Clinton County, Michigan
19th Century Churches
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The following are from the Clinton Republican Golden Anniversary edition (August, 1906) unless otherwise noted.
Bath Baptist Church
In 1868, the first class of the Baptist church was organized with the following as charter members: Chas. Vanderventer, Samantha Vanderventer, Daniel Vanderventer, Sarah Cheny, Abram Riggs, Amanda Cronkite, Lucinda Ellsworth, F. R. Mackley, E. O. Riggs, Allen Scott, J. D. Rounds, H. S. Tooker, and Mary B. Tooker.
Some time between this and 1870, a great revival was held in the upper part of the store now occupied by F. E. Davis. The enthusiasm ran high and in 1870 the new church was built and dedicated by Rev. Hickox, who later became chaplain of the Jackson State Prison.
The society has continued an even course since its organization, with all the ups and downs that are customary to the history of a church.
The present trustees are Ernest Case, Fred Makley and John Makley, Mrs. John Makley, the present clerk. The pastor, Rev. Howland, recently came from Carson City, and has Laingsburg besides this place.
A good Sunday School is a part of their organization with Libbie Dolton, superintendent; Miss Ella Makley, secretary; Miss Helen Makley, treasurer.
They also have a Young Peoples' society, with Ernest Case as president, and the Ladies' Aid society, with Mrs. Frank Dolton, president; Ola Spangler, secretary; and Mary Clemons, treasurer, the societies are prosperous and lend a great deal to the support of the church.
Bath M. E. Church
The organization of the M. E. church dates back to 1868, when Mr. and Mrs. Knox, Mr. and Mrs. John Coon, Mr. and Mrs. James Bell, Mr. and Mrs. James Smith, Mr. and Mrs. John Clark, Mrs. Eastwood, Mrs. Johnston, and Mrs. Wilson, who later became Mrs. Richardson, were banded together with others under the leadership of Rev. A. A. Rolf.
The first revival was held in the old DeBar tavern which building is now torn down. The meetings were later held in the schoolhouse and continued there until 1870, at which time the church was completed. Rev. J. K. Stark was first pastor and built the church.
The present trustees are A. Webster, Cleander Chapman, Ira Shaw, Jerome Shaw, and Theodore Richardson. Rev. J.C. Dietrich is pastor. The church has a membership of 83. About fifty have been added in the last two years.
Pine Lake Church
The Pine Lake Church, the only other point on the Bath charge, was made up of members of the Rose church, which was a union church until 1874 to 1879 when the M. E. church members withdrew and held meetings in school district No. 1. In 1879, however, the church was built, and at the time of its dedication by Rev. Hills, only $300 remained unpaid. The debt has since been paid and at present is in a prosperous condition. The trustees are O. L. Fletcher, J. D. Roby, S. S. Smith and B. W. Cade. The membership is about 64. Each point has a ladies aid society in good working order. The officers of the one at Bath are Mrs. J. C. Dietrich, president; Mrs. A. Webster, secretary, and Mrs. Robson, treasurer. Those at Pine Lake are Mrs. A. Roby, president; Mrs. Parish, secretary; and Mrs. Johnson, treasurer.
Bath Free Will Baptist Church
In March 1854, Rev. Wm. R. Norton came to Bath township with his family to build a permanent home on the east bank of beautiful Park Lake. He at once began to look for a church home in this new country. He found five persons of his own denomination (Free Will Baptists.) These persons were Mr. Nathan Hawley and wife, Mr. Elijah Hawley and wife, Hanford Hawley, all devoted christian workers.
Mr. and Mrs. Norton united with these and formed a branch of the Perry church in Shiawassee Co. Besides the seven persons were others, one of whom was Mrs. Rose or Mother Rose as she was called, while they did not unite with the branch, were loyal christian workers at that time. This little band held their meetings regularly, Rev. Norton preaching every other Sabbath in the morning. The Episcopal, Methodist, and United Brethren holding services each alternate Sabbath in the log schoolhouse in the Rose neighborhood. The three denominations working together harmoniously.
The following spring Rev. Norton assisted by Rev. L. A. Currier, held special meetings which resulted in many conversions. Eight of whom, together with the seven above named, united together and organized a church. The names of these charter members were Mr. Nathan Hawley and wife, familiarly called Father and Mother Hawley, Elijah Hawley and wife, Hanford H. Hawley, Rev. Wm. R. Norton and wife, Wm. Vanlenven, Mrs. Vanlenven, Mr. and Wm. Johnson, N. P. Gallup, Mrs. Gallup, Mrs. Martha Rose, and Nancy Smith.
This organization was named the first Free Will Baptist Church of Bath.
Father Hawley was elected deacon, which office he held for many years. H. H. Hawley, his son, was chosen clerk.
Wm. R. Norton was chosen pastor. This position he held for 18 consecutive years, at times, however, he would have to give up preaching regularly on account of having all he could do on his large farm with the help of his boys, four in number. During these periods, Rev. L. B. Potter and Rev. F. W. Straight, of Lansing, and also Rev. T. H. Davis, of Perry, Shiawassee County, would supply the pulpit. With the help of these faithful christian ministers and others, the church continued to grow until it outgrew the frame school house which had taken the place of the log on and in 1870 a church was built just across the way from the school house. There it stands now, a beautiful monument of the loving services of many who still remain to enjoy its comforts.
The community as well as the church responded nobly to this enterprise. Several who were not members of the church paid liberally and worked faithfully. Among these were Mr. J. N. Smith, Mr. John V. Abel, Mr. Silas Rose and his brother, Hon. Wm. H. Rose.
George Fletcher was elected one of the trustees, which office he still holds. He and his family have ever been interested workers in and for the church.
We can't recall the exact date of the dedication of this church but we know it was in the winter of 1870.
Rev. T. W. Straight, of Lansing, preached the dedication sermon. He was a grand man and a noble preacher. He was assisted in the service by Rev. L. B. Potter and J. C. Ferris, also of Lansing, and Rev. Wm. R. Norton, of Bath. And right here we would not forget to mention the musical part of the program. The choir was one to be proud of. It was led by Mr. Theron Stevens. Ever so many families were represented by the young people. There were the Smiths, Nortons, Abels, Roses, Fletchers, and Barnes, also Tyler, Yourys, Spanglers, Knapps, later on.
And this carries us back to the school house again when we "old folks" used to lend our voices to make the "welkin ring" led by Mr. T. Bachelor, H. H. Hawley, J. N. Smith. Then later on and after we moved into the church Mr. Theron Stevens, S. D. Watson and the young people took charge of this work. The principal organists have been Miss Nora Smith, Miss Mattie Smith, Mrs. Alice Abel Tyler, Mrs. Ida Harris and Miss Eva Abel Smith, also Miss Tillie Youry who has long since gone to her home above.
In 1871 Rev. Norton sold his farm and moved away.
Since that time the church has had the following pastors: Revs. William M. Jenkins, I. P. Bates, B. F. Bolar, Wm. R. Norton recalled, I. P. Bates recalled, J. C. Robinson, D. W. Gow, M. G. Pett, B. Haines, John Tree, E. M. Parsons, G. B. Hopkins, Dunning Matherson.
Rev. I. B. Buffum became pastor April 1, 1902. Good advancement was made in all lines during the four years of his pastoral care. A new bell was purchased and hung, the church was painted outside and in, newly papered and a set of chairs purchased for the pulpit and primary class. The church gained twenty-three members during the four years. April 1 of this year Rev. Buffum and family moved to Elsie.
Rev. Dr. McLain is the present pastor, a young man of great energy and natural ability of whom we hope for good results. He commenced the work only a few months ago, but is liked and appreciated.
The church has sent out as minister, Rev. J. I. Townsend and Rev. George Bisby.
There are official members we would like to mention. The deacons, Mr. Richard Trumble and Mr. Gilbert Place, who with their good wives to assist them, did their duties faithfully and well for so many years. The janitors should be remembered. Robert Rose was the first one to care for the church. Charles Cushman succeeded him. How nicely and pleasantly they did their duties! Others have followed and all have been appreciated.
We think of another trustee, Mr. James Smith, who, with his family, were ever present in the house of God to encourage and help in various ways.
Charles Phelps was also janitor at one time, and had been church clerk for many years.
And now, in conclusion, we would say there are many things of interest which have been omitted, perhaps, which we may think of when it is too late but we hope to be forgiven. There are some items of importance we tried to get but failed. Few churches have had better ministers, many of them graduates of Hillsdale College. Several were elderly, experienced men in gospel work. Rev. A. J. Davis and J. C. Ferris often came from Lansing to supply the pulpit when needed. There have been helpful women aiding in all departments of the church work. Much good has been done and yet there is plenty more to do.
May God help in the future as he has in the past is the prayer of your obedient servant, P. A. Norton.
Bengal M. E. Appointment
Religious services have been carried on for the last ten years at Bengal Grange Hall, 4 miles west and 1 mile south of St. Johns, by the Methodists of that community. The pastor of St. Johns M. E. Church has supplied this point, preaching each alternate Sunday at 2:30 in the afternoon. A prosperous Sunday school is held each Sunday at 1:30 p.m. A good library is owned by the society, which places within reach of those desiring to read, a collection of interesting and instructive books.
Mr. J. M. Hicks has been the superintendent from the beginning of the school. The other officers are: Mr. Leroy Pope, assistant superintendent; Miss Nellie Hicks, secretary; Miss Velma Smith, treasurer; Miss Belle Harper, librarian. One of the helpful organizations connected with this church is the Ladies Aid society, which is one of the best to be found in any rural district and consists of 72 members.
The officers are president, Mrs. Arrila C. Bleakslee; vice president, Mrs. Frank Brown; secretary, Mrs. Charles Travis; treasurer, Mrs. Tyler Hill.
A church building would add much to the comfort and convenience of those who worship at that point and there is an opportunity for someone, by a generous gift to make possible a neat and commodious church building, which would mean greater usefulness in the community.
Bengal Evangelical United Brethren
The Bengal Evangelical United Brethren church celebrated the 100th year of its organization on Sunday, October 9, 1955. The church was organized October 1, 1955, by the Rev. William L. Kennard, circuit preacher of the Pine Lake Mission.
First members of the church were Emmons and Sarah Blakeslee, Abraham and Lydia TenEyck and Betsy Lyons. During the following winter a revival was held and 30 members were added to the church.
In the summer of 1856 a log church 30x30 feet was erected which was the only church building in Bengal township. It was located on Section 26 almost across from the present Harper school.
The present building on Grove road at Parks road was erected in 1877. The bell was presented to the church in 1896. In 1940 a basement was put under the church and the church was rededicated by bishop Showers, then publishing agent for the denomination. In 1949 the sanctuary was completely remodeled. Guest speaker for the rededication service was Dr. J. K. Hatton.
Four young men have gone out from this church to preach the gospel. Robert r. Risley served churches both in Michigan and Ohio. His brother, Frank A. Risley, served in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and in churches in Pennsylvania and Indiana. Arthur Spafford, serving his third pastorate in Michigan, is at the Vicksburg church. Myron Williams was ordained in May and is serving his first pastorate at the Riverton charge near Ludington.
Dr. A. L. Spafford is the present pastor, serving the second yea of his second pastorate here. The church membership at the present time numbers over 100.
(Clinton County Republican-News 28Jun1956)
Bingham Township (St. Johns)
Church of the Nazarene
A Church of the Nazarene at St. Johns was first visualized by the Rev. Burton Sturk, pastor of the Nazarene church at St. Louis, in the fall of 1927. Rev. Sturk had lived in St. Johns as a boy. He came to St. Johns, rented the Klan Hall, engaged the Rev. Charles A. Strait as the evangelist and put on a revival campaign...the Rev. Claude Jenks came to St. Johns as pastor and remained in charge of the work for nearly nine years...Meetings were held in two different upstairs halls and one downstairs hall during the first few years.
The first people to join the new organization were: Miss Ina Moore, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Kearby, Charles Hankey, Mrs. Wesley Penix, Mrs. Nellie Hunt, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Swagart and Donnah Swagart.
A lot was purchased on North Lansing street across from the Perrin-Palmer School and the old normal school building was purchased and moved onto the lot. while the building was being fitted for services, the congregation worshipped in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hankey. Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Maders, Mr. Kate Wakefield and Alta Hartman were added as members.
It was in the Hankey home that the church was officially organized and incorporated on October 9, 1929, with 14 charter members...The first service was held in the little church on November 17, 1929. Rev. Jenks continued to pastor the flock until November, 1936, at which time he resigned and the Rev. E. E. Davis came and filled out that Assembly year.
In July 1937, the Rev. W. G. Martin was called as pastor and continued to pastor the church until July, 1942. It was during his pastorate, in 1938, that the present parsonage at 110 Ross street was deeded to the congregation as a gift from Mrs. Nellie Steaves...Rev. J. w. VanAmburg was pastor from August 1942 until Sept 1948...Mr. and Mrs. Dan Miller gave the church two lots upon which the new church is being built.
...Rev. Nathan Hawks filled out the Assembly year...Rev. W. E. Weaver was pastor from July, 1949 until 1956 when Rev. D. E. Weltz took over. On Easter Sunday, April 18, 1954, The congregation moved into the new church building...in 1956 work had begun in adding a second floor to the educational annex.
(Clinton County Republican News 28Jun1956)
Congregational Church of St. Johns
The Congregationalists met with the Presbyterians for a while but desired a church of their own, so they asked the Rev. William Esler of Eagle to come to St. Johns and he preached "in the old schoolhouse on the site of the present Episcopal church." On April 1, 1860, the First Congregational Church of St. Johns was organized with eight members...Two weeks later 21 new members were added, making 29 members, but about 50 other persons attended regularly, necessitating a change to larger quarters -- Clinton Hall, where a Sunday School was started.
On a site offered by the village company, a church was erected in 1864-65 by W. W. Brainard, contractor, and was dedicated free of debt in the pastorate of the Rev. Rufus Apthorp...That church stood on the vacant lot back of the present stone church.
Twelve pastors served from the beginnings in 1860 until the present stone structure was built in 1899-1901...at a cost of $25,000.
Pastors were: William Esler, Rufus Apthorp, George M. Tuthill, M. K. Pasco, L. F. Bickford, Charles Barstow, Rev. J. E. Richards, Rev. G. O. Cossar, W. C. Allen, Dr. H. E. Butler, Rev. G. Claude Longman, Rev. Arie Binkhorst (pastor when the stone church was built), Dr. James Hysop, Rev. Matt Mullen, Rev. William Roscoe Kedzie, Rev. Robert Dalzell, Rev. Howard A. Blanning, Rev. Thomas S. Cleaver, Earl F. Collins, Rev. William R. Catton, Rev. Ray R. Caldwell, Rev. Clyde R. Wilcox, D.D.
(Clinton County Republican News 28Jun1956)
First Church of Christ
The First Church of Christ in St. Johns was organized in June, 1902, with sixteen charter members as follows: Christiana Chase, Mrs. A. J. Miller, Mrs. Sarah Hammond, Mrs. Hulda M. Miller, Caroline Falor, John Falor, William A. Gregg, Cora A. Foster, Dawn Thompson, Mrs. M. J. Emmons, Mrs. Mary Bevington, Mrs. Eliza Kellogg, A. J. Miller, Charles S. Sprague, Mrs. Nettie L. Hainer, and Mrs. M. E. Thompson.
The present tabernacle was built in 1903, the present number of members is twenty-three, of whom the following is the board of trustees: A. J. Miller, Charles S. Sprague and Mrs. M. J. Emmons.
Since Rev. J. Findley accepted a call to Bangor in the spring of 1906, the church has been without a pastor.
Evangelical Lutheran Church
The Zion church of the Evangelical Lutheran Denomination was organized in this city in 1870 and the present church was built in 1876. The charter members were Jacob Seifert, Casper Siebert, Charles H. Seibert, John VanHousen, Fred A. Wittenburg, Jacob Seifert, Jr., Louis Urbrock, Uri Diller, Henry Fahr, and Charles Eckert. The church has a present twelve members and the pastor is Rev. Heidelberger.
First Assembly of God of St. Johns
The Assembly of God church, presently located at 604 East Baldwin street, is possibly the youngest church in St. Johns.
The pastor, the Rev. Thomas E. Pace, both founded and is presently pastoring this new and growing church. he began services there October 11, 1953, in an afternoon service held in the Steel Hotel.
The Home Missions department of the Assemblies of God served as advisers and assisted the church here in its beginning.
From afternoon services the church has grown into a small congregation which now has invested in its own parsonage and chapel. The group also owns property at East Baldwin street and US-27 which will serve as a site for a new church in the future.
(Clinton County Republican-News 28Jun1956)
Methodist Church of St. Johns
The history of Methodism in St. Johns has been carefully preserved and from the records the following facts have been obtained. The first Methodist class was organized in September, 1855, by the Rev. J. S. Harder and was the first religious organization formed in this community. The class consisted of nine persons. Mr. Ethan Allen, cousin of the hero of Ticonderoga, and father of Mrs. Zilpha Walbridge of our city, was appointed leader. The other members were: D. H. Warren, Caroline Warren, Lovina Higgins, Henry Smith, Wilson Curtice, Caroline Curtice, Michael Freece, and Mary Freece.
The first board of trustees was appointed February 7, 1860. The members were: Spencer W. Gibbs, Hamilton B. Bliss, I. W. Ash, Amasa D. Carrier, and Wm. Thayer.
In 1861 a lot was purchased on East State street for a parsonage and during the following year the building was completed and occupied by the preacher in charge. In 1863 the property just east of where the present church stands was secured, a building committee appointed, composed of John W. Paine, John Hicks and Wm Sickles. --- on January 4, 1864, Dr. T. M. Eddy of Chicago, Ill, dedicated the first M. E. church of St. Johns to the worship of Almighty God.
This building was used as the place of worship for 31 years. Extensive repairs were made during 1883, when a spire was placed upon the church and a furnace and gas plant were installed, making it one of the most desirable places of worship in the county.
The growth of Methodism and the condition of the old church made it necessary to seek new quarters. It was finally decided that a new church must be built. The lot where the present church now stands was purchased. A building committee consisting of John Hicks, Spencer W. Gibbs, John D. Henderson, J. S. Osgood and J. S. Adams was appointed and after a heroic struggle and great sacrifice on the part of many members and friends of the church whose names are worthy of mention, the present beautiful church home was erected and dedicated in October, 1895. During the winter of 1903 a beautiful Austin pipe organ was presented to the society by the family of the late John Hicks in grateful memory of the husband and father.
Of those who are members of the church Mrs. John Hicks and Mrs. Eleanor Bliss have belonged for 50 years; Mrs. Jane Congdon for 47 years and Mrs. W. W. Brainard for 46 years and a number have been members for 40 years or more, among whom are: Mrs. Sarah M. McFarlan; William Ferrier and wife, and M. A. Kniffin and wife. During the 51 years of its history 27 men have been appointed to this charge: J. S. Harder, N. L. Otis, N. L. Brockway, J. W. Cawthorne, Josiah Fowler, D. O. Fox, A. Wood, S. Steel, Elias Cooley, L. M. Edmunds, L .W. Earl, A. J. Russell, Wm. Colby, D. D. Gillets, James Hamilton, S. L. Hamilton, C. A. Jacobs, G. C. Draper, R. H. Bready, A. D. Newton, C. G. Thomas, D. D. Martin, O. R. Lovejoy, W. L. Holmes, Wm. L. Laufman, R. S. McGregor and James B. Pinckard. Of these, two served six months each, eleven one year each, six two years each, four three years each, one four years and two five years, each while the present pastor is serving for this first year.
The eight societies of the church are all doing good work and consist of the Sunday school with a membership of 340, with W. R. Osgood as superintendent. Epworth League with a membership of 90, Amon T. Putnam president. Junior League, membership 103, Mrs. O. D. Metzger, superintendent, Miss Ella Wilcox, assistant. Brotherhood of St. Paul membership 45, J. M. Townsend, president. Ladies Aid society, members consist of the ladies of the church and congregation, Mrs. Geo. Wood president. Woman's Social league, membership 135; Mrs. W. C. B. Rawson, president. Woman's Foreign Missionary society, membership 38, Mrs. James B. Pinckard, president. Woman's Home Missionary society, Mrs. L. A. Gostelow, president.
The present membership of the church is 380. The church officials are: trustees: Dr. M. Weller, pres., M. A. Kuiffin, sec., Henry Parr, treas., J. S. Adams, J. S. Osgood, Wm. G. Henderson, Theron Shaver, John C. Hicks, H. S. Holmes. Stewards: L. G. McKnight, C. A. Putt, O. E. Wilson, George A. Kelly, sec. of official board; Guy White, W. W. Hodge, B. F. Young, John Walker, E. I. Parmenter, Geo. H. Marshall, Mrs. M. Weller, Mrs. R. Goette, W. R. Osgood. The class leaders are M. A. Kniffin, who as held that position since 1882, and Wm. Farrier, who for more than 21 years was communion steward and is now an honorary member of the official board. The other officers or those filling positions in the church are: Financial secretary, Wm. R. Osgood, organist, H. Glenn Henderson; church treasurer, Clark A. Putt; chorister, Mrs. Roland Frink; ushers, W. R. Osgood, M. H. Kniffin, Herman Kathe, T. J. Fishburn. With such a complete equipment and such competent officials this church, with the blessing of God upon it, has a bright future.
Seventh Day Adventists
(see Greenbush Twp. for more on this church)
In 1936 while Elder Pruitt was the pastor, a building on the corner of Oakland and Cass streets in St. Johns was purchased and the entire congregation moved (from Greenbush) into town.
A church school was started in 1934. The school, offering grades one through eight is taught by Miss Bernice Lunz. Miss Lunz has just completed her fifth year in charge of the local Adventist school. She first came to St. Johns seven years ago....Plans are going ahead for a new school building which the church hopes to finish in time for the opening of school in September.
In 1954 the church congregation purchased the old Nazarene church on North Lansing Street where Sabbath School and church services are held each Saturday morning...Ministers who served the church during the time it was located on South Oakland Street were Elders Carl W. Pruitt, Shoup, W. H. Holden, and Stanley W. Hyde.
Although St. Johns has no resident pastor, it is served by Elder Duane Miller, who resides in Owosso and serves the churches in Owosso and St. Johns...since 1954.
The minister is assisted by the local elder. The late George Sumner served in this capacity for 50 years. At the present time the office is filled by Dr. R. L. Wohlers.
[Clinton County Republican-News 28Jun1956]
St. Johns Episcopal Church
First Episcopal services in St. Johns were conducted in 1856 by the Rev. John Bramwell, rector of St. Paul's church in Lansing...The initial Episcopal meeting took place in a little house at what is now 207 Wight street...On May 25, 1858, 12 persons signed a document which officially organized St. John's Episcopal church. The 12 were Timothy Baker, Louis W. Fasquelle, Hiram C. Hodge, William W. Flagler, James H. Benson, William H. Moote, George F. Mead, O. L. Spaulding, J. H. Corbit, D. N. Murray George W. Stephenson and H. M. Perrin.
In the original platting of the village, land at the corner of Walker and Mead streets was set aside for a union school, with the provision that it should revert to the town if not used for that purpose. Townspeople objected to the school location because it was not centrally located. The Union School building was moved and the ground reverted, later coming into the possession of Alva H. Walker. Eventually, he gave it to the Episcopalians as a church site.
In the spring of 1866, two loads of lumber were puchased and the footings for a church were built...In November, 1867, first services were held in the building...
Mrs. Stearns (wife of Rev. Rufus D. Stearns) made a beautiful set of altar linen and it was used for the first time on Easter, 1892, At the collection that day the congregation paid off the last of a long-standing debt for improvements. A half hour after the close of evening services on Easter, April 17, 1892, the church burned. Bessie Stearns, young daughter of the Rev. and Mrs. Stearns, became the heroine of the fire when she ignored firemen and rushed into the burning church building, snatched the newly made linen from the altar and carried it to safety...services in the new building were first held Easter Sunday, March 25, 1894.
[Clinton County Republican-News 28Jun1956]
State Street Baptist Church
The State Street Baptist church at 400 East State street was organized July 4, 1943, as the Fundamental Bible Baptist church during a meeting held here by Dr. D. B. Clapp, of Ft Worth, Texas. The church met at the outset in Townsend Hall on East Walker street. The charter membership was held open until July 18, 1943.
The 33 charter members were Ida Lake, Vada Birkey, Jane Birkey, Barbara Cleland, the Rev. Donald Lougheed, Helen Lougheed, Jimmy Lougheed, Anna DeLong, Mrs. M. D. Smead, Edith Green, Fred Green, Betty Bond, Barbara Green, Carol Downing, Marle Woodhams, Delia Burdick, Myron Coe, J. Fred Woodhams, Mrs. Dorothy Cleland, Mrs. Marie Coe, Frank Schultz, Betty Cleland, Bertha Harter, Anna Lake, Pearl Woodhams, Glenn Woodhams, Lyle Green, Ruby Schultz, Mrs. J. Fred Woodhams, Louise Freen, Luther V. Cleland Sr., Ralph Green and Vera Andrews.
The name of the group was changed to the State Street Baptist Church in October, 1950. At the present time the church is in a building program. Present membership is 127. The church is an independent Baptist church in fellowship with the World Baptist Fellowship and also is associated with the International Council of Christian Churches.
Pastors have included: Rev. Donald Lougheed, Rev. Merle Winters, Rev. Russell Singleton, Rev. Donald Miller, Rev. Henry H. Parrish II, Rev. William T. Smith Jr.
[Clinton County Republican-News 28Jun1956]
United Brethren Church
The United Brethren church has been in Clinton county for over fifty years. Their record is not to be despised, but it might have been far wider, had it not been for dissention in the denomination reaching the local churches; thus for a time crippling their usefulness. This is generally termed the Liberal U. B. church or the United Brethren in Christ, under the constitution of 1889.
It was impossible to obtain the proper data where and when the first U. B. church was organized in this county. In the early fifties the Rev. Mr. Reed came from Bath and organized the Bengal church in the old log schoolhouse known as the Plowman schoolhouse, which stood across the road from the present house, No. 3, Bengal. The Rev. M. Kennedy, of Wacousta, was presiding elder.
Not all the names of charter members can be learned, but Emmons Blakeslee and wife, Reuben Crowner and Mrs. Roy Lyon were among them. Mr. Lyon, although not a member, had a warm heart towards the church. He gave the grounds on the northeast corner of the farm now owned by Tyler Hill, upon which a log church was erected about 1854 or 1855.
In 1874 a commodious frame structure was erected on land given by Reuben Brown. In the erection of this building the Browns, Travises, Blakeslees, Tenicks, etc. were conspicuous figures.
Rev. Alva H. West is the present pastor. Leslie Brown is class leader and Sunday school superintendent. The auxiliaries of the church are the Ladies Aid society, of which Mrs. Eli Good is president, the Y.P.S.C.E. of which Robert Brown is president. These have proven themselves of great value to the church in both a financial and spiritual way. The church has about fifty members.
In September, 1867, Rev. Wm. Palmer came from Ovid and organized a class in the old log school house about one-half mile south of the Bingham U. B. Church. The charter members were D. C. Norris, George and Mary Yallup, Mary Larkins, Marian Sherman, Catherine Fenner, Susan Emmons, W. H. Norris, Sarah Ann Norris, and Reuben Powers. Rev. Mr. Lake was presiding elder.
In 1898, under the pastorate of Rev. J. W. Miers, a church was built at what is now generally known as west Bingham. At present Rev. Alva H. West is pastor; Simeon Gage, S. S. Supt. and Lyman Sperry class leader. Mrs. Ernest Rall, president of the Y. P. S. C. E.; Mrs. Henry Halsey president of the Ladies Aid society. The society at present consists of about fifty members. The only other church in Clinton county is at Eureka. A class in Ovid exists but in somewhat chaotic state. They have a handsome church property. There were churches in Fowler, Wacousta, Bath, Victor, East Bingham, Olive and many other places, but for some reason have long since been discontinued. In the early days she was strictly a rural church, but since she presses into the center of population she goes with leaps and bounds.
As far as known all charter members have joined the church triumphant; Mrs. Mary Yallup being the last one. She passed away in October, 1904.
Holy Trinity Church
In 1881 a class of about forty members, mostly of the Catholic church of Westphalia, organized a separate church society at Fowler. A soliciting committee began at once to accumulate funds for the purpose of building a church. Among those on the committee were John Kissane and Chas. Bengal, who are still living. When the soliciting was finished the job of building the church was let to Henry J. Goerge who was then and has since continued an active member. The church was completed that year with Rev. Rohnen as priest.
The priests, who have served this place since that time are Holtouse, Ording, Hewelt, Stanes and Krebbs. One of these, Rev. Ording, under whose pastorate the first Parochial school was built, died there November 7, 1890. The Priest house and Sister house were built while Hewelt was priest in charge.
The church is free from debt and has a membership of about 39 families.
The present trustees are Michael Schaefer, Frank Feldpausch, Stephen Ambrustmacher, F. H. Geller and Henry Goerge. The present priest is [article ends in mid-sentence]
(continued from Clinton County Republican-News 28Jun1956)
Catholics in the Fowler area were first served by Father George Godez of Westphalia, who came to individual homes by horseback every year at Easter starting in 1857...Father DeSmet of Hubbardston...conducted services at the home of Thomas Long a mile north of Fowler. From 1875-1880 he came once a month.
The cornerstone (of a frame church) was laid June 23, 1881, and the church was completed the following December 3 and dedicated December 27, 1881...Irish members of the parish wanted to name the new church after an Irish patron saint, and the German members wanted a saint of their own nationality. Father Ronayne solved the problem by dedicating the church to the Most Holy Trinity. Land for the church was donated by J. N. Fowler, who founded the village.
...Father Lindemann found that the frame church was too small to accommodate the 140 families in the parish...Parishioners decided to build the church of field stone. During all of the winter of 1915-16 church members hauled stones from every field in the parish...plans were changed and stone was only used as high as the windows with the balance to be of brick...the church was opened November 11, 1917.
St. Paul Lutheran Church
St. Paul Lutheran church at Fowler was organized June 30, 1878. Members first worshipped in a church building four miles south of Fowler. In 1894 the congregation moved to Fowler and erected a frame church at the corner of Wayne and Sorrell streets. It measured 35 x 65 feet and had a 100-foot tower. There also was a small building for Christian education.
In 1921 the congregation built a new brick church at the same location. It was dedicated December 12, 1921. This building was destroyed by fire on February 18, 1945. Plans to rebuild were made immediately and the congregation resolved to erect a "Briar Hill" sandstone church and parish hall...Ground was broken June 5, 1946, and the cornerstone was laid November 5, 1946. The building was dedicated October 10, 1948.
...the following have served as pastors: J. H. Witte (1878-1894; E. R. Schauer, 1896-1902; A. Vogt, 1902-1904 and 1907-1913; L. R. Heidelberger, 1904-1906; J. Held, 1913-1916; E. P. Beyer, 1917-1931; Arthur F. Beyer, 1932-1942; A. R. Nuechterlein, 1942-present. The congregation is affiliated with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod....
(Clinton County Republican-News 28Jun1956)
M. E. Church
In Dewitt, during the year of 1836, Rev. A. Bennett organized the charter class of the M. E. church with the following members: John Gould, Parmelia Gould, Asa Parker, Mary Parker, Sarah Goodrich, Judge H. Wilcox, Samuel Smith, Lewis Coburn, and Lucina Coburn. IT is supposed that Rev. Bennett lived at Lyons, but this is not positively known. Among the early preachers were Nathan Mount, F. A. Baldes, Stephen Woodard, E. H. Pilcher, Penfield Hemmingway, Seth Reed, and Jeremiah Boynton.
The first parsonage was built in 1846. One of the strongest factors in this church organization has been the ladies' aid society, whose gifts have added much to the needed support. The officers of this society are: President, Mrs. A. W. Simmons; secretary, Miss Merle McLouth; treasurer, Mrs. Willis McLouth. They have a fine Sunday school which is the future hope of every church and is in good working condition under the superintendency of Mrs. S. A. Stewart, with a membership of about 75.
The Woman's foreign missionary society recently started and has but a small membership. The officers are Mrs. Simmons, president; Mrs. Mary Taylor, secretary; Mrs. S. A. Stewart, treasurer.
The Epworth League is prosperous with Harry Moon, president, and Miss Merle McLouth, secretary. The membership is about 60.
The present trustees are S. E. Scott, S. M. Cook, C. L. Moon, C. H. Moon, O. Drake, Henry Goodrich, and M. A. Norris. The present church is a very nice structure for a town the size of Dewitt, is roomy and nicely arranged. It was built about 12 or 14 years ago.
Rev. A. W. Simmons is the pastor in charge and during the last three years the charge has paid about $800indebtedness.
The Baptist brethren of Dewitt assembled at Jonathan R. Pearsall's on Sunday, May 10, 1840, to form a Baptist conference. Later in the year a council from different points met and recognized the conference as a regular Baptist church. The following are the charter members: J. R. Pearsall, James Hewitt, Francis Marvin, Moses Clark, Gilbert Cushman, Franklin Oliver, Aurilla Pearsall, Hannah Moore, Sally Olin, and Polly Pearsall. The church was received into the Shiawassee Association June 1842. In January, 1841, Rev. Moses Clark was chosen pastor and things continued smoothly with the organization. The first church was built in 1857 under the pastorate of Rev. John Gunderman. Of the constituent members not one remains. One is warned that, like a river hastening to the sea, the years are hurrying by.
The present pastor is Rev. A. M. Bailey. Trustees are J. Russell Grinold, George Pierce, Allen Munger, O. A. Knapp, and Andrew Hath. Kate Grinold is clerk.
Gunnisonville M. E. Church
The Gunnisonville church began in 1885 when Rev. Taylor organized a class consisting of Benjamin Kyes and his wife, Mrs. A. S. West, Mrs. M. Livermore, the Stampfly family and members of the Charles Wildt family. The church on the northeast corner of Clark and Wood Roads was completed in 1888 for $2,400, an amount the church struggled for about ten years to pay off. Over the years Gunnisonville has been paired with the DeWitt Methodist Church, Emanuel Methodist Church, and since 1967 the Bath United Methodist Church.
"Somewhere about 1840, a Mr. Coburn used to hold meetings in the log houses of the residents in the locality of Gunninsonville (sic). This is a very early date and any record seems to be incomplete. In about 1843 a log school house was built in which meetings were held by Methodists and Baptists in union until 1885, at which time Rev. Taylor organized a class of Methodists. The class consisted of Benjamin Kyes and wife, Mrs. A. S. West, seven members of the Stampfly family, Mrs. M. Livermore, Chas. Wildt and two of his family.
The worship of this class continued smoothly with occasionally a new member added, until the present time.
In 1888 while Rev. McNutt was pastor, the contract for a new church, costing $2400 was completed. The cost was not all paid at this time, in fact a part of the debt continued against the society for about ten years but there was never a mortgage against the property.
A number of the members gave their personal notes as security.
The society is in good condition with a Sunday school under the superintendance of Daniel Stampfly, and the ladies’ aid society, the officers of which are Mrs. Ellen Stampfly, president, Mrs. Mina Smith, secretary and Mrs. Jas Gunninson, treasurer.
The present trustees are Benjamin Kyes, Herman Kyes, James Gunninson, Jacob and Christian Zeeb, Herman Kraus, Daniel and Thomas Stampfly and Stephen Downer.
This is part of the Dewitt charge.
German M. E. Church
The first missionary work done in the interests of the German Methodist Episcopal church in Clinton county was in the year 1853 when Rev. Jacob Krebiehl from Ann Arbor, came into the neighborhood of west Dewitt township, and held meetings in the old Allen School house. He did not stop here, however, but pushed on farther north in his missionary efforts, and held meetings in Riley, Dallas, and northwest of St. Johns in the Foerch school house.
The location of the meetings in Dewitt township were changed from the Allen school house to the Hurd, where they continued until the church was built. During this time, 1854, this point was put with the Lansing charge and remained thus until 1877, at which time it was made a separate charge with Rev. Wm. Andree as pastor. At this timeit had a membership of about 75, and it has continued to grow and prosper. The church was built in 1872, while Rev. C. F. Heitmeyer was pastor in charge, and has been enlarged at two different times, in 1893 and 1897. The parsonage was built in 1881 and is now under the process of remodeling.
Among the charter members were Gebhardt Goodrich, deceased, and his wife, Katharine, who is still living; John Schlee and wife, Barbara, deceased; Wm Mack and John Rey, both deceased; Karl Henning and wife Henrietta, both living; Henry Neller, deceased, and wife Margaret, living; Kasper Stols, deceased, and wife, Sophia, who is still living.
Mr. Goodrich was the first one of that community to unite with the church.
The present membership is about 160, with Rev. D. E. Dangel, pastor. The present condition of the society is very prosperous. The trustees are, Karl Henning, Sr., August Kautz, Gotlieb Schray, Hugo Gross, Louis Neller, Gotlieb Baur and Otto Kowalk. Fred Magsig is clerk.
The auxiliary societies of this church are: the Epworth League, whose officers are D. E. Dangel president, Otto Kowalk secretary, Will Loesch treasurer; the Ladies Aid society with Mrs. Mary Gross president, Emma Zischke sec’y, and Anna Henning treasurer; and the Sunday School Missionary society with the following officers: August Kautz president, and August Zischke treasurer. The societies are valuable for the help given to the support of the church.
Duplain Church of Christ
The Duplain Church of Christ, located in Rochester Colony, was founded in 1869. Elder Brooks conducted the first services in a log school a mile and a half west and a half mile south of the village.
The 30 original members of the church voted to build a church edifice in the Colony. The building was started in 1870 and completed in 1871.
The membership grew steadily and in 1885 Elder R. S. Groves held a meeting which resulted in 65 baptisms. About this time the church had a Christian Endeavor society which was one of the largest in Michigan.
The building was raised and a furnace installed in 1903. Classrooms were built and the stairs changed in 1914. The church was wired for electricity in 1936 and new hardwood floors were laid in 1936-38.
L. A. Fisher retired in 1942 after a ministry of 27 years. During his ministry he conducted 1,404 regular and 210 special services, 579 funerals, 211 weddings, made 12,300 visits and traveled enough miles by car to encircle the globe 13 times.
The present minister, R. D. Marmion, has served since December, 1942. A new furnace and front steps were installed in 1946.
Ministers of the church have included: Elder Brooks, Elder Fraut, John A. Mafferty, elder LaGrange, Elder Cook, Elder Hurd, Elder Sweatman, R. R. Cook, W. E. Wheeler, Andrew Scott, J. H. Lacey, J. J. Finley, Benjamin Merry, J. A. Findley, J. M. Ice, I. S. Bussing, S. L. Randall, L. A. Fisher and R. D. Marmion.
(Clinton County Republican-News 28Jun1956)
Duplain M. E. Church
As the result of the earnest effort of Washington Jackson and Isaac Bennett, circuit riders of an early day, the first Methodist class was organized during the year of 1837. This was at a very early date when the conveniences for public worship were not so numerous as at present. The meetings were held at the homes of Joseph Sever and Francis Faxon until 1838, when a log school house was built on a spot near where the present store at Duplain is located. Later a frame school house was erected about one-half mile east of the old log one and this was used for public worship until 1856, at which time the church was built and dedicated to the worship of God. This same church is in use by the class at this present period, but has had needed repairs at several different times. Soon after the organization of the class a Sunday School was started with Charles Baldwin as superintendent.
It is of interest to note that W. H. Faxon, who is living at Ovid, was not only the first convert at Rochester Colony but the first in the county. There were nine of the early charter members as follows: Francis Saxon and wife, Joseph Sever and wife, the Misses Bathsehba and Sarah Sever, Chas. Baldwin and wife, and David Watson.
During the live of the church James Roberts and H. P. Barker have been sent into the world to preach the gospel. They remained in the Michigan conference during their life.
This church, with the help of its auxiliary societies, is continuing prosperous.
Rev. E. E. Sprague is the present pastor in charge.
Elsie Free Methodist Church
The last church to be organized in Elsie was the Free Methodist. In 1885 there stood on the east outskirts of the village an unoccupied church building. This property was owned by Dr. Harvey Smith and had come into the doctor's possession by way of a mortgage foreclosure.
The church previously had been owned by the United Brethren in Christ, but this organization had become extinct in Elsie. the pulpit ability of the Rev. A. C. Marshall attracted considerable attention and especially captivated the aged Dr. Smith so that he invited him to conduct a series of meetings in his church. The invitation was accepted and in the winter of 1885 and 1886, a number of meetings took place.
The results were that a strong society was formed at the close of the meeting. In 1887 the present church building was purchased from the Methodist Episcopal society and was moved to the present location on North Ovid street. The building was dedicated by General Superintendent B. T. Roberts in the fall of 1887 in connection with an annual conference session.
Many able ministers have served the church. Present pastor is the Rev. E. E. Courser. Duane Cox is Sunday School Superintendent and Mrs. George Lowrey is president of the Woman's Missionary Society. One of the members, Betty Ellen Cox, has been a missionary in the Belgian Congo for several years. She recently came home on leave because of illness.
(Clinton County Republican-News 28Jun1956)
Elsie M. E. Church
Noah Fassett, an old time circuit rider, while holding meetings in the Carter school house, an old log school house located south of Elsie and in the dense woods [later known as the Green School, Duplain #3], organized, in 1850, the class was that was the nucleus of the present M. E. Church of Elsie. Only one of this class is now living, Mrs. Martha A. Nethaway, who resides in Ovid. The other members of the class were Andrew J. Sinman, who was first class leader, and Lovina Sinman. Franklin and Louisa Baker, Ebinezer Nethaway, Thomas and Cordelia Craven, and Liberty Carter.
About 1851 a new school house was built, about 1/2 mile west of where the business part of Elsie now lies, which location was known as Craven's Mills. In this school house [Duplain #2] their meetings were held for about six years. During this time the school house was moved but the class continued to occupy it until 1863, when they moved into their new church, which had been started in 1858 but abandoned because of the Civil War. This church is the one now owned by the Free Methodists. The present building was completed in 1880 and the society is in a very prosperous condition both spiritually and financially. Geo. E. Hollister has been sent into the ministry from this point. The pastor is Rev. I. T. Weldon; trustees, Chas. Emmert, W. A. Sinman, E. C. Urick, W. S. Storkweather, George Cobb, Levi Carter, John Chamberlain, Henry Baker, L. W. Curtis, Marion Tillotson. They have a present membership of 225.
Free Will Baptist Church of Elsie
The Rev. Chauncey Reynolds, a minister in good standing, organized the Free-will Baptist Church of Elsie on the 19th day of October, 1851, and the following were charter members, Seth T. Richards, Marion Richards, Moses Wooll, Geo. W. Lewis and Samathy Lewis. Geo. W. Lewis was elected church clerk. Saturday November 1, 1851, was the time appointed for the first monthly business meeting.
At this time the class was holding their meetings on each alternate Sabbath in the old Carter school house. January 9, 1854, the Grand River Quarterly Conference granted G. W. Lewis license to preach the gospel. He was the first licensed preacher went out from that point.
The present church was built in the year 1865, only 2 years after the old M. E. church of Elsie was built. Rev. Ira Allen was pastor in charge of this church for about 25 years. The present pastor is Rev. Ira B. Buffam and the trustees are Robt. H. Austin, Chas. Dodge, Casper Rummell, Charles Warner, Nelson W. Daggett and David M. Austin. Mrs. Allie M. Austin is clerk. The church society is in a very prosperous condition.
Eagle Free Methodist Church
In June 1875 the North Eagle Free Methodist Church was organized by Rev. Wm. R. Cusick with a class of nine members as follows: Mr. and Mrs. D. R. Brown, Chas. W. Brown, Mrs. M. White, Mr. and Mrs. John C. Hitchcock, Mrs. Mary L. Williams, and Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Hoffman. Mr. Hoffman is the only one now living.
Mr. Cusick was the presiding elder of the Grand Ledge circuit, and started holding the meetings in the North Eagle school house. The first regular pastor for this charge was Elder James Craig, who continued the meetings in the school house for three or four years, at about which time their church was completed and dedicated to the service of the Lord.
The present membership is not large, but the interest is good and the Sunday school, the future hope of any church, is second to none of its class.
The pastor at present is Rev. W. D. Kingsley, of Grand Ledge, and the trustees are Eldorns Garlock, Edgar Wilins, and Wm. Ray.
This church has a first class Sunday school under the superintendence of Miss Lora Avery.
Eagle M. E. Church
About 18334, Rev. Moinette, a missionary from the Ohio conference, came into this section and preached the first sermon in a log house belonging to Philo Bogus, situated near the present site of the depot at Portland. The charge consisted at that time of territory from Shiawassee on the east to Grand Haven on the west, including the whole of the Grand River valley. The first sermon preached in the township was at the home of Anthony Niles in 1835 and the first class was organized during the next year with Valentine Cryderman, Sarah Cryderman, Herman Thomas, Lucy Thomas, John Benson, Lorena Benson, Mrs. Mary Jenison, and Anthony Niles as members.
In 1837 a log school house was built on the land now owned by G. W. Thomas in which religious services were held until 1839, when the "old red schoolhouse" was built at the corners just west of Herman Thomas.
Many interesting stories are told of those early days. It is said Rev. Moinette brought with him a very fine horse which contrasted considerably with the Indian ponies which were the general steeds of that time. During the night time some one appropriated the horse and brother Moinette was allowed to proceed on foot.
In 1840 the first revival meeting was held by Rev. John Thomas in the red school house above referred to and many members were joined to the new class. The sermons heard in those days were "few and far between." The circuits were very large and the points could be made only from three to four weeks. From 1856 to 1869 there seems to be no record of a class having existed at this point, but the people were probably supplied occasionally from some point. From this time this point has been with the Grand Ledge charge and has had quite regular service.
The church was built in 1875 and a very large percentage of the credit is due to the ladies of the class. In this church as in most churches, the ladies' societies form a very principal part.
The Ladies' Aid society is a strong factor in the church organization.
The present trustees are F. L. Brokaw, D. N. Baker, Dr. R. T. Fuller, J. M. Marietta, R. W. Davids, H. C. Davenport, and M. P. Hill.
The present condition of the church is prosperous under the pastorate of Rev. D. E. Birtch. F. L. Niles was sent from this charge into the ministry.
Eagle Universalist Church
Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Stearns, Mrs. Sarah Hinman, Maud Hinman, who later became Mrs. Shield, of Saginaw, Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, E. Stearns, Mrs. Louisa McCrumb, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. H. Holmes, Mr. and Mrs. James H. Fish, and Mrs. Jane McCrumb, who later became Mrs. Perdue, under the guidance of Rev. Frank McAlpine, were organized into the society of the First Universalist church of Eagle. Rev. McAlpine will be remembered as a later chaplain of the Jackson State prison, having died within the last two years.
The first meetings of this band were held in 1886 in the hall at the hotel, but during the year the town hall was engaged for that purpose and served until about 1983 or -4, Rev. W. S. Goodell, from Portland, acting as regular pastor.
Rev. Goodell, Rev. Chas. Legal, Rev. F. F. Crane and Rev. H. B. Bard, who is present pastor, makes up the list of pastors during the history of this organization.
In the beginning, a debt of $1,200 upon the church was contracted, and during these few years this has, with the exception of about $200, a part of which is still unpaid, been paid by the ladies of the church. The membership is about thirty-five and the condition good. Preaching services are held Tuesday evening of every other week.
One of the greatest helps to this class has been the Ladies' Aid society of which Lena Holmes is president, Minnie Patrick is secretary, and Mrs. John Hinman is treasurer.
Maple Rapids Methodist Church
Beginnings of the Maple Rapids Methodist Church date bck to the fall of 1844 when the Rev. Wilsey was appointed to the Grand River Circuit. Riding horseback, he preached in lord's Corners (half way between Portland and Lyons), Portland, DeWitt, Saranac, Woodard, Merrihues (10 miles north of DeWitt), Greenwood schoolhouse in Greenbush Twp. and finishing at the home of Mr. Deane on the East Plains.
First regular religious services in this vicinity began on the first Sunday in March, 1845, when Mr. Wilsey accepted an invitation to preach once every four weeks at the home of Hiram Benedict at Benedict Plains. In the fall of 1856 the Maple Rapids circuit was organized. It consisted of Maple Rapids, East Greenbush, West Greenbush, Prairie Schoolhouse, and Cowles schoolhouse at Fulton Center. The Rev. N. L. Otis was assigned to preach at a salary of $360.
On April 13, 1858, Edgar D. Moss deeded the present parsonage property to the board of trustees of the maple Rapids Methodist church. During the pastorate of the Rev. B. W. Blanchard, a sanctuary was built at the corner of Washington and Franklin streets. The property now is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Clare Chick.
The cornerstone of the sanctuary was laid April 14, 1868. The Rev. Tallman came to the church in 1885 and during his three-year pastorate the parsonage was built "with his own hands."
On September 14, 1891 the Perrinton circuit was organized, new churches having been built at Fulton Center and Perrinton. At the time 117 members were transferred from the Maple Rapids circuit to the Perrinton circuit.
In 1897 the trustees purchased what had been known as the S. P. Creasinger property from the J. W. Hewitt estate. The old church building was moved to the new site where it was remodeled and enlarged and where the church now stands. R. H. Hewitt was the architect and the cornerstone was laid by the pastor, the Rev. A. O. Carmon, on Nov. 10, 1897. The dedication was in charge of Washington Gardener. At this time the church had 267 members and one probationer.
During the pastorate of Rev. G. R. Millard, beginning in 1913, the basement was enlarged to provide a dining room and kitchen, and a new furnace was installed...
The following is a list of ministers who have served the Maple Rapids Methodist Church: Rev. Wilsey, Rev. N. O. Otis, Rev. B. W. Blanchard, Rev. Fallman, Rev. A. O. Carmon, Rev. A. T. Luther, Rev. E. L. Sinclair, Rev J. E. Fook, Rev. W. P. Mosher, Rev. H. E. Wylie, Rev. G. W. Piews, Rev. G. R. Millard, Rev. J. E. Wilkinson, Rev. C. B. Hansen, Rev. F. M. Cosner, Rev. S. B. Ford, Rev. D. A. Rood, Rev. A. J. Morris, Rev. H. R. Strong, Rev. Charles Ostrom, Rev. H. A. Bedient, Rev. L. M. Whittemore, Rev. V. J. Hufton, Rev. W. P. Smith.
[Clinton County Republican-News 28Jun1956]
Greenbush Seventh Day Adventist Church
The late George A. Sumner, pioneer resident of St. Johns, directed the organization of the local Seventh-Day Adventist church around 1900. About 12 charter members conducted meetings at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Pevorse on Church street. Early members included the Pevorse and Sumner families and Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Tallmadge.
Later the group met in the G.A.R. hall on Walker Street and still later in the old Church of Christ building on Cass street, which was located where the present high school now stands.
For a brief time, meetings also were conducted in the First Congregational church. Shortly before the first World War the Adventist joined the Greenbush and Duplain township advintists at their church in Greenbush Township, where Sumner served as local elder for the combined group.
The earliest records of Adventist meetings in Greenbush township date back about 75 years with the first meetings being held in the homes of various farmers.
Among the early members were the late Mr. and Mrs. N. Hainer, whose daughter, Mrs. Maude Ellis of Elsie, and son, George Haineer, are presently members of the St. Johns Adventist church. The late Mr. and Mrs. O. B. Sevy donated the use of one room of their farmhouse for many years until in 1899 construction of a small white frame church was begun.
In 1900, with the completion of the church, the Adventist congregation expanded and not many years later the St. Johns group merged with the Greenbush township church.
Pastors who served the church while located in Greenbush township were Elders E. I. Beebee, I. H. Evans, Kittle, Boylen, Butcher, Halladay and Carl W. Pruitt.
In 1936 while Elder Pruitt was the pastor, a building on the corner of Oakland and Cass streets in St. Johns was purchased and the entire congregation moved into town. The Greenbush church at that time was sold to the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry Scott, by whom it was converted into a dwelling. (see Bingham-St. Johns)
[Clinton County Republican-News 28Jun1956]
North Olive Methodist Episcopal Church
At a very early date a missionary movement began in the vicinity of the North Olive church and meetings continued at intervals for a number of years. It was not until about 1839 that the class was organized with Daniel Ferguson and wife, Orange Ferguson and wife, Adam Merrihew and wife, John W. Merrihew and wife, Peter Ennest and wife, and the Misses Betsy, Mary Ann and Jane Merrihew as members. At this time the point had been made a permanent place and was one point in a very large circuit which extended from Pine Lake to Lyons, and required two riders, as the early ministers were called.
During its history this point has established a good Sunday school with Mrs. J. B. Howe as superintendent, and a Ladies’ Aid society with Mrs. J. W. Ennest, president; Mrs. Louis Carpenter, secretary; and Mrs. D. McConkey, treasurer. Both of these are in good working condition. This point is at present on the Dewitt charge.
The trustees are: Richard Blizzard, J. M. Merrihew, W. J. Merrihew, Perry Teed, Albert Love, J. B. Howe and Daniel Shoemaker.
South Olive Methodist Episcopal Church
"The meetings which led to the organization of the South Olive M. E. church were begun at a very early date. It is said that this was one of the earliest preaching points in the county, but if any class was organized at any early date it went asunder. The present class was started about 1885 with about ten charter members.
The church which stands now was started by a gift of $500 from Mrs. A. Wilsey, after whom the church is commonly called, and when completed debt remained with which the society struggled until 1905, when Mrs. Dora Wilhelm bequeathed, at her death, enough money to liquidate the indebtedness on the church building
The superintendent of the Sunday school is Mrs. E. D. Lawrence, under whose guidance they are doing very nicely, with a membership of about 60.
The officers of the Ladies’ Aid society here are: Mrs. E. D. Lawrence, president; Mrs. Chadwick, secretary, Mrs. Nettie Sleight, treasure (sic).
The trustees of the church are V. Neller, A. T. Fergason, German Sypher, John Neller, Noah Wilhelm, Carl Rohrer and John Joslin.
Price M. E. Church
Not many years ago a class of Methodists was organized i the neighborhood of Price with the following as charter members: Robert Arthur and wife, George Arthur and wife, Ezra Lattimer and wife, Frank VanValsor and wife, and Eliza Price.
Just previous to 1898 Mrs. Eliza Price gave to the society 3/4 of an acre of land where the church now stands upon which to build a church and during the year the building was erected. In about two years the whole expense was met.
The church is at present on the Shepardsville charge, and is in a prosperous condition. The present membership is about 40. The trustees are John Neller, Wm. Doty, W. H. Parker, Lewis Green and Henry Montague.
The Ladies' Aid society is flourishing with a membership of 30, with Mrs.. Fowler as president.
The Sunday school is a very good one for a country church, and has about 60 members with John Neller superintendent. Rev. E. R. Lyon is pastor.
Free Methodist Church
A Free Methodist class was started in Ovid about seventeen years ago at which time they were holding meetings in the Mavin Block, which is now Frank Jenks' wagon shop. The class later bought the Episcopal church that was not in use and have since used it for their services.
W. H. Hallead is the present pastor and the trustees are W. H. Warren, Joseph Vincent and Jas. Cross. The class is prosperous and have a good Sunday school.
Shepardsville Baptist Church
The Shepardsville Baptist Church was organized in 1871. A neat house of worship was dedicated January 11, 1880. The pulpit is supplied principally by pastors of the Baptist churches in St. Johns and Ovid.
The deacons of the church are John Neil and Hiram Longcor. The trustees are Norton Smith, John Nevins, and Elmer Nevins; the clerk, Mrs. N. Smith and treasurer, Mrs. S. B. Spink. The president of the Ladies' Aid society is Mrs. W. McLeod.
North Riley Methodist Episcopal Class
The North Riley class was organized about 1842 at the house of Philip P. Peck by a minister on the Mapleton circuit.. The class was reorganized in 1863 by Rev. L. M. Garlick and Rev. C. Chick and held services at the Boughton School House. From the early 1860’s until about 1870 it was a part of the DeWitt circuit. The class was still active in 1880 when it had 21 members and was served by Rev. L. M. Garlick.
Bengal-Riley Baptist Church
The Bengal-Riley Baptist church is located at the northwest corner of section 1, Riley. It was organized in a log school house one mile west of the present site of the church and by Rev. John Gunderman, in 1859. The house of worship was begun in 1880 and dedicated October 23, 1881.
The officers of the church are as follows: Pastor, Rev. G. S. Northrup; trustees, W. A. Huggett, A. L. Chapman, and Burt Jennings; clerk, Pearl Hammond; treasurer, Mrs. B. Hamilton; superintendent of the Sunday school, W. A. Huggett; ladies aid society, Mrs. B. Hamilton, president, Kate Irrer, secretary, Mrs. J. Baudt, treasurer.
Riley German Evangelical Lutheran Church
In 1850 Joseph Smith came into the country south of Fowler and began holding meetings in the private houses located there. About 1852 there were enough interested to form a church organization, and accordingly the German Evangelical Lutheran church of St. Peter was organized and the first church was built about three and one-half miles south of where Fowler now stands. The first church was of logs but was later changed to a frame church. During the week days a parochial school was held there, the first school in that section.
Some of the first members were as follows: Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Rossow, Mr. and Mrs. John Rossow, Mr. and Mrs. Christ Rossow, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Light, Mr. and Mrs. Shoernlan, Mr. and Mrs. Chas. William, Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Silm and Mr. and Mrs. Fred pasch, Sr.
They now have a fine new brick church on section 7, Riley, built in recent years and have about 65 members. The present pastor is Rev. E. Heinecke. Trustees are Henry Silm, Christ Schroeder and Charlie Witt.
Blood Methodist Episcopal Church
Methodism began in Victor Township in the fall of 1837 with the missionary efforts of Rev. Bennett and Jackson who conducted services in William Swarthout’s house. They continued visiting the township about once a month until 1839 when Rev. Blowers arrived and organized the Blood Methodist Episcopal class which met in Daniel H. Blood’s residence which was a log cabin owned by W. W. Upton. The charter members of the class were Daniel H. Blood, Susan Blood, Lydia A. Blood, and Ada Haggerty.
When Mr. Blood moved to a new residence, the class location also moved. After the Blood School House was built it served as the location of services until the Blood M. E. Church was built on section 14 in 1863. About that time the church was removed from the DeWitt to the Bath circuit. By 1880 it was a part of the Victor circuit. That year its’ minister was Rev. Gray who preached to the 42 members every other week.
Victor Centre Methodist Episcopal Church
Victor Congregational Church
This church was organized in 1845 at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Post under the leadership of Rev. Noah Cressy, a missionary sent out by the A. M. A., assisted by Rev. O. Parker. The primitive church consisted of Henry Post, Eliza D. Post, Hoyt G. Post, Wm. Brunson, Mary Ann Brunson, Thos. Jamison, Porter Pierce, and Mrs. Clarisa Jamison. The first Sabbath Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Post, and Sarah Evelyn, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Brunson, were baptized.
The first meetings were held in the home of Henry Post, a log shanty fifteen by thirty feet with a wooden door latch and handle. In winter it was warmed by a stove which came from Vermont and by this did many a weary traveler find cheer and christian hope.
It was a day of rejoicing when they could have a comfortable school house to worship in, and when it came it was so comfortable that no effort was made to worship in anything else for forty years.
The Rev. Noah Cressy was a man of great piety, christian fortitude, and a courage to meet difficulties, that only those who lived in pioneer days can appreciate. He was seventy years of age and covered his circuit, Greenbush, Dewitt and Victor on foot. An incident is related of him in which it is said his coat was so badly worn that the sleeves were very shabby, and while at Deacon Post's Mrs. Post offered to repair the worn parts which offer was accepted with thanks, and after the work was completed he remarked "Now I can make proper gestures without thinking of my shabby sleeves." However, he remained on this charge only one year.
While the Rev. Wm. Anderson was pastor in 1886 the present new church was built and dedicated in 1887.
The church is now in a prosperous condition. Up to within a few months this charge has been known as the church and society, but at that time was legally changed to a church.
The present pastor is Rev. U. G. Rich, Mrs. Edith Green, clerk, and the following are trustees: L. H. Allen, E. Underhill, F. H. Green, and C. E. Chapin.
This church has good working societies which are: Y.P.S.C.E. with Ralph Jones president and Lloyd Beckwith secretary; Sunday school with L. H. Allen superintendent and Miss Fonds Montague treasurer; and Woman's Home Missionary Union with Mrs. Charles Chapin president, Mrs. L. H. Allen treasurer, and Mrs. F. E. Green secretary.
After the discontinuance of the Baptist church at Wacousta Wm. P. Esler, who resided in Eagle township, came into that vicinity and held meetings which were productive of great good, and were no doubt the germination of the Congregational church which was organized in 1862 by the Rev. Joseph D. Millard, graduate of the theological seminary at Oberlin. Rev. Millard remained pastor of the class until 1867. Their meetings during this time and up to the dedication of the new Congregational church in 1875, were held in the old school house, which stood about opposite where the present Congregational church stands.
The first members were Persis Root, Mrs. Marcy Bissell, Mrs. L. W. Davis, Mrs. C. N. Hazard, Mr. and Mrs. Morse, and John Hamilton, Sr. and wife. In 1870 a union revival was conducted by Rev. Jordan of Grand Ledge. From this the membership was increased to about 35. Among the early pastors were Rev. J. M. Ashley, Rev. Wm. Glidden, and Rev. Skentelbury.
Rev. W. A. Cummings is present pastor and reports the condition prosperous with a membership of about 60.
Wacousta and Delta have been in one charge for some time but recently Delta dropped out a very small number of members being left there. The present trustees are Frank Douglas, Girard Andrus, James Davidson, C. N. Plowman, Dexter Cronkite.
A very old society and one that contributes quite a portion of the total expense and improvement fund is the Ladies' Aid society of which Mrs. A. J. Burnes, is president. Mrs. Andrus, sec'y, and Mrs. F. M. Dart treasurer. Another society is the Bible school, with I. P. Rose superintendent, under whose efficient administration it has numerically doubled. They also have an Endeavor society with Mrs. F. M. Dart, president.
Wacousta Methodist Episcopal Church
At this point, as at most others, the preaching of the Gospel was begun at an early date by missionaries who came in here from some other section of the state. The class which was probably the nucleus of the present church society was formed in 1864 with Horatio Garlock, Ira Garlock, Asenata Garlock, Mary Garlock, M. D. Lockwood, Adelia Lockwood, Genett Lowell, Levi Garlock, and Mary Ann Wright as members.
This class continued to worship at intervals until the winter of 1869 and 1870 when a great revival was held by Elder Root, whose voice was heard by many who heeded not. This fine old man saw as the result of his labor many converts, and to this class alone were added about ninety. Of this number only three or four have ever dropped from the roll of members. The services were held at that time in the school house and continued so until the church was built. In the meantime a part of this membership was tranferred (sic) to the Grand Ledge charge. The church has been in a fairly prosperous condition up to the present time.
The Ladies’ Aid society with Mrs. Dora Bliss, president; Martha Cooley, vice president; Flora Garlock, secretary; and Libbie Rice, treasurer; has been a great help in a financial and spiritual way while the Sunday school and Junior and Epworth Leagues have tended to add new fuel to the membership. Miss Anna Oppenlander is president of Epworth League and Mrs. Geo. Hayes is superintendent of the Junior League.
St. Mary's Church
Two log churches and a frame church building preceded the present St. Mary's church, now standing in its 86th year. The first stood about a half mile west of the present rectory. The second was built just west of the present parish garage. The third was located about 50 feet south of the present rectory. It seated about 400 and at times was so crowded that the people had to kneel in the sanctuary or on the steps of the side altars. The building was used until 1870 when the present church was dedicated. It was later sold to Joseph Bohr, builder of the present edifice, who moved it to Marin street where it was used for more than half a century as a tinshop by William H. Bohr.
Building of the present St. Mary's was begun in 1867 by the Rev. Fr. George Godez, who had succeeded Fr. Kopp on the original pastor's transfer to Detroit in 1843. Fr. Godez also had constructed the frame church.
St. Mary's is one of the largest Catholic churches in Michigan outside Detroit. It stands as a monument to pioneer effort and resourcefulness in addition to the spiritual structure of the parish families.
Every brick used in its construction, and there were 750,000 required, was molded and burned from clay dug at the site. Timbers and lumber came from nearby forests. The pews, seating 1,500, and beautiful interior finish, were made from the native black walnut trees so abundant in Westphalia's thick forests. The Detroit firm which made these accepted additional walnut lumber in full payment.
The altar was made in New York and is 30 feet in height. Its design is in variation of Roman and Gothic and greatly impressive in beauty. The three bells in the huge clock tower, were installed in 1895. One of these weighs more than a ton and in favorable weather the bells can be heard as far away as Fowler, Pewamo and Portland. The spire rises 160 fee from the ground.
[Clinton County Republican-News 28Jun1956]
The first churches were known as St. Peter's Church. With the construction of the 1869 church it became known as St. Mary's. That church was destroyed in a fire on April 20, 1959, as workers were making repairs on the eaves. The present St. Mary's Church opened in 1962.
Revised: January 31, 2015
Site Coordinator: Wayne Summers