Way back in the mid-1700s, the first seeds of the First Congregational Church and Society of Rindge were planted. As early as 1758, ten years before Rindge was incorporated as a town and when known simply as Monadnock No.1, the proprietors of our Township made efforts to arrange for religious preaching, reflecting the founders’ desire to manifest a worship of God. The charter of the Township reserved one right of land of about 300 acres for the ministry and a right for a settled minister. It took a few years to actually acquire a settled minister, and several preachers were hired for temporary durations in the meantime.
In November of 1758, twelve pounds were set aside for paying a part time preacher (back then, British pounds were used instead of dollars). Rev. Josiah Swan was our first recorded temporary preacher and he preached for three days. Captain Abel Platts, known for being the Township’s first settler, was paid for boarding Rev. Swan and his horse for four nights. From then on, money was occasionally raised for this purpose, eventually resulting in a yearly appropriation. Several other preachers were hired for part time duty over the years. Among them were Mr. Farrand, Mr. Appleton, Mr. Harvey, and Mr. Timothy Walker, Jr.
In 1762, the proprietors voted to hire a more permanent minister, who would serve on probation with the goal of becoming the first settled pastor. Josiah Ingalls was initially selected as the Search Committee of one, and later when the first offer of settlement was given, the committee expanded and was comprised of John Lovejoy, Jonathan Stanley, and Enoch Hale.
Mr. Timothy Walker, Jr., at the age of about 26 years, was the first to be offered the position of settled pastor, in 1763. He was offered one right of land and 40 pounds sterling per year until the number of Township families reached 80; then 45 pounds if between 80 and 100 families; and beyond 100 families, his annual salary would climb to 50 pounds sterling and 30 cords of wood delivered to his door. Now, those of us who heat with wood can understand the value of those 30 cords per year. Despite the generous heating allowance and sterling, Mr. Walker declined. However, he did preach here for three years, from 1761 to 1764. Mr. Walker was a Harvard University graduate, and his preaching career spanned only six years. He left to become a civil servant, later becoming a Judge of the New Hampshire Court of Common Pleas in 1777 and eventually serving as the Chief Justice of that Court for five years.
It had been several years of searching for a settled pastor. In 1765, the church proprietors approached Mr. Seth Dean about the position. (click here to learn more about Mr. Seth Dean)
(Sources consulted are Stearn’s History of Rindge, New Hampshire 1736-1874; and the Rindge Historical Society.)
6 PAYSON HILL ROAD
RINDGE, NH 03461
First Congregational Church
United Church of Christ
Way Back When
by Margaret Morabito, Church Historian
Searching For A Settled Pastor - 1758 - 1765