HISTORY OF TUSCOLA COUNTY
CARO CHURCH HISTORY
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
In what is now the village of Caro, Methodism was, as it generally has been, the pioneer denomination following closely on the steps of the first settlers. The first sermon preached by a minister of the Christian religion was preached by a Methodist clergyman, the Rev. I. J. B. McKenney, in the log house which was at that time the residence of S. P. Sherman. This was in the year 1855. At these services twelve persons besides Mr. Sherman were present. At this time there was no organized society, but one was subsequently organized by Rev. J. B. Russell, with the following members: Farley Craw, James Hoty and wife and John Darbee and wife. The society met at first in Phipps’ Hall; when the old courthouse was built, services for a time were held there. They next occupied a building owned by David Hammond. This the society rented, fitted up the lower rooms for services, and continued to occupy them until their present house of worship, on the corner of Burnside and Sheridan Streets, was occupied a building owned by David Hammond. This the society rented, fitted up the lower rooms for services, and continued to occupy them until their present house of worship, on the corner of Burnside and Sheridan Streets, was completed. This is a frame building 32x56 feet in size, with a tower on the corner 10x10 feet at the base, and rising to a pinnacle ninety feet from the ground. The interior is tastefully finished and decorated. The contract price of the church was $3,134. It was dedicated August 8, 1870. In 1874 two class-rooms were added to the rear, 15x20 feet and 15x12 feet in size, separated by folding doors, and frequently used for social services. A considerable sum of money has since been expended in improvements of both the interior and exterior. In 1879 the society built a parsonage on Burnside Street, adjoining the church; chiefly through the energetic efforts of Rev. G. H. Field. It is a two story brick house 26x32 feet in size with kitchen and pantry behind, and substantially built The cost was about $1,500. Horse sheds also were built in 1880. The first board of trustees consisted of D. H . Andrews, J. Darbee, F. Craw and R. Whiteside. The present board consists of D. H. Andrew, Dr. Wheat, F. S. Wheat, J. Weale, W. S. Fritz, John Staley, P. D. Bush, Gilbert Johnson and John Kelly. The society has property worth about $5,500, and is free from debt. It is self-supporting, receiving no missionary aid, and its finances are in healthy condition. Previous to the organization of Caro as a separate charge, a Union Sunday-school was formed in which other denominations took part. On the opening of the new church a Methodist Sunday-school was
formed with Richard Whiteside as superintendent. It has shared the prosperity of the church and has an average attendance of about 130.
The following have ministered to the church since the first organization: Reverends J. B. Russell, E. Klump, J. G. Whitcomb, J. H. Caster, R. C. Lanning, J. C. Whiteside, George W. Stowe, W. P Maywood, J W. Campbell, George H. Field, Joseph F. Berry, Mr. Verner, and William Benson, the present incumbent. An extensive revival in 1875 added largely to the church. The present membership is 120.
Universalism in Caro appears to date back to the year 1855, when there was occasional preaching by the Rev. Mr. Hunt. In 1863 a house of worship was erected for the Universalists of Caro and vicinity by Samuel P. Sherman. It was a small building situated on the corner of Main and Lincoln Streets. There was no regular church organization, but services were held every four weeks by Rev. Mr. Hunt for a time, and afterward occasionally by Revs. Messrs. Sawyer, Knickerbocker and Crum. Then for a time there was no preaching and the church building became a school-house. An organization was attempted, but not completed until the spring of 1880, when A. P. Cooper was elected moderator and N. M. Richardson, parish clerk. Rev. L. J. Dinsmore was called, and in the fall the foundation walls of a brick church were laid. The building was completed in the summer of 1881 and dedicated Sunday, July 31st. It is a plain Gothic brick structure, 28x60 feet in size. The side walls are sixteen feet in the clear and from the center of the building to the apex of the ceiling it is twenty-four feet. The front wall is surmounted by a bell tower which gives sixty-five feet above the street level. The seating capacity of the church is 250. The building cost $1,800. The two lots on which it is built, valued at $500, were given to the society by S. P. Sherman, who also gave $400 in money. The successful completion of the work was largely due to the generous gifts of Mr. Sherman, and to the efforts of William H. West, assisted by Rev. Amos Crum, of Bay City, who held occasional services after Rev. Mr. Dinsmore left.
Services preparatory to the formal dedication were held on Saturday. On Sunday morning, July 31, 1881, every seat was occupied, even the benches along the wall being filled. The usual introductory service of song was given, after which the Rev. C. W. Knickerbocker preached the dedicatory sermon. After the sermon, William N. West, one of the trustees, stepped forward and made a statement in regard to the cost of the building, and the financial condition of the society, stating that there remained to be raised the sum of $600. An appeal was made to those present to liquidate this indebtedness, and with so good effect that in the course of half an hour $308 were raised. Soon after the dedication, Rev. J. M. Getchel was called to the pastorate, and remained in charge until January, 1881. The church is at present without a pastor. The present membership includes about twenty families. The Sunday-school is in a flourishing condition.
The private journal of the Rev. Wilbur R. Tillinghast, then residing and in charge at Midland, furnishes the first tangible data of the history of this church. On the 3d of February, 1871, Mr. Tillinghast received a letter from C. P. Black, of Caro, requesting his to hold service at Caro on some Sunday as soon as possible. In reply he appointed the first Sunday in Lent, February 26, 1871, and on that day held a morning and and evening service. The were held in the Methodist Church building. On the 26th of March of the same year Mr. Tillinghast again held morning and evening service and baptized two children, Minnie Laura Black and Marian Husted. He again held service on Sunday, May 21st. About this time he was succeeded in the rectorship of Saint John’s Church, Midland, by Rev. M. M. Crory, who continued the service at Caro at intervals of four weeks during 1871. In the years 1875 and 1876 the Revs. George P. Schilky, D. D. and J E. Jackson, of Bay City, held a few services at Caro at irregular intervals. July 18, 1877, Rev. G. W. Wilson, then rector of Saint Paul’s Church, East Saginaw, and a member of the Diocesan Missionary Committee, began an examination or missionary visitation of Tuscola County and other counties of the northern convocation, in the course of which he visited Caro, and on Friday, July 20, held service at the Baptist Church. The next day a committee was appointed to solicit subscriptions for the support of a church in the place. On the 30th the committee reported $400 guaranteed, with a probability of $200 or $300 more. October 17 of the same year Rev. George W. Wilson was appointed missionary to Bay and Tuscola Counties, charged with the duty of establishing and maintaining services at any points in these counties. On the 30th he held evening service at the Baptist Church in Caro and the mission was named Holy Trinity Mission. This was the first step toward permanency and the birth of Trinity Church. On the 16th of December, 1877, the congregation met in Hammonds’s Hall, which had been fitted up in church style and which was the home of the church for over two years. January, 4, 1878, the Rev. Mr. Wilson was established in the parsonage, which had been rented and prepared for his occupancy. On the fourth Sunday after Epiphany, February 3, 1878 the Sunday-school was organized with seven scholars. June 28, the first meeting of the congregation was held for the purpose of organizing for church work.
April, 1880, the congregatin removed to St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. In the same year Rev. Mr. Wilson was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Todd, who entered upon his labors July 8. Thirteen members having entered into articles of agreement to organize a church the first meeting was called for the 17th day of January, 1881, at which meeting C. O. Thomas, Frank H. Thomas, J. F. Palmer was elected senior warden, George S. Ralston, Junior warden, F. M. Ingersoll clerk, and C. O. Thomas, treasurer. Steps were at once taken toward the construction of a church building, and a committee was appointed to secure subscriptions. Such encouragement was given that about ay, 1881, work was commenced upon the building and rapidly carried to completion. It was opened for service on the following Christmas day. The cost was about $2,500. Adding value of lot and furniture brings the valuation to at least $3,000.
The church building has not yet been consecrated, but it is intended that the ceremony shall be performed in a few months.
In February, 1883, the Rev. Mr. Todd was succeeded by the Rev. C. H. Beaulieu, the present rector. The present vestrymen are Charles Husted, C. P. Black, John F. Palmer, Frank Thomas, Edward Theobald, George S. Ralston, Job Haskins and Dr. William Morris. John F. Palmer is senior warden, Frank Thomas, junior warden and secretary, and George S. Ralston, treasurer. The congregation numbers 107; the number of communicants is thirty.
An incident not common in the practice of the Episcopal Church occurred March 3, 1879. This was the baptism by trine immersion, after the mode of the Eastern Church, of George Bryant Hart. The ceremony was performed in Cass River.
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
The history of the First Baptist Church Society of Caro, begins on the 25th of March, 1876, when an organization was effected by
Deacon C. O. Adams, Mrs. Caroline Adams, H. G. Chapin, Mrs. L. W. Chapin, John Sprague, Mrs. H. A. Sprague, James Cummings, Mrs. Delight Cummings, D. D. Fish, Mrs. Eunice E. Fish and Mrs. Emily Atwood – eleven members. H. G. Chapin was elected clerk. About April 13, 1876, Rev. A. E. Mather came to this field, supported by the State Mission Board. Services were held in Hammond’s Hall but at once the members of the church began agitating the question of erecting a house of worship. In May, 1876, the society commenced preparations. A resolution was passed authorizing the board of trustees to take the matter into immediate consideration. A subscription paper was started and about $3,500 pledged in money, labor and material. This amount was increased by small subscriptions from abroad. Lots were purchased and the work commenced in June. The corner stone was laid on the 3d of August, and in the winter of 1877 a fine brick edifice costing about $7,000 was completed. The church was dedicated February 25th, the dedicatory services being conducted by Rev. A. E. Mather, assisted by Rev. N. C. Mallory, of Detroit, Rev. Theodore Nelson, East Saginaw, Rev. J. W. Campbell, Caro, and Rev. Theodore Stowe, Caro. The morning sermon was preached by Rev. Mr. Mallory, and the evening sermon by Rev. Mr. Nelson. After the morning sermon Rev. Mr. Mather, who had managed the subscriptions, finances and taken general supervision of the work of building, made a statement of the present indebtedness of the church, which amounted to $3,000. It was desired that that amount be pledged, and the church be dedicated with its debt provided for. About $2,000 was pledged, and the remaining $1,000 was pledged in the evening. The property of the church was then formally delivered into the hands of the board of trustees by Rev. Mr. Mather.
The church was furnished by the ladies of the church and society, and the furniture consists of an Estey cabinet organ, carpeting , chairs, lamps and a beautiful twelve-light chandelier, the memorial gift of Mr. A. Washburn.
The Rev. Mr. Mather remained with the church until March, 1878, when the Rev. T. H. Cary received and accepted a unanimous call to the pastorate, filling it until September, 1879. On the 1st of January, 1880, Rev. O. O. Fletcher was called and continued with the church until July 4, 1881, when he resigned on account of ill health. Rev. D. Gostelow then officiated from September, 1881, until September, 1882, when, having received a call to another field of usefulness, he was granted a letter of dismissal. The church then remained without preaching until early in January, 1883, when the Board of State Missions placed Rev. C. D. Gregory in the field, under whose ministrations the church experienced a spiritual revival and numbers were added to its membership. He was succeeded June 1, 1883, by Rev. G. T. Street, the present pastor. The history of the Sunday-school has been one of varied success, but for the last four years it has ranked among the best in the county, constantly increasing in numbers and in general prosperity. It superintendents have been Henry G. Chapin, G. T. Alexander and R. G. Parkhurst.
The Evangelical Lutheran Saint Paul Society of Caro, was organized in September, 1877, and incorporated on the 28th of January, 1878, with a membership of five. Its first officers were Jacob Eisenstein and John Strohauer, wardens, and John Wagner, F. W. Osterle and Carl Blum, trustees. The first minister was the Rev. Henry Gangnus, who reached here occasionally until the latter part of the year 1878. He was succeeded by the Rev. Mr. Albright, who ministered to the congregation until July, 1879. Rev. John Hass then became pastor and continued in charge until sometime in 1881. The church building was commenced in August, 1878, and completed in the following summer. It is a frame structure 24x40 feet in size and cost, to build, $550, the society furnishing a portion of the lumber. The society had a membership of but six families and the task of building a sanctuary was a heavy one. The dedication services took place in December, 1879, a sermon being preached in the German language in the forenoon by Rev. Mr. Hass, services in the afternoon being in English. The church has been for some time without a pastor, but efforts are being made to revive the interest and to restore the regular services of the sanctuary. The present officers of the church are as follows: Treasurer and secretary, John Yorke; trustees John Strohauer, Christian Fessler and Herman Winkie.
The Rev. Mr. Reed, Presbyterian minister resident at Vassar, preached in Caro occasionally during the years 1877 and 1878, and on the 11th of December of the latter year the Rev. E. P. Clark, who had succeeded the Rev. Mr. Reed, held services in the Baptist Church and organized the Presbyterian Church in Caro. He was assisted in this by the Rev. T. D. Marsh, of Grand Rapids, syndical missionary, and the formation of the society in this place is due to the impetus given to this work by these two gentlemen. Ten members constituted the first society. The following gentlemen were elected officers: Elders, John F. Seeley and Manly C. Dodge; trustees, R. P. Edson, J. H. Knickerbocker and William C. Brown.
Services were held occasionally by different clergymen, but there was no regular clergyman until the Rev. L. W. Chapman, then of Bay City, was called, August 31, 1880. Though not regularly installed in the pastorate Mr. Chapman continued to supply the pulpit for about one year and a half, when he was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Whitcomb, who supplied about three months. He was succeeded August 1, 1882 by Rev. Lemuel P. Bissell, the present pastor. Services were held in Red Ribbon Hall until October 10, 1880, when the society moved into their chapel situated on the corner of Pearl and Thomas Streets. This is a building 24x48 feet in size, of Gothic architecture. A tower 6x6 at the base and forty feet high indicates the purpose for which the building is used. The auditorium occupies the whole of the building and has a seating capacity of 200. The total cost was about $2,000. The church building was dedicated October 10, 1880. The attendance was very large, the audience crowding the auditorium in every part. The dedicatory services were conducted by Rev. E. P. Clark, assisted by Revs. Marsh Berry, Fletcher and Dinsmore, the sermon being by the Rev. Mr. Clark. Rev. L. W. Chapman then read a history and statement of the financial condition of the church, and during the morning and evening services subscriptions and contributions were received to the amount of $220.
The present membership of the church is sixty. The Sunday school was organized in June, 1880 with a membership of twenty, and with the following officers: John F. Seeley, superintendent; Manly C. Dodge, assistant superintendent; Mrs. R. P. Edson, secretary, and Mrs. Higgins, treasurer. In growth and prosperity it has kept pace with the church and numbers eight-five. It is under the superintendency of F. O. Watrous, with Mrs. R. P. Edson as secretary, and Mrs. L P. Bissell as treasurer.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
The first step toward establishing the public service of the Roman Catholic Church, in Caro, was taken September 1, 1879, by the leasing for three years of the third story of A. C. Young’s brick building on State Street. The Rev. C. T. B. Krebs took charge. This was his first mission. Missions being established in Gagetown, Sheridan and Sebewaing, and under Father Krebs’ pastoral charge, services were held at Caro on every fourth Sunday only. The trustees, from the organization until January, 1880 were Joseph St. Mary, T. C. Quinn, Patrick Coleman and Christopher Callan, and subsequent to that Patrick Coleman, Daniel Murphey and Simeon Brownell. On the expiration of their lease it was found that the expense of maintaining the services of the church at Caro was too great for the comparatively small number of members, and they were discontinued. Efforts are, however, being made for the construction of a church edifice and the maintenance of public worship, and with good promise of success, the subscription list having already reached the sum of $770.
In addition to the church societies already mentioned, is a branch of the Evangelical Association, organized about 1871. The society, however, has never built a house of worship and services are held at the homes of its members. From the fact of its membership being mostly of German nationality and from its resemblance to the Methodist Episcopal Church, it has been erroneously called the German Methodist Church. The following clergymen have conducted services here since the first services of this organization, viz: Revs. Samuel Heinninger, John Kemke, William Berge, John Miller, F. Kamp, E. Klump, William F. Binder, E. Hess and Wade. The present membership of the church is twelve.