Fred A. Hillery

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Fred A. Hillery

Fred A. Hillery (August 25, 1854 – August 23, 1937) was an early leader in the American Holiness Movement; the founding president of the South Providence Holiness Association; the founding pastor of the People's Evangelical Church, the "mother church of the Church of the Nazarene in the East";[1] a co-founder of the Central Evangelical Holiness Association and also of the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America; one of the founders of the Pentecostal Collegiate Institute (now Eastern Nazarene College); one of the founding fathers of the Church of the Nazarene; and the publisher of holiness periodicals and books.

Early years[edit]

Family background[edit]

Frederick Alverdo Hillery was born on August 25, 1854 in Barre, Vermont, the son of Luther A. B. Hillery (born about 1823 in Vermont; died before 1870),[2] a farmer, and Lurana S. Howe[3] (born about 1828 in Bridgewater, Massachusetts).[4] Hillary's parents were married on April 15, 1847 at Nantucket, Massachusetts.[5] and also had a daughter, Elma (born about 1861).[6] After the death of Luther Hillery, Lurana married Edward Boden (born in January 1818 in Massachusetts) of Nantucket, Massachusetts, a cooper and farmer and widower, who had been married to her sister Mary Jane Howe (born about 1821).[7]


By 1870 Hillery had finished school and was employed primarily doing farm duties on his step father's farm in Nantucket.[8] By 1873 Hillery had moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where he was employed as a machinist and boarded at 527 High Street.[9] By 1878 Hillery was employed as a streetcar conductor for the Union Railroad Company, and he and his wife lived at the U.R.R.-owned house at 862 Eddy Street in Providence.[10] While still employed as a conductor, by 1880 Hillery and his wife lived at another U.R.R. house at 11 Searle Street (at the corner with Sayles Street), Providence, Rhode Island.[11] By 1882 Hillery was again employed as a machinist, and had relocated to a house on 99 Swan Street.[12] By 1884 Hillery had been promoted to foreman of the U.R.R. at 588 Eddy Street.[13] By 1889 Hillery had become a printer and was living at 167 Swan Street, Providence.[14]

Marriage and children[edit]

In 1877 Hillery married Della (or Delia) H.[15] (born March 1858 in Massachusetts). Hillary and his wife had five children, with only three surviving infancy:

  • Florence H. Hillery (born January 24, 1879; died February 14, 1880 in Rhode Island);[16]
  • Esther L. Hillery (born February 15, 1881; died May 3, 1882 in Rhode Island);[17]
  • Fred Alverdo Hillery Jr. (born March 9, 1883 in Rhode Island; died about 1939);[18]
  • Alice F. Hillary Steere (born September 1891 in Rhode Island);[19] and
  • Ruth F. Hillary (born March 1895 in Rhode Island).[20]


St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church (1881-1887)[edit]

By 1881 Hillery was a member and class leader of the St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church which was located at the corner of Potter's and Prairie Avenues in Providence, Rhode Island[21] and was elected Sunday School superintendent by the church board.[22] From 1881 there was a revival of the Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification in the congregation due to the efforts of pastor T.J. Everett and various holiness evangelists, especially by Methodist Temperance crusader Miss Lizzie M. Boyd of Wheeling, West Virginia, who preached at the church in 1881 and again in 1883.[23] "Camp meeting-like scenes were repeated at the church, including persons lying prostrate under the power of the Holy Spirit."[24] Pastor Everett and his wife, and Hillery were among those who claimed this experience. A holiness testimony meeting according to the example of Phoebe Palmer was begun at the church each Tuesday.[25] However, the revivals were opposed by many members of the congregation. The next pastor, Rev. Charles Henry Ewer (born February 1846 in Massachusetts; died October 10, 1912 in Rhode Island),[26] canceled the holiness meeting,[27] and refused to allow Hillery to be installed as Sunday School superintendent in an effort to compel the holiness advocates to support his fund-raising methods.[28]

By December 1884 Ewer had been transferred to the Methodist Church at Stoughton, Massachusetts,[29] and was succeeded by Rev. Edwin D. Hall,[30] who continued Ewer's policy and criticised the holiness advocates publicly.[31] As a consequence, on May 12, 1886 the South Providence Holiness Association (SPHA) was formed in the home of Methodist local preacher George E. Perry, and Hillery was elected the founding president.[32] About sixty church members joined the SPHA, and a weekly meeting was held each Friday at a time not in competition to the activities of the St. Paul's church. Due to the increase in attendance at these meetings, a hall was rented, and special services were held with holiness evangelists. As Hall had warned Hillery and the other holiness advocates that their actions were against the Methodist Discipline, he responded by removing Hillery, Perry and G.H. Spear from their leadership of class meetings, disbanded their class meetings, and required the "dissenting' members to meet him on Friday evenings. 38 members refused to meet at that time but were willing to do so at any other time. After the St. Paul church was destroyed in a fire on December 5, 1886, Hall removed all Holiness Association members from teaching Sunday School in January 1887. After Hillery started Sunday School classes at the rented hall at the same time as those of the St. Paul church, Hillery was tried and expelled from the Methodist church on March 15, 1887.[33] After unsuccessful appeals to the quarterly and annual conferences that confirmed his excommunication, Hillery wrote A History of the Revival of Holiness in St. Paul's M. E. Church, Providence, R. I., 1880–1887; or A Statement of the Circumstances which led to the Formation of the South Providence Holiness Association and the People's Evangelical Church, an 87 page apologetic defending his actions and those of his supporters.

The People's Evangelical Church (1887-1904)[edit]

On 21 July 1887 Hillery and 47 other former members of St. Paul's church founded the People's Evangelical Church with 51 charter members.[34] The church was incorporated in Rhode Island on February 11, 1888, and was described as Wesleyan in doctrine and independent and congregational in organization and polity.[35] The 1895 Manual of the People’s Church shows that "it observed a strict rule designed to create a disciplined and faithful community. Among the grounds for admonition and church discipline were “neglecting family prayers” and “unnecessary absence from class or communion.” Primary concerns were reflected in the church’s administrative structure, which had five committees: Sunday School, the Sick and Destitute, Care of the Church, Finance, and Baptism."[36]

Hillery was "the congregation’s spiritual shepherd from the beginning,"[37] and served as the pastor until 1904.[38] In 1889, Hillery was ordained to the ministry in an impressive service conducted by 13 independent Holiness ministers from around New England.[39] At that time the church was located at 163 Oxford Street, Providence.[40] By 1895 Hillery and his family were residing at 301 Swan Street, Providence.[41]

The People's Pentecostal Church (1896-1904)[edit]

In 1896 the Central Evangelical Holiness Association (CEHA) joined the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America (APCA) co-founded by William Howard Hoople and Hiram F. Reynolds, and Hillery became a leader in the organization.[42]

After becoming a member congregation of the APCA, by 1897 the People's Evangelical Church was renamed as the People's Pentecostal Church,[43] and had relocated to Ashmont Street,[44] and Hillery and his family were living nearby at 83 Ashmont Street.[45]

By 1904 the church was located at Atwells Avenue at the corner with Bourn Street, South Providence, Rhode Island,[46] "the geographical center of Providence".[47]

Pentecostal Collegiate Institute (1900)[edit]

The APCA had founded the Pentecostal Collegiate Institute (PCI) in 1900 at the Garden View House in Saratoga Springs, New York. In 1902 Hillery purchased new land on behalf of the Association when it moved the school to North Scituate, Rhode Island.[48]

The APCA, primarily an east-coast organization, merged with the primarily west-coast Church of the Nazarene in October 1907 to form the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene, and PCI would become Eastern Nazarene College in 1918, one year before moving from Rhode Island to Wollaston Park, Massachusetts.

Publisher and editor[edit]

By 1898 Hillery began the Pentecostal Printing Company, and it was located initially at 877 Eddy Street, Providence.[49] In 1907 Hillery indicated: "Our press and material at first were in one room in the house where we lived."[50] From 1904 Hillery's printing presses were located at 212 Oxford Street,[51] and Hillery was living nearby at 228 Oxford Street, Providence, Rhode Island.[52] By 1915 Hillery was living at 408 Prairie Avenue, Providence.[53] Early in the first decade of the twentieth century, Hillery released Songs of Beulah, a song book that he published. In the next decade Hillery wrote Body Salvation, an eight-page booklet, that was published by the Pentecostal Printing Company, the official publisher of the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America.[54]

Hillery founded Beulah Items in September 1888 in Providence, Rhode Island, and served as editor. In May 1892 Beulah Items was merged with the Bible Christian edited by Congregational pastor Rev. Ezra B. Pike,[55] with the Beulah Items and the "Bible Christian" both discontinued in favour of the Beulah Christian and both Hillery and Pike listed as editors.[56] After the formation of the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America, the Beulah Christian became its official publication. From September 1904 the Beulah Christian was published weekly.[57] There were attempts to merge the Beulah Christian with the Nazarene Messenger and other publications of the antecedent groups that formed the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene into a new publication, the Herald of Holiness, but Hillery believed the offer to purchase the equipment and other assets of the Beulah Christian was inadequate. Nazarenes were encouraged to support the fledgling Herald of Holiness, which adversely affected subscriptions to the Beulah Christian, which prompted Hillery to merge the Beulah Christian with the Pentecostal Era and National Advocate of Perfect Love, which had been founded in August 1901 by Henry B. Hosley,[58] then superintendent of the Washington D.C. District of the Church of the Nazarene and pastor of the Wesleyan Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene.[59] to form the Pentecostal Christian. The last edition of the Beulah Christian was December 9, 1911, and the first edition under the new name was on December 23, 1911, under the editorial control of Hosley.[60] Hosley left the Church of the Nazarene in 1913,[61] and the Pentecostal Christian was discontinued in December 1915.[62]

Later years and death[edit]

By the age of 70 Hillery still owned Hillery Press at 212 Oxford Street, but had moved his home to 240 Atlantic Avenue, Lakewood, a suburb of Warwick, Rhode Island, where Della, and Ruth also lived.[63] By 1930 his daughter Alice Steere, and her son, Charles, were also living there, after her divorce.[64]

Hillery died in Providence, Rhode Island in 1937.


  1. ^ Cunningham, 57.
  2. ^ Luther was the son of John B. Hillery (born about 1787 in Massachusetts; died after 1860) and Mehitable Vose (see Joseph B. Murdock, comp., Murdock Genealogy (Boston, MA: C.E. Goodspeed, 1925):198) (born 1898 in New Hampshire; died after 1860). See US 1860 Federal Census (Barre, Vermont).
  3. ^ Hillary's mother's name appears variously in US Federal Census records: Lurana (1860) and Lurany (1880). Additionally, her name is spelled Laurania in Vital Records of Nantucket Massachusetts to the Year 1850 Vol. 1: Births (A-F) (Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1925):115.
  4. ^ Laurana was the daughter of Martin Howe of Wareham, Massachusetts. See Vital Records of Nantucket Massachusetts to the Year 1850. 4:39; 3:53.
  5. ^ Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research, comp., Massachusetts Marriages, 1633-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT, Film # 0823704.
  6. ^ Her name may have been Elmer or Esmer. The writing on the 1870 US Federal Census form is difficult to read.
  7. ^ Vital Records of Nantucket Massachusetts to the Year 1850 Vol. 1: Births (A-F) (Boston, MA: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1925):115; US Federal Census 1850, Nantucket, MA.
  8. ^ 1870 US Federal Census.
  9. ^ Providence City Directory (1873):152.
  10. ^ See Providence Directory (1878):171.
  11. ^ 1880 US Federal Census, Providence > District 53 > Page 14.
  12. ^ Providence Directory (1882):203.
  13. ^ Providence Directory (1884):231.
  14. ^ Rhode Island Directory (1889):272.
  15. ^ There is considerable ambiguity about the correct spelling. Some sources have both spellings. e.g. Rhode Island Deaths.
  16. ^ Rhode Island Births, 1636-1930; Rhode Island Deaths, 1630-1930
  17. ^ Rhode Island Births, 1636-1930; Rhode Island Deaths, 1630-1930.
  18. ^ Fred Jr. married Katherine F. Carter on February 9, 1915. See Rhode Island Marriages, 1636-1930. In 1917 he was working as a printer in his father's business. See World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 about Fred Alverdo Hillery Jr. Registration Location: Providence County, Rhode Island; Roll 1852406; Draft Board: 6. By 1920 Fred Jr. was still married to Catherine (note spelling) (born about 1895 in Massachusetts) , was working as a printer, and was living iat 379 Sayles Street Providence, with Freda, age 47, his mother-in-law, and her son, Henry, age 15. See 1920 US Federal Census. By 1930 Fred Jr., is listed as being married to Celia F. Kelly (born Massachusetts about 1897; died after 1953), who had a daughter Harriett I. Kelly (born about 1918). Apparently Fred Jr. and Celia married about 1927. In 1930 Fred Jr. owned his own printing business, where Celia was employed as a printer. They were living in Douglas Village, Massachusetts at that time. See 1930 Us Federal Census, Douglas, MA. See Providence Directory (1931):831.
  19. ^ Alice Hillery married Charles F. Steere (born January 18, 1892 in North Kingston, Rhode Island), a chauffeur, on June 11, 1917 in Rhode Island, and had one son, Charles (born about July 1918 in Rhode Island). See World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 > Rhode Island > Woonsocket City > 0 > Draft Card S; Rhode Island Marriages. However, by 1930 Alice was divorced and was living with Charles Jr. with her parents. At that time Alice worked from home as a laundress. See 1930 US Federal Census, District 12, Lakewood, Warwick Township, Rhode Island, page 1. One source indicates Charles S. Steere may have died in 1927, and that his son may have died in 1935.
  20. ^ By 1910 Ruth was employed as a compositor in her father's firm. See 1910 US Federal Census. By 1920 Ruth was a stenographer at the Employment Bureau at 86 Weybosset Street (see 1920 US Federal Census, and Providence Directory (1922):439), and was promoted to manager by 1924 (see Providence Directory (1924):457).
  21. ^ Providence Directory (1889):725.
  22. ^ Timothy L. Smith, Called Unto Holiness: The Story of the Nazarenes (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene, 1962; Holiness Data Ministry, August 14, 2006):44,
  23. ^ Cunningham, 58; Jennie Smith, Valley of Baca: A Record of Suffering and Triumph (Hitchcock and Walden, 1877, 1880, 1883):256; From Baca to Beulah: Sequel to "Valley of Baca" (Garrigues Brothers, 1885):157; Adrienne M. Israel, Amanda Berry Smith: From Washerwoman to Evangelist (Issue 16 of Studies in Evangelicalism) (Scarecrow Press, 1998):112; George Hughes and Lidie H. Kenney, The Sweet Singer, Nettie Van Name: And Her Seven Years' Work for Jesus (National Holiness Publishing House):56,72; Woman and Temperance: Or, The Work and Workers of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (Park Publishing Co., 1888):129; The Heathen Woman's Friend 8-9 (Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1876):137; Report of the Crusade Anniversary Convention of the National Woman's Temperance Union (Woman's Christian Temperance Union, 1924):152.
  24. ^ Cunningham, 58.
  25. ^ Cunningham, 58.
  26. ^ In 1880 Ewer was pastoring the ME Church in Niantic, Connecticut, married to Mary S. (born March 1843), married in 1868 and had two sons: Harold C. Ewer (born December 1873) and Bernon C. Ewer (born October 1877). See 1880 US Federal Census: New London > East Lyme > District 112 > Page 36; and Providence > Providence Ward 7 > District 59 > Page 33. See Rhode Island Deaths.
  27. ^ Cunningham, 58.
  28. ^ Smith.
  30. ^ Methodist Episcopal Church, New England Southern Conference, Year-book of the Annual Conference (1888):82.
  31. ^ Smith, 44.
  32. ^ Timothy L. Smith, Called Unto Holiness: The Story of the Nazarenes (Kansas City, MO: Nazarene, 1962; Holiness Data Ministry, August 14, 2006):44,
  33. ^ Cunningham, 58.
  34. ^ Smith, 44-45; "Nazarene Roots", Chapter 3,
  35. ^ Manual of the People's Evangelical Church of Providence, R.I. (Providence, RI: Office of the Beulah Christian, 1895),
  36. ^ Nazarene Roots, Chapter 3.
  37. ^ Nazarene Roots, Chapter 3.
  38. ^ Nazarene Roots, Chapter 3.
  39. ^ Nazarene Roots, Chapter 3.
  40. ^ Providence Directory (1889):774.
  41. ^ Providence Business Directory (1895):351; Providence Business Directory (1896):813.
  42. ^ Called Unto Holiness page 63-64
  43. ^ Providence Directory (1898):399.
  44. ^ Providence Directory (1897):1055.
  45. ^ Providence Directory (1898):395; 1900 US Federal Census, District 54, Ward 6, page 22.
  46. ^ Providence (R.I.), Retail Men's Credit Association of Providence, City of Providence Tax Book (A. Crawford Greene., 1904). The church was located at plat 48, lot 71. Later Bourn Street was renamed Bourne Street, and even later it was de-mapped. The church was located approximately where the Providence Hilton Hotel is now located, at the corner of Atwells Avenue and Broadway, Providence.
  47. ^ Journal-Bulletin Almanac (1953):180.
  48. ^ Cameron, James R. (1968). Eastern Nazarene College—The First Fifty Years, 1900-1950. Kansas City: Nazarene Publishing House. p. 34. ASIN B0006BVOVC. 
  49. ^ Providence Typographical Union No. 33, Printers and Printing in Providence, 1762-1907 (Providence Print. Co., 1907):204.
  50. ^ Nazarene Messenger 12 (1907):22.
  51. ^ Providence Typographical Union No. 33, Printers and Printing in Providence, 1762-1907 (Providence Print. Co., 1907):204; The Nazarene Messenger 12 (1907):22,
  52. ^ 1910 US Federal Census, District 217, Ward 6, Providence, RI, p. 6; Providence Business Directory (1911):731.
  53. ^ Providence Business Directory (1915):773; 1920 US Federal Census, District 237, Ward 6, Providence, p. 22.
  54. ^ Jones, Holiness Movement; Nazarene Messenger 12 (1907):22.
  55. ^ On September 14, 1856 Pike married Elizabeth Adams Mitchell (born February 13, 1836; died May 4, 1914). See Robert L. Taylor, Early Families of Limington, Maine, p.219. Pike was ordained as an evangelist at Hiram, Maine on September 17, 1863. See Minutes of the General Conference of the Congregational Churches in Maine (The Conference, 1864):60; Joseph Sylvester Clark, et al., The Congregational Quarterly 9 (American Congregational Union, American Congregational Association, 1867):59. The Bible Christian had been published in Exeter, New Hampshire. See Jones, 162. Pike compiled Happy Home Songs (1888); and an 80 page hymnal, Better than Gold: A Collection of Songs and Hymns for Social Meetings, Revivals, Camp-meetings, Family Devotions, etc. (1898). Additionally, Pike wrote Bible Heroes (1917). See Jones, Guide, 150, 218.
  56. ^ Charles Edwin Jones, The Wesleyan Holiness Movement: A Comprehensive Guide (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, 2005):162..
  57. ^ The Nazarene Messenger 12 (1907):22.
  58. ^ Jones, 167.
  59. ^ Smith, 244.
  60. ^ Jones, Guide, 167.
  61. ^ Smith, 244.
  62. ^ Jones, 167.
  63. ^ Providence Directory (1924):457; 1930 US Federal Census, District 12, Lakewood, Warwick Township, Rhode Island, p. 1.
  64. ^ 1930 US Federal Census.

Books authored by Hillery[edit]

  • 1887 A History of the Revival of Holiness in St. Paul's M. E. Church, Providence, R. I., 1880–1887; or A Statement of the Circumstances which led to the Formation of the South Providence Holiness Association and the People's Evangelical Church.
  • 1900s Songs of Beulah.
  • 1910s Body Salvation (Republished: Charles Edwin Jones).

Further reading[edit]

  • Chapman, J.B. A History of the Church of the Nazarene. Kansas City, MO: Nazarene, 1926.
  • Cunningham, Floyd T., ed. Our Watchword and Song: The Centennial History of the Church of the Nazarene. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 2009. ISBN 0-8341-2444-0
  • Parker, J. Fred. Mission to the World: A History of Missions in the Church of the Nazarene Through 1985. Kansas City, MO: Nazarene Publishing House, 1988.
  • Purkiser, Westlake T. Called Unto Holiness: Volume Two: The Story of the Nazarenes: The Second Twentyfive Years, 1933-1958. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1983.
  • Redford, M.E. The Rise of the Church of the Nazarene. 3rd ed. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1974.[1]
  • Smith, Timothy L. Called Unto Holiness: Volume One: The Story of the Nazarenes: The Formative Years. Nazarene Publishing House, 1962. [2]