HIBBARD, JEDEDIAH (baptized Jedadiah Hebbard), surveyor and Baptist elder; b. 14 Oct. 1740 in Canterbury, Conn., son of John Hebbard, farmer, and Martha Durkee; d. 4 Oct. 1809 in St Armand East (Frelighsburg), Lower Canada.
One of 13 children born into a Congregational family, Jedediah Hibbard received only a good common-school education, but being of a studious nature, he read much, especially on religious subjects, and in March 1760 he was admitted to Hampton First Congregational Church at Hampton, Conn. At Mansfield on 15 Jan. 1764 he married Martha, daughter of Nathaniel Porter, a prosperous Congregationalist from Canterbury; they were to have nine children.
Soon after his marriage Hibbard joined the New Lights, a sect which vigorously preached the separation of church and state, and many of whose members suffered arrest for their refusal to pay taxes in support of Congregational churches, Congregationalism being the established domination in Connecticut; his wife, however, remained a staunch Congregationalist. In 1765 Hibbard moved to Lebanon, N.H., where he took up farming and over the next decade established a certain social prominence. He also began preaching and, like many moderate New Lights, joined the Free Will Baptist Church, in which he was ordained an elder in 1773. He often made long missionary trips through what is now central and northern Vermont and into Quebec. An ardent revolutionist, in 1777 he fought against Major-General John Burgoyne* at Fort Ticonderoga (near Ticonderoga), N.Y., and near Saratoga (Schuylerville). He returned to the Lebanon area, probably the following year, and about 1780 he founded a church. He occasionally preached at Cornish (Cornish Flat), N.H., a short distance to the south, where he settled about 1784, founded a church in 1789, and served as pastor for the next seven years.
Hibbard continued to travel as a missionary preacher, and in the summer of 1796 he visited the seigneury of Saint-Armand in Lower Canada. He decided to settle there, probably with the intention of extending the Baptist religion in Lower Canada, where the first congregation had been organized in 1794 at Caldwell’s Manor near the Vermont border. In August 1796 he and two sons purchased 800 acres of land among the rolling foothills of Pinnacle Mountain from the seigneur Thomas Dunn for £186. Hibbard supported his family by farming and surveying as other settlers moved into the area. A community soon grew which was named Abbott’s Corner after Dr Jonas Abbot, one of the first settlers. In December 1797 Hibbard joined the first masonic lodge in the Eastern Townships, Select Surveyors No.9, at Missisquoi Bay. As well he continued to preach, evangelizing the surrounding region, including northern Vermont, and exercising considerable moral and social influence over the settlers in the seigneury of Saint-Armand. In 1799 Hibbard and elder William Marsh, who had founded a congregation in Sutton Township in 1797, established the Baptist Church in the future townships of Hatley and Stanstead. On 6 August they organized a congregation at Abbott’s Corner, and the same year, apparently with Martha’s money, the Hibbards erected a large frame-house there in which a Baptist conference may have been held in 1801. A small frame building, one of the first Baptist churches in Lower Canada, was built on a hill north of the settlement in 1802; Hibbard became its pastor and remained so until his death on 4 Oct. 1809. He was buried in the only cemetery properly maintained in the area, that of the established Church of England, by the Anglican missionary Charles James Stewart*.
Traces of Hibbard’s life and influence in the Missisquoi Bay area are evident today in the large frame-house that still stands in Abbott’s Corner, in the survey lines that mark property boundaries in the region, and in the flourishing Baptist churches in the villages of the border townships. Unfortunately, the church he founded in Abbott’s Corner is now closed; the little frame structure was abandoned in 1830 and replaced 11 years later by a brick building, which is no longer in use as a church.
ANQ-M, CN1-74, 30 août 1796. Canterbury, Conn., Vital statistics, IA: 158. Conn. State Library (Hartford), Indexes, Barbour coll.; Conn. church records; Family bible records. Genealogy of the Hibbard family . . . , ed. A. G. Hibbard (Woodstock, Conn., 1901), 48–49. Illustrated atlas of the dominion of Canada . . . (Toronto, 1881), 11. W. H. Child, History of the town of Cornish, New Hampshire, with genealogical record, 1763–1910 (2v., Concord, N.H., [1911?]), 1: 73, 118–19. C. A. Downs, History of Lebanon, N.H., 1761–1887 (Concord, 1908), 20–23, 30–31, 40–43, 62, 66. G. H. Montgomery, Missisquoi Bay (Philipsburg, Que.) (Granby, Que., 1950), 132. Cyrus Thomas, Contributions to the history of the Eastern Townships . . . (Montreal, 1866), 96–98.