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Elaine Ingalls Hogg

Church History 5
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The Church

Information gleaned from Grand Manan Historian

Would you like to know where the Ingalls Family went to church? Well of course at first there was no church in the area. The government of the day had deeded twelve hundred acres of woodland to the Church of England to form a place of worship on Grand Manan. The first missionary, Dr. Alley came from St. Andrews and stayed in the home of Captain Ross. From here Dr. Alley went to the various villages and persuaded parents to allow him to baptise their children. On one of his trips he baptised sixty-two children and thirty-three adults. Most everyone said they would be willing to set something aside from their meagre earnings to help build a church.
In the winter the men trekked into the woods and cut the logs for the frame of the church. They continued working hard for more than a year and in December 1823, Grand Manan's first church stood ready to receive the people for worship. They named the little building St. Paul's. The first little church was very plain with clapboard on the outside and the plaster not finished within. However, it had the necessary pews, an altar and a reading desk. It was here that John Ingalls worshipped with his family in pews marked Number 9 and 17.
Rev. Dunn, his wife, Anne, and infant child came to the island as rector in 1832. Things went well for a time and the church prospered spiritually. Then on the night of October ninth, 1839 Rev. Dunn woke up to see the little church burning up in a ball of flames. On a tree, lighted by the crackling flames, one could see an effigy (that means a stuffed form that looked like Rev. Dunn), dressed in a long black waistcoat, black pantaloons and vest swinging by the neck from a tall tree. For some reason, at least one member of the church had got frustrated and took this means of revenge. Unfortunately, suspicion fell on Mr. Fisher, a son-in-law to John Ingalls. Perhaps that is why we see The Ingalls pews in the first church but a later find the family worshipping in the Baptist Church across the corner.
Within three days of the burning of the church, 125 people had pledged L 281 for the reconstruction. The ladies of the church raised L 12 for the replacement of Rev. Dunn's gown. Remember most families wouldn't earn more than one pound a week at this time so the sacrifice to build the new church was surely significant. Anne, the minister's wife wrote the following words: "In the depths of the North American winter the inhabitants of the island went into the forest, where they built huts of the branches of trees; in these they lived, while they quarried the stone, which they afterwards brought, with great labour, over a partially frozen morass to the site of the church." I may also state that of these people, some had not, excepting potatoes, any food but that supplied to them by the missionary." Through sacrifice, hard work and determination the little church was rebuilt and stands today as a testimony of what can be done when one puts their whole heart into solving a problem.