All Soul's Unitarian Church

 

City of Janesville, Rock County, Wisconsin

Janesville, Wis.—The pastor of the vigorous People's Church of All Souls', Rev.
Victor E. SOUTHWORTH, has issued a letter to his people encouraging all to take energetic part in the work of the church this coming year. He calls attention to many little things which, while apparently trivial, are indeed of deep importance in the successful conduct of every religious organization. Among these we may mention: prompt attendance, hospitality toward strangers, taking part in the work of the Sunday-school, informing the minister of all cases of sickness or any special need for his services, interest and participation in the allied societies of the church. The letter concludes : "This year the only new enterprise that will call for additional giving is the fund for home missionary work. We want you to consecrate one penny each day to the printing and free distribution of our gospel. Here in Janesville and throughout Southern Wisconsin are a great many people who have only wrong ideas of free religion. They think we are teaching a dangerous gospel. They do not understand its beauty and power. They have wrong conceptions of what we as a religious society are trying to do. Now, this home mission work is to render all misunderstandings and misrepresentations impossible by spreading abroad clear but kindly declarations of the fundamental principles of our free religious society. If a hundred people will furnish me with a penny a day each, for one, two, or three years, and let me use it for printing 'Free Religious Leaflets,' and in distributing them through the mail and in other ways, I feel confident that the day will soon come when no one in this city or county can remain ignorant of the truth as we try to teach it. And to know the spirit and purpose of the frit- church means at least to respect it for its openness arid earnestness, if not to love it and join in its work."
 
[Source: The Unitarian, Vol. XL, by Frederick B. Mott (editor); ©1896 Geo. H. Ellis, Boston, MA; p. 430; courtesy of Lori]

As early as 1842, clergymen of the Universalist faith paid occasional visits to
Janesville, among whom may be mentioned the Revs. S. BARNS, G. W. LAWRENCE, C. F. LA FAVRE and Frank WHITAKER. The latter gentleman preached at both Beloit and Janesville. In 1850 the "First Universalist Society" was organized, with the Rev. J. BAKER as pastor. He filled the pulpit for two years, and was succeeded by the Rev. C. F. DODGE, of Palmyra, who was their pastor for one year. After this date there seems to have been a lack of interest, though meetings were held, but not regularly, until 1864, when the Rev. F. M. HOLLAND, a Unitarian minister, arrived at Janesville; on February 16 a meeting was held in Lappin's hall, which was largely attended, and the organization of "The First Independent Society of Liberal Christians of Janesville" was perfected and incorporated. The following were the trustees elected: Orvin GUERNSEY, Samuel G. BAILEY, Levi ALDEN, James M. BURGESS, George W. BEMIS and Jonathan CHURCH. During the time of Mr. HOLLAND's pastorate, meetings were held in Hope Chapel which was later the German Lutheran Church, on West Milwaukee street. The society grew very rapidly, and soon it became apparent that more room was needed and measures were taken to build a church to their needs, the results being the construction of All Soul's Church, on West Court street. The church was dedicated in 1866, by the Rev. Robert COLLYER, the Rev. Silas FARRINGTON, who succeeded Mr. HOLLAND, being the pastor at the time. He was succeeded in turn by the Revs. Charles F. BALCH, J. FISHER, Rev. Jenkin Lloyd JONES, now of Chicago, Ill., was pastor of the Unitarian Church until August 30, 1880. During the three years following, the society was without a regular pastor, and the pulpit was supplied from the liberal churches of other cities. On February 5, 1884, Rev. H. Tambs LYCHE took charge as pastor and remained for about one year. The church was closed for six months and October 1, 1885, Rev. Joseph WAITE accepted a call. He resigned April 1, 1888. Rev. Charles F. ELLIOTT succeeded Mr. WAITE, his pastorate beginning on September 1, 1888, and ending May 1, 1891. September 1, 1891, Rev. Sophie GIBB took charge and remained till September 11, 1894. She was followed by Rev. Victor E. SOUTHWORTH, who was pastor for two years. February 12, 1899, Rev. A. G. WILSON came, remaining about one year and a half. At a meeting of the trustees of the society, held April 25, 1901, it was decided to sell the church property, sealed bids for its purchase having been received, and on the next day, April 26, 1901, the sale was made to Dr. E. F. WOODS. At the time of the sale the trustees, who are still holding office (1908), were as follows: William A. SMITH, chairman; Walter HELMS, secretary and treasurer; William H. GREENMAN, W. H. MERRITT, Fred HOWE.
The mutual improvement club was organized in the winter of 1873-4 and carried on
its meetings until the winter of 1884-85. Its officers then were: Treasurer, Lily M. GODDEN; secretary, Ida HARRIS; librarian, Selia HARRIS. Two other literary clubs were connected with the church following the disbanding of the Mutual Improvement Club - the Fortnightly Club and the Culture Club. They were short-lived and the minutes have not been preserved.
 
[Source: Rock County, Wisconsin: A new history of it's cities, villages, etc., Vol. I, by William Fiske Brown (editor-in-chief); ©1908 C. F. Cooper, Chicago, IL; pp. 291-293; courtesy of Carol]

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Site Coordinator: Lori Niemuth