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Taken from "Horton Methodist Church" & "The History of the Horton Methodist Church"- publication dates unknown.

 

Writer's Note: 

Inasmuch as the records of the church are unavailable at this time, this material was gathered from history books, oldsters of the community, and any other sources of information available. If at any time in the future the records are available, we will make every effort to revise and complete this history of our church. 

 

This is the history of God's house erected in Horton, Jackson County, Mich. in 1906 and dedicated to the Lord's use June 2, 1907. This history is written in honor of that precious day and to the wonderful people who were responsible for the activities of that day. 

 

In the days of the early 1800's Baldwin, now known as Horton, was nothing but woods filled with animals and Indians, with their crude way of life, inhabiting the surrounding country. In approximately 1830 the first white settler arrived in this area. In 1835 Mr. Marlin Tripp built the first log cabin. One day while Mr. Tripp was in the woods and came upon some Indians cooking a coon over an open fire and asked him "skimokeman?" meaning "White man like coon?"

 

[Alternate opening paragraph] In the early days of the 1800's, when this part of Jackson County was all woods, full of animals and Indians, the first permanent white settler who came was Abial Tripp. He came from Rutland, Vermont. He built the first log cabin in Section 3, in 1832. It was located a short distance north of the present town of Horton, on the west side of Moscow Rd. As years passed, more white settlers came and the town was named Baldwin or Baldwin Mills. The name was changed to Horton in 1871, after the railroad was built.

 

Years passed and more settlers came to this area and the first sermon was preached in the house of Abiel Tripp, by one Elder Fossett, a Methodist Minister. The first Methodist quarterly meeting held in the town, was in the barn of Gardner Tripp in 1842, at which there were a number of Pattowamic Indians, who were being educated at the Albion Seminary. George Smith was the presiding elder. 

 

In February 1854, the land now occupied by the Methodist Church, Universalist Church, Universalist parsonage, and the Masonic Temple was donated by Thomas J. Pardee to be used as a church site. The following year (1855) a building was built in approximately the center of the lot, facing the north. So the first church was built in Baldwin by the Methodist and Universalists. It was styled the "Union Church". "The First Universalist Parish of Horton", was the title of an organization which filed articles of association at the County Clerk's office of Jackson in May 1879. The offers of the society were James Mitchell, moderator, Charles A. Ford, clerk, Gordes P. Colgrove, James W. Newberry, trustees. Members of the congregation held their respective meetings at different hours so that both Universalists and Methodists could have their individual services. It was the practice of each group to drain the fuel from the lamps at the conclusion of its service so it was necessary for the other group to furnish their own. 

 

In the church, an organ was the instrument used and was played by Julia S. Tripp, who also led the choir to furnish the music for the services. 

 

On March 8, 1871, the Universalists expressed a desire to purchase the Methodist's share of the Union Church and property. A number of years were to pass before any agreement was reached. On July 28, 1900, a Court Decree was issued giving the south half of the square to the Universalists and the north half to the Methodists. As years passed, plans were evidently made to erect a church on the northeast corner of the lot. The plans were drawn and a page made for subscriptions. On the page listing the subscriptions, is the date, May 1905. The writer assumes that this date indicates the date that subscriptions were started. On the subscription page of the plans of the proposed "New Church", there is a listing of individuals in the community who purchased each subscription at $12.00. There were 343 subscriptions, making a total of $4,116.00. On some of the subscriptions appears notations such as "payable in gravel", "payable in work", "due when wall is completed" and "$20.00 when wall is laid, $20.00 when frame is up and $20.00 when roof is on". These notations indicate that people did not have a lot of money, however they had one need and that was that they needed a place of worship. For this they were willing to give a portion of whatever they had to help in building a church where residents of the community could come to worship God.

 

The basement walls were laid of stones hauled in from the surrounding country. All of the men around the area held work beas and the ladies furnished their dinners. On August 21, 1906 the corner stone was laid. Further report on the building will be made in an editorial from the Hanover-Horton Local as we shall note.

 

After the Methodist Church had been completed the old Union Church was moved to the site of the present Universalist Church, where since that time it has had a brick veneer, and the tower and entry added. 

 

On May 2, 1907 a Quit Claim Deed was issued giving the south half solely to the Universalist Church of Horton.

 

As far as the writer can determine, the official church board at the time of building was Valentine Mitchell, Marietta Bishop, William Richardson, William Burk, Charles Reynolds, Edward Reynolds, and Squire Thomas. The pastor was Rev. George Yinger and the District Superintendent was Dr. Martin.

 

Following is the editorial which appeared in the Hanover-Horton Local Newspaper reporting the events of August 21, 1906 which was the day the corner stone was laid. 

 

Corner Stone Laid

 

The good people of Horton are to be congratulated on the success of the laying of the cornerstone of the new M.E. Church about to be erected there. Last Tuesday, the day set apart for that purpose, opened far and bright, and while the weatherman said rain, and while threatening clouds arose, the day continued fair and the 500 people who had come to participate in the exercises, were enabled to stay until the last hymn had been sung and the benediction pronounced. You know it has been said "The rain shall fall on the just and the unjust; evidently, only the just were there, for the rain did not fall. When we arrived on the ground in the early forenoon, we found the committees busily engaged in preparing tables, erecting tents and awnings and preparing generally for the events that will mark one of the historic days of this community; and while waiting for the people to gather, we looked over the sight, seeing what had already been accomplished, and what was still necessary, ere the edifice could be dedicated for the master's service. The foundation walls are erected in a solid, substantial manner, of the hard heads found in the surrounding country, and we are informed by the mason, S. W. Roberts, that they were 54 ft., 8 in. by 41 ft., 10., and the basement is to be divided into Sunday School rooms, kitchen and furnace room. The church is to be of brick veneer, and to be complete, with steeple and bell, and is expected to cost complete with inside work all done, $5,000.00. Mr. Hodge has the contract for the carpenter work, but we were unable to learn that the contract for the brickwork had been decided upon. After the arrival of the noon train, many of the speakers and guests arrived on the grounds, escorted by the Horton band, and the company was soon invited to the dinner tables which were loaded with the substantials and delicacies of life, such as is always encountered when the ladies of Horton are running the menu. They never half do things, for while they planned to feed 400, or possibly 500, they certainly had ample provisions for 800, if not an even thousand people. After the dinner came the exercises, preceded by selections by the band, who remained on the grounds, giving occasional selections as opportunities presented themselves. The exercises proper were opened by the choir, with part of the oratorio, "Upon the Mountain", which was rendered in a very able manner, with credit to the leader, Charles Reynolds; this was followed by an invocation by Rev. S.C. Robinson, when Hon. C.E. Townsend delivered the address. He said in part,"I as a resident of this county and state, am interested in the building of this church. We, as citizens, are interested in all that promoted the cause of Christianity. If there were no hereafter we would still be interested, for it makes better citizenship. We would not care to live in a land of no churches. If we are honest in our Christianity, we will pay our debts, even to the Lord. A church in a community is a good investment, for your property is made more valuable. This dinner in Washington would be worth $2.50; what is it worth to you here? It's worth $5.00 to me." Dr. Martin followed the congressman and said, "The problem of the church is a free church and a free religion. Two M.E. Church cornerstones are laid every 24 hours and 500 churches are dedicated every year; every man in this community is enriched mentally, morally and financially by the building of this new church." At this time, as the weather looked threatening, the balance of the program was temporally postponed and the cornerstone was laid by the Presiding Elder, Dr. Martin, assisted by Revs, G.W. Tuthill, Gibbs and Yinger, according to Methodist custom and usages. First depositing therein a bible, a Methodist Discipline of '04, copy of the Michigan Christian Advocate and of the Hanover-Horton Local. The clouds having rolled away, the program was resumed, and Rev. Gibbons said in part, "The building of a church means much to a community. It will mean more as the years go by, when others will be here to worship. We should bring to the service that devotion that is due from the creature to the creator, it will make us better citizens and the benefits to any community cannot be estimated". Dean Spences said "He had learned the way to get back at the congressman; it is to invite them to such entertainments as this and get back part of their salary. He also said that from the standpoint of safety, he would address his remarks to the cornerstone. It should stand for Christian Fellowship. It should stand for the rights of all men, as against the rights of a few men, and it should stand for the preaching of the whole truth rather than the preaching of but part of the truth and unless it stands for these three great principles, it will fall." Rev. S.C. Robinson said he was reared in a little community like this, and received his religious training in a little country church like this, which was a hard shell Baptist and a harder Methodist. The day of denominationalism is past. He had been invited to, and had held Christina communion as a Christian minister in a Baptist church. The Methodist church is organized in all Christian countries, and he never knew a Methodist Church Society to make a business failure, and related a somewhat humorous incident of his early ministry where a Methodist Church had been saved to the denomination, after its sale by the Sheriff, to pay debts due the builders. There is no danger of too many churches in a community. He had known of a town of five churches and 32 saloons, and laboring men spending as high as $140.00 per year in the saloons. If all the money that was spent in the saloons was turned into the support of the churches, there would be no trouble about their finances. He then proposed three cheers for Rev. Yinger and his church building laborers, three cheers for the Horton ladies, and the hearty support they were giving the enterprise, and three cheers for Rev. Gibbs who stays by his job year after year. The congregation then joined with the choir in singing "Blest Be The Tie That Binds." Rev. Robinson pronounced the benediction and another of the big history making days of Horton was at an end. The financial part of the entertainment was not quite up to expectations, owing to the threatening weather, but we think they did remarkably well. The treasurer reporting $500.00 raised, this including a $300.00 check sent them by Hon. W.R. Burt, to represent his friendship for the community and his property interest here. 

 

Since the formal laying of the cornerstone of this building, it has served various organizations of the community. The Horton 4-H Club, Garden Club, Boy Scouts, W.S.C.S. and other organizations have come to know the church as their meeting place.

 

For a period of years during the 1940's it was necessary for the three Methodist Churches of Hanover, Concord, and Horton to combine their resources in support of a minister because of their relatively small congregations. This was done for several years and during this time the three church choirs joined voices on occasions at Easter and Christmas, making a choir of about forty voices. 

 

Since the beginning of our church, the Sunday School has played a big part in the religious life of the children of our community. Mr. W.A. Richardson was the superintendent for a number of years. [As to the correct number of years Mr. Richardson served in this capacity, the writer is not certain. However, I am certain that the wonderful work that he did will always be remembered by those who knew him and knew of his love that he held for his God and his church.] Mr. Will Richardson was the Superintendent of the Sunday School for forty years. He will always be remembered by those who knew him, and knew of his love for his God and his church. He also served as a 4-H Club leader for many years. He said that he enjoyed doing this because he loved young people. 

 

We are glad that we have many capable teachers and officers now in our Sunday School, who are carrying on the important work of religious education.

 

In the past, many donations have been made to the church, either by individuals or the W.S.C.S. Among them are, to list a few, choir chairs, lighting fixtures, cooking stove, restroom, kitchen cabinets, pictures, and the estate of Mr. & Mrs. Emerson Hodge. 

 

The two large colored windows of the edifice were donated. The large window at the west side of the main edifice was donated by the W.C.T.U. and the east window was donated in memory of Mr. & Mrs. Horace Gifford. Many other donations have been made to the church, either by individuals, or by the W.S.C.S. To list a few were choir chairs, lighting fixtures, the electric organ, cooking stove, restroom, kitchen cabinets, pictures, new carpeting and new pulpit chairs. One large donation was the estate of Mr. And Mrs. Emerson Hodge. That gift made it possible to remodel the kitchen in the basement. Another important donation was the estate of Mr. and Mrs. William Richardson, including money and their home, which was designated to be used for a parsonage. It is now the parsonage for the Hillside United Methodist Church. Among the names of the first official board was that of Valentine Mitchell. He was the father of Mrs. William Richardson and the late Burr Richardson. The name of Valentine Mitchell was found on many of the old bills and orders for materials used in building of the church.

 

There is no possible way in which we can measure the great importance of the work our ladies of the W.S.C.S. have helped in our small church. They have been instrumental in a majority of the improvements made on the church, assisting in meeting operating expenses, conducting worship services, and in bringing a great spiritual benefit to the whole congregation.

 

The edifice was painting by Mr. Roy Lyons in 1945. This was Roy's first large building to paint so it was necessary to make all of his own scaffolding. The approximate cost at that time was $400.00. He painted it again a few years later. The last time it was painted by several of our young church members who volunteered their services. At that time, they also constructed a new lower ceiling. Many such improvements have been done recently by our dedicated young people.

 

The Horton Methodist Church is trying to fill a modern need in the life of the community which has grown considerably from the time of our first settlers came and made friends with the Indians. Since that time, that same true friendship has held steadfast in each generation. This friendship of neighbors is one which every resident of this community can be proud, and rightfully so. 

 

We of the Horton Methodist Church like to feel that we may have had a part in keeping this friendly spirit by offering our services wherever they are needed, no matter how great or small the need.

 

Through its pulpit, the church has sought to interpret the gospel of Jesus Christ in all its social implications. We contact with every group seeking public betterment believing that the church has responsibility for leadership in social, political and industrial ideals. 

 

The musical contributions had been no small part of the church's program. We feel that the music is the finest way of expressing one's own feeling which comes straight from the heart. We have on occasions been honored by the guest talent, however, the majority of our music is furnished by our own people for which we are very grateful.

 

There was a period of years during the 1940's, when it was necessary for the three Methodist Churches of Hanover, Concord and Horton to combine their resources in support of the same minister. This method followed the years of student pastors, one for each church. The pastor resided in the parsonage of the Concord church. Each Sunday morning he would preach first at Concord, then at Hanover, then at Horton, at the respective hours of 10, 11, and 12 a.m. That gave the minister little time for greeting his parishioners and it was a strain for him to rush from one place to the next, Rev. Roshaven and Rev. Finkbeiner were the first two ministers who served the three churches as one charge.

 

In 1952, our Horton Church and the Hanover Church combined as two churches in one charge and Rev. Jack Short was the pastor. He resided in Albion, having still one year to complete his studies in Albion College. At the end there will be a list of the pastor's who have served our church. We give much praise and credit to Rev. Yinger for being so capable in helping to build our church. We were grateful, also, for the help of his musical family.

 

Thus through years of struggling, the Methodist Church of Horton has made it's mark on past history and has great plans in helping to better our community in the future.

 

The church has two goals. The first to be able to increase its membership so that is might make possible a compressive, and liberal proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all life. The second to intensify its programs so that it might reach more people and be able to do more for our community, of which we are so proud.

 

The church is dedicated to the worship of God, to the interpretation of Jesus Christ, to a modern world, and to an intelligent submission to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

 

We have mixed feelings of sadness to think of leaving our dear little church that holds many precious memories, and happy anticipation of moving into our new and larger church.

 

The greater part of this was written by Dale Reed for the 50th Anniversary in June 1957. It was revised by Mrs. Donald Culbert, in 1969.

HORTON METHODIST CHURCH

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