Oxford, Mass. First Congregational Church records, 1721-1850.
The ecclesiastical parish of Oxford was established in 1713. Attempts were made to secure a preacher, and thus establish the church properly, but though several candidates came, none lasted long enough to be successful in this endeavor. First Church in Oxford, Massachusetts, wasn't officially founded until 1721 when the first covenant was signed and members ordained Rev. John Campbell as their first minister.
In 1764 Rev. Joseph Bowman was called as pastor. He served the church until 1784. During the American Revolution his salary went unpaid for several years. He requested dismission from his position, and later brought the matter of back-pay before the court. A special tax was collected from the congregational to satisfy Bowman’s back wages.
In 1791 the congregation voted to "purchase a library for the use and benefit of the church." Periodic reports on the condition of the library are made and noted in the church register.
During their first 100 years of existence, the church had five ministers. The second hundred years saw twelve more. Two hundred years of existence also saw the use of three meetinghouses. In 1909 a fire broke out during Sunday morning service. The meetinghouse was left damaged, but repairable.
Scope of Collection
This collection contains records of the church. Included in the collection are records of baptisms, marriages, church meetings and votes, the church covenant, church library, and ministerial installations. Also of note are records pertaining to the tax collected to pay Rev. Bowman’s back wages. Volume 1 includes an index in front of the volume. The index makes particular notes of when ministers were called and dismissed, or died.
This ledger book contains records pertaining to the formation of the church, proceedings of church meetings, membership rolls, and foundational documents such as covenants and articles of association. Also included are items of correspondence, lists of baptisms and marriages, records of the church's library and, to a lesser extent, financial records.
Rev. Joseph Bowman was the pastor at Oxford 1764-1784. When his salary was unpaid for several years during the American Revolution, he asked for a dismission and eventually brought the matter before the court. A special tax was collected from the congregation to satisfy Bowman's back wages.