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(Seattle & Northern 1890)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Subscribers Edition Stories & Photos
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit.

Covers from British Columbia to Puget sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan. An evolving history dedicated to the principle of committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Methodist churches in Skagit county

(Sedro Methodist church 1895)
This is the earliest known photo, taken in about 1895, of the Sedro Methodist church, which was dedicated in 1892. This photo shows the new Sedro Graded School (later named Franklin) to the left (east) on Nelson.

      We feature below a series of articles from various books and newspapers, along with the results of our research into the Methodist churches. You will find in-depth pieces about the churches in Sedro-Woolley and LaConner plus details of the first church in Seattle. We hope that readers will share with us their own memories along with copies of articles, documents and photos of Methodism in Skagit county so that we can update this article. We would especially like photos of early churches and ministers. This chapter is the second in a series that started with the Itinerant Ministers of Early Days. We are listing the churches roughly in their order of appearance in Sedro-Woolley. Coming next: The Catholics. Can you help?

Glimpses in Pioneer Life: Sedro-Woolley
From the book, Glimpses in Pioneer Life, Rev. Albert Atwood, 1903
      Our work in the upper Skagit country had its beginning in the occasional and somewhat irregular visits of the itinerant in the latter part of the 1870s and continued into the '80s. The first direct reference to it is in the Conference minutes in 1889: "Lyman Circuit to be supplied. Sedro, R.T. Baldwin, supply, 1890; [George Lawson] Cuddy, 1891-95. Brother Cuddy's account of himself and his work is well stated, and he shall speak for himself:"
      I was transferred from the Baltimore Conference, and stationed at Sedro in 1891. There were no church buildings in that part of Skagit county at that time. I found small classes organized at Stirling, Lyman and Hamilton. [Ed. note: this is second time I have seen this spelling for Sterling.] They met in school houses. I arranged for preaching services at Woolley, Birdsview, Cokedale, Clear Lake, McMurray, Arlington, Haller, Sedro, Stirling, Lyman and Hamilton. Services were also held occasionally in logging camps. I preached at Sauk City in 1893 and organized a Sunday school. It was the first Protestant service held in that part of the valley. [Ed. note: Catholics Henry and Katherine Martin organized services before then at their Illabot creek home.]
      When I reached Sedro, March 25, 1891, special courtesies were extended to us by the Sedro Land Company. They kindly donated for our use a dwelling and a place in which to hold preaching services, prayer meetings and Sunday school. We occupied this large, temporary hotel for five months, at the end of which time our church and parsonage were ready for occupancy. They donated two choice lots for church and parsonage purposes, which were valued at $750; also $30 in cash for the church building enterprise.

      The following account is a clipping from the Sedro Press [first published in Sedro in April 1890 by George Hopp] of the first service held in the church:
      Sunday morning, Oct. 11, 1891, the weather was very unfavorable, but despite this fact the ringing of the school bell started the people to church, and by 11 o'clock the house was filled. F.W. Loy of Fairhaven preached a most excellent sermon from Hebrews 2:3, at the close of which David G. LeSourd made an appeal for funds, stating that $2,500 had been expended on the church and that $900, or about that amount, remained to be raised to free the building from debt." At the morning services $500 were raised on subscription. L.E. Worman [also spelled Wornon in some records] addressed a Young People's meeting at 2 p.m. and $200 was raised. Chas. McDermoth preached in the evening and the last $200 were pledged.
      In the spring of 1894 the church was visited by a blessed revival. During the summer of this year the audience room was finished. This was done largely by donated labor and material. The church was dedicated Oct. 21, 1894, by T.J. Massey and David G. LeSourd, assisted by the pastor, G.L. Cuddy. The dedication was followed by a gracious revival in which one hundred and five persons were converted and united with the church. Vive hundred dollars, due the Board of Church Extension, was paid during the pastorate of R.H. Massey, thereby freeing the property from debt. C.A. Williams, 1896; G.D. Dimick, 1897; F.M. Pickles, 1898, Sedro-Woolley — R.H. Massey 1899-1900; J.H. Carter, 1901-2.
      Names of official members: Sunday School Superintendent and President, Epworth League, Darius Kinsey. Class Leader, E.B. Brown. Stewards, Mrs. Julia Mills and Mrs. Lillie Holland [wife of druggist A.E. Holland]. Trustees, C. Mills, Andrew Rowe, Warren Bagley, W.H. Perry. Ladies' Aid Society, Mrs. G. Thomas, President; Mrs. M. Gillispie, Vice President; Mrs. L.O. Ross, Secretary; Mrs. B.H. Taylor, Treasurer.
      [Ed. note: We have to thank Dick Fallis, longtime historian for the Skagit County Historical Society, for preserving this document. He notes that it was copied from the book, Glimpses in Pioneer Life on Puget Sound, by Rev. Albert Atwood, published in 1903. The book is apparently in the LaConner Museum research library.]

Skagit River Journal research about
Methodism statewide and local

      Although the denomination is not mentioned in the excerpt above, it was Methodist Episcopalian. We have researched the very early days of that church quite a bit and this is a good place to share the results. Rev. R.T. Baldwin was the resident minister in old Sedro and he is the character of a very funny story told to author June Burn, when she spent time here in the 1930s, interviewing the original pioneers who were still alive and their descendants.
      Once the only church in town blew down. It was a tent. A Rev. R.T. Baldwin, Methodist, was the first preacher. The people built a church in more permanent form, but the bank had to take it over in lieu of the money owned on it. Dr.[doctor?] Baldwin pleaded with Mr. C.E. Bingham for help to pay off the loan fund against it by Mr. Bingham's bank! And so, as private citizen, the banker went from saloon to saloon, exhorting the boys to help the church out of its difficulty and they came across, and so the note was paid and the church was clear and everybody was happy. The only sufferers were the boys who may have missed getting as drunk as they had intended. The preacher never knew how the money was raised. [Puget Soundings column, Bellingham Herald, Dec. 3, 1930
      As we often find, the "official" account of matters sometimes conflicted with what the pioneers themselves recalled. Maybe the whole truth was someplace in between, but old-timers such as the late Howard Miller and the late Art "Tuffy" Pearson told that story with knee-slapping glee more than once when we interviewed them in the 1990s. We do know from Eliza Van Fleet's 1937 article about the history of Sedro-Woolley churches that Bingham was indeed a member of the Methodist board, even though he and his wife Julia were not regular attendees at church.
      Please note that this church is not to be confused with the Free Methodist church whose members dedicated their first woodframe church on Borseth street on March 25, 1906. An important note for researchers is that you will usually see this church referred to as the M.E. church, which was an abbreviation for the Methodist Episcopalian branch. The book, Roots and Branches, by David M. Buerge and Junius Rochester, is a great resource for studying the early churches in Washington. They explain that a great debate in American Methodism started in 1830 when the church split into the Methodist Protestant and Methodist Episcopal branches over the power of the bishops.
      We do not pretend to know the intricacies of this religion, but we know that American pastors preached the Methodist Article of Religion — "Of Original or Birth Sin," and the Philosophy of Perfectionism, with its underlying principle of the recognition of natural depravity and the impotence of the individual to help himself, morally and spiritually. They were followers of John Wesley, who "felt his heart strangely warmed" in Aldersgate Street in London. The ministers knew by heart and probably carried his books, A Plain Account of Christian Perfection and Brief Thoughts on Christian Perfection. His doctrine was opposed by Calvinists and the Church of England and on the frontier, Methodists were sometimes envied and criticized for their aggressive pursuit of converts. In 1894, a holiness movement that swept the country from the East to the frontier challenged the Methodist bishops. The conflict that peaked that year followed five schisms from 1792 to 1860 that protested against episcopacy, or the centralized hierarchy of bishops as chief clerics, and favored return to early Wesleyan standards. Each schism led to small sects breaking off to pursue different goals. Like many Christian churches, the Methodists were torn by the abolition controversy, and in 1843, the Wesleyan Methodist abolitionists broke off from the Methodist Episcopal branch. In 1860 the Free Methodist church broke off after complaints against what the leaders saw as arbitrary exercise of power. Four branches of the church in the U.S. merged in 1939 to form the Methodist Church. That merger was effected in Washington state by the Northwest Methodism conference, which was convened at the Garden Street church in Bellingham on June 14-18, 1939. In 1968 the Methodist Church merged with The Evangelical United Brethren to form the United Methodist Church.

The Blaines and the first M.E. church on the Sound in Seattle
(Blaines of Seattle)
David and Catherine Blaine, circa 1860s. Note the hat, which he wore even while building

      The first church built on Puget sound was an M.E. church, the quaint "White Church" built by young Methodists David and Catherine Blaine in May 1855 on two lots donated by pioneer Carson D. Boren. It stood at the corner of Second and Columbia that and was later replaced by the Seattle Bank building. The Blaines were part of a major New England evangelical movement that spawned Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, who had been murdered by Cayuse Indians near Walla Walla in 1847.
      The Blaines and their church got off to a rocky start. Their son John was born on Jan. 20, 1856, and he was just six days old when the Battle of Seattle erupted with local Indian tribes. The couple hustled him off to the U.S. Sloop of War Decatur on Elliott Bay for the duration. Luckily for historians, Catherine wrote folksy letters back home to relatives and friends in Seneca Falls, New York, the site of the world's first women's rights convention in 1848. Her letters shared many details about their frontier missionary experience. She noted that they planted the first apple trees in Seattle from seeds brought all the way from the East Coast.
      David had no field or survival skills and he often worked on the church in his high collar, starched suit and a ridiculous top hat, much to the amusement of his rustic neighbors. His first sermon, soon after they arrived in November 1853, was in a cabin on Alki point He got off to a very rocky start as he misjudged his small but well-educated audience and condescended to them as local yokels. Catherine used hand signals to suggest that he change course in mid-sermon and he righted his ship by the end. They were shocked about how crude the community was but they had already encountered peril as they rode mules through the steamy jungles of the Isthmus of Panama rather than braving the arduous trip by sea around Cape Horn.
      Other young preaching couples on the frontier echoed their reaction to Indians over the next few decades. Thoroughly unprepared for the primitive way that Indians lived in close to the White communities, David referred to the Indians as a "poor degraded race" that would "soon disappear," and Catherine compared the "stupidity and awkwardness" of the Indians to the Irish, who were still on the lower rung of polite society on both coasts. The attitude of the first territorial governor, General Isaac I. Stevens, was no better as he proposed removal of the tribes and sale of their lands. David concurred. Methodists on the Sound generally agreed back then that proclaiming the gospel of Jesus to the savages would inevitably have "civilizing effects," but that proved to be a tenuous theory. Catherine also wrote back home about the lynching of an Indian and murder of several others after they abused some White men. Their relatives wrote back and chided them for their intolerance, insisting that they should love the Indians to help them. David wrote back:

      Once we could have hoped to do them good, but alas, they are most undoubtedly beyond our reach . . . Those who cannot talk the jargon or Chinook are beyond our reach because we cannot converse with them except through an interpreter. They have already learned enough of religion through the Catholics to make the sign of the cross say "ikt papa ikt sockala Tyee," one pope and one God. They are taught that there is a lower region and an upper one and that the good and bad will be separated in the future state, but moral feelings seem to be quite blunted or blurted out, and they lie, gamble, steal, get drunk and all the other bad things almost as a matter of duty because it is so deeply innate and so fully acquired by habit.
(First Seattle Methodist church)
The White Church in Seattle, cicca 1860s

      No matter how ill-suited he was for the coarseness, David wrote a few months later that "if I had the value of that mill here [Henry Yesler's], or even half of it, I could buy the whole town plat of Seattle that remains unsold, as the times are depressed and money scarce just now, and this in ten years would increase in value ten-fold." But he did not get the chance because they left for missionary duty in Portland. By that time, the Blaines backed off on the starch and were finally accepted as friends in the community. They returned years later in retirement but lived a very private life out of sight as the boisterous young town grew. As it turned out, author the late Bill Speidel tells us in his book, Sons of the Profits, that David invested $200 of the $350 church advance in Yesler's Mill and retired with quite a nest egg. He also donated the balance of his advance when the White Church had a shortfall. Meanwhile, the White Church served in that capacity for only ten years. It was later moved to the corner of Third avenue and Cherry street, where it became in turn a gambling hall, saloon, restaurant and finally a vaudeville "box house" with dancing girls and boys. Roots and Branches includes a footnote that Rev. Daniel Bagley, of the Methodist Protestant branch, returned to Seattle after eight years of preaching in Oregon and tried to share the White Church with an M.E. minister, but they could not agree on matters, so Bagley left and built the Brown Church a few blocks away in 1865, with a Good Templars [prohibitionists] Hall on the second floor.

Methodists move north to islands and Skagit
      Outside of Seattle, circuit-riding ministers tended to their potential flock, preaching at homes before churches were built. Settlements outside Seattle formed along the Puget sound itself, rivers and streams where logs could be felled in the dense forests near the water, then dumped into the water to float to mills or ships that picked them up for transport to San Francisco and other points. Rev. Atwood wrote about how the terrible loneliness of the frontier sometimes produced aberrations in local congregations. In his Glimpse book, he noted how the Methodist church on Whidbey island began with great hopes but then the pastor had a vision that dancing, condemned by the church, would bring in more converts: "Thereupon, the young people and some of the older people quite praying and went to dancing. They exchanged the church for the ball-room, the songs of Zion for the revelry of the dance." In the late 1880s, as railroad routes began cutting through the forests in the foothills of the Cascades, churches sprang up in several little towns, only to go bankrupt after the boom went bust and the people who donated for the upkeep moved on to greener pastures. From Roots and Branches:
      Saving souls could be a risky business, especially when ministers visited scattered and far-flung congregations. Historically, the Methodists provided the model followed by other denominations in evangelizing the frontier. Elected in regional conferences, bishops identified the circuits their pastors would ride and selected the towns in which they would reside. This gave the church an organization flexible enough for it to respond quickly to the needs of the people who often organized prayer meeting on their own, keeping their faith alive in isolated communities.
      The circuits ridden by pioneering pastors carried them where roads were nonexistent and travel on trails or in tippy canoes [and Tyler too?] on turbulent rivers could be treacherous. Methodist historian Earl Howell opined that most circuit riders were rather circuit walkers or paddlers. It could take many days to reach a destination, and shelter on the way could be no more than a canoe turned up on a windswept beach. The Reverend William B. McMillan, whose circuit extended far up the Skagit river, observed wryly that he had often prayed that God would send him where no other preacher would want to go, but he had no idea that God would answer his prayer so literally.

Avon holds an M.E. revival on the Skagit river
      Up on the Skagit river, the first major revival was reported in Issue Two of the new Skagit News newspaper of Mount Vernon on March 11, 1884. A.H. Skaling hosted a Methodist Episcopal church conference at the town of Avon on the western shore of the bend of the Skagit above Mount Vernon. He reported that $330 had been pledged to build a new church there and $900 was needed to build it on a lot that he had donated. Skaling opened the first general store there the year before when he moved his family from the Avon river area near Halifax with a five-year stopover in southern California. Skaling's ancestors were friends of John Wesley back in England. The book, Methodism in the Northwest, notes that the first Methodist services were held in Avon in different homes in 1882. Rev. B.F. VanDeventer was the preacher [see LaConner story below]. At that revival in 1884, 21 charter members enrolled. The church building was completed in 1887, free of debt. In 1920 the church was moved to higher ground.
      Skaling platted Avon as a temperance town and he included abstinence from liquor as a covenant in all land contracts. When the Seattle & Northern railroad built east from Ship Harbor (Anacortes) in 1890, a new town of North Avon formed a mile north, connected to Avon by a very long board sidewalk. North Avon had saloons. The mere presence of sellers of spirits agitated the folks at Avon to no end. Arthur Flagg, originally a boat builder and then the owner of a drug, confectionery and cigar store teamed up with another tea-totaler named Tom McCain and together they were determined that liquor should not be sold illegally in their area. But every time that a construction camp for the railroad moved in the 1889-90 period, a tent would rise for selling booze. Flagg and McCain would go to the tent as ringers, order booze and then the sheriff would swoop in for an arrest. On the first occasion, the bartender asked what he could do for them. But McCain was so opposed to liquor that he could not even mention it. Instead, he said: "Gimme a cigar." Flagg was a charter member of the M.E. church at Avon in 1884 and he and McCain provided the shakes for the roof.

Sterling and Sedro prepare for an M.E. church
(Methodist church 1905)
Sedro Methodist church, circa 1905, looking more southerly

      By 1884, the log jams in the river near Mount Vernon were mostly cleared and settlers rapidly claimed what little land was left along the river and those who were farmers pulled the stumps out of the river bottomland and found deep rich topsoil that produced bountiful crops. David Batey was one of four British bachelors who homesteaded on the north shore of the river in between the logging village of Ball's Camp and the future site of Sedro, where Mortimer Cook settled that June and built a store, which in 1885 became the center of the tiny town of Bug.
      In 1880, Batey went back to San Francisco, where he had worked before, and married a widow named Georgiana Ferron. She was also a doctor and together they made a home near the river, which hosted the first Methodist services in the upriver area of the county. The Rev. William B. McMillan, mentioned above in the Roots book, conducted the first services in 1884-85 for 16 charter members, a good-sized flock for the limited population thereabouts and a paucity of wives and daughters. According to Methodist church records, he preached in the Northwest from 1884-1908. The Bateys continued hosting the services and Sunday school until 1886, when Mortimer's wife, Nan Cook, began hosting them in their home in the town that was renamed Sedro for her sake. In a Nina Cook diary item on Aug. 1, 1886, she recorded that "Daddy" Hawkins of Avon preached at a church service at the Cook house. She also recorded that the Temperance Lodge was meeting there the first time that night. As at Avon and other towns, the Good Templars Lodge was affiliated with the Methodist church. The lodge apparently did not put the fear of God into her, however, because she told her diary, "I'm not going to join. Can't give up drinking." A Rev. Zellers from the Mount Vernon Methodist church also preached at the Cook home during that same period.

He got off from his horse to investigate and somehow the horse got away. It was so dark that Mr. Pickles was afraid to go on or to go back for fear of getting lost. So he had to lie down by the log and spend the night. It is needless to say that he was eaten up — in his mind — several times, by bears or cougars.

      A Rev. J.W. Dobbs often rode down in those early years from Whatcom, which is now Bellingham. Church records show that he preached in Washington territory from 1884-88. Each year the meeting place changed, as noted above. The 1906 book, Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties reported that they met over the next few years in the Van Fleet family schoolhouse in the Skiyou district northeast of Sedro, then in the old Sedro Hotel, which had formerly housed construction workers for the Fairhaven & Southern railroad.
      Rev. F.M. Pickles was a circuit-riding minister who visited here often to conduct Methodist services in 1886-87. Wouldn't you think that especially children must have loved any minister named Pickles? He returned in the late 1890s as a full-time minister in the Methodist church on Nelson street. In a manuscript from the 1930s that is in the University of Washington archives, Esther McKibbin tells the humorous story of "Rev. Pickles and the Bear."

      Mr. Pickles, the first preacher there, traveled from place to place on his circuit, usually riding a horse through the narrow trails. When in Sedro, he stopped with Mrs. McFadden, just east of town, and after preaching here, he would go on to Lyman to preach. One night he started from Mrs. McFadden's after dark, and after riding 'a ways' he came across a log which had fallen across his trail. He got off from his horse to investigate and somehow the horse got away. It was so dark that Mr. Pickles was afraid to go on or to go back for fear of getting lost. So he had to lie down by the log and spend the night. It is needless to say that he was eaten up — in his mind — several times, by bears or cougars. In fact it is very strange that one did not pounce on him because they were so very numerous at that time. When daybreak came, however, he found himself alive and came back to tell of his experience.
      The lady referred to was Olive (Wicker) McFadden, who came here in 1885 with her husband, Plin V. McFadden, and their family from Ottumwa, Iowa. One of the many early families who moved here from Iowa, the McFaddens homesteaded next to Charles Wicker, Sr., George Wicker and Cushman Wicker, Olive's brothers. McFadden's daughter Anna Belle recounted the same story, but in that version, Rev. Pickles slept inside a hollow cedar stump. That story has been retold many times over the years and was one of the favorites of all early tales here.
      Various sources report that a new building was erected in 1892 in the First Addition to Sedro on what became the corner of Nelson and Fifth streets. In the very informative book, Methodism in the Northwest, we find that the church building was actually dedicated on Oct. 21, 1894, even though it may have been opened before. A news item in November reported that the church had installed a bell in the new church's belfry. Rev. George Lawson Cuddy incorporated the Sedro church in 1891 after he was transferred from Baltimore in March. On May 25 that year he appointed a building committee that included David Batey, John Y. Terry, Lewis Kirkby. Trustees were: Hiram Hammer, Lewis Kirkby, David Batey, R.H. Young, C.E. Bingham, C.H. McChesney, John Y. Terry, A.A. Tozer. The building was dedicated on Oct. 21, 1894. Rev. T.J. Massey was the presiding elder, assisted by Rev. David G. LeSourd, Rev. T.J. Loy, Rev. L.E. Wornam, and Rev. Charles McDermoth. Cuddy, who was greatly beloved locally, preached for 5 1/2 years according to two records, but another record indicated that he still preached here, possibly as a visiting pastor, as late as 1899. [LeSourd preached in Washington 1881-1925; Cuddy 1881-1929 (Alaska the last 20 some years); McDermoth 1885-1903).
      In a 1939 Courier-Times article, an excerpt from the 1892 Skagit County Times newspaper noted that Rev. George L. Cuddy and the M.E. church cleared the grounds next to their church for a croquet court, a game that very popular at the time. That article also noted that the church was preparing to move their services from the Woolley schoolhouse on Northern avenue to the new M.E. church on Nelson. An article in the Oct. 20, 1984 Courier-Times reported that the United Methodist church at 1013 Polte road, near the rodeo grounds, planned a "Centennial Celebration of Methodism in Sedro-Woolley" on the upcoming Sunday. That event celebrated the first services in the Batey home and the dedication of the first permanent church building on Oct. 21, 1894. The Polte road church was built after the Nelson street church was burned to the ground by an arsonist in the late 1970s. Tom Walker was the minister in 1984.

Other early churches in Skagit county
      Erle Howell's book, Methodism in the Northwest, lists these details about other Skagit county Methodist churches. We have also interjected with some notes from other research.
      Mount Vernon: The First Church was organized in 1872 by Rev. G.H. Greer of Coupeville, later replaced by Rev. M.J. Luark. Rev. William B. McMillan preached there, starting in 1883. Trustees were organized in 1888: Jasper Gates, M.T. Phillips, S.C. Washburn, joined in 1889 by J.P. Downs, Zimri Carlton and F.A. Holston. The Board of Church Extension provided $250 for the first building on lots acquired from Jasper Gates. The church was dedicated in 1890 under Rev. Charles McDermoth, pastor. The church building was sold in 1911 and construction started on a new building, which was dedicated on July 9, 1915. The present building was opened for services on Aug. 21, 1960.
      LaConner: "In 1875, Dr. J.S. Church saw a stranger sitting on a beer keg before the only business house in LaConner, hotel, saloon, general store. The stranger was Rev. J.N. Dennison, assigned to Skagit Circuit. The doctor, a Methodist, took Dennison home, and arranged the first preaching service in LaConner. The first service held in the home of Mrs. Louisa A. Conner, a Catholic. The actual church body was organized March 1883 with one member. Rev. B.F. VanDeventer was the first pastor and Rev. David G. LeSourd was the presiding elder." The church building was started in 1883 and was completed two years later with Rev. B.F. Brooks as the first resident pastor, starting in 1884. He rode a circuit and including Edison and Fidalgo island, eight points in all. In 1892, the Swinomish Indian reservation was included in the circuit. [See complete LaConner story below.]
      Pleasant Ridge: The Grace Church was organized in 1876 at the top of Pleasant Ridge by Rev. Eric Shogren, who was a visiting minister from California. He preached to Swedish residents of the area. The first church was dedicated May 20, 1889, and a parsonage was built by Rev. O.N. Alander in 1890. In 1916 this church merged with the Swedish group at Mount Vernon. The Pleasant Ridge property was sold for $300 and the money was used to buy lots in Mount Vernon. The building itself was wrecked and the lumber was used to build a new site in Mount Vernon at a total cost of $2,750. Rev. S. Moody had organized a Swedish church there in 1911 and the first services were held in the Salvation Army Hall and then the rebuilt church opened was dedicated in September 1916. After the Swedish and English conferences merged in 1929, this congregation continued to serve both Swedish and other Americans.
      Burlington: The First Methodist Church was established in 1891 and the building was completed on Jan. 29, 1893. Charles McDermoth was the pastor. A parsonage was built in 1904 under Rev. J.W. Kearn and the church was rebuilt in 1907. A new building was dedicated in 1956.
      Skagit City: This was the first major town on the river, which grew quickly after 1876 because it was the jumping off point for steamboat passengers until the log jams were cleared near Mount Vernon over the next few years. This church had a short life as did the town. The book, Skagit Settlers, dates the first Methodist church there as early as being organized by Rev. M.J. Luark in 1870, but that was long before Skagit City formed. Then again, as you will read below, circuit-riding ministers were riding from Skagit City in 1875. We hope that a reader from the Skagit forks will know more about that. An active congregation was actually convened in 1898 by Rev. J. Johnson, and six years later — after a time in which no dedicated building was erected, the worshippers moved on to join with the Grace church in Mount Vernon. That year conflicts, however, with the founding of the Grace church noted above, so again we hope a reader familiar with this will email us.
      Swedish churches in Washington: The first Swedish Methodist church [branch not named] in the Pacific Northwest states was established in Seattle in 1883. The Pleasant Ridge church outlined above was expanded from informal gatherings at homes to the status of a church just a year later by Rev. Shogren, even though the members did not have a building. Apparently he was still a visiting pastor from California.

Sedro-Woolley Methodist-Episcopal church history
By Skiyou pioneer Eliza Van Fleet and her daughter, Ethel Van Fleet Harris,
Sedro-Woolley Courier-Times, March 11, 1937

(Methodist church 1970)
Sedro-Woolley Methodist church circa 1960s or 1970s before the arson fire

      About the earliest record to be found of the activities of the Methodist Episcopal church in Sedro-Woolley is that of the organization of the class which occurred at the home of Mr. and Mrs. David Batey in 1884. Rev. W.B. McMillan was in charge of the new congregation, which consisted of 16 charter members. Services were held and Sunday school conducted in the Batey home for the next two years. About this time a Rev. Dobbs of Whatcom included Sedro in his circuit and the home of Mortimer Cook, pioneer mill operator, was thrown open for church services.
      Later the church occupied the Van Fleet schoolhouse, then the old Sedro Hotel, but in 1891, under the leadership of Rev. George L. Cuddy, the society was incorporated, the society was incorporated and a building committee and board of trustees elected and the church that now stands at the corner of Fourth and Nelson streets was built. Rev. George L. Cuddy, David Batey, J.Y. Terry and Lewis Kirkby were the members of the building committee and A.W. Fox was the contractor for the erection of the church.
      The record of the articles of incorporation are to be found in the county auditor's office in Book 14, page 720, and show that the following men constituted the first board of trustees: Hiram Hammer, Lewis Kirkby, David Batey, R.H. Young, C.E. Bingham, C.H. McChesney, John Y. Terry, A.A. Tozer. Their signatures to the document were acknowledged by Albert E. Holland, notary public, on May 25, 1891.
      Much of the actual construction work was done by volunteer labor and Rev. Cuddy and his young wife were among the more active builders. It was not until Oct. 21, 1894, that the formal dedicatory services were held, at which Rev. T.J. Massey, presiding elder, was assisted by the following preachers: Rev. David G. LeSourd of Snohomish, Rev. T.W. Loy of Fairhaven, Rev. E.L. Wornon [also spelled Worman in some records] of Avon and Rev. C.H. McDermoth of Anacortes.
      In November 1894, the bell was purchased and hung in the tower. This event must have been a gala day for those pioneer Methodists, for in the secretary's minutes we find this item: "Dec. 3, 1894, coffee and sugar for bell jubilee, $1.16."
      None of the original charter members are in the local organization today. Mrs. Eliza Van Fleet is the oldest member of the church in point of years of continuous membership and can relate many interesting stories of the pioneer days of Methodism in and about Sedro and Sedro-Woolley.
      Beginning with the building of the church, the following ministers have served the congregation: Rev. George L. Cuddy 1891-96; Rev. Chas A. Williams, 1896-97; Rev. G.D. Dimick (also spelled Dimmick in some records) 1897-99; Rev. M.W. Pickles [also spelled F.W.] 1899; Rev. R.H. Massey 1899-1901; Rev. J.H. Carter 1901-05; Rev. S.G. Jones 1905-06; Rev. H.W. Mitchener 1906-08; Rev. R.L. Wolfe 1908-10; Rev. D.S. Kerr 1910-13; Rev. B.W. Barnhart 1913-16; Rev. M.B. Phillips 1916-18; Rev. B.F. Brooks 1918-19; Rev. C.I. Andrews 1919-20; Rev. E.D. White 1920-22; Rev. A.M. Steele 1922-24; Rev. E.J. Bates 1924-27; Rev. R.V.B. Dunlap 1927-32; Rev. C.E. Miller 1932-34; Rev. O.L. Anthony (present pastor) 1934.

Methodist Church at LaConner to mark 60th Anniversary
By Mrs. W.R. Whitney, Puget Sound Mail Nov. 7, 1945
      The Methodist church of LaConner will celebrate its sixtieth anniversary, Sunday, Nov. 11, 1945, at their new church, which they recently purchased from the Baptist Association. Since purchasing the church, the members and pastor, Rev. H.W. Hansen, have worked diligently redecorating the building throughout and replacing the windows which had been broken during the past few years.
      An interesting program is being arranged for the service, which will be held at 3:30 on Sunday afternoon, with Dr. James E. Milligan, superintendent of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the Puget Sound district, as the principal speaker. Music will be furnished by Mrs. Nels Pederson and Miss LeAnna Gaches. Armistice day will also be observed at this service.
      The LaConner Methodist church has a very interesting history, which is unique in many ways. In the church's historical record, appears a story written by one of the early pastors, F.H. Chamberlin, and dated Sept. 2, 1899, and which reads in part as follows:

      About 25 years ago, when the present thriving town of LaConner was more a thing of promise than of reality, Dr. J.S. Church, in passing along the street, found a stranger sitting on a beer-keg in front of the only business house in the place, which served the community as hotel, saloon and general store. On inquiry the stranger was found to be the Rev. J.N. Denison, a Methodist minister from the Skagit delta, the pastor being himself a Methodist minister's son, made the stranger his own guest and took him to his own home.
      The first Methodist sermon in LaConner was preached by Mr. Denison, in a small room upstairs in the home of Mrs. L.A. Conner, a devout Catholic, on Commercial street. This was the year 1875. From that time on, at irregular intervals of not less than a month, Methodist preachers came for several years to LaConner from Skagit City, which was their home, so far as the early Methodist preachers could be said to have a home. Among these early preachers besides Mr. Denison were: William B. McMillan, Albert Atwood, Mr. McGill and others whose names I have not been able to learn.
      Prior to 1884, western Washington and Oregon were associated in Methodist church matters and known as the Oregon Conference Western Washington constituting the Puget Sound district with the Rev. David G. LeSourd for several years as presiding elder. Towards the close of this period, the church work in LaConner was a part of the Whatcom charge, an old-fashioned Methodist circuit 75 miles long and faithfully served by B.F. VanDeventer [who preached from 1882-94 in Washington]. Rev. VanDeventer organized the first Methodist society or class in LaConner.
      The first member received into the church in LaConner was Ada Church, who was admitted from probation in March 1883. At the same time, Lena Church was baptized and received as the first probationer of the church. This was the first of 66 baptisms that have been administered by the Methodist church in LaConner since April 1883. B.S. Inman was received by certificate as a member and in March 1884, Josephine M. Bradley joined the church after probation. Through the labors of Mr. VanDeventer, and this little handful of members and a goodly number of friends, a church building was begun. Meanwhile, through the courtesy of our Baptist brethren, our congregation worshipped for some time in the Baptist church.
      In August 1884, at the first session of the Puget Sound conference, LaConner was made a separate charge with Rev. B.F. Brooks as its pastor. The church had then, as nearly as I can gather from the records, five members: Josephine Bradley, Ada Church, Isaac Chilberg, Tina Chilberg and B.S. Inman, and two probationers, Lena Church and Lucinda Wood. This was Mr. Brooks's first charge and included the work in LaConner and north as far as Edison and all on Fidalgo island. Preaching appointments were maintained at LaConner, Pleasant Ridge, Jennings schoolhouse, Padilla, Edison, Fidalgo and Lake Erie. At the end of his first year, Mr. Brooks had the Sunday schools organized and reported 25 members of the church and seven probationers. During his second year and church building was finished and dedicated to the worship of God, the Rev. J.N. Denison officiating in the dedicatory service.

      In a history which was given by Scott Armstong at the dinner which was given in celebration of the 50th year of the church [1935?], the following facts were brought out.
      The deed to the lot on which the church now stands was executed by the late John S. and Louisa A. Conner, Feb. 4, 1843. The first superintendent of the Sunday school was the late S.T. Valentine. Miss Nellie Calhoun, now Mrs. J.M. Shields of Mount Vernon, was the first organist. Some of the early pastors and their tenure were as follows: B.F. VanDeventer 1883-84; B.F. Brooks 1884-86; E.J. Moore 1886-88; J.W. White 1888-91; P.C. Harris 1891-92; Sprague Davis 1892-93.
      At the time of the 50th year's celebration, Rev. R.T. Holland was pastor and he served until 1939, when Rev. H.W. Hansen came to LaConner and he has remained here since that time, doing a splendid service for the church and the town.
      Read June Burn's 1930 humorous story of the first church in old Sedro and how banker Charlie Bingham was conned into underwriting it.

Story posted on March 25, 2004
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