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§ Charles A. Spaulding
A History of Hartford
153 pg transcript

§ Katherine Minshall Early History of Hartford and Lawrence 12 pgs.
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Baptist, Christian, Church of Christ, Federation of Baptist and Congregational Church,
Christian Church, Federated Church, Hartford Federated Church

Historic Date(s)

Church Affiliation

Historic Notes

1858   Horace Dowd and family and others were dismissed from the church of Lawrence for the purpose of organizing a church in Hartford.
1859 Baptist Organized in 1859. Deacons were Horace Dowd and Sylvanus Reynolds, Clerk was Jefferson Dowd and services were held in the old school house at the corner of Main and Edwin Streets.  At this time, all denominations worshiped together at this place.  (This was known as the Catholic Church in later years)
1865 Baptist Circuit rider Pastor, William Simons. Services held at Hartford, Keeler, Lawrence, and Hyde schools.
1872 Baptist

Bought property at Universalist Church at corner of Maple Street and Michigan Avenue.  This picture was from a postcard dated Nov. 2, 1910 sent by Bessie ClayhoodBaptist Church 1910 Hartford Michigan.

Postcard about Baptist Church 1910 - Hartford Michigan

1883 Congregational A meeting was held in the Reynolds Opera House July 8, 1883, to discuss the advisability of organizing a Congregational Church in Hartford. The Rev. Park A. Bradford, pastor of the Lawrence church was present and conducted the service.  At the close of the service a vote was taken to ascertain the opinions of those present as to such an organization which resulted in a unanimous vote, and a finance committee was appointed consisting of A.J. Dyer, C.H. Sherburne, G. Van Vranken and Mrs. J.J. Hubbard to canvas among friends to ascertain if funds could be secured for the erection of a new church.  July 15th services were held at the same place conducted by Rev. P.A. Bradford and at the close the finance committee reported $800.00 pledged for the new church.  The committee was instructed to continue the canvass.  It was decided by vote to organize the church society and the following names were chosen to prepare letters missive to neighboring churches to meet in council at Hartford on the 24th. On July 22nd at the close of divine services the following were nominated as officers of the church:  Deacons, J.E. Sweet, Garret Van Vranken, Trustees, A.N. Spaulding, C.H.  Sherburne, A.J. Dyer; Treasurer, Ann Spaulding; Clerk, William Watts. July 24, 1883, agreeable to invitations by letters missive from a number of professing Christians at Hartford an Ecclesiastic Council was organized, convening in the Baptist Church to take action in the matter of organizing a Congregational Church by the election of Rev. LeRoy Warren moderator and Rev. George S. Seavor scribe. The following named churches responded by pastor and delegate; First church, Kalamazoo, Rev. C.O. Brown, pastor, P. Hobbs, delegate; Covert, Rev. S.P. Spellman, pastor, A.S. Packard, delegate; Lawrence, Rev. P.A. Bradford, pastor Eaton Branch, delegate; Benton Harbor, Rev. W.H. Brewster, pastor; South Haven Rev. George Seavor, pastor, C. Hastings, delegate; Lincoln Park, Chicago,  A.J. Dyer, delegate; Bangor, A.B. Cochrane, pastor, C.C. Phillips, delegate; Cooper E. Andrews.  The chairman of the local committee made a statement as to what had been done at former meetings showing that there was an earnest desire to organize a Congregational Church in Hartford and that steps had been taken towards raising money to build a new church building.

The Rev. Park A. Bradford of Lawrence, who was acting in connection with the Congregational element here, stated that the pastor and members of the Baptist Church had shown the kindest feeling toward the new movement and had offered the use of their house of worship for this occasion and had otherwise treated them with Christian courtesy.  After listening to a discussion of the subject from most of the active parties to the movement the Rev. E. Andrews moved, seconded by Rev. W.H. Brewster, “That for the honor of God this Council deem it advisable to proceed to the organization of a Congregational Church.”  That evening services were as follows: singing by the choir, reading of the scripture by Rev. A.B. Cochrane, sermon by Rev. C.O. Brown, propounding the confession of faith and covenant, Rev. Leroy Warren, prayer of recognition and consecration, Rev. E. Andrews, right hand of fellowship, Rev. W.H. Brewster, address to the church, Rev. LeRoy Warren.  The charter members of this organization were Mr. And Mrs. J. Elliot Sweet, Mr. And Mrs. A. J. Dyer, Mr. And Mrs. Garret Van Vranken, Mr. And Mrs. Geo. Fellows, Mr. And Mrs. William Watts, Mr. And Mrs. Charles Sherburne, Mr. And Mrs. John W. Hubbard, Mr. and Mrs. M.M. Seymour, Mr. and Mrs. A.N. Spaulding, Mrs. Charles Nicolson, Mrs. Stocum, Mrs. Mary E. Smith, Mrs. Hannah Utley, Mrs. Harriet E. Van de Vort, and Miss May Dyer. The first deacons were J. Elliott Sweet and Garret Van Vranken. Trustee for three years A.N. Spaulding, Trustee for two years. Charles N. Sherburne. Trustee for one year, Charles Nicolson.

In 1919 the church federated with the Baptist Church and the Rev. J.S. Hamilton, a former pastor of the Congregational Church was their pastor until 1921.  At this time the Disciple Church came into the organization and the three churches were federated with the Rev. L.G. Kent as their pastor until 1923.
1885 Baptist Rev. Welker, 1st full-time pastor.   During 1885 a new church was built on South Maple Street and dedicated Wednesday, September 2, 1885 with sermon delivered by Rev. Leroy Warren. Since the organization of the church July 24, 1883, the following pastors have served the church; Revs, William Woodmansie, Samuel Taylor, E.M. Counseller, A.T. Waterman, William Miller, F.H. Bassett, F.B. Stearns, L.G. Herbert, Ruel E. Roberts, E.F. Lilly, J.S. Hamilton and A.B. Imrie.
1886 Christian Levi Dewey (of Dowagiac) was first pastor and served 4 years.  Also known as the "Disciple Church" congregation was organized in the Reynolds Hall (building later became the Town Hall) on November 8, 1886. As noted on the cornerstone below, it was also called the Church of Christ.  A house of worship was erected in 1887 on Shepard Street.  The first trustees were Thomas Bailey, Henry O. Hatch, Cadmus C. Huntley, Nathan Strong, and Levi Dewey.  The pastors who served since organizing in 1886 were Revs. Levi Dewey, J.H. Hammond, J.H. Reese, Nathan Fellows, Garry L. Cook, Willard McCarthy, F.F. Schultz, Frank A. Taylor, James A. Brown, and J.C. Mathews.  In 1921, the (Congregational) church withdrew and the two remaining churches (Christian and Baptist) engaged the Rev. John Balfour, who ministered to them until 1928 when Rev. M.H. Terry was engaged.
1892 Baptist Rev. E. E. Branch
1898 Christian


Rev. Garry Cook.
Rev. Charles Salyer with services held at Lawrence and Hartford.
1903 Baptist


Rev. Francis Carlisle. First to live in parsonage at North Maple St.
Rev. Frank L. Taylor
1905 Baptist Rev. J. B. Reynolds
1906-1914 Christian (became known as the the Federated Church in 1946)

Rev. James Brown, followed by Rev. James Bennett. Christain Church circa 1910 - Hartford Michigan
Circa 1910
Photo contributed by George Swift in 2002. 
Church of Christ cornerstone 1887

Church of Christ 1887
cornerstone located just below the top window

1908-1911 Baptist Rev. John Walker, followed by Rev. William Preston.
1911 Baptist Rev. Delno Henshaw.  Served 5 years.
1916 Baptist Rev. W. Chas Edwards.  Went into the Navy.
1918 or 1919 Christian
[First] Church of Christ

Baptist &

Rev. J. C. Mathews.
In 1919 the Congregational Church federated with the Baptist Church and the Rev. J.S. Hamilton, a former pastor of the Congregational Church was their pastor until 1921. Each Church kept its’ own officers and shared expenses. Six months in each church.  Rev. J. S. Hamilton, Congregationalist pastor.
1917-1918 [First] Church of Christ
1917    Greetings of the Season    1918

This is the front cover to the tri-fold Christmas card below.


The days are hastening on
By profit bards foretold,

When with the ever encircling years
Comes ’round the Age of Gold:

When Peace shall reign o’er all the earth,

In Ancient splendors fling,

And the whole earth gave back the song

Which now the Angels sing:"


"Glory to God in the Highest,

Peace on Earth,

Good will to men."



J. C. Mathews, Minister – First Church of Christ, Hartford Michigan

A cordial invitation is extended to you and your friends to attend the services of this Church

1920 Christian Came into Federation.  At this time the Disciple Church (also known as the Christian Church) came into the organization and the three churches were federated with the Rev. L.G. Kent as their pastor until 1923.  Rev. L. H. Kent. Each church paid 1/3.
1923 Congregational At this time the Congregational Church withdrew from the federation and engaged the Rev. A.L. Fisher who was their pastor until 1928. Since that time the pulpit was occupied by the Rev. Paul Hinkamp of Holland.
1923-1929 Federated Rev. John Balfour.
1930 Federated Rev. Maurice Terry.
1931-1939 Federated Rev. A. E. Murphy.  Federation of of the Baptist and Christian churches continued until 1931 when the Federated Church organized with single set of officers.
1939-1941 Federated Rev. Ned R. Athey
1942-1954 Federated Rev. Norman W. Clapp
1943 circa Federated-Methodist Special Group photo of 10-day Vacation Bible School sponsored by the Hartford Methodist and Federated churches.  (click here to view large photo with approximated 75 students – photo may load slowly.)
1946 Federated Rev. John Cureton. Church officially became incorporated and was named the Hartford Federated Church.
1947-1956 Hartford Federated Rev. Alvin P. Jingst
1953 circa Hartford Federated Church Choir
Hartford Federated Church Choir circa 1956
Women in Front L-R
Lois Rittase – Director and Organist, Harriet Lightner, Dorothy Smithley, Ruth Dowd, Ruth Knapp, Jeri Varnau, Dorla Shafer, Nancy Dyer, Sue Patterson, Donna Knapp
Men in Back L-R
Stan Dowd, Robert Lightner, Ivan White, Mr. McCubbin, Cliff Brown, Malcom Broadhurst.
1956-1963 Hartford Federated

Rev. Robert S. Gorbold.  Started building program with new church completed in 1961 on E. Red Arrow Highway.


Hartford Federated

       1961 - Ground Breaking Ceremony for new Federated Church - Hartford Michigan
         Monday, May 22, 1961 – News-Palladium

Launch New Federated Church at Hartford:
Ground was broken Sunday for the new $170,000 two-story Federated Church located just west of Hartford on the Red Arrow highway.  Participating in the ceremony were (from left to in front) Harry L. Thompson – plumbing and heating contractor of Watervliet; Mrs. Leo Yirchott – publicity; Mrs. Paul Day – chairman of design committee; the Rev. Robert Gorbold; Mrs. Dean Richmond – design; S.A. MacGowan – chairman of publicity, and Don Drake – chairman of finance.  In back (from left) are LaVern Rice – excavating contractor of Hartford, and A.H. Mollberg and Dewey Mollberg – general contractors of Galien.

                  Hartford Federated Church built in 1961 - Hartford Michigan
Church completed in 1961, dedicated January, 1962.  Original building contained 18 classrooms in the educational section and accommodated up to 30 classes and a total of 500 pupils.  The sanctuary had a seating capacity of 280 persons with a 25-person choir loft.   The original building exterior dimensions were 114 feet by 44 feet and 75 feet wide at the north south projection.  The church was designed by the Rev. Joseph Kimbel and Robert Foltz, of Evangelical Associates, South Bend IN. 

1963 Hartford Federated Rev. R. Shepley, Interim Pastor
1963-1971 Hartford Federated

Rev. Lyell Smith, Pastor

1971 Hartford Federated Rev. R. Shepley, Interim Pastor
1973 Hartford Federated

1973 - Aerial photo of Federated Church Expansion - Hartford MI
       March 3, 1973 – News Palladium                                                       Aerial photo by Adolph Hann

Federated Church Expanding
– Addition takes shape:  An 80 by 80 foot addition tot he Federated church in Hartford takes shape on the north side of the present structure. The $220,000 addition will house a utility hall, gym and fellowship hall, educational facilities for 300 students, new kitchen and offices.  Ground was broke in October of 1972 and construction is expected to be completed by May 15, according on to the Rev. Milton Krugman, pastor.  Grading for a new parking lot will be done around the new addition.  Mollberg Construction company of Galien is the general contractor. 

1971-1974 Hartford Federated

         1973 - Formal dedication services for new addition to Hartford Federated Church - Hartford MI











           December 6, 1973 – Watervliet Record                                               (George Swift Photo)

Formal Dedication Services
for the new addition to the Hartford Federated Church were held Sunday afternoon in the new building.  Present for the ceremony were, from left:  Don Drake – Hartford township supervisor; Larry Larsen – representing the Hartford city council; Gene Avery – chairman of the church’s board of deacons; Russell Richmond (on podium) – chairman of the building committee; Rev. Lyell Smith – former Federated pastor who preached the morning sermon; Lene Mollbert of Mollberg Construction – contractors for the building; and pastor of the church – Rev. Milton Krugman. 

Cost of the building addition was estimated at $220,000.

Rev. Milton Krugman, Senior Pastor; Mark Tromp – Youth Pastor 1973

1975-1984 Hartford Federated Rev. George Badger, Senior Pastor; Tim Nyhuis – Youth Pastor
1984-1986 Hartford Federated Rev. George (Alex) DeGolyer, Senior Pastor; Tim Nyhuis – Youth Pastor
1986-pres Hartford Federated Rev. David Gilbert, Senior Pastor 2011-present; Rev Tim Nyhuis, Senior Pastor 1986-2010; Dave Schoop – Youth Pastor July 1986-Aug 1987; Peter Dubinin – Youth Pastor 1987-1992; Scott Moeckel – Youth Pastor 1992-1998; Daniel Jepsen – Youth Pastor 1998 – 2002; Greg Papenfus – Youth Pastor 2002 to 2009; Tyler Collins – Youth Pastor 2010 to 2012; Elvin Nyhuis, Senior Citizens Visitation Pastor 2003 to 2007.

– Special thanks to Russell & Esther Richmond for saving and sharing the newspaper photos and articles.

Church history is from the Hartford Federated Church Directories, personal histories, and news paper articles. 
Note:  There are minor date differences in Spaulding’s book,
 A History of Hartford – the first 100 years.

Information for this web site was gathered from personal interviews, newspaper articles, scrapbooks, personal photo albums, and other documented materials - many available to the public at the Hartford Public Library or Van Buren County Historical Museum.  Please report any typographical errors, updated information, or incorrectly stated information to the webmaster for correction.  Reprinting for personal and instructional purposes is permitted, however, unauthorized commercial reprinting of this information or unauthorized linking to photos-pictures on this site is strictly prohibited without written permission from the webmaster. 

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Pearls In Our Past - Hartford Michigan
A Pictorial History of Hartford Michigan
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History of Hartford Michigan
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Revised: March 23, 2009