History of the United Methodist Churches in Almond and Plainfield
2005 marks the 150th anniversary of these two churches and the following short history of the Almond and Plainfield United Methodist Churches is taken in part from an article written by Gene Kemmeter and appearing in the September 2, 2005 Portage County Gazette. Rev. Richard Fite currently is the minister at both churches.
Both churches trace their history to 1855, although they were impacted before that by the Methodist missionaries who rode the circuit on the frontier, pastor Fite said. "Methodism was one of the strong movements west in the late 1700s and early 1800s," he said. "They traveled great distances to preach to people."
The Almond United Methodist Church in southeastern Porage County got its start in the 1850s, and represents the unification of three separate churches in Almond, the East German Methodist Church and the North German Methodist Church, plus the Blaine Community Church in the community of Blaine, about five miles northeast of the village of Almond at the intersection of county trunks A and D.
The Rev. Sheldon Doolittle, a Methodist minister, arrived in Almond in 1854 from New York, Ralph Tess wrote in his book, "Our Heritage: Almond and Vicinity." He farmed and preached, holding services in homes, barns and at various gatherings because there was no school or church in the area.
In 1857 Daniel Frost donated a log cabin for use as a church, and the Rev. Doolittle donated a portion of his land for the church and for use as a cemetery, the site of today's village cemetery. The cabin, the English Methodist Church, was then moved to that site.
The Almond School District also needed a building for a school and rented the church as a schoolhouse. But the church burned down in 1862, so the school district built a new school on the site, allowing the Methodists to use it as a place of worship.
In 1888 the congregation decided to build its own church again, constructing one on a site adjacent to the present Almond-Bancroft School. The building was sold in 1946 to the Seventh Day Adventists and is still used today.
Germans, many of them Lutheran, started coming to the Almond area in the 1850s and began attending services conducted by a German Methodist evangelist. After many converted to the Methodist faith, the East German Methodist Church was formed in 1865, with the Rev. Daniel Schaeffer serving as the first preacher.
A church was constructed adjacent to the east cemetery grounds, about a mile east of the village. That church was destroyed by fire, and another was constructed in 1870.
The congregation continued to grow, so in 1895 another church, the North German Methodist Church, was built about three miles north of the village, across the road from the North Almond Cemetery.
As the population of Almond began to quickly grow in the early 1900s with the advent of the railroad in the village, the East German and North German churches decided to unite, since they were served by the same pastor.
In the summer of 1903, the congregations united, moving the two church buildings on "rollers" to the itersection of county trunks A, D and J and joining the two buildings into one, resulting in a church with two bell towers, each with a bell.
Almond was thus down to two Methodist congregations, the English Methodist and the German Methodist.
About 1915, the German Methodist Church decided to include English into the services, and the Rev. Elske was the first pastor to make the change, preaching two sermons in English in the evening each month.
The use of English was occasionally added to the morning worship in the church, and then the Rev. Hubert Feldt, who as born in America, used English in his services. He was also appointed the minister to both congregations, the English and the German.
Finally, on August 25, 1946, the English church united with the German church to form one Methodist Church in Almond.
By then there was only one more church to unite with the Almond congregation.
The Blaine Community Church held its first meetings in the Pickerel Lake School, building a church about 1874. The English Methodist pastors from Almond served the church throughout the years.
The Rev. Huntley Lewis was pastor of both churches when the Blaine Community Church decided to join the Almond Methodist Church on May 14, 1961.
In 1969 Almond and Plainfield began to share a pastor, a practice that continues today.
In February 1980, the new Almond Methodist Church building was completed, and the Rev. Edward Ketchum led the congregation as it marched from the old church to end the service in the new church.
The Plainfield United Methodist Church got its start in 1855 when Charles Hamilton went to hear a Methodist circuit rider in Campbell's Corners, a small community west of Plainfield near the intersection of Highway 73 and Interstate 39.
Hamilton arranged to have a circuit rider hold services in Plainfield in a school house on West North Street, where the services continued until the congregation built a church in 1878.
Twenty years later, in 1898, the Plainfield congregation helped build a Methodist Church in Oasis at the intersection of county trunks A and J.
On June 11, 1905, the cornerstone for the present church in Plainfield was laid and the new church was dedicated on Nov. 12, 1905. The building was constructed for $10,000, and the mortage was completely paid by the end of March in 1912.
The Oasis church building was sold in 1933, and its members joined the Plainfield church.
The existing church also went through a number of remodeling projects. In 1947, the basement was remodeled to house a dining area to seat 200, an outside basement entrance was built in 1948 and a restroom was installed in 1953.
The congregation added the education wing on the east side of the building, also constructing a pastor's study and secretary's office.
The sanctuary of the church was completely renovated in the winter of 1989-90 and the stained glass windows were repaired in 1995.