Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

July 20, 2005, page 12

Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.

Index of "Good Old Days" Articles 



The Good Old Days


Clark County News: History of the York Center Methodist Church


The history of the York Center Church began in the early 1870s.  The early settlers of York, with a few exceptions, came from the southern counties of the state.  Traveling in covered wagons, they were looking for land, which could be purchased for little money, where they could build their homes and farm the land.  They found only dense woods with but few roads, or trails and no bridges over the streams.


After building log houses for their families, the people began to wish for a church and worship services.


The first church services in the York Center and Clark County Farm area were held in a schoolhouse near the county farm.  The earliest settlers in the York Center area attended church services at the schoolhouse and also prayer meetings in their homes.


Adonijah Benedict and his family had come to the Town of York, in 1873.  A Civil War veteran, Benedict and his family had been members of the Methodist Church in Fond du Lac County.  He became a leader in organizing the Sunday school and served as its class leader.  Other early members were: C. Benedict, Samuel Pease, H. A. Lawrence, Sr., Mr. and Mrs. Jessie Lawrence, S. Lawrence, John Palmer, T. Snyer, J. Bolton, S. W. Bolton, Martha Galland, S. D. Gibson and Mary Phalon.


In 1873, a new log schoolhouse was built on the Livingston land, ½ mile west and ½ mile north of the present church.  Worship services were held there until Rev. Greer, who lived in Spencer and was serving as the minister of Spencer and Loyal, came to the York Center area to help plan a church building.  From his home, he rode horseback, or walked to Loyal and York Center for services.


A grant of six acres of land was secured from the Fox River Land Co. as a site on which to build the new church, in 1880.  Logs were cut from the land and sawed into lumber for building the church.  Some men hauled logs to the mills while others cleared the land.  Some hewed blocks from logs, for the foundation.  The wood blocks were later replaced with a stone foundation.  Homemade benches and seats were placed around the worship area and chairs through the center.


The cemetery was laid out and staked in 1880.  Rev. Greer, Bert Lindsley and Burt Lawrence worked with the cemetery project.  The first member to be buried there was Ida Lawrence Turner, young wife of Pint Turner.  In 1946, a Cemetery Association was formed.


Eventually, people were calling for a larger church.  The remodeling and enlarging project began during the pastorate of Rev. Knudson in 1897.  Services were held in the town hall during the time of building.  The changes consisted of an annex and belfry on the west, new windows, concrete steps at the entrance, new pews, new pulpit and bell.  Rededication services were held in February 1899 with Rev. H. W. Bushnell, D. S. coming to assist with the meeting.


During the first years, there was no organ in the church.  Many objected in purchasing an organ thinking it was unnecessary, but one was purchased.  When Burt Lindsley heard that some threatened to throw the new organ out of the church, he replaced it with his own organ.  Later, the new Kimball organ was installed and used for more than 50 years.  When a piano was purchased, the old organ was given to Mrs. W. E. (Susie) Benedict who often played it at church services, as a child.


The York Center camp meeting was started during the time Rev. G. N. Foster was pastor of the congregation.  Ten acres of beautiful woodland, joining the church ground to the southwest, was leased from William Rowe, to be used for summer tent meetings.  Ministers and people from miles around the area, gathered for one week each summer for inspirational worship.  They met under a large tent to listen to the most enlivening music and preaching.  Rev. Limokuler and his wonderful singing, Rev. Foster and others were long remembered for their leadership in the tent meetings.


York Center Methodist Church’s items of history, as recorded in the Methodist conference yearbooks, are as follows:


1894—“We have had two camp meetings in the District, one at York Center with much profit to that rural district.”  York Center was then in the Ashland District. 


Up until 1939, the statistical and treasurer reports were totals of all the churches, rather than totals for individual churches.  Any reports noting new members received, Sunday school, membership, salary, benevolences given, etc, were totaled and credited to the church, which headed the Circuit.


However, each year the District Superintendent gave a summary report in which individual churches were recognized for some achievement.  The following are the references to York Center, occasionally referred to as “York.”


1897—“Improvements have been made at York Center.”

1898—“Loyal has enlarged its church at York Center.”

1900—“Rev. George Brown has solved the problem of revivals and evangelists by being his own evangelist.  He called to his aid, neighboring pastors who assisted him in a revival meeting at York, which began Aug. 18 and has continued almost up to this day.  Some conversions and a great religious awakening in that neighborhood is the result.”

1903—“The $75 debt on York Church as been paid.”

1906—“Loyal and York Center were placed in the Eau Claire District.”

1912—The statistical report was labeled “Loyal and York.” (A single report.)

1925—“Revival services were held in a number of places with outside assistance.  At Stanley and York, W. F. Grandy of Withee, was the evangelist.”

1938—“New roof on the church at York Center.”

1939—“Loyal church interior decorated with Nuwood, $750, and York Center $250.”

1950—“The 70th Anniversary was held at York Center, Virgil Nulton, Pastor, Aug. 28, 1949.”  (The pastor named here is in error. Rev. Virgil Holmes was then the pastor.)

1957—“Loyal and York Center were left without a pastor on Sept. 2, when the Rev. Charles Swanson passed away.  Without pastoral leadership since that date, the laymen from both churches have done heroically providing for services every Sunday.”

1959—“York Center tiled the sanctuary floor.”

1961—“Aug. 28, 1960, York Center celebrated its 80th anniversary with appropriate services, Rev. Paul Doering is pastor.”


At the 1949 celebration, Rev. W. J. James gave an account of his memories while serving the York Center Church (1923-1929).  But according to his story, he must have been there for a short time much earlier.


“In those early days (1894 or 1895) I was known as the ‘boy preacher’ of the conference.  I could not vote until after my first service at the York Center Church had ended.  I had begun my first work at Pittsville.  Assigned to the new charge, I packed most of my belongings to go by freight.  At that time, a railroad had been built to run up into York and my belongings were entrusted to it.”  He then continued on ahead, wearing his preaching Prince Albert suit and with such other things as he could carry.


The freight, with his other belongings, was long in coming and the roof of the Loyal Church needed shingling.  So, the boy preacher went up on the roof, Prince Albert suit and all, helping with the shingling job.


Finally, Mr. James heard that his freight had been deposited along the railroad track, where there was no freight shed or depot agent (Romadka).  He went there to pick up his packages.  There was nobody there to whom he could pay the freight charges.  Presumably, the freight charges are unpaid to this day, Mr. James said.


The following are things, which Rev. James noted had changed during his ministry:


The Sunday dinner was prepared on Saturday so that there had to be no cooking on Sunday.


It was considered wrong to shave or blacken your shoes on Sunday.


There were no baseball games played on Sunday, no picnics were held on Sunday, and no Methodist would dance—ever.


Through the years, there have been other remodeling projects, such as a most recent one, putting a full basement under the church, to be used for a fellowship hall with dining facilities.


( The same dedication and faith of the pioneering families, who started the York Methodist Church so many years ago, carries on today with the present members striving to keep the church facility as an attractive and meaningful place to join in worship.


Congratulations to members of the York Center Methodist Church congregation as they celebrate 125 years of their worship center. D.Z.)



The York Center Methodist Church has been very much a part of the Town of York community for many years.  The Methodist congregation was started by pioneering families who came to live in the area during the 1870s.  The church was built in 1880 along a road that is now Country Trunk K, about five miles northwest of Granton.  This weekend, the York Center Methodist Church members will be celebrating the church’s 125th Anniversary.


July 1930


The Neillsville Ice Cream factory is enjoying a good summer, according to M. H. Johnson, who states that their product is finding a wide market in this community.  The ice cream is said to be of excellent quality and its manufacture is an important factor in stabilizing the local milk price.


A shower was held, Monday night, at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Otto Lautenbach, south of Granton, in honor of their daughter Laura, who is to be married Thursday night to Fred Wall, of Neillsville.  More than 100 friends and relatives of the couple were present and many splendid gifts were received.  Rev. J. G. Booth, of the Grant Lutheran Church, will perform the wedding ceremony.  After a wedding trip through the southern part of the state, the couple will make their residence in Neillsville where Mr. Wall is manager of the Deep Rock Oil business.


A number of Neillsville people, who purchased unfermented fruit juices from an oily-tongued salesman about six weeks ago, are wondering what happened to their orders.


The salesman, who gave the name of Shoemaker, took orders for the juices and assured the purchasers that within a short time after they received the kegs, they would have a wonderful wine with a “kick” like a kangaroo.  In some cases, he promised he would come back within a few days and help the customers “set” the batch and see that it got the proper kind of a start.  He also showed them a handsome sketch of a glass water valve, to stick into the keg to allow the fermentation to go on without allowing air to enter the keg.  The valve was “free” and given as a special favor.


From reports, Mr. Shoemaker had a profitable day and is believed to have collected about $200 from residents who were taken in by his honest appearing countenance.


Huntley and Kutchera, last week, finished erecting the Underwood monument in the Neillsville Cemetery, one of the largest and handsomest pieces of work ever put up here.  It is a monolith of dark grey Vermont granite, the single stone weighing between nine and ten tons.  The piece was transferred from the car to Sherman Gress’ moving truck by the big crane of the Lex Construction Co.  Mr. Gress engineered the job of moving the stone to the cemetery.  He assisted Huntley and Kutchera in setting it in place on the Underwood lot.  On the face of the stone are names of Stafford and Underwood; on the back, in a similar panel, is carved the names of Mr. and Mrs. Len Stafford and all of their children.  Mrs. Fred Underwood, who died just a year ago and is buried in the family lot, was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stafford.  The monument is a distinct credit to the local monument firm of Huntley and Kutchera.


By a vote of 266 to 22, the citizens of Loyal decided at special election, last week Tuesday, to sell the village light plant to the Northern States Power Co., for $18,500.  With the plant, goes also Loyal’s equity in the power line running to Neillsville.  It is understood that the Northern States Power Company plans to expend about $25,000 in remodeling and improving the system.


The bean cannery got into full swing here Tuesday morning, as the beans began to come in large quantities.  About 150 bean snippers are busy in the snipping room all day.  The beans are of fine quality. 


The road paving work on Highway 73, near Greenwood, has been progressing nicely this past week.  The stretch from the Jack Syth corner to the F. & N. E. Railroad tracks was finished Tuesday and work on laying concrete on North Main Street was begun yesterday.  If the weather continues favorably, the contractors expect to finish the paving within the next three weeks.


This community has just passed through one of the hottest periods on record (2005), according to Carl Stange, weather observer here.  The temperature rose to nearly 100 degrees in the shade, Sunday.  The hot spell resulted in a number of storms, which did considerable damage to property and crops.  A new barn, just erected on the farm of Don Celesnik, near Willard, was blown down Saturday night.  Motorists, returning Sunday night from outings, reported numerous trees blown across the road, between here and Greenwood.


There will be a Merry-go-round, Ferris wheel and Chair-o-plane on the MacBride Lot, opposite the court house, every evening this coming week.


Bud Wagner and his Tunesmiths, the hottest dance band on the road, will be at Hank Markwardt’s Barn, Saturday night July 12.


A Missionfest will be held at Pine Valley Lutheran Church Sunday, July 20th.


100 years ago--


Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.


The average life expectancy in the U. S. was 47 years of age. D. Z.



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