The North Danville Freewill Baptist Church was built in 1868 and was dedicated December 24, 1868. The Rev. John E Dame was pastor. At the time the money for fuel, lights, and care of the church was mostly raised by calling for a tax on the pews which were owned by the different families. One of the rulings was that if when taxed, the owner failed to pay said tax at the end of ten days, the pew might be transferred to another. In 1869 the Rev. John E. Dame closed his pastorate and went to Farmington, NH. He was succeeded by the Rev. J. B. Leighton in 1870.
On August 14, 1871 at the monthly business meeting, a committee of three was appointed to consider the matter of a parsonage and to report at the next meeting. At the next meeting the pastor was chosen to solicit funds for a parsonage and a building committee of three was chosen with authority to purchase a lot for the parsonage. The Rev. J. B. Leighton closed his pastorate August 1871 and was succeeded by the Rev. A. P. Houghtaling from Lewiston, Maine August 1873.
The building committee reported December 12, 1873 that they had purchased about 1/3 acre of land of Thomas Randall, directly opposite the church and had built a parsonage, and settled for $1480. The next item was a church bell and this was purchased August 1874 – a 700 lb. bell from Troy, NY for which they paid 36 cents per pound, making a cost of $252.00 besides the mountings which cost $40.00, the freight bill also to be added.
The Rev. A. P. Houghtaling closed his pastorate May 1875 and was succeeded by the Rev. A. H. Milliken from Parker Head, Maine in May 1875.
The first mention of the ladies having a part in the work was in December 1877 when it was voted to hold one or more oyster suppers to raise money to pay an indebtedness, and five gentlemen and their wives were chosen to take charge. I’m sure the ladies must have proved their worth as helpers as their names appear much more often after that date. During the Rev. A. H. Milliken’s pastorate the people also raised sufficient funds to paint the church.
One item of interest appears in the records in regard to fuel – it states that the trustees paid $14.75 for 3 ½ cords of hard wood and 2 cord of slab-wood, fitted and put into the church.
The Rev. A. H. Milliken was succeeded by the Rev. H. Lockhart from Lisbon Falls, Maine May 1879. On June 3, 1880 there were 28 members recorded. In 1881 the Rev. A P. Tracey became pastor. The matter of having the church and parsonage insured was first taken up December 5, 1881.
The Rev. A. P. Tracey closed his pastorate May 1885 – going from here to the church at Sutton, VT. He was succeeded by the Rev. Mark Atwood from Sheffield, VT in 1885. After four years of faithful work, the Rev. Mr. Atwood, closed his pastorate, going back to Sheffield in 1889.
He was succeeded by the Rev. F. A. Palmer, from Ellsworth, Maine in April 1890. The first evangelistic meetings are recorded for October 1892 when the Rev. Burton Minor assisted the pastor with the services for a period of two weeks. Twelve people were baptized and taken into the fellowship of the church. The Rev. F. A. Palmer closed his pastorate in December 1893 – going to West Falmouth, Maine. He was succeeded by Mr. William Taylor in January 1894. Mr. Taylor was not an ordained pastor. He closed his work in July 1894 and was succeeded by Mr. Arthur H. Williams in October 1894. He was also an unordained pastor. He closed his work in 1895.
Several pastors supplied the pulpit at times when there was no pastor. Among the members were the Rev. Mark Atwood, the Rev. G. C. Waterman, from the St. Johnsbury Church and the Rev. M. C. Henderson of St. Johnsbury who was a retired pastor. In June 1895 the Rev. J. U. Burgin from Enosburg Falls became pastor; he remained until May 1896, going from here to Sutton, VT.
An item which sounded very interesting was recorded for June 3, 1896, reading as follows: “The monthly conference meeting was held with the regular Tuesday evening meeting and was a meeting of much interest. About 50 were present and there were near 40 testimonies.”
The Rev. F. A. Palmer of West Falmouth, Maine, a former pastor, returned in October 1896, remaining with the church until October 1898 when he went to Milo, Maine. He was succeeded by the Rev. J. D. Waldron from Enosburg Falls, Nov. 1898. The Rev. Mr. Waldron remained until January 1902 when he went to West Charleston, VT. The Rev. B. D. Newell from New Gloucester, Maine became pastor in May 1902.
In October 1902 a furnace was installed and ready for use. The Free Will Baptist Association met with the church the following week. In referring to the gathering the record says: “It was a very interesting gathering. Two very aged ministers were present, the Rev. Alinon Shepard of Corinth, 91 years of age who holds a pastorate at the present time and the Rev. M. C. Henderson of St. Johnsbury.”
The Rev. Newell remained as pastor until July 1904 when he went to Strafford, NH. The Rev. B. P. Parker of Newport Center, VT became pastor December 1904. In May 1909 the Rev. Mr. Parker closed a 4 ½ year pastorate and accepted a call to Waterbury Center, VT. He was succeeded by the Rev. J. B Higgins of Newport Center, VT July 1909.
On March 4, 1911 a committee of three was appointed to choose two deacons, and the names of Charles T. Clifford and Charles Sanborn were suggested and were unanimously elected. It is interesting to note that they are still [1928] our Senior Deacons.
The Rev. Mr. Higgins closed his pastorate June 1914 to accept a call to Bristol, NH. He was succeeded by the Rev. Sidney Aldrich from East Hardwick VT, July 1914. In 1915 the church was thoroughly renovated and repaired with a new foundation, memorial windows, steel ceiling, new seats, and a new organ which was the gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. W. Varnum.
The rededicatory services were held Oct. 26 and 27. There were greetings from other denominations and addressed by the Rev, J. W. Burgin, the Rev. F. S. Tolman, the Rev. M. H. Sharples (sp), the Rev. A. V. Fisher and the Rev. C. A. Adams. Deacon C. T. Clifford told how the church was organized 48 years before with the Rev. J. E. Dame as pastor. The Rev. W. A. Davidson of Burlington delivered the closing address, his subject being – “What the Baptist Denomination Stands For.” It seemed to be about this time that the Freewill Baptist organization was merged with the Baptist.
The Rev. Mr. Aldrich closed his pastorate April 1916 and was succeeded by Jacob L. Long in June. 1916. On November 23, 1916 a Council met and an ordination service was held, ordaining Jacob L. Long to the Christian ministry. Mr. Long remained with the church until May 1917 and was succeeded by the Rev. D. D. Johnson of East Randolph, VT. April 1918. The Rev. Mr. Johnson closed his pastorate May 1920, going from here to Brookline, ME.
On Sept. 12, 1920 the Rev. Christian Petersen of Websterville, VT became pastor and much good was done by both he and his wife. Mrs. Petersen was a very pleasing speaker and often took charge of the services. Pastor Petersen had sometimes remarked that when things were going well he should crank up his flivver and move along and true to his word, as usual, he closed his pastorate here Oct. 1, 1922 going to Windsor, VT.
The Rev. Howard P. Glaister of Starksboro, VT became pastor here Dec. 3, 1922 and during his pastorate the money was raised to build a baptistery. The Rev. Glaister closed his pastorate Aug. 31, 1924, going to Wales, Mass. Rev. George A. Williams of Seaside, Oregon became our pastor Sept. 28, 1924. The example he set by his life was beyond reproach and it was with a feeling of deep sorrow that the community learned of his sudden death, Feb. 17, 1925. His daughter, Miss Caroline Hopson and Mr. Kent Goodnough, who was one of our teachers, carried on the services until a pastor could be secured.
On May 24, 1925, the Rev. Charles P. Smith, of Lincoln, VT, preached here on trial and I think he must have seen the need of a remodeled dining room and kitchen in the vestry, a much remodeled parsonage with a piazza added, a new garage in place of the old barn, a baptistery, paint and paper for the interior of the church and other things too numerous to mention, for on May 31 he preached to us as our pastor and he has made what seemed to be impossible – a reality. He still has a few more ideas to carry out I believe and a few more flowers of kindness to plant along life’s highway. He has not only been repairing property but with the aid of his faithful wife, he has also been repairing hearts and lives for Christ’s service and we hope it may be sometime before we must add to our records the date of his departure.
This church had had its share of joy and sorrow, of pleasure and of perplexities but it still stands firmly for the right, a monument to the faithfulness of God’s workers, past and present.
Note: The above history was turned over to the Clerk, Bernice Waterman by Arlene Hubbard, Sept. 17, 1968. It was written by Mrs. Edith Davison for the Community Day Program June 28, 1928.