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Stoneham, Mass. First Congregational Church records, 1728-1889.

Identifier: RG5190

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the early records of First Congregational Church in Stoneham, Massachusetts. Included in this collection are church records of meeting minutes, vital statistics, and membership rolls; parish and financial records, including salary and capital expenses; and documents created by ministers who served the church, including commonplace and account books from James Osgood, and sermons from an unnamed minister, most likely John Stevens who served in both Stoneham and Haverhill. Of particular note is the Osgood family's account book which contains not only the accounts of Rev. James Osgood, but also records of his wife, Sarah Osgood's, household and other expenses.


  • 1728-1889


Restrictions on Access

Access to this collection is unrestricted and open to the public.

Restrictions on Use

Items in this collection are subject to U.S. Copyright Law. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine the copyright status of collection items and to secure any permissions necessary for their reproduction and publication. Requests for permission to publish material must be discussed with the archivist or librarian.
Digital Reproductions are protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use the Digital Reproductions in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. In addition, no permission is required from the Congregational Library & Archives for educational uses. For other uses, you need to obtain permission from the Congregational Library & Archives. For additional information regarding copyright, please consult the Congregational Library & Archives' Digital Collections Copyright & Use policy.

Historical Note

The town of Stoneham, previously known as Charlestown End, was incorporated in 1725. A vote in 1726 provided for the building of a 1,440-square-foot meetinghouse however the First Congregational Church itself was not organized until July 1729, with thirteen founding members, when the first church covenant was read and adopted. The first pastor was Rev. James Osgood, a 24 year old Harvard graduate from Salem, who was called in October 1728, and ordained in September 1729. Osgood served until his death in 1746 and was replaced by John Carnes, who was dismissed from his position in 1757. John Searl succeeded Carnes in 1758, followed by the ordination of John Cleaveland Jr. in 1785.

Rev. John Cleaveland Jr. was the son of Rev. John Cleveland of Essex, a separatist minister who served as a chaplain in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. Cleaveland Jr., unable to pay for a college education, was instead taught by his father. His pastorate at Stoneham was his first ministry. Cleaveland's ministry began amicably. With the opening of the Stoneham Circulating Library, which was kept at the parsonage, Cleaveland became the town’s first librarian. Cleaveland’s relationship with the church’s members remained favorable until the passing of his wife in 1793. Following his wife's death, Cleaveland married Elizabeth Evans, his housekeeper. The reaction to this marriage was negative; at various times Cleaveland found the door to the meeting house nailed shut, the seat of the pulpit covered in tar, and the tail of his horse cut off. While the church itself supported Cleaveland, the town consistently did not, refusing to raise his salary and going so far as to shutter the meeting house so that public worship could not be held there. An ecclesiastical council called late September 1794 dissolved Cleaveland's relationship with the town and church.

Several pastors were called after Cleaveland, and in 1803 the town voted for the construction of a new, larger, meetinghouse. A bell for the new meetinghouse's belfry was purchased in 1810 with money raised through subscription, and a Sabbath-school was established in 1816. The second meetinghouse burned to the ground in 1840. That same year, at the cost of $5,500, the third, and final, meeting house was constructed. An example of Greek Revival architecture, the third meeting house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.

The First Congregational Church in Stoneham, UCC, continues to serve the local community today.


1.09 Cubic Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



The town of Stoneham was incorporated in 1725. A vote in 1726 provided for the building of a meetinghouse and the First Congregational Church was organized in 1729. The first pastor was Rev. James Osgood who was ordained in September 1729. Rev. John Cleaveland was pastor from 1785 until an ecclesiastical council dissolved his relationship with the town in 1894. The second meeting house was constructed in 1803 and the third in 1840. This collection contains the early records the Church. Included are church records of meeting minutes, vital statistics, parish and financial records, and ministerial records.


This collection has been arranged into three series. Within each series, the materials have been organized chronologically.
Series 1: Church records, 1728-1840
Series 2: Parish and Financial records, 1803-1889
Series 3: Ministerial records, 1728-1827

Technical Requirements

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Acquisition Information

Collection gifted to the Congregational Library & Archives by the First Congregational Church in Stoneham, June 2014; Accession: 2014-39.


Additional accruals are expected for this collection in the form of full-text transcription. There is no anticipated date for this accrual.


Stevens, Judge. Historical Sketch of the First Congregational Church in Stoneham. Stoneham, 1929. 17.11.1 S75.2 FirCC

Processing Information

Originally processed by Sari Mauro, February 2016, using DACS second edition. Additional processing and update to ArchivesSpace by Zachary Bodnar, July 2018.
Stoneham, Mass. First Congregational Church records, 1728-1889.
Zachary Bodnar, Sari Mauro
Description rules
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Repository Details

Part of the Congregational Library & Archives Repository

14 Beacon Street
Suite 200
Boston MA 02108