Friday, January 25, 2013

Methodist Episcopal Church of Somers



(Source:  "My Memoirs" by Minnie A.G. Ozanne. Copyright 1948)

First Methodist Church in Wisconsin Built in Somers
(Source:  Racine Journal Times, September 15, 1935)

"The first Methodist Episcopal Church building in the State of Wisconsin was erected in the year 1840 with a congregation made up of the families who had settled in the center of a wilderness that is now the Town of Somers, seven miles northwest of Kenosha.

Positive identification of this little group of pioneers is established with the discovery of some of the early "minutes" of the little congregation of immigrants who decided to go beyond the settlement of Pike Creek, now Kenosha, and go further inland to a little patch in the woods that had been leveled by a forest fire a year before.  Many of the interesting facts concerning this discovery are told by Mrs. E.G. Ozanne, of Somers, who is preparing an interesting history of the early days in the settlement of Somers.

While the first building to house a Methodist Episcopal congregation was built in 1840 the formation of the church organization came three years before when a prayer meeting was called in one of the rude log cabin houses constructed in the section by the first family to arrive.

The establishment of the church came immediately after the arrival of the three Kellogg brothers, Chauncey, Seth, and Thaddeus, and their families who had come with ex team and covered wagon from New England in August 1837.  In New England the three brothers had been prominently identified with the church, and one of their promises was to form a congregation as soon as they should settle.  In six days the brothers had helped construct six log cabins and during that time their group had been joined by twelve more families.

Seth Kellogg, the oldest of the of three brothers, called a prayer meeting for the seventh day and ten persons met in one of the cabins that bright Sunday morning.  A Sun School was formed in which all ten enrolled, and Mrs. Seth Kellogg was named the first superintendent.

The result of this meeting bore its first fruit a month later when the sum of $200 was received as a gift by one of the Kellogg sisters who raised the funds in Sunday School in New York.  With this money to furnish such materials as were available by stage from Chicago and Milwaukee, the building was begun.  Chauncey Kellogg had been a carpenter in the east and he gave all his spare time to the erection of the church.  Austin Kellogg, another member of the original family, had been a blacksmith and he made the nails and braces for the building.

No one who worked on this building during the next two years accepted pay.  The timbers were hand hewn out of solid oak.  Benches and pews were planed from trees cut down at the edge of the clearing.  With all other work that required the attention of these pioneers church workers, the new building proceeded slowly.  when completed in the spring of 1840, the congregation had grown to 35 families.  At its large dedicatory service there were visitors from miles around.

The first regularly ordained minister who served the church, as available records show, was the Rev. Julius Field, who had married one of the Kellogg daughters.  He assisted in the building of the church and officiated at the consecration of the building.  Later he became Pastor of the First Methodist Church in Racine in 1845.  Ebenezer Washburn came to the village in 1843 to make his home with his daughter, Electa Washburn Kellogg, wife of Seth Kellogg.  He, known as "Father Washburn" was one of the early pastors.  He built a home for himself at the point that has since been known as Kellogg's Corners in the Town of Somers and lived there until 1850 when he moved to Racine.  He died in 1857.  Among the early ministers there were Rev. James Ozanne, Father Washburn, John Collett and Joshua Collier.

Among the ordained pastors were:  Delos Hale, George Parsons, A.J. Benjamin, E.L. Eaton, William Rollins, E.D. Kohlsted, M.L. Norris, and A.M. Sanford.  Rev. P.J. Lawson in 1910 was the last to occupy the pulpit.

Among the Sunday School superintendent were:  Mrs. Seth Kellogg, and Amon T. Gould, who operated a blacksmith shop at Kellogg's Corners for many years, and who held the superintendency of the Sunday School over a long period.

In 1860 a Sunday School festival was held with 300 present, most of them children of that original group of pioneers who founded the First Methodist Church in Wisconsin.

In 1916 the building was sold, taken down, and used in the building of a barn on a nearby farm.  The original lumber and timbers were found to be in an almost perfect state of preservation.

The day commemorating the 104th anniversary of that first prayer and Sunday School, following the arrival of these Kellogg brothers and their families, to that little patch in the woods that later became known as Kellogg's Corners, some sixty of their descendants met in reunion on the site of this first church.  A beautiful feature of this reunion was the dedicatory service of a large boulder that was one of the original corner-stones of the church foundation.  The unveiling was by two boys, Donald Mann, of Los Angeles, California, and James Beall, of Chicago, both descendants of the Kellogg's.  This boulder is beautifully engraved, and permanently set - a grand tribute to those early pioneers who came."


Cornerstone of the Methodist Church at Kellogg's Corners.
(Source: "My Memoirs" by Minnie A.G. Ozanne. Copyright 1948)


Austin Kellogg