This is a scanned-in version of the 30 page booklet published
by the First Congregational Church of Guilford, CT, on its 250th anniversary.
CELEBRATION OF THE TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTIETH
The First Congregational Church
JUNE 25TH, 1893.
NEW HAVEN, CONN.:
PRESS OF THE PRICE, LEE & ADKINS CO., 206-210 MEADOW STREET.
- Introduction, Rev. F. E. Snow
- Sermon, Rev. F. E. Snow
- List of Pastors of the Church
- Hymn, Rev. F. E. Snow
- Theodore Lansing Day, by Deacon E. Walter Leete
- Henry Orton Finch, by Bernard C. Steiner, Ph. D.
- Frank Hudson Taylor, by Deacon John W. Norton
[ contents ]
THE two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement
of the town of Guilford was celebrated with distinguished success in the autumn
of 1889. The history of the First Church, until very recent years, was rehearsed
with such minuteness at that time that little occasion remained for any elaborate
celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the formation of
the church. It would, however, have been manifestly a serious omission to have
allowed such an anniversary to go by without any notice. Accordingly the services
of Sunday, June 25th, 1893, were occupied with retrospective and memorial exercises
appropriate to the occasion. A sermon was preached in the morning by the pastor;
the evening service Consisted of letters from former pastors, now living, since
Mr. Dutton’s time, and memorial sketches of three who have passed on beyond.
At the time of the celebration the address of Mr. Wickes was not known. Since
then a letter has been received from him, which is inserted in its proper place.
These letters and sketches were prefaced by brief introductory remarks. It is
unnecessary to reproduce these in this pamphlet. But it is a fact worthy of
mention that the present pastor was connected, before coming to Guilford, with
three of the more recent pastors, those three being, singularly enough, the
very ones who have been removed by death.
Mr. Day was tutor in Yale College during my Freshman year there. He
is remembered as a thorough scholar, a faithful and conscientious
Mr. Finch and Mr. Taylor were classmates in Yale Theological Seminary. Mr.
Finch spent only the last year of his theological course at Yale, and so was
the less known to us there; but he impressed himself upon his associates as.
of a peculiarly lovable nature, gentle and winning. His ministry was exceptionally
a ministry to young men. It is a matter of congratulation that his pastorate
in Guilford could be reviewed by one who, as a young man, was in intimate relations
to him, as a pastor.
Of Mr. Taylor it is difficult to speak with moderation. Of brilliant
intellect, of genial nature, of rare scholarly attainments, he was
honored and beloved by all his classmates. Great things were looked for
from him in after life. His tragic death brought disappointment and
inexpressible sorrow into many a heart which held for him a brother’s
By such men is the kingdom of God carried forward. I count it an
honor to stand in the place which they and their predecessors, and
those who have succeeded them, all good men and true, once occupied.
F. E. SNOW.
Guilford, Aug. 10, 1893.
[ contents ]
by REV. F. E. SNOW.
DEUT. 32:7. “Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations;
ask thy father and he will show thee; thy elders and they will tell thee.”
It is an ungracious thing to begin a discourse on such an occasion
as the present, with the expression of a sense of embarrassment. For a
speaker to offer an apology on the commencement of an address is
generally purely gratuitous on his part, and not always pleasing to his
audience. Such is not my purpose certainly. And yet I cannot forbear
alluding to the sense of real embarrassment under which I labor.
This is certainly an occasion of very great importance. It is, as yet, very
rare that a church in America attains to the age which we can claim to-day.
Not many above a score of the more than 4,000 Congregational churches in this
country have reached that honor. Indeed, Congregationalism itself is barely
300 years old. It is therefore an august occasion. It should be observed with
all the dignity befitting the time, and the veneration due to it. The sons and
daughters of this Church, gone out into all these United States, and useful
in many a community, should be called home to gather about their venerable mother’s
feet, to render to her the homage due to her great age and her honorable career.
Her history should be recited with reverence, and her noble deeds mentioned
with, pride. Like the Zion of old, so of this Zion, it should be said with joy,
“This one and that one was born in her.” With gladness and great rejoicing ought
the tribes to go up to this house of the Lord, “unto the testimony of Israel.”
And ordinarily this could and would be done.
But it has been done for us. The celebration of the settlement of
the town in 1889 involved all this. Honor was then incidentally done to
this ancient church, for 250 years ago the town and the church were
practically identical; and for many generations thereafter the town was
the church, and the church was the town. In the historical addresses
delivered at that time, in the published history of Guilford, and in
the traditions which are household words among you all, is found about
all the material available for a sermon, which would be purely
historical for this occasion. To repeat this history after so short an
interval would be a work of supererogation. I might indeed recall facts
to your mind. I might call the roll of the pastors of this church, and
speak of the length of the ministry of each, of the family of each, of
subsequent pastorates, so far as they had any, of the number of
additions to the church while under their care. But to sit through an
hour of this is not specially productive of edification or spiritual
impulse. This would be a chronicle, supplying the materials of history,
but it is not history. The history of this church however, noteworthy
and honorable, has been admirably written by such men as Mr. Ralph D.
Smith and Mr. Kitchel.
Now all this that I have spoken of puts the speaker upon this
occasion into very narrow limitations. If I am not to repeat a twice
told tale, if I am not to rehearse to you facts that are familiar, I
must not draw upon what is ordinarily regarded as the proper material
for such a discourse. But there is on the other hand a very wide field
of survey toward which we may turn our thoughts, and in which I am sure
we may find delight.
Two hundred and fifty years! A quarter of a millenium! Twice the number of
years of our national life! A period long enough for eight generations to come
upon the stage of life and depart thence!
Two hundred and fifty years! The words roll glibly off the tongue, and we
may not for the moment take in their meaning, but when we stop to consider them,
how momentous a thought it is. This period covers the most important quarto-millenium
the world has ever seen. That may seem to be a very sweeping statement. Yet
it is hardly too much to say, that in many respects the world has never made
such progress in any like period as in that covered by the life of this church.
What interest is there that most vitally affects our human life, which has not
been advanced and widened and perfected in this period? Civil liberty, the rights
of conscience and constitutional government, — to mention but these three things,
and to say that they have had their birth, as it were, and come to maturity
in this period, is to show how momentous it has been.
Two hundred and fifty years ago was the time of Charles I. in England. Perfectly
selfish, a devout believer in the divine right of kings, holding the opinion
that the property and even the lives of his subjects were for the special gratification
of his own personal desires, he attempted to enforce these views upon a people
to whom the Reformation had given the true idea of liberty and individual rights.
He initiated that long struggle of the English people with their sovereigns,
a struggle which issued in the triumph of the people over despotism, as hateful
as it was tyrannical. It was not an easy task, it was not a matter to be entered
upon lightly, that struggle in which the Guilford settlers and their countrymen
found themselves engaged. But on the part of those who remained in the mother
country, it was maintained with a surprising tenacity and a splendid courage;
and the seriousness of it is indicated by the fact that our fathers willingly
braved the terrors of an ocean voyage, when so little of the laws of navigation
was known, and the uncertainty of a strange and savage country, rather than
submit to the tyrannous demands of a sovereign as weak in character as he was
powerful in resources. So in 1639, Henry Whitfield and the company who looked
to him as leader, crossed the unknown seas and came to settle down in this fertile
spot, where four years later they gathered this church. Not yet had the first
act in the great drama taken place in the mother country, culminating in the
death of Charles I. His head still sat safely upon his shoulders. Little did
he think, in the graceful elegance with which he carried himself, that his proud
head must soon bow to the axe of the executioner. That did not occur until 1649.
Imagine the excitement in the little colony when the news, after weeks of cruising
upon stormy waters, at last reached them, that the tyrant from whom they fled
had paid the penalty of his defiance of God and truth with his worthless life.
In 1643 Oliver Cromwell was only one of several leaders in the opposition to
the king. Not until ten years later did he become Lord Protector of England,
the head of the new commonwealth. Seventeen years later, in 1660, the Stuarts
again ascended the throne of England in the person of Charles II., and the old
conflict between a despotic king and a people bent upon civil and religious
liberty began afresh.
John Higginson was just closing his ministry in Guilford. We can
perhaps picture the scene when “this Nestor among the New England
clergy,” who is said to have preached “with a manly, pertinent and
judicious vigor,” arose to address his people upon the restoration of
the hateful tyranny in the mother country. That his speech was with
vigor there can be no doubt; that it was pertinent must be equally
certain; and that it was manly goes without saying. Let us hope that it
was judicious. It is possible that the restoration of the monarchy in
England had something to do with the fact that Higginson did not carry
out his intended plan of returning to his native land.
With what keen interest must the Guilford fathers have watched the
struggle in England, as far as they were able to do so with the scanty
and infrequent news which came across the wide seas. With what joy must
they have hailed the tidings which reached them in 1688 that the hated
Stuart, James II., was driven from England, and, by a second but
peaceful revolution the civil and religious liberties of the people
secured under William of Orange.
So the struggle in which the early people of Guilford were so much interested
went on. For the principle involved in all the conflict they had sacrificed
much. Home, ancestral estates, native land, the friends of youth, associations,
dear and precious — all these lay behind, gladly resigned under the noble impulse
which animated them. Can it be possible that they did not wait eagerly for every
item of information wafted across their own stormy pathway by the ocean breezes
The next hundred years saw the contest for liberty raging unabated in the
old country, while in the new country the people, isolated from the contact
with the struggling factions across the water, were thus given opportunity to
prepare for that time coming which was to “try men’s souls.” During this time
Peter the Great came to the throne in Russia, and from his mighty brain and
his tireless efforts came the Russia of to-day, with its despotism and its contempt
of human rights. Peter also played the part of the trampler upon liberty. Russia
and Poland turned greedy eyes upon Sweden where Charles XII. was reigning, and
by the combination Charles was defeated and crushed. Sweden was subjugated and
the liberties of the Swedes were never regained. Hardly had Peter passed from
the stage when Frederic the Great commenced his reign in Prussia, and modern
Germany began to rise into prominence. What Peter did for Sweden, Frederic did
for Poland. That nation joining in the conspiracy against the rights of Sweden,
itself came to be the victim of a greater foe, and Poland, “poor unhappy Poland,”
was rent into fragments and portioned out among her enemies. The struggle was
gallant and brave, but unavailing. Once more liberty went down before despotism.
Prussia, which to this day is the enemy of individual rights, of civil liberty,
of self-government, became one of the ruling powers of Europe. It is a startling
fact that Russia and Germany came to the position in the world which they have
occupied, by ignoring and trampling upon the very principle of righteousness
and justice which the fathers of this church, with the other settlers of New
England, came here to maintain. What an impressive picture! On the one side
the great powers of the earth arrayed, their purpose purely selfish, their method
tyrannous and unscrupulous! On the other a small people, “a feeble folk,” their
purpose high and noble, their spirit of self-sacrifice Godlike, the tenacity
of holding to that purpose, inspired of the Almighty! “The kings of the earth
set themselves; the rulers took counsel together.” Was it “against the Lord
and his anointed”?
The storm-center of this great conflict, which began more than three
centuries ago, and which is still raging in our own time, now shifted
to the new country. And our fathers found themselves involved in a
contest with their motherland. The old liberty bell has just taken its
triumphal march to the meeting-place of the nations in the metropolis
of the West. Weather-beaten, worn by time and cracked, what is there in
that old piece of metal to call forth such enthusiasm, that crowds
gather to see it pass and reverently salute it? Ah! that old bell rang
out the liberation of the world from despotism, and proclaimed the dawn
of better things! Precious relic of an heroic age! Wert thou endowed
with the divine spirit of prophecy, when thy clarion notes went echoing
round the whole, wide earth! And didst thou breathe out thy last breath
in one ecstatic, tumultuous peal of liberty, then to become silent
forever? Well dost thou deserve the homage of this generation, for thou
didst herald our liberties to the listening skies! And in no place
better than in old Guilford can honor be given thee!
For the echoes of that bell sounded, and found a welcome here. Was not this
that very thing for which our fathers came here? Was it not for liberty that
they sought out this wilderness? Was it not for freedom of conscience that they
here built their altars and firesides? So when the notes of that old bell, now
alas! silent forever, came sounding through these streets, the descendants of
the Leetes and the Fowlers, the Chittendens and the Dudleys, and many others,
sprang to arms. The story of that time has been admirably told, and I need not
dwell on it. But as we ride over the highway at Leete’s Island and look upon
that crumbling head-stone, which marks the resting place of Guilford’s early
martyr, a feeling of reverence and loyalty should be stirred in the heart of
every one whose privilege it is to live in this community, consecrated by the
sacrifice of precious lives to the cause of liberty. Who has ever had a better
right than the poet of Guilford, to give to the world those deathless lines
“Strike till the last armed foe expires, Strike for your altars and
your fires, Strike for the green graves of your sires.”
May we be as true as they were!
But again the storm-center shifts. In 1769, before the mutterings of
our own Revolution were heard, there was born in the Island of Corsica
a boy, who was destined to play a more conspicuous part in the world’s
history, and upon its battle-fields, than any man since Alexander and
Julius Caesar. Robespierre, who was to become the dictator of France in
the Reign of Terror, was at this time a boy of eleven years.
The echoes of the victory of the American colonies had not yet died away when
the storm burst in France, and the French Revolution began. Napoleon rescued
his country from that time of bloodshed and carnage, only to have begotten within
his little soul that dream of selfish ambition and universal empire, which thereafter
became his evil and sole purpose. The liberties not of a single people, but
of all the peoples of the Eastern continent, were to be grasped in one hand,
and that hand his. The destinies of all Europe appeared at one time to be in
the control of this unscrupulous man, who defied heaven when it came in the
way of his schemes, and trod ruthlessly upon every sacred and holy right of
human life. Again must our Guilford fathers have turned their eyes to the lands
across seas; again must they have followed the contest with unabated interest.
In the published diary of Rev. Thos. Robbins, who was pastor of my former parish
of South Windsor, there are found frequent allusions to the fear entertained
in America of Napoleon’s designs. People dreaded to learn of his victories,
and were alarmed at what they considered the probability of his extending his
conquests to this country, and when he was overthrown there was great rejoicing
in the United States because of his downfall. In these feelings the people of
Guilford undoubtedly shared. And when the cause of liberty triumphed, and it
was demonstrated that the Providence of God would no more permit a world wide
despot to hold sway, with what pride and exultation must the descendants of
Guilford’s first heroes have contemplated the fact that the principle for which
their fathers had lived and suffered and died had once more prevailed, Be sure
that Guilford followed the career of Napoleon Bonaparte with as quick an intelligence,
and clear a judgment, as any people in all the world.
So the struggle, in which Guilford was founded, went on, and the
principles in which this ancient church, had its birth gained more and
Once more the storm-center of the great conflict shifts, and again Guilford
is directly involved in the holy endeavor to maintain the fundamental truth
upon which her history started. Many of you remember, with a thrill, the horror
and wrath which I am sure filled this old town, when in April, 1861, the shot
which was fired upon Sumter shook the country. Of the part that this church,
laboring hand in hand with the other churches of this community, played in the
Civil War, I need not speak. That story too has been told by a distinguished
daughter of Guilford. [Miss Kate Foote in the Proceedings at the 250th Celebration]
Of the sons given to death, of the treasures poured out, of the labors bestowed
without stint, of the prayers constantly sent up to heaven, of the tears and
sacrifices and sorrows freely and gladly endured, there is no need that I make
mention. The names of our later heroes, who worshiped here in the place of their
ancestors, who shared their spirit and drank in their love of righteousness
and liberty, in whose very life-blood these truths flowed, — these names are
written upon the imperishable tablets of your heart and need not be recalled
by me. But in our anniversary to-day we look upon them as the worthy descendants
of those who, undaunted by obstacles, which, to a more faltering courage and
a less triumphant faith, would have seemed insurmountable, crossed the stormy
and then trackless ocean, to lay the foundations of an independent, a patriotic,
a God-fearing community.
“Remember then the days of old; consider the years of many generations.” Do
I hear some one say: after all, you have told us very little of this church,
you have given us very little to remember. That is true of the more local and
detailed history of the church. Others have done that, and far better than I
could. But those early settlers, those men who were worthy to be the companions
and supporters of Henry Whitfield and John Higginson and Joseph Eliot, of William
Leete and Robert Kitchel and John Hoadley, and the others — these men did not
live altogether in the circumscribed limits of their little community. Not for
this alone had they endured their sacrifices and woes. Not alone in their foundation
laying and building, in their clearing and cultivating, in their sowing and
reaping, were they interested. Not simply to their direct service of God, even
in the building of the meeting-house and the main-tainance of worship and the
enforcement of righteous laws, were they devoted. But their interests were worldwide.
Wherever there was an oppressed people struggling for their liberties, the men
of this church — for be it remembered that for a century at least this church
was Guilford –the men of this church saw in every such people brothers serving
the same holy cause, and to those brothers their sympathies, their prayers,
their hopes went out. This broadened them and kept them from that narrowness
which is so apparent in some of the early New England communities. At the same
time they were self-reliant, watchful, lest the principle which had actuated
them should be trespassed upon. They took an independent stand from the first.
Guilford was, to all intents and purposes, started as an independent and separate
state. Says Mr. Smith, “Guilford stood abstract and alone, working her individual
way without the aid of any other community, either ecclesiastical or political,
to the ultimate free and independent position which she once occupied, both
as a church, and as a state.” Guilford also had “her own written constitution,
exclusively adopted by her own people,” thus making her an independent, separate
government. Nor did she surrender these prerogatives when, in 1643, the people
entered into combination with New Haven colony for mutual protection. What Guilford
was in civil matters, she was also in matters ecclesiastical and religious.
Our church fathers distinctly stated “the mayne ends which were propounded to
ourselves in our coming hither and settling down together are, that we may settle
and uphold the ordinances of God in an explicit Congregational Church way, with
most purity, peace and liberty, for the benefit both of ourselves and posterity
after us.” The “Congregational Church, way” was then, and always has been, the
way of independent, local self-control. So they organized themselves into a
church, without requiring approval or assistance in any way from outside their
own community. As had been previously done in New Haven, the people of Guilford
chose seven men to be pillars of the new church, who drew up a Doctrine of Faith
to which they assented and upon which as a foundation they mutually entered
into covenant. To these seven pillars, thus independently organized, the rest
of the planters joined themselves, and thus the new enterprise was set upon
its feet. In the new church there was no ruling elder, wherein it differed from
other churches in New England. They would never allow the ruling elder in the
Guilford Church, though according to Dr. Bacon, [Historical Discourses, p. 42]
“every church in that day was supposed to need” that official. Evidently this
church did not suppose they needed one. Neither did the church appoint any deacons,
another instance of their independence of prevailing usages. And still further
they did not require nor submit to the re-ordination of Mr. Whitfield. “That
they had chosen him and he had chosen them seems to have been sufficient for
their alliance, without any further installment or consecration for their respective
duties.” [R. D. Smith.]
So by a method wholly unique, and so far as 1 remember, unparalleled, this
church gathered itself and began its career without the intervention or assistance
of any neighboring ministers or churches. Now all this was perfectly characteristic
of men who were actuated by the principles which had brought them to this spot
in the wilderness, nay it was the necessary outgrowth of those principles, carried
to their legitimate and logical conclusion. This was not altogether an easy
thing to do 250 years ago, when it would seem as though the only safe ground
of action was the mutual dependence of the churches in the new world. But this
constituted Guilford what it was, and enabled her to hold her own against her
powerful neighbor, New Haven. Moulded by her interest in the great struggle
for human liberties and rights of conscience which had given her birth, and
by her independent position among her sister churches, it is no wonder that
this church has had a history unique and striking. In some respects it stands
by itself, distinguished from all others. Two hundred and fifty years have rolled
away since that June morning when Henry Whitfield, John Higginson, Samuel Desborough,
William Leete, Jacob Sheafe, John Mepham and John Hoadly, the seven pillars,
formed this church. The struggle in which they were engaged has more and more
won its way among the nations, gaining victory upon victory over the despotism-
of unscrupulous monarchs. The principles which they adopted as the controlling
precepts of their lives have become the principles which the whole Christian
world to-day lives to maintain and advance. Upon them civilized society is founded.
No people can hope to depart from these God-given principles and expect prosperity.
How wise those ancient worthies were! How have the ages since demonstrated their
sagacity and the validity of their actions? How much we owe to them we never
can know. The inheritance which we have received from them, worthily transmitted
through the long line of their successors, lays most sacred, most solemn obligations
upon us. Upon the young men of this generation falls this weighty responsibility.
In the long years to come there will be those who will look back to you as we
to-day look back to the fathers, and they will ask, what have they done for
us? Wherein do they deserve our honor? If the thoughts we have contemplated
to-day have inspired any fresh enthusiasm for the right, if they have awakened
any new zeal for the church which has suffered and endured and accomplished
so much, if they have stirred any new faith in God as we have seen how, amidst
the machinations of his enemies, the plotting of selfishness and wicked ambition
he has wrought out his gracious Providence for mankind, let us cultivate that
enthusiasm, let us yield to that zeal, let us be true to that faith. Loyalty
to what is true in the past is the guarantee of what is permanent in the future.
To be faithless to the trust which God has given us would be worse than treason.
This anniversary, such as few churches have yet been granted the privilege of
enjoying, should be a call to us to more earnest and consecrated work for Christ
and his kingdom. May he give us grace to hear that call and with glad zeal to
respond to it!
[ contents ]
|Rev. Henry Whitfield||June 19, 1643 — Sept. 20, 1650|
|Rev. John Higginson||Oct. 27, 1650 — 1659|
|Rev. Joseph Elliot||Mar. 15, 1665 — May 24, 1694|
|Rev. Thomas Ruggles||Nov. 20, 1695 — June 1, 1728|
|Rev. Thomas Rugglies, Jr.||Mar. 26, 1729 — Nov. 19, 1770|
|Rev. Amos Fowler||June 8, 1757 — Feb. 10, 1800|
|Rev. Israel Brainerd||June 11, 1800 — June 11, 1806|
|Rev. Aaron Dutton||Dec. 10, 1806 — June 8, 1842|
|Rev. E. Edwin Hall||Oct. 25, 1844 — July 24, 1855|
|Sept. 1, 1867 — Sept. 1, 1869|
|Rev. Henry Wickes||May 22, 1856 — July 21, 1858|
|Rev. William S. Smith||May 3, 1859 — July 3, 1865|
|Rev. Cornelius L. Kitchel||Apr. 13, 1870 — Mar. 24, 1873|
|Rev. Theodore L. Day||Oct. 1, 1874 — Feb. 1877|
|Rev. Henry O. Finch||June 2, 1878 — Aug. 27, 1879|
|Rev. Frank H. Taylor||Mar. 10, 1880 — Sept. 3, 1883|
|Rev. Edmund M. Vittum||June 5, 1884 — Dec. 15, 1888|
|Rev. Charles H. McIlntosh||Aug. 1889 — Aug. 1890|
|Rev. Frederic E. Snow||Mar. 1 1891–|
[ contents ]
By Rev. F. E. Snow.
O God! our fathers hither came,
Forsaking home and native land,
That they might worship in thy name,
Unfettered by the tyrant’s hand.
They braved the terrors of the sea,
The perils of the wilderness,
Led onward by their faith in thee,
Supported by thy promises.
Here they upreared the sacred walls,
Their altars built for prayer and praise;
Here, answering to the Sabbath calls,
They vowed to serve thee all their days.
Thou heardst the praise, the fervent prayer;
Thou gavest mercies full and free:
And nurtured by thy constant care,
Their children’s children worshiped thee.
And we, with grateful hearts to-day,
Renew our fathers’ holy vow;
Thy hand we trace in all our way,
And where they prayed we humbly bow.
Thou art our God, as thou wast theirs ;
Grant us their measure of thy grace.
Spirit divine! throughout the years,
Oh! make this church thy dwelling place!
[ contents ]
DEAR FRIENDS — At the invitation of your pastor, the Rev. Mr. Snow,
I send this simple word of greeting, on this anniversary, especially to
such members of the church as kindly welcomed me, united with me in
Christian work, and prayed for me in 1843 till 1856. My entrance among
you commenced fifty years ago: — so that the natural changes of time
have left only a small remnant of the dear old church of 1843. I send
to each one of the living my benediction, with the prayer that the
Heavenly Father would add his richest blessings and fill your souls
with celestial peace and joy.
Though time will continue to bring changes, till we all change and
pass to the eternal rest, yet God changes not. He will be the faithful
guardian of all who commit themselves to his care.
As our days are passing, as the shadows lengthen, as the sun of life
declines, God is the same, and holds us in his mighty hand. May he
cause his face to shine on you, giving you the fullness of spiritual
prosperity, gilding and beautifying every passage of your life, as you
pass on to your eternal home in the unclouded presence of the Divine
So will the pastor of fifty years ago pray for you.
E. EDWIN HALL.
[ contents ]
DEAR BROTHER — Yours of the 10th inst. is at hand, in which you ask
of me, as one of the pastors of the old Guilford Church, a letter for
publication in the memorial pamphlet. It would have afforded me
pleasure to have been with you on the 250th anniversary of the church,
and your letter awakened many pleasant memories.
I have little to communicate worthy of record, owing to my short
pastorate. It is thirty-seven years, last May, since I took my wife to
Guilford, as a bride, to begin there our wedded life, which we have
shared till now. After a few months of boarding, the people built for
us a manse, on a lot donated by Mrs. Tuttle. There my eldest son was
born, and there we learned to love names that have ever since been dear
to us. We remember with pleasure those of Chittenden and Smith, living
on the opposite sides of the Green; then Dr. Talcott, Leete and Seward,
Drake, Dudley, Tuttle, Fowler, Stanton, Davis and Hotchkiss, besides
which, other faces are remembered, whose names cannot be recalled. We
labored from Nut Plains to the Point, and from Clapboard Hill to
Sachem’s Head and Leete’s Island, visiting in homes, and holding
occasional school-house meetings. During the winter following there was
considerable religious interest in the church among the young people
and some conversions.
From Guilford I went to Deep River, Conn., where I labored eleven
years. In 1869, on account of my health, I came to Western New York,
where I have lived since that time.
[ contents ]
Rev. F. E. Snow,
Dear Brother — Circumstances will not permit me to accept your kind
invitation, to be present at the proposed celebration of the two
hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the First Church of Guilford. But
the event well deserves recognition. Only about twenty-five churches in
the whole laud can trace the line of their descent through such a
length of time and very few have a record so useful and honorable to
review. To have been permitted to do service, however imperfect, in a
field where once wrought your Whitfield, Higginson and Elliot, and
their worthy successors, I count to have been the highest honor and
privilege of my life. The church of to day has an ancestry especially
deserving of loving, grateful and admiring commemoration.
My pastorate, extending from 1859 to 1865, covered a period made
distinctively memorable by the great war which insured the integrity of
the nation and made freedom the law of the land. What with the
mutter-ings of the coming storm, the havoc of its desolating power and
the sullen echoes of its receding course, my work in Guilford had,
throughout, its coloring and quality from the abnormal condition of
Fittingly, therefore, my report should be of the church in the war.
Two points in this connection, seem to demand particular mention. The
first is to accentuate the noble spirit with which this church
responded to the exigencies of those troubled times — how abounding in
faith, withholding neither prayer, toil, treasure, nor life itself. I
would tell this generation how brave, true and heroic was the
generation of the war, as it was represented in the membership and
congregation of this time-honored church. The spirit of sacrifice ruled
the hour, and many were the martyrdoms of those grievous and eventful
years. That was your heroic age. You were tried and not found wanting
The other word I would speak is of the great goodness and mercy of
the Lord in that evil time. There were during the war two signal
outpourings of the Spirit of God by which large numbers, both of the
old and young, were turned unto the Lord. Help was sent from the
sanctuary and the people were strengthened out of Zion.
Now unto the assembly of this two hundred and fiftieth anniversary,
made up as it will be of those unto whom we are a memory, and also of
those, perhaps the larger part, unto whom we are but a name, we extend
our heartiest congratulations, assured that you will transmit your
goodly heritage unimpaired to that elect and consecrated succession
which shall take the name of the First Church of Guilford and bear it
on through the centuries to come as it has been brought down to you
through the centuries past; for here this “church shall be praying yet
a thousand years to come” and here “will be heard the solemn voice of
her unending song.”
Very truly yours,
W. S. SMITH
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Rev. F. E. SNOW,
Dear Brother : — I sincerely regret that duties unusually
burdensome, and my slender stock of strength, prevent my being present
with you on this important anniversary of the First Church in Guilford.
With us much was made four years ago, of the anniversary of the
settlement of the town, and justly, for it was a most interesting
occasion. But I have no manner of doubt that in the minds and hearts of
those first settlers, the institution at last, after what must have
been years of waiting and of desire, of the church, was far more
important. Whatever obstacles had interposed were now removed and the
object for which they had left their English homes was at length
Were they mistaken in so ardently desiring to be united in the order
of a Congregational Church? Has the history of this church at all
justified their expectations? The fruit of a church is the strong and
sweet and holy character which it produces. What has this church to
show, in its history, of such fruit? The record is in heaven of all
those who in these many generations, have by this church and its life
and its services, been led into the likeness of Christ, its Saviour and
My heart, as I write, is full of the memory of some, who, when I was
pastor here, were certainly such. I could mention many others, but
three especially I have in mind, the three men who were the three
deacons of the church when I came to be its pastor in the spring of
1870. Their memory is still fresh and fragrant here. I do not need to
name them. How unlike they were to each other, and yet how like each
was to some side of the Christ in whom all humanity finds its
fulfillment. What strength and what sweetness were united in them. I do
not remember to have seen in any other similar organization three men
equal to that three. I have hardly known other three men who
illustrated so fully the New England character in its best types. They
stand out clear and living before my mind’s eye now. Happy is the young
pastor who finds such deacons at his side as he begins his work. I love
and honor their memory exceedingly.
But it was not only the men. There were then living, as members of
this church, in the full exercise of their beneficent and saintly
activities, three women (if I may be allowed so to limit the number
when easily and justly I might make it larger), as worthy to be
mentioned as the men who bore office. These also are not forgotten
here. Two of them, of large means, had consecrated their money to
Christ, and they watched to use it for Him. They made our yearly
contributions stand well up in the list among the far larger and
wealthier city churches; for they gave regularly, on principle, as well
as where their hearts at the moment led them.
The third had less of worldly goods at her disposal, but in wealth
and grace of Christian character I do not know but she led the rest.
The presence of these three, and others like them, was to the young
pastor at once a stimulus and a benediction.
These are the memories which come into my mind as I think of your
anniversary on Sunday next. Let me send them as my contribution.
You find in your ministry now as I found here in mine, standing by
to help and delight and bless you, strong and noble men and women, who
are trying to put on the life of Christ. So has each pastor from the
beginning and so shall it be till the end. It was a good thing that two
hundred and fifty years ago our ancestors and predecessors established
this church in Guilford.
But what a goodly church that is, which year by year, on high is
gathering into its communion the glory and the honor of our earthly
In Christian fellowship, sincerely yours,
C. L. KITCHEL
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After the dismissal of Mr. Kitchel, in March, 1873, this church had no stated
supply for twenty months, the pulpit being supplied mostly by students, prominent
among whom were the well-remembered names of Prudden, Biddle and Calhoun.
In June, 1874, the Rev. T. L Day, then of Holyoke, Mass., was
recommended as a suitable supply for our vacant pulpit. His services
were secured for one or two Sabbaths, and as a result he received a
call to become the acting pastor of this church, which call he
accepted, though with some misgivings as to his duty in the matter.
Theodore Lansing Day was born in Boston, September 18th, 1845. He was the
oldest son of R. L. Day, who has been long and favorably known as a banker in
that city, having at the present time two of his sons associated with him in
the business. When Theodore was two years old the family removed to Newton,
though continuing their business interests in the city. Theodore early manifested
a love for books and study, and the schools of Newton, second to none in all
that center of culture and learning, furnished ail excellent opportunity for
the gratification of his tastes. There he fitted for college and was examined
for admission to Harvard, but his father wishing him to enter Yale, he took
that examination also. The two differed widely from each other, and it was a
high compliment to his scholarship that he passed them both successfully. He
graduated from Yale in 1867, standing second in his class. After his graduation
he studied theology at Andover for a year, but his health failing he was obliged
then temporarily to abandon his purpose of preparing for the ministry. Subsequently
he entered the Yale Theological Seminary, graduating there in 1872.
While pursuing his theological course he was serving as tutor in
Latin in college, which was another compliment to his scholarship, if
not to his judgment. In November, 1872, he received and accepted a call
to settle at Holyoke, Mass., and in the May following, married Theresa
Jennette, daughter of Benjamin C. Eastman, Esq., of New Haven, a most
estimable lady, who is held in loving remembrance by many in every
place where her lot has been cast. The financial management of the
Holyoke church was not satisfactory to Mr. Day, and his sensitive
nature not being able to endure much friction, he resigned his
pastorate in the fall of 1874. At about the same time he received two
calls, one from this church and one from West Boxford, Mass. The latter
was in some respects the more desirable field. It was a smaller church,
a less scattered parish, and offered the same salary that we did. Both
Mr. and Mrs. Day had many friends in New Haven, and that may have been
a reason why he finally accepted our call instead of the other.
He entered upon his duties here in November, 1874, and brought to
the work that zeal and fidelity which always characterized him.
In January, 1876, he was ill and his mind became seriously
unbalanced. He recovered however and after three months resumed his
pastorial duties, and continued them until December of that year, when
he asked to be released on account of poor health.
He continued to supply the pulpit by proxy until February, 1877.
Soon after that he left Guilford.
He spent some time at the South, and returning lived a year in
Chester, working on a farm, and at the same time preparing boys for
But he was anxious to resume the work to which he felt he had been
called, and to which in his earlier years he had looked forward to with
so much delight.
In 1879, he was called to Talcottville, in this State, where he
labored for four years with great satisfaction to the people.
In 1883, poor health again forced him to give up his cherished work,
but he is still held in tender and grateful remembrance by that church
which for four years he served so faithfully.
But he could not give up, and shortly accepted a call to Saxonville,
Massachusetts, about twenty miles from Boston. This was perhaps his
ideal church and surely he was their ideal minister. They were
intellectual and cultured, and no man better than he could appreciate
that. They too could appreciate his gifted mind, which in spite of
obstacles had been growing brighter through all these years of service,
while his sympathizing heart made more tender by the discipline he had
endured, reached out after the poor, the lowly and the unfortunate,
drawing them to himself, and commanding the admiration of all who knew
But ill health and the mental disorder which first manifested itself
here pursued him like an unrelenting foe.
His church kindly offered to excuse him from all other services if
he would only come and preach to them on the Sabbath, and this he did
for a while, living at his father’s a few miles away.
His connection with this church was severed by his death, which
occurred from congestion of the brain, June 27th, 1885.
Thus at the age of forty, in the very flower of his manhood, with
the ambitions of his youth unrealized, and the hopes of his friends
unfulfilled, he passed away. Gladly would he have remained longer, for
he loved life, he loved its friendships, and he loved its work. But
neither his own desires, nor a father’s wealth, nor a mother’s love,
nor a wife’s devotion, could keep him when that most imperative of all
Let us not think of him as one who became hopelessly and permanently
insane. It was not so. At times his great mind, having no adequate
physical force to balance it, seemed to run riot for awhile. But these
attacks were usually of short duration. He knew when they were
approaching, and the memory of them after they had passed was terrible
; but he came forth from them with mind clear, bright, and active as
ever, and his character and disposition seemed to clarify and sweeten
under the bitter ordeal.
Doubtless Mr. Day lacked some qualifications for the pastor of a
country church. He could write a sermon that one need not be ashamed to
preach to the most cultivated audience, but he did not like to visit
the sick nor attend funerals, not because he was lacking in sympathy,
but because he feared he should say something that were better left
unsaid, or fail to say something which he ought to say.
He had little adaptability for business. He would have made an
excellent college professor, but it is doubtful if he ever could have
run successfully, a railroad, or a bank, or a factory, or a farm, or a
Other men with incomparably smaller minds than his have been
successful along these lines, where he would have utterly failed.
But let us not think that his work here, or his life taken as a
whole, was in any sense a failure. It may seem so sometimes, measured
by our poor human standards, but we believe that in God’s sight
faithful service counts far more than grand results. But even were it
otherwise, who shall speak lightly of the results of such a life. A
goodly number were added to this church during his ministry, though
doubtless less than he had hoped for. But a minister’s influence is not
measured by the number of names he succeeds in adding to the church
roll. He may set at work influences for good which shall bring forth
fruit long after he has gone.
One soweth and another reapeth, and he that soweth, not less than he
that reapeth, is to be commended.
Paul may plant, and Apollos may water and another may secure the fruit. Yet
the planting by Paul and the watering by Apollos, contribute as much to the
grand result as the work of him who gathers the harvest home.
Mr. Day’s was a faithful life, his was a noble character, his an earnest purpose,
his a gifted mind, his a true heart; and all these things he consecrated to
the Master whom he professed to follow, and to the work which he felt he had
been called upon to do; and we may rest assured that if there are in the other
life any compensations for the deeds of this, the reward of the faithful will
be his reward.
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Henry Orton Finch was born, in Keeseville, N. Y., in 1853, and died
here in 1879. He graduated at the University of Vermont and then spent
a year at home in his father’s law office. Then, determining to study
for the ministry, he spent two years at the Union Theological Seminary
in New York city, and next went to the Yale Divinity School, where he
finished his course a year later. He then came to Guilford and had been
pastor of this church only fourteen months, when his life ended at the
age of twenty-six years.
It is the record of a short life, but of one so rich in fruit. To
few men is it given to do more in the like time. During the whole time
of his stay with us, he devoted his every energy towards building up
God’s Kingdom here. He seemed to feel, as did the Master he served,
that he had here a mission to perform, and was “straitened” until it
was accomplished, and so, like that Master, he “went about doing good.”
He was ever ready to do anything in his power to draw men to Christ.
His heart so overflowed with love for all his fellows, and his desire
that they should know . their Saviour was so earnest, that he bent his
every effort to influence them towards the acceptance of Christ.
This love of his was especially manifested towards young men, with
whom he was marvelously successful. Towards them, he felt that he had
an especial call, and labored unceasingly for their spiritual good.
With the most untiring zeal he worked among them, endeavoring to make
them better, to raise their desires higher, to induce them to become
noble, Christian men.
He possessed one of the most sensitive natures I have ever known. His love
for beauty was most ardent, his taste most exact. Without being in the least
effeminate, he desired to have all things around him the most dainty possible.
Yet when the opportunity to do good came, he seemed to forget all this, and
to consider nothing but the desire to help a fellow-mau. He would accept circumstances,
which must have been most distasteful to his sensitive nature, if by any means
he might save someone. We saw the result, we noticed the mighty transformation,
which came over those whom he strove to draw away from things that were base
and defiling, we found that the perfect confidence he placed in his fellows
met with a worthy return from them and that for numbers a new life was beginning.
He was ever full of zeal, energy and vitality; he brought with him
an atmosphere of confidence and hope, and was himself in perfect
sympathy with all nature. It must not be thought, however, that all his
work was done outside of the pulpit. In it, as out of it, he was the
same and his sermons bore the clear imprint of his buoyant, open,
sincere nature. It is now years ago, and I was but a boy, when he
preached here; but some of his discourses are clearly in my memory
to-day. Three of them in particular now come to mind: one on the text,
“Carry me out of the host, for I am sore wounded,” in which he showed
the meanness and baseness of false-witness and slander, in a way which
revealed its hideousness as I have never elsewhere heard done. Another
one, that left lasting imprint on my memory, was on the “white stone,”
wherein is “a new name written.”
But best of all I love to think of his last sermon; for the text he
chose for it best characterizes his nature. If I were asked what
Christian virture was most prominent in Mr. Finch’s character, I would
say, that he was a man full of faith and abounding in love; but that
which stood forth most clearly in his character was hope. In the young
vigor of his manhood, his joyful spirit seemed ever to be looking to
the future and trusting that great things for God would then be
accomplished. So it appeared peculiarly fitting that he should deliver
his last sermon upon the textr “Which hope we have as an anchor of the
soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the
A few days passed and he was no more with us. He had entered into
“that within the veil” and saw his Master face to face. The news came
to us as a sadden blow. Was that the end? Had Mr. Finch’s life ended at
its very beginning? Should the rich promise of springtime never be
realized in the full fruition of autumn? No, though absent in person,
in the spirit and in influence, he was still with us. To quote an old
and trite figure, the stone dropped into the lake, is itself lost to
sight in a moment, but the circles in the water made by it widen more
and more, after the stone disappears, till they touch the far distant
shores. So he went from earth; but his influence remained and its
sphere will widen to all eternity.
“The memory of the just is blessed,” and his memory shall shine “as the stars,
for ever and ever,” for he was of those who “turn many to righteousness.”
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I never knew and probably never shall know any other man so intimately as
I knew Frank Taylor during the earlier months of his ministry here.
I thought when our pastor asked me to give a little sketch of his
life and work here to-night, that this fact would be a help, but find
it may be a serious embarrassment; for looking from this standpoint of
intimacy. I may get and give a view that may not seem from your
standpoint wholly just.
His character, as I regard it, was a natural product of the
community where he was born and educated.
Oberlin, if I remember rightly, was a station on the “underground
railroad” when that was in operation, and whatever have been the liquor
laws of Ohio, no saloon could ever gain a foothold in that town. And
this attitude of the community towards these recognized evils was
suggestive of the character of her son.
Little inclined to tolerate evil or connive at wrong, Frank Taylor,
as I knew him stood for aggressive righteousness with a steadfastness
which would have done credit to the staunchest old Puritan whose works
we have been considering to-day. But perhaps these characteristics,
which would have contributed to his success under other conditions,
were a hinderance at that time here; on the other hand, I believe they
helped to develop a sturdiness in some Christian characters which would
not have been attained under the exceptional influence which attended
and helped their beginning.
His work here was begun under serious disadvantages. Our own people
were dazed, almost stunned, by the blow that removed their loved
pastor, and hardly knew what they wanted, still less what they needed,
nor could recognize it when it came, and Mr. Finch was not an easy man
to follow. Christian work, which the average worker does from a sense
of duty, he did from a sanctified impulse as spontaneous as breathing.
The early months of 1881 saw Mr. Taylor’s best work here. With the
ardor and enthusiasm natural to a young man, he showed the discretion
which we naturally connect with riper years and wider experience. Quick
to see any indications of the Spirit’s work in an individual case, he
was prompt to arrange for human co-operation ; and to his consecrated
common sense and energy was due as I believe, more than to all other
human agencies combined, a work of grace whose tangible results was the
addition of more than sixty by profession to the membership of the two
Congregational churches. Tangible results I say, because that is
largely the test by
which we measure the success of such work. But there are other
results which can be fully known only when “he that soweth and he that
reapeth shall rejoice together.”
Of his work in Seattle I have but two points to mention. In a letter
written a few weeks after his arrival, he used this language — “If I
had creative power I do not see how I could bring together conditions
under which, as I believe, I am fitted to labor, better than under the
conditions which I find here.”
Dr. Dwight, who had an intimate interest in the man and his work,
said — “He accomplished more in those few months than he could have
hoped to do in as many years at the East.”
Of his tragic end I cannot speak to others, nor reason with myself, but only
take refuge in the Master’s assurance, “What I do thou knowest not now, but
thou shalt know hereafter.”
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Rev. F. E. SNOW,
Dear Sir and Brother — I shall feel under great obligations if you
will offer in my name a Christian greeting at the two hundred and
fiftieth anniversary of the old parish church of Guilford, of which I
was once a working member.
Perhaps this personal reminiscence will not be considered egotistic.
It so happened that I was the one who started in town meeting, in the
fall of 1888, just before I left Guilford, a question of making the
anniversary of 1889 a matter of public interest, that is a celebration
by the town in its corporate capacity. A discussion followed, resulting
in a vote instructing the selectmen to appoint a committee to attend to
the matter. This was all I was able to contribute to that occasion
which was made such a brilliant success by the labor of others. I thank
you for the invitation to offer a word or two at the anniversary of the
church. I have little to say. It is not long ago that I was a member of
that church, so the events of my four and a half years residence in
Guilford have not yet passed into ancient history. The ninety that
united with the church during that period are, most of them, with you,
though some have fallen asleep. The same may be said of the children I
baptized and of the wider circle of public school children, all of whom
were dear to me, regardless of church affiliation. Under such
circumstances it is needless to recall the events of that period during
which I was a member of the church and a citizen of the town.
In fact, some things happened during that time that are not likely
to be forgotten. Responsive readings were introduced into our church
communion was changed from afternoon to morning, thus encouraging
the attendance of the children; Children’s Day was observed for the
first time; the old pulpit was removed; the Y. P. S. C. E. was
organized, also the Guilford Union; the Soldiers’ Monument was
completed and dedicated; the first class from the High School
graduated; the Guilford Free Library opened. I would not, however, be
understood for a moment as claiming any credit for these movements over
and above that due to others. All the honor that justice can give me in
this connection is the being remembered as one who did not stand in the
way of progress. These things represent ideas that were stirring in the
world. In adopting them we simply showed that Guilford breathed the air
of the nineteenth century, and tried to keep abreast of the times in
respect to all that is good. And there, as Christians and as citizens,
may you ever be found.
We recall these things for another reason: They suggest to us the
fact that during those years we all builded better than we knew; our
lives in some respects were of more importance than we realized at the
time. The same is probably true with you to day, as you come to this
anniversary. It is of more importance than most of you dream, that you
all stand and withstand, faithfully and nobly as citizens and as
In many respects, I regard those years spent with you as the most
satisfactory of my life. Many as were the mistakes I made in
Guilford, I cannot hope that I shall ever make fewer in any other
parish. Little as was the good accomplished, I do not expect ever
to make my limited capacity count for more. The pleasant memories
and the living treasure that I bore away from the dear old town and
the dearer old church –dearer if not older — abide with me and shall
abide through eternity. And may the Lord give to you greater
blessings and wider opportunities for usefulness than the past has
known. Say to your town and church: –“We will write her story And
keep her glory As pure as of old for a thousand years.”
“Now the God of Peace that brought again from the dead our Lord
Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the
everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his
will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through
Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
EDMUND M. VITTUM
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LETTER FROM THE REV. CHARLES A. MCINTOSH.
227 WESTCHESTER AVENUE,
PORT CHESTER, N. Y., June 20th, 1893.
Dear Brother Snow — I have been trying to get matters so arranged as to admit
of my being with you, but I am at last wholly unable to so arrange it. My experience
in Guilford’s last two hundred and fiftieth anniversary was so interesting that
I shall all the more regret my absence this time. My service with the church
was so brief and unfruitful that I scarcely deserve being called a “Former Pastor,”
yet my year in the pastorate you now hold, was an experience that I shall never
forget, or cease to be thankful for. Please give to the friends for me this
simple word: Let the past of the church, all of it, even though there be two
hundred and fifty years, let this past, with all that it has brought, be but
a stepping-stone into a better future.
CHARLES H. McINTOSH.
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