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History of the Methodist Church at Norwich Vermont

Prior to the year 1800, Methodism had scarcely gained a foothold in Vermont. The first Methodist society in the State is said to have been formed at Vershire by Nicholas Suethen in 1796. Two years later, only one hundred church members were returned as residents in the Vershire Circuit, then including the whole of eastern Vermont. Zadock Thompson, in the first edition of his Gazetteer of Vermont, published in 1824, gives the number of preachers, traveling and local, at that time as about one hundred, and the number of societies much greater. Probably no religious body ever made so rapid a growth in the state or the country as did the Methodists during the first twenty-five years of the nineteenth century. Although largely outnumbering every other at the present time, its later rate of increase is comparatively slow. We have no information that fixes the time at which Methodist meetings began to be held in Norwich. The earliest preaching was by circuit preachers, and of these Eleazer Wells and Nathaniel Stearns were among the first. Both of these men had the certificates of their ordination to the ministry (as early as 1810 or 1811) by Bishop McKendree entered upon the town records, and both doubtless labored here more or less about that time. Rev. Amasa Taylor was also here some part of the time about 1813. About 1815, the first church building was erected by the Methodists, a wooden structure of modest dimensions, which stood near the forks of the highway leading from Union Village to Norwich Plain, and about two miles south of the former place. Some members...

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