Way Back When
by Margaret Morabito, Church Historian
People of the Early Church
6 PAYSON HILL ROAD
RINDGE, NH 03461
First Congregational Church
United Church of Christ
In this chapter, we take a look at the people of the first church. Some of the names are still familiar over two centuries later, as names of roads and ponds in Rindge. We actually have a family in our current congregation that has ancestors from two different families of the early church (Gould and Payson). In this and future articles, we will look at some noteworthy families from Reverend Dean’s 15-year term, followed by families from the congregation of our second pastor, Reverend Payson.
It is interesting to note that many of the original proprietors from the Masonian charter in 1750 had bought their land as an investment, never intending to personally build homes and reside in Rindge. However, by the time of the building of our first church and the hiring of our first settled pastor in 1765, new landowners had moved in and built homes. As of the first census in 1767, the total population of Monadnock No. 1 (soon to be Rindge) was 298, comprised of 58 families. History tells us that almost all of the original members of the church were citizens of the town and that nearly the entire population of the town was included in Reverend Dean’s congregation. While there are too many members to discuss here, let’s take a look at a few noteworthy names.
Captain Abel Platts is famous for being the first resident of Rindge. In May 1738, he came to the area with a surveyor, Nathan Heywood, under authorization from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to establish the boundaries of the Rowley-Canada grant (eventually Monadnock No. 1). Platts was a chain-man for Heywood. He returned in 1742-1744 and cleared a small plot of land on the future site of the Goddard farm. While his intention was to live here, the French and Indian War broke out, so he lived alternately between Lunenburg, Massachusetts and Rindge until about 1751 or 1752 when he permanently moved to Pool Pond. At that time, he gave his Goddard Road lot to his eldest son, Joseph. Abel Platts was an influential and active resident of the town, participating on many committees. In a prior article, Platts is referenced as having hosted religious meetings in his home. He died in 1777. The Platts family continued as members of the original congregation.
Moses Hale, Sr. was perhaps the earliest resident to benefit from the church grounds. He moved here from Hampstead, NH (town not on current day maps) in 1760 with his family and lived in the northern part of town. He, unfortunately, did not live long enough to see the first meeting house, having died in 1762. However, he lives in church history as the first settler buried in our church’s cemetery, and his sons contributed much to the town. He had three sons, Moses, Enoch, and Nathan, and three daughters. Moses was a town selectman in 1772, served as coroner for Cheshire County, and was elected county treasurer. Colonel Enoch Hale was voted by the proprietors to be an agent to go to Portsmouth in 1765 to get the town incorporated so that they could implement taxation on property owners. He was successful in the endeavor, and in 1768, Monadnock No. 1 became incorporated and renamed as Rindge. Enoch also served as Rindge’s first magistrate, he was a selectman for many years, and he also served as the town clerk. Colonel Nathan Hale was Rindge’s first constable and is known for leading a company of minutemen in the Revolutionary War (For a closer look at church members who fought in the War click here).
Another member of the first church was Jacob Gould, Jr., the son of Captain Jacob Gould, the master carpenter who worked on the first meeting house and who was one of the original proprietors. Robyn Payson, a member of our current congregation in 2012, is a descendant of Jacob Gould. Gould (the younger) was born in Lunenburg, Massachusetts and moved into Monadnock No. 1 in 1760. In 1777, he served in the military under Captain Stone and Captain Rand. He became a selectman in 1780, was a member of many committees, and held minor offices.
Not all residents joined the church, and we know that not all members of the church remained with the church. For example, let’s look at Ezekiel Jewett. He moved into Rindge in about 1752, residing at the current location of the Ware farm on South Woodbound Road, and was active and influential in the town. Mr. Jewett was a grandson of a Congregational deacon and was a member of our first church. However, he changed his mind and claimed to be a Baptist. Mr. Jewett said that baptism should be through total body immersion (a Baptist precept), was therefore against the church’s practice of sprinkling, and arranged for alternate baptism for his children.