Churches

 

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH. (Prepared by the pastor, Rev. F. B. Cressey, and read at the Semi-Centennial or Jubilee services, October 20, 1874)  At the beginning of this sketch it should be stated that a similar work was attempted two years ago by Rev. W. L. Sanders, then pastor of the church. It being quite essential that a history of the church should be read at this time, the present pastor, at the special request of the appropriate committee, has attempted a re-writing of the previous sketch, making such corrections and additions as seemed to be called for.

With these preliminary remarks, the inquiry now is, When was this, the earliest Baptist church in Michigan, organized? The great rallying cry of the hour, " The year of jubilee has come," would indicate that it was- just fifty years ago; but this is a mistake, for in reality we to-day celebrate the fifty-second rather than the fiftieth anniversary of our existence as a church, and as a denomination in this State. Under date of the 9th instant, Mr. Nathan Douglass, of Smyrna, Michigan, an uncle of our sister, Mrs. T. F. Gerls, writes, " I was baptized by the Rev. Elon Galusha, then pastor of the Baptist church in Whitesboro', New York: and remained a member there for eight years. My father's family were very intimate with him during that time. In the fall of 1822 he made a missionary tour to the west, came as far as Pontiac, and constituted the church there. In June, 1823, I visited Pontiac in company with my father, Rev. Caleb Douglass, who preached and broke bread to the church." These statements are in strict accordance with those made by David Benedict in his " History of the Baptists," and also with those of Deacon Elias Comstock, of Owosso, who came to Detroit in May, 1823, and whose father, the Rev. Elkanah Comstock, became the first pastor of Pontiac church in the summer of 1824.

And here it should be recorded that both Elders Galusha and Comstock were sent out, and the latter for some time supported, by the New York Baptist Missionary Society, -that organization to whose generosity so many of our early Baptist churches owe their existence. From a paper of reminiscences furnished by another son of Pontiac's first pastor, Mr. E. B. Comstock, still living in our midst, we learn that at that time (1824) there were but two or three buildings on Woodward avenue, Detroit, north of Jefferson avenue, and that where the post-office now is was then a field of corn.

"The forest was cut back from the river about half a mile, where the wolves each night held their jubilee."  Coming on to Pontiac, he found here not more than eight or ten families, two hotels and one store,-the room of the latter being about eighteen by twenty-five feet in size. North of what is now Huron street there was nothing but bushes, save that the land back of the Presbyterian church was occupied by woods. Aside from the improvements made by somebody's bush scythe, the land upon which we now worship, as well as all this side of our chief business street, was very much as the first settler found it.

From a letter written (since the jubilee) by Mrs. Abner Davis, we are able to lift the curtain between ourselves and the past, and behold some of the precise circumstances under which Michigan's first Baptist church was formed. Mrs. Davis says,

"Our farm lay one mile east of where the court-house now stands. We settled there in June, 1822. A few weeks after we moved in we heard there was a meeting appointed two miles south of our house, for the purpose of forming what few Baptists there were into a church, to be recognized as such at some future day. I told my husband I would like to attend the meeting. He thought it a long walk for me, and said he would go with me, for I could not go alone. The first obstacle we met was the Clinton river, there being no bridge. A tree had fallen from a high bank, slanting down across the river. I said I would go back, but he said no, he would help me across. He broke a long stick for a cane, which I took in my right hand, he taking hold of my left, and succeeded in reaching the other end in safety. The first mile there had been a wagon through, --the second there was nothing but blazed trees to guide our steps. The meeting was held in Deacon Gibbs' house, which was a frame building with one room. The outside was covered with wide, rough oak boards, and there was a loose floor, with no fireplace, the cooking being done by the side of a log in the door-yard. In this house the Baptist church was organized. Mr. Douglass opened the meeting. He had a sheet of paper partly written over, which he read.

"It was in the form of Articles of Faith and Covenant, --I think the only ones the church had' for several years. We assented to them, and had our names recorded: David Douglass and wife, Deacon Gibbs and wife, Mrs. William Philips, Mrs. Lemuel Castle, Miss Drusilla Castle, Dr. Ziba Swan, Judah Church, Amos Niles, Mrs. Enoch Hotchkiss, Deacon Orison Allen, and myself. Some weeks after, I don't recollect how many, I heard that Elder Galusha was in the Territory, and would preach at the same place, and recognize us as a church. The little house was filled. I have no recollection of there being much ceremony. The ordinance of the Lord's Supper was not administered at that time."

In addition to the constituent members named by Mrs. Davis, Deacon Comstock gives those of Deacon Allen's wife, Dr. Swan's wife, and Joseph Lee and wife, in all, eighteen. The meetings continued to be held at Deacon Gibbs' house for a year, when they came to the school-house, and then to the court-house at Pontiac, with covenant-meetings at Deacon Allen's. Of the constituent members only one remains connected with us, Mrs. Davis. Occasionally we see her as she visits among, her relatives, where she is spending the latter years of her long, and useful life. All will regret the failing health which prevents her from joining us to-day.

The earliest records of the church having been lost, we are left in perplexing ignorance as to its condition for the first four or five years of its existence.

From the minutes of the first session of the Michigan Baptist association, the first formed in the Territory, which was held June 2 and 3, 1827, we learn that Pontiac church then had thirty-eight members. During the previous year there had been baptized one, received by letter five, dismissed three, and died one. The delegates to the association were Elder E. Comstock, Deacon Shubael Atherton, and Brother Henry Stevens. Three other churches -- Farmington, fourteen members; Stony Creek, forty-six members; and Troy, forty-one members-composed the association. These four churches were represented by a total of fourteen delegates, and Mr. Comstock was the only ordained minister present. There was only one other ordained minister belonging to the association, Elder Moses Clark, of Farmington, but he is marked as absent. In the association were also two licentiates. Lemuel Taylor, of Stony Creek, and John White, of Troy. This association adjourned to meet at "Stony Creek on the first Wednesday in June, 1828, at ten o'clock A.M.  Elder E. Comstock to preach the introductory sermon, Elder Henry Davis his substitute."

The earliest records which we have been able to secure bear date "1 Saturday, February 2, 1828." After renewal of covenant, a letter of dismissal was given Sister Harriet Park, formerly Harriet Thomas. As an illustration of the practical piety of those days, Deacon Atherton, and Brothers Lee and Taylor were appointed to assist Sister Church in finding a place for her children. The first of the next month "heard the experience of Mr. John Galloway and his wife Alinda, and received them as candidates for baptism; when baptized to become members of the church."  This was for years the peculiar form of record for all members received by baptism.

April 5, Heman Thomas was received for baptism..

Appointed meeting for the 14th inst., "to attend to employing E. Comstock to preach for the ensuing year."

About this time it was unanimously voted to pay the elder for his next year's labor, one hundred dollars; one-third of the amount to be in cash, the rest in produce. At the covenant-meeting of May 3, William Thomas, Willard Thomas, Sally Hotchkiss, and Abina Alward were received for baptism. June 2, a committee was appointed to sit in council with Stony Creek church, --object not stated.  Also, there were received for baptism Calvin P. Webster, Elias Comstock (son of the pastor, now of Owosso), and Betsey Weed.

"Appointed a meeting at Auburn on Thursday, 22d, for baptism." 

May 31, Lovina Calhoun, Laura Thomas, and Leonard Weed received for baptism.

June 1, Enoch Hotchkiss received for baptism, and Sisters Union Smith and Amelia Mead received by letter.

June 15, "received a request from the Ypsilanti church (which for some time existed as a branch of Pontiac church) to sit in council to give them fellowship as a church."  Elder E. Comstock, H. Stevens, and J. Southard, delegates.

July 5, received Sister Betsey Tibbals by letter, from Greece, New York, and received for baptism John H. Morrison. This name, Morrison we all recognize as belonging to our brother who has recently resigned an eight years' pastorate at Holly.

From these extracts it will be seen that the first half of the year 1828 was a time full of growth and encouragement to the then little band. In the spring of 1829 the church began to be much agitated on the subject of Freemasonry. A committee reported "that we entirely disfellowship the institution of Freemasonry." Vote afterwards reconsidered, and matter continued till December, when a stronger resolution of condemnation was passed. Several exclusions resulted.

In March, 1830, the trial of a brother for slandering the pastor was brought to a close by his signing a paper of some length denying the reports he had circulated, which paper was addressed to all the churches of Michigan association, with a request that it be read in their public meetings on the Sabbath.

About this time Elder Comstock was afflicted by the death of a dear daughter, and in the following February he drank that bitter cup which comes through the loss of one's companion in marriage. Not long after the decease of his wife he resigned the pastoral charge of the church, perhaps in September, 1831.

From this time his health gradually declined, and two years afterwards he went to New London, Connecticut, the place of his nativity, with the hope that a change of climate might benefit him. But the Lord's time of reward was near at hand, and on the 13th of May, 1834, our first pastor joined the church triumphant. As soon afterwards as circumstances permitted, appropriate commemorative services were held in Pontiac, and a funeral sermon preached to a crowded assembly. And here we, as a church, may well make pause over the memory of Michigan's first Baptist pastor. His ate was nearly sixty-three years, thirty-two of which were spent in the work of preaching Christ. He met with many trials and during his residence in this then wilderness endured privations which none of us can ever know; but in all these experiences he was constant for the Master. Let the memory of his labors and sterling worth prove an incentive to us who have succeeded him!

Elder Comstock was succeeded in the pastorate by Rev. Aristarchus Willy, who began his labors October 2, 1831, his salary to be "what they pleased to give him."  On the second of the following month ten brethren and sisters unitedly asked letters of dismission, that they might organize a Baptist church at the village of Auburn, some four miles distant. Request granted, and church recognized on the 30th prox.; but its formation was evidently a mistake, to say the least. Its existence was very sickly; indeed, it is doubtful whether it ever had a pastor. Elders John Martin and Starkey preached there occasionally, though without being settled as pastors. Elder Martin is now (1874) living at Ovid, while Elder Starkey, father of our sister, Mrs. Mary Pittman, has long since deceased.

Elder S. Goodman also preached for the congregation at various times. A small house of worship was built, which, after standing about two years, was burned. In 1837 it reported to the association a membership of twenty-eight; in 1838 it made no report, and the next year disbanded. In January, 1832, a committee was appointed to consider the wisdom of building a house of worship, to draw plans, make an estimate, and circulate a subscription list. Although the amount pledged reached four thousand dollars, nothing resulted, and the Baptists of Pontiac were compelled to continue worship at the expense of the county.

In November, 1833, Mr. Willy resigned the pastorate, and on the 2d of the next month be was succeeded by Rev. Stephen Goodman.  Brother Goodman having  spent the closing years of his life in Troy, only seven miles from us, where he died in the summer of 1873, is well remembered. Unusually well versed in the Scriptures, he was enabled to do work in defense of the truth which others are compelled to neglect. His pastorate continued less than two years, and Rev. John Booth succeeded him in May, 1836. Of Mr. Booth we can here say but little, but he is spoken of as one of  "Michigan's Baptist backbone pioneers." 

As to the condition of the church, the absence of all records. from March 9, 1832, to October 14, 1837, prevents our speaking in detail. The fact, however, that the church was ministered to by such men as Goodman and Booth, induces the conviction that there was then enjoyed at least "a good degree of prosperity."  To Rev. S. Chase, of Detroit, we are indebted for the information that Mr. Booth entered the service- of the Michigan State Convention, after its formation, in September, 1836, probably in the winter of 1836-37.

In connection with the ministry of Mr. Booth, it is of great interest to know that in February, 1836, our Brother Chase, just mentioned, was commissioned by the American Baptist Home Mission Society to preach the gospel in Pontiac and vicinity, at a salary of one hundred dollars. By reason of the great obstructions to travel in that early day, be did not reach here until the May following on the first Sabbath in which he preached in the old court-house. He, however remained but inasmuch as the church was negotiating with Elder Booth, of whose coming mention has been made. These facts make Brother Chase's presence with us to-day one of peculiar interest and pleasure.

The next pastor was Rev. Gideon D. Simmons, of Adrian, who began labor October 14, 1837. Immediately after Mr. Simmons' settlement, the most powerful revival ever known in the history of Pontiac swept over the place, blessing all the churches with large and important additions. Not a few of the more prominent citizens were converted. In the Baptist church a meeting of fourteen days was held, a partial result of which was the baptism of thirty persons on the first Sabbath of January, 1838. The covenant-meeting at which these persons were received was held in the academy building, then standing where the old Presbyterian house of worship now is. This building is now occupied by the Catholics. Among the candidates then received were Abner Davis, Francis Darrow, Joseph R. Bowman, and John D. Mills. During this revival our present deacon, O. G. Stewart; was also led to a public profession of faith in Christ.

One of our covenant-meetings about this time was held in the Congregational house of worship, which had been finished nearly four years previously. 

At the meeting of the association in the following autumn, the additions by baptism for the year then ending were reported as being sixty-six, and by letter nineteen," bringing the total membership of the church from sixty-three up to one hundred and twenty-three. The revival of 1837-38 evidently brought the church from the weakness of childhood to the strength of maturity.

During this same winter a committee was appointed to visit a sister for not using a letter which had been granted her. A request was also received from another sister, asking a letter, in order to unite with the Presbyterian church. " On consultation, it was granted, showing her moral character."

In February of the same year (1838) the report of a committee appointed to draft Articles of Faith and Practice was accepted, and an additional article annexed declaring the "positive institution of the Lord's Supper." It seems that this same work, in regard to the Articles of Faith, was performed six years before, but the reasons for its being repeated do not appear. And here it may be stated, though in so doing we anticipate a little, that the Articles of Faith again received the special attention of the church in 1854, and were then, together with the Covenant, and certain Rules of Order, printed in small pamphlet form by Phelps & Stevens.

By reason of the increased strength consequent upon the revival of 1837-38, the church determined to arise and build, the society having been through all the previous years of its history without a house of its own.

The following copy of the subscription list will show the energy with which the matter was handled, and also who were the prominent friends of the undertaking. It should be borne in mind, however, that a number contributed whose names do not appear in this connection.

"We, whose names are hereunto subscribed, do promise to pay to the Baptist society of the village of Pontiac the several sums set opposite our respective names, for the purpose of building a meeting-house for said society. Said house to be located in the village of Pontiac:

  Paid
 
  Paid
Francis Darrow * $ 200   Randolph Manning * $ 100
O. Allen *   100   Elias Comstock   100
A. H. Peck   100   Joseph Lee *   100
E. B. Comstock   200   G. O. Whittemore *   100
Abner Davis *   200   Moses Fifield *   100
Samuel L. Mills   100   Judah Church *    50
Daniel LeRoy *   200   I.  Paddock *    30
S. C. Munson   100   Asahel Fuller, one gray horse     --
E. H. Buddington     50   Franklin O. Jones     25
Silas White 50   J. R. Bowman 50
Orrin Warriner * 20   Henry Butts * 40
David I. Prall 15   John P. Le Roy * 25
John Southard 100   C. Callon 25
B. Eggleston * 25   J. A. Weeks, in glass 5
Erastus Francis 15   James Davis 25
S. N. Gantt * 55   Joseph Voorheis * 15
C. Beardsley 100   George Vowell 10
A. Spear * 5   Charles Porter 10
A. Lockwood * 5   Dudgeon & Hamlin 5
Ira Donelson * 5    
Rufus Cram * 5  
Total 
$2520
H. C. Thurber 5    

In connection with the building of our house of worship, prominent mention should be made of the securing of the unusually eligible and valuable lot on which it stands.  For this lot we are indebted to the generosity of the Pontiac Company, by whom our village was located.  This organization gave the land to our since deceased brother, Orison Allen, and for the benefit of the Pontiac Baptist church, March 14, 1838.  By Brother Allen and wife it was deeded to the trustees of the church, February 26, 1839, the deeds being of such nature as to permit the church to occupy or dispose of the property as may at any time be thought best.  Yet further it should be placed on record, that as a church we are under special obligations to the late Hon. Randolph Manning for the great interest taken by him in procuring the title to the lot.  Judge Manning, though not a member of the church, was for many years its most prominent society member, paying largely towards our expenses, and in other ways aiding us in securing the strength we now possess.  His decease occurred in August, 1864.

Rev. Mr. Simmons seems to have remained less than a year, inasmuch as in the minutes of the association held at Walled Lake, October 10, 1838, the church reports herself destitute of a pastor.  He was succeeded by Rev. Joseph Elliott.  Of Mr. Elliott's ministry we have, unfortunately, only meager knowledge, inasmuch as the church records for that period are lost.  We are, however, in possession of two very important items: the one that he visited the east in behalf of the church, where he collected about four hundred and fifty dollars for their house of worship, then building; the other, the baptism of Rev. Miles Sanford, who came from the pastorate of the Pontiac Methodist Episcopal church.

After surmounting very great obstacles by manifesting a consecration which always makes an undertaking successful, the church was permitted to dedicate this their first and only house of worship (save that it was enlarged some years later) in the spring of 1841.  Mr. Elliott's ministry here began May 17, 1839, and closed February 8, 1841.  He was succeeded by Rev. Miles Sanford (now Rev. Dr. Sanford, of Salem, New Jersey). Mr. Sanford's pastorate dates from June 6, 1841, to May 7, 1843. Resolutions which were passed upon his resignation testify to the high esteem in which he was held. He baptized twelve. Mr. Sanford seems to have immediately become editor of the Michigan Christian Herald, then published at Detroit. While here he was under the appointment of the American Baptist Home Mission Society, being paid by them for the year 1842 one hundred dollars. The year following they paid him at the rate of sixty dollars per annum. Dr. Sanford died at Salem, New Jersey, October 31, 1874. In the records of the same month mention is made of a committee "appointed to present the call of this church to Elder John I. Fulton." 

June 18, 1843, a communication was received from the Baptist conference at Clarkston, requesting brethren to sit in council for the purpose of giving them fellowship as a church.

On the 6th of August following a committee reported that "Brother Kelly will remain with us three months at a salary of four hundred and fifty dollars per annum." Of this Brother Kelly we have no particulars save that he was a young man.

On the 6th of January, 1844, Abner Davis, Abel H. Peck, and Daniel Hubbell were elected deacons. In the same month Rev. Geo. W. Harris and wife united with the church, and Brother Harris preached for the congregation during the following four or five months, they being at that time in correspondence with Rev. James Pyper, of Unadilla. Mr. Pyper began pastoral labor with the church on the second Sabbath in May following. After serving two years at a salary of four hundred dollars he accepted an invitation to remain "for life," and his salary was increased to five hundred dollars, with a promise of yet further increase if necessary.

March 28, 1846, after a special effort of some six weeks, thirty-five candidates were received for baptism, among whom the present recognizes the names of Don C. Buckland, William Millis, Samuel M. Stelle, Wm. B. Frederick, Solon B. Comstock, and Rebecca Albertson. The following week (April 4) fifteen others were received for baptism, among them Richard P. Frederick and Thomas Smith.

Notwithstanding he was settled for life, Mr. Pyper saw fit, very much to the regret of the church, to resign in September, 1848, and accept a call to Toronto, Canada. It is worthy of record that Mr. Pyper tried to resign in November, 1847, in order to accept the editorship of the Michigan Christian Herald.

In August, 1848, Elias Comstock and Dr. Amos Walker were elected deacons. Dr. Walker declining, B. Eggleston was elected in his stead. The same month it was made a standing rule of the church that all church expenses be raised by assessment. After much troublesome experience, at the end of eighteen months this rule was rescinded. In 1848 there were still outstanding a few unsettled claims against the church on account of building expenses.

September 25, 1848, a call was extended to Rev. Mr. Fyfe (now Dr. Fyfe, of Woodstock, Canada) to become pastor, at a salary of five hundred dollars. October 5 it was voted that the pastoral committee be continued. Rev. C. Adams, of Milford, was present, by invitation, and the question of calling him was debated, but finally negative. The committee were then instructed to confer with Rev. John I. Fulton. November 12, Brother Fulton was present, and a call to the pastorate, at a salary of five hundred dollars, was extended him. Again, on the 26th of the same month, a committee was appointed to procure a pastor.

On the 4th of December, Rev. C. F. Frey was invited to supply the desk, at five dollars per Sabbath. "Father Frey," as the people delighted to call him, as we learn from his daughter, Mrs. Albertson, was desirous of accepting the pastorate; but he was compelled to decline on account of age and infirmities. He, however, supplied the pulpit at intervals, and proved a rich blessing by his presence, his counsels, and his prayers. He became a member of the church July 3, 1847, uniting by letter from the First Baptist church of New York city, signed by that other honored man of God, Rev. Spencer H. Cone. Father Frey quietly awaited his heavenly Father's time until June 5, 1850, when he was permitted an entrance into that rest which is so delightful to the time-worn disciple of Jesus. His age was seventy-nine years, over fifty of which were spent in the ministry. As is well known to many of the older members of our denomination at large, Father Frey was a Jew by both birth and education. When about thirty-three years of age his religious views underwent a change, and he became a convert to him who was crucified on Calvary. His intellectual power is attested by several published volumes, which remain to instruct and help those in trouble concerning the Messiahship of our Lord.

In the previously-published historical sketch, mention is made of Rev. John Mitchell as having succeeded Mr. Pyper; but no record of him appears on the books of the church, though some of the older members remember him. It is thought, however, that he remained only six months, and by some that the date of his services places him before Mr. Pyper.  Rev. Thomas H. Facer was also here for a few months about this time.

In December. 1848, correspondence was had with Revs. Wines and Mason, of Union Village, New York, with reference to the vacant pastorate.

In January, 1849, delegates were appointed to aid in recognizing the Milford church. In the same month the deacons were instructed to inquire into reports touching certain members dancing and visiting the circus, and it was resolved that such exhibitions were greatly demoralizing in their tendency, and members were " affectionately advised" not to countenance them. September 17, 1849, delegates were appointed to assist in organizing a second Baptist church in Detroit. March 2, 1850, delegates were chosen to sit in council with Stony Creek church, relative to the ordination of Rev. Edward Tenney. February 9, 1851, delegates were chosen to sit in council with Mount Vernon church, relative to the ordination of brother Zenas Colman. February 18, 1849, a call was extended to Rev. Samuel Cornelius, Jr. The letter by which he and his wife, Lucy S., were received to membership is dated at Tecumseh, Michigan, and signed by Deacon Isaac Adams of that church. His salary was four hundred dollars, and his labors were successful. In a series of meetings he was assisted by Rev. Morgan Edwards, the noted revivalist, and by Rev. S. Chase. Forty-two members were added by baptism as a partial result of these meetings.

Mr. Cornelius resigned April 1, 1851, and is now (1874) in the ministry at Indianapolis, Indiana. During his ministry here he was afflicted by the loss of his wife, who was a daughter of the Baptist foreign missionary, Evans, a woman of unusual culture and power, and still most affectionately remembered.

Rev. John Bray next became pastor, settling April 27, 1851, and resigning March 2, 1852. His salary was four hundred and fifty dollars, and during his pastorate he baptized three persons. Like his predecessors, Harris and Cornelius, and his successors, Pattison, Mather, Hickox, Remington, and Sanders, he sent words of affectionate remembrance, which were presented at the Jubilee Reminiscence, on Sabbath, the 18th instant. Mr. Bray is now (1874) practicing medicine, and preaching, as opportunity presents, in Washington, D. C.

June 20, 1852, a call was extended to Rev. Alfred Handy, who came to us from Holly, Orleans county, New York. The records do not indicate any additions to the church by baptism during his pastorate. He remained only a year, and took letters of dismission June 4, 1853.

It is thought by some who were then members that Mr. Handy went from here to Flint, and, after several years up the lakes, perhaps to Sault Ste. Marie. He has since deceased.

For three weeks after Mr. Handy's retirement the pulpit was supplied by Rev. C. A. Jennison. (Since our Jubilee meetings the widow of Mr. Jennison, now residing in Grand Rapids, writes that her husband died of consumption at Fort Adams, Mississippi, in July, 1859, aged thirty-eight years.)

October 9, 1853, Mr. C. R. Pattison settled with the church, at a salary of four hundred and fifty dollars. On the 10th of the following month he was ordained. The following March, fifty-one, out of a total membership of one hundred and thirteen, were reported as having been absent from covenant-meeting for three or more successive months, and a committee was appointed to visit them. Mr. Pattison resigned August 1, 1855, having been permitted to baptize three. He is now (1874), and has been for ten years, editor of the Ypsilanti Commercial. Having decided on the profession of a journalist, he resigned his office as a minister in 1866, though still engaged, so far as very poor health and his journalistic labors permit, in active work for the Master.

In March, 1855, it was decided to have preaching Sabbath afternoon as formerly, instead of prayer-meetings.

The winter following, afternoon preaching was discontinued and evening preaching substituted. At this time, and for some four or five years previously, scarcely a church-meeting was held without there being on hand some case of discipline. The church rule was very strict. Members of other Baptist churches living in the neighborhood for six months without uniting were, by vote, denied its privileges.

In February, 1856, Dr. A. Walker and Ira D. Smith were elected deacons.

After Mr. Pattison, Dr. J. Pyper was recalled to the pastorate, receiving the cordial welcome of the church December 2, 1855. His salary at this time was fixed at seven hundred dollars. Some five months afterwards it was decided to celebrate the Lord's Supper every week, though the decision was not according to the judgment of some. It was during this pastorate that the church was under the painful necessity of withdrawing the hand of fellowship from one of their deacons, for declaring doctrines utterly at variance with the revealed truth of God as we understand it. Dr. Pyper resigned April 26, 1857, and went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is now (1874) living at Unadilla, Michigan, whither follows him the highest respect of those to whom he once ministered.

April 3, 1858, delegates were appointed to sit in council with the Macomb church, relative to the ordination of Brother Martin Hayden. At the same meeting it was determined to hold meetings every evening of the following week, an invitation being extended our " Congregational brethren to unite with us." Twenty-two baptisms resulted during the next six weeks.

July 31, 1858, delegates were appointed to aid in recognition of East Saginaw church.

October 1, 1859, the pastor was present at the laying of the corner-stone of the new edifice of Tabernacle Baptist church, at Detroit.

The next pastor was Rev. A. E. Mather, of Romeo, who began his labors May. 17, 1857. Mr. Mather's salary was at first fixed at eight hundred dollars, from which it was voluntarily increased by the church, as the cost of living advanced, to twelve hundred dollars.

In January, 1859, it was decided to enlarge the house of worship by an addition of twenty-two feet, and to improve it by changing the pulpit from the front to the rear of the house, and by facing the pews accordingly. As the house was then repaired and improved so we worship in it to-day, save that the old pulpit-desk has, through the liberality of Brethren E. J. Walker and T. W. Dowling, been supplemented by the beautiful one now in use. During these changes the meetings were held mainly in the court-house.

February 2, 1861, delegates were appointed to counsel with the Baptist church, Detroit, relative to ordination of John Matthews.

November 3, 1861, the pastor was appointed to counsel with the First church, Detroit, relative to the ordination of their pastor, John Griffith.

February 2, 1862, delegates were appointed to assist in recognition of the French Baptist church, Detroit, Rev. R. B. Desroches pastor.

June 29, 1862, delegates were appointed to assist in recognition of Oxford church on the 2d of July following.

January 11, 1863, David L. Prall, who had led the choir for nearly twenty-four years, resigned, being about to remove to East Saginaw. Appreciative resolutions regarding him and his services were placed on record.

On the 11th of May, 1861, Deacon Abner Davis died, a bereavement which the church will never forget. He was a member for twenty-three years, and deacon for nineteen years.

And here we may very appropriately speak of other deaths, the omission of which would render this sketch imperfect. As already stated, one of the constituent members was Orison Allen, then thirty-eight years of age, he having settled in Pontiac, January 19, 1819. He was one of our first deacons, which office he held for nearly fifty years. In some respects he may properly be styled the "Father of the church," so long, faithfully, and laboriously did he give himself to her interests. He was a godly man. In January, 1871, the age and infirmities of earth were exchanged for the youth and vigor of heaven.

One of Deacon Allen's daughters was our sister, Mrs. J. R. Bowman, also one of Pontiac's earliest inhabitants. Mrs. Bowman experienced religion when about twenty years of age, and was one of the thirty already spoken of who were baptized into the fellowship of this church the first Sabbath in January, 1838. The faith then secured in Christ was genuine, and so there resulted a life of Christian service, which was beautiful by reason of its symmetry and its long continuance. Sister Bowman suddenly passed away in February, 1872.

We next make mention of our Sister Walker, wife of our beloved and long-tried deacon, Dr. Amos Walker. Her life was filled with good deeds for the Master. The memories of her life are full of preciousness. Sister Walker died in February, 1866. She was preceded to the spirit-land by her son, Dr. Abel Walker. Perhaps no young man has ever died in Pontiac so universally loved as this brother. True it is that few were ever more ardent for the Master. There are others, of whose lives, and the vacancies which their deaths occasioned, we would gladly speak; but there is only space to say that by their examples we should be led to truer lives.

In September, 1862, Mr. Mather was appointed chaplain of the Twenty-second Regiment, Michigan Volunteers, and was absent a year. His place was most acceptably supplied by Rev. George H. Hickox, now chaplain of the prison at Jackson. His labors were of comparatively short duration, yet quite a number remember him as the one who led them to Christ. Failing health compelled Mr. Mather's resignation, June 30, 1866. Resolutions of respect and sympathy marked the close of this, the longest pastorate in the history of the church. His number of baptisms was fifty-nine.

Rev. Robert A. Clapp, of Stillwater, New York, became pastor at a salary of one thousand dollars, September 13, 1866, and resigned May 20, 1868. He baptized three.

Rev. William Remington, of Sparta, Wisconsin, became pastor, at a salary of twelve hundred dollars, September 13, 1868. He baptized seventy-three here and eight at Birmingham, where he organized a church. He resigned after a labor of two years and a half.

Rev. W. L. Sanders, of Milford, began his pastorate August 29, 1871, and ended it with March, 1873. During this pastorate our esteemed Brother Sherman was ordained to the work of the gospel ministry, and left us to labor among his long down-trodden brethren in the south. The present pastorate began April 1, 1873, and closed April 1, 1877. The additions during Mr. Cressey's pastorate have been one hundred and thirty, of whom fifty-four were by baptism.

Thus, brethren and sisters of this church, and of our denomination in the State, we have followed the history of Michigan's first Baptist church. It is a history of trials, many trials, but also, and best of all, a history of success. Never has God forsaken the little ones, and to-day we are permitted to rejoice over more than four hundred souls baptized into its membership, and many thousands brought by the same ordinance into Michigan's (now) three hundred churches, with their twenty-two thousand communicants.

THE SABBATH-SCHOOL.-The Sabbath-school was originally organized in the summer of 1837, by Miss Elizabeth Barbour, who invited the children of Baptist families, and those not attending school anywhere, to meet her at the court-house. The first superintendent was J. H. Morrison; teachers, Miss Elizabeth Barbour, Miss Julia Ann Barbour, Miss Mary Darrow, and C. C. Rood.

Some time afterwards the school was removed to the academy building, and in 1840 to the basement of the present Baptist house of worship. In May, 1841, the teachers were Mrs. Stannard, Elizabeth Barbour, Roxey Sherwood, Jeannette Knox, Lydia Vaughn, J. R. Bowman, E. E. B. Comstock, and J. J. Hosmer. The scholars at that time numbered seventy-six.

On the 10th of April, 1853, a record of the school was first opened. Mr. Morrison resigned the superintendency after a short term of service, in order to prepare for the ministry, and was succeeded by Abel H. Peck, who probably held the position, except when occasionally relieved by S. M. Stelle, until the re-organization in 1852, when Dr. A. Walker was chosen.

In April, 1856, A. G. Benedict succeeded Dr. Walker, and in June, 1859, he was succeeded by Pastor Mather, who continued fifteen months, and gave place to Dr. S. J. Fulton. Dr. Fulton was succeeded by Dr. A. Walker, who continued until January 1, 1871, when his son, Dr. E. J. Walker, became his successor, and still continues.

The first record made of assistant superintendent was in 1853, when Deacons Daniel Hubbell and John Southard were elected. Morgan L. Drake filled the position from 1860 to the time of his death, in April, 1865. After this the office was vacant for two years, when it was filled a year by J. D. Holmes, and afterwards by Samuel Ingham. These were followed by C. B. Standish, who filled the position until his removal to Hudson, in June, 1871.

H. J. Gerls was elected to the office for 1872, and Professor Charles Chandler for 1873 and 1874, who served until his removal to Granville, in August, 1874. The librarian's record first appears in 1853, kept by the superintendent for a year, when he was succeeded by Abel W. Walker. In 1862, Wm. S. Albertson took charge, and two years later Charles B. Standish, who also served two years, when Mr. Albertson again took the position, and has held it since, except in 1871, when J. H. Prall acted.

The office of secretary was created in 1860, and filled for eight years by J. R. Bowman, who also kept an account of moneys contributed. January 10, 1859, H. V. Holmes was chosen, and served two years, when he was elected to the office of recording secretary. H. J. Gerls succeeded him, and held the office one year. During 1872 and 1873 it was filled by W. S. Albertson, who also acted as librarian. H. J. Gerls held it during 1874.

J. R. Bowman acted as treasurer until December 25, 1870, when he was succeeded by F. M. Wheeler, who resigned in the spring of 1874, and was succeeded by his brother Melvin, who shortly afterwards resigned, when it was returned to F. M. Wheeler.

The following persons have acted as assistant librarians: for 1869 and 1870, J. H. Prall and Charles E- Baldwin; for 1872, M. Hemingway and Frederick Millis; for 1873, Elmer Brown; for 1874, Elmer Brown and Charles Millis.

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH .(By Deacon A.P. Frost.)  This church was organized February 6, 1831, at the house of Samuel Bent. 'The record says, "The following persons, professors of religion, having met at the house of Samuel Bent, in Pontiac village, and chosen Rev. I. W. Ruggles moderator of the meeting, entered into covenant to walk together in the bonds of the gospel, and by the Rev. Mr. Ruggles were organized into a church, to be governed by the discipline of Congregational churches, viz., Samuel Bent, Mary Bent, Mary K. Bent, Mr. Rhinehart, Mrs. Rhinehart."  At this meeting Articles of Faith and Covenant were adopted. On the 2d of July succeeding, the church met at the court-house. Rev. George Hornell and Rev. I. W. Ruggles were present. Samuel Bent was elected deacon.

Mr. Ruggles was one of the "pioneers in this county, and when the county was new he traveled from place to place on foot, preaching the gospel and encouraging Christians amid the trials incident to a new country. Mrs. Bartlett, Mrs. Ruggles (wife of Rev. Mr. Ruggles), Mrs. Amasa Bagley, Stephen Reeves and wife, Mrs. Munson, and Mrs. Olmstead were received by letter from the Presbyterian church, then located at Auburn. Mrs. Butts was received by profession.

July 10 was the first communion season. November 12, Mr. Wm. Gilmour was received, by letter, from Manchester, England; James Miller, from Hanley, Scotland; and Mrs. Susan Wesson, from a Congregational church in Hinsdale, Massachusetts. For the year ending December 31, eleven were received beside the original members. None of these are now members. In 1832 seventeen members were received. Of this number who were well known and will now be remembered, we may mention Deacon L. Brownson and wife, Mrs. Governor Richardson, Mrs. Dr. Thompson and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Pier, Mrs. Judson, and Mrs. Mack, none of whom are now members.

April 17, 1833, L. Brownson was chosen deacon, and in July, Rev. Robert McEwen commenced preaching, under the patronage of the A. H. M. Society. During the year ten persons were received; of these, Mrs. Dr. Chamberlain, Levi Dewey and wife, and Mrs. Hitchcock will be remembered. None are members at this time. February 19, 1834, the church was received under the care of Detroit presbytery, upon the "plan of Union." On the 11th day of May, the record says, the church dedicated the first building erected in Pontiac for the worship of God. Signed, R. McEwen, Moderator.

Jacob N. Voorheis, who was received in April, was elected deacon July 6. Mr. McEwen resigned October 18, and December 27, Rev. Aaron Williams was invited to preach, and accepted; he was assisted by the A. H. M. Society. Of twenty-two received this year only one remains, Mrs. John Clark, an aged Christian; of those who were received and have since died we may mention Seth Beach, Mr. and Mrs. Morris, Mrs. Morrison, Deacon Voorheis and wife, John Clark, and Joseph Voorheis and wife.

As we pass over the years and the numbers received are increased, we shall not be able in this paper to give all the prominent names, as we have in the early years of our history.

August, 1835, Rev. Mr. Williams resigned; in 1836, Rev. Wm. Page preached here a short time during the winter, and quite a number were added to the church; among these was Wm. Draper, Sr. In the spring of 1837, Rev. Wm. Page accepted an invitation to supply the pulpit. Weston Frost, who was received in 1836, was elected deacon. In September, Mr. Page resigned on account of ill health.

In 1838, Rev. L. B. Bates commenced preaching for us early in the season, and Rev. O. Parker, an evangelist, labored here during the winter. Ninety-four were received this year; among these were many of the old citizens; only seven of these remain. In June, 1839, John M. Smith was elected deacon; Stephen Reeves resigned the office of clerk, and Mr. Geo. C. Holmes was appointed.

In February, 1840, Mr. Holmes resigned, and H. C. Knight was elected clerk. Mr. Bates left in the spring or summer; the record does not show the date. E. T. Raymond was elected deacon. In 1841 the pulpit was supplied by several different ministers until October 3.

Rev. M. N. Miles, of New York, was present, and soon received a call to become our pastor; the call was accepted, and he was installed by the presbytery. Dr. George Duffield preached the installation sermon. G. O. Whittemore was elected deacon in place of Raymond, dismissed.

January 9, 1842, several members who had requested letters of dismission to the Presbyterian church at Auburn were dismissed. This church had received several members from them in 1831, and now after ten years, when they were about to establish their church in Pontiac and make it a working church, they received several from us who preferred the Presbyterian mode of government. Mr. Seth Beach was chosen clerk in place of H. C. Knight, resigned. August 2, Mr. Beach resigned and A. P. Frost was chosen, and has served the church to the present date, 1877.

April 7, 1843, at a meeting of the church and society, Mr. Miles asked to be released from the pastoral relation, and his request was granted. He is now an aged man, and resides in Des Moines, Iowa. About this time Rev. Albert Barnes, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, whose wife had friends here, preached for us one Sabbath. Rev. Matthew Meigs supplied the pulpit for a term, and received a call to. become our pastor, but in 1843 declined, on account of ill health. On his recommendation, the church invited the Rev. Nathaniel West to supply the pulpit.

September 1, Mr. Ithimar Smith --an aged father in the church-- died very suddenly. He served his country for a time in the Revolutionary war, and was permitted to take Washington by the hand. At the time of his death he was eighty-eight years of age. In June, 1845, church met and heard a sermon from Dr. Beaman, of Troy, New York. Mr. West received a call to become our pastor, but on February 2, 1846, the call was withdrawn, by mutual agreement and consent of presbytery. His son, who was in the university at Ann Arbor while his father was pastor here, is now an eminent minister of the Presbyterian church. Mr. West died some years since in New York.

March 28, Rev. O. D. Hine commenced preaching as stated supply. In the fall, Mr. William Barbour, who had been an active and useful member of the church and superintendent of the Sunday-school, was drowned near Lake Superior. For some weeks during the winter Professor Finney, of Oberlin, labored here.

In 1847 and on through 1850, forty-six persons were received into the church; of these only six remain.

August 31,1851, was the last Sabbath of Mr. Hine's labors here; he had been with us five and a half years.

In 1852, Rev. H. A. Reed commenced preaching in September.

In 1854 an attempt was made to unite the Presbyterian and Congregational churches which failed. June 18, Mr. Reed preached his farewell sermon. October 15, the board of trustees were requested to invite Rev. A. H. Fletcher to supply the pulpit, with the understanding that he should be installed if his labors proved acceptable. The invitation was accepted, and, early in 1856, a call was presented to him to become our pastor. The call was accepted, and October 24 was fixed upon, by mutual agreement, as the day for the installation service. Dr. H. D. Kitchell, of Detroit, preached the sermon.

January 5, 1856, Messrs. O. R. Adams and A. P. Frost were elected deacons.

May 3, 1857, the communion season was rendered very interesting by the presence of our former pastor, Mr. Hine, who was cordially welcomed by our then pastor.

May 30, voted to dissolve our connection with presbytery. Resolutions were -passed with regard to the sudden death of Father Ruggles, who had labored so faithfully in this church and in the region around, for thirty years or more.

August 10, Mr. Fletcher tendered his resignation, and a council was called to consider the matter, and, after full discussion, declined to advise his release. The last of the year he again resigned, and his resignation was accepted, to take effect the 1st of April ensuing. The relation was dissolved by a council called for the purpose at Utica. Thus terminated the pastoral relation, but the influence of the truth faithfully preached and of a godly example produced abundant fruit in the revival that followed.

April 14, 1858, Dr. Kitchell and Rev. Mr. Wastell were present, and April 17, Mr. Wastell was present again to conduct the examination of candidates.

May 1 and 2, Rev. Noah M. Wells, of Detroit, was present, and administered the sacrament. Twenty-eight years before he was present one Sabbath, while the church was yet feeble and few in numbers, and now, after he bad passed the age of threescore years and ten, he was here to rejoice with us that so many of our friends and children had given themselves to Christ. Forty-three persons united with the church. "Bless the Lord, what a sight!" exclaimed the aged man, as this large number arose to enter into covenant with the church. With joyful hearts and tearful eyes we communed with the Master and with each other at his table.

Rev. G. M. Tuthill was invited, and commenced preaching in June. There is nothing of special interest-except to members of this church to speak of here during the years 1859, 1860, and 1861.

In 1862 the communion season was appointed for the 1st of August, to give the members of the church who were in the Twenty-second Regiment an opportunity to be present before leaving for the south, and with some this was our last meeting, on earth, for within a few months many houses were draped in mourning, and many hearts were filled with sorrow.

April, 1863, resolutions were passed in. favor of building a new house of worship. The death of Deacon Whittemore was noticed. He was not then a resident of Pontiac. Rev. Mr. Fletcher, our former pastor, was invited to spend a few weeks with us, in the absence of our pastor. He was here in the time of severe sickness to speak words of comfort and consolation to many afflicted families.

Deacon O. R. Adams died Monday morning, October 5. In his death the church lost one of its most active and useful members. Judge Amasa Bagley died the next day. He was widely known as one of the earliest settlers in this county.

In the year 1864 many youth were added to the church. Rev. Mr. Tuthill closed his labors, and Mr. Fletcher was invited to remain for a year.

December 9, 1865, Mr. Joseph Voorheis, an aged member of the church, and one of the early settlers, died.

December 17, the pastor preached a historical sermon, as it was the last Sabbath in the old church building. The exercises of the evening were peculiarly interesting, and many eyes filled with tears as we passed out of the house where so many tender memories clustered.

January 5, 1866, Messrs. E. H. Bristol and John P. Wyckoff were elected deacons, thus filling the vacancy occasioned by the decease of Messrs. Whittemore and Adams.

May 28, Mrs. Ruggles, wife of the late Rev. Isaac W. Ruggles, died. She was an aged and faithful member of the church, and during the life of her husband she was his faithful companion and helper in the work in which he was engaged.

July 24, Deacon Luman Brownson died. His death made a vacancy not easy to fill. For a long time he had been waiting for the summons that should call him home.

August 12, Mrs. Nancy Bagley died. She was the wife of Judge Amasa Bagley, whose death has been noticed.

The three persons whose decease is mentioned above were among the oldest members of the church, and their loss was, deeply felt. Our Sabbath service was in the court-house, and continued there until the new church was finished.

April 2,1867, Mr. Z. B. Knight was elected deacon, to fill the place of Deacon Brownson. Near the close of the year Mr. Fletcher's resignation was accepted, to take effect the 1st of April following.

June 7, 1868, Rev. C. C. McIntire accepted an invitation to supply our pulpit. November 8 the lecture-room of the new church building was occupied. The action of the society with regard to building a new house of worship may here be noticed. After some preliminary meetings, July 25, 1865, the society voted to proceed to erect a house of worship. Shortly after this Messrs. W. H. Jennings, O. C. Morris, George H. Smith, and Z. B. Knight were appointed a building committee. The contractor and builder was Johnson S. Prall.  The contract price for building was twenty thousand two hundred and fifty dollars. After considerable delay and the extension of the time, the building was finished, and on Wednesday, December 23, 1868, it was dedicated. Sermon by Rev. Mr. Hough, of Jackson. Rev. Messrs. Williams and Quick were present, and assisted in the service, after which the pastor made the formal dedication. Rev. Mr. Hoyt, of Port Huron, preached in the evening. The house was supplied with an organ built for the purpose.

In the year 1869 the church enjoyed the labors of a faithful pastor, and was spiritually prospered; but a debt on the church building remained to be paid. Another effort was made to unite the Presbyterian and Congregational churches, which failed, and the members of this church and society gave liberally towards the payment of the debt, and secured pledges to the entire amount. In 1871 many members were still anxious to unite the churches, believing that all the strength of the two was needed in order to support the gospel. A plan of union was agreed upon by a majority of the two committees, but the presbytery would not consent to any change of government on the part of the Presbyterians, so the matter was dropped, with perfect good feeling on the part of both churches.

July 29, Deacon F. H. Bristol died. In all that related to his duties in the church and elsewhere he was a faithful man, and his loss was deeply felt. The labors of Sir. McIntire ceased the 1st of June.

The pulpit was supplied by Dr. Hurd and others until January, 1872, when Rev. S. O. Allen was invited to preach, and accepted the invitation, with the understanding that he should remain if there was mutual satisfaction.

March 1, Messrs. E. L. Taylor and Charles Thatcher were elected deacons.

December 31, annual meeting and social reunion, at which time all the absent members and old friends were invited to be present. The occasion was one of unusual interest.

In 1873 our pastor was absent front July to November, on account of ill health. His place was supplied by Revs. Mr. Ladd, Mr. Scott, and Professor Christie, of Kelltucky, Dr. Duffield, and Rev. Mir. Hunt.

January 18, 1874, Mr. Allen resigned, as there was not entire unanimity with regard to his stay. He had been the means of much good, especially among the young people. The pulpit was supplied by Dr. Duffield and others until July 1, when Rev. J. Homer Parker commenced preaching for us.

In 1875 the interest among the young people continued.

On the 6th of January, 1876, Rev. Mr. Parker tendered his resignation. to take effect the last Sabbath in February; the main reason being ill health. The resignation was accepted, and resolutions with regard to his faithfulness were passed. Sabbath, February 6, Mr. Parker preached an appropriate sermon for the forty-fifth anniversary of our existence as a. church, and in the evening a history of the church was read by the clerk. Messrs. Waldron and Draper followed, speaking of their early experience in coming to Michigan, and W. A. Frost spoke of the work in the Pine lake district, in which the church has been interested for years, and Florus Barbour spoke of the young people's prayer-meeting, which has for a few 5 years been an interesting part of our service.

March 5, Mr. Parker was with us at the communion for the last time before leaving for another field of labor.

In May another unsuccessful effort was made to unite the churches; still, in all Christian works there never has been a time in Pontiac when these churches, and indeed all Christian churches and pastors, were as well united as for the past two or three years; so that while the two churches have not been made one outwardly, there has been a real union of heart and effort in the great cause in which all are engaged.

June 18, Rev. W. H. Utley preached for us, and was invited to remain with us, and August 11 voted to extend him a call to become our pastor, and February 11, 1877, the call was renewed. February 28, this call was presented to a council called for the purpose of ordination and installation. Mr. Utley having given an affirmative answer, the council proceeded to the ordination and installation service. Sermon by Rev. Mr. Ross, of Port Huron.

Since the first, eight hundred and thirty-two members have been received, and there have been one hundred and twenty-five deaths of those who were known. About fifty have left without letters; of these many may not be living, --they are not reported in our regular list. The number of members on our regular list at this date, June, 1875, is two hundred and thirty-eight. The following is a list of the pastors of the church since its organization:

 

 

DEACONS

 

 SABBATH-SCHOOL.--The first Sabbath-school in Pontiac was a union school, composed of teachers and scholars from the Presbyterian, Congregational, and Baptist churches. The first superintendent was a Mr. Birge, of the Presbyterian society. After him were Elias Comstock, a Baptist, and in 1836 Deacon W. Frost was superintendent, and there were teachers and scholars also from the Methodist society. The various denominations organized separate schools as fast as they erected houses of worship.

Superintendents of the Congregational schools

The school was not strictly a denominational one until 1837-38. The number of scholars and teachers on the roll has varied since a record has been kept from thirty to two hundred.

A RELIC.--In this connection we give a copy of the original document containing the ordination of Rev. Isaac W. Ruggles, for which we are under obligations to a gentleman in Pontiac:

"Application having been made to the moderator of Union Association by the South church, in Bainbridge, for assistance to ordain and install Mr. Isaac W. Ruggles as pastor of that church, a council, convened agreeably to a rule of association, met on the first day of February, 1820, at the house of Deacon Calvin Stowel, in Bainbridge, for the purpose above mentioned. Ministers present: Rev. Joshua Knight, moderator, Rev. Asa Donaldson, Rev. Charles Thorp. Delegates: Chester Hammond, of the Second church, in Sherburne, and Deacon John Stoddard, of Coventry.

"Council opened with prayer, and proceeded to business. Brother Thorp was chosen scribe. Rev. Joel Chapin and licentiates Solomon G. Ward and John B. Hoyt being present, were invited to sit with the council. A call of the church and society for Mr. Ruggles to settle with them in the ministry, and his acceptance of the same, were laid before the council.

"The council then proceeded to examine Mr. Ruggles in regard to his doctrinal and experimental knowledge of the Christian religion and other qualifications for the gospel ministry. The council then voted to proceed to the ordination of Mr. Ruggles at the meeting-house to-morrow at ten o'clock, and that the exercises be performed as follows:

"Brother Ward lead in the introductory prayer; Brother Knight preach the sermon; Brother Chapin offer the consecrating prayer; Brother Thorp give the charge; Brother Donaldson give the right hand of fellowship; and Mr. Hoyt offer the concluding prayer. Adjourned with prayer.

"February 2.-The council convened at the meeting-house according to appointment, and ordained Brother Ruggles to the pastoral office,--the several parts being performed according to the above arrangement.

"The council then adjourned without day.

 A short notice of Rev. Isaac W. Ruggles seems to be proper in this connection:

He was born in Connecticut in 1783, and became a convert to Christianity I when a young man. He was educated at Yale college, mostly through his own hard-earned means, and graduated in 1813. He studied divinity, and was ordained in the ministry, February 2, 1820, in Chenango county, New York, where he was settled over the Congregational church at South Bainbridge. He remained there about four years, when he was sent to Michigan by the Home Missionary Society, in 1824.

He settled at Pontiac, and had charge of the denomination throughout the county of Oakland. Here he labored with that zeal which is the proof of faith in the high character of his work. For his services the society allowed him one hundred dollars per year, and to add to his scanty means he and his wife, whom he married about 1826, opened a school.

A large lot was presented him in Pontiac, and the young men of the place built him a dwelling. Major Williams furnished him with a fine assortment of apple-trees-which have since grown to giant dimensions-from his farm in Waterford, and the settlers generally contributed liberally of their means for his support. He ceased from active labor about 1845, and died at Owosso while attending a convention of the church, in May, 1857, deeply regretted by the people of an extensive region.

THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. (by Rev. J. M. Gelston) The history of the older churches of Michigan reads like the story of a pioneer settler. It is interesting to sit beside these specimen types of the early days and listen to their tales of the " olden time." Fifty years ago the country was almost completely covered with a dense growth of heavy timber. Here and there, at intervals, a solitary settler had made a beginning and opened a " patch" of land in the forest to the sunlight of heaven. The nearest neighbors were miles apart; mills were few and far between, and it often took four or five days to go to mill and return. But the early immigrants to this country were full of indomitable pluck and energy, and in spite of fever and ague, they planted their settlements, cut away the forests, made their improvements, and were happy. Many an old settler can testify that the happiest days of his life were passed in his humble log cabin in the woods.

This is a pioneer church: Michigan was yet a Territory when it sprang into existence, and it grew to the age of thirteen years before the State of Michigan was received into the Union (one year older than Christ was when he first went up to the temple at Jerusalem). The first Presbyterian church of Pontiac was organized by Rev. E. W. Goodman, a home missionary, at the house of Mr. John Voorheis (The former husband of old Mrs. Hartwell, still living among us.) in the town of Bloomfield, on the 26th of February, 1824.

The Saviour had twelve disciples at the beginning of his ministry. There were thirteen gathered here, and organized in his name. In a country so new and thinly settled, the professing Christians were obviously not many, nor very near together. There was, in fact, only here and there one, scattered through the surrounding country, and these, coming, in some instances, a distance of twenty miles or more, united with this church. In order to reach all classes the minister traveled from one district or neighborhood to another, very much after the fashion of a circuit-rider, holding frequent meetings and administering the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

If, on some pleasant Sunday morning, an ox-cart, such as might have been seen fifty years ago, filled with men and women of the old regime, in plain, homespun clothes, with bonnets and hats (not exactly a la mode) to match, should drive up to the entrance of this modern sanctuary, its fashionable audience would, no doubt, adjourn to the outside and look on the strange spectacle with wonder and astonishment. But this feeling would be mutual, for the vaulted ceiling, the stained glass, the velvet upholstery, and the costly garments of the worshipers would appear no less wonderful and surprising to these unpretending people.

The growth of the church was at first very rapid. Though starting with only thirteen members, it had increased in nine years from the date of its organization to a membership of one hundred and five. The old records plainly show that this great increase was mainly due to the rapid filling up of the county by immigration from the older eastern States.

With the growth of population new centres of trade sprang up, and there was soon a demand for additional churches. Around these new centres were living many professing Christians who had been members of this church. As trade and business increased in these new places, many of the former members of this church received letters and organized independent churches more convenient to their places of residence. In this way some of the most flourishing Presbyterian and Congregational churches of Troy, Rochester, Birmingham, Wing Lake, and Farmington have sprung from this as their mother church. For a period of thirty years this congregation was so heavily drained from this cause that, in spite of constant accessions, its membership fell off from one hundred and five to sixty-five.

Some idea of the condition and hopes of this church forty years ago may be formed from a sketch of Pontiac. At that time the place consisted of one tavern, three or four small stores, a blacksmith-shop, and about forty houses; and it is whispered that the emissaries of the Prince of Darkness had their abode in the embryo city. Certain it is that at one period the place bore an unenviable reputation. Under such circumstances the Christian population encountered many difficulties, but they remained steadfast, and the present morality and prosperity of the place are largely due to the influence of the gospel in shaping and giving direction to the life of the people.

The first Christians of this place, whether of this church or some other, who battled against overwhelming odds, scarcely understood the great work they were doing. Its results were not measured alone by the rolls of the church, but by the sum total of those silent influences which permeated the whole community, controlling and shaping the future. Had the gospel been driven out in those early days and never permitted to return, Pontiac might possibly have been no more habitable to-day than the jungles of India, but instead a place fit only for the habitation of human lions, tigers, and hyenas. To-day, as we look around upon our beautiful city, we too often forget how much of this prosperity we owe to the fact that the gospel has been preached here from the earliest times.

In its earlier years Pontiac had a rival which many thought would eventually become the county-seat and take the precedence. This was the village of Auburn, which has long since passed away. The only relic of its former greatness remaining is a dilapidated building once occupied as a tavern, but now the dwelling-place of owls and bats.

In 1835 a majority of the members of this church lived in or near this village, and in order to accommodate themselves (and probably with the consent of the others) the church was removed to Auburn, and the name changed to "Auburn Presbyterian church." 

Four years previously (in 1831) certain members, who preferred the Congregational form of government, took letters of dismissal and organized a Congregational church, and this was the origin of that denomination in this city.  By the removal of the Presbyterian church to Auburn this new enterprise was enabled all the better to secure a good footing, while, as events subsequently proved, the growth of this church was not accelerated thereby.

In 1842 it was again removed to Pontiac, and resumed its former name.

On the 2d of February, 1845, this church, which had heretofore been connected with Detroit presbytery (New School), was transferred to the Michigan presbytery (Old School). Time has shown this to be an unfortunate step for the growth of the church; for as long as this state of things continued many Presbyterians, who came with letters from other churches in the east and elsewhere, chose rather to unite with some other church.

In the old records is found what is styled "A Brief History of the Church from its Organization in 1824 to 1860," in which we are informed that within the time specified there were employed, as settled pastors or supplies, twelve ministers, and in concluding the writer quaintly adds, "We learn that this is the oldest (Presbyterian) church in Oakland County, and the parent of many others, who are to-day in a flourishing condition. It erected the standard of the cross when all this country was a howling wilderness. It became a light shining in a dark place, and was the means of leading many to a saving acquaintance with Christ. It has encountered the storms of poverty and obloquy, but remains a monument of God's goodness, and of the truth of the promise that the 'gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

From 1860 to the present (1877) the church has had five ministers, and the membership is now treble that it was at the first-named period. In 1860 there were fifty members; to-day they number one hundred and fifty. But it would be unfair to estimate the actual increase during this period by these figures. The number added is really much greater than this. The increase as shown by these figures is over and above the losses by deaths and removals. The church has suffered severely from the latter cause. A few years ago Pontiac numbered a thousand people more than it does at the present time. Trade was prosperous, and the town was growing rapidly, but, as in the case of many other places, it was an abnormal growth, resulting from inflated prices, and Pontiac has shared in the general depression consequent upon a return of business to legitimate channels. Many people have removed to other parts of the country, and the various churches have not only suffered financially, but have been largely depleted in numbers. In the case of this church this is plainly seen by a glance at the church roll, which is disfigured with "removals."

A few years since the rolls showed over two hundred members; now, in spite of a goodly number of additions in the mean time, we can show only one hundred and fifty, whereas, were it not for removals, the number would be two hundred and forty-five. Indeed, saying nothing of the original membership, and counting - Presbyterian. only the additions since 1860, the church ought to-day to have one hundred and ninety-nine members. But, notwithstanding all these drawbacks, the church has continued to live and grow, and to-day has reason to praise God.

The salaries paid have varied, according to circumstances. In 1828, Rev. George Hornell received three hundred dollars. The highest amount paid has been two thousand dollars.

There have been two church buildings erected by the society,-both of brick, but, unlike the temples at Jerusalem, the glory of the latter house is greater than that of the former.

The work of the church under the five ministers who have served here since 1860 is shown in the following statement: Rev. James H. Jennison served four and a half years, and received into the church during his pastorate twenty-six on profession and sixteen by letter, making a total of forty-two. Rev. W. H. McGiffert served also four and a half years, and received fifty-eight by profession and thirty-six by letter, making a total of ninety-four. Rev. W. J. Parrot served two and a half years, and received nine on profession and fifteen by letter, making a total of twenty-four. Rev. C. R. Wilkins served two years, and received three on profession and one by letter, making a total of four. Rev. J. M. Gelston, the present pastor, in a period of thirteen months, received twenty-six upon profession and nine by letter, making a total of thirty-five. The grand total for the whole time has been one hundred and twenty-two on profession and seventy-seven by letter, making an aggregate of one hundred and ninety-nine.

We have now reviewed the earthly history of this church, giving such facts as could be obtained, but in all this we have only the hieroglyphics of the past, and who can read them? The true history of any church is in the lives and deeds of its individual members. Find what the professed Christians were in their hearts and lives before God, and then you will have a truer history. What has the recording angel written of this church? What has the Alpha and the Omega said? Has he said as to the church at Sardis, "I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead?"  Or, as to the Laodiceans, " Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked"? Or has he said as to the church at Philadelphia, "I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word and hast not denied my name?" (Rev. iii.) Brethren, whatever the history written in heaven to the present hour may be, let us see to it that in the future there is set before us an t" open door." Let holy living and godly zeal write a clean record on the pages of eternal life!

THE SABBATH-SCHOOL.--A Sabbath-school was organized at an early date in the history of the church, and has been in active operation since. The officers are a superintendent, assistant superintendent, two librarians, secretary, treasurer, and organist. Since the new church was occupied the superintendents have been I. B. Merritt, John Douglas, Wilson Brodie, and Wm. E. Williams, the present incumbent.

The school is supplied with a good library, and with several of the best Sabbath-school papers. The International series of lessons, as published on the Westminster lesson-leaf, are in use. Each teacher is furnished with a teacher's magazine at the expense of the school, to aid in preparing the lessons. The finances of the school are kept up by weekly contributions from the scholars, teachers, and officers. No appeal is ever made to the church for aid in this direction.

The school is free from debt, with considerable funds on hand. It has, besides, contributed at times largely for the support of the church, as well as for missionary purposes and various benevolent objects.  Many additions to the church have been made from the ranks of the Sabbath-school, and it is hoped and believed that much good has been and will still be accomplished through this agency. The school at present has a corps of fourteen teachers, and about one hundred and seventy-five scholars, and is in a very flourishing condition.

FIRST METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH. The earliest preachers of this denomination to visit Pontiac and Oakland County were Revs. Alfred Bronson and Samuel Baker, who preached in 1823. In 1824, Revs. Elias Patta and Billings O. Plimpton, and in 1825, Elias Patta and Isaac C. Hunter, visited the place. Up to the last-mentioned year this section was connected with the Sandusky (Ohio) district. Some of the earlier meetings were held in the court-house.

1826, John A. Baughman, Solomon Minear; 1827, John Janes, Zara Coston. In this year it was included in the Detroit district and circuit. 1827-28, Wm. Runnels, John Janes; 1829-30, Wm. T. Snow. Made Oakland circuit. 1831, Arza Brown, Wm. Sprague; 1832, Bradford Frazee, T. Wiley; 1833, Marcus Swift. Made Farmington circuit. 1834, James F. Davidson, John Kinnear; 1835, Elijah H. Pilcher, Frederick A. Seaburn; 1836, Wm. Sprague, Lorenzo Davis. Up to September, 1836, Michigan was included in the Ohio conference.

At the latter date the Michigan conference was formed. 1837, Lorenzo D. Whitney, Mark Delaney; 1838, Josiah Brakeman. In this year it was first called Pontiac circuit. 1839, Miles Sanford, Resin Sapp; 1840, James Shaw, F. B. Bangs; 1841, Thomas Shaw, Thomas Fox; 1842, Thomas Fox. Pontiac made a station. 1843, Thomas C. Gardner; 1844, Elliot Crippen; 1845, David Burns; 1846-47, S. D. Simons; 1848, W. F. Cowles; 1849, L. D. Price; 1850, Seth Reed; 1851, M. W.; Stambaugh, George Taylor; 1852, George Taylor; 1853, Wm. Kelly; 1854, J. Summerville; 1855-56, D. C. Jacokes; 1857-58, Wm. Mahon; 1859-60, John Russell; 1861-62, Samuel Clements, Jr.; 1863-64, Sylvester Calkins; 1865-67, D. C. Jacokes. Mr. Jacokes was the first preacher in the United States to serve for three years on one station. 1868-70, WVm. Shier; 1871-73, T. J. Joslyn; 1874-76, Charles T. Allen, the present incumbent.

The presiding elders for the district since 1826 have been as follows: 1826-28, Zara Coston; 1829-31, Curtis Goddard; 1832-35, James Gilbraith; 1836-37, William Herr; 1838-40, George Smith; 1846, Elijah Crane; 1848, James Shaw; 1854, W. H. Collins; 1877, A. H. Bowens (or Bourns).

Rev. D. C. Jacokes was chaplain of the Fifth Michigan Infantry in the Rebellion. He was State commissioner of education for the Centennial, and at the present time is a member of the State board of health.

The first house of worship was erected in 1842, and stood on the south side of Pike street, opposite the city building. It is at present used as a pump and fence factory.

The new church on South Saginaw street was erected in 1861-62. It is a very fine building, and is valued, with its furniture and improvements complete, at twenty-five thousand dollars, though it was built for considerable less. The parsonage and grounds, on Auburn avenue, are valued at two thousand dollars. The church is furnished with a superior organ, costing twenty-five hundred dollars, and has a very fine-toned bell, weighing two thousand and thirty-five pounds, which was purchased at a cost of over eleven hundred dollars.

A Sunday-school was organized in September, 1838. Ira Donelson was chairman of the meeting, and James A. Weeks secretary. The pastor was chosen superintendent. The present number of members is about two hundred and fifty. The Sabbath-school has twenty-seven officers and teachers, and about one hundred and fifty scholars, with a good library.

The amount of money raised for all purposes from 1823 to 1828 was $125; from 1829 to 1833, $225; from 1834 to 1842, $2500; from 1843 to 1864, $34,600; from 1865 to 1868, $8000; from 1869 to 1877, inclusive, $26,500; making a grand total for the fifty-five years of $71,950.

The church is in a flourishing condition, and doing its full share among the various denominations in Pontiac.

ZION CHURCH (EPISCOPAL). The first Protestant society in what is now the State of Michigan was organized in the city of Detroit in 1817. It was a union society, composed of the few Methodists, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians then residents of the place, each denomination being represented in the board of trustees.

The first clergyman of the Church of England who visited Michigan was Rev. Mr. Pollard, a missionary of the British "society for the propagation of the gospel in foreign parts," who was stationed in Canada, and who occasionally visited and held services in Detroit.

The first settled clergyman was Rev. Alanson W. Welton, who, about 1821, came from the diocese of New York, where he had been trained by Bishop Hobart for mission work. He officiated until his death in the edifice erected by the before-mentioned Protestant society.

In 1824 the Rev. Richard F. Cadle was sent by the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society from New York to Detroit.

Michigan then comprehended all the region north of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, west to the Mississippi river, and north to the British line, including the settlements in Iowa and Minnesota, if such there were.

Rev. R. F. Cadle, writing from Detroit to the society's committee, uses the following language, " I have regularly performed divine service and preached in the council-house, which has been granted to the Protestants of this city by his excellency Governor Cass.

"In addition to the usual service on Sunday, I generally preach once in the course of the week. This city contains two thousand inhabitants. It has a Roman Catholic church, a Methodist meeting-house, and a building, erected by different denominations, styled the First Protestant church, at present under the control of the Presbyterians. An invitation was lately given me to occupy the pulpit of this church, for a time not specified, which, with the unanimous approbation of the Episcopalians of the city, I declined.

"The number of persons attached to our church is about forty. The communicants, I believe, are not more than three or four."

In December, 1824, he writes:

"I am unable to state the precise number of persons attached to our church in this city. It is, however, greater than I supposed when I made my first report. I have administered the holy communion twice the last three months; at the last administration there were several additions, making the whole number eight or nine."

The first parish of the church in this county was St. John's, in Troy, organized in 1829, by Rev. Richard F. Cadle. This was the third parish in the Territory of Michigan; St. Paul's, Detroit, organized in 1824, being the first, and St. Andrew's, at Ann Arbor, in 1827, the second.

The church edifice in Troy was erected in 1837. The parish subsequently became extinct and the title vested in Zion church, Pontiac, which was organized September 23, 1837. The service of the church was first heard in Pontiac in 1836, when Rev. Hollister, then rector of St. John's, Troy, officiated in the courthouse.

 Upon the organization of Zion church, permission was obtained from Gideon O. Whittemore, regent of the University of Michigan, to use the academy (then a branch of the State university) as a place of worship. The academy building, which is now the Roman Catholic church edifice, then stood on the site of the stores now owned by Thomas Turk, north of his residence in Saginaw street.

Rev. A. S. Hollister was the first rector. Mr. Hollister held occasional services at the house of Daniel Windiate, in Waterford.

In 1840 the vestry resolved to erect a house of worship, and on the 20th of July, 1841, the edifice, having been completed, was consecrated by the Right Rev. Samuel A. McCroskey, then in the sixth year of his consecration.

This first edifice stood where the Protestant Methodist church now stands, on West Pike street. In 1841, Rev. John A. Wilson, then rector of Zion church, organized the parish of St. Paul's, Waterford, of which he was rector until 1847, when he was succeeded by Rev. William H. Woodward, who continued until 1850, when the parish became extinct. July 24, 1854, the vestry of Zion church resolved to erect a new edifice, and on the 5th day of September, 1854, the corner-stone of the present building was laid by Bishop McCroskey, assisted by Rev. Oliver Taylor and the wardens and vestry of the church. It was completed and consecrated January 22, 1857.

Two diocesan conventions have been held in this church; the sixteenth, in 1850, and the thirty-eighth, in 1872. In 1871 the vestry purchased the property immediately east of the Protestant Methodist church, on Pike street, for a rectory, and in 1875 the present rectory, adjoining the church, was purchased, and the vestry now own both places.

The rectors of Zion church have been as follows:

 

WARDENS.


* Deceased
1831-33 Rev. Isaac W. Ruggles,* died 1857 1852-54 Rev. H. A. Read, now of Marshall
1833-34 Rev. Robert McEwen 1854-58 Rev. A. H. Fletcher
1834-35 Rev. Aaron Williams 1858-64 Rev. G. M. Tuthill, now of Kalamazoo
1836-37 Rev. William Page * 1864-68 Rev. A. H. Fletcher (again), now of Portland, Michigan
1838-40 Rev. L. P. Bates * 1868-71 Rev. C. C. McIntire, now of Rockport, Massachusetts
1841-43 Rev. M. N. Miles, now of Des Moines, Iowa 1872-74 Rev. Simeon O. Allen, now of New York
  Rev. Matthew Meigs 1874-76 Rev. J. Homer Parker, now of Bay City
1843-46 Rev. Nathaniel West, D.D. * 1876-77 Rev. W. H. Utley, present pastor
1846-51 Rev. O. D. Hine, now in Connecticut    

* deceased
1831 Samuel Bent 1856 Alonzo P. Frost (now in office)
1833 Luman Brownson,* 1866 Eli H. Bristol,*
1834 Jacob N. Voorheis,* 1866 John P. Wyckoff (now in office)
1836 Weston Frost,*
1867
Zephaniah B. Knight
1839 John M. Smith,* 1872 Eber L. Taylor
1840 Eleazer T. Raymond   Charles Thatcher
1841 Gideon O. Whittemore,* 1875 John Hall (now in office)
1856 Oliver R. Adams,* 1877 John McCallum, elected, but declined

* deceased
1837-1838 Wm. Barbour   no dates Andrew Cole
1839 Deacon Raymond   1868 Deacon A. P. Frost, served as a volunteer until December
1844-1845 Wm. Barbour   no dates Rev. Mr. McIntire, the pastor
1845-1850 H. C. Knight   no dates John Hall
1850-52 A. B. Frost   no dates Thomas Wyckoff
1852-54 Wm. E. Rice   no dates W. D. King
1854-56 Charles C. Waldo   no dates Mr. Wyckoff
1856-60 Judge Van Valkenburgh   no dates J. J. Green
1860-62 Charles Draper   no dates Florus Barbour, stayed only a short time
1863-66 A. P. Frost   1877 Rev. Mr. Utley, the present pastor, still continues to fill the office since January
no dates Charles Hurd      

(Signed) "JOSHUA KNIGHT, Mod.
(Attest) "CHAS. THORP, Scribe."
1837-39 Rev. Algernon S. Hollister 1865-66 Rev. Charles Ritter
1839-47 Rev. John A. Wilson 1866-67 Rev. William R. Pickman, now of Baltimore, Md
1847-50 Rev. William H. Woodward 1868-69 Rev. William Charles, now of Detroit
1850-54 Rev. Oliver Taylor 1869-74 Rev. Joseph R. Anderson, died in Pontiac, May 26, 1874
1854-61 Rev. Thomas B. Dooley 1875 Rev. Richard Brass
1861-64 Rev. John O'Brien, DD., died in Pontiac, December, 1864    
1837-41 George P. Williams 1844 to 1866 James Maten
1837-40 Richard Windiate 1867 to 1877 Leonard Sprague (except 1870)
1841 John Barned 1867 to 1871 James Tregent
1842 George Lester 1872 to 1877 J. T. Copeland
  Benjamin B. Morris 1877 James Tregent
1844 to 1870 George Carswell (except '67, '68, and '69)    

 

VESTRYMEN.

James S. Allen 1841 C. H. Palmer 1861 to 1877, except 1872
Alexander Ayres 1837 Calvin C. Parks 1847, 1848, 1849
Levi Bacon, Jr. 1864 to 1867 C. J. Petty 1872
John Barned 1841 John. Pound  1870 to 1877
W. Beckley 1850 to 1853 Joseph E. Sawyer 1872 to 1877
Charles J. Birdsell 1837 Leonard Sprague 1846,1847, 1862, 1864 to 1877
O. L. Backinstose 1876 H. L. Stevens 1848
William Busley 1837 to 1840 Sherman Stevens 1837, 1840, 1842 & 1847
George Carswell 1844 to 1870 W. Stickney 1854 to 1857
Edward Coates 1867 to 1869 Byron G. Stout 1871, 1872, and 1876, 1877
William Coates 1846, 1848, 1849 Charles V. Taylor 1877
J. T. Copeland 1853 to 1861, and 1867 to 1876 H. C. Thurber 1867
Francis Darrow 1862   Alvin Toms 1857 to 1866
Thomas J. Drake 1852 to 1856   James Townsend 1850 to 1853
T. A. Flower 1867   A. Treadway 1840
Green Freeman 1870   Calvin G. Wheeler 1846
John Goodrich 1837   Charles W. Whipple 1840 & 1841
N. Harding 1850   A. Whitehead 1842
Robert S. Hendlen 1840   Daniel Whitfield 1852 to 1857
Amos C. Hubbard 1847, 1848, 1849   James Whitfield 1846
James B. Hunt 1837 to 1842, 1844, 1847, 1849, & 1850 to 1853   Walter Whitfield 1848 to 1860
Thomas J. Hunt 1844, 1846, 1847   F. A. Williams 1840 to 1842, 1844, 1846, & 1848 to 1853
G. K. Johnson 1849, 1850   George P. Williams 1837 to 1841
George Lester 1841 and 1844   John P. Wilson 1864 to 1866, and 1873 to 1876
John Lewis 1850   William Wilson 1841, 1842, 1846, 1847, 1851 to 1862
H. W. Lord 1858 to 1861, & from 1868 to 1877   David Windiate 1837-1840
Thomas Mabley 1875 & 1877   David Windiate 1855 to present, except 1863 & 1867
James Maten 1844 to 1866,1868, 1869,1873, & 1874   Henry Windiate 1846
A. B. Mathews 1844,1847,1848, 1851, 1858, 1859,1861, 1862, & 1864 to 1869 Richard Windiate 1837 to 1842
John G. McKinley 1870 to 1875 Henry Woodward 1858 to 1866
Benjamin B. Morris 1837 to 1842, 1848, 1849, 1851 W. Worthington 1854 to 1857

The number of communicants by the last report, for 1876, was one hundred and sixty-four. The church has in connection a flourishing Sunday-school and a mission-school. The' number of officers and teachers in the former is sixteen, and there are one hundred and twenty-five scholars on the rolls. The mission-school is reported in a flourishing condition, with an average attendance of about one hundred. The Sunday-school has a library of three hundred and fifty volumes. This society has a very fine organ, purchased in 1864, at a total cost of three thousand three-hundred and eighty-five dollars and ninety cents. The fine-toned bell was purchased by the female members of the congregation.

Two fine memorial tablets have been erected in the church to Revs. John O'Brien and J. R. Anderson, the former contributed by the ladies. In this connection we may state that Rev. John O'Brien was for many years chaplain to the United States garrison at Mackinaw, and also chaplain of the Tenth Michigan Infantry during the Rebellion. Rev. Thomas B. Dooley was chaplain of the Fourteenth Infantry.

Rev. Mr. Brass, the present rector, performs considerable mission work at Waterford and other points, in addition to his regular duties.

The whole amount raised for church purposes by Zion church for 1876 was two thousand five hundred and thirty-five dollars and fifty-two cents.

ROMAN CATHOLIC. (by Rev. Father L. J. Wicart)  Although for more than a century there have been secular and regular priests of various orders residing in Detroit, and, probably, at intervals visiting or passing through Oakland County, the first priest who came here at appointed intervals, so far as known, was a Rev. Mr. Missui, who was at the time assistant parish priest of the Cathedral of St. Anne, in Detroit.

According to the most reliable information he came here once a month; boarded at the "Hodges House" while here, and held meetings in a small house near Huron street, owned by a Mr. or Mrs. Dennis. It appears, however, that his ministration in this part of the country did not last longer than a year, and did not exceed the limits of the village of Pontiac.

The next clergyman that we hear of, after Father Missui, was Father Kelly, who is buried in the cemetery of Dearborn, where he died about 1860-61. Where his residence was is uncertain, nor does it appear that he had any deserving the name. He was most of the time traveling, through three or four counties, on horseback or on foot, appearing occasionally (perhaps twice a year) to baptize, marry, and administer to the most pressing wants of the people, and was off again. While here he made use of the aforesaid room, in which to collect a few Catholics living in this vicinity. He also occasionally visited White Lake, where a colony of Irishmen had settled, lately arrived from the "old country." Through his exertions an old, and perhaps unoccupied building, was secured by this band and converted into a meeting-house, where, upon his visits to White Lake, the people would collect.

The number of members at White Lake at that time was greater than at Pontiac; but being removed from any centre of business, and away from railway communications, the number gradually diminished, and during the building of the Detroit and Milwaukee railway there was quite an increase of Catholics in Pontiac, and it being a growing city, with fine prospects, was chosen as a centre of missions.

The academy building in the place was for sale, and, in order to give a start to the forming mission, the bishop of Detroit, Dr. Lefevere, purchased and dedicated it to Catholic worship, and appointed Rev. Father Wallace first resident clergyman at Pontiac, with jurisdiction over the whole county. While he resided here he attended once a month at White Lake, and occasionally would extend his visits as far as Milford, and also to Holly, into' which places the extension of the new railroad brought a few laborers. This father came here about twenty-three years ago (1853), this being his first mission in the diocese. He resided here ten years, when ill health induced him to revisit Ireland.

After he had been absent about two-months, the people being in need of a resident clergyman, the bishop appointed as his Successor, in March, 1863, the Rev. L. J. Wicart, then assistant priest of the Cathedral of St. Anne, in Detroit, who held his first service here (Pontiac) on the first day of May, 1863, and continued to the spring of 1877, when he was succeeded by Rev. Father Baumgarten, the present incumbent.

Upon Father Wicart's arrival he found the church and a small dwelling both on the same lot, near the "Northern Hotel," in such close juxtaposition that what was said or done in the hotel could be easily heard in the church. This inconvenience --and others not proper to mention, but the natural result of too close proximity to a tavern and a bar-room-- induced him, inasmuch as no lot adjoining the church could be purchased, to remove from the premises.

Accordingly, having purchased other lots, he removed the church to where it is now located, on Saginaw avenue. This clergyman also attended White Lake for a while, as his predecessor had done, but the old building in that place being in a dilapidated condition, and seeing no prospect ahead for the place, —situated as it was in the backwoods, —he took the bold determination to extend his lines to the more distant but better located village of Milford.

After a few years of labor he succeeded in building there —on the highest ground in the village— a beautiful church, whose golden cross overlooks and overshadows the place. The building of the Holly, Wayne and Monroe railway brought into the village increased activity, and new accessions to the church, at the same time making the point easily accessible to the surrounding population. This church, owing to its distance from Pontiac, has divine service at present only once a month.

Probably, however, in the course of time, when laborers in the vineyard of the Lord shall be more numerous, it may become a pastoral residence, and a centre of operations for smaller places along the line of the railway. The number of families worshiping here is about fifty, which are yearly increasing. The number at Pontiac is about seventy-five, all told.

This clergyman, in years past, had also the care of the members in Holly and its neighborhood, which may have numbered about fifteen families; but about 1870 a church was built in Fentonville, Genesee county, which induced him to resign this care to the clergyman of that village, the distance being only six miles.

It may be proper to state in this connection that there is a small charge near Royal Oak, where perhaps twenty-five families from the south part of the county, and the west part of Macomb county, worship occasionally. The building, however, is situated in the county of Oakland, and, consequently, is entitled to notice here, although of itself it is not of much importance. At the present time the two principal places of Catholic worship in the county are Pontiac and Milford, from whence occasional visits are made, to the smaller charges.

How a whole county can be attended and administered to by a single clergyman is a secret known only to the Catholic clergy, who, having no wives or children to provide for, can the better attend and minister unto their people, being enabled to devote their whole time, energy, and attention to the spiritual wants of their flocks, without interference by material or mixed avocations. This is the clue to their success in the midst of a poor, scattered, and sometimes almost wild population in the country and the wilderness. Were they hemmed in as clergymen of other denominations are, by the care and charge of wife and children, they would be obliged to give up traveling at night and being away from home, obliged to relinquish the care and solicitude of minor places, and attend, at the most, only the places of their residence. This is about as much as an ordinary clergyman can or is expected to do; hence any reflecting mind cannot but admire the wisdom of our system of celibacy, which, divesting from all exterior cares of family, fits us so much the better to look after the lost sheep of Israel,—congregate them into a fold, and, when outside the pale of civilization, never to relinquish them or cease ministering to their spiritual wants until, in their turn, they become centres, able to provide for themselves and give assistance to other needy ones.

 

AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH. The African Methodist Episcopal church was organized in 1861, by the Rev. Augustus R. Green. The principal members were George Newman and wife, Harriet Washington, Henry Parker, Samuel Stevens and wife, John Jones, and others. The first resident minister was Rev. J. Warren, and since have been the following, respectively: John Franklin, J. H. Alexander, J. Bass, J. Mack Smith, A. Johnson, G. Benson, H. H. Wilson, C. Ward, B. Gardens, and the present pastor, Rev. John Ferguson.

A house of worship was purchased for the use of the society in 1872. It is a small frame building, located on the south side of Auburn street, a few rods east of Saginaw street, and has a seating capacity of about one hundred.

The present number of members is thirty-six, which is probably somewhat less than it was a few years ago, on account of the falling off in the number of the colored population in Pontiac.

AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL ZION CHURCH. This society was organized in 1869 with forty members, principally through the efforts of Rev. David Butler. Some time previous to this the members had purchased a frame building of a colored man named Hunt, and still previous to the purchase the building had been leased for religious purposes. Subsequent to the organization the society purchased the lot where the church now stands, and removed the building thither.

A Sabbath-school was also organized soon after the church, and has been continued to the present time. The present pastor is Rev. David Butler, and there are also four local preachers in the city,-Albert Wilson, Samuel Stevens, — Green, and — Jones. Present membership about thirty. Services are held twice every Sunday.

PROTESTANT METHODISTS. A society of this denomination was organized some fifteen or twenty years since, largely from the ranks of the first Methodist Episcopal church. They have a fine brick church on West Pike street, but at present have no settled pastor. We have been unable to procure any information concerning this society.

 

Source:  History of Oakland County, Michigan by Durant, Samuel W. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & co., 1877.

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