@ElizaBTweetin: June 15, 1873: Rev. Constantine Blodgett, D.D.
Posted on June 12, 2014
Once again, Eliza Wheaton hosts a visiting preacher for the Trinitarian Congregational Church in the person of the Rev. Dr. Constantine Blodgett. Arriving on Sat., Blodgett preached twice on Sunday, and left early Monday morning. Eliza notes that his morning sermon was based on 2 Cor. 8-14, urging forgiveness and repentance. In the afternoon his text, “Be sure your Sin will find you out”, comes from an episode during Israel’s Exodus from Egypt. In this verse, Numbers 32:23, Moses rebukes his people, saying that they must remain together to cross Jordon to fight for the land Jehovah has given them. Eliza notes that the sermons were “very solemn”.
Born in c. 1803, Blodgett (every reference to whom is merely "C. Blodgett") graduated in 1826 from Dartmouth College, where he was elected to the Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. He began his pastorate at the First Congregational Church of Pawtucket in 1836, when the town was still part of Massachusetts (it was annexed by Rhode Island in 1862). Field’s 1902 State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations at the End of the Century: A History, noted that,
Perhaps no one has done more for Congregationalism in Rhode Island than did Mr. Blodgett, and few preachers have imprinted themselves upon the hearts of their people with such a loving interest. Taking charge of this church in the day of small things, he left it with three hundred and twenty communicants and a Sunday School of two hundred and three.
Not only did he triple the size of his congregation after sending a third of the group to found a new church in Central Falls, he rebuilt his own church after an 1864 fire. When the Rev. Blodgett retired in 1871 after 35 years at the First Church, he was so “universally loved and respected” that his congregation elected him Retired Pastor and gave him lifetime residence in the parsonage, thus retaining his affiliation with the church. His funeral oration in 1880 was entitled “The Ideal Pastor.” Blodgett was so well known that his death was announced in the Chicago Daily Tribune.
Clearly interested in education, Blodgett served on the Pawtucket High School Committee in 1855. Through his ministry, he was associated with several Wheaton Female Seminary Trustees, which may be how he was known to Mrs. Wheaton. These men included the Rev. Orin Fowler (Fall River), the Rev. Erastus Maltby (Taunton), the Rev. Cyrus W. Allen (Norton), and the Rev. Sylvester Holmes (New Bedford).
The Reverend's son Edward G. Blodgett may have been known to Laban Morey Wheaton as a business rival. After graduating from Amherst College and participating in the gold rushes to California (did he meet Eliza's brother Samuel A. Chapin there?) and Arizona, he returned to Pawtucket after the Civil War, and was active in the then thriving bleaching, dying and spinning industry.