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In Church Attics, Clues to the Private Life of Early America
NY Times ^ | July 30, 2014 | MICHAEL PAULSON

Posted on 07/30/2014 6:02:15 PM PDT by Pharmboy

STURBRIDGE, Mass. — Sarah Blanchard was sorry she skipped a worship service. Sarah Wood apologized for denouncing infant baptisms. And as for the Cheneys, Joseph and Abigail? Well, “with shame, humiliation and sorrow,” they acknowledged having had sex before marriage.

More than 250 years ago, their confessions of sin were dutifully logged by the minister of the church here, alongside records of baptisms, marriages and deaths, notes about meetings heated and routine, accounts of finances, texts of sermons, and, in some cases, personal accounts of conversion experiences from young adults.

Now, in a regionwide scavenger hunt, a pair of historians is rummaging through New England church basements and attics, file cabinets, safes and even coat closets, searching for these records of early American life. The historians are racing against inexorable church closings, occasional fires, and a more mundane but not uncommon peril: the actual loss of documents, which most often occurs when a church elder dies and no one can remember the whereabouts of historical papers.

“I have seen them be destroyed, lost, covered with mold or just forgotten,” said the Rev. Janet Leighninger, the pastor of the Federated Church of Sturbridge and Fiskdale here. “And as finances get tighter, as they are everywhere, and as congregations shrink, and they are doing that in many places, it becomes a matter of, ‘Do we do the ministry we are called to do, or do we preserve the past?’ ”

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events; US: Massachusetts
KEYWORDS: americanhistory; churchrecords
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When there's no politics involved, the Times is able to do a good job. This is a great piece, and please check out the pics at the link.
1 posted on 07/30/2014 6:02:15 PM PDT by Pharmboy
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To: indcons; Chani; thefactor; blam; aculeus; ELS; Doctor Raoul; mainepatsfan; timpad; ...

Southwick, MA, Congregational Church

The RevWar/Colonial History/General Washington ping list

2 posted on 07/30/2014 6:05:20 PM PDT by Pharmboy (Democrats lie because they must.)
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To: Pharmboy

Why would the Pastor write down all the sins of the congregation?Did the folks know he was recording all this?


3 posted on 07/30/2014 6:08:26 PM PDT by Farmer Dean (stop worrying about what they want to do to you,start thinking about what you want to do to them)
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To: Pharmboy; SunkenCiv

SC—ping for the GGG fans.

Pharmboy—nice article.

Wouldn’t it be grand if these records sparked a new revival, and New England would not only find God again, but also the fire of liberty was re-kindled?


4 posted on 07/30/2014 6:12:00 PM PDT by exit82 ("The Taliban is on the inside of the building" E. Nordstrom 10-10-12)
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To: Farmer Dean

Good question. I guess things were different then...would be interested to know if this was the general rule in these churches at the time. Perhaps a Freeper who is familiar with New England church history can tell us.


5 posted on 07/30/2014 6:13:41 PM PDT by Pharmboy (Democrats lie because they must.)
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To: Pharmboy

My goodness! I think of all of the invective Protestants turn against Catholics for the practice of Confession. At least Catholics don’t write the sins down to be read by nosy parishioners and researchers 100’s of years later!


6 posted on 07/30/2014 6:15:38 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: Pharmboy

Great. We’ve got the private confessions of church goers from 250 years ago. We can’t get emails from the IRS from 2 years ago.


7 posted on 07/30/2014 6:17:26 PM PDT by Flick Lives ("I can't believe it's not Fascism!")
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To: afraidfortherepublic

I don’t think we are supposed to be dragging fights from other threads around


8 posted on 07/30/2014 6:18:11 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
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To: GeronL

I am speaking in general, not about any other thread. As a Catholic convert I’ve heard it all from my mostly Protestant family. Before I converted to the Catholic faith, I was a member of a Congregationalist Church, and I heard it there too.


9 posted on 07/30/2014 6:22:45 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: GeronL

I am speaking in general, not about any other thread. As a Catholic convert I’ve heard it all from my mostly Protestant family. Before I converted to the Catholic faith, I was a member of a Congregationalist Church, and I heard it there too.


10 posted on 07/30/2014 6:22:45 PM PDT by afraidfortherepublic
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To: exit82
Ugh. Last year, nyt, ran a article about collecting relics of the Churches[Staten Island] being sold off for development. kinda depressing.

For Artifacts From Closed Churches, an Afterlife on Staten Island

11 posted on 07/30/2014 6:26:27 PM PDT by Theoria (I should never have surrendered. I should have fought until I was the last man alive)
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To: Flick Lives

Fantastic comment! Post o’ the day! You REALLY made me LOL!!


12 posted on 07/30/2014 6:29:29 PM PDT by Pharmboy (Democrats lie because they must.)
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To: Pharmboy

Huh they are pikers...

In 1630 my ancestor was member #21 of the Boston church and in 1632 there “happened in this town (Charlestown) the first known thief that was notoriously observed in the country”...

Since he had everything taken from him that first time to make restitution, the 2nd time his 7 yo daughter was put into slavery until she was 21..

While I have at least ONE slave ancestor in the US, Obama had NONE...


13 posted on 07/30/2014 6:30:42 PM PDT by Tennessee Nana
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To: Pharmboy
....in a regionwide scavenger hunt, a pair of historians is rummaging through New England church basements and attics, file cabinets, safes and even coat closets, searching for these records of early American life. The historians are racing against inexorable church closings, occasional fires, and a more mundane but not uncommon peril: the actual loss of documents, which most often occurs when a church elder dies and no one can remember the whereabouts of historical papers.

“I have seen them be destroyed, lost, covered with mold or just forgotten,” said the Rev. Janet Leighninger, the pastor of the Federated Church of Sturbridge and Fiskdale here. “And as finances get tighter, as they are everywhere, and as congregations shrink, and they are doing that in many places, it becomes a matter of, ‘Do we do the ministry we are called to do, or do we preserve the past?’ ”

PFL

14 posted on 07/30/2014 6:35:17 PM PDT by Alex Murphy ("the defacto Leader of the FR Calvinist Protestant Brigades")
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To: Tennessee Nana
But, what happened to him the second time? His daughter paid his debt? Incredible story, BTW...do you have written records or was this oral history passed down through the family?
15 posted on 07/30/2014 6:46:13 PM PDT by Pharmboy (Democrats lie because they must.)
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To: Pharmboy
“And as finances get tighter, as they are everywhere, and as congregations shrink, and they are doing that in many places, it becomes a matter of, ‘Do we do the ministry we are called to do, or do we preserve the past?’ ”

Well, I'm not sure how godly a thing it is to record confessions for posterity, unless the people doing the confessing absolutely insist upon it in which case it should be up to them to go to the trouble.

16 posted on 07/30/2014 6:47:51 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: Pharmboy

This wouldn’t have been possible (in principle) after the Constitution. But those were some wild, wooly days.


17 posted on 07/30/2014 6:49:28 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (Embrace the Lion of Judah and He will roar for you and teach you to roar too. See my page.)
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To: Pharmboy

Peyton Place.....??????


18 posted on 07/30/2014 6:49:47 PM PDT by njslim (T)
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To: Pharmboy

From records held by the New England Historical Genealogical Society etc..


19 posted on 07/30/2014 6:55:28 PM PDT by Tennessee Nana
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To: Pharmboy

Great story, it did surprise me that it was the NY Times that published it. Thanks.


20 posted on 07/30/2014 6:56:43 PM PDT by Foundahardheadedwoman (God don't have a statute of limitations)
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To: Flick Lives
We’ve got the private confessions of church goers from 250 years ago. We can’t get emails from the IRS from 2 years ago.

Maybe they'll surface in 250 years.

21 posted on 07/30/2014 6:58:30 PM PDT by faux_hog
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To: Pharmboy; marktwain

LOL, I think I really need some new glasses (or maybe I just need to wear the ones I have!).

I mis-read this as “In Church ANTICS, clues to the private life of early America”.

So you know, it gave my pause there for a moment!

(Marktwain you helped me with my confusion from the other day, that’s why I pinged you)


22 posted on 07/30/2014 7:01:16 PM PDT by jocon307
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To: HiTech RedNeck
This wouldn’t have been possible (in principle) after the Constitution. But those were some wild, wooly days.

In Pennsylvania eamancpation did not occur until 1810.

23 posted on 07/30/2014 7:07:18 PM PDT by lightman (O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance, giving to Thy Church vict'ry o'er Her enemies.)
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To: jocon307

Well, some would say recording confessions was quite an ‘antic.’


24 posted on 07/30/2014 7:30:17 PM PDT by Pharmboy (Democrats lie because they must.)
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To: Pharmboy

Interesting. Had an ancestor that kept leaving his wife and kids. He’d just wander off and months or a couple years later show up again. He was gone for 5 years and his wife married the school teacher in 1749, Plymouth, Massachusetts. They were called in front of the church and condemned because they hadn’t waited for 7 years and the teacher was fired. At the 7 year mark they married again. No one knows what happened to my ancestor. 2nd family? Living with Indians? Murdered? No idea.


25 posted on 07/30/2014 7:40:00 PM PDT by DJ MacWoW (The Fed Gov is not one ring to rule them all)
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To: Farmer Dean

In Catholicism it is against Church teaching for anyone, even the repentant, to write down ones’ sins.

The idea is that once Jesus forgives the sin it is forgiven. Reparations and penance are a matter to be handled after, but continued guilt and obsession- scrupulosity.

This is a horrible story, well written, I suppose, but, wow.


26 posted on 07/30/2014 7:46:06 PM PDT by stanne
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To: Flick Lives

Fantastic comment! Post o’ the day! You REALLY made me LOL!!

Ditto!

Mike


27 posted on 07/30/2014 7:55:58 PM PDT by MikeinMotley
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To: njslim

“Peyton Place.....??????”

Somewhat of a G rated Peyton Place. There was a custom in New England called bundling, engaged couples or soon to be engaged were sown into bags and placed in the same bed sometimes with a board placed between them, may have been where the term woody came from, who knows.

Why this practice came into being, I have no idea, unless it was to test the resourcefulness of the man, or maybe to find out if either snored or farted like a pulling mule. Any of my reasons may have been grounds for calling off the engagement. I have often wondered how they got away with getting out of the bags and then sewed them back up after the deed. Apologies in advance if you have already heard this story.


28 posted on 07/30/2014 8:19:28 PM PDT by Foundahardheadedwoman (God don't have a statute of limitations)
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To: Foundahardheadedwoman
What I know of bundling is that America was very rural and sometimes it took hours to get to an intendeds home by horse or carriage so the groom to be stayed the night after being invited for dinner as it was safer.

I have an ancestor whose bride to be was a day and a halfs travel away. They had a my ancestor 6 months after their marriage. lol

29 posted on 07/30/2014 8:25:19 PM PDT by DJ MacWoW (The Fed Gov is not one ring to rule them all)
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To: Pharmboy

Incredible.

Any Catholic priest who wrote down anything he heard in Confession, even if nobody ever read it, would be instantly and automatically excommunicated.


30 posted on 07/30/2014 9:10:57 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: stanne

Not true. The penitent is not bound by the Seal of Confession. The priest and anyone who overhears the confession are bound.


31 posted on 07/30/2014 9:14:39 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: Flick Lives

Post of the day.....lol


32 posted on 07/30/2014 9:20:01 PM PDT by Conservative4Ever (waiting for my Magic 8 ball to give me an answer)
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To: Arthur McGowan

The penitent can do what they want, of course, but he is advised to not write it down, and advised that it is never a part of forgiveness to do so nor to dwell or obsess

In a piece on why can’t Catholics do confession via email, it can’t be done. The Church doesn’t want anyone writing down their sins, and for the reason depicted in this story


33 posted on 07/30/2014 10:47:23 PM PDT by stanne
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To: Pharmboy

One time while going through a Unitarian church steeple, I saw a pile of discarded copper crosses lying on a platform. I assume these were finials removed from the exterior when they decided Christ was not more important than other religious figures. That was back at the turn of the century, from 19th to 20th. The Coexist came much later.


34 posted on 07/30/2014 11:30:39 PM PDT by LoneRangerMassachusetts (The meek shall not inherit the Earth)
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To: stanne

I don’t know where you encountered this idea, but there’s no basis for it. Any person is free to write down anything he pleases about his own sins, or life in general. The Church has no rules about this, in connection with Confession or otherwise.

Of course obsessing about the past is not healthy, but this has nothing to do specifically with the Sacrament of Penance.

The reason the Sacrament of Penance cannot be received by e-mail, or telephone, or Skype, or by letter, is that the penitent and the priest are not physically present to each other. It has nothing to do with any prohibition of writing things down.

In fact, if a person who cannot speak for some reason wishes to confess, he can do it in writing. If he speaks a foreign language, he could have a trusted friend write down his sins in a language the priest will understand. (Of course, the friend would be bound by the Seal.)


35 posted on 07/30/2014 11:39:34 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: Pharmboy
Good question. I guess things were different then...would be interested to know if this was the general rule in these churches at the time. Perhaps a Freeper who is familiar with New England church history can tell us.

In the late 1800's, most New England churches could seat hundreds and in some cases thousands. A small town could have a dozen churches. Today, most churches are lucky to get dozens to attend. I remember in my childhood, hundreds attending. The preacher would give a sermon clearly derived form the Bible. Nowadays, social justice has taken over many churches. One will hear nauseating sermons on accommodation of unspeakable notions. I expect church attendance will continue to decline. You can't get me to attend.

36 posted on 07/30/2014 11:41:18 PM PDT by LoneRangerMassachusetts (The meek shall not inherit the Earth)
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To: Arthur McGowan

Can you imagine what Ted Kennedy’s priest must have heard????


37 posted on 07/31/2014 4:49:53 AM PDT by 4everontheRight (And the story began with..."Once there was a great nation......")
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To: Pharmboy

Thank you for posting. This is very interesting.


38 posted on 07/31/2014 5:16:50 AM PDT by kalee
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To: Foundahardheadedwoman; kalee; exit82

Thank you for your kind words. You are all most welcome.


39 posted on 07/31/2014 5:52:37 AM PDT by Pharmboy (Democrats lie because they must.)
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To: stanne

I don’t believe that was true during the Inquisition.


40 posted on 07/31/2014 5:56:22 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: Theoria

I have worked on Staten Island—it has some beautiful areas, and fantastic views of NYC. Nice folks also.

Thanks for the article—no one really thinks about what happens to these articles once a church closes.


41 posted on 07/31/2014 6:05:43 AM PDT by exit82 ("The Taliban is on the inside of the building" E. Nordstrom 10-10-12)
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To: AppyPappy

I expect free republic anti Catholics to bring up the inquisition

I am done

Do you know that the pope recently apologized for it? Or that it was behavior by people In the church acting outside of church teaching? Same as Obama acting outside of the constitution ?

The church apologized for it it’s outside of church teaching and it’s not practisied any longer

You bring up slavery as to how America treats black people, right?

Same

Well, we Catholics have confession. We are instructed to not dwell on the past once our sins are forgiven

It comes from the words of Jesus at the last supper. ‘Those whose sins you forgive are forgiven

But we don’t practice anything that was perpetration by the spanish I don’t know how many centuries ago

Snd I don’t know what it was that they did do, never learned it don’t know
What it was

All it is is for a way to condemn Catholics by people who dislike Catholicism and can’t pinpoint why that is


42 posted on 07/31/2014 6:55:10 AM PDT by stanne
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To: stanne

Kinda sensitive about that, huh?


43 posted on 07/31/2014 7:07:07 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: AppyPappy

Sensitive? How?

I didn’t bring it up. Maybe you don’t recall it was you, sensitive about the inquisition, who brought it up?

Perhaps you’d like to share what it is about the inquisition that bothers you. You could tell us what it was and how it is relevant today

I can assure you no one here knows


44 posted on 07/31/2014 7:36:49 AM PDT by stanne
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To: stanne

No you didn’t read the context. You just reacted.

The context was the very old records were found in a Protestant that detailed sins of congregants.
The Catholics responded with “we never did that”.
I brought up the Inquisition when Catholics did exactly that. They issued written charges against congregants.
You just saw the word “Inquisition” and went all poofy tailed.


45 posted on 07/31/2014 7:57:50 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: AppyPappy

Perhaps you’d like to share what it is about the inquisition that bothers you. You could tell us what it was and how it is relevant today.


46 posted on 07/31/2014 8:03:34 AM PDT by stanne
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To: Pharmboy
The Sturbridge Federated Church:

We had my mother's funeral in this church. She was from there.

47 posted on 07/31/2014 8:39:39 AM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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To: 4everontheRight

Ted Kennedy never allowed a real priest anywhere near him. Crime families allow only tame priests into their lives.

If Kennedy had ever made a good Confession, we would all know about it, because a condition of absolution would have been a complete public repudiation of his support for abortion and other evils.


48 posted on 07/31/2014 11:10:53 AM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: 4everontheRight

If anything could be heard over the sound of the priest slobbering on the Kennedys.


49 posted on 07/31/2014 8:11:37 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: Pharmboy; exit82

:’)


50 posted on 08/02/2014 6:33:29 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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