Elijah Sherman House (1748)

December 31st, 2015 Posted in Colonial, Houses, Woodbury

Elijah Sherman House

The house at 14 Main Street South in Woodbury may have been built as early as 1748, but was possibly built c. 1796 by Elijah Sherman on land he had acquired in 1791.

Elijah Sherman (1754-1844) was born in Stratford, (or perhaps New Milford?). As related in a biography of his son, Rev. Charles Sherman, who became a Methodist minister [Vol. VII of Annals of the American Methodist Pulpit (1861), by William B. Sprague]:

Elijah Sherman, removed in early life from New Milford, his native place, to Woodbury, where he lived till January, 1844, when he died in his ninetieth year. He was a man of vigorous mind and excellent character, and was several times a member of the State Legislature. He commenced the Christian life at the age of forty, and was ever after an active and devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

He had earlier been a member of the Episcopal Church but, as described in The Town and People (1900), edited by Julia Minor Strong:

At what exact date is not positively known, but previous to 1812, Elijah Sherman, Sr., known as “Father Sherman,” became dissatisfied with the Episcopal Church, joined the Methodist denomination, and became very active and zealous in advancing its interests. In 1812 he was appointed the first regular “Class Leader,” the several ministers who had officiated here, having previously fulfilled that office. His home was the house now owned by the Methodist Society, and used as its parsonage. The exact date of its erection is lost, but the ancient grain bins and “smoke house” in the garret, attest to its great age, and it is probable that it was built previous to 1800. After his appointment as “Class Leader,” if not before, his “long kitchen” became the place for all the meetings of the Methodists, and was so used until the erection of the first Church, in 1824, on the site of the present edifice. Even after the church was built, the class and social meetings were still held at Mr. Sherman’s home, until the building of the present church, in 1840.

Elijah Sherman is further described in William Cothren’s History of Ancient Woodbury (1854):

The temperament of Mr. Sherman was humble, earnest, and eminently conscientious; firm in his adhesion to what he deemed to be the line of duty. He could not adopt Calvihistic opinions, then ardently pressed upon the public mind, in all the Congregational pulpits. Swayed by an enthusiastic spiritualism, his sympathies were with those humble heralds of the cross, so efficiently blessed in the morn of Methodism. For twenty years, with some few companions, himself an elder, the worshipers in this faith, assembled in his own house. His religious experiences gave him new developments in Christian duty. Chastened by the death of several children, his faith and zeal and knowledge grew deeper, more ardent and expanded. He became an eminent example of Christian excellence. Under that humble roof, from subdued and pure hearts, prayers gushed forth, not surpassed in pathos and piety by a Massillon or a Bourdaloue. Souls now looking to the great judgment seat with confidence and holy hope, recall with devout gratitude his ardent aspirations in that lowly temple. Had he received the advantages of early education and training, with the compass and melody of his voice, he would probably have made an eloquent and powerful preacher. He lived to see the erection of a Methodist church on his own homestead, and a numerous and devout company of believers worshiping there. He was gathered to his fathers at the advanced age of ninety, in the month of January, 1844.

The Methodist Church sold the house in 1937 and it has since been a private residence.

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