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History of the Second Presbyterian Church in West Durham

Extracted from J.B. Beers, History of Greene County, published in 1884. Retyped by Sylvia Hasenkopf.

This church, located in West Durham, was organized May 7th 1816, and, on the 22nd of May the same year, they installed Rev. James Jewell as their first pastor. This church was a colony from the first Presbyterian Church, and its history up to this time was intimately connected with the history of that church. In many respects, however, it had a separate history.

Deacon Samuel Scoville was very much a man as Deacon Christopher Lord (from the First Presbyterian Church), and did the same kind of work for their community in the early days.

In 1808, a meeting house was built, in which the Rev. Townsend and Williston preached at times. This building stood at the west side of the cemetery.

January 14th, 1814 the society was organized, and Deacon Benjamin Hubbard, Elam Finch, and Joshua Nowlen were trustees. At this time they employed a Rev. Mr. Hardy as their minister, and paid him by means of their covenant tax. Mr. Jewett was their pastor until his death, which took place in July 1825. He was a faithful pastor, and 22 were added to the church during his ministry.

Rev. Linus H. Fellows succeeded him in April 1826, and was their pastor thirty years. He was very sedate in his manners, and the church enjoyed a steady property under his teaching.

Rev. Salmon Strong and others preached for them occasionally for the next four years. During Mr. Fellow’s pastorate, in 1834, they rebuilt their church building on its present site, and M.C. Boughton, Wells Finch, G. Brainerd, and Alvin Doty were the building committee.

They also had tything men, and April 1st, 1825, they instructed the tything men "to call the children by name that play in the gallery twice, and if they persist in play, to put the law in force; also that notice be given to the young men not to take seats in the female’s pews in the gallery, also that we will endeavor to suppress immorality and traveling on the Sabbath by talking with the offender, and if necessary proceed according to law."


They gave much attention to singing, and appointed William Doty as chorister, with Matthew C. Boughton, Alvin Doty, Thomas Sutton, Jesse Addis, and Andrus Newell, as assistants. They, with the early members of the other Presbyterian church in town, were in the habit of "keeping Saturday night" as holy time; a custom which was kept up in some families until within perhaps 25 years.

Rev. Alvin Cooper was their pastor from 1860 to 1870. Up to this time it was a Congregational Church, but during his ministry they became Presbyterian. Beri Wade, Orville Moss and Zina Newell were chosen elders.

Since Mr. Cooper’s resignation they have had preaching by the Revs. Mr. Gillett, S. Goff, A. Rodgers, C. Boynton, C.O. Reynolds, Mr. Wyckoff, and E.L. Boing. These men are all living except Rev. Mr. Reynolds who was a clear and earnest preacher, a devoted minister, and a most excellent man in all respects.

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