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The Congregational Church of Jaffrey, NH
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The Congregational church of Jaffrey village.-The grant from the Masonian proprietors stipulated that a meeting-house be built within six years from the date of the charter. There is nothing in the early records of the town, however, to show that anything was done towards this object previous to 1774, when it was voted that such a structure be built. Neglect to build a meeting-house was not the only instance in which the settlers failed to fulfill the requirements of their charter. From the reports of the settlers to the grantors, testifying of the condition of the colony, we find that they pleaded as an excuse for their neglect the extreme hardships to which they were exposed, and begged to be charitably dealt with, as they had done all that was possible to satisfy the conditions of their charter. There is no record of the settlers ever having been molested for this offense, and it is reasonable to suppose that their excuse was satisfactory. In 1774 the town voted to build a meeting-house; but, probably from the difficulty of raising money, the work was not very rapidly pushed. and the house was not completed until 1799. In 1789 the town voted to sell the pews at auction. The house was very substantially built, and no money was voted for repairs until 1822. At this time the town also voted that citizens should have the privilege of building a steeple to the house, provided they did so without expense to the town. This was done, and in 1823 a bell was purchased and hung in the belfry. From this date to 1870, little was done to the house except to keep it in repair. Since 1844 it has not been used as a house of worship. In 1870 the inside of the house was remodeled, the pews and galleries removed, the lower story fitted for a school-room for the use of the Conant High school, the upper for a hall for the use of the town. The outside is to-day almost precisely the same as in 1822, after the steeple was built. In 1872 the town received from John Conant, Esq., a prominent citizen whose great desire was the prosperity of his adopted town, the sum of $944.00, the principal to be kept for a perpetual fund, the income thereof used in beautifying and keeping in repair the meeting-house. So there is now a prospect that generations yet unborn may behold this grand old structure in external appearance substantially the same as when placed here by our fathers, of whose trials and hardships we can know but little. The church was organized May 13, 1780, with thirty-three members, and the first pastor, Rev. Laban Ainsworth, was ordained December 10, 1782. Their present church building was erected in 1844. It will seat 400 persons, cost $2.500.00, and is valued, including grounds, at $3,000.00. The society now has seventy members, with Rev. William H. Livingston, pastor.
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