The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter IV
Early Religious Interest

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton



As with education, so with regard to religious observance. The pioneers recognized it as being among the necessities of life, equally with food, raiment and shelter. As soon as they had secured these in the most primitive form, they embraced every opportunity to enjoy the privilege of divine worship. It is told of a lady living in Flint in the seventies, that when she first came to the place with her husband their first inquiries were concerning religious services, and when informed that such were to be held in a barn at Grand Blanc settlement on the following Sabbath, they prepared to attend. They learned that the distance to the place of meeting was fully seven miles, over bad roads, with streams to be forded, requiring more than a day of difficult, slow and unpleasant travel, but, with others, they set out in an ox-wagon on Saturday, reached their destination the same night, attended service on Sunday, and arrived back in flint Monday afternoon. So intense was their longing for religious companionship that they had taken three days of difficult travel and precious time before a tree had been felled or other step had been taken towards building them a roof to shelter their heads.

Among the earliest of the pioneer preachers in Genesee county were the Rev. W. H. Brockway, a Methodist missionary to the Indians; Elders Frazee and Oscar North, Methodists; Benedict and Gambell, both Baptists; Rev. Isaac W. Ruggles, a Congregationalist, and others. The first religious meeting were held at Grand Blanc, whence they extended northward to Flint and other points. The first services at Flint were held by the Rev. Oscar North. The neighboring "Coldwater settlement was a favorite point for traveling preachers who passed through the county. One feature that specially distinguished the spirit of these early services was the small attention paid to denominational differences. Any Christian service was eagerly welcomed by the pioneers, who fully appreciated the value of the church privileges they had left behind when they emigrated from their old homes in the East.

Among the first Catholic clergymen to visit the field were Rev. Lawrence Kilroy and Rev. Martin Kindig, afterward vicar-general of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who figured so conspicuously in the cholera epidemic which decimated Detroit in 1834. The reverend father was indefatigable in his efforts to alleviate distress among all sects and classes and used his private means so liberally as to impoverish himself and contact an indebtedness which it required years to liquidate. After a long life of ceaseless toil and benevolence, he died at the ripe age of seventy-two years.


History of Genesee County, Michigan, Her People, Industries and Institutions
by Edwin O. Wood, LL.D, President Michigan Historical Commission, 1916

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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