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The History of Warwick, Rhode Island,
its Settlement in 1642 to the Present Time; including accounts of the early settlement and development of its several villages

Oliver Payson Fuller, B. A.
Providence:  Angell, Burlingame & Co., Printers, 1875


p. 338 - 375.


The church was organized on the 23d of November, 1839, and was composed of sixteen persons of regular Baptist Churches, residing in the village and its vicinity.  Alanson Wood was appointed deacon, and Fayette Barrows, clerk. On the 25th of December following, a council, composed of delegates from the First, Second, Third and Fourth Churches of Providence, the Pawtucket, the Warwick and Coventry, the Arkwright and Fiskeville, and the Quidnessett, assembled and after the usual examination, publicly recognized the body as the Natick First Baptist Church.

The first members received by the new church were Pardon Spencer and his wife, Sybil Spencer who were received Jan. 26, 1840, by letter from the Exeter Baptist Church, the hand of fellowship being given by Rev. S. S. Mallory.  The first member received by baptism was sister S. Thornton, who was baptized by Rev. Thomas Tew, May 24, 1840.  The church was received into the Warren Association, Sept. 9, 1840.  On Nov. 16, of this year, Rev. Arthur A. Ross accepted the invitation of the church to become its pastor, 'while he continues in this village'.  This pastorate of Mr. Ross appears to have been of short duration, as on Feb. 18, 1841, the church appointed 'a committee to supply the pulpit.'  At the same meeting, George K. Clark was appointed a deacon.  On June 25, 1841, Smith W. Pearce was elected clerk, and served in that capacity until he was appointed deacon, Dec. 25, 1847. April 14, 1842, Samuel Peterman was appointed deacon in place of Deacon Wood, who had removed from the village.  The year, 1842,  was a prosperous year to the church, during which time a large number united with the church, among them some who continued many years to be the faithful burden bearers of the church.  On March 20, 1843, the church invited Rev. Jonathan Brayton to the pastorate of the church; Mr. Brayton accepted and continued in this relation until June 23, 1844.  He was also pastor at the same time of the Phenix Church.

On April 25, 1847, Rev. Arthur A. Ross was again called to the pastorate of the church.  In June, 1849, Moses Whitman was appointed the Trustee of the Relief Fund.  This fund was raised by voluntary contributions, for the relief of the poor connected with the church.  On December 4th, 1851, Rev. Stephen Thomas, who had previously been connected with the Six Priniciple Baptists, and had changed his views to those held by this church, was invited to assume the pastoral care of the church.  Mr. Thomas accepted the invitation and was publicly installed as pastor, June 2d, 1852.  He continued to preach until Rev. N. T. Allen commenced having preached for the church several months previous to that date.  He resigned Nov. 4, 1855.

Rev. A. Sherwin was publicly recognized as pastor of the church, July 2, 1856, and remained one year, when he resigned and became pastor of the High Street Baptist Church at Pawtucket.  For about six months following the resignation of Mr. Sherwin, Rev. O. P. Fuller, then a student of Brown University, supplied the church, and until the Rev. Geo. Mathews commenced his labors.  The closing part of the year 1857, was the year of the general revival throughout the country, and this church shared in the spiritual blessings, forty-one persons uniting with the church by baptism.  Mr. Mathews accepted the pastoral care of the church, March 30, 1858, and resigned April 9, 1859.

From this time until the fall of 1863, the church was supplied by different persons, chiefly by Rev. Harris Howard, who finally left to accept a commission as chaplain in the army.  Rev. George L. Putnam was called to the pastorate Nov. 7, 1863, commencing his labors as pastor in the December following, and closed in the autumn of 1865.  On Sept. 22, 1866, Rev. J. H. Tilton was invited to become pastor, and commenced Nov. 18, 1866, closing June 13, 1869.  He was followed by Rev. Charles L. Frost on July 4, 1869, who continued to preach until July 4, 1875.  His wife, Henrietta Frost, died March 6, 1873.  The present pastor, Rev. Warren S. Emery, was invited by the church to assume its pastoral care, August 24, 1875.

The following persons have served the church as deacons, viz.:  Alanson Wood, George K. Clark, Christopher S. Warner, Smith W. Pearce, Henry A. Bowen, George W. Harrington, Moses Wightman and S. H. Tillinghast.

The following persons have served as clerks, viz.:  Fayette Barrows, Smith W. Pearce, John D. Spink, John W. Money, Henry A. Bowen, Wm. H. Potter and Byron D. Remington.

On December 27, 1847, the church licensed Deacon George K. Clark to preach the gospel.  On January 12, 1871, the church met with a severe loss, in the death of George W. Harrington, who had served the church as a deacon since his appointment, May 2, 1859.  Deacon Harrington was a warm-hearted, sincere christian man, and is held in grateful remembrance.  Early in the present year the church met with a still severer loss, in the death of Deacon Moses Wightman, who had been connected with the church since 1842.  The following appreciative lines are taken from the 'Watchman and Reflector', published a short time after his death: --

'In Warwick, R. I., January 15, 1875, Deacon Moses Wightman, in the 68th year of his age.  Brother Wightman, at the time of his death, had been a respected and beloved member of the Baptist Church, of Natick, for about thirty years.  The Providence Journal, referring to him, justly says: 'uniting with the church at Natick in early life, he became one of its leading members, and though naturally of a retiring disposition, identified himself with whatever tended to promote the peace and prosperity of the community.  Few men in the quiet walks of life, with the advantages he possessed, can hope to accomplish more of real good to a village, than resulted from his simple unostentatious life.  With a heart full of warm tender emotions, kind and sympathizing to those in distress, the village was made better every time he passed through it.  Dea. W. was a peace maker, both within and without the church; wise in counsel, though not forward in giving advice; upright and honest from principle; cheerful without levity; active, humble and consistent, in his religious life.'  At his funeral brief addresses were made by his pastor Rev. C. L. Frost, of Natick, Revs. O. P. Fuller and J. Brayton, of Centreville, with prayer by Rev. G. Robbins, of East Greenwich.  He leaves a deeply afflicted widow and one daughter, members of the same church.  May the household of faith, so long and tenderly united, which has 'reason to mourn and reason also to rejoice', be eventually reunited where the mourning will be lost in eternal rejoicing.'


*The sketch of this Church is from the pastor, Rev. J. T. Smith.

In the spring of 1842, Rev. Jonathan E. Forbush commenced to labor here under the patronage of the R. I. Baptist State Convention.  Some religious interest was awakened, and the statement of facts preliminary to the organization of the present church says there were some conversions and baptism.  Into what church these converts were baptized is not stated. Doubtless not the 'old' church here, which is represented as indeed old and ready to vanish away.  Mr. Forbush's work was to establish something more vigorous and vital than that seemed to be.

The first record of a meeting looking to a church organization is without date, but it was probably in September or October, 1842.  Five brethren and eleven sisters met at the residence of John W. Greene.  This meeting, besides consultation and prayer, appointed a committee of three to wait upon the Old Baptist Church and confer with them in reference to the proposed movement, and adjourned to November 2, at the same place.

At the adjourned meeting the committee of conference with the 'Old' Baptists reported - what, the record does not show, but it was unanimously resolved to push the church project; November 16, was set for the recognized council, and the church to be sent to were specified.  A committee was appointed to report at an adjourned meeting, Articles of Faith.  At that meeting held Nov. 9, the committee reported the New Hampshire Articles, as then published, which were adopted.  Two sisters related their experience, and were received for baptism.

Nov. 16, 1842, the Council assembled, as called, at the Old Warwick Baptist Meeting House.  It was constituted as follows: --

First Providence. - Brethren, Pardon Miller, Hugh H. Brown, Oliver Johnson.

Second Providence. - Rev. Edward K. Fuller, brethren John Clemmons, John T. Lawton.

Third Providence. - Rev. Thorndike C. Jameson, brethren N. Mason, William C. Barker.

Pawtuxet. - Rev. --- Bowen, brethren R. N. Niles, Remington Smith.

Lippitt and Phenix. - Rev. J. Brayton, brethren R. W. Atwood, Nicholas T. Allen, Wm. B. Spencer.

East Greenwich. - Rev. J. H. Baker.

The Council, which had for Moderator, Rev. T. C. Jameson, and Rev. E. K. Fuller, Clerk, took the customary action in such cases, and adjourned for public services of recognition, at 2 o'clock same day.  It was duly held, Rev. J. H. Baker reading scripture, Rev. T. C. Jameson preaching, Rev. J. Brayton giving the Hand of Fellowship, Rev. -- Bowen addressing the Church, and Rev. J. E. Forbush offering the concluding prayer.

The Church was constituted with thirteen members, whose names follow:

Rev. J. E. Forbush, (Pastor), Eliza H. Forbush; Benjamin Greene, Frances Greene, John Holden, Hester B. Holden, Welthy Potter, Sarah Potter Greene, Sally Greene, Elizabeth Stafford, Waite Lippitt Greene, Sally Holden Low, Sally Low Holden.

Four of the above list survive, and are still members of the church, viz.: John Holden, Hester B. Holden, Sally Greene, and Sally H. Low.

At the first meeting of the recognized church, Benjamin Greene was chosen Deacon, and John Holden, Clerk.

In March, 1845, Mr. Forbush closed his labors as pastor, removing to Westminster, Mass.  During these two and a half years, the church was increased by two baptized and three added by letter.  Two were dismissed and one died, leaving two, net gain - 15 members.  In September, of the same year, the church united with the Warren Association.

Rev. Alfred Colburn was Mr. Forbush's successor for three years from October, 1845.  In this period, some revival interest brought eight additions to the church by baptism, and one by experience.  Seven were also added by letter.  There being only one diminution, dismissed; the net result was a doubling of the membership, 30.

In April, 1848, John W. Greene was elected clerk, holding and honoring the office until April, 1873, since which time the pastor has served as clerk.

After a year and a half of pastoral vacancy, in April, 1850, Rev. George A. Willard, commenced the longest pastorate in the church's history, nine years, closing in May, 1859.  It was not only long (for this church) but measurably prosperous.  Nearly every year of its continuance, there were conversions and baptisms.

In 1851, the parsonage house was built at an expense of $1,400, on a half acre lot, the gift of Warren Lippitt, Esq., of Providence.  At the same time the church was incorporated under the name of the 'Shawomet Baptist Church, of Warwick.'

The changes in membership in the church in these nine years were:  Additions by baptism, 28; by letter, 3 - 31.  Diminutions, 14 dismissed, and 7 died - 21.  Increase, 10, leaving a total of 40.

In April, 1859, Deacon Benjamin Greene, removing from the place and the church, was succeeded in his office by Brother John W. Greene, who held it till March, 1871, when he was succeeded by the present Deacon, Elisha Farnham, who is also Sunday School Superintendent.

For about three years, commencing March, 1860, Rev. Henry G. Stewart served as pastor.  In this time, there were added 3 by baptism, 1 by experience, and 4 by letter - 8.  There were 4 diminutions, 1 death, 2 dismissions, and 1 exclusion; leaving a membership of 44.

After one year of supplies, Rev. E. Hayden Watrous commenced service as pastor in March, 1864.  His brief term of two years - he resigned in February, 1866, to go to Lonsdale - was marked by the most fruitful revival in the history of the church.  The baptisms were 18; and 5 were added by letter - 23.  The diminutions in the same time were 13; 5 by death and 98 dismissed, leaving a net increase of 10, and a memberhsip of 54.

From March, 1866, Rev. Charles H. Ham, of Providence, served the church one year, as stated supply.  In this year, 1 was baptized, 4 dismissed, and 1 died; leaving a membership of 50.

For a little more than two years, until November, 1868, the church depended upon temporary supplies.  During this period, there were no additions, where there were 8 diminutions; 3 by death, 4 by dismission, and 1 by exclusion, reducing the total to 42.

In November, 1868, the church invited Rev. J. Torrey Smith, of Woodstock, Ct., to assume the pastoral charge.  Without accepting the call, he served them as stated supply till July, 1869, when he accepted and removed hither.

The present pastorate, has been a term, largely, of discouraging up hill work, relieved occasionally by features of success.  No large revival has been enjoyed, yet the word has not been without as positive and marked fruit as it ever seen.  During the six years there have been two seasons of increased religious interest, resulting in 16 additions by baptism.  There have been also 6 additions by letter - 22.  The diminutions in the six years have been 15 - 12 dismissed, and 3 deaths.  Net increase, 7; which makes the present membership, 49.  (This is two less than our last report, but this is the present number by the list.)

At the commencement of the present pastorate, external conveniences for the support of worship were very defective.  The parsonage had been built twenty-four years, and had never received much repair.  During Mr. Willard's occupancy of it, a boy's boarding school was kept in it, and after Mr. Stewart left, it was occupied, not by a pastor, but by temporary tenants, until 1869.  Thorough repairs being needed, more than five hundred dollars have been raised, and expended upon it.

For the first thirty years of the church's history it had no place of worship which it could, in any sense, call its own.  The 'Old Warwick Baptist Meeting House' was built in 1829 by proprietors, by whom, as a corporation, under that name, it is owned and held.  The charter gave a privileged use of the Baptist Church of the place, which at that time, was the Six Principle Church, in its waning condition.

When this church was organized in 1842, the Six Principle Church being quite feeble, and hastening to its apparant extinction, a considerable proportion of the members and families interested in the new organization were proprietors in the house.  Quietly and by general consent this body succeeded to the use of the house, which they continued to use without interruption, as if it were their own.  But by 1870 it had got quite out of repair, and was hardly comfortable or decent to use.  But the proprietors could not be brought to any united action to repair it.  The proprietors in the church were unwilling to spend their money upon a property which the church had no corporate right or interest in. A project for building a house for the church, on a lot given them for the purpose by Marshall Woods, Esq., of Providence, failed of accomplishing anything for want of a sufficient and united interest in it.  Nothing, then remained but to repair and use the existing house; and this must be done, or the church must abandon her work.

To remove the obstacle which stood in the way of the previous effort of repairing, it became necessary to give the church, as a corporation, the essential ownership of the house.  This was done by obtaining from individual owners of pews (i. e., proprietors,) a transfer of their ownership to the church.  By this means the church became a large and the controlling proprietor in the house.  This being effected, there was no difficulty in securing a vote to repair the house, and assess the expense as a tax upon the pews.  It was done to the expense, including a furnace for heating, of about $1,300.  Some additional expense for furnishing was provided through the church.  For these repairs of the meeting-house and parsonage in these six years the church has expended above $2,000, holding its parsonage property and fully three-fourths of the meeting-house property as its own, free of debt.  Four thousand dollars would be a moderate estimate of the value of this church property.  Looking at the numbers and the resources of the church, it seems like so much created out of nothing.

A summary of the history shows the whole number of persons connected with this church, during these thirty-two years, to be 119.  Of these were -

Constituent members ............................. 13
Added by baptism.................................. 76
Received by letter from other churches.... 28
Received on experience ............................2  -- 119

Of these -
Died while connected with the church  .... 20
Dismissed to other churches  .................. 48
Excluded  ..............................................   2
Present members   ................................. 49  --  119

This summary shows that this church has been literally a recruiting station. The great bulk of its membership have been baptized on the field.  It has dismissed to other churches nearly double the number it has received from other churches, and within one of the number it retains in its own connection.


In the autumn of 1841, Rev. Jonathan Brayton, then under appointment as a missionary of the R. I. Baptist State Convention, 'to labor at Natick and vicinity', conferred with one of the residents of Phenix in reference to holding religious services in that vicinity.  At the October meeting of the Convention, held in Wickford, the subject was brought up, and the Board appointed the Rev. Thomas Wilkes, then pastor of the Warwick and Coventry Church, a committee 'to look over the ground and see how much money could be raised to support preaching.'  Mr. Wilkes visited the villages of Phenix and Lippitt, and obtained subscriptions to the amount of $30, and meetings were immediately commenced in the school house.

At the opening of the year 1842, a protracted meeting was commenced in the school-house, which soon became so interesting that all who wished to attend could not be accommodated.  They then applied to the Methodist society, who were then occupying the 'Tatem' meeting-house, owned by Deacon Josiah Chapin, of Providence, for permission to occupy that house, which was courteously granted for two weeks.  'As the presence of God was visibly felt, and some souls were converted almost as soon as the meetings commenced, the brethren and sisters, (twenty-five in number,) members of regular Baptist churches residing in the vicinity, on the evening of January 10, agreed to organize themselves into a church of Christ, and were publicly recognized as such, by appropriate religious services, on the 20th of the same month.*  The recognition services were held in the Tatem meeting-house before the two weeks granted them had expired.  Rev. J. Dowling, D. D., preached the sermon; Rev. John H. Baker offered the prayer of recognition; Rev. Thomas Wilkes gave the hand of fellowship, and Rev. J. R. Stone gave the charge to the church.  The church assumed the name of 'the Lippitt and Phenix Baptist Church of Warwick, R. I.'  The male members who entered into the organization were the following:  Jonathan Brayton, Thomas S. Wightman, William B. Spencer, Jeremiah Franklin, John B. Tanner, Benjamin Gardiner, Richard Gorton, Stephen Greene and Robert Card;  the female members were Weltha Spencer, Susan C. Tanner, Abby L. Tanner, Amey Franklin, Susan Albro, Mary W. Johnson, Mary A. Snell, Penelope Thurston, Mary A. Griffin, Martha Shippee, Susan Greene, Abby A. Gorton, Eda Gorton, Phebe Frye, Mary Card, and Mary Pearce.  There were nineteen other accepted candidates for admission, making a total of forty-four.  On January 30th, twenty-nine persons were baptized, and the ordinance of baptism was administered for three successive Sabbaths afterwards.  From January 30 to March 6, seventy-two persons were baptized and united with the newly formed church.

*Minutes R. I. Baptist State Convention, April, 1842.

Soon after the recognition of the church, the time having expired during which they were allowed the use of the Tatem meeting-house, they returned to the school-house, which was found too small to accommodate those who wished to attend.  Arrangements were soon made with a view of building a meeting-house, and a committee appointed to attend to the matter.  The lot was generously given by the Manufacturing Company, and the committee contracted with Dea. Charles Shaw, of Providence, to build a house, thirty-six feet by forty-eight feet, for $1800.  The church built the foundation walls and painted the house. The house was owned by stockholders, who were to receive interest on the money contributed.  The vestry was not finished for use until several years after the upper room was occupied. After the vestry had been fitted up and other improvements made, it was found that the whole expense had amounted to about $3000.  The stock subsequently became the property of the church by gift and purchase, and thus remained until the meeting-house was sold.

Rev. Jonathan Brayton was the first pastor, continuing as such seven or eight years.  'Rev. Frederick Charlton served the church about nine months, followed by Rev. George D. Crocker, for about the same length of time.' Christopher Rhodes also supplied the church for several months, coming from Providence on Saturday, and returning the following Monday.  Bro. Rhodes was then a surveyor of lumber in Providence, and devoted his Sabbaths to supplying destitute churches.  The church were so pleased with Bro. Rhodes, that they obtained his promise that if he should decide to give up his secular business and settle as pastor over any church, he would come to Phenix, a promise that he afterwards fulfilled.

In 1851, Rev. Benjamin F. Hedden, became pastor of the church, and continued thus for nearly four years, and was followed by Rev. Christopher Rhodes, whose pastorate continued from April, 1855, for about six years and a half.

In 1852, several of the brethren united and built a house for the pastor to live in, and rented it to the church, which arrangement continued until June, 1870, when the parsonage became the property of the church.

During the pastorate of Mr. Rhodes, the congregation had so increased that it was deemed advisable to either enlarge their house of worship, or to build a new one, and on March 5, 1859, they 'voted, that it is expedient to enlarge our meeting-house,' and a committee composed of Wm B. Spencer, S. E. Card, and S. H. Brayton, were appointed to attend to altering and enlarging the house.  After examining the house, it was thought best to sell it and build a new one.  'March 19th, 1859, it was voted, that the building committee appointed on the 5th inst., be authorized and empowered to dispose of the meeting house and lot, or any part of the same, if they deem it for the interest of the church to do so, and on such terms as they think best, and if sold, they are hereby authorized to procure another lot and erect a meeting-house thereon, of such dimensions as will meet the wants of the church and society, the plans of said house being first approved by the church.'  The committee accordingly sold the meeting-house and lot for $1700, the church occupying it for the last time, October 2, 1859.  At a meeting of the church, held August 6, 1859, 'voted, that the committee appointed to sell the meeting-house and build a new one, be empowered to build such a house of worship, as in their judgment they think best.'  The lot upon which the church now stands was given by William B. Spencer.  The committee contracted with Post & Tuesdell, of Rockville, Conn., who failed of carrying out the contract, when the matter returned to the committee, and after various delays the house was finally completed.  The whole amount expended on the meeting-house and lot was $18,437.41.  This included $325 for the clock, ($250 of which was generously given by Henry Howard, Esq.,) and a bell, weighing 1,609 pounds and costing $575.49.  The vestry was occupied by the church, January 29, 1860, and the upper portion of the house in September, 1869.  'It is a capacious and beautiful structure, with a steeple whose height is 162 feet from the ground.  The ediface is not only an ornament to the village, but will compare favorable with any village-meeting house in the State.  The church may well congratulate itself on the value of its church property, owning also a commodious parsonage; all of the property being entirely free from debt.'

At the January session of the General Assembly, 1850, the name of the church was changed to 'The Phenix Baptist Church.'

In October, 1861, Rev. Bohan P. Byram, now settled in Plymouth, Mass., became pastor, and remained until October, 1867.  Rev. T. W. Sheppard, the present pastor, began his labors in April, 1868.

The following persons have served the church as deacons:  Thomas S. Wightman, John B. Tanner, Ray W. Atwood, J. Baily, J. S. Kenyon, A. J. Burleson, W. T. Pearce, and W. W. Remington, the last four being now in service.

The following have served as church clerks:  --  Wm. B. Spencer, Hiram Arnold, Wm. B. Spencer, a second term, and Vernum A. Bailey, the present clerk.

In 1843, Nicholas T. Allen was licensed to preach, and in October, 1869, Henry V. Baker was also licensed to preach.

The present number of members is 220.


The exact date of the organization of this church I have not been able to learn.  In 1827, Elder Henry Tatem occupied the school-house, and until the erection of his meeting-house in 1829.  This church edifice was the first one built in the vicinity.  The lot on which it stood, the same one now occupied by the Methodist church, was bought of Mr. Henry Snell, for $120. An act of incorporation was granted by the General Assembly at its January session, 1833, to Henry Tatem, Nicholas G. Potter, Benjamin R. Allen, Caleb Potter, Sheldon Colvin, Cyril Babcock, Ray W. Atwood, Cyrus Manchester, Jr., George P. Prosser, Reuben Wright and William Warner.  Elder Tatem preached in this meeting-house until difficulties broke out which divided the church in 1837, when Elder Nicholas Potter succeeded him for a few months.  Elder Tatem was ordained in 1816.  The society became so feeble, they were obliged to sell their meeting-house which was purchased by Josiah Chapin, Esq., of Providence, in behalf of the Congregationalists.  Rev. Russell Allen became the preacher under the new regime.  Soon the Methodists hired the house, and in 1842 effected its purchase.  It stood on the site of the present edifice erected by that society, until it was purchased by Goveror Harris, who removed it to another part of the village, and altered it into tenements where it now stands.  A published statement of the church now before me, designates it as the 'First General Baptist Church in Warwick'.  It appears to have held to the denominational tenets of the Free Will Baptists.  A copy of the 'Minutes of the first meeting of the Rhode Island Union Conference, held in Cranston, October 13 and 14, 1824', gives the names of the pastors and delegates of these churches as comprising the conference at that time, Elder Henry Tatem, of the Cranston Church, Elder Ray Potter, of the Pawtucket Church, and Elder Zalmon Tobey, of the 'Fourth Baptist Church, in Providence.'  In their circular letter published in their minutes, they say, 'We are confident that the real followers of the Lamb of equal piety and usefulness in the church may be found for instance among Calvanists and Arminians, notwithstanding their disagreement in opinion.  We dare not, therefore, call that common and unclean which God has cleansed.'


This church was originally located in that portion of the town now becoming known as Greenwood, near the 'High House', so called.  Previous to the building of the meeting-house, meetings were held in a school-house, across the railroad, on or near the site of the present new dwelling of Mr. Collingwood.  Elder Reuben Allen appears to have been the first pastor, and John Carder and John Gorton deacons.  The church was prosperous under the leadership of Elder Allen, and many were added to the church.  The church built their meeing-house about the year 1833.  Elder Allen was followed in the pastorate by Elder James Phillips, who preached for several years.  The church, during this time passed through severe trials from which it never fully recovered.  Elder Champlain preached for a while in the meeting-house and until about the time the church of which he was pastor built a house for themselves about a mile to the southward.  Elder Joseph Whittemore preached twice a month for a while, about the year 1842-3, and after that preaching services were held only occasionally until the house was removed to Pontiac and the church re-organized.

About the year 1850, the meeting-house was removed to Pontiac upon land given by David Arnold.  The land according to the terms of the deed, was to revert to the original owner or his heirs, assigns, &c., when no longer used for church purposes.  In March, 1851, the church was re-organized under the name of The First Free-Will Baptist Church of Warwick.  The following persons composed the new organization:  Joseph B. Baker, Edmund L. Budlong, Moses Budlong, Wm. Tibbitts, Burden Baker, John Vickery, Stephen Luther, Freelove Wood, Hannah Searles, Susan Bennett and Susan Baker.  Uriah Eddy, who united a few weeks later was appointed a deacon, and Edmund L. Budlong, clerk.  Elder Reuben Allen, who appears to have been the first preacher under the old organization, was the first pastor under the new order of things.  On March 13, 1852, the church voted to change their name to the 'Warwick Church'.  In 1852, Uriah Eddy became the church clerk.  On April 19, 1856, passed a 'vote of thanks' to Elder Reuben Allen for his services during the past year, and appointed Joseph B. Baker a committee to supply the pulpit.  From this time up to April, 1859, the pulpit was supplied by different preachers.  At the latter date, it was voted 'that Elder Reuben Allen be our pastor for the ensuing year.'  On April 28, 1861, George T. Hill was licensed to preach the gospel, and on September 6 following, he was ordained as pastor of the church, by Elders George T. Day and Reuben Allen. On October following, Horace Thompson was licensed to preach the gospel.  On April 27, 1862, George Budlong was appointed a deacon.  On July following, Elder Reuben Allen was again chosen pastor for the ensuing year.  On April 26, 1863, Franklin Potter was licensed 'to improve his gift'.  On June 4, 1864, the church voted that 'David Culver be the pastor for the coming year, and that an effort be made to raise $200 for his support.'

From March 30, 1866, Abraham Lockwood was the clerk, and Bro. A. Warner, of Providence, became the preacher.  R. E. Fisher was the clerk in 1869.  The last pastor was Elder James Tobey, who preached about two years.  Elder Tobey continued to preach until April, 1869, when failing health induced him to resign, and from this time until they disbanded, the church was pastorless.

On November 5, 1871, the church met in covenant meeting, and expressed its deep sorrow at the recent death of Deacon Uriah Eddy.

On November 6, 1871, 'a council of ministers were present to confer with the church in regard to the propriety of uniting with the Apponaug Church.  A quorum not being present, the meeting was adjourned to meet at the church Sunday next, at 2 o'clock P. M.  November 12, 1871, church met according to appointment, and voted to adopt the following resolutions:

To adopt the recommendations of the council held at the previous meeting, to wit: --

To unite with the Apponaug Church in a body, so many as can feel it a duty to do so. Voted, That a list of the non-resident members be transferred to the non-resident list of the Apponaug Church, in order that none by this act be left without church connection. Voted, That H. C. Budlong be authorized to draw up a paper for the members of this church to sign as an application of membership in the Apponaug Church. Voted, That H. C. Budlong present to the Apponaug Church the records of this church, with a list of all who have taken letters, and a list of non-resident members of our church, and recommend and pray them to take them under their especial watch-care, and influence them, as soon as their whereabouts can be learned, to unite with some evangelical church.'

In accordance with the above recommendation, a portion of the church united with the Free Baptist Church at Apponaug, and others with other churches, and the body ceased to be a distinct church.  The meeting-house, which was owned by stockholders, was sold to the colored church on the Plains, - they having lost their house by fire, - for $800, who removed it, in 1873, to the site of their former house, where it now stands.


The meeting-house of this church is situated on the Plains, about half a mile north of the village of Apponaug.  From the records of the church and other sources, we subjoin the following account of its origin and history:

Previous to the building of their meeting-house, the church, which was organized December 23, 1841, worshipped in various places, but chiefly in the meeting-house a mile north, near the 'High House'.  Rev. Geo. Champlain was the pastor, and continued in this relation for some fifteen years. About the time of the 'Dorr war', the larger portion of the members were on the side of the 'law and order' party, and the church worshipping in the meeting-house to the northward were largely of the number known as 'Liberty men'.  As a consequence of the disagreement in politics between the two churches, the prividege of holding meetings in the meeting-house was denied Mr. Champlain and his church, and measures were taken to build for themselves a house of worship.  Gov. John Brown Francis, Judge Dutee Arnold and Geo. T. Spicer, Edq., now of Providence, but then of Pontiac, interested themselves in their behalf, and a subscription was started to raise the necessary funds for the erection of a meeting-house.

The subscription paper was drawn up by Gov. Francis and is still preserved. The following are extracts from this paper:

'This house is to be consecrated to the use of the Free-Will Baptist Church of Warwick and East Greenwich, of which George Champlain is now the elder, and Joseph Babcock, deacon; subject, however, to this condition, viz.: That the seats shall be free for all the worshippers of that congregation, and that no pews shall be erected therein. It is understood, likewise, that the lot whereon the building is to be located shall be conveyed to the above society, but not until an act of incorporation is first obtained.'

Appended to the paper are the following names of those who subscribed $20 or upwards, viz.:  Judge Dutee Arnold, in behalf of himself and his daughter Marcy, $50; Hon. William Sprague, in behalf of himself and his daughter, Mrs. Susan Hoyt, $75; Gov. Francis, in behalf of himself and his daughter, Anne, $75; John Carter Brown, of Providence, $50; C. & M. Rhodes, $25; George T. Spicer, $20.

The land on which the house was built was given by Stephen Budlong to the church.  The house was built in 1844, at a cost of $1,275.  This house was used until August, 1872, when it was totally consumed by fire.  The present house, which is the same one that originally stood near the 'High House', and was subsequently removed to Pontiac, was purchased by this society the same year their house was burnt, for $800, and removed to its present location.

The relation that those who have preached sustained to the church is not very clearly defined in the records, so that it is difficult to tell by them whether those who preached were formally recognized as pastors or only supplies.  The church has not always, if ever, been able to support a pastor, and has, consequently, been obliged to secure such preachers as were able to support themselves wholly or in part.  Among those who have preached to the church for the longest periods, were Elder George Champlain*, Elder E. Bellows, Elder Peter Noka, Elder Benjamin Roberts, Elder Durfee, Elder John Dixon, and the present pastor, Elder Wm. Devereaux, who has preached to them for several years past.

*Elder Champlain became well-known through the town as quite an able preacher.  He was a man of more than usual natural ability, and a forcible speacker, and many anecdotes are told respecting him that reveal his keenness and ready wit.  It is said that one time some of his hearers complained to him that he was too personal and severe in his preaching.  He replied:  'When I am preaching I shoot straight at the devil, everytime, and if any of you get between me and the devil, you will be liable to get hurt.' While preaching he would sometimes get quite animated, and his gestures on such occasions would be more forcible than elegant.  He occupied the old 'Tin Top' at Quidnick for a while, after it was given up by the church that built it, and, it is said, he would sometimes, while preaching there, jump so high that the audience in front of the pulpit could see his knees.  To do this he must have done up more than three feet into the air.  Elder Champlain had some failings, but possessed many excellent qualities.

The following persons have served the church as deacons, viz.:  Joseph P. Babcock, Job Frye, James B. Waite, Henry E. Sambo, Geo. Champlain, Jr., Samuel S. Bliss, Jeremiah G. Dailey, Thomas H. Brown, Harrison G. O. Lincoln, and others.

The following persons have served the church as clerks, viz.:  James B. Waite, Henry E. Sambo, Thomas H. Knowles, Wm. H. Briggs, Samuel B. Eddy, John F. Champlain, John O. Lincoln, Albert G. Lippitt and John P. Gardiner.


This church was organized by Rev. Benjamin Phelon, who, on the third Sabbath in August, 1835, baptized and formed into a church the following individuals, viz.:  Alexander Havens, Wm. Harrison, William D. Brayton, Thomas W. Harrison, Elizabeth Wickes, Catherine Westcott and Mary E. Wilbur. Their first deacon was Alex. Havens, and their first clerk, Wm. B. Brayton.

Rev. Benjamin Phelon, now of Providence, was their first pastor, and preached for them at this time about two years and a half.  He was followed by Rev. Thomas S. Johnson, who was called to the pastorate of the church in October, 1837, and remained about two years.  Rev. J. S. Mowry was the next pastor, and commenced his labors November, 1840, closing them in May, 1842. He, in turn, was followed by Rev. Martin J. Steere, who remained three years.

In April, 1849, the church invited Rev. Mr. Phelon to become again their pastor, which invitation he accepted, and he continued to preach until September, 1859.

After this, Rev. J. A. Stetson supplied the pulpit for several months, and until the Rev. E. P. Harris was called to the pastorate.  Mr. Harris remained about six months.

The present pastor, Rev. George W. Wallace, commenced his labors in September, 1870.*

The number of members at the present time is eighty-seven.

*The sketch of this church is furnished by its pastor, Rev., G. W. Wallace.


The following interesting communication, giving the origin of this church, is from Hon. Simon Henry Greene.  The personal allusions of the venerable gentleman to his own experience, though perhaps not designed for publication, will not detract from the interest with which it will be perused:

'Riverpoint, R. I., April, 1875.

Rev. O. P. Fuller.

Dear Sir, -- Mr. Artemas Stebbins who was well known in Warwick as a Methodist Circuit preacher, about the year 1812, was probably the first to make known the New Church Theology in the town.  My home was then in the locality of the town now called Centreville, with my mother, Mrs. Abigail Greene, a devoted, worthy member of the Methodist Church.  My father was Job Greene, who died in 1808.

In the autumn of 1811, I was placed at a school from home, returning in 1812.  I was employed in business in Hartford, Conn. in 1813, returning home again in 1814.  In 1815 I engaged in business in Providence, where I married in 1822, and resided there until 1838, when my business required a removal of my family to Warwick, my native town, and a removal was made accordingly, to where we still reside.

You will thus see how the link which has connected me with Centreville was severed, and how the most intimate relations with that locality, as to me, were measurably suspended.  I had notwithstanding, some knowledge at different times of Mr. Stebbins, his whereabouts and his occupation.  I heard of him, not far from the year 1815, as travelling and vaccinating for the kine pock, then having the title of Doctor, and that he had visited Centreville on such a mission.  And if my recollection is right he was then teaching the doctrines of the New Church, - and it is not unlikely he may have preached them publicly at Centreville.  Years afterwards I heard of him as settled in Swanzey (sic), Mass., where I believe he died.  I do not know that he ever became a minister of the New Church - called by Swedenborg 'The Heavenly Doctrines of the New Jerusalem', in the town of Warwick.

My own attention was attracted to acquire a knowledge of the doctrines, while living in Providence, at about thirty-five years of age, but the ideas contained in them were so new to my mind, that I made slow progress in learning; my former theological notions blocking the way for the entrance of the new truths.  I had been religiously inclined from an early age, and had read much of theological works, but with all my experience and observation, I could not settle into a rational, satisfactory belief in any of the systems of theology which had fallen under my notice, until the writings of the profoundly learned and eminent scholar and christian, Emanuel Swedenborg, fell in my way.  Apparently by accident, but really by the ordering of the Divine Providence, I came in contact with a few individuals in Providence who were 'receivers of the Heavenly Doctrines', and who held regular meetings for worship and for instruction, at Union Hall, near Westminster street, on which occasions a sermon was read by some one of the members.  Occasionally a visit was made us by a minister, who preached and administered the sacraments of baptism and the holy supper.  We became members of the Bridgewater, Mass., Society of the New Church, and the pastor, Rev. Samuel Worcester, then the pastor of a New Church Society in Boston, visited us and preached in Providence.  Samuel has been dead several years.  Thomas is now living in Waltham, Mass., retired from active life, to much extent, in the ministry, on account of advanced age and impaired health.  Both of them were sons of Rev. Noah Worcester, one of the earliest and most noted Unitarian Clergymen in the United States.  The sons, however, were compelled wholly to repudiate the peculiar theology of their father.

I engaged with Mr. Edward Pike, in the firm name of Greene & Pike, to do business in Warwick, in 1828, which copartnership arrangement continued until his death in 1842.  I had conversations with him and his brother David, who is still living, on the subject of the New Church doctrines. They became much interested in them, and procured the 'True Christian Religion', the final work on Theology of Swedenborg, and of a great number of volumes previously written and published by him, which they read and became convinced of the truth of those doctrines.  I became a member of the Bridgewater Society of the New Church in 1836.

In consequence of the interest the Messrs. Pike and I felt to have preaching in Warwick, Rev. Samuel Worcester was invited to preach in Warwick, and he did so at the 'Lippitt & Phenix School House', on the 14th of April, 1837, to an audience of about 175 persons.  Many interested listeners to New Church teachings were present.  Mr. Edward Pike and his brother David soon afterwards visited Rev. Mr. Worcester's home, and were baptized by him at Bridgewater on the 7th of May, 1837.  In due time others were baptized by Mr. Worcester here in Warwick, and a little band were associated together to hold regular meetings on the Sabbath day for worship then held, and now continue to be holden, in a house built by Greene & Pike, to be used for the double purpose of a school-house and a house for public worship.

In 1838, I removed with my family to Warwick, and it was arranged, the pastor co-operating, that I should be appointed and authorized to act as a leader in public worship, in which capacity I have officiated to the present time, to wit: to the year 1875, - a term of nearly thirty-seven years, being now in the 77th year of my age.

It is obvious to a New Churchman, that the New Jerusalem which John saw 'coming down from God out of heaven', is indeed leavening the whole world with the Divine love and the Divine wisdom, raising it by those sublime principles to higher and more exalted spiritual, heavenly states.  Those heaven-descended qualities infused into the minds of men enlighten their paths, and say unto them in the benignity of perfect love -- 'this is the way, walk ye in it.'  But alas!  men generally do not believe that it is the Lord in His second coming, 'in the clouds of heaven', who is now standing at the door of their hearts - and affections - and knocking for them to open the door, that He may enter in with His love and wisdom, and establish His glorious kingdom there, - they do not believe that all who have died since the world began have been raised from death unto life, and have been judged, and have become associated in the spiritual world with those in similar states with themselves - whether those states be evil, or whether they be good.  'Evil is of hell, and good is of heaven.'  'The life of man is his love.'  If the love be evil, the life is hellish.  If the love be good, the life is heavenly.

Yours truly,


*For a portion of the items in the above account, I am indebted to the venerable Perez Peck, of Coventry.

The first 'Monthly Meeting' of the Society of Friends held in Warwick, on record, was at the house of John Briggs, in 1699.  Meetings were held subsequently at the house of Jabez Greene, and probably until their meeting-house was built.  The Greenwich Monthly Meeting then embraced the towns of Providence, Greenwich, Kingstown and Warwick.  The following is from the records of the 'Monthly Meeting':

'At Greenwich Monthly Meeting of Friends, held 4 month, 4th, 1716, it was proposed to build a meeting-house at Warwick, and two Friends were appointed to lay the proposition before the Quarterly Meeting, and also the Yearly Meeting.'

Three months later the Monthly Meeting decided to build the meeting-house. The records do not inform us when the house was built, but it appears to have been built before the land upon which it stood was purchased, probably by permission of the owner, and with the understanding that a deed of it would be given.  On the 'ninth of 3d month, 1720, Benjamin Barton sold to Samuel Aldrich, Thomas Arnold, Jabez Greene, Joseph Edmonds and Thomas Rodman, for L45, current money, one and a half acres and thirty-five rods' of land, 'being that piece or parcel of land on which stands a certain meeting-house in which ye people called Quakers usually meet in Warwick aforesaid.'

The Friends were never numerous in the town, but held meetings in the house at Warwick frequently during the last century; for the fifty years only occasionally has the house been occupied.  The old meeting-house was so much injured by the September gale of 1815, that it was taken down the following year, and a portion of its timbers were used in the erection of the present modest structure.  The old house was considerably larger than the present one, and was two stories high.

Loyd Greene, an approved minister of the Society of Friends, and a resident of the vicinity, gave the Society the sum of $500, the interest of which was to be expended in keeping the house in repair.  This money they deposited in a savings bank, and by the dishonesty of the cashier they lost about one-third of it about ten years ago.  The interest has since been allowed to accumulate to the amount of the original sum.  Loyd Greene sold his farm at Old Warwick, and removed to East Greenwich, where he became disheartened, and wandered back one day to his old home, and hung himself in the barn which he formerly owned.  He is remembered as an upright, conscientious man. The old meeting-house has been thoroughly repaired during the past season, and is one of the oldest buildings in the State occupied by the Friends for their religious meetings.*

*Their first house at East Greenwich was built in the year 1700, and the first meeting held in it was on the 'second of seventh month', of that year. They continued to worship in it until the year 1806, when they erected the one they now occupy.


The items respecting the church in which Rev. Dr. James McSparran, Dr. Fayerweather, and others, officiated once a month are gathered chiefly from the interesting work of Mr. Updike.

'On the 2d of September, 1728, a lot of ground situated at equal distances from the present village of Apponaug and East Greenwich, and between the post road and the present Stonington railroad, was conveyed by the Rev. George Pigot to the Society in London for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, for erecting a church accordingly to the establishment of churches by law in New England.  A church was accordingly erected, - a wooden building, two stories in height, with a steeple and spire, fronting the post road.  After remaining upoccupied a long time, in a ruined state, it was taken down, about the year 1764, by inhabitants from Old Warwick, for the purposes of erecting a church there.  The materials having been conveyed to the shore, were scattered and lost during a storm which arose soon after. A number of graves, probably of individuals connected with the church, are still to be seen upon the lot.  The Rev. George Pigot resided in Warwick a number of years, and owned a track of land there.  He probably obtained the means of erecting the church.'

When the congregation of Trinity Church, Newport, built their new church in 1726, they gave their old building to the people of this denomination living in this town, and, according to tradition, it was floated from Newport to this place.  From the abstracts of the Missionery Society, under whose patronage the Episcopal clergymen in this State then acted, we learn that Dr. McSparran officiated monthly in Warwick, from 1741 to 1757, and Mr. John Graves from 1762 to 1783, the former receiving for  his services the sum of L50; the latter, L15.

The house stood on the corner of the street that leads down to the 'Folly Landing'*, on the site of the house erected a few years ago by Edwin Bowen. The graveyard was just south of Mr. Bowen's house.  There were inscriptions on but two of the stones, those of Capt. Drake and his wife.  The Captain, as appears from the inscriptions on the stone erected at his grave, died January 29, 1733.  His wife died July 23, 1738.  The remains, with the grave stones were removed to the old Caleb Ladd burial lot, about an eighth of a mile to the northward, many years ago, by Mr. Jonathan N. Peirce, who owned the lot at the time.

*The origin of this term is as follows:  Josiah Baker put up a house near the shore and kept a sort of tavern, which became known as 'Baker's Folly'. The term 'Folly' became applied to the wharf also, and for awhile the railway station near it was so called.

This lot subsequently came into possession of David Greene, who sold it to Rufus Spencer, who bequeathed it to his daughter, Mary Spencer.  Mary Spencer, by will, gave it to the Society of Friends at East Greenwich.  On February 1, 1808, as per deed of that date, Nicholas Congdon, Darius P. Lawton, Perez Peck, Beriah Brown, and others, in behalf of the Society of Friends, sold this lot and land adjoining, amounting to fifty acres, 'being the same as conveyed to them by Mary Spencer, late of Greenwich, daughter of Rufus Spencer,' to Jonathan N. Peirce for the sum of $2000.  A portion of this tract was sold a few years ago to Amasa Sprague for $12,000.  A portion on which the old meeting-house stood, Mr. Peirce sold to Mr. Bowen, as above stated.  Mr. Peirce, at the ripe age of eighty-three, resides upon a portion of his purchase made in 1808, having removed his house from the opposite side of the road when he sold the land to Amasa Sprague.

The following are extracts from the church records, with biographical comments by Mr. Updike:

'April 11, 1736.  Baptized at Cowesett, (Warwick Church), by Mr. McSparran, two children, viz.:  Rebecca Pigot, daughter of Edward Pigot, and Charles Dickenson, son of Capt. John Dickenson.'

'Edward Pigot was the brother of the Rev. George Pigot, and was a physician, -- came to Warwick soon after his brother, but remained but a few years after his brother removed to Salem.'

'Sept. 7th, 1739.  Dr. McS. preached at the church in Warwick, and admitted Mr. Levalley to the sacrament of the Lord's supper.'

'The Mr. Levalley here mentioned was probably Peter Levalley, who died in Warwick in 1756, and was the ancestor of the Levalleys in Warwick and Coventry.'

'Dec. 14, 1745.  Dr. McS. preached Moses Lippit's funeral sermon, and buried him in his own ground in Warwick.  He died the 12th, about 11 o'clock in the forenoon.

'June 8, 1746.  Mr. McSparran baptized by immersion a young woman named Patience Stafford, daughter of Samuel Stafford, of Warwick, and then from Mr. Francis' rode to the church, read prayers and preached there.'

'April 21, 1750.  Baptized by immersion, in Warwick, Elizabeth Greene, wife of Richard Greene, and by affusion, Welthan Lippit, wife of Jeremiah Lippit, a sister of said Richard.'

'Saturday, June 12, 1756.  Dr. McSparran administered baptism by total immersion to two young women at Warwick, viz.:  Elizabeth Greene, jun. daughter of Richard Greene and Elizabeth, his wife, and to Sarah Hammett, daughter of an Ana-baptist teacher, some time ago dead.'

'July 23, 1756.  As I came home from Providence, I took Warwick in my way, and baptized by immersion one adult, named Phebe Low, daughter of Philip Greene, Esq., of Warwick, and wife of one Captain Low.'

'Philip Greene was the grandson of Deputy Gov. Greene, and the father of Col. Christopher Greene, of the revolution, and married Elizabeth Wickes, sister of Thomas Wickes.'

About the only relics connected with the old church known to exist at present, are a portion of its records, and a Bible and prayer book, given to the church by the 'Society in London for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts.'  These latter fell to the possession of a Mrs. Lippitt, who lately died in Providence.  The books are probably now in possession of the neices of Mrs. Lippitt.


At a meeting of several persons, desirous of forming a Christian congregation in communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church, held in Crompton Mills, Warwick, on the 27th of May, 1845, the Rev. James H. Eames was appointed chairman, and Mr. David Updike Hagan secretary.  After due deliberation it was decided to form a religious society to be known 'by the name and style of St. Philip's Church.'  The following persons were appointed wardens and vestrymen:  Frederick Pfawner, senior warden; David Updike Hagan, junior warden; Wm. C. Gregory, James Crawford, James H. Clapp, Thomas Tiffany, vestrymen; David U. Hagan, vestry clerk, and James H. Clapp, treasurer.

The vestry were instructed to procure 'a lot or lotts for the use of this congregation as soon as the sum necessary to effect it shall be subscribed.' The present lot on which the meeting-house is situated was purchased and the house built during the year.  It was consecrated by Rt. Rev. J. P. K. Henshaw, Bishop of the Diocese of Rhode Island, January 1, 1846.  The house was never completed according to the design, which contemplated a tower and vestibule on one of its corners, with other ornamentation.  The cost of the house in its present form was $1200.

Previous to the building of the church, religious services were held in the 'Store Chamber' for about a year, Rev. J. Mulchahey, now assistant rector of Trinity Church, New York, and Rev. Daniel Henshaw, son of the Bishop, and now rector of All Saints Memorial Church, Providence, officiating on alternate Sabbaths.  The first baptism recorded on the church records is that of a child of Thomas Hampson, December 19, 1843.

The following is the list of the rectors:  Rev. J. Mulchahey; C. E. Bennett, since deceased; G. W. Chevers, deceased; E. W. Maxey, now in New York State; D. Potter, now of Cambridge, Mass.; R. H. Tuttle, now of Connecticut; Silas M. Rogers, now settled in South Lee, Mass.; Robert Paul, in New York State; James S. Ellis, now in Wilkinsonville, Mass., and Thomas H. Cocroft, the present rector.

The Rectory was built by Mr. Cady Dyer for his private residence, and subsequently sold to the Diocesan Convention that holds the church property.

The rectors have been accustomed to hold religious serves also in some of the other villages, where missions have been established, as at Fiskeville, Scituate and Phenix.  At the latter place, Benjamin C. Harris built a small Gothic building, known as 'Little Rock Chapel', which was used awhile for Episcopal services.*  In January, 1861, when Rev. Mr. Rogers became the rector, he found a debt of $1300 on the Rectory, which he succeeded in reducing to $440.  Mr. Rogers closed his term of service in August, 1867. During the time, he 'baptized 111 infants, children and adults'; 45 persons were confirmed; 69 persons were buried, and 27 couples married.  In 1873, the church was found to be greatly in need of repairs, and in July and August of that year, it was repainted on the inside, the walls were frescoed, and a new carpet purchased, the cost of the repairs amounting to about $400, part of which was contributed at home and the remainder in Providence.  After the resignation of Mr. Paul, in 1870, the rectorship remained vacant until Easter of 1873, when the Rev. James S. Ellis, of Delaware, was appointed rector and missionary, who continued in office until July 1, 1874, when the house was closed for some months.  Rev. Mr. Cocroft commenced his labors in the spring of the present year.

*This building was afterwards purchased by the Catholics, through the agency of Rev. Mr. Gibson, pastor of St. Mary's, Crompton, for $400.  The lot was given by Mr. Harris.  It was used for religious services until about the time their present church was obtained, and then sold.


*The account of this church is furnished by John P. Olney, clerk.

This parish was organized April 9, 1869, when the following officers were elected:  Senior Warden, Stephen N. Bourne; Junior Warden, John P. Olney; Treasurer, John F. Knowles; Clerk, John P. Olney; Vestrymen, Samuel Black, Samuel Preston, Henry Owen, John Gildard, Edwin R. Knight, William Wooley, Isaiah Wilde, Thomas Evans, Charles S. Robinson, William A. Corey, John F. Knowles.

The services of the Protestant Episcopal Church were held in All Saints Chapel for the first time on Sunday, April 1, the Rev. L. Sears, of St. Bartholomew's Church, Cranston, reading as far as the creed, and the Rev. Robert Paull, of St. Philips Church, Crompton, the remainder of the service, the sermon being preached by the Rev. D. O. Kellogg, of Grace Church, Providence.

The first rector, the Rev. E. H. Porter, commenced his labors in the parish July 4.  There were then found to be but five regular communicants of the Protestant Episcopal Church connected with the parish, though at the first adminstration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, there were fifteen participants, most of whom were members of other evangelical churches.

After a year of remarkable growth and prosperity, the Rev. Mr. Porter resigned the rectorship of the parish in July, 1870, which resignation took effect October 1.

The Rev. H. K. Browse, formerly of Pennsylvania, was the next rector, remaining in the parish until September 4, 1872, when his ill-health compelled him to give up is pastoral work and send in his resignation.

Rev. Wm. H. Williams took charge of the parish in December, 1872, and remained  till April 1, 1875.

The number of regular communicants actually resident in the parish April 1, 1875, is 36.  The Sunday School numbers 102.    The amount of funds raised for the support of public worship, and other church and Sunday School purposes, during the year ending April 1, 1875, was $1,488.14.

The Messrs. B. B. & R. Knight, of Providence, tendered to the parish in 1869, for church purposes, a room neatly fitted up with sittings and chancel furniture, and also a dwelling for its rector, both free of rental, and also have always been liberal subscribers to the fund for the minister's salary.


There are two flourishing churches of Methodist denomination in the town, both having their origin in the early part of the present century, but the writer has not been successful in obtaining official accounts of either. One of them, which is probably the older, is located in the village of Centreville, and the other at Phenix.  They were supplied for many years, or as late as the year 1825, and perhaps later, by circuit preachers only, and the records of that period are not in possession of these churches.  The 'Warwick Circuit' included not onlly these villages, but also those of East Greenwich, Wickford, Plainfield, Conn., and other places, and the preachers were accustomed to pass from one to the other in rotation, on horseback, preaching in school-houses and private dwellings as they had opportunity. In 1880-1, the church at Centreville built their meeting-house, and ten years later the church at Phenix were also in possession of a house of worship.  But the records of both, as I am informed, for many years subsequent to these dates, are not now in their possession, nor do they know what has become of them.  Many interesting items connected with their origin and progress would have been gathered from the older members and presented in this connection, but for the expectation cherished to the latest moment, that they would be furnished in connection with such information as could be obtained from existing records by some one connected with the churches who is more thoroughly conversant with their history.


There are two churches of this order in the town, the older one located in the village of Arctic, and the other at Natick.  The church at Arctic held its meetings at first in Odd Fellows' Hall, in the year 1858.  The meetings were conducted by Elder George Champlain, a colored preacher, who was for about fifteen years the pastor of the Warwick and East Greenwich Free-Will Baptist Church on the Plains.  He was assisted by Elder E. Bellows.  The meetings at the hall resulted in the conversion of quite a number of persons, fourteen of whom were baptized by Elder Champlain on the 26th of February, 1858, and sixteen on March 14 following.  On the evening of April 6, a church was organized at the house of Josiah Taylor, consisting of twelve persons.  After the organization, Josiah Taylor and William Smith were chosen deacons, and John P. Babcock clerk and treasurer.  Elder Champlain was chosen pastor.

It was arranged to have public religious services every third Sabbath at Odd Fellow' Hall.  The business and covenant meetings were usually held at the house of Deacon Taylor.  On the evening of August 14, 1858, Elder Champlain's resignation of the pastorate was accepted, and Elder E. Bellows was chosen his successor.  On October 15, 1858, Alanson Wright was chosen deacon in place of Deacon Smith, who had resigned to go to another part of the country.  On November 6, 1858, A. C. Greene was chosen clerk, in place of John P. Babcock, resigned.

At a meeting held February 26, 1860, the subject of building a house of worship was considered.  It was ascertained that about $600 had been subscribed for this object, and by vote of the church it was decided to purchase of Mr. Alexander Allen, for the sum of $100, a piece of land 65 feet front by 120 feet deep, as a site for the building; that the house should be 31 feet by 46 feet, 14 feet posts.  C. Spencer, Isaac Andrews and Alanson Wright were appointed a building committee, with instructions to erect the house immediately.  The land was accordingly purchased of Mr. Allen and the house built.  The first meeting - one for business - was held in it on the evening of May 12, 1860.  At a meeting held October 19, 1862, Rice Knight, Elisha B. Card and Oliver Crandall were chosen deacons.  The last meeting, the proceedings of which were recorded upon the church book, was held December 19, 1863, at which time it was voted to give up the forenoon services and substitute the Sabbath School.  Elder Augustus Durfee has been the pastor for some years past, preaching one Sabbath per month. The church has not been able to support a pastor much of the time, and it has been frequently without a regular pastor, depending upon such supplies as they were able to procure.

The church at Natick was organized May 24, 1874, with twenty members.  The present number is twenty-three.  Spencer H. Shippee and Silas Mitchell were chosen deacons.  They hold their meetings in Smith's Hall.  Elder Elisha B. Card is the pastor and clerk.


The following communication respecting the churches of this order in Crompton and Phenix is from Rev. Mr. Gibson, the esteemed pastor of the Catholic Church in the former village:

'Crompton, Oct. 14, 1875.

Reverend Sir --

In response to your expressed desire for some information respecting the progress of Catholicity in Crompton, or in my parish, I have collected a few facts and items which I submit to you, hoping they may be of service in the correct compilation of the work you are preparing for publication.

I cannot better commence to narrate the few facts and items I have collected in reference to the history of the Catholic Church in Crompton, than by referring to a work entitled 'Sketches of the Establishment of the Church in New England', published in 1872 by Rev. James Fitton, the first pastor of the church in Crompton, and by whom the first church was commenced on September 23, 1844.  It relates in condensed form nearly all the important matter concerning its establishment, and I will quote entire the 'Sketch' under the heading of the Church of our Lady of Mount Carmel, Crompton:

'Apart from Pawtucket, the largest number of the faithful in any town contiguous to the city, and who were considered as belonging to the charge of SS. Peter and Paul, Providence, were at Crompton.  This place having been attended monthly, and the hard-working and industrious operatives in the factory, among whom were those having families of little ones, being anxious to have a place where they might assemble on Sundays, and willing to contribute according to their means, an acre of land was secured September 23, 1844.  A small church, a frame building, was immediately erected, and as the location selected was on the hill side of the village, overlooking the country for miles distant, it was styled the 'Church of our Lady of Mount Carmel'.

The congregation of Crompton and its neighborhood was confided to the special care of Rev. James Gibson, who attended occasionally, as his duties at other stations permitted, till August, 1851, when assuming its sole charge he added seven and three-quarters acres to the original purchase, thus making eight acres and three-quarters of land, all enclosed within a substantial stone wall.  Besides which, for the better accommodation of the congregation, he has added twenty by fifty-eight to the church, making it one hundred and eight by fifty feet, independent of Santuary and Sacristy, twenty by twenty-one, and its tower twelve by twelve, square, and forty-five feet high, with a sweet-toned bell of over 1400 pounds weight.  He has also built a pastoral residence of thirty by twenty-eight feet, tastefully and conveniently arranged, and a school-house, eighteen by forty feet, wherein to gather the little ones of his spiritual charge.

He has also lately secured, on what is known as Birch Hill, a very fine building, over thirty-one by forty-five feet, erected originally for a select high school, which he has converted into a neat little church, with its porch of eight by ten and sacristy twelve by fifteen feet.'

The above is a very clear and correct statement, and there is little to be added up to the time of the publication of the 'Sketches'.  I would, however, remark that the immediate successor of Rev. James Fitton was Rev. Edward Putnam, and one or two others, who occasionally attended the Crompton church, until the appointment of Rev. D. Kelly, who was the first local, resident priest, and remained in Crompton about nine months, when he was removed and the present pastor assumed the charges.

Since 1844 there has been much progress, and many improvements in the foregoing sketch.  The original parish under the charge of one priest only, has increased to such an extent, that it has been divided into five separate parishes, each one with its handsome church and resident priest.

Besides the church of St. James in Birch Hill, in 1870, two acres of land was purchased in Centreville for the erection of a central church at some future time.  There is a fine Hall on the grounds, which at present is used for meetings of St. Mary's Brass Band, St. Mary's Temperance Society and other public meetings and social gatherings.

The Cemetery, too, adjoining the Crompton church deserves especial mention. It has been extensively enlarged, improved and adorned in various ways, so that what was originally a crude mass of stones and natural rubbish, has become a lovely retreat, and a beautiful place of christian burial.

There have been other minor improvements, but sufficient has been mentioned to show the wonderful progress of the Catholic church in Crompton since the erection of the 'small church' on the hill-side of the village.

Respectfully,           J. P. Greene'


This flourishing parish, once a part only of the Crompton church, was made into a separate parish in 1858 and placed in the charge of Rev. Dr. Wallace, now pastor of St. Michael's church, Providence.  He remained there about seven years.  During the first year or two, the catholic church there was a small building called the Rock Chapel, being built on a solid rock foundation.  It was formerly an Episcopal chapel, and was purchased by Rev. J. P. Gibson of Mr. Benjamin C. Harris for the purpose of converting it into a Catholic chapel.  Mr. Harris very generously gave the foundation and ground around, and made no charge except a moderate one for the building alone.  But this chapel very soon was inadequate to the wants of the increasing number of parishioners, and Dr. Wallace sold it, and purchased of the Baptist society the church now under the charge of Rev. John Couch, who resides in Phenix, and has been pastor there since the removal of Dr. Wallace.

                        J. P. G.

In addition to the foregoing, for the accommodation of the large number of French Catholics, a large and handsome church edifice was erected last year near the Centreville railroad station, 112 x 60, which is not yet completely finished; the large and convenient vestry being at present used for religious services.  It is called St. John's church, and Rev. Henry Spruyt is the pastor in charge.

At Natick, too, within the past three years, a church has been erected to accommodate the catholic residents of that village, and the resident pastor, Rev. Mr. Reviere, preaches to two distinct congregations at different parts of the day - to one in English and to the other in the French language.

There has also within the past year, been erected in Apponaug a neat church by Rev. Wm. Halligan, of Greenwich.  These comprise the five Catholic parishes of this town.


Of the twenty-eight churches that have existed in this town since its settlement in 1642, five have become extinct.  Of those still existing, three are of the Six Principle Baptist order; four are Baptist; two Free Baptist; one Congregationalist; one Friends; one New Jerusalem; two Methodists; two Adventists; two Episcopalian, and five Roman Catholic; making the present number twenty-three.  Besides these, there have been several mission stations established, for longer or shorter periods, and several halls have been used at different times for religious services.

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END - Churches in Warwick chapter.

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2001 by Beth Hurd