Granville, Mass. First Congregational Church

Collection History

Please note that as of January 2022, the Granville, Massachusetts. First Church of Christ records, 1757-1848, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.

Granville (originally called Bedford) was settled by English colonists in 1736 and called its first minister, Moses Tuttle, in 1746. The first permanent meetinghouse was completed by 1750, and the town was officially incorporated in 1754. The town was divided into three parishes in the 1780s, and one group of parishioners joined with their neighbors from Suffield, CT and Westfield, MA to form the Baptist Church of Granville. First Church and Granville Baptist Church agreed to share a church building once more in 1937 under the name Granville Federated Church.

The extensive digital materials below include the earliest volumes of church records, spanning 1757-1821 and 1781-1848 respectively, as well as unbound loose records relating to church administration. There are also a number of loose records categorized into their respective types; these consist of confessions of faith, ecclessiastical council materials, sermons and essays, personal records, and disciplinary cases. There are also several letters authored by Rev. Lemuel Haynes, the first black Congregational minister, in which he addresses the Rev. Timothy Cooley of the First Church in Grafton.


Digital Materials

Before accessing transcriptions, please read this Note on Transcription >

Church records, 1757-1821

The bulk of the records in this volume begin in the 1770s, with only a brief list of deacons dating back to the late 1750s. It contains records of matters of governance such as covenants and meeting minutes, as well as membership records including baptisms, relations, admissions, dismissions, confessions, marriages, deaths, and disciplinary cases. It also includes the release of a group of parishioners who left to settle the town of Granville, Ohio.

Church records, 1781-1848

The volume contains meeting minutes, admissions, baptisms, lists of families in various Granville districts, congregation metrics, records of ordinations, a meeting house dedication, and a chart listing "Bills of mortality for the half century".

Church records (loose), 1756-1797

These unbound records cover a number of topics including membership, governance, and the church's search for a new minister.

Full transcriptions of these documents are available.

1756-1758 series of votes relating to the regular business of the church – Jedidiah Smith's ordination and call, the appointment of deacons, the scheduling for the Lord's Supper, etc. ; a complaint from several members that the church's doctrine had strayed too far from that of the Cambridge Platform
1757-1760 allegations that the church had strayed too far from the Cambridge Platform in its daily governance
[1757]-1762 list of baptisms and marriages
1766-1769 list of baptisms and marriages
1760-1761 votes of the standing committee on various matters of membership status
1760-1761 discussion and conclusion to admonish several members who had not been attending worship
1762 May 21 - 1768 suggestion from several members that a standing committee be formed to handle minor disciplinary matters rather than putting them before the entire church for the sake of efficiency ; list of several iterations of that committee
1763 May-July request from Deacon Justus Rose to the church committee to reconsider a previously decided matter ; denied due to lack of quorum at the meeting
1763 December Deacon Rose's denied request to be dismissed from his duties
1764 February records of the standing committee and a form-letter dismission of Mrs. Margaret Burt
1764-1766 records of the standing committee, largely consisting of updates about an ongoing dispute between Captain Pratt and the church
1769-1771 records of the ongoing contention among the members regarding the Half-Way Covenant and Rev. Smith's sermons, including the advice of the local association
1770 request from several members to reconsider the church's votes regarding the Half-Way Covenant from 1769-70
[17]72, [17]74 record of a debate and series of votes over whether to call a third ecclesiastical council to advise the brethren whether members should be held to their memberships if they disagree with the church's constitution (The Cambridge Platform)
1774 November questions and answers regarding Rev. Smith's decision to leave the church due to lack of adequate compensation and contentiousness among the congregants
1775 December 18 vote to call an ecclesiastical council for further advice
1776 January 8 request for a church meeting
1789 March 19 meeting of the committee chosen to approach Sylvester Sage and the details of their offer
1789 April 13 record of the vote to invite Sylvester Sage to be their new pastor
1789 April 13 Sylvester Sage's reply to the church's offer to pay the bulk of his salary in the form of food and other household supplies
1789 April 25 Sylvester Sage's follow-up to his unanswered letter declining the church's call to ministry
1789 July 8 recommendation from the local association to seek a number of guest preachers
1791-1793 assorted church meeting minutes, primarily relating to choosing deacons, inviting guest preachers, and continuing minor disciplinary cases
1791-1794 records of the standing committee regarding various matters
1791 September 26 complaint by several members of the church against the brethren for changing the church constitution and holding the Lord's Supper without the consent of the full membership
1795 February 2 vote to install Rev. Timothy Cooley as the new pastor
1797 concerns over the character of a prospective new member, Capt. William Ellis
[date lost] Deacon Luke Hitchcock's letter to the Hampshire South Association of ministers asking their advice regarding the church's contingent of Separatists absenting themselves

Confession of faith covenants, 1754-1791, undated

Many churches set down formal lists of doctrines agreed upon by their members. In order to join the congregation, prospective members would also have to agree to them and to abide by the rules of their community.

Full transcriptions of these documents are available.

undated The members of this Church shall be allowed the exercise of confession respecting giving of their children in baptism. 1) You believe that there is but one only living and true God, subsisting in three Glorious persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, in whom are all possible perfections.
undated unnamed I believe there is one ondly [sic] living & true God in three Persons father Son & holy Ghost the almighty Creator, upholder and governor of the world.
1789 August 14 rec'd of Levi Rose 1. You believe that there is one only living and true God one in Essence in 3 different persons Father Son and Holy Ghost.
undated The Form of a Church Covenant 1. We believe that we are the subjects of the regenerating and sanctifying operations of the holy spirit;
undated Rev. Mr. Atwater's covenant You believe that there is one only the living and true God, the Father Son and Holy Ghost the Maker and preserver of all things…
1754 June 14 Some general rules agreed upon by a number of Chh members in Bedford in order for the gathering and setting up a Chh in Bedford. As Firstly – We agree and in [sic] is our opinion that grace is of absolute necessity in order to a right Receiving the Lord's Supper.
1756/57 unnamed, incomplete … wise unto Salvation & I also declare god hath convinced & brought me to a since [sic] of my own sinfulness misery & danger…
1791 Covenant with names subscribed We whose names are hereunto subscribed apprehending our selves called of God into the Church state of the Gospel do first of all confess our selves unworthy…

Ecclesiastical councils, 1776-1791

When an issue could not be settled within the community of a church, they would call upon neighboring churches for advice in the form of an ecclesiastical council. These documents include requests for councils and results and summaries of various councils.

Full transcriptions of these documents are available.

1776 October 15 at Granville council records regarding "walking together in a Chh. State agreeable to Gospel Rule and order."
1787 November 21 at the house the Hon. Oliver Phelps Esq. council records regarding the ordination of Barnard Lothrop and his ministry in Granville
1791 August 16 at the "publick meeting house" council records regarding various financial matters
1777 from the members of the First Church in Granville request for an ecclesiastical council to address strife between congregants and the Rev. Jedidiah Smith

Lemuel Haynes correspondence, 1796-1810

Rev. Lemuel Haynes was the earliest recorded black Congregational preacher and the first black pastor to a white congregation in America, serving as minister in Torrington, Connecticut and later the West Parish Church of Rutland, VT. Most of these letters are Haynes's side of a sporadic correspondence with Rev. Timothy Cooley, primarily discussing ministry and local current events. The last item is a reply to his daughter Electa updating her on family and friends at the end of her school year.

1796 October 11 from Rev. Haynes to Rev. Timothy Cooley letter criticizing Thomas Paine and praising New York Theological Magazine
1797 September 14 from Rev. Haynes to Rev. Timothy Cooley correspondence [fragmentary]
1797 December 29 from Rev. Haynes to Rev. Timothy Cooley letter describing the lack of religious fervor in Vermont
1801 September 22 from Rev. Haynes to Rev. Timothy Cooley letter criticizing Methodism
1802 October 30 from Rev. Haynes to Rev. Timothy Cooley letter with an update on Rev. Haynes's ministry
1805 January 14 from Rev. Haynes to Rev. Timothy Cooley letter with updates and general correspondence
1806 January 13 from Rev. Haynes to Rev. Timothy Cooley letter describing a child's death in Rev. Haynes's parish
1806 July 8 from Rev. Haynes to Rev. Timothy Cooley letter containing updates and general correspondence
1808 July 8 from Rev. Haynes to Rev. Timothy Cooley

general correspondence

1810 April 2 from Rev. Haynes to Rev. Timothy Cooley letter with an update on Haynes's ministry
undated from Rev. Haynes to Miss Electa Haynes reply to his daughter Electa updating her on family and friends at the end of her school year

Sermons and essays, 1790, undated

These loose records include miscellaneous notes, some probably written by Rev. Lemuel Haynes, including a draft of his own epitaph, as well as parts of two academic essays.

undated author unknown partial essay with "advice regarding perseverance under the Embargo Act of 1807 largely reiterated from Virginia Congressman William Branch Giles"
undated by Rev. Lemuel Haynes (attributed) miscellaneous sermon notes
undated by Rev. Lemuel Haynes draft copy of Rev. Lemuel Hayne's funerary epitaph
1790 by the Yale sophomore class essay containing arguments in "A Forensic Dispute" between the effects of printing versus navigation on world history
undated   draft of a confession of faith
undated   advice for success in the ministry

Full transcriptions of these documents are available.

Personal records

Most of these documents are individual records relating to membership, primarily relations of a person's religious experience required to join the church, or confessions of sins required to return to the good graces of the church community.

Full transcriptions of these documents are available.

Disciplinary cases

During the colonial period, the local church often functioned as the legal authority in matters of morality. These documents pertain to matters as minor as bickering between neighbors, and as severe as breaking Commandments.

Full transcriptions of these documents are available.


Special Thanks

This digital resource has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this resource do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.