After the 1741 arrival of Stephen Stebbins, South Wilbraham (later Hampden)'s first settler, other newcomers soon dotted both sides of the Scantic River but there was no church. Worshippers plodded over the mountain to Wilbraham's church, in winter on horseback. Few people could attend. Wilbraham refused to let us have our own parish. Finally, by act of the state legislature, in 1782 South Wilbraham became a separate parish, but still a part of the town of Wilbraham. Thereafter, three churches were formed.
The first was the Congregational Church, a crude building erected on the Village Green in 1783. Rough boards served as seats and the pulpit was a box. Parishioners carried foot warmers, the only heat. After lunch and warming up at the parson's home, they refilled these stoves with fireplace coals and returned to church for the afternoon sermon. Sometimes a bass viol or a seraphine, an instrument similar to a melodeon, provided music.
The first pastor, Moses Warren, a Harvard graduate, was a direct descendant of Associate Governor Richard Warren of Plymouth Colony who arrived on the Mayflower and was descended from William Warren who came to England with his relative, William the Conqueror. The library has a copy of their Coat of Arms. During his term, Rev. Warren baptized 478 persons, performed 226 weddings, tutored at least 20 men for college and was high school teacher for village children. He's buried in the cemetery off Chapin Road. His wife's sister was the first person interred there.
Later, Rev. Asahel Nettleton's revival service in 1822 resulted in 100 conversions, with 62 joining the Congregational Church. This man later helped found the Hartford (CT)Theological Seminary.
The crude church, spoiling the looks of the Village Green, was moved in 1838 to the spot where the Town House now stands.
The Ladies Benevolent Sewing Society, formed in 1845, had as many as 40 ladies sewing and tying quilts to raise money for the pastor's salary.