Excerpt and photo from "The Centennial History of the York Center United Methodist Church (1880-1980) and the Town of York (1857-1980)", 1980, pages 93-94:

In the late 1800ís, it is told that some of the members of the Methodist Church at Wilcox (York Center) wanted an organ for the church. Arguments arose as some of the congregation were absolutely against having music in the church. The church was soon divided with those who wanted an organ and those who didnít.

It was about 1897, as Rollie Benedict recalls it, that the two groups parted company. George Lindsley, Hattie Turnerís dad, took their organ from home and put it in the church. At that point, the people who didnít want the organ left and formed a new church which was called the Free Methodist Church.

The people who left the church were Mr. and Mrs. John Palmer, Mr. and Mrs. William Windsor, Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Dave Rogers, Mrs. Augusta Turner, Mr. and Mrs. Norman Rogers, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Bolton, and Mr. and Mrs. Albert Garvin.

They built their new church where Orville Luchterhandís house now stands. Most of the land was still covered with woods in those days.

After about two years, Mel Turner gave them the use of some land with the stipulation that when there was no longer a church on the property, it would revert back to the owner. (It now belongs to Steve Lepori). They moved the church to the new location and also built a parsonage east of the church and added an entryway and put brick veneering on the church.

West of the church was a cemetery where they laid to rest Mr. and Mrs. Dave Rogers, Mrs. Arlo Davis, four of the children of C.H. Young who died of scarlet fever, and infant of Henry Sischo, and an infant of William Rogers. The cemetery is still there, north of Highway H, a short distance east of the H and K corner.

In 1970, the Jolly Workers 4-H Club, assisted by their leader, Mrs. Violet Mechelke, found the cemetery forgotten and unkempt so they took on the job of cleaning it up. They worked hard cutting out the brush and weeds. Then they mowed the grass and painted a sign which read "Free Methodist Cemetery." The club has continued to keep the cemetery in good repair.

The church was dismantled about 1927 or 1928 and was used to build the Free Methodist Church in Loyal which still stands.  The parsonage was sold to  Alvin Pischer who used it to build a house.  This house now belongs to the Warren Mechelke's.

The Free Methodists held camp meetings every year.  Rollie and Alice Benedict remember these meetings and this is what they recall:  "The camp meetings lasted about one or two weeks.  There were about twenty families who would come with their horses and buggies.  Lots of people from different churches came to them, many from Humbird.  There would be about twelve preachers come to preach in the big tent, and there was a lot of emotionalism connected with the camp meetings in those days.  A lot of straw was put on the bottom of the big tent and there were lively times around the tents.  The last big camp meeting was in 1917.  It was held across from the Lincoln School where Gary Aga now lives.  After the one in 1917 and then World War I, the camp meetings died out."

Rollie remembers many of the preachers and also their sons, as youngsters played together.  "Three of the preacher's sons became preachers," he says.  "They were Billy Southwick, Vern Case, and Keith Peckum, who became District Superintendent."  In those days Sunday was a day of absolute rest when even little boys had to sit quietly all day.

Rev. Knack, Rev. Andrews, Rev. Ogden, Rev. Borchart and Rev. Gibson also served the little log chapel that stood across the town line on the Spokeville Road, according to Ruth Schlinsog's memory.  Several served the Free Methodist Church primarily.


Free Methodist Cemetery





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