Religious & Intellectual Gatherings

Many of the major social events of the 1860s were inspired by religion. Because of a shortage of males on the island due to Whaling, prospecting for gold in California and the Civil War, many young women were drawn to religious activities. In Edgartown there were gatherings of Baptists, Methodists and Congregationalists, while the Methodist campground was evolving in Cottage City, now known as Oak Bluffs.

Helen Jernegan was a member of the Edgartown Baptist Church, now called the Federated Church, located at the corner of Cooke and Summer Streets. It is the oldest church building on its original location still used for worship. There she shared a pew four rows from the front with Jared's cousin, Captain Nathaniel Jernegan and Chloe Coffin, daughter of Charlotte Coffin. It was also the church that Captain Thomas Mellen's family attended. Prescott was baptized in this church and later, as an adult become a Baptist Minister. The handsome chandelier that still hangs overhead once burned spermacetti candles made from a sort of wax found in the head of Sperm Whales.

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Historic New England