Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Somers Presbyterian Church 1839

Presbyterian Church, circa 1800's, Somers Township, Kenosha County
(Source:  Original photo courtesy of Lynn Thompson Powell)
The Reverend John Gridley
Pastor of the Somers Presbyterian Church, which was formed in 1839 and was located on the Green Bay Road near Petrifying Springs.  He served as a Pastor for 17 years from 1855 to 1872.  He was born May 23, 1787 and died December 27, 1876.  John Gridley was not only a doctor of divinity, but also a doctor of medicine.

Somers Presbyterian Church
Photo Courtesy of Kenosha County Historical Society, Inc.
Contributor:  Mrs. Minnie Ozanne/Kenosha Vocational School
c. 1839

History of the Somers Presbyterian Church
Among the oldest churches in this vicinity was the Presbyterian Church in Somers.  Rev. S. Peet was the organizer of the Presbyterian congregation, and it was under his direction that the church structure was erected in 1839.  The building was most substantially constructed with heavy oak timbers that were hand hewed from the neighboring woods.
It originally stood beside the Old Indian Trail, a road established by the government from Chicago to Green Bay, on land a short distance south of the Somers town hall donated by “Uncle Billy” Smith.  (Please read the blog entry for William Smith for additional reference and map).
It remained there until 1845, when it was moved half a mile north to a site given by Rev. James Ozanne and Charles Leet.
As persons entered the building they faced the congregation, so it was well to be on time.  The pulpit was in an elevated alcove in the front of the church, and the choir apartment was at the rear.  A dark red curtain of heavy material was drawn in front of the choir after each song.  The congregation turned around in the pews when they sang.
An early custom was for members to buy their pews and received deeds for them.  Doors were at each end.  In the front of the building, to the right and left of the pulpit, were square pews.  The late Mr. and Mrs. James Flett, early Scotch settlers, with their eight sons, occupied the southeast square pew.  Among the sons was the late David Flett, judge of the first municipal court in Racine.  Mr. and Mrs. William Robertson and their seven children had the northeast square pew.
In the summer of 1886 the church was moved to the village of Somers.
Rev. O.F. Curtis, who served to 1840, was the first pastor.
(Source:  Kenosha News June 15, 1935 Centennial Edition)

"Fred and George Leet have built the cement walks at the Presbyterian Church."
(Source:  Racine Journal Times publication October 27, 1910)

"One hundred years ago on December 3, 1839, the Presbyterian church of Somers was organized by Rev. S. Peet, and was built on the Green Bay trail, the land being donated by William Smith.  In June 1846 the building was moved a half mile north to a site given by Charles Leet and Rev. James Ozanne.  It stood there until 1886 when it was moved to the village of Somers.  The first pastor was Rev. O.F. Curtiss, who served 1839-40, and the first four members of the church were Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Spence and Mrs. and Mrs. James Hurlbut.

In 1863 a Methodist Church was established near the intersection of the Somers Road and the Green Bay trail and this too after many years was moved to the village.

On July 21, 1918, these two bodies united, continuing as the Somers Federal Church until December 11, 1921, when the organization became Congregational.

The main portion of the present building is the original part of the Presbyterian Church built in 1839."
(Source:  Racine Journal, publication date December 4, 1939)

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