The Congregational Church of Cornwall, the first religious organization in Cornwall, was formed on the 1st of July, 1785, with the following members: Jared Abernathy, Stephen Tambling, James Marsh Douglass, Jeremiah Bingham, Roswell Post, Daniel Sampson, Mary Chipman, and Elizabeth Ives, and during the few weeks following August 21 Jesse Chipman, Mrs. Post, Mrs. Tambling, Nathaniel Cogswell and wife, Joel Linsley, Ethan Andrus, Isaac Kellogg, Hiland Hall, and Mrs. Ives were added to the number.
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On the 20th of July, 1787, a call was extended to the Rev. Thomas Tolman, and accepted on the 30th of August. Being the first pastor, he received as his right the lot of land set apart by the charter for the first settled minister, and in addition received from the town “a settlement.” The first deacons were Jeremiah Bingham, Hiland Hall, and Father William Samson. The first meetings were held in Captain Benton’s barn; afterward at his house and the house of Joel Linsley. The first house of worship stood west of the highway on which the old red school-house formerly stood. It was completed, probably in the spring of 1791, and first occupied in the following autumn. Mr. Tolman was dismissed at his own request on the 11th of November, 1790.
In 1796 the place of worship was changed by vote to nearly the present site of the church edifice. The second pastor, Rev. Benjamin Wooster, was ordained February 22, 1797. He was dismissed in January, 1802. Notwithstanding the action of the town in reference to the site of the new meetinghouse, the building was not commenced until 1803. Rev. Jedediah Bushnell was installed on the 25th of May, 1803. His successor, Rev Lamson Miner, served from November, 1836, until January 16, 1839. Rev. Jacob Scales was installed July 3, 1839, and was dismissed June 16, 1842. Rev. Seagrove W. Magill was pastor from July 10, 1844, to the autumn of 1847. In 1846 the church building was entirely rebuilt and renovated at an expense of about $650. The present pastor of this church is Rev. M. C. Stebbins.
The first stated Baptist preaching in Cornwall was by Elder Ephraim Sawyer, who began in 1792. The first church edifice was a log house a few rods north of the ridge near the cemetery. Elder Sawyer remained here until 1801. Measures looking to the erection of a new meeting-house were adopted in 1805 and early in 1807 the building was completed. From 1809 until 1824 Elder Henry Green filled the pastorate. The present pastor is Rev. Mr. Palmer, of Middlebury. Since the spring of 1855 there have been intermittent attempts to build up a church of the Methodist persuasion, but the number of persons here are too limited to support a church regularly.
The following figures indicate the variation from one decade of years to another of the population of Cornwall since the taking of the first U. S. census: 1791, 826; 1800, 1,163; 1810, 1,270; 1820, 1,120; 1830, 1,264; 1840, 1,163; 1850, 1,155; 1860, 977; 1870, 969; 1880, 1,070.