THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH AND SOCIETY.--MEMBERSHIP.--MINISTERS.--MR.
EMERSON, MR. SMITH, MR. PERRY, MR. AIKEN,
MR. GORDON, DR. DAY, MR. LAIRD, MR. KELSEY, MR. SCOTT.--DEACONS.--YOUNG
MEN'S ASSOCIATION.--THIRD MEETINGHOUSE.--PHILANTHROPIC
CHARITABLE SOCIETY.--BAPTIST SOCIETY.
In a former chapter I have spoken of the efforts of the first settlers of Hollis, while yet a parish, in providing for the support of the ministry--of the building of their first and second meetinghouses--of the call and settlement of Rev. Daniel Emerson, the first and only minister of the church for some more than fifty years--of his character, public spirit, the high esteem in which he was held, and his favorable influence in the town through all its early history.
There is now to be found no existing record of the original formation of his church, and the well authenticated facts in respect to its history for the first fifty years of its existence are but few. As Mr. Emerson was ordained April 20, 1743, it is supposed that the church was organized either at that time, or but a short time before. It is stated in a short historical manual of the church published in 1871, that its first sacrament or communion service, was celebrated June 5, 1743. It appears from the church records, that on the 31st of July, 1745, a church covenant then "renewed" and adopted, was signed by ten persons, besides the pastor, that number probably including all its male members at that date, viz.
|Daniel Emerson,||Jerahmael Cumings,||Nathaniel Blood,|
|John Boynton,||Benjamin Blanchard,||Joseph Fletcher|
|Henry Barton,||Elias Smith,||Jonathan Danforth.|
|Samuel Brown,||Enoch Hunt,|
It is shown by the same original records that on the 25th of December, 1745, William Cumings and Thomas Patch were chosen its first deacons, and that February 17, 1747, Francis Worcester, Jun., was chosen the third deacon.
As no confession of faith is mentioned or referred to in the records previously to 1794, it is supposed that none was formally adopted before that time. A Creed or Confession of Faith adopted in that year, and the covenant in previous use, were revised in 1831, and continued without change, (as is stated in the church manual), till 1871, when they were revised and adopted as they now are.
It is said also in the same manual, that for the first fifty years, no records were kept of the members admitted to the church, but that incidental statements show "that from the beginning, it enjoyed the labors of a faithful and successful ministry." In 1755, during the last French and Indian war, Mr. Emerson asked permission of his church to be absent for a time, as chaplain to the regiment of Col. Joseph Blanchard in the expedition of the army to Crown Point. In a meeting of the church to consider the request, it appears that forty-seven members voted, a number nearly equal to one-half of the tax payers at that time, the latter numbering that year but one hundred and seven.
The following names of members of the church, copied from this manual, are found on the Hollis tax lists, as resident tax payers before the war of the Revolution, viz.,
|Benjamin Abbot,||Thomas Dinsmore,||Abraham Leeman,|
|John Atwell,||Zedekiah Drury,||Samuel Leeman,|
|Henry Barton,||Amos Eastman,||Jonathan LoveJoy,|
|Benjamin Blanchard,||Daniel Emerson, Jun.,||William Nevins,|
|Nathaniel Blood,||Benjamin Farley,||Enoch Noyes,|
|John Boynton,||Samuel Farley,||Thomas Patch,|
|Josiah Brown,||Amos Fisk,||Peter Powers,|
|Samuel Brown,||Eleazer Flagg,||Moses Proctor,|
|Ephraim Burge,||Samuel Goodhue,||William Shattuck,|
|Robert Colburn,||John Goss,||Zachariah Shattuck,|
|William Colburn,||John Hale,||Elias Smith,|
|Josiah Conant,||Phineas Hardy,||Jonathan Taylor,|
|Jerahmael Cumings,||David Hobart,||Nathaniel Townsend,|
|John Cumings,||Samuel Hobart,||John Willoughby,|
|Samuel Cumings,||Enoch Hunt,||Francis Worcester,|
|William Cumings,||Stephen Jewett,||Noah Worcester,|
|Jonathan Danforth,||Ebenezer Jewett,||Benjamin Wright.|
At the close of Mr. Emerson's active ministry, in 1793, the resident members of the church numbered about two hundred.