Kittery, Maine. Third Church

Collection History

The area now known as Kittery was originally inhabited by Abenaki and Pennacook peoples, both of whom eventually became members of the Wabenaki Confederacy, formed in 1680 in response to English incursion into the region. During the mid-1600s, white settlers had established a trading post near the confluence of the Ossipee and Saco Rivers, which was also the intersection of the Sokokis Trail (now Route 5), the Ossipee Trail (now Route 25), and the Pequawket Trail (now Route 113). The town of Kittery was officially incorporated in 1647, making it the oldest township in Maine. In 1652 Maine became part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony until secession and statehood in 1820.

Church services were being held in the town as early as 1650, evidenced by the fact that several members of the community were indicted for not attending services in that year. It was not until 1671, however, that a meeting house for the First Church in Kittery, at Kittery Point, is officially evidenced in the town records. Three local parishes were created by order of a town meeting held on July 17, 1660. The northern division was first known as the Parish of Unity, and later Berwick. When the town of Berwick was set off from Kittery in 1713, the former middle parish became the upper parish of Kittery, and the former southern parish, at the head of Spruce Creek, became the middle parish.

In 1750 the middle parish was separated from the lower parish, requiring the formation of a new church which would be known as the Third Church in Kittery. The Rev. Josiah Chase was ordained minister of the Third Church on September 19, 1750. He died in December of 1778 when he apparently lost his way in a snowstorm after attending a wedding, and drowned in the creek near his home. His successor, Rev. Joseph Litchfield, was ordained on July 3rd, 1782. He served until 1827, when along with church members, he requested that he be replaced by a Methodist minister from the Maine Methodist Conference. The Rev. Paschal P. Morrill was selected and installed, and the church continued as a Methodist congregation.

The digitized collections below consist of a single church record book encompassing the first 45 years of the church's existence. The original manuscripts in this collection are owned by our project partners, the Maine Historical Society. Further information about the collection can be found in the MHS catalog.


Digital Materials

Church records, 1750-1795

This bound volume contains administrative records of the Third Church in Kittery, spanning the pastorates of Rev. Josiah Chase and Rev. Joseph Litchfield. The records include baptisms, marriages, and names of people admitted to the church.


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.