First Church collections book

Recently I cataloged an account book kept by one of the collectors for the First Congregational Society in Hartford. It is a small volume, only partially filled, and was used for the fifth district.  The district’s limits were “North of, but not including State St, East side of Main St. & Windsor St., and all between these limits and Connecticut River.”

Among the organizations for which the church collected were the American Education Society, Seamen’s Friends Society, and general missions home and abroad. As you can see on the image below (click to enlarge), Calvin Day was among the church’s supporters.

Calvin Day

First Congregational Society collections and expenditures book, 1853-1868, Ms 77596. Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, CT

Day was a prominent Hartford merchant who was active in the church and many other organizations in town. His fortune allowed him to donate generously, and it is not a surprise to see his signature.

What I did not expect to find in the volume were the biographies of those receiving aid. Eleven individuals and families are listed as beneficiaries of the church.


First Congregational Society collections and expenditures book, 1853-1868, Ms 77596. Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, CT

(I have chosen to display Mr. and Mrs. Buatt since he was a lithographer and we are pretty keen on lithography around here. Have you seen our Kellogg Brothers exhibit?).

The entries are all very similar, noting when the aid recipients joined the church, where they were born, other family members, their current expenses, and how much they received from the church.  Some received just cash, others also received coal deliveries. Regardless of what they received, these are the people whose stories are not remembered as well as the Calvin Days of the world. Each entry provides a brief glimpse into their lives. Mrs. Candace Augustus, age 95,  lived with her daughter-in-law and had to pay board. Laura Wheeler was “a weak minded woman” who married “Geo. Woodworth, a worthless fellow.” Sarah C. Smith “has supported herself by her needle,” and planned to move to live with her brother in Jacksonville, IL when she regained her health.

I did some more research on Sarah Smith and found that she did not move to Illinois. She is listed on the 1870 and 1880 Hartford censuses and is in the Hartford city directories through 1887. Her death does not appear to have been recorded in the Hartford Courant.

This piece and all others are available for research. Come visit!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s