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Cornerstone Church

Corner Stone Laying Of First Methodist Church

Edited by Spessard Stone from The Florida Advocate of Friday, June 19, 1914, courtesy of Jean B. Burton

Used with permission

The corner stone of the new Methodist church will be laid today, Friday, June 19th, 1914, at 2:30 p.m.

The local Masonic lodge, assisted by former Governor Albert W. Gilchrist, past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Florida, and visiting brothers from neighboring lodges, will lay the stone. Rev. J. R. Cason, presiding elder of the Bartow district, will deliver an address, and other visiting ministers will be present and assist in the services. Let every body turn out and make this is a great day.

The Wauchula Methodist Episcopal Church, South, was organized in 1888, in the Baptist church, which at that time was a log house standing just north of Mr. Hugh Moore’s saw mill.

Later Dr. T. J. Maddox donated a quarter of a block for a church building at the corner of Palmetto (should be Oak) street and the railroad, where Chase & Co.’s packing house now stands. A frame building was erected here, but the interior was never finished, and during a hurricane in September, 1903, this building was blown down.

Dr. Fink came on the work and a neat frame building was erected during his ministry here. Later this building was moved to the corner of Palmetto street and Seventh avenue, where the new brick building is now in the course of erection.

The original membership consisted of the following nine members: Mr. and Mrs. Joseph L. Bostick, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas G. Wilkinson, Mr. and Mrs. C. G. West, Mrs. M. A. Maddox, Mrs. Wiley Hill and Mrs. Effie Spivey. Of this number five are still living and remain active members of the church. The membership today numbers 280.

The following is a list of pastors from the organization down to the present time: Rev. Sam Carson, 1888; G. W. Sellers, 1889; A. J. West, 1890; F. J. Jones, 1891; R. T. Higgs, 1893; John Dodwell, 1894; W. B. Tresca, S. B. Carson and J. H. McRae, 1895-97; J. T. Coleman, 1898; J. T. Mitchell, 1899 to 1902; A. H. Cole, 1903; F. J. Fink, 1904; E. J. Hardee, 1905-08; W. B. Tresca, 1909-10; A. H. Cole, 1911-12; J. L. Griffitts, 1913-14. The work was made a station in 1914.

The church has prospered all alone, but is at present enjoying the greatest prosperity in its history, something like eighty members has been added to the church the past year.

The present building enterprise was launched by the present pastor, Rev. J. L. Griffiths on January 1st, 1914. Up to that time no previous steps had been taken outside of just “talking about building.” The year previous had been spent in paying off old debts that had been allowed to accumulate against the church.

On the first day of the year 1914, Mr. and Mrs. D. O. Ratliff made the first subscription towards the new building, which was $1,000. This was followed by Mr. and Mrs. H. P. Mattox with another $1,000. Then Mr. J. W. Earnest and Mr. H. M. Alexander each subscribed $500, and thus the enterprise was launched. This was followed by numerous subscriptions of smaller amounts until a total of $7,000 was subscribed.

The building will cost $10,000 or more completed, and it is the plan and purpose of the committee to endeavor to secure the amount necessary for its completion and push the work forward so that by the end of the year 1914 the building will be finished complete.

The building is of red pressed brick, and of modern design and convenient, being 97x67 feet, and when finished it will be one of the handsomest church buildings in this section of the state.

The following is the building committee: H. M. Alexander, D. O. Ratliff, J. W. Earnest, T. G. Wilkinson and J. E. Townsend.

This was published as “History: Laying A Cornerstone At First United Methodist Church” in The Herald-Advocate, 6C, July 17, 2008.