HISTORY OF YUBA COUNTY CALIFORNIA
by Thompson & West, 1879, with illustrations
Chapter XVI - Churches
The excitement in the East, on the receipt of the mining news from California, affected the clergy as well as the people of the world. Many resigned their pastorates, joined in the throng, and were as eager as the others to gather a goodly amount of the golden sands. There were those in the ministry, however, whose aim in seeking the western land was to lend their talents to the service of their Master. They threw aside all opportunities of speedily gathering a rich competence, to labor in the best missionary field in the world. The stories of their trials and tribulations are exceedingly interesting, giving an idea of the condition of affairs at that pioneer period, and also showing the lasting effect of early Christian culture. The first religious exercises were held in the spring of 1850, by Rev. Mr. Washburne, in a flat boat, moored opposite the Plaza. He was followed by Rev. Mr. Wilson, a Methodist clergyman, who succeeded in building a Methodist Episcopal church. In the month of May, 1851, Mr. Wilson died and was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Burrell. The bell in the Presbyterian church was rung for the first time on Sunday, February 8, 1852. Its tones brought back memories of homes and families in the distant eastern land, and caused many a tear to fall.
One of the pioneer ministers of Yuba county was Rev. S. V. Blakeslee, an account of whose experiences is given. He was ordained a minister of the Congregational denomination in Iowa, and left immediately for California on his own responsibility and expense. He arrived at Marysville, April 13, 1850, and the following Sabbath commenced regular services in the unfinished upper part of a two-story frame building, owned by George Beach. The attendance on the first morning was about thirty-five; some were professors of religion, while the rest were drawn there by mere curiosity. In the afternoon he held services on the Plaza, where a large crowd assembled. All were exceedingly attentive and respectful. During the second week, arrangements were made to preach weekly in Marysville at eleven o'clock A.M.; in the anticipative town of Eliza, at two o'clock P.M.; and in Yuba City at seven o'clock P.M.; which services were continued until the failure of the Eliza project, in the month of May, after which services were held at the plaza regularly every Sunday afternoon, until the middle of June, when a local Methodist minister took his place. Several trips were made into the mountains and mining districts in the summer of 1850. A number of services were held by invitation in saloons and gambling rooms. When ready to commence, the money and stakes lying on the tables were covered with the cloths, and all listened attentively and with great respect. The Christian hymns, familiar to most of their eastern homes, were sung. Many times a generous contribution was presented to the worthy preacher. After the benediction the tables were uncovered and the play was resumed as lively as ever. Another minister visited the field during the early part of Mr. Blakeslee stay - Rev. Mr. Hunt, of San Francisco, who preached one Sabbath. In September, 1850, Rev. W.W. Brier arrived and subsequently organized a church. He was favorably received, and efforts were put forth to erect a building, but proved for some time unsuccessful, owing to the great expense and difficulty in obtaining lumber and materials. The attendance at the services increased with the growth of the population. The Sabbath School in connection with Mr. Blakeslee's labors was small, the attendance being perhaps eight or ten. There were but few children, and elderly persons were too busy to attend. The minister was the only teacher. Mr. Blakeslee has been for twenty-four years Editor-at-Large of The Pacific, a weekly religious paper published in San Francisco, under the auspices of the Congregational Church.
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
The following items in the early history of the church have been taken from the journal of Rev. W.W. Brier, who was the first Presbyterian minister of the place, and resided here from September 7, 1850, to March, 1852, with his young wife: - "September 7, 1850. Traveled on the steamer Governor Dana from Sacramento to Vernon, thirty miles, and twenty-eight miles in the stage to Marysville. * * * Stayed with Mr. Tay in a 'wholesale store,' a tenton lower side of the Plaza. Mr. Tay is a partner of Deacon Leonard, of San Francisco; had a letter to him, and he received me kindly; is a pleasant young fellow. He put up notices of preaching with all the zeal of an elder. * * * "
"Sunday, September 8. Preached under the shade of a large white oak tree in the morning. All stores open, all the gambling houses in full blast, teams of oxen and a train of mules loading goods. Went to the place advertised, and found about twenty men sitting on old wagons, ox-yokes and logs. One said, as I looked about, 'Sit down, here's the place to hear preaching.' I stood on a little eminence and commenced to sing a hymn. From every direction men gathered with sad and care-worn faces, which told of thoughts of loved ones far away, and remembrances of Sabbaths at rest. All listened respectfully. At night I preached in the Court House. This Court House was away out of town, on the plains, at the corner of E and Third streets."
"The only house near it was a square blue tent, six by ten feet, the head-quarters of Rev. S.V. Blakeslee, who traveled through the mines and preached. It had a bunk in one end and some blue blankets. With great dignity and geniality he offered the use of his house free of charge until I could build. I declined, as there was no shade. The Court House was a room, twenty by thirty feet, with a Masonic Hall above. Had a good frame covered with rough boards a foot wide, no lining, rough floor, and a full supply of backless benches. This was the place for all public meetings and courts. Here, on November 24, 1850, was organized the Presbyterian Church, consisting of nine members. Adam Farish and C.W. McClanahan were chosen Elders. Dr. Wilder was the most active man in the church work. George C. Gorham, of political notoriety, took an interest in the outside matters of the congregation. He was a young man of steady habits. Judge Field, now of the United States Supreme Court, was also a frequent attendant. Judge E.D. Wheeler, a young lawyer, and also his partner, Jesse Goodwin, took an active part in the business matters of the church. John Parks, the proprietor of the United States Hotel, and a chief owner of the town, also aided materially in getting up the church building, which was erected on the corner of D and Third streets, in the spring of 1851. The subscription was started on February 12, and J.M. Ramirez, who live in the original adobe ranch house on the banks of the Yuba, made the first donation. He was looked upon as a capitalist, and headed the list with $100. Dr. Rice and Dr. Winters rendered good service in getting up the subscription. Lewis Cunningham, now a capitalist in San Francisco, had a bank in a little zinc house on B street; he was a quiet but true friend to the church and the young minister. Mr. Hamilton, who has laid so many in the silent house of the dead, rendered good service in singing. The citizens, with few exceptions, donated to the building. It was finished and dedicated August 3, 1851, Rev. T. Dwight Hunt, of San Francisco, preaching the sermon. It was a wooden building, lined with cotton cloth, well seated with pews, and would accommodate three hundred. The cost was nearly five thousand dollars, with a debt of seven hundred dollars, secured by subscription. These subscriptions were mostly lost by reason of the first great fire, occurring a month after the church was dedicated. The fine bell now on the church, costing six hundred and fifty dollars, was soon secured by a special subscription. It was the first church bell ever heard in the upper Sacramento valley, and no event in the history of that region occasioned more good feeling on its arrival. This bell was placed in a frame outside the church, and was thus saved when the building was destroyed by fire. The Sabbath School was organized on the sixth of April, 1851, with twenty-seven children. The church increased constantly by the influx of families from the East. On February 1, 1852, Dr. Wilder and Thomas Ireland were ordained Elders."
In April, by the advice of physicians, the pastor (Mr. Brier) removed to the coast, near Centreville, Alameda county, where he now resides. Rev. I.H. Brayton succeeded him. His health broke down in nine months, and he retired from the field. April 1, 1853, Rev. E.B. Walsworth took charge of the church. May 25, 1854, the church was burned. The Trustees sold the lot on the corner of D and Third streets, it having become valuable for business purposes, purchased a lot on the corner of D and Fifth streets, and built a chapel thereon, at a cost of six thousand five hundred dollars. In 1859, the size of the congregation demanded a more commodious auditorium, and the present handsome edifice was erected on the corner of D and Fifth streets. This structure cost thirty-three thousand dollars. It was dedicated October 14, 1860, the sermon being preached by Rev. E.S. Lacey.
The first Trustees appointed by Rev. W.W. Brier were Dr. A.H. Wilder, Dr. D.W.C. Rice, A.T. Farish, Thomas Ireland, and E. Hamilton. The Trustees under whose management the present church edifice was erected were: - John A. Paxton, President; S.W. Selby, Vice President; H.S. Hoblitzell, Secretary and Treasurer; John H. Jewett, F.F. Low, Peter Decker, W.K. Hudson, A.W. Cutts, and Dr. D.W.C. Rice. The present church officers are: - Rev. P. Lynett Carden, Pastor; Dr. Eli Teegarden and A.W. Cutts, Elders; C.M. Patterson, Deacon. The church has a membership of seventy-five, and sustains a Sabbath School of one hundred and sixty scholars and is provided with a large library. Allen Cooley is Superintendent. The Pastors who have successively presided over this charge are: - Revs. W.W. Brier, I.H. Brayton, E.B. Walsworth, J.H. Brodt, W.W. Macomber, W. McKaig, James Matthews, and P. Lynett Carden.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The first quarterly conference in this section of the State was held in Yuba City, June 15, 1850, by Rev. Isaac Owen, Presiding Elder of the Feather River District. He was Superintendent of Missions, this District being then under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Mission Conference. In the summer of 1850, the people of this denomination then living in Marysville united and built a small church on the west side of D street, between Third and Fourth streets. In this house was held the first quarterly conference in Marysville, the third Saturday in September, 1850, at which time the Rev. Joshua Wilson was assigned to the pastorate. Mr. Wilson died in the spring of 1851, and was succeeded by Rev. D.A. Dryden. The successive pastors from that date are: Reverends J.W. Brier, M.C. Briggs, H.C. Benson, D.A. Dryden, M.C. Briggs, J.A. Bruner, J.D. Blain, William J. McClay, David Deal, Wm. Grove Deal, J.B. Hill, C.V. Anthony, J.N. Martin, E. Bannister, J.L. Burchard, C.E. Rich, Wm. McPherson, J.L. Trefen, and Martin Miller. The first officers of the church were: - Geo. M. Hanson, Joel Burlingame, and Benjamin Landis, Trustees; Hiram Palmer and Geo. M. Hanson, Deacons; Arthur C. Barber, Hiram Palmer, Joel Burlingame, and Benj. Landis, Stewards. The present Trustees and Stewards are: - Justus Greeley, Wm. Gummow, J.F. Eastman, George Crowell, E.E. Meek, Newton Sewell, and S.L. Frost. The present church edifice, corner of E and Fourth streets, is a commodious frame structure, with a basement for the use of the Sunday School. It was erected in 1852 and 1853, at a cost of about twenty-six thousand dollars, the amount having been raised by subscription among the citizens. The church has a membership of ninety-eight, and maintains a Sunday School attended by about one hundred scholars. J.P. Swift is the Superintendent. The library contains about four hundred volumes.
ST. JOSEPH'S CATHOLIC CHURCH
The first missionaries of the Catholic denomination in the city were Fathers Acker, Anderson, and Ingraham, who labored here in 1851-52. In September, 1852, Father Peter Magagnotto, a brother of the religious order of Passionists, commenced his labor in the formation of a church. Chiefly from his own purse he erected a wooden church, 32x43 feet in size, and of one story. It stood on the north side of Seventh street, between C and D streets, near the present Bishop's residence. Father Peter, as he was always called, was endeared not only to his own flock, but to all who knew him, for his piety and goodness. The church was dedicated March 20, 1853, and served as a place of worship for two years, during which time Father Peter was busy in the erection of the beautiful cathedral which now stands as a monument to his energy and zeal. The corner-stone was laid September 16, 1855, by Archbishop J.S. Alemany, assisted by Fathers Peter Magagnotto, Dominica Blava, and Blasius Raho. In 1861, the Diocese of Grass Valley was formed with the cathedral at Marysville, and Right Rev. Eugene O'Connell became Bishop of the Diocese. In 1865, an addition of forty feet was made to the west end of the cathedral, and the tower and interior were finished. The structure covers an area 50x80 feet, is forty feet high, with a tower one hundred feet high. The interior presents an elegant and imposing appearance. The church is under the ministration of Father Grace, who is also Superintendent of the large Sunday School.
CHURCH OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
This is a church of the German Catholic denomination, organized in 1871. The church was dedicated May 6, 1874. It is a frame structure on the northwest corner of F and Eighth streets, and cost four thousand dollars. The first priest in charge was Rev. Father Herde. The next was Rev. Father John Meilor. The residence of the priest is situated near the church.
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
Rev. O.B. Stone preached in the City Hall in January, 1854, and remained here as the first pastor of the Baptist Church, which was organized March 29, 1854. The officers were William L. Williams, Clerk, and A.P. Barnes, Deacon. Services were held chiefly in the City Hall until it was destroyed in the conflagration of May 25, 1854. After that there were no regular services until 1860, when Rev. H.H. Rheese took charge of the church. Services were then held in the Court House until 1862, when a brick edifice was erected on the corner of E and Eighth streets, costing six thousand dollars. In 1868, Rev. B.F. McLafferty succeeded Mr. Rheese. In 1869, Mr. Rheese returned. That year he took a vacation of six months, and Rev. E.D. Simons filled the pulpit. Rev. C.L. Fisher came in 1871, and in 1872 was succeeded by Rev. M.D. Gage. Mr. Gage departed in 1875, and the church was a year without a pastor. In 1876, a pastor was called, and shortly after, a portion of the church withdrew and formed a new society. Since then the church has been unable to sustain regular services. Previous to the division the membership was eighty-one, and there was a Sunday School of over one hundred average attendance, with a good library. No Sabbath School is held at present.
UNION BAPTIST CHURCH
The members of the First Baptist Church, who withdrew from that society in 1876, organized the Union Baptist Church. Services were held in the Court House for two years by Revs. G.J. Burchett and R. Morton. Since then the society has been too weak to maintain services. A Sunday School of sixty-five scholars, with D.S. Hyams as Superintendent, was sustained, but has since been abandoned.
ST. JOHN'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Religious services were held in Marysville in November, 1854, by Right Rev. W.I. Kip, Bishop of the Diocese of California. Steps were soon taken to form a society, which was accomplished April 30, 1855.
The following gentlemen were the first Wardens and Vestrymen: - Stephen J. Field and William P. Thompson, Wardens; Wm. Hawley, John T. Reins, Chas. S. Fairfax, Ira A. Eaton, S.W. Van Wyck, W.W. Smith, J.A. Monsell, and Chas. H. Hedges, Vestrymen. The first rector was Rev. E.W. Hager. Services were held in the City Hall until the church was ready for occupation. The church edifice is a handsome brick structure on the corner of Fifth and E streets, and was completed in December, 1855. It cost about seven thousand dollars. The successive rectors of the parish were Rev. E.W. Hager until 1856, Rev. F.W. Hatch to 1857, Rev. E.D. Cooper to 1858, Rev. Geo. B. Taylor to 1860, Rev. Henry O.G. Smeathman to 1861, Rev. Hannibal Goodwin to 1863, Rev. Wm. H. Stoy to 1865, Rev. A.A. McAlister to 1872. Then for a year the parish was without a rector, and the pulpit was supplied by Bishops Scott and Kip, and Revs. Dr. Hatch and Hill. In 1873, Rev. Geo. R. Davis took charge, and was succeeded, in 1875, by Rev. E.H. Ward. The present rector, Rev. Wm. H. Stoy, assumed charge of the parish in 1877. The church has fifty communicants and a Sunday School of sixty scholars, with a library of two hundred volumes. The Superintendents are C.A. Stratton and A.J. Cumberson. In 1861, the Parish raised a subscription in Marysville and San Francisco the sum of $4783.50, to lift the indebtedness from the church. The Wardens and Vestrymen are: - Dr. Chas. E. Stone and A.J. Cumberson, Wardens; C.A. Stratton, Treasurer; P. Cory, Secretary; Geo. North, I.D. Shepard, P. Hortop, and Benjamin Hayes, Vestrymen.
GERMAN M.E. CHURCH
About 1860, Rev. Mr. Dierking held the first services of this denomination in Marysville. The church society was formed in 1864, and in the same year a brick church edifice was erected on the corner of Seventh and E streets, at an expense of two thousand dollars. The first pastor of the church was Rev. G.H. Bollinger, who remained until 1868. He was succeeded by Rev. Martin Guhl. Upon the departure of Mr. Guhl, in 1870, the church was left without a regular pastor until 1874, when the conference sent Rev. H. Brueck. For the past two years the church has had no pastor and no regular services. The membership was twenty-five. A Sunday School of forty scholars with a small library was maintained.
MOUNT OLIVET BAPTIST CHURCH
Rev. Charles Satchell preached the first sermon of this denomination in Marysville in 1856. The society was formed the same year with that gentleman as pastor. Wm. Bland, Cupid Blue and Samuel T. Webster were the Trustees and Deacons. The church then had membership of seven, now it numbers thirty-two. In 1857, a substantial brick church was erected on Sixth street, between D and E streets, at an expense of five thousand dollars. Previous to the occupation of the church, services were held at a house on Maiden Lane. The pastors who succeeded Mr. Satchell were: - Reverends T. Randolph, Zachariah Copeland, T. Randolph, Geo. E. Duncan, Wm. Dean, G.J. Burchett, and T. Randolph. The present officers are: - Riley Jones, Spencer Burns, Wm. Bland, Gabriel Simms, Trustees and Deacons, and John C. Jenkins, Clerk. The Sunday School, which had been under the charge of John C. Jenkins and Mrs. Jane A. Copeland, was discontinued in 1878, at which time there were twenty-one scholars.
AFRICAN M.E. CHURCH
This society was organized in 1854 on California alley, between Sixth and Seventh streets. The first church officers were: - D.P. Stoker, pastor; G.A. Cantine, D.W. Sands and Samuel Ringol, Trustees. The pastors have been: - D.P. Stokes, T.M.D. Ward, E. Walters, M. Keeling, 1857-1861; P.R. Green, 1862; J.C. Hamilton, 1863; J.L. Williams, 1865-69; J.C. Hamilton, 1870-72; J.H. Hubbard, 1872; W.H. Bailey, 1873; J.B. Handy, 1874; J.R. Dorsey, 1875; P.R. Green, 1876-79. These were circuit ministers. The neat brick church, corner of California alley and Fifth street, was built in 1864. The present Trustees are Isaac Watkins, William Burns, and James Churchill. The church has twenty-three members, and a Sunday School of twenty-five scholars, with a library of two hundred books. Mrs. C.J. French is Superintendent.
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