The Society was founded in 1970 to perpetuate the history of the Town, to encourage the study of the history of the town and to preserve manuscript material and relics relating to that History.
North Stonington's records begin 1807
The library is open from 2 p.m.to 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoons. We may be reached by phone at
1 860 535-9448. The Society Collection is available for use in the library.
There is parking on the premises. There is no admission charge although donations are greatly appreciated.
THE THREE BAPTIST CHURCHES OF NORTH STONINGTON,
By Cyrus Henry Brown,
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
The First Baptist Church was organized in 1743. Elder Wait Palmer was chosen its pastor and ordained the same year.
At the time this church was organized there was but one other Baptist Church in the State of Connecticut. The First Baptist Church of Groton was organized by Rev. Valentine Wightman as pastor in 1705. This church has the unique distinction of having the father, Valentine Wightman, his son Timothy, and his grandson, John Gano Wightman, successively pastors for one hundred and twenty-five years. Your essayist was present at the unveiling of a tablet commemorative to the memory of these three worthy pastors of this old church at its 200th anniversary in 1905. It must be borne in mind the founding of this church carries us far back into the early settlements of the country, seventy years before the American Revolution. Probably the oldest Baptist parsonage in the country is the one built by Valentine Wightman, 211 years ago, still standing three miles west of Old Mystic, near the Turnpike, on the north side of the road. This church was located three miles west of Old Mystic, where, afterwards the society built their new and commodious meeting house. With this church Stonington Union Association met in 1845, the first association I attended. The Rev. Charles C. Weaver of Voluntown preached the sermon and William C. Walker was ordained. Many of the North Stonington people before 1743, attended this church, who had a leaning toward the Baptist faith, although members of the Congregational Church. The distance traveled in those days was not a potent factor. Elder Wait Palmer was baptized May 27, 1711, and Mary Brown, his wife, daughter of Eleazer Brown and Ann Pendleton, was baptized June 12, 1704, at the Road Church.
First Baptist Church in North Stonington was organized in 1743 and Elder Wait Palmer was chosen its pastor and ordained the same year. Its house of worship was located eight miles from Pawcatuck bridge and two miles south of Pendleton Hill. Ten years after it was built a road was surveyed and laid out from Pawcatuck Bridge to Voluntown line, which passed this church. My great great grand-father, Daniel Brown, with Thomas Holmes gave the land for the meeting house, and it was without paint inside or outside. Elder Palmer received no support from the church. He owned a farm of ninety acres. He was a plain man, common education, yet of strong, vigorous intellect, of sound practical sense. Elder Palmer was an active patriot in the Revolution, soon after which he died in 1790, nearly ninety years old. Interment was half a mile south of the Pendleton Hill meeting house in an unmarked grave.
The second pastor of this church was Eleazer Brown who came from the Second Baptist Church as a licentiate and served four years. He was ordained as pastor June 24, 1770 The church now numbered ninety-seven. A great awakening came in 1791 and the church received an accession of fifty-two. Elder Brown was a man of strong native powers, of vivid thought and conception and of a flowing, rapid delivery. He was rightly esteemed as one of the most eminent preachers of his day. This was his only pastorate and the longest of this church.
The third pastor of this church was Peleg Randall who succeeded Elder Brown. and his pastorate was by no means unfruitful in the conversion of souls, He closed his labors with this church October 8, 1813.
The fourth pastor was Rev. Jonathan Miner, ordained at the First Church of Groton, February 14, 1814. During the first three months of his ministry fifty-six members were added to the church by baptism. The work of grace continued from year to year, as revival followed revival up to the close of his ministry. The next great awakening came in the autumn of 1822 and extended till April 1823.
Dr. A. G. Palmer said on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of the church "These were days of childhood to many of us; but they left an impression upon our hearts which neither time nor eternity will ever efface." The membership now is 231. All these years of the existence of this pioneer church, till 1830, they worshiped in the old meeting house and here had been gathered a large and flourishing body of spiritual believers. But the time had come for the church to enlarge its house of worship. Accordingly in 1830, they rebuilt on that beautiful plateau, Pendleton Hill, commanding a most magnificent view of the surrounding country and of the ocean, fifteen miles away.
The Rev. Mr. Miner said to his people, "You have increased in numerical strength and built a new meeting house and you ought now to give your pastor a little salary." Up to this time the church had paid their minister no salary. But they did not comply with his request, and he soon resigned. and removed to New York in 1834.
SECOND BAPTIST CHURCH
This church was organized in March, 1765, with Elder Simeon Brown pastor. He was converted under the preaching of Whitefield in 1745. He was baptized by the Rev. Wait Palmer in 1764, being ordained the same year. With the assistance of his brethren he built the meeting house where he preached for fifty years and eight months without salary. He is buried in Brown Cemetery, north of the Miner meeting house, so-called, with his ancestors, children, grandchildren and relatives. A towering monument marks his resting place. He was succeeded by Elder Asher Miner, who had been for ten years associate pastor with Elder Brown, and at his death; he became pastor and served until his death, September, 1836. The day of his funeral I well remember. During Elder Miner's pastorate the church membership was 480.
The first meeting house was without paint outside or in. It had three galleries with square family boxed pews, unlike any other church I ever saw, except the church at Nooseneck Hill, Rhode Island, which was burnt about 1860. The old meeting house was taken down in l845 and the present structure as it now stands was erected, I have seen forty or more horses tied around the old church, the most of the people coming on horseback, a man with his wife on a pillion and oftentimes with a child in her arms. They came from Old Mystic, Stonington and Westerly in the olden times and as late as 1845 in large numbers.
THIRD BAPTIST CHURCH
This church was organized in 1828, and by the rapid growth of the church the present house of worship was built in 1833. The first acting pastor of this new church was Rev. Levi Walker, M..D. He had three sons that were Baptist ministers Rev. Levi, Jr., William C. and Orrin T. Walker. This church had the reputation of having a number of most excellent preachers. who had short terms of service. Very large congregations gathered in this church from 1845 to the time of the removal of the writer to Boston in 1856.
[Taken from Days and Recollections of North Stonington, by Cyrus Henry Brown; this is a portion of a paper read before the Westerly, Rhode Island Historical Society, November 9, 1916.]
The Society maintains the Stephen Main Homestead (1781) as its Headquarters.
This is also the home of the A. Morgan Stewart Memorial Library.
Please have your homework done before your visit. Vital statistics, including birth, death, and
marriage data for family members is important. General knowledge of your research area is helpful.
Settlement of this area had begun by the 1660's and was aided by land grants public service. In 1720, the north religious society of Stonington was formed to erect a meetinghouse convenient for local worship. It was named North Stonington in 1724 and incorporated as a town by the General assembly in 1807.
During the 1700's, agriculture was the principal business, together with fulling mills, grist mills, and sawmills. The increasing population in the early 1800's and habits of industry amd economy brought tanneries, iron works, cabinetmaking shops, dye houses, dry goods and grocery stores, and cottage weaving. the town became a prosperous and renowned mercantile center during this period. Changing times left dairy farming the principal industry by the turn of the century. Gradually thereafter, the town took on the residential character seen today. North Stonington includes the settlements of Clarks Falls, Laurel Glen, Pendleton Hill, Ashwillet, and the village of North Stonington, formally known by the descriptive name Milltown.
To Learn More about the Society please visit our Welcome Page
History from the Library
World War II
Victory in Europe
Early on June 6, 1944 (D-DAY) airborne troops landed in France to gain control of strategic areas. Aerial and naval bombardment followed. Then the invasion fleet, covered by an umbrella of aircraft, discharged Eisenhower’s assault forces.
In a letter to his mother, Joseph Paul Crider Jr. described what followed the assault:
May 24, 1945
…We took the big event on D-Day. We have the credit of making that invasion a success. We had several fresh German units thrown against us that just happened to be training in that area on maneuvers at that time, plus the beach defenses. After we did establish a beachhead, we were called to help the First Division – then the English. They had rough going and a tough section. After that we started to move toward St. Lo.
We went through Vierville, Isigney, St. Claire, and to St. Lo. I think we could have ploughed right on through there if we didn’t have to wait for our flanks on the 30th Division section. It gave the Krauts a chance to get set, and put in their main defense line and position. Well, there we had it out for some time. We bombed and shelled that place night and day-giving them the works. Then we pushed them to the outskirts of the town or city.
Then they gave us the business. Planes, artillery, mortars, and we would have to fall back to the edge of the city again. We finally got some replacements and cracked through. That was the start of the rush against France. Vire, where I got nicked, Falaise pocket, then we were sent to Brest to a place that was one of the heaviest fortified places there was, I believe. They had plenty of big stuff there-16 inch naval guns. It sounded like a freight train that never ended.
Aachen, which was part of the Siegfried line; Koslar; then the breakthrough the Krauts made just before Christmas (The Battle of the Bulge). They broke through just below our section, and were plenty powerful and hard to stop. Then came the Roer River, which was a hell of a mess. They blew all the dams and locks up, flooding all the Roehr Valley; Jullick, which we beat up very bad, almost as bad as St. Lo. By this I mean there was a building standing here and there, but St. Lo was flat. Then there was plenty of fireworks over the Rhine until we convinced them they couldn’t stop us. We had taken Munchen, Gladbeck and all the city of Cologne on the west side of the Rhine before we crossed. Munchen and Gladbeck at that time were the largest industrial centers to be captured.
We went as far as the Elbe River and crossed that. Then the Krauts were between us and the Russians. That’s where we started having a regular field day: mass surrenders, whole divisions intact; vehicles of all types and sorts, tanks, artillery, ammunitions and rations, without firing a shot. They were some scared rabbits and would do anything to keep the Russians from getting at them. They all fear the Russians, afraid they might have to undergo some of the cruelty and torture they administered.”
The Westerly Sun
WITH THE ARMED FORCES
As the Allies overran Germany from the west, Russian forces advanced from the east. On April 25th Allied and Soviet forces met at the Elbe River. The German Army was all but destroyed.
Five days later, Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker. His successor, Admiral Karl Doenitz, sent General Alfred Jodl to General Dwight Eisenhower’s Supreme Allied Headquarters in Rheims to seek terms for an end to the war. On May 7, General Jodl signed the unconditional surrender of German forces, which was to take effect on May 8th.
President Truman announced the victory in a radio broadcast to the nation: “This is a solemn but a glorious hour. I only wish that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day. General Eisenhower informs me that the forces of Germany have surrendered to the United Nations. The flags of freedom fly all over Europe. For this victory we join in offering our thanks to the Providence which has guided and sustained us through the dark days of adversity. Our rejoicing is sobered and subdued by a. supreme consciousness of the terrible price we have paid to rid the world of Hitler and his evil band. Let us not forget, my fellow Americans, the sorrow and the heartache which today abide in the homes of so many of our neighbors—neighbors whose most priceless possession has been rendered as a sacrifice to redeem our liberty…We must work to finish the war. Our victory is but half won. The West is free, but the East is still in bondage to the treacherous tyranny of the Japanese. When the last Japanese division has surrendered unconditionally, then only will our fighting job be done…”
Massive celebrations erupted all over the country.
The GI’s overseas celebrated too. Eric Berg, in letters to his brother wrote: “After the pocket was closed, one Sunday we went to cross the Rhine on a blown up bridge. Plenty of Jerries in the wreckage. After we left that place and headed south, this is no lie, those Jerries were retreating so damn fast, that we had one hell of a time trying to catch them, not that it made us sorry. We came in one town in the afternoon, which had fallen in the morning and had to stay there to take care of the Jerry
prisoners. Boy they were coming in by the thousands, young and old. It was in that town we were when the war came to an end. Boy were we happy. We sure celebrated the end of the war over here. There is one thing I hope for and that is that those damn Japs give up pretty soon.”