(Source: The Traverse Region - H.R. Page & Co. 1884
While the foundation of a
prosperous business community was being laid, the moral welfare of the
people was not neglected. In fact, from the first movements at this point to
the present time the liberality with which religious efforts have been
encouraged is worth of special emphasis.
The Methodist Episcopal denomination was the first to be
represented here. Early in December, 1871, Rev,. A. L. Thurston, an M. E.
minister, came here and preached in a log cabin situated near the shore of
the lake and belonging to J. S. McLain. He preached a few times and then
services were suspended until the following spring.
In May, 1872, an
M. E. class was organized with the following members: G.L. Frarier and wife,
Dr. John Leeson and wife, Ira B. Saunders and wife, and William H. Brown.
Services were held for a time in Dillenbeck's Hall, and after the
schoolhouse was built that was used. IN May the Presbyterian society was
represented here, and a=of their particular work we will speak hereafter. In
September, 1872, Clam Lake was set off and designated as one charge and Bev.
A. J. Wheeler sent here in charge of the work. He arrived the Inst.of
September and found a dieses of about twenty-five members.
1872, the M. E. Society was fully organized as a civil corporation, and the
following trustees elected: H.N. Green, Dr. John Leeson, Levi t. Olds, C. B.
Field and Ira S. Saunders. Rev. John W. Miller was presiding elder.
the spring of 1878 a house of worship was begun on a lot donated by Mr.
Mitchell. In April, 1878, the local paper mentioned the progress of the work
as follows: "The progress during the week of the erection of the new M. E.
Church is most encouraging, indeed. Considerable amount has been added
in subscriptions, and lumber is being moved to the planing-mill for the
siding and flooring."
Again, on June 7, 1878, the paper contained the
following: A little less than four weeks ago the first work was done on the
M. E. Church, yet last Sunday services were held there and will continue to
be in the future. Great credit is due Mr. Wheeler, the pastor, for his
untiring work in this good cause. He has labored long, earnestly and hard,
sometimes under peculiarly discouraging circumstances, yet always with the
same determination to succeed in this good work. The people of Clam Lake
should long remember him for the good he has done them in this respect."
The ladies of the church were also active and raised money for
furnishing by giving various entertainments. A series of "socials" was
inaugurated in November, 1878 and continued through the following winter at
In September, 1873, a new bell was put on the church. It
weighed 500 pounds and cost $125.
Rev. W.L. Tilden succeeded Mr.
Wheeler, as pastor, in September, 1878, and remained two years. At the close
of his pastorate in September, 1875, a review of his work and made, which we
give as follows:
When the Michigan Conference of 1878 appointed Rev.
W.L. Tilden to Clam Lake charge, the society was in its infancy and give
very poor promise for the progress it has made since that time.
church then had a membership of but twenty five, and was weak in wealth and
influence. A church edifice had been commenced by the society during the
pastorate of Rev. A.J. Wheeler, and was dedicated shortly after Mr. Tilden's
advent. This edifice cost about $2,500, and at the time of its dedication
there remained an indebtedness of about $900, which was provided for in
pledges. The panic soon came on with its disastrous results, and many how
had made pledges to the church moved away, and in various ways about half
their pledges became valueless, leaving about $600 to be provided for anew.
This is now provided for. Mr. Tilden, on his arrival, found the church
without a parsonage, and took steps to remedy this want. As a result
the church has a patronage 22x26, which has cost up to the present date
$660. It is yet incomplete, although Mr. Tilden and his family have occupied
it since it was enclosed. Its completion will cost $800, but there is
no indebtedness for the work already done. The incomplete tower on the
church has for a year and a half been a sad commentary on the energy of the
church and the public spiritedness of our citizens generally. But this will
no longer smite our consciences. Mr. Tilden's last financial operations were
to collect $126 for the completion of the steeple, and calcimining the walls
of the interior, which is greatly needed. This will leave the church in good
condition in all its material interests, holding property free from debt,
valued at nearly $4,000.
The church has made large progress in its
spiritual interests and in numbers. Two years ago the church numbered but
twenty-five communicants, now there are ninety-seven. Of this
increase, fifty are converts and the balance have united by letter.
The past winter was signalized by revivals both in the village and at the
branch society in the Hollister neighborhood. There was no Sunday-school in
the charge when Mr. Tilden commenced his pastorate: now there are two, with
160 pupils, receiving instruction in divine things through their
"Mr. Tilden has done a noble pioneer work as the
above very flattering record of the past dearly shows, and he has done it in
the face of difficulties from which most men would have shrunk. He has done
it on compensation with which none of us a s business men endowed with
talents of even a much lower order, would be content. During the first three
months the taught school in addition to his other labors, and received $300
in all shapes from the congregation and $200 missionary appropriation. The
past year the missionary appropriation was $175 and he has received from the
church about $500, including house rent. Besides the salary the church has
paid for incidental and running expenses during the past conference year of
Since that time the pastors have been as follows: Rev.
L. Dods, W.R. Stinchcomb, W. Barrett, E.H. Day, and G. Daniels. The society
is in a flourishing condition and has about 140 members.
The Presbyterian denomination was
first represented at Clam Lake by Rev. J. Redpath, now a resident of Boyne
Falls, and who has done a large amount of pioneer work in the Traverse
region. About the last of May, 1872, Mr. Redpath came here and first
preached in the open air in front of the Mason House. July 6, the local
paper contained the following announcement: "Rev J. Redpath, of the
Presbyterian Church, has been commissioned at this place for a year. This
will please the people of the place, as his work so far has shown him to be
an earnest and faithful Christian worker. He is highly esteemed as a
gentleman and a preacher, and will have the co-operation of all."
organization of a society and first services in Earl's Hall were mentioned
in the Years of Nov. 1872, as follows: "The Presbytery of Grand Rapids held
an adjourned meeting in this village, Nov. 14, 1872. In the absence of the
moderator and clerk, the Rev. J. B. Hall was elected moderator, pro tem,
and Rev. J. Redpath, clerk. Rev. George M. Smith was received into this
Presbytery from the Congregational Association of Grand Traverse. Two
churches were also received, the Old Wing Mission and the First Presbyterian
Church of Concord. These churches are mostly composed of natives. The First
Presbyterian Church of Clam Lake was organized, consisting of fourteen
members. A hall has been secured as a place of worship. Measures have
already been taken to erect a church the coming season. The following
gentlemen were elected officers and trustees according to the laws of the
state of Michigan: "President, George A. Mitchell; secretary, H. F. Hay;
trustees, George Shackleton, L. O'Harris, William Bennett, Thomas Whaley,
Tobias Born, Charles Potter, George Halbrook, William Carrie.
"Religious services were held in the new hall over C.B. Earl's building,
last Sunday, for the first time. The usual services were held in the morning
and the evening it was dedicated by the Rev. J. Redpath, in a sermon of much
power. Alluding briefly in the course of his remarks to the work he came
here to accomplish, he stated emphatically that it was no merely sectarian
one, that his aim was to make Christians and not members of his church.
He concluded by giving a cordial invitation to all to attend the services
which will continue to be held there during the winter. Since he has been
here, Mr. Redpath has been an indefatigable worker, laboring in season and
out of season, and has good reason to be proud of the success which has
crowned his efforts."
About the first of June, 1873, the foundation
of a new church building was laid, and work begun on the superstructure. The
lot was donated by Mr. Mitchell.
About two weeks after was commenced
the "News" contained the following: "On Thursday evening a large force of
men gathered at the Presbyterian Church to put the timbers of the basement
together. They worked hard, but it became late before the work was
completed; and then somewhat more than a million mosquitoes having gathered
upon each individual, there was a general abandonment of the work until
Friday evening, when the job was completed. The work on the church building
will now be rapidly pushed to completion."
Aig. 16 it was announced
that "the Presbyterian services will hereafter be conducted in the basement
of their new church until the audience room is completed. The Sunday-school
will also be held at the church at the same hour as formerly; the basement
being all finished except plastering, it will be quite as convenient as the
hall where services have been held heretofore."
The basement was used
for the next year while the audience room above was being finished.
In October, 1874, the church was finished, and at the dedication Rev. Mr.
Redpath slated the cost of the Presbyterian Church to have been about
$5,000. Of this sum $750 was secured from the Church Erection Society, of
New York, and the balance was raised by private subscription.
Mr. Redpath was succeeded by Rev. A. Marsh, who remained until 1883, when he
was succeeded by Rev. James Lamb, the present pastor.
The bell for
the church was purchased in 1877,
The Free Methodists were first represented in
the county by Rev. J.G. Witham, who organized a society in Colfax in 1878.
In the summer of 1875 Rev. L.D. Russell came to Cadillac, then Clam Lake,
and organized a society with about thirteen members. A house of worship was
built by the help of persons outside the society. The pastors have been,
Revs. L. Owen, A. Madge, C. McKay, M. DeVoist, E. Cook, Watson and F. A.
Smith. A parsonage was built during Mr. McKay's pastorate, and another
during the pastorate of Mr. Smith. The society has now about fifty members.
There are also societies at Colfax and Cherry Grove.
The Congregational society dates
from June, 1882, at which time Rev. C. H. Beale came here and began to hold
preaching service in the opera house. In January, 1883, a society was
organized with Jacob Cummer, N.L.Oerrish, J.G. Mosser, E. F. Sawyer, and F.
H. Messmore trustees. There were about thirty members. The following June a
house of worship was begun which was finished and dedicated Dec. 14, 1888.
The cost of the church property including parsonage was $8,500. The church
or ecclesiastical society was organized Nov. 11, 1888, with twenty-eight
members. Rev. Mr. Beale remains the pastor.
the winter of 1874 Mr. Mitchell gave lots for the erection of a Swede
church. A building was erected and quite a large society was formed, and a
few years later another church was built. St. Ann's Catholic Church was
begun in 1881 by Father Ziegler, of Traverse City. The first resident priest
was Rev. Marenus Willigan, who came in 1883, and finished the church
building. The parish now numbers about eighty families.
Other denominations have occasional services in the city. The Baptists have
quite a reputation in the city, but at the present time there is no society
in active operation.
EARLY SUNDAY-SCHOOL WORK
Early in the summer of 1872 a Union Sunday school was organized by H.N.
Green, and successfully conducted through the summer and fall. In December
the school was divided and the Methodist and Presbyterian Societies each
carried on separate Sunday school work.