History of the Hale Baptist Church

Hale Baptist Church

HALE, MI – Perhaps the beginning of religious work in Plainfield Township goes back to lumberwood days before the present township was settled and refer to the days when tote roads crossed the plains east of Hale and when the different hotels to accommodate the lumbermen were there, around which people settled, some to try farming, others to do different kinds of work connected with that lumbering age.

At one of these hotels, the Shad House, quite a settlement was formed and here in 1871 was organized the first Sunday School in Plainfield Township, section 7 east.

From this locality came Mr. & Mrs. David Love, charter members of the Hale Baptist Church.

In 1871 E.V. Esmond, his wife and two children accompanied by his brother Clark, his wife and children and Alonzo Knight, settled in the plains in range 23 north, section six, two miles east of what now is Hale, then a dense wilderness with no roads except trails.

Their first thought was for a school for their five children and a school house was built two miles east and one mile south of the present village of Hale (We think this should be one mile east and one mile south.) Mr. Esmond sent to Parma, Michigan for a teacher, taxes from the owners of great tracts of pine paid for this.

Here Mr. Esmond organized a Sunday School with the help of the teacher arid later of settlers who began to come there. The beginning of the first permanent Sunday School began later in what was known as the Teed School House, one mile east and on half mile south of Hale in the year of 1887, with a membership of 37.

In the summer of 1888, Rev. C.E. Long. a Baptist, of Painsville, Ohio spent his vacation here and preached in this school house, the first minister in this locality.

Later Rev. Phillips of the Tawas City Baptist Church held regular meetings once every two weeks during the week and baptized a number into the Tawas City Baptist Church. On Oct. 6,1889 Rev. H.S.Mellon organized the Plainfield Baptist Church in the Teed School House. July 16, 1890, recognition services were held with the following, as charter members: Mr. N. F. Dean, Mrs. Bella Dean, Mrs. Ida Teed, Miss Maggie Linden, Miss Adeiaide Ferrister, Walter Lynn, Mrs. Lillie Lynn, David Love, Emmaliza Love, Thomas Adams, Angeline Adams, Nettie Westervelt, Mrs. Louisa Buck and Mrs. Ella Buck.

In the winter of 1889 and 90 the members and people decided to build a church. The people were all alike, poor in earthly goods but strong in faith. Wages were low, many starting on new farms. Forests and burnt over land comprised what is now the village of Hale.

A log tram lumbered through with a caboose on behind for passengers, Rose City was the end of the line. Hale had a small grocery store owned by C. H. Prescott and Son, wealthy lumbermen. C. H. Prescott lived in Cleveland and his son Allen lived at Tawas City, and was head of the Prescott interests there which consisted of a mill, the shipping of lumber and a large store. The small store at Hale was managed by N. F. Dean. They also owned a large frame house, which served as a boarding house for his men engaged in lumbering and in the mill at Hale Lake. N. F. Dean lived in this house and kept some boarders.

E. V. Esmond owned a saw mill and sawed the logs into lumber for the new church free of charge. The men of the township turned out and drew logs to the mill. The women of the church organized an Aid Society and made aprons, quilts, fancy work and raised $500.00 in ready cash. They sold to men in the lumber camps who often would hand out a bill for something to send home and not take change.

C.H. Prescott and Sons donated hardware, paint, shingles, siding and most of the plastering. S. B. Yawger, a younq man from York State, an expert carpenter was asked to build the church. Plans were drawn up, a lot purchased from Thomas Adams, lumber and material was drawn to the lot and the work began.

Mr. Yawger did all the work without the help of any other carpenter, or skilled workman, but the men in the neighborhood helped him on the rough work. One very good worker was Wm. Goodyear, others were Frank and Henry Buck, Charles Graves, David Love and others. On Feb. 2, I891, the first tree was felled for the new church, by the end of the year the church was raised and enclosed. The building erected was 28 X 40 feet, main building. Prayer room, 16 X 20 feet, connected with main room by large doors that raised by hidden pulleys.

Foyer was 10 X 10 feet, height 60 feet from ground. Thee steeple was 8 X 8 feet at the base. Mr. Yawger built and painted the steeple inside the church, boarded it part way then with the help of a few men, they raised it to position inside the church and so accurate was his work that it fit perfectly into position.

In the fall of 1882, Rev. Nunn of Tuscola, Michigan was called to preach in the new church, with him to this new country were his wife, two sons, Edwin a teacher and Albert age 9, and daughter Nellie. Later three other sons came to Hale, all connected with its early history. Rev. Nunn and family drove the long distance with horses and two buggies. Their househo1d goods came by freight to National City, (then Emery Junction), then on a logging tram to Hale.

The church was not ready to preach in, it lacked windows, had not been lathed, so his first sermon was preached Oct. 23 in the new Plainfield Township Hall. No seats in the hall, so the people sat on planks laid on blocks of wood. (This building was located on the NW corner of Hale.)

One of the first things Rev. Nunn did for the new church was to get the glass from Detroit for the windows. Winter was coming and the church was open to weather. C.H. Prescott furnished one half the cost of the windows, Rev. Nunn soon had the rest and the glass arrived. It was beautiful cathedral glass in different colors.

Rev. Nunn was an expert painter and could put in window glass. Mrs. Nunn and their young son, Albert, held a lamp while he glazed all those many windows at night, as he worked at the church daytimes, when he was not on his regular trips to Curtisville and Glennie. Rev. Nunn did all of the graining, it was finished in ash and birch in oil. He was a tireless worker, for he preached at Reno, Curtisville and Lott. (Glennie)

In June 1893, Children’s Day was held in the township hall as the church was not yet plastered, but in that same summer the church was plastered. As was customary in those days a “Bee” was made to draw the sand and help with plastering. The Ladies Aid made lemonade in tin cans and the hot, tired workers became ill from ptomaine poisoning, but it did not prove serious. Joseph Boomer of Tawas City was hired to plaster the church.

An organ was purchased from Grinnell Bros., Detroit. With the new organ a choir was formed, Nellie Nunn, organist. The choir consisted of Maud and Jessie Esmond, Mollie Lobdell, Stacy Yawger, Edwin Nunn later Eugene Nunn), and Ella Buck. Hymn books used were Gospel Hymns No. 5 and The Life Line. In Oct., 1893 the church was open for use, property valued at $1500.00 and a small indebtedness of $150.00, but Rev. Nunn would not consent to a dedication until this amount was raised, his reason was that a church should be free from debt before dedication. Instead a Church opening was held with Rev. Randell of Detroit, Rev. Jack of E. Tawas, and Rev. Dean of Rathmel, Penn, present and helping in the service.

In May 1894, Rev. A.P. McDonald of Mt. Pleasant held special meetings assisting Rev. Nunn and nine were added to the church. At this time the first B.Y.P.U. was organized with Ella Carroll and Nellie Nunn as leaders, and twenty-three active members. Also a Junior Union and Mission Band with Cora McKeen as president and Albert Nunn organist, age 10 years.

Prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings were well attended in those days, as well as other services of the church, in fact the church was the social center of the township.

The first wedding in the church was that of Effie Carroll to James Daly on March 29, 1893. The first funeral, that of little Addie Buck, daughter of Henry and Ella Buck.

The record of the early church down through these early years show discouragements and worry. The small indebtedness loomed large in those days of small wages and hard times. The members were well grounded in their faith and worked together in peace and harmony. What differences occurred came from without. As one looks back through the years one can understand and see more clearly why there had to be misunderstandings at all between those fine people.

I know now that when the people entered into the building of a church with such enthusiasm, they expected it would be a Union Church. They all favored some certain denomination and when the Baptist took over, they could not understand why it should be under one denomination. On the other hand the church could not have been completed as it stands today without the help of C. H. Prescott’s money.

One Christian brother, Danny Latter of Reno was loved by all and when he came to preach at Hale every one turned out. Later he was ordained a Baptist minister and died in the far West.

The Baptists have no bishops or organization to place pastors in a field, they are chosen by the church. We often had changes principally because the field was too hard to cover and often because a young man sought a place where he could have a larger salary.

As the years passed this matter was helped by a more business like arrangement by the Baptist State Board. This is hard to understand by people from other denominations. One can be proud of the democracy of the Baptist Church, but in regard to the uncertainty of a minister’s pastorate, it is not so well.

In 1898 during the pastorate of Rev. John Pearson the debt was reduced but due to his ill health he had to leave for a different climate. Under him Danny Latter helped out again during the summer of 1899, and preached here until the fall of 1900, when he resigned to take up missionary work in Idaho. In 1901 the church was fortunate in again having Rev. John Pearson as pastor and continued with the church three years. He also preached at Curtisville and churches north following Rev. Nunn’s blazed trail, three slashes in a tree. 

Many have gone forth into the world from the Hale Sunday School and Church. There is not much to hold people there, so the young people leave us but no one can tell of the good that has been accomplished. Membership may remain about the same but many have gone forth and joined other churches. The good work goes on. No one but our Heavenly Father can judge of that.

Story courtesy of www.USGennet.org. Written by Historian Nellie Jennings.

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