History Matters: Good & Comfortable Words: The Coded Sermon Notes of John Pynchon And the Frontier Preaching Ministry of George Moxon

Thursday, April 11, 2019
David M. Powers

What did people on the Massachusetts frontier hear from their minister when they gathered for weekly worship each Sunday in the 1640s? What were the most important issues in the community of Springfield in its first decade? And what concerned their minister?

On Thursday, April 11, 2019, at 4 p.m., the Library will host author David M. Powers, who while doing research for his biography of William Pynchon, the founder of Springfield, was able to decode two sets of notes taken in 1640. John Pynchon, the founder’s teenaged son, invented his own system of “shortwriting” to record on the spot what he heard of the sermons by the community’s first minister, the Rev. George Moxon. Transcriptions of those notes, plus a later notebook by John, make up the core of David’s new book, Good and Comfortable Words: The Coded Sermon Notes of John Pynchon and the Frontier Preaching Ministry of George Moxon. Images of the notes themselves may be found on the Congregational Library and Archives “New England’s Hidden Histories” web pages.

David M. Powers is a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, and a graduate of Carleton College and Harvard University. He is the author of Damnable Heresy: William Pynchon, the Indians, and the First Book Banned (and Burned) in Boston. David speaks about and writes books and articles on seventeenth century Puritan history.

The event is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required.

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