First Congregational Church


City of Beloit, Rock County, Wisconsin

Courtesy of Carol

The First Congregational Church of Beloit, Wis., was organized by Rev. W. M.
ADAMS, in the large kitchen at the east end of Caleb BLODGETT's house, northeast corner of State and School streets, December 30, 1838, with these twenty-four charter members: Deacon Peter R. FIELD; wife, Hannah, and son, Alfred L.; her sister, Mrs. Nancy CRANE; nephew, Robert P. CRANE; niece, Sarah T. CRANE, and son-in-law, Horace HOBART, all from Colebrook, N.H. Three were from Groton, N.H.; Benjamin I. TENNY and wife, Ann, and Mrs. S. CUMMINGS (later Mrs. McELHENNY); Asahel B. HOWE and wife, Betsey; Henry MEARS and wife, Louisa, and her sister, Maria CLARK; Ira HERSEY and wife, Omittee; Elizabeth FIELD (wife of Alfred), Amanda COOPER, Chauncey TUTTLE and wife, Amy; Sophronia BLANCHARD, Mrs. Cordelia Blodgett HACKETT and Martha BLODGETT. At the first communion season, January 27, 1839, were added Samuel G. COLLEY and wife; his sister, Mrs. Ann Jane ATWOOD, and Mrs. Esther CROSBY.
At first this church received home missionary aid to the amount of $75, but
thereafter became independent of aid. Meetings were held in private houses until the Union school house was built, by private subscription, in the fall of 1839, at the northeast corner of School and Prospect streets. In that house the Methodists and Episcopalians held services on alternate Sunday mornings, and the Congregationalists every Sunday afternoon and evening. April 7, 1840, Rev. W. M. ADAMS reported a Sunday school of twenty scholars, organized during the previous year, the first superintendent being the surveyor, John HOPKINS. The first child baptized (in November, 1839) was the infant son of Deacon HOBART, Horace R., (now, 1908, editor of the "Railway Age," Chicago).
In November 1840, Rev. Dexter CLARY became the minister (1840-1850), and
Mrs. Sarah M., his wife, came with him. (She lived here until her death, in 1899, at the age of ninety-two years.) The corner stone for their first building, "the old stone church," was laid at the northwest corner of Broad and Prospect streets, July 6, 1842, and the completed building was dedicated January 3, 1844. In May, 1843, Benjamin BROWN joined that church, where his wife was already a member, and in 1845 their infant son, William Fiske (the editor of this county history) was baptized there by the Rev. Mr. CLARY. There also, December 25, 1843, had occurred the funeral services of Dr. Horace WHITE, leader of the New England colony. In this church, August 7, 1844, was held the first convention which met to consider the organization of a college, leading finally to our Beloit College.
The succeeding ministers were: 1850-1851, Rev. A. L. CHAPIN; Rev. W. S.
HUGGINS, to November, 1852. H. N. BRINSMADE, D.D., 1853 to 1861; Simon J. HUMPHREY, D.D., 1861 to 1864; George BUSHNELL, D.D., 1865 to 1884; Cyrus HAMLIN, D.D., 1885 to 1895; George R. LEAVITT, D.D., 1895 to 1906; Wilfred A. ROWELL, 1907.
In 1852 the first building was lengthened twenty feet and the front approach
changed. The new brick building on the hill, northeast corner of Church and Bushnell streets, was dedicated July 6, 1862 and seats with the galleries 1,200. The chapel at the north end was erected in 1873. Plans are now (1908) matured for changing this chapel to a modern structure.
This church is organized for the usual forms of Christian service, and has a present
membership (January 1, 1908) of 327 resident and 149 non-resident; total 476. Of these, three are missionaries in this country - Rev. and Mrs. Cyrus HAMLIN, Tougaloo, Miss., and Rev. Thomas L. RIGGS, Oahe, S.D.; and seven are foreign missionaries - Mrs. T.D. CHRISTIE, Tarsus, Asia; Mary H. PORTER, Henry D. PORTER, M.D. and D.D., and Mrs. Elizabeth Chapin PORTER, Rev. Dr. Arthur H. SMITH and Mrs. Emma Dickinson SMITH, and Mrs. Isabella Riggs WILLIAMS, all of China.
[The First Congregational Church of Beloit's] first pastor, Rev. Dexter CLARY,
kept a register of marriages and deaths. As there is no record elsewhere of these facts his account for those earlier years is given here, so as to help preserve a valuable record. The original book, with the consent of Dr. CLARY's grandson, R. J. C. STRONG, M.D., of Beloit, Wis., will be deposited in our new state historical library building at Madison, Wis.
[Source: Rock County, Wisconsin: A new history of it's cities, villages, etc., Vol. I, by William Fiske Brown (editor-in-chief); ©1908 C. F. Cooper, Chicago, IL; pp. 263-264]

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