Nina Daniels



Thursday, April 20, 1950

Every one was busy this Monday morning fifty years ago in Parishville-on-the-Hilltop. They had been to church, Sunday-school, and Christian Endeavor the day and evening before in one or the other of the two churches, the Baptist or Union. The old Congregationalist church still stood where the gas station now owned by John Duff is, but it was abandoned, and in a few more years, town down. Both the Baptist and Union churches were full every Sunday, and also in the evening. Whether because the folks were more religious or had nowhere else to go, I cannot say. The Baptists always had the better choir, as the Mitchells attended that church and many of them were good singers. Who, who ever knew and loved them, can forget Elmer and Minnie Mitchell? The latter played the organ and sang soprano while Elmer led with his tenor. The choir practice was often held at their home on Catherine Street. Both Elmer's father and uncle sang in the choir, and also his cousins Gertrude and Grace Tichenor. Also the Baptists had Mrs. Pliny Clark, and there were others, too. Minnie Mitchell could play the old-fashioned organ most beautifully, and incidentally, the old-fashioned organ produced the best accompaniment for sacred music in a country church. The late Charles Lanphere, when visiting a relative here, loved to go into the Union church and play the old organ by the hour. In her home next door, Mrs. Eliza Newton loved to hear him and would listen enthralled. No one ever dreamed of going out of town to church. It was too hard and long a trip and it simply wasn't done.

The S. L. Clark family, and that of "Hal" Clark, his brother, were faithful and devout Baptists. Jason Clark and his family attended the Union church. Both churches 50 years ago had resident preachers. Their salary would average perhaps $800 a year and a donation. This latter function was a relic of pioneer days when ministers were paid partly in products of fields and homes. Gradually such offerings were made in cash given once a year at a supper held in the parsonage. As children and young people were allowed to go and play games upstairs, the donation sometimes fell short of repairing the damage done to furniture and carpets. As the new century opened, the sharp line drawn in the past between the sects began slowly to become less sharp. Up to 1900 no Methodist or Congregationalist could expect ever to partake of the bread and wine at a Baptist communion service. But more than forty years ago Elder Brown, a Baptist preacher, but beloved by everyone, surprised the congregation in his church by general invitation to the communion service. It was accepted, and the barriers between two Christian congregations were down in that respect. The two churches worshipped together Sunday evening. Mr. "Slim" Clark always joined in the communion service in the Union church. Mr. Clark was a very religious man, and also a temperamental one, and outward expression of the soul's conflicts appealed to him immediately. He was not alone, however, in the responses to appeals such as were made in the old-fashioned "revival" meetings in vogue half a century ago. Both churches had one of these "revivals" periodically. Led by an evangelist trained for the work, enthusiastic crowds filled the church each evening. Before the evangelist went away, the church was materially recruited by new members who had recognized and repented their sins and were anxious to lead different lives. The meetings were full of religious fervor and much outward expression.

They have been abandoned here. One's religious experiences are not for exploitation. They are too deep and sacred for that.



North Country