North Congregational Church
New Hartford, Litchfield County, Connecticut

Compiled & Written By:
Rev. Dr. Greg Dawson
North Congregational Church
New Hartford, CT

 Hard copies are available for $8 from the church.

Serving God in New Hartford Connecticut


A History of the North Congregational Church


by Rev. Dr. Greg Dawson


The Community of New Hartford

The land that would become New Hartford Connecticut was a part of the
"Western grant" conveyed in 1686 to the proprietors of Hartford and Windsor. Then in 1732
it was set off as part of Hartford. In May, 1733, a committee of Hartford proprietors
requested the General Court to encourage the settlement of the town. An act was passed
naming it "New Hartford." It was the only one of seven towns in the division which was
colonized by Hartford proprietors or their sons. All were from well-to-do families, hence the
propriety of the name "New Hartford." The town was incorporated in 1738.

New England Congregationalism

Religious _expression in the early days of New Hartford was shaped by
Congregationalism. A reaction against the rigid practices of the Puritan colonists the early
dissenters left Massachusetts to found their own colony in Connecticut. They called their new
home Hartford. It would be many of their descendants that would travel west to form the new
community of New Hartford. They would bring with them their ideals for a new church in
this new land.

Town Hill Church

As soon as the town was organized sufficiently to proceed to any business, at the first
recorded town meeting on December 19, 1738, a committee was appointed to secure a
minister to settle in New Hartford. At the second town meeting an agent was appointed to
apply to the General Assembly for a committee to settle the place for building a meeting
house. So zealous were these pioneers to see a tabernacle arise in the wilderness that they
could not wait the pleasure of the general Assembly, but voted,

"It is needful to proceed,
and we will proceed to build a meeting house
in the town of New Hartford for Divine worship."

But zeal could not overcome financial limitations and so it would take the community
a total of ten years to build their church, from 1739 to 1749. When finally completed the
meeting house was ‘fifty-five feet in length and forty feet in breadth. It was built by a man
named Palmer for the cost of $3,000. It was set by the compass, and fronted the south,
a door on that side opening directly into the chancel. There were three aisles, one in the center
and one on each side with a row of narrow pews next to the wall. The high pulpit, with its
overhanging sounding board, fronted the south door.

On the right of the pulpit was a pew for the minister’s family. On the left was the
widow’s pew. The deacons sat just under the droppings of the gospel on the left of the center
aisle. There were no chimneys and so the worshippers would carry foot stoves and remain all
day every Sunday to attend morning and afternoon services. Those families that could afford
to do so, built near the meeting house small "Sabbath day houses." Here they could rest
between the services and indulge in a hot cup of tea and a cold lunch. In December, 1749,
the town reluctantly granted liberty for building a pew in the gallery for the Indians to sit in,
and in 1751 the Indians were allowed to join divine worship. These sturdy Puritans classed
the red men with the Moabite and Ammonite, who, their Bible declared,

"should not come into the congregation of God forever."

The Beginning of Town Hill Church

During the one hundred and twenty years of it’s existence the Town Hill Church had
only four ministers. The first minister was Rev. Jonathan Marsh who served between 1739
and 1794. Here he was ordained, and here he died. It was during his term the colonies
declaration of independence from England and the Great Awakening impacted New England.
The Great Awakening of 1735-1745 was a reaction to a decline in piety and a laxity of morals
within the Congregational Churches of New England. Itinerant evangelists generated renewed
enthusiasm and spread the message of revival throughout the churches of Connecticut.

Although the Great Awakening stimulated dramatic conversions and an increase in
church membership, it also provoked conflicts and divisions within the established church. As
the movement became more radical and emotions less restrained, the subsequent factions
which emerged from a difference in opinions concerning the Awakening led to the decline of
the revival in Connecticut. The Great Awakening subsided around 1745 because proponents
could not sustain enthusiasm, while the government of the colony began regulating itinerant
preaching and persecuting New Light supporters of the Awakening. This striking revival of
religious piety and its emphasis on salvation ultimately transformed the religious order of

The Revolutionary War

Shortly after the completion of the first meeting house in New Hartford the British
armed forces defeated the French and their Indian allies in the French and Indian War
(1754-1763). The result was British control over much of North America. But the war had
cost England a great deal of money and Parliament decided it was time for the Colonies to pay
a share for their own defense. To raise money, Parliament passed a series of taxes on the
colonies. The Colonists were outraged. They had always considered themselves Englishmen,
yet the right as an Englishmen to have a voice in Parliament was denied them.
"Taxation without representation is tyranny," became a battle cry of the people. As rioting
and rhetoric increased their relationship with England deteriorated and conflict grew. After a
long and stormy debate with England the Continental Congress finally resolved on July 4th,
1776, to adopt the Declaration of Independence and the United States was born.

Revival Comes Late to New Hartford

Rev. Edward D. Griffin, D. D., was the second minister to serve Town Hill Church
from 1795-1801. He remained only about six years on this field, but they were among the
most remarkable in the history of this region. It was while he was serving that New Hartford
experienced the revival that had swept through all of New England. In a letter to a Dr. Hodge
of Bridgport he wrote,

"From the steps of my home I could look over into three parishes,
where the rains of the Spirit were falling,
where the Spirit was poured out upon them
in a most wonderful manner.
But in New Hartford no dew descended."

One historical record states that Rev. Griffen often went out and stood on the steps of
his house and looked over into these parishes where God was achieving such wonders by His
grace. He would pray at those times that God would cast an eye of compassion on himself
and his people, and wondered if the Lord had no blessing for them. With such feelings he said
he went into his study one day, and prostrated himself on the floor and cried to God that it
might please Him to bless him too, and also remember New Hartford. While thus engaged in
prayer the words of the Sixty Second Psalm came to him, "My soul, wait thou only upon
God, for my expectations is from him." He said it at once occurred to him that he would
prepare a sermon on the text. On the Sabbath morning he was so wrought up in spirit that he
when he went into the sanctuary he was unaware of anyone else. He didn’t see them because
his focus was only upon God. When he had completed preaching the sermon he went home,
followed by forty men, inquiring with tears to know what they must do to be saved. This was
the beginning of God’s answer to his prayer, and revival finally came to New Hartford.
During his brief stay of six years, 153 persons united with Town Hill Church, of whom 138
entered by profession of faith, and 15 by letter of transfer. A total of six revivals would take
place between 1806 and 1843, resulting in 434 persons joining the church.

The Town Hill Church is Sold

The third pastor of Town Hill Church was Rev. Amasa Jerome (1802-1813);
and finally the fourth and last was Rev. Cyrus Yale (1814-1854). It was during Rev. Yale’s
term that the old "meeting house" was taken possession of by the town in 1829, cut down
a story, moved somewhat back, and converted into a town house and used for holding town
and elector’s meetings. Over the years the physical condition of this meeting house declined
leading many to call for the building of a new place of worship. This call to build a new house
of worship on Town Hill, however, met growing resistance from the growing population
living along the river basin in North Village (present day New Hartford).

With the development of the water power along the Tunxis (Farmington) river in the
North Village and the subsequent increase in population from 1500 to 2700 residents,
the inhabitants of that portion of the town began to feel the need of a place of worship nearer
home than the old meeting house on Town Hill. The newcomers in town were not interested
in the old place of worship, and feeling no attachment to the time-honored location, looked to
have a new church built that would meet the needs for access. In response to this lack of
interest in the old place of worship, Rev. Cyrus Yale delivered on February 3, 1828, a plea for
union in erecting a House of God.

"And near this spot...sleep the ashes of some of our dearest friends and relatives...
Are we willing to desert the precious dust?...the only spot in town, which possesses
equal advantages to promote tender and solemn feelings, as we assemble for public

North Congregational Church

This plea for unity would go unheeded when early in 1828, a number of gentlemen
residing in the northern part of the town united for the purpose of building a house of worship
in the Congregational tradition. Prominent among them were Roger Mills, Esq., William G.
Williams, Esq., Col. William Goodwin, Capt. Harry Cowles and Capt. Aaron Richards.
Land for the church is believed to have been given to the ecclesiastical society by Henry
Seymour. At the time of the church’s formation the United States of America was comprised
of only 25 states.

In April, 1828, the cornerstone was laid in the presence of a large assembly of people,
with appropriate ceremonies. Rev. Chauncey Lee, D.D., of Colebrook preached a sermon,
and a hymn composed for the occasion by William G. Williams, Esq., was sung by a select
choir. Seats were built on the ground to accommodate worshippers and spectators.
On November 18, 1828 a corporate body was formed under the name of the
"North Ecclesiastical society of New Hartford," and on the 25th of December the Church was
organized by a committee of the North Consociation of Litchfield County. The church was
organized with sixty-two members.

The Reaction to a New Church

This move to build a church in North Village was viewed with disfavor by the pastor
and members of the church resident on Town Hill. Public feeling, pro and con for a time ran
high, and the people of the town were divided into two factions in this church matter.
One individual who commented on this controversy was Capt. Pitts Goodwin. He wrote the
following comical verse in response to the debate over the secession from Town Hill of the
North End Congregational Society in 1829.

"The North End people make their brags,
This town is just like saddle bags,
The "Center (Nepaug) is the straps they say
We’ll cut them off some future day."
Then in November 1828, the citizens of the town decided to hold their town meetings
in North Village and the Center (Nepaug) and voted to sell the old building to Capt. John
Cotton Smith for the price of $50. The building was torn down and the wood used in other
buildings and it’s massive over 100 year old white-oaked timbers were used in building the
looms for the Greenwoods cotton-mill. The loss of their meeting house and the construction
of North Congregational Church was a serious blow to the society on the hill, but, taking
heart from Rev. Yale’s encouragement, they laid plans for a new house of worship which was
completed in 1829. This attempt at reviving its religious community would fail when in 1848 a
second group would leave to establish the South (Nepaug) Congregational Church.
This second and final Church edifice on Town Hill would eventually be abandoned in 1854 at
the death of Rev. Cyrus Yale.

For a more in-depth history read

"New Hartford History 1733-1881," by Sarah Lucia Brown

This can be purchased at the New Hartford Historical Society


"Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history."
Abraham Lincoln, Address to Congress, December 1862

As we prepare to look at the early history of the North Congregational Church let us
remember a few key facts. Slavery was a daily reality at this time in American history,
but abolitionist opposition was growing. At the time of the Church’s organization, only 52
years had past since the American Revolution and only 16 years since the war of 1812.
On December 2, 1828, twenty six days before the organization of our church, President
John Quincy Adams would call for the creation of West Point, an institution who’s purpose
would be,

"educating a competent portion of her (nation’s) youth
chiefly to the knowledge and the duties of military life."

Little did the residents of New Hartford know in reading Adam’s State of the Union
Address that in only 31 short years those trained at this great institution would face each other
in bloody conflict in what would come to be called "the War Between the States." For now,
the future was hopeful and the nation focused on the industrial revolution which promised to
ease daily life. In the 1800's life was difficult for many minorities, women and children.
A better way of life was desperately needed. Life before the revolution was simple, but after
the revolution, an easier, more efficient way of doing things took its place. The creation of the
steam engine, invented by James Watt, provided power to help the common laborer, who was
probably working 14 hour days. The idea of gaining success through innovation grew in
prominence. It is in this time of hopeful expectation and looming conflict that our church was
formed. For New Hartford this would be a time of growth. By the 1800’s, the population was
a little over 1,000. By the end of the 1800’s, the population was nearly 3,500.


At North Village Rev. Elam C. Clark supplied the pulpit at North Congregational
Church that first year and John Brown was appointed the first deacon. Deacon Brown took
his office in January of 1829 and continued in that service until his death in 1849.
Deacon Brown was a very upright man, intelligent and influential. When he was young he
studied for the ministry. He took a great interest in education, being for many years school
visitor, and was an interesting speaker. He was kind-hearted and generous. He began his
service as a deacon in the Town Hill Church until he separated to join the newly formed North
Congregational Church. Now all the members of this new church needed was a permanent
minister. Finally in December, 1829, the Rev. Burr Baldwin, a Presbyterian minister, was
called to become the first pastor of the church and was installed on February 17, 1830.

Rev. Burr Baldwin (1830-1834)

In the year that Rev. Baldwin came to our church, 1830, the Underground Railroad
was formed to assist escaped slaves to find their way North to freedom. In this same year in
New Hartford the Baptists organized in the southwestern part of town, and built a church in
Bakerville. In 1834 Mr. Baldwin was dismissed from his position because members were
dissatisfied with his preaching.

Foreign Missions in America

It might be hard for us to believe that the first missionaries in America were sent to
proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in the wilderness lands of New York and New Jersey.
Or that the first school for foreign missions was established in Cornwall, Connecticut. But the
world was a much smaller place at this time in our history. Among the pupils that attended
this first school of foreign missions was Hiram Bingham the pioneer missionary to the
Sandwich Islands. The school also included foreign students from the Sandwich Islands,
natives of Africa, and members of various tribes of American Indians. Two missionaries from
our home town of New Hartford were Rev. David B. Lyman who went to Honolulu,
and Horace Tracy Pitkin who was sent to China where he was killed during the Boxer
Rebellion in 1900. Some of the most active and influential missionaries among the Cherokees,
Choctaws, Dakotas, Ojibwas and Osages were from Litchfield County. As it states in the
history of Horace Tracy Pitkin,

"Litchfield County was, in a sense,
the beginning of American foreign missionary work.
For years, it continued to be in the lead."

Rev. Dr. Willis Lord, (1834-1838)

In 1834 Willis Lord, also a Presbyterian minister, became the second pastor of North
Congregational Church. In 1835 the Baptist church in Bakerville became a union church and
eventually was taken over by the United Methodist Church. While Mr. Lord served as our
pastor the Academy Hall was built. It opened in the fall of 1837 with Illinois Winter, principal.
It was the first Academy in town and offered course of study beyond the elementary grades.
In 1838 Rev. Lord left our church to take a pastorate in Providence, RI. In perspective, the
US was expanding, with Arkansas joining the Union in 1836 and Michigan becoming a state in

Rev. Dr. John Woodbridge (1839-1842)

Following Rev. Lord’s departure a Presbyterian minister was again called to fill the
empty pulpit. Rev. John Woodbridges was the 7th generation of ministers all named Rev. John
Woodbridge. He came to our church out of retirement from Hadley Massachusetts where he
had pastored for twenty years. He remained with our church for three years.

For more on the Woodbridge line
please read "The Woodbridge Clergy"

Rev. Alexander Leadbetter (1844-1849)

At the present time there is little we know about Rev. Alexander Leadbetter beyond
the fact that he was a Presbyterian minister that came from Edinburgh, Scotland and that he
became a supply pastor for the Newtown Congregational Church from 1840-1842. He then
pastored the North Congregational Church from 1844-1849. In the years of his service Texas
and Florida became states of the Union in 1845, and Iowa in 1846. Then starting in 1846 to
1848 the United States was engaged in the American and Mexican war and in 1849 California
became a state. It was in the year 1848 that the South Congregational Church was formed in
present day Nepaug when 56 members succeeded from Town Hill Church to begin this
enterprise. In 1849 Roman Catholic services were first held in New Hartford, but no
permanent structure existed at that time. In 1849 following Leadbetter’s departure
restorations were begun on the sanctuary. During the interim between ministers New Hartford
saw the introduction of a new church in town. On November 20, 1850 St. John’s Episcopal
church was consecrated.

Rev. Joseph Addison Saxton (1851-1852)

Joseph Saxton was born in Tolland, Connecticut, Nov. 27, 1810. He graduated from
NY University, with a BA in 1835. He then attended Yale Seminary, graduating with an MA
in 1838. He also attended Union Seminary, NY, 1839; and Andover Theological Seminary,
1842. He served as pastor of our church between the years of 1851-1852. It was during his
term that restorations to the sanctuary were completed. In these renovations the pulpit, which
formerly was on the east end, under the singers’ gallery, was removed to the west end of the
chancel, fronting the entrance and the choir. The high backed pews were cut down, the floor,
which formerly rose on an incline of some two feet from east to west, was leveled. These
renovations continued until 1890 and cost about $3000.

In the summer 1851 the last "select" school taught in the Old Academy Hall was
taught by Miss Ann Eliza Jones, sister of Capt. Henry R. Jones. It was then decided to turn
the Academy into a public school, under the direction of Alonzo Burr, and an addition was
completed to the Western end. The school district had charge of the downstairs two rooms
and proprietors had charge of upper rooms. Financed by John C. Smith and a loan from
Society for Savings in Hartford. In 1853 Rev. Saxton left our church to take a pastorate at a
Presbyterian Church in South Haven, Long Island, New York. During this time sentiments
against slavery was growing and the abolitionist book "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" was published in

The Civil War

It has been said that the Civil War was the greatest war in American history. By the
time the war ended 3 million men had fought in the conflict and 620,000 had died,
with disease killing twice as many as those lost in battle. 50,000 of those who survived
returned home as amputees. It was the only war fought on American soil by Americans
against Americans, and for that reason we have always been fascinated with this conflict
between the States. The Great Battles of the Civil War were waged all across this great
country. From New Mexico and Tennessee to Vermont and Florida. This bloody conflict
would last through two pastors, that of Rev. Spencer and Rev. Cleaveland. How would one
minister in the midst of such a conflict? What words of hope could one give?

Rev. Franklin Augustus Spencer (1853-1863)

The Spencer family first arrived in New England when four brothers came over from
Bedfordshire England and settled in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. His father
John Spencer was born on 18 Oct 1762 in Winchester, CT. Records show that John served in
the Revolutionary War in the same Company with his father. Franklin went on to graduate
Oneil in 1838, and Union Theological Seminary in 1840. He was ordained by the
Utica Presbytery in 1842. He came to our church in 1853. While serving our congregation
Mr. Spencer was an outspoken supporter of the Union during the Civil War which may have
been due to his father and grandfather having served in the revolutionary war. Whatever the
reason, this support of the Union gave offense to some in the congregation.
During these years Minnesota became a state in 1858, Oregon in 1859, and Kansas in
1861. It was in this year that three major events took place that would impact our church. The
first was when the remaining members of the Town Hill Church disbanded. The second was
on Dec. 23, when a fire destroyed St. John’s Episcopal church. The third event was when the
south fired on the fort at Harper’s Ferry, igniting the war between the states. Rev. Spencer
served until 1865 when he took a pastorate in Terryville.

Also in 1859 the New Hartford (North) Baptist church was organized by twenty-two
members resident in this town, formerly belonging to the Pleasant Valley Church. At that time
town meetings were held in the Greenwoods District school house. In 1860 Cyrus and
Richard Yale, sons of Rev. Cyrus Yale, purchased the Town Hill Church building from the
surviving members of the ecclesiastical society for the sum of $100 with the proviso that they
keep it in repair. Occasional services were held in the old church until a rumor was spread
about that Richard Yale, who was then living in New Orleans was a southern sympathizer.
Marauders broke into the building one night and wrecked the interior, taking away the pulpit
and pews. From that point on, writes Catherine Gay, the Town Hill Church "stood a lonely,
stately sentinel on the broad plateau at the top to the hill."

In 1861 the members of St. John’s opened their new church on Christmas Eve.
In 1862, the Baptist Church in New Hartford purchased the Baptist Church in Pleasant Valley
(then unused), and brought it over the Greenwoods Pond piece by piece and rebuilt it.
The Church was located on the East side of the Farmington River because of plans to bring a
road in front of it—but these plans were changed.

A rat on a pole - A charming note

A funny story is told of Rev. Spencer in the book "Sketches of the People and Places
of New Hartford in the Past and Present" by Sarah Lucia Jones. The story tells of an
encounter Rev. Spencer had with a local hustler in New Hartford by the name of Amasa
Cooper who was an expert at rat catching. One day he captured an enormous rodent which he
fastened to a broom stick in such a way that he could run it in behind a stable feed box and
make it peep out at the other end of the box in such a manner to deceive the keenest hunter.
Thus he would pretend to stir up the animal and get some passer by to strike at the rat and
raise a shout among the bystanders. At one of these times Rev. F.A. Spencer came along and
inquired what the excitement was. Amasa told him he had a rat behind the box. Rev. Spencer,
"who hated a rat as he did a sinner," seized a fork stale and told Amaza to drive him out. As
Rev. Spencer struck at the rat in vain Amasa would cry out, "Give him h--- parson." The
reverend kept pounding away until he was in a terrible sweat, and the crowd around him had
burst nearly all their buttons off with laughter. Finally the rat was hit, when Amasa drew him
out all fastened on the stick, with the remark, "By G-- parson, you’ve killed him." The next
Sunday there was a sermon in the Congregational Church upon the Third commandment, in
which Rev. Spencer remarked, in all the time he had lived in New Hartford, he had heard but
one person use a "profane oath." That person was generally supposed to be Amasa Cooper.

Rev. James Bradford Cleaveland (1863-1867)

James Bradford Cleaveland was born in Sharon, CT., August 20, 1821.
James Cleaveland was the son of John and Mary (Ingraham) Cleaveland. He was a direct
descendant of Governor William Bradford, of the Mayflower, and Moses Cleaveland.
He graduated Yale College in 1847, and Yale Theological Seminary, in 1851. After a
pastorate of seven years he moved to the Congregational Church in Goshen until he received a
call to our church in New Hartford, CT., where he served from 1863 to 1867. While at New
Hartford he was made a member of the Northern Star. In the year of his arrival, the Civil War
battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania was fought from July 1-3, resulting in the death of 51,000
men. As Rev. Cleaveland pastored through his second year at our Church, General Grant
carried out his Overland Campaign to Richmond. The papers would have been filled with
Southern names such as: the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Yellow Tavern, Wilson's
Wharf, and Cold Harbor. In the following year of 1865, the city of Richmond would fall and
the war would come to a bloody end. The most horrific death that year would take place on
April 14th, with the assassination of president Abraham Lincoln.

The struggle to find hope in the midst of despair was best articulated by Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow in his hymn, "I heard the bells on Christmas Day."

I heard the bells on Christmas Day.
Their old familiar carols play,
and wild and sweet the words repeat
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of Peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

And in 1865 the wrong did fail and the right prevail. A conclusion that was initiated
four years before on September 23, 1862 when Abraham Lincoln made his Emancipation
Proclamation freeing the slaves. In the end this declaration of freedom would cost him his life
and thus fulfill, as if by prophecy, the final stanza of that famous Civil War hymn,

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me;
As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free!
While God is marching on.

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory
Julia Ward Howe

Rev. Alpheus Winter (1868-1869)

Alpheus Winter was born on February 17, 1838 in Belchertown, Mass. He graduated
from Rock River Seminary, Mount Morris Ill., and studied theology privately with
Rev. Samuel Foster in Ornagra, Ill. He was ordained by the Ecclesiastical Council at Onarga,
Ill., on May 7, 1863. He came to our church in 1868. In that first year the Church of the
Immaculate Conception was started by Rev. John Fagan. In that same year Walter Beaney
took charge of the maintenance of the Academy Hall and the upper rooms were used by the
church for religious purposes. The downstairs was used by the town prior to construction of
the Town Hall. Rev. Winter left our church in 1869 to take a position with the Connecticut
State Temperance Association.

Rev. Sanford Smith Martyn (1870-1874)

Sanford Smith Martyn was born in Haverhill, Mass., on July 23, 1839. His father was
the Rev. Job H. Martyn, M. D. (Middlebury 1837), for many years a Congregational minister
in New York City. He was the fifth generation of Congregational ministers, including his
grandfather and great-grandfather on his mother’s side, one of whom served as an army
chaplain and the other as a soldier in the Revolutionary War. In 1861 he entered Yale and
graduated with the class of 1865. In 1870 he accepted a call to our church. In 1874, the ladies
of the church remodeled the upper rooms of the Academy Hall and a kitchen was installed.
These renovations provided a meeting space for Edwin R. Lee post, Grand Army of the
Republic and its auxiliary; Women’s Relief Corps. Rev. Martyn left our church in 1874 to
take a pastorate in Nashua, N. H.

Rev. Frederick H. Adams (1875-1887)

Frederick Adams was the son of Frederic and Lucy Henrietta (Chater) Adams, born in
London, England, June 22, 1834. He graduated Peekskill Academy; New York University,
in 1858, and Union Theological Seminary, in 1861. He came to our church in 1875.
While serving our church a pivotal moment in the life of the nation took place on March 10,
1876, when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. This was also the year that
Colorado became a state. In 1879 tragedy struck when 5 members of the Church, returning
from a Moody meeting in Hartford, were killed in a train derailment over the Farmington
River. Another sad event was the assassination of President James Garfield in 1881. Then on
the positive side, in 1885 St. Paul’s Lutheran Church was established in New Hartford and
held their services at Academy Hall. In June of 1886 the Greenwood & North End Schools
were built, ending the educational program at the Academy Hall. In 1887 Rev. Adams moved
to River Point, RI, were he lived until his death on Feb. 6, 1899.

Rev. John Philo Hawley (1888-1897)

John Philo Hawley was born nearby in Norfolk Connecticut, on April 24, 1829.
He was the son of Philo and Alma Wheeler Hawley. The Hawley family were numerous,
prominent and influential in the Northwest part of Connecticut. John Philo Hawley was
educated at the Norfolk and Rockwell Academies. He then went on to studied theology at
Hartford Theological Seminary where he graduated in 1869. In 1888 he accepted a call to our
church. In 1889 North and South Dakota, Washington and Montana became states of the
Union. In the year 1890 Wyoming joined the Union and on December 29 of that year the
battle of Wounded Knee took place. Rev. John Hawley remained with the church until obliged
by failing health to take an indefinite vacation in the spring of 1897, and resigning his charge
during the following summer. He died July 5, 1898 of "nervous prostration" at the Hartford


During Rev. Hawley’s ministry in the winter of 1890-91, the church was again
renovated at an expense of $3,677. The reversed pews on either side of the old white and gold
high pulpit were removed and in their place was installed a slightly raised platform, some
twelve feet in width and extending across the west end of the church to the space for the
organ, which stood in the southwest corner with the choir in front. On the center of this
platform was the reading desk and three upholstered chairs. In the north corner stood a grand
piano purchased by the Sunday School. The fine pipe organ, costing $1,750, was built by
Johnson & Sons of Westfield Mass., and paid for by private subscription, augmented by some
$400 raised by entertainment given by the Literary and Social Union. At this time the church
was painted in tasteful tints of golden olive with trimmings of warm brown, harmonizing with
the oak railings of the choir screen, and the massive oak case of the organ.

Nine large stained glass windows were also added to the beauty and refinement of the
sanctuary. The western window is an allegorical representation of the Good Shepherd. It was
placed by the five living children of the late John C. Smith and Ellen C. Smith in loving
memory of their parents. On the north side are four windows. The first was given by the
Sunday School; the second has the monogram "C.W.G." and was placed by Mr. Chester W.
Gilman; the third is in memory of the late William Markham (1811-1899), and the fourth is a
memorial for Samuel and Abigail Couch (1795-1885 and 1800-1890). On the south side are
also four ornamental windows. The first was given by the Christian Endeavor Society, and the
second by Deacon J. C. Keach; the third was placed by Mr. Robert R. Smith in memory of
Deacon Howell W. Brown; the fourth is a double memorial, one half given by the Misses
Chloe and Panthea Hopkins, the other in memory of Richard H. Wheeler.

The old singers gallery was retained as a balcony when the organ and choir were
moved below, and in this gallery are three ornamental windows placed by Frank W. Jones,
of London England, in memory of his father, the late Henry Jones, his mother, Aurela
Williams Jones, and his aunt, Louisa Jones. Over the doors in the vestibule are three stained
glass windows, put in by the Ladies’ Aid Society. Two fifteen burner glass reflectors replaced
the old chandelier and side lamps, with handsome new shaded lights for the organ. The church
was rededicated on March 13, 1891, and opened for Sunday services on March 15.
The following clergy took part in the dedication service: Rev. J. P. Hawley, pastor;
Rev. Hiram Eddy D. D., Canaan; Rev. A. Goonough, Manchester; Rev. H. N. Kiney and
Rev. H. P. Peck, Winsted; Rev. N. O. Mohr, Barkhamsted. As of January 1895 the church
held a membership of 122, and the Sunday School of 189. In 1896, the year Utah joined the
Union, Ellen J. Hazan gave to North Congregational Church a marble Baptismal Font in
memory to the church of her childhood.

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