Dr. Fogg Tells About First Church Erected In What Is Now Norwood

The first finished church was located corner of Walpole and Winter Sts, South Dedham. The church was finished June 23, 1736. Rev. Thomas Balch was ordained the first pastor, June 30. 1736.

John Everett, Ezra Morse, John Dean chosen deacons July 18, 1736 The last sermon in this church was preached by Rev. Thos. Balch, the pastor. Oct. 7, 1770.

A new meeting house was built in 1770, southeast corner of Guild and Cross Sts., now called Lenox street. The first sermon preached in this church was by Rev. Benjamin Balch, son of the first pastor. Oct. 21. 1770. Rev. Jabez Chickering was ordained pastor July 3, 1776. Rev. Wm. Cogswell was ordained pastor April 26. 1815 who suggested that the church should have a fixed name. It had been called the Third Church. The South Church and the Church in the Second Parish in Dedham.

July 26. 1866 it was voted to call the name of the church the “South Church in Dedham.” It was incorporated under that name by an act of the General Court June 5, 1824. The church has now some small funds for the support of the communion table. Singing in public worship, a circulating library, the support of the communion table fund was raised by voluntary subscription of the Rev. Jabez Chickering, Deacon James Kingsbury, Deacon Jesse Gay, Deacon Enoc Talbot, Lieutenant Oliver Guild, Mr. John Ellis, Mr. Jacob Penniman, Mr. Elipholet Fales, and Capt. Abel Everett.

The funds for support of the library were given by Rev. Jabez Chickering. This circulating library was the nucleus of our present public library. The income of the Chickering fund is still coming to help support it. The first library book I ever read was in 1868, Robinson Caruso, taken from this church library. The books were kept in the vestry of the Orthodox church which was located corner of West St. and Walnut Ave., lately bought and remodeled by Mazzola & Son Monumental Works. The Deacons chosen for the First Church were:

July 18, 1736—Mr. John Everett

Capt Ezra Morse. Mr. John Dean

Oct. 18, 1752—Nathaniel Sumner Esq.

Nov. 30. 1760—Mr. Ebenezer Everett

July 30, 1778. New meeting house— Lieut’. James Kingsbury, Capt. Ebenezer Everett

Dec. 17. 1802—Capt Jesse Gay Aug. 11, 1815—Mr. Wm. Phipps.

May 16. 1817—Mr. Enoc Talbot

Feb. 18, 1820—Mr. Simon Gould

Jan. 17, 1825—Mr. Dean Chickering

Jan. 14. 1834—Mr. Willard Everett

May 13. 1854 —Mr. Willard Everett 2nd. Mr. Lewis Rhoades

Jan. 12, 1859—Mr. Samuel Morrill

Brought Own Stoves

There was no heat provided in the 1736 church so some of the worship pens bought foot stoves, a sort of brass pan 10 inches in diameter with a handle 4 ft long. Charcoal was put into the pan and set afire. As there wore services morning, and afternoon, there was a small building near the church called the “Noon House.’ about 10×10 ft., with a high roof, a huge fireplace was at one side of the room, which would take in 4 ft. lengths of cordwood. The folks living at a distance in the farms, would bring their lunch and get warmed up for the afternoon service. This Noon House was still in existence on the property of the Fisher farm, Neponset Street, until a short time ago, when it was destroyed by a grass fire. I have been in it many times.

When the new church was built in 1769 this building was moved to the new location. I have been told lately I have drawn a sketch of this Noon House which Mr. Win Everett may produce sometime.

According to records, there were no musical instruments used in the first or second meeting houses of 1736 and 1769. March 9, 1758 , Jr. Lieut. Fales. Benjamin Fuller and Aaron Guild were chosen to set the Psalms. March 14, 1763 voted 10 choristers to lend in singing the Psalms on the Lord’s Day, in order to prevent discord and secure harmony. Nine mere by vote were added to the musical number June 26. 1769 the frame of the second meeting house was put up.

Feb. 17, 1771 the precinct meeting voted to have the Deacons read the hymns as usual, and “Bangor” sung. as it hath not hitherto been, by continuing the bass. I have several of the original four-part church choir books that were used in singing by the choristers.

Win Everett will sing the works of “Bangor” and I wil1 play the organ music from these old choir books. Please make a date with him for the recital.

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The first musical Instrument used to lead the singing was in the third Meetinghouse which was dedicated Oct. 9, 1928. The instruments were a violin and a bass violin. The Violin was played by Mr. Lewis Guild. I have in my possession the very violin he used in the church services. John Pond played the bass viol.

In 1858 the church was remodeled by removing the high pulpit and the high backs of the pews were cut down and buttoned doors were taken off. (I remember them very well for I used to button up in our pew) The new pulpit was very handsome, made of rosewood. The sofa and two chairs I believe are n the parlor of the First Congregational church, Walpole street.

Add Vestibule

The vestibule was added to the front of the church to provide room for the first church organ installed in South Dedham. Before that there was just room enough in the choir loft for two rows of setees for the choristers.

My mother taught Lyman Dean, son of Lem Dean double bass and church organ music, so he was the first organist. Later he procured a position in one of the largest churches in Fall River. John Pond’s daughter Ellen was an organist after Mr. Dean resigned. A few years later she resigned on account of ill health. Mr. F. O. Winslow took the position just to fill in for a while. Then a Mr. Cockling, a watchmaker moved into town from Norfolk. He was organist in the Baptist church there. He was our organist for a while then he resigned and moved back to Norfolk so we were again without an organist. Mr. F. O. Wnulow helped us out again. My father was chairman of the parish committee and sent me to Mr. Bernard Colburn who was the music master of the town. He gave me a few lessons on the Universalist church organ. 1 did not care for it so gave it up.

The committee finally secured Frank Draper who commenced playing the Baptist organ at the age of 16 years. He had retired, but consented to help out at the orthodox church on our wonderful organ. At the close of the services, he improvised the music. One time he brought in the strains of Yankee Doodle, which shocked the old-timers. Win Everett has a drawing which my mother made of the orthodox church when it was built in 1828, also one of the remodeled one. I made a sketch of the interior with the pews all numbered with the names of some of the holders. Mr. Everett may show it sometime.

|The first choir singers that I remember, 1861, were August Haley, soprano; Mrs. Jolin Pond, alto (very strong voice); Geo. Morse, tenor, (a tremolo voice). John Pond, tenor; John Haley, basso, Sidney Morse, basso later; Louisa Rhoades and Martha Robie sopranos (later).

About April, 1827, Rev. Mr. Cogswell urged the society to build a new meeting house. The present one was very dilapidated and needed extensive repairs. The worshippers were very slow in acting on his repeated request so he commenced to tear down the structure. That started the society to get together and decide where to build the new church. As many of the congregation came from the East Walpole and North Sharon section it was decided to build on a lot near the Winslow R. R. Station. The remains of the cellar is still to be seen just south of the Norwood Press on Washington street. This church was dedicated Oct. 9, 1928. Rev. Cogswell resigned to accept an office in the service of the Educational Society at Boston Doc. 15. 1829. The next day Rev Harrison G. Park was ordained pastor of the church. March 2. 1836, Rev.Calvin Durfee was installed pastor. Oct. 28. 1862 Rev. M M Colburn was installed pastor of the church and society.

Pastor Was Caustic

My first recollection of attending church was in 1861, 6 yrs. old. Rev. Colburn was the pastor. I remember him especially, for he did not hesitate to speak to any of the congregation who fell asleep or otherwise not listening to his sermon. My father’s pew was the third from the front. The second one was the minister’s pew. One time he stopped in the middle of his sermon and spoke to his little daughter to stop, whispering. Another time he stopped, preaching and said “Well Frank you had better perform your toilet, at home before you come to church. Frank was a young man about 30 yrs. old. member of a family who gave largely to the support of the church. Minister Colburn was very much annoyed by Frank’s habit of trimming his finger nails during the sermon.

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In 1868 Rev. J. P. Bixby became our minister. He preached from the New Testament, the Love of God. Sometimes between the Rev. Colburn and Mr. Bixby, we had for a minister, as a supply, the Rev. Harrison G. Park who was the pastor of the church from 1829 to 1835 About 1864 I was 9 or 10 yrs. old and I remember his selections for reading of the Scripture and his sermons especially were very long. I remember his 15th ly and 16th ly and all were from the old Testament. We children were very much frightened. He would point his finger and say “Beware of the Vengeance of God. Sinners would be thrown into the Fiery Furnace. It was all Hellfire and Brimstone.’ He was the old-time preacher. There was very little about the Love of God in those days.

What a change the old orthodox members of the church and congregation was felt when Rev. Bixby came. He was always smiling when we met him and very cordial. One Sunday I was very late to church and as our pew was so far front that I sat down in one of the back pews. After the Benediction, he came down the aisle and shook me by the hand and said “Better late than never Ralph.” He said he missed me from our pew and added that if the rest of the congregation was as attentive as I. he would be happy. I did not tell him of my early experience with Rev. Mr. Park and that I was afraid he would point his finger at me, so I kept my eyes on him all through .his long sermons. The habit of being a good listener is with me today, so when I attend church or go to a lecture I glue my eyes on the speaker till he gets through. One Sunday at supper table my father asked my young sister Helen if she heard Mr. Bixby propound the Scripture She said “Yes. I saw him pound the Bible with his fist.” Helen was only 4 years old. Mr. Bixby would emphasize his reading by bringing his fist down pretty hard on the Bible I told him one day when I met him on the street, about it. He gave a hearty laugh and said some of my hearers get rather sleepy and I do that to wake them up.

Was Too Sleepy

I remember Mr. Hawes who was the night watchman at Winslow’s Tannery and could hardly keep awake. One other was Sam Fuller who lived up the Sharon road, a hard-working farmer. They both came to the A. M. and P. M. services. I don’t know as I blame them for being sleepy but the noise they made was not very interesting. In those days we had to be good, very, very good, on Sundays. Church in the A. M. 10:30 to 12; Sunday school 12 to 1; church again 1:30 to 3. Folks from East Walpole and North Sharon and the outlying farms brought their lunch, ate, and chatted (not gossip) in the back pews and choir seats. No one was allowed in the other part of the church. There was a large berry field, huckleberries, and blackberries, on the land now occupied by Fleming’s Bindery. We children filled up with berries when they were, ripe, for we all stayed from 10:30 to 3.

How could we help from being good. In those £ood old days, there were no ball games or marbles etc. to marr the Sunday quiet. The church bell rang and tolled on Sunday., and when a death occurred the bell was tolled and the people of the precinct knew who it was for by the number of strokes. 1 believe the last time I heard it for a death was for someone 70 years old, but I don’t recall the name. The first and only time I attended a military funeral was in 1864. I believe Mr. Park was the preacher. Mr. Godbold of East Walpole was the first one from these parts who was killed In the Civil War. A company from the Military camp at Readville came and stacked their guns outside the church. What a sight it was for us boys, I shall never forget the thrill we had.

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Our pew was the third from the front. When the soldiers tramped up the aisle the floor creaked and sank a bit from the weight. We all thought it and the soldiers would town into the cellar. The orthodox bell of South Dedham was cast by Geo. II. Holbrook. Medway, Mass. 1828. About the 17th of October, 1871 they stopped ringing the bell because it was cracked. I had a dip of paper in winch was printed a rhyme about the bell losing its voice. I cannot find it among my papers. It was prepared by the parish committee. A copy was placed in every pew that was occupied. The bell was recast by the same firm and Mill calls the worshippers to the orthodox church now called the First Congregational church of Norwood, on Walpole St.

Everett Too Modest

Norwoods gifted writer Win Everett is too modest to blow the Everett horn, so I will tell a few things. South Dedham and especially the South church in Dedham should have much praise.

Mr. John Everettt started the ball a-rolling Dec 23. 1726. He was also the first deacon of the first finished meeting house In this precinct. June 23, 1736. The Everetts played an important part in the upkeep of the church for 121 years. The Everett family stands at the head of the church members from 1736-1853: Everetts 36. Morse 29. Guilt 19. Dean 19. Talbot 7; 1853-1877: Everetts 36. Morse 48. Guild 20. Dean 19 Talbot 11 (the Morse family got ahead alter 1857).

We are all interested in Win Everett’s story of old Tiot, printed in the Norwood Messenger. His brain may be compared to Napoleon’s, full of Pidgeon holes, something like the old-fashioned desks with their holes for filing away documents etc.

Napoleon, when he wished to propose to Bridget he looked into a certain Pidgeon hole to see how it was to be done and into another to review the Elba episode. Perhaps he saw his own statement that “Able was 1 ere I saw Elba,” which if you will notice reads the same backward as well as forward. Win Everett can write on any subject. Baseball, the North American Indian (especially the Mt. Hope ones), or about parsons and their churches. By the way, one of his ancestors was the gifted and noted Rev. Oliver Everett, fourth pastor of the New South Church. Boston. His grandfather was Deacon Willard Everett and his Uncle Deacon Willard Everett 2nd, both of the orthodox Congregational church of this town.

I asked Win the other day why he did not follow in the footsteps of John and the other Everetts. He said he was not good enough to be a minister or even a deacon. I am sorry for him.

30 Walpole St., Norwood. Mass.



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