Wicks . Brown . Unitarian Roots


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King’s Chapel Unitarian Church . Boston . Massachusetts . Family Postcard dated 1911

I wondered how Wicks was related to Howard Brown, the Harvard Divinity Minister of King’s Chapel, Boston, the First Unitarian Church in the United States.

I know they traveled at least to the Adirondacks together. MIT in Cambridge where Wicks studied architecture, Harvard and Brookline, Brown’s home town are within 5 miles of each other, so it is likely their paths crossed in the Boston area, but Brown was 20 years older than Wicks …. where, how did they come to know each other?

For the first time I have found that Wicks had a sister, but I have found this in just one source and tracking the family has not been easy. Inez A Wicks was born in 1849, five years before Wicks. … I wonder how Wicks introduced Howard Brown to his sister?

(It seems to be a family tradition, My Uncle was a Harvard Law Attorney, and while studying at Harvard, introduced my mother to her first husband, Nash, who was also a Harvard Law Attorney, at a Boston soiree when she was just a teenager.)

I have postcards that were sent between the families, and my mother used to tell me that when her mother and family visited Boston and attended King’s Chapel, they had special seating, next to the President of Harvard, who seemed stunned at their presence …. but, Howard Brown was the Minister, family, so they were on equal footing with the Hoo Ha’s of the day.

A little town like Barneveld, has a Unitarian Church that dates to the era when Wicks lived in Rubble Manor in Barneveld, and purchased property there. It is on the National Historic Register I believe, and Wicks donated the front door of the church, which is still intact, as well as the water trough for horses installed over a hundred years ago.

Wicks funeral service was held at the Unitarian Church in Barneveld, I believe Wicks died in Rubble Manor, he was only 63 years old. My Grandmother Ruth, and my mother Kitty, also had their funeral services at this church. They are all buried in the family plot at the Evergreen Cemetary in Barneveld.

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These links will take you the old Unitarian Church in Barneveld:


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Jim Nugent • Matteson, Illinois
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Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography (DUUB)

also provided this information:

“My reading of that last website seems to indicate that Unity Hall was built in 1896. If I’m not mistaken I think the Barneveld Unitarian church actually was built before there was any “Unitarian Denomination” in the United States. I think it might have been a liberal German or Dutch group before it became Unitarian.

You can learn more about Barneveld in Harry F. Jackson’s 1963 book, “Scholar in the Wilderness: Francis Adrian Van der Kemp.” You can also read free biographies of Van der Kemp on line at HathiTrust.org or Google Books. HathiTrust has a couple Brown sermons and a history of King’s Chapel.”


About Stories, Old & New

My background is in Public Relations with a B.S. from Syracuse University. I would like to publish "Rabbitwild - A Shelter in the Wilderness", written by my Great Grandfather, William S. Wicks, a gifted early American Architect and Naturalist. Wicks, a member of the first group to purchase 100,000 acres of Adirondack Wilderness with the idea that it should remain a "forever wild" preserve, in fact designed and built "Rabbitwild" within the Adirondack League Club. And so, this blog isn't about me at all, but about remembering Wicks, his legacy, love and loyalty to natural design. By happenstance, he created the same appreciation in me for all that is beautiful, by nature.

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