THE BELLE RIVER
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
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.
OLD COLUMBUS CIRCUIT
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.
OUR COLUMBUS CHURCH
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.
OUR HEROIC PREACHERS
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.
OUR LOCAL PREACHERS
We reserve our last word and
tribute of honor for five heroes of the ranks, J.N. Kemp, Hiram
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
I. Marysville and
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
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.
Aitkins, Norman E. *
Balfour, Jeanette, Mrs. *
Balfour, Lucetta, Mrs.
Bathey, Collins C.
Brien, Mrs. *
Burgett, Sarah Ann, Mrs.
Butlin, Lyman, Mrs.
Campbell, Elizabeth, Mrs.
Campbell, R., Mrs.
Chase, Frank, Mrs.
Clark, Leuman, Mrs.
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.
Hammond, Gracia M., Mrs.
Hartlein, Chas., Mrs.
Hartlein, Fred, Mrs.
Herrick, Lucy *
Hubbell, Sophia *
Jones, William Jr., Mr. and Mrs.
Jones, William, Mr. and Mrs.
Laughern, Wm., Mrs. *
Leibsch, Marie, Mrs.
Lindsay, Helen, Mrs.
Lindsay, Margaret, Mrs.
Lowe, Daisy, Mrs.
Lutes, Emma, Mrs.
Mackley, Chas., Mrs.
Mackley, Marie, Mrs.
Mackley, Thomas, Mrs.
Mahar, Ora, Mrs.
McMillan, K. H., Mrs.
Muhlitner, Frank, Mr. and Mrs.
Muhlitner, Fred, Mr. and Mrs.
Muhlitner, John, Mr. and Mrs.
Muhlitner, Mabel, Mrs.
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.
Scupholm, Thomas, Mr. and Mrs.
Simons, Leroy *
Simons, Mary K., Mrs.
Simons, Mary, Mrs.
Simons, Sophronia, Mrs.
Simons, Susie, Mrs.
Simons, Wm. R.
Stevenson, Elba, Mrs.
Stewart, James, Mrs.
Tripp, Blanch, Mrs.
Trumbull, Mary, Mrs.
Wiley, James *
Williams, Polly, Mrs.
Winn, George, Mr. and Mrs.
* Denotes non-resident.
Note - This list includes both
members and probationers.
Presiding Elder C. B. Steele, Ph.
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
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.