Sketch of Middlefield [Middletown, Middlesex Co., CT]
David D. Field, D.D.
Middletown, Conn., 1853
pp 186-191

The settlement in this Society was begun about 1700. The earliest settlers were Samuel ALLEN, Benjamin MILLER and Samuel WETMORE from the First Society. With these, others soon united from the same society, but the name of BACON, HUBBARD, STOW, TURNER and WARD; from Durham by the name of CAMP, COE, and LYMAN; from Stratford by the name of BIRDSEY; from Guilford by the name of BARTLETT; persons also were there by the name of CHILSON and HALE. When the Society was incorporated in Oct. 1744, there were more than fifty families living within its limits. The names of the heads of these families were, Samuel ALLEN, Sen., Samuel ALLEN, Jr., Ephraim and Obadiah ALLYN, Thomas ALVORD, Nathaniel and Joseph BACON, John BARTLETT, John BIRDSEY and John BROWN, Abraham and Edward CAMP, John CHILSON and John CHILSON, Jr., Joseph David and Robert COE, Gideon and Thomas COOKE, John and Isaac DOUD, and Daniel DRIGGS, Jeremiah GUILD, Ebenezer and Joseph HALE, Eliakim HALL, Samuel Stow, Hawley and Ebenezer HUBBARD, Jeremiah LEAMING, Benjamin MILLER and Benjamin MILLER Jr., Joseph MILLER, Sen., Ichabod, Amos and David MILLER, Moses PARSONS, John ROCKWELL and Daniel STOW, David STRICKLAND and David STRICKLAND, Jr., Stephen TURNER, Sen., and Samuel WARNER, Samuel WETMORE, Sen., Benjamin WETMORE and Benjamin WETMORE, Jr., Beriah, Joseph, Thomas, Daniel, Caleb, and Prosper WETMORE, and Josiah WETMORE, Jr., and Titus John WHITMORE. The aggregate list of all these persons exceeded 3,000.

Almost all these persons were farmers, and soon after the incorporation of the Society, the population reached a point from which it did not greatly vary for many years. But the important water privileges on West river, in its passage through the Society; particularly those on the tributary of this stream, issuing from the mountains on its western border, rendered much more valuable by a large reservoir secured by a dam erected in 1848, have induced numbers to engage in manufactures. Hence the population has been increasing for some years, and more recently, and a village is springing up on this tributary. The number of families in Middlefield in 1815 was ninety-two, and the number of dwelling houses about eight-one. The families in the beginning of the current year, (1852,) were one hundred and thirty-five and the dwelling houses one hundred and seventeen. The people build their first meeting-house, in 1745, forty feet square. But at what time the church was organized does not certainly appear, as the ancient records of the church are lost. It was probably organized by the same Council that ordained the first pastor, Rev. Ebenezer GOULD< Oct. 10th, 1747.

With this pastor some individuals became dissatisfied, for reasons which do not now fully appear, and considerable disturbance was occasioned. Still he remained pastor until about 1756, when he was dismissed. He afterwards removed to East Granville, Mass., where he died in 1779. The senior pastor in that place, Rev. Dr. COOLEY, has a faint recollection of having seen him in the last hours of his life, when he was much to exhausted to speak distinctly. He never heard of Mr. GOULD's preaching in Granville, in a single instance. The probability is that his ministry ceased when he was dismissed, unless in some rare instances he preached an occasional sermon.

After his dismission, the people in Middlefield made several attempts to settle a minister and failed; but on the 28th of February, 1765, they settled Rev. Joseph DENISON, a native of Windham and graduate of Yale College, 1763. He died Feb. 12th, 1770, aged 31.

Rev. Abner BENEDICT, native of North Salem, N.Y., and graduate of Yale, 1769, succeeded Mr. DENISON, Nov 20th, 1771, but was dismissed 1785, that he might remove to New Lebanon in the State of New York, that a feeble daughter might enjoy the benefits of the medicinal waters of that town, where he was installed, and labored in the ministry six years. He afterwards preached in various places; but died at Roxbury, in the county of Delaware, Nov. 19th, 1818, aged 78.

Mr. BENEDICT was the son of Dea. Peter BENEDICT, and brother of Rev. Joel BENEDICT, D.D., of Lisbon, afterwards of Plainfield; and of Lieut. Peter BENEDICT, an officer in the Revolutionary war. While in Middlefield, he accomplished by his address and efforts, the freedom of all the slaves held by his people.

He left several manuscripts, on which had bestowed much labor, particularly a dissertation on the book of Revelation, but whether any of these have been published is not known.

This dismission was exceedingly unfavorable to the interests of religion in Middlefield. Had he remained there, the church would probably have been greatly strengthened, and the society united and prosperous. But after he was gone the Society remained vacant more than twenty years. No minister of Christ was statedly in the desk on the sabbath, enlightening and establishing the minds of the people in the great truths of the gospel, and telling them on week days from house to house, words whereby they and their children might be saved. The old professors of religion died or removed, until the church was almost extinct.

But the Lord having revived his work in the neighboring town of Durham, and this having spread somewhat in this place, the church was reorganized, or rather a new church was formed in Dec., 1808, and 29 persons solemnly entered into covenant with God, and with one another. A few of these had been members of the old church, the others were those who had recently entertained hope of a saving interest in Christ.

But the members of this church, and those disposed to attend worship with them, had no meeting-house of their own, and difficulties existed in the way of their occupying the old meeting-house. In this situation, they met for a time in private dwellings, and then assembled for worship in a conference-house, which they erected, until they found means to build a sanctuary. This they raised on the site of the old meeting-house in 1841, and dedicated it June 8, 1842. This separately from the foundation, cost about $2,000. It is 46 feet by 38, and for this a bell has since been procured at an expense of $150.

"For a number of years they were without a permanent ministry. Sometimes they enjoyed the labors of a minister for several months together; occasionally they were supplied by neighboring ministers; and frequently were destitute of the preaching of the gospel on the sabbath."

On the 24th of May, 1820, Rev. Stephen HAYES, of Newark, N.J., was installed their pastor, with the understanding, that he should preach for them one third of the time and two-thirds of the time in Westfield. Thus he labored until June 6, 1827, when he was dismissed.

Rev. James NOYES, of Wallingford, graduate of Union College, 1821, was constituted pastor of the church July 23d, 1829, and devoted his whole time to their service; but in Jan. 1839, was dismissed. Since then he has been settled in Burlington, but has spent most of the period in Haddam, where he has instructed youth part of the time; sometimes he has helped his brethren in the ministry, and sometimes has supplied vacant congregations.

After the dismission of Mr. NOYES, the people were supplied for two or three years by Rev. Dwight SEWARD, who had previously been settled in New Britain, and has since been settled in West Hartford. He is a native of Durham, graduate of Yale College, 1831, and graduate of the Theological Depart; is now pastor of a Dutch Reformed Church in Yonkers.

Rev. James T. DICKINSON, native of Lowville, N.Y., graduate of Yale, 1786, succeeded Mr. SEWARD, and supplied the people a year and a half. He was for a time pastor of the church in Norwich city, and then a Foreign Missionary.

December 30th, 1846, Rev. James D. MORE, native of Gorsham, in Wiltshire, Eng., took the charge of the church. He was dismissed April 18, 1850, and installed in Clinton on the 2d of July following.

Rev. A.V.H. POWELL, commenced serving here in May 1851, and is the present supply.

There were three Deacons in the church before its reorganization and there have been four since, viz:

ElectedDied Ages
Ichabod MILLER
Aug. 22, 1788 87
Joseph COE
June 10, 1784 71
Giles MILLER About 1774 March 1, 1804 77
Prosper AUGER Jan. 10, 1809 Dec. 16, 1836 81
William LYMAN April 28, 1838

Horace SKINNER April 28, 1838 Oct, 1848 56
Phinehas AUGER April 5, 1850

While the church has been blessed by times by the special influences of the spirit, so many have been removed by death and dismission, that it has never had at one time more than eighteen male members, nor an aggregate of members exceeding sixty-eight. This was the number at the commencement of the current year, 1852.

The church and their associates, (for they have no distinct ecclesiastical society,) are free from all pecuniary embarrassment, and besides their conference and meeting-house, have a parsonage, which cost $1507.57; and funds for the support of the gospel, amounting to $1457. Of the latter sums, $200 were given by Mrs. Eunice STOW. They of course are in much better circumstances than heretofore for sustaining religious institutions.

As their circumstances have improved, the contributions of the congregation to benevolent objects have increased. A collection has recently been taken up of nearly $100, mostly for the American Missionary Association. Some small contributions have been made for the Bible Society; and the Sabbath School the last year raised a few dollars for the Tract Society.

The Methodist Church

This was commenced in 1791, and from that time onward enjoyed more or less preaching. In 1815, the members were reckoned with the members of the M.E. Church in the city, and perhaps at other times. The denomination gathered so much strength, that in 1834 they built a church edifice, 38 by 28 feet, which cost from fifteen to eighteen hundred dollars. They have since remodeled it at an expense of four hundred dollars more. From the time of the erection of this building, they have generally had preaching on the Sabbath. For the last fifteen years the communicants on an average have been about fifty-five; which is the present number.

There are now six school districts in Middlefield. One formed in 1832, has recently taken the name of Falls District, because it includes the new village already mentioned. The number of children in the Society, between the ages of four and sixteen is 160.

There are two grave yards in Middlefield. The North yard, about a mile from the churches, was laid out in 1737, and is nearly filled with graves. The Central Grave-yard is on elevated ground very near the Methodist church. It was purchased by the Society and laid out in 1828, and enlarged in 1849. It is laid out in lots separated by narrow walks.

This Society is regarded as very healthy, and the proportions of deaths is small compared with the population. The average annually for the last few years is reported as six.

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