History of the Dighton Community Church
The new meeting house had no tower or steeple. It was unfinished. During the Revolutionary War it was used as a barrack for patriot soldiers and sometimes even as a sheep pen.
Ezra Stiles, first settled minister of the church, was later made president of Yale College. Driven out by the British in 1777, he arrived in Dighton with his family and several of his former Newport congregation. Among them was William Ellery, singer of the Declaration of Independence. Ezra as minister of the half-finished church at Lower Four Corners was paid about three hundred dollars, house, and wood. While minister of the Dighton Church, Ezra Stiles received on July 13th a copy of the Declaration of Independence to be read to the congregation. It was brought to him by Mr. Channing, father of the famous preachers. Among Rev. Stiles’ many friends were Benjamin Franklin, Robert J. Payne, General Stark, John Adams, President Langdon of Harvard, and many leaders of the Revolutionary War period. He was a descendant of Oliver Wendell Holmes.
William Ellery and Ezra Stiles shared a house, now north of the church, which was the property of Rufus Whitmarsh, and important town official, who had given the land on which the church is built.
William Ellery is remembered in Dighton for riding on horseback to every meeting of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. He is also said to have planted the tulip tree still growing in the corner lot now owned by the church. He was the grandfather of William Ellery Channing, the great preacher, and Richard Henry Dana, author of “Two Years Before the Mast.”
There were several men active in the Revolutionary War who were part of our Dighton church congregation. Colonel Sylvester Richmond, who gave the woodland in West Dighton to the church, once received the sword of the French commander at Cape Breton. John Richmond, according to records, served at the Battle of Bunker Hill.