Methodism in what is now Colorado was filed upon when Bishop Scott, on
April 18, 1859, read out "Pike's Peak and Cherry Creek" as one of the
appointments to be supplied by the Kansas and Nebraska Conference, which
was held at Omaha in that year. This was in the midst of the gold
excitement of the period when it was known that many thousands were
crossing the plains in their search for the precious metal. Rev. W. H.
Goode was the man chosen, for he had organized and was supervising the
work west of the Missouri River. Rev. Jacob Adriance, who had just been
appointed to the Rock Bluffs mission near Omaha, was selected as his
These Methodist pioneers reached Denver June 28, 1859,
having journeyed four weeks from Glenwood, Iowa, and at once put up
notices announcing their meeting on the following Sunday. Isaac Haight
Beardsley, in his "Echoes from Peak and Plain," writes as follows of this
"Experience soon taught them that the best way to get a
crowd was to sing it up. Their first service was held July 3, 1859, in
Pollock's Hotel. This was a frame building, one of the three or four only
in the two towns of Auraria, now West Denver, and Denver City. This house
stood on the east side of Eleventh Street, between Wazee and Market
streets. Brother Goode preached at 11 A. M. and Brother Adriance at 3 P.
M. The congregations were small, the people not caring for these things.
"July 4th they started for the 'Gregory Diggings,' discovered by
Green Russell and the Georgians in June, 1858, now better known as
Blackhawk, Central City, and Nevada. They halted long enough in Golden
City to hold religious services in a 'round tent,' the gamblers stopping
their games for one hour to let Goode preach, but claiming the next hour.
"They attempted to drive into the mountains through the 'Golden
Gate,' which is a little north of Golden City. The trail was so rough that
they were compelled to 'about face,' and camp in a little park outside of
the mountains, where the wagon, driver, and three mules were left.
"Then they proceeded on pony and mule back, 'packed to the full
measure of comfort,' to the 'Gregory Diggings,' where they arrived on
Friday, July 8th. Im-mediately they announced preaching on the next
Sabbath, at 10 A. M.
"The streets of Mountain City were dusty. The
congregation was large and attentive; all men. Goode preached on the
street to that mass of humanity with great power. That afternoon at 2
o'clock he held an experience meeting in a retired place on the rocky
seats of a mountain spur. Oft has the writer heard that 'love feast'
described by those who were present. Here were men gathered from nearly
all lands and climes. This was the first meeting of the kind ever held in
the Rocky Mountain region. They sang the old hymns, wept over their
shortcomings, and shouted for joy as they related their experiences of a
personal salvation. So great was their 'refreshing' that those who were
present have never forgotten it. Sad the thought, the great majority has
'crossed the range' to that land 'whence no traveler returns.'
its close Brother Goode received thirty-five members into the church. The
next day, Monday, at 10 o'clock, he organized a Quarterly-meeting
Conference at the same place, formed a charge, embracing the mining camps
in that region, and engaged G. W. Fisher, a local elder, to supply the
work. This man Fisher had preached the first gospel sermon in Denver, and
had also preached on this identical spot on a preceding Sabbath.
"The first service, the first experience meeting, and the first Quarterly
Conference at Central City were each held on the site where the Methodist
Episcopal Church now stands.
"Rev. W. H. Goode then wrote to
Doctor Durbin, corresponding secretary of the Missionary Society: 'We have
divided the work into two districts, as fol-lows: I. Denver City and
Auraria Mission, embracing the two places named in the above, with the
country along the Platte on both sides, the country up Cherry Creek, the
towns at the base of the mountains, and "Boulder Diggings" in the
mountains (probably the region of Gold Hill). We have organized in this
field a Quarterly-meeting Conference, consisting of the preacher in
charge, three stewards, and one leader. The membership so far ascertained
and enrolled is twenty-two. The mission is under the charge of Rev. Jacob
Adriance, appointed by Bishop Scott. His post office address is Denver,
Kansas Territory. The Rocky Mountain Mission embraces all the mining
regions in the mountains, except "Boulder Diggings." Here we have
organized a Quarterly Conference, consisting of two local preachers, an
exhorter, three stewards, and have a society of fifty-one members,
including probationers just received. I have employed Rev. G. W. Fisher to
take charge of this mission. The principal seat of our permanent labors
will be in Denver and Auraria.' "
Here are the names of the
"Supplies" as taken from the Kansas Conference minutes by the Rocky
Mountain News of that period:
1860 Rocky Mountain District John M.
Chivington, P. E.
Denver and Auraria Supplied by A. P. Allen
Golden City and Boulder Jacob Adriance
Mountain City Supplied by
Joseph T. Canon
Clear Creek, Blue River, and Colorado City All to be
1861 Rocky Mountain District John M. Chivington, P. E.
Denver City W. A. Kenney
Golden City and Boulder J. W. Caughlin
Central City J. Adriance
Colorado City W. S. Lloyd
Gold Dirt, Mountain City, Nevada and Eureka, Missouri
City, South Clear Creek, Platte River and Plumb Creek, Caņon City, Blue
River, and San Juan City To be supplied
1862., Rocky Mountain District
B. C. Dennis, P. E.
Denver W. A. Kenney
Golden City and Boulder
Caņon and Colorado Cities William Howbert
W. S. Lloyd
Central City, California Gulch, South Clear Creek, and
Blue River. To be supplied
1863., Rocky Mountain District B. C.
Dennis, P. E.
Denver City O. A. Willard
Golden City D. M. Petfish
Central City W. H. Fisher
South Park John L. Dyer
Pueblo William Howbert
Boulder, South Clear Creek,
Blue River, California Gulch, and Colorado City To be supplied
1862 they reported 131 members, thirty-two probationers, and fourteen
local preachers, and one church building worth $200. The six Sunday
schools had forty-two officers and teachers, and 233 scholars of all ages.
In his sketches of the religious life of this early period,
published in the Rocky Mountain Christian Advocate, Rev. John M.
Chivington writes as follows:
"On May 8, i860, I arrived at
Denver, published an appointment, and preached the following Sunday in the
Masonic Hall, and also on the next Sunday, morning and evening. During the
next week I succeeded in securing the services of Rev. A. P. Allen, a
supernumerary of the Wisconsin Conference of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, as a supply for Denver. Mr. Allen was an able preacher, and filled
the pulpit with great acceptability; but as he was engaged in secular
pursuits, he did but little church work, except to preach, and
consequently his success was not what it otherwise might have been.
Adriance and Canon were at their posts in due time, and heartily engaged
in the work. At California Gulch I found H. H. Johnson, a local preacher
from Kansas, who had been preaching there, and seemed to be greatly in
favor with the people. I employed him as a supply, organized a society,
held Quarterly Conference, and set matters to work in good shape.
"In June and July, 1860. Rev. William Bradford, of the Kansas Conference,
Methodist Episcopal Church, South, preached and set up the banner of his
church; but he soon became discouraged, and quit the field.
first quarterly meeting held at Mountain City was one of the most
extraordinary ever held in this or any other country. There were present
thou-sands upon thousands of people from every State and Territory in the
Union, and from almost every country of Europe, declaring the wonderful
works of God. The brethren erected a good hewed-log church on the ridge
between Nevada and Eureka gulches, and it was opened with appropriate
services December 25, 1860. Rev. John Cree, John W. Stanton, John Reed, J.
C. Anderson, D. S. Green, and others, were prominent in the construction
and furnishing of this place of worship. In July and August I visited and
held services in Hamilton, Fairplay, and Buckskin Joe in South Park, and
on French and Georgia gulches, over the Range, on the headwaters of the
Blue River; also in California and McNulty's gulches, on the Arkansas
"It is true Doctor Goode came on the ground at the same
time Adriance did; but the Doctor returned to Iowa in six weeks, and never
saw this work again. Indeed, it was not intended, or expected, that he
should. He simply came on a reconnoitering expedition, and that
accomplished, his work here ended; while Mr. Adriance remained, formed a
mission circuit, organized societies, appointed class leaders, held
quarterly conferences, and started the first Sunday school ever organized
in Colorado. He is, indeed, the father of Methodism in Colorado."
Rev. William Howbert, of the Iowa Conference, accompanied by his young
son, Irving Howbert, now prominent in the political history of the state,
came to Denver in June, i860, and went at once to his district, the South
Park Mission, locating near the present town of Como. He first preached at
Tarryall on July 1st, in the morning, and at Hamilton in the evening.
During July he started building the first Methodist church in Colorado at
Hamilton, a crude, incomplete log hut, 'and organized the first Methodist
classes on the Pacific Slope in Colorado at Blue River and at
Breckenridge. He then went with Rev. H. H. Johnson, a local deacon, and
Reverend Mann to the California Gulch Diggings. During the summer the
first complete Methodist church building in Colorado was erected about
half a mile south of Harrison Avenue, Leadville. This has long since
disappeared. In 1862 his circuit included Caņon City, Colorado City, and
all points in the Arkansas Valley. It was then that Rev. William Howbert
located at Colorado City, going from there to preach wherever it was
possible to get a congregation.
In 1863 the population of Canon
City had decamped into the mountains, and Presiding Elder Slaughter is
said to have preached there at that time to a congregation of four. By
March, 1868, the Methodist congregation was large enough to purchase,
alter and furnish a stone building, which was formally dedicated by its
pastor. Rev. George Murray, on March 8, 1868, the first dedication of a
Methodist church in the state outside of Denver.
introduction of Methodism in the San Luis Valley, Doctor Crary writes that
in May, 1873, he and Dr. John E. Rickards traveled with mule packs to Del
Norte, where they preached in the new courthouse, the first Protestant
service ever held there. Rickards was left at Del Norte and organized a
church there and at Saguache.
In the spring of 1863 Rev. Charles
King, whose charge was at Boulder, organized the first society in the
South Platte Valley in the home of Judge Hammitt, about two miles south of
what is now Platteville. A few weeks prior Rev. L. B. Stateler, of the
Methodist Episcopal Church, South, had preached to a large gathering just
opposite Fort Lupton. He was preacher and freighter.
Out of these
meetings came the fine churches at Fort Lupton and Platteville.
The conference of 1863 created a Denver circuit, later called the Platte
River Circuit, including the entire Platte Valley, and Rev. William Antes,
who had come as an exhorter from Pennsylvania in 1861, was engaged to
cover the entire region. The late Peter Winne writes that in April, 1864,
Rev. William Antes preached the first sermon ever heard in the Poudre
Valley, near Island Grove. He made his circuit regularly despite the
Indian outbreak of 1864, and only the fleetness of his horse saved his
life on several occasions.
The first religious services in the
vicinity of Arvada were by Rev D. W. Scott, pastor at Golden, in 1866.
On July 25, 1864, Rev. B. T. Vincent preached the first sermon in
Georgetown in the log house occupied by J. E. Plummer. In 1868 Rev. George
Murray, the fourth pastor in the place, erected an eight-thousand-dollar
church, which Bishop Kingsbury dedicated June 20, 1869. It was to this
charge that one of Colorado's greatest preachers. Rev. Isaac Haight
Beardsley, came in that year.
Rev. Jacob Adriance formed the first
class in Golden, February 6, i860, appointing John W. Stanton class
leader. With Reverend Goode he also supplied Boulder and a town on the
"Mesa" then known as Arapahoe.
Bishop E. R. Ames presided over the
first annual conference of the ministers of Colorado Territory, held in
Denver July 10, 1863. There were in attendance: Oliver A. Willard, John L.
Dyer, William H. Fisher, Charles King, B. C. Dennis, W. B. Slaughter, G.
S. Allen, A. P. Allen, William Antes, J. M. Chivington, William Howbert
and T. R. Kendall.
The reports from the few organized districts
were in the main discouraging, but there was in no single case a note of
despair. The second conference was held in October, 1864, at Central City,
and the growth, at least in enthusiasm, was apparent.
Calvin Kingsley presided over the third session of the Colorado
Conference, in the Lawrence Street Church, Denver, June 22, 1865, and a
real advance in number of churches and membership was recorded.
Particularly in evidence were the new congregations at Empire City and
what is now Longmont. The conference of 1866, Bishop Baker presiding, was
held in the building at Empire City which John Collom had bought and
changed from a saloon into a church, and of which Rev. Charles King was
the first pastor. The conference of 1867 was held at Colorado City, and at
this conference Pueblo was first represented. Bishop E. R. Ames presided
over the session.
The following were the appointments made at the
first session of the Colorado Conference held in Pueblo, in June, 1870:
Denver District, B. T. Vincent, P. E.
Laramie, Cheyenne, and
Greeley G. H. Adams and E. C. Brooks
Denver J. L. Peck
Blackhawk and Arvada George Wallace
Georgetown L H.
Idaho and Empire To be supplied
Golden City F. C.
Divide Circuit John L. Dyer
Ralston and Clear Creek G.
Boulder and Valmont Supplied by G. S. Allen for a short time;
then by R. W. Bosworth.
Burlington Circuit Supplied by R. J. Van
Big Thompson and La Poudre J. R. Moore
Supplied by G. S. Allen
Arkansas District, George Murray, P. E., and
Pastor at Caņon City.
Colorado City W. F. Warren
Pueblo O. P.
Fairplay and Granite Jesse Smith
La Junta and
Elizabethtown, N. M Thomas Harwood
Trinidad Supplied by E. J. Rice
The church property was valued at $80,000, of which $25,000 was in
Denver and $20,000 in Central City.
In 1S72 the membership had
grown to 1,070, and the churches numbered twenty-three, as compared with
twenty-one in 1871.
In 1872 the first German mission was started
in the state, and classes were organized at Monument, Huerfano, Ocate,
Peralto, Littleton, Plum Creek, Greeley, Evans and Green City, Cheyenne
and Laramie, Longmont, Carbon, Ward and James Creek. In 1873 there were
twenty-five church buildings in the state, valued at $120,100. The
membership in that year was 1,336.
In 1874 the Southern district
had a membership of 916, and the Northern of 819, a total of 1,735.
On August 10, 1878, the Colorado Annual Conference of the Methodist
Episcopal Church was incorporated, as was also the Colorado Conference
Preachers Aid Society.
In 1880 the membership of the church in
Colorado was 2,966. In the Sunday school there were 4,416 enrolled. The
number of church edifices had increased to thirty-seven.
the membership had grown to 3,829; the churches to fifty-one. In 1889,
including the new Gunnison district, there were 6,448 members in the
church in Colorado, with sixty churches.
In i8g8 the membership
was: Denver district, 4,092; Greeley, 2,919; Pueblo, 3,383; Rio Grande,
2,641; a total of 13,035.
This phenomenal growth continued through
the succeeding years. In 1910 the membership in the Denver district was
5,737, with Sunday school enrollment of 6,216; twenty-five churches, and
church property valued at $636,300. Epworth League membership in this
district in 1910 was 1,397.
In the Denver-Northwestern district in
1910 the total membership was 3,949, with Sunday school enrollment of
6,622; thirty-eight churches, and church property valued at $282,200;
Epworth League, 1,389 members.
In the Greeley district in 1910 the
church membership was 7,341; Sunday school enrollment, 9,099; churches, f
ort3'-nine; value of church property, $293,-100; Epworth League
In the Pueblo district in 1910 the membership
was 6,563; Sunday school enrollment, 7,784; churches, thirty-seven; value
of church property, $334,000; Epworth League membership, 1,900.
the Rio Grande district in 1910 the membership was 5,188; Sunday school
enrollment, 7,142; churches, thirty-nine; value of church property,
$198,600; Epworth League, 1,826.
This makes a total church
membership in 1910 of 28,798, an increase of 715 over 1909. The total
number of churches, 188; value of church property, $1,744,200.
1916 the church membership was 34,549, divided as follows: Colorado
Springs district, 6,480; Denver, 7,678; Grand Junction, 4,483; Greeley,
9,097; Pueblo, 6,811. The Sunday school enrollment was 46,074; the number
of churches, 208.
Trinity Church, Denver
G. W. Fisher, a carpenter, preached the first sermon in
Denver near what is now Twelfth and Wewatta streets, in February, 1859. In
April he preached again under cover of an unfinished structure where the
Railroad building now stands.
But the beginning of the Methodist
Episcopal Church in Colorado dates from the arrival of Revs. W. H. Goode
and Jacob Adriance. On August 2, 1859, a Quarterly Conference was held for
the ''Auraria and Denver City Mission" of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
The first stewards were Alexander Carter, Henry Reitze and H. J. Graham.
The regular weekly services began on October 30, 1859, when the
Rev. G. W. Fisher administered the sacrament of the Lord's Supper at the
services held in the first brick building in the town, the Masonic Hall,
which stood at 240 and 242 Eleventh Street, Denver. The first Union Sunday
school was organized by Revs. Adriance and Fisher on November 6, 1859, in
the Adriance cabin on Twelfth Street.
The first actual church
edifice of the denomination was a carpenter shop pur-chased from Henry C.
Brown and fitted for church purposes. In this in 1863 the first "Rocky
Mountain" conference was organized. This building, which occupied a site
close to Cherry Creek, was swept away in the flood of 1864.
July 22, 1863, the "First Methodist Episcopal Church of Denver" was
incorporated. Here is the announcement: "Know all men by these presents,
that Mr. John Evans, Hiram Burton, Andrew J. Gill, and John Cree, citizens
of Denver City, in the Territory of Colorado, have this day organized a
religious society in said Denver City under the name of 'The First
Methodist Episcopal Church of Denver,' and that John Evans, Hiram Burton,
John C. Anderson, John Cree, and John M. Chivington are the trustees duly
appointed for said society. (Signed) John Evans, A. J. Gill, John Cree,
and Hiram Burton."
Bishop Ames gave $1,000 and Governor John Evans
gave an even larger sum as the first subscriptions to a new church edifice
which was erected at the corner of Fourteenth and Lawrence streets, and
dedicated February 11, 1865, by Rev George Richardson. The church cost
$21,000, and the denomination had in addition to this spent $14,000 in
starting the new Colorado Seminary, now Denver University, the history of
which appears in the chapters on education.
The pastors of the
Lawrence Street Church, later Trinity, have been from its inception to
date as follows:
Jacob Adriance, Loudon Taylor, A. P. Allen, S. W.
Lloyd, W. A. Kenney, O. A. Willard, George Richardson, Geo. C. Betts, Wm.
M. Smith, B. T. Vincent, J. L. Peck, T. R. Sheer, J. R. Eads, Earl
Cranston, David H. Moore, R. W. Manly, Gilbert De La Matyr, Henry A.
Buchtel, W. F. McDowell, Robert McIntyre, Camden M. Cobern, Frost Craft,
James S. Montgomery, Louis Albert Banks, Charles B. Wilcox and Charles L.
Mead. This list does not include preachers sent as supplies.
new church at Broadway and Eighteenth Avenue was built during the
pastorate of Rev. Dr. Henry A. Buchtel, and the name "Trinity" was then
taken. The edifice was opened April i, 1888, Bishop H. W. Warren preaching
the opening sermon. The church and land is now valued at over $250,000.
The General Conference of 1884 made Denver the Episcopal
residence, and Bishop H. W. Warren, who had been elected to the episcopacy
in 1880, made this his home. He was a noted factor in the upbuilding of
the church in the west.
Church, South Free Methodists
The Methodist Episcopal
Church, South, followed right in the wake of its northern sister
conference. For as early as i860 Rev. I. L Bradford organized a society in
Denver, on the site of the present Brock-Haffner building, formerly the
Haist School, an adjunct of the University of Denver. The Civil War broke
into Doctor Bradford's building project, and the Episcopal Church then
bought the property.
In 1871 a second effort was made, and a small
house of worship was erected on Arapahoe between Eighteenth and Nineteenth
streets. Its first pastor was Rev. A. A. Morrison. The congregation moved
to Twentieth and Curtis, and in 1888 erected St. Paul's, corner
Twenty-first and Welton. In 1880 the Morrison Memorial Chapel was erected
at the corner of Thirty-second Avenue and Lafayette Street.
1910 there were in Colorado twenty-six church organizations belonging to
the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, with 1,299 communicants. In 1918
the records show a substantial increase.
The Free Methodists,
whose first church in Colorado was at the corner of Tenth and Champa
streets, Denver, were organized through the efforts of Rev. Hiram A.
Crouch, the first pastor. The society later moved to its present location.
In 1910 the Free Methodists of Colorado had eighteen church edifices, and
a total membership of 203.
History of Colorado
Source: History of Colorado, Wilbur
Fisk Stone, Editor, Volume I, Chicago, The S. J. Clarke Publishing
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