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Adams, Arva Luther; Herziger, Caryl Chandler; Pawlowski, Winifred Anderson (ed.) / A tale of twin cities : or the development of the Fox River Waterway

Kidd, Mary F.
Rev. O. P. Clinton,   pp. 58-69 ff. PDF (3.8 MB)

Page 58

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Rev. 0. P. Clinton
Orson P. Clinton was born on November 22,1808, in Ferrisburg, Vermont. The
ninth of ten children, he was not able to leave the family farm and begin life on
his own until he was twenty years old. Although up to this point he had only a
meager education, he possessed the experience of a rugged pioneer life and the
determination which went with it. Although trained as a teacher, his interest in
church work led him to consider a new direction for his life's work. In 1835, at
the age of twenty-seven, Clinton was ordained as a pastor in the Congregational
Church and began his ministry in Lewis, New York.
Seven years later, Clinton responded to a plea from the American Home
Missionary Society (A.H.M.S.) for ministers to go West and establish churches in
new settlements. In 1842, Clinton left for the Wisconsin Territory with his wife and
two daughters. The mission of the Society to assist weak congregations and
carry the Gospel to people without churches was supported in 1842 by
Congregationalists and New School Presbyterians. During his first three years,
Clinton served congregations in Southport (now Kenosha), Atkinson, Aztalan, and
Lake Mills. Between 1840 and 1845, the number of Presbyterian churches in
Wisconsin increased from twelve to twenty-one and Congregational churches
from nine to fifty-two. Religious leaders in the east as well as the west felt a deep
obligation to lay a firm foundation for upholding Puritan values, thus saving
westerners from their preoccupation with personal gain, attitude of worldiness,
superficial piety, and religious error. "Satan", declared Clinton, "desires this
country for an ornament, and unless under God the benevolence, piety, and
courage of the church keep it from him he will have it".
In 1845, Clinton was appointed general missionary for northern Wisconsin to
serve in much the same manner as a Methodist circuit rider. This was highly
unusual for the A.H.M.S., but the appointment came in direct response to an
increasing need for religious development in the Territory and too few ministers

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