York Center Methodist Church 80 Years 1880-1960

Sponsored by: W.S.C.S.

A country church that now has stood beside this road for eighty years.
A quiet, unpretentious church built by its people’s hands.
Yet, none but God can look within to read our heart and soul
And know whose life is changed today because it stands.

York Center Church History  August 28, 1960
The history of “York Center” church began in the early 1870’s. The different areas went by numbers.  This area being “No. 25.” York township was made in 1873.  Later “No. 25” was changed to “Turner District,” then to “Wilcox"; Wilcox Post Office having been established in the home of Mr. George Lindsley, an early settler.  Later it was moved to the little store, owned by Adonijah Benedict, Mr. Benedict becoming Post Master.  Mr. George Lindsley having been Post Master and also stage mail carrier to Neillsville, now continued to carry the mail from Granton, until rural routes were established.  When the Post Office was discontinued, ‘Wilcox” became York Center, the name our church still goes by.  Here was located the town hall, wood hall, the little store and our church and cemetery.

This little store was run by Adonijah Benedict until the early 1900s, when he was joined by his grandson, Will Benedict with his wife Susie (Davis) Benedict, after their marriage in 1903. After the post office was removed from the store, the telephone switch board was installed there and Will worked as lineman while Susie handled the switch board. They operated this store for about sixteen years, and then sold it to Melvin Lawrence. He, in turn, kept it for only a short time before selling it to Abie Turner.  The store was torn down and a filling station built, which Mr. Turner operated for many years, until his retirement from that business in the early 1940’s.  Back in the autoless days the store had served as a community center where people often gathered for conversation as well as merchandise on a Saturday night.  The coming of the car, brought less need for this type of store and marked the closing of an era.

Ministers at this time stayed only one year in a charge.  Rev. McClain being pastor in 1872.  His salary was $500.00.

In 1874 they broke the custom of changing the minister each year and returned Rev. John Holt, who received $500.00 each year. From this amount there was a family of four to care for, a team of horses to feed, plus other incidentals.  In Sept. of 1875 he was sent to a new parish.  He continued preaching until his death in 1902.

Sept. 1875, Rev. John Garvin, a young minister just out of school, came.  Under his supervision, the Loyal church was built.  When he left in Sept. 1876, the building was completed but not dedicated.

The early settlers of York, with few exceptions, came from the southern counties of the state, or from places long improved with wagon roads and rail roads.  These early settlers were looking for land which could be purchased for little money and made into small farms. They found only a dense woods with few roads or trails, and a bridge only not and then, over a stream which they had to cross.

Nearly all the families came through with oxen and covered wagons.  This trip took days or perhaps weeks.  After the log house was built, they had more time for other things such as writing home.  The mail had to be taken to Neillsville and was often sent by a neighbor who would bring mail, groceries and supplies back with him for the neighborhood.  Many times a sack of flour was carried out on the shoulders of one who needed it.

These early settlers began going on foot and with ox teams to the county farm school house for divine services.  They held prayer meetings in their homes too. Then a new log school house was built on the Livingston land one-fourth mile west and one half mile north of our present church. In this log school house the first meetings were held by Rev. Webster and Sunday School was started with Adonijah Benedict as class leader. Some of the members were C. Benedict, Mr. & Mrs. Adonijah Benedict, S. Pease, H. A. Lawrence Sr., Mr. & Mrs. Jessie Lawrence, S. Lawrence, John Palmer, T. Snyder, J. Bolton, S. W. Bolton, Martha Galland, S.D. Gibson and Mary Phalon.

In September, 1879 Greenwood and Loyal separated and Loyal, Spencer, and York Center became a charge.  They were served by Rev. J. P. Greer until September, 1881.  During this time six acres of land was given to this community by the Fox River Lumbering Company for a church site and cemetery, and the east part of our church was built. Rev. Greer lived in Spencer and came on horse back to Loyal and York Center.  He helped plan the building of the church and with the help of Burt Lindsley and Burton Lawrence laid out the cemetery.  First to be buried here was Ida (Lawrence) Turner, wife of William H. Turner, in June 1881.  The great grandfather Lawrence and others who had been buried in home yards were soon moved to the new cemetery.

The carpenters were William Rowe and Sylvester Pease, Sr., assisted by Sylvester Pease, Jr.  It is believed that logs from this tract of land were cut and sawed into lumber for building the church.  Many helpers from near and far volunteered to out and haul the logs to mill, clear the land and hew out the blocks for the first foundation.  The church was filled from the start with families who came for miles around.  Home made benches and seats were placed around the edge with chairs through the center.  Later an appropriate pulpit and alter rail were added.  At this alter many knelt and found God.

September, 1884, Rev. Foster came.  During his pastorate the permanent record of Loyal and York center began.  He was a young man.  Besides acquiring many new members for the churches, he supervised the planning and building of the parsonage at Loyal.  The work except for plastering was nearly all donated.

Following are more of the early members, along with some later ones who moved in or grew up here, who were helpful in the church work.  Almeda Lawrence, Jasper Fisher, Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Adams, Joe Palmer, David Rogers, Mrs. C. L. Humiston, Mr. & Mrs. George Root, Mr. & Mrs. John Vandeberg Sr., Mrs. Estella Mortimer, Mrs. S. A. Lindsley, Mr. & Mrs. Clyde Smith, Mr. & Mrs. W. W. Warner, Mr. & Mrs. Wm. Rowe, Mr. & Mrs. Walter Graves, Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Davis & family, Mrs. Mary Fulwiler, C. M. Campbell, Wm. Smithers, Mr. & Mrs. Amos Fulwiler, Mr. & Mrs. Walter Rowe, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Teatz, Mr. & Mrs. Emil Korth, Mrs. Bert Walker, Mrs. Julia Vandeberg, Mr. & Mrs. James Young, and Mr. George Mortimer who was church secretary for 15 years, and has been Sunday School treasurer for over 25 years.

The Jerry Davis family will be remembered by many for their singing. Belle played the organ to accompany them and which ever of the other two girls and five boys that were at home, along with their father and mother, Jeremiah and Mary Davis, sang often at church and for funerals through out that locality.  Belle (Davis) Mortimer, also was the organist for the Sunday school for many years.  The late Sadie Rowe, who was a long time active member of this church, served as church organist for many, many years.

More people called for enlarging of the church. The remodeling and enlarging of our church began during the pastorate of Rev. Knudson in 1897.  Services were held in the town hall during the time of building.  The changes consisted of an annex and belfry on the west, new windows, concrete steps at the entrance, new pews, new pulpit and bell.  Rededication services were held in February, 1899, Rev. H. W. Bushnell D. S. coming to assist with the meeting.  His wonderful playing and singing as well as his preaching was enjoyed by all.

Harry Philpot and Burt Lindsley were assistant pastors.

During the first years they had no organ and when it was mentioned, a few objected to purchasing one, thinking it was unnecessary, but one was purchased.  When Burt Lindsley heard that some threatened to throw the new organ out of the church, he took his own down there.  Later the disturbance quieted, the new Kimball was installed and used for more than fifty years. Then a piano was purchased, and the old organ given to Mrs. W. E. (Susie) Benedict.  It is now owned by her daughter, Mrs. Leo Kronberger, who often played it at church as a child.

The York Center Camp meetings should be mentioned.  They were started by Rev. G. N. Foster in 1886.  Ten acres of beautiful woodland joining the church grounds on the southwest was leased by Wm. Rowe and here ministers and people for miles around gathered for one week each summer.  They met under a large tent to listen to most inspiring music and preaching.

In November, 1941, the late Abie Turner and son Clayton began the work of redecorating the inside of the church.  Nu-Wood was used to completely cover the ceiling and walls.

During 1947-1948 electric lights and an oil burner was added.  In 1949 new altar carpet was laid, and in November of 1952, aisle runners were given in memory of Mrs. Wendell Crothers, who had lately passed away.

On August 28, 1949, York Center’s congregation celebrated its church’s 70th anniversary and held a homecoming which was attended by over 200 people. Dinner was served in the town hall near by.  The Pastor Virgil Holmes presided in all services of the day.  Dist. Supt. Paul B. White preached the anniversary services at 11 a.m.  Special music was provided by the Dubes male quartet.  At 2 p.m. home coming services, Rev. Lee Holmes read the church history which was written by Mrs. Walter Rowe.  Rev. W. J. James, a retired minister and twice a pastor of our church, brought personal greetings and the sermon was preached by Rev. Raymond Flemming, a former pastor.

Since then, Rev. J. Chatterson, Rev. W. J. James and Mrs. Walter Rowe have passed away and of out later ministers, Rev. Myron Taylor and Rev. Charles Swanson are gone.

Our ministers of the past ten years have been Rev. Lee Holmes, Rev. Virgil Holmes, Rev. Willard Mechlinberg, Rev. Charles Swanson, Rev. Wendell Bennetts, Rev. Alfred Attwood and our present Rev. Paul Doering.

In 1958 the road past the church was made black-top.  Widening of the road made it necessary to make the porch more narrow and set our entrance steps to the west.  This work was done by a few men of our church and Rev. Bennetts.

Our Christian and United States flags were dedicated in July, 1959 by Rev. Attwood.  They were given by the Youth Fellowship.

Mrs. Raymond Hetzel has been our janitor for some years now.  We all appreciate the many little things she does to keep our church inside attractive and beautiful, as well as keeping the name plaque painted and readable.

Mr. & Mrs. Nyle Benedict are caretakers of the cemetery and they, with their son Larry keep it mowed and clipped around the head stones, so that it is always neat and attractive.  Since we have no choir here at York, special music is often furnished by Nyle as a soloist, or he and his daughter, Georgia (Mrs. Donald Pinkerton) sing as a duet, and she accompanies then at the piano.  At other times a group from the congregation sings special numbers.

This spring, our Women’s Society of Christian Service gave us a cupboard for keeping church property in, and in August, 1958, they had a new tile floor covering laid in the church.

A list of our 43 ministers since 1872, is given on another page.

For much of the contents of this history, I am indebted to memories of the late Mrs. Walter Rowe and recollections of different early time friends and neighbors.

  Mrs. Fern Vandeberg

Earliest developments of this area.
Divine services were held in homes and school houses before church was built.
  1879 Plans were laid for building the church.
  1880  Building of church and laying out of cemetery.
  1897 Church remodeled and enlarged.
  1941 Church refinished with Nu-Wood.
  1949 New pulpit carpet laid and 70th Anniversary of the church celebrated.
  1952 Isle runners laid.
  1958 Porch & steps changed and tile floor covering laid.
  1959 New cupboard presented.

The guest book was given in memory of Jesse Mortimer by Mrs. Jesse Mortimer and Mr. & Mrs. Gilbert Lawrence.
The picture of Christ that hangs over the pulpit is a memorial to Mrs. Bert Walker.
The lighted picture of the Last Supper, was given by Jim and Zettie Young, for her parents, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Eyesnogle.
The Baptismal Bowl was given by the Youth Fellowship in memory of Sadie Rowe.
The large pulpit Bible, was given by members of the young peoples Sunday School class and other friends of York Center church. It was dedicated on Palm Sunday, April 10, 1949.
At the writing of this book, new pulpit and table runners are being made. Violet Bender and Verla Hales were in charge of selecting material and Violet is making the runners. The Women’s Society is giving them to the church.

Stewards and Trustees:  Glenn Lavey, Gilbert Lawrence, Alvin Dahl, Roy Chase, and Nyle Benedict.
President of W. S. C. S.:  Mrs. Otto Schmidtke
Supt. of Sunday School:  Mrs. Ed Voight
Treasurer of Church:  Mrs. Gilbert Lawrence
Financial Secretary:  Mrs. Roy Chase
Communion Steward:  Mrs. Raymond Hetzel
We presently have 44 members. The old church records from the time they were started until 1954, were kept in the same book as Loyal’s records.  As complete a list as possible has been made of the Baptisms, Marriages, Probationers, and members from York.  This list will be kept with the current records, in the church cupboard, for the benefit of any one who would like to use them.

Rev. Mclain 1872-1873 Rev. Thos. Hanes 1913-1914
Rev. S. P. Waldron 1873 Jan. Rev. W. P. Powell 1914-1917
Rev. M. Woods 1873 Mar. Rev. W. C. Clock 1917-1918
Rev. John Holt Sept. 1873-1875 Rev. E. E. Strevy 1918-1919
Rev. John Garvin 1875-1876 Rev. J. Henry Chatterson 1919-1923
Rev. J. M. Phillips 1876-1878 Rev. W. J. James 1923-1929
Rev. Benjamin Reeves 1878 short time Rev. G. C. Wadding 1929-1930
Rev. S. A. Hoffman 1895-1896 Rev. Vern C. Kegley 1930 died 1931
Rev. J. Webster 1878-1879 Rev. Wm. N. Grandy 1931-1933
Rev. J. P. Greer 1879-1881 Rev. A. N. Chapman 1933-1936
Rev. J. J. Austin 1881-1883 Rev. Raymond Flemming 1936-1939
Rev. G. W. Chase 1883 short time Rev. A. O. Jewell 1939-1942
Rev. G. N. Foster 1884-1887 Rev. Myron Taylor 1942-1946
Rev. L. W. McKibbin 1887-1889 Revs. Lee & Virgil Holmes 1946-1952
Rev. J. Connor 1889-1895 supply pastors 1952-1953
Rev. T. O. Knudson 1896-1899 Rev. Willard Mechlinberg 1953-1955
Rev. Geo. Brown 1899-1900 Rev. Chas. Swanson 1955 died 1956
Rev. J. A. Hill 1900-1905 supply pastors 1956-1957
Rev. J. T. Bryan 1905-1908 Rev. Wendell Bennetts 1957-1958
Rev. Chas. Towne 1908-1909 Rev. Alfred Attwood 1958-1960
Rev. E. R. Kildow 1909-1912 Rev. Paul Doering 1960
Rev. L. J. Alderson 1912-1913    

[photo 2: Rev Paul Doering] Rev. Paul Doering came to the Loyal-York charge in June of this year.  This is his second pastorate, and he and his wife Sheile, and three sons, Donald, 12, Malcolm, 10, and Davis, 2, come from the Belmont & Whig charge which he served for four years from 1956 to 1960.  Rev. Doering attended the Garrett Bible Institute from 1956 to 1959.  We welcome the Doering family to our church and community and hope that they will be very happy here.


[photo 3: Rev Attwood] This picture of Rev. Attwood and Mike Everett Buettner was taken in March of 1960, after Rev. Attwood had baptized the baby at the home of his parents, Mr. & Mrs. James Buettner.  Rev. & Mrs. Attwood now live at Elroy, Wis., where they moved during June of this year. Rev. Attwood was with our church, from 1958 to 1960.


[photo 4: Davis and Mortimer] Warren Davis has been a member of this church since 1947.  He has served as church usher for several years.  George Mortimer who joined the church in 1921, has been an active member of
this church the longest of any of the present members.  He served as usher for many years and as church secretary for fifteen years. George is presently, treasurer of the Sunday School and has been for over twenty five years.  We thank him for his many years of generous service.


[photo 5: Lawrence and Crothers] Mrs. Gilbert (Helen) Lawrence is Church Treasurer.  Here she is shown checking the collection, with the help of Jack Crothers.  This was taken Easter Sunday, 1960.


[photo 6: Chase Hetzel Schmidtke] Mrs. Roy Chase is the Financial Secretary, Mrs. Roy Hetzel, the communion steward, and Mrs. Otto Schmidtke, President of the Women’s Society of Christian Service.


[photo 7: Womens Society] Pictured here are members of the Women’s Society of Christian Service, as they met for their monthly meeting at the Mabel Schoenfeldt home.  The W. S. C. S. is a very active organization within the church that meets once a month at the homes of the members, for a spiritual program, business meeting and usually dinner.  During the winter months, a noon, potluck dinner is served by the hostess and another committee member.  The men from the church often come to these dinners also.  During the busier summer months after noon or evening meetings are held. Besides
these dinners, the ladies also serve “Election Dinners” at the town hall for spring and fall elections, and each fall they put on a community “supper” all as a means of raising money to help the church.  Mrs. Otto (Flossie) Schmidtke has served as president for over ten years, and we are all most grateful for the amount of time and thought that she gives so generously to her office.  Mrs. Merle Bartsch as vice president and Mrs. Milford Rowe for the Status of Women, are in charge of the programs for the meetings.  Last year, these offices, were held by Irene Rowe and Fern Vandeberg, respectively.  Reelected this year, to remain as last year, were Flossie Schmidtke as president, Verla Hales as secretary and Violet Bender as Treasurer.  The Women’s Society of Christian Service was organized here with the help of Rev. Lee Holmes, as an outgrowth of the Ladies Aid which had been active almost since the beginning of the church.  There are no old records to check with, but some of the ladies recall their mothers being members of the Old Aid. They too, met at the homes of the members for monthly meetings, and usually for a noon meal.  The hostess supplied the dinner, which did not include meat because the price that they charged for the meal, would not pay for the cost of meat.  They held a business meeting, with the ladies taking turns as president, from year to year, but at that time there was no spiritual program.  After dinner the ladies helped the hostess with what ever sewing she was currently doing, such as making quilts or sewing carpet rags.  Hence the name, “Ladies Aid.”


[photo 8: Rowe Voigt Vandeberg Crothers] Irene Rowe, is the church pianist; Ida Voight is Supt. of the Sunday School, and is pianist for the Sunday School; and Fern Vandeberg and Marcia Crothers are Sunday School teachers.

Because there are not enough young people, of high school age, there is no Youth Fellowship now.  However, two boys from this church, Larry Benedict, and Ronald Hetzel have joined the Loyal group.  There has been, in the past, a Youth Fellowship here for many years.  Adult councilors have been Mr. & Mrs., Wilbert Korth and Mr. & Mrs. Merle Bartsch.  Before the Youth Fellowship was formed, a very similar organization of young people, active in the church, was called the Epworth League.  There had been an Epworth League from the very early days of the church.  Some of the first leaders were Julia Vandeberg and Mrs. Bert Walker.


Some eighty years ago
A certain house and fence
Became the place that ever since
Has been our worship residence.

It is the Church where we have spent
So many happy hours,
Surrounded by the friendliness
Of neighbors, ministers and flowers.

It holds our songs and sentiments
Our hopes and little fears,
Our dreams and disappointments
And the joys of yester years.

Within its walls we share our thoughts
And make our plans together.
Behind its doors we sing and pray
Unmindful of the weather.

It is the dearest place on earth
That there could ever be.
Because it is the Little church
Of our community.

Contributed by:
Fern Vandeberg


[After this are recipes]

Transcribed by Ami Adler




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