The Society of Abington, comprising the western part of Pomfret, was chartered and described by the assembly May 2d, 1749, the act, in part being as follows: ” Resolved by the Assembly that an ecclesiastical society be, and is hereby, erected in the west part of said township, and that the bounds thereof be as follows: Bounded north on Woodstock, westerly on the line dividing between said town of Pomfret and Windham, so far south as to the parish already made partly out of said Pomfret, and partly out of Canterbury and partly out of Mortlake; thence by said parish eastwardly to Mortlake west side; thence by Mortlake to the southwesterly of the Rev. Ebenezer Williams’ farm-saving also all the lands and persons that are west of said Mortlake to said parish, that hath been made as aforesaid, that are already granted to said parish; and from said Williams his said corner, the line to run northerly to the southwest corner of Jonathan Dresser’s land; from thence to run between J. Dresser’s land and the land of Benjamin Allen to Mashamoquet Brook; from thence to run northerly, so as to include the dwelling house of Ebenezer Holbrook, Jun., on the west; from thence to run northwesterly until it comes to the road which crosses the Mill Brook at one hundred and fifty-five rods distance, as the road runs easterly from said brook; from thence to run north nine degrees easterly to Woodstock line, including those families that live within said town of Pomfret, which were heretofore allowed by Act of Assembly to take parish privileges in the second society of Windham, and that the limits aforesaid be limits of one ecclesiastic society, with all the powers and privileges of the other ecclesiastic societies in this Colony. And that the said parish be called and known by the name of Abington.”
Abington then numbered about fifty families. The inhabitants met June 19th, 1749, at the house of James Ingalls ” to form themselves into a society.” Captain Joseph Craft was chosen moderator; Edward Goodell, collector. It was voted “to accept of the house of James Ingalls to have preaching in;” also, ” that the committee shall provide a good minister.” Apparently no minister was engaged for the winter, as a rate was granted to pay the schoolmaster and other necessary expenses, but none for preaching. Services were probably held in James Ingall’s house, a little south of the present Abington village. In April it was voted to hire a school dame three months. The minister at last provided was Mr. Daniel Welch, afterward pastor of the church in North Mansfield. January 14th, 1751, John and James Ingalls, William Osgood, Daniel Trowbridge and Edward Paine were chosen a committee ” for setting up and building and finishing a meeting house forty-eight feet by thirty-nine.” Twenty pounds, old tenor, were allowed to Zachariah Goodell for one-half an acre of land for a building site, and a rate was ordered to pay the minister and schoolmaster. In the summer of 1751 the meeting house was raised and covered, and though still very incomplete, made ready for occupation. A three months’ school was ordered at Solomon Howe’s, in the south, and another at John Sharpe’s, in the north of the society. Mr. Jabez Whitmore preached through the winter, and made himself so acceptable that he was invited to settle April 23d, 1752. Failing in this attempt, the society next secured the services of Mr. David Ripley, of Windham, a graduate of Yale College, and he was ordained February 21st, 1753, Mr. Devotion, of Scotland, Mr. Ripley’s early pastor, preaching the sermon. March 14th the church chose, as suitable persons to serve as deacons, Samuel Craft and Samuel Ruggles. The interior of the meeting house was now made more complete. The heavy land owners were allowed to build pews for themselves, to be done within one year. The pew spots were drawn or distributed to different ones in the following order, after Mr. Ripley and his family had been granted -the pew by the pulpit stairs: Caleb Grosvenor, John Shaw, James Ingalls, Edward Paine, John Ingalls, William Osgood, John Sharpe, Daniel Trowbridge, Captain Craft, Captain Goodell, Nathaniel Stowell, Richard Peabody, Jonathan Dana, Edward Goodell, Ebenezer Goodell.
Schools received continually more attention. In 1752 three schools were allowed, two months in each part, each part to provide a house; middle school at Mr. Howe’s. In the following year two school houses were voted-Goodell, Paine and Grosvenor to fix spots. Spots were assigned the succeeding year, but the houses were not provided. In December, 1775, it was ordered, ” That the centre school be kept in -the old school house; north school at Caleb Grosvenor’s, and south school at Edward Goodell’s, if he is willing.” In 1757 four school houses were ordered, and two were actually built in 1760. In town and public affairs Abington parish bore her full share, her citizens filling a just proportion of needful town offices. Ebenezer Holbrook, Joseph Craft, William Osgood and John Grosvenor were sent successively as representatives to the general assembly. An excellent house of entertainment was kept by James Ingalls, one of its most prominent and respected citizens.
Abington society was obliged to seek the dismissal of its honored pastor, Reverend David Ripley, in consequence of disease, by which he was disabled from efficient service. He consented to be dismissed from his office in March, 1778. This dismission in nowise effected Mr. Ripley’s ministerial standing, and he officiated in the pulpit at home and abroad whenever his health permitted. He was able to preach occasionally to his former charge, and no other minister was settled for several years. Reverend Walter Lyon, a native of Woodstock and graduate of Dartmouth College, was ordained as pastor January 7th, 1783. The first pastor of the church, Reverend David Ripley, after long infirmity and suffering, died in 1785. Mr. Lyon was a faithful and conscientious pastor, devoted to the work of preaching the gospel. Improvements in schools and house of worship, the libraries and missionary efforts, enjoyed his countenance and support. A bell was given by Mr. Samuel Summer in 1800, and leave voted to certain individuals to build a steeple. In 1802 the society voted to pay the expense of hanging and raising the bell and a rope to hang it. Further repairs were soon accomplished and the house brought into good condition. The ecclesiastic society continued its care of the schools, allowing sixteen months schooling a year for the whole society-schools kept at the usual places-and voting that the schoolmasters have no more than forty shillings per month, they boarding themselves. In 1798 four school districts were formally set off and established, and suitable school houses erected. Fifteen were added to the membership of the church in 1809, and the same number in 1819. William Osgood and Wyllis Goodell were chosen deacons in 1811. Captain Elisha Lord continued to lead the singing. Mr. Abishai Sharpe was excused from paying his assessment for meeting house repairs on condition that he teach a singing school two evenings a week through the season.
Reverend Walter Lyon remained in charge of the Abington church till his death in 1826. His habits of order, discipline and exactness continued through life; his clock and desk were never moved from the spot selected for them on his first occupation of the ministerial homestead. He left a generous bequest to the society, and gave liberally to benevolent objects. Reverend Charles Fitch, a noted revivalist, was installed pastor in 1828. A very powerful revival was experienced in 1831, in connection with” a four days’ meeting.” Thirty-three persons united with the church the following January; fifty-nine during the pastorate. He was followed in 1834 by Reverend Nathan S. Hunt, who retained the charge eleven years. Abington’s usual placidity was greatly disturbed during his ministry by a controversy about building a new meeting house. After the heat of the controversy had passed away, a compromise was effected, and the society voted to repair the old meeting house thoroughly. Repairs were accomplished to general satisfaction, and the renovated house has since been maintained in excellent condition, the oldest church edifice now occupied in Windham county. George Sharpe succeeded to the position of chorister. Elisha Lord and William Osgood, Jr., were chosen deacons in 1831. A Sabbath school was organized in 1826, Deacon Wyllis Goodell, superintendent.
Nathan S. Hunt was installed pastor of this church, February 11th, 1834, and was dismissed April 30th, 1845. Following that time Reverend Edward Pratt supplied the pulpit about four years. He was followed by Reverend Sylvester Hine, who supplied for a time about 1850. Reverend Henry B. Smith was installed January 13th, 1852, and after a considerable pastoral ser-vice was dismissed August 26th, 1863. Reverend George H. Morss was ordained and installed May 11th, 1864, and was dismissed November 1st, 1866. An interval of supply then occurred. David Breed, of Windham, began preaching about 1868, and continued until June, 1872. Daniel Frost, of Dayville, supplied the vacancy at this and other times, when the church was without a pastor. Andrew Sharpe also supplied for a time. Andrew Montgomery followed, from the early part of 1875 to the spring of 1880. Reverend H. M. Bartlett, of Pomfret, supplied the pulpit in 1880, and Reverend Stephen Carter, of Westminster, supplied at a later date. Reverend Daniel J. Bliss came to the church in June, 1884, and remains at the present time. A parsonage was built in 1852. The present house of worship claims the honor of being the oldest one in the state, having been built in the year 1751, and is still in a good state of preservation. The membership of the church at the present time is about ninety.
Meetings were held here by the Second Advent people about the year 1844. In that year they were held in a school house. They were begun and for several years conducted under the leadership of Doctor Huntington, of Brooklyn. A vacant store was obtained and fitted up with seats, and this was used until about 1864, when a chapel was built in the neighborhood. This was occupied until the fall of 1874, when it was disposed of, and a new church built about a mile to the west of the former site. This is now standing and in use, and is a very neat edifice. Doctor Huntington continued to serve the church many years. Elder Carpenter preached here in connection with his labors in the Second Advent church at Danielsonville for a number of years. Elder Hezekiah Davis was settled as pastor of this church from 1874 till about the year 1882. He was followed by Elder Albert Johnson, who remained till about two years since, after which no settled ed pastor has been in charge. Elder Card, from Rhode Island, and others supplied for brief periods. The present membership of the church is about fifty. A Sunday school has been in active working order most of the time since the time of Elder Davis, and was in operation part of the year previous to that.
The Church of the Messiah, an Episcopal branch from the church at Pomfret, was erected in Abington in 1882 and 1883. Episcopal services were commenced here in 1881. A lot was donated by Miss Sarah C. Howard, and the church was erected upon it. Some of the timber and furniture. from the old house at Pomfret were used in this new house, and funds for building were largely obtained by contributions from the people of the diocese. The house was consecrated November 20th, 1883. As far as church organization and ministerial supply is concerned it is a part of the parish of Pomfret.
In 1793 a number of the inhabitants of Abington formed a “Propriety” for the purpose of establishing a library here. This was called the Social Library of Abington. Walter Lyon was the first librarian. A hundred volumes were soon procured. The price of a share was stated at twelve shillings. The instructive element here was too heavy for the palate of the young, and in 1804 a “Junior Library ” was formed, with John Holbrook, librarian. This contained some ninety volumes of light literature of the day. In 1813 the literary spirit of Abington organized a Ladies’ Library of which Alathea Lord was librarian. Seventy dollars were promptly raised and invested in books. An admission fee of three dollars and an annual tax of twenty-five cents was agreed upon to furnish funds. New members were from time to time admitted, and many valuable books bought. In 1815 a union of the Social and junior libraries was effected and these became the United Library of Abington.
With the multiplication of newspapers and magazines these libraries were less needed than they were at first, and in the course of the next quarter of a century they had fallen into neglect. The Abington Ladies’ Library for many years retained its place and power as a factor of culture in the town. The United Library of Abington also maintained its hold upon life until a revival of interest in its cause came about and a few years since the Ladies’ Library was consolidated with it and the new Social Library thus formed was endowed with some seven hundred volumes. This library has been maintained to the present time, and is in a prosperous condition. Some of the old books still remain in it. A building was erected for its accommodation about 1886. It stands near the Congregational church, on the Common. It has a library room and another room for meetings. The building cost about $1,500, of which Mr. Sabin Chase, of Waterbury, contributed $500. The library contains about one thousand volumes.
Some manufacturing is carried on in Abington, though not enough to make that industry a prominent feature of the locality. Albert Smith carries on the manufacture of brooms. Carriages are manufactured by William Brayton. The manufacture of road machines was carried on here a few years since, by George W. Taft. He began experimenting in these machines as early as 1873, since which time he has taken out a number of patents, developing the “New Model Champion.” He began manufacturing in 1882. The growth of the business for five years is shown by the number of machines manufactured each year, which was 6, 100, 250, 400, 1,500. The number last mentioned were produced in 1886, when Mr. Taft had become associated with a firm at Kennett Square, Pa., and in the latter part of that year he removed his works to that place.
Of one of the conspicuous representatives of this locality we have the following mention to make Charles Osgood was born in Pomfret, Abington Society, March 29th, 1811, and died December 5th, 1888. With the exception of a residence of five years in Putnam, he lived on the homestead which had been in possession of the Osgood family since the year 1747.
Mr. Osgood’s ability and integrity recommended him to positions of trust and responsibility. For five terms he represented the town of Pomfret in the legislature, and was an influential member. He was chairman of the state prison committee, and was the author of the bill he introduced, which passed the legislature, giving to the prisoner a deduction of five days from his term of sentence for each month of good behavior.
Previous to the Presidential election in 1864, Governor Buckingham sent Mr. Osgood- south to receive the votes of the soldiers in some of the Connecticut regiments.
He was one of the founders of the Windham County Agricultural Society in 1852, and for several years was its corresponding secretary and afterward its president. For nearly twenty years he was acting school visitor. To him were chiefly due the select schools that in successive years were of benefit to the young people of Abington.
Mr. Osgood married in 1838, Lucy Holbrook, daughter of John Holbrook, of Abington, a member of the Windham county bar. Mrs. Osgood died in 1885. They have left two sons and three daughters.
Source: History of Windham County, Connecticut, Bayles, Richard M.; New York: W.W. Preston, 1889