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    Site Number 23.  In 1730 the Reverend John Moody became Newmarket’s first pastor at the First Meeting House near Rockingham Junction.  He stayed for 48 years.   According to his parishioners, that was way too long.

    Religious services at Lamprey River Village began when a Newmarket Manufacturing Company supervisor started a church in a mill warehouse.  As the congregation grew, the mills donated land for this building.  In December 1828 the First Congregational Church held its first Christmas services here.  Two entrances in front led to the sanctuary with its high box pews and plain glass windows. 

    Inside, people grappled with such issues as abolition of slavery and temperance.  In 1837 the congregation voted unanimously that slavery was “a violation of every human right” and “no slaveholder shall be allowed to lead in our public devotions.” 

    Fifty years later, the Reverend J. L. Harris lectured throughout the area, warning of the evils of alcohol.  His coalition of community leaders threatened to sue Newmarket liquor dealers who ignored the liquor laws.  This was not lost on benefactress Susan Creighton, a longtime advocate for temperance.  In her will she left her home on Exeter Street to the church, to be used as a parsonage.  

    Finances were an issue in the early years.  Most preachers, unable to support their families, didn’t stay long.  An 1865 increase in salary persuaded the Rev. Isaac C. White to accept, and he remained for 22 years.  Under his watch the church building was transformed.  In 1872 he added a vestry, and the 1840 steeple was expanded to include a bell and clock tower.  Reverend White worked with Civil War veteran John Palmer who collected subscriptions to pay for the clock—a town/church collaboration that continues to this day.

    In 1893 Reverend Harris replaced the two entry doors with gothic windows and built a vestibule for the new center door—the last exterior renovations done here until 1959.  Reverend Harris also had a new downstairs parlor and dining room constructed—paid for by a women’s fundraising effort collected in “Money Jugs.” 

    This became the Federated Church in 1907 when the Methodist Society joined.  The Baptist Society followed suit in 1920, and the name changed again – to the Newmarket Community Church.  The charismatic Reverend John D. Kettelle led the church’s centennial in 1928, when the paneled oak chancel and the memorial stained glass windows were unveiled.   But then the dominoes fell:  the January 1929 mill strike decimated the town economy, the church reduced Reverend Kettelle’s salary, and he resigned.  Once out of town, he began publicly blaming the workers.  This did not sit well with the church or the townspeople he had left behind.

    After the Great Depression and the war, things turned around in 1946 under the leadership of Reverend Ernest McKenzie.  He worked with a town committee focusing on recreational and educational opportunities for Newmarket youth.  He died suddenly in 1956, and his successor led the last major addition to the back of the church.

    In 2014, this church welcomed its first female settled minister – Reverend Patty Marsden.   In 2015 “Pastor Patty” partnered with Police Chief Kyle True to tackle the opioid crisis.  During the 2020 Covid pandemic she went to great heights, raising over $16,000 to fund the food pantry—and then sleeping in the belfry as promised. 

    For Site No. 24, continue along the street and have a seat in Arbor Park.

    END OF AUDIO TEXT. See below for photos and more information.


    Site No. 23 — The Community Church (1828) and the Town Clock (1872)

    First & Second Meeting Houses at Rockingham Junction

    Being part of Exeter from 1639 until 1727, the early founders of Lamprey River settlement and the settlement along the Squamscott River (present day Newfields) travelled to the Meeting House there for local governmental meetings as well as religious services.  Prior to the Revolution there was no separation of church and state; in the colonies, the minister was supported by public taxation.

    In Early Colonial New England, church attendance was mandatory. (So much for leaving the old country for freedom of religion!)  Lamprey River Village residents Charles Glidden, Christian Dollhoff, Arthur Bennet, James Godfred, Richard Morgan, William Tayler and Robert Rowell were all summonsed and admonished by the Court held at Salisbury on 8 April 1673 “for not frequenting the public worship of God on the Lord’s Day”. (Records of the Quarterly Courts of Essex County, 5:152).  The court did not take into account that these men lived eight miles from a meeting house, making attendance an undue burden. 

    [Undated photo shows the old Moody Parsonage (built shortly after 1730).  In 1772, John Moody’s grandson switched houses with his father-in-law, Captain James Hill, who ran a tavern here.  In Oct 1789 General George Washington stopped here for breakfast, and to thank Hill for his work during the Revolution.   See Schanda Park Site #21 - shipbuilding link.]

    The thought of having to pay a church tax and travel so far for ministerial services, prompted the people on the north side of the Squamscott to join together and form a separate parish from Exeter to be called New Market.  Their request was granted in 1727 by the Colonial Government.  Immediately it was voted to build a Meeting House at the center of the parish in (today the center is known as Rockingham Junction).   In 1730 the first preacher brought to the settlement was Rev. John Moody.  He would supply the pulpit for 48 years—not without substantial strife, controversy and continual court cases.  Rev. Moody died in 1778.


    The Moody Parsonage was the first meeting location of the faithful.  They listened to the Reverend preach from his living quarters while the “First Meeting House” was being built at the corner of the Old Burying Yard (located just over the Newfields town line on Route 108).  During the last five years of his control of the pulpit, he was assisted by a number of traveling preachers.  By 1777 Rev. Moody had alienated so many of his parishioners that he was forced to resign. 

    One of the traveling preachers was the Rev. Nathaniel Ewer, a follower of a revivalist movement.   By 1772 he had formed a Presbyterian Church at the “Old West Meeting Houselocated on the New Market Plains (Wadleigh Falls Road).  Former disgruntled congregation members of Rev. Moody, as well as men from Durham and Lee followed Ewer to join his church of “New Lights” or “Separatists.”  Rev. Ewer was settled in by 1773. 

     In 1789, 11 years after Moody’s death, his former congregation asked Ewer to be their pastor as well.  The East and West Societies reunited, and services resumed in The First Meeting House at the Junction.  The structure, by then about 50 years old and no longer adequate, was sold to the highest bidder in November 1791; it was later demolished.

    “The Second Meeting House” was built on land donated by Revolutionary war hero General James Hill in 1792.  Henry Wiggin and his sons Michial and Henry, Jr. designed and constructed this new meeting house and built it just west of the Moody parsonage, probably in what is now the triangle at the entrance of Ash Swamp Road.  Ewer remained the pastor here until he died in 1806.  The Meeting House had three entrance doors, a high pulpit and sounding board, 81 floor and gallery pews, a double row of windows on each side, a high steeple and a fish weathervane.   When completed, there was a day of rejoicing and celebration in which the following were consumed:  60 gallons of West Indian Rum, 4 barrels of cider, 7 bushels of potatoes, 75 pounds of butter, 12 pounds of coffee, and 3 quintals (about 661 pounds) of fish.  This church flourished for about 40 years.

    Records show that nearly 40 years later, the newly-established Congregational Church in Lamprey River Village “admitted to the church Mrs. Mary Smith who was formerly connected with a church in New Market which has become extinct, and its records lost.”  Was this a reference to the Second Meeting House, or to the East or West Societies? 

     The Mills Bring Religion to Lamprey River Village

    Savage’s 1800 map shows no meeting house in Lamprey River Village.  The first public religious service held within “the Lamprey River village” was conducted without church or minister in 1825. Timothy Chamberlain was employed by the Newmarket Manufacturing Co. to oversee the building of the No. 2 mill. The prospect of employment had drawn to the town a large floating population, and he felt the need to look after their spiritual well-being. He applied to the company, and with the Board of Directors’ approval, secured permission to use the second story of their wharf/warehouse for religious meetings. 

    This wharf was located just north of the old town hall in the area of Rivermoor Landing today.  He organized a Sabbath School in 1826, conducting the services himself—delivering sermons and quotations from the Bible.

    Some three hundred people attended these services in the warehouse.  Led and inspired by Mr. Chamberlain, the new congregation raised money to secure a permanent minister. Early in the fall of that year Mr. John P. Cleveland, a young man who had been preaching and teaching in Exeter, delivered his first sermon in the warehouse.   At this time, throughout the countryside, there was a general religious fever known historically as “The Great Awakening” and the congregation blossomed as many more people joined the church.

    The Sabbath school consisted of five teachers and thirty pupils. Most of the pupils were the poverty-stricken boys and girls who worked in the mills and who—for the most part—did not attend regular school. Contrary to the then-existing custom, this organization predated the formation of a church. 

    In 1827 a generous townsman, Mr. Walter Smith erected a hall for public worship on Main Street.  It soon became apparent that the need had outstripped the use of Mr. Smith’s hall.  The Newmarket Manufacturing Company donated land, and plans unfolded for the Congregational Church building.

    The First Congregational Church built 1828

    In 1828 the First Congregational Church was now fully formed in church membership, and Rev. David Sanford installed as its first pastor.  He had been a theological student at Andover, newly ordained on May 22, 1828.

    That summer 32 new members joined the church and work began for a new meetinghouse at the corner of Main and Water Streets. It opened and was dedicated five days before Christmas on December 20, 1828.  Though construction was not quite completed, it was able to hold Christmas services.

    At first the building had neither steeple nor vestry.   It had a series of small, clear glass windowpanes and high box square pews with doors that fastened with small steel buttons. “Crickets” or footstools inside the pews were for grownups. In wintertime, portable tin boxes holding hot bricks would be covered by lap robes to keep feet warm. There was a high enclosed pulpit, with an organ loft opposite which held the choir seats.  The system of selling family pews was a traditional means of raising money for construction. Pews had been sold to offset the construction of both the earlier Meeting Houses as well as the later Methodist and Baptist churches.  This building was seen by the Manufacturing Company as a power for good in the community; something like 400 souls made it their spiritual home.

    Abolition Movement

    Prior to the Civil War the church became a vocal “abolitionist” force and a community rallying point for abolition causes.  In May 1837 under the guidance of Rev. John Gunnison, after a meeting of humiliation, fasting and prayer, the congregation voted unanimously that “American slavery is not only a great sin against God, but a violation of every human right and every divine requirement…henceforth, no slaveholder shall be allowed to lead in our public devotions – nor come to the communion table with this church.” (Congregational Church Records, 1837)

    Many pastors preached at the church between 1828 and 1865, but most did not stay long due a dispute over salary.  Those with families were particularly hard pressed to stay here when wealthier congregations were seeking pastors. Such was the case with Reverend Gunnison who resigned in September 1837 because of “no prospect of a support a preacher with a family the ensuing year.”

    In 1842 Rev. Stephen Greeley was hired with a salary of $500; but that arrangement dissolved in 1847 when Greeley stated that “… you have ever found it not an easy thing to discharge the pecuniary obligation into which you have entered…”   With a modest increase in salary obtained from the NH Home Missionary Society, Reverend E. C. Cogswell was hired in July 1848; he stayed until 1854.  He was followed by James Palmer, by E. Chapman, by George Blodgett, followed by Samuel Bowler.

    There was an increase in salary when the Rev. Isaac Curtis White was hired.  His labors on behalf of this society and town continued for nearly 22 years. 

    Rev. Isaac C. White—1865 to 1887 

    No one minister has had such a profound hand in the physical re-shaping of the church as the Reverend White.  As there was insufficient room to accommodate all who wished for sittings, and time had made repairs a necessity, major changes were planned. In 1870/71 he oversaw the renovation of the building by raising the church and adding a vestry. The church had been remodeled back in 1840 with the removal of the portico, and addition of a steeple, but thirty years exposed to the elements did its toll. He reconstructed and stabilized the steeple to include a Bell and Clock Tower.  The bell had become an essential component of the town’s fire alarm system (see Site No. 12—Engine House for more details).  Rev. White oversaw the installation of an organ and he worked with John Palmer in the creation of a Town Clock.

     The Town Clock on the steeple of the Community Church continues as a town landmark.  Its history began when Newmarket Civil War veteran John Palmer decided that the town needed a clock that could be seen by everyone in the downtown area.  When he learned that Reverend White was planning major construction to raise and rebuild the church,  he got busy.  In September of 1871 he sought to raise enough money from townsfolk to purchase a town clock, so he created a subscription book which contained 180 names, 100 of which were for $1 subscriptions.  The entire sum of $425 raised from citizen subscriptions, paid for the clock which was personally obtained by Mr. Palmer.  In 1872, the clock began striking the hours at the opening of the church rededication service. 

    In 1874 there was another general “spiritual awakening” throughout the land, and some thirty-five new members joined the congregation.

    In 1887 Rev. White oversaw the first major repairs to the town’s clock, which were done by the clock’s manufacturer, George Stevens of Boston.  That was the last year of Rev. White’s ministry in Newmarket.

    In 1878 on the observance of the church’s 50th anniversary, a major celebration was held in town and all past ministers of the church who had served since 1828 were invited (all but two attended). At the Sunday sermon Rev. White spoke: “During the present [meaning his own] pastorate….eighty-two have been added to the membership of the church, and this place of worship has been enlarged, remodeled, beautified and furnished with a valuable organ, and the tower has been ornamented and made vocal with a clock and bell, at an expense of $8,000.”

    (photo taken 1870-1875 by Newmarket photographer Oliver Copeland of Rev, White’s family and home at the corner of Spring and Chapel Streets)

    Some of those finances were raised by (and with mortgages were backed by) Mr. Thomas Wiswall, a devoted member of the congregation.  A personal friend of Rev. White, he was a successful entrepreneur who owned the wallpaper factory and mills at Wiswall Dam farther upstream in Durham, on the banks of the Lamprey.

    Times Change

    On “April 4, 1887, on mention of S.A. Haley, the committee were instructed to call on Mr. White and state the feeling of the society that it would be better for him to resign; if not, the committee are to give him his three months’ notice.” The reason for this was not documented in the Church record.

    In June 1887, after nearly a quarter of a century of faithful service, Rev. White resigned and moved to Scotland, MA.   For a short time he continued to minister there, but due his age and increasing health problems he left there for Plymouth, where he died in 1907.

    While in Newmarket his family lived at the corner of Spring and Chapel Streets (Site # 46 on the walking tour), and his children grew up here. Rev. White was an active and integral part of Newmarket’s social and educational scene. He was a member of Rising Star Masonic Lodge, serving as its chaplain for twenty years; and at the termination of this service, his brethren elected him to an honorary life membership.

    In the Feb-March edition of the Granite Monthly, his ability was described the following way:

     “He was a profound student, deeply thoughtful, with an easy command of “The Mother Tongue,” his sermons were interesting, instructive and elevating; and at times he was eloquent with the depth of feeling which overflowed from a pure heart. He combined a loving, genial disposition with a quiet dignity, which helped to make him an ideal minister as well as a gentleman of the old school.”

    A Look Back

    There is a letter on file with the New Market Historical Society dated Dec 28, 1934.  Written by Nellie Palmer George to Martha Walker, it remarks on a photo card labeled ‘Old Newmarket’ that Martha had sent Nellie of the old Congregational Church.  While the photo card itself is gone, the letter refers to the renovations done by Reverend White. She also goes into some detail describing what it was like to attend this church during her youth.  (Nellie was about 21 years old when her father John Palmer raised the money to install the town clock.)  Her comments follow:

        That photo was taken before 1874 because it had three dials before my father’s death in 1874.  He was not well but he attended the dedication services of the renovated church.  He introduced me to Rev. Daniel Sanford (Newmarket’s  first Congregational Church minister)who was also the first to preach a sermon in the re-dedication ceremony.  My Uncle Sanford Palmer, who died in the Civil War, was named for Reverend Sanford.  Deacon Daniel Palmer [Nellie’s grandfather] and Rev. Sanford lived in the two-story tenement house still standing beyond the School House on Durham Side.

          In the picture, the chimney indicates a stove to supplement the furnace heat,  It stood near the bookcase of the SS [Sunday School] Library.  Palmer Pew no.17 benefited by its heat.  Joy Pew no.18 was always full: Mrs. Eben Joy, Sarah, Mary (Joy) Foster, Martha, Ida, Timothy, George, Edmund and Charles.  Eben Joy was choir leader with son William beside him, good singers all.  George L. Dearborn Organist.  Choir over entrance door.

          Congregation stood facing pulpit for prayer, reading of hymns – right about face for singing.  As a child I enjoyed the quiet noise of this ordinance, and seeing the new clothes and bonnets (if any).  I think there is more sanity in the church now days than in years before the War. Women had but little to say in church affairs.

         I’m sure you would much enjoy the Meeting House as it used to be.  The square small paned windows without blinds,  pews with doors that fastened with buttons.  High Pulpit.  Hour Glass.  Green velvet bags on poles long enough to reach to the far end of the long-box pews as pennies or larger coins dropped noiselessly into its depth.

           The minister made frequent pastoral calls, and was freely welcomed by his people. The old custom of inviting the minister and his family to partake of a noon dinner and spend the afternoon and evening was religiously observed.

    (photo: example of pews with doors, this is from the East Walton Anglican Church in County Norfolk, England)

    The first minister of the Congregational Church that I remember was named Palmer (no relation), but a frequent visitor.  He used to spend hours talking about slavery with my father cracking walnuts, roasting corn and eating apples beside the big fireplace.  They would settle the affairs of the country – that was before the Civil War, when slavery was of great interest, and when now and then a runaway slave would find his way thru town on his way to Lee.  Many a night I have softly unlatched my bedroom door to hear of a slave escaping, or being held for his owner.

    Money Jugs and Faith

    In January 1888 an energetic clergyman, the Reverend J.L. Harris was hired for one year,and remained for five.  Not until the financial Panic and Depression of ’93 (when the church found itself with very little money), was he forced to seek other employment.

    Reverend Harris supervised the following changes to the church entry:

    • removing the two front stairs leading to the two entry doors
    • converting those doors into two large gothic windows with cathedral glass;
    • transforming the large center window into a new main entrance into the church hall; and
    • extending the entryway into a commodious vestibule with a large double door and three smaller windows.

    He also made a pledge to the church trustees that during this renovation “…he with the help of the ladies of the church as helpers, would take the unoccupied space under the church, 30 x 80 feet  (that portion of land which he asked  Susan Creighton to donate to the church) and make within it a fine kitchen, dining room, cloak room and parlor; that he would buy the material, employ workmen, oversee and personally attend to all the details and pay all the bills.  The only condition was that the trustees and committee members were “to trust him in this matter.”

    “So the work began without a penny in the treasury. Each lady created a “money-jug” and started on a course of lectures and various projects to inspire donations.  “The final public reveal in midsummer 1893 consisted of a dinner provided by the church ladies, in the new dining room with six elegant tables. Following the dinner came a tour of the newly carpeted and refurnished vestry with richly decorated ceilings and tasteful chandeliers, a new parlor and a beautiful mahogany cased piano donated by Mrs. Susan Creighton in memory of her daughter Mrs. D. French.

    Mr. Harris reported that $890 had been expended, and $365 had been disbursed – leaving a deficiency of $525.   More than one person in attendance shook their head and said “I told you so”…  until Mr. Harris had the church ladies bring up their jugs and empty them onto the table.  The amounts ran from $5 to $55 per jug; then Mrs. Harris emptied her jug of $125 in gold. Applause erupted in the room. Then Mr Harris stepped forward and emptied his jug—$250 in gold pieces spilled out over the table onto the floor.  All Debt paid off and a handsome sum remained in the Treasury.

    The Church in the Middle of Town

    The exterior renovations done under Rev. Harris’s watch would be the last until 1959—well over 60 years.  The 1908 Granite Monthly photo certainly shows them off well.  But a later (1925) photo gives us a better idea of the church’s surroundings.  Like the rest of downtown Newmarket, there was precious little space between buildings. Not only was the Newmarket House just to the north of the church, but out behind, there were several houses. 

    One of these houses, situated between the church and the blacksmith shop, was the home of John and Etta (Lovering) Hersom. Etta worked in the mills as a silk inspector for many years, and her husband John was a boat builder (with his brother Lewis), wheelwright and carriage builder.  At one point he had a livery stable on Exeter Street, opposite Stackpole’s blacksmith shop.  John was also a member of the Tiger No. 1 Fire Department. 


    Hired as a mail carrier in 1905, John used his white horse for this task.  He and the horse must have been well known in town, as the horse’s demise made the April 1927 Newmarket Advertiser.  John died eight years later, at the age of 64.  Unlike his horse, he died at of natural causes.

    Etta continued living in the house behind the church.  At some before her passing in 1955, she sold the house to Arthur Beauchesne; and he sold it to the church.  The church had the Hersom house torn down to make room for its addition.


    Liquor Be Damned

    Reverend Harris was a vibrant and  preacher very much involved with the temperance movement.  He lectured in area churches, schools, and lecture halls throughout the area warning of the evils of alcohol.

    In 1888 he joined several other town pastors, community leaders and politicians in formal protests.  They created a town committee willing to do a “citizens’ arrest” and alerted town selectmen and the police department (who many times looked away instead of acting on a liquor infraction) that they themselves would bring legal action if the 12 liquor dealers in town continued to ignore the liquor laws.  

    Four years later the Panic of ‘93 struck, and the church found itself financially at it’s lowest point since its founding.  It was forced to terminate Rev Harris’s contract at the end of December.  

    His leaving the church was lamented throughout the community, as reported  in The Newmarket Advertiser in November, 1893.  It details his accomplishments—and reads somewhat like an obituary.

    He and his wife left for Everett, MA where he died four years later at age 66.

    Saved by benefactresses

    For the next year no pastor was hired; services were conducted by Deacons and other church members. It wasn’t until the end of 1895 when the economy became stable, that there was enough money to hire a minister on a monthly basis for a salary of $66. 

    Then came the large legacies from Abigail and Martha Cheswill  and most especially from Susan Creighton.  The investments from those monies, real estate and stocks kept the church afloat for decades to come.  In 1900, those above gifts increased the salary to $700 per annum + the use of the new parsonage on Tasker Lane (the home of the late Susan Creighton bequeathed to the church). That pay raise enticed Rev C.S. Young to accept the position.

    In 1907 the church membership swelled in size after members from the Methodist Church declared bankruptcy and closed and its doors.  The church committee then alternated in  hiring pastors: a Methodist  for a few years, then a Congregationalist for a few years. This went on for the next three decades.  Then in the late 1930s after the Baptist Church closed its doors, former Baptists also joined the Congregational Church membership.

    1910 - The Methodist minister, Reverend William Ramsden was selected to serve as church pastor.  and he remained here for ten years. One of his first accomplishments was the reorganization of the Men’s Social Club of Newmarket.  The membership increased to 50 men and they opened a club room on the second floor of  Ai Varney’s building.  During the Great War he was extremely busy conducting prayer services, assisting with Red Cross programs and Liberty Bond Drives between 1917 & 1918.  

    He was kept very busy during the 1918 outbreak of the Spanish Flu. There were 31 deaths in Newmaarket during the month of October alone.  Many times there was no formal church service for fear of the contagion; however, he was called upon to perform committal services over the graves of those who died in town, as well as dozens who died elsewhere and were brought here for internment.

    He was an ardent advocate against liquor and was sought out by various organizations to give one of his many temperance lectures. He specifically stressed the theme of wastefulness – that alcohol was a complete waste of money and resources.  During the War years he reminded his listeners of the severe coal shortage that they and the NMCo suffered through.  In an address he gave in March 1918 he detailed that “the 1916-1917 U.S. output of beer was 60,817, 379 bbls; and 8 millions tons of coal were used by the U.S. Brewers and 700,000 railroad cars were needed to haul grain, products and coal for the brewing industry of the U.S. —No wonder New England was short of railroad cars and coal during the winter.”

    He left Newmarket in 1920 to serve as minister  in the Newfields church until 1924.  He died four years later following an illness of several years.   Reverend  Ramsden was replaced with Reverand Clinton W.  Carvell who left before the Rev. Kettelle took over.

    Et Tu Brutus

    Reverend John D. Kettelle was hired in September 1924. He was a graduate of Harvard University, Class of 1919. During WW I he served overseas with the Chemical Warfare Service as a junior chemist with the rank of Sergeant. He attended the Andover Theological Semminary and in 1922 he preached at both the Hope Chapel in Salisbury Beach, MA and the Rand Congregational Church in Seabrook, NH, juggling both parishes.

    He was energetic to say the least.  Not only was he the church pastor, but he was a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts and Chaplain for the Lamprey River Grange.  Rev. Kettelle traveled to different parishes to lecture for special events, and still found time to act in a few theatrical presentations held at the Town Hall.  His wife, Martha Chadborne Kettelle was a member of the Woman’s Club and the PTA.  

    1927 - Newmarket’s Bicentennial celebration featured the pageant, The Call of The Lamprey.  It was presented in June 1927 on the grounds of the Walter B. Gallant home on South Main Street.  Mrs. Gallant handled the musical portion of the performance, and Mrs. Kettelle wrote the historical episodes for it.  She also directed and arranged the event, which had a cast of about 200 townspeople (no small feat) .  Not surprisingly, her husband portrayed the Reverend John Moody in the pageant.

    In addition to Newmarket’s Bicentennial in 1927, Rev. Kettelle took part in two other major celebrations:  

    • the 100th Anniversary celebration of the Rising Star Masonic Lodge (at the Town Hall in June 1926), and
    • the Community Church’s 100th anniversary in December 1928.

    Preparations for the Church’s Centennial Celebration

    Rev. Kettelle worked with the Community Church Deacons and trustees to get renovations completed prior to the big 100th anniversary and rededication ceremonies slated for December 1928.  During the summer and fall of ’28 the church was decorated and repainted.  Major renovations in the auditorium included a paneled oak chancel and a complete set of cathedral stained glass windows, the funds for which were donated as memorials.

    Memorial Stained Glass Windows:  

    The windows each feature a cross at the top, while near the center is a figure or symbol suggesting a passage of scripture or subject in early Christianity.   They were given by:

    Mrs. Alanson C. Haines in memory of Thomas Wiswall and Alanson Haines;

    Mrs. Frank Durgin in memory of Frank H. & Robert G. Durgin;

    Mr. & Mrs. Fred Philbrick in memory of Leonard R. & Mary S. Philbrick;

    Mr. John F. Kent of Boston in memory of Martha E. Kent;

    Mrs. Walter M. Gallant of Exeter in memory of Walter M. Gallant;

    Mrs. Walter B. Gallant in memory of Mrs. Caroline Berry;

    The Tasker Family in memory of Charles E. Tasker;

    Mr. George Hardy in memory of Caroline M. Hardy.

    Exclusive of the windows — the cost was slightly over $9,000; donations of $6,000 and a Ladies Aid gift of $1,200 helped to offset the price tag.

    Despite his success in Newmarket, Rev. Kettelle resigned his position, giving his last sermon the last week of July 1929.  He took a month’s vacation before reporting as pastor at the South Main Street Congregational Church in Manchester, NH.

    But there’s one more chapter to his story.  Not until several months after his departure did another side of Rev. Kettelle became apparent to townspeople.

    Turbulent Times—Take 1

    One month after the church had celebrated its 100th anniversary celebration (unveiling the oak chancel and stained glass windows in the process), Newmarket’s primary employer found itself in the midst of a strike:

    The trouble struck the ordinarily peaceful town last January, when mill managers and a handful of girl employees clashed over wages.  The result of the clash was a general strike by the workers of the mill, nearly 1000 of them.

    Several months after having left his pastorate in Newmarket, Rev. Kettelle spoke publicly, criticizing the town’s mill workers.  An article published by the editors of The Newmarket Advertiser on November 28, 1929 reported his  comments to the Kiwanis Club of Manchester the week before.  It quotes Kettle as saying “ I maintain that the chief cause of the situation was that not enough men went to church often enough.  What is needed is a spirit of friendliness, the ability of give and take.”

    The editors added comments of their own condemning the pastor, noting that such a statement was a gratuitous affront to the hundreds of strikers who are regular and devout attendants of a church which was not the one in which Mr. Kettelle preached—their reference being that a great many of the strikers were devout Catholics.

    The paper further chastised the ex-reverend when he insinuated that the mills had retrenched due to market conditions, that the workers were wasteful of the company’s resources, that they had lost interest in their work, and in anticipation of a strike “were ready for almost anything.”

    The editors wrote, “The town’s citizens, merchants, employers, workmen and professional men are getting tired of hearing the town’s difficulties broadcast in places far from here by persons who have axes of some sort to grind”.   The “axe” here was not printed by the paper, but the editors undoubtedly knew of Kettelle’s resignation letter.  It had been signed just two months into the strike (after the church had reduced his salary), which he objected to.

    With dwindling collections after the strike, the church had had to take out a $2,000 bank loan to cover the overrun of renovation expenses (including stained glass window expenditures not covered by memorial donations). And several on the church Board felt that Kettelle had led them to install the windows and make some improvements that they couldn’t afford.

    And this was before the Stock Market crash in October of 1929.  So Rev. Kettelle’s vengeful comments before the Manchester Kiwanis the following month were not looked on favorably in town.

    Kettelle’s  replacement was the Rev Harlan M. Campbell who arrived in November 1929, the same month that the article had appeared in print—a difficult time to start.

    Reverend Campbell was described as being “one of the new school of progressive clergymen and under his guidance the fortunes of the Community Church are expected to flourish.”  It is unfortunate that his “progressive” ways ultimately witnessed a spiraling demise of church membership and income, as the majority of the town’s workforce was left unemployed.

    He was a WWI US Navy veteran, assigned as a fireman on a ship in the Great Lakes. He then became a minister, serving churches in Detroit, MI, Boston, MA and Denver, CO, before settling here in Newmarket.

    January 1930 saw the largest congregation in years.   Reverend Campbell and his wife were extremely talented singers; and they turned the choir into a highly polished performance group, bringing up soloists from Boston musical colleges to perform in public concerts.  The couple were often engaged to perform solos at weddings and anniversaries.

    Turbulent Times—Take 2

    But not all the anthems in the world could soothe the rancor that was witnessed on the streets of Newmarket between 1929 and 1932.  Reverend Campbell’s time at Newmarket was during the fight between the Town and the Mills, which resulted in the NMCo shutting down and leaving town. 

    Sylvia Getchell outlines the major issues in her book Tide Turns on the Lamprey.   Individuals were beaten—including Police Officer John Ryan; property was destroyed, accusations were hurled across picket lines.  A union organizer convinced striking workers that the management would have to capitulate.  And The Tax Man Cometh…the ten years of tax waivers on the great weave shed were over, and the town now expected to assess it and tax it.  Those workers who crossed the lines were asked to take a reduction in in pay, as the marketplace was now spelling problems for the NMCo.  There had been shipments of poor raw silk breaking on the looms, at the same time rayon and artificial fibers were coming into fashion and the more expensive silk products in the showcases were less desirable. The NMCo was already sending work out and enticing many of its workers to move to their plant in Lowell, Mass.

    Bitter disagreements over taxation came to an ugly head when in the first week in February 1932, Rev. Campbell was elected to chair a highly charged community meeting of over 300 Newmarket taxpayers and property owners. The sole discussion was in regards to the NMCo demands to lower their taxes by  tens of thousands of dollars.  He deftly handled the meeting, and the end vote was  to have the State Tax Office assess the actual value of the mill property.

    The Reverend (as did The Newmarket Advertiser publisher) leaned toward appeasing the mill management; he sent a letter to Mr. Walcott, treasurer of the company, declaring the result of the taxpayers meeting was a vote to co-operate with the mill if they returned. 

    Walcott’s return letter on February 14th was less optimistic: 

    I am particularly sorry to be unable to to co-operate with your unselfish and efficient efforts on the part of the town.  The Directors have felt that the interests of the stockholders of this company require the change and it is , therefore, their duty to recommend it.” 

    Walcott also announced that the Mill Directors would be asking the stockholders to authorize abandonment and dispose of property in any way they saw fit.

    The bitterness that ensued, along with a loss of congregation as people moved out of town to seek employment elsewhere, marked the beginning of the end for Reverend Campbell.   He left within the following months.

    The year after he left, it was determined that work was needed to stablize the structure of the church steeple.  The Church Ladies Society slowly raised  the money to finance the interior construction.

    Depression and War 1932–1945:

    Several men preached from the pulpit during this difficult time:

    ’34 Rev. Aaron Meckel;

     ’35 Rev. Herman J. Morrison;

     ‘37-’39  Rev. Ray Miller; 

    ‘41-’43 Rev. Schofield, 

     ’44 Rev. Lentz;

     ‘45 Rev. Guy Allen


    Reverend Ernest McKenzie: 1946-1956

    For ten years Rev. Ernest McKenzie (a Baptist-converted-Congregationalist) served as pastor here.  One of his first tasks was to work with Church committees to raise the $1,000 needed to replace the rotted support beams for the church steeple to prevent it from “swaying” even further.  No less important was his work with a joint town committee focusing on Newmarket youth – creating recreational facilities and better educational opportunities.   Rev. McKenzie died suddenly in 1956. 


    Rev. Donald Donica was the minister for several years after Rev. McKenzie’s death in ’56, and was instrumental in carrying out the last major addition to the back of the church.  The main building was extended to include a two-story space containing an office and more classroom/meeting space.  The renovations also opened up the bottom floor to accommodate larger church dinners, receptions, or lectures.   The Ernest McKenzie Memorial Study dedication ceremony was held January 24, 1960, with Rev. Donica officiating.  He went on to serve as Chaplain at the New Hampshire State Hospital.

    During the ensuing decades these are among the ministers who preached at the Community Church:

    ’63-64 Calvin Wright     ’65 -’68 David Ramsey     ’68 -’69 Marshall Stevenson

    ’69-’74 Everett Gasset     ’76-’86  Shane Estes     ’87-’88 David P. Day

    ’89-’90 Hubert Topliff     ’90-’91 Alex  Lopez     1993-2004 David Wuori

    2008-2012 Joshua Gray


    Of the above men, perhaps the most controversial was David Ramsey. He and his wife Patricia were the driving force behind the Community Action Coalition which created the much needed Day Care Center in the old high school (Site No. 50) on Zion Hill. It opened in September 1967, remaining there until 1976 when it had to seek another location due to its hazardous entryway.  (That entryway with its long flight of stairs, used by Newmarket students for 100 years, had become a “life safety code violation”.)  

    Reverend Ramsey was staunchly opposed to the Vietnam War.  In the late 1960s a group of antiwar activists walked from Massachusetts to Maine.  En route through Newmarket, they were invited to the parsonage on Tasker Lane, where a youth Bible study group happened to be meeting at the same time.  Local opposition to the marchers was fierce—especially by some Viet Nam veterans.  The angry protestors met outside the parsonage; the building was egged and threats were made.  Finally the police were called; they stood by while parents came to pick up the Bible study youngsters. (Nobody could recall which Bible passage was being studied.)

    David Ramsey left the ministry completely in 1969 and became the Executive Director of the NH Commission for Peace in Vietnam.  

    A New Minister Confronts New Challenges

    2014:  After several years without a minister, the Newmarket Community Church welcomed Reverend Patty Marsden, ordained through the United Church of Christ, as their new leader—and first female settled minister.  She had previously served at Eliot United Methodist Church. 

    2016:  She led a group of 15 members of the Newmarket Community Church— some of whom for their first trip—on a mission to Guatemala.  There they worked with the group Salud y Paz providing medical care and construction work to impoverished communities where even clean drinking water is a dream.  She continues to lead teams to Guatemala each year, as well as stateside mission trips to such places as South Dakota, Kentucky and West Virginia, to name a few; these provide short-term mission experiences to hundreds of people.

    2018:  Pastor Patty was named Community Leader of the Year at the annual Reconnection Community Celebration hosted by the Newmarket Recreation Department.

    2019:  In April four families were displaced by fire; and Pastor Patty led community-wide efforts to provide support and access to new housing, so that the children could stay in the Newmarket school system.

    2020:  During the Covid-19 pandemic, funds were needed to keep the church going while their doors remain closed. The food pantry budget was stretched thin due to demand, feeding more people during the pandemic, and Pastor Patty sought a solution. 

    She said she was willing to go to great heights and sleep in the church belfry if her congregation raised $8,500 to keep their church mission going.  The community doubled that goal, raising over $16,000, as the story received national attention during the pandemic with donation and letters received from across the country from people who had once been part of the Newmarket community. 

    NCC and LCHIP:  Also in 2020, the Church received a Grant of $23,000 for preservation of the building and sanctuary.   The LCHIP award was helpful in catalyzing additional community support for the project, as the church was required to raise a minimum of one dollar for each dollar provided by LCHIP. 

    (Community Church Facebook page features a photo capturing a double rainbow on September 230, 2021)

    This project leveraged endowments from church members and donations from the community.  (Work was done by Bedard Preservation and Restoration, LLC of Gilmanton, Jablonski Painting & Wallpapering of Newmarket, and members of the NCC congregation.)  This project addressed structural, safety and historic preservation issues:

    • Correction of structural issue causing cracking of interior plaster walls of the sanctuary;
    • Repair and refinishing of the interior sanctuary walls; 
    • Removal of clouded and decayed protective coverings on the church’s stained-glass windows;
    • Insulation of attic space (to compensate for the removal of above);
    • Replacement of the asphalt roof on the education wing; and
    • Restoration and refitting of the main entry doors (to swing out to address safety compliance). 

    A Rose Is A Rose…. By Any Other Name….

    Times Change… Names Change

    1826:  “Sabbath School” begun by Timothy Chamberlain in an NMCo wharf

    1827:  “The First Religious Society of Lamprey River” met in the old wharf and in a Main Street meeting hall. From this initial membership, two congregations—and two churches would emerge:

    1827:  “The Methodist Episcopal Society Church” was formed by the Methodist members of the First Religious Society of Lamprey River.  Their first church was built on Chapel Street In 1827.

    March 1828:  The First Congregational Society of Lamprey Riverwas the initial name for those members of the First Religious Society of Lamprey River professing the Congregationalist Articles of Faith.  According to church records: “Agreeably to the desire of individuals in this village to be organized into a Congregational Church, several ministers assembled at the House of Mr. Walter Smith to consider this desire and consult upon the expediency of forming a church of Christ in this village.”

    December 1828: “Congregational Church of Newmarket” was built here on Main and Water Streets—in time for Christmas services.

    1907: “The Federated Church” was the new name for the church after the 1907 bankruptcy and sale of the Main Street Methodist Church.  This signified that the Methodist Society and the Congregational Society officially joined to worship together in the “Congregational Church Building”.

    1920: “The Newmarket Community Church” welcomed another denomination to the fold.  When the Baptist Church (up on Church Street) disbanded, many of its less dogmatic parishioners decided to head down the hill, forming a Baptist Society that joined the other societies to worship in the “Congregational Church Building.”

    1959-1960The Newmarket Community Church” (according to Church notes) would combine all three societies; and all their previous deeds, properties and assets would be quit-claimed or sold to a newly combined Community Church complete with new bylaws.

    Before 1920, bequeaths were customarily made out to the different “societies”, rather than to the one church.  For years each “society” would meet to vote to distribute escrow/interest accrued.  Monies would go either to the Church or to individual missionaries within a specific denomination.  Sometimes families sued for compensation from societies of closed churches, where family members had purchased pews.  Pews were considered tangible assets—not unlike real estate.