THE BEGINNINGS OF METHODISM IN ISABELLA COUNTY

Mabel C. Adams
Robert E. Adams

PREPARED FOR THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
SHEPHERD, MICHIGAN

AS PART OF THE LOCAL OBSERVANCE OF THE SESQUICENTENNIAL OF THE
ORGANIZATION OF METHODIST SOCIETIES IN AMERICA, 1934-1935.

 

     Any understanding of church BEGINNINGS in the nation, the state, the county, or the township is a contribution to the understanding of the whole and of our own small unit.  Also it is essential that we be prepared to take the long view of events in church history that we may establish sober judgment of church organizations and accomplishments of today.  That was the prime object in celebrating the Sesqui-centennial of Methodist Societies in America, 1784 - 1934.

     The "long view" back encourages "the long view" ahead.  The one hundred and fifty years had evolved many changes almost unbelievable, and had builded greater that it dreamed; liberty, freedom, organization, individuality, specialization, competition giving way to cooperation; "the World for Christ" giving way to "Christ for the World" and kindly helpfulness, invention and a machine age; while Will Durant and H. G. Wells assure us that in centuries to come this will be known as "The Age of Inter-communication".

     Now what of the "long view ahead"?  In all probability individuality and specialization will discard many  non-essentials and agree upon essentials in common, and the result will be stabilization. Stabilization will simplify living in all its aspects and give time for organized, quiet thinking, "To know all is to forgive all". This quiet thinking and understanding of our neighbors will eventually bring PEACE.  Our foremost thinkers of today believe we are to enter upon an era of spiritual understanding, communication, and attainment quite superior to anything yet known to the inhabitants of this world.

     As to church organizations and beliefs the next one hundred and fifty years may see: the unionization of all protestant denominations and the stabilization of doctrines; the union of the Protestant and the Catholic churches into a UNIVERSAL church with "Brotherhood", the main doctrine, aim, creed, and law.

     The various educational systems of the world have been the pride and hope of the nations.  Today they are crumbling, disappointing, inadequate.  Our systems were founded upon the famous "three R's: Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmetic.  We have been taught HOW to read, but how few have learned to write a legible hand, a definite statement, or a kind, sympathetic letter. 'Rithmetic has been declared an absolute essential and studied accordingly, but how few can add a column of figures with rapidity and accuracy, while a large percentage of those who really learned arithmetic use their knowledge for trickery and unlawful gain.

     Ex-President Herbert Hoover often declared we needed to add the fourth "R" and teach responsibility.  William Lyon Phelps and others avow our educational institutions should inculcate another "R" by way of "Refinement".  This depression proves we have so much leisure for culture and so little culture for leisure.  Another much needed "R" is Religion.  Thinking citizens outside the church as well as within, are awakened to the urgent need of other higher standards of living, of a better and closer home and family life, of the betterment of private and public morals, and of the universal cry of the soul, not for something to live upon, nor for something to live FOR, but for something to live BY.

     But to return to the "long view back".  Searching for the early church history - whether it be of the high spots or of the details - is a most arduous task, and would be most discouraging were it not so intensely interesting and worth while.

     Records of all kinds are few and meagre and so often they are carelessly kept, conflicting and contradictory.  Indeed, church records are for years at a time "conspicuous by their absence".   Even many of the important milestones are uncertain or lost in the confusion.  All this is true of church history of all denominations.  The Methodist church is no exception.  The history of early Methodism in Michigan is especially meagre and conflicting while the records of Isabella county and of this Shepherd Methodist church are unbelievabley few, and even the oldest residenters "cannot just exactly remember".  Our really pioneer citizens are pitifully few.

     In all justice to the record-keepers of the "Old Salt River Methodist Class" be it understood that many local records of 'missing years' are to be found in adjoining neighborhood church records.  The reason for this is that early preachers here were EACH assigned to a district comprising several "classes" and the Quarterly Meetings went round of circuit churches.  Let this be a lesson to us that we right here vow to keep our future records complete, full, and true, and to do all possible to fill in the past records with respectful accuracy.  They will all be needed, for if there is any one thing Yankees love better than whittling and boasting, that one thing is statistics.

     So closely is the history of Michigan Methodism interwoven with that of Michigan, the state, that it seems wise to touch upon the high spots of each and to take them up in chronological order.

    1634 - Jean Nicolet, first white man known to enter Michigan.  He was closely followed by
           French explorers, fortune hunters, and settlers.  They brought their Catholic priests
           and established many missions in the extreme north and at Detroit before 1834.

    1780 - 1783 The first Protestant mission was near Mt. Clemens, established by the Moravian
           Brethren from Ohio.  The French at Detroit objected and disgracefully moved the
           Moravians across the river into Canada.  Note: This mission was established four
           years before the famous "Christmas Conference" at Baltimore.

    1801 - Congregational ministers were preaching here in Michigan, closely followed by others,
           especially the Baptists.

    1804 - Detroit had 150 houses.  A Methodist sermon was preached, THE FIRST IN MICHIGAN, by
           Reverend Daniel Freeman.  Later in the year Reverend Bangs preached several sermons. 
           Both these men were visitors in Detroit, were in the middle twenties, held charges
           in southern Canada, and belonged to the New York Conference.

    1805 - Michigan territory was organized.  Detroit was the seat of government.

    1805 - 1809 During these five years Detroit had no preaching whatsoever other than Catholic,
           and that always in Latin or French.  The handful of English longed for occasional
           services in their own language.  It is told that in 1807 the Territorial Governor, Mr.
           Hull, asked the French Catholic priest, Fr. Gabriel Richard, to preach to them
           occasionally in the council house.  Father Richard was reluctant in so doing because
           of his imperfect British pronunciation.  Later this good man reported to his Bishop
           that he "tried to be some utility and take possession of the ground" and added that
           he aimed to instruct on general principles of Christian religion and the investigation
           of the truth". He had chosen for his text, "Ye are my sheep".  He used the text freely
           throughout his sermon and in his imperfect translation always said "Ye are my muttons".

    1809 - New York Conference claimed jurisdiction over all land the width of the state on the
           west.  They decided that a mission should be established in the new Michigan
           Territory and sent young Reverend William Case to Detroit.  This young man was not
           allowed to return for a second year charge.  He was disappoint to the New York
           Conference because he could report by one conversion, the with whom he lived.  However,
           that man was none other than Mr. Robert Abbott, a prominent fur trader and the
           first Anglo-American child born in Detroit.  Mr. Abbott and Betsy Abbott, his wife,
           became the nucleus around which a church soon clustered, took form, and
           permanency during the stay of the next preacher, Reverend William Mitchell.  It took
           three months for Reverend Case to get to New York and for the Reverend Mitchell to
           reach Detroit.

    1810 - Organized: THE FIRST METHODIST SOCIETY IN MICHIGAN and the class numbered seven.
           They were: Robert Abbott and wife, Betsy; Wm. McCarty and wife, Maria; Wm. Stacy and
           wife Betsy; and Sarah Macomb.  The first church list is of special interest to us
           because of our close relationship.  The Detroit church records of the early
           seventies give long detailed accounts of the first six members. Of Sarah Macomb they
           state that she was the wife of a major in the militia who died soon after the War
           of 1812.  Then she married a Mr. Corbus and about 1830 moved west to Branch county.
           They regretted losing track of her and hoped that she died faithful to her church

     We were able through the Isabella County Records and the Salt River Church records to pick up the lost thread.  Sarah (Macomb) Corbus had a son, Wesley J. born in Wayne County in 1818.  The family moved in 1831 to Girard township, Branch County, purchased a large farm and passed the rest of their days there.

     Their son, Dr. W. J. Corbus, came to Isabella County in April, 1863.  He purchased 320 acres of land in Lincoln township, section thirteen, the farm now owned by our Mrs. Jim Curtiss, and he was the pioneer doctor of Isabella county.  His daughter, Sarah, was the first school teacher at the Indian Mills and later became Mrs. John Hance.  Dr. Corbus was  Swedenborgian by faith, but his wife, Christiana Popham Corbus, was a Methodist and one of the earliest members of the Old Salt River Class.

    1818 - FIRST METHODIST CHURCH BUILT IN MICHIGAN on River Rouge, five miles south of Detroit.
           It was 24 x 30 feet and of logs.  It burned in 1828.

           FIRST PERMANENT PROTESTANT ORGANIZED CHURCH IN DETROIT.  All denominations with Rev.
           John Montieth, the preacher.

    1820 - The Detroit Mission, which included ALL of Michigan, was transferred by General
           Conference from New York to Ohio.

    1822 - FIRST CAMP MEETING in Michigan on River Rouge.  Reverend William Case came from
           his Indian Mission in Canada to take part.  Methodism began to spread and take root.

    1830 - The Port Huron Methodist class was formed.

    1831 - The Michigan Legislature "laid off" and named several counties, among them Isabella.

    1832 - The Saginaw Mission appears upon the Ohio Conference minutes, with Bradford Frazee
           as preacher.  It was considered "not worth the labor and expense and thus dropped."

    1834 - Presbyterian Church Synod of Michigan, organized at Ann Arbor.

    1835 - The "Saginaw Mission" again appears upon the minutes in connection with the Flint
           circuit.  The report states: "Country to the west too swampy and sparsely settled
           to be included in the circuit."

    1835 - The Grand Rapids Mission appears upon the minutes.  First Methodist preaching in
           Ionia.  Ionia made the seat of the United States Land Office.

    1835 - "Toledo War": Governor Mason sent militia to protect the Michigan-Ohio line and
           nearly 500 square miles of Michigan Territory.  Shots were fired but no blood
           was shed.

    1836 - John D. Pierce, a Methodist minister, was made Superintendent of Public Instruction,
           first such office in the United States.

    1836 - The Protestant Episcopal Church diocese of Michigan was organized.  Baptist,
           Congregational, and Presbyterian churches were forming throughout southern Michigan.
           Funds were being raised to found the Wesleyan Seminary at the little new town of
           Albion.
           The state was divided into two Methodist districts: the Detroit, and the Ann Arbor.

    1836 - This date is an important mile stone in Michigan and in Church history.  The
           Michigan Territory framed a State Constitution, the people ratified it, and then
           applied for statehood. Our population was 100,000, or 40,000 above the required
           census.  Congress refused us admission because of dispute over the Michigan
           Ohio boundary line.  A few years before, Congress had deliberately taken a 
           strip from the Michigan Territory and given it to Indiana that the new state might
           have a coveted lake port: Michigan objected to a repetition of the injustice.
           Congress settled the "Toledo War" by pleasing Ohio.  In return for that southern
           strip of land Congress took worthless land from Wisconsin territory and gave it
           to the indignant Michigan.  That land is now our valuable Upper Peninsula.  The
           Methodist Episcopal church had three or four Indian missions on that land and they
           now belonged to Michigan.  They had been established by churches of Southern
           Canada.

           Michigan was being settled very rapidly.  Three circumstances or facts, worth mention
           contributed to the growth: the use of steam boats on the Great Lakes; the opening
           of the New York and Erie Canal; and a better knowledge of the topography of the
           country furnished by the surveyors and explorers.

    1836 - The General Conference of May, 1836, recognized Michigan as a unit and authorized
           a separate annual conference which should embrace northern Ohio with Michigan.
           The south-west corner of Michigan was not included, as it contained the missions of
           St. Joseph and Kalamazoo.  These belong to the Indiana Conference, La Porte District.
     

    1837 - January 26, 1837, Congress recognized Michigan as a state.  The University of Michigan,
           started in 1817 in Detroit, was now moved to Ann Arbor.

           The annual Conference was held in Detroit, FIRST IN MICHIGAN.

    1837 - 1840 Great Money Panic

    1838 - Annual Conference held in Tiffin, Ohio

    1839 - Annual Conference held in Ann Arbor, Michigan

    1840 - Northern Ohio was dropped from the Michigan Conference

           Charges in the southwest of Michigan were taken over from the Indiana Conference.

           Four districts were formed: Detroit, Ann Arbor, Marshall and Kalamazoo; also a
           Mission District in the Lake Superior Country

    1841 - Hastings Mission formed

    1842 - Congregational Association organized

    1843 - Wesleyan Seminary opened at Albion

    1848 - Saginaw City, East Saginaw, and Bay City classes are mentioned upon the minutes.

    1849 - A "Female Seminary" was added to the Wesleyan Seminary.  The two were combined into
           Albion College in 1861.

    1854 - Congress had passed the Graduation Act, or the "Homestead Act".  The "swamp land"
           of Isabella County was offered for sale at fifty cents per acre.  The United States
           Land Office at Ionia was over-rushed with business.

    1854 - In the late fall of 1854 the settlers from Southern Michigan began the long
           trek north with St. Johns the last settlement.  Then Isabella history began.

    1851 - The State Legislature "laid off" and named Isabella County.

    1854 - Under the Federal Graduation Act, Michigan was allowed to survey and sell the
           "the swamp lands" at fifty cents per acre.  The money was used: one half of
           Indian support and one-half for educational purposes, with $30,000 going to the
           first Normal School.

           Many claims were selected "un-sight and unseen" in the eagerness to buy at the
           bargain price.  For example, the case of Perry H. Estee, who filed a claim at
           Ionia in October, 1854 and moved his family here in December, 1855.

           The first SOIL STAKED was by William Adams, William Bowen, and James shepherd, who
           followed the surveyors in and blazed the trail from Gratiot north to Section Four
           in October, 1854, and filed their claims at Ionia in November.  Going out they met
           Joseph Roberts, Thomas Roberts, and Patrick Fanning with their families moving in
           November 7. These were the first families in the county other than a very few which
           had come over the Midland border and had taken up "squatters' Sovereignty".  The
           long, long trek from Southern Michigan had begun with St. Johns the last settlement
           and the roads mere trails through the woods.

           Probably the earliest settler now living is Mrs. Mary Ann (Adams) Middaugh, who,
           when nine years of age, came with her parents in 1857 to make her home on the claim
           filled in '54 and now the "Adams Homestead".  For many years Mrs. Middaugh has been
           a member of this church.

    1855 - The Conference awoke to the opportunity of work among the Indians and so organized
           the "Indian Mission District" with a few Mission stations, one (The Ottawa Colony)
           in the Grand Rapids District.   Reverend William Brockway was made presiding Elder
           of the District to succeed Reverend George Bradley who was made Agent of Indian
           Affairs.

           In February Charles Taylor, an Exhorter, came from Eaton Rapids and took up 240
           acres on section 29, in Chippewa township, now Taylor's corners.

    1855 - THE FIRST SERMON IN ISABELLA COUNTY was preached by the Reverend Charles Taylor
           the 25th of March, 1855, at the home of Eber Hamilton.
 
           Another FIRST PREACHING is of great interest to us.  The first sermon in northern
           Gratiot was preached at the Allen home on the county line, about one-half mile west of
           the intersection of U S 27 and the Isabella Gratiot line.

    1856 - It was probably in 1856.  Mr. and Mrs. James B. Allen were the grandparents of
           Mrs. Pearl Rowland and of the late Miss Floy Struble.  This beautiful Bible from
           which our pastor reads to us each Sabbath was the family Bible in the Allen home
           and was presented to this church by the son-in-law, the late N. W. Struble, at the
           dedication of this church in 1902.  The pulpit Bible in the old church is in the
           possession of Mrs. B. M. Grant of Mount Pleasant.

    1855 - Before the close of the year the Government took the swamp lands out of the market
           and no more were sold for eight years.  This retarded settlement.

    1855 - The Soo Canal with two locks was opened for commerce.

    1855 - On August second was signed the FLINT TREATY.  The Federal Government had decided to
           send most of the Michigan Indians west beyond the Mississippi River.  They were
           peaceable, had no desire to move, and the Michigan whites interceded in their behalf.

    1855 - This treaty gathered the remnants of the Chippewa, Black River and Swan Creek Indians
           which were found mostly in Clinton, Gratiot, and Saginaw counties and ceded to them and
           their descendants forever land in Isabella County.  Each head of a family was to receive
           aside from the eight acres of land, a yoke of oxen, a plow and the seed, an
           agreement which was never kept. 

    1856 - Coe township was organized with William Bowen as supervisor.

    1856 - Michigan Conference divided into two conferences, the Detroit and the Michigan

           Gratiot Circuit was formed including Gratiot, Isabella, Midland, with
           Reverend T. J. Hill, the circuit preacher.  Charles Taylor, licensed as a local
           preacher, and the following spring, was made circuit preacher of the north half  
           of the circuit.  Regular preaching was held at the Converse, Taylor and Allen homes.

    1857 - FIRST METHODIST CLASS organized at Thomas Campbell's home, Coe township.  Quarterly
           meeting was held in the log house about where Mr. Nilson's house now stands, one mile
           east of Salt River corners.  It was used for preaching, and later for a school.

    1857 - The Federal Government selected the site for the Indian Mills and the building then
           began.  Grist mill, saw mill, blacksmith shop, a store, and a council house, also a few
           one and two room houses for government employees.  Indian Mills was known to the
           Government officially as "Isabella City".  To us it was known as "Dog Town".

    1857 - First POST OFFICE in the county was one-half mile south of Salt River.  William
           Robbins was postmaster.  Mail was carried on foot from Maple Rapids to Salt River.

    1858 - FIRST SCHOOL (Private) taught by Mrs. Billings Walton in her log house on Section 4,
           Coe; $1.50 per week was the 'salary' with ten pupils in all.

    1858 - The first apple orchard in the county was started on the Adams Homestead.

    1859 - Isabella County was organized with three large townships: Coe, Chippewa, and Isabella.
           Coe township was named after Lieut. Gov. Albert G. Coe.

    1858 - Topics of conversation: the general crop failure, the discovery of silver in Nevada
           and Colorado; the slavery question, John Brown's raid, and Lincoln's chances of
           election.

    1859 - Reverend Palmer Sheldon was sent by the Conference to be preacher and teacher to
           Indians on the new Isabella Reservation.

    1859 - The Federal Government encouraged the churches in this work and was indifferent
           as to the denominations and creeds.  It built four school houses, or Mission
           Houses, and a few churches.  Reverend Sheldon, who joined the conference in 1839
           had been preaching for some years in Hillsdale County when he was appointed to the
           Isabella Mission.

           Reverend Sheldon and his family lived in a school house (a small house with a school
           room attached) not far from Leaton, Michigan, of today.  He and his wife were
           expected to give all kinds of vocational training as well as to teach the "Three R's"
           and the Bible.

    1860 - The Government built a church at Ne-bee-sing, called by the Whites "Nipposing".
           This was THE FIRST CHURCH BUILDING in the county.  In June, 1861, it burned and the
           Government re-built it that fall.  Soon after, it was used as a mission school as
           well.  Both this church and the house are still standing.

           Reverend Sheldon's step-daughter, Ella Spath Sheldon, the late Mrs. W. W. Steel of
           Gladwin, taught here two years as the first teacher.  She received $100. - a year for
           her services, which was taken out of the $200 - salary allowed Reverend Sheldon by
           the government.

           Another mission was conducted by Reverend E. G. H. Miesler, a German Lutheran minister
           from St. Louis.  Reverend Miesler often acted as interpreter for Father Sheldon, as
           did Charles Rodd, a half breed.  Rodd later owned a store at Indian Mills and Became
           the first sheriff of this county.

    1860 - FIRST CENSUS was taken of Isabella County, 67 white families, 577 white persons, and
           836 Indians, total population, 1,433.

    1860 - FIRST ORGANIZED PUBLIC SCHOOL in the county was one-half mile south of Salt River. 
           Carrie Kilborn, teacher.  For many years this was used for preaching services also.

    1861 - Site for County Seat was decided upon.

    1861 - War Declared

    1861 - Annual Conference at Battle Creek in October formed the Chippewa Circuit including
           all Isabella.  Father Sheldon was taken from the Indian Mission and mad the Circuit
           Rider of Isabella County, his main duty being to organize the classes into churches.
           In the fall of '61 he organized the Salt River Charge with fourteen members. One
           report states, "Charter members were William Wonch and wife, Richard Wonch and wife,
           Charles Sawyer and nine others". How we wish we knew the names of those "nine others".

           Father Sheldon organized the Pleasant Valley Church and others and with Rev. George
           Bradley, the Mount Pleasant Church.  Reverend Sheldon was preacher from 1861 - 1863.
           The latter church's house of worship was built in 1866.  The present house was built
           in 1884 with but 65 members.  The front window is a memorial to Rev. Sheldon and Rev.
           Bradley and bears their names, a most beautiful tribute.

    1864 - FIRST NEWSPAPER published in the county, the "Northern Pioneer" was 12 by 14 inches.
           The following March appeared this advertisement:

                                "St. Johns & Mt. Pleasant"

                                          Weekly

                                      E X P R E S S

                                The subscriber will continue to run his
                                Express wagon weekly between St. Johns,
                                Mt. Pleasant and Isabella City, for the
                                accommodation of all who feel inclined to
                                patronize him. He will attend to the pur-
                                chasing of things in St. Johns for those
                                who wish to have him.  Passengers will be
                                taken to and from St. Johns at a fair price.
                                Orders left at Mr. Babbitt's store, in Isa
                                bella City will receive prompt attention.
                                Charges reasonable.  Leaves St. Johns on
                                Tuesday morning and arrives here Thursday
                                noon.  Leaves here Thursday afternoon and
                                arrives at St. Johns on Saturday.

                                        H. N. Griswold

                                 Mount Pleasant, March 1, 1865

    1865 - The Civil War ended

    1867 - Chippewa Circuit renamed Isabella Circuit and attached to the Ionia District

    1869 - Big Rapids District formed.  Isabella Circuit was included under the name of
           "Mt. Pleasant".

    1870 - August 31 Conference divided this circuit.

           Calkinsville (now Rosebush) was joined to the Indian Mission.  Mt. Pleasant, Chippewa,
           and Gulick called the Mt. Pleasant Circuit.  Rev. N. Bray was the preacher.  All
           appointments South were set off as Salt River Circuit, Rev. R. P. Sheldon, Preacher.
           Father Sheldon lived in Salt River at one time; at another time, at Indian Mills.
           He bought a farm in Chippewa where he died in 1882.  He is buried in the Chippewa
           Cemetery, north of Shepherd, four miles north of Salt River corners and about a
           quarter mile east.

           To quote from the County Manual of 1884, "Rev. Sheldon was one of nature's noblemen,
           a man who was as universally beloved and respected as any pioneer in this county
           and one whose true worth cannot be too highly lauded or whose memory cannot be too
           carefully cherished by future generations".  Permit us to give an incident or two
           from his life.

           The occasional missionary box received from Southern Michigan societies was opened with
           keen interest, only to turn to disappointment and often intense humiliation.
           Occasionally a box from the ancestral home "back yonder" in Ohio still helped to make
           life endurable.

           Under the nimble and capable fingers of that well-born, Swiss wife of Father Sheldon the
           contents of those boxes were made to clothe him and to help out the parish.  Oft
           times garments of beauty and style were created, only to be mistaken for newly
           purchased and costly apparel.  The result was misunderstanding church members and
           neighbors who withdrew their meagre support.

           Like the apostles of old, Father Sheldon was obliged to work at farming, wood-cutting,
           cobbling, tutoring, and other pursuits to keep soul and body together.   His
           congregations were as short of money as he.  His duties as circuit rider took him
           into the remotest settlements of Isabella County and occasionally into adjoining
           counties keeping him away from home for a few weeks at a time.

           One time when Father Sheldon started out upon his circuit of soul-saving-and
           church-organization, he was obliged to leave his family none to well and in
           positive need of the necessities of life.  But duty called loudly; faith was    
           strong; hope was persistent.  After three long weeks of hard and faithful service
           over new roads and through the woods and into new homes and old, and not only
           preaching, but ministering to the sick, burying the dead, and marrying the
           love-lorn, Father returned to his expectant and anxious wife.  Both he and
           his horse were spent and worn out and altogether discouraged.  For once he dreaded
           meeting his family.  The only pay of any kind he had received for many weeks was
           during this three week circuit tour and that pay was reposing in his saddle bags
           along with his Bible.  It was a chunk of spoiled salt pork for soap grease!

           But not all life and recompense of the circuit Rider was so drab and meagre. While
           Father Sheldon and family were living at the Indian Mills, it was decided to give
           a Donation Party, a custom quite common among the churches.  Social affairs
           being few and Father Sheldon, well known, and much beloved, the party became the
           topic of conversation not only after preaching services, but at the grist mill, the
           saw mill, the blacksmith shop, the Indian Council House, and at Jack Morgan's
           saloon.

           Now this saloon of Jack Morgan's was the gathering place for the men from the
           lumber camps near and far.  They all knew Father Sheldon and respected him and his
           work.  These men carried the news of the coming party to the camps and to the
           remotest settlers.  Jack Morgan's aim in life, aside from making money, was to
           be known as the biggest dare-devil and the meanest ruffian for miles around.
           On the morning before the party Jack Morgan handed his wife fifty dollars and
           said: "Give this fifty dollars to Old Man Sheldon tonight.  He deserves it; he
           doesn't get much.  Why, that old man works hard all the time always helping some
           and preaching all the funeral sermons, and marrying folks and caring for the sick. 
           The boys say they like to have him visit their camps.  And he gets mighty little
           for it all."  That evening the Whites and the Reds; saints and sinners, came to
           that Donation Party and made it quite a public celebration. 

           When the donations were counted they amounted to several hundreds of dollars,
           three-fourths of it in cash, the greater part of which had been given by the
           Lumberjacks.  It was a big success, but Jack Morgan lost his title as "The
           Wickedest and Meanest Man" in the Mills.

    1870 - Reverend Bray of Mount Pleasant organized all records obtainable, but much was
           undated.  The church membership lists in 1869 - 1871 were:

                Mt. Pleasant     47        Emory Bradley, leader
                Chippewa         36        O. P. Crawford, leader
                Calkinsville     11        Daniel Johnson, leader
                South County
                Line (Parkinson) 16        U. McKinstry, leader
                Gulick
                Salt River       11        Thomas J. Campbell, leader

                                    MEMBERSHIP LIST. SALT RIVER

                                  Thomas Campbell
                Eliza Campbell
                James Campbell
                Elizabeth Campbell
                Andrew F. Childs
                Susan Childs
                Christiana Corbus
                William Wonch
                Richard Wonch - and undoubtedly their wives

    1871 - Reverend George Bradley died suddenly in New York City while buying Indian supplies.
           He was buried in Mt. Pleasant.

    1872 - The Baptists of Salt River built a church.  All denominations assisted and thus
           were to be permitted to worship there.  The arrangement was unsatisfactory.  Later
           the society died down, the building was sold to the Catholics by the Baptist trustees,
           Isaac N. Shepherd, James Black, and Quincey Walling.

    1880 - Ladies Aid Society organized. Mrs. Mary Rivett is the only Charter member now living.
           Methodist services had been held since 1857 in homes, in the school house at the
           bend of the river south of town, in the Baptist church, in the Kennedy Hall, and
           elsewhere.

    1882 - Methodist Church Building was begun:

           Building Committee:

            S. R. Baughman
            Andrew F. Childs
            James Campbell
            William Wonch
            Peter Gruber

METHODIST CLASS IN MOUNT PLEASANT

About 1870 - 1871 - 1872

Emory Bradley, Leader 

Sophia Bradley, died Feb. 12, 1876
F. C. Babbitt
O. B. Church
H. E. Church
Susan Arnold
Catherine Mosher, died 1871
Mary Bennett, died May 30, 1872
Ellen Woodworth
Milton Bradley
Sarah Bradley
Helen (Kittie) Bradley
Irving Arnold
Caroline Spencer
S. P. Loveland
Rev. George Bradley, died April 15, 1871
William Harris
Mary Harris
Eunice Bowker
John Bechtell
Lydia Bechtell
David Kibbe
Rachel Kibbe
Harriet H. Williams
Emily Barnheart
Newel Kimball
Sarah E. Loveland
M. E. Westlake
"Sister" Butler
Nancy A. Near
Mary Preston
Mary Rogers
Elizabeth Bray
Agnes Wilden
Ameria Harris
Carrie Harrie
Nellie Nelson
Abigail Babbitt
Mary Swan
Annie (?) Hursh
Lizzie Myers
John Maxwell
Ophelia Peck
? Fairchild
Margaret Balcomb

METHODIST CLASS AT CHIPPEWA

About 1870 - 1871

O. P. Converse, Leader

Catherine Converse
Mary A. Robinson
Rev. Charles Taylor
Sophronia Taylor
Elias Fosgitt
Salina Fay
William Froggett
Rebecca Foutch
Laura Miles
William Miles
Elizabeth Milborn
Bessie Gorton
Lydia Fosgitt
Silas Fosgitt
Sarah Taylor
Harriet Kennedy
Allen Fay
J. M. Kennedy (Mart)
L. S. Gould
E. Shively
W. A. Shively
John Robbins
J. Gould
Edward Drum
Orin Skinner
Jane Skinner
John Landon
? Anders
Rachel Froggett
Charles Froggett
Thomas Anders
Clari (?) Anders
Martha Landon
Rebecca Thompson

 

METHODIST CLASS AT CALKINSVILLE
(ROSEBUSH)

About 1875

This class and appointment transferred to Isabella Mission, September, 1875

Daniel Johnston
Joseph Graham
Margaret A. Graham
Hugh Johnston
Ephraim Matthews
Helena Matthews
Thomas Bowerman
Mrs. Bowerman
Hugh Graham
Mrs. Graham

 

METHODIST CLASS GULICK SCHOOL HOUSE

JOHN I. A. JOHNSON, leader  Before 1875

This class transferred from the Mt. Pleasant to the Dushville (WINN) charge in the
second quarter of Conference year, 1878.

Mrs. Gulick (Ann)
Margaret Johnson
Hartie Johnson
Matilda Whitehead
Emma Dunton (Afterwards the first
Mrs. Geo. Granger
Marth Bellinger
Mrs. Butler
Eva Goodsell
Mrs. Root
Jerrid Johnson
Mrs. Handy (died very soon)
Alvina Bellinger
Alfred M. Merrill
Sarah M. Merrill
Adelbert Merrill
Sarah S. Merrill
Marcella Chadrich
George Edmunds
John Relyea
Mary Relyea

 

METHODIST CLASS. SOUTH COUNTY LINE

Later called PARKINSON

Discontinued 19 -- ?

Y. MCKINSTRY, leader. Residence, Gratiot, 1869 - 1870

D. E. McKinstry

L. H. Parson
James Allen Parents of Mrs. N. W. Struble
Lucy Allen
E. Joslin
M. Kinde
Jelphia Ring
S. Leonard (Withdrawn Aprill 11, 1869)
A. Galiger
Ida Joslin
Hellen Ring
Mercy D. Allis
Sarah Allis
 

    1882 - Church Building.  Carpenter, S. Fordyce
                             Mason, John Taft
           Trustees
           Sylvester Baughman        E. Going
           Edmund Ashworth           Charles Holliday
           William Wonch             George S. Kinnor
           James Campbell

           THIS PULPIT was a gift to this church at that time from Mr. Sylvester Baughman.

    1883 - February eighth "THE CHURCH OF CHRIST" was incorporated.  Trustees: Samuel
           Kennedy, Simon S. Smith; Charles W. Hudson.  The first minister was Rev. Sias.

           Meetings were held in the Baptist Church, the Kennedy Hall, and elsewhere.
           Among the charter members were:

                Daniel Childs and wife
                Joseph Miser and wife
                Perry Estee and wife
                Samuel Kennedy and wife
                George Young and wife
                Douglas Hamilton and wife
                Simon Smith and wife
                William Faunce and wife
                John Smith and wife
                George Zigler and wife
                Ellis Faunce and wife
                Daniel Brickley and wife
                Neddie Wood and wife

    1885 - Salt River Corner moved west.  Town re-named SHEPHERD.  Railroad laid.

    1887 - Post Office changed to SHEPHERD

    1897 - Built addition to first church - League, Sunday School, and Prayer Meeting room.

    1909 - Old church outgrown and worn out.  This beautiful new one erected.

                Building Committee

            W. L. Dibble            Architect: E. M. Wood
            M. W. Struble           Builders: Cole Brothers
            H. D. Bent              Trustees:
            Mrs. B. J. White                H. L. Dent; W. L. Dibble; Joseph Moore,
                                            C. C. Fields, E. W. Orsler

 

PASTORS  

The list of pastors and the date of the appointments for the Shepherd Church are:

                                                                        

                            1856                    T. J. Hill
                            1857                    Charles Taylor
                            1858-1859-1860          C. Taylor and others
                            1861 - 62               Robert P. Sheldon
                            1863                    L. M. Garlock
                            1864                    D. C. Fox
                            1865 - 66               J. H. Webb
                            1867                    T. J. Spencer
                            1868                    M. T. Williams
                            1869                    Eli Westlake
                            1870 - 71               Robert P. Sheldon
                            1872                    J. W. Hawthorn
                            1873
                            1874
                            1875                    J. Mills
                            1876       
                            1877                    B. D. Wier
                            1878 - 79               B. D. Searles
                            1880 - 81 - 82          C. W. Smith
                            1883                    Thomas Clayton
                            1884                    A. A. Darling
                            1885                    T. Young
                            1886 - 87               George Lockhart
                            1888 - 89 - 90          E. L. Sinclair
                            1891                    G. W. Riggs
                            1892                    W. P. Manning
                            1893                    Levi Alger
                            1894 - 95 - 96 - 97     D. E. Reed
                            1898 - 99               W. W. Aylesworth
                            1900 - 1901             Eliot Bouch
                            1902 - 1903             Frank Cookson
                            1904 - 05               Louis Blanchett
                            1906 - 07 - 08 - 09     C. E. Pollock
                            1910 - 1911             Nathan P. Brown
                            1912 - 13 - 14 - 15     C. E. Davis
                            1916 - 17 - 18          L. L. Dewey
                            1919 - 20 - 21          Henry W. Ellinger
                            1922 - 23               John Broxholm
                            1924 - 25 - 26 - 27 - 28 Elihu Mayhew
                            1929                    C. J. Kendall
                            1930 - 31 -32 - 33 - 34 W. S. Phillips

            The Sunday School Department: The Superintendent most outstanding
            beloved during these seventy-nine years of local church history is,
            without doubt, Allen Clark.

    1934 -  Shepherd Methodist Episcopal Church Membership is 180.  Sunday
            School attendance average for the year is 110.

    1935    The Sesqui-centennial is over.  Methodism is better understood
            and more keenly appreciated because of the slogan "Know Your
            Church".  A realization of the past accomplishments awakens
            the church to its present and future needs and to the
            determination that the "BEST IS YET TO BE".

 

                        
      BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

        Census Reports of Michigan, 1860
        Church History. Files and Records
            Albion College
            Baptist, Catholic, Christian Churches in Shepherd and Mount Pleasant
            Central State Teachers College Library
            Lansing State Library
            Mount Pleasant City Library
        Compiled Laws of Michigan
        Conference Reports. Detroit and Michigan
        Ellis. History of the United States. Vo.. 4, 5, 6, 7.
        Encyclopedia Americana. 1932. Vol. 18
        Encyclopedia of Religion
        Funk and Wagnalls. Encyclopedia
        GUIDE BOOK IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE DISCIPLINE OF THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
        Hemans, Lawton T. HISTORY OF MICHIGAN
        History of the First New York Church
        History of Lovely Lane Church 
        Hurlbut, Jesse Lyman OUR CHURCH 1843
        Isabella Chapter, D. A. R. Historical Files
        Isabella County Album, 1884
        Isabella County Newspapers
        Methodist Membership Manual
        MICHIGAN CHRISTIAN ADVOCAT  Complete Files
        MICHIGAN MANUAL
        Myers. HISTORY OF MICHIGAN
        Nichlonson, Bishop Thomas WORLD SERVICE
        ORIGINAL CHURCH OF CHRIST
        Personal letters, interviews and family histories.
        Petezel, Rev. J. H. HISTORICAL RECOLLECTIONS
        Pilchen, E. H. HISTORY OF PROTESTANTISM IN MICHIGAN
        REPORTS OF BALTIMORE, 1934
        Robinson, Emma THE ROMANCE OF METHODISM
        Smith, Robert E. METHODIST EPISCOPALIANS. WHO? WHAT? WHY?
        Stevens, Abel HISTORY OF METHODISM 3 Vol.
        Striker, Hon, Daniel, 1891 AN HISTORICAL ADDRESS DELIVERED AT HASTING METHODIST
            EPISCOPAL CHURCH
        Utley, Henry MICHIGAN AS A PROVINCE, TERRITORY, STATE
 

           

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