A majority of the colonists of New Hampshire were Congregationalists, and ministers of this denomination were legally constituted the standing order in this state.[1] On this account the towns were empowered by early legislation to vote money for the support of the Gospel, following the provisions of an old English law.

Since a majority of the early settlers of Goffstown were of English descent, it naturally follows that they should adhere to the "standing order." Again, Congregationalism was suited to their needs. They wanted no rulers, nor church government prescribed for them, but to be democratic. All questions of interest in the church were decided by a major vote, as was also the calling of a pastor.

A Congregational Church was organized October 30, 1771, upon the ordination of the first pastor, Mr. Joseph Currier. Very unfortunately, no record can be found of the church, for the first ten years, save that gathered from the town clerk's books.

On the 27th of December, 1781, occurred the ordination of Rev. Mr. Waters, at which time the church numbered twenty-four persons. He closed his labors May 4, 1795, and during his pastorate the church received fifty-five persons by profession and two by letter.

The church at this time represented more to the people than at the present. With few books, and no papers or periodicals, the sermons on the Sabbath day were about the only opportunity they had to have their intellect broadened. The church kept a watchful eye over all communicants, and they were not allowed to absent themselves from the Lord's Supper without a reasonable excuse. Also all matters of an unchristianlike nature were brought before the church. The members were expected to adhere to the articles of the covenant, themselves and their families, and present their children for baptism.

Up to 1790, in this church as in many others in this section, there was a kind of a half-way covenant, which some were not slow to avail themselves of. This was the same thing we so often find in the early records of Massachusetts, where such a person "owned the covenant," in such a year. The reason for its use was, because none but baptized persons could vote in town affairs. The History of Antrim says, "It was adopted here in 1805, and was called the 'half-way practice,' or 'owning the covenant,' and many availed themselves of the privilege; and the custom made the town and church still more as one."

It was first sanctioned in 1662, at a Synod in Boston, and the import was that all baptized persons of upright lives ought to be considered for practical purposes as members of the church, and therefore entitled to the exercise of political rights without professing conversion, or qualification for participation in the Lord's Supper. It was an open door which allowed all who owned the covenant to vote in church affairs, and was naturally the cause of much trouble.

In Goffstown, they were thirty-eight who were thus admitted to the church. The custom gradually fell into disuse, becoming obsolete, and nothing was heard of it after 1800.

The church received five additions, in the six years succeeding the retirement of Mr. Waters, when it was without a pastor. On December 29, 1801, a union of the Presbyterian and Congregational Churches was affected; forty-one members of the Presbyterian Church united with the Congregational. In consequence of this union, the church was known as the Presbyterian Congregational Church, and thirty-five joined during the pastorate of Mr. Morrill, from 1802 to 1812, and fourteen in the interim from 1812 to 1819, when the church was without a pastor.

After the union with the Presbyterian Church, the church was well nigh close communion, as the following will illustrate: May 27, 1802, voted "To admit Widow Sarah Addison to occasional Communion"; voted "To admit Mr. David Morril and wife to occasional Communion, till they have opportunity to remove their relations to this church," Mr. Morril having only three months before been ordained as pastor. August 22, 1802, voted "That the ordinance of the 'Lord's Supper be administered to the church on Sabbath, the 24th of this month,' in the Presbyterian mode, and that the Rev. Mr. Fullerton of Antrim be requested to attend and assist in administering the ordinance on condition that the pastor of this church assist him when requested."

For some time they alternated in celebrating the Communion service between the Presbyterian and Congregational mode, in accordance with a vote of the church.

It was the custom at the administration of the Sacrament to have special pews reserved for the communicants, and in some churches long tables were set in the aisles of the church, to which all if possible sat down, and if all could not be accommodated the tables were reset. Each person entitled was furnished with a cheap lead or pewter coin, which was called a token; these were usually kept by one of the deacons and furnished to them as a kind of certificate of membership.[2] They were in use for some time after they were needed, and dispensed with in 1832. Quite a collection was in the possession of Dea. Alvin Hadley, as late as 1885.

Probably it was the custom to set Communion tables in the church here, since, in 1828, the church "voted that the old Communion table linen be sold to Mr. Aiken, and the said Aiken purchase cloths for the table"; voted that Brother Aiken purchase basket and jars for the use of the church." Both votes strongly indicate that the old custom was in use in Goffstown.

Special pews were reserved near the pulpit for the deacons or elders of the church. It was considered a position of honor, and supposed to be a support to the minister, and the minister an encouragement to the deacons. After the election of a deacon., if he accepted, he would make public approbation of the church's choice, and the church would then voted him to take the proper seat, and usually a sermon appropriate to the occasion was preached.

May 2, 1850, Joseph Hadley and Walter Emerson, having previously been chosen deacons, were solemnly inducted into office, and Rev. Mr. Putnam of Dunbarton preached on the occasion. The last induction service holden in this church was March, 1878, when Frank T. Moore was inducted into office by Rev. S. L. Gerould.

Another duty of one of the deacons most proficient in music was to stand before the pulpit and set the tunes and beat the time so that all could reasonably sing together. The words of the hymn were lined out. The deacon read the first line and pitched the tune, and the whole congregation joined in singing of the line. Another line was read and the melody was again taken up by the people, and so to the end of the song or psalm. This was called "deaconing the hymn." It was anything but melodious, and instances are on record which seemed to infer that the congregation was impatient to close, and one vote was "that the deacon refrain from reading the lines of the last stanza."

The use of musical instruments in church was first looked upon with disfavor, both by clergymen and congregation, but after a time the object subsided.

In the year 1819, under the preaching of Rev. Abel Manning, the church was blessed with a powerful revival, and sixty-nine were added, quite a few of whom were not unknown to some of the older members of the present generation.

The following year, 1820, began the five-year term of Mr. Pitman's ministry, and the church received an accession of thirty-one members.

In the early season of 1822, Mr. Pitman was extremely anxious relative to the apathy of his people, in regard to the Christian religion, and expressed his regret and concern in regard to this neglect. He further desired that the church should take some active measure to around the members from their inactivity. Accordingly, Sabbath Schools were appointed to be held in schoolhouses, in districts, 1, 3, 5, 9, 11, 14, and 15, and Jonathan Aiken, James Shirley, Daniel Farmer, Moses Poor, Richard Hadley and Thomas L. Poor were appointed superintendents.

The Sabbath School was continued through 1823-24-25, and was holden Sunday afternoons, and probably this was the origin and beginning of the Sabbath School being held as a part of the regular service of the sanctuary. In 1825, the pastor was authorized to purchase a number of books, which was the laying of the foundation of a church library, which subsequently became that of the Sunday School.

Mr. Pitman was succeeded by Rev. Henry Wood, May 21, 1826. Mr. Wood's pastorate was successful, and had less of dissension and discipline than had previously occurred, and terminated on the closing days of November, 1831. One hundred and sixty-seven were added to the church, many of whom were distinguished heads of families.

Upon Wednesday, August 16, 1826, Mr. Wood appointed a season of special prayer, at the meeting-house in the West Village, which was very fully attended, and he was assisted at the same by Revs. E. P. Bradford of New Boston, Walter Harris of Dunbarton, Thomas Savage of Bedford, and Abel Manning. Perhaps this is the first public notice of prayer meetings held in the house of worship in Goffstown.

Mr. Stowell succeeded Mr. Wood, and the Sabbath School begun under Mr. Pitnam's pastorate, had evidently become a part of the Sunday service in the sanctuary, as the church voted "that Brother Parker assist the pastor in superintending the Sabbath School."

The church also allowed greater liberty in admitting members of other churches to participate with them in celebrating the Lord's Supper, and dispensed with the tokens, which custom had been in vogue for many years.

During Mr. Stowell's pastorate the membership of the church was increased by the addition of seventy-two members. He closed his labors in December, 1836, and in November, 1837, Rev. Isaac Willey succeeded.

One of the first acts of the church during Mr. Willey's ministry, and largely through his influence was the establishment of a monthly prayer meeting, which, upon June 9, 1844, was made a weekly prayer meeting to be held alternately at the two places of worship, at 4 P.M., which was subsequently changed to 1:30 P.M.

September, 1842, is the first instance I find of the word "Presbyterian" being dropped, and the church spoken of as the Congregational Church. No record is found of any vote to change the name, but sufficient to say since that date, the word Presbyterian has not been applied to the church.

During Mr. Willey's ministry the custom of a donation party to the pastor was established, and a record pertaining thereto describes the occurrence thus: "The last week in December the parish generally visit the pastor at his home and leave substantial tokens with their regard."

Fifty-four were added to the church during Mr. Willey's pastorate, ten during that of Mr. Richardson, and nine-one that of Mr. Ray, during whose pastorate, in 1864, the church experienced a very important revival, which was the occasion of great rejoicing and the cause of happiness in many homes. This took place in one of the darkest periods in the War of the Rebellion, but the absent sons and fathers were remembered in the prayers.

From the dismissal of Mr. Ray to the close of the pastorate of Mr. Gerould, who was installed February 4, 1869, and dismissed February 25, 1886, the church was increased by a membership of one hundred and eighty, and during the spring of 1875 occurred a season of especial grace, and the blessing of Christ was strongly manifested.

During the pastorate of Rev. Mr. Odlin, there was added to the church forty-four members, Mr. Wentworth's pastorate one hundred and fifty-two, Mr. McCartney's thirty-three, and Mr. Hatch's seventy-one, and twelve since.

During the pastorate of Mr. Hatch, the church was incorporated under the name of The Congregational Church of Goffstown, New Hampshire.

The following are some of the early votes of the church:

   April 25, 1793. "Voted to call upon and inquire into the conduct of such of our brothers and sisters as are living in the neglect of duty, and to proceed with them agreeably with the directions of the Lord Jesus Christ."
   February 17, 1802. "Voted to choose a committee of three to invite, and take care of singing on the day of ordination."
   August 6, 1807. "Voted that the session be a standing committee whose duty it shall be to inquire into the reasons those members of this Church have to give who may in the future for more than one at a time neglect attending on the ordinance of the Lord's Supper."
   "Voted that Communion be every other month, half the time at each meeting-house, and as near the beginning of the month as any circumstances will permit."
   "Voted that the preparatory lecture be on Thursday preceding at 2 o'clock at the house of Communion."
   "Voted that candidates be examined two Sabbaths preceding the Communion during the intermissions."
   May 18, 1832. "Voted that we receive no members unless he or she first give pledge of total abstinence of ardent spirits except for medicinal purposes."
   April, 1838. "Voted that the monthly concert be holden on Sunday afternoon or evening instead of Monday."
   "Voted that the collections taken up for defraying the expense of the Communion season be taken at the door on morning of Communion day."
   July 1, 1841. "Voted to choose a committee of three to visit and converse with members of this Church who do not attend at the Communion."

Taking a glance of retrospect over the history of the church, there is little parallelism in the early mode of worship and conduct of the church with that of today; change is seen on every hand; then the church had a watchful care, and if a member deviated from the covenant, they were first admonished, and if they took no heed, disciplined. Days of fasting and prayer were of common occurrence.

Fast and Thanksgiving days were religiously observed by sanctuary service, as was Sunday, when all labor and recreation was refrained from. In Mrs. Mary A. Stinson's reminiscences, "The church services were long, the whole family attended and invariably clad in homespun, and the younger element in summer season were barefoot." There were two tithing men whose duty it was "to keep people awake and in order." Jonathan Martin and Job Dow were the first tithing men in Goffstown, and the first to officiate after the meeting-house was built were Capt. George Hadley and George Addison.

The early church was largely composed of the faithful and brave. They worshipped as God gave them to see the Light, and conscientiously. Their accommodations and conveniences were rude and in marked contrast with those of the present-day, and with such they fulfilled their early mission and entered into the joys of their reward.

A list of the pastors and officers of the church follows:



Rev. Joseph Currier
Ordained and Installed Oct. 30, 1771, Dismissed Aug. 29, 1774
Rev. Cornelius Waters
Ordained and Installed Dec. 27, 1781, Dismissed May 4, 1795
Rev. David L. Morril
Ordained and Installed Mar. 3, 1802, Dismissed July 10, 1811
Rev. Abel Manning
Acting Pastor from Mar. 8, 1819 to Oct., 1819
Rev. Benjamin H. Pitman
Ordained and Installed Oct. 18, 1820, Dismissed Nov. 15, 1825
Rev. Henry Wood
Ordained and Installed May 31, 1826, Dismissed Nov. 29, 1831
Rev. David Stowell
Ordained and Installed Nov. 30, 1831, Dismissed Dec. 15, 1836
Rev. Isaac Willey
Installed Nov. 23, 1837, Dismissed May 17, 1854
Rev. Elias H. Richardson
Ordained and Installed May 18, 1854, Dismissed Oct. 30, 1856
Rev. John W. Ray
Acting Pastor from Apr. 1, 1857 to May 1, 1867
Rev. Samuel L. Gerould
Installed Feb. 4, 1869, Dismissed Feb. 25, 1886
Rev. James E. Oldin
Installed July 1, 1886, Dismissed Feb. 11, 1891
Rev. Henry H. Wentworth
Ordained and Installed June 22, 1892, Dismissed May 25, 1903
Rev. Henry R. McCartney
Installed Sept. 16, 1903, Dismissed Oct. 14, 1909
Rev. David P. Hatch
Installed Apr. 28, 1910, Dismissed Apr. 30, 1917
Rev. James C. Simpson
Acting Pastor from Aug. 1, 1917 to Nov. 15, 1918
Rev. Josiah P. Dickerman
Acting Pastor Dec. 1, 1918

[All but the last five, beginning with Wentworth, were listed as deceased at the time of publication]


Elected Retired
Joseph Little
Jonathan Stevens
Thomas Warren
John Richardson
Thomas Shirley
Thomas Kennedy
Robert Moor
John Taggart
William Story
Jonathan Aiken
Moses Poor
John Stevens
Daniel Lincoln
Samuel Leach
Samuel Morrison
Ephraim Warren
Enoch P. Sargent
Benjamin Poor
Joseph Hadley
Walter Emerson
John Adams
Alvin Hadley
Frank T. Moore
Edwin Flanders
Charles F. White
David Grant
William U. Carlton
Jason P. Dearborn
William H. Stinson
William U. Carlton
Edwin A. Blaisdell
George G. Sargent
Charles A. Davis
Frank T. Moore
Jason P. Dearborn
William U. Carlton
Charles F. White
William U. Carlton
Charles A. Davis
Jason P. Dearborn
Frank T. Moore
B. Frank Davis
Charles F. White
William U. Carlton
Jason P. Dearborn
Henry H. Smith
Apr. 25, 1782
Apr. 1782
Sept. 4, 1788
Apr. 25, 1793
Dec. 29, 1801�
Dec. 1801�
Dec. 1801�
May 27, 1802
Aug. 6, 1807
July 5, 1821
July 1821
July 1821
Oct. 30, 1828
Oct. 1828
Oct. 1828
Sept. 9, 1841
Sept. 1841
Dec. 2, 1841
Jan. 17, 1850
Jan. 17, 1850
Dec. 6, 1860
July 1, 1869
Mar. 14, 1878
Feb. 28, 1889
May 16, 1889
June 12, 1893
June 15, 1893
Jan. 6, 1903
Dec. 31, 1903
Jan. 19, 1905
Jan. 19, 1905
Jan. 4, 1906
Jan. 3, 1907
Jan. 8, 1908
Dec. 31, 1908
Dec. 31, 1908
Dec. 30, 1909
Dec. 29, 1910
Jan. 4, 1912
Jan. 2, 1913
Jan. 1, 1914
Jan. 7, 1915
Jan. 6, 1916
Jan. 4, 1917
Jan. 3, 1918
Jan. 2, 1919
D. Dec. 9, 1787
*Jan. 11, 1823
*Feb. 27, 1808
*Feb. 22, 1804
*Feb. 14, 1827
*Sept. 5, 1806
*Mar. 7, 1826
D. Mar., 1839
July 2, 1840
*Oct. 19, 1839
*June 2, 1851
*Oct. 30, 1848
D. Oct. 9, 1831
*Dec. 10, 1849
D. Nov. 21, 1867
D. Aug. 24, 1854
*Nov. 5, 1892
*April 1, 1860
May 3, 1866
*Mar. 28, 1889
T. E. Jan. 1, 1906
R. June 8, 1893
T. E. Jan. 1, 1905
*Oct. 2, 1902
T. E. Dec. 31, 1903
T. E. Jan. 1, 1907
R. Jan. 12, 1905
T. E. Jan. 3, 1908
T. E. Dec. 31, 1908
*Dec. 7, 1908
T. E. Dec. 29, 1910
T. E. Jan. 4, 1912
T. E. Jan. 2, 1913
T. E. Dec. 30, 1909
T. E. Jan. 1, 1914
T. E. Jan. 1, 1915
T. E. Jan. 1, 1916
T. E. Jan. 1, 1917
T. E. Jan. 1, 1918
T. E. Jan. 2, 1919

* Deceased
D. Dismissed
� Came from Presbyterian Church at time of union.
T. E. Term expires
R. Resigned


Rev. Cornelius Waters
Matthew Richardson
Rev. David L. Morril
Rev. Benjamin H. Pitnam
Dea. Jonathan Aiken
Rev. Henry Wood
Rev. David Stowell
David Gilchrist, Jr.
Dea. Ephraim Warren
Charles W. Houston
Dea. Joseph Hadley
Dea. Alvin Hadley
Dea. Charles F. White
Carl B. Pattee
Reuben W. Carlton
Celia H. Bartlett
May 4, 1795
June 1, 1797
May 13, 1802
Oct. 19, 1820
Nov. 16, 1825
Aug. 6, 1826
Dec. 29, 1831
Dec. 22, 1836
Aug. 30, 1840
Jan. 4, 1849
Jan. 3, 1856
Jan. 8, 1874
May 15, 1889
Jan. 1, 1914
Jan. 6, 1916
Jan. 2, 1919
June 1, 1797
May 13, 1802
Oct. 19, 1820
Nov. 16, 1825
Aug. 6, 1826
Dec. 29, 1831
Dec. 22, 1836
Aug. 30, 1840
Jan. 4, 1849
Oct. 1855
Jan. 8, 1874
*Mar. 28, 1889
Jan. 1, 1914
Jan. 6, 1916
Jan. 2, 1919
Jan. 1, 1920

* Deceased


In 1829, the village at Amoskeag had about the same valuation as the village at Goffstown, and exceeded the former in population. Some of the early residents of Amoskeag were among that number who formed the church organized in 1771 in Goffstown.

Some of the people of Amoskeag were members of the Goffstown church at a later date, and the Rev. Henry Wood, in 1825 and 1826, during his pastorate in Goffstown, made occasional visits to Amoskeag, and there held divine service. At the time of Mr. Wood's visits the services were held either in the home of Col. Daniel Farmer or in the schoolhouse, which afforded slight sanctuary privileges for the people of Amoskeag, even if they saw fit to avail themselves of the opportunity.

In 1828 a few active Christian people conceived the idea of organizing a church, and accordingly undertook the accomplishment. They sent letters to the neighboring churches requesting the attendance of pastor and delegate for that purpose.

In the records of the Congregational Church of Goffstown, November 27, 1828, Mr. Wood records the following:

   "Received a letter missive from Amoskeag Falls in this town requesting the attendance of the pastor and delegate in a council for organizing a church there on the 2nd day of December." "Voted to comply with the request and Bro. Ryder be the delegate."
   November 31, "Received and read to the church letters from Bro. Daniel Farmer and wife, Enoch P. Sargent and Alonzo Dinsmore requesting a dismission and recommendation to the about to be organized church at Amoskeag." "Voted their request unanimously.

The four persons above named were all residents of Amoskeag. Later letters were granted to Samuel Poor and wife, and Ruth Hart Collins, residents of the easterly part of Goffstown.

The council met at the home of Col. Daniel Farmer, and organized with Walter Harris, D. D., as moderator, S. H. Tolman of Dunstable, as scribe, and John H. Church, D. D., of Pelham, invoke the divine blessing. The other members were Rev. Henry Wood of Goffstown, and Ebenezer Ryder, delegate, Rev. Daniel Lancaster of Windham, Deacons Joseph Gale and Moses Haseltine of Pembroke. The sermon was preached by Dr. Church; consecrating prayer by Dr. Harris; right hand of fellowship, Rev. Henry Wood, and the report of the council states that the church was accordingly formed as "the Congregational Church of Christ," at Amoskeag.

The church was composed, in addition to those who took letters from Goffstown, of Mr. James N. Davidson and wife, by letter from Windham; Mr. Gilman Knowlton, by letter from Hopkinton; Miss Katherine French, by letter from Dunstable; Miss Sarah Davis, by letter from Chester, and Stephen Atwood on profession of faith. Ten members composed the church.

The first annual meeting of the church was held December 15, 1828, and Gilman Knowlton was elected moderator, James N. Davidson, clerk. On the 18th of the following February, the church convened at the house of James N. Davidson, and elected Col. Daniel Farmer and James N. Davidson deacons. In this same February, George and Hannah E. Blake were baptized by Rev. William K. Talbot, who had previously done missionary work in the old Presbyterian Church at Derryfield, and in June, 1829, Rev. Abram Burnham of Pembroke baptized the children of Stephen Atwood, the first person who joined the church by profession of faith.

The little church in Amoskeag Village had an uphill course, and had it not bee for the resolution and perseverance, and the strong Christian personality of Col. Daniel Farmer, James N. Davidson and Enoch P. Sargent of the church in Goffstown.

The church never had a settled minister nor a place of worship of its own. It held meetings some of the time at Colonel Farmer's, and a portion of the time it had the use of Dr. Oliver Dean's hall one Sunday a month, and after the hall was burned it worshipped in the schoolhouse. The church was supported by voluntary contributions, and it also received its proportional part of the parsonage interest money in Goffstown, which, in the year 1829, the first year after the church was organized, amounted to $15, which was the most it ever received.

Until 1832 the church received no outside support, and its desk was supplied occasionally by Abram Burnham of Pembroke, Dr. John H. Church of Pelham, William K. Talbot and others. In 1832 it became a missionary church, and Benjamin F. Foster, who had previously been ordained as an evangelist, Samuel Harris, H. L. Dean, a student in Theological Seminary, Timothy D. Stone and Dr. Cyrus W. Wallace ministered here, in the order named, until August 15, 1839, when a council convened by mutual invitation of the Congregational Church in Amoskeag and the Presbyterian Church in Manchester, and the two were united, under the name of the "First Congregational Church of Amoskeag," and the place of worship in the future, was to be upon the other side of the river. November 22, 1839, Cyrus W. Wallace, D. D., was called to the pastorate, which position he held until May, 1873.


About the year 1790 there were three or four Baptist families living in the northerly part of the town, whose facilities for attending a church of their own denomination were very limited. There was a small Baptist Church at Salem, N. H., with Elder Samuel Fletcher as pastor, and another at Deerfield, where Elder John Peak was pastor.

They did not confine their labors to their own parishes alone, but labored in other sections of New Hampshire that were less favored, and especially in more remote settlements. The keynote of their preaching was regeneration, emphatically so, and their labors are said to have been richly blest.

One of the four families mentioned above was that of David Bursiel. He resided where Henry J. Hoit now lives, and he and his family were members of Elder Fletcher's church, and it is supposed that the Elder held service in that part of the town occasionally in 1790-91-92. On January 2, 1792, a notice signed by David Bursiel, Ebenezer Hadley, Job Kidder, Noah Kidder and Philip Wells was posted, calling upon the Baptists of Goffstown to meet at the house of Philip Wells, to perfect an organization and take such action as might be necessary to preserve their Christian independence and liberty. April 20, 1792, a society was organized. David Bursiel, clerk; fifty members were enrolled. Committees were appointed to raise funds and provide preaching.

In the spring of the following year Elder John Peak came here from Deerfield and preached, and June 19, 1793, a church was organized as a branch of the Hopkinton Baptist Church. The Tibbetts Hill district was the center of the movement, and it was closely related to one farther north, reaching from the Wheeler district in Dunbarton to Bow Center. David Bursiel became a lay preacher, preaching for the two churches on alternate Sabbaths, in school and dwelling-houses; his wages were $1 per Sunday.

Moses Gould, a blacksmith, residing in the northerly part of the town where Eliphalet Jones and Orrin T. Clough later lived, became the first deacon and was church clerk for a number of years. He was a man of strong convictions and a power in the church. He had conscientious scruples about attending muster and trainings, and refused to appear on parade when warned. The church voted to sustain him in his action.

October 13, 1802, sixteen members separated from the Hopkinton church, no doubt feeling that their interests would be better subserved by an independent relation at home. A monthly church meeting was regularly held, which all members were expected to attend; those who absented themselves from the monthly meeting or from the Lord's Supper were visited by a committee; expulsions always followed continued absence. At the monthly meeting great solemnity and seriousness pervaded; all should be in accord and sympathy.

September 10, 1812, Jacob Green was chosen second deacon. Meanwhile a church building had been erected at Montalona in Dunbarton, and a union of the Bow and Goffstown churches was planned. This church building stood until about 1885, when it was burned. Abram Gates was ordained pastor October 14, 1812.

A bitter feeling had existed between Deacon Clement of the Bow church and Deacon Green of the Goffstown church, which culminated in the withdrawal of Deacon Clement and the Bow members, and the organization of a new church at Bow Center. For some time there was a very bitter feeling between the Goffstown and Bow churches, each refusing fellowship with the other

At length, after a warfare of about seven years, in 1819 the churches, evidently becoming weary of the strife, voted to drop all differences of opinion. The church at this time numbered twenty-five members, located in the north part of the town and Dunbarton. Further south in Goffstown were many Baptist families who apparently did not worship with the northerly or Dunbarton church. This fact is easily explained, more on account of the geographical situation than any church difference.

Elder Gates now attempted the reorganization of his church, brining in the members further south. This was accomplished by the formation of a church of sixty members. April 27, 1820, Jonathan Rand and Moses Gould were chosen deacons.

Elder Gates did not long remain to enjoy the fruits of his labors, as he removed during the year, and June 29, 1822, John B. Gibson, having preached frequently during the two preceding years, became pastor, and continued his labors until February 28, 1828. The church had grown steadily under his ministry.

September 26, 1828, Isaac Westcot was granted a license to preach. November 27, 1828, thirteen members were dismissed to former church in Dunbarton, and March 26, 1829, a Sunday school was organized. May 28, 1829, nine members were dismissed to former church in Amherst.

June 25, 1829, Elder Simon Fletcher became pastor and continued until August 29, 1832, and William Slosson, who had been preaching for the church for some time, became their pastor April 3, 1834. About this time land was donated and a church building erected. July 2, 1834, the new church was dedicated, and Mr. Slosson was ordained the same day. In November, 1834, the new church was dedicated, and Mr. Slosson was ordained the same day. In November, 1834, a series of revival meetings were held, and as a result forty-five were baptized and received into the church.

July 25, 1835, a branch of the Goffstown church was organized at Amoskeag Village largely through the efforts of Rev. John Peacock. This church afterwards became the First Baptist Church of Manchester. Rev. Mr. Slosson closed his labors with the church early in 1836, and April 28 of that year George Evans became pastor. December 29, 1836, the Amoskeag church was organized as a separate church, and forty-four members were dismissed to for it. Mr. Evans resigned June 27, 1839.

July 1, 1840, Abel Philbrick was ordained pastor. He resigned December 1841, and his place was filled by Rev. E. K. Bailey, who became pastor February 24, 1842. The church was now at its greatest season of prosperity, and numbered one hundred and fifty members. Mr. Bailey, like the other ministers of the town, seems to have had great fear for the church, on account of a woman preaching in town, drawing large audiences from his as well as the other churches. He resigned January 14, 1844, and on the 27th of the following April, Rev. J. W. Poland became pastor. Three times was he pastor of this church, and his declining years, after ill health had compelled him to retire from the ministry, were spent here. A man of deep piety, peaceable, broadminded, he did much to shape the character of the church. He closed his first pastorate December 31, 1846.

February 25, 1847, David B. French became pastor and remained until March 10, 1850, and on the 28th day of the same month Rev. J. W. Poland began his second pastorate. In May, 1854, owing to ill health, which compelled him to give up preaching for a time, he resigned, and Rev. D. P. Deming became his successor and so continued until September, 1858.

Many of the strong members of the church had died or moved away, and the church was now in a season of depression, and for some months no service was held. When church service was resumed there was student preaching for about two years. July 8, 1877, John H. Nichols became pastor, and was ordained July 25, 1877. He was blessed in his labors, and the church built up and strengthened under his preaching.

May 13, 1883, Rev. E. T. Lyford became pastor, and so remained until April 26, 1885, when on account of ill health he resigned. During his ministry, he represented the town in the legislature.

October 13, 1889, Rev. William Packard was called. The old schoolhouse in school district No. 9 was purchased, and moved to a site obtained in the upper village, where it was fixed up for a chapel. About the same time the Photo: Baptist Church, Grasmere church was repaired, new windows put in and other changes made. April 31, 1892, William Packard resigned. Rev. J. A. Bailey became his successor.

In 1898 Samuel Orr left the church $500, the interest of which was to be used for the support of preaching. It was the beginning of a fund which has since been added to by others. May 1, 1901, Rev. Mr. Bailey resigned, and May 19, the same month, Rev. J. L. Peacock became pastor. During the summer of 1902 the church was repaired and several changes were made in the interior. Rev. Mr. Peacock resigned June 7, 1903, and on September 6, the same year, Rev. Charles T. Reekie became pastor. He closed his pastorate December 1, 1907. June 1, 1908, he was succeeded by Rev. Edwin C. Goodwin. His labors have been blest; the church more than doubled in membership.


Benjamin Wheeler
Daniel Cheney
Philip Wells
Joseph Cheney
Daniel Wheeler
Samuel Roby
Edward Sargent
Thomas Burnham
Joseph Collins
Reuben Collins
Thomas Hadley
Moses Little
Daniel Annis
Abraham Kelley
Steven Gould
Abner Hoyt
Timothy McIntire
Job Kidder
William Wheeler
Ebenezer Hadley
David Bursiel
Samuel Annis
Samson Wheeler
Joel Wheeler
Elijah Kidder
Job Kidder, Jr.
John Gould
Peter Harriman
Noah Kidder, Jr.
James Hoyt
Prince Johonnet
John Pattee
Ebenezer Gould
Peter Johonnet
Benjamin Wheeler, Jr.
Moses Gould
John McClintock
Elijah Stevens
Timothy McIntire, Jr.
Joseph Bursiel
Joseph Goodhue
Nicholas Perkins
Whitcher Wheeler
Eben Gould
Ephraim Andrews
Winthrop Sargent
Isaac Parker
William Wheeler, Jr.
Noah Kidder
Elnathan Whitney


Philip Wells
David Bursiel
Sampson Wheeler
Job Kidder
Mary Pattee
Sarah Kelley
Elizabeth Burnham
Dolly Gould
John Gould
Samuel Kelley
Noah Kidder
Moses Gould
Rachel Gould
Elizabeth Bursiel
Lucy Kidder
Hepsibah Lauchlan


Bro. David Bursiel
Rev. Abraham Gates
Rev. John B. Gibson
Rev. Simon Fletcher
Rev. William Slosson
Rev. George Evans
Rev. Abel Philbrick
Rev. E. K. Bailey
Rev. J. W. Poland
Rev. David P. French
Rev. J. W. Poland
Rev. D. P. Deming
Rev. L. C. Stevens
Rev. W. H. Eaton
Rev. John L. Haradon
Rev. J. W. Poland
Rev. John H. Nichols
Rev. E. T. Lyford
Rev. Willard Packard
Rev. J. A. Bailey
Rev. John L. Peacock
Rev. Charles Reekie
Rev. Edwin C. Goodwin


Moses Gould
Jacob Green
Jonathan Rand
John Plumer
Johnson Tirrell
James Eaton
Abraham Roberts
Joseph B. Gilmore
William Moore
Seth Woodbury
Francis O. Colby
Henry Moore
Jesse W. Tirrell
Arthur H. Parker


A Baptist Society existed at Amoskeag in 1832, and as such received their proportional part of the parsonage fund, and it is probably that they held service, if not at that time, shortly after.

July 26, 1835, ten members of the Goffstown Baptist Church were permitted to worship at Amoskeag under the name of the "Amoskeag Branch of the Goffstown Church." Their first meeting was on the 2nd day of August, 1835, in the hall, and their first pastor was the Rev. J. Peabody.

On December 1, 1836, this little company met at the house of Dea. John Plumer, to consult relative to the expediency of forming an independent church. They "voted unanimously to ask a dismission from the Goffstown church, to adopt the articles of faith of the New Hampshire Baptist State Convention, also requested their pastor, Mr. Peabody, to invite an ecclesiastical council to meet with them for the purposes of organizing a church."

On December 29, 1836, forty-four members were dismissed from the Baptist Church at Goffstown, to the Baptist Church at Amoskeag. Accordingly, January 4, 1837, a council convened, and the branch was recognized as an independent church.

Rev. John Peacock succeeded Mr. Peabody as pastor, and the church continued to worship at the hall in Amoskeag until 1840, when they moved to the city proper, and became the "First Baptist Church of Manchester."


In 1841 a Miss Parker came to Goffstown and began to preach in the old meeting-house at Grasmere, then Goffstown Center. She claimed to be independent of all churches, but had formerly been a Methodist. Rev. Isaac Photo: Methodist Episcopal Church, Grasmere Willey said: "Her hearers increased until she had an audience of nearly one thousand persons. In the spring of 1842 more than one half of the voters in town, and nearly all those who had never been willing to support any other preacher, came to her support." Near the close of her labors she advised her converts to form a Methodist Church. Some dissatisfaction arose, in regard to the occupation of the Congregational Church at the Center, by her followers, whereupon, Samuel Little and Capt. Joseph Sargent purchased the building.

In the autumn of 1842 a Methodist Society was organized, and pews were sold in the house to various individuals by Messrs. Little and Sargent. Rev. Mr. Smart, a local preacher, was secured until the next session of the conference, which occurred June, 1843. He was followed by Rev. Samuel S. Matthews, a man of great zeal and piety, who died at Rochester, September, 1847, cut down in the prime of life.

In 1844-46 Warren F. Evans supplied, and 1846-48 Alexander H. Fullerton. In 1848 Ezekiel Adams was stationed at Hooksett and Goffstown, assisted by D. B. French. He was followed by John McLaughlin until 1850; from 1850 to 1858 supplied by students, prominent among whom were O. B. Pitcher, Rodney Gage, A. F. Herrick, Edwin W. Parker, and Stephen L. Baldwin.

It is reported that little pastoral work was done, which, of course, was very disastrous to the interest of the church. In 1859 and 1860, what was still worse, there was no regular preaching. In 1861 through the efforts of Harvey Stevens, Thomas Sargent, Daniels G. Davis, and others, John G. Goodwin was secured for a part of the time.

Henry W. Ackerley
John H. Hillman
Thomas Chipperfield
S. W. Ruland
Egbert A. Braman
Warren B. Osgood
Watson W. Smith
Eleazer Smith
William E. Bennett
Elbridge Bradford
N. P. Philbrook
J. Mowry Bean
D. W. Downs
Irad Taggart
J. L. Harrison
Apr. 1916-1920
Edward R. Perkins
Leslie R. Danforth
Henry B. Allen
J. H. Vincent
J. D. Folsom
E. S. Collier
Almon B. Rowell
J. W. Trow
J. E. Montgomery
C. W. Dockrill
A. P. Gaines
_____ Knuckols
Edward B. Young
John W. Presby

On the 18th of August, 1877, the church was struck by lightning and totally destroyed, and a new one was erected before the close of the year. In 1881 a new parsonage was erected, and in 1914 a substantial kitchen and dining room finished under the church, which is a great convenience for suppers, etc.

June 9, 1918, there occurred a very remarkable instance in the history of this church. Nineteen members were received, and among the number was Irad Poore, 94 years of age, the oldest person in the town, and active. After the service, a photograph of the entire congregation was taken, in which four generations were represented: Irad Poore, his daughter, Mrs. Charles E. Pollard, his grandson, Herman Pollard, and his great-granddaughter, Grendolyn Mary Pollard.

The following has been furnished by Mrs. Georgia F. Martin, relative to the Second Methodist Church and church building:

   "In the year 1872, with the increasing population of the town, the needs of the people called for more church room, and quite an interest was manifest in Methodist preaching at the village. Accordingly, the annual conference sent Rev. W. E. Bennett to preach at the Center, also to hold meetings at the West Village; this he did with evident success, ministering to good-sized congregations and receiving a generous support.
   "At the end of the year Mr. Bennett was called to another field of labor, and the meetings became irregular, and the matter was allowed to drop.
   "In the years 1884-86, Rev. Edward R. Perkins, pastor at the Center church, again agitated the subject. His good judgment and discernment saw a good opening for a church, and the advance of Methodism in Goffstown, and under his influence the official board appointed a committee to call upon those interested, and ascertain what support would be furnished.
   "The report was favorable, and, at the next annual conference, Rev. L. R. Danforth was assigned to Goffstown Center and Goffstown. The town hall was engaged in which to hold Sunday afternoon services.
   "Mr. Danforth proved the right man in the right place, for, with untiring energy, he improved the opportunity, and with ready cooperation no time was lost in forwarding the good work which Reverends Bennett and Perkins predicted might be accomplished.
   "Mr. Danforth saw hope for the future of his church, on account of the size of his congregation and interest manifest. On Monday, October 24, 1887, the Second Methodist Episcopal Church was organized, the meeting being held at the house of Joseph Whittemore, with the following present: Presiding Elder, Rev. J. E. Robbins, Rev. L. R. Danforth, Homer E. Grady, Daniel G. Davis, James H. Lewis, Henry F. Martin, Isaac J. Paige, Joseph Whittemore, Gilman Woodbury, Mrs. D. G. Davis, Mrs. James H. Lewis, Mrs. Isaac J. Paige, Mrs. Henry F. Martin, Mrs. Joseph Whittemore and Mrs. P. D. Stark.
   "Letters of dismissal from the following persons, for the purpose of joining the proposed church, were read by Rev. L. R. Danforth: Daniel G. Davis and wife, Homer E. Grady and wife, Henry F. Martin and wife, and Fred L. Colston from the Methodist Church at Goffstown Center; Mrs. Fred L. Colston from the Methodist Church at Littleton; James H. Lewis from the Maple Street Methodist Church, Lynn, Mass., Mrs. Harriet Kidder, Mrs. Eliza Pattee, and Charles F. Aiken from St. Paul's Methodist Church, Manchester.
   "The church officers--Stewards: Homer E. Grady, Daniel G. Davis, Henry F. Martin, James H. Lewis, Fred L. Colston, Mrs. Fred L. Colston, Mrs. Homer E. Grady, Mrs. Daniel G. Davis, and Mrs. Henry F. Martin. Mrs. Henry F. Martin was appointed recording steward. Trustees: Daniel G. Davis, Homer E. Grady, James H. Lewis, Henry F. Martin, Fred L. Colston, Fred K. Hazen and Joseph Whittemore. Superintendent of Sunday School and financial agent: Henry F. Martin. They voted to call the church 'The Second Methodist Episcopal Church.'
   "For a few months the young church worshipped in the town hall, and there is a laughable incident in connection with the first service there held by Mr. Danforth. It seems considerable curiosity was aroused and manifest itself in various ways when the announcement was made that the hall had been engaged for regular Sunday services, and many wanted to see what the Methodist parson looked like and hear what he would say. Some felt a little awkward to let their curiosity be known, but as one good sister tells the story, a kind neighbor came to her one day and asked her to go to the hall with her, saying she believed some sort of a tramp preacher was to hold forth; 'but,' said the neighbor, as the two started for the place of meeting, 'let us go down by the horse sheds and through the back street, and then our church folks won't see us.' This the good sister readily consented to do, and in this way they safely reached the hall and listened to Mr. Danforth for the first time. I can imagine something of the elation our Methodist friend must have felt to introduce to the astonished neighbor the first pastor of the Second Methodist Episcopal Church, and to declare to her that he was her brother, and to be her pastor henceforth, and can almost hear the exclamation: 'Why! are you a Methodist? You never told me.' 'No! dear friend, you never asked me. In the past we have been Christians worshipping together, now we may be friends, neighbors, Christians just the same, though we hereafter attend separate churches.'
   "Notice was given in the course of time that the hall must be repaired, which necessitated another place of worship. The official board saw the necessity of a permanent place of worship, and a lot of land was purchased of Samuel Upton, and January 14, 1889, Rev. L. R. Danforth, Charles L. Davis and Fred L. Colston were chosen a building committee; Joseph Whittemore and Alexander McLane, committee on foundation. Plan No. 51 on church extension list was selected. Charles L. Davis submitted a schedule of lumber for the building, and Rodney Johnson furnished the lumber for the frame.
   "The church was to be known as the Second Methodist Episcopal Church of Goffstown. Work was commenced March 26, 1889, the building committee, with the approval of the trustees, procuring such Photo: Methodist Episcopal Church, Goffstown material from time to time as was necessary to complete the exterior and also plaster the interior. After the church had been plastered work was suspended for a time, and the first service was held in the new church July 14, 1889, without doors or windows, one year, eight and one-half months after the organization of the church.
   "Later in the season work was resumed, and the house was completed in the fall of 1890, and dedicatory services were holden November 11, 1890, under the direction of Presiding Elder Rev. George W. Norris, with a debt of only five hundred dollars. The dedicatory sermon was preached in the evening by Rev. J. Y. Armstrong, Rev. J. Benson Hamilton having addressed the people in the afternoon previous. These sermons had a very salutory effect upon those who heard, and proved beneficial to the church.
   "The members of the church rendered substantial aid in every possible way, the brothers responding generously to repeated calls for money, labor and building materials, and the sisters were equally active and generous. No one was idle in those days; love and harmony prevailed.
   "All were intent upon building the church. At the first of the church enterprise, Rev. L. R. Danforth was chosen financial agent, and to his untiring energy and perseverance was largely due the completion of the house. To his appeal for help the citizens of this town and other places responded generously. The beautiful chandelier always speaks of an unknown friend who aided in furnishing the church, and the elegant memorial windows tell their own story, and thus through the combined efforts of all who have been named, the house of worship was completed.
   "Rev. L. R. Danforth preached four years in Goffstown. He received fifty-four persons into the church and two members died, leaving a membership of fifty-two. Rev. H. E. Allen, the second pastor, preached four years, and received eighteen persons into the church; eight were dismissed, and five called to the church above, leaving a membership of fifty-seven. Mr. Allen took up the work where Mr. Danforth left it, being appointed agent in his place and succeeded in collecting the pledges that remained unpaid in the church work.
   "Rev. J. H. Vincent preached one year, and two were added to the church, making fifty-nine at the close of his ministry. He was succeeded by J. C. Brown, who received thirteen members, and dismissed one. The membership upon the tenth anniversary of the church was seventy-one. Mr. Brown during his pastorate resided at the village, and had charge of the village church only.
   "The society has been served since its tenth anniversary by the following pastors: E. S. Collier, three years; Almon B. Rowell, one year; J. H. Trow, three years; J. E. Montgomery, three years; C. W. Dockrill, five years; A. P. Gaines, two years; E. B. Young, two years; B. A. Rogers, one year, and Paul Moyer."


There was a Universalist Society in Goffstown in 1822, and how long preceding this, I am unable to ascertain. It was at one time quite a flourishing society, although there never was an organized church; neither did the society have a place of worship of its own in this section of the town. They held divine worship in halls, and in 1832, 1833 and 1834, Rev. F. A. Hodsdon preached here a portion of the time, and in the summer season probably held one service a day. The society maintained its identity until 1860.


In 1825, through the efforts of Dr. Oliver Dean, a society was organized at Amoskeag, which continued to increase, and in 1833 had a church membership of seventy. Rev. F. A. Hodsdon ministered here in 1832, 1833 and 1834. September 4, 1833, they organized under the name of the "First Universalist Church of Bedford and Goffstown."

The village of Piscataquog, now West Manchester, was then within the limits of Bedford, and the church drew its patronage very largely from the villages of "Skeag and Squog." Their place of worship was in the hall over the store owned by Dr. Oliver Dean. The Universalists worshipped here two Sundays each month, and the Baptists and Congregationalists one Sunday each.

In 1839, the society was transferred to Manchester, and built a house of worship upon Lowell Street, and Rev. George W. Gage became their pastor.


In 1841 a religious society was organized, known as the "Goffstown Liberal Society," and in that year received as a proportional part of the parsonage fund the second largest share of any society in town. This organization was the result of the preaching of Miss Parker. The society gradually waned and its revenue decreased until 1845, when it ceased to exist.


An Episcopal Church was in existence in Goffstown as early as 1783, and possibly before, but it is impossible to obtain the date of its organization. Its existence probably terminated before 1820. The present parish was organized in 1866, and for the first years church services were held in what was known as Capt. Eliphalet Richards' Hall, which stood where the soldiers' monument now stands, different clergymen officiating.

Subsequently services were held in the hall over the store then owned by G. Byron Moore, now by Parker Brothers. The hall was arranged for service by each family purchasing settees; an organ furnished, and a robing room for clergymen was improvised. Here services were held during the rectorate of Rev. Southard Y. Compton, who was the first resident minister.

In the spring of 1868 the corner-stone of the present edifice was laid by the Rev. J. H. Eames, D. D., of Concord, at the request of Bishop Chase. Owing to the lack of funds the church building was not completed for several Photo: Saint Matthew's Episcopal Church, Goffstown years. The church was built by public subscription, aided by liberal gifts from churchmen and women in the larger cities.

Services were first held in the new church in January in 1870. Mr. Compton was followed by Rev. William Binet, who was succeeded by Rev. George Brinley Morgan of Hartford, Conn., July 12, 1874. Rev. Mr. Morgan remained until September 1, 1876, and during his incumbency a valuable altar, sedelia, font and a memorial set of altar embroidered linen were donated the church by personal friends.

Mr. Morgan was succeeded by Rev. W. S. Whitcomb, who resided in Concord the first eight months of his pastorate, when he removed to Goffstown. He remained until 1877, when Mr. Morgan, having returned from Europe, took temporary charge until the following February. He was succeeded by the Rev. Herbert A. Remick, who was a resident clergyman, remaining until August, 1883. During Mr. Remick's pastorate he was also principal of the village high school.

Mr. Remick was succeeded by the Rev. William H. Cutler, who came with his family and resided here until 1888. Rev. John Henry Sellers acted in a temporary capacity from August, 1888, to August, 1889, when to William Lloyd Hines, the diocesan missionary, was entrusted the care and general supervision of the work at St. Matthews by Bishop Niles.

For a time the church was kept open by the Bishop and lay readers. A little later arrangements were made by Bishop Niles with the vestry of Grace Church, Manchester, and their rector, Rev. Henry E. Cooke, that they secure a curate to officiate at one service at St. Matthews each Sunday. Rev. Frederick M. Garland was the first, coming in April, 1890, as a deacon; he was made priest in Grace Church in 1893. He remained until 1895. Among the Grace Church curates who followed were Rev. M. L. Woolsey, Rev. E. J. Cooke, Rev. William Newbold Bailey and Rev. A. A. V. Binnington.

The church was consecrated by Bishop Niles, Revds. Mr. Cooke and Garland assisting in the service December 2, 1890, one of the most important epochs of St. Matthews Episcopal Church. The Rev. Northey Jones was Mr. Cooke's successor, with Rev. Charles R. Bailey as assistant, coming in 1898, the same arrangements regarding services at St. Matthews continuing. At the request of Bishop Niles, Rev. William Northey Jones appointed men of the parish to serve as vestrymen. The first meeting after the appointment was held April 10, 1902, the first parish meeting November 14, 1902, and the same has been held each year since.

Late in the same year Rev. Charles R. Bailey became rector of St. Andrews at West Manchester, and came to St. Matthews each Sunday. This arrangement continued until the fall of 1909, when Mr. Bailey closed his work in Goffstown after officiating at St. Matthews for nearly eleven years. During the winter and summer of 1910 the parish was nominally under the charge of Bishop Parker and the Rev. Mr. Haslam of Derry, who then had the oversight of the southeastern portion of the diocese. The Rev. Mr. Haslam, with the assistance of the Rev. Mr. MacMurphy of Derry, was in charge until 1910, when Rev. Arthur W. Shaw began his ministration, which continued until 1913. He was a resident clergyman, and during his pastorate the parish house was built on North Mast Street. His successors have been Rev. Francis M. Banfil.


[1] Sanborn's History of New Hampshire, p. 287. Return
[2] Antrim History, p. 181. Return


ALHN Hillsborough County

Email Kathy Chapter 34
History of Goffstown
Hillsborough County
ALHN-New Hampshire
Created April, 2002
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