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Vernon's First Church
One of the most interesting periods in the history of the town was reached when, in 1762, on top of the hill, still known to some as the "Old Meeting House Hill," the first church in the town was erected.
As early as 1749, a petition signed by eighteen of the inhabitants of the north part of the town of Bolton was sent to the General Assembly asking that the privilege of a winter parish be granted. The people felt that they had just cause for relief as they lived from five to seven miles from the meetinghouse, and the roads were rough and traveling anything but comfortable. This privilege was granted and winter preaching was enjoyed, meetings being held in the schoolhouses and private residences until room became cramped and the Ecclesiastical Society of North Bolton was formed in 1760.
The territory of this society was the same as the present town of Vernon. When the town was set off, it was divided on the lines established by the two ecclesiastical societies.
The meeting-house stood about half a mile east of the present meetinghouse at Vernon Center, half-way between the Bamforth place, formerly the Hubbard Kellogg place, and the Charles O. Dart residence, a well known inn during the early days of the town.
Surrounded by the original forest, which, when summer's sun was high, cast a grateful shade about, it had a stately dignity, in spite of its plainness. The building was a foursided one in the prevailing style of architecture for country churches, without any steeple. Slow progress was made in fitting the building, owing to the slender means of the people. It remained without pews until 1770 and was not plastered until 1774. The frame of the church was used in the east wing of the old Frank Factory at Rockville. A slab - the thoughtfulness of Airs. George Maxwell - marks the spot where the church stood.
About half a mile east of the spot where Vernon's first meeting-house stood, on the road from Rockville to Bolton, is an ancient burying-ground, an acre consecrated for the burial of the dead. It was laid out many years before the first church was erected. Probably the site of the church was selected partly because of its proximity to the cemetery, but principally because of its location on a high hill. It was customary in the early days of New England to select the most elevated site that could be found.
1- "Centennial Of Vernon (Rockville)" Souvenier Program, June, 1908. The text in Reference 1 was also included here and written by Harry Conklin Smith.
2- "The Connecticut Magazine, Volume 12", 'Centennial of Vernon 1808-1908' by Harry Conklin Smith, 1908. The referenced story is on page 167. This same article was printed in Reference 1. The magazine and article are online to read. Available at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford.
Photo 'The Tin Peddler' from "Massachusetts Beautiful" by Wallace Nutting, 1923.