CT Literary Institute

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Connecticut Literary Institution, Suffield
I had a phone call from a friend a few months ago who had been cleaning out an attic. He found a battered old newspaper called The Watchman, A Baptist Journal, dated May 20, 1897. Knowing that I served on the ABCConn Historical Committee, my friend offered me the paper. As I began to carefully look through its tattered pages, I was aPrincipal H. L. Thompson amazed to find a whole section of this paper dedicated to “The Baptists of Connecticut”. Articles titled “General Historical Sketch”, “Survey of the Churches” and “The Work of the Convention” were listed.

The last article, titled “Connecticut Literary Institution”, written by Principal H.L. Thompson, stood out for two reasons. First, as we do research on our Connecticut Baptist history, we frequently run across both pastors and leaders from throughout New England who are alumni of the Connecticut Literary Institution, now Suffield Academy. The Institute was founded by The Connecticut Baptist Education Society, formed in 1820 for the purpose of establishing an institution to educate young men for the ministry. After thirteen years of planning and fund raising, the first classes were held in Suffield’s Center District School House in 1833. Secondly, another ABCConn Historical Team member, Mr. Barry Sisk, wrote a great article for our ABCConn wraparound approximately a year ago about the Second Baptist Church of Suffield and Suffield Academy. Mr. Sisk’s article gave a great synopsis of the history of The Connecticut Literary Institution. All in all, our CT Baptist ancestors did a pretty good job at innovating ways to spread the Gospel.

Connecticut Literary Institution, Suffield
Principal H. L. Thompson

Here is a little more about the Watchman and quoting from the section titled Early American Baptist Newspapers, A History of the Baptists, 1890, By Thomas Armitage: “The oldest Baptist weekly in America is 'THE WATCHMAN', of Boston, established in 1819, with the title, the 'Watchman,' and edited by Deacon James Loring. The question of slavery becoming a subject of warm discussion, the 'Christian Reflector' was begun at Worcester, Mass., edited by Rev. Cyrus P. Grosvenor. This paper was removed to Boston in 1844, under the editorship of Rev. H. A. Graves, where it obtained a large circulation; but, Mr. Graves's health failing, Rev. J. W. Olmstead became its editor, March, 1846, and in 1848 the two papers were united, under the name, 'The Watchman and Reflector,' Dr. Olmstead remaining as editor. The 'Christian Era' was commenced in Lowell in 1852, but was removed to Boston after several years, and conducted by Dr. Amos Webster, and was merged into 'THE Watchman and Reflector' in 1875, when the name of the united papers became 'THE Watchman.' Dr. Olmstead resided in New York for a short time, but returned as editor-in-chief of 'THE Watchman' in 1883 and now ranks as the senior Baptist editor in the country, having conducted this paper, with a brief interval, for more than forty years. The influence of this journal is very healthful and deservedly wide-spread in New England.”

Did you know that Connecticut once had its own Baptist newspaper called the 'CHRISTIAN SECRETARY', started in 1822?

Kerry Holloway

Quaker Hill Baptist Church,