West Episcopal Society records, 1791-1814
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Brief Description:

The West Episcopal Society records document the first 20 years of what is now St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Bantam, a borough of Litchfield, Conn. Most of the records relate to the construction of a new church in 1796, and include accounts, bills, lists and memoranda, orders, receipts, summonses, and other documents. Several documents relate to aspects of church business. The records are arranged chronologically.

According to the Web site of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Bantam, in April 2, 1796, residents of Bantam, or Bradleyville as it was called then, signed a contract for a new church to be built on a hill across the street from the current Bantam Cemetery. This new church was known as West Church and was designed and built by a local contractor, Giles Kilborn. West Church had a tower, a spire, and approximately 1,800 square feet of space furnished with "a high pulpit, reading desk, pews with doors but without cushions, deep galleries and a capacious sounding board," according to historical records.

It was not until Oct. 30, 1797, after the West Church was completed, that 55 people petitioned the First Episcopal Society of Litchfield to establish the Second Episcopal Society and to be exempted from paying taxes to the First Society, currently known as St. Michael's. The petition was granted and the Second Episcopal Society was formally organized on Nov. 14, 1797. (Members of the Second Society referred to themselves in their early records as the "Western Episcopal Society" and the "West Episcopal Society," and the latter is used to idenify the collection.)

On Sep. 10, 1799, West Church and St. Michael's Church were reunited. Under the new agreement, Rev. Truman Marsh became the first rector of the Bantam parish and served in this part-time position until 1810. Rev. Isaac Jones served at West Church from 1811 to 1826, followed by Rev. John S. Stone from 1826 to 1829. During this time, duties were divided three ways: two-fifths to St. Michael's, two-fifths to West Church and one-fifth to Trinity in the Milton section of Litchfield. The membership of West Church grew during its first 25 years as manufacturing increased in the Litchfield area. However, many families left the church in the early 1820s in protest against the Rev. Isaac Jones. In 1826, the three Episcopal churches separated and West Church in Bantam began to operate independently. In July 1843, due to declining financial support and disrepair of the church, the congregation voted to tear down the church building and erect a new building on the present site.

The collection primarily documents the building of the 1796 church. Detailed accounts, bills, and statements detail the materials and labor involved. Giles Kilborn died in 1796 and James Kilborn continued with construction. The church encountered financial difficulties, as evidenced by writs issued by the Litchfield County Court in 1800 and 1802 directing the Committee for Building the Church to render payments to builders and merchants. Other documents relate to church business, such as notices of meetings and agendas. Sylvanus Bishop, who served on the Building Committee, occassionally appears in collections, and it seems that some of his personal papers are intermingled in these Society records. For example, the first few documents in the papers from 1791 to 1795 include promissory notes involving Bishop.

Held at:
Litchfield Historical Society
7 South Street, P.O. Box 385
Litchfield, CT 6759
Phone: 860-567-4501
Fax: 860-567-3565
Email: archivist [at] litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org
Record Series Number: 00/2010-382-0
Created by: West Episcopal Society
Volume: 0.15 Linear Feet
Acquired: 12/30/2010.
Access Restrictions: The collection is open for research.
Subject Index
Bantam (Conn.) - Church history
Episcopal Church - Connecticut - Litchfield County
St. Paul's Parish (Bantam, Conn.)
West Episcopal Society
Genres/Forms of Material
Financial records
Legal documents
Languages of Materials
English [eng]
Rights/Use Restrictions: Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Acquisition Notes: Donor unknown.  Found in collection.
Related Materials:

Richard Nolan papers, 1974-2007

Bantam Episcopal Sociey Records

PreferredCitation: West Episcopal Society records (2010-382-0), Litchfield Historical Society, Helga J. Ingraham Memorial Library, P.O. Box 385, 7 South Street, Litchfield, Connecticut, 06759