Elder Brown and Church, Continued
From: The Story of Hartford, A History
Compiled by: Mrs. Isabella Brayton, Town Historian
in collaboratin with John B. Norton.
Hartford, NY 1929

Elder Brown and Church, Continued

We will now continue with our story of Elder Brown and his church. The success of his first years in the pioneer field was uninterrupted during the following decades. His labors, it is true, were more limited, but this arose from the fact that the "branches" he had established had become independent organizations. Yet in this period his labors extended to Welch Hollow, in the township of Fort Ann, where a church was formed in 1810. In the records we read "January 6th, 1810, Voted to answer a letter of request from the brethren at Welch Hollow to form themselves into a church." A church was organized in Cambray in 1811, for the elder did not cease to care for the members of his flock who went to be pioneers in the northern wilds of the State. Concerning associational meetings, we read of Elder Brown and some of his members attending such at Shaftsbury, Vermont, New Gaiway and Middletown, Vermont. In 1792 one hundred and thirty-two constituted the membership of Elder Brown's flock. By 1817 it had reached the number of 634. Such large additions during the time seemed to demand a new meeting house, which was built a short distance north of the old meeting house on the site of the present church building. In the fine new structure, which had ample room to seat seven hundred, Elder Brown served five more years.

The following items show that his salary did not increase with the size of his flock. During the years 1800-1820 he never received more than $200. Although the elder's circumstances were more comfortable now on account of the wise management and sacrifice by which he and his wife stretched their slender income from salary and farm, this was a small amount, for he still perforce kept at his home a Baptist "tavern" as his grandson styles it, where besides the numerous visiting clergy any and all who knew the elder felt free to come for a night's lodging and a meal or two, and in addition their horses were kept at the elder's stable. It was the custom to pay half of his salary in money by October 1st, and the other half in grain by January 1st. The phrase "without fail," added one year to the promise to pay the money portion, seems to show that sometimes the latter item was not always forthcoming. Of other church expenses, the following items are of interest: "December 6th, 1820. Voted $25 for church use the ensuing year." On the same date it was voted that the church "Shall give 10 lbs. for support to the (communion) table and the poor of the church, to be assessed and collected by the deacons."

The Elder had now been in charge forty years, when the hearts of some of his flock turned against the aging man. It appears that he still continued to be too broad in some of his opinions, for the stricter, narrower element of his congregation. Whether or not this was the cause of some wishing for a change of pastor, cannot be said. Anyhow, one of the first attacks upon him was made by Brother Isaac Boomer, who had previously criticized the church for selling the old meeting house. In the old church records we read this surprising entry under the date of January 15th, 1820: "Voted that Elder Brown is clear from any charge brought against him by Brother Boomer in saying that a woman would be justified in contributing money to the use of foreign missions." Although the eider was evidently supported in his opinions in this instance, there seems to have been growing opposition. In 1821, although a majority of the church voted to retain his services, there were 15 opposed. The total vote was 45. This total is apparently a small number, but we must remember church affairs were strictly in charge of the men at this time and for several decades after. It was not until 1855 that the "sisters" were invited to the church meetings and to participate and vote on all excepting financial questions. But to return to Elder Brown. It was not until 1821 that he was called upon to resign. At a previous meeting, care was taken to exonerate him as to moral character. He sadly removed from Hartford, the scene of his life's work to Bottskill. Later he returned to reside here, when he retired from the ministry. He died in 1830 and was buried in the corner of the churchyard, near what is now the drug store.

The act of dismissal immediately caused trouble in the church, which showed an admirable sense of propriety by calling to account and finally excluding Brother Downs for saying that Elder Brown went out of the meeting with every appearance of a man in a rage of passion. A council was at once called on the difficulty existing, and was held at the meeting house in Hartford on the first Wednesday in July at 10 A. M. The several churches of the vicinity were called upon to attend, with their Elder and one faithful brother from each church, viz.:

Elder Swain, Kingsbury and Hartford (Adamsville)
Elder Harrington, Kingsbury
Elder Griswold, Middletown
Elder Fuller, Dorset and the Church in Granville
Elder Wood

The committee of the Hartford church were:

Deacon Barrell

Deacon P. Spring

T. Brayton

Deacon A. Ingaisbe

Deacon Matteson

D. Brayton

Deacon A. Walling

Deacon John Straight

Dea. T. Atwood

This council did not heal the schism. On July 3rd, Brother Samuel Downs, who had apparently been opposed to Elder Brown, made confession and asked to be taken back, and the church reinstated him. It was not until February 26th, 1823, that harmony was restored. We read "Church requested the elders and brothers to meet again in council and help settle their difficulty. After much labor and some confession, the aggrieved brethren manifested a desire to return to the church, and a willingness to take up their travel with them, upon which the church manifested a readiness to cordially receive them and travel together, striving for things that make for peace."

The previous April, Elder Witherell had entered into fellowship with the church. He was engaged to be pastor for five years at $400 per year "to come inclusive of what the society was willing to help." A committee composed of Brothers Thomas Brayton and Eli Carrington and David Oatman assisted him in finding a home. This sum, twice that given Elder Brown, was for some reason reduced to $300 in 1828. One writer ascribes the dropping of 396 persons in 1822 to a condition due to neglect of necessary scriptural discipline in the church, and lack of proper care in receiving members, but that the question of retaining or not the aging elder had something to do with it, is probable.

Also see 1st part, Amasa Brown's Church

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