Pages prepared by Mr. David Price with the help of Mrs. Millie Price
Note: This paper read at dedication of new room on S.S. addition on church and side entrance and stairs to the basement sometime in 1925 or 1926. – H. P.
Sometime in May of the year 1855, my father and mother Mr. and Mrs. Thomas R. Price with five children, Mary, David, Catherine, Samuel, and Elizabeth left Brecon, Wales for America. We went by train to Liverpool and bought first class passage on the sailing vessel, the old “Universal”. I call it old because it went to pieces on the next trip. We had to furnish our own provisions, and I remember Mother baked for a whole week before we started, some of the neighbors coming in to help. We were six weeks crossing the ocean, and the old ship creaked and creaked with the winds and the waves. At last we reached New York. Father had first class tickets for a passenger train, but they put us on a freight train with other immigrants bound for Chicago: from there we came by boat to Milwaukee reaching there on July 3rd. We stayed over night with John Thomas, who charged us $5 for the accommodation. Our destination was Cambria, Wisconsin where a cousin of father’s lived, but there was a man in our company, a stepson of John A. Williams of Wern, and he persuaded us to come to Waukesha with him as someone would meet him there.
We did so and our first night in Bethesda, July 4th, was spent at Wern, with John A. Williams, great grandfather of the present generation. Across the fields, north of the Wern, was the Dufferin farm owned by David Jones, Park. Before the next night Father had rented this place, and that night July 5th, we slept in the old house where Alva Cleveland now lives.
Before winter Father had purchased 80 acres of land, 40 acres lying south of the present church, along the upper road, and the 40 acres cornering on the north east and extending to the road north of the railroad, the strip of land between the road and the railroad being part of the last “40”. There was no road there from north to south in front of the present church. (I might say right here that this division of the Milwaukee road was built in 1851.)
Previous to 1855 church service were held at the home of John Hughes, Cilmanaen [sic], but in 1855 the services were being held in an old log house situated back of the present church and very near the railroad. During the year this land was sold to Lewis Jones and that necessitated the building of a new place of worship. Very soon the church services were moved to the home of David Jones, Park and were held there continuously until the completion of the first church in 1857.
There were three ministers who conducted these services each in his turn, leaving the fourth Sunday for prayer meeting, unless a stranger happened along. These ministers were Rev. John H. Evans, of Jerusalem who lived where Evan Davis now lives. He was a tall thin man, rather stern and sarcastic. His sermons were short and to the point, delivered without notes, not more than 15 or 20 minutes in length. He was very earnest in prayer, and his prayers always contained these words, “While we pray, let us pray.”
Rev. Owen Hughes was the second minister who came. He, also, was tall of stature. He was wonderful in prayer, and was not afraid to tell us of our sins, and thereby made enemies. At one time he was very ill and his first appearance after that impressed me much as his voice had changed and seemed very feeble. His text at that time was taken from Job, 23rd chapter 3rd and 4th verses. “O that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come even to His seat. I would order my cause before Him and fill my mouth with arguments.” (Father used to tell me to try to remember the first sentence of the sermon.) This was what Rev. Hughes said, “A good many of us are in the habit of concerning ourselves with other peoples’ matters, but when we are ill we think only of our own cause.”
The third minister was Daniel Jenkins who was not ordained until after the church was built. Unlike the other ministers he was short and stout. He was a wonderful Bible student, great in Sunday School meetings and his questions would puzzle even some of the adjudicators of the present time. He was of a very kind nature paying particular attention to children. I was about 10 years old at this time. (These ministers always came on horseback) and he delighted me greatly one Sunday morning by lifting me into the saddle and telling me to ride the horse to Park Farm to be cared for. That was a white stone in my memory. At first these ministers received 25 cents per Sunday for their services. They must have had an abundance of faith that the Lord would provide what the church did not.
Previous to and during this time, up to the completion of the first church, religious services were held only on Sunday morning at 10 o’clock. The custom of having children repeat chapters of the bible before the sermon was in force then and on one Sunday, Margaret Jones, Garth and my sister Mary repeated the 110th Psalm perfectly. This practice was continued down the years by Ann Jones, Park, Lizzie Williams and others. Early in 1857 a business meeting was called at the Park farm to decide the question of a church building. Those present were David Jones, Park, John A. Jones, and Richard Mason and other whose names are not mentioned. At this meeting the following were elected as trustees Wm. Rowlands, David Jones, Park and John Jones. Sec’y, John Jones, Garth, Treas. J.A. Williams, Wern. The church was to be located on the east side of where the road now is and north of the Railroad. This land was donated by Thomas R. Price. The size of the building (which is now Howard Price’s granary) was to be 20’ by 24’ and 12’ high. It was to face east also (Some of those seats are now in the basement of this church).
On March 20 of the same year at a meeting of the Trustees, as the Park Farm, there were present D. Jones, Park, John A. Williams, Wern, Wm. Rowlands, John Jones, John Jermon and Thos. R. Price. They decided that Mr. John Hughes was to build the church according to specifications. He was to receive $90 for his work and board himself. The trustees were to furnish the material and build the foundation and chimney and plaster it. The frame was to be of oak and the timbers for this were to be donated by those who had them. I remember going with Father to the woods and watching the men while they felled the white oak trees for sills, etc. David Morris, Dufferin hewed them. Those who had trees to cut and donate were Wm. Rowlands, John Jermon, John Jones, Garth, and Wm. Jones Tycoch who took them to Saylesville to be sawed.
An old book recently found by Mrs. Howard Price, contains the following records:
Lumber including freight $91.00
500 brick $8.50
Lime for chimney .42
30 lbs. nails $1.50
9 lbs. lath nails .54
46 ft. lumber @$20.00 per M .92
1 bbl. stucco $3.30
Nails and hinges .56
4 lbs. nails .24
2 candles .50
15 bu. lime $3.00
To Thos. And Wm. Price for building foundation $6.00
To cost of stove $4.50
To cost of clock $5.00
To Wm. Price for building chimney $2.00
To painting the church $14.00
There are many more items but this gives you an idea of the cost of articles at the time. The church was to be ready for occupation on July 1, 1857 but was not finished until late in the fall. I do not remember about a dedication.
The services now were: Preaching 10 a.m. Sunday School 2 p.m. Prayer meeting in the evening and Class meeting Friday at 2 p.m. There were now about 30 members. Among the singers in the church at this time was Margaret Jones, Park, a fine soprano, who carried her part well. The women sat on one side of the church and the men on the other. I considered it a privilege to sit over the partition, next to Margaret and sing with her. There was now a full attendance at Sunday School and there were some very good teachers. An offering for missions was always taken on Thanksgiving Day.
In this old book is a list of contributors to the church building: David Jones, Park, John Williams, Wern, John Jones, Garth, John Jermon, Wm. Jones, Tycoch, Wm. Rowland, W. R. Williams, Waukesha, Robert Perry, Lewis Jones, Thos. R. Price, David Pugh, Wm. Jenkins, Thos. Thomas, Richard Pugh, Michael Mason, Rev. Richard Morris, Richard Williams, John Hughes, Evan Williams, Hugh Williams, Owen Jones. The sums contributed ranged from $30.00 to $.50. With butter at .10 per lb. and eggs at .07 per dozen and that traded out at the store for tea, coffee, sugar etc. there was not a large sum left contributions to any cause. There were many faithful attendants. Whole families came together.
The first Deacon was John A. Williams, Wern. The Park Farm was a home for all ministers who came. The Jermon family came across the fields in all kinds of weather. I remember seeing John Jones, Garth coming when it was 30 degrees below zero with a shawl over his head. The Cilmaenan young people, and they were many, always came. Everybody attended church in those days, and it seems to me they were more prayerful than now and more spiritual. (Perhaps those prayers are being answered to-day.) The little church was filled to overflowing many, many times.