RELIGIOUS HISTORY
OF
St. Clair County MI



Throughout the history of the townships, villages and cities of the county, sketches of the various religious societies are given. Here a notice of organization or re-organization is placed before the reader.

The footsteps of the French Catholic missionary and of the children of his church were the first marks made by white men on the sands of the Atlantic shore, as well as upon the shores of our great lakes and rivers. They built a church at St. Augustine, Fla., over 300 years ago, and a little later raised the cross in the wilderness of the North. The first convent was established at New Orleans, in 1727; the first cargo of wheat sent down the Mississippi was raised at the Jesuit Mission; the first sugar-cane plantation in Louisiana was cultivated by them, and the last survivor of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was a son of their church. On account of the aversion with which the Puritan element regarded the English Protestant Episcopal Church, that society was not established within the Union until 1784, when Samuel Seabury was chosen Bishop of Connecticut. In 1785, the Independent Protestant Episcopal Church of America was organized. The prayer book was altered to meet the political requirements of the Republic, as set forth in 1790.

The Presbyterian Church was established in the United States toward the close of the seventeenth century by Francis MacKemie, an Irish Presbyterian. In 1736, a synod was held; in 1740, George Whitefield came, when the Old Side and New Side branches were formed. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Cumberland Presbyterian organized. In 1838, the Old School and the New School Presbyterian's formed societies, and again, after the war, the Southern Presbyterian Church was formed.

The Methodist Church, founded by John Wesley, took root in New York in 1766, when some of his adherents from Ireland organized a class with Phillip Embury and Capt. Webb as leaders. In 1771, Francis Asbury came as Superintendent, and two years later the first Methodist Conference was held, consisting of ten preachers of foreign birth. The actual organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church took place in 1784. In this county the varied forms of Christianity have made great advances. Churches have multiplied until every village and town show their spires and cupolas, containing bells of harmony, which have long since ceased to peal the hymn of debasing bigotry. The centennial of Yorktown witnessed peace throughout the land, religious dissensions and savage bigotry entombed, and the Republic happy in the possession of citizens, each one of whom essays to serve God after his own notion, without impertinent interference with his neighbor's faith. The people have evidently realized the fact that the evil example offered by members of every religious society does more to check Christianity than all the sophistry of the infidel, the arms of the united Musselmans, or the presence of 100,000 Mongolian mandarins and high priests. Abuses will continue so long as the world exists, but the number may be lessened if each section of the Christian Church will do its duty, by watching its interests closely—by minding its own business.

In the following pages, the organization of each church in the county, as shown in the records, is given. There are no public records to base data regarding the first Catholic congregation formed in this county; but it may be presumed that large numbers of the French Missionary Fathers visited the camping grounds of the Indians along the Huron, erected temporary altars and offered the sacrifice of the mass in presence of the wondering red men. After the French Canadians made settlements here, they were visited regularly by the priests of Detroit, until the establishment of permanent missions. Since the American pioneer period the following religious societies were formed within this county:

The organization of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Port Huron was perfected February 3, 1840, by the election of Nicholas Ayrault and John Wells as Wardens; Bartlett A. Luce, Joseph B. Flanagan, Lorenzo M. Mason, Daniel B. Harrington and Joseph McCreary, Vestrymen.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Port Huron was organized February 15, 1840, when Rev. Elijah Pilcher, P. E., appointed Joseph Flannagan, William R. Goodwin, J. W. Camfield, G. F. Boynton and Othiel Gould a board of trustees for the first society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of St. Clair was organized January 27, 1841, when Rev. Solomon Steele appointed Moore R. Barron, James Ogden, George Clark, Andrew H. Wesbrook and Archibald P. Phillips, Trustees.

The Congregational Society of Newport was organized within the Newport Schoolhouse April 5, 1842, with Zael Ward, Selden A. Jones and Davis Donihoo, Trustees. Elisba Jones and Zael Ward presided over the meeting.

The Congregational Society of St Clair elected Reuben Moore, Elisha Smith, George Palmer, Everett Beardsley, Hamilton P. Cady and Samuel Geluter, Trustees, May 9, 1842.

The Congregational society of Port Huron was organized March 27, 1843. John Townsend, A. Botteford, M. S. Gillett, D. Northrup, E. B. Clark and John Miller, Jr., were elected Trustees.

The Congregational society of Algonac was organized May 5, 1845, with Aura P. Stewart, M. W. Brooks, James Burt, Samuel Roberts. Laban Tucker and Horace Biers, Trustees.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Algonac elected Charles Phillips, Silas Miller, Henry Robertson. Daniel Daniels, Peter Tarble, James Miller and Charles L. Poole, Trustees, July 22, 1845.

The First Baptist Church and society of St. Clair was organized June 2, 1849, with H. H. Mather, Rufus Swift and Daniel Stewart, Trustees. M. H. Miles, Rufus Swift and Daniel Stewart introduced the Constitution and By-Laws.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Newport was organized by the appointment of Tubal C. Owen, Isaac Wilkin, Reuben Warner and Hezekiah Clark, Trustees, November 8, 1851. The appointments were made by William Glass, preacher in charge.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Algonac met at the House of D. D. Gillett, January 30, 1855, and filled the vacancies in Board of Trustees by appointment of George W. Owen, 0. H. Reynolds. William Quibble, James Miller, F. C. Folkerts and Fredric Parker, Trustees; Daniel G. Gillett, preacher.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Memphis, Riley Township, was presided over in 1855, by Samuel P. Lee, who, in January 23, that year, appointed George Riggs, George N. Chilson, David Mansfield, John Wheeling and Amsey W. Sutton, Trustees.

The First Baptist Church of Ira was organized September 8, 1856, when E. G. Marks, S. D. Irons and Thomas Ward were elected trustees.

The First Baptist Church and Society of Columbus was organized March 19, 1858, with W. B. Wright, S. A. Fenton, R. S. Freeman, John Eastwood, Manson Farrar, Hiram Hunt, Michael Folts, Joseph Morgan, Harly Hills and Hosea Fuller, Trustees.

The German Methodist Episcopal Church of Newport and St. Clair was organized June 15, 1858, with Frederick Valker, John Reeder, August Helliytag, A. Zimmerman and Carl Drews, Trustees.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Lakeport was organized November 2, 1858, when Solomon S. Littlefield appointed Joseph Y. Pettys, James Bingham, A. P. Sexton, George Wade and Joseph Stephenson, Trustees.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Lynn was organized May 15, 1858, when Rev. Morey Harrington, preacher in charge of Mill St. Circuit, appointed J. A. Cole, John Stonehouse, C. P. Stone, D. S. Evans and William Bettes, Trustees.

The German Presbyterian Congregation of Port Huron was organized October 10, 1859, with Izzard Freund, H. Schmidt, Peter Hill, P. Heinrich Hoffmann and Peter Atwater, Trustees.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Vicksburg was organized November 9, 1859, with Peter F. Brakman, Nelson Mills, Amsley M. Griffith, D. Carlisle and William Smith Trustees, and William Tuttle, pastor.

The First Baptist Society of Port Huron was organized December 5, 1859, with John Lewis, John Howard, J. J. Soaritt, J. B. Hull and Calvin Ames, Trustees. The meeting to organize was presided over by Calvin Ames.

The Pilcher Chapel of the Methodist Episcopal Church was the corporate title of trustees, appointed by Rev. George W. Owen, of the Columbus Circuit, February 8, 1860. The trustees were Charles Simmons, George Fuller, William O. Fuller, Josiah P. Merchant and Samuel Stephen.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Merrilville, in Brockway Township, was organized March 20, 1860, when Rev. Ira H. Chamblin appointed Levi McNeil, William Bettes, Nathan White, Peleg Soule and Jesse A. Cole, Trustees.

The Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of St. Martin was organized at St. Clair, August 5, 1858, with Michael Nehmeyer, John Peldmeyer and Michael Scheierioker, Trustees.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Burtchville was established September 3, 1861, by Rev. William Tuttle, who appointed M. Strevel, W. Boomer, William Wardel, John Mitchell and John Holt, Trustees.

First Evangelical Protestant Church of Casco was organized July 6, 1861, when William Zeutgreve, John Hirt and Andrew Moerschel were elected Trustees.

First Congregational Society of Columbus was formed November 19, 1860, with John S Parker, Henry Quick, Charles Hunt, Robert Ramsey, Michael Felts and Thomas Graham, Trustees.

The Methodist Protestant Church of Capac was organized under Rev. H. W. Hicks, February 15, 1862, when Hugh Morton, Garrison Smith, and P. C. Goodel were elected Trustees.

St. Mark's Church (Protestant Episcopal) of Newport was organized June 20, 1863, with B. S. Horton, A. B. Clough, Aloney Rust, L. B. Parker, T. W. Main, and John Bishop as original members.

German Lutheran Church, St. Martin's Congregation of Cottrellville, was organized February 16, 1864, with twenty-one members, under Conrad Ide, minister, and John Waug, Paul Vollnier, and Frederick Gunnurmer, Trustees.

St. Mark's Protestant Episcopal Church of Marine City, was organized in June, 1865, with A. B. Clough, B. L. Horton, Alexander Gilchrist, Aloney Rust, Joseph Luff and D. H. Westcott, members.

The German Lutheran St. Paul's Congregation and Church, Casco, were organized June 7, 1859, with Aug. Leich, Samuel Spaar and W. J. Schroeder, Trustees, and F. Backman and W. Schroeder, Elders.

Lutheran Evangelical St. Peter's Congregation of China was organized February 24, 1866, with Charles Hoffmeyer, Aug. Hoffmeyer and John C. Roeder, Trustees.

St Andrew's Protestant Episcopal Church of Algonac was organized March 7, 1867, with Thomas F. Perry, Fred. Parker, William Gunniss, Aura P. Stewart, John K. Harrow and John Hansford, original members.

Trinity Church (Protestant Episcopal) of St. Clair was organized April 2, 1867, with Wesley Truesdell, T. W. Bacon, A. L. Padheld, D. Sheldon, John E. Kitton, Uriah Hayden, original members.

The Port Huron Society of Spiritualists adopted a constitution April 24, 1868. The members whose signatures are on record were: D. B. Harrington, L. S. Nobles, S. W. Hamilton, James H. White, J. H. Haslett, H. Kubey, John Buzzard, James Talbot, T. L. Hubbard, C. L. Penney, E. R. Seeley, John L. Newell, W. B. Pace, R. W. Matthews, Megs Jordan, Henry Allen, Stephen V. Thornton, Thomas Dunford, Isaac Hamilton, S. D. Pace, Hiram Hamilton. The ladies who joined this religious body were, Sophia Hoagdon, Eliza A. Dale, Mary C. Reid, M. J. Brown, Mary E. Noble, Emma Young, H. N. Hamilton, L. G. Seeley, Electa Buzzard, Mariah Talbut. Mary Miller, Angel D. Penney, Miss Fannie Kubey, Mrs. M. Sayres, H. F. Allen, Lizzie Pace and Sarah Dunford. The Trustees were John L. Newell, James H. White, J. H. Haslett, James Talbot, L. S. Nobles, Thomas Dunford and C. L. Penney.

The German Evangelical Church of Port Huron adopted articles of association as the "German United Evangelical Congregation of Port Huron," May 10, 1868. The society elected the following Trustees, July 5, 1868, viz.: Peter Hill, Philip Eichhorn, Peter Schweetzer, Aug. Ludwig, Ernst Ortenhurger and Charles Eichhorn.

The Capac Society of Spiritualists organized, September 13, 1868, with the following Executive Committee: Andrew Millspaugh, Charles Ross, Mrs. Charles Ross, Philander Caswell, Miss Harriet Caswell, Mrs. Millspaugh, Samuel J. Finchers, John T. Pomeroy, Hestor F. McKinzie.

The First United Presbyterian Congregation of Port Huron was organized May 10, 1869, with Robert Wilson, P. R. Wright, Edward Cowan, Daniel Robinson and Alexander Stewart, original members.

The First Regular Baptist Church and Society of Brockway adopted articles of association February 7, 1867, with William Ballentine, W. H. Ballentine, Ruth Ballentine, R. Turner, Catharine Turner, Nathan Russell, Waldron Ward, Louisa H. Boyer, first members.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Kenockee elected Samuel Ramsay, Aaron Hulin, Levi Cronk, Thomas Ramsay, and Daniel Dove, Trustees, January 1, 1870.

The Church of Christ, Brockway Center, adopted articles of association March 19, 1870. The members belonged to the Free Baptist Church for seven years previously. The subscribers to the constitution were: D. Brown, pastor; R. \V. Murray and John Broadway, Deacons; A. H. Telfer, George Moffat, Sr., Alexander Lowe, Samuel Carson, George Carpenter, Jacob Murray, H. Phillips, G. Menerey, M. Menerey, Agnes Turnbull, William Young, Doughtery Middleton, Jannette Middleton, R. Scott, T. H. Collins, Ruth Scott, Constance Eastman, W. B. Johnson, Melveney Bartlett, J. Brown, Sarah A. Carson, Nancy A. Broadway, M. Packer, Mary H. Tehpen, Mary Brown, Eliza Menerey, Janet M. Brown. Anne Menerey, Margaret Adams, Susan Carpenter. Mary Phillips, Eliza Menerey, Mary J. Menerey, Anne K. Menoroy, Mary G. Stevens, Mary Young. Mary A. Collins, Alexander Adams, Elizabeth Phillips, Elizabeth Smeats and Isabella Brown.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Wales Township elected James P. Smith, D. Reisch, Bob. Baillie, James Dunning and Abraham Yarger Trustees March 5, 1870.

The Church of Christ of Algonac adopted articles of association in 1871, and elected Isaac Kliene, N. D. Smith and Vincent McCrea Trustees.

The First Baptist Society of Casco was organized March 7, 1872, with Charles Schmock, Fred Schoff and John Brockman Trustees.

The First Baptist Society of Wales Township adopted articles of association January 20, 1872. The Trustees elected were Gallowav Freleigh, A. Dunning and D. Drake.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Grant was organized March 16, 1871, with Aaron Earnest, Charles P. Farr and George Comstock Trustees.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church of China, elected Peter Powrie, Thomas Low, Wonton Tripp, Philander Allen and Ambrose West, Trustees, October 29, 1870.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church of West Berlin elected Trustees April 23, 1872. They were James S. Freligh, F. F. Barber, John Park, James Harrington, Schuyler Jones, T. Stanlake and William Huggett.

The German Aid Society of the city of Port Huron was organized February 9, 1873, with eight members.

The German Evangelist Lutheran Society of Port Huron adopted articles of association February 10, 1873, which adoption was signed by William Ernst, J. F. Ruff, A. Wienert, A Henz and A. Schulz.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Fort Gratiot appointed Raymond J. Wright, Richard Fades, Robert E. French. Don. C. Curtis, Joseph Davis and Felix Towsley. Trustees, March 18, 1873.

The Advent Christian Church Society of Columbus Township adopted articles of association February 27, 1875, which were signed by Ira P. Burke, Norman Young, George C. Stephenson, John S. Parker and O. M. Stephenson.

Salem Church of the Evangelist Association of North America, in St. Clair County, was incorporated December 15, 1874, with "W. H. Hunsperger, President, and J. G. Guenther, Treasurer.

German Evangelist Lutheran Church of Emanuel of Greenwood Township elected Nicholas Vogeler, C. Gruel, John Lepien, Charles Lepien and Fred. Prueness, Trustees, March 1, 1875.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Riley Township was organized February 9, 1875, when "William Burt, W. B. Dayton, Martin Ellenwood, J. Warren, S. Van Valkenburg, were elected Trustees. The members who signed the articles of association were, together with the Trustees, James McMett, Thomas Davis, D. McMett, Hiram L. Dutton, J. L. Vincent, Manuel Ralph, William Dayton, Mary Burt, Jane E. Davis, Eliza Dutton, Julia Valkenburgh, Mary A. Vincent and Eliza A. Ralph.

The Free Methodist Church of Riley, was formed October 4, 1875, when Hezekiah Knight, John Bishop, Albert Henderson, T. Tevill and A. Sunrekee were elected Trustees.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Capac appointed Miles Hagle, James B. Cavenaugh, and Richard Shutt, Trustees, November, 22, 1875.

The First Methodist Episcopal Society of Marine City, appointed Isaac Wilkins, Aaron G. Westbrook, Phineas H. Clarke, Hiram Chambers, Leonard B. Parker, Calvin A. Blood, D. H. Wescott, Thomas Pringle and James Leitch, Trustees, January 18, 1876.

The Church of the United Brethren in Christ of Fort Gratiot, elected Abram B. Flewelling, Merrill S. Jones, Charles Cole, Trustees, December 25, 1875.

The Free-Will Baptist Society of Brockway, recorded its revival January 4, 1876, by the adoption of articles of association. Many of those who formed the Church of Christ, previously referred to, returning to its folds.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Grant elected Cyrus Potter, Paschal Lamb, William Austin, Milton Newbury and Moses Locke, Trustees, February 26, 1876.

The German Evangelist Lutheran Society of St Clair City, adopted articles of association in March, 1876.

The German United Evangelist St. Paul's Congregation of Clyde Township adopted articles of association, August 31, 1875, and elected F. Ulrich, Adam Stein and Fred. Brolomski, Trustees.

The Methodist Protestant Church, Michigan District, with property in Berlin Township, adopted articles of association and elected Trustees, January 7, 1878. Henry Hulbert, George Egerton and William Warner were chosen Trustees.

German Lutheran Congregation of Marine City, adopted a constitution in December,

The Free-Will Baptist Church and Society of Lynn, adopted articles of association, and on July 2, 1879, elected Fred Dohrman, George Locke and John Drennan, Trustees.

The Free-Will Baptist Church of Riley Centre adopted a series of rules for government, and elected Jacob Warren, James McMitt, William Dayton, Jonas Jones and James Forshee, Sr., Trustees, December 8, 1877.

The Christian Church of Grant Centre was organized March 19, 1877, with John McGill, Martin Monroe, Hiram Hayword, James Carey, James Coon, Daniel McKay and Herman Elliott, Trustees.

The Baptist Church of Grant Township was organized November 7, 1879, with Rev. W. S. Barber, Smith W. Downs, Henry Hewitt, Alexander Youngs, and Nathan B. Elliott, a Committee of Trustees.

The first Trustees of the Clyde and Grant Methodist Episcopal Church were Stephen Tibbert, M. Myron, Henry Cook, Henry Kingsley and Dexter Hubbell, known as Trustees of Zion Methodist Episcopal Church, May 31, 1879.

The Trustees for Brockway Centre Methodist Episcopal Church, appointed by I. N. Elwood, Presiding Elder, February 14, 1880, were John Mitchell, John Stonehouse, George Ard, Joseph Redhouse, W. H. York, William Bettes, Archibald Mitchell, John Holden and John Wedge. In November, 1879, Mr. Elwood appointed George Ard, James Keys, J. F. Brown, C. W. Stratton and Henry A. Cope, Trustees of tho First Methodist Episcopal Church of Brockway.

The Church of Christ of Algonac adopted articles of association February 23, 1880. The first officers were: T. B. Scovil, Overseer; Arthur Walderkino, Treasurer; R. Robertson, Deacon and Clerk; David Finkle, Frank Brabaw and Charles Sharp, Trustees.

Methodist Protestant Church of Kimball Circuit, Michigan, with property in Wales Township, adopted articles of association, April 2, 1880, and elected Horace C. Madge, William Hunter, Adrian Tigehon, Peter Galerno and Ebenezer Card, Trustees.

The Methodist Protestant Church Society of Grant Circuit adopted articles of association June 15, 1880. The first Trustees wore Thomas Myron, Louis O'Dell and Thomas Burns.

The German Evangelist Lutheran, St. Martin's Congregational U. A. C, adopted a series of rules for government, September 15, 1880. The officers elected were J. R. Lauritzen, Chairman; Z. M. Netmeyer, Secretary; M. Netmoyer, George. Kruger and Z, M. Netraeyer, Trustees.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church of China elected Thomas Law, William Allington and W. A. Tripp, Trustees, May 7, 1881.

The Free-Will Baptist Church of Capac elected H. P. Stoughton, Nicholas Smith, Richard Scott T. H. Bottomley and William Roy, Trustees. December 29, 1881.

The German Evangelist Lutheran St. Petri Congregation of Ira Township, adopted articles of incorporation in December, 1881. Henry Meyer, John Rassow and Louis Cohis were elected Trustees.

Among the local ministers of early times the name of Elder Warren is prominent. He resided on a farm in the southwestern part of Washington Township, Macomb County. He was not a man of classical education; but of fine natural abilities and tender sympathies, and a very happy manner of expressing them. In the first years of the settlement his services were in requisition far and near as the man most desired to officiate on funeral occasions. His efforts at such times were especially happy, and he became endeared to almost every family by reason of his timely service and kind counsel. The quarterly meetings for many years were greatly indebted to his presence. He was a good singer, and led the musical part of religious service with fine effect. As the years rolled on, men of culture came to supply the pulpits, and gradually, with his declining years. Elder Warren withdrew from the extended and voluntary labors of his earlier years. Elder Warren was the pioneer of Methodism.

Brother Ruggles, of Pontiac, was a man of like heart and labors, though different in manner and expression from Elder Wan-en. He was accustomed to visit this section of the State once every four weeks, walking from Pontiac. He lived to an advanced age, and died while attending a session of the General Congregational Society of Michigan. He was the pioneer of Congregationalism north of Detroit He preached at Romeo in 1828-29, and organized the First Congregational Church there and preached in St. Clair.

Rev. John Taylor was one of the most able, learned and venerable men who settled here in early days. He resided with his son in Bruce, was well educated, refined, genial, and a thorough type of tho old school gentleman. He held Sabbath services at his house for many years. After the establishment of the Scotch settlement, there was a union of religious elements. He often supplied the pulpit in St. Glair County, sometimes for months together, when it was destitute of a minister. After a life of good deeds and words, he died suddenly at his home. In the fall of 1829 or the spring of 1830, Luther Shaw, a graduate from Andover, settled at Romeo. He was the first permanent minister—preaching in the Congregational Church from 1830 to 1834 or 1835. He married Miss Julia Chamberlain in 1831. This lady died at the parsonage in 1835. Under Mr. Shaw's administration, not only did the church at Romeo assume great importance, but also that other one which he attended at Rochester grew in numbers and influence, as well as other societies in St. Clair.

Rev. John B. Shaw, brother of Luther Shaw, came from Utica, N. Y., in 1835, and was appointed pastor of the church here.

Rev. O. C. Thompson was for some time the stated supply between the going of Rev. L. Shaw and the coming of his brother, John B. Shaw.

The memorable revival of 1836-37 began in the church at Romeo, and was conducted by Rev. O. Parker and Rev. P. Barber. All denominations shared in this revival, and the influence was felt throughout the adjacent county of St. Clair.

Reuben R. Smith was one of the early local preachers. He first set himself to work in putting his own house in order, and then he labored with and for others.

John Holland was often called upon as an exhorter to supply the pulpit, when ministers unexpectedly failed to meet appointments. He rendered a religious service which the old Congregationalists of Macomb and St. Clair Counties will never forget.

Stephen Theodore Badin was born at Orleans, France, July 17, 1768,[came to the United States in 1792, was ordained by Bishop Carroll in 1793, and accepted the Kentucky mission in 1794. It is said he was the first priest ordained in the United States. His mission at tho beginning of the nineteenth century embraced as it were the entire Western and Northwestern Territories.

Other ministers mentioned in the foregoing pages and again in the city histories must be considered as pioneers in the work of establishing the Christian Churches in St. Clair and adjoining counties.

Source: History of St. Clair 1883


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