Monday, December 12, 2016

TORSEY MEMORIAL CHURCH CELEBRATES 150TH ANNIVERSARY ~ 1837-1987


The following is a brief history compiled and written by Charles and Marjorie Elvin and Ernest Saunders for the Torsey Memorial Methodist Church Sesquicentennial in 1987.


PART I: 1837-1937
Written for the Centennial anniversary, 1937 by John O. Newton

Under the date of September 4, 1835 in the “Book of Properties of the new Meeting House of Kents Hill” we find a copy of a petition for incorporation for the purpose of erecting a new Meeting-House in Kents ill. The petitioners were John Jewett, John Haines, Jr., J.W. Adams, W.W. Woodford, Dudley Moody and John A. Packard.

A warrant dates September 4 was issued, addressed to John Jewett, authorizing him to call a meeting of the petitioners at the time and place mentioned in the petition and was signed by David Wheelock, Justice of the Peace.  On the 14th the petitioners met and “proceeded to business” as follows: John Haines was chosen moderator; John Jewett, Clerk; and David Wheelock, treasurer.

In addition to the six original petitioners eight other men were accepted as members of the corporation: David F. Sampson, Charles Packard, David Wheelock, W.C. Larrabee, A. Burnham, Henry Craig, Norman Nickerson and Samuel Williams.

Article 12. Voted: To build a new meeting house

Article 13. Voted: To raise $2,500 for the purpose of building said house and that it be divided into 100 shares at $25.00 each. W.C. Larrabee, A. Burnham and J. Haines were made a committee to “sketch a plan for said house.”

On October 8 it was voted to build a house 46 feet by 64 feet – later changed to 62 feet. It was further voted “that we have no side galleries but that the frame be so constructed that galleries may be added if needed.” Joshua Packard, Dudley Moody and David F. Sampson were made a building committee.

On December 5, 1835 it was voted that the building be dedicated on January 12, 1837, with Rev. George Webber preaching the dedicatory sermon. On this date, January 12, 1837, it was voted that the original proprietors choose trustees to whom they would give deeds to the property to be held in trust for the Methodist Episcopal Church. The right to sell the pews was reserved to the proprietors.

The deed specified that the house shall be open and free for the annual “Exhibition of the Maine Wesleyan Seminary (Kents Hill School) forever, and that said house may be occupied by all ministers of other evangelical denominations when not wanted by the Methodists,[i] -- a fine example of liberality considering the time, for Methodism net with no very cordial reception on the part of other denominations in the early days in New England. The records of the building of the church close with the meeting of January 30, 1837.

About 1865 it was desired to enlarge the original building and in the pastorate of Dr. Stephen Allen this was done at a cost of $1,800. As a student of the Seminary I was puzzled over the irregular number of pews. Just why those in the middle of the house were the 70’s was not clear until someone explained that Dr. Allen cut the church in two and moved the south and back to make a place for the new part.

Under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Charles Stone quite extensive repairs were made. The old windows with their small panes of glass were replaced by those of the present day and the interior redecorated.

In the pastorates of Rev. William Van Volkenbergh and Rev. Milan J. Smith, the most extensive alterations of the century were made. The old pews were removed, the present vestry was made and the organ installed and the church redecorated under the direction of Harry Cochrane. The cost of improvements at this time was about $9,000. It was at this time that the church was named Torsey Memorial Church in honor of Dr. Henry P. Torsey who was for 38 years head of the Seminary and a great supporter of the Church. Also, a beautiful stained glass window was placed in the front of the church in memory of Dr. and Mrs. W.F. Morse, who were in charge of the conservatory of music in the school.

 

PART II: 1937 ~ 1961

The Centennial celebration of October 2 and 3, 1937 was a joyous affair opening with a banquet and after dinner program on Saturday evening. Sunday’s activities included a re-dedication service and address by Bishop Charles Wesley Burns, and afternoon service at the East Readfield Church (Jesse Lee), concluding with a vesper service in charge of former ministers of Torsey Memorial Church. Extensive improvement had been made in preparation for the Centennial. The vestry had been refurbished, a new roof put in place, and the tower rebuilt. A new century in life of the church had begun.

Still, with three other Methodists churches in Readfield, East Readfield, the Methodist Chapel at Readfield Corner and Smith Memorial Church at the Depot it was impossible to secure fulltime resident minister at Kents Hill. It appears to have been a period of struggle for all the churches to cope with a lace of interest and poor attendance, despite the fact that the students at Kents Hill School were required to attend Sunday services. A faculty member stood at the door with a check-off list! Weekend ministries were provided by Rev. Gordon W.H. Buzza while serving the Winthrop Church and by Dr. Joseph D’Alfonso, a professor of philosophy at Colby College.

Under the ministries of Alice M. Hart, appointed to Hallowell, Kents Hill and Smith Memorial; and Rev. David W. Bell, serving Winthrop, Readfield Corner and East Readfield a historic step taken in 1961 to unify the four churches.

 

PART III: 1961 ~ 1967
The first move was to combine the three vacation Bible schools at the (Readfield) Corner Vestry, now St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. In February, 1960 a circuit committee recommended that union services be held at Jesse Lee Church in the summer months. By September plans had formulated to continue that practice and also use Torsey Memorial in the winter months, and conduct Sunday School regularly at the Corner Vestry. It was an opportune moment to strengthen and expand these small and struggling groups, however much they regretted the loss of their individual identities.  A new future was opening. The clear vision and skillful leadership of Pastors Hart and Bell had accomplished a workable union, certainly the most significant achievement of the past 50 years.

It was apparent that a centralization of activities in one place would be desirable. The Corner Chapel and Vestry were located at the central part of the township, but after lengthy discussions of the problem of optimum location it was decided in 1966 to select the Kents Hill site. A campaign was launched to finance the renovation and enlargement of the building. Plans were drawn for a basement area that would provide a large kitchen, rest rooms, and a meeting hall with dividers to separate small classrooms for the church school. It was a major feat, begun with excavations in September that required a sacrificial giving $50,000 before the work was finished. While tons and earth and rocks were being removed from beneath the jacked-up building and grading. Foundation walls, a septic system, and a parking lot were being constructed, the congregation met in the Chapel and classrooms generously made available by Kents Hill School. Volunteers donated many hours of labor. The new Fellowship Hall was dedicated June 25, 1967. At last the many program activities could be carried on under one roof. Everyone was pleased and proud.

 

PART IV: 1967 ~ 1987

Further outreach was to broaden the fellowship. For eight years beginning in 1970 the new congregation under the leadership of Rev. Stanley Tanner and Rev. Kathleen Weed was to participate, at the request of the (New England) Annual Conference, in a cooperative parish arrangement with other United Methodist churches in the area. The ministers functioned in a team pattern, sharing programs, unifying business procedures and encouraging joint activities within the network of parishes. However, the experiment failed to meet all the needs and hopes and it was terminated in 1978, though it was hoped that some cooperative activities would continue. The church school flourished in those years and the Tuesday school, an experiment in weekday religious education, proved very popular.
During the last years of Rev. Kathleen Weed’s ministry a major renovation of the church was initiated. The chancel, first built in 1878. Was completely rebuilt to the beautiful form we now today. The sanctuary was repainted, new carpeting and curtains added to enhance the new chancel and both to inspire prayer and praise. The following spring saw a refurbishing of the parsonage with all the labor provided by church members and friends. It was, therefore, a heave blow, after all this work had been completed in 1980 and 81, to discover that winter storms in 1982 had resulted in serious structural damage to the roof and side walls of the building. One half of the roof was literally sliding off! Once again weary but loyal members and friends rallied to the cause of providing a safe and secure house in which they could assemble for worship, study, and social programs.

One of the most significant events in recent times has been the relationship developed between this congregation and an Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Alsfeld, Germany. With the guidance of Rev. Walter Brown the church received and entertained a visiting group in 1983, which led to a return of more than 40 members of our church to Alsfeld the following year. This has encouraged correspondence and personal exchange trips as friendships have grown.

Now, in this year of 1987, under the leadership of our newest pastor, George Darling, his wife and family, we pause to remember and give thanks for the faithful people before us who have made their witness in this place, As part of the people of God we pledge out faithfulness to what He would have us be and do now and in the days ahead.



By Charles and Marjorie Elvin, and Ernest W. Saunders, written for the Sesquicentennial anniversary, 1987



[i] This was a continuation of Luther Sampson’s directions when he built the original Methodist Meeting House on Kents Hill in 1800.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

PASTORS OF THE TORSEY MEMORIAL METHODIST CHURCH 1837-2016


  1. E. Scammon – 1837
  2. W.F. Farrington – 1838
  3. Ezekiel Robinson – 1839-1841
  4. C.W. Morse -  1841-1843
  5. Charles F. Allen - 1843
  6. J.W. True  - 1844
  7. C. Stone - 1845
  8. L.P. French - 1846
  9. George Webber - 1847
  10. R.H. Stinchfield - 1848
  11. Charles Munger - 1849
  12. H.M. Eaton - 1850-1852
  13. J.C. Prince - 1852-1854
  14. George Webber - 1854-1856
  15. J. Mitchell - 1857
  16. George Webber - 1858
  17. A.J. Church - 1859
  18. H.M. Blake - 1860-1862
  19. Charles F. Allen - 1862-1864
  20. Stephen Allen - 1864-1866
  21. A.S. Ladd - 1866-1869
  22. Parker Jaques - 1869-1871
  23. E. Robinson and J.L. Morse -1871
  24. J.N. Hutchins - 1872-1875
  25. C.C. Nason - 1875-1878
  26. Charles Munger - 1878-1881
  27. L.H. Bean - 1881
  28. J.B. Lapham - 1882-1885
  29. Cyrus Stone - 1885-1888
  30. Charles F. Allen - 1888-1891
  31. D.B. Holt - 1891-1896
  32. H.E. Froback - 1896-1897
  33. J.B. Lapham - 1897-1899
  34. W.F. Holmes - 1899-1904
  35. Harry A. King - 1904-1905
  36. T.C. Chapman - 1905-1910
  37. William Wood - 1910-1915
  38. William Van Valkenburgh - 1915-1918
  39. Nilan J. Smith - 1918-1921
  40. Julius Pfieffer - 1921
  41. Royal A. Rich  - 1921-1922
  42. Ernest Heywood - 1922-1928
  43. P.S. Ridlon - 1928-1930
  44. F. Ernest Smith - 1930-1937
  45. George H. Norton, Jr. - 1937-1939
  46. James W. Barr - 1939-1943
  47. T.P. Drum - 1944-1945
  48. Albert I. Oliver - 1946-1949
  49. Walter C. Voll - 1949-1950
  50. Joseph D’Alfonso - 1950-1951
  51. G.W.H. Buzza - 1951-1958
  52. Alice N. Hart (and David W. Bell at Readfield Corner and East Readfield) - 1958-1961
  53. Peter G. Bridge - 1961-1963
  54. Peter L. Misner - 1964-1970
  55. Stanley C. Tanner - 1970-1973
  56. Kathleen I. Weed - 1973-1981
  57. Walter R. Brown - 1981-1986
  58. George Darling - 1986 -1991
  59. Catherine Howe Anderson - 1992-1999
  60. Karen Munson - 2000-2012
  61. Desi Larson - 2012-2016
  62. Myungeun Park - 2016-

Monday, December 5, 2016

Rev. Caleb Fogg ~ Methodist Itinerant Minister


Rev. Caleb Fogg was born in Epping, NH March 17, 1761, a son of Col. Seth and Eleanor (Philbrick) Fogg. He served in the American Revolution and applied for a pension in 1833. In 1781 he married Olive Prescott of Epping in 1781. They had eleven children, born in Monmouth, Maine between 1783 and 1804, where the couple had moved to soon after their marriage. Their residence remained Monmouth although Rev. Fogg served on several Maine missionary circuits (see below). One of his circuits, for several of his assignments – including his last- was the Readfield circuit.

He was converted to Methodism in 1795, licensed to exhort (evangelize) in 1798 and he received a local preacher’s license in 1800. He was admitted on trial, in the New England Methodist Conference, in 1806 and continued in the itinerant (missionary) services for twenty-four years. After his final assignment in 1830 he retired from itinerant service to his home in Monmouth, although he continued his labors as a preacher when health allowed, right up to within months of his death.

According to the History of Methodism by Allen and Pillsbury (pg. 415) Fogg “was not a common man and was remarkably original. He copied no man either in or out of the pulpit. Shrewdness and wit were prominent characteristics. He was a careful student of the Bible; clear and decided in his convictions; plain and forcible in his preaching; and severe in his assaults upon what he believed to be error. He entertained a special abhorrence of the harsh points of Calvinistic doctrine, current in his time, and he would usually, in his preaching, take occasion to give some hard thrusts at this, to him odious system of theology.”

In his last days a Christian brother visited him and asked Rev. Fogg is he was conscious of having neglected any of his Christian duties. He replied “I am not sure that in my preaching I have been severe enough on Calvinism.”

Rev. Fogg’s final days were peaceful and he said to those who visited him during that time “I have peach with God. All is well”. He died September 6, 1839 at his home in Monmouth. His wife died six years later. Both are buried in Lakeview Cemetery in Monmouth.

 

Rev. Caleb Fogg’s assignments as Methodist itinerant preacher:

1806, Falmouth; 1807, Hallowell; 1808, Norridgewock; 1809, Boothbay; 1810, Readfield; 1811, Georgetown; 1812, Bristol; 1817-18, Livermore; 1819, Poland; 1820, Scarborough; 1821-22, Gray; 1823024, Readfield; 1825-26, Pittston; 1827, Durham; 1828, Gray; 1829, Readfield.  

 

SOURCES:

  1. Allen & Pillsbury; History of Methodism in Maine; pub. 1886, Nash Pub., Augusta, ME
  2. Fisher, Carleton & Sue; Soldiers, Sailors and Patriots of the Revolutionary War, Maine; pub. by National Society of the Sons of American Revolution, Louisville, KY, 1982; pg.262
  3. Cochrane, Harry; History of Wales and Monmouth, ME; pub. Banner Co. Winthrop, ME, 1894; pgs. 58-59, genealogical index volume 2

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Rev. Samuel Fogg ~ Calvinist Baptist Minister


Rev Samuel Fogg had an interesting life. Although he never officially served a church in Readfield, that I know of, his religious path was certainly influenced while living in Readfield.
Samuel Fogg was born in 1787 in Raymond, NH to Samuel and Ruth (Lane) Fogg. His parents, who had a large family of seventeen children, was among the first to move to Cornville in Somerset County, Maine about 1800. In 1810 young Samuel left his family and moved to Readfield where he bought 1 acre of land from Robert Cornforth. Fogg’s occupation was joiner (builder) at that time and he used those skills to build a tannery. His newly acquired property bordered on the same mill stream as Cornforth’s woolen mill.  Fogg was allowed water privileges for grinding bark - provided he did not interfere with Cornforth’s carding machine production.[i] Fogg's half-uncle Dudley Fogg and cousin Josiah, of Readfield, bought / owned Craig’s sawmill and grist mill nearby on the same steam.
Samuel Fogg married in 1811 to Charlotte Dow, a Sanbornton, NH native.[ii] They had four children: 1) Samuel D. b.1818 in Winthrop 2) Charlotte C. b.1822 in Thomaston 3) Abigail b. in 1824 Thomaston 4) Ruth b.1832 in Winthrop.

In 1822 Samuel and Charlotte Fogg sold the tannery to his brother Joseph. At that time they were living in Thomaston and his occupation was preacher. He had graduated from Waterville College (Colby) on June 21, 1821[iii] and immediately succeeded the early Baptist minister Rev. Elisha Snow in Thomaston. Interesting that Snow’s daughter Joanna was married to Rev. Isaac Case – founder of the Baptist Church at East Readfield in 1792 and a highly regarded Baptist minister and missionary throughout Maine and eastern Canada. Most likely it was Case who converted and mentored our Rev. Samuel Fogg.

As a Calvinist Baptist Rev. Samuel Fogg served his first church in Thomaston for five years, during which time he baptized thirty-two people,[iv] and in 1826 started a Sunday school.[v] In 1827 the Baptist Convention meeting was held in Thomaston at which time Fogg’s colleagues learned that he had received an appointment as agent of the Maine Baptist Convention. He resigned his pastorate at that time, in order to accept this appointment. A year later the Baptist Convention met in Readfield when Fogg was elected recording secretary.[vi] By then he was serving the Baptist Church in Greene, ME where he remained until 1831[vii]. From there he moved to Winthrop.[viii]

In East Winthrop a Baptist church had been established in 1822 where Baptist churches from all over the state met in 1824 and organized the Maine Baptist Convention.  Rev. John Butler was the first pastor to serve there starting in May 1825. A parsonage was built especially for Butler at a cost of $800.[ix] and when Rev. Samuel Fogg took over the post in 1832 he bought and lived in that parsonage for the same amount of $800. He served the East Winthrop church for four years and after that engaged in missionary work and served other churches for ten years after while remaining a resident of Winthrop[x]. During his years as Baptist preacher he was an ardent supporter of antislavery, temperance and for further education.[xi]

From Winthrop Rev. Fogg went to Lowell, MA and served in churches there – with his wife and all three daughters in tow. Abigail and Catherine were married with families by then, and three generations lived together. In 1850 there were twenty members of this family living in the same household, with Rev. Samuel as the head.[xii] They remained a close family and, until their deaths, Samuel and Charlotte continued to live with one or more of their children.[xiii]

No doubt Rev. Samuel Fogg always considered East Winthrop his home for that is where he returned in late life[xiv] and he died there in 1868. He is buried in East Winthrop Cemetery with his wife Charlotte, only son Samuel and youngest daughter Ruth.[xv]

Churches Served[xvi]

1820-1821 Waterville Seminary College

1821 – 1826 Thomaston

1828 – 1831 Greene

1832-1836 East Winthrop

1836-1847 Missionary

1847-1860 Lowell, MA



[i] Kennebec County Registry of Deeds book 21 page 374; 12/5/1810
[ii] Massachusetts Death Records 1841-1915 www.ancestry.com accessed 6/2/2015
[iii] Richardson, Peter Tufts; History of Thomaston Baptist Church; 2009 http://www.redbarnrockland.com/otherwritings/History_First_Baptist_Thomaston.pdf accessed 6/2/2015
[iv] Easton, Cyrus; History of Thomaston, Rockland, and South Thomaston, Maine Volume 1;  Masters & Smith Printers, Hallowell, Mel 1865; page 322; https://books.google.com accessed 6/2/2015
[v] Ibid Richardson
[vi] Burrage, Henry Sweetser; History of the Baptists in Maine; Marks Printing House, 1904; page 225; https://books.google.com accessed 6/2/2015
[vii] Merrill, Georgia Drew; History of Androscoggin County; Boston, MA 1891; https://archive.org/details/historyofandrosc00merr accessed 6/2/2015
[viii] Stackpole. Everett History of Winthrop, ME 1771-1925; Merrill & Webber, Auburn, ME; page 369
[ix] Irish, Dorothy; Excerpts from: The History of The East Winthrop Baptist Church; http://www.endtimes.com/ewbc/ew-150th.html accessed 6/2/2015
[x] Ibid Stackpole
[xi] Ibid Burrage
[xii] 1850 US Census Lowell, MA; page 697; family 1789
[xiii] 1870 US Census Merrimac, NH; page 7; family 59; 1880 US Census; 1880 US Census  
[xiv] 1860 US Census Winthrop, ME; page 1015; family 186
[xv] www.findagrave.com East Winthrop Cemetery accessed 6/2/2015
[xvi] Approximate years based on compiled information

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Baptists in Readfield - "Bowdoinham Association"

Dedicated Baptist missionaries spread the word in
the backcountry of Central Maine in the 1790's.
By 1790 in the Central part of the state (where Readfield is located) newcomers were rapidly settling the area. That led to the development of the Bowdoinham Association, which began its gradual development simultaneously with the York Association (see below FMI). Churches organized prior to 1800 in the Bowdoinham Association included: Bowdoin 1783; Lewiston 1792; Readfield 1792; Fayette 1792; Greene 1793; Wayne 1794; 2nd Lewiston (Webster) 1794; Litchfield 1798; Wales 1799; and Jay 1799.


Elder James PotterRev. Isaac Case and Rev. Eliphalet Smith were responsible for bringing the Baptist's message to Readfield and the immediate area, where the Baptists were established even before the Methodists, for which Readfield is best known. See this blog for more information about Potter, Case and Smith. 


"The first Baptist association in the Province of Maine was in York County and was called the York Association. It was begun in 1776 with three churches, one of them being in New Hampshire. By 1790 when the population of Maine included 3,572 families living in 2,789 houses, there were only 11 Baptist churches with not more than 500 members.
It appears from dates given that the third Baptist church in Maine to be recognized was the one in Sanford in 1772 and in Oct.1780 fourteen persons were set apart under newly ordained Nathaniel Lord in the town of Wells. Shapleigh (1781) was next as a few pious Baptists united together for worship under Nehemiah Davis and in nearby Lyman twenty-nine members were constituted a Baptist church where Simon Locke faithfully presided until he died in1821. Davis and Locke succeeded in establishing a Baptist church in Waterborough in 1791 which later joined the Saco River Assoc. Other late Baptist churches in the York Association was Buxton in 1799 from which later the churches in Hollis and Scarborough owed their existence."
Source: "Old Maine Pastor, History of Baptists in Maine http://www.oldmainepastor.com/baptist-history-in-maine.html

Rev Eliphalet Smith

Rev. Eliphalet Smith was born 1742 in Grafton, MA. He came to live in Readfield well before 1800 and served the area as a Baptist preacher. About 1790 (1) he purchased land in the 30 Mile River Gore, which is now part of Readfield. Two local histories reveal that Rev. Smith performed weddings in Winthrop in 1795 and preached in Jay in 1799 (2).  No doubt, there are  more of his activities recorded in other local histories.


Little more is known about Rev. Smith at this time. We do know he died before April 17, 1807 because on this date Eliphalet's "farm with buildings thereon" were sold by his sons Eliphalet and Charles for $1,200 to Josiah Gordon of Mt. Vernon. Their father had willed them his property (both of them were residents of Readfield). The deed placed it in 30 Mile River Gore and size 75 acres. It also provides another important piece of information "the homestead where he (Eliphalet) formerly lived". Josiah Gordon sold this property to Luther Sampson later on, who was the founder of Kents Hill School (Maine Wesleyan Seminary) in 1821. I find it ironic that Maine Wesleyan Seminary was built on the home site of an early Baptist missionary. An institution where many Methodist and Universalist ministers hence received their religious training. This is hallowed ground indeed.


(1) Kennebec County Registry of Deeds book 11 page 222
(2) Stackpole's History of Winthrop; pub 1925 and History of Jay by Benj. Lawrence; pub.1912

Wednesday, December 17, 2014