Sutton Massachusetts

Town Churches
Baptist Preacher Elder Waters and his Distillery

These notes are from the History of Sutton, written in 1878

In Sutton, Ebenezer Waters, Esq. [born around 1709], was a prominent citizen and a land surveyor. He gave the bell to the old church. He lived on the Bullard Farm, West Sutton. A brother or relative was Elder Waters, a Baptist preacher, whose house was a short distance below where the Baptist meeting-house now stands, and upon the opposite side of the street. As Baptist ministers in these times did not receive salaries it was necessary that they should procure some secular occupation as the means of support. The "Elder", as he was called, was an enterprising man of business, a well known and highly respected citizen, and an earnest preacher in his denomination. The fact that this good citizen, and an earnest preacher in his denomination. The fact that this good Baptist Elder ran a distillery shows how different public sentiment then was as to the manufacture and use of intoxicating liquors from what it now is. He received the surplus cider of the farmers and converted it into what was called cider brandy, at one time extensively used as a beverage.

With many other good men, Deacon Bond made cider for the elder's distillery; on one occasion, after having discharged a load of cider, the deacon tarried for the purpose of a social chat with the elder. While watching the fire of the distillery, "Deacon," said the elder, "this business furnishes me with some very striking illustrations for my preaching. Here, while attending to the fire, I have time to think and study my discourses. When I want to impress on my hearers the awful subject of future punishment, this big fire which I keep continually burning affords the illustration of the fire of hell which is not quenched. The worm of the distillery reminds me of what Christ has said about the worm that never dies. And then the product, the spirit of the cider, represents the evil spirits by which men are tempted and in danger of being destroyed." And as the conversation went on, the deacon thought that the elder's study, with its fire and worm, and burning fluid, was quite a suggestive place for sermon making. Neither of these good men at that time entertained the slightest suspicion that the business in which they were engaged was not as justifiable as any other occupation.

If young men had dreamed dreams in those days, as one did on a time about "Deacon Giles's" notorious distillery, in which it was said a Bible depository was kept, some one might have immortalized Elder Water's distillery as a study in which sermons were made. He might have dreamed how the good man's exhortations and warnings for Sabbath services received point and force from the inspiration created by the grim fixutres and fiery work of this old cider-brandy mill.

The First Baptist Church, where he was pastor

Sutton Massachusetts Churches