1st Congregational Church of Chicopee History:
On May 12, 1825, the corner stone of this building, the second meeting house, was laid and on January 4, 1826, the meeting house was dedicated by a loving people to the service of God in this community.
In 1675, the sons of deacon Samuel Chapin of Springfield AKA The Puritan, were living in homes of their own in the “old parish of Springfield” as Chicopee was known back in the day. For seventy five years, their children, their children’s children and neighbors attend First Church, now at court Square in Springfield. The traveling was very difficult. So 49 men, 24 of them Chapin’s, petitioned First Church to be set off as a Fifth Parish of Springfield and planned to build a church of their own. When their petition was denied, they took their case to the Massachusetts General court which granted them the right to build on Jan 3, 1751. The very next day, 40 men advanced into the woods to cut timber. By June of that year, The first meeting house stood just south of the corner of McKinstry Ave and Chicopee St.
Mr. John McKinstry of Ellington, CT was selected to be their first minister. The young man, a 1746 graduate of Yale, had just finished his ministerial studies and was licensed to preach. After 3 months, because they liked him so much, they voted unanimously to give him a call to settle. In other words, they hired him for life. He was ordained on September 27, 1752, with his father, Rev John McKinstry I, preaching the ordination sermon. He married Eunice Smith, a great granddaughter of Japhet Chapin on Feb 20, 1760.
These early years were not a time of peace for the minister and his congregation. The French and Indian conflict was going on and took its toll. Of the eight Chapin brothers, one, Caleb, was killed fighting at Lake George, New York, and another, Elisha, was tortured to death in the sight of his wife and children. When the call to arms was called in 1775 after the shot heard round the world at Concord Bridge, Chicopee’s 1st church sent nine men to wage war in the eastern part of the state. 6 of the nine men were named Chapin.
The early Chapin’s were laid to rest not far from their church in the parish “old burying ground”.