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South Hadley, Mass. Congregational Church of South Hadley Falls records, 1824-2012.

 Collection
Identifier: RG5052

Scope and Contents

The South Hadley, Mass. Congregational Church of South Hadley Falls records document the history and activities of the church and its members. Collection includes annual reports and records of church meetings, legal papers regarding the building and gifts made to the church, materials from women's and social groups, Sunday school records, membership records and cards, financial records, weekly church bulletins, photographs, correspondence, and several scrapbooks collected by church members and the church historian. Despite the church's complete destruction in 1947, there is reasonable representation from pre-1947 records, including original ledger books. However, researchers may find there are large gaps in the record due to this cataclysmic event.

Dates

  • 1824-2012

Creator

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.

Historical Note

As early as 1733, a Church of Christ had been organized near the Center of the Town of South Hadley. Residents of the small village of South Hadley Falls, then known as the Canal Village, felt that they needed a more conveniently located church than this, so in February of 1824 they established the South Society in South Hadley. The Constitution of this Society was signed February 26th, 1824. The Society included people of different denominations, but united in August, 1824, with local ministers to establish themselves as The South Church of Christ in South Hadley.

The first officially listed minister is Rev. John Flavel Griswold, who served the South Church 1828-1831. While services were originally held in the upper part of a brick house, later known as the Brick Chapel, increasing membership required the building of a new church meeting house, which was completed in late 1834.

The church experienced a split in 1860 which lasted for 18 years. The primary cause of the rift was dissension over the choir and its rival leaders, but other matters of church policy became a part of the dispute, including that of women’s voting during church meetings. In 1860, Rev. Richard Knight and the membership that supported him established a separate church, calling it The First Congregational Church in South Hadley Falls. This newly formed First Congregational Church received a new church building from Deacon Joseph Carew, which served as the main meeting house for services until the fire of 1947. The South Church of Christ continued to hold services at their original site until the two churches reunited.

Rev. Knight and Rev. Fisher (minister at the South Church of Christ) both resigned in 1878, which paved the way for a reunion of the two churches. New leadership chose representatives from both societies to serve as the church’s trustees, and the South Church of Christ and First Congregational Church merged in October 1878 to become The Congregational Church and Society of South Hadley Falls. On December 11th, 1918, the church became unified as a corporate body under the name of The Congregational Church of South Hadley Falls. The church continued until 2012, when the congregation voted to close its doors due to declining membership and pledges.

The Women's auxiliary groups of the church have a lot of material representation in this collection, and because of this we are able to track the various mergers and interactions between them. The Young Ladies' Benevolent Society united with the Ladies' Society in the early years of the 20th century and became The Ladies' Benevolent Society. The Ladies' Benevolent Society later merged with the Women's Missionary Society to become the Women's Guild in the 1920s. The merger that has the most documentation in our collection is that of the Women's Guild and the Junior Guild, which took place in May 1951. The two combined to form the Women's Fellowship, which continued to exist until the church closed its doors in 2012.

Chronological List of Ministers

John Flavel Griswold
1828-1831
William Tyler
1832-1839
William W. Thayer
1839-1842
Leander Thompson
1843-1850
Porter H. Snow
1852-1854
Richard Knight
1856-1878
Samuel M. J. Merwin
1860-1867
George E. Fisher
1867-1878
Winfield S. Hawkes
1878-1887
Stephen W. Webb
1888-1894
Richard L. Swain
1894-1900
G. Walter Fiske
1900-1903
Frank E. Butler
1903-1911
Bruce W. Cronmiller
1911-1923
Allen C. Blaisdell
1924-1927
Theodore Bacheler
1928-1943
Herbert H. Bair
1943-1951
Charles N. Burn
1951-1959
Robert Dennett
1959-1966
Martin Johnson
1966-1974
Tadanori Yamashita
1974 (interim)
Charles E. Ihloff
1974-1994
R. C. MacCreary
1995-1999
M. C. Williams
2000-2002 (interim)
M. E. MacCullagh
2002-2003
J. A. Ewen
2006-2009
D. B. Szyszko
2009-2013

Extent

10.5 Cubic Feet (18 boxes, 1 folder)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Congregational Church of South Hadley Falls began as the South Society in South Hadley when, in February of 1824, the population removed from the center of South Hadley felt they needed a more conveniently located church. Later that year, the Society united in a church organization called The South Church of Christ in South Hadley. The church did not become known as The Congregational Church of South Hadley Falls until 1918. The congregation voted to close in 2012 due to declining membership and pledges. Collection includes annual reports and records of church meetings, legal papers regarding the building and gifts made to the church, materials from women's and social groups, Sunday school records, membership records and cards, financial records, weekly church bulletins, photographs, correspondence, and several scrapbooks collected by church members and the church historian. Much of the collection has been used to create anniversary publications about the Church's History.

Arrangement

This collection has been arranged into five series, with each series being further arranged into sub-series. Unless otherwise stated, records in each series and sub-series have been arranged primarily by topic, and secondarily chronologically. Whenever possible, the original order of materials within folders has been maintained.
Series 1: Church and Society records, 1824-2012.
Subseries 1: Church records and meeting minutes, 1824-1994.
Subseries 2: Annual reports, 1950-2012.
Subseries 3: Publications, 1845-2008.
Subseries 4: Scrapbooks and church event records, 1845-2012.
Subseries 5: Administrative papers, 1849-1995.
Series 2: Financial records, 1878-1998.
Subseries 1: Account books, 1878-1997.
Subseries 2: Gift records, 1946-1998.
Subseries 3: Stewardship papers, 1878-1990.
Subseries 4: Pledge cards, 1924-1950.
Series 3: Church membership records, 1886-2011.
Subseries 1: Membership lists, 1886-1999.
Subseries 2: Certificates of transferal, 1915-2009.
Subseries 3: Books of registry, 1974-2011.
Subseries 4: Membership cards, 1924-2006.
Series 4: Church auxiliary groups, 1894-1998.
Subseries 1: Ladies Benevolent Society, 1894-1917.
Subseries 2: Church Sunday School, 1896-1936.
Subseries 3: Men's Class, 1900-1901.
Subseries 4: Women's Missionary Society, 1909-1921.
Subseries 5: Women's Guild, 1917-1957.
Subseries 6: MAFO Club, 1936-1969.
Subseries 7: Junior Guild, 1940-1951.
Subseries 8: Women's Fellowship, 1943-1998.
Subseries 9: Puffer's Club, 1947-1949.
Subseries 10: Church Choir, 1987.
Series 5: Photographs and drawings, circa 1824-2012.
Subseries 1: Picture Scrapbook, undated.
Subseries 2: Church building and 1947 fire, 1875-2002 bulk circa 1947.
Subseries 3: Church members, circa 1824-2012.

Acquisition Information

Materials were gifted to the Congregational Library & Archives on May 3, 2013 by Carol Cody and Alan Dout (13 boxes, 1 framed document); Accession: 2013-02.
Received two boxes as accrual September 18, 2013; Accession: 2013-10.

Related Materials

Joseph Vaill sermon preached at the dedication of the church edifice at South Hadley Falls, Massachusetts, 1864. MS 0990
South Hadley, Mass. Ecclesiastical Council proceedings, 1823. RG 4398

Separated Materials

Certain published materials have been separated from this collection and added to the Congregational Library & Archives bibliographic collection. For assistance with accessing these materials, speak to the librarian or archivist.

Bibliography

200th Anniversary Celebration: Town of South Hadley Massachusetts, 1753-1953. Historical Review and Complete Celebration Program. South Hadley, 1953. T S08.8T

Fisher, George E. Historical Address by the pastor, with Addresses and Letters, at the Semi-Centennial Celebration of the Congregational Church in South Hadley Falls, Mass., Aug. 9, 1874. South Hadley Falls, 1874.17.11.1 S62.7 ConCSHF

Knight, Richard. A Statement of Facts, concerning the Troubles in the Church, in South Hadley Falls, Mass. South Hadley Falls, 1863.17.11.1 S62.7 ConCSHF

Sesquicentennial Committee. 150th Anniversary, 1824-1974. South Hadley Falls, 1974.17.11.1 S62.7 ConCSHF

Processing Information

Accessioned and minimally processed by Jessica Steytler, January 2014, using DACS Second Edition. Processed by Johanna Burgess, July 2018, using DACS Second Edition.
Title
South Hadley, Mass. Congregational Church of South Hadley Falls records, 1824-2012.
Status
Completed
Author
Johanna Burgess, Jessica Steytler
Date
2018-07-31
Description rules
3
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Congregational Library & Archives Repository

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617-523-0470