In this series, I’ve previously posted Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Here is Part 4, providing more information about “First Baptist Society in Bethel, Maine”, a Calvinistic Baptist church in Oxford County, Maine, which seems to have disappeared from the scene at some point in the early 1900s.
To the right are pictures of the meeting houses they utilized. Special thanks go out to Matthew Jones for graciously providing permission to post these. On the right is the Middle Intervale building (built in 1816) and on the left is the East Bethel building (built in 1830).
A List Of Pastors
By tying various sources together, I’ve been able to infer an approximation of the settled pastors as well as some of the men who helped with pulpit supply. I am still working on this list and it still has some gaps. I have my eye on a source which may help get this list into better shape. Sadly, it appears that from 1880 and onward, they lacked a settled pastor. As of yet, I see no evidence that the congregation existed beyond 1904.
- 1795-1807 – No settled pastor (Visited by Oxford county area ministers such as John Tripp, James Hooper, John Chadbourne, Nathaniel Chase)
- 1807-1811 – Ebenezer Bray
- 1811-1817 – Thomas Wyman
- 1818-1835 – Daniel Mason
- 1836-1846 – Benjamin Donham
- 1846-1846 – Joseph B. Mitchell
- 1848-1848 – No settled pastor (Pulpit supply by Ransom Donham and Hiram Cushman Estes)
- 1849-1853 – Levi Burnham
- 1853-1853 – No settled pastor (Pulpit supply by Ransom Donham)
- 1854-1855 – David S. Hawley
- 1857-1862 – William Beavins
- 1863-1863 – No settled pastor (Pulpit supply by Ransom Donham)
- 1864-1865 – Thomas J. Sweatt
- 1867-1869 – Edwin M. Bartlett
- 1870-1875 – Otis B. Rawson
- 1877-1879 – William M. Harthorn
- 1880-1884 – No settled pastor (Ottis B. Rawson for 6 months in 1880 and William Beavins returned May-Nov 1884)
- 1887-1892 – No settled pastor (Pulpit supply by William B. Hutchinson, Woodman Bradbury, William W. Wakeman, and William T. Green)
- 1899-1904 – No settled pastor (pulpit supply by William H. T. Bock, David W. Lovett and Ralph Sherwood)
Deacon: Jonathan Abbot Jr (1808-1887) was “an exemplary man, a good farmer and citizen” and lived on a homestead near Walker’s Mills. He served as a deacon in the church in the 1830s. It’s interesting to note that one of his sons was named Stephen SPURGEON Abbot. Stephen was born in 1859, during the prime of Charles Spurgeon’s ministry, and presumably that is the source of Stephen’s middle name. Stephen served as the town clerk, “noted for his accuracy and thoroughness of work”. In the 1880′s, Stephen left Maine and became a lawyer in Denver, Colorado. Jonathan had another son named Jonathan FLAVEL Abbot, presumably named after the prominent Puritan John Flavel.
Deacon: Eli Foster (1802-1873) was the son of Asa (1765-1831) and Anna Foster. He married Dorcas Barlett and settled between Locke’s Mills and the Androscoggin river. Eli was said to be of limited education, but significant natural abilities. He was chosen as deacon in the church and served until his death. He was respected as a farmer and business man. He was thrifty and kind. His wife was industrious, skilled in spinning, knitting and weaving. Eli left a forest in the vicinity of his buildings, which largely consisted of sugar maple trees, noted in 1899 as still standing and “one of the finest sugar orchards in town”. On his gravestone is inscribed: “The memory of the just is blessed”.
Member: Sumner Estes (b. 1827) was the son of Eli and Clarissa (Kimball) Estes. He was born in Bethel and was educated at Gould’s Academy and also Hebron Academy. At the age of 11, he joined the Baptist church and years later, after attending Waterville College in the early 1850s, he was licensed to preach. In 1853, he was ordained in Canton, Maine and continued there until 1854. He also pastored churches in Sidney, Thomaston, Machias, Pembroke, Cherryfield, Lisbon Falls (1869-1871), and Sanford. Due to “disease of the throat” and other illnesses, he was forced to leave the ministry. He then went on to become a druggist and apothecary. He was married to Sarah M. Holt of Bethel and his son Charles went on to write a book, Christian Missions in China, which was published in 1895.
- Frederick Clifton Pierce, Foster genealogy, Part 1, 357.
- Edwin Emery, The History of Sanford, Maine, 1661-1900, 447.
- History of Bethel: formerly Sudbury, Canada, Oxford County, Maine, 1768-1890 , 239.
- Third General Catalogue of Colby College, Waterville, Maine. 1820-1908, 192.
- Eva Bean, East Bethel Road
- Numerous other sources
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