Curtisville Baptist Church
This church was organized in 1880 and the building was built shortly after. Rev. Mellon was the founder and builder. The membership at the time of organization was 10. The first Baptismal Service was held in Wilbur Creek on the 12th of March. A hole was chopped in the ice by Rev. Lamby, who then resided in Tawas and did the baptizing.
Financial conditions at this time had gone from bad to worse. The closest lumber mill was 12 miles away with almost impassable roads so it was agreed to build the church out of hewn logs. The timber was given by Joe Bell, score hacked by the community and hewed by Loran Deacon. It was then hauled by dray over bare ground to the present church site. After much debate it was decided to build on the present spot, which was given by E. D. Curtis.
One morning Mrs. E. D. Curtis laid the corner stone and the raising began. Thirty or 40 were present. Truman Simons, Jewel Simons, Lott Simons and Frank Simons were corner men. I can still see Henry Middleton running from corner to corner, plumbing each corner as it went up. I can still see Truman Simons' beautiful big cream horse placing the timber around the building. The timbers were hoisted up, as one old timer said, by main strength and awkwardness.
Next, the rafters, roof boards and frame of the building were put on. Shingles were drawn from Red Head Lake and the carpenters were laid off for some time. The roof was shingled by donations, as the farmers had an hour to spend putting shingles on the church.
Up to this time no money had been spent, so the question of money came up, how and where to get it. Therefore, Mr. J. Bowser, E. D. Curtis and Mrs. Wm. Barker said they would obtain the money so they drove in a lumber wagon to the narrow gauge at Bamfield and in three or four hours landed in Oscoda - AuSable and canvassed the cities for several days, taking donations. The they took the D. & M. to Lincoln, the stage to Harrisville, the stage back to Lincoln and the train to Alpena canvassing the towns as they went.
They returned to Tawas, from there to Prescott and Hale returning then to Thompson Station which is now South Branch and came home by wagon. The completion of the church began. The carpenters were Frank and Henry Middleton, and were back on the job. The floor was put down, the casings, the door siding, steeple was put on, and the steeple house completed. That was the end of the carpenter work. The lath and plaster was donated by Hugh Curley, Hank Curley, O. G. Spencer, Jr. and Bert Spencer. The chimney was built by Hugh Curley.
Now came the question of the Bell - again no money. Men worked in the winter for 20 to 22 dollars a month. The clearings were small and we had no market. Butter 10 cents a pound, eggs 8 cents a dozen. Potatoes 20 cents a bu. Flour six dollars a barrel and salt pork 30 dollars a barrel. So finally each member agreed to give something toward the bell. A business meeting was held to determine what each member's allotment should be. Mrs. Joe Bell's allotment was fifty cents and she was four months saving the fifty cents.
Money was so scarce that women carried their shoes in their hands to church and when they arrived at church put them on. After the service their shoes were removed in the church entrance and they picked up their skirts and went home. The first presiding minister was ordained in the Bowser barn.
Now I shall try to give you a picture of the hardships of a couple of our first ministers as the went cheerfully about their circuits carrying the gospel message.
As a boy, we lived in an old log house with an old fashioned shake roof. One cold winter night when the temperature was 30 degrees below, we heard a noise at the door. I opened the door and in tumbled Rev. J. B. Nunn almost frozen. We took him in by the stove and jerked his old run over cowhide boots off. All he had on his feet was a pair of cotton socks with no heels. The rest of his clothing consisted of cotton underwear, cotton shirt and pants and a little jack with one button. After a supper of pea soup he rolled in with us boys.
He had walked from hale to Curtisville with a pair of mule collars on his shoulders. He intended to carry them to Curran for a friend. The snow had a habit of blowing in under the shake roof and in the morning there was snow on our beds and on the floors. Rev. Nunn jumped out of bed and into a pile of snow with his bare feet. He hurried into his clothes with this remark, "Boy, but its great to be alive." Have we the same faith today?
Some time later Elder Pearson came on the field. He drove a little bay horse and an open buggy. His circuit was from Tawas to Reno to Curtisville to Charivoi Crossing and then back to Tawas. Most of the time he arrived here at night and generally pulled up to a little farm house. He stabled his horse, got his supper and looked for a place to sleep. He picked out the bed with the fewest kids in it, rolled in and was home. Many is the times he and his wife forged through miles of mud to visit his congregation when they were sick.
At the south gate there stands three apple sprouts. There was a big black hollow pine stump there. When the church was being built, someone dropped apple seeds in the big stump and they took root and grew. They have been broken and cut down many times in all these years and they have persisted in growing. Have we the faith today of those three apple sprouts? What did these old timers have? Have we the new or the old?
Front row: 1/2 of Ernie Phillips, Cathline Clary Latter, Manley Bell, Lewis Redmond, Bill Redmond, Mrs. Mc Dermott, Floyd Brodie, Clare Redmond, Betty (behind Clare) Back row: Alvin Redmond, Hugh Curley, Bill Latter, Lloyd Brodie, Anne Bamfield, Dorothy Byler, Mrs. Latter, Hannah Phillips, Mrs. Gordon, Margaret Brodie, Hazel Brodie.
There were church and prayer meetings many years before there was a church building. First, the meetings were held in Bowser's barn, where the church's first minister was ordained. Later when the school house was built, it was also used for church services.
Arbutus (Bell) Milholin’s Sunday School Class
Joan Redmond, Betty Redmond, Ruthie Tower & Dunelda Bamfield
They sang Silent Night
Charter Members of the Curtis Baptist Church
George Merritt, Sarah Merritt, E. D. Curtis, Mary Curtis, John Bowser, Orra Spencer, Sr., Sarah Spencer and Albert Spencer. In addition to the above Geo. Merritt was probably a charter member also, since he was the first pastor as recorded in the old church records.
[Note:] From a paper written by Manley A. Bell, 1950. Used with the permission of his surviving daughter Arbutus Milholin.
PASTORS WHO SERVED THE CURTISVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH
Beardsley - 1870
Melon - 1880
George Merritt - 1888
Orra Spencer, Sr. - 1890
E. Snetainger - 1891
G. W. Fayette - 1894
J. B. Nunn - 1897
Peter White (one winter)
H. E. Mc Grath - 1920
William Byler - 1922-1941
Earl Redmond - 1941-1942
Frank Collins - 1942-1945
Carl Moses - 1945-1948
Perry De Armond - 1950
John Warren - 1961
Thomas A. Fenton - 1971-1972
Morris E. Osbeck -1977-1978
Herbert Griffin - 1979
Clare Humphrey - 1980
Curt Carrol - ? - 1991
Charles Dalton - 1991-1992
Donald Miller - 1992-1999
Howard Benefil - 1999-2000
Donald Miller - 2001-2003
John Barner - 2004 - 2009
The first eight pastors are listed in the correct sequence according to family and church records. (*1)
Foot Notes: *1. Milholin, Arbutus. "Curtisville Baptist Church." Wilderness Chronicle, Issue 17, Comins, MI: Fall, 1988, p. 61-63