniences in reaching their church
home, induced them to ask for letters of dis-
mission in order to organize a church at this place.
Their application was answered by the following
resolution adopted by the parent church at Piscata-
"Whereas, in the course of Divine Providence
there is necessity of a church to be constituted at
the Scotch Plains, in the County of Essex, in East
New Jersey, and some of the members of the
Baptist Church at Piscataway in the County of
Middlesex and the Province aforesaid, having
their dwellings at and near the said Scotch Plains,
and they having made application to us, and ob-
tained a grant for a dismission from us, in order to
incorporate themselves into a church; this may
certify that William Darby, Recompense Stan-
bery, John Lambert John Dennis, John Stanbery,
Henry Crosby, John Sutton Jr., Isaac Manning,
Mary Brodwell, Mary Green, Mary Dennis,
Tabitha Sutton, Catherine Manning, Sarah De
Camp and Sarah Perce, when they are regularly
constituted into a church according to gospel order
and given themselves up, in a church fellowship
are fully and freely dismissed from our church."
Accordingly on the fifth day of August, 1747,
these brethren and sisters met and resolved to be-
come and be a Regular Baptist Church. They
adopted and signed a solemn covenant. Some of
the terms of which were, that they humbly accept-
ed Jesus Christ as High Priest, Lawgiver and
Savior. That they trusted implicitly and only in his
atoning blood and sovereign grace for Salvation—
that they would walk together in all holiness,
godliness, humility and brotherly love — that they
would watch over one another for good — that they
wouli pray with and for one another and for the
church — that they would bear one another's
burdens, bear with one another's weaknesses as
Christ had enjoined and set the example — that they
would strive together for the truth of the gospel,
and to observe and guard the ordinances in their
purity, and would give according to their ability
to maintain the Cause of the Master.
Thus the church was organized by these our
honored forefathers upon the true foundation,
Jesus Christ himself being the chief Corner Stone,
and every distinguishing characteristic of our de-
nomination separately referred to in the Covenant
Compact. Surely if any people have reason to re-
joice in the inheritance left by the forefathers,
we may thank God, that the Constituent members
of our Zion occupied no compromising ground,
and blew no uncertain blast, concerning either the
doctrines or practices of the christian church.
These constituent members have all long since
passed away, but many of their descendants and
the families they represent are still among us,
honored and respected members of the community.
The organization also included the election by
the body of Samuel Drake as Church Clerk,
and William Darby and Recompense Stanbery as
Ruling Elders, and as the record declares were also
to perform the duties of Deacons. Thus the
church was duly constituted and publicly re-
cognized and fellowshipped as a Regular Baptist
REV. MR. MILLER'S PASTORATE.
Soon after the organization, the church extended
a call to Benjamin Miller, a member of the Piscata-
way Church to become their Pastor. This call
Mr. Miller accepted and was ordained to
the ministry, by request of this church, by Rev.
Benjamin Stelle of Piscataway, Rev. James Car-
man of Cranbery and Abel Morgan of Middletown.
The Church immediately united with the Phila-
Of the antecedents of Rev. Mr. Miller, little is
positively known. It is probable that he was con-
verted to God some ten years before by means of
the ministry of Rev. Gilbert Tennant a celebrated
Presbyterian minister of New Brunswick, N. J.,
and united with the Piscataway Baptist Church.
Here his ability and zeal were noticed and com-
menied, and he was readily granted a license to
preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
After becoming pastor of this church he evinced
especial qualifications for the work. The infant
organization was to be nursed, developed and
strengthened. Baptists who were not already
identified with it were to be visited and to be made
interested in the new enterprise. Unconverted souls
were to be instructed in the way of Salvation.
All this work must have required an especial
adaptation and a peculiar energy. His labors were
not confined to this immediate vicinity, but he gave
all the strength of his early manhood to the per-
formance of his divinely appointed mission. He
frequently travelled, of course only by the slow
means of transportation of his time, to various
sections of this and neighboring provinces, carrying
the bread of life to the needy, and instructing and
comforting the feeble churches. The result of such
labor with the blessing of God was soon apparent.
The congregations increased. The membership was
enlarged, and growth and development was visible
on every hand. This is apparent from the fact
recorded in the minutes, that it became necessary
to enlarge the house of worship in the year, 1758.
It is probable that a meeting house had been
erected previous to the organization of the church.
But this had become too small for their accom-
modation during these first eleven years of active
united labor. Hence on August 12th, 1758 it was
voted "to enlarge the meeting house, to cover it with
cedar shingles both roof and sides and to finish it
well both outside and inside. ' ' A committee consist-
ing of Recompense Stanbery, John Stites, Captain
Drake and Captain McDonnel were appointed to
complete this improvement. Thus with increased
facilities and "an enlarged place of their tent" the
church grew both in numbers and in influence.
Rev. Mr. Miller seems to have been indefatigable
in preaching the word, enforcing the discipline,
and watching over the interests of the now well
established Zion. He appears to have had peculiar
executive ability, and could readily discover what
was best to do, and lead the people to do it. He
had access to their ears, their affections and to
their contributions; and he made use of all, not
for his own aggrandizement, or to secure for him
self a name, but for the glory of God and the pro-
gress of the Cause of the Master.
There was at this time no Regular Baptist
Church in New York City. There were a number
of Baptists there who were members of the Fish-
kill Baptist Church, and elsewhere. These being
recommended to do so, united themselves in church
relationship with this church and were frequently
visited by llev. James Carman pastor of the Cran-
bery church (now Hightstown) and by Rev. Mr.
Miller, who by authority of the Scotch Plains
Church regularly administered the Communion
once every qu arter, and baptised when necessary.
The congregations there increased so that no
private dwelling house could accomodate them,
and they found it necessary to hire a rigging
loft in Cart and Horse Street, now William St.
where they held their meetings for a number of
years. They then erected their first church edifice
on Gold Street. On the 19th of June 1762 twenty
seven persons, namely, John Carman, Jeremiah
Dodge, Andrew Thompson, Samuel Edmonds, John
Degray, Elias Baylis, Jos. Meeks, Wm. Colegrove,
Samuel Dodge, Catharine Degray, Mary Stillwell,
Hannah Hayton, Hannah French, Mary Murphy,
Margaret Dodge, Sarah Meeks, Sarah Thompson,
Jane Calwell, Mary Edmonds, Susannah Mires,
Ruth Ferine, Mary Smith, Eliza YanDike, Mary
Simmons, Rachel Williams and Catherine Leonard
who had received letters of dismission for the pur-
pose from this church organized the First Regular
Baptist Church of New York City. On the same
day Rev. John Gano, also of this church, became
Pastor of the new organization, and held the
position for twenty-six eventful years.
After the lapse of five more years of labor and
success, it became advisable to organize a Baptist
church at Mount Bethel, N. J. The members living
in that vicinity were united witn this church, but in
order to attend divine worship, it was necessary for
them to ride from six to ten miles over rough hilly
roads. As soon as they became strong enough they
requested letters of dismission in order to con-
stitute a new centre of religious influence more
convenient to their own homes. This request was
readily granted, and on thtj 2nd day of Sept.
1767 letters of dismission were given to eight
males and ten females namely, Benjamin Sutton,
Benj. Sutton Jr., Abram Sutton, David Jennings,
William Worth, John Pound, John Worth, James
Sutton, Elizabeth Tingley, Hannah Coon, Mary
Sutton, Rosannah Cowart, Anna Worth, Lois
Sutton, Dinah Worth, Etta Worth, Patience
Bloom, and Elizabeth Hayden. The church was
organized ; and they have been a prosperous and
sucessful agency for the advancement of the Re-
The Lyons Farms Baptist Church was organized
from tlie Scotch Plains church in the year 1769.
Eleven members namely, Ezekiel Crane, Ichabod
Grummon, Loftus Grummon, Jos. Meeker, Jos.
Gildersleeve, Samuel Smith, Jonathan Tompkins,
Mary Meeker, Abegail Crane, Johannah Grummon
and Jeriisha Crane were dismissed for that purpose
on the 29th day of March. This church has been
united and successful and still maintain their
visibility and usefulness. Thus in a period of
only twenty two years, three churclies were org-
anized directly from this church, and yet the
Scotch Plains Church numbered One hundred and
five happy united efficient members, who probably
presented an array of moral and pecuniary strength
not excelled by any church at the time.
During Rev. Mr. Miller's pastorate several
periods of special gathering were enjoyed, among
which was a revival in the year 1768 when the names
of forty-eight persons are recorded as being baptis-
ed into the church fellowship. This result seems
to have been acomplished by the use of the ordin-
ary means of grace, as the minutes make no men-
tion of any foreign aid to the pastor, nor of any
extra religious services.
Among those who were baptised by Rev. Benj-
amin Miller were several who became prominent in
the service of the Master, and eminently useful in
the upbuilding of our denomination in this remote
period of its history. One of these was James
Manning, who was the son of Isaac Manning, one
of the constituent members of this church. About
the age of eighteen years he went to Hopewell, N.
J. to prepare for college, under the instruction of
Rev. Isaac Eaton. In 1758 he was baptised into the
fellowship of this church, and in the same year
entered the College of New Jersey now Princeton
University, where he graduated with honors in 1762.
Shortly after his graduation he was ordained to the
ministry at Scotch Plains. Rev. John Gano of
New York, preached the ordination sermon, Rev.
Isaac Eaton of Hopewell gave the charge, and Rev.
Isaac Stelle of Piscataway offered the ordaining
prayer. He then spent a year in travelling exten-
sively through the country having previously mar-
ried a daughter of John Stites. In 1764 he removed
to Warren, about ten miles from Providence, R. I.
where he established a grammar school which soon
became a flourishing institution. A church was
organized in WaiTeti the same year, and Mr.
Manning was called to the pastorate. A charter
was also obtained from the General Assembly,
authorizing the establishment of the College of
Rhode Island, and in 1765 Mr. Manning was
formally appointed President of the College, and
Professor of Languages ''with full power to act in
these capacities at Warren or elsewhere." In 1770
it was determined to remove the College from
Warren to Providence, the town and county sub-
scribing £4200 as an inducement thereto. Mr.
Manning resigned the care of the church at
Warren, but was almost immediately called to the
pastorate of the First Baptist Church at Provi-
dence. President Manning contiaued his mul-
tifarious duties as President, Professor and Pastor
until the breaking out of the war of the Revolu-
tion. The College had been growing in reputation
and usefulness, and was fast attaining the high
position and influence it now occupies as Brown
University. All through the revolutionary strug-
gle Mr. Manning succeeded in keeping the institu-
tion intact, though " University Hall " was occu-
pied much of the time by the British Soldiers as
Barracks, and it was not until 1782 that the course
of instruction was permanently resumed. Indeed
so identified with the life of James Manning was
the history of Brown University, that the story of
the earlier years of that Institution is also the story
of his life. President Manning feeling that his
collegiate duties were too great to allow him to give
to the churcli the care it required, in 1791 request-
ed the appointment of a successor; but before the
request had been complied with, he was stricken
with apoplexy and his useful life ended July 29,
1791, in the fifty-third year of his age.
Thus Rev. Mr. Miller's pastorate was blessed of
God, not only in the building up of this church,
and in the establishing of three other churches;
but in the raising up of men who became lights in
both the literary and religious world.
Mr. Miller served the church about thirty-four
years, and died on the 14th day of November,
1781, and was buried by the loving hands of his
people in the burying ground which surrounded
the church edifice where he had so long and so
earnestly preached the gospel. His sepulchre is
with us to this day, and it is and ought to be held
by the church as a sacred trust of all that is mortal
of him who in the providence of God was the
pioneer pastor of our beloved Zion. He left one
son and four daughters who resided in the home-
stead on the farm now owned by our honored
townsman, A. D. Sheperd, Esq.
For more than four years after the death of Mr.
Miller the church was without direct pastoral
oversight. Mr. Runi Runyon supplied the pulpit
half of the time for a few months and Mr. Benja-
min Coles upon invitation of the church, became a
stated supply. He served the church faithfully
for about two years, but no marked display of the
divine favor, seemed to attend his labors. The
church were much discouraged, as is apparent
from their letter to the Association at Philadelphia
Oct. 5, 1784, in which they request "Counsel, As-
sistance and Supplies as the Association in their
wisdom shall think most proper" adding "we are
at peace among ourselves, though much deadness
still prevails; many minding their own things,
and but few the things that are Jesus Christ's."
After this a George Guthrie, as his recommen-
dation declares "a young brother not long since
from Ireland" visited the church; but he only re-
mained about five months and then removed to
REV. MR. VAN HORN'S PASTORATE.
On the 15th of December, 1785, Rev. William
Van Horn accepted a call to the pastorate. He was
a young man thirty-eight years of age, of Buck's
County, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the
Academy of Dr. Samuel Jones, at Lower Dublin,
Pa. During the revolutionary war he had been a
chaplain in the army, enthusiastically encourag-
ing the heroes who fought against tyranny, and
cheering them on in their toilsome marches, while
sharing with them their greatest dangers and most
grievous hardships. He had also been a pastor at
Southhampton some thirteen years. His preach-
ing is said to have been ' 'of the most solid and
instructive character, never descending into care-
less frivolity, but always with becoming gravity as
a messenger from the throne of God, declaring the
will of the Most High to men."
His ministry here like that of his predecessor
proved eminently sucessful. The first year he bap-
tised forty-seven persons; and these as the
minutes reveal after the closest examination and
scrutiny. The whole number baptised during
his pastorate was one hundred and sixty. While
he evinced great pulpit power, he also had an ex-
ecutive ability, whicli made his pastoral
work a success.
Previous to the coming of Mr. Van Horn, in-
deed, as early as 1761, what was called a vestry
was organized, consisting of seven men, who seem
to have had especial control of the temporal affairs
of the church. Mr. Van Horn formulated a plan
for connecting the church and congregation, for
the support of the Gospel and the care of the tem-
poral interests of the Society. Whatever the
plan was (for the minutes do not record it) it was
adopted and continued in operation until Feb-
ruary, 1788, when, in accordance with a law
passed by the Legislature in 1786, for incor-
porating religious societies, seven Trustees were
chosen and a certificate of incorporation was filed
in the Clerk's office in Newark. In 1869, this in-
corporation was confirmed as an especial charter
by Act of the Legislature; the trustees being
clothed with power to sell lands.
During Mr. Van Horn's administration two
churches were constituted directly from the mem-
bership of this.
In the spring of 1788, three brothers, Abraham
Drake, Cornelius Drake and Isaac Drake, and two
brothers-in-law John Shotwell and David Morris,
were induced by the glowing descriptions of Rev.
William Wood, pastor of the Baptist church at
Washington, Kentucky, to leave their homes here
and seek their fortunes in the wilds of the West.
These brethren with their wives, children and ef-
fects were accompanied by Rev. John Gano, who
was then moving his all from the City of New
York. They sailed down the Ohio River to Lime-
stone, where they landed and proceeded at once to
Washington, four miles distant. Here they made
a temporary stay until they could select a site
upon which to settle. In the early fall, they
bought from a Mr. May a tract of land containing
fourteen hundred acres, eight miles west of Wash-
ington. They made an equitable division of their
land according to the amount of money each had
put into the common stock, and in such a manner,
that the lot of each had a corner in a Salt spring.
Around this spring they built their log houses,
and established their colony, calling the incip-
ient village May^s Lick.
Before leaving their home the aforesaid brethren
with their wives had been granted letters of dis-
mission from this church, on the 12th of April,
1788. Hence, as soon as convenient they organ-
ized themselves into a Particular Baptist Church
at May's Lick, Ky., on November 28, 1789. Rev.
William Wood of Washington, Ky., and James
Garrard, who afterward for two terms was Gov-
ernor of the State, were the officiating ministers on
the occasion. Thus the Scotch Plains church be-
came the mother of a child in what was then re-
garded as the far west.
The May's Lick church grew in numbers, and
religious power and influence, until in 1889 at
their centennial anniversary, they are reported as
one of the strongest churches, and centers of
evangelizing progress in that part of the west.
The other church organized during the pastorate
of Rev. Mr. Van Horn, was the one at Samptown
in our immediate vicinity.
On the 21st of August, 1792, letters of dismis-
sion were given to Christianns Lupordus, Samuel
Drake and wife, Peter Till, Joseph Randolph,
Benjamin Blackford, Dugal Ayers, Epliraim F.
Randolph and wife, Joseph Manning, Robert
Randolph, Mary Blackford, Joseph Drake, John
Luke, Margaret Luke, George Laying, Zervia
Manning, Unis Cole and Moms Frazee. Accord-
ingly on the 1st of December, 1792, the Samptown
Baptist Church was constituted — being ^about
midway between this place and Piscataway, the
pastors of both churches had preached there with
some regularity. But as it was manifestly better
that they should have an organization of their
own, they were set apart as a gospel church —
David Jones of Southampton, Pa., and Jacob F.
Randolph taking part in the Services. This church,
too, recently held their centennial exercises show-
ing commendable progress and efficiency.
After Mr. Van Horn had accepted the pastor-
ate, but probably before he had removed his
family to this place, the Parsonage, a frame build-
ing which stood nearer the street than the present
one, was consumed by fire early in 1786. It was
immediately determined to rebuild; and as there
was some difference of opinion about where the
new building should stand, after determining that
it should be constructed of stone, it was voted "to
indulge Mr. Van Horn with his choice." He
wisely chose the present location, and during that
year all the stone part of the present building was
erected under the pastor's immediate supervision:
and every pastor who has occupied it since has
had occasion to commend the wisdom and foresight
of his plans.
Mr. Van Horn served the church well and faith-
fully for nearly twenty- two years. He gained and
held the respect and confidence, not only of this
church, but of the denomination at large. His
family were amiable and intelligent, a con-
solation to himself and an ornament to
the community. But in the latter part
of his ministry, his health failed, and he, having
quite a large tract of land in the southwestern
part of Ohio, determined to resign his pastorate
and to remove thither. Hence, on the 28th day of
September, 1807, he and his [family entered the
wagons which were to convey him from the scenes
of twenty years of happy associations with a
loving people. The long tedious journey increased
his maladies, and he was only able to reach Pitts-
burg, Pa., where, on the 31st of October, he
passed away to his eternal home. The people of
Pittsburg sympathized with the aiflicted ' family
and showed them many kind attentions. After
the funeral the widow and children pursued their
journey to their destination.
The church were without a pastor about nine
months, during which time they were supplied by
Jacob F. Randolph and Henry Ball, both members
of the church and baptised by Rev. Mr. Van Horn
and licensed to preach the gospel.
PASTORATE OF THOMAS BROWN.
In March, 1808, at the invitation of a com-
mittee appointed by the church. Rev. Thomas
Brown, Pastor of the Baptist church at Salem,
N. J., visited this church. The labors of Mr.
Brown and his visit were highly enjoyed, and the
following April, a unanimous call was extended to
him to become Pastor. This call he accepted, and
removed to this place July 1, 1808. Mr. Brown,
was a native of Newark, N. J. At the age of seven-
teen years lie was converted, and united with the
First Presbyterian Church of that city. His evident
preaching talent and inclination, led his friends
to advise him to prepare for the ministry. He had
not proceeded far in his preparations, when a com-
plete change of views compelled him to be bap-
tised and become a member of the First Baptist
Church of Newark. Afterward, he spent some
years in study, chiefly under the super-
vision of Dr. Samuel Jones, and in 1805,
assumed his first charge at Salem, where he
was ordained as Pastor. Dr. Staughton and Dr.
Jones, officiated at his ordination. He remained
at Salem about three years, when he came
to this place at the call of the church. His pas-
toral relations were pleasant and harmonious from
the begianing. His pulpit ministrations as well
as his judicious and efficient pastoral labors were
highly appreciated. Baptisms were reported every
year, with only one exception, the whole number
amounting to one hundred and fifty, even though
the most careful scrutiny was observed in the ex-
amination of candidates. Mr. Brown was amiable
and cheerful in private life, and held in high esteem
for his social qualities ; but his especial power was
in his pulpit ministrations. These were always
instructive and interesting, and often especially
eloquent and thrilling. His management of cases
of discipline was tenderly wise and judiciously
strict, and thus he endeared himself to the church
membership and to the community.
In the winter of 1816-'17, the meeting house, which
had no doubt been built before the organization
of the church, and stood on ground a short dis-
tance Northwest of the present edifice, was acci-
dently burned and totally destroyed — of course
all the inhabitants turned out to witness the unwel-
come conflagration. Among others who were pres-
ent was Recompense Stanbery, the son of the
first deacon of the church and the father of our
esteemed townsman William C. Stanbery. While
the flames were consuming the timbers of the
revered old structure, Mr. Stanbery said : ' 'Bre-
thren there is no better time to resolve to rebuild
than now, as we stand around these smouldering
embers." He then announced his own subscrip-
tion for the purpose. His example was conta-
gious, one and another followed, and a consider-
able portion of the amount needed for the new
house was raised then and there. Before the
beginning of the new year, work was commenced
and a new edifice, larger than the former one was
erected. Recompense Stanbery, Joseph Bradford,
John B. Osborn, Samuel B. Miller a ad David Osborn
were the building committee who superintended
the work to its completion. The new building
cost about three thousand dollars and was paid
for by contributions received almost exclusively
from this vicinity, though the First Church of New
York City sent some assistance to her mother in
her time of need. There is little doubt that the
spot upon which the new house was built was the
same as that upon which the old one had stood,
and that that ground had been donated to the
church by William Darby, its first Ruling Elder ;
and consisted of five square chains, comprising the
entire old burying ground. The other lands pos-
sessed by the church at this time was what was
known as "the parsonage farm," and consisted of
fifteen acres on the Plains, and twelve acres on the
mountain. This had been purchased of the exec-
utors of William Darby in 1775, and had been
occupied by each of the succeeding pastors since
that time. During the pastorage of Mr. Brown,
Deacon James Brown left a legacy to the church,
of Twelve hundred dollars, for the support of the
poor, which was sacredly used for that purpose for
Thus as time went on, the church was being
enriched both spiritually and materially. Rev.
Mr. Brown was giving the strength of his manhood
to the preaching of Christ crucified. Sinners were
being converted, and uniting themselves with this
church, while the brotherhood were being cemented
in closer fraternal relations by their trials and sor-
rows as well as their successes.
In November, 1828, much to the regret of his
attached people, Mr. Brown resigned the pastorate
and removed to Great Valley, Pa. More than
twenty years of constant service bore testimony
to the faithfulness of the Pastor, but the records of
eternity only can reveal the full measure of his
PASTORATE OF REV. MR. ROGERS.
After a period of less than a year, the church
extended a call to Rev. John Rogers on the 30th
of May, 1829. Mr. Rogers w^as born in the
north of Ireland in 1783. He was converted
at the age of seventeen years, and united with
the Presbyterian Church of which his parents
were members. Convinced of a personal call to
the ministry, he entered upon a course of study,
which was completed at the University of Edin-
burg. After this he labored among the Independ-
ents in Scotland and in Ireland. In the year 1811,
after a careful study of the subject, he became con-
vinced that christian baptism is the immersion of
a believer in water on profession of faith; and he
was thereupon baptised by Rev. Daniel Cook, a
Baptist Minister of Scotland. In the year 1816 he
came to this country, and after a short residence
at Hopewell, N. J., he was called to Pemberton,
where he was ordained in 1817. His labors at
Pemberton were highly appreciated by the mem-
bers of that church, and the writer, who afterward
labored in the same church, often heard him affec-
tionately spoken of. He continued to labor with
the Pemberton church until he removed to this
place about the middle of August, 1829.
Mr. Rogers was a close student, and a good and
instructive preacher. He had an extensive knowl-
edge of the teachings of the bible, and his views
of the plan of Salvation were clear, scriptural and
definite. His ministry here was blessed with two
special revivals, during which many were brought
into the fold of Christ. Among these were three
of his own daughters who proved the genuineness
of their profession by a humble and pious deport-
ment. Mr. Rogers baptized about one hundred
and thirteen happy, rejoicing converts while he
labored in this pastorate. The ingathering of
1837 was especially thorough and widespread.
Perhaps the gloom and depression of that memor-
able time of financial distress had something to do
with turning men's minds into religious channels
and leading to so many similar displays of the
power of Divine Grace.
Mr. Rogers took a lively interest in both Home
and Foreign Missionary enterprises, and he estab-
lished in the church a schedule of systematic con-
tributions to these objects.
The New Jersey Baptist State Convention was
organized in 1830, and Mr. Rogers was one of its
constituent members and gave it his influence dur-
ing his life.
Mr. Rogers resigned in June, 1841, and removed
to Perth Amboy, where he remained only about
three years. Thence he went to Paterson, where
he spent the remainder of his days without a di-
rect pastoral charge, but preaching frequently and
always acceptably for neighboring churches. He
died August 30th, 1849, aged sixty-six years. His
son, A. C. Rogers, M. D., survives him, and is a
prominent and useful worker in the denomina-
These four pastors, who occupied the pulpit of
this church nearly the whole of the first century of
its existence, were eminent men of God, and their
record evinces how certainly the Great Head
of the church will raise up suitable and
qualified leaders to conduct his people along
the line of His own purposes.
All of these men seem to have been wholly con-
secrated to the work to which God had called
them. They knew the truth in their own experi-
ence, and they never hesitated to proclaim the
doctrines of grace. They loved the distinguish-
ing principles of our denomination, and they
taught them fearlessly. Such teachings with the
Divine blessing would be apt to make staunch,
stalwart, Baptist christians; and it did — all
honor to the human agencies — all praise to the
REV. THOMAS F. BROWN, D.D.
REV. MR. WIVELL'S PASTORATE.
John Wivell was born in England. He became
a sailor in early life, professed conversion and
joined the Methodists — afterward he became a
Presbyterian, and among them commenced preach-
ing. He labored sometime in Nova Scotia, and
then came to New York and was baptised by Rev.
Duncan Dunbar. He was almost immediately
licensed and ordained, and spent some time laboring
among the seamen. He removed to Scotch Plains in
March, 1842, and such was his tact, and insin-
uating address, that he soon attracted to him the
public favor, and the congregation rapidly in-
creased in numbers, and there were many pro-
The deportment of Mr. Wivell was regarded by
some from the beginning, as somewhat offensive to
good taste, but was readily excused on account of
his sea-faring life. After a while, reports unfav-
orable to his moral purity were whispered about.
At length the truth burst upon the church like a
thunder clap. The humiliation and mortification
which ensued was great, and Mr. Wivell was speed-
ily excluded from the fellowship of the church.
His subsequent life and the fictitious names he
assumed fully proved the wisdom of the church
in its prompt action. Nothing so disastrous had
ever occurred in the history of the church ; but
while it humbled the membership, it did not divide
The unfortunate incident proves that God's real
people will be true and united even under disas-
trous circumstances; and that the acts of even
bad men will be overruled to accomplish His
REV. MR. LOCKE'S PASTORATE.
William E. Locke was a native of New York
City. He was baptised by Rev. Dr. Cone in 1831.
He was licensed by the Sandy Ridge Baptist
church, N. J., in 1833. He was ordained at Mos-
cow, New York, in 1836. He had also been set-
tled at Gouveneur, Trumansburg and Sing Sing,
N. Y. He accepted a call to this church and re-
moved to Scotch Plains, May 2d, 1844.
Mr. Locke found the church in the peculiar cir-
cumstances resulting from the defection of the
former pastor. The labor to be performed was of
that kind which needed much adroitness and cool
judgment. If Mr. Locke had possessed and ex-
hibited these qualifications it would have been
far better for the church. But the course he pur-
sued and the measures he adopted only alienated
the membership and increased the friction which
already existed. The ingatherings which had
marked former pastorates, did not occur. But
four persons were added by baptism during Mr.
On the 8th of August, 1847, the church held
a centennial service, commemorating with grati-
tude the way in which the Head of the church had
led them during the first one hundred years of
their history. Mr. Locke, preached a centennial
discourse on the occasion, which was printed and
is in possession of many members of the church,
and is held by them in high esteem.
At its organization the church had united with
the Philadelphia Association, and in 1792, it had
withdrawn and united with the then organized
New York Association, and now in 1844, it united
with the East New Jersey Association where it has
Mr. Locke, continued in charge of the church
until September 1st, 1849, when he resigned and
accepted a call to Amenia, N. Y. He afterward
joined the Presbyterian denomination.
EEV. MR. RUE'S PASTORATE.
Joshua E. Rue was born at Hightstown, N. J.
He was licensed by that church in 1844. He was
ordained at Jacobstown as Pastor in 1845, having
been educated at Lafayette College and Madison
University. Subsequently he served as Pastor at
Sandy Ridge, N. J. In the beginning of the year
1850, he accepted a call to the pastorate of this
Church and entered upon his duties. He preached
the simple doctrines of grace, and as a result, a
pleasant condition of spiritual awakening followed,
and twenty-seven rejoicing converts were buried in
But in the midst of his work he was smitten by
disease, and for many weeks his life seemed to
hang in the balance. He was partially restored
however, but was almost immediately called to
follow to the grave the remains of his beloved
companion, who had also endeared herself
to this people. Thus sorely afflicted and
with ruined health, he resigned the charge
of the church, having served it acceptably
just four years. Afterward he held agencies for
the Home Mission Society, American Bible Union
and for Peddie Institute. He retired to North
Carolina, and died in 1887, and his remains were
brought to this place and buried beside his wife
and near the grave of the first pastor of the
clmrch, Benjamin Miller. The Ladies' Circle of
this church erected a monument to mark the spot ;
and the trustees have recently reserved and set
apart some adjacent lots for the burial of any who
may have served the church as pastor with their
immediate families in all time.
During the period of Mr. Rue's pastorate some
improvements were made upon the church prop-
The number of members in 1854 was one hundred
DR. BROWN'S PASTORATE.
James F. Brown was born in Scotch Plains, July
4th, 1819. He was the son of Rev. Thomas Brown,
who was at that time pastor of this church.
James F. graduated from the University of Penn-
sylvania in 1841, and studied theology with Rev.
Dr. Dagg. He was ordained Pastor of the Ganis-
ville Baptist Church, Alabama, and in 1846 took
charge of the Great Valley church. Pa. , where he
remained eight years, and was then called to this
his native town and to the pastorate of the church
his father had so acceptably served. He removed
to this place in 1854 and remained six years. He
is a man of scholarly attainments, gentle spirit,
sound theological views, large sympathies and has
been blessed in his ministry. The church during
his pastoral connection was harmonious and grew
both in numbers and in influence. That memor-
able year of financial adversity, 1857, was one of
spiritual prosperity in this church. Many who
were then added became prominent members,
and those who yet remain remember gratefully
and affectionately tlie judicious measures and
REV. WILLIAA\ LUKE.
devout earnestness of the Pastor. Mr. Brown
resigned in 1860 and became Pastor at Bridgton,
N. J. While at Bridgton the University at Lew-
isburg honored him with the degree of Doctor of
Divinity, and also elected him to the chancellor-
ship of that Institution. Dr. Brown is still liv-
ing, and although not a Pastor, in consequence of
ill health, is held in high esteem in the Denomin-
REV. MR. LUKE'S PASTORATE.
Rev. William Luke was born in Esopus, New
York, in 1821. He was both baptized and licensed
to preach the gospel at Poughkeepsie, N. Y. He
entered Madison University in 1848, but remained
only two years when he went to Rochester, where
he graduated in 1854. He went to the Province of
New Brunswick, but remained only a short time
and returned to his native and more congenial
climate. He was ordained at Hornellsville, and
soon after removed to Forestville, N. Y,, where
he preached until 1857. Afterward he became
Pastor of the Eighty-third Street Baptist
Church of New York City, where during
four years of service he was successful in building
up the church which was weak when he assumed
charge. In 1860 he was called to the pastorate of
this church, and having accepted he removed to
this place about the first of December of the same
year. The circumstances which led;; to the war of
the Rebellion were culminating. Heated political
discussion, was rife on every hand. Pastors were
censured, some for being too pronounced in their
devotion to the Union cause, and others for being
too little so. Mr. Luke took a lively interest in
the events transpiring and a number felt aggrieved.
The congregation, the membership and the in-
fluence of the Pastor, all declined. A number
left the church by letter, and only two baptisms
occurred during the six years of Mr. Luke's ad-
ministration. It was at this period too that the
church at Westfield was organized, and nearly
twenty members asked for and received letters to
unite with that organization — all these concurrent
circumstances reduced the membership to one hun-
dred and five.
Mr. Luke resigned January 1st, 1867, having
been called to Greenport, L. I. Here he labored
with much success, but ill-health compelled him
to resign the pastorate; and he died at Wap-
pinger Falls, N. Y., in the triumphs of faith, and
the hope of the Gospel he had so faithfully
preached, on May 16, 1869.
PASTORATE OF DR. BUCHANAN.
Joseph C. Buchanan was born in Ringoes, N.
J., in 1841. He entered the sophomore class of
Madison University in October, 1863, taking the
degree of A. M., in course, three years later. He
accepted a call to this church in 1867, and was
ordained here, Oct. 1st of that year. Rev. D. J.
Yerkes, D. D., of Plainfield, preached on the
occasion, and Rev. J. D. Morell delivered the
charge to the candidate, and Rev. L. O. Grenell
to the church. He remained here until September
1st, 1878, when he resigned this his first pastorate,
to accept the call of the PembertoQ Baptist Church,
where he still remains. During his pastorate at
Pemberton, Bucknell University at Lewisburg,
Pa., conferred upon him the honorary degree of
Doctor of Divinity.
REV. J. C BUCHANAN. D.D.
Br. Buchanan is a good theologian, a thought-
ful preacher, a judicious, affectionate pastor, and
has been prospered in winning souls. When he
assumed charge of this church a pleasant state of
religious feeling met the pastor at the outset; and
by a faithful preaching of the gospel, attended by
the blessing of God, a most important work of
grace was experienced in the year 1868. Nearly
fifty were baptised, and many who are now tried
and true members of 'the church were converted
and put on Christ in baptism as the fruit of his
An important material work accomplished during
the pastorate of Dr. Buchanan was the erection of
our present house of worship. The old church ed-
ifice was sold. A considerable part of the parson-
age farm was sold for building lots, and a substan-
tial structure was erected on a fine corner, near
where the old building stood. The present house
is fifty feet by one hundred and ten feet including
the lecture room in the rear. The main audience
room is fifty by seventy feet with recess puli^it.
The building is gothic in style, with corner
tower and spire. The material is pressed brick,
with Ohio stone and white brick trimmings, and
slate roof. The cost including furniture and organ,
was Thirty thousand dollars. The removal of the
railroad further from the village, thus preventing
the increase of population, which was confidently
expected, together with the financial dejoression
of the times left the church heavily involved in
debt, which rested wearily upon them for many
Dr. Buchanan, labored self-sacrificingly and
well, and very many members of the church as
well as of the community hold him in highest
regard. He is actively engaged in furthering the
religious interests of our State, as well as our own
denominational interests in addition to those of his
pastorate. While Dr. Buchanan, is a New Jersey-
man, yet his constant effort is for the widest
dissemination of gospel truth. May he long live
to witness the results of his labors.
PASTORATE OF REY. MR. GUISCARD.
Uriah B. G-uiscard, was bom and educated in
England. In this country he was Pastor at Banks-
ville, N. Y., at New London, Conn.. atBrewsters,
N. Y., and at Greenport, L. I. In each of these
places he made a good record. He was called to
the pastorate of this church April 29, 1879, and
accepted the position early in August of the same
During his pastorate the church lost by death
three tried and honored deacons, viz. : Jared S.
Stout, Henry Hetfield and L. H. K. Smalley. Only
two persons were baptised here by Bro. Guis-
card. He resigned his charge March 26, 1882.
During his administration a fine toned bell was
placed in the tower of the church mainly by his
efforts. The cemetery also was surrounded with a
neat iron fence. Mr. Guiscard, was a good
preacher, and had many amiable qualities. After
his resignation he settled at Newton, N. J. , where
he remained a few years. He died, and was buried
from the home of his son in Summit, N. J., at the
age of seventy-one years.
REV. U. B. GUISCARD.
PASTORATE OF REV. DR. PARKS.
Prepared by Judge J. D. Cleaver.
James H. Parks was horn in tlie City of New-
York, July 13, 1829. He was converted in the
year 1847, and united with the Reformed Dutch
Church. Soon after he commenced a course of
preparation for Rutgers' College, having the Min-
istry in view, but health failing, and a series of
circumstances arising which brought the subject of
Christian Baptism to his attention, he was com-
pelled to make a thorough examination of Scrip-
tural teachings upon the subject, which resulted in
his being immersed, on profession of faith, on the
second day of July, 1854.
He afterward pursued a post-graduate course at
Columbian College, Washington, D. C, and re-
ceived the Degree of Master of Arts, upon Ex-
amination, from that Institution.
He was also honored with the Degree of A.M.
from Princeton College, New Jersej^.
He was ordained to the Ministry, May 28, 1856.
He has been Pastor of the Baptist Churches at
Stamford, Connecticut; Bedford, New York ; Pem-
berton. New Jersey ; Mannayunk,Pa. , and Norwich,
Conn. ; Calvary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania ; Lin-
den Avenue, Dayton, Ohio, and Scotch Plains,
While Pastor at Scotch Plains, in the year 1889,
he received the Degree of D.D. from Shurtliff
He settled with the Scotch Plains Church the
second week in January in the year 1883, and
resigned the pastorate December 31, in the year
During his pastorate seventy-nine members by
baptism or letter were added to tlie Churcli.
The years 1882-83 formed a critical period in
the history of this Church.
It was the culminating period in a distressing
series of financial disasters and spiritual barren-
It was the "Harvest Home," when were garnered
the Dead Sea fruits of unwise and, as the result
proved, almost ruinous business mismanagement.
Many who had been active and prominent in the
affairs of the Church were gone.
Some were alienated, some driven out by a spirit
of intolerance, some were dead, some removed to
A decade of business blunders and mistakes of
management had given birth to unchristian feel-
ings and harsh recrimination, so that the year of
our Lord 1882 found but a few left who were will-
ing to stand by the fortunes of this venerable
church, when the storm-waves were beating high
upon her walls and undermining her foundations.
It was, indeed, a time of peril which made all
those who loved the church, for herself, her his-
tory and her mission, realize that there was need
of all being done that could be done by all who
still clung to the cause, and were willing to go on,
hoping and trusting that in His own time and way
God would raise up instrumentalities for the care
and perpetuation of this, His Zion.
So serious was the condition in the years 1881
and 1882, that it was with great difficulty the
Treasurer could raise the paltry, weekly stipend of
ten dollars, then the pay received by the Rev. Mr.
Guiscard, the then Pastor, while at the same time
the meeting house, the Parsonage and the grounds
around them were steadily falling into dilapida-
tion and decay; and, still worse, the time when
the interest upon the Mortgage debt of the Church,
if not the debt itself, would have to be met, and
with absolutely no provision being made or
thought possible to be made to meet either.
It is not a matter of wonder that in such circum-
stances, a proposition was seriously made by a
trustee, at a meeting of the Board, that the
Meeting House and other property of the Church
covered by the Mortgages (which were held by
Warren Ackerman, Esquire, who had generously
forborne the interest thereon for five years), should
be abandoned, and the property surrendered.
As the Mortgages covered everything belonging
to the Church which could be Mortgaged, real and
personal, even down to the Communion Service,
such abandonment could not be permitted.
This brief sketch outlines the perilous conditions
which existed in the years 1881-2; the inheritance
from former years of mistakes and mismanage-
Every one, or nearly every one, felt that it was
quite time to call upon a leader who could devote
zeal with knowledge, experience and business
ability to the work of rescue and relief — a man who
would be a brave and skilful Captain, to lead the
"forlorn hope," and save the dear old church from
On the twenty-seventh day of November, 1882,
by a unanimous vote, the church extended a call
to become its Pastor, to the Rev. James H. Parks,
and on the Eighth day of December, next there-
after, at a special Parish Meeting called to con-
sider the subject, the call so made by the church,
was cordially and with practical unanimity en-
dorsed by the Parish, there being only three dis-
After consultation with the trustees, and after
receiving from each member of the Board his per-
sonal assurance that he would stand by, help, aid
and assist, with Prayers and work, and with a full
knowledge of the direful condition, spiritual and
financial, which surrounded the task before him,
the Reverend James H. Parks accepted the call
which he had received, and entered upon the ardu-
ous work before him, on the second week of Jan-
Of a truth, the labor was great, but seemed to
be to the new pastor a labor of love as well, and
success seemed to crown his efforts at the very
Hitj organizing talent and executive ability, re-
inforced by remarkable energy, inspired all around
him with kindred vitality and strength of purpose.
Where fear and despair had so lately held their
paralyzing sway, faith re-asserted herself. Hope
arose to newness of life, courage once more filled
and fired all hearts; and very soon under their
wise and careful leader, every one was a willing,
cheerful co-worker for the redemption of the old
church from her bondage of debt.
Methods Avere adopted to meet the accruing in-
terest on the mortgage debt, provision was made
for the current expenses of the Church, and a
brave and successful attack was planned and
carried into effect too for the reduction of the prin-
cipal of the mortgage debt.
REV. J. H. PARKS. D.D.
Although those were days of serious thought
and severe and incessant toil, they were also times
of great enjoyment. Peace reigned in our coun-
cils, and harmony of purpose and action wrought
their natural work. Pastor and people were
They could see that, with God's blessing, they
were gaining ground and could even anticipate
the time when the last fetter of debt should be
knocked off and the Scotch Plains Baptist Church
should be again, what for more than a Century
she had been, dedicated to the Lord's service, free
and clear of all debt.
Among the means to this glorious end introduced
by the new Pastor, one ought not to pass unmen-
tioned in the annals of those days of trial and
triumph, viz. : The Ladies' Circle.
The New Pastor had brought with him an help-
meet, invaluable to himself and to the Church,
and when upon the Organization of "The Ladies'
Circle," Mrs. Parks became its President, with
Mrs. Huldah D. Cleaver as Vice President, Miss
Mary Dunn, Treasurer, Miss Hannah Hayes, Sec-
retary, and a Board of Managers, there came into
life one of the most, if not the most potent factors
for the success of the work in hand.
Under the wise and skilful guidance of their
beloved President, who worked with her head, her
heart, and her hands, the ladies of the Church,
without regard to age, rallied with an ardor that
shed new lustre upon the sex, and worked with
the utmost zeal and untiring energy. Indeed
more money was raised through this splendid band
of women, than through any other one agency
then in operation.
Thus, under the judicious Management of Doc-
tor Parks, the work of getting the Church upon
solid ground went bravely and successfully on.
Doctor Parks had some heroic co-workers in
those days, foremost among whom was Doctor
F. W. Westcott.
It may be permitted to mention here some inci-
dents of how they then worked. The Furnace
underneath the Church was so out of Order (and
to get a new one was impossible) that the Audi-
torium could only be warmed for Sunday Service
by having someone sit up all the night before with
the furnace and coax it along.
Doctors Parks and Westcott were the men for the
Emergency. They did it alternately, and thus the
old furnace was forced to do duty until a new one
could be bought.
When the Ladies' Circle gave Entertainments at
which oysters were served, it was a sight well
worth the seeing, and not easily to be forgotten by
those who understood all that it meant, to see these
two Doctors, Parks and Westcott, standing with
coats off, and sleeves rolled up, opening the rough-
coated bivalves, for the guests at the festivals.
It was a homely but needed work. They did it
well. They honored the work. The work honored
them. They were working for the Master's Cause,
and their work met His approval, and was crowned
Space does not permit the narration of other in-
cidents to illustrate the character and toilsomeness
of the services and sacrifices made by the Men and
Women, and Children also, of the Parish in that
period of Supreme Struggle. Suffice it to say: All
were animated by the high and holy resolve to
save the old Church, and their resolve was chrystal-
ized into action.
The Lord blessed their efforts, and from the
nettle of seeming Ruin, they plucked the fragrant
flower of Victory.
Pastor and People were of one mind, enthusi-
astic and happy.
They saw the dark and ominous cloud, which
had hovered so low and so long, over them passing
away, and the dawn of a better and brighter day
was beginning to purple the east.
Church and Parish were laboring as a unit.
Faith and Good works blended in one harmonious
impulse, and under the sway of such motors, all
were content to work on assured of the blessing of
the Most High. During this time the interest was
paid and S2,«)00 on mortgage debt. Thus it was
and thus continued the surroundings of the Church,
when in the year 1888, Matthias Frazee Lee, an
old member of the church died, and by his will,
made her the residuary legatee of an estate
estimated to be worth One hundred and fifty thou-
sand Dollars ($150,000) or more.
This will was drawn up by Mr. Lee's legal ad-
viser, and was made and executed absolutely with-
out the knowledge of the church or any of its
members, except only the testator himself.
As is usual in such cases, the dead man's will
and wishes in regard to the disposition of his prop-
erty were not respected.
He was a bachelor. He had no one dependent
upon him. He was under no obligation to any of
His next of kin were two uncles, both older
than himself , both comfortably well off as to "this
world's gear." One of them was a member of
this church, the other belonged to the Presbyter-
ian Charch of Westfield, New Jersey.
These two men set on foot legal proceedings to
nullify the last will and testament of their nephew,
who had lived all his life near neighbor to them,
and whom they knew to be a man of far more than
ordinary mind and capacity for business.
It was evident, as the case developed, that the
uncles were mere "figureheads" in the contest.
That they had permitted themselves to be used
by others who were not next of kin to the
These people, most of whom were cousins to Mr.
Lee, many of whom had shared his bounty during
his lifetime — these instigators of the attack upon the
will of Mr. Lee made their appearance at the Court.
(The old men whose names were used as nominal
contestants did not appear), and did their utmost
to cover with shame and obloquy the life, career
and memory of the man whose money they sought
to grasp against his wish and will, solemnly ex-
As the real parties to this shameful scheme, they
dragged the vicinity for willing and unwilling
witnesses — many of whom were debtors to Mr.
Lee — they themselves ; some of them became wit-
nesses, and in their own interest swore down the
dead man's character, his wishes and his will.
The outcome was that the church became weary
of the long and expensive contest against avarice;
a compromise was made, and they who had fought
so viciously for their kinsman's money, which
SOME mp:mbers of the ladies circle.
they knew he intended they should not have, car-
ried off the major part of the estate. Let us not
envy them all the pleasure they can derive from
wealth thus obtained.
The small portion of the original estate which
finally came to the church, enabled the Trustees to
obey the first condition of the legacy, by paying
the debt of the church. The balance of the fund
is held by the terms of the Will "to be used by
said Church in spreading the Gospel."
Another event which marked the Pastorate of
Doctor Parks, and seemed to characterize it as the
Era of Legacies, was that of the death of James C.
Lyon, (which took place July 7, 1890), another
former member of the church having departed this
life, made the church the residuary legatee under
his last Will. Happily this gift came unattended
by the disagreeable and exasperating displays of
greed which marked the Lee bequest ; and so in
due season, and in conformity with the will of the
testator, his executor, William C. Stanbery,
Esquire, turned over to the church the residue of
the Estate valued at about Ten thousand Dollars
($10,000). This legacy came as a free gift untram-
melled by any restrictions or limitations.
Let the memory of Lee and Lyon ever be kept
freshly and lovingly in the minds of the sons and
daughters of our old Zion. A beautiful memorial
tablet has been erected conspicuously upon the
church building to each of those benefactors of the
The first decade of Doctor Parks' Pastorate
was, simply, a struggle for life.
The Old Ship which for more than a century had
sailed upon her course safely and steadily bear-
ing tlie "glad tidings" the Gospel of Love and
Salvation, was now tempest tossed — storm beaten
— well nigh wrecked. Self preservation, the first
law of nature, demanded that every energy of
Captain, Officers and Crew, should be directed to
saving the ship, well knowing, as they did, that
unless the ship were saved from wreck, her long
and noble voyage, already sailed, would end
disastrously and forever.
If therefore it should appear to the reader of
this review of Doctor Park's Pastorate, that too
much time and labor were devoted to the worldly
or financial interests of the Church, and too little
to her spiritual growth ; it is felt that the criticism
must be toned down and softened by the recollec-
tion of the stern and unrelenting necessities which
threatened the very existence of the Church.
But the spiritual things — the preaching and
prayer services were never at anytime neglected or
The Christian Graces were reared and fortified
in the school of severe practical training and alert
watchfulness. It was a discipline of realities in
which Faith and Good AYorks so constantly met
and mingled, that old-time Christians were
strengthened and renewed, while the Novitiates
felt their hearts warmed, and under the inspiration
of the constant struggle for the cause, were built
up and made to "quit themselves like men."
The latter years of Doctor Parks' Pastorate were
marked by a quiet and gradual growth in the
Church, and when he decided to resign the charge
he so faithfully had kej)t for eleven years, his
resignation was accepted by Church and Parish
with unaffected and universal regret.
REV. JAMES S. BRAKER.
He carried with him into his retirement, the
esteem and respect of the community, and the
sincere love of his Parishioners and Church Mem-
He is now living in his own home, opposite the
scene of his recent labors ; and may the Lord bless
and keep him and his estimable wife for years yet
The present Pastor of the church is Rev. J. S.
Braker. He was born in Camden, N. J., in 1863,
and was educated at Bucknell University and
Crozer Theological Seminary. He has held pastor-
ates at Passayunk Baptist Church and at Temple
Baptist Church, Philadelphia, Pa. He accepted
the call of this church in April, 1894. His pastor-
ate is yet too young to record results — But he has
the hearty co-operation of the church. He has
baptised a number into its fellowship, and all hope
he may be successful in accomplishing the will of
the God of the church.
Thus Jehovah has always provided leaders for
His people, who have broken to them the bread of
life, and conducted them amid the intricacies of
the way heavenward.
Lay preaching was at least tacitly authorized as
long ago as 1791 when it was "voted that the
deacons exercise their gifts in case of disappoint-
ment by the minister." The minutes, also record
instances in which persons asked for license to
preach the gospel, and after the church "had in-
vestigated and inquired into their fitness," they
were advised that "they would be more useful in
some other department of the Lord's vineyard."
The following persons, however, were licensed by
vote of the church.
Henry Crosley, one of the original members,
was licensed about the year 1750, and was ordained
at Schooley's Mountain in 1753.
David Sutton was baptised by Rev. Mr. Miller,
soon after the church was constituted, and was
licensed in 1758 and ordained in 1761.
John Sutton, who was a brother of David, was
baptised, licensed and ordained at the same time
his brother was, and became an eminently useful
Minister of the Gospel.
James Manning, D. D., was baptised by Rev.
Mr. Miller, licensed and ordained at Scotch Plains.
Elsewhere his great usefulness and the eminence
he attained in the Denomination, have been re-
Daniel Dane was baptised in August, 1771, and
licensed to preach the gospel in 1773.
Jacob F. Randolph was baptised by Rev. Mr.
Van Horn in 1786 and licensed in 1791. He had
previously exercised his talents in the occasional
absence of the Pastor. He was ordained at Mount
Bethel in the same year, and afterward served as
Pastor at Samptown; and when the Plainfield
First Baptist Church was organized in 1818 he be-
came their Pastor. He was devotedly pious, ar-
dently zealous, and possessed a peculiar sweetness
of disposition. He was Pastor at Plainfield about
ten years, and died in the triumphs of the Chris-
Marmaduke Earl who was a member of the Re-
formed Dutch Church and graduate of Columbia
College, became a baptist in 1789. He united with
this Churcli in 1790 and was licensed to preach in
1791. He was Pastor for several years at Oyster
Bay, L. I.
Henry Ball, son of Deacon Aaron Ball, was
licensed to preach in 1805. He labored twenty-
seven years at Brookfield, N. Y., and afterward
was useful at Greenville, Factoryville and Middle-
town, N. Y. At the latter place he was instru-
mental in organizing a Baptist Church, which has
since become a strong people.
Obediah B. Brown of Newark, came to Scotch
Plains, to study under direction of Rev. Mr. Van
Horn. He was licensed January 1, 1806. Soon
after, he accompanied Deacon Ezra Darby, M. C,
to Washington, D. C, and became Pastor of a
church in that City.
Hervey Ball, nephew of Henry Ball, was grad-
uated at Columbian College, Washington, D.C., and
was soon after licensed to preach. His life was
spent chiefly in teaching.
Elias Frost was licensed in 1830 and removed
to Hamburg, Sussex Co., N. J.
These are all whom the minutes record as hav-
ing received license directly from this church ;
though others who have been members with us, and
removed to sister churches, have received license
from the respective churches to which they went.
It should be said here, that when the church
was organized, officers were elected who are not
usually recognized by Baptist churches. They
were called Ruling Elders, and seem to have con-
stituted an Advisory Board with the Pastor. The
office continued for about forty years, and was
then quietly allowed to drop out of sight. Those
who occupied this position were William Darby,
Recompense Stanbery, Peter Wilcox, John Stites,
Samuel Drake, Samuel Doty, John Blackford and
Recompense Stanbery and William Darby were
the first deacons. They were elected at the first
business meeting of the church, October 14, 1747.
They were chosen to the double office of Deacon
and Ruling Elder. They served faithfully and
well until their death. Joseph Allen was elected
April 6, 1748, and retained the office until his
death in 1797.
Gabriel Ogden and Samuel Brooks were elected
in July, 1765. Deacon Ogden was dismissed upon
his removal to Sussex Co., and Deacon Brooks
died March 24, 1788.
Joseph F. Randolph was elected July 30, 1777,
and died in 1782.
David Morris was elected in October, 1777, and
served until he removed to Kentucky in 1788.
Daniel Drake was a deacon and died October 1,
Nathaniel Drake was a younger brother of
Daniel, and became a deacon and discharged his
duties until his death in 1801.
Noah Clark was chosen a deacon and served un-
til his death in 1801, a period of about ten years.
Benjamin Blackford was elected in 1791, and
served until his removal to Samptown at the or-
ganization of that church.
Melvin Parse was appointed to succeed Deacon
Blackford, and served thirty-four years until the
time of his death in 1827.
Aaron Ball was chosen in 1793, and continued
in office more than forty-eight years.
John B. Osborn and Ezra Darby were elected
February 13, 1802. Deacon Osborn served until
his death. Deacon Darby was chosen to represent
the State in the Congress of the United States in
1804. While performing his duties at the Capitol,
he was suddenly removed by death, Jamiary 28,
1808. He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery
which is a beautiful spot situated about two miles
from the Capitol, on the banks of the "East
Branch" of the Potomac Kiver. His name is
number two in the list of interments. His
tomb is situated in the North East corner of the
cemetery on a gentle mound, overlooking the
peaceful valley of the "Eastern Branch," and the
picturesque hills of Maryland beyond. The in-
scription on the tomb is simply "In memory of
Ezra Darby, born at Scotch Plains, New Jersey.
Member of Congress from that State. Died in this
City, January 28, 1808. In the 39th year of his
age. A Patriot. A Philanthropist. A Christian."
James Brown was elected to fill Deacon Darby's
place in 1809. He died June 5, 1811.
Henry Hetfield was appointed in 1828, and
served about sixteen years, when he removed his
church relationship to Brooklyn, N. Y., and after-
wards to Somerville, N. J. He was re-elected
when he returned, and served until the Master
called him home.
Jonathan Osborn was chosen on 27th of July,
1830, and served until 1842, when he removed to
the State of New York.
Dr. Corra Osborn, Alexander Wilson, William
Hand, Maxwell Frazee, Corra O. Meeker and James
Pugsley were all elected between 1841 and 1844,
and filled the office well and faithfully. Randolph
G. Silvers was also an efficient deacon. Jared S.
Stout and L. H. K. Smalley have also served the
church honorably and satisfactorily until they
were called up higher.
During the last fifteen years or more, "William
Archbold, David Hand, Dr. J. A. Coles and Thomas
Mead have consecratedly and devoutly occupied
the office. Deacon Mead removed to Spring Val-
ley, N. Y., last year, and resigned his position.
As appears by the minutes, those who have per-
formed the duties of clerk, have been Recom-
pense Stanbery, Ichabod Valentine, Jr., David
Morris, Robert F. Randolph, Aaron Ball, Ezra
Darby, Jonathan Hand Osborn, Jonathan Osborn,
Jr., Alexander Wilson, C. 0. Meeker, Thomas
Ward, O. M. Putnam, L. H. K. Smalley, Thomas
Cleaver, R. C. Treadwell and George Dunn.
Bro. Dunn is now acting in that capacity. Thus
the church has been fully officered during all the
years of its existence. Even during the dark
times of the Revolutionary Struggle, while the
minutes of that period are scant and unsatisfactory,
and the business meetings irregular, yet the church
maintained its existence, and kept the banner of
the cross in sight.
The church has always defended Baptist prin-
ciples : among these, soul liberty, or rights of con-
science, by which our fathers understood that
every one has a right to think and believe without
dictation from any earthly power, being respon-
sible to God only. To worship God according to
the dictates of his own conscience. A century
and a half ago this principle was not so generally
endorsed by other denominations as it is now, but
it has always been the teaching of Baptists.
When the province of New Jersey was ceded to
Lord Berkley and Sir George Cartaret,by the Duke
of York, in 1664, religious freedom was guaranteed
in the charter thus : "No person at any time shall
be anyways molested, punished, disquieted, or
called in question for any difference of opinion or
practice in matters of religious concernment."
This was the broad teaching which our fathers
loved, but it was not always conformed to by
paedobaptists of this and neighboring provinces.
In 1775 Baptists as well as others, were required
to pay a rate ministerial tax for the support of
Presbyterian and Congregational clergymen, in
some of the provinces. Our fathers felt themselves
wronged, aggrieved and persecuted by this require-
ment. When knowledge of the fact came to the
ears of this church, on the first of February, 1775,
they appointed one Mr. Smith, to go to England
to represent and defend these persecuted breth-
ren. The church paid the expenses of Mr. Smith
upon this mission.
Dr. Manning, and Dr. Stennett, who was known
personally to George III, succeeded in getting the
ear of the King. The consequence was that His
Majesty "disallowed and rejected" all acts of
oppression of Baptists: and thus one of the first
victories of soul liberty secured on this continent
was gained by the co-operation of this church, and
the payment of the expenses of one of its mem-
bers, as one of a committee upon this business.
The church has always been a Strict Communion
church. It has always believed and taught that
they only were entitled to the privilege of the
Lord's table, who had been immersed on profession
of faith, and were living upright and consistent
lives. Our fathers were uncompromising in their
tenacious adherence to this principle. Not only
would they refuse to commune with an unbaptised
person, but the minutes record instances in which
their own members were "Set by," and refused the
Lord's Supper until they had acknowledged some
fault, or repented of some sin, or indiscretion of
which they had been guilty. No officer of this
church would ever have been elected, or held his
position long, if he had been at all wavering or
uncertain upon the communion question. So, too,
of the doctrines of the church. They have always
been unequivocally stated and implicitly believed.
The Bible has ever been our only rule of faith and
practice. While the church adopted the Philadel-
phia Confession of Faith, yet it has never con-
formed to any creed as such, but always tried
every summary of doctrine, by the word of God
and endorsed that which would bear the test of its
teachings. We have reason to rejoice that our
fathers laid the foundations of our Zion deep and
strong, and that hitherto the superstructure has
been erected upon that foundation.
The church has been pecuniarily self-sustaining
from its organization. It has never received any
help or assistance from Home Mission Society,
State Convention, nor any other benevolent organ-
ization of our denomination ; while it has always
counted it a privilege to contribute to the needs of
others; not to the extent of our ability, perhaps,
but always in some degree.
The church has been at peace with itself from
the beginning, No serious inharmony nor dissen-
sion has ever prevailed, and we have never had
occasion to call a council of the denomination to
settle disputes. To the Great Head in Zion be the
praise and not to us. We are doubtless as heady
and strong willed as any in the Lord's great fam-
ily, but His moulding and modifying hand has
been upon us from the beginning even until now.
The church has never been numerically large.
Though about one thousand persons have been
baptised since the organization, yet the member-
ship at any one time has never been large. The
reason for this is apparent. We are geographically
located away from the railroad and are sur-
rounded with Baptist churches. Besides this
there are few manufacturing interests in our imme-
diate vicinity. For this reason young persons
who have been converted and united with the
church have only remained until they could find
employment elsewhere. Hence the church has
always been a feeder to other churches. Young
men and women have been trained in church work
here, and then have gone to enrich the working
force of other churches, while few have located
permanently with us. We count it a privilege to
have thus contributed to the greater efiiciency of
neighboring organizations through all these past
years, and regard it a success if we have main-
tained a creditable average membership.
The female membership has been an important
factor in the success of every church enterprise. The
records show that while women have never been
entrusted with any official church position, yet the
affectionately devoted lives, and hearty co-opera-
tion with every good word and work, of many of
them, has endeared them to the church and made
their memory hallowed when they have passed
away. Indeed, many a wisely planned scheme for
church enlargement and progress would have
failed but for the prayers, self-sacrificing identifi-
cation, deft fingers and determined application of
sisters of the church, who regarded no effort too
great to make, for the cause so dear to their hearts.
The Ladies' Circle in the time of the church's
greatest financial need helped to carry the burden
for years, and assisted in raising both the prin-
cipal and interest of the mortgage debt. All honor
to the consecrated women who were surely related
to the Marys of old, who were last at the cross
and first at the sepulchre of our risen Lord.
The Sabbath School was organized during the
pastorate of Rev. John Rogers, in the year 1829,
just sixty-eight years ago. Catechetical and Bible
class instruction, however, was given by the Pas-
tors of the church before that time. The East
New Jersey Baptist Sunday School Convention
was not organized until 1852, and our Sunday
School immediately united with it. Its second
session was held with this church and school in
1853. It is impossible to collate the names of all
who have served as Superintendents, but the fol-
lowing named are distinctly remembered by some
of the oldest living members of the church:
Deacon Henry Hetfield, for twenty-five years,
Thomas Ward, Thomas Cleaver, James E. Pugs-
ley, Randolph Silvers, Anson Grant, H. E. Need-
ham, Charles A. Smith, L. H. K. Smalley, David
Hand, R. C. Tread well, George Colgate and George
E. Hall. Bro, Hall is in charge of the school at
this time, and is efficiently promoting its interests.
He is also President of the East N. J. Baptist S.
S. Convention. All of these officers have been
among the most public spirited, self sacrificing
and consecrated members of the church. There
has always been a corps of teachers too, of both
sexes, who have labored in this nursery of Zion,
and God has not left them destitute of evidence of
It is undoubtedly a historical fact, that among
the great army of Sunday School workers in our
State, it may be declared that this or that man
was born into the Kingdom of God by the influ-
ence of the Scotch Plains Baptist Sunday School.
The church has had thirteen regular Pastors, of
whom four are yet living, viz. : Rev. J. F. Brown,
D.D., Rev. J. C. Buchanan, D.D., Rev. J. H.
Parks, D.D. and Rev. J. S. Braker, the present
Pastor. Two of these Pastors were ordained here,
viz. : Benjamin Miller and Joseph C. Buchanan,
and two are buried here, viz.: Rev. Benj. Miller
and Rev. Joshua E. Rue. The longest term of
office continued thirty-four years, and the shortest
twenty months. The average is more than twelve
DESCENDANTS OF ORIGINAL FAMILIES.
Of course the constituent members of the church
have long since gone to their final home and their
reward, but some of their descendants are still
residents of our town.
Recompense Stanbery, one of the constituent
members and deacons, liad cliildren, among whom
were Recompense Stanbery, born September 23,
1758. He also was identified with the church.
Nine children were the result of his marriage, of
whom but one remains, William C. Stanbery, who
is an honored and respected member of our com-
Rev, Benjamin Miller left one son, who lived in
the homestead, the farm now occupied by our
honored townsman, A. D. Shepard. He had sev-
eral children. Aaron Drake married one of the
granddaughters. Two of his children, Miss Sarah
Drake and Miss Louise Barr, are now identified
with us and are the only members of the church
who are direct descendants of the first pastor.
John Darby, one of the early members, married
Nancy Stanbery. He had several children. Levi,
Aaron, John, Joseph, Recompense, William, Katie
and Margaret. William H. Cleaver married Mar-
garet, and Judge James D. Cleaver, one of the sons
of this union, is a member of our Board of Trustees.
He was President of the Board in 1847, and is
again President this present year, 1897. Levi
Darby, who is yet with us, is a son of Aaron Dar-
by. Albert B. Darby, now of Plainfield, is a son of
Joseph, who was a member and trustee of this
church fifty years ago, and his widow is still a
member of this church.
Benjamin Stites, whose name often appears in
the old records, had three sons — Henry, Foster
and Benjamin. Mrs. James D. Cleaver who died
only two years ago, the wife of Judge Cleaver,
was the daughter of Benjamin. Henry Stites,
who passed away in 1894, was the son of Foster,
Mrs. Gershom Little, who now resides in our com-
munity is the daughter of Henry.
James Coles came into this community in the
last century. One of his sons was Dennis Coles,
who was the father of our lamented fellow mem-
ber. Dr. Abraham Coles, L.L.D., and of Mrs.
Susan Stout. He was the grandfather of Dr. J.
Ackerman Coles and his sister Emily who are still
in church relationship with us. Dennis Crane,
another grandson, is also a member of the church.
Dr. Corra Osborn was a deacon of the church
and a prominent and influential member. He left
several children, one of whom married Samuel
Hayes. She was an active and useful member
until 1892 when she died, leaving three daughters,
Mary, Hannah and Lydia, who are still efficient
workers with us.
There are other representatives of the old mem-
bers living, some still in our community, and
others in other parts of the Lord's heritage.
These all cherish a commendable and fervent
love for the old church home. They rejoice in
every success which attends the labors of those
who are working in the old vineyard ; and believe
that God has blessed every scriptural] y inspired
effort which has been made by His people in all
the eventful years of its history.
The Present Officers of the Church are
Rev. J. S. Braker, Pastor.
William Archbold, Deacon.
Dr. J. A. Coles,
David Hand, "
George L. Dunn, Church Clerk.
George E. Hall, Treasurer.
James D. Cleaver, Pres. ; F. W. Westcott, M.
D., Norman Dunn, Alfred D. Beeken, Wm. T.
Banks, John P. Bornman and Frederick W.
The history of one hundred and fifty years is
completed. While the workers of other years
have passed away, God has raised up others in
their place, for "while the laborers cease the work
The fidelity and constancy of our forefathers
amid difficulties and discouragements is an example
to us which we may well emulate. Their work is
ended. Their remains repose in this silent ceme-
tery until the summons of the Great King in the
last great day. — Here they saw the cross and en-
dured the toil, and here they will see the King in
His beauty. Their work is transferred to us. It
is a glorious inheritance. It ought to arouse oar
zeal and our grandest efforts for the honor of the
Master. May the church continue until Christ's
second appearing, and may we contribute our
share to the accomplishment of the purposes of the
great Head in Zion.
THE TRUSTEES- 1897.
THE OLD MEETING HOUSE
A Mid-Summers Sabbath in, and about it,
FIFTY YEARS AND MORE AGO.
BY JAMES D. CLEAVER.
Not many will come up to our Sesqui Centen-
nial Anniversary, who were here at the date of
this sketch which is Ante-Centennial.
Most of them have gone on to the "undiscovered
country from whose bourne no traveller returns."
Many of them are quietly resting in the Old Bury-
ing Ground, their mortal remains lying around
those of the Reverend Benjamin Miller, the first
and beloved pastor of the church in the bivouac
of death, awaiting the reveille, which on the
morning of the Resurrection, shall call them from
their slumber to the realities of that day.
Of the remaining few, the writer is one. He
writes from Memory, and hopes to be substan-
tially correct in what he states.
The day was a Sabbath ; indeed. The sun rose
brightly, and ushered in a day of rest for the
quiet old village and the neighboring farms. Over
all reigned an air of peaceful contentment which
gave promise of a day full of worshipful experi-
ence, which should hallow the hours with heavenly
joy and blessing, while it's duties and services
should comfort and strengthen all who should
share in it's Mission of Love to God and Man.
Under the sway of such influences it was easy to
say with Coleridge :
"He prayeth well, who loveth well
"Both Man, and Beast and Bird;
"He prayeth best, who loveth best
"All things, both great and small;
"For the dear God, who loveth us,
"He made and loveth all."
The Old Meeting House, which was of frame and
covered roof and sides with shingles, painted
white, without porch or spire, or any architectural
ornament, stood at quite a distance from the road
(now Park Avenue).
It was flanked on the northwest and on the
rear by the Burying Ground. On the southeast
was "The Green," reaching eastwardly, to the
School House which then stood on the line of the
side walk, nearly where the present church build-
"The Green" or Lawn had upon it a grove of
fine trees, oaks and hickories.
It was the play ground for the school children ;
it was the place where the soldiers of the early
days, met, "horse and foot," on "training days,"
and were drilled in their manual.
"The Green," was, also, where the annual
"Town Meetings" were held, and where the early
politicians displayed their eloquence and their
skill in guiding the Ship of State.
"The Green," was not fenced on the front or
road side, but was open to all: — It has disap-
peared now, with the Old Meeting House, and the
Old School House which then stood on its south-
easterly and northwesterly corners as sentinels
of religion and education. The Lawn now ex-
tending along Park Avenue northwesterly from
the present church building marks the location of
the old "Green."
On such a Sabbath as I am speaking of "The
Green" was the drawing room of the parish,
where ante-sermon receptions were held.
Without, as within, the Old Meeting House was
devoid of ornament or architectural pretension.
It's two doors of entrance, each opening into one
of the two aisles within, were approached by stone
stoops, three steps high, no porches or railings
There were two rows of square windows, one
above the other, on the sides, and a long narrow
window, on either side of the Pulpit, in the rear
No shutters, or shades or blinds were there to
shut out the sun.
The "dim religious light" now so great a de-
sideratum in modern sanctuaries, was an unknown
Galleries extended around the sides and front of
These were terraced, and constituted the Sunday
School room of those days.
They also, usually, accommodated the flotsam
and jetsam of the parish with sittings, free of
The Sunday School was primitive and unpre-
The teachers did not "know it all," and pru-
dently confined themselves to the printed questions
and answers contained in the lesson books.
The library was not extensive or various.
The books were as dry as they were few ; the
Librarian went from class to class with his stock
of books displayed on a board shelf which he car-
ried in front of him, and the scholars accepted
with meek resignation the book given them ; they
had no choice in those days ; nor did it take a
faithful reader long to " go through " the entire
list, so that being deprived of "a choice" mat-
tered but little.
No stage then brought the children to Sunday
If their parents thought the children were well,
the children came — having nothing to do with
the business, except to obey, and attend.
Sunday School Excursions had not invaded this
secluded spot — as to Picnics — well, there were
times when on the glorious fourth of July, the
Sunday School was assembled on "the Green,"
and the youthful hearts fired with patriotism by
weak rhetoric and weaker lemonade. — Excuse the
Let us return to the Meeting House. Within,
the floor space was divided by the two aisles lead-
ing from the doors of entrance, into three parcels
of pews, two wall slips and the central body, the
pews of which reached half way from aisle to aisle.
The pews were straight up and down, made of
very hard boards and so high of backs and seats
that a boy of fourteen could, with difficulty, "see
out " while he was standing, or " touch bottom "
when sitting down.
The floors were uncarpeted, save on some extra-
ordinary occasion, when they were ornamented
with a top-dressing of "Rocka way sand." The
house was warmed in the winter, at least two cor-
ners of it were, by two immense stoves known as
the "ten-plate" variety. These were fired with
great hickory and oak billets, and, when in full
blast, made their immediate vicinity unbearably
hot, while at the other end of the room, the mer-
cury was down to zero. Still it is likely that the
temperature, had it been fairly averaged, would
have marked about " temperate." The house was
lighted ! by a system of tallow candles, held in
tin holders, at the end of crooked wires, attached
to the square wooden pillars which supported the
The naps of the bad boys and girls who slept in
"meetin' time," were disturbed at stated intervals,
by the Sexton, who went around the aisles, with
heavy tread and creaking shoes. Snuffers in hand,
to snuff the candles, and make darkness visible.
The prominent feature of the "Interior" was,
however, the Pulpit. From it came the "bread of
life," as it was broken by the Pastor. From it
issued " in tones of love or warning fear," instruc-
tion, appeal, admonition, reproof, rebuke, threat-
ening. It was the central point and fountain for
the people, and its influence for good in the com-
munity was recognized and gratefully ac-
The Pulpit was located between the long win-
dows in the rear wall, and was suspended about
mid-way between the floor and the ceiling, so as to
be plainly visible from the remotest ]part of the
room. It was reached by a long winding stairway,
and a cushioned seat afforded room for two or
The preachers of those days seemed to prefer an
elevated place from which to reach their hearers.
There was no "sounding board" overhead.
Underneath the Pulpit was a recess which con-
tained the book-case (about the size of an ordinary
wardrobe), holding the Library of the Sunday
School. In front of the recess were four large
rush bottomed arm chairs, which at Communion
and other important occasions contained the four
Deacons; who to us boj^s, were awful in their
Thus was the Old Meeting House the one that
had arisen from the ashes of its predecessor.
No spire or belfry rose above its roof, and no
" church- going bell " rang out over the Plains to
ummon the worshippers to the Sanctuary.
Nevertheless, they came. Let me recall some of
them as they came up from their'homes that day,
to join in their Sabbath day's worship.
There came the brothers, Silas and Mulford Cole,
from their brook farm — they came out to the
Plainfield road, now Front street.
They then joined the sisters Jemima and Emme-
line Shotwell, who came from their father's house
on the hill just beyond.
From the "Short Hills," near Netherwood and
the "Terrill Road," there are coming Corra O.
Meeker and Deacon William Hand, Grandfather
of o^^r present Deacon David Hand, and with them
come the Lees, the Garthwaites, the Hetfields, the
Dolbiers, the Lines, the Crisps and "Aunt Betsy
Terrill," the last representative of the family which
gave its name to that road.
As these come out on the Plainfield Road, they
are joined, or followed by "Aunt Katie Cole," and
the families of Melvin Parse, Amos Osborn, Jona-
than Hand Osborn, Joseph Bradford, Deacon Henry
Hetfield, Vincent L. Frazee, William H. Cleaver,
Noah and Cooper Parse, Jotham D. Frazee, "Aunt
Phebe Darby," widow of Ezra Darby, formerly
Member of Congress ; the families of Samuel Ver-
meule, Gideon Allen, the Moffetts, Simeon V. and
Amos, Joseph M. Osborn, afterward Sheriff of Union
County, Jonathan Osborn, Jr., formerly Sheriff of
Essex County and Thomas J. Barr, then the Keeper
of the Old Tavern. N. B. It was not thought dis-
reputable in those good old days for a hotel keeper
to attend church.
Going over a point further east to "The Darby
Road," now Park ave., there came up by that way
to our church, the Lamberts, the Sisters Hetfield,
Deacon James E. Pugsley and family, also the
families of Aaron and Levi Darby, thePlatts, John
Darby and Benjamin S. Hetfield.
Another point eastward brings us over to the
Westfield road, and up from that old village, and
beyond, we have coming as worshippers at our
altar the widow of Thomas Clark with her sons,
the families of Jacob Cole, brother to Silas above
named. Doctor Corra Osborn, M,D., father of the
late Mrs. Samuel Hays; she was one of the true
and tried friends of the church in the years of
peril and poverty. With them came Major Aaron
Ball, who for years acted as Precentor, and led the
congregational singing. After these came John
B. Osborn, surnamed "the little," the Adair
brothers, Shuttleworth and George W. ; then the
families of William Osborn, and of Deacons John
and Jonathan Osborne, and with them the Wil-
cox and Marsh, and Ryno families ; coming 'round
the corner, known as "Pfaff's," these were joined
by the households of Andrew Schuyler, Oliver
Hand, surnamed "the Lawyer," Abraham Nelson,
"Aunt Rachel Darby," Aaron Drake, Alexander
Wilson, a scholarly man, who often expounded
the Scriptures, at the evening meetings in the
upper room of the Old School House, John W.
Osborn and Judge Corey.
Looking, now, further toward the north, we may
see another contingent of our friends, coming in by
the Springfield road — now Mountain Avenue. From
the Branch Mills neighborhood come the families
of William Darby, William Richards, Carlisle and
Erastus Miller, James Roll and William H. Darby.
Coming hitherward, these are re-inforced by the
families of James Coles and his father. Esquire
Dennis Coles, who was the father of the late Doc-
tor Abraham Coles, M. D., and Grandfather of our
present Deacon, Doctor Jonathan Ackerman Coles,
M. D., and these were joined by Captain William
Abel and Robert Walpole with their folk.
From Feltville, or as the locality was known in
the early days, "the Old Powder Mill," where in
Revolutionary days, the Continental Army, more
especially "the Jersey Blues," drew largely their
supply of powder, then manufactured up in that
secluded nook — from their mountain farm up
there, came Thomas and William Ward, two stal-
Still further around toward the north west,
down by the New Providence Road, sometimes
called "The Turkey Road," we may see coming
down to join the Congregation, the Townleys and
Deacon Maxwell Frazee, with his large family,
while from the Washington Valley and the Mount
Bethel way, the procession is supplemented by the
families of James C. Lyon, the Archibalds, of
whom I believe our worthy Deacon, William
Archibald and his brother John, are now the only
representatives left, Lyman Spencer and Nathaniel
Drake, Jr. ; and coming down the eastern slope
of the mountain these were joined by the families
of Amos Cole, Nathaniel Drake, Isaac Drake,
Joseph S. Darby and Gauin McCoy, David Frazee
and John Mooney, while on the Plains, east of
Green Brook, the line was increased by the house-
holds of Col. Stanbery, Matthew S. Dunn, "Aunt
Sally Stites" and Aaron B. Allen. Thus they
came, from every point of the compass, on foot, on
horseback, in comfortable wagons and in covered
As they reached "the Green," and cared for
their teams, they began at once the first duty and
pleasure of the hour, that of the social nature.
In that place and hour there were no class dis-
tinction ; all met on a common plane. No rich,
no poor, no high, no low. All were friends and
neighbors, and most of them were of kin to each
As group after group arrived, and joined those
already there, the welcomes went around with
sincerest feeling. The glances of recognition, the
smile of pleasure at meeting, gave wealth of
honest reality to the voices which spake, and to
the hearty hand shaking which emphasized the
greetings given by all to all.
Those present exchanged their genuine and un-
affected salutations, and the absent ones were all
All were not Church members, all were not pro-
fessing Christians ; but all who came there were
such as revered the Most High, honored His
Religion, and His Sabbath, and respected the
services of the hour.
The day was a perfect one, an ideal Sabbath.
The sun had now risen high overhead, and was
giving warmth, and life, and light and color to all
created things animate and inanimate. On the
northwest, the sky-line was shown by the waves
of the range of hills which marked the boundary
of the plain in that direction, and were clad in all
the pomp of their green and misty purple foliage.
The Old Mill which stood hard by, had ceased
its work-a-day clatter, the ponderous mill-stones
hung quietly upon their spindles, the whir of the
iron cogs in the big wheel-pit was hushed, and the
great master wheel, suspended on its mighty
shaft, was motionless and silent.
The brook — Green Brook — released from its
bondage and servitude went freely and joyfully on
its way, sparkling and dancing in the sunlight,
singing its Sabbath song of praise and glad-
ness, as it rippled on over its stony bed, or
turned aside in circling eddies into some deep pool
among the lily pads, or under the overhanging
alders, to gossip with the fishes, as it went on
its way to the sea rejoicing.
To the east, the south, and the west, the Plain
spread out to the horizon's verge, a panorama of
In places the wooded groves, and the great
apple orchards, then abundant hereabouts, marked
the landscape with the dark green of their foliage.
Interspersed with these were fields of sturdy
corn and yellow grain, waving in the sunshine and
the gentle breezes, and prophesying to the waiting
farmer of the coming harvest.
The meadows, too, which carpeted with their
verdure most of the Plain, were bright and wor-
shipful with their bloom and with their fragrance,
which under the wooing of the warm sunbeams
and the inborn impulses of their own nature, were
exhaled as the incense of gratitude and love for
the Great Creator of the mountains mighty and
lilies of the valley fair and frail.
The hush and calm was broken, not disturbed
by the neighing of horses and the lowing of the
kine in the distance. Overhead in the branches of
the trees, the song-birds were filling the air with
the melody of their songs of praise and happiness,
while all around there came to the ear the monot-
onous hum and drone of the bee and insect, which
served to soothe the mind and give added repose to
the Baptism of tranquility, which typified the
angels' song at the Saviour's birth, "Peace on
earth, good will to men."
Over all this scene of peaceful beauty from the
"delectable hills" to the "sweet fields" then
"dressed in living green," the overhanging canopy
of blue and gold, seemed to come down nearer to
earth and enfold within its radiant curtains, for
the time at least, this quiet spot ; and it needed
but a slight effort of the imagination to give to the
listening ear of the devout soul "the still, small
voice" of the Christ whispering through the Heav-
enly corridors : "Come unto me, all ye that labor
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
And with one accord the people all went into
the Temple for Worship.
When all were seated, the Minister arose, while
every head was bowed, returned thanks to God for
all the mercies which we enjoyed, and invoked the
Divine blessing upon the services of the day and
for guidance to words and thoughts and feelings
of preacher and people.
The hymn was then given out:
"Majestic Sweetness sits Enthroned
"Upon the Savior's brow;
"His head with radiant glory crowned,
"His lips with grace o'erflow."
This hymn was the keynote to the service of the
day. We knew that the message would come
from Calvary, and not from Sinai, and w^hen the
words of the hymn went out upon the voices of the
Congregation on the tune of Ortonville, the hearts
of the people were as one with themselves and
their preacher — receptive, loving, worshipful.
We had in those days no "Service of Song," by
that name, we had no responsive readings of the
Scriptures, no Antiphonal Service of any kind.
The Minister read the Scriptures and the hymns,
the Precentor "led the singing," and his leading
w^as followed by the Congregation with willing
tongue, and with tuneful voice, and lofty praise.
No trained Choir awed or amazed the people, or
drove the very idea of worship out of mind, by its
skill and perfection in vocal calisthenics or some-
But tlie singers of those days, while not always
precisely in tune or "on time," sang with the
hallowed inspiration of praise, gratitude, and
reverence for Him whom they were taught to re-
gard as Creator, Benefactor, Saviour.
When the hymn had been sung and the hearts
of the people were attuned to the sweetness of
harmony and of love for the subject of the hymn,
who had so loved them, the Minister then began
reading the Scripture lesson.
This consisted of selections from the Sermon on
the Mount, including the golden rule, and the
From this treasure-house of the Wisdom and
love of the Master, so much was given as was need-
ful to prepare the minds of the listeners for fur-
ther consideration of the subject-matter of the
Following the reading, the Hymn announced
"All hail the power of Jesus' name
"Let Angels prostrate fall;
"Bring forth the royal diadem,
"And Crown Him Lord of all."
This crowning of Christ, borne aloft upon the
exultant strains of "Coronation," gave grand out-
let and utterance to the rising warmth of the de-
votional spirit which was overcoming the as-
When this glad song of acclaim had ended, it's
triumphant ascriptions of Kingship and Lordship
to the Christ, and it's expressions of loyalty to
Him as Prince and King and Saviour, had been
wafted into upper air, and upward toward the
heavenly throne, and the listening Ear Divine;
then were the worshippers, the ready, rapt, eager
listeners to the words of the Preacher, as he gave
out the text :
"Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away
the sins of the World."
And now we knew, of a truth, that this day's
message was the voice from Calvary, not from
The Preacher was in his kindliest mood. His
heart, as well as his head was in, and behind what
he said. He sought to unravel no theological en-
tanglements. He simply preached "Christ and Him
Beginning at the Manger cradle, in the cavern of
the Khan at Bethlehem, whither the Star had
guided the Magi, and found them kneeling awe-
stricken and worshipful, worshipping before the
Child, whom they had been told in a vision, was
"born King of the Jews;" and unto whom they
were gladly giving gifts of gold, frankincense, and
myrrh, and homage-worship as well; the preacher
went skilfully over many of the prominent events
in the life of the Nazarene, selecting such as
pointed most directly to His Divine Humanity,
showing Him as a "Man of sorrows, and acquainted
with grief" and, as at the baptismal waters of the
Jordan, when the hovering Dove brooded over the
example set by Jesus for his followers, and the
voice of Deity spake from above to a listening
world: "This is my beloved Son in whom lam
well pleased; hear ye him."
The Preacher then illustrated some traits in the
dual character borne by this "Son of Joseph, the
His poverty and humility, as when he said: "The
foxes have holes and the birds of the air have
nests, but the Son of Man, hath not where to lay
His power and sublimity ; as when he spake to
the winds, and the tempest on the Sea of Galilee,
and the turbulent waves obeyed the Master's
voice, and sank to calm again.
But of all the characteristics displayed in the
life of Him ' 'who spake as never man spake, ' '
the Preacher dwelt longest and most emphatically
upon the Love displayed in all the Saviour's
works and ways.
How He fed the hungry, healed the sick, opened
deaf ears, gave sight to the blind, cleansed the
lepers, raised the dead.
How he strove to teach by word and Example
the heaven-born lesson of the Golden Rule, and
the parable of the Good Samaritan,
Tracing the earthly career of the Christ, from
Bethlehem to Calvary, he pointed out how in all
that life of majesty, omnipotence and God like-
ness, all those attributes and potencies which
marked Him as the Son of God, were in turn sub-
ordinated to unwearied self-abnegation, and to the
most untiring ministration of goodness, mercy and
love ; the preacher strove to win his hearers to
imitate in their lives, and towards each other, as
men and brethren, in their daily intercourse the
sublime example of their "elder brother, their in-
tercessor," "the Lamb of God which taketh away
the sins of the World."
The peroration covered with graphic fidelity and
eloquence the last crowning act of self-sacrificing
love for man — the tragic scene, when the sun was
darkened, and night at mid day brooded over the
rent, and reeling earth, and suspended on the
Cross, the Saviour, with compassion more than
mortal, prayed for His persecutors: "Father for-
"give them for they know not what they do;"
and the curtain fell upon that awful scene, as the
same voice exclaimed : "It is finished."
Pity, gratitude and love for and to the Christ
filled all hearts.
But high above all these emotions arose the
sense of triumph in His triumph, the glow of joy
inexpressible in His conquest — the feeling of vic-
tory born of His last triumphant words: "It is
And these high-born and holy sentiments wel-
ling up and overflowing in their hearts, were
relieved but not fully exj^ressed in the closing
hymn set to the tune of "Merdin."
"Burst ye Emerald gates and bring
"To my raptured vision,
"All the Exstatic joys that spring
"'Round the bright Elysian:
"Lo! we lift our longing eyes,
"Break, ye intervening skies.
"Sun of Righteousness, arise,
"Ope the gates of Paradise.
"Sweetest sound in Seraphs' song.
"Sweetest sound on Mortal's tongue;
"Sweetest carol ever sung —
"Let it's Echoes flow along."
When the voice of song in these exultant
strains, were gradually led by the Precentor to the
words of long metre doxology —
"Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all Creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost"^
which was rendered upon the majestic measures
of "Old Hundred," the worshippers were well pre-
pared to receive from the good Minister's lips the
Benediction, and retire from the house, with re-
freshed souls, and devout hearts, hoping to be
thereby helped to do good and get good, in the
coming week, convinced, as they were, that Love
is the grand remedy for all social evils, as it is,
indeed, the only foundation for good, toward God
And so they went out, and only stopping to bid
each other aJffectionate adieus, they separated and
went to their several homes.
In the evening the villagers, and a few from the
suburbs, met in the upper room of the Old School
House and had a simple service.
The Pastor or Deacon Hetlield, or Alexander
Wilson, would read a selection from the scriptures,
and make a brief exposition of it. Prayers were
offered and hymns sung, and with exhortations to
believers and unbelievers, the meeting would close
and the people return to their homes. A most de-
lightful feature of those "evening meetings" and
one over which memory lingers with fondness, was
the singing led by Mr. William Drake, son of
Nathaniel, assisted by Miss Margaretta Osborn,
sister of the late Sheriff, Joseph Manning Osborn;
and when the songs of praise led by their young,
clear and melodious voices, it was no mere "lii^
service" but bore aloft the very sign of true Praise.
They are now for a half century or more, hus-
band and wife, living happily at Irvington, and
members of the Baptist Church at Lyons Farms.
And thus ended a Mid-Summer Sabbath at
Scotch Plains, fifty years, and more ago.
, This Sketch must close, as it began :
"Not many will come up to our Sesqui Cen-
tennial Anniversary who were here at the date of
this sketch, which is Ante-Centennial."