Martha Ballard's Story
Chapter 1

The New Minister

Martha first mentions the Rev. Mr. Isaac Foster, "a yong Gentleman from Stafford, in the state of Conneticut" on April 16th, 1786, when he preached on probation. She didn't attend church that day, but must have heard about it in "Intermision," the break between the lengthy morning and afternoon services.

It was the year after Martha began her diary, and the fifteen year-old town of Hallowell was looking for its first fulltime Congregational minister.

On May 8, Martha noted in her diary, "this town mett & Gave the Revd mr Foster a Call to Settle here." Because town taxes paid the minister's salary, hiring the new town minister was town business. Several candidates for the minister's job had already been turned down.

What does the official Hallowell town record say?

Town disputes over New England ministers were common after the Revolution. In fact, documents from the Plymouth Court of Common Pleas -- reveal that Martha Ballard's own brother was expelled from his pulpit in Rochester, Massachusetts for being too liberal in his theology and too inflexible in his dealings with his neighbors.



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Perhaps Martha was liberal in her theology, too.

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