Historical Materials Relating to Cedarville Methodist Church

This congregation was organized in July, 1867, as a Methodist Church; in 1939, under a comity agreement between several Protestant denominations in California (whereby certain denominations were given responsibility for particular rural counties), it became a Congregational Church. The information herein was copied from the church record book which is now in the possession of the archives of the California Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, located at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. The first section consists of the historical record kept by the pastors of the church. The custom was that each pastor, prior to leaving for a new appointment or assignment, would write a summary of the church’s life during his tenure there. Some pastors were diligent about this, while others were not. It appears that the first entry here was written by Rev. Ewing, who served the church beginning in 1873. In this narrative I have left spelling and grammar pretty much as it is in the manuscript. Occasional bracketed comments are mine.–Richard O. Johnson, January 1997.

The first that is known of Surprise Valley as a circuit was in the fall of 1867 when P. E. [Presiding Elder] L.[?] H. McGrath visited it at the urgent request of Brother E. H. Orne, a licensed exortor.

Before Brother Ornes arrival in the valley in the fall of 66 there had been no religious services of any kind. Upon his arrival he found a few of the faithfull in the persons of Sister Farmer [?] Bro & Sister Rickey, Z. Street and wife, Brother and sister Woods with a few others, all of whom had letters from former pastors. This little band was at once organized by Bro. Orne into a Society, prayer meetings appointed once a week. This much done he organized a Sunday School with but one family in attendance at first. Eventualy a school house was erected where his small school met once a week for instruction. The small band prayed for a victory which soon came.

The following summer Bro. Orne wrote an urgent request to Elder McGrath to come over and help us. He came, organized a circuit including the whole of Surprise Valley, and held the first Quarterly meeting July 24th 1867. At this Quarterly conference E. H. Orne was licensed to preach and employed by the Elder on this circuit. Bro. Orne continued to labor on the work praying and exorting until the Spring of 68 when his victory came in March. A marked change in the morals of the people was perceptible. A revival soon occurred at the Deep Creek School House. Twenty two were hopefully converted, among them the writer of this. The meeting continued a number of days without interruption, exortation and prayer and singing constituting the order of exercises and did the work as effectually as if the renowned Cartwright himself had been there. This meeting was the beginning of prosperous times in the church. At the close of the revival several classes were formed and a wide spread revival of true piety took possession of the hearts of the people.

The circuit was represented in the Nevada conference for the first time in the fall of this year 1868 by Elder McGrath. Bro. Orne was recommended to the conference but did not attend for two years after when he was passed and received on trial, but attended only one session when he located at his own request. He is at this date Sep 21st 1874 in Owens River Valley. Brother Orne continued as a supply on the circuit until July 1870 when the work was assigned to W. J. White who continued pastor until August 1872 when F. J. Rickey was given the work. He labored among many difficulties until August of 1873 when the writer was sent by conference to care for the work.

Of all the pastors who have been in charge of the work perhaps none have been so successful as E. H. Orne. With but little education and few natural gifts for a preacher, yet with the power always given the praying faithful man he was a successful preacher.
Of Brother White who succeeded him in the work we can say but little. A man of stern dignity, ever ready to denounce sin in all of its forms, and a life devoted entirely to the cause, with no time to spend in idle conversation, he has been thought unsociable and could by those who did not understand him or his worth. Under his administration the church was cleared of the dead branches, and grew in discipline if not in numbers. Brother Ricky the third preacher in charge was of deep piety and with more energy in the pulpit would be successful.

The present pastor was born in Dubuque Iowa was converted at Deep Creek in march 68 1868, joined the conference at Virginia City in 1870, was employed the year previous at Elko on Humboldt river Nevada. At the next conference was sent to Humboldt circuit Nevada. In August 1873 was sent to the Surprise Valley charge.

Since the time when God in his providence sent to this circuit his servant in the person of E. H. Orne, much good in the name of God has been done. The these almost desolate waste is now thickly settled. May excellent farmers dot the falley. In the place of the log cabin where we once held our meetings substantial school houses have been erected, and now the people comfortably worship there. Many have united with the church by conversion others by letter. some have left for other homes not a few for heaven.

Surprise Valley circuit has given to the Nevada Conference the first preacher ever ordained in the conference. She has liberally contributed to the church. Soon church spires will point to heaven. Sabbath desecration will be unknown. Saloons will vanish. Christ will own every soul, land and water resound with his praise.

For several seasons the valley has been devastated by countless millions of grasshoppers which has driven out many of the most earnest Christians. Others have voluntary sought other field of usefulness. The church has thereby suffered. But since its first [illeg.] souls have been received into the church. Land has been purchased, a parsonage erected and a church building started which will be completed as soon as times and means will permit. This circuit with many others like it suffer for the want of larger missionary appropriations and until the conference feels the necessity of the work the labor of the P. E. 1)Presiding Elder will be in part vain. P. E. [Presiding Elder] A. P. White is now in charge of the district. He was appointed by the conference of 1875 & 76 while in session at Reno. His life has been devoted to the work, his efforts have so far been successful throughout the district, and he will no doubt be continued Elder of the district. Our term draws to a close. We feel our want of success in the past. We know that in many instances our efforts have been futile. But under God’s blessings what has been done may bring fruit. Conference meets Sep. 21st in Gold Hill. We surrender the work to our successor with a prayer for his success, and hope that he will find it as easy to conquer as we have found it difficult. L. Ewing

Shortly after taking charge of this work we found the original correct historical records under a lot of rubbish in the cellar of the parsonage at Cedarville but they were in such a condition that it was impossible to make them intelligible. The proceeding records are lacking in much of the history of the church & the items of interest connected with hits early history they are forever written in a Book that shall one day be opened before an assembled universe and we shall hear them read. Convinced at present that “handsome po’er the gift he gie us/ to see our self as others see us/ it would fram [?] many a blunder free us and [illeg.] no to see.”

We have labored as faithfully and effetively on this work for one year as we could. Considering that the Nevada Conference ring composed of men that never were the means of saving a soul or never gave their consent to let one dollar of missionary money go to outside charges where it was needed but who have always gobbled it up almost themselves we say considering their effort to cripple us by with holding the missionary money & now we resign the charge & will meet that corrupt ring at the judgment bar of God & here we raise our voice & enter our protest against them as the friends of Ceasar & mammon & the enemies of God & Methodism in the Nevada Conference. Colin Anderson, Oct. 1878

I have not served this charge well, but circumstances over which I had no control have conspired against my so doing. I came at the request of the supt. Bro. G. W. De La Matyr in the fall of 1886. Just before Xmas it was that my father was “sick unto death & I went to see him in S. Cal. I was away two months. Conference returned me for the year 1887-8, but soon after my arrival here from Conference I took my father home by road. This & the return journey & my staying to lecture to pay my expenses took up another 2 months. The rest of the time I have labored as well as I could under the circumstances in which I have been placed. I pray God bless this people, & may their new pastor be of great & lasting help & benefit. George W. James [?] Xmas 1887.
Have served this charge for a year and eleven months. This is my first work. In looking back over this time I feel deeply conscious of many mistakes but the Lord has been with us and my prayer that God may grant us a success even in our failures. It is the “few” here who support God’s cause and we have been struggling on finding that we are moving upward and heavenward though slowly. I love this people and my prayer is and shall be God bless & save them. James H. N. Williams.

I hereby add to the above that soon after coming to this circuit in September 1888 I was the only minister left in the valley for all the services a minister is called to render and which entailed a great deal of labor. I traveled the circuit mostly on horseback preaching on Sunday mornings at Eagleville and alternate Sunday afternoons in the schoolhouse at Owl Creek and every Sunday evening at Cedarville. Occasional week evening services were given at Lake City and Fort Bidwell (occasionally a Baptist minister came from Goose Lake and preached at Lake City). I record here this later date that Alfred H. Taylor, Local Preacher and Sunday School Supt. at Cedarville was the greatest single factor in the work. In earlier days as local Preacher he went up and down this Valley on horseback preaching and serving the people. His brother Theodore Taylor I received into full membership on May 12, 1889 and later recommended him [for a] Local Preacher’s License. He became a Supply following me by appointment [illeg.]. Mission Supt. D. E. W. Van Devender on the Lakeview and Goose Lake circuit in January 1891 and later became a member of the California Conference and [is] making a consecrated minister with a record of noble service. From this circuit I secured by wife in the person of Miss Jessi B. G. Drouillard and my immediate successor Rev. Henry Pearce, also secured his wife here in the person of Miss Myrtle S. Wood. My first services as Dist. Supt. were on Sunday Dec. 11, 1924 preaching Sunday a.m. and p.m. at Cedarville and at Eagleville Sunday at 2:30 p.m. 2)Apparently this was written also by James H. N. Williams many years later, when he served as district superintendent. There was apparently a blank space in the book after his comments in 1890 and the later comments were obviously written no earlier than 1924.

Appointed to Cedarville charge by Bishop Hurst at session of Conference held at Carsen, Nevada Aug. 1898. A few are very faithful to the church in attendance, but I know of none who are really in earnest as to the necessity of support. Great indifference prevails among the people as to what will become of their souls. Congregations have been given [illeg.] for most of the year. The Mormons have quite a following at Fort Bidwell. I regret that my years work has been quite a failure. Am appointed to Truckee by bishop 3)illeg. at Susanville Aug. 26th 1899 4)W. F. McClure

Membership List

The following were indicated as charter members July 28, 1867:

  • Susanna Buck
  • S. M. Farmer
  • Sarah Farmer
  • B. F. Farmer
  • M. J. Farmer (these four Farmer names were crossed out, which may indicate that they did not actually join the church; or it may have been crossed out at some later date when they moved or left the congregation)
  • Thomas J. Rickey
  • Mary M. Rickey
  • Zedikiah Street (date given as July 25)
  • Caroline Street
  • Loretta Scammon (no date given)
  • Able Wood
  • Sarah Wood
  • Marilla Wood

Pastors Of The Congregation

The basis for the following list is a brief history of the congregation 5)In 1939, the affiliation of the congregation passed to the Congregational Church written sometime after 1976 6)perhaps for an anniversary?, supplemented by information in the record book in the Methodist archives and by other Methodist Conference records.

MinisterService Period
E. H. OrneFall 1866--July 1870 (formal organization July, 1867)
W. J. WhiteJuly 1870-August 1872
T. J. RickeyAugust 1872-August 1873
Lorr S. EwingAugust 1873-1877
Colin AndersonOct. 1877--Oct. 1878
John Hammond1878--1880 [?]
J. W. PrattNov. 1880--Feb. 1881
John W. PendletonNov. 1881--Sept. 1882
George JenningsSept. 1882--Sept. 1883
John W. PendletonNov. 1883--May 1884
John De La MatyrNov. 1884--Aug. 1886
George Wharton JamesSept. 1886--Jan. 1888
James H. N. WilliamsAug. 1888--Aug. 1890
Henry PearceDec. 1890--1892
Edmund Francis BrownOct. 1892--Aug. 1894
Fred R. WinsorAug. 1894--Aug. 1897
George C. KingSept. 1897--Aug. 1898
Willard Fisk McClureAug. 1898--Aug. 1899
John TelferAug. 1899--Aug. 1902
Jared M. WilsonAug. 1902--1904
George H. Barrett1904--1905
George J. Wentzell1905--1909
John H. Westervelt1909--1913
Ira E. Price1913--1915
Arthur Chalfant1915--1917
Herschel D. HarkinsSept. 1917--Aug. 1919
F. C. NelsonSept. 1919--1920
John D. VoceOct. 1920--1921
E. E. BeachSept. 1921--1922
U. L. Walker,Sept. 1922--1923
R. L. WaggonerSept. 1923--1925
Mahlon J. WilliamsSept. 1925--1927
J. W. WhiteFeb. 1927--Apr. 1927
J. Bruce WylieMay 1927--July 1927
C. L. GoodenoughAug. 1927--Sept. 1928
Virgil A. VinyardSept. 1928--1939

Regarding the records of Cedarville Methodist Church, yes, they are in the archives at Pacific School of Religion. Some years ago I copied those of genealogical interest 7)including marriages, baptisms, etc., but I cannot seem to find what I did with them. 8)We remodeled our house last year, and that is one item which seems to have been carefully stored away someplace, but I can’t remember where! Along with our wills, but that’s another story! Anyway, the problem is that though the material is stored at PSR, it actually belongs to the Methodist Church and you have to go through their archivist, Stephen Yale. I don’t have an e-mail address for him, but you might be able to get it through PSR. If you will all be patient, I’ll look a little more for these copies I made, and if all else fails, I will copy them myself again within the next couple of months and post them. 9)I’m a student at the Graduate Theological Union, of which PSR is an affiliate, and so have relatively easy access to them.

I’m happy to say that, after taking apart my garage last night, I found my copies of those church records! 10)Didn’t find my will, though! I will start to post these. They are very scant in the early days, and often don’t include the complete information provided for in the record book; more complete as we get into the 1880’s and 1890’s. Some very difficult to read, at least in my copy.

References   [ + ]

1.Presiding Elder
2.Apparently this was written also by James H. N. Williams many years later, when he served as district superintendent. There was apparently a blank space in the book after his comments in 1890 and the later comments were obviously written no earlier than 1924.
3.illeg.
4.W. F. McClure
5.In 1939, the affiliation of the congregation passed to the Congregational Church
6.perhaps for an anniversary?
7.including marriages, baptisms, etc.
8.We remodeled our house last year, and that is one item which seems to have been carefully stored away someplace, but I can’t remember where! Along with our wills, but that’s another story!
9.I’m a student at the Graduate Theological Union, of which PSR is an affiliate, and so have relatively easy access to them.
10.Didn’t find my will, though!