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Hundred Years Of Service Of First Methodist Church Traced For Centennial

 

By MRS. GEORGE L. HOLLICK, published in the Ludington Daily News
(First Installment)
This December, First Methodist Church is commemorating the completion of 100 years of Christian Service in this community.
According to a copy of “History of Manistee, Mason and Oceana Counties" published in 1882, now in possession of Mrs. Paul Erickson, is the following record of the beginnings of this church:
First Church Organization in Mason County
“The-Methodist Society was the first church organization within the limits of Mason County, excepting an Indian Church ... Much of its earliest history is contained in the following record, made by the Rev. L. M. Garlock, the first pastor in charge of the work. His record is as follows:
"'Pere Marquette circuit was organized in the fall of 1885, and Rev. L. M. Garlock was appointed its first pastor. Part of the territary was formerly embrassed (sic) in the Pentwater charge, which was set off to this new work, and the society received by transfer, nine members, with which it started its mission.  Having no parsonage to live in, and not being able to hire, the attention of the pastor was first drawn to the necessity of building a parsonage.  A subscription was started Oct. 15, 1865, and a house sixteen by twenty-five feet was begun. This was completed all but lathing and plastering, so that I move into it Dec. 25, 1865. During its construction, I worked with the carpenter during the week, and on Sunday I would ride on an Indian pony from 20 to 30 miles, preach three times and come back home again on Monday morning. After moving into the house, I dug a small cellar and banked the house, working at this through the day and lathing in the evening.
Six Appointments
" 'The work was first organized with six appointments viz.: Riverton, Claybanks and Pere Marquette one Sunday and Pere  Marquette Settlements, Bird settlement:-and Lincoln the next; each place having preaching every other Sunday.
" 'Sometime in January, having heard of a settlement on the Big Sauble River, which has no preaching, I visited the place and arranged for meetings once in four weeks, though it was 22 miles from Pere Marquette. During the year, a class of eight was formed at Big Sauble settlement and William Freeman was appointed its first leader and steward. Classes also were formed at the Clay Banks, Riverton, Pere Marquette and Bird settlements. Although a year of hard labor and close fare, yet God has graciously favored us with an increase in Zion, for which we would return his our grateful thanks, praying that the little one may become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation.'
"Rev. Garlock was followed by Rev. G. A. Phillips in the fall of 1867, and Pere Marquette circuit was divided so that Bird settlement (now Victory Corners) and Big Sauble settlement (now Free Soil) formed one circuit, and Clay Banks, Riverton, Flory's and Ludington another. The later circuit had a membership of twenty-three.
Circuits Changed
"At the annual conference in 1869, Rev. H. H. Hull . . . . . was appointed pastor of Pere Marquette circuit and Riverton and Clay Banks were made into a separate circuit. Pere Marquette circuit was made to consist of Ludington, Lincoln (then the county seat), Flory's settlement and Pere Marquette settlement (now Rice Schoolhouse).
"Rev. H. H. Hull was succeeded by Rev. A. H. Gilbert and he by Rev. William Heysett, who came in the fall of 1870. When he came the Pere Marquette (now Ludington) society consisted of only seven members. Mr. Heysett established the first Sunday School, increased the membership in Ludington to 15 and raised $2,000 toward the building of the first church. This was done during his one-year pastorate;
"Rev. Mr. Heysett was succeeded in the fall of 1871 by the Rev. G. L. Mount, who erected the present church edifice and added, $200 to the amount, previously raised. The church edifice was completed the following year at a cost of $4,746.
"Rev. Mount was followed by Rev. Burton S. Mills in the fall of 1872, who increased the membership to twenty one.
Incorporated In 1876
"Up to 1876 the society had never been incorporated and there was virtually no organization. During this year the society was incorporated under the name of Methodist Episcopal Church. The first trustees were: Dr. A. P. McConnell, M. A. Kniffin, T. H. Wright, J. H. Conrad, C. T. Sawyer and Thomas Ash.
"The present membership of the church numbers eighty six.
"The parsonage has been twice burned, the last time in the great fire of 1881, and has not yet been rebuilt."
All the above facts found in the "History" are substantiated by the records of the church which are in the church files.
According to an article published in The Ludington Daily News, Feb. 28, 1952, and written. by Rose D. Hawley, the first religious meetings in this county were held at the home of. "Jeremiah and Alamanzo Phillips, one of three families to come to Mason County in 1841. They were the first to take the initiative to hold Gospel services in this territory. . . so it was in the home of Dora Hull's parents, over the clay banks, that their home was the nucleus for worship, in the neighborhood."
In 1867; Rev. Daniels enlarged the Methodist services by starting a Sunday School in Fourth Ward which was the nucleus for the Jefferson Street Methodist Episcopal Church, better known· as Fourth Ward Methodist church, located at Third and Jefferson streets. The parsonage was the first house north of the church. Both are still standing. The church building, known for years as Polish Hall is now Ludington Century Club. This church was discontinued in 1913 and members transferred to First Church.
Present Church Dedicated in 1895
When, in 1892, the original church was found to be inadequate, a new church was planned; the comer stone laid in 1894 and the present church was completed and dedicated March 3, 1895. Cost of the church was $12,500 without furnishings. A pipe organ was installed in 1909 and chimes were added later. Memorial windows in the church were placed there by Thomas Short, the builder. One of the windows was his gift in honor of his parents.
 
 
 
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