Our Founders Identified
Other history articles have talked about the circumstances surrounding the founding of Copper Hill United Methodist Church. In this article we want to ask the question, “Who were the people involved?”
The founding pastor
In the Methodist church, pastors are appointed during the summer and reappointed annually. The summary history that comes down to us from the church’s 50th anniversary tells us that Rev. Billy Hibbard, serving the Granville circuit in the conference year 1816–17, organized Copper Hill Methodist Episcopal Church in 1816, likely in the summer or early fall. According to the East Granby history book, it was soon enough that year for the new church to make a decision to reject the War of 1812 rebate that the Federalists passed down to all the churches in October (p. 108). Apparently the new Methodists were not Federalists in politics!
The founding family group
The history book simply lists the names of the three men involved in that church start-up and includes without names “their wives” as also involved. We wanted to know. Who were these early ladies who were so crucial to our church? Research into the cemetery records of Copper Hill Cemetery (made available by Harrison Griffin) has helped us to understand who the wives were and how the six people were related. The person who was by mutual consent elected as the lay leader of the new congregation was Aristarchus Griffin, a direct descendant of John Griffin, first settler of the town of Granby. The church met at his house. Aristarchus’ wife’s name was Jael (Gillet) Griffin. So she would have been the first hostess for the church. Aristarchus’ father was Seth Griffin, another of the founders. And his wife was Mary (Brown) Griffin. Seth was a Revolutionary war veteran who died in 1817, the year after he helped found Copper Hill church. The third male founder listed in the history records was Calvin Gillett. Research shows that Calvin’s wife’s name was Thankful (Warner) Gillet and they were Aristarchus’ wife Jael’s parents. So it was a family group, a man and his wife, and all four of their parents who founded Copper Hill church.