The Contribution of Laymen to the Work of
For the most part the
preceding chapters in this history have dealt with the lives and
the activities of the clergy who were instrumental in the
guidance and the growth of this mother parish through periods of
difficulty and discouragement, through lean years and those of
Surely, as a body of
men, they were faithful to their great trust and they are worthy
of being remembered in the annals of the parish.
But it would be an unpardonable omission not to mention the part
the laymen have taken through the years in the problems and the
burdens that inevitably were the responsibility of those who by
their painstaking labors and planning and financial aid
contributed to the growth and prosperity of the parish and
Mention has been made
of Captain Jehiel Hawley, who for many years gathered together
the early settlers at his home on Sunday mornings and conducted
the service of Morning Prayer. He earned for himself the right
to be called the founder of the parish.
Then came the names of Nathan Canfield, Zadock Hard, Caleb
Dayton and Luther Stone who were delegates from this parish to
the convention of 1790.
This convention was
held at the home of Dr. Luther Stone for the transaction of
business after services had been held at the church.
For one hundred years the Canfields, Hawleys, Bucks, Holdens,
and the Hards have been identified with the church in this
Nathan Hawley and Lemuel Buck were the building committee of the
first church. Nathan Canfield was also one of the Selectmen of
the Town. Abel and Andrew Hawley were wardens soon after the
organization of the parish and Noble Hard, Zadock Hard, Curtiss
Hawley, William S. Holden and Grin Hard are the names of a few
of those who were active on the Vestry during the first half
century of the parish life.
Many laymen entered
the ranks of the clergy from this parish. Among them: The Rev.
Eli Hawley Canfield, DD, the Rev. Fletcher J. Hawley, DD, the
Rev. Anson B. Hard who was born and brought up here, whose
sister was the mother of the Rev. Dr. Coit, the founder of St.
Paul’s school, Concord, New Hampshire; the Rev. Dr. Jordan Gray
who was drowned in Berkshire, Franklin county, in crossing Trout
Creek on his way to church, and his brother, the Rev. Nelson
Gray who was rector of Christ Church, Georgetown, DD, were born
and brought up in Arlington. Abijah Hawley, son of Captain
Jehiel Hawley, and Gould Buck, son of Lemuel Buck of Arlington,
two farmers, left Arlington in 1790 and went to Fairfax,
Franklin county, and laid the foundations of the church there at
Buck Hollow. They and their descendants have been the mainstay
of the church in that community from that time to within recent
The original founders
of the parish were succeeded by Sylvester Deming, Enos Canfield,
Anson Canfield, Samuel Canfield, Galen Canfield, Cyrus B. Hills,
John B. Lathrop, Noble Hard, Zadock Hard, Simeon Cole, John
Holden, Sylvanus Hard, Martin C. Deming, Curtis Hawley, Asahel
Hurd, and Harmon Canfield in a later generation. Of Harmon
Canfield, Bishop Bissell said: "He was a man of great ability,
eminent legal attainments, devoted loyalty to the church, a
valuable member of the Standing Committee, legal advisor of the
Ecclesiastical court, member of the board of Land Agents, and
trustee of Vermont Episcopal Institute."
second, was another outstanding laymen who is thus commended by
the late Thomas H. Canfield: "He was a zealous churchman, no
layman ever in the diocese being better informed as to the
principles and doctrines of the Holy Catholic Church and able to
give a clear reason for the Faith that was in him."
In the early days of
"Father Bronson" there was another layman, Bethuel Chittenden,
who entered the ranks of the clergy in middle life and was a
leader in the councils of the church in Vermont in the early
days. Bethuel Chittenden, a younger brother of Governor
Chittenden, came from Connecticut in 1773, and settled in
He was a man of rare
qualities and was respected and often consulted, because of his
integrity, good judgment and common sense.
During the years he was at Tinmouth, he, like Captain Hawley,
gathered his neighbors together and read the service and a
sermon to them. Father Chittenden, as he was called, had at
first no intention of entering the ministry.
He was a man of
limited education, but he was so impressed by the scarcity of
the clergy and the need of men to come to the rescue of the
Church, particularly in connection with the Land Grants, that he
decided to devote the rest of his life to the work of the
And so, at the age of forty-nine, he left his farm, went to
Connecticut, and was ordained Deacon by Bishop Seabury, June
first, 1787, and Priest in New London, June twentieth, 1794.
In 1790 he went to
Shelburne where he labored for nearly twenty years. He was
President of the Convention from 1784 to 1808, and his voice was
always heard with attention and interest.
The descriptions of
his sacrifices and hardships in conscientiously fulfilling his
ministry are most absorbing in interest.
Upon horseback he visited the scattered members of the Church in
Northern Vermont, going from town to town, baptizing and
administering Holy Communion.
The Rev. Abraham
Bronson and he were for ten years about the only clergymen in
the state, and at the time of his death in 1810, there had been
no increase in numbers since 1790.
However, the seeds
sown by him while a farmer in Tinmouth, and later as Priest and
Missionary were so fruitful that in almost every parish there
are traces of his work.
Canfield, Secretary of the Diocese in 1890, was a descendent of
the fourth generation of both the eminent men whose name he
bears. He was baptized in St. James’ Church December twelfth,
1824 by the Rev. Abraham Bronson. He later became a communicant
of St. Paul’s Church, Burlington. He was also Secretary of the
Diocesan Convention for thirty-four years.
For thirty-five years
he was a Trustee of the Vermont Episcopal Institute, serving for
the most of that time as Treasurer.
At the Centennial
Convention of the Diocese held in St. James Church, Arlington in
1890, Mr. Canfield made an address taking for his subject "The
Part taken by Laymen in the Formation of Parishes and in
Founding and Maintaining the Church in Vermont."
(The author is
largely indebted to Mr. Canfield for the data of this chapter.)
"In looking back," he
said, "from 1817 to the time when Captain Jehiel Hawley first
commenced services in Arlington in 1764, a period of about fifty
years, it will be seen that there had been but five resident
clergymen, three of whom abandoned the ministry of the Church."
"Is it nor a wonder, then, that with such feeble help from the
clergy; with all the prejudice against the Church of England;
amid all the difficulties arising out of the conflicting claims
of New Hampshire and New York concerning the Land Grants, and
the exigencies of the Revolutionary War, the lay members of the
church, ‘a feeble folk,’ should have been so true to their faith
and should so manfully have resisted the attempts made by the
legislature to sequester their lands? And how much we are
indebted to their good judgment, foresight and firmness in
maintaining their rights, for the benefits we are receiving in
various ways; and especially from the Land Grants of the
"We of the present
day can hardly imagine the difficulties of those days, and as
the late Bishop Philander Chase has said: ‘I confess with
unfeigned satisfaction my admiration of those excellent and
steadfast men - clergymen a few, laymen many - who shoulder to
shoulder, by the help of God, kept alive the cause of the Church
when it seemed to be hopeless, from becoming utterly extinct,
thus preserving it to better times.’
Thomas H. Canfield
was a successful businessman and the main builder and promoter
of the Northern Pacific Railroad.
In later days may be
named the following laymen who were leaders of the parish:
Samuel Benedict, William S. Holden, Albert D. Canfield, Levine
Hard, Frank N. Canfield, Fred S. Canfield, Jesse Burdett, Martin
H. Deming, John Lathrop Burdett, Richard B. Leake, Albert E.
Buck, Reuben H. Andrew and Clarence Dyer Gilchrist.
The following are the
names of the present Vestry: George A. Russell, M.D., Senior
Warden; Herbert Wheaton Congdon, Junior Warden and Clerk;
Lawrence A. Cole, William J. Bevis, Robert Williams, Orange R.
Baker, Walter E. Squiers, Gordon M. Hard and Frederick H. Brush,
Treasurer, son of the Rev. G. R. Brush. These men have
manifested the same devotion to the Church as their fathers
Today there are two
laymen living who have been communicants of the parish for over
sixty years, Edward Canfield Woodworth and Charles Hawley Crofut,
both descendants of pioneer families. Edward Canfield Woodworth
was baptized in St. James Church and confirmed by Bishop John
Henry Hopkins. He was Vestryman of the parish for fifty years
and treasurer for fifty-five years.
The Vestry of the parish on the occasion of Mr. Woodworth’s
retirement as Treasurer of the parish in 1928, presented him
with the following testimonial:
"To Edward Canfield
Woodworth: Faithful Churchman, devoted in worship and service,
for fifty years Vestryman of St. James’ Parish; painstaking and
accurate in the duties of his office, an upright and honorable
We, his associates,
the Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of St. James’ Parish, as a
mark of our esteem and appreciation of his remarkable and
efficient service present him this simple yet heartfelt
testimonial of our love and confidence".
GEORGE ROBERT BRUSH,
REUBEN H. ANDREW,
L. A. COLE,
A. E. BUCK,
R. B. LEAKE,
P. B. LATHROP,
B. L. HARD,
HERBERT WHEATON CONGDON,
Mr. Charles Hawley
Crofut has been a life-long resident of Arlington and a highly
During his long life
he has been much interested in the history of the town and
parish, and has been of much assistance to the writer in the
preparation of this book.
Sesquicentennial commemorating the entrance of Vermont into the
Union, held at East Arlington on Memorial Day, 1941, Hon. Frank
E. Howe, of Bennington, delivered an address in which he quoted
at some length passages on the history of Arlington that had
been prepared by Mr. Crofut.
It is fitting to
observe that on this occasion, attended by approximately a
thousand people, one of the first citizens of Arlington was
A marker with its
bronze plaque, presented by the Veterans of Arlington, as a
memorial to Remember Baker, pioneer of Arlington and
Revolutionary hero, was unveiled.
The inscription on
the marker written by Mrs. Dorothy Canfield Fisher, is as
"To Remember Baker,
Vermont patriot. Defender of the New Hampshire Grants, Captain
of the Green Mountain Buys, under Ethan Allen.
Born in Roxbury, Connecticut, he came to Arlington in 1764.
Vital, energetic, young, like all those who settled this town.
Near this spot he
built his home and was millwright of the first grist and saw
mills in the new settlement. He was killed by Indians while
scouting near St. John’s Canada.
high-spirited, he risked all he had in the service of Vermont,
Giving an example of devotion to his community which will never
be forgotten by the men and women of Arlington."
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