Our Capsule History
(See below for detailed history pamphlets and references.)
The first inhabitants of this region were Native Americans of the Podunk, Nipmuck and Mohegan tribes. By 1637 European settlers had formed a little confederacy of three plantations in this area. Farming was the principal occupation of the first settlers, but as early as 1739, the power of the wild streams flowing through the valley had been brought into use in saw mills, grist mills and in iron works. Near these, dwelling houses were built. And so, for many years before a church was established in Vernon, there were people who were united in all civil and ecclesiastical relations with those who lived South of the valley. They took part in the earliest efforts made to secure preaching the gospel and helped to form the Church in Vernon.
The territory comprising the present town of Vernon was originally settled by parties from Windsor, and in 1760, became a parish by the name of North Bolton. The Ecclesiastical Society was formed November 12, 1762 from the north part of the Bolton Society and the east part of the Second Society of Windsor. Thirty-five members, whose names have been preserved, organized our Church which was called the Second Church of Christ in Bolton.
A Meeting House was built one-half mile east of our present church, on Meeting House Hill, now named Sunnyview Drive. It was first used as a place of worship on June 20, 1762. A bronze tablet marks the spot. The first minister was Ebenezer Kellogg, born in Norwich, CT, April 5, 1737, and a graduate of Yale College, 1757.
The Church and Ecclesiastical Society took the name of the town of Vernon in October, 1808. On April 4, 1827, a new Meeting House, on our present site, was dedicated. In 1851 the building was moved back a few feet and the beautiful spire and columns were added.
In September, 1938, the steeple was blown down and the roof heavily damaged by the terrible hurricane. The picture is of the ball from the original steeple. The building was restored due to the generosity of Allyn and Robert Ford, whose parents had been former members. Over the years more improvements were made to the building. In 1957 Kellogg Hall educational wing was added to the church facilities and dedicated on February 10th of that year.
On January 23, 1965, the beautiful and historic church was destroyed by fire of undetermined origin but, fortunately, Kellogg Hall was saved. Due to the generosity of many other parishes and friends, and the members of our own congregation, a new building was erected and dedicated on September 24, 1966. The design was as much like the old building as possible. The architect, John Cadman, was a member of our church.
A capital fund drive named “Mission 225″ was held in 1987 in conjunction with the celebration of the 225th anniversary of the church. This campaign provided funds for an elevator and other necessary modifications to help make the building more accessible to the handicapped. In 1994 it was decided to put vinyl siding on the Meeting House to significantly reduce future maintenance costs.That same year the church purchased a 3.24 acre piece of land next door for "future use". Now, after several years of discussion, planning and hard work, a beautiful Memorial Garden has been created in that space.
The 21st century has brought change, challenge and hope to our church. We move forward with faith and confidence as we look back with pride at what our ancestors provided. Watch for updates to our church history as they become available
The above write up was based on, and updated from, the detailed histories below by our historians, Mildred Willes (deceased), Geraldine Strong, Joan Apel and Lynn Sweet.
31 page FCCV history compiled in 2002 by Church Historian Geraldine Risley Strong
32 page FCCV history compiled in 1974 by Church Historian Mildred S. Willes
9 page FCCV Fire Remembered booklet compiled in 2015 by Church Historian Lynn Sweet
For additional information go to these references.
250 YEARS YOUNG 1762-2012!!!!
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2011 THE CELEBRATION BEGAN!
November 24, 1762 was the date when The Rev. Ebenezer Kellogg was ordained to lead the 2nd Church of Bolton (which became First Congregational Church of Vernon in 1808 as the Town of Vernon was incorporated). Our church was already in Vernonit just wasnt Vernon yet!
ON November 20, 2011 we began a year of celebration which which culminated November 2012 when the church completed its 250th year. In honor of our 250 year, we will highlighted some of the MANY treasures of our church history found in the vault (room in the basement where important papers and items harking back to the beginnings of FCCV are preserved). The display case, formerly tucked in a corner, was moved to a more prominent spot in Fellowship Hall, andthe items it holds were be changed frequently!
We capped off the celebration with an Anniversary Dinner on Saturday evening, November 17, 6:00 PM, followed the next day, Sunday, November 18 by our 250th Anniversary Worship Service at 10 AM in the Sanctuary.
Our final official act was closing the TIME CAPSULE that had not seen the light of day in 25 years! It was filled and sealed on the occasion of FCCV's 225th Anniversary, with the intention that it would be OPENED during our 250th Anniversary year, and, subsequently, RE-FILLED, to be opened again 25 years from now. The Time Capsule was opened during Coffee Hour on Sunday, October 28 and was closed againafter the first of the year, filled with items representative of our church's current activities and interests.
Daryl Gottier, Russ Kunz, Betty Ann Wurst, Phyllis Chase, Geraldine Strong, Joan Apel (Historian), Carol Slicer, Lynn Sweet
To view other FCCV historic documents click here.