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The First Congregational Church of Keene NH

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The First Congregational church of Keene was organized October 18, 1738, with a membership of nineteen males. Rev. John Bacon, the proprietors clerk, was ordained October 18th, and settled over the church. Mr. Bacon graduated at Harvard in 1731. The church, originally built near the south end of Main street, was moved, in 1741, to a site near the present General Wilsons house, and was destroyed with the other buildings in 1747. Mr. Bacon was dismissed upon the evacuation of the town. In 1753, on the return of the settlers, the church was built on the common, and was occupied until 1786, when it was moved to the west and used as a court-house; it finally degenerated to a tenement-house (see page 41). In the same year Rev. Ezra Carpenter was settled; he was born in Rehoboth, Mass., April 1, 1699, graduated at Harvard college in 1720, and was settled in Hull for twenty one years. He was minister of the united church in Keene and Swanzey, about seven years, when the two churches separated, and the church in Keene was re-organized with fourteen male members. Rev. Clement Sumner was ordained Tune I1, 1761, was a graduate of Yale, class of 1758, remained with the church for eleven years, when he was dismissed. He died in Keene, March 29, 1795. During the next five years, nineteen candidates made unsuccessful attempts to satisfy the church ritual. Rev. Aaron Hall was unanimously invited, and was ordained February 18, 1778. The church then embraced seventy-seven members. He was a graduate of Yale, class of 1772.

For thirty-seven years he ministered to the church, and died August 12,1814, in his sixty-third year. Rev. David Oliphant, a graduate of Union college, in 1809, of Andover Theological school, in 1814, was ordained May 24, 1815, and was dismissed in 1817, Rev. Z. Sr Barstow, Dr., was ordained July 1, 1818. He was born in September, 1790, and graduated at Yale college in 1813, receiving his degree of A. M. in 1816r For fifty years Dr. Barstow guided the church on its onward way, a man of great influence in the community, resigning July 1, 1868, and dying March 1, 1873r Rev. Cyrus Richardson, who succeeded him, was born in Dracut, Mass., March 30, 1840, graduated at Dartmouth college, class of 1861, graduated at Andover, in 1870, and was ordained, and settled in Plymouth. He was installed in Keene, July 10, 1873. He left the church recently, and Rev. C. E. Harrington, from Dubuque. Iowa, formerly pastor of the Congregational church at Concord, N. Hr, has been appointed to succeed him. The church has a membership of about three hundred and thirty, and is free from debt. The church edifice is on the north side of the square, and is of pleasing and graceful architecture. It once stood on the common, but was removed in 1828, and since then has been twice repaired. The property is valued at $45,000.00.


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