[p. 86]BUCKFIELD BAPTIST CHURCH.
ELDER James Potter, the early pioneer to the Baptists in the central part of the District of Maine, visited Bucktown, afterward Buckfìeld, in the year 1789, and "found a number of christian brethren." He, and Elder Snow of Thomaston made preaching seventeen persons became Baptists, and the First Baptist church of Buckfield was organized in 1791. Nathaniel Chase was converted under the preaching of Elder Potter, and, on being licensed to preach, was ordained pastor of the church in 1801, and served in that capacity, thirty-five years. In 1841, the church having only twelve members was disbanded under the recommendation of the Association. During the fifty years of its existence, there were ninety-four baptisms, and ten received by letter, making with the seventeen original members, a total membership of one hundred and twenty-one.
The west part of Buckfield was settled in 1790. Among the first settlers were several Baptists who established prayer meetings which were continued until July 1802, when the Second Baptist church was organized with thirteen members, and during that year twenty-five were added to this church.
In 1803, one of their number, George Ricker, was ordained and became their pastor, but, in 1810, Elder Ricker was dismissed and moved to Minot. In 1815, thirty-four were added to the church. The church was without regular preaching from the close of Elder Ricker's pastorate, in 1810, until 1825, when Ephraim Harlow, a member of the church, was ordained as pastor and filled that position about twenty-five years. In 1842, their house of worship was burned, which was very discouraging. The existence of this church ceased in 1852, when there were twenty-one members who united with other churches. From its [p. 87] organization to 1843, there were one hundred and thirty-three members including the original thirteen. The influence of this little church still lives. Meetings have been held in the schoolhouses in West Buckfield most of the Summer seasons since 1852, when this church was disbanded, until the present time, and during these years many have found the Saviour. It is worthy of note that both the First and Second churches kept up their organization during fifty years.
During the year 1850, Dr. Wilson, pastor of the Hebron church, became interested in the religious condition of Buckfield Village. In the Summer of 1851, Dr. Wilson and the principal of Hebron Academy preached occasionally in Buckfield, and on the first day of September, A. K. P. Small moved with his wife to the village. There was no organized society to greet them and no salary was raised.
Meetings were held in the Union chapel, new used as a town hall. About one hundred and fifty dollars were raised and Brother Small taught the Winter school. Conditions remained about the same during his second year; but by help of the Convention and teaching, he was able to continue his labors. October 19, 1853, the Paris church called a council at Buckfield, and Brother Small was ordained as an evangelist. Religious interest deepened and there were occasional baptisms.
September 13, 1854, this branch of the Paris church in Buckfield was recognized as a separate body under the name of the Buckfield Village Baptist Church, with nineteen members. The little church saw the necessity of having a home of its own and funds were raised and a house of worship was built on the opposite side of the road from where the present Baptist church now stands, and was dedicated, November 29, 1855. During the year, 1856, twenty-seven were added to their number. The years 1857 and 1858 were prosperous ones, as a number were added to the church. August 8, 1858, Brother Small preached his farewell sermon, and the church was without a pastor about four months.
December 5, 1858, Rev. E. W. Pray of Boston was settled as pastor and during his three years of service the roll of, the church was increased about twenty members. Brother J. F. Elder filled the pulpit during the Winter of 1861-'62.
In 1862, Rev. J. A. Baskwell was called as pastor and resigned in September, 1868. During his stay with the church, sixteen [p. 88] were added to its membership, In 1864, Rev. C. H. Carleton became pastor and after three and one-half years of service resigned to accept a call in Massachusetts.
Rev. A. F. Benson was called to the pastorate in May, 1868, and resigned to become pastor of the church in Weston, Massachusetts, after serving two and one-half years in Buckfield. The church was pasterless more than a year, when Brother Harvey Linsley commenced supplying the pulpit, September 17, 1871, and November 1, of the same year, was ordained as pastor of the church. May 26, 1872, eight were baptized and in August five more.
Sunday morning, September 27, 1872, the meeting-house, Sunday-school library, organ, hymn books—all were burned and no insurance. Meetings were held again in the Union chapel. The great task of raising funds was commenced at once, and the new church was built at a cost of about five thousand dollars and dedicated, January 13, 1874. Brother Linsley severed his connection with the church, October 18, 1874.
For six months the church was supplied by Rev. Isaiah Record and Rev. Levi Hersey. Rev. Robert G. Farley was called to the pastorate in the Spring of 1875, and resigned in June, 1877. A revival took place during his pastorate, under the preaching of John Bennett Anderson, and fourteen joined the church. Rev. H. A. Stetson supplied during the Winter and Spring of 1878.
Rev. L. A. Freeman accepted a call of the church in July, 1878, and he was ordained, August 21st. After a successful pastorate of two years, Brother Freeman resigned and, for about nine months, the pulpit was supplied by Rev. S. L. B. Chase. In April, 1881, Rev. H. B. Marshall accepted a call to become pastor of the church and served in that capacity one year. The church was then supplied about a year by Revs. Keith, Scott, and others. Rev. J. M. Follett was settled as pastor in March, 1888, and resigned in January, 1886, but supplied until June of 1887.
Rev. J. H. Barrows accepted a call of the church and became its pastor in September, 1887. After a successful pastorate of sixteen months, eight having been received into the church by baptism, he resigned, February 3, 1889. In March, 1889, Rev. S. D. Richardson commenced as a supply and filled the pulpit until the last of May, 1890. During this time the Bailey [p. 89] Praying Band held a series of meetings, the Methodist and Baptist churches uniting, and nearly a score of souls were converted.
Rev. B. F. Lawrence commenced his services as pastor, May 4, 1899, and resigned the pastorate in 1896. During his ministry, about thirty were received into iahechureh. Rev. Sumner Bangs preached his first sermon as pastor, November 22, 1895, and severed his connection with the church in April, 1898.
Mr. J. H. Whitson accepted a call of the church and occupied the pulpit, September 4, 1898. He was ordained, June 15, 1899, and preached his farewell sermon, April 15, 1900. Rev. S. D. Richardson and others supplied until November 4, 1909, when Rev. B. F. Turner commenced his pastorate, and is now on his third year in that position.
The whole membership of the church has been about two hundred and fifty. There have been about ninety deaths. The church has had fifteen pastors and thirteen deacons. The present membership of the church is eighty. Four of the nineteen original members are still living.