The First Congregation Church
of Canaan, at Canaan Four Corners*
By Capt. Franklin Ellis353
On account of the loss or absence of the proper records, the history of this body is somewhat obscure. But there is a strong probability that the church was organized as early as 1772. In 1800 it comprised among its thirty-five members Jonathan Warner, Elijah Bostwick, Mathew Adgate, Nathan Baldwin, Aaron Parson, Naomi Fuller, Thomas Crosby, Hezekiah Pease Lucy Lord, Abigail Whiting, and other females from the foregoing families. The first meetings of the church were conducted by a Rev. Todd, but who does not seem to have been a settled pastor. Previous to the close of the Revolution Rev. John Camp assumed the pastorate of the church, and sustained that relation several years. Unfortunately for the good of the congregation, his teachings and practices did not promote its spiritual welfare, and alienation ensued, resulting in the dismission of the pastor in 1794. From that period until 1807 the pulpit was supplied by various persons who had come as candidates for the pastoral office. No less than twenty persons had applied before the Rev. Azariah Clark was selected as the permanent minister. He was a graduate form Amherst College, and had received his theological education under Alvan Hyde, D.D., of Lee, Mass. He remained with this people from March 18, 1807, for a period of more than twenty-three years. About this time, 1830, the congregation was divided on the question of building a new house of worship, and a portion withdrew to form the "Presbyterian Church of Canaan."
In 1831, Rev. Cyrus Hudson became the pastor, remaining until 1834. The Rev. Joseph Baldwin succeeded to the pastorate in the fall of 1834, and served the church three and a half years. In 1838 the Rev. J. Jay began his labors as a stated supply, and served until 1840, when he was regularly inducted to the pastoral office, which he filled until 1848. The Rev. John Wicks was installed as the next pastor Oct. 16, 1848, and presided over the spiritual interest of the church until 1856. He was the last pastor that was regularly installed. Those who have since ministered in holy things have served as stated supplies, or upon the basis of an annual contract. Those thus connected with the church have been Revs. John E. Baker, Albert V. Powell, John Whiting, Lupton W. Curtis, and George W. Warner, who serves the church in connection with the Presbyterian church of Canaan.
The church at present, 1878, numbers eighty-five members, of whom sixty maintain an active relation. It is believed that Colonel William B. Whiting and Elijah Bostwick were the first deacons of the church. Upon Deacon Whiting's death, Aaron Parson was elected, and served until his death in 1815. Nathan Whiting became a deacon in 1812, but removed to New Haven in 1814. In 1815 Jonah D. Fuller and John Whiting were elected to fill these vacancies. Deacon Bostwick died in 1825, and Deacon Fuller was dismissed to a church in Troy. He was succeeded by Henry Warner, who gave his office faithful service seven years, when death ended his connection with the church militant. His brother, Joseph L. Warner, became his successor. Deacon Whiting resigned his office in 1840, and Joshua A. Lord was elected to his place the same year. William S. Davis became a deacon in 1847, but the following year removed. In May, 1848, James Hamilton and Orren Fuller were ordained as deacons, and in 1866 Abel J. Bristol became the associate of Deacon Fuller. The deacons at present are A. J. Bristol, H. L. Warner, Silas B. Hamilton, and John H. Mattoon. Most of the foregoing have also served the church as trustees.
As near as can be determined the first meeting-house was erected about 1785. It was a frame building, and occupied an eminence eighty rods north from Canaan Four Corners. It was capacious enough to accommodate the large congregations that came from ten miles around to worship. There was a high pulpit, a high gallery, and large family pews, after the pattern of those days. This house was abandoned in 1829, and the present edifice erected in its stead the same year. It occupies an eligible site in the village, and in its outward appearance and internal arrangements presents an attractive and inviting place of worship. There are sittings for three hundred persons, and the church is estimated worth $6000.
*From a sketch by the pastor, Rev. George. Warner.