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Methodist Episcopal Church

Ursula B. Adamson transcribed this small publication that was issued by the Methodist Episcopalian Church of St. Clair County (Casco, China and Columbus Townships) in 1906 to raise funds for a parsonage. It tells of the history of the church, its founding fathers, and also has B&W photographs of the churches that made up the circuit, including: the abandoned church in Adair; the church in China Twp; Belle River Mills School; the Maccabee Hall in Adair; and the church that was once located in Rattle Run, where the infamous Pastor Carmichael murdered the farmhand Gideon Browning by burning him in the church's oven.

Ursula provided several other photos from the booklet not included here in order to make the page load in a reasonable time. I'll set up a second page for those photos at a later date.  Click on the photos to see a larger version.

Original material is in the public domain, but this transcription is ©1999 Ursula B. Adamson. All rights reserved by the transcriber. Many thanks to Ursula for making this resource available for St. Clair County Genealogy on the web..

(click on any image to render a larger version)

History of the Methodist Episcopal Church in St. Clair County, 1906

Our History

The Belle River is as pretty an inland stream as the State of Michigan can boast. Our history is closely connected with this river, which flows in a southeasterly direction, with hundreds of crooks and turns, into the St. Clair River at Marine City. The land back from the river was quite level, and in early times, not adapted to agriculture, so that the settlements progressed slowly. The riverbank was the best highway. The schoolhouses, mills and cemeteries were built on the banks of the river. The early settlements were strung along this river. There were white settlers in the county as early as 1796.

A great transformation has taken place since the early French settlers pushed their rafts up the old Belle River. The land back from the river has since been made into splendid farms, with prosperous-looking farm buildings, a sure mark of thrift and good soil. The land produces all the fruit, grain and vegetables common to southern Michigan. Last year many of the farmers raised sugar beets. The farmers of this circuit are fortunate in having good markets. Port Huron, St. Clair, Marine City, Algonac and Richmond are within easy reach. Besides these, they have the growing city of Detroit a few miles south; and hundreds of resorters along the St. Clair River. Poultry and dairy cattle are among the chief interests. The circuit is now supplied with rural telephones and free mail delivery.

The church has followed the early settlers to share their joys and sorrows. They had their dead to bury; and their homes to be protected from the fierceness of man’s temper and so the Preacher followed them, comforting and reproving. Along the St. Clair River, people were very irreligious in early days. People spent their Sabbaths in horse racing, drinking, gambling and other demoralizing practices. Up to 1826, the Presbyterians had been sent here from time to time, but had little success among the people. Some gentlemen on the St. Clair River, having some information in regard to the influences of Methodism in reforming men, wrote to a preacher in Detroit, requesting a Methodist preacher and promising $50 toward his support. The Missionary Society appropriated $50 more and sent Rev. J. T. Donahue. The people said that he accomplished more in one year at a cost of only $50 to the Missionary Society, than the Presbyterian ministers had done in the same region at an expense of $12,000. The preaching appointments along the St. Clair River originally belonged to the Detroit Circuit; then they were separated under the name of the Palmer Circuit, which was a large circuit, reaching to twelve miles west of the St. Clair River. The St. Clair Circuit reaches back to 1817, but included Algonac, Marine City, Port Huron and St. Clair. Preachers followed the course of the Belle River, stopping to preach at Belle River Mills, Wright School House, Casco and Columbus (near Richmond). In 1845, Algonac became the head of the circuit and remained so until the year 1851, when Belle River Mills and adjoining territory belonged to the St. Clair station, and paid $50 toward the support of Rev. J. M. Arnold.

The Adair Circuit consisting of the remnants of other circuits, has a much later history. There was doubtless preaching in houses along the river; but there were no schoolhouses nor audience room of any kind until about 1837 when the red schoolhouse was built at Belle River Mills, and used as a town hall and preaching place. Our records show Manasseh Hickey as Presiding Elder in 1857. Our records of marriages go back to 1862, and of baptisms to 1863, when I. H. Camburn was pastor.

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Adair Circuit was organized in 1870, and was known as the Columbus charge. The Columbus church building was situated up the river near Richmond, and has since been sold to the Congregationalists. Rev. J.L. Walker then received his first appointment from the Detroit Conference to what was then called Columbus. On reaching the ground, he found that it was detached from Richmond, and no provision made for the preacher’s home. He lived among the people until a house was purchased for him in the township of China. There were five appointments on the charge; and he was compelled to go horseback on account of the condition of the roads. The China Society was organized in 1870, with Peter Powrie, Thomas Lowe, Wonton A. Tripp, Philander Allen and Ambrose West, as Trustees and Stewards. At this time there was preaching in Belle River Mills School House, Wright School House, Houston School House, the Pink School House, Canada Settlement, Guide Board, Big Hand, Scupholm’s, County School House and Casco.

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Often referred to as the Green Brown Church, it is located on the town line, ¾ mile north of the Gratiot Turnpike (on Rattle Run and Myer), has an early history similar to that of Adair and China. Preaching in this community was held in Canada Settlement, Big Hand School House, Pink School House, Guide Board, Scupholm’s and Smith’s Creek. Until until 1883, these appointments were part of the Marysville charge. On January 13, 1872, the Canada Settlement appointed a committee to find a site for a church in the village of Smith’s Creek, Township of Kimball. For the year 1875, we find a record of this report: “The character of Thomas Scupholm, local preacher, was examined and passed, and his license renewed. Toward the support of the gospel $361 was raised, of which Marysville paid $253, the Guide Board $83, Scupholm’s Class $15 and Barlett’s Class $10.”

On January 22, 1877 after five years delay, the committee got together to build the church. The church was begun the following spring under the pastorate of Rev. T. C. Higgins. On the contract we find these names: Erskine Duncan, Greenleaf Brown, E. Waterloo, Albert Wiley, Theodore Bathey, Elnathan Winn, Elias Williams and George Hicks. Other men such as Luther Herrick and Thomas Scupholm, worked as faithfully at the great undertaking. This church as now become an afternoon appointment of the Adair charge. There are splendid families in this community; and it is our hope that they may get a little more of the old-time Methodist religion and fire.

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We must pay tribute in this booklet to the energy and wisdom of a former pastor, Rev. Alexander J. Holmes, under whose direction the churches at Adair and China were built. He came preaching and “visiting” the gospel into people. His good wife was also a good church worker. Brother Holmes grows reminiscent in telling of these days. In speaking of the men who labored with him in building the churches he says, “What an Institute, what a Faculty for a young preacher!” He tells of one, Jerusia Frazier, who was so crippled that she could step but the length of one foot at a time; but was full of faith and a regular attendant at church. She would start the day before so as to be on time.

Another preacher much loved by the people was Rev. P.C. J. Macauley. We would like to say a word for each of the splendid array of preachers on this circuit - if space permitted.

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We reserve our last word and tribute of honor for five heroes of the ranks, J.N. Kemp, Hiram Williams, Thomas Scupholm, William Allington and Wonton A. Tripp.  Were it not for the zeal and energy of these earnest laymen, this territory with long drives and muddy roads would often have been without preaching. They broke the bread of life in schoolhouses to scattered settlers and stood by the itinerants when the churches were built. William Allington joined the Conference and preached on this circuit before his death. Two of them are now living - Thomas Scupholm and Wonton A. Tripp.

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Our Former Pastors
I. Marysville and Columbus:
1870 - 1901 A. W. Harding; M. J. Scott; F. Bradley; T.C. Higgings; J. W. Holt; Robert Bird; G.L. Davis; D.W. Hammond; J. McAllister; Wm. Cash; W.R. Shaw; Wm. Cridland; James A. Rowe; Geo. Nixon; Walter Marks; M.F. Terwilliger; Benjamin C. Moore; William S. Smith.

II. Old Columbus Circuit:
1870 - 1873 J. L. Walker.

III. Adair Circuit:
1873 - 74 Walter Preston
1874 - 76 Wm. Allington
1876 - 77 H. H. Smith
1877 - 79 M. J. Scott
1879 - 83 A. J. Holmes
1883 - 85 Wm. F. Davis
1885 - 87 Wm. Edmonds
1887 - 89 Walter Marks
1889 - 90 M. B. Diehl
1890 - 92 Geo. W. Gordon
1892 - 96 D. H. Campbell
1896 - 99 P. C. Macauley
1899 - 1901 C. W. Hubbard
1901 - 03 James P. Karr
1903 - 06 Alfred E. Healey
1906 - A. O. Hammond.


Our Membership
Aitkins, Norman E. *
Balfour, Albert
Balfour, Alice
Balfour, Ethel
Balfour, George
Balfour, Grace
Balfour, Jeanette, Mrs. *
Balfour, Jessie
Balfour, Lucetta, Mrs.
Barringer, Horrace
Bathey, Collins C.
Blackie, Elsie
Blank, Martin
Brien, Mrs. *
Burgett, Lambert
Burgett, Sarah Ann, Mrs.
Burns, Florence
Burns, Minnie
Butlin, Lyman, Mrs.
Campbell, Elizabeth, Mrs.
Campbell, R., Mrs.
Chase, Frank, Mrs.
Clark, Leuman, Mrs.
Clayton, Arthur
Clayton, Elizabeth, Mrs.
Douglas, Amanda, Mrs.
Drullard, Sophia, Mrs.
Edgett, Amanda, Mrs.
Edgett, Beatrice, Mrs.
Fallis, Bertha, Mrs.
Fenton, Charles, Mr. and Mrs.
Frazier, Alice, Mrs.
Fritz, Gottfried
Hammond, Gracia M., Mrs.
Hartlein, Chas., Mrs.
Hartlein, Fred, Mrs.
Herrick, Lucy *
Herrick, Luther
Hubbell, Sophia *
Jones, William Jr., Mr. and Mrs.
Jones, William, Mr. and Mrs.
Laughern, Wm., Mrs. *
Leibsch, Marie, Mrs.
Lindsay, Barbara
Lindsay, Helen, Mrs.
Lindsay, John
Lindsay, Margaret, Mrs.
Lindsay, Orville
Lowe, Daisy, Mrs.
Lutes, Emma, Mrs.
Lutes, Lottie
Mackley, Chas., Mrs.
Mackley, Marie, Mrs.
Mackley, Thomas, Mrs.
Mahar, Ora, Mrs.
McMillan, K. H., Mrs.
Muhlitner, Albert
Muhlitner, Frank, Mr. and Mrs.
Muhlitner, Fred, Mr. and Mrs.
Muhlitner, Harry
Muhlitner, John, Mr. and Mrs.
Muhlitner, Louis
Muhlitner, Mabel, Mrs.
Muhlitner, Vernon
Porter, John, Mr. and Mrs.
Radike, Henry, Mrs.
Radike, John, Mr. and Mrs.
Richmond, Elizabeth, Mrs.
Robins, Ada, Mrs.
Robins, Fred, Mr. and Mrs.
Rumsey, Eugene, Mr. and Mrs.
Rumsey, John*
Scupholm, Thomas, Mr. and Mrs.
Simons, Fred
Simons, Leroy *
Simons, Mary K., Mrs.
Simons, Mary, Mrs.
Simons, Sophronia, Mrs.
Simons, Susie, Mrs.
Simons, Wm. R.
Spencer, Sarah
Stevenson, Elba, Mrs.
Stewart, James, Mrs.
Tripp, Blanch, Mrs.
Tripp, Eldon
Tripp, Harry
Tripp, Nomer
Trumbull, Mary, Mrs.
Wiley, James *
Williams, Polly, Mrs.
Winn, George, Mr. and Mrs.

* Denotes non-resident.

Note - This list includes both members and probationers.

Our Officiary

Presiding Elder C. B. Steele, Ph. D.
Pastor A. O. Hammond, Ph. B.
Stewards Chas Fenton, Mrs. Eugene Rumsey, Mrs. Orville Lindsay, Mrs. Alex. Campbell, Nomer Tripp, Frank Muhlitner, Mrs. Mary Simons, Collins C. Bathey, George Winn.
Trustees O. Lindsay, Chas. Fenton, Alex. Campbell, Louis Muhlitner, Frank Muhlitner, Wm. Simons, John Muhlitner, Frank Muhlitner, Wm. Simons, John Muhlitner, Fred Muhlitner, Albert Balfour, Myron Brown, Thos. Scupholm, Chas. Mackley, C. Bathey.
Recording Steward Orville Lindsay.
District Steward George Winn.
Parsonage Trustees Chas. Fenton, Frank Muhlitner, Collins Bathey.
Exhorters Louis Muhlitner, Frank Muhlitner, Nomer Tripp.
Epworth League Presidents Miss Jessie J. Balfour, Orville Lindsay.
Presidents of Ladies' Aid Society Mrs. O. Lindsay, Mrs. Geo. Balfour, Mrs. Geo. Winn.
Superintendents Charles Fenton, Louis Muhlitner, Collins Bathey.
Class Leaders Frank Muhlitner, Orville Lindsay, Thos. Scupholm.

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This page was last updated Saturday, April 01, 2006