Four generations pastor the same church
Edward Wightman was the last Englishman to be martyred on April 11, 1612 for heresy. He was
considered a radical Anabaptist. Five Wightman brothers came to America, all Baptists – two
were preachers; two were deacons; one a private member of the church. Valentine Wightman
was the son of one of the five and was born in Kingston, Rhode Island, in 1681. In 1705 his
church licensed him to preach and he moved to Groton, Connecticut, and planted the First
Baptist church in the colony of CT. His fame spread after a seven hour debate with Rev. John
Bulkey in 1727 on the subject of Baptism. In 1714 he planted the First Baptist church in the
state of N.Y. Valentine died on June 9, 1747, after ministering 42 years in Groton. The church
at Groton continued under the ministry of Valentine’s son Timothy Wightman who saw great
revivals from time to time from 1764 to 1787. A second Baptist church was established in
Groton in 1765. Timothy served during the Revolutionary War and stood for the defense of
liberty. He died on Nov. 14, 1796 after having also served for 42 years in the same church that
his father had founded. His son, John Gano Wightman accepted the call to the church on Aug.
13, 1800. His first wife died in 1816 and on July 7, 1817, he married Bridget Allyn who served
faithfully by his side. The church experienced at least ten seasons of refreshing revival during
this time. Another church was established in Groton in 1831. John died on July 13, 1841 and thus
concluded 125 years of ministry by grandfather, father, and son who led the work in Groton, CT.
Interestingly, on June 12, 1864 the Rev. Palmer G. Wightman, grandson of the Rev. John Gano
Wightman, was ordained pastor of the Groton church, and a great revival broke out.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon: from This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson, pp.278-79.