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The Only Methodist Church In Kittson County


Loree Johnson


In 1881, Humboldt was just a treeless prairie with a fewsettlers here and there.

Reverend Goldie came to this area to teach Christian mindedsettlers about God. Many settlers inspired him by their kindred strengthand loyalty to the blessings bestowed upon them in this new land.

Reverend Goldie, with his quiet dignity, talked to thepioneers and blessed them. These people had thankful hearts for their blessingsbecause they were free.

Reverend Goldie was the first pastor in this area. Hestayed in Emerson, Manitoba, Canada. The ten mile horseback rides fromthe village of Emerson to the settlers was hard on Reverend Goldie, butin those days many people would do anything for God.

Weekly fellowship was followed by prayer meetings. Theseprayer meetings were thought to be the first of any church organizationin this area.

Because there weren't any available buildings, many churchfollowers offered the hospitality of their homes. Charles Clow, WilliamJury, and Ambrose Clow offered the use and hospitality of their homes mostoften.

In 1882, Reverend Goldie left but Reverend Hovis came. He stayed for three years.

1883 was the birth of Humboldt and the post office. Thepost office was first called Fairview but was changed to Humboldt. Later,in 1884, the first schoolhouse was built. It was located two miles northof the present school which then was on the Duncan Cameron farm.

In 1885, Reverend Trelawnay came to this land and withhis arrival prayer meetings grew. These meetings were held in the new schoolhouse. They were pleasant and spiritual. They cemented new friendships as wellas associations of long standings.

During the summer, it was very common to see families trudgingacross plowed fields or snowbanks in the winter just to attend a churchservice. Only the very worst storms could keep the pioneers from servingGod.

In the late 1893, Reverend J. G. Moore came to Humboldt. He had spent many years as a missionary to Eskimos in Labrador. ReverendMoore was sure that the church so long wanted by the pioneers would becomea reality.

Most pioneers did not go into debt but needed money. Thesepeople did many things to earn money to build a church. The Gillispieshad a supper at the Reed farm in 1897 to raise money for the church. Freewill offerings were given at lunch time. There were also box picnics. These offerings helped the financial backing of the the building.

James Diamond gave a site for the church. It was at thecorner of where the old Highway 59 crosses the gravel road going to theAsh farm which was one and one half miles north of the village of Humboldt.

There is not too much to say about the building of thechurch. The pioneers brought as much wood as they could. Anyone in thearea that could hammer a straight hail helped.

The next year, as the church as built, a Sunday Schoolhad been started. It was under superintendency of George Matthew. Thetreasurer was Sanford Balderston and Victor Clow was the secretary.

Reverend Moore set sail for a sojourn in the Holy Landwhich lasted for three months. When he returned, he christened the youngwith water from the Jordan River. Reverend Moore's only son was born duringhis services there.

It was December 18, 1898. Even though the day was cold,it was very memorable for it marked the first dedication service for thepeople in the little Methodist Church in Humboldt.

The breakfast hour that morning was rushed for the excitedMethodists for it took a while to get to the church in bob sleds and horsecutters.

The morning service started at 10:30 and the afternoonservices began t 2:30. The service was lead by Reverend Moore and PresidingElder Klingal.

The stewards were Ambrose Clow, Mrs. James Walker, GeorgeMatthew, and Seneca Thompson. The Board of Trustees was made up of WilliamClow, William Jury, Sam Maxwell, Richard Sylvester, George Matthew, andAmbrose Clow.

When the congregation arrived, the ushers, William Eastonand Charles Clow, took them to their seats.

Even though Maggie Easter was the acting organist, theelder Mrs. Ryan played the hymns one to six, then sat waiting for furtherinstructions from Reverend Moore and Reverend Robert Forbes. Reverend Forbeswas a Presiding Elder of the Duluth Conference and was guest speaker ofthe day.

The Methodist choir of Pembina, which included Frank King,Mrs. and Mr. Gus Short gave the special music of the day.

Later during the service, fifteen year old James Wardellsang "My Mother's Favorite Hymn."

Mrs. Everson (Alva Walker) sang "My Cathedral".

In the afternoon service, James Wardell sang "OraPre Nobis" in Latin.

The service came to a close at the beginning of twilight. The pioneers left for home with happy hearts grateful for God's blessings.

Services were continued at 7:30 that night.

On Monday evening at 8 o'clock during dedication week,Reverend Forbes spoke on "Mistakes of the Devil and Other People". There was an admission of twenty five cents to hear the lecture.

The women did lots of work getting prepared for the mealsof the dedication services. They would make mince pies and stored themin cold rooms, which weren't hard to find in December.

In 1889, there was some discussion about moving the churchto town, but no action was taken.

Reverend Swinnerton found a need for a parsonage as well,so during the spring of 1900, he supervised the building of the new homefor the pastor and the family. The cost of the parsonage was six hundreddollars.

When the time came to move the church, many people hadto help. It took a total of approximately sixty men to move it. Mr. Paulcame and supervised the moving. They used a frame and tied the frame down,then a rope was tied to the church which had log rollers underneath it. A horse would go around on the side with the other end of the rope tiedto him which would make the church come closer to the frame. Men had towatch and move the rollers to the front. Then the frame would be movedand the procedure started all over again until it got to the location.

About the same time, the first Ladies Aid Society was started. It was in the home of the Great Northern agent, Mrs. Baker, who then livedin the depot. Mr. Childlaw was president, but the Childlaws moved awayand Mrs. J. Irving became the acting successor.

May 1901 brought Reverend Charles Flesher to the church. He made the first recorded baptism and wedding.

When Reverend Powell came on Sunday, December 18, 1913,he organized the Women's Foreign Missionary and a Junior Missionary Group.

About this time, two new stoves were installed. Even kerosenelamps decorated the shelves of the church to serve as lights.

In 1922, the conference sent Reverend A.R. Henry of NewYork to Humboldt. Reverend Henry organized an Athletic Club and Play Day. He also made active the Epsworth League. Reverend Henry didn't have mucheducation so he finished high school at the village school. Graduated andhad plans to attend college.

By a mutual agreement, Reverend S. T. James of Thompson,North Dakota and Reverend Henry exchanged places for a year.

During Reverend McGuire's stay here, in the 1930's, a bellwas placed in tower and an electric cross was put in the rear of the chancel. The Epworth League bought an upright piano for the sum of one hundred dollars. New hymnals were also placed in the church.

On October 11, 1934, Reverend Wagner and Reverend Engelbretsoncame to the Humboldt and St. Vincent charge. During their stay, the WSCS(Women's Society of Christian Service) made possible many things, such as,residing, repainting, reshingling, and rewiring the church. They also madeflower gardens.

The interior of the church was fixed up. The old smokingfurnace was replaced by a new oil furnace donated by the Fred Bockwitz family.

In the summer of 1940, Mrs. Congdon of Duluth, a personalfriend of Reverend Wagner, gave five hundred dollars to the church.

On June 1, 1947, Mr. and Mrs. Warren Clow and baby MargaretJean used the dedicated Baptismal Fort.

The women of the church got the hall ready for the Thanksgiving,Harvest Festival, and birthday party were instituted while Reverend Wagnerand Reverend Engelbretson were here. Many people have remembered that ReverendWagner laid the floors, sided the walls, and built the cupboards.

In the summer Clara Wagner and Alice Engelbretson weretransferred to the Cass Lake Methodist Church.

Reverend Hanson came but in March 1949 he and a few otherswent to St. Vincent and started the Evangelical Free Church.

Many pastors came and went. Some wanted to go to otherplaces and some were moved by the General Conference.

After the flood of the Red River in the spring of 1950,the Pembina and Joliette churches needed help cleaning out the mud in theparsonages.

With the closing of the St. Vincent church, the Humboldtchurch was now alone in the district. The nearest church in the MinnesotaConference was at Warren, some fifty miles away. For these reasons, theHumboldt, Pembina, and Joliette churches combined to form one charge tothis union. Reverend William L. Collins arrived to bring hope to the newcharge.

In the summer of 1951 and years following, many changestook place in the church. In 1951, the renovation program started. In1954, the men of the congregation painted and paneled the inside of thechurch. New lighting and carpet was laid in the chancel area and aisle. The pews were all sanded and refinished and the tile was laid on the floors. In the summer of 1955, the fellowship hall was resided and reshingled.During the winter of 1958, more improvements were done in the fellowshiphall. These improvements were a complete new kitchen, rest room, waterand sewage system, a new back entry, and the old windows and doors werereplaced with new ones.

Mrs. John Easter has been the church organist for 35 yearsbut when the church got an electric organ in 1956 she asked to be relieved.

In June 1968, Reverend Werner came to Humboldt and is stillour present pastor. His wife has organized a choir.

The passing of 75 years of Methodism was celebrated bythe Humboldt United Methodist Church on November 3 and 4 of 1973. Memoriesand church events were climaxed by services portraying the first worshipservice of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism and the remembrance ofpast memories and events by ministers and lay people from days gone by. The true spirit of Christianity was evident by the fond recollections ofboth the good and hard times.



Easton, Mr. Harris, Humboldt, Minnesota, Interview, January1973

United Methodist Church Anniversary Books



Easton, Mr. Harris, Humboldt, Minnesota, Interview, January1973

United Methodist Church Anniversary Books