As Written and Placed in the Cornerstone in the Spring of 1953
Branch, Lake County , Michigan
During the decade of 1880-1890 most of the area surrounding Baldwin, in fact all of Lake and Mason counties, were logged off. The original pine was cut off in wholesale fashion with temporary railroads built and running throughout the entire region – now marked only by old “railroad grades” running through the woods, paths cut through hills and grades built up level through hollows. Little towns sprung up too, now completely extinct but then inhabited by several hundred logging men.
Many of the men who worked here cutting lumber through this region later purchased land from the lumber companies, cleared the stumps and developed farms. Homes, farm buildings, and eventually schools were built. Many places have changed hands several times since then, but many descendants of those original loggers are still living here and farming the family places.
At that time this settlement in Lake Township was known as the “Swedish Settlement”, and the Logan Township neighbors were known as the “Carr Settlement” – Mr. Carr being the first permanent settler there. The majority of the neighbors here were of Scandinavian origin. The settlers in Logan were mainly from Indiana, many of them neighbors in Indiana before coming to Michigan .
Following is a resume’ of the religious activity at that time by Mrs. Albert Peterson, who was a girl here at that time:
“In 1907, Rev. Shaw was director of the Sunday School held in the school house located on Section 9. Mr. Cornelius Kosten was also Sunday School Superintendent there, and also conducted church services. Rev. Shaw was followed by Mr. Pomeroy, and American Sunday School missionary, about 1909.”
Mr. Pomeroy worked in this locality for years. Many of the neighbors can remember his bicycling around on his circuit during the earlier years. He would stop at various homes for meals and overnight, and always contended that he was very well taken care of during his visits here. Sunday School would be held rather intermittently – sometimes for a few weeks in succession, but with lapses in between.
Rev. Shaw worked here for several years, but had services only about once a month or less often. For about a year around 1910, a Mr. Snyder lived at Branch and drove a team and buggy out here every Sunday to conduct services in the schoolhouse. He baptized several children during that time.
It is very difficult to get accurate data about this period. The people who were interested at that time are no more on this earth except those who were quite young at the time. They have only vague memories of names, dates, etc.. Several men conducted religious services from time to time. Most of them, as was quite common at that time, felt called to preach and did so without much training. The local people tried to keep up the Sunday School for the good of the children growing up. Mr. Cornelius Kosten, a Dutch Reformed laymen, helped out by acting as Sunday School Superintendent and holding Christian services.
In the year 1912 all the rural school in Lake Township consolidated into one school district and a new two-room cement block school house was built. The old school houses then were sold or dismantled. The desks, etc. were removed from the one on Section 9 and the building was sold to Carl P. Carlson to be used later as a blacksmith shop. Naturally this did not improve it as a house of worship although Mr. Carlson always was sympathetic towards the work and welcomed the group to continue to use the back of the building. This move undoubtedly emphasized the fact that a church building was definitely needed.
At this time regular services were being conducted at the Carr Christian church with Rev. Fred Stewart as pastor. He lived at Batchellor, fifteen miles away – quite a trip by horse and buggy. Revival services were held, a number became active Christians, and the church was organized under the Christian denomination. At that time the Luman Cole family lived in Mason County and Mrs. Jana Cole was one of the members of the Carr church. In 1916 the Cole family moved to the farm which they have since owned and occupied until Mr. Cole’s death, south of the Evergreen church site, and began to attend the services held in the old schoolhouse.
The United States entered the first World War in 1917 and this community became very active in the Red Cross. At about the same time the Evergreen Ladies’ Aid was organized and naturally many of the ladies were interested and active in both organizations.
The Ladies’ Aid officers at this time were: President, Mrs. Luman (Jana) Cole; Secretary, Mrs. George (Anna) Mac Dougall; Treasurer, Mrs. Edwin (Ella) Corey. They were the main ones who instigated and achieved the Evergreen Chapel building.
They must have been discussing and longing, -and undoubtedly praying, for it for some time when they heard of a possible solution. Marlboro, south of Baldwin , had at one time been a busy little town due to an excellent deposit of marl discovered there. However, the marl gave out, the factory moved, and a number of frame houses wer left standing which were now up for sale. If enough money could be raised to purchase such a building and labor could be donated to rebuild it, they would have a church.
Mrs. George Mac Dougall and Miss Blanch Cole, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Luman Cole and now Mrs. Arlow Bluhm, canvassed the neighborhood with a horse and buggy for donations. $125.00 was raised and committee appointed to purchase and build the church. This committee was composed of Mr. Edwin Corey, Mr. Elmer Hines, and Mr. Peter Kosten. Just after the lumber was moved Mr. Kosten left the community to work on the railroad, and Mr. Edgar Carlson took his place on the committee.
A large house was purchased and plans were now made for moving it. A special day was set and the neighbors with their teams and sleighs, and also their wives, set out for Marlboro early one winter morning to work all day like beavers – tearing down the building and hauling it home. At noon hot coffee was made at one of the Marlboro homes, and a generous dinner served by the ladies. We do not have records concerning the men who helped that day but every one consulted agrees that it was a glorious bee. The following were probably there: Edwin Corey, Jesse Bradford, Luman Cole, Ed and George Carlson, Henry Baumgartner, Arthur Sellon Sr., George Moore, Nels Johnson, Peter Kosten, Findley Robertson, Elmer Hines, Tom and Clyde Wann, George Mac Dougall, and probably others with their teams and sleighs. Some had to make a second trip to get all the lumber home.
Definite plans were now made for a site. Edgar and George Carlson, brothers, deeded the acre of land for one dollar. The ladies of the Aid, especially Mrs. Cole and MacDougall, who attended to the drawing up of the deed, had the following stipulation inserted: “The condition of this deed is such that the within premises are to be used for church purposes only, and shall revert to said first parties or their assigns when the premises shall have ceased to be used for church purposes.” This reverent clause was to insure that it should never be used for questionable activities.
The deed was drawn up January 29, 1921, and the moving done sometime that winter. After the moving was completed, Mr. Delbert Whitney, who had been a building contractor in Chicago before moving to this neighborhood for his health, offered to act as overseer and did so although his health was so bad at that time that many times he lay on the floor and directed – too ill to stand. He passed away before it was entirely done and his was the first funeral to be conducted from the new church. Most of the men mentioned above helped some, but the ones who did most of the carpentering were Luman Cole, Elmer Hines and Nels Peterson. George and Edwin Carlson did the plastering.
In order to complete the building, more money was needed, of course – so Mr. Ewin Corey, Mr. Jesse Bradford and Mr. Luman Cole borrowed $100.00, giving their personal notes as a security. Later the Ladies; Aid raised money in various ways and repaid this note.
We have no records and will only mention a few items drawn from various memories: The pews were hand made of wide pine boards. Several men offered to make one or more, using the same pattern. Some of them were especially nice. (We have been using chairs for the last few years, some of the pews have been used for lumber for other chapel furnishings, others will be.) Findley Robertson gave a generous donation to start the fund; Mrs. Geo. MacDougall purchased the first Coleman Gasoline lamp for the chapel just before moving to Canada ; Jesse Bradford gave the church a large old Bible, brought from England by his parents; the MacDougall Club donated the money to purchase the maple flooring.
And so the chapel was built and used for services and Sunday School. The Ladies; Aid was very active at that time and raised money in ,many ways. They made and sold quilts, tied them when asked to for money, besides making and giving away several when fire or other misfortune struck a neighbor’s family. They had ice cream socials, oyster suppers, bazaars, and many other activities to raise money.
Following is, I hope, a fairly complete list of the women who worked at this time: Mrs. Luman Cole, Mrs. George MacDougall, Mrs. Edwin Corey, Mrs. Thomas Wann, Mrs. Nels Johnson, Mrs. Clyde Wann, Mrs. Henry Baumgartner, Mrs. C.P. (Mary) Carlson, Mrs. Jack Gibson, Mrs. Josie Kosten, Mrs. Albert Peterson, Mrs. Elmer Hines, Mrs. Arthur Sellon Sr., Mrs. Jesse Bradford, Mrs. Findley Rosertson, Mrs. Nels Peterson, now Mrs. Byron Masten, Mrs. Arnold Misteli, Sr., Niver a member, but a loyal friend.
Mr. Pomeroy continued to help, the Sunday School was enrolled under the American Sunday School Union. There was no regular pastor but several different men came, much more frequently now that there was a chapel. Rev. Fred Stewart preached a number of times. About 1929-1930, Rev. Lemmon, a retired Methodist minister living in Ludington, came out regularly. It was inconvenient for him as he would usually come to Branch by train. Soon after that four young men from Pontiac and Muskegon worked in the area as two teams. All were talented and sincere, but had no backing to establish a permanent work here. They stayed at the Robertson home, gave special musical numbers – singing and instrumental – chalk talks, etc. Although they were unable to stay, they always left a sincere Christian testimony.
Vacation Bible School was held two weeks each summer for at least four years. Two young ladies, sponsored by the American Sunday School Union, stayed in the community; they were guests of the Luman Cole and Edwin Corey homes – a week at each place.
Several different people were Sunday School Superintendents: Mrs. Luman Cole for several years, Mrs. Norval Whiteny, Mrs. Findley Robertson and others. Several teachers in the Lake Township Unit School helped also while teaching in the district especially Miss Gladys Fitch of Ludington, now Mrs. Hiram Herrick who acted as superintendent one year. While she was here new hymnals and twenty-four chairs were purchased. Katharine and Alice Robertson were always regular members as they grew up. Katharine acted as organist from an early age until she went to Grand Rapids to study nurse’s training and both girls helped as secretary, teaching, etc., until they left the community. Good programs were given, especially at Christmas, and the work flourished for a time.
And then somehow, a number of contributing factors seemed to converge to shut the work down. The Ladies’ Aid seemed to lose their unity after the note was repaid, the MacDougall and Baumgartner families left the community, and finally the Aid disbanded. There were a number of extra families and therefore an unusual number of small children living in the Settlement during the depression years but money was very scarce, the families felt temporary, and probably most important, no vigorous leadership developed. At any rate, about 1934 the Sunday School ceased to operate for several years. For one thing there were very few children living in the Evergreen neighborhood of Protestant faith. I believe at one time only Nels Peterson and Joseph Vanas families had children of grade school age to attend. During this period and following there were a number of the older ones who passed away. Most of the people mentioned up to this time have passed away.
Meanwhile several new families were started, new families moved and returned, and in 1943 the community was quite different than in 1935.
“So Shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
EVERGREEN CHAPEL LOOKS BACK OVER TEN YEARS
“God is faithful”
Early in the spring of 1943, Rev. B.J. Pomeroy – American Sunday School Union Missionary in the district at that time – was visiting several of the churches and pastors in northwest Michigan , raising funds primarily. He stopped to visit Rev. Arthur C. Carlson, then pastor of the Mission Covenant Church at Manistee. Rev. Carlson became very interested and indicated that he would like to see some of the groups and neighborhood in which the A.S.S. Union worked so Mr. Pomeroy brought him down to the Evergreen Chapel in Carr Settlement.
Mr. Pomeroy made a series of calls around the Evergreen neighborhood as he had done many times before, this time announcing at each home that services would be held that evening with Rev. Carlson speaking. Be cause services were so irregular, they were advertised in this way, by personal calls, or friendly telephone calls. That evening there was a group of about 20 or 25 there. The Rev. Carlson was given a vision of the work which needed to be done for the Lord in these rural sections, and soon offered to try to get a young man from from his denomination to stay for a few weeks in the summer if the neighbors would provide board and room for him.
And so, the last of June, Clarence Winstedt arrived, a young man of 20, very tall, 6’ 5”, very energetic and very likable. His father was a successful pastor, so he was fortunate in being able to call upon him for advice. But the Holy Spirit was clearly with him that summer as we look back with what he accomplished.
He arrived in an old 1932 Ford which one of his classmates at North Park Seminary had given him – an asset provided he could make it run. After a few days tinkering, it ran and served for several weeks. He boarded around in several homes that summer, made many friends and did a fine piece of work. He started in visiting, organizing, established regular services every Sunday evening, and Sunday School every Sunday morning.
The church building needed a great deal of repairs. A new roof had been purchased by contributions and put on by the labor of the neighbors just before Winstedt came. He appointed a building committee, “one member from the eight most interested families”, he said, “Four ladies and four men”. This first committee was; Frank Peterson, Peter Kosten, Sid Moore, Alvin Corey, Mrs. Findley Robertson, Mrs. Luman Cole, Mrs. Graham McDougall, Mrs. Clarence H. (Mabel) Cole. (This Committee, with replacements when one moved away, served as church board as well as building committee for four years.)
Considerable repairs were made on the building that summer. The pulpit platform and front doors were moved to make the interior more symmetrical, and that called for new flooring, new door casings, and doors. Some of the windows were replaced and some frames repaired. Wallboard and plaster were repaired, some of the outside siding was replaced, and then the whole was painted, inside and out. Services were held just before Clarence left about Labor Day to go back and resume his seminary training. The Chapel was rededicated to the work of the Lord and since then it has been used nearly every Sunday. As a gift, he left the picture “Head of Christ” by Sallman which has since hung in the front of the Church.
Due to his work here, and his increased interest in Home Missions, the Rev. Arthur C. Carlson was soon appointed by his denomination as Superintendent of Home Missions for Lower Michigan of the Mission Covenant denomination – the first man to hold this position. Through his efforts and vision many other churches and home mission works have been started in Michigan – many of them far larger in every way than Evergreen.
Before Clarence left he organized the Sunday School with a staff of teachers and officers. We continued with Sunday School that winter, sometimes with a very small attendance. The next summer Courtney Johnson came up from North Park with the same arrangements as Clarence had had. Two young ladies, Miss Jo Ann Gerhardt and Miss Carola Anderson came from North Park and taught Vacation Bible School for one week in June. This was the first, for eight of ten years. The girls, too, had a small salary paid by the Covenant, but the community took care of their living arrangements and paid for the supplies.
Since then two weeks of Bible School have been conducted each summer by students from North Park . In all, sixteen different girls have worked here and left their mark on our young people. Two, Miss Vida Floy and Miss Karol Karlson, came two summers. The last four seasons the group of children has been so large that from two to four local girls and ladies have helped to teach. One of the most important effects has been the influence of such fine young Christian girls as examples for our youth.
The winter of 1944-45 Clarence Winstedit came and spent his vacation from North Park with us. He stayed with Emil Petersons’ family and planned very fine Christmas services and a New Year’s Watch Night service on New Year’s Eve. He also reorganized the Evergreen Ladies’ Aid, which has since been very active and a great help to the church. The first meeting was held at the Graham MacDougall home, in January, 1945. The charter members were: Mrs. Stanley Peterson, President; Mrs. Emil Peterson, Treasurer; Mrs. Thomas Wann, Mrs. Graham MacDougall, Mrs. Luman Cole, Mrs. Clarence H. Cole, and Mrs. Sid Moore.
Melbourne Metcalf was here the summer of 1945 and Daniel Ericsson the summer 1946. Both young men were engaged to be married the summers they were here and were married a few weeks after leaving. Both are foreign missionaries now, the Rev. Metcalf and his family in Japan and the Rev. Ericsson and his family in Congo , Africa . Both worked in this neighborhood and at Carr as well, and the two communities shared in taking care of them. They both left a great blessing. Miss Edith Ohlson, who was here the summer of 1948, is now a missionary in Ecuador .
During this period we kept the Sunday School going, and much of the time during the winter months, Rev. Carlson would try to have someone to conduct preaching services about twice a month. He often came, also Rev. Fred Stewart, Mr. Pomeroy, as well as laymen. Our chief trouble with Sunday School was teachers. Someone was always moving away, getting sick, or having a new baby. But somehow we always found replacements, even when it seemed impossible. Some of our teachers were and are: Mmrs. Graham MacDougall, Mrs. Frank Peterson, Mrs. Laslie Larson, Mrs. George Jackson, Mrs. Alvin Corey, Mrs. Adrian Dagen, Mrs. Frank Mohler, Mrs. William Kirke, Miss Evelyn Payne, Mrs. Sid Moore, Mrs. Merrill Maddox, Mrs. E.G.Croft, Mrs. George Schrink, Mr. Eugene Bostrom, Miss Lily Wiltshire, Mrs. Roy Lasley, besides any of the men who were serving as pastor. Of this group usually we had about four teaching at one time, although now we have a regular staff of eight teachers.
Every Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day, we would have special services, usually including programs by the children, and always had very good crowds. Rev. Fred Stewart came and preaches our Easter morning message for several years, although he was in poor health part of this time.
Several continually gave us help and encouragement, although they could not teach. Mrs. Luman Cole was one of these. She attended quite regularly, and used to help so much with the prayers. She would lead us in prayer while we teachers were still quite shy about praying in public. Sometimes it seemed that only prayer kept us going.
Miss Arville Cole and Miss Lorraine Peterson were teenagers at that time, and attended very regularly and helped a great deal with their music. Both girls have lovely voices, Arville acted as pianist and both would pitch hit as teachers or secretary. Both are now married and live away. Clarence and net Cole helped a lot too. They acted as custodians of the Chapel. Clarence built fires, supplied and split kindling, and Nettie was a wonderful cleaner, she was always first there and last to go on cleaning days.
The Ladies’ Aid continued to grow, both in numbers and experience. At times we have had 25 active members, besides several more who help with many things. Here too, the membership changes.
They have raised a great deal of money and helped a great many worthy causes. They have made and tied innumerable quilts; put on ice cream socials, oyster, chili, chicken, fish, and turkey suppers; a Smorgasbord; several bazaars and bake sales; have sold Jell-O and thousands of greeting and Christmas cards – besides many other smaller projects.
The winter of 1946-47, Wallace Lanchester was at Mears and also in Carr Settlement for his intern year. Between the two Churches here, however, and being stationed at Mears, he was unable to do much more than hold preaching services about twice a month. He did organize a Young People’s group which has since been continued and divided into a Junior and Senior group.
The following spring something new was tried by the Covenant. For several years they had been working in both the Evergreen Chapel and the Carr Christian Church, with the idea of somehow combining them and eventually having one unified congregation and church. The Covenant put Roger Danielson here with the understanding that they would pay his wages if it were possible to furnish him and his wife a place to live and $30.00 a month to cover his gasoline and car expense. Mr. and Mrs. Hobart Striker offered to let them use an apartment which they fixed in their home, provided that the churches would pay for his fuel, one half of the telephone bill and one half of the electricity bill. This was very reasonable, and the expenses were divided between the two churches equally. Danielsons’ first son was born while here, Christian Kay.
With Rev. Danielson and his wife here all year, and only in this locality, they could do more intensive work. However, in the spring of 1948, the Carr Church decided that they would rather ask for a minister from the Congregational-Christian denomination, than to join the Covenant, while the Evergreen elected to continue with the Covenant. Since the fall of 1948, the Congregational Church has included Carr Christian and Batchellor in their Baldwin parish, the Rev. Orval Sampson serving this parish.
This, however, left us in the position of trying to provide $15.00 per week to board a man in our little community, and it looked like a very big undertaking. We were most fortunate in the choice of a man who came in at this time, Maynard Anderson. He had been a farm boy from Minnesota and seemed to understand the people here. He fitted into the community and into our hearts, as well. At the end of the year, the church voted that if he would return, they would continue with the financial arrangements, but they did not want him to leave. So he stayed, with considerable sacrifice to himself, as he was due to go back to his studies.
Since he was here full time, he began to brand out a bit and began to seriously contact the Branch people. There was neither church nor Sunday School there at that time for miles around; so he began to run a personal “bus route” with his car every Sunday morning, bringing boys and girls to Sunday School. He also started working at Walhalla, and the second year went to Tallman regularly for Sunday School, church and Young People’s meetings every week.
From time to time various improvements and changes have been made on the chapel. Much more Sunday School equipment was added, some bought, some handmade and some gifts. Maps, blackboard, and library books. A number of chairs, large and small, were donated by the Grand Rapids Covenant Church, a good organ was donated by the Kosten Brothers, later replaced by a piano and the organ donated to the Whitehall Church. Folding screens were built by the Kostens, flying squirrels, honey bees and wasps were all extracted from the siding and attic of the chapel, the chimney was rebuilt, signs were made, the large upright one by Al Corey, and the interior redecorated in 1949.
But now a new problem developed. The Chapel was proving to be too small, at least several times a year. The Sunday School became larger with the increased territory being covered, and at least one and sometimes two classes would meet outside when the weather permitted, to allow more quite inside. Whenever there were programs, many of the parents would stay at home because there was not comfortable seating space. Clearly there was needed more room, and plans were begun for an addition on the south side of the chapel. But upon looking the building over, it was apparent that the building would not be worth adding onto, as the floor sills were badly rotted, and the whole structure was settling badly at the southwest corner.
So plans were started for building a new church. The Ladies’ Aid redoubled all their efforts to swell the “Building Fund”. Quite a sum of money was donated by the local people. The Sunday School raised over a hundred dollars with dime folders. Toward the end of Maynard’s second year he had a marvelous surprise, as a total stranger gave him a check for $1,000.00 towards the new building, because he had heard of the excellent work Maynard had been doing in the community, especially with the young people and children.
Plans continued to grow and expand. The church had had a regular “Church Board”, annual meetings, etc., since 1948 when Roger Danielson had helped establish more businesslike rules and elections in all the church organizations, so now a new Building Committee was elected, composed of Sid Moore, Peter Kosten, Frank Mohler, Mrs. Graham MacDougall and Mrs. Emil Peterson. It was decided to construct the building of cinder blocks.
Now a new problem came. The original deed had not been recorded in the County Clerk ’s office, and the land on which the Chapel was resting had changed ownership. The new owners were glad to make out another deed, but perhaps they new church should be built some other place. This too, was thoroughly talked over and debated, but at least the new deed was drawn up, signed and duly recorded for the same site. It had been decided that the men would do as much of the work on the church as possible, to make the money go as far as possible. Several of the neighbors offered trees from their land if they were cut. Frank Vasicek gave some already cut. Laslie Larson offered to do any sawing at his mill which amounted to a sizeable donation. That inter quite a few logs were cut from Mary Bancroft’s and Frank Mohler’s places, and altogether, Larsons sawed about 30,000 feet of lumber for the church. The new site, south of the old chapel had to be cleared, and this was done by hand and with farm tractors, axes, etc..
Meanwhile Maynard was busy strengthening the human church in several ways. He and Rev. Sampson had continued to work with the Carr-Evergreen Youth groups as one unit, both gathering them together in their cars and both directing the meetings. This was logical since most of them attend the same schools. He also started Family Nights, held about once a month, in various places and with various programs. He also held the first Holy Communion services in the Chapel. Another project that will likely show up more in future years than now is his planting of the seedling pines around the chapel yard.
If there is any one thing the Evergreen Ladies’ Aid might be said to be noted for, it is their willingness to try anything at least once, and usually more often. Now there were new and enthusiastic member, Mrs. E.G. Croft (J0) and Mrs. Merrill Maddox (Ann) from Bass and Reed Lakes . Mrs. Joseph Vanas sisters, Mrs. Ed Vanas and Mrs. Nolan Ray, began helping a great deal, as well as several others. Mrs. Pearl Nichols kindly loaned a small building, portable, which her father, Frank Mohler, had built for her to use as a roadside stand. Mrs. Lee Croft gave us permission to set it up on a very good location at the curve to Big Star Lake . At first we tried to use it as a fresh strawberry shortcake stand, but it at once became apparent that fresh home baked goods would have an excellent market with the resorters near by, so regular sales have been held since during the summer months. The spring of 1951, the Kasten Brothers and Sid Moore built a booth for the Ladies’ Aid of aluminum roofing, the “Pie Shanty”.
Truit Nordstrom took over the parish the fall of 1950 and the men seemed to be ready to begin to build. A one story building had been planned and, with Frank Mohler to do the main directing, the trench was dug and the foundation begun. However a severe and early winter stopped the work. During the winter it was decided to build a basement below of cement blocks. This necessitated changing plans again. For a year and half no direct work was done, but the building fund was steadily growing and being used to gather materials. The cinder blocks were purchased and delivered. Roofing and door hardware were purchased from a Covenant lumber dealer in Cadillac who kindly offered to sell any materials at cost. Hauling expenses would be high, however from so far away. Some materials were scarce and hard to obtain due to so much building being done all over the State. Window frames were purchased and later the amber glass. Finally in the spring of 1952 the basement was bulldozed out.
As I look back, I think Truit’ Nordstrom’s greatest contribution here was his regularity and faithfulness in following out the program which had been developed, and his work with music. Mrs. George Schrick was living near Branch the year of 1950-51, and between the two of them they worked with the children and young people, taught a great many new hymns and choruses, had some choir work, and above all got them to sing. The largest and most successful hunters’ supers were given the fall of 1950 and 1951, one featuring chicken, the other turkey. There was marvelous cooperation with both of these from the entire community.
Truit stayed at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Emil Peterson, as Maynard had, and during these four years the Peterson home became a veritable parsonage. Gertie always knew about any question, or would be glad to have the pastor call you back. She not only looked after all the Aid belongings, cups, etc., made beautiful cakes for every occasion, but was almost invariably on the informal “cleanup committees” for every gathering.
Truit also had the honor of performing the first wedding ceremony conducted in the chapel, the marriage of Olga Jean and Arthur Vanas, just before Arthur joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
He continued the weekly Bible studies which had been started by Roger Danielson, the Family Nights, etc.. Before he left he gave the chapel a gift, the oil reproduction of Sallman’s inspiring picture, “Christ, Our Pilot”, which he desired to have hung in the Sunday School Department of the new church.
In August the men got together and built the forms and poured the footing for the new building. Truit went back to school and a new man came, Dwight Johnson; Before he left, Truit had started plans for a fall Sunday School drive. Dwight threw himself into the work here with much energy and enthusiasm. The Sunday School, under his superintendency entered the national contest sponsored by the “Christian Life” magazine for six weeks. Although we did not win any prizes, which was not surprising, since there were 1200 entries, the majority in the small bracket, throughout the United States and foreign countries, we did win one of the highest ratings in the Lower Michigan Rally Contest, and the results were amazing to everyone. The last day of the contest there were 79 in attendance, a record for Sunday School here, including over 20 adults, something we had never before managed, and adult class. The Sunday School was expanded, with eight active teachers and class divisions and has remained so.
During September and October, much progress was made with the building, Two men were hired to lay the cement blocks for the basement wall, with two or more local men helping each day “mixing mud”. The walls were completed, the basement windows installed, the cement window ledge forms built and cement poured in them, the floor was poured and floor joints put in place for the main floor.
On November 3rd a special service was held at 4:00 P.M. and Rev. Dwight Johnson laid the cornerstone for the new church. Rev. Arthur C. Carlson gave the message to a most interested audience. Several were in attendance who had worked with the old chapel in its earliest days: Mrs. Luman Cole and daughter and granddaughter, Mrs. Lucy Murphy and Mrs. Kitty Goldman from Saginaw , Mr. and Mrs. Findley Robertson and Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Herrick and family from Ludington. This summer the building should show great progress. We hope to “have the roof on”.
As wee look back over the almost exactly 10 years, we have gone a long way. I am sure that none of us dared hope that we would be truly building such a lovely new church in 10 years. We did not even believe that we could really keep the Sunday School going. The Sunday School enrollment now has very few of the original members. The boys and girls here now were mostly either living some other place or were not born. The Coreys, Donna Lou and Gordon, Douglas and Sandra MacDougall, Patsy and Robby Peterson, and Jon and Loretta Moore are the only ones, and they were all in either the Primary or Nursery departments. We should mention Betty and Bob Peterson, who have grown up with us, but Betty is working now and Bob is serving his country. Another original is Richard Jackson, now in Kalamazoo , who with his mother was awaiting his father’s return from the Pacific area as a Marine.
We have many families living here now who, it seems, have always been here, but have come or established their families here within the 10 years: Leslie Larsons, Charles Coles, Wallace Madisons, Early Johnsons, Gordon MacDougalls, the Crofts, the Maddox and Kochs, Frank Vasiceks, Dale Mohlers, Ralph Petersons; Vaughts, Paynes, and others have come and gone again.
The chapel has seen and neighborhood experienced many very tragic and shattering experiences during that time. We have gone through one war and are in the midst of another. Many of the families mentioned had the men serving someplace during World War II, and several of the boys who grew up here are serving now. Memorial services were held in the chapel for Pfc. John Gibson, nephew of John and Peter Kosten who lost his life in the Philippines ; a tragic fire took the life of Joseph Bancroft and crippled Harvey Payne, the brother of Evelyn Payne; Clarence C. Cole was killed instantly when a tractor overturned. Polio struck in Branch one autumn and many of our older neighbors have passed on.
But we have also known ,many, many happy times, and I am sure they far overshadow the others. The picnics we have had together, the many happy occasions when children and babies were baptized, both in public and private services, the skating party and wiener roast on Perch Lake, the get-togethers at “MacDougals”, the chapel and at “Gerties’s and Emil’s”, the welcoming and farewell parties, the birthdays, the pot luck meals we have had at the chapel while redecorating or working on the buildings have left many warm memories. There have been several such occasions every year, and they count up. There is nothing like working and playing together to knit people together; we get to feel more and more like one family. Certainly, I do not think there is any question now but that the work will continue and grow, one of our most important heritages to our children.
I think the two darkest periods, at least in my memory, (perhaps Rev. Carlson would have others), were the fall of 1944 and the spring of 1948. But both times we had help, divine as well as human. The Christmas of 1944, Clarence came and gave us a wonderful boost; and in 1948, Maynard came. We have had so many blessings, and our failures have been mainly due to lack of faith. As we have endeavored to teach, we have learned more than our pupils; as we have worked and built, we have benefited most; but it is a joy to our children growing up “established in the Lord”.
“For all the promises of God,
In Him are yea,
And in Him, Amen.” 2 Cor. 1:20
This is the history as we put it in the cornerstone this spring. So much has happened this summer that already it seems quite outdated.
– (signed) Geraldine Moore
August 12, 1953