Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Warner, New Hampshire, Congregational Conversion Narratives, 1817-1823

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, June 2010

Summary Information
Title: Warner, New Hampshire, Congregational conversion narratives
Creator: Warner Congregational Church (Warner, N.H.)
Inclusive dates: 1817-1823
Extent: 26 items
The collection includes 26 conversion narratives of members of the Congregational Church in Warner, New Hampshire.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1997. M-3337.2.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Preferred Citation:

Warner, New Hampshire, Congregational Conversion Narratives, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The conversion narratives are arranged chronologically, with undated items at the end.


The town of Warner, New Hampshire, located in Merrimack County, was incorporated in 1774. Its Congregational Church was organized February 5, 1772, with Rev. William Kelley as its pastor. For 13 years after Kelley's resignation, the church had no settled minister; this changed on June 22, 1814, when Rev. John Woods (1785-1861) of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, was ordained. An 1809 graduate of Williams College, Woods was a fiery speaker and dedicated Calvinist. He oversaw a revival of the church, including the erection of a new building in 1819 and the addition of many new members. In 1823, Woods was dismissed at his own request, and became pastor of the church at Newport, New Hampshire, for 27 years.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Warner, New Hampshire, Congregational conversion narratives comprise 26 narratives, written between 1817 and 1823, during a revival at the Warner Congregational church led by its pastor, Rev. John Woods. Although conversion narratives were frequently recorded by a minister, these appear to have been written and signed by members of the laity. In some cases, several members of the same family each wrote a narrative.

The majority of the writings open with brief descriptions of the writer's life before the conversion. In her narrative, Nancy Sargeant described herself as "careless and heedless" and possessed of "an evil heart" (Folder 34), while Abigail Badgers noted her reluctance "to forsake the vanities of the world"(Folder 33). Many writers reflected on the circumstances that precipitated their epiphanies. Stephen Batchelder described a string of health problems, including a hand wound (Folder 32), while many others recounted important sermons that had influenced them. Chellis F. Kimball, like several other converts, noted his fear of being "cast into hell" (Folder 33). Most of the narratives close with expressions of gratitude and pledges of religious devotion, such as Eunice Sargeant's statement of her "earnest desire to unite with the people of God" (Folder 34).

Subject Terms

    • Church membership.
    • Congregational churches.
    • Congregationalists.
    • Conversion--Christianity.
    • Religious awakening.
    • Revivals--New Hampshire.
    • Second Great Awakening.
    • Warner (N.H.)
    • Women and religion.
    • Badger, Abigail.
    • Barrett, Rhoda.
    • Batchelder, Stephen.
    • Clement, Lois.
    • Colby, Betsey.
    • Colby, Daniel.
    • Colby, Sally.
    • Dalton, Jr., Isaac.
    • Doyen, Sally.
    • Eaton, Mary.
    • Foster, Amos.
    • Hall, Susan.
    • Kelly, Abner.
    • Kelly, John E.
    • Kimball, Chellis.
    • Kimball, Nancy.
    • Morath, John.
    • Sargeant, Asenath.
    • Sargeant, Eunice.
    • Sargeant, Nancy.
    • Straw, James.
    • Straw, Mariam.
    • Watson, Rhoda.
    Genre Terms:
    • Conversion narratives.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   23, Small Collections  
    Warner, New Hampshire, Congregational conversion narratives [series]
    Folder   32  
     May 10, 1817-August 10, 1823
    Folder   33  
    Folder   34  
    Folder   35  
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Harriman, Walter. The History of Warner, New Hampshire: For One Hundred and Forty-Four Years, from 1735 to 1879 . Concord, N.H: Printed by the Republican Press Association, 1879.

    Huntington, Henry S. Historical Discourse Delivered at the Centennial Celebration of the Congregational Church in Warner, N.H., June 12, 1872 . Concord, N.H., 1872.