While reviewing and updating the Vanceburg United Methodist Church archived record books and beginning a new one I was impressed by some early history. I added much of it into the current record book. I decided to also share some of it with you, my readers. I have added interior pictures here and there to break the monotony of just text. The Church had a spire that was destroyed by lightning in the 50s. The fairly recent picture here is after that event.
The following is copied from the beautifully handwritten pages found in Record Book 1 of the VUMC. It was written in 1872 by Reverend Benjamin A. Stubbins.
Vanceburg Circuit was in 1862 known as the Clarksburg Circuit of the Maysville District of the Kentucky Conference with a Missionary Appropriation of $40. Rev. D. S. Barrow was the Preacher in Charge and Rev. H. M. Curry (sp) the Presiding Elder. There was then only 18 appointments in the Conference, and four of them was left to be supplied.
In 1863 the circuit was left to be supplied. The number of appointments in the conference increased to 19.
In 1864 the circuit was again left to be supplied, and the list of appointments had grown to 21.
In 1865 the charge became known as the Vanceburg Circuit with Rev. G. H. Lennin as Preacher in Charge. The charge this year formed a part of the Mount Sterling District with Rev. D. S. Barrow as Presiding Elder. The number of appointments in the conference was 29.
In 1866 the "eighteen" from the Church South came into the conference and the number of appointments grew to 78. The Maysville District was formed this year with Rev. D. S. Barrow as Presiding Elder, and Vanceburg Circuit formed a part of it with J. W. Zimmerman as Preacher in Charge.
In 1867 Rev. J. W. Zimmerman was again Preacher in Charge.
In 1868 Rev. N. W. Darlington was appointed Presiding Elder of the District. The charge was known this year as the Vanceburg and Concord Circuit with Rev. R. D. Lashbrook P. C.
In 1869 Rev. R. D. Lashbrook was continued P. C.
In 1870 Rev. James W. Muse was appointed to the circuit as Preacher in Charge and the circuit was known as the Vanceburg Circuit.
In 1871 Rev. James W. Muse was continued as the Preacher in Charge.
In 1872 Rev Benj. A. Stubbins was appointed to be the Preacher in Charge of Vanceburg Circuit and Rev. H. C. Northcott was appointed to be the Presiding Elder. According to the "minutes" of this year there was at the beginning of the year members 203, Probationers 84, Local Preachers 3. Vanceburg desired to be made a station but their request was not granted. This was a year of prosperity as the Register will show.
In 1873 B. A. Stubbins was continued as the Preacher in Charge and Vanceburg made a station. During the winter 1872-3 there was erected by Rev. S. B. Piersel, a member of the Kentucky Conference, a residence and Seminary building, and in April 1873 he opened Riverside Seminary. Sometime in the summer of this year there was organized "The Ladies Nite Society - of the - M. E. Church and it did and is still doing a successful work. The School interest had some shocks but at the close of the year it seemed to enjoy a more settled prosperity than usual. During this year also the Parsonage question received some attention, and a subscription was started with a view to building and the lumber was ordered and partly delivered.
The Annual Conference met this year in Covington Ky presided over by Bishop S. M. Merrill and B. A, Stubbins was appointed Presiding Elder of Greenville District. Jedediah Foster was appointed to be the Preacher in Charge of Vanceburg Station.
Benj. A. Stubbins
Also of interest in Record Book 1 is an introductory note by Reverend Stubbins that the record book was created by Reverend Stubbins from older class record books, now destroyed, lost, misplaced or not recognized for what they are.
Many years later, there is a note by Pastor D. P. Holt dated October 28, 1891. It states that the records to that date have been carelessly kept.
Entries also show that Pastor Benjamin A. Stubbins was appointed in February 1872 for a yearly salary of $825.00. Also, E. C. Pollard’s annual salary in 1881 was $575.00.
The membership was around 200. The property was valued at about $5000.
The first Baptism was dated 1866. The infant was Lucy Honaker.
The first marriage was on September 4, 1872 of Mary E. Bate to Thomas C. Fitch.
The following is a well written history of the time period from 1866 to 1905 written by Nellie Harrison, a member, and then Pastor A. H. Davis. It also has some added notes up to 1908. It is copied here from VUMC Record Book 4.:
[START COPY] Prior to the year 1866, the representatives of Methodism in Vanceburg were very few.
The town was but thinly settled, the cruelties of a civil war had made serious inroads on our ranks, and we, as a distinct people were non-existent, and simply joined our feeble strength with such others of God's People as received us in a united effort of worship in the Public School house.
Ministers of our faith we had had around us in protracted meetings, but in the scarcity of numbers, our courage had reached a very low ebb.
The conference of March 1865, sent to the Vanceburg Circuit Rev. Jerry Lennin, a man of sterling qualities, and remarkably vivid descriptive talent.
He moved to Concord and lived there until the next fall, when he came to Vanceburg.
In the meantime, Rev. Alfred Harrison, a local preacher of great will power and firmness of purpose, and a loyal love for his church, had moved his family from Salt Lick, Ky. and had fostered in the minds of the sympathizing residents, the idea of a separate organization of Methodism in Vanceburg.
In December of the year 1865, or January of 1866, Rev. Lennin, leaning on the strong arm of Almighty God, determined, by his help, to establish the Wesleyan faith in Vanceburg.
After holding four services Saturday and Sunday, in the schoolhouse, the trustees refused longer use of the house, and Monday morning Lennin and Harrison received permission from the County Judge, Pollitt, to hold services in the City Hall, which was then occupied as a Court House.
Then began a sweeping revival, which stormed the citadel of cowardice, and unbelief, and Methodism had won her vantage ground in the place.
Among the Charter members were Alfred Harrison and family, Daniel Kenyon and wife, Mrs. Geo. M. Thomas, Agnes Webster, and others.
At one service eighteen members from the M. E. Church, South, joined their fortunes with us, and the mother church, receiving a baptism of new glory, called them "The Loyal Eighteen."
Among these were T. B. Harrison and wife, Miss Kate Harrison, J. B. Fitch and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Freeman, Mrs. Nan Parker, Mrs. Ingrim, Charles Rowley, Mrs. Puss Ruggless, Lewis Plummer and wife, and Mrs. Mary Thomas.
One other service, a class of nineteen young people, led by Miss Josephine Harrison, pressed forward to accept church membership, with its obligations.
Thus, early in the year 1866, began the existence of Methodism as a church in Vanceburg.
In March of 1866, Rev. J. W. Zimmerman was sent as minister to the new congregation, which now numbered about 106.
In the conference year of his ministry, he retained as circuit riders, Rev N. C. Parish and Rev. Ducson.
In this year, also, the class of Methodists moved its headquarters from the rented room in the City Hall to the new Court House, which had just been finished, and here the Sunday School was organized by the same tireless workers, and J. R. Kenyon was appointed Superintendent.
Class meeting was established as a means of grace, and J. B. Fitch was appointed Class Leader.
In this year, too, began the glorious work of building the church, and in 1867, under the pastorate of Rev. R. D. Lashbrook, with J. B. Fitch as chief architect, a large two story frame building, the second church to be finished in Vanceburg, had risen to mark the zeal of the Methodist faith, and the sweet toned bell, donated by Vanduzen and Tift, pealed out its joyous summons to God's house.
The sermon of dedication was preached by Rev. Stephen W. Merrill, now Bishop Merrill.
Following R. D. Lashbrook, we have in order J. W. Muse, from 1870 to 1872; B. A. Stubbins from 1872 to 1874; J. H. Foster from 1874 to 1875.
In this year we began work on a new parsonage, on the lot beside the church, which S. G. Pollard, following Foster, occupied for one year.
Rev. Akin from 1876 to 1879, and Rev. N. R. Watson from 1879 to 1880 preceded Rev. Bradley and in this year of 1880 the annual conference was changed from March to September.
In September of the year 1880, Rev. E. C. Pollard was sent to this charge, and in 1882, he was followed by H. C. Northcott, and he in turn, in 1884 was succeeded by W. F. Maltbie.
One year of his work passes uneventfully away, the second year comes on apace, its months roll on, until the silent beauty of a night in early summer is broken, the moon looks pityingly down on a brighter light, the sleeping inhabitants, aroused by a shrill cry of "fire", leap, terror stricken from their rest, and flee from their homes to watch in helpless horror the lurid flames wrap both church and parsonage in their fierce embrace, until both are swept from their heights.
The great bell, with one farewell note from its iron tongue, falls among the ruins, and the Methodists again are homeless.
Nevertheless, this persevering and God fearing people, while the Court House again affords them a temporary refuge, goes bravely to work, and in 1886, where the old frame house went down, a substantial erection of brick had sprung from its ashes.
Rev. C. J. House, Presiding Elder, dedicated the new building to its purpose, while the hearts of a grateful people beat in accord with his words of praise to the God who had led thus far.
Filling the pulpit of the new church came Rev. J. S. Marriott from 1887 to 1890; J. M. Taulbee from 1890 to 1891; D. P. Holt, who organized the Epworth League, from 1891 to 1892; C. M. Baker from 1892 to 1893; and L. P. Hanks, from 1893 to 1896.
But a few months had passed under the pastorate of Rev. Hanks, when a new parsonage stood ready for occupancy beside the church, and the pastor moved his family from rented property into the friendly shelter. Successive preachers in charge are J. M. Ackman under whose work from 1896 to 1898, Vanceburg was made a station, the Jr. League was organized, and the Mission Church in South Vanceburg was built, and in honor of its most liberal contributor named Heinisch Chapel; G. N. Jolly from 1898 to 1900, in whose service the church was again made one appointment of a circuit; J. S. Miller from 1900 to 1901, and the present occupant of the pulpit, A. H. Davis.
In these years, through the repairing and beautifying of the church, many changes have taken place in the building itself; but the greatest changes are told in its membership.
Many have left their places in the home church for other fields; new faces were soon seen, where familiar forms had vanished.
The music of wedding marches has pealed through the room, and the bridal participants have passed the doors to dwell in other lands.
Childish forms have grown into manhood and womanhood, from the cradle roll to holders of stewardship.
The wail of the dirge has echoed sadly from the walls, and the funeral train has borne down the aisle those who have crossed the portal for the last time.
The old pioneers of the church, and many of the young, with a number of our beloved pastors have been gathered to their fathers.
Thus meeting and parting, we go through life, until the last great roll call summons us to the home where praise is eternal and parting is unknown.
The above, by the suggestion of the Pastor, A. H. Davis, was compiled by Miss Nellie Harrison, a daughter of the late Rev. Alfred Harrison, who was the beginner of the work of establishing the Doctrine of the M. E. Church in the place which we think reflects credit upon him who counseled in the ways of the Lord.
During the Conference year 1901 & 1902, the church was carpeted, frescoed, and painted inside at a cost of $385.00
There were added to the church 31 members, making a total membership of 141.
On Sept. 21st, we observed Roll Call service, at which the obituaries of Alfred Harrison and James Malone were read, ever reminding us that they are passing over to the other side, to dwell with the God they loved.
1902, 3, 4 and 5. Continued to be years of slow growth in the years 1904 and 05, we repaired the church at the Valley at a cost Two Hundred Dollars ($200) and dedicated the Harrison Chapel worth Fifteen Hundred Dollars ($1500) supported a native preacher in India and sent Miss Pearl Malone to Russ Hall Washington, D. C. to prepare for Deaconess work, in these four years the Lord has been good to us.
A. H. Davis
From Sep. 1905 to Sep 1906 M. A. Banker was pastor. At close of Conf. year he was transferred to Iowa Conference.
1906-07 G. N. Jolly pastor. During year eleven came into Church in Vanceburg and parsonage repaired – Roof put on Church. Cost 356 dollars.
1908 E. H. Edwards took his place. During the year 1908 & 1909, Valley and Walnut Grove were transferred to the Crum Circuit and Garrison was added to Vanceburg. [END COPY]
In 1902, membership was 204, Church and parsonage were valued at $4800, and the Pastor’s salary was $700. In 1902, membership was 280, Church and parsonage were valued at $7700, and the Pastor’s salary was $750.
In 1939 the Methodist Episcoplal Church (MEC) and the Methodist Episcoplal Church, South merged and renamed itself as Methodist Church. This large plaque of the Apostle's Creed was moved from the MEC, South to it's present location.