What did religion mean for Ella and her relatives?

Funeral services were held for Ella Lodisa Sargent in 1940 at the Norwich Congregational Church. However, earlier NCC church registries do not show membership by Sargent family members. Her diaries indicate that she was most involved with the church in Union Village.
The diary entries that follow give an indication of visits to the Union Village Church and visits that Ella’s family had from the Union Village Church ministers. Interestingly, a couple of these ministers were also part of the Baptist registry in Norwich. Ella refers to church as going to “meeting”. This is a throwback to when early church edifices were known as meeting houses.

The church in Union Village belongs to the Methodist denomination. It was known as Methodist Episcopal during Ella’s time. Note the horse sheds beside the church. Regular services are no longer held here.

Church services were also held down the road at the New Boston school house. Ella could walk to meeting rather than have to take the horse and cart to Union Village. Services were likely led by lay and visiting ministers.

The New Boston school house around 1900. It is no longer standing, but was on the right between Ladeau and Norford Lake Roads just beyond the intersection with New Boston Road.

The Advent Camp Meeting Ground was founded in 1897 on Taft’s Flat in Wilder. It’s heyday was in the early 1900s, when thousands came each summer. Christian camps have run there every summer since the founding. It was placed on the historic register in 2017.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, many of Ella’s relations attended the camp meeting in Wilder every August.

Baptistry and Tabernacle White River Advent Campground. Surrounding the meeting place, are white wood-framed houses, which appear to be residences or resting places for weary travelers. Dominating the landscape and growing between pews are numerous hemlock trees, which were most likely left to provide shade during daylight services. This congregation includes both Caucasian and African American men, women, and children. Photo and description courtesy of the UVM Landscape Change collection.

Service at the White River Advent Meeting Grounds.   Photograph courtesy of the Hartford Historical Society.

Photograph of the Norwich Congregational Church, with horse sheds to the north and east, about 1910. Tracy Hall was not built until 1939.