Otterbein United brethren Church

(Sandy Sink Church)

 

Fulton Township, Rock County, Wisconsin
 

Courtesy of (and written by) Clark Kidder; ©2006

There was nothing quite so quaint as the peaceful little country churches that dotted
the countrysides of yesteryear. One such church became an integral part of the lives of nearby farmers in Fulton Township, Rock County, Wisconsin - a place known as Sandy Sink.
Just when the area became known as Sandy Sink is unknown. The reason it was is
due to its proximity to a low marshy spot that consisted of a great deal of sand. The area once consisted of a little red one-room school (the Sandy Sink school), and a little cemetery which was known as both Mt. Olive and Sandy Sink cemetery. The church and the school are long gone, and only a couple stones remain in the little cemetery, which has been swallowed up by weeds and brush. The cemetery is located on Manogue Road, just west of the intersection with Kidder Road. The hardy pioneers that rest there include some of mine. Little Josephine and Joanna TAYLOR were laid to rest there on September 8 and 12, respectively, in 1867. They were the twin daughters of Alfred H. and Josephine B. (KIDDER) TAYLOR, and were just two months old.
The quaint little church was located ten miles north of Janesville on County Trunk H
(now Hwy 51). It was erected in 1870 as Otterbein (aka Fulton Chapel). It quickly became known to the locals as the Sandy Sink church. It was dedicated the same year. It was constructed of wood, painted white, and sat atop a foundation of local fieldstones. It had a hand dug well, and a buggy shed large enough to accommodate several buggies. The first regular clergyman was J. J. VAUGHN (1870-71). The church, known then as the Fulton and/or Otterbein Chapel, was attached to the Lima, Wisconsin, circuit until 1886, and then called Otterbein station. In 1887 it was again detached to Lima mission and remained thus until 1907 when it was detached from the mission and joined to Rutland, becoming a part of Otterbein circuit. A small community to the north named Newville was joined to Otterbein in 1909. The circuit was dissolved in 1910, and reattached to the Lima circuit. Lima was located just a few miles east of Milton.
From about 1900-1910, Rev. L. L. THAYER served the church. A photo of him
can be seen here. The circuit-riding minister that serviced the church at the time Earl and Emily KIDDER attended (about 1910-1915) was a circuit-riding minister named Reverend C. J. ROBERTS. The KIDDERs lived a couple miles north of the church. Earl and Emily were my grandparents. Earl proposed to Emily one dark winter's night as he walked her home after church.
Clifford STARK, who still lives near where the church was located, was baptized at
the church in 1918. He recalls that a minister used to walk cross-country from Lima Center when he was a young man. He recalled that no one could keep up with the minister once he started out. He would arrive in late afternoon. STARK also recalls his father telling him of the time he and a friend captured some little mud turtles from CROSS' pond, which was located just south of the church, and across the road. The pair smuggled the turtles into church one Sunday with the intention of startling a couple of the older women that sat in a pew near the front of the church. The turtles were placed under the seat cushions, and all through the sermon that two pranksters sat in anticipation. The little turtles sat deathly still, recoiling their heads and legs, as turtles do, and in doing so spoiled the fun.
There were three rows of pews in the church that held the approximately thirty
patrons that usually attended from the nearby countryside. A large organ stood on the east end of the church, near the pulpit, which was on a raised platform. A long wooden buggy shed was located behind the church, to the east. Two large round oak stoves heated the church. Earl KIDDER once recalled that his father, Clark Dodge KIDDER, had often supplied much of the wood, and over the years it was commonplace for the ministers that served the church to spend the night with Earl's parents' (Clark and Elma KIDDER) before returning home the next day.
Declining attendance forced the closing of the church in 1923, and it was sold.
Before the new owner could make use of it, the church was struck by what Earl KIDDER recalls as a cold strike - a ball of fire created by a bolt of lightening during a thunderstorm one night. Clifford STARK recalls that the foundation of the church was used when County Trunk H was improved, and became Highway 51. Cliff purchased the one-acre lot from Harry PAGE in 1935, and later sold it. A newer home is now located on the lot.
 
[A photo of the church can be seen here.]
 
Bibliography:
Wisconsin Historical Records Survey Project. Inventory of Church Archives in Wisconsin:
Church of the United Brethren in Christ. Madison, Wisc. Wisconsin Historical Records Survey, 1940.

©2006 ALHN-Rock Co., WI

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