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History of Pioneer Methodist Churches
Presentation to the Annandale History Club
March 1, 2010
Brian Partridge 

This is the third Annandale History Club presentation by Brian Partridge.  His other presentations were Buzzell G.A.R. Post in 2008 and History of Fair Haven in 2005.

Brian presented the history of three churches in Southside Township (only one exists today).  The Partridge family was involved in all three churches, and all three churches were connected in history.

The following timeline gives an idea of where these three churches fit in history.

1849:  Minnesota became a territory.

1857:  Fair Haven was platted.

1858:  Minnesota became a state.

1858:  First meetings of future Grace Methodist Church.

1868:  Southside Township was organized.

1873:  First meetings of Zion Evangelical (future E.U.B. Church, Zion United Methodist).

1877:  Grace Methodist Church was built.

1878:  Log Church organized.

1886:  October:  Town site of Annandale platted.

           December 9:  First train traveled through Annandale and South Haven.

1888:  Annandale and South Haven organized.

The Methodist Church had circuit rider preachers that attended to the spiritual needs of our early settlers.  Brian read the following August 16, 1951, article from the Annandale Advocate.

We have churches in our community because preachers of the gospel visited early settlers and preached wherever they could.  Some early missionaries came into the community where marvelous laymen had already established religious services 

This type of service was usually called a Sunday School.  One of the earliest known Sunday Schools in our community was started in what is known as Southside by Mrs. D. H. Weir and Mrs. Lampson.  These two Godly women gathered the children and older people in their old log schoolhouse.  Here without religious rancor or partnership, the people worshipped the Father.

The Sunday School started by Mrs. Weir and Mrs. Lampson developed into the Free Methodist Church in South Haven and Grace Methodist Church in Southside.  This in turn became the Evangelical United Brethren of South Haven and the Methodist Church of Annandale.  By Rev. K. O. Bradevold

Brian's great-grandmother, Anna Partridge (1860-1937), was involved in the Free Methodist Church and kept what appears to be most of their records from 1883-1937.  Lucille Nelson, a volunteer with the Wright County History Center, helped transcribe these records and compiled information on the Log Church.  The records are few and sometimes confusing.

James Davis acquired title to Lot 2, Section 23 in Southside Township from the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad on October 8, 1869.  Southside Township had existed for barely a year.  On March 11, 1878, the following men, trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church, acquired a 99-year lease from James J. Davis for the purpose of a church and cemetery:  A. Rudolph, Levi Rudolph, Abel Lambert, David Davis, Charles Dally, Stephen H. Dorman, and James Blackburn.

Eighteen months later, September 22, 1879, the Trustees of the Union Church acquired this same leasehold interest from James J. Davis.  Some of the new church trustees were the following:  Stephen H. Dorman, A. Rudolph, Levi Rudolph, David Davis, John Wurzburger, E. Spaulding,  J. B. Lawson,  J. W. Jordan,  and H. Jones.

The services may have been held in a log schoolhouse.  It is assumed that this log school was the log church, because there is no record of a church built on this property, only a parsonage.  There's a notation that M. F. Childs built a kitchen off the parsonage in 1879.  Some discrepancies Brian found in his research:

1879: Plat map shows no church at this site.

1881: History of the Upper Mississippi Valley lists this church as a Freewill Baptist Church.

1901:   Plat map lists a Free M. E. (Methodist Episcopal Church) at this site.

1911:   Plat map shows a church and cemetery at this site.

Circuit riders were established by the different denominations.  It could be two or more weeks between services.  Services could be at different times of the day, depending on the circuit rider's travel schedule.  When no circuit riders were available, local preachers (laymen) filled in.  Each conference year, changes were made in the schedule as needed.  There were many revival services, and the Union Church was known for "hellfire and brimstone" sermons.

1881:  Earliest recorded burial in Union Cemetery.

1886:  The circuit was Clear Lake, Silver Creek, Southside and Dassel.

1890:  The congregation voted on buying the lease property or moving to South Haven.  J. B. Vandervoort, who had married a Partridge daughter, donated two lots in South Haven.

1892:  Annandale Advocate reported, "The log church, Spur 7, Southside, is just now the scene of an interesting and profitable revival under the charge of Elder Norris and other co-laborers in a good cause."

A bee was held and 23 loads of rock were hauled to South Haven to build the foundation for a 24x40 foot church.  Trees were cut down; however, the lumber was sawn incorrectly at a lumber yard and had to be redone.  The congregation was in debt $200 before they could build the church.  They were still using the log church in 1894, until they could afford insurance, build a chimney and build a parsonage in South Haven.

1910:  W. H. Dorman built a steeple on the Free Methodist Church.

1930:  Special meetings were held to decide whether to sell the church.

1937:  Last of church records.  At some point the Free Methodist Church dissolved.

1945:  Church building sold and moved from its location (across Highway 55 from present-day Mom's Cafe) to behind the hotel.  Earl Mauer started a feed mill in the former church.

1947:  The feed mill (former church) burned down.

C.C. Foster, a Civil War veteran, arrived in this area in the 1890s.  His grave is at the Union Cemetery.  Even though the 99-year lease has expired, Southside Township has taken over responsibility for the cemetery.  There are 18 known graves at Union Cemetery (see cemetery list at There could be more graves that are unmarked. 

The South Haven Evangelical United Brethren Church had its beginnings in 1873 in the Bretzke home southeast of the present town of Kimball.  Parent congregations were Paynesville and St. Cloud. The first ministers, the Rev. A. Nierans and Rev. F. Emde, came from Paynesville and carried on missionary work.  The first local conference in this area was held July 13, 1889, in the home of August Kersten, Rev. F. Emde presiding. Laymen present were R. Miller, E. Marquardt, Fred Mielke, Christian Block and Gottlieb Kersten.  Other pioneers who became interested in the church were the Hoeft, Steinberg, Braatz, Hinz, Ecker, Kiehn and Schmidt families.

1891:  The South Haven Church was officially incorporated as Zion Evangelical Church on November 26. The congregation continued to worship in homes and schoolhouses until 1899.  The Sunday school was organized and held in the homes for some years before the church was built.

1899:  A church was built south of South Haven by the present cemetery site.

1916:  The church building was moved into the village of South Haven at a cost of $911.  A Young People's Alliance was organized with 57 members.

1924:  An addition was built, costing about $900.

1943:  Memorial windows.

1951:  Electric Organ.

1953:   On June 25th the Articles of Incorporation were amended to include the new name of the denomination:  Zion Evangelical United Brethren Church of South Haven.  Trustees were Emil Kiehn, Donald Pramman, Walter Partridge, William Kiehn, and Norman Wadman.  Membership was 123.

1963:  A new church was built on Highway 55.

1966:  Zion E.U.B. Church became part of Tri Community Parish:  Kimball, Annandale Methodist and Zion, with Pastor Abdella serving all three churches.

1968:  E.U.B. and Methodist Churches merged.  New name:  Zion United Methodist Church of South Haven.

See History of Zion United Methodist Church under 2001 Annandale History Club Presentations.

Brian Partridge's grandfather, Rev. James Rutgers, was pastor of Zion Evangelical Church 1943-1953.

Grace Church was located on the northwest corner of Section 24, Southside Township.  All that remains is Grace Cemetery, which was revitalized several years ago, due to local residents' interest and an Eagle Scout project by Mike Hemminger.  Don Daniels is the sexton, and Southside Township maintains Grace Cemetery.

Early services were held in the homes of pioneers John and Lorenzo Doble and N. J. Robinson, with Rev. Bartley Blaine of Clearwater doing some of the preaching.  John and Lorenzo Doble owned a farm on the north side of Pleasant Lake in 1856.   Lorenzo Doble served in the Minnesota Cavalry, Company B, Brackett's Battalion.  The Dobles and Rev. M. S. Harriman were part of the group that built Fort Harriman (Fort Skedaddle) on the south side of Pleasant Lake during the 1862 Dakota Indian Uprising (see Fort Harriman under 2006 Annandale History Club presentations).

After the church organized in 1868, services were regularly held in a log schoolhouse east of Pleasant Lake near the farm of John Townsend (William Ponsford owned this property in 1915).

In 1858 Levi Gleason was well known for preaching in this area.  He married a daughter of Joseph Pratt (a name connected with Annandale history).  The first quarterly conference for this area was held here.  Mr. Gleason was pastor in 1863, then left to serve as a chaplain in the Civil War.  In 1863 there wasn't a church or cemetery, the church didn't own land, Annandale didn't exist, and not only was there the Civil War, there was also the Indian Uprising.

1863:  Rev. M. S. Harriman, who lived on a farm on the north banks of Pleasant Lake, and other local preachers filled the pulpit (instead of circuit riders) during the Indian problems. 

1865, 1866:  C. T. Barkaloo of the Clearwater circuit preached at the log schoolhouse east of Pleasant Lake. 

1867:  W. T. Rorke was pastor.

1868:  Rev. Rorke organized a church society in a log building near William Ponsford's farm.  Meetings were held there for about two years, after which they were held at the Prospect schoolhouse near John Kurz's residence. 

1871:  There were no circuit pastors available, so local pastors (laymen) served.

1875-76:  Noah Lathrop, pastor of the Clearwater circuit, preached at the log schoolhouse on Sunday evenings once every two weeks, after holding services at 10:30 a.m. in Maine Prairie and 3:00 p.m. in Fair Haven.

1877:  Grace Church was started.  W. P.  Fenlason was the circuit rider from the Maine Prairie Circuit (Corinna Township was part of this circuit).  Charles Dally, pioneer settler, donated two acres of the northwest corner of Section 24 for a cemetery and building.  The church was built around this time.

1879:  Plat map shows a church and cemetery in the northwest corner of Section 24, Corinna Township.

1889:  M.E. Churches were built in Fair Haven, Annandale, and Kimball in 1889. 

1891:  Grace became part of the Fair Haven and Kimball Circuit.  

Pastors of the M.E. circuit, who served Grace Church (19 pastors served Grace Church over 33 years ):

Until 1884:    A. Matson
                    William Brown
                     J. N. McDonald

1885:            Adam Ringer (local man)
                     George Kindred

1889:            W. H. Wilson

1891:           Frank Higgins (later became known as Lumberjack's Sky Pilot) for his fly-in ministry to lumber camps.   
                    Fair Haven/Kimball Circuit:   F. Dark, Thomas Archer and John Powell

1894:            G. E. Pickard                      

1897-1898:  W. H. Barkaloo

1898-1900:  Roderick Murray

1900-1902:  A. L. Fisher

1902-1904:  Henry Nobbs

1904-1905:  A. C. Spencer

1905-1907:  F. W. Hill

1907-1917:  James M. Burns

Familiar names in early records were Levi Dakin, John Doble, Lorenzo Doble, M. S. Harriman, Ira Wingett, Charles Dally, Nathan Dally, Abram Rudolph (well known as an ardent temperance worker).

In later years, other familiar names identified with Grace Church were Phineas Rudolph, Andrew Rudolph, George Rudolph, Peter Larsen, L. H. Webster, Frank Geary, L. H. Niles, Charles Bartlett, the Wingetts, the Ransoms, M. E. Willett, the Butlers, W.H.Towle, Florous Partridge,  C.W. Harvey, the Fraleys, and J. F. Lee.

Membership at Grace began to dwindle by deaths and removals.  By 1910, the few remaining members decided to attend Annandale M. E. Church.  The Annandale M.E. Church had been started with the help of Grace Church, and their church building was erected in 1889.  The first meeting of the trustees of the Annandale M.E. Church on February 5, 1889, included Levi Dakin, F. Partridge, John H. Buri, James M. Pratt, W. H. Towle, H. Huntington, J.J. Rennie, and the pastor, Rev. W. H. Wilson. The M.E. Church in Fair Haven was also built in 1889 by the work of Rev. W. H. Wilson.

Note:  Just north of the former Lake Center Store near Clearwater Lake, a German Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was dedicated July 19, 1874, and closed about 1911.  Some of their members relocated to Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in Southside or to Annandale Methodist Episcopal Church.  There is a cemetery at the site of the former church.   

An interesting piece of history:  Over the fall and winter of 1908-09, the old Lee School, which sat "kiddie corner" to Grace Church, was moved across the frozen Pleasant Lake and placed next to the old schoolhouse in town (present Library and City Hall location).  The old Lee School served as additional classrooms until the new Annandale school opened in 1923. The Lee School building was Annandale's community library 1923-2003 and is now the Snooty Fox art gallery and gift shop.

By a vote of the Quarterly Conference in 1913, it was decided to dispose of the old Grace Church building.  It was sold in 1914 and moved one-fourth mile to the Len. Howard farm (now Jennie Christiansen property).  It was a large, frame building and was used as a barn and shed. Brian remembers playing inside it as a child.  The shape of the altar was still on the front wall.  The building is gone now, torn down over 30 years ago.  There are no known photos of Grace Church.

Florous Partridge, Brian's great-grandfather, is in the records of Grace M. E. Church until his death in 1892, when his wife, Anna (Kurz) Partridge (1860-1937) is listed in the records of the Free Methodist Church of South Haven.  Florous Partridge (1852-1892) was buried at Grace Cemetery along with an infant son who died in 1890.  The cemetery fell into disarray after the church closed.  Brian's great-grandmother, Anna Partridge, did not like how the cemetery was being maintained.  Around 1933, she had her husband and son Herbert's bodies exhumed and reburied in one grave at Woodlawn Cemetery.  Herbert Partridge's gravestone is in Brian's garage.