Notes on 200 Years (and More) July 2022

Notes on Two Hundred Years (and More) 

by Douglas H. Parkhurst 

This writer has come across a variety of news items, articles, and announcements while researching for Notes. Here is a sampling of some “oldies” plus one more recent. The first three appeared in early Universalist periodicals. 

Christian Repository, 1826 – “An assembly of Ministers and Delegates in the faith of Universal Salvation, convened at the city of Hudson, (N.Y.)…and…organized the ‘Hudson River Association’ in fellowship with the General Convention of Universalists….The first meeting of the new Association is to be held at Danbury, (Conn.) [in] September, 1826.” [Note – This was after the organization of the Danbury Universalist Society in 1822 and prior to the formation of the Connecticut Universalist Convention in 1832 and three county associations a few years later.] 

The Universalist, Sat. Oct 26, 1833 – “The Connecticut State Convention, assembled in Danbury, Conn. on the 9th inst. on which occasion the house [new church building] recently erected by the Universalists in that place, was dedicated. Dedicatory Sermon by Br. M.H. Smith, of Hartford, Conn.” [Note – This building stood at the northwest corner of present-day Main and Wooster Streets. It was the Danbury Universalist Society’s first permanent home.] 

The Christian Leader, Sat. June 20, 1874 – “Connecticut Southern Association [Universalist]: This body held its annual meeting at Meriden, June 10 and 11….Rev. D.M. Hodge, Clerk….In the afternoon Rev. E. Smiley preached from the text, ‘The letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life’ – 2 Cor. iii. 6….The representatives of the various parishes then, under the call of the ‘State of the Church,’ reported as follows:….Danbury. Rev. D.M. Hodge, pastor. 40 families; average attendance, 75; Sunday School average, 70, with 10 teachers. Use the Helper series, and unite with other denominations in a Union Teachers’ Meeting….” [Note – Dwight Hodge was minister in Danbury during the 1870s. Edward Smiley was ordained in Danbury and was pastor in 1856.] 

The Pensacola [Florida] News, Fri. March 17, 1899 – “Rev. R.P. Ambler of DeFuniak Springs, will be in the city [Pensacola], and preach at the Universalist church, Sunday at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dr. Ambler is gifted with great ability, is an eloquent speaker, and can hold his audiences spellbound. Public most cordially invited to hear this talented divine. Seats free.” [Note – Russell Ambler, a Danbury native, was fellowshipped by the Connecticut Southern Association in 1845 and was ordained in 1848. He spent many years in Florida spreading the good news of Universalism.] 

Hartford Courant, Thu. May 5, 1921 – “The legislative committee on incorporations has approved a bill incorporating The Scott-Fanton Museum Corporation of Danbury….Provision for the museum was made in the will of Mrs. Laura B. Fanton who died about three years ago…leaving land and buildings on Deer Hill avenue of that city. The general object of the new corporation is to establish in the home on Deer Hill avenue a free public museum and center for the public in educational, scientific, historical and cultural duties and to encourage public appreciation in art, science, history and music.” [Note – Laura Fanton was a long-time member and benefactor of the Danbury Universalist Church. The Scott-Fanton Museum has evolved into The Danbury Museum and Historical Society at 43 Main Street.] 

Comment, September 2000 – “Women! Save the weekend of Friday, March 30 to Sunday, April 1 for a wonderful weekend of spirituality, togetherness, workshops, walks, talks, and just plain old fun. We have the 18th century New England Farmhouse, with fireplace, at Wisdom House in Litchfield already reserved….A deposit of $50…will hold your place in either the Farmhouse or the main building. The total cost of the weekend will be approximately $150….” [Note – This announces an early Women’s Retreat sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Northern Fairfield County (today’s UUCD). These gatherings were first held at Wisdom House, a retreat and conference center in Litchfield, CT.]