Pearls In Our Past - Hartford MI A Pictorial History of Hartford Michigan





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Methodist Society, Hartford United Methodist Church

1855 Methodist Society

A Methodist society was formed as early as 1855.  Old school house was used for meeting place. 

Among the first members were Charles Doty (who was class leader), John and Maggie Van Ostrom, Fannie Goodenough, Mr. and Mrs. Abram Young, James Hastings, Helen J. Engle, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Hammond.

Some of the early clergymen who attended the charge were Revs. J. Hoyt, C.C. Kellogg, H.H. Jay, T.T. George, G.A. Buell, J.W. Miller, F.I. Beard, J.W. Webster and J.P. Force.


The first Sunday School was organized in 1858 with Jefferson Dowd as superintendent. When the Civil War broke out Mr. Dowd enlisted and went to the front and Mr. Cenius H. Engle took up the work and for more than 30 years was superintendent of the school.  This Sunday School was held in the old school house (which stood on the corner where the Roman Catholic Church now stands on Main St. and Edwin St.) until the new church was built in 1866.

abt. 1865  

Revival meetings were held in the community and the organization for a Methodist church was the outcome. 

1866   Definite plans for the building of such a church were made in the year.
Jan. 13 1866  

The following trustees were appointed and elected viz:  John N. Van Ostrom, Charles G. George, Cyrus Boynton, William Day, Charles Doty, Cenius H. Engle, Washington A. Engle, John G. .Van Ostrom and Andrew Bartlett. 

Feb. 5 1866  

Andrew Bartlett, John G. Van Ostrom and Cenius H. Engle were appointed a committee to select a site for the new church.  The location was described as follows:  On a rise of ground on the south side of the east and west road east of Hartford Center about half way between the Center and the school house.  The amount of ground purchased was 12 rods on the highway and 7 rods deep.  On the 12th day of February, 1866, it was decided that the new church should be 60 ft. long and 36ft wide and that W.W. Shepherd make bill of timber necessary to build the church.  William Day paid his subscription in part by stone for the foundation and Edwin Day, his son, delivered the first load of stone on the ground. Mr. Bartlett, a local mason, laid the foundation and the contract for the building of the church was probably let to a Mr. White of Keeler.

Nov. 10, 1867


Church dedicated with services in afternoon and evening with Elders Miller and Rease preaching.  The subject of the sermon either in the afternoon or evening was "Time Written."  During the war, Mr. Doty enlisted in the army and William Day was appointed as a class leader which position he held until his death in 1903. The choir in the early days was made up of Mrs. Helen Engle, Mrs. Beattie, Mrs. Hammond, Mr. and Mrs. John Van Ostrom, Mr. And Mrs. Curus Boynton, Mr. Hatch, the choir director, and Mrs. Helen Engle acted as organist when Mr. Hatch brought over his melodeon.

1871   Bell purchased for the church.

The church, however, was not recognized as a separate charge until 1873 when E. A. Tanner became its pastor. For a number of years afterwards the churches at Hartford and Lawrence were united as one charge under the ministrations of the same preachers

1914   Rev. Fred L. Niles felt the need of a parsonage and so a splendid parsonage was built which has since been the delight of every pastor who has occupied it.
Feb. 10, 1924  

During the pastorate of Rev. W.R. Irwin the church was rebuilt and enlarged at a cost of about $13,700. It was dedicated on Feb. 10, 1924

 Hartford Methodist Church and home of Dr. Leo F. Latus 1923
Written on the back of the photo was
Hartford Methodist Church 1923

The house to the right of the church is the home of Dr. Leo F. Latus.
The church was located on Main Street, where the
Red Arrow Elementary School playground is presently located.

Photo submitted October 31, 2013 by Leo (Bud) and Lois Kussmann Latus.

Church history from the book  A History of Hartford  by Charles A. Spaulding

Information for this web site was gathered from personal interviews, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, personal photo albums, and other documented materials - many available to the public at the Hartford Public Library or Van Buren County Historical Museum.  Please report any typographical errors, updated information, or incorrectly stated information to the webmaster for correction.  Reprinting for personal and instructional purposes is permitted, however, unauthorized commercial reprinting of this information or unauthorized linking to photos-pictures on this site is strictly prohibited without written permission from the webmaster. 

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A Pictorial History of Hartford, Michigan
Emma Thornburg Sefcik,
Competent Secretarial Service
Copyright 2000 - All rights reserved.

Revised: March 20, 2014