The Official Story
Chapter 1

The New Minister

The town records reveal that Hallowell's choice of a new minister in 1786 was controversial. They also reveal that Judge North and Martha's husband were both involved. Take a look at the Hallowell 1785 and 1786 town records. You can see that Joseph North was chosen to be on the committee appointed by the town in May 1785 to "procure preaching," and that the town selectmen (including Martha's husband Ephraim) were chosen for this committee less than one year later. Why is evidence about church business found in the town records? Because the minister's salary was paid with town taxes -- so the choice of a new minister was up to the town meeting. (The separation of church and state evolved over the next hundred years.)

In the tumultuous years after the American Revolution, new religious beliefs and new religious sects (Baptists, Methodists, Unitarians, Universalists, and others) proliferated throughout New England, especially in frontier settlements. If you compare these maps of the churches in mid-Maine in the year 1790, in 1800, and in 1810 you can see how many new churches sprang up in the backcountry in just twenty years. This led to fights over which minister to hire with taxpayers' money. Conflicts erupted all over New England. In fact, two of the five ministers who participated in the ordination of Hallowell's new minister were deposed within five years. Religious controversy was in the air.

The town records also reveal that two candidates for the Hallowell job had already been turned down when Isaac Foster arrived from Connecticut, as a job candidate, to preach in April. On May 8, the town meeting voted to offer the young pastor a job; the vote was 57 to 4.

We can read the letter of acceptance Foster wrote. In it, he writes, "Permit me, my Brethren, to rely on your candor while I faithfully improve the talent God has given me for your spiritual good." All seemed well.

Did Martha say anything about hiring the new minister?

Indictment for an Assault
But the town clerk, Henry Sewall, mounted an attack against the young minister...

Table of Contents

Hallowell Town Records (Original)
Town of Hallowell Officials
View Image
View Image
View Frames version

 93 (Mar 6, 1786 mtg)   94 (Mar 6, 1786 mtg)   97 (Mar 6, 1786 mtg) 



folio 93 (March 6, 1786 meeting)

  Warrant for March
Meeting AD 1786 Cond
} 93
7th To see if the Town will vote to have the annual meeting in March, April, and May for the future to be held on the first Mondays in each of said months.-- and Also to have said Meetings warned by notifications posted at the Meeting house or such other place or places as the Town shall judge proper.
8th. To see if the Town will vote to accept of a road between Lots NoForty three and Forty-four East side of the River, from the said river to the County road. Also a road between Lots NoTwenty two and Twenty three on the East side of the river, from the said river to the County road. Also on alteration of a road through the Lands belonging to the heirs of Sam a. Cory deceased- Mr. Nathl Herseys, James Howards Esq., & Colo William Howards. Also a road from Winthrop Line near Mr. Follets, easterly to the Town road near Mr. Hains's. Also an alteration of a road near Mr. Chatshaw's Also a road or Landing near Mr. Isaac Clark's and Also an alteration of the Town road near Mr. Daniel Stevens.
9th. To hear the report of the Committee that was Chosen to Look out a Burying place or places, and to accept of the same if the Town think proper
10th To see if the Town will vote to grant some part of the eight rod roads in several places in this town, in exchange. Viz.
11th To hear the report of the Committee that was Chosen, to estimate what would be an adequate Compensation to the Late Constables for their services done for the Town, and Collecting Taxes- and to approve or disapprove the same as the Town shall judge proper.
12th To see if the Town will Vote to give the Revd. Mr. Hazlitt, an invitation to settle in this Town in the work of the Ministry.