Saturday, September 05, 2015

“The Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury: Part Two

The February 19, 1875, Edition of the St. Johnsbury Caledonian Newspaper[1]

By Ken B.
© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Here are reports from the February 19, 1875, edition of the St. Johnsbury Caledonian newspaper about the second week of “the Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury: 

Column One (left-hand side)

“Local and State News” 

“Union meeting at the North Church tonight. [= North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury]

. . .

Some friends of Wm. Robinson [whose situation was discussed at length in the February 12, 1875, issue] have paid his fine, and he has gone to work at his trade with the Messrs. Lairds [sp?] a happy and to all appearance a changed man. Changed and renew by Divine grace.

- - - - - - - -  

Have faith in God. Jesus says: “God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” The above is a copy of large placards put in places of resort in this town.

. . . 

It is intended to continue the union meetings at the North Church, though we do not learn the plan. There will probably be three or four union meetings a week, announcements of which will be made every evening. On Saturday evening there is always a union meeting.

- - - - - - - -

[Column 3]

Religious Awakening.

The union meetings in this place have been continued during the present week, with marked religious interest. On Tuesday evening some twenty or more, who had not previously arisen, asked an interest in the prayers of Christians. The next union meeting will be at the North Church this (Thursday) evening, at half-past seven. Mr. Langworthy of Boston[2] is expected to be present. Mr. Sturgis of Boston, who has led the last two meetings, returned home last night. Notwithstanding the inclement weather, these meetings are largely attended, people driving in from miles around. As to the results, all admit that “It is the Lord’s doings, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

The “Mr. Sturgis of Boston” mentioned above was Russell Sturgis, Jr., president of the Young Men's Christian Association of Boston. He was “. . . a vice president of the American Institute of Architects, president of the Boston Society of Architects, and architect of the Hawthorne Monument at Salem.”[3]

Another source discussing “the Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury had this to say about Russell Sturgis, Jr.: 

About the middle of February Russell Sturgis Jr., President of the Young Men's Christian Association of Boston, visited St. Johnsbury and conducted meetings for two or three days. He addressed himself chiefly to Christians and incited them . . . A few words from him to the students of the [St. Johnsbury] academy were very effective. . . .[4]

And here is some further background about Russell Sturgis, Jr.; H. M. Moore;[5] and F. O. Winslow—all from Massachusetts and all involved in “the Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury: 

 “This [State of Massachusetts] committee [of the Y.M.C.A.] was organized in 1871, and has been uniformly composed of successful business men, who were leaders in their own churches. Mr. Henry M. Moore, actively identified with Mr. Moody in his educational and religious work, and highly honored among Christians of every name, has from the start had a guiding hand and has thrice been and is now chairman. The late Russell Sturgis [, Jr.], Oliver H. Durrell and James H. Eaton, representing three leading denominations and widely known, were also long among its leaders . . .

“The present members of the state committee are: H. M. Moore, chairman, Somerville; . . . F. O. Winslow, Norwood—all able men, strong in their churches and leaders in all good works.”[6]

Russell Sturgis, Jr., was president of the International Convention of the Young Men’s Christian Associations in the United States and British Provinces in Toronto, Ontario, July 12-16, 1876.[7] And he had at least three articles published about the Young Men’s Christian Associations:

1.      Russell Sturgis, Jr., “The Boston Young Men’s Christian Association” in The Granite Monthly. A New Hampshire Magazine, Vol. VII. July and August, 1884. Nos. 7 & 8 (Concord, N. H.: John N. McClintock and Company, n.d.), 249-58; accessed 9/4/2015. 

2.      Russell Sturgis, Jr., “The Young Men’s Christian Associations of Massachusetts” in The Granite Monthly: A New Hampshire Magazine Devoted to History, Vol. VII. September and October, 1884. Nos. 9 and 10 (Concord, N.H.: John N. McClintock, n.d.), 302-06:; accessed 9/4/2015.

3.      Russell Sturgis, Jr., “Young Men’s Christian Associations” in Granite Monthly: A New Hampshire Magazine, Vol. IX. January and February, 1886. Nos. I., II. (Concord, N. H.: John N. McClintock, 1886), 17-30:; accessed 9/4/2015.

One of the reasons the Young Men’s Christian Association in Massachusetts generally, and in Boston specifically, often played an important role in the YMCA’s activities in New England was that Boston was nearly the first, if not the first, association formed in the United States.[8]

[1] St. Johnsbury Caledonian. Volume, February 19, 1875, Image 3 (= page 3)
(accessed 8/31/2015).
[2] Although no mention has so far come to light elsewhere showing whether a “Mr. Langworthy of Boston” did come to St. Johnsbury to participate in one or more of the ongoing “Gospel meetings” during 1875, it is fairly likely that the man mentioned, who seems to have been a well-recognized figure, was Rev. Isaac P. Langworthy, D.D. (His full name was “Isaac Pendleton Langworthy.” He was also called “I. P. Langworthy” in the literature of the day.) A graduate of the Divinity School of Yale College (Class of 1841), he helped organize in that year a Congregational church in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and became its first pastor. He was chaplain of the Massachusetts Senate in 1849. And later, for 25 years, he was associated with the Congregational House of the American Congregational Union, located in Boston, involved with the library, the treasury, and the Secretaryship of the Congregational Association. [For more on Rev. Isaac P. Langworthy, see, for example: (a) Albert Hale Plumb, Memorial, Rev. Isaac P. Langworthy, 1806-1888:; accessed 9/3/2015; and (b) “Isaac Pendleton Langworthy. Papers” at The New York Public Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division:, accessed 9/3/2015.
[3] “News from the Classes” section (pp. 518ff.): Entry: “1881.” In The Harvard Graduates’ Magazine. Vol. XXI. September, 1912. No. 81. (Boston, Mass.: The Harvard Graduates’ Magazine Association, 1912, 1913), page 530:; accessed 9/4/2015.
[4] “Report on the State of the Churches” in Minutes of the Eightieth Annual Meeting of the General Convention of Congregational Ministers and Churches of Vermont, Held at Bennington, June, 1875. Fifty-Seventh Annual Report of the Vermont Domestic Missionary Society, and Fifty-Fifth Annual Report of the Vermont Education Society (Montpelier: J. & J. M. Poland, Steam Printers, 1875), 27-38.
[5] Henry Martyn (“H. M.”) Moore was one of the Y. M. C. A. lay leaders from Massachusetts who led the first “Gospel meetings” in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, on February 6-8, 1875, which marked the beginning of “the Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury.
[6] “The State Executive Committee of Massachusetts and Rhode Island” in The Christian World, being the first of the month number of The Congregationalist. Volume LXXXVI, Number 24, Saturday, 15 June 1901 (Boston: W. L. Greene, 1901), 961:; accessed 9/5/2015.
[7] “List of the International Conventions in the United States and British Provinces” in The People’s Cyclopedia of Universal Knowledge, . . . the Whole Brought Down to the Year 1883, ed. by W. H. De Puy, Vol. III (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1879), 1989:; accessed 9/5/2015.
[8] “The first American Association [of the Y. M. C. A.] was organized in Cincinnati in 1848; Dec. 9, 1851, the first society in Canada was organized in Montreal; and on Dec. 29, 1851, the Boston Association was formed; June 30, 1852, the association in New York was organized, and during the same year 10 others, including Washington and Baltimore, were organized.” See: “List of Triennial Conferences of Young Men’s Christian Associations of All Lands” in The People’s Cyclopedia of Universal Knowledge, . . . the Whole Brought Down to the Year 1883, ed. by W. H. De Puy, Vol. III (New York: Phillips & Hunt, 1879), 1989:; accessed 9/5/2015.

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