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Clergymen of Foxcroft

By Liston P. Evans

I have assumed that I was expected to write of the clergymen who have been connected with the Foxcroft church. Ministers who have served the Dover churches have lived in Foxcroft, but it would not be possible to ascertain who they were.

My work has been made easier than it could otherwise have been by a paper prepared by the late Major C. H. B. Woodbury on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the institution of the Foxcroft and Dover Congregational church, Jan. 2, 1898 and he gave credit to a sermon delivered by Rev. J. H. Gurney on the 50th anniversary of the institution of the church.

The first minister in the town of Foxcroft was Rev. Thomas Williams, who was installed Jan. 1, 1823, over what was called the Congregational church of Foxcroft and vicinity.

He was to have no salary, only "the use of the lands located for the use of the ministry in said town" and likewise one-third of the time to be appropriated in such a manner as he might think proper. It is no wonder that Mr. Williams, in accepting the call, said that the prospects of providing for his family under the above conditions were by no means flattering, for the land was wild and the people too poor to give him additional support.

Mr. Williams' pastorate continued until April 3, 1835, 12 years and three months. During that time, in addition to the 20 original members, he received into the church 115 members, an average of about nine each year. He also baptized between 110 and 120 children.

Elias Wells, Jr., was called direct from the Seminary and was ordained and installed Nov. 7, 1837. His salary was $300, with wood and a house, or part of one, and a vacation of three months. He resigned July 24, 1842, the principal cause being sympathy for the slave and hostility to the institution of slavery, which he denounced from the pulpit. He had no support in this position among his people and his resignation was inevitable.

Rev. Wooster Parker was installed Nov. 9, 1842. His salary was to be $450. It would seem that Mr. Parker was wise to the experience a minister might have, for among the conditions of acceptance were these: 1st, that the salary should be understood as money.

2nd, that such articles of produce and merchandise as he might receive should be at cash prices.

3rd, that the payments should be made promptly.

The salary was to be raised by subscription, but in case a sufficient sum was not pledged, the following persons agreed to be taxed in proportion to their means to make up the deficiency: Oilman Clark, S. P. Brown, Dominicus Mitchell, Nathan Carpenter, Jotham Ryder, G. W. Sawyer, L. Harmon, Lyman Lee. Joel Pratt, Caleb Prentiss, Benjamin Johnson, Gideon Dawes, James Bush, Samuel Greeley, Samuel Mitchell.


Congregational Church

 

Mr. Parker resigned August 28. 1856, after a pastorate of nearly 14 years. It was during his pastorate that the second meetinghouse was destroyed by fire.

One hundred persons were admitted to the church during his pastorate, 65 on confession of faith. Among the number was his son Edwin P. who has but recently resigned as pastor of the South Church, Hartford, Conn., after serving with great success over 50 years.

Rev. E. S. Palmer was installed Oct. 13, 1857, and resigned Oct. 7, 1858, a reason assigned being "the prospect of inadequate support for the future."

There was a great revival throughout the country during his pastorate and 46 persons were admitted to the church during the year, 40 at one time.

Rev. Calvin Chapman was installed pastor of the church Oct. 26, 1859. His ministry did not prove successful and closed Jan. 1, 1862.

Rev. W. E. Darling was installed May 20, 1862, and resigned Jan. 20, 1864, because of ill health.

Rev. B. C. Chase was installed May 8, 1866, and died in office Oct. 13, 1868; deeply regretted by his people and the churches of Dover.

Rev. J. H. Gurney was installed Oct. 19, 1869, and resigned April 4, 1875. His ministry had been successful and his resignation was deeply regretted. Many before me today will recall his eloquent sermons and the impressive manner in which he read the hymns.

Rev. H. A. Loring was installed June 10, 1875, and resigned Sept. 1, 1880. The council held to dismiss him said: "They (the members of the council) wish to bear the strongest testimony to his ministerial and Christian character, to his faithfulness as a preacher, and especially to the earnestness and zeal with which he has labored, not only with his own people but also in all the region round about.''

Rev. D. A. Morehouse was installed October 18, 1881 and resigned March 24, 1889, because of ill health. His pastorate had been very successful and his resignation was accepted with great reluctance and only when his decision was known to be final.

Rev. Wellington R. Cross was installed June 5, 1890 and died in office Sept. 5, 1891, three hours after preaching the morning sermon. Mr. Cross had been a faithful minister and his death was a great sorrow to his people.

Andrew L. Chase was installed Dec. 31. 1891, and resigned May 9, 1896.

Mr. Chase had been untiring in his efforts to advance the charitable and philanthropic phases of church life and the church is undoubtedly profiting today by his efforts along those lines. He was also an earnest preacher and devoted to all the interests of his people. It was largely through his efforts that the money was raised for remodeling the church building as it is today.

Rev. Norman McKinnon commenced his pastorate in June, 1896, and resigned February 24, 1900. Mr. McKinnon and his people had worked together very harmoniously and the church had prospered under his ministration.

Rev. V. M. Hardy. D. D., was called to the pastorate July 22, 1900, and resigned Nov. 19, 1904. Dr. Hardy was an able preacher and, as the council on dismissal expressed it, "a. worthy, devoted and faithful Christian minister."

Rev. George A. Merrill accepted a call to the church June 3, 1906, and is its minister today. The future church historian will be able to speak well of his work.

Source: Sprague's Journal of Maine History, Vol. 5 No. 7, Published by John Francis Sprague, Dover, ME, July 1914

 



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