The History of Fredericktown United Methodist Church


The history of Methodism in Fredericktown, or Saint Michael, as it was first called, dates back just prior to the organization of the Methodist Church in 1811 by Thomas Wright, who was then serving the Meramec Circuit, an appointment in the newly organized Tennessee Conference, under the Episcopal supervision of  Francis Asbury.  A few religious services had been conducted in the community before the organization of the church.  In 1818, the name of Fredericktown was given to the town.  Many of the colonists came from Kentucky and Maryland.  Among this group were several outstanding families, to whom the present Methodist Church owes a lasting debt--the Calloways, Cusleys, Robinsons, Colliers, Berrymans and Tongs.

Most of these families settled along the East fork of the St. Francois River, Saline Creek and Mill Creek, which was given the name of "Calloway's Mill Creek."  The church was organized following a camp meeting held at or near the "Community subscription log school and meeting house."

The location of this log house was on Shell's spring branch which today is the corner of Franklin and South Mine La Motte Streets in Fredericktown.  A graveyard was established on the same acre of ground. This property was shared by all Protestant faiths. The Fredericktown church is the second oldest Methodist organization in the state with a continuous and unbroken existence.

In 1823 the trustees of the Methodist Church bought an acre of ground for $10 from James and Rebecca Tong Holman.  A good spring was on this land near which they erected the church.  May 18, 1837 the Methodist Church purchased Lot 5 on South Main Street from William M. Newberry and his wife, Gabrella, for $25.

A one-room brick building was erected. The Church has remained at this location to the present time.   The year 1840 was the first year that our appointment read "Fredericktown.”  Before this time, this church was on circuits.  In 1838 and 1839 the Fredericktown church was on the Farmington Circuit, and in 1840 it was able to stand on its own.  Perhaps the new church on South Main Street gave prestige.  The church worshiped in this building for 42 years.

In 1846, the Saint Louis Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South was formed and Fredericktown was included. Following the Civil War, the church continued to show rapid growth. 

In 1879, the congregation built a new church.  During the building program, services were held in the Court House.  In the same year, 1879, Fredericktown entertained the Annual Conference in the Court House.   In December 24, 1886, the parsonage lot, which is the present parking lot south of the church was purchased.

The history of the Marvin Collegiate Institute is a condensed version taken from the extensive writings of Clarice Burton Andrews Welker. Clarice was a local historian, one of the best.  Born in Fredericktown, Clarice was the daughter of Reverend Clarence and Martha Doyle Burton.  Reverend Burton was instrumental in getting the school located in Fredericktown and keeping it funded.

Back in 1868 the Missouri Methodist Conference saw the need for higher learning in the area and established a Collegiate Institute in the Belleview Valley at Caledonia in Iron County, Missouri.  After a short period they moved it to Arcadia. In 1894 several towns were vying for the school in their town, among them DeSoto and Fredericktown.  Caledonia wanted it back and Arcadia wanted to keep it.  The church conference was asking for a location of ten acres on which to build a school and $25,000.  Fredericktown got busy and did their homework.  A group of concerned citizens led by William Newberry, F.R. Newberry, J. F. Franklin and E.D. Anthony purchased the Valle Farm east of the Town of Fredericktown and set aside ten acres to be known as the College Hill Addition.  It was bordered on the east by what is now High Street, Albert Street on the South, Henry Street on the West and Franklin on North.  They had taken subscriptions among prominent people of Southeast Missouri and with the aid of Reese Applegate of Sikeston, Handy Moore of Charleston and J.T. Anderson of Commerce, Missouri they raised the $25,000. 

At the 1894 Annual Conference held in Fredericktown, Caledonia was called first to present their claim.  Arcadia was next with an eloquent lawyer, J.W. Emerson to do their talking. Fredericktown feared he was gaining ground and Dr. Frank Newberry and Reverend R.F. Chew who were to talk for Fredericktown slipped out and got Judge Benson B. Cahoon to do the speaking.  Mrs. Andrews commented, "He may not have had an ounce of religion but he sure knew how to talk."  He swayed the preachers and when the votes were counted Caledonia got four votes, Arcadia 12 and Fredericktown 80. 

With a lot of working and maneuvering The Collegiate Institute was to be relocated in Fredericktown. It was decided to name the school "Marvin Collegiate Institute" for the beloved Missouri born, Bishop Enoch Mather Marvin. Reverend Nelson Bollinger Henry was named the first President of the school.  He was a former President of the Belleview School.  The first year 126 students were enrolled and there were two graduates, John Henry, son of President Henry and Harry L. Jenkinson, a ministerial student. 

In 1903, a new Methodist Church was erected on the South Main Street location with over 400 members.  On May 15, 1903 the church received the following note:  "The Lord having blessed me beyond by expectations and having given me so much more than I really expected, I feel that it will give me great happiness and joy to help largely in building and remodeling a new Methodist Church, so that I have given $3,500 to build this church, and I have done this by my own voluntary will without undue influence and I have done this because the Lord has been good to me". Signed, Mary A. Parkins. The church responded with the following announcement:  The Methodist congregation of this city has decided to name their new church Mary Parkin Memorial Church in honor of Miss Mary Parkins of this city.  August 8, 1903, the cornerstone of the present structure was laid.

In 1911, the centennial of the founding of the church, the membership had grown to 500, and again a major expansion program was carried to a successful conclusion under the leadership of the Reverend Charles Newton Clark.  The sanctuary was completely remodeled, the choir loft built, and the present balcony placed in the church.

In 1917, the Annual Conference again met in Fredericktown, but due to the building program, the conference met in the Marvin College Auditorium.  A notation of the historical records of this date states that Fredericktown has been host to the conference more often than any other town; 1879, 1887, 1894, 1901, 1909, 1917 (and later 1938).

In 1919, the parsonage just south of the church burned.  A brick parsonage which is Lot #7 was purchased April 12, 1920 from E.K. and Emma Stevenson for $4,500.   In 1939, unification between the "Methodist Episcopal Church" and the "Methodist Episcopal Church South" came and the local congregation became a part of the Methodist Church. In January 1943, the church was damaged by a fire, so church services were held in The Merceir Theatre for the following weeks.

In 1954, the parsonage was completely remodeled and renovated. In 1957 a new educational unit of six rooms was added to the west of the building.  In 1961-62 the Fredericktown Methodist church had 643 members.  In 1972, the new parsonage at 701 Farrar Street was purchased.

In 1980, a major building project resulted in the addition of a Fellowship Hall and moving the classrooms upstairs. The stained glass windows from the old parsonage are still displayed beautifully in the Fellowship Hall.

Wesley Chapel Methodist Church, which was organized in 1854, became part of the Fredericktown United Methodist Church in May of 1985.

Since 2003 there were no major renovations or disasters with the exception of May 8, 2009.  On this day a very unusual inland hurricane hit Madison and surrounding counties.  The church had major damage to the roof as did many other structures in the county. 

Today we continue to serve our communities and their people as we work to share the Good News of Jesus Christ for the world of today with our current pastor Rev. Bryan Schaefer.  Thank you for taking the time to read our history and learning a little more about us! Blessings!