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HISTORICAL SKETCH

The Parish

Rev. Frank L. Garfield

In Colonial New England the Congregational Church was the established church, and the town authorities assessed and collected taxes, for the support of the ministry and the building of the meeting-house, the sides of which were to be boarded with three-inch plank. The contract was fully carried out, and the builder received, as compensation from the town, certain tracts of land and certain timber privileges. One provision of this contract relates to the removal of the pews from the old meeting-house to the new, and thus establishes the fact that this building was to take the place of a meeting-house in use previous to this time. August 14, 1671, the year that Mr. Dummer declined to leave York for Rowley, the town voted to confirm forever, for the use of the ministry, the sections of land previously set apart for that purpose. November 16, 1698, the year that Mr. Moody came to York, the town voted to make an assessment of twenty pounds in money, for building a house for the ministry. December 15, 1702, the town voted to raise sixty pounds for Mr. Moody, by a levy upon all ratable heads and estates according to law, and gathered by virtue of a warrant from the selectmen. Four years later, the town voted that, "All taxable men, capable of carrying town charges, subscribe what they will freely give Mr. Samuel Moody for the year ensuing." This concession, we are told, was made in accordance with the desire of Mr. Moody, who objected to receiving unwilling contributions.

May 15, 1710, the town again voted to build a new meeting-house. The location then chosen, on the northeasterly side of the country road, by the burying ground, has remained practically unchanged for two hundred years. The old meeting-house then stood on the easterly side of the road leading from the village to Sewalls Bridge, on the slope of the hill, just above Meeting-House Creek, on the northeasterly side of the stream. The new meeting-house was to be fifty feet square and, "blt every way Prepotionable." This money was to be raised by subscription, but with the provision, that in case the voluntary subscriptions proved to be insufficient for the work, a tax should be assessed upon the inhabitants for its completion. Samuel Doniel, Cap. Lewis Bane, Mr. Samuel Came, and Cap. Abraham Preble were the subscription and building committee. That this purpose was duly accomplished is indicated by the vote of the town at the March meeting in 1713, authorizing the selectmen to sell the old meeting-house, and by the assessment of twenty pounds, made upon those who had contributed nothing voluntarily.

The house first built for Mr. Moody was soon deemed inadequate, and the town voted, May 5, 171, to add thirty pounds to the town taxes, for the building of a new parsonage, and the land belonging thereto, would seem to imply that a change in the location of the meeting-house was followed by a change of the parsonage location to its present site.

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