BRIEF HISTORY OF METHODISM IN THE UPPER PENINSULA
The beginning of Methodism in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan west of Sault Ste. Marie is credited to the missionary trail blazers who came to Kewawenon, now known as Keweenaw Bay. The first, in 1832 with John Sunday a converted Canadian Indian.
In 1833 Rev. John Clark continued the mission work started by Sunday. He was followed by Rev. Damiel Chandler in 1834 who remained here for two years. Rev. Clark was appointed Superintendent of Lake Superior Missions in 1834 and was instrumental in having a mission house and church school house erected during Rev. Chandler’s mission stay. Houses for the local natives were also erected along the lake shore in the vicinity of the present Whirl-I-Gig Road.
These early missionaries led a rugged life and their methods of travel was by canoe, foot or snowshoes. Slow steamers and sailboats plied the lakes later and by the late 1870’s meager train service was available.
Other missionaries up to 1870’s were: W.H. Brockway, George Brown, Peter Marksman, George King, John Kahbeege, John H. Pitezel, Joseph Holt, Peter O. Johnston, N. Barnum and Rufus Crane.
With hard times in Europe and the opening of mines in the Copper Country and lumbering in Northern Michigan in the 1850’s, thousands of immigrants from England, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Finland and even Canada came to the Copper Country to make their homes. The groups contributing the most to the growth of Methodism were the Cornish miners from England. They were mostly Methodists in membership or in preference, a heritage from the strong influence of John Wesley during the great Methodist revival in England.