The Chestnut Hill Meeting House

    The Chestnut Hill Meeting House has a special place in Mendon history. It has been
    preserved in time as one of the oldest unaltered meeting houses in New England. It was
    constructed before the Revolutionary War, and it appears today as it looked in 1769. Its
    history is unique in that it is shared with Blackstone and Millville, as town boundary lines
    changed in 1845 and 1916 respectively. It was built in Mendon's South Precinct for
    people to worship and to attend town meetings locally, instead of having to travel to
    Mendon center. The land was provided by Benoni Benson, who was the first settler in
    the south section of town. The building is a significant historical treasure, a gift to our
    generation from our ancestors of long ago.

    The construction of the building reflects the fine craftsmanship of the time period. The
    wood is hand-hewn post and beam, secured by wooden pegs. The pulpit is made from
    hand-carved wood in a Georgian style. Above it is a 15 foot by 15 foot double hung
    window. The round arched fan design includes eight panes of clear glass to illuminate
    the pulpit.  There are twenty-six box pews with doors and raised- panel walls and hand-
    carved spindles and rails. Each window contains twenty-four panes of glass, some of
    them original. The second floor has red oak benches. This well-built structure
    exemplifies the beauty and simplicity of the pre-Revolution era.

    One of the reasons for the building's excellent original condition status is that after two
    brief stays by Rev. Benjamin Balch, 1768--1773, and Rev. Perserved Smith, 1805--
    1812, the meeting house was locked up and used only annually for several years. By
    the early 1800's, the South Precinct's population centered toward the Blackstone River
    and away from the Chestnut Hill village. Many families moved closer to the river to take
    advantage of occupational opportunities provided by new mills and factories. The river-
    centered village would eventually be called Millville, and it offered new choices for
    worship and town meetings. The old meeting house remained unaltered and used only
    once a year.

    On its one hundredth anniversary in 1869, a new awareness prevailed of the building's
    importance in history. A group of descendants of the original Chestnut Hill settlers
    organized to work together to repair and cosmetically upgrade the building. Since then,
    in 1896, the Chestnut Street Meeting House and Cemetery Association was formed to
    ensure its preservation and promote its history. Current officers include Lincoln Barber,
    president; Margaret Carroll, vice president; Leo Gauthier, secretary; and Lois Baldiga,
    treasurer. It has been partnered by the National Park Service and the Mass. Department
    of Conservation and Recreation. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
    Membership is open to the public.  Funding for the building is raised from an annual
    fundraiser-Project Preserve, membership dues, donations, and rental fees.  The
    meeting house may be rented for meetings, weddings, funerals, and social gatherings.
    All proceeds benefit the upkeep of the building and associated cemeteries.

    Benoni Benson Jr. was actively involved with other Mendon residents in working with
    Boston's Sons of Liberty in the days that led up to the American Revolution.
    Impassioned cries for liberty in Boston were echoed at town meetings in Mendon in the
    late 1760's --1770's. Most assuredly, the walls and rafters of the meeting house were
    shaken with passionate pleas to break the bonds of tyranny from Great Britain. Benson
    became a lieutenant in Mendon's Third Militia Company and marched to Boston after
    the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  The Declaration of Independence was orated
    from here in July 1776. Because of its preserved architectural structure, its patriotic use,
    and the time period in which it was built, it is obvious that the Chestnut Hill Meeting
    House is steeped in the spirit of the American Revolution. It has a special place in our
    history. It is a prized inheritance.

    Richard Grady
    November 1, 2012

               
 Chestnut Street Meeting House Association                           Mendon Menu   


                   1769 CHESTNUT HILL MEETING HOUSE AND CEMETERY

                            Corner of Chestnut Hill Road and Thayer Street, Millville, MA.
                                Formerly a village in the Towns of Mendon and Blackstone

    Benoni Benson Family Grave Sites

    To the left of the gate the following burial sites are found:

    1,10  William  H. Benson
    1.11  Sarah Benson
    1.12  Edwin Benson
    1.13  Horace Benson
    1.14  Sarah . Benson
    1.15  Marion A  Webster
    1.16  Horace A. Benson

    The following sites are found throughout the cemetery

    2.9  Charles Benson
    2.10 Adeline Benson
    2.11 Annarodin Benson

    5.2  Benson Plot
           Jared                                       Laurette  V.H.
           Sally Taft                                Jared
           James                                     Sylvanus
           Putnam S.                               Benoni Benson, 1806
           Deacon John Benson              Benoni Benson, 1761 *
                                                     * Inscription reads:  First White Settler
                                                   Note:  believed to be "in this area"

    5.3  Leander Benson
    5.4  Henry A. Benson
    5.5  Henry H. Benson
    5.6  Almira Benson
    5.7  Seth Benson
    5.12 Almira Farnum Benson

    6.4 Unidentified:  Possibly  ____
    6.5 Eliza Benson
    6.6 Mellen Benson
    6.7. Mary Benson
    6.8 Sarah E. Benson
    See Page 2    
    Benoni Benson Family Gravesites
    Chestnut Hill Meeting House Cemetery
    Millville, MA 01529


    7.9   Mr. Amasa Benson
    7.10 Lovina Benson
    7.11 Ann Eliza Benson

    10.3  Benoni Benson, 1781

    19.1  Elizabeth Benson

    20.1  Lovett Benson  s/o John and Joanna  d. 3/4/1773

    20.2   Henry Benson
    20.3   Rufus Benson
    20.4   Henry S. Benson
    20.5   Lydia Benson w/o Deacon John  
    20.6   Hannah Adeline Benson
    20.7  Harriet Benson
    20.8  George W. Benson
    20.9  Allenda Warfield Benson  w/o George W.  

    20.10 Otis Benson s/o George and Allenda  
    20.11 Harrison Benson
    21.1  Unidentified
    21.2  Joanna Benson  (may be the first burial in the cemetery  1743 or 1745)
    21.3 Deacon John Benson   
    21. 4 Prudence Benson  widow of  Benoni   d. 5/11/1789  Age:  94

    Total:  51

    Note:  Benson women who married are not included in this listing since their husband's
    names are not known to me.

    Margaret M. Carroll, Trustee
    Chestnut Street Meeting House and Cemetery Association  (1896)
    132 Main Street, Post Office Box 291, Millville, MA  01529

    Personal Data: taken from an Inventory I compiled, 1994-1998
    This was done to update an original inventory done by High School Student
    Leonel Clement in 1950.

                   Chestnut Street Meeting House and Cemetery Association

                                       Annual Service, September 9, 2012

    Good Day,  it is a good day to come together once again just as so many others have in
    the past.  For over Two Hundred and Forty Three years people like you have gathered
    here to pay tribute to the great nation they fought for and created.  

    In  just seven years, from the  time the Meeting House was built in 1769 to 1776, they
    had established their homesteads,  built this beautiful structure,fought a war, and
    listened to the words of the Declaration of Independence  read right here in this
    building. They were very much a part of the creation of new nation, The United States of
    America.

    Each generation of families came here to listen to the words of their preacher or to hear
    the news of what was happening in their new nation.

    They gave thanks for the growth of their village and offered their help to all those in
    need.  They shared their stories and their crops. They supported one another.  They
    lived in a peaceful community.

    Today we see this Meeting House as part of the Communities of Mendon, Blackstone
    and Millville.  And as in the past, we welcome the people of those towns and beyond to
    join with us as members of our Association.

    We invite you to become part of the Meeting House Community.

    Your commitment will be to attend three meetings a year, in September, May and
    January.  The dues are $10 annually.

    You will join us  as we work to meet the goals set by those original members One
    Hundred and Sixteen years ago.

    The object of this Association shall be the preservation and careof two ancient burial
    grounds and the car eand preservation of the old Meeting House.

    We renew our pledge today at our annual gathering. We celebrate with prayer and
    songs of praise to the Lord and to our Nation LET THE WORK OF THE FATHERS
    STAND


 Chestnut Street Meeting House Association                           Mendon Menu