In the spring of 1674, a company of thirty persons commenced the first settlement in Worcester, but the breaking out of King Philip's war in the following year led them to abandon the enterprise.
A second attempt at settlement was made in 1684, and continued to progress for eighteen years until the commencement of Queen Anne's war in 1702, when the project was again abandoned. The third, and first effectual settlement of the place, was commenced by Jonas Rice, who returned to the town, Oct. 21, 1718. He remained the sole inhabitant till the spring of 1715, when he was joined by his brother Gershom, who came, as he himself had done, from Marlborough.
The first settlers of Worcester began their enterprise under formal and written obligation to secure the services of a clergyman, erect a meeting-house, and maintain religious worship, at the earliest possible day. Until a minister could be obtained, the inhabitants were required to assemble on the Sabbath in social religious meetings. With this requisition they evinced every disposition to comply. The first meeting for devotional exercises were held in the house of Gershom Rice. This was probably in 1715 or 1716. In the year 1716, or in the early part of 1717, the First Church in Worcester was organized, and Daniel Heywood and Nathaniel Moore were chosen its Deacons. Soon afterwards, a small meet-ing-house was built near the spot where at present Green street forms a junction with Park and Franklin streets. This house was constructed of logs, and was erected in 1717.
In 1719, a second meeting-house was erected. It appears to have been considerably larger than the first, and better adapted to the purposes of religious worship. The site selected was on the common, near the spot where the present edifice stands. In the autumn of the same year, the Rev. Andrew Gardner was ordained as the first pastor. He was a native of Brookline, Mass., and graduated at Harvard University in 1712. Mr. Gardner continued his ministry for the term of three years, and was dismissed by a mutual council on the 31st of October, 1722.
The pastoral office remained vacant until the 80th of October, 1725, when the Rev. Isaac Burr, the second pastor, was ordained. Mr. Burr was a native of Fairfield, Conn., and graduated at Yale College in 1717. Mr. Burr sustained his relation to the Church and Parish for a period of twenty years, and at his own request was dismissed by an ecclesiastical council, in March, 1745.
1. "History of the Church", Manual and Catalogue of the (First Church) Old South, Worcester, Mass., 1877, pages 3-5.
See AlsoOld South Church 1877 Manual