Benton County, MN
History of Methodism
[The following excerpt from The History of Methodism in Minnesota refers to the mid 1850s, when Benton County included a much larger area than today. The parts pertaining to Sauk Rapids and Watab are set in boldface.]
BENTON COUNTY MISSION.
At the Baraboo session of the Wisconsin Conference in 1853, it was decided that all the country above the St. Anthony Falls should be included in the Benton County M. E. Mission, and James H. White was appointed missionary. This mission covered a tract of country about one hundred and thirty miles in length, and in this entire work at the time there were but two Methodists. These were Lucy Olmsted, in Benton County, residing near Fort Ripley, and Mrs. Becker, residing on the west side of the Mississippi near Sauk Rapids.
Until December 10, 1853, the preaching places were at Anoka, in a school room, at first, later in an unfinished flouring mill; in Itaska, at Brown's Tavern; in Elk River, at the houses of Mr. Jameson and Mr. Donley; at Thomson, at the tavern; at Sauk Rapids, in the court room; at Wautab [sic], at the house of D. Gilman; at Platte River, at the house of Mr. Depews; Swan River, at Stewart's tavern; Belle Prairie, at the school house; Fort Ripley, at the house of Mr. Olmsted; Chippeway, at the house of D. Henderson. Excepting Chauncey Hobart. who visited this region of the country, the preceding spring and preached at Fort Ripley, and had preached at Itaska in 1852, Mr. White was the first Methodist who traveled over and preached at the settlements in this extended tract of country.
The first Quarterly Conference for this mission was held at Belle Prairie, December 10, 1853. David Brooks, Presiding Elder, and James H. White, preacher in charge, present. The minutes of that Quarterly Conference show that in answer to the question, "Have the general rules been read in the societies?" the reply was, "There are no societies."
In 1855, Benton County Mission was divided into three parts, called, Monticello, Belle Prairie and Anoka. S. T. Creighton was appointed to Monticello and Anoka, and Belle Prairie was left to be supplied. As Mr. White had left his work in 1855, Anoka and Monticello had been supplied the latter part of that year by Brother Kemp, and Belle Prairie by Robert Hoover. Brother Kemp died during the following year, 1856, while supplying the work, and Mr. Hoover continued as supply at Monticello until conference. In 1856, O. P. Light was appointed to Anoka. At the conference of 1857, the Monticello district was formed, the appointments for which were as follows: Monticello district, S. T. Sterrett, Presiding Elder; Monticello, N. Lathrop; Anoka, to be supplied; Fremont, B. Blaine; North Minneapolis and Harmonica, John Hooper; Sauk River, J. Bursell; Minneapolis, J. D. Rich; Painesville, supplied; Dayton and Crow River, O. P. Light; Belle Prairie, A. J. Nelson; Little Falls and Platte River, R. Hoover; Minnetonka, known as Harmonia in 1857, had been organized by Rev. H. Elliot, a superannuate member of the Erie Conference in 1855, who supplied the charge that year.
Updated 12 May 2020 by William Haloupek
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