By Muriel Bristol | January 26, 2019
Continued from Milton’s Congregational Ministers of 1815-26
Scales’ History of Strafford County stated that Milton’s First (Congregational) Church had no settled minister from the death of Rev. James Walker in September 1826 until the Rev. Benjamin G. Willey was appointed in December 1832.
Rev. Clement Parker, E.S. Anderson, and others, whose names do not appear upon church records “supplied the pulpit” during this time.
“This church worshiped in the old meeting-house until 1835” (Scales, 1914).
Rev. Clement Parker
Clement Parker was born in Coventry, CT, January 14, 1782, son of Lemuel and Hannah (Hawkins) Parker. He married in Cabot, VT, in 1808, Rachel Taylor. She was born in Windsor, VT, March 9, 1785, daughter of Jonas and Hannah Taylor.
In the fall of 1816 the Rev. Clement Parker, then of Cabot, Vt., or vicinity, was procured, and was ordained [in Chester, NH], Feb. 19, 1817 (Chase, 1869).
Not long after Rev. Parker’s arrival in Chester, he preached a memorable sermon against drinking after the local militia company became intoxicated at a muster.
At the June session of the Governor and Council in 1817, Samuel D Wason, who had commanded the militia company at the Long Meadows, was promoted to the office of major. He called out the company to fill the vacancy and treated the company and spectators to as much punch as they would drink. Among the spectators were some of the most respectable men of the parish, including church members and deacons. They did not keep the pledge of the Moral Reform Society, but many of them were a good deal intoxicated. The next Sunday the Rev Clement Parker delivered a discourse advocating total abstinence instead of moderate drinking, maintaining that ardent spirit was entirely useless; that a man could do more work without it than with it. This is the first discourse, so far as I know or believe, ever delivered taking so high a ground. It caused a great deal of talk. One old man asked for its publication, saying that he wished the world to know how great a fool Mr. Parker was. Young men said that it was the greatest folly to suppose that a man could work at haying and harvesting without rum and that so long as they were able to purchase a gallon of rum they would have it. It is possible that Mr. Parker’s practice was not always as good as his preaching, but the writer was a convert, and has never tasted ardent spirit since. There were two other young men who soon after abandoned its use, David Currier and Pike Chase, and there is one man in town over seventy years of age (Amherst Coult) who never drank any (Chase, 1869).
He took up a collection for a wood stove to heat Chester’s West Parish meeting-house:
In 1822, the Rev. Clement Parker went round at the Long Meadows and procured a subscription, and when people plead poverty he offered to advance the money and take his pay in wood. The stove was procured and put into the house in the broad aisle in front of the pulpit, the funnel going up nearly to the ceiling, and then out at the front window. The first time a fire was kindled the stove cracked, when the conservatives said, “I told you so” (Chase, 1869).
The American Tract Society listed Rev. Clement Parker of the West Parish of Chester, NH, as a life member in 1824, and 1828, although he took his leave from Chester in 1825. Life membership came “by the contribution of twenty dollars and upwards.”
In this list the Clergymen were made Life Members by the Ladies or other members of their respective parishes, and the Laymen and Ladies by themselves, unless it is otherwise specified (American Tract Society, 1828).
Rev. Parker supplied the pulpit in Farmington, and presumably Milton also, in the years 1827-28 and parts of 1829 (Scales, 1914). The New Hampshire Missionary Society appointed him to a twelve-week mission in Farmington and Milton in 1829, for which they paid him $84. The society carried him on their $2 membership roll as Rev. Clement Parker, of Milton.
Rev. Clement Parker supplied next the pulpit at the First (Congregational) Church of Acton, ME, having been installed there, January 28, 1829. This church began as the First (Congregational) Church of Shapleigh, ME, but had changed its name when Acton split off from Shapleigh. He held the Acton pastorate until November 9, 1831, during which time 13 members were added (Emerson, 1876).
The American Tract Society listed Rev. Clement Parker of Acton, ME, as a life member in 1832.
The Acton pulpit had a gap of several years until another minister, Rev. Martyn Cushman took Rev. Parker’s place. Rev. Cushman remained in Acton until October 9, 1836.
At which point, Rev. Clement Parker returned to Acton, January 22, 1838 and remained there until May 12, 1847. In September 1840, Rev. Parker, acting as “scribe,” reported to the Maine General Conference that “during preceding years the church had been so small and uneventful no records have been kept.” During his second tenure, 48 members joined the church by profession and 5 by letter (Emerson, 1876).
Rev. Parker was absent from Acton for a year prior to his 1847 dismissal, He then acted as an agent for the Bible Society.
In June 1847, however, several members residing in the lower part of the [Sanford, ME] parish, under the leadership of Rev. Clement Parker, then residing at Springvale, assumed to be the “South Church of Sanford,” chose a clerk and a deacon and requested the “North Church” to concur with them in their opinion. As a result, a council was called, at which the aggrieved parties were advised to ask for dismission, and organize a church regularly, and the church was further advised to encourage such organization. Following this advice, fourteen members asked to be dismissed from the church, and on November 9, with others, were organized as the South Congregational Church, Sanford (Emery, 1901).
Rev. Parker’s Acton replacement, Rev. Stephen Merrill, left in a dispute over the parsonage – there was none – in November 1850. In the gap that followed, Rev. Parker was one of several ministers that supplied the Acton pulpit for short periods (Emerson, 1876).
Rev. Clement Parker’s South Sanford ministry “continued until 1859, with an intermission of one year which the pastor spent in Acton, and during which Rev Isaac Weston was stated supply for a limited time. In 1858, feeling the infirmities of age, Rev. Mr. Parker resigned” (Emery, 1901).
Clement Parker, a Cong. clergyman, aged seventy-eight years (b. CT), headed a Sanford, ME household at the time of the Eighth (1860) Federal Census. His household included Rachel Parker, aged seventy-five years (b. VT). His real estate was valued at $500 and his personal estate was valued at $150.
Rachel (Taylor) Parker died in Farmington, NH, May 5, 1864. Rev. Clement Parker died in Farmington, NH, February 25, 1867.
Rev. E.S. Anderson
Rev. E.S. Anderson, and “others,” remain elusive for the present. (Watch this space).
Rev. Benjamin G. Willey
Benjamin Glazier Willey was born in Conway, NH, February 11, 1796, son of Captain Samuel J. and Elizabeth “Betsy” (Glazier) Willey.
Benjamin G. Willey attended Bowdoin College, where he was a member of the Peucinian Society. He graduated with the class of 1822. He married, June 3, 1825, Sarah M. Mitchell. She was born in North Yarmouth, ME, December 5, 1798, daughter of Jacob and Sarah (Buxton) Mitchell.
His brother Samuel J. Willey Jr.’s family was destroyed at Crawford Notch in the Willey House avalanche of August 28, 1826. He participated in the search for survivors shortly thereafter.
BENJAMIN GLAZIER WILLEY was born in 1796 in Conway, NH. His father, Samuel Willey, a man of great strength and endurance, was among the first who penetrated and laid open those wild glens and passes of the mountains which are now the favorite haunts of so many summer visitors. Samuel Willey, who perished with all his family beneath the great avalanche of August 1826, was his brother. Benjamin G. Willey was one of those who came from Hanover to Brunswick at the downfall of the university. Rev. Asa Cummings was his theological instructor. He preached for eight years in his native town. Then followed a successful ministry of fourteen years at Milton, N.H. Farmington, an adjoining town, had his services for three years. Then he lived in Gilmanton and in Pembroke, and sent his children to school. For eight years past East Sumner in Maine has been his home, and there too his efforts have been crowned with success. In 1824 he was married to Rachel, daughter of Deacon Jacob Mitchell of North Yarmouth. They have had two sons and a daughter. The youngest son alone survives. The eldest S. Ten Broeck Willey had entered on medical studies when he died at the age of twenty-five. Mr. Willey’s book, “Incidents in White Mountain History,” was prepared at the suggestion and with the assistance of this son. To this book, well known to the summer residents of Conway and to White Mountain tourists, I refer those who would know more of Mr. Willey and his family (Cleaveland, 1882).
Reverend Benjamin G. Willey headed a Conway household at the time of the Fifth (1830) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 50-59 years, two males aged 40-49 years, one female aged 30-39 years, one female aged 20-29 years, one male aged under-5 years, and one female aged under-five years.
The New Hampshire Missionary Society took note of Rev. Benjamin G. Willey’s 1832 arrival in Milton in their 1833 Annual Report.
Milton. Rev. Benjamin G. Willey commenced his mission in this place in October , and has witnessed more or less of the reviving influence of the Holy Spirit ever since. It is thought as many as twenty have embraced the truth in the love of it. Five Sabbath Schools are in successful operation, and all furnished with libraries most of them purchased the present year. The benevolence of one or more individuals in a neighboring town has greatly assisted this cause. The state of the church and people is now promising; they are ready to exert themselves in favor of truth and righteousness. We trust the Lord has put forth his hand to restore this branch of Zion, and the angels of heaven have tuned their harps anew. Aid $50.
“This church worshiped in the old meeting-house until 1835, when the house was built at Three Ponds, which has since been transformed into the “Classical Institute.” After this time for several years the meetings were held alternately at the Three Ponds and Milton Mills” (Scales, 1914).
The 1838 Treasurer’s Account of the New Hampshire Missionary Society reported a $100 disbursement for The Support of the Ministry in Milton in 1837, as well as the receipt of $40 from Milton. Of that $40, $35 originated with the Congregational society, and $5 from Rev. Benjamin G. Willey, “for his son,” Jacob M. Willey (1833-1898).
Elsewhere a table of 1837 data included in the same 1838 report, Milton, under missionary Rev. Benjamin G. Willey, had received $100 in aid. It had 75 Club members, i.e., congregants, including 11 additions, no conversions, and 300 Sunday School students. Under remarks was stated: “Some revival. Church rising.”
Benjamin G. Willey headed a Milton household at the time of the Sixth (1840) Federal Census. His household included one male aged 40-49 years, one female aged 30-39 years, and one male aged 5-9 years. His household appeared in the enumeration between those of Robert Mathes and James M. Twombly. One member of his household was employed in the Learned Professions or Engineering.
Rev. Benjamin G. Willey gave up his Milton pulpit in 1846. He went next to Gilmanton and Pembroke, NH.
Benjamin G. Willey, a clergyman, aged fifty-four years (b. NH), headed a Pembroke, NH, household at the time of the Seventh (1850) Federal Census. His household included Rachel Willey, aged fifty-two years (b. ME), Stuyvesant T.B. Willey, a student, aged twenty years (b. NH), Jacob M. Willey, a student, aged seventeen years (b. NH), Mary F. Underhill, aged seventeen years (b. NH), Lewis Bell, aged fourteen years (b. NH), and A.K.H. French, aged sixteen years (b. NH). Benjamin G. Willey had real estate valued at $2,000.
Rev. Benjamin G. Willey penned the Forward to his book in East Sumner, ME, in 1855. He died in Sumner, ME, April 17, 1867. Rachel M. (Mitchell) Willey died in Dover, NH, February 17, 1890.
American Tract Society. (1832). Annual Report of the American Tract Society: 1823-1832. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=l2IsAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA9-PA33
Chase, Benjamin. (1869). History of Old Chester. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=wPZ_WbsPleEC&pg=PA33
Cleaveland, Nehemiah. (1882). History of Bowdoin College: With Biographical Sketches of Its Graduates. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=tk9AAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA254
Emerson, John D., and Snow, B.P. (1876). Semi-Centennial of York County Conference, Buxton, Maine, June 4 and 5, 1872. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=AtoeHzKGobwC&pg=PA20
Emery, Edwin. (1901). History of Sanford, Maine, 1661-1900. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=0nUUAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA133
Find a Grave. (2010, August 3). Rev. Benjamin G. Willey. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/55835584
Find a Grave. (2015, November 23). Rev. Clement Parker. Retrieved from www.findagrave.com/memorial/155319689/clement-parker
New Hampshire Missionary Society. (1829). Twenty-Eighth Annual Report of the Trustees of the New Hampshire Missionary Society. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=6rAOAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA5
New Hampshire Missionary Society. (1833). Thirty-Second Annual Report of the Trustees of the New Hampshire Missionary Society. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=6rAOAAAAIAAJ&pg=RA4-PA14
New Hampshire Missionary Society. (1838). Thirty-Seventh Annual Report of the Trustees of the New Hampshire Missionary Society. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=6rAOAAAAIAAJ&pg=RA6-PA28
Scales, John. (1914). History of Strafford County, New Hampshire, and Representative Citizens. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=nGsjAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA515
Wikipedia. (2018, October 28). Willey House, New Hampshire. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willey_House,_New_Hampshire
Willey, Rev. Benjamin G. (1857). Incidents in White Mountain History. Retrieved from books.google.com/books?id=gSsTAAAAYAAJ