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The Christ Church 1722-1879 By Rev. Alanson Welton.
From the "History of Redding" by Charles Burr Todd

Quick Links:
List of Ministers
Number of communicants 1809-1879

The present town of Redding is one of the few places in the old Colony of Connecticut where the Episcopal ministry is entitled to the distinction of having been first on the ground, laying foundations, and not building upon those already laid. The Church of England was not planted in New England without strenuous and bitter opposition from the Puritans, who were first in the field. By old English law, indeed, that church was established in all the plantations; Set it is manifest from the records of the colonial legislation of the charter government of Connecticut, that previously to 1727, the church of which the king was a member was not recognized as having a right to exist. Congregationalism was the established religion. " In opposition to which there could be no ministry or church administration entertained or attended by the inhabitants of any town or plantation, upon penalty of fifty pounds for every breach of this act " and every person in the colony, was obliged to pay taxes for the support of this establishment.

In this uncongenial soil the Anglican Church of Connecticut was planted--strange to say, not by foreign-born missionaries, but by seceders from the ministry of the Congregationalists. The pioneers in this movement were Timothy Cutler, Rector of Yale College, Daniel Brown, Tutor; James Wetmore, of North Haven; and Samuel Johnson, of West Haven, a former tutor in the college. These gentlemen, after a professedly careful and prayerful examination of the subject of church order; discipline, and worship, which resulted in a conviction that the English Church followed most closely the teachings of the Scriptures and the practice of the church of the first ages, sent to the trustees of the college a formal statement of their views, and declared for Episcopacy--to the no small surprise and consternation of their colleagues in the college and church. The four went to England for Episcopal ordination, where Brown died. The three survivors returned in 1722, as missionaries of the " Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts," Johnson only being sent to Connecticut. The anti-Revolutionary history of the church at Redding Ridge is mostly to be found in the archives of this Society, as published in the "Documentary History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Connecticut,” and the Rev. Dr. Beardsley's “History of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut''-from which sources, mainly, this sketch has been compiled. A letter was addressed to the secretary of the S. P. G., dated October 19th, 1722, signed by John Glover and twelve other heads of families in Newtown, Thomas Wheeler, of Woodbury, and Moses Knapp, of Chestnut Ridge, thanking the Society for the services of the Rev. George Pigot, missionary at Stratford, and earnestly soliciting the appointment of a missionary for themselves at Newtown.

The next year, 1723, Mr. Pigot was transferred to Newport, R. I., and the Rev. Samuel Johnson, his successor at Stratford, " accepted all his missionary duties in Connecticut."
In 1727, the Rev. Henry Caner [pronounce Canner] was sent to Fairfield, of which town Chestnut Ridge was a part. After having named in his report the several villages or hamlets in the vicinity of his station, he says: "Besides these, there is a village northward from Fairfield about eighteen miles, containing near twenty families, where there is no minister at all, of any denomination whatsoever; the name of it is Chestnut Ridge, and where I usually preach or lecture once in three weeks." In 1728 he says there are four villages " about Fairfield, --Green Farms, Greenfield, Poquannuck and Chestnut Ridge, three of them about four miles distant, the last about sixteen. The same year, the name of Moses Knapp appears as a, vestryman of the church at Fairfield.

In 1729, “Moses Knapp, Nathan Lion, and Daniel Crofoot" objected, in a meetings of the [Presbyterian] '' Society of Redding " ''against" the " hiering" of any other than a minister of the Church of England. These three names appear again in the list of Mr. Beach's parishioners in 1738. The Rev. Dr. Burhams [Churchman's Magazine,1823] says: “'The first Churchman in Reading was a Mr. Richard Lyon, from Ireland, who died as early as 1735.'' He also says on the authority of " an aged member of the Church in Reading," that “Messrs.[Richard] Lyon, [Stephen] Morehouse, [Moses] Knapp, [Joshua] Hall, [William] Hill, [Daniel] Crofoot, and [Lieut. Samuel] Fairchild, appear to have composed the first Church in Reading." Nathan Lyon died in 1757, in the fifty-fourth year of his age. Mr. Caner reported in 1728 seven families at Chestnut Ridge; the number reminding us of the "House of Wisdom" with its '”Seven Pillars," as the first Puritan organization at New Haven was named.

Mr. Caner was succeeded at Chestnut Ridge, in 1732, by the Rev. John Beach, a pupil of Johnson in Yale College, and afterward Presbyterian minister at Newtown for several years. As Mr. Beach was a resident of East Redding for about twenty years, and pastor of this church full half a century, his history is substantially that of the parish, or mission, over which he presided. His pastorate was the longest of all the anti-Revolutionary clergy. He was born in Stratford, October 6th, 1700; graduated from Yale at the age of twenty-one, and licensed to preach soon afterwards. He is said to have been selected for the Presbyterian pastorate at Newtown as a " popular and insinuating young man," well fitted to check the growth of Episcopacy, which was there thriving under the ministry of Caner and Johnson. Many Churchmen must have " joined in settlings him with Presbyterian ordination," for in 1722 they claimed to be a majority of the population, whereas, for some time after his " settlement," Mr. Johnson ministered to only about five families. “ From these visits ... frequent and earnest discussions resulted between the two teachers, the influence of which was soon evident to Mr. Beach's congregation. After two or three years of patient study and meditation he alarmed his congregation by his frequent use of the Lord's Prayer; and still more by reading whole chapters from the Word of God. Next he ventured to condemn a custom, common in their meetings, of rising and bowing to the minister, as he came in among them, and instead of which he begged them to kneel down and worship, God. At length [in January, 1731], " after he had been a preacher more than eight years, he told them from the pulpit that, 'From a serious and prayerful examination of the Scriptures, and of the records of the early ages of the Church, and from the universal acknowledgement of Episcopal government for fifteen hundred years, compared with the recent establishment of Presbyterian and Congregational discipline,' he was fully persuaded of the invalidity of his ordination, and of the unscriptural method of organizing and governing congregations as by them practiced. He therefore, 'In the face of Almighty God,' had made up his mind to 'conform to the Church of England, as being Apostolical in her ministry and discipline, orthodox in her doctrine, and primitive in her worship. He affectionately exhorted them to weigh the subject well; engaged to provide for the due administration of the sacraments while absent from them, and spoke of his intended return from England in holy orders. So greatly was he beloved, that a large proportion of his people seemed ready to acquiesce in his determination." But the others, in evident alarm and consternation at this " threatened defection from their ranks," held a town meeting " to consult" as to " what was possible to be done with the Rev. Mr. John Beach, under present difficulties;" "voted to have a [day of] solemn fasting and prayer; …to call in the Ecclesiastical Council of Fairfield to direct and do what they shall think proper, under the…difficult circumstances respecting the Rev. Mr.; Beach, and the in- habitants of the town of Newtown-also that the first Wednesday of February [1732] be appointed for the fast.''

The council met, and in spite of Mr. Beach's remonstrance's proceeded to depose him from the ministry. “ From this resulted a printed discussion" between him and his deposers, which ultimately helped rather than hindered the Church of England. Mr. Beach returned from England in Episcopal orders, and took charge of the Newtown and Redding mission in the autumn of 1732. From this period his history and that of his mission may be more accurately told in the language of his own letters to the Secretary of the S. P. G.
“Newtown in Connecticut, August 7th, 1735.

" Reverend Sir, I think it my duty to acquaint the venerable Society with the present state of my parish, although the alteration since my last has not been very considerable. I have baptized twenty-nine children and admitted twenty-five persons more to the communion, so that the number now at Newtown, Reading, and the places adjacent, is ninety-five. I preach frequently and administer the Sacrament at Ridgefield …about eighteen miles distant…where there are about fourteen or eighteen families of very serious and religious people who have a just esteem of the Church of England, and are very desirous to have the opportunity of worshipping God in that way. I have constantly preached, one Sunday at Newtown; and the other at Reading; and after I have preached at Reading in the day-time, I preach at Newtown in the evening; and although I have not that success I could wish for, yet I do, and hope I always shall, faithfully endeavour(as far as my poor ability will allow,) to promote that good work, that the venerable Society sent and maintained for me. I am, Rev. Sir,
" Your most humble servant,
" John Beach "

As a specimen of his manner of defending himself against personal attacks we have the following from a controversial pamphlet, in reply to John Dickinson, of New Jersey, in 1736   "I have evened the scale of my judgement as much as possibly I could and to the best of my knowledge, I have not allowed one grain of worldly motive on either side. I have supposed myself on the brink of eternity, just going into the other world, to give up my account to my great Judge; and must I be branded for an antichrist or heretic, or apostate, because my judgement determines that the Church of England is most agreeable to the Word of God? I can speak in the presence of God, who knows my heart better than you do, that I would willingly turn - Dissenter again, if you, or any man living will show me reason for it. But it must be reason (whereby I exclude not the Word of God, which is the highest reason.) and not sophistry and calumny, as you have hitherto used that will convince a lover of truth and right."

In 1739 he says: "I have one hundred and twenty-three communicants, but they live so far dis- tant from each other, that commonly I can administer to no more than about fifty at once, which occasions my administering it the more frequently; and, though I meet with many discouragements, yet I have this satisfaction, that all my communicants (one or two excepted) do adorn their profession by a sober, righteous and godly life." In 1743, some three years after Whitefield began his famous " revival Of Puritanism," Mr. Beach says: “ My people are not at all shaken, but rather confirmed in their principles by the spirit of enthusiasm that rages among the Independents roundabout us; and many of the Dissenters, observing how steadfast our people are…while those of their own denomination are easily carried away with every kind of doctrine, have conceived a much better opinion of our Church than they formerly had, and a considerable number in this colony have lately conformed, and several Churches are now building where they have no minister…Were there in this country but one of the Episcopal order, to whom young men might apply for ordination, without the expense and danger of a voyage to England, many of our towns might be supplied which must now remain destitute.''

(This letter is dated at " Reading, in New England," as all his published reports are, between 1740 and 1760.)

"My people are poor, (he continues) and have but few negro slaves, but all they have, I have, after instruction, baptized, and some of them are communicants." In October of the same year he says: " I beg the venerable Society's direction in an affair I am just now perplexed with. There are about twenty families at New Milford; and New Fairfield, which are about fifteen miles hence. I preach to them several times a year, but seldom on the Lord's day. They frequently come to Church at Newtown; but by reason of the distance, they can't attend constantly, and their families very seldom, and when they can't come to Church, they meet together in their own town, and one of their number reads some part of the common prayer and a sermon. They are now building a Church…But the Independents, to suppress the design in its infancy, have lately prosecuted and fined them for their meetings to worship God according to the common prayer… The case of these poor people is very hard; if, on the Lord's day, they continue at home, they must be punished ; if they meet to worship God according to the Church of England in the best manner they can, the mulct is much greater; and if they go to the Independent meetings…they must endure the mortification of hearing the Church vilified." After the death of the Rev. Joshua Honeyman missionary at Newport R. I. in 1750, the church of which he had the care, petitioned the Society that Mr. Beach might be sent to them, as their minister. The petition was granted, but Mr. Beach felt constrained, on account of feeble health to decline the appointment ; fearing, as he said, that " the people might complain that a worn out man was imposed upon them."

The first church on Redding Ridge, which was built in 1733, and was quite small, was in 1750 replaced by another on the same site, fifty feet long and thirty-six wide, surmounted by a turret, which, in 1797, was replaced by a steeple in which was placed the first bell. This church, according to the style of the period, was furnished with square, high-backed pews, with seats on their four sides; so that some of their occupants had to sit with their backs to the minister. And though others doubtless besides Bishop Jarvis " could see no necessary connection between piety and freezing," there was no heating apparatus in the churches until considerably past the beginning of the present century. " Trinity Church, New Haven, had no means of being warmed until 1822, and none of the rural churches were supplied with stoves until a much later period." Many persons in the rural districts were in the habit of walking several miles, barefooted, to church in summer; and probably did not feel the lack of shoes a great privation. So common was it for men to go to church without their coats, that the first time Bishop Seabury preached in New Haven, a dissenting hearer reported that "he preached in his shirt-sleeves." Often the family was mounted, the parents with a child in arms to be christened, upon one horse, and the older children upon another. Sometimes the whole family were clustered together upon the ox- cart or sled, and thus they went up to the house of God.
In 1759, three years after the breaking out of the "Old French War," Mr. Beach, writing from "Reading, Connecticut, in N. England," says: " My parish is in a flourishing condition, in all respects, excepting that we have lost some of our young men in the army; more, indeed by sickness than by the sword, for this countrymen do not bear a campaign so well as Europeans." Dr. Johnson's playful remark to his son that, Mr. Beach had always these seeming inconsistencies, to be always dying and yet relishing mundane things, " would seem to indicate that his friend was not really so near death's-door as he often imagined himself: for example, in 1761, when he says : "My painful and weak state of body admonishes me that, although this may not be the last time of my writing Set the last cannot be far off;''and he hail supposed himself a " worn out man" seven years before.

Writing from " Newtown Oct. 3, 1764," he reports: " My congregation at Reading has increased very little for some years past, by reason that many who were won’t to attend there, though living at a distance of 6, 8, or 10 miles, have lately built [each] 3 small church near them, where they can more conveniently meet; viz., at Danbury, Ridgebury, North Fairfield and North Stratford; which has very much retarded the growth of the congregation at Reading: which now consists of about 300 hearers at one time." Under date of April, 1765, he says : " I am now engaged in a controversy with some of the Independent Ministers about those absurd doctrines, the sum of which is contained in a thesis published by New Haven College last September. They expressly deny that there is which promises eternal life upon now consists of about the condition of faith, repentance and sincere obedience; and assert justification only by the law of innocence and sinless obedience. Though my health is small, and my abilities less, I make it a rule never to enter into any dispute with them unless they begin, yet now they have made the assault, and advocate' such monstrous errors as do subvert the Gospel, I think myself obliged by my ordination vow, to guard the people as well as I can against such strange doctrines."

Again he writes in October of the same year; after the publication of that precursor of Revolution, the memorable " Stamp Act," of 1765: " My parishes continue much in the same condition as in my last. I have of late, taken pains to warn my people against having any concern with seditious tumults with relation to the stamp duty enjoined upon us by the Legislature at home: and I can with truth and pleasure say, that I cannot discover the least inclination towards rebellious conduct in any of the Church people." 9 year later he says: "For some time past, I have not been without fear of being abused by a lawless set of men who style themselves the Sons of Liberty, for no other reason than that of endeavoring to cherish in my people a quiet submission to the civil government…It is very remarkable, that in part of this Colony, in which many missions and Church people abound, there the people are vastly more peaceable and ready to render obedience to the Government of England; but where there is no mission and few or no Church people, they are continually caballing, and will spill the last drop of blood, rather than submit to the late Act of Parliament." In 1767 he says: " It is some satisfaction to me to observe, that in this town [Newtown], of late, in our elections, the Church people make the major vote, which is the first instance of this kind in this Colony, if not in all New England." again in 1769: "There are in these two parishes about 2400 souls, of whom, a little more than half profess the Church of England. There are about fifty negroes, most of whom after proper instruction have been baptized there are no heathens or infidels. I commonly baptize about 100 children in one year, among them some black children; My actual communicants are here are no Papists or Deists." In 1771 he writes: " In Reading, my hearers at once are about 300. There is it meeting of Presbyterians about two and a half miles from our Church, in which the congregation is not so large as ours. In a manner, all…who live near the Church join with us; scarce any go by the Church to meeting." “The Church, (he says in 1774) stands not in the centre of the town, but on one side, to accommodate the Church people, who live near, though out of the bounds of Reading."

One of the most interesting of his reports is that of May 5th, 1772 :

" It is now forty years since I have had the advantage of being the venerable Society's Missionary in this place…Every Sunday I have performed divine service, and preached twice, at Newtown and Reading alternately ; and in these forty years I have lost only two Sundays, through sickness; although in all that time I have been afflicted with a constant cholic which has not allowed me one day's ease, or freedom from pain. The distance between the Church…is between eight and nine miles, and no very good road ; yet I have never failed…to attend at each place according to custom, through the badness of the weather, but have rode it in the severest rains and snow storms, even when-there has been no track, and my horse near sinking down in the snow-banks; which has had this good effect on my parishioners, that they are ashamed to stay from Church on account of bad weather. I have performed divine service in many towns where the Common Prayer had never been heard nor the Holy Scriptures read in public, and where now are flourishing congregations of the Church of England ; and in some places where there never had been any public worship at all, nor sermon preached by any teacher, of any denomination. " In my travelling to preach the Gospel, once was my life remarkably preserved in passing a deep and rapid river. The retrospect of my fatigues, lying on straw &c, gives me pleasure while I flatter myself that my labor has not been quite in vain; for the Church of England people are increased more than 20 to 1, and what is infinitely more pleasing, many of them are remarkable for piety and virtue; and the Independents here are more knowing in matters of religion, than they who live at a distance from the Church. We live in harmony and peace with each other and the rising generation of Independents seem to be entirely free from every pique and prejudice against the Church. "In a previous report he said: "They who set up the worship of God according to our Liturgy, at Lanesboro' at Nobletown and Arlington, proceed chiefly from my parishes. But notwithstanding these frequent emigrations, my congregations increase.”

His last report, which was made about six months before his death, is dated October 31st, 1781, and is as follows: “It is a long time since I have done my duty in writing to the venerable Society, not-owing to my carelessness, but to the impossibility of conveyance from here. And now I do it sparingly. A narrative of my troubles I dare not now give. My two congregations are growing: that at Reading being commonly about 300 and at Newtown about 600. I baptized about 130 children in one year, and lately 3 adults. Newtown and the Church of England, part of Reading are, I believe, the only parts of New England that have refused to comply with the doings of the Congress, and for that reason have been the butt of general hatred. But God has preserved us from entire destruction. " I am now in the 82d year of my age; yet do constantly, alternately, perform and preach at Newtown and Reading. I have been 60 years a public preacher, and, after conviction, in the Church of England 50 years; but had I been sensible of my inefficiency, I should not have undertaken it. But now I rejoice in that I think I have done more good towards men's eternal happiness, than I should have done in any other calling. " I do most heartily thank the venerable Society for their liberal support, and beg that they will accept of this, which is, I believe, my last bill, viz : L326, which, according to former custom, is due [probably at L50 per annum for six years and a half, or from 1775.] At this age I cannot well hope for it, but I pray God I may have an opportunity to explain myself with safety ; but; must conclude now with Job's expression : 'Have, pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends!!'

Tradition has preserved a few incidents in his experience during the War of Independence: “ In the autumn of 1775, several officers of the militia, having collected a number of soldiers and volunteers from the different towns in Western Connecticut, undertook to subdue the tories. They went first to Newtown, where they put Mr. Beach, the Selectmen, and other principal inhabitants, under strict guard, and urged them to sign the Articles of Association, prescribed by the Congress at Philadelphia. When they could prevail upon them neither by persuasion nor by threats, they accepted a bond from them, with a large pecuniary penalty, not to take no arms against the Colonies, and not to discourage enlistments into the American forces."

Shortly after the declaration of Independence (i.e., July 23d, 1776) the Episcopal clergy of the colony fearing to continue the use of the Liturgy as it then stood-praying for the kings and royal family-and conscientiously scrupulous about violating their oaths and subscriptions, resolved to suspend the public exercise of their ministry. “All the churches were thus for a time closed, except those under the care of Mr. Beach. …He continued to officiate as usual" (as himself testifies) during the war. " Though gentle as a lamb in the intercourse of private life, he was bold as a lion in the discharge of public duty ; and, when waned of personal violence if he persisted, he declared that he would do his duty, preach, and pray for the Kings till the rebels cut out his tongue."

Whether the following were separate incidents, or are but different versions of one and the same, is uncertain: It is related that a squad of soldiers marched into his church in Newtown, and threatened to shoot him if he prayed for the king; but when, regardless of their threats, he went on, without so much as a tremor in his voice, to offer the forbidden supplications, they were so struck with admiration for his courage, that they stacked their arms and remained to listen to the sermon.

A band of soldiers entered his church during service, seized him, and declared that they would kill him. He entreated that, if his blood must be shed, it might not be in the house of God. Thereupon they took him into the street,.where an axe and block were soon prepared “Now, you old sinner (said one), say your last prayer." He knelt down and prayed: " God bless King George, and forgive all his enemies and mine, for Christ's sake." One of the mob then pleaded to " let the old fellow go, and take some younger man instead."

The following is familiar to the people of Redding Ridge parish. The old church of 1750 had a single door in the centre, and the pulpit and chancel were at the west end, opposite the door. A squad of sol- diers, seven in number (hired, it is said, by Squire Betts with a gallon of French brandy to shoot Mr. Beach), gathered before the open door of tile church, and from one of them a bullet was fired which lodged in one of the ribs of the sounding-board, a foot or more above the head of the venerable preacher. As the congregation sprang to their feet in unfeigned consternation to rush from the church, he quieted them by saying: “Don' t be alarmed, brethren. Fear not them that kill the body; but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell;" and then proceeded with his discourse as if nothing had happened. The " History of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut " informs us that " the Redding Association of Loyalists was a strong body, whose secret influence was felt throughout the mission of the venerable pastor;" but how or in what way that influence was exerted, does not appear. The " Sons of Liberty" have been already mentioned in Mr. Beach's reports.

After the death of Mr. Beach in 1782, the Revs. Richard Samuel Clarke and Andrew Fowler officiated here alternately for a short time. Clarke emigrated to Nova Scotia with others of the missionaries, and many of the members of their flocks, in 1784 or 1785. He returned on a visit in October, 1780. The discontinuance of the stipends of the missionaries by the S. P. G., whose charter restricted its benefactions to the British provinces and plantations, was a severe blow to the Episcopal churches, which had been already greatly weakened by the effects of the War of the Revolution. Mr. Beach's congregations were exceptions to the general rule, in that they increased while others diminished in numbers; but whether few or many of the Redding Churchmen formed a part of the thirty thousand Loyalists who, Hawkins says, emigrated to the British provinces from New England and New York, it is impossible to ascertain. It is not probable, however, that there were half that number of Churchmen in all New England at the close of the war. The next name on the list of ministers of this parish is that of Truman Marsh in 1785, who " visited the Parish every third Sunday;" but, as he was not ordained till 1790 he must have been only a licensed lay-reader, though it is not improbable that he preached--as some of that class did, in those days when there was a dearth of ordained ministers. In 1794 the Rev. David Perry, M.D., minister of the parishes of Redding, Ridgefield, and Danbury, in consequence of some reports to his disadvantage as a clergyman, and of some errors in regard to baptism, was suspended from the ministry, and the next year, at his own request, deposed. He returned to the practice of medicine in Ridgefield.

The revenues of the Church were gathered after the Revolution much as they were before. "The Episcopal parishes were taxed to build churches and to sustain religious services, and the Diocesan Con- vention assessed the parishes to provide for the Bishop's Fund. Each parish was required to make an annual return of what was called the' Grand Levy'--that is, its taxable list according to its last enrollment--and upon this return rested the right of a lay delegate to his sent in the Convention. The resolution which fixed this rule was adopted in 1803. The first published Grand Levy appeared in the Journal of 1806 ; and from that time onward for fifteen years the roll of the lay delegates was accom panied by the taxable list of the several parishes which they represented. If the list of any parish exceeded ten thousand dollars, such parish was en- titled to two delegates." The Grand Levy of the Redding parish in 1806 was $12,960.00
" It is interesting to note the changes since that period in the relative wealth of the Church in Connecticut. In those early days, as reported, Litchfield was stronger than Waterbury or Hartford, Woodbridge was stronger than Meriden, Huntington than Derby, Redding than Bridgeport, and Newtown than New Haven."

The longest pastorate since Mr. Beach was that of his great-grandson, the Rev. Lemuel B. Hull, who resigned his charge in 1836, after twelve years ser- vice. " In 1815, a fund of a little more than $3000 was raised"

On the second Tuesday in October, 1833--the year in which the present church edifice was built--the Annual Convention of the Diocese at Norwich failed to organize for want of two more by delegates to form a quorum. “On the morning of that day, at three o'clock, the steamboat New England, on her passage from New York to Hartford, having on board seventy-one persons, burst both her boilers near Essex, and eight persons were immediately killed and thirteen seriously injured. Among those who were fatally injured were Mr. John M. Heron and Dr. Samuel B. Whiting, lay delegates from Christ Church, Redding; and they were within a mile of their landing-place at the time of the accident.''

In the spring of that year several members of the parish withdrew by certificate; among these was John Meeker, clerk. At a parish meeting October 25th, 1834, the vestry were instructed "to take proper [legal] steps to procure the Records of the parish from the hands of the late Clerk, without delay." At another meeting in December following, the agents of the parish (James Sanford, Jr., and Charles Beach) were authorized to "prosecute to final judgment such suits-as they should deem necessary for the recovery of the books, records, funds or other property of the Society, before any Court proper to try the same." In October,1835, fifty dollars were appropriated from the parish treasury " to enable the agents to carry on the suit commenced against the heirs of John Meeker, deceased." Some money was thus recovered, but the records have never yet been found.

In 1847 the old parish debt of $870 (incurred in the building of the church in 1833) was paid by subscription.
In 1850 the parish fund, about $2700, which before had been held as a loan by members of the parish, was by a considerable effort, and against the desire and judgement of the minority, collected and invested in the stock of the Fairfield County Bank. The same year the church edifice was altered and repaired, at an expense of $380.25. " On Advent Sunday” of this year, " the last Sunday of my ministry" (says the Rev. Joseph P. Taylor),'"the sum of $600 was collected at the Offertory for the purpose of building a new parsonage."

" The above-named sum," says the Rev. Orsamus H. Smith, his successor, " having been put upon the plate in written pledges, there remains of them unredeemed in April, 1853, from fifty to one hundred dollars," which being "part of the money relied upon for the building, . . . the Vestry were obliged to borrow it, and it remains a debt upon the parish. The new house was finished in October, 1851, and immediately occupied by the family of Mr. Smith.
In 1858, says the Rev. W. W. Bronson: "The Glebe lot was very much improved by the purchase of a strip of land on the west side and the erection of a suitable fence, mainly through the exertions of the ladies of the parish.

" In 1863 the organ was repaired, and the broken bell replaced by a new one of similar tone, from Meneeley's, at Troy.

In 1873 the church spire was repaired, and the old [English] weathercock, a relic of Colonial times (one of whose legs had been shot off by one of Tryon's soldiers in 1777), having persistently refused to remain upon his perch, was excused from further duty, and a gilded cross erected in his place. The venerable bird, however, is still to be seen on one of the outbuilding of the great-grandson of the Rev. John Beach, in East Redding. The parsonage was adorned in 1874 with a new and spacious veranda, in 1876 with a set of blinds.

The noticeable incidents of the present year, 1879, are the destruction of the church sheds by fire in the evenings of the 12th of May, and the acquisition of a baptismal font of Italian marble, purchased with contributions of the Sunday-school and other members of the parish, collected during the rector ship of the Rev. Mr. Kelley. The number of nominal communicants is sixty-five ; of baptized persons, about one hundred and twenty.

List of Ministers Officiating in the Parish of Christ Church, Redding, Connecticut

Henry Caner-1727 to 1732
John Beach-1732 to 1782
Alternates: R.S. Clarke-1782; Andrew Fowler-1782
Truman Marsh-1785
David Beldon-1786, Officiated a short time only on account of ill-health.
Ambrose Hull-1789 to1791
David Perry, M.D.-1791-Suspended Nov. 1794
David Butler-1799 to1804
Elijah G. Plumb-1806 to 1811
Reuben Hubbard-1812 to 1818
Ambrose S. Todd, D.D.-1820 to 1823
Lemuel B. Hull-1824 to 1836
Edward J. Darken, M.D.-1836 to 1837
Charles Jarvis Todd-1838 to 1842
William Atwill-1842 to 1845
David H. Short, D.D.-1845 to 1846
Abel Nichols-1846 to1847
Joseph P. Taylor-1847 to 1850
Orasmus H. Smith-1850 to 1853
Abel Ogden-1853 to 1854
James Adams-1854 to 1856
Wm. White Bronson-1857 to 1860
Alfred Londerback-1861 to 1862
Henry Zell-1863 to 1863
Wm. L. Bostwick-1864 to 1867
John W. Hoffman-1868 to 1871
Charles W. Kelley-1873 to 1876
Ximenus Alanson Welton-1877

Number of communicants belonging to Christ Church, Redding, Connecticut


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