Recollections of Elizabeth Williams Hudson, 1926

Prepared for the 1926 at dedication of S.S. room at rear of church and stairs to basement.

Newspaper PhotoMy memory of Bethesda Church dates from the fall of 1863, when my parents moved from Picatonica to Wern Farm, which my father bought from his father, John Andrew Williams.  He came here with his wife and two sons from Angleses, North Wales in 1845; and soon after they bought a farm of eighty acres and named it Wern Farm.  The east forty was government land and the deed is signed by James K. Polk, president of the U.S. in 1846.

It has been remarked often that one cannot write the history of a Welsh community or neighborhood apart from the history of its church.  As some place of worship was a prime necessity for those pioneers who had so much to contend with, so it should be for us in the busy, hustling, overcrowded days.

Thomas H. Evans and my grandfather, John A. Williams, were chosen deacons or leaders – blaenoriaid – of the new church.  Mr. Evans – Squire Evans as he was called – moved to the Jerusalem neighborhood in 1864.  After the death of my grandfather in 1870, T.D. Fischer and my father, William J. Williams, were chosen for this position.  The term of office is for life – or during good behavior, I presume; for the Synod sessions, their character as well as that of the preacher was passed upon and approved or criticized and censured.  This applied to the children of both ministers and deacons.

Thomas D. Fisher and Margaret, his wife, joined this church in April 1863.  He was a shoe maker by trade, located at Waukesha, and owning a home there.  He bought the place now owned and occupied by D. W. Price and moved there, to be near the church which he loved and served so faithfully; but for business reasons he moved back to Waukesha and died there while comparatively a young man.  John E. Jones was elected to succeed him.  The ministers of those days were:  Reverend Owen Hughes, Daniel Jenkins and John H. Evans, who served the Welsh churches in a circuit; the remuneration was $1.00 per sermon with an extra dollar paid them when on special occasions they came to conduct society or class meeting.  Rev. John Williams came from Cattaraugus, New York, in 1867 and the weekly salary in his case went up to $3.00 per sermon.  Rev. R. H. Evans was, I think, the first regular pastor engaged by the Jerusalem and Bethesda churches.  Rev. Hugh Roberts, who lived near Bethania church, was also one of the early day preachers.  These pioneer preachers were strong men and true giving a bountiful measure of service to the limit of their ability, and they deserve all the credit and appreciation we can give them.

View ca 1915The order of the services for Bethesda was:  preaching every Sunday morning at 10:00, Sabbath School at 2:00, and prayer meeting in the evening – putting in full time every Sunday.  If no preacher was available for the morning service then prayer meeting was held instead and every adult male member was expected to take part.  It was often difficult to persuade the young members to give out the hymn and make public prayer.  The women were to keep silent, not to help except possibly with the singing of the hymns.  On two occasions I remember hearing women preachers in first church Bethesda.  Both of them were from Wales.  The men and boys were seated on one side of the church and women and girls on the other; they entered the church and left by different doors leading to their own side of the church.  This went out of style completely and at once when this church was built and occupied.  The membership list of the church numbers thirty three to forty during the sixties and there were from forty to forty-five children belonging to those thirteen or fourteen families making up the community.  There were David Jones and family, Park and John Jones Garth and Margaret, his wife.  The father of each of these families was educated for the ministry in their native Wales and they were very much appreciated – more helpful because of this fact.  Thomas R. Price and Elizabeth, his wife, — Price, the singer, as he was called – left a wonderful impression on the children and young people of the church by his love for music and his love for young people.  He was never so happy as when surrounded by a group of them, and with tuning fork in his hand he endeavored to teach them to sing.  John and Ann Jarmon with their fine family of seven jolly daughters and four sons were noted for their hospitality.  Watkin and Margaret Evans, Thos. and Ann Williams, Sunhill Wm. And Catherine Price, and Thos. D. and Margaret Price, who lived on the farm now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. John A. Jones, Wm. And Jane Williams – Maes mawr, Mrs. Wm. Jenkins and her brothers David, William, and John James, will be remembered for her good nature and faithful church attendance.  Richard Thomas, Hugh Jones and families, Mrs. Anne Morris and son Edward were members here.  Jones Cilmaenan, Wm. Jones TyCoch, David Pugh and their families, Wm. And Margaret Rowlands, John and Jane Rowlands were members or attended church here.  S. D. James joined the church by letter from Cambria in the same year.  The memory of these people who planted the good seed in this corner of the Mastery is a precious inheritance.

Prayer meeting was held every week, and every Friday afternoon Class meeting, society or a fellowship meeting was held and the members and their children were expected to attend.  A large group of children were excused from the day school on Friday afternoon – often much to the disgust of the teacher – to attend this meeting.  We children enjoyed coming to church a troop of us together, and when the school bell rang for the afternoon session we started for church and were prepared to repeat a verse of scripture supposed to be a new one each week while the class leader or someone appointed by him would listen to them, make comments, and apply them to every day life.

The only book used in Sunday School was the Bible, after a child had learned to read; and usually we read verse about, taking up the whole Bible beginning where we had left off the Sunday before, the teacher asking questions and commenting as we proceeded.  This method in addition to the home reading of the Bible around the family altar, which no one thought of neglecting, I think, gave the young people a wonderful foundation on which to build character and furnished a fine standard of behavior and citizenship.  My first S.S. teacher was Thomas H. Evans, a kindly scholarly man who I shall always remember gratefully.  Wm. Edmunds taught a class of girls, to which class I belonged for a long time.  He was an excellent teacher.  I had the pleasure of hearing his grandson and namesake preach at my home church a short time ago.  John E. Jones Park was one of the teachers which I remember well.  A teachers’ meeting was held every month and teachers were changed about often – I do not remember ever having a woman teacher while I attended S. S. in Bethesda.  The time has long since passed by when ones piety can be measure by the length of this face, and it has been well said that one does not need to be stupid in order to be good.   There is but little virtue in “simply being good”,  one must needs be good for something if one wishes to be counted; for there is real work needing to be done.  A live, red blooded Christian will find plenty of opportunities for real service – always needed and rated above par.  I have yet to meet that person who does not respect and honor a genuine Christian.   It is the sham – the pretender, the hypocrite and the namby pamby kind, — that are ridiculed and not the real advocate of Christ’s teaching.  The kind St. Paul speaks of:

Phil. 4:8  Finally, Brethren

Whatsoever things are true,

Whatsoever things are just,

Whatsoever things are pure,

Whatsoever things are lovely,

Whatsoever things are of good report,

If there are any virtue and if there by any praise

Think on these things.

If there be any virtue and if there by any praise think on these things.  This kind of Christian is always appreciated and rated to its full value.  I feel that I owe much to this church and am glad to pay a little tribute of appreciation and gratitude to those who have labored here and so are as they were able helped to make this church a success.  My fondest hope and prayer is that the people of Bethesda and all other churches may hear and heed the divine commission Forward – Onward, Christian Soldiers, and such a blessing as God gave to Abraham.  I will bless these and thou shalt be a blessing, will apply to the church and to its people.  We must be sure that God is with us and that in our inmost soul we possess the spirit of the Christ.

I thank you.



Recollections of David Price, 1925

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.

Newspaper Photo1

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.”

Christian Endeavor PartyThe 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.

View ca 1915The 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.

A History of the Bethesda Presbyterian Church (Excerpts)

by Rex W. Minckler (1964)

Christian Endeavor PartyIn the spring of 1840 John Hughes and his wife, with their six children left Wales and sailed for America.  They had no special destination in America but were venturesome enough to push farther west than any other of their countrymen had gone, up to that time.  When crossing Lake Erie the Hughes met a Reverand Moses Ordway, a pastor of a Presbyterian Church in South Prairieville, a settlement about four miles southwest of the present City of Waukesha.  He recommended his area as a desirable place for settlement.  After a period of exploring the countryside, the Hughes family settled on land in the north half of section 2, town of Genessee.  Here by dint of hard labor, endurance, and suffering many hardships and privations, they developed one of the productive as well as one of the beautiful farms in Waukesha County and gave it the name of Lime Brook.  John Hughes of Lime Brook, and family, were the first permanent Welsh settlers to enter Wisconsin territory and the first to settle in Waukesha County.

Soon other Welsh settlers followed and at the close of 1842 there were 99 Welsh people in the Welsh community of Waukesha County.  It would be safe to say that 90% of this community lived with 5 miles of the intersection of the present Highways of 18 and 83.

The first settlers, John Hughes of Lime Brook farm, and his family attended worship at the Congregational Church in Prairieville, now Waukesha.  In like manner a number of other families also attended services in Prairieville, usually traveling by ox cart.  In 1842 the Welsh colony was large enough and the Welsh sentiment strong enough to demand religious services in their mother tongue.  The Jerusalem Church, now located in the village of Wales, was started in the summer of 1842.  The first meeting was held in a barn on a nearby farm.

The Bethesda Church Society was started in the home of another John Hughes in 1845.  This second Welshman by the name of John Hughes had arrived with his family in this community the year before in 1844.  They had settled on land in sections 11 and 12, Town of Genesee, in the Bethesda neighborhood, and had given their farm home the name of “Cilmaenan” after Mrs. Hughes family home in Wales.  This name was later translated into “Keystone”, the nearest English equivalent…

Church services were held in the Cilmaenan home for about nine years.  Then, in 1854, John Hughes and family moved to Oshkosh and the Cilmaenan church services were continued in the home of David Jones, of Park Farm, for 3 years…

On the evening of March 6, 1857 the Cilmaenan Church Society held an important business meeting at the Park Farm.  They met to decide the question of building a church.  The membership of the church society then was 28 adults and 24 children.  It was agreed that a church would be built.  It was to be located on what is now [in 1964] the southeast corner of highways DE and DT…  Land for the building was donated by Mr. Thomas R. Price…The size of the church building itself was to be 20 feet by 24 feet by 12 feet high, was to face the east… It was also agreed at this time to change the name of the Cilmaenan Church Society to Bethesda Church.

On March 20, 1857, another business meeting was held at the Park Farm.  According to the minutes of this meeting, which were recorded in Welsh in the church record book,…it was decided that another John Hughes was to build the church according to the specifications.  This is the third John Hughes that we have referred to.  No information is available as to his family connections but it is believed he is of no relation to the other two John Hughes.  He is referred to in the records as John Hughes, the Carpenter, and apparently lived somewhere in the Welsh Community.

His contract and signature to build the church in accordance with the specifications is a part of the minutes of this meeting held on March 20, 1957.  He would be paid $90…The church trustees were to furnish the material and build the foundation and chimney and plaster it.  They were to pay Mr. Hughes expenses to Milwaukee to purchase some of the lumber and supplies.  The church frame was to be of oak, and timbers for this were to be donated by those who had them.  White oak trees were cut and donated by four of the members.  Another member was to hew them.  Some of the logs were to be taken to the Saylesville (then South Genesee) sawmill to be sawed into the desired pieces of lumber.  This church building cost about $300, and was used for 20 years.

During this period it was the practice for the men and women to enter and leave the church through separate doors, and to sit on separate sides of the church.  There was another old rule that church members must marry church members but this rule was dropped at an early date.

The congregation flourished and expanded until the little “shoe box” church was too small to accommodate them.  In 1877 the membership was 40 adults and 45 children and it was that year that a new and larger church was built and occupied.

View ca 1915That is the church being used today except for some alterations and additions… In 1876 a building program had been instigated by the church members.  In 1877 a plot of land was purchased from the Price family for $60, and the present church was built at a total cost of about $3,000.  The builder and contractor was Mr. Griff D. Evans; the carpenter assisting him was Mr. Harry Evans.

Sanctuary From the Back1The pulpit and pews were built at the same time and are those now in use.  The pews were patterned after those of the original Congregational Church of Waukesha, and the pulpit after the pulpit of the original Baptist Church of Waukesha.  The Gothic  Arch design has been used in the construction of the church windows, the carved designs on the pulpit, the ends of the pews and other items.  It is said that the builders worked all of a Saturday night in order to have the walnut pulpit finished for the opening service the next day.  The small Gothic Arch designs were carved by hand, and today this pulpit is considered in the antique category… According to church records, a pulpit bible and silver dishes for the Sacrament were purchased at the time…

In 1878, the year following the building of the present Bethesda Church, Reverend R.H. Evans became the first regularly installed pastor.  Since that year, Bethesda Church and Jerusalem Church at Wales have always formed a joint pastorate  [until 2005]. Until this time, Welsh ministers preached here, there, and elsewhere according engagements previously arranged.  It is natural that the ministry in this community followed the system in vogue in their native Wales.  The early ministers preached in all the churches in the community but were attached to no church as an installed pastor.  Ordinarily, a minister would occupy the pulpit in one church on a Sunday morning and preach in another in the afternoon.  Thus, each minister, in turn, preached in all the churches on the circuit.  They were called circuit preachers.

These early circuit preachers or circuit riders were paid from 25 cents to $1.00 per sermon and rode horse back from church to church.  During the week they often worked upon farms or at some trade.  Evening services were seldom held in the early days.  From the beginning of Bethesda Church in 1845 until this year of 1878 there had been a total of eight circuit preachers who served this church.

Also in 1878, a long carriage or horse and buggy shed was built on the south side of the church grounds.  This was a shed with a wooden roof, open on the east side, and with masonry and stone walls enclosing the other three sides.  The stone walls still exist along one side of the present parking lot.  With the window openings in the walls one might imagine they are the walls of an ancient fort with open ports for the cannon.  The shed roofs were dismantled in 1953 and the lumber was sold for $266.

Newspaper PhotoDuring the 87 years following the construction of this church building many changes gradually took place.  This has been necessary to keep the church abreast of changes in our mode of living and religious needs.  The kerosene lamps were replaced with acetylene light, then with electricity.  The wood stoves were replaced with coal stoves, which in turn were replaces by the coal furnace and then the oil furnace.  The foot pedal organ was replaced by the piano, which in turn has been partially replaced by the electric organ.  Many items of furnishings and equipment have been purchased, donated, or acquired through legacies or memorial funds during these years… The Roy Anderson Memorial Windows of cathedral glass were installed and dedicated in 1964.

From the early days of the church when the Welsh language was first used exclusively, the gradual change to English took place.  This started first in the Sunday School.  In the early 1900’s the classes, except for some for the adults, where in English with some attempt to teach the young people the Welsh language.  Gradually the church services changed to English with one Welsh service a month.  Many of the old song books and bibles in the Welsh language are still in possession of the church.  Some are on display in the glass historical case.

Most of the old church record books have been preserved also.  The last entry in these books in the Welsh language was in 1915.  In 1922 one adult Sunday School class was still held in the Welsh language, but shortly afterward was discontinued.  About the same time the last Welsh monthly church service was held.

On May 18, 1919 the church members voted for their church – which was still a part of the Calvinistic Methodist or Welsh Presbyterian denomination – to unite with the English Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. This took place in 1920.

In 1926 additions of the enclosed stairway to the basement and an extension of the rear part of the church were made.  These were dedicated at ceremony on May 2, 1926.

Bethesda Presbyterian Church is proud of its unique and interesting old Welsh Heritage, and the important part it played in the early development of Waukesha County.  Today it is an active and progressive small country church – located only 3 or 4 miles from Waukesha – striving to be an asset in the religious life of all people who enter its doors…

Freeman PhotoWhile a few descendants of these of these early founders are numbered among the members and friends of the church, there are now found many people of other nationality backgrounds active in carrying on its mission.  It is to these newer people that this little story about Bethesda Church is dedicated with a hope they will find it helpful in their thrilling experience in living a part of this actual history.

History in Brief

“A church bears, sometimes for generations, the impress made by the original settlers, and no department of historical investigation possesses greater interest than that connected with research along this line.  Even when the group of pioneers and some of the descendents have passed beyond, there still remains something to indicate the character of these early Welsh namely the Bethesda Church…”

                               Rev.  John Pugh Jones, [ Pastor  from 1925 to 1936]

Christian Endeavor Party1845 – Founded as Cilmaenan Sunday School of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist denomination.

Services were held in the home of John Hughes on Cilmaenan Farm for the first 9 years.  The Welsh name Cilmaenan derived from Cil (stone) and Maen (architecturally, a corner or angle) was later anglicized to the name “Keystone Farm.”  The first minister was Rev. William T. Williams, a Circuit Preacher.

In 1851, the Milwaukee Railroad laid track near the site of the future church building, a modernization that would later provide quite the inconvenience when they decided to detach the church’s road from Sunset Avenue at the tracks for safety reasons.  Now we may be more off the beaten path, but our little cul de sac is quiet and cozy.

More circuit preachers came through, the Rev. Daniel Jenkins in 1852, the Rev. Thomas Rice in 1853.  In 1854, they moved worship to the home of David Jones of Parc Farm where services of the living room congregation continued for three more years.

1857 – First church built on the corner of Sunset and  Bethesda Church Road, although it wasn’t called that back then.  That was when they chose the name Bethesda.  The church members numbered just 28, with 24 children attending on Sundays as well.  That building ended up storing  grain as part of a member’s  farm when the church history was written up in 1963.

1876 – The present building was finished by builder G.D. Evans.  The pulpit and the pews were made at the same time and are still in use (with the additional cushioned upholstery on the seats).  The pulpit was patterned after the one in use in Waukesha’s Baptist Church, while the pews were modeled after those of the local Congregational Church.  A year later they had installed Rev. R. H. Jones as their first pastor.  He provided for them and Jerusalem Church in Wales and the two Welsh Heritage Churches remained yoked until 2005.

“The early pastors it is related preached for twenty-five cents a sermon.  Week days they worked upon farms.  Early pastors rode on horseback to the church.  Lunch was brought for them by church goers before they left to preach at Jerusalem.”

                                Rev.  John Pugh Jones, [ Pastor  from 1925 to 1936]

View1964In 1919, on April 9th, they installed a new piano purchased with the help of $300 legacy left by Mrs. S. D. James.  Following close upon the heels of this musical miracle, the congregation voted, on May 18th to unite with the Great English Presbyterian Church.  This was a change because the Welsh, unlike other immigrants, hoped to create a new community as well as a new home in the New World.  They didn’t assimilate as readily as other cultures.  They tried to keep their language and marry their own kind, and brought their resentment of English oppression with them.  Sunday School classes continued to be taught in Welsh at Bethesda until 1925, or so the story goes.