HISTORY OF GRACE M. E. CHURCH
Greenwood, Clark Co., WI
Contributed by Dawn Marks and transcribed by Daniel McLain.
Religion has been a dominant factor in Clark County since the very earliest days. While the floating population working in the lumber camps in winter and departing again in spring added an element of irreligion, the permanent settlers, who came from religious homes in the east or from the old country, felt the need of a church and other religious institutions as an uplifting influence. Among the settlers the first services were held by Circuit Riders of the Methodist Episcopal Church. As far back as 1847 the Reverend R. R. Wood, a Methodist minister from Black River Falls preached the first sermon at Neillsville. But it was not until 1858 that Neillsville was made a regular appointment, being visited every three weeks. The services were held in private homes in such rooms as could be secured. In 1869 a neat little church was erected; the lot was secured at a very small cost from Mrs. James O’Neill.
It was from Neillsville that the work of the Greenwood Methodist Church had its beginning.
The first religious services were held in Greenwood in the winter of 1866 when Reverend H. H. Smith of Neillsville came and held services in the log schoolhouse that stood on Main Street where the Greenwood Electric Company now stands. Services and other meetings continued to be held in this schoolhouse for some two or three years.
In the year of 1868 the church was duly organized by the Reverend H. W. Bushnell of Neillsville. The three people who may be called its founders were Caleb Edwards, Mrs. Hannah Bowerman and Mrs. Charlotte Honeywell. By their zeal and devotion they kept and built up the spiritual life and interest of the church.
Reverend Bushnell preached here until 1871. He was followed by Reverend S. E. McLain, who became the first regular pastor.
The Reverend John Holt followed Reverend McLain and it was through his work and influence that the present parsonage was built. The second school was a frame building which stood on Main Street near the present R. E. A. building. This school continued to be used until 1877 when the first Methodist Episcopal Church was built during the pastorate of Reverend John N. Phillip. This church still stands on Main Street and is being used by the friends of the Roman Catholic faith. As far as we are able to ascertain the charter members of the first church or society were: Case and Charlotte Honeywell, John and Mary Honeywell, Stephen Andrews, Hattie Andrews, Caleb and Jane Edmonds, Charles and Mrs. Carpenter, John and Mrs. Hannah Bowerman, Miss Lydia Bowerman, and Lorinda Andrews. These all died in the faith and passed to their reward.
The first church was used constantly for nearly twenty-five years, when it became too small and unsuitable for our expanding work and in 1902 it was sold to the Norwegian Lutheran people, who in turn sold it to the Roman Catholics. This same year the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church was built and opened.
In the year of 1871 George C. Andrews and family from Canada came to Greenwood to reside and united with the church. This proved to be a great impetus to both the community and to the church. The place occupied by George C. Andrews, local preacher, will not soon be forgotten. His influence extended throughout the entire community. There was a great need for earnest and aggressive Christian life in these early pioneer days and friend Andrews was always ready in the forge or in the pulpit. He preached to the people in the country and the whole church prospered with large congregations.
Grace Church was opened and dedicated May of 1902 under the leadership of Reverend W. E. Kloster. This was a great occasion and people from Longwood, Hemlock, Christie and Loyal were in attendance. During the day $1035 was raised for the building fund which goes to show that the old time Methodists were true in their reputation as enthusiastic contributors. Dr. H. W. Bolton of Madison was the special preacher for the day with the help of the Reverend W. E. Kloster and other clergymen present it was a splendid service.
Lay supporters were Mrs. Charles Cummings, Mrs. Bowen, Mrs. May Parker, Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. J. S. Andrews, Mrs. Sara Meeks, Mrs. Chas. Miller and F. M. Smith.
The Sunday School has ever been a great help to the church. In the early days the men of the congregation stood at the head of the Sunday School and did almost as much as the pastors to influence the lives of the young. Among those remembered are Caleb Edwards, H. W. Hunt, Edward Miller, Dr. C. H. Brown, W. R. Howard, G. C. Andrews and Mrs. E. Bowen.
Friend and brother Hunt was a Godly man, well-loved, and his influence for good is felt to the present day. We wonder why we cannot have the same helpfulness and inspiration today.
During the pastorate of Reverend Thompson, plans were made looking to the finishing of the church basement, for the use of the Sunday School, Ladies’ Aid Society and other social activities. Under the enthusiastic leadership of Mrs. J. S. Andrews, President of the society the work was completed and the basement was opened and dedicated free of debt.
Ladies’ Aid Society has ever been a strong and liberal department of the church. Since its inception, the ladies have paid thousands of dollars into the building and maintenance funds, and they have worked hard in season and out of season.
“Taken from Greenwood Gleaner, 1931.”
The season carnival was a success in every way. The hall looked pretty with its booths and a large audience cheered each number of the program. Miss Hunt as Columbia carried her part to perfection and Dr. Brown as Uncle Sam was greatly appreciated. The Ladies of the Aid are grateful to their many friends who helped them in making the affair a success financially as well as socially. They cleared $55, making their total receipts for the year $175, most of which goes toward their pledge of $200 for the new church. Greenwood Gleaner, 7 Mar 1902.
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