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
worthy of special emphasis.
Tbe Methodist Episcopal denomination was the first to be represented here. Early in December, 1871, Rev. A. L. Thurston, an
M. E. minister, came here aud preacbed 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
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'e Hall, and after the school-house was
built that was used. In May the Presbyterian society was represented here, and 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 fouud a dies of
about twenty-five members.
Nov. 28, 1872, tbe M. E. Society was fully organized ss 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.
In 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 tbe planing-mill for the
siding and flooring."
Again, on June 7, 1878, the piper 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 "so-
rials " was inaugurated in November, 1878, and continued through
the following winter at Earl's hall.
In September, 1873, a new bell was put on tbe 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 was 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 gave
very poor promise for the progress it has made since that time.
The 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 mauy who 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
rapply this want. As a result the church has a parsonage 22x26,
which has cost up to tbe present date $660. It is yet incomplete,
although Mr. Tilden and his family have occupied it since it was
inclosed. Its completion will cost $800, but there is no indebtedness for the work already done. The incomplete tower on tbe
church hss for a year and a half been a sad commentary on the
energy of the chnrch and the public spiriteduess of our citizens generally. But this will no longer smite our consciences. Mr. Tilden'a
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
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 Hollistrr neighborhood. There was no Sunday-school in the charge when Mr. Tilden commenced his pastorate: now there arc two, with 160 pupils, receiving instruction in
divine things through their instrumentality.
"Mr. Tilden has done a noble pioneer work aa 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 as business men
endowed with talents of even a much lower order, would be content.
During the first three months he 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 daring the
past conference year $200."
Since that time the pastors have been as follows: Rev. L.
Dods, W. R. Stinchcomb, W. Barrett, E. H. Day, and G. Daniels.
The sotiety is in a flourishing condition and has about 140
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."
The organization of a society and first services in Earl's Hall
were mentioned in the Years of Nov. 28, 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 N. Smith was received into this
Presbytery from the Congregational Association of Grand Traveras. 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 organised, 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. Tbe 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. 0'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 in 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 effoits."
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 work 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."
Aug. 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.
Rev. 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 Brove.
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 aud 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. Bey. Mr. Beale remains the pastor.
In the winter of 1874 Mr. Mitchell gave lots for the erection
of a Swede church. A building was erected and quite a large society formed, and a few years later another church was built.
St. Anns 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 representation 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.