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Denton Community 
Historical Society


Denton Churches

1968 - Present

Denton Precinct
Church services began early in the Denton area.  Between 1876 and 1881 Sunday School was held in the Shane School, which was located south of Denton, and also  held  in the Hudson School which was located northeast of Denton.  In 1881 a school was built in Denton and then the services were held in the Denton School.  Two of the early preachers  were E. T. Hudson and Nathan English. The dominate nationality of the church was English.

In 1890's George Stuart started teaching Sunday School, and  Rev. John Smith conducted church services every Sunday.  The people of the community wanted to build their own church.  The building project received financial support from the entire community, including people of other denominations which included Catholics and Lutherans.  In later years the Methodist were able to help the Catholics in a similar manner.

The Ladies Aid of Denton Methodist Church was organized in 1892 before the church was built.  Mrs. James Hocking was the first president. Other officers were Mrs. Morris, Mrs. Cobb, and Mrs. Frank Denton.  Their first contribution was the pulpit, the carpet and money toward the purchase of the pews.  The Ladies Aid has been very active through the years.

March 16, 1893, a conference was held at the home of A. W. Reddish. Elected to the Board of Trustees to build the church were Rev. John Smith, President;  J. R. C. Miller, Secretary;  F. R. Denton, Treasurer; J. W. Waugh, and E. B. Slawson.  Mr. Frank R. Denton donated the land on which the church still stands.

On June 12,1893, people gathered for the ground breaking for the new church building.  Peter Johnson, James Hocking and Thomas Huddleston staked out the building.  Mrs. J. W. Keever led the devotional exercises by starting with "Blessed Be the Name of the Lord."  Rev. John Smith offered a prayer of thanks and blessing for the new enterprise.

Mrs. James Hocking turned the first spade of dirt.  Members of the Ladies Aid Society took turns turning a spade of dirt.  A story passed down was that J. R. C. Miller or Frank R. Denton were to turn the first spade of earth, but Mrs. James Hocking got tired of all the speeches, and grabbed the spade from the men.  Therefore she became the first to break the soil.

June 22, 1893, people gathered to lay the cornerstone for the Methodist Episcopal Church with Rev. John Smith officiating.  The Denton Methodist Church was dedicated August 20, 1893, by Rev. Ravil Smith of Philadelphia.  Assisting him were his father, Rev. John Smith, Rev. J. W. Embree, and Rev. Ingham of Emerald.  Rev. Samuel Felton of Olney Church in Philadelphia, made a gift of a 36-inch bell to the church which is still in use today.

On the day of dedication, they were short $90 for the church and $30 needed to pay the expenses of the minister.  It was decided to take up a collection among those present for the $120 needed.  

Those people giving money that day were E. Blairdsell, J. L. Payne, O. Olson, J. Miller, Cobb, Olney, Mrs. Berryman, Mrs. Huddleston, Mrs. Gilbert, E. Peterson, Guthrie, Bowers, Miss Cobb, Angelo, Bowers, Roskrow, D. House, Denman, Bambridge, Rich Wilson, Earl T. Huddleston, F. Mayse, W. W. House, Mary Berryman, Markle, Mrs. Hocking, Mrs. Keever, Mrs. Moffett, Mrs. Olsen, Mrs. Beard, Holk, Mrs. Conklin, Miss Huddleston, Reider, Carruthers, Ingham, Ham, Thackery, Jesse Slawson, and Giles.

In 1911 a parsonage was built.  It was used by the pastor for many years.  In later years the pastor didn't live in the community so the house was sold in 1964.

In 1916 a basement was dug for a dining room and kitchen. On a stormy night in 1919, lightning struck the church steeple.  Ray Giles, who lived across the street with his mother, Lottie Giles, remembers awakening to a great noise during the storm.  Many others in the community were startled awake, but it was the next morning before anyone knew what had happened. Lightning had struck the steeple which was damaged beyond repair and was later removed from the church.

In 1893 the church was the Methodist Episcopal Church.  In 1939 the Methodist branch was formed and the church became the Denton Methodist Church.  The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren denominations merged in 1968 to form a new denomination, the United Methodist Church. Thus in 1968 the church became the Denton United Methodist Church.

In 1938, the Methodists were forced to stop having church services. They didn't have money to run the church.  From 1938 to 1941 the church was used by the Lutherans.  In 1942 Methodist services were again held at the church led by Rev. Hinnah, but there was no regular pastor for the next five years.  

In 1945 and 1946 The Seventh Day Adventists came to Denton Methodist Church and held morning services. They brought with them special musical talent from Union College. Rev. John Klein became the pastor in 1949.

In 1968 Mrs. Iva Parks donated an organ and in 1973 the sanctuary was remodeled.  In September 1975 new restrooms were built at the rear of the church.  The day before the work was completed, the church's old outhouse was stolen. In 1978 a gift from the estate of Helen Clegg resulted in the basement being remodeled with new wiring and a heating system installed. A new piano was also purchased from the Clegg estate.

Mrs. James Rosekrans taught the teenage Sunday School class for forty years. Mrs. Frances Flickinger was church organist for many years and Sunday School Superintendent for twenty-five years.

November 12, 1999, eighty years after lightning struck the church steeple, a new steeple was placed on the Denton United Methodist Church. Max Kirk built the new steeple and installed it. Fund raisers and memorial money was used to finance it.  

During the ice cream social, people signed their names on the steeple. The names were later covered with wooden shingles. Future generations will be thrilled to discover these names. The steeple was dedicated February 13, 2000.

At the present time the members are raising money for a storage facility so that the churches property can be stored at a central location rather than in members' garages and basements all around the Denton and surrounding area.

The original building is still used today. Denton United Methodist Church is part of the Conestoga Parish made up of Pleasant Dale, Malcolm Raymond and Denton. Two ministers serve these four churches.

The Sunnyside Cemetery is next to the Denton church. It is not the church cemetery but a community cemetery. It was dedicated June 7, 1890. Daniel M. Denton who died in 1880 is buried there. Rev. John Smith died January 28, 1911, and is also buried here. A United Methodist Church Commemorative Marker was placed on his grave August 19, 1984, in recognition of his valuable contributions to the life of the church.

Pastors serving the Denton United Methodist Church are as follows:

J. M. Jackson

James Emory 

John Smith

Jehu Whitfield 

J. Marsh

James W. 

Richard E. 

A. J. 

Walter Hyde 

Henry Lyman 

H. B. Seymour

E. A. 

Charles D. Metcalf

J. L. Mayo

C. H. Muse

C. B. Thomas

Olney S. Kendal

J.D. Hollister

George Marsden 

Myron Edwin 

S. B. Williams

John Wesley 

R. B. Barr

W.W. Adcock

Cleon Cummings

Earl Raitt

Lee Kelso

John Wesley 

Sanford Bassett

Kenneth McDaniel

W. L. Hadsell

Richard W. Miller

Roland Nye

LeRoy Giles

George Minor Gates

Donald E. Littrell

Kenneth Nye
  No services held

Arthur Hinnah

Byron Blecha

R. McManaman

John Klein

Everett Suiter

James E. 

Joseph B. Brox

Everett Suiter

Roland W. 

Douglas Jones

Robert Holbrook

Michael W. 

Barry R. Ballard

Leslie E. Lewis

Michael Lefholtz 

Warthen T. 

Albert W. 

Leslie E. Lewis

Albert W. 

George Rumler

Daniel R. 

Douglas W. 

Susan P. Davies

Floyd Richardson

Robert A (Tony) Woodward II

Judith Woodward

Mahlon W. 
Baldwin, Jr. 

Douglas R. Smith

Peggy Michael-Rush

Wayne L. Schreurs

Larry Hall

Al Smith

Clifford Fryda

T. J. Fraser

Denton United Methodist Church
The following persons donated for the building of the Denton Church in 1893. It is interesting to note that not all of the people giving money were members of the church. People from other denominations gave for the building of the church.

Baer J.S.
Baker E.S.
Barth H.
Bayless J.
Bayless J.A.
Bayless Robert
Beam U.
Beard J.W.
Benchly W.
Benedick A.M.
Berryman F.
Bishop J.F. & Sons
Blaisdell E.
Brandenberg P.
Brown E.E.
Church Extension Society
Clements J.R.
Cobb M.M.
Conklin Claude
Cummings W.
Davison E.S.
Denton F. R.
Descher George
Descher Henry
Douglas J.
Dunwiller F.D.
Earl Mrs. W.E.
Earl W.
Embree Rev. J.W.
Field A.W.
Flippin Dr.
Gilbert D.A.
Giles H.
Giles James
Giny C.
Grant G.U.
Gray C.
Hagerty D.
Harley J.
Hazlett M.B.
Heam H.L.
Heinz C.
Hensen W.
Hocking James
Hocking Jno
Holk W.
Huckney C.
Huckney Miss
Huddleston Thos
Hudson E.S.
Jaques C.M.
Johnson P.
Jones L.O.
Keever J.W.
Kelly W.
Kendall J. M.
Krug & Co  
Ladies Aid Society  
Lambertson G.M.
Littler T.B.
Long Miss
Luks F.
Markle E.A.
Marshall C.
Marshall E.J.
Mayse F.
Mayse F.
McGraw J.M.
Miller & Paine  
Miller D.
Miller J.R.C.
Miller Jane
Moore E.J.
Morris Joseph
Myers H.
Myers H.
Nelson P.
Nissley H.R.
O'Halloran E.
Olney Mrs.
Olson Oscar
Patterson S.H.
Pernt C.A.
Peterson E.
Rapp S.
Reddish A.C.
Reddish Art
Reddish V.C. & E.M.
Reiles M.
Rice L.
Rice T.
Roskrow J.R.
Schamp J.L.
Shamp A.P.
Shamp Schnybr
Shane E.
Shane U.G.
Shilling Bros.  
Slawson E. B.
Smith C.C.
Smith John
Snyder J.A.
Spence T.B.
Spitsun Olaf
Stevens Hattie
Stewart George
Sullivan E.F.
Sullivan J.
Sullivan Patsy
Sullivan T.F.
Swanson Earl
Swanson S.W.
Taylor George
Turner G.W.
Ufferman C.
Vanderpool J.
Waugh Bert
Waugh Edgar
Waugh J.W.
Wigg E.G.
Woods J.D.



Denton Precinct
Among the early Catholic Families to come to the Denton area were  the first group of Irish settlers. They were originally from the Beara Peninsula of Ireland. These families came from Michigan in 1877where they had worked in the copper mines. 

These first settlers were Timothy F. Sullivan, John R. Sullivan, Jerry U. Sullivan, and Eugene F. Sullivan.  These four Sullivan families were not related to each other. They bought land in Section 25 signing a contract with the railroad on July 11, 1877, for the land. The "Sullivan Settlement Mission" was a result of their settling in this area and was organized in 1884. The first Mass was held in 1884 in the home of Mrs. Lockwood, by Rev. M.A. Kennedy of Lincoln.  Rev. Kennedy served the church until September 1888.

In April, 1889, this Mission became attached to the St. Francis de Sales Parish in Lincoln. In 1906 an acre of land for building a new church was donated by Eugene F. Sullivan. The church was located on the Northeast Quarter of Section 25, Denton precinct. The church cost $2,000 and was under the pastorate of The Father Casimir Dietrich, O. F. M.

The ladies of the Sullivan Settlement Mission organized the Altar Society of the Holy Rosary Church, Sullivan Settlement, Nebraska. Down through the years this society was active and is now known as St. Mary's  Altar Society.

Other Sullivan families settled several years later on Highland precinct # 1. In 1911 Denton became a separate parish. The Sullivan Settlement church was used as a church until 1912 The old church was moved across the road to the John L. (Jack) Sullivan farm and used as a barn and hayloft. It later burned to the ground.

In March, 1911, the Denton Church became a separate parish and in 1912 a new  church building was erected under the direction of the Rev. Robert Moran, costing $3,500. This church was built in the town of Denton and the businessmen of Denton donated $1,000 toward the building.  

M. T. Gilbert donated two lots for the new church. Aug 7, 1912, the church was dedicated by the Rev. J. Henry Tihen as the St. Mary's Church of Denton. Rev. J. Henry Tihen also confirmed 29 persons on that day.  The new church was, a large frame mission-designed building, with a large tower in front. Within a short time the rectory was built adjoining the church on the south side.  

Father Robert Moran was the first resident priest and served from 1909 to 1922. Rev. Swinski was priest in 1922 and resided in the rectory in Denton. The mortgage was paid off in 1942.

On May 10, 1961, both the church and the rectory were destroyed by fire. The forty-nine year old frame structures burned to the ground in 15 minutes as a result of high winds whipping the flames which started in the basement of the rectory and blew north to the church.

The parishioners of St. Mary's wanted their church in Denton and made pledges to enable plans to be drawn.  In 1954 the new building was built on lots south of the former buildings. The new location was donated in 1954 to the church by Kate Sullivan in memory of her father, Timothy F. Sullivan. He was one of the four pioneer Sullivan's living in the Sullivan Settlement.  

The flag pole that stood in front of the old church building is now located north of the new church. The rectory is connect to the rear of the church.  The first Mass was celebrated in the new church on December 15, 1963. The church was dedicated by Bishop James V. Casey of Lincoln on May 10, 1964, three years to the day after the disastrous fire. In November 1963, Father James D. Dawson, was appointed pastor of St. Mary's Parish.

In September 1964, St. Mary's was the first parish in the Lincoln Diocese to enter the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine program, whereby lay women of the parish were trained to teach religion to the children. These weekly classes are held throughout the school year.

From the earliest times of the Sullivan settlement and Denton churches, most burials were in Calvary Cemetery in Lincoln (originally called St. Theresa's Cemetery.) In about 1970, with the cooperation of the United Methodist Church in Denton, a portion of Sunnyside Cemetery was allocated to the burial of those who wished a Catholic burial.

A bell tower was erected on the church grounds in memory of Julie Sullivan, daughter of Leland and Catherine Soucie Sullivan.

Pastors who served  Denton and the dates of their appointment are as follows:

Rev. Kennedy, 1884
Robert Moran, 1909
Rev. Sirvinski, 1922
Father John M. O'Sullivan, 1928
Louis Jansen, 1932
Clement A. Siwinski,    1938
Frank R. Flicek,  1941
Joseph A. Keany, 1945
Henry Denis, 1948
R. J. Collins, 1949
James D. Dillon, 1959
Luke L. Mandeville, 1960-1962
James D. Dawson, 1963-1980
Liam Barr, 1981-1995
Msg. Thomas Holoman, 1996 to retired

Copyright  2011
Webmaster - Kathie Harrison
Denton Community Historical Society of Nebraska