[p. 67]CANTON BAPTIST CHURCH.
THE town, incorporated by this name, was set off from Jay in 1821. The first religious interest in this place was in its early settlement, in 1817, under the labors of Elder Daniel Hutchinson, in the neighborhood of Hayford's Mills, now Canton village. This was a precious season: and twenty were hopefully converted and joined the Hartford Baptist church. In 1822, some of these, with others, sixteen in number, were constituted a church by a council from the Hartford, First Livermore, Second Livermore and Jay churches. At this time Timothy Huntress was chosen deacon, and the same year the church joined the Cumberland Association.
For years the church met in private dwellings, barns and school-houses, in different places. In the early history of this church they were called to pass through many trials and discouragements, and, having but now and then a Baptist sermon, they were for years reduced to eleven in number, and only two males. Yet conference and prayer meetings were kept up. At a certain meeting the brethren agreed to disband and join other churches, at which time two sisters gave each other their hands, saying, "We will meet while we live, the Lord willing, and have a home for converts in this place."
For years the burden of the church rested on Zeri Hayford. In 1839, four were added by baptism; and in 1841 Elder Manasseh Lawrence visited us, and the Lord was present to bless. The church then numbering fourteen increased to thirty. These were the dawning of better days. The joys of Heaven seemed to cluster around. Additions by letter and baptism were frequent, and at the close of 1843 the church numbered fifty. In 1846, fifteen were dismissed from the Hartford church, and united with us, making the number sixty-four and adding much to the strength of the church. There was no stated preaching until [p. 68] 1841, except occasionally by missionaries and, at times, by different preachers from neighboring towns. From 1841 to 1843, M. Lawrence preached one-fourth of the time, being sustained in part by the Missionary society; and from 1844 to 1846, by L. Burnham, one-fourth of the time. From 1847 to 1851 Elder Daniel Hutchinson preached a part of the time, but the conference meetings were continued regularly.
March 22, 1851, there was a parish organized with the following officers: Moderator, Samuel Jewett, and Clerk, D. A. Gilcrease. At that time the parish voted to build a house of worship to be completed by the first of September, 1852, and the house was dedicated October 6, 1852, the dedication sermon being preached by Elder Nutter of Livermore. July 10, 1853, Sumner Estes was called to become the pastor of the church and August 10, 1853, he was ordained, remaining as pastor until November 10, 1854.
During the next two years Elder Lawrence preached occasionally and several were converted and baptized. February 10, 1866, Elder Foss, of Leeds, was called to the church and supplied the pulpit for six months. September 5, 1857, N. Whittemore became pastor preaching one-half the time, and March 12, 1858, he was ordained at the Quarterly meeting held at Buckiield. Several joined the church during his pastorate. He closed his labors in October, 1864.
December 5, 1864, Elder Carlton Parker became pastor. He did excellent work, both spiritually and financially. He remained until 1869. In April, 1870, D. C. Bixby came from Newton Seminary, and was ordained May 11, 1870. His pastorate was short. The first of the year 1872, Prof. A. C. Herrick became pastor, and October 16, 1872, he was ordained. During his pastorate there was an out-pouring of God's spirit and many were converted and added to the church. Mr. Herrick remained as pastor until 1877. After this date, Rev. Asa F. Gould supplied the pulpit for about two years. August 2, 1879, George L. Lewis accepted the call of the church to become pastor and remained two years; then Rev. Asa F. Gould again supplied the pulpit, he being a member of the church. The summer of 1883, Rev. N. Butler preached for three months.
There was no regular pastor until March, 1885, when Rev. W. H. S. Ventres became pastor and remained until March 1887. June 24, 1888, J. M. Long commenced his pastorate, and in the [p. 69] Autumn of that year the church was repaired and the vestry built, and on December 12 and 13, 1888, it was re-dedicated, and Mr. Long was ordained. Several were added to the church during his pastorate. He closed his labors in November, 1891.
In the spring of 1892, Rev. J. C. Andrews was called to supply for six months. H. M. Purrington commenced his pastorate in November, 1893; he was ordained July 17, 1895. Thirty-six were added to the church by baptism and letter during his pastorate. He closed his labors June 30, 1897.
For over a year the church was without a pastor, when Henry G. Clark commenced his labors August 1, 1899; he was ordained February 1, 1900; and closed his labors March 9, 1902. Rev. W. C. Westcott became pastor June 29, 1902, and remained one year.
Since then we have had no pastor, and by deaths and removals the church was left in a discouraged condition until State Missionary E. A. Davis came to us, and God, through him, has awakened a new interest, and at the present time William R. Redden, from Bates College, is supplying. The church now numbers forty-eight, with only one-half that number resident members.
Miss Orissa W. Gould, M. D., who recently died in New York City, was the daughter of Rev. Asa F. Gould, a former pastor and member of this church. She was baptized by Rev. A. C. Herrick, and united with the church May 23, 1876. After attending school at Hebron Academy, she received and accepted an appointment from the Missionary Union, March 27, 1893, and labored for several years among the Telugus at Nellore, India. She returned to this country in 1897. In recent years she had been engaged in charitable work among the poor of New York City, for which her gentle, unselfish, earnest and devoted spirit eminently qualified her.
The following have served the church as deacons:
Timothy Huntress, Sumner Robinson, Uriah Proctor, Gilbert Hathaway, Nathan P. Reynolds, John Foye, Edwin M. Bartlett, Edgar N. Carver, Philander Kidder.
The following have acted as clerks:
Alanson Cary, Zeri Hayford, Winfield Shackley, David Gilcrease, William Bosworth, D. A. Swett, N. P. Reynolds, Addison Tirrell, John Foye, William Sparrow, Miss Julia Gurney, D. P. Stowell, John W. Page, John C. Dearborn, E. N. Carver, Dura Bradford, John Briggs, Mrs. M. C. DeShon.