The Fay Family: Genealogies: Harrison K. Fay

Harrison Kellog Fay (1808 - 1850)
And his Descendants
Thirty Years in the Itinerancy
Wesson Gage Miller, Wisconsin Methodist Minister

Racine.--Its Early History.--Subsequent Growth.--Racine District.--Rev. Dr. Hobart.--Kenosha.--Rev. Salmon Stebbins.--Sylvania.--The Kelloggs.--Walworth Circuit.--Burlington and Rochester.--Lyons. Troy Circuit.--First Class at Troy.--Eagle.--Round Prairie.--Hart Prairie.--Delavan.--Elkhorn.--Pastorate at Racine.--Revival.--Church Enlargement.--Second Year.--Precious Memories.
The great centers from which the Church in Wisconsin has radiated were few in number, and were fixed upon at an early period in the development of the work. These centers were Green Bay, Sheboygan, Fond du Lac, Aztalan, Racine, and Janesville. Of the first five a record has been made, and, following the line of my labors, Racine should next engage my attention.
At this place the first settlement was made in November, 1834, by Captain Gilbert Knapp, who came on horseback from Chicago. On the second day of January following Stephen Campbell, Paul Kingston, and Messrs. Newton and Fay arrived, and, as far as I am able to ascertain, were the first Methodists who settled at Racine. At the same time William See and Edmund Weed came to the vicinity, the former settling at the Rapids, where he built a mill, and the latter making a claim on the lands which have since become the homestead of Senator Fratt. Alanson Filer came in November, 1835, and A. G. Knight in April, 1836. In his journey to Wisconsin, Brother Knight traveled on horseback from Wayne County, N. Y., to Chicago, and on foot the balance of the [p.188] way. Jonathan M. Snow and Nathan Joy came soon after, the latter coming around the lakes in the first three-master that visited Lake Michigan. Rev. Daniel Slauson and William Bull came in September, 1837, traveling in their own conveyance from Detroit. The list of names thus given does not make a full record of the early arrivals, but furnishes, as far as I am informed, such as constituted, with the exception of the first named, the first Methodist Community.
The writer has been unable to ascertain where and by whom the first class was formed, or who constituted the first members. But it is probable that the place was included in Milwaukee Mission as early as 1835, and that the class was formed by Rev. Mark Robinson during that year, or by his successor, Rev. Wm. S. Crissey, the year following. And it is also probable that the gentlemen above named, who were there at the time, and their families, constituted the first members, with Brother Paul Kingston as Leader. The meetings were held in the log residence of the last named, located near the lake, at the foot of Seventh street.
Racine Mission was formed in 1837 and Rev. Otis F. Curtis was the first Pastor. The Mission, reaching from the Illinois State Line to Milwaukee, included appointments at Racine, Southport, Pleasant Prairie, Kellogg's Corners, Ives Grove, Caledonia and Root River.
In 1839 the charge took the name of Racine and Southport Mission, the Pastor being Rev. Salmon Stebbins. In 1840 Southport was made a separate charge, and the Pastor at Racine was Rev. L. F. Moulthrop. In 1841 the Root River portion was set off and made a separate charge, and Racine was left to be supplied. The following year the Sylvania circuit was formed, and Southport and Racine were again put [p.189] together, with Rev. James Mitchell as Pastor. In 1843 they were again separated, and the Pastor at Racine was Rev. Milton Bourne. In 1844 the Pastor was Rev. G. L. S. Stuff, and in 1845, Rev. Julius Field.
As before stated, the meetings were at first held in a private house, but as the congregations increased, a public building was rented near the foot of Main Street. After the school house was built, the meetings were removed to it, and it was at this latter place the writer attended a service during his first Sabbath in the State. Soon after the first Church was built, to which we shall have occasion to refer hereafter.
Racine District was created in 1847, and Rev. Chauncey Hobart was appointed the first Presiding Elder. Dr. Hobart entered the Illinois Conference in 1836, the Conference then including Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota. His appointments before coming to the District had been: Rockingham, Iowa, Monmouth, Macomb, Quincy, Rushville, Peoria, Jacksonville, Springfield, and Clark Street, Chicago. After leaving the District, in 1849, he was appointed Presiding Elder of Minnesota District. At the end of his term he was stationed at Spring Street, Milwaukee, and next served one year as Presiding Elder on the Milwaukee District, when, on account of the infirm health of his wife, he returned to Minnesota. Since his return, he has continued to labor on both stations and districts with great acceptability up to the present time.
Dr. Hobart is a man of superior abilities, and his labors have been in special demand. He has been elected five times to the General Conference, and has been seven times appointed to Districts. As a Preacher he is always acceptable, but at times he delivers extraordinary sermons. It requires a [p.190] great occasion to take the full measure of the man. At such times he has been known to move audiences with overwhelming power. Especially was this the case under the sermon he delivered at a Camp-Meeting held two miles west of Big Foot Prairie, in 1849. On this occasion the tide of feeling rose to such a height that great numbers of the congregation unconsciously left their seats and stood entranced, while the saints shouter for joy, and sinners cried out in the anguish of their souls for mercy.
Having thus spoken of the Presiding Elder of the Racine District, it is fitting that we should now glance briefly at a few of the early charges.
Kenosha, as we have seen, was included in the Racine Mission in 1837, and shared the labors of Brother Curtis. The first class was formed during this term probably by either the Pastor or Rev. John Clark, the Presiding Elder, and consisted of Rev. Reuben H. Deming. Austin Kellogg, Hon. and Mrs. Charles Durkee, Mrs. Harvey Durkee, John W. Dana Martha E. Dana, and Susan Dana. The Presiding Elder, Rev. Salmon Stebbins, held a Quarterly Meeting in Kenosha, then called Southport, November 24th 1837. The meeting was held in a small log schoolhouse standing near the present site of the Simmons Block.
During the following year a revival occurred, which resulted in the conversation of nearly the entire community. The meetings were held in a public building on the North Side, but the erection of a Church immediately followed. As before stated, Brother Stebbins became the Pastor in 1829, and remained also the following year. The succeeding Pastors up to 1845 were Rev. F. T. Mitchell, Rev. James Mitchell, Rev. Wm. H. Sampson, Rev. C. D. Cahoon and Rev. Warner Oliver. At [p.191] this writing, Kenosha ranks among the leading stations of the Conference.
From: Wesson Gage Miller, Thirty Years in the Itinerancy
The Methodist Episcopal Church in Wisconsin has a vibrant and storied past. This database is a collection of memoirs by Wesson Miller, a pastor of the church in the nineteenth century. It details his work in the ministry on the eastern shore of Lake Winnebago and in eastern Wisconsin. Researchers will find descriptions of Green Lake Mission, Watertown, and Lawrence College in Appleton. It also provides Miller's commentary on various Methodist conferences, and the issue of slavery. For those wishing to better understand the life of a Methodist minister in Wisconsin in the nineteenth century, this can be an interesting narrative.

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Source Information:

Library of Congress. Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910. [database on-line] Washington: Library of Congress, 1999. Miller, Wesson Gage. Thirty Years in the Itinerancy. Milwaukee, WI: I. L. Hauser and Co., 1875.