(Downtown church after 1920 remodel)
Crystal Lake Herald Centennial article
The Methodist Church was established in 1839.
Most of the early members resided in Nunda but the Church Was in Crystal Lake.
It was in December 1835 that George Stickney came to what is now Nunda Township. About that same time, Beman Crandall and others arrived; among them were Christopher Walkup, Uriah Cottle and A.W. Beardsley, three religious men.
Most of the early settlers were from Virginia and First Church was called the ‘Virginia Church’ organized in the house of Uriah Cottle, a Methodist. The first services were held in Christopher Walkup’s home. In the summer of 1841, Methodist camp meetings were held in the grounds near what is now Woodstock. Everyone went, no matter what his religion, for the people of all denominations worshipped together. In the winters, revivals were held in Mr. Beardsley’s home.
It was a few years later that little George Stickney died and services were held in Mr. Walkup’s home with Rev. Van Alstine, a Universalist minister, officiating. The first marriage was performed by Beman Crandall, a justice of the peace. This service was held on March 10,1839. The couple married was Hanna Beardsley and Franklin Wallace.
Thus the people continued to worship until there were enough members to organize a Methodist Episcopal church in Crystal Lake. Uriah Cottle was the zealous worker who called the meeting at his home and laid plans for the church. It was organized in a log schoolhouse, in the year 1846, on the site where John Buehlers’ store stood. In this schoolhouse other denominations worshiped, some in the morning, some in the afternoon, and others in the evening. In 1858 a comfortable house of worship for the Methodists was built costing $2400. This building is supposed to have stood facing West toward the park on Virginia Street. It was dedicated in 1869 by Rev. McKegg of Chicago. The first baptism in this church was that of Francis Beardsley in 1861, Rev. Lazenby officiating. The first marriage performed in the new church was of Miss Martha J. Buck and Rev. J.H. Hargrove.
As the years passed, the village of Nunda grew. Since most of the members resided in Nunda, they were urging to sell this church building in Crystal Lake and build another one in Nunda. As they did not succeed, the members rented a hall in Nunda and worshiped there and engaged the services of a half-time minister. Finally in 1867 they purchased the old Congregational Church in Crystal Lake and moved it to Nunda where it was put into good repair inside and out. Those members still worshipping in the old Methodist Church in Crystal Lake decided to sell it and so the First Methodist Church building was sold to the German Lutherans for the sum of $400 and once more the Methodists were united in worship in the church at Nunda.
In 1873 this church building was sold to Josiah Walkup the first depot agent in Nunda, for the new railroad known as the Fox River Valley Line. Mr. Walkup remodeled it into a dwelling house which then became the Pingry Hotel.
The old church was replaced in 1873 by a new one, which cost $2500. This building stood on the corner of Williams and Brink streets. The land was donated by Richard and Elizabeth Bonner. The new church was dedicated in 1874 by Rev. S.A. Jewett.
The ministers who have served this church since 1870 are as follows: Rev. J.S. Norris 1871, AJ. Scott 1871, L. Clifford 1873, E.M. Boring 1874, Samuel Hewes 1875, G.L. Wiley 1876 - 1877, L.E. Burtch 1878, J.H. Bacon 1879 - 1880, J.B. Babbitt 1881, J.M. Conlee 1882 - 1885. The Trustees were W.W. Hartman, C.B. Felt, O.C. Colby, J.H. Ashton, E. Hubbard, R. Bonner and G.E. Dickinson.
Some of the earlier ministers who came to serve this charge were L.A. Sanford, C. Lazenby, J.R. Hamilton, A.J. Burlingame, W.S. Harington, W.J. Ryder, Ira B. Handy, S.R. Shaw, and R.H. Wilkinson.
Others who have served the church were O.H.Cessna, George H.Wells, William H. Pierce, W.H. Locke, William Smith, W.B. Barnes, H.D. Dick, R.E. Putnam, E.K. Hester, Omer T. Canfield and Albert B. Wagner. The present minister is Miron A. Morrill.
In the summer of 1920 the church was remodeled and an addition was put on the northeast corner. The front entrance was also improved by building a room over the stairs. A beautiful two manual pipe organ was installed in honor of Richard and Elizabeth Bonner by Mr. & Mrs. Ziba H. Osmun. A choir rail was made and presented by John Dahlstrand and E.J. King.
On September 5, 1920 the new pipe organ was dedicated and the remodeled church was reopened. Rev. W.E. Grose spoke. The sermon was given by Allison F. Clarke of the Rock River Conference. Ziba Osmun presented the church with the organ. Rev. Barnes responded and Dr. Clarke dedicated it. The church now has a membership of about 200, a Sunday school of 100, and three societies all working hard to benefit the church. They are the Philatheans, the Dorcas Society, started about twelve years ago in Mrs. Laura Kittle’s home and the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Crystal Lake and Nunda is now known as the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Crystal Lake, for, not only have the two churches united, but likewise the two villages have become one. As the first Methodist service was held in 1939, the Methodists can almost call this their centennial.
The population of Crystal Lake in 1936 was 3724.