The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Branch Church (Salem, Mass.)
Branch Church (1803-1867)
0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
The Branch Church Records
document the history of this Salem, Massachusetts, Presbyterian church.
Scope and Content Note
The Branch Church Records document the history of this
Salem, Massachusetts, Presbyterian church. The collection consists of a record book,
which includes acts of incorporation from March 15, 1805, lists of purchasers of
pews and seats, notices and records of meetings of proprietors; Records of
Admissions, Baptisms, Deaths, and Marriages in the Branch Church (2 volumes) as
recorded by Reverend William Williams, who was ordained July 5, 1821; a Directory of
Howard Street Church, listing members as of March 1850; the Register of the Church
(includes a brief history, 1803-1828) and lists of communicants; and a poem read at
the installation of the Reverend Henry Blatchford on January 6, 1819.
The Branch Church was formed as a Congregational Church on
December 29, 1803. The first pastor was Reverend Joshua Spalding. Pews and seats
were sold to the public and an annual assessment on these was made to support
pastors. On April 26, 1815, the church joined the Londonderry Presbytery, and on
June 5, 1824 petitioned the General Court to change the name from "Branch Church" to
"First Presbyterian Church in Salem." A request was made to the selectmen on June 4,
1828 to change the name of the street where the church was located from "Branch
Street" to "Howard Street" and on June 11, 1828, a petition was made to the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts to change the name of the church from "Frist
Presbyterian Church in Salem" to "Howard Street Church."
The Church experienced financial difficulties throughout its history and a
succession of pastors came and went who had trouble collecting their salaries. In
1848, some of the proprietors petitioned to sell the property and to divide the
proceeds among the proprietors, but apparently this did not come to pass since the
church still existed in 1867. The last minister, Reverend Charles C. Beaman,
resigned on October 2, 1864. The church struggled along for a few more years, but
with the effects of the Civil War, no serious attempt was made to continue
operations of the society. The property was sold at auction on June 28, 1867 and a
school was constructed on the site. The Howard Street Church bell was given in trust
to the Mayor of Salem as an alarm and was moved to the belfry of the Central Baptist
meeting house on St. Peter's Street. Sale of the property amounted to $3,825.34, and
after payment to creditors, nothing was left for the proprietors. A closing history
of the church, written by Rev. Charles C. Beaman appears in the Essex Institute Historical Collections, volume 11,
January 1872, pages 241-248.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons,
or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Williams, William, Reverend
First Presbyterian Church (Salem, Mass.)
Howard Street Church (Salem, Mass.)
Church records and registers
Presbyterian church buildings--Massachusetts--Salem
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in
writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex
The Branch Church Records document the history of this Salem, Massachusetts, Presbyterian church.
First Presbyterian Church (Salem, Mass.); Howard Street Church (Salem, Mass.); Salem (Mass.); Williams, William, Reverend; Church records and registers; Church buildings--Massachusetts--Salem; Congregational churches--Massachusetts--Salem; Presbyterian church buildings--Massachusetts--Salem
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.