BY MICHAEL DWYER
PITTSFORD—As part of the Brandon Library clean-out and renovation, volunteer Carol Fjeld discovered a 78-page pamphlet on the centennial observance of the Pittsford Congregational Church from June of 1884. She kindly dropped off the copy to me at the church last week. It was also a wonderful opportunity for Carol to update me on news of the Fjeld adult children, all of whom were a pleasure for me to have taught at OVUHS.
This slender volume provides a time capsule not only of the church’s history but also of ways that a church community interacted with a series of exercises and addresses to mark a milestone anniversary.
The congregation sat through several hours-long orations that took two days to deliver. It was a social as well as religious event. Today, in our world of screens and sound bites, we cannot fully appreciate how folks from a century ago certainly had longer attention spans! As a lover of books and historical ephemera, I gratefully received this paper copy for our church archives.
The folder chart inside the front cover details the floor plan of the first meeting house erected around 1795. [Our existing building dates from 1837. The meeting house was moved and later lost in a fire].
We learn at least four compelling facts about Congregational history from this sheet of paper:
1. Prominence of the pulpit
2. Separate entrances for men and for women
3. Box pews
4. Social hierarchy as reflected in rental prices of the pews, still valued in pounds and shillings
Genealogists among us recognize that Kinglseys, Hendees, and Hitchcocks still reside in the area today.
Other families migrated west in the 19th century, Cooleys among them, whose descendants I know in Utah.
It took a small investment of time to give this booklet a new home. What would have been lost if it ended up in a dumpster? Thank you, Carol.