of the


First Methodist Episcopal Church


Sacramento, California









For not like kingdoms of the world

Thy holy church, O God!

Though earthquake shocks are threatening her,

And tempests are abroad;

Unspoken as eternal hills,

Immovable she stands,

A mountain that shall fill the earth,

A house not made with hands.”



Observed from December 1st to December 8th



Pages 38-72




Pastors and Builders During the Last Fifty Years


      We have limited the First Messengers and Builders to the years leading up to the beginning of the last fifty years of the history of this church. The first period, that of the early planting, end with the first pastorate of Rev. J. W. Ross. The second period, that of the last half century, begins with the pastorate of Rev. J. D. Blain.


Rev. J. D. Blain, D. D., 1859-’61


      Rev. J. W. Ross was followed by the Rev. J. D. Blain, who carried on the building project to completion. Dr. Blain was a large man physically, and had a big heart. He was a pastor whose fidelity had few equals. He was affable to all men, of every station, and drew men, of every station, and drew men to his ministry who could not be drawn by preachers of greater genius. He was quick to see what was wanted, and very wise to plan for the necessity. He was very zealous in carrying out his plans. He was a native of New Jersey, joining the New Jersey Conference in 1842, and came to the California Conference in 1852. The most herculean task of his life is said to have been the building of Howard Street Church, San Francisco. His health there began to fail. He could truthfully say, “The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up.” Before he superannuated and returned East, he succeeded in planting Central Church, San Francisco. Before he passed to his eternal crown, his last words to his brethren, it is said, were characteristic of him: “Tell them Methodism needs to be worked, not mended.”

      The following very valuable piece of history touching Dr. Blain’s pastorate, is taken from the files of the “Sacramento Daily Union,” Monday, May 14, 1860:

City Intelligence

“Dedication of the Sixth Street Methodist Episcopal Church.


      “After many months of such trials and anxieties as only small congregations that pledge themselves to large undertakings can know, the First Methodist Society in this city yesterday witnessed the crowning triumph of their zeal and devotion in the dedication of their noble edifice on Sixth street to the service of Almighty God. This society, or congregation, was organized in 1849, and is the second oldest one in the city. For several years they worshipped in a wooden building on Seventh street, but about two years since they proceeded to put into execution their long-cherished plans of erecting an edifice worthy of their religion, worthy of themselves and of their city. Accordingly they disposed of their old Seventh street building to the Hebrews, and with small funds, entirely inadequate, as we learn, to the task which they set about, laid the plans and commenced the construction of the present edifice. The work of bringing it to completion probably tried the faith, patience and pecuniary abilities of the congregation as sorely as ever a body of Christian engaged in a similar cause, in a new country, was tried before. But they have come out of their struggle handsomely, and yesterday they attested their joy and gratitude by filling the new temple to overflowing, and joining with fervor in the exercises by which it was consecrated to Divine service. And well may the Methodists rejoice on the consummation of their purpose. The new church is one of the finest edifices in the State. Its dimensions are 52 feet front by about 100 feet in depth, and the style of architecture is a pure Gothic. It will have a spire 150 feet in height. The whole cost of the building when completed will be about $23,000, though the society has thus far laid out about $17,000 in its creation. The interior is perfectly plain, the walls being white and hard-finished. The ceiling is crossed at wide intervals by oak imitation ties and rafters. The windows are high and Gothic shaped. Indeed, all of the interior as well as exterior proportions of the building denote a correct architectural taste and a refined regard for the harmonies of the place of worship.

            “A platform, in which stands a very plain curtained desk, extends along the western end of the church, and on the right of this is an enclosed space set off for the choir. Over the main entrance, at the opposite end, is a space left for an organ, and a gallery will also be added to this part of the church. The pews or slips are comfortable, and will seat about 800 persons. The fronts of the pews are Gothic ornamental, painted in imitation of black walnut. Yesterday was a beautiful day, and the streets were full of church-going people making their way to the various places of Divine worship. The dedicatory exercises were announced to take place at the usual hour (half-past 10 a.m.), but it was something later when they commenced. The choir (three male and four female voices) sang a voluntary: ‘The Lord Will Comfort Zion.’ It was followed by the entrance of the pastor of the church, Rev. J. D. Blain, and the officiating clergymen, Dr. J. T. Peck, of San Francisco, and J. S. Phillips, Principal of the Santa Clara University. On the Rev. Doctor taking his place at the desk, A. Henley, one of the Trustees, as well as the architect and builder of the church, came forward and read the following announcement: ‘Rev. Sir: In behalf of the Trustees I present you this house, to be dedicated to the worship and service of Almighty God.’


“Dr. Peck then gave out the 909th hymn, which was sung by the choir and congregation, as follows:


And will the great eternal God

On earth establish His abode?

And will he, from His radiant throne,

Avow our temples for His own?


We bring the tribute of our praise,

And sing that condescending grace,

Which to our notes will lend an ear,

And call us sinful mortals near.


These walls we to Thy honor raise,

Long may they ocho to Thy praise;

And Thou, descending, fill the place

With choicest tokens of Thy grace.


And in the great, decisive day,

When God the nations shall survey,

May it before the world appear

That crowds were born to glory here!


“Rev. J. D. Blain followed the singing by a prayer of deep earnestness and power, the Rev. J. S. Phillips taking up the exercises at its close by reading a portion of 2nd Chron. 6 - Solomon’s prayer of consecration in the Temple. The choir then sang an anthem, “Arise, O Lord,” and Dr. Peck proceeded to deliver the dedicatory discourse. The portion of Scripture which furnished the theme for the reverend gentleman’s very eloquent and earnest effort is the 145 Ps. as follows:

(Then follows the Psalm.)

“The psalm furnished for contemplation the sovereignty of God, which the speaker unfolded in successive themes, showing, first, the Divine authority, and the conformity of our highest reason with its behests, at the same time that the conditions of God’s government and plan of grace recognized man’s freedom; second, the Divine love, first in itself, of which the speaker presented a grand conception, illustrating its fullness and vastness, and next in its manifestations to man, exhibiting in a strain of pure eloquence and deep impressiveness the greatness of the mediatorial sacrifice; third, the Divine glory and power; and lastly, the majesty of the Divine Godhead. Though we had taken notes of the discourse, we should despair of doing justice in a synopsis, and must pass over the worthy Doctor’s effort, simply by remarking that it was characterized by his usual clear and logical reasoning, forcible and beautiful illustration, and fervid manner, and was received with wrapt attention and evident delight on the part of the congregation. After he had commended the spirit of reverence shown for God’s government and gratitude evinced for his goodness, in the erection of this temple, he enjoined further conformity in the lives of his hearers to His gracious word, and concluded with the Dedicatory Prayer, the congregation rising and standing while prayer was being offered.

“The Devotional part of the exercises being over, Rev. J. D. Blain came forward and made a statement of the financial condition of the church. He set before his hearers the facts of the original cost of the building ($17,000), that there had been paid $8,500; there had been subscribed towards the payment of the balance, $1,000, leaving $7,500 to be collected. He hoped the collection today would realize $2,000, to which end he called for ten subscribers of $100 each. To facilitate the process of raising the amount, the pastor, assisted by Rev. Mr. Taylor and one or two officers of the church, took a stand in the separate aisles where they could confer with such as wished to donate, and in this way seven of the ten $100 subscriptions were obtained. A running fire of good-natured raillery and exhortation was in the meantime kept up between the pastor in the aisle and Dr. Peck at the desk. In the end it was found that the collection obtained first by hundreds, next by fifty dollar offerings (of which there were six), next by twenty dollar offerings, and lastly by plate, amounted to $1,300, leaving $6,200 to be raised. After collections, the Doxology was sung, and Dr. Peck pronounced the benediction, when the large audience, by this time somewhat thinned out by departures during the collection process, retired, satisfied not alone with the devotional exercises in which they had participated, but also with the successful manner in which they had discharged as part of their obligation in delivering the church from debt. In the evening the collection amounted to $700, which reduced the debt to $5,500.”

Bro. Bohl was present at this service, and says when they got down to the $10 subscription he was asked for one of them, and that he gladly gave it, though at that time he was neither a church member nor a Christian.

The following interesting items are gleaned from a letter written the author November 5, 1909, by Mrs. J. D. Blain, who now resides at Newark, N. J.:

Perhaps a little bit of history from one has a very vivid recollection of the events of those years may be of interest.

At the Conference of 1859, held in Petaluma, Mr. Blain was appointed to the pastorate of Sixth Street Church, Sacramento, to rescue it from the hands of its creditors, and complete the building. The walls were up and roof on. As the contractor, Geo. W. Knoedler, had failed, work was stopped for want of funds to pay the workmen.

The old church and parsonage on Seventh Street had been sold to the Jews. As the people had no place to worship, seats were borrowed and placed in the unfinished basement, and services were held there.

Mr. Blain took up the work with his accustomed zeal, assuming the responsibility of raising the money to pay the workmen and completing the building.

He told the brethren he would depend on the Sunday collections for his support, if they would raise all they could. He put the people under contribution collected every week, and paid the workmen Saturday night; and if he had not raised sufficient, his friend, A. K. Grimm, the banker, loaned him the balance.

To save expense, he made his study in the basement, slept there, thus bringing on a severe attack of fever which nearly cost him his life and retarded the work on the church.

In January, 1860, we were married, and my first work in the itinerancy was to engage with the ladies in a fair and supper, by which we realized over $500, which helped to finish the church, which was dedicated late in the spring.

To save expense of sexton, Mr. Blain proposed to several of the brethren - E. L. Barber, Bro. Lenoir and several others whose names I do not recall - to take his turn with them in the care of the church.

Congregations were large, a fine Sabbath School was gathered, and prosperity attended the work; till, at the end of the second year, Conference being held in the church, the itinerant wheel made another revolution, and he was stationed at Folsom Street Church, San Francisco, to engage in establishing that church on higher ground, under the new name of Howard Street.

To the work in Sacramento and San Francisco, Mr. Blain gave the best of himself; and it was with a sad heart that, by the advice of physicians, he was obligated to bid farewell, in 1865, to the land he loved so well. In 1876, after a brave struggle with disease, he responded to the call of the Master to “come up higher,” and left us to enter into the enjoyments of heavenly life.

I do not know if any of those early members are still living. Peter Bohl was in the German church.

To all, whether new or old, I send greeting! May the Lord bless you in your work to the gathering into His kingdom of many precious souls! Yours in Christian sympathy.          (MRS.) CAROLINE M. BLAIN.


Rev. Jesse T. Peck, D. D., 1861-‘63


Rev. Jesse T. Peck, afterwards Bishop, became a member of the California Conference, 1855. He was noted as a celebrated preacher and writer. He served churches in the Conference well, and filled in the office of Presiding Elder with ability. He exercised great influence in the State till he was transferred East to New York, and was later made Bishop. He is remembered as a good-natured, jolly friend, and a preacher of big heart. He kept close tab on the business men of the city and made his rounds among them, and they gladly welcomed and responded to his visits in a material way for the church. (1863-66, see page 26).


Rev. J. W. Ross, D. D., 1866-’69

Some snapshots from Quarterly Conference reports:

November 17, 1866 - Pastor reports not able to visit the school on H street on account of meeting at same time of Sixth street school. This was the year of H street church was made a part of Sixth street church. Received on probation: G. W. Marsh, S. M. Kiefer, Belle Henley, Amelia Walter, Aden Hudson.

February 9, 1867 - Two Sunday Schools in the charge, both in a prosperous condition. The average attendance of Sixth street is nearly 200, and that on H street, 50.

Protracted services three weeks. Engaged in union services under labor of Rev. A. B. Earle, with Congregational, Presbyterian, and Baptist, wonderfully blest, forty-five received by probation. By letter, Mrs. B. B. Hinman, Peter C. Miller and others.

August 30, 1867 - Received by letter, Abbie Fountain, Mrs. C. J. Pike, W. B. Root, David Carley. Received from probation, G. W. Marsh, S. N. Kiefer, John L. Kiefer, Belle Henley, Israel Luce, James C. Coleman, Maria Coleman, Sarah Longton, Amelia Walter, Clara Henley, Peter Bohl, Chas. H. Stevens, Carrie Stevens, L. Edgar Smith, L. S. Taylor, R. K. Wick, Mary Wick, W. B. Burlingame, Lucy Miller, John L. Huntoon, Charlotte P. Huntoon - 29 in all.

At same Quarterly Conference, “Resolved that this Conference request the Annual Conference to make a separate charge of the society formerly known as the H Street Charge.” Resolution lost. Stewards: C. S. Haswell, M. S. Hurd, H. L. Templeton, B. F. Pike, J. P. Thompson, A. Henley, Wm. Walter, Jas. Coleman, S. M. Kiefer. Trustees: B. R. Sweetland, Sylvester Tryon, Peter Bohl. Trustees requested to reincorporate. Bro. Ross’ return asked, also next session of California Annual Conference to meet at Sixth Street Church.

January 4, 1868 - One S. S. reported with 270 scholars.

March 21, 1868 - A vacancy being made by transfer of J. P. Thompson to H Street Charge, J. L. Huntoon was elected to Board of Stewards.


The following interesting letter was received by the author from Dr. Ross, and it makes a valuable addition to this book:

November 9, 1909.

Sacramento was my first home in California, and supplies many delightful and many saddening remembrances. It is hard for me to realize that fifty-two years have passed since I first set foot in that city, and that nearly all those whom I then met have gone to another world.

The hearty cordiality with which the Official Board of our church received me in a body, the morning of my arrival in the city, went a long way to reconciling me to the wide contrast between charges I had been filling in Ohio, and that new charge, is a new and very peculiar country. The temporal outfit consisted of a small parsonage and a plain frame church building, lined on the inside with cloth and paper, with no room besides an auditorium. Upon that property there was a debt of several hundred dollars, the remnant of what would have crushed a less heroic band. The property was located on the east side of Seventh street, about the middle of the block bounded on the north by L street and on the south by M street. The church building was probably sixty feet long and thirty or forty feet wide, and all rigidly plain.

During my first year the entire debt was cancelled; and during the second year the chapel was sold for a synagogue, and the present church building begun on Sixth street, and we were worshiping in the unfinished basement when Conference met, and the limit of my pastorate, at that time, was at hand.

Rev. John D. Blain succeeded me, and a more fitting man could not have been chosen for the work which was in hand. Sad to tell, however, a fearful back-set had been given to the church-building enterprise just before the session of Conference, by the building contractor being unable to proceed with his job. The new pastor had this fearful obstacle to encounter at the beginning of his administration. With undaunted courage, he braved the situation and closed two years of most praiseworthy success. It is no discredit to his wisdom, skill, and ceaseless devotion to his work, that he - under all the circumstances- was compelled to close his pastorate leaving a heavy debt upon the property.

His successor was Dr. Jesse T. Peck. His pastorate of two years, from 1861 to 1863, was during the darkest days Sacramento ever saw; and it does not seem to me that any other available man could have conducted the Sixth Street Church through the disastrous results of the flood of 1861 and 1862.

Dr. Peck was succeeded by Dr. Martin C. Briggs, who was permitted by General Conference action to remain three years, which he did with the hearty approbation of the people. During his three years there was a slow recovery of hope for the future of the city to a healthy prosperity, but it required sacrifice and persevering courage and faith on the part of the heroic church to hold their own in the face of the flood disaster of 1861 and 1862. With skillful planning, constant self-denial, and unflagging (sic) effort, they were able to meet their monthly outflow of more than one hundred dollars for interest. This had been going on for seven years when the Conference of 1866 met in the City of San Jose, Bishop Kingsley presiding.


At that Conference, to my surprise, the Presiding Elder of the Sacramento District, Adam Bland, proposed me for the next pastor of the Sixth Street charge, and the Bishop with inflexible tenacity insisted upon that arrangement. When I thought of the burden that church was struggling under, and, of my utter unfitness, as it seemed to me, to help it out, I was almost overwhelmed with fear to engage in such a hopeless undertaking. I came nearer rebelling against Episcopal authority than on any other occasion in my life.


The fiery trial that I endured in view of my appointment to Sixth Street on account of their financial burden, and my conscious inability to help them, ended in a clear perception, after a careful self-examination, that I was trying to walk by sight, and not by faith. I saw that if I really believed that I was in God’s hands, and that it was His plan for me to go to that work, a supposition that I could not lightly set aside, in view of the fact that the Bishop and his entire cabinet, myself excepted (I being one of the Presiding Elders at that time), insisted was their conviction, I would be in danger of taking myself out of God’s hands by refusing. Did I really believe the Lord Jesus would be to true to His promise, and be with all those who obeyed His command, by going to every open field and teaching people to observe all the things which He has commanded? My heart rebellion gave way to a deep conviction that I had been preaching with more reliance upon myself than upon the promises of God. I was greatly humbled by a realization of the fact that my only sufficiency for doing the work to which I claimed to have been called, was not eloquence, learning, or any human accomplishment, important as these things might be, as adjuncts, but the accompanying presence, guidance and power of the Spirit who gave me my commission.


My mental and spiritual conflict ended in my going to Sixth Street, relying upon God as never before; with a very clear persuasion that the work assigned me was His work, and that I was His chosen messenger to conduct that work for Him.


The cordiality with which the people received me, gave such courage and strength of faith as surprised me.


It is with unspeakable gratitude that I can record the fact, though a personal reproach, that God went beyond the bounds of my faith. I had not been many weeks in my charge until there were evident signs that we needed to hold extra week-night services for enquirers. A number were brought into a knowledge of saving grace, and the general membership was greatly refreshed.


About that time great interest began to be attracted to the advent of the noted Evangelist from Boston, Rev. A. B. Earl, who had begun laboring in San Francisco. The happy results of his labors in San Francisco absorbed the religious interest of Christians all over the State. The evangelical ministers of Sacramento united in an invitation to the Evangelist to conduct union revival services in Sacramento. The invitation was accepted, and services begun near the close of December, 1866, and was conducted for about three weeks, accompanied by heavy rain from beginning to end. The first service was on Monday evening, and the rain was so heavy that the congregation could not have been more than forty, if so many.

Bro. Earl’s first sermon was founded upon the words of Jesus, “Have faith in God.” He explained and emphasized the difference between faith in God and faith in appearances, or faith in the visible and faith in the invisible. It was just what I needed. Among the important things said by him was the fact that a rainy night and a small congregation need be no back-set to a faith that took in the fact that the kingdom of grace and the kingdom of nature were both in God’s hands, and that He could use “stormy winds to fulfill His word.” That sermon was really the keynote to all his sermons, and it was for me a stinging rebuke that my faith was still a long way below par.


The results of that meeting, in my behalf, was a great spiritual uplift which has not yet passed away. The results upon the churches and people can never be estimated by finite minds. The visible results, in part, was an addition to the roll of members on the probation list in the Sixth Street Church of some sixty or seventy. The Congregational, the Baptist, and the Presbyterian Churches were said to have had a fair proportional increase of members.


Very few of our probationers failed to be received into full connection at the end of six months.


What about the burdensome debt that had for years been a heavy clog upon the feet of all progress? A noble trio of women had for years been depended upon to provide the arrearage, after plate collections and pew rent had been expended in meeting current expenses. Those women were Mrs. Sweetland, Mrs. Carley and Mrs. Heacock. One, and probably all three of these godly women have gone to their final reward.


The long and hard struggle which those women, and the whole church with many of the citizens, had endured was growing distressingly monotonous.


I had been in pastoral charge of the church about seven months before I gave public attention to anything outside of the spiritual interests of the church or people. At the end of that time I called a meeting of all the officials of the church and all its friends for the consideration of the church’s present and future usefulness. To my surprise, we had a large attendance. After referring briefly to our financial condition, and its unpleasant feature, I stated the fact that it seemed imperative that something should be done at once to relieve the church of some of her financial embarrassment. I referred to the fact that I had given my time and energies wholly to the spiritual interests of the church and people, and had found more than I could do satisfactorily. I then said that something must be done, but if I turned aside from the spiritual to the secular, it would be a violation of both Apostolic and Methodist policy in all cases except when necessity required it. At first the Apostles took in hand the secular interests of the Church, as well as the spiritual, but we are told that “when the number of the disciples was multiplied,” they said to the Church: “it is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables.” They then requested the selection of seven men, whom they might appoint over the secular business of the Church, while they “gave themselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:2-4.)


The Methodist Church, in order to be in accord with the Apostles, has provided by statutory law for two boards, called Stewards and Trustees, to make it possible for Pastors “to give themselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” in Apostolic style. The question to be decided at once was to say whether my time in the immediate future was to be devoted to the temporal interests of the Church, a calling for which I had neither inclinations nor capacity, or as in the past to give myself to spiritual interests.


Having stated the case, I left those present to decide the question after due consideration. To my surprise, someone, without a word of discussion or suggestion, offered a motion that the Pastor should be allowed to continue, as in the past, to give his whole attention to the spiritual interests of the Church, and that others should take in hand measures for relieving the Church from her present financial embarrassment. I then said that remarks would be in order; but the question was called for, put and carried without one dissent.


I then called for a committee to take the business in hand, and Peter Bohl, John L. Huntoon and Mr. Tryon were appointed.


The Official Board gave their consent at that time for me to be absent from my charge for two weeks in order to assist the pastor of Virginia City in a protracted service which he was conducting, and had made a most earnest appeal for my help. I went, and on my return found that the committee which had been appointed to look after the financial interests of the church, had obtained good subscriptions and cash to reduce the claims upon the church for interest for more than one hundred dollars per month to not much over thirty. That amount was easily provided for, and the church had a fair field for future prosperity.


Nearly forty-three years have passed since the events just referred to transpired, and few of those who were permitted to have part in laying the foundations of the succeeding prosperous growth of the Sixth Street Church are left, where planting for eternity may be done. The two chief factors in the great temporal uplift which was given the church at the time referred to, still remain where treasures may be laid up in heaven. How many others remain I known not, but they must be few. That the two remain among us is a source of joy to many beyond the limits of Sacramento.


From my present viewpoint, and for forty years, my heartfelt thanks ascend to my ever-blessed Savior for sending me to Sixth Street Church against my will; and for sending Bro. A. B. Earl to my relief and unspeakable up building in spiritual life, as well as having been an instrument for the saving of scores.


And now, after having far exceeded my intended limits, probably to the regret of many, these fragramentary reminiscences must end with sudden abruptness, so as not to further overtax patience, with the parting assurance to Pastor and people that Sixth Street Church has a place in my affections as deep as life, and I am sure will be as lasting as eternity. 



Rev. J. H. Wythe, D. D., 1869-’70


Dr. Joseph Henry Wythe was appointed pastor of First Church in 1869. He was the principal transfer to the California Conference in 1863. He was a native of Manchester, England, born in 1822, and came with his parents to Philadelphia in 1832. He came from a family that was old and full of interest. It is said his ancestor, John Wythe, gave the largest subscription to Queen Elizabeth for national defence (sic) against the Spanish Armada. One of the family went to Virginia with Sir Walter Raleigh, and another was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.


His religious life dates from 1835, when he was received into the Mariner’s Bethel Church, which church had led him to Christ. His conversion was clear and with it came the Divine call to preach the Gospel of Christ. Dr. Wythe was a natural born scholar, his bent being to scientific and literary pursuits. Though not a graduate of any college, several institutions of learning were proud to honor him with the degrees of M. D., D. D., LL D. He was an author of repute. He has filled the offices of pastor, physician, army surgeon, author and lecturer.


The following is taken from a letter by Dr. J. H. Wythe, Jr.:


In January, 1863, my father and family first arrived in Sacramento. The streets were still in a terrible condition as the result of the great flood. Father had been sent from the Army of the Potomac to be staff surgeon of General Wright, whose headquarters were in Sacramento. It may be of interest to state that we were chased by the “Alabama,” which captured the steamer preceding us, the “Ariel.” For several months father supplied the pulpit of the First Congregational Church in Sacramento, to the great satisfaction of the congregation. Overtures were made to him to enter the Congregational Church as pastor, which he declined. At this time California was nearly swept out of the Union. The four men in civil life who probably did most to save it from that calamity were, Governor Leland Stanford, Rev. Thomas Starr King, (of the Unitarian Church), Rev. M. C. Briggs and Rev. Jesse T. Peck. The last two were of the Methodist Episcopal Church. During this residence at Sacramento my father became intimate with Dr. Peck, afterwards Bishop, and also with Governor Stanford and other men who became leading figures in our Commonwealth. As soon as the danger of the secession of California from the Union had passed, my father resigned from the United States Army; and in September, 1863, was appointed pastor of our Powell Street M. E. Church (now First Church), at that time the leading Protestant church in San Francisco, which he served until called to the Presidency of the Willamette University in Oregon. Returning to California, he was appointed pastor of the Sixth Street Church in Sacramento, in 1869. On account of my mother’s sickness, father was compelled to leave Sacramento in September, 1870. During this pastorate life-long friendships were formed with the Bohls, Huntoons, Weltys, Phillips, Walters and others.


An item of interest. Sept. 11, 1869, Dr. M. F. Clayton was received by certificate; Bro. Bohl makes his first Trustee’s report; Dec. 21, 1869, Bro. Bohl elected steward to take the place vacated by B. F. Pike.


Rev. Henry B. Heacock, D. D., 1870-’73

Photo of Board Under Rev. Henry B. Heacock


Among the names of the preachers transferred into the California Conference in 1868, is that of Henry B. Heacock, one of the honored pastors of First Church. He was born in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, May 16, 1838. His parents were Quakers by birth and education, but became Methodists before his birth. Being early taught the way of the Lord, he early turned toward God and the Church. He graduated from the Iowa Wesleyan University in 1861. He has filled with dignity and efficiency the positions of pastor, Presiding Elder, Secretary of the Conference, member of the General Conference, Financial Agent of the University of the Pacific, and was one of the original incorporators of the Pacific Grove Retreat.


The following are some snapshots from this busy pastorate:


February 25, 1871 - Dr. C. S. Haswell was reported as recommended by the Stewards and Leaders for license to preach. The report was adopted and license ordered. The pastor reported: “The Mission School has been discontinued for reasons sufficient to justify so doing, namely, that all the scholars have either died or could attend other schools, and the draft for rent money and labor is in excess of the profits derived. Under these circumstances, could a room be secured and a Mission School established in the southern part of the city, good could be done. The Chinese School has enjoyed its usual prosperity. The Children’s Saturday Class is still continued with profit.”


June 12, 1871- The pastor reported: “The past has been a quarter of unusual events and deeply interesting ones. The regular services of the sanctuary have been interrupted by a series of at least apparently providential circumstances. Three were occupied by the Tabernacle meetings, one Sabbath by a Union meeting with D. L. Moody; another with Dr. Vincent, and one morning service for the dedication of the Kingsley Chapel. The Chinese School continues with a good deal of interest, which is now giving promise of more permanent success.” Bohl, Pike and Huntoon were appointed a committee to procure a place for holding the Annual Conference.


October 22, 1871 - The Chinese School is in a more prosperous condition than for some time. The Superintendent, Bro. Kiefer, deserves, as he receives, your cordial sympathy, prayers and practical support.


November 13, 1871 - Board recommended the organization of a young people’s choir. Dr. Haswell moved that the choir be permitted to change its location to the rear of the church.


December 11, 1871 - A committee from the Ladies’ Aid Society was appointed to cushion the pews in the church.


Sample of Leaders and Stewards’ meeting of that day:


Sacramento, January 22, 1872.


The Leaders and Stewards’ meeting met, Bro. Heacock presiding. Present: Bros. Phillips, Walter, Bohl, J. C. Stubbs, Huntoon and Taylor. Then follows the amounts collected from the classes, amounts paid the pastor, new members recommended.


July 8, 1872 - Littleton, Walter and Taylor appointed a Committee on District Campmeeting. August 5, 1872 - Ordered that a tent be rented at the camp meeting, to be called Sixth Street Tent, at cost of $6. September 16, 1872 - The Conference year closed with obligations met, church out of debt, Pastor and Presiding Elder paid in full, and $92.42 to commence the new year. September 30, 1872 - Bros. Bohl, Huntoon, Leete and Walter, with the Pastor as chairman, appointed a committee to report on repairs necessary for the church. October 14, 1872 - The report of the above committee received and adopted. Bros. Bohl, Welty, Kiefer and Huntoon a committee to get the money. March 17, 1873 - On motion of Bro. Welty, a committee of Dr. H. B. Heacock, A. Henley, Peter Bohl, Welty and Gallatin be appointed to propose plans for the improvement of the church and to report to the Official Board. April 21, 1873 - it was moved that a memorial service be held in the memory of Rev. Eleazer Thomas, D. D., who was killed April 11th by the Modoc Indians, while on a mission of peace to them. Sisters L. E. Taylor, E. S. Cummings and M. Stubbs appointed a Committee of Decorations. April 28, 1873 - The Building Committee was instructed to procure an architect for the purpose of providing plans for the improvements of the church. May 23d - The pastor reported subscriptions for improvements, $6,000. The committee was instructed to proceed with the improvements. August 19, 1873 - Bros. Henley, Bohl, Taylor and Huntoon a committee to meet Bishop Jesse T. Peck at depot.


It was during H. B. Heacock’s pastorate that the church was furnished, raised to a higher grade, and had the present beautiful spire crown it all. Its original cost was about $25,000, and its completion cost $6,000 additional. It was during this pastorate that a debt of $3,250, the last end of the original expense of building, was raised by the pastor in a six weeks’ campaign.


Reminiscences by Dr. Heacock


I came to California in 1868. A two years’ pastorate in Grace Church (formerly Mission Street), San Francisco, was followed by the Conference in Stockton, September, 1870. Near the close of that session it was mentioned to me (in those days preachers were consulted very little about their appointments) that I was slated for Sixth Street, Sacramento. I was greatly stirred by the bare possibility when I learned the history of the church: The men of renown, pulpit ability and large experience who had served it. A young man, of limited experience as I was, shrank from the possibility of being sent there. In my private devotions the next morning the Scripture lesson contained these words, “Let my sentence come forth from Thy presence, and let Thine eyes behold the things that are equal.” This greatly encouraged me and I said this is what I most sincerely desire. A few months before this the Lord had brought me to an entire consecration in His service and granted me an anointing (sic) of the Holy Spirit and opening of the Holy Scriptures that quickened my whole being, and the influence of which abides to this day.


I was cordially received by the noble band of Christians composing the membership and loyally sustained during my three years’ pastorate, which was the legal limit. A gracious revival quickened the church and added a goodly number to the membership, several of whom have entered the haven of rest. David Deal was Presiding Elder when I was appointed. His time having expired, John B. Hill was his successor. My remembrance of these godly men is precious.


An unfinished and flood-marked church building and a heavy debt, which had defied efforts for its removal, and the need of a parsonage, presented problems difficult of solution.


The National Holiness Association, led by the intrepid J. D. Inskep, were invited to come to the Coast and hold a series of meetings, the responsibility of providing $2,000 for their expenses being assumed by Bro. Hill and his coworkers. The Plaza was granted for our use and a series of remarkable meetings was held, the blessed fruits of which greatly enriched the church and added a great number of useful members to this church. On the last Sunday of the meeting I was assigned the duty of raising the $800, which we felt was our honest share, and it was done.


A few months after this, in praying about the payment of the church debt, the suggestion came to me that if I could get three men to join in the payment of one thousand dollars, the remainder could be immediately secured. A few days after this Bro. Bohl came to me one Sunday evening in the church and said without my saying a word to him on the subject - nor had I mentioned my thoughts to anyone - that he was willing to be one of three to join in paying $1,000 of the debt. He suggested the names of J. L. Huntoon and G. W. Leet, a convert in the Plaza meeting (the same persons who had been impressed on my mind, but I did not mention them to him), as those who might join in the work. I saw Bro. Leet the next day and he saw Bro. Huntoon, each of whom agreed to join on conditions that the whole debt should be paid. Within two months from that time the last dollar was paid and the people were happy.


Before I closed my time of service we had raised the church, graded Sixth street from K to L, completed the tower, repaired and finished the whole building at an expense of $16,000. My time expired a few months before the reopening, but I had the responsibility with the Building Committee until December following, when the reopening services were conducted by Dr. F. F. Jewell and the writer. Nearly $11,000 had been subscribed and nearly all paid, leaving an indebtedness of $5,000.


Memories crowd upon me and plead for notice, but I must brush them aside, that other pastors may have space. Of my 41 years of ministry in California, none stand out in bolder relief or awaken tendered memories, that dear Sixth Street, Sacramento. Many have joined the redeemed hosts on the other side of the river, among them the two children given us while serving in your midst. The majority of those faithful and useful followers of the Master have gone to their reward. I would like to mention some of them and recall the names of others still working, but I dare not lest I might omit some more obscure but none the less dear to the Master.


I pray that the glory of the later years of this progressive and active church may far exceed that of the former: that its converts may multiply yearly; that the Missionary Boards may be enriched by its generous gifts; that its sons and daughters may add to the student body of your University of the Pacific, and that thousands of dollars may find their way into its treasury to aid its varied departments and increase its endowments.


Rev. A. M. Hough, D. D., 1873-’75


Rev. A. M. Hough had been a missionary in Montana before coming to California in 1869. He was appointed to First Church, Sacramento, 1873. When the Conference was divided he was in the Southern part of the State, and so his lot was east in that Conference. He was a man of good education, and splendidly equipped for the ministry. He took great interest in providing for the Conference Claimants, a work for which he deserves much praise.


December 7, 1873 - The time set for the dedication or reopening of the church was Sunday, December 21, 1873. December 15, 1873 - Decided to join in Union meeting with Kingsley Chapel under Mrs. Van Cott. April, 1874 - The report of Building Committee read and committee discharged with thanks. May 17, 1875 - The Committee endorsed the District Campmeeting proposition.


Mrs. A. M. Hough writes: “Our recollections of life in connection with the Sixth Street Church, Sacramento, have always been pleasant.  We left there when the Conference was divided. I have an article my husband wrote for the California Christian Advocate at the time the church was reopened, after extensive repairs the year we went there, which I thought might be of interest to you.”


Last Sunday was a high day with the Methodist here. The Sixth Street M. E. Church was one of the first, I believe the first church founded in this city. It has passed many vicissitudes, but I believe Methodist Churches never die. In this instance, at least, though the fire has consumed and the waters overflowed it, it exhibits today all the vigor and beauty of youth. The church edifice, in which this society has been worshipping for years, stands on Sixth street, between K and L. It was designed for a very fine church, but when the solid brick walls were up and the building enclosed, the funds failed and it was left incompleted, and it has remained in this condition all these years. But last June the work of reconstruction commenced, and now all is new but the bare walls. The basement is entirely above the ground, and is one of the most airy, convenient and beautiful Sunday School and lecture rooms on the Coast. The auditorium is a perfect gem. On the floor and in the galleries it will seat 800 persons. The exterior is Gothic in style, with an exceedingly graceful spire reaching 165 feet from the ground. The edifice is an ornament to the city and a credit to the Methodist Church. Only one of the “charter members” of this church yet remains in it, viz: Bro. A. Henley, a noble specimen of early California Methodism.


With their beautiful church, and a large, wealthy and generous-hearted membership, Sixth Street charge is one of the most desirable in the Conference.  But I forbear further praise, as the present pastor of this church is on his first year, and some brother, who is to move at the next Conference, might be tempted to cast his longing eyes this way. “Thou shalt not covet.”


The presence of two of the most celebrated ministers from your great metropolis, viz, Rev. F. F. Jewell and J. W. Ross, brought together such a congregation that it was necessary to fill the aisles with chairs to accommodate them. Dr. Jewell’s discourse in the morning ranks with the highest order of sermons. The thought was bold and grand, and its development and presentation was both dignified and entertaining, which, I am aware, is saying much in praise of a sermon, especially in these times. Rev. H. H. Heacock, former pastor, preached, in his usual happy style, in the evening. The collection amounted to about $2,700, which added to the subscriptions already raised amounts to between $10,000 and $11,000.

Sacramento, December 27th.


Mrs. Van Cott’s Meetings.


This remarkable woman, Mrs. Van Cott, commenced meetings in Kingsley Chapel on Monday afternoon, and Tuesday evening the throng of people attracted by curiosity to hear a woman preacher, or drawn by the Spirit of God, filled the house to overflowing, and it was thought advisable to move the meetings to Sixth Street M. E. Church for the remainder of the week. But it was soon found that this, the largest audience room in the city, was, also too strait for the accommodation of the people; it was packed until there was no more room in the house - no, not even about the door - and many had to go away disappointed. The meetings have been wonderfully successful; the altars have been crowded every night, and a very large number, considering the length of time, have been converted. It is impossible to tell how many. All very deeply regret that Sister Van Cott cannot remain a few weeks longer. The meetings will still be continued.

Sacramento, January 24th.


Bishop Peck’s Visit


Bishop Peck’s visit was most opportune, though he dropped down upon us unexpectedly one week sooner than advertised. We were just gathering in the fruits of the revival, scores of young Christians were ready and anxious to learn all they could about the new life they had just experienced, and the duties involved. The Bishop took in the situation at a glance and intuitively adapted his discourses to the existing condition of things, feeding those babes with the sincere milk of the Word. He preached Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and on Friday evening addressed the annual meeting of the Sacramento Bible Society. It was a very able address, I wish it could be published. On Sunday he preached to large audiences at Kingsley Chapel in the morning, and Sixth Street in the evening. This Episcopal visit of Bishop Peck to a former charge was an occasion for the revival of many old associations, and will be long and pleasantly remembered by the people.


About two hundred have been gathered into the different churches as the fruit of our union meetings, and a few more will yet come in. It seems true to grace, as in nature, that the diligent hand maketh rich. The churches which invested most, in faith and labor, reaped most largely in additions to their membership, while those that sowed sparingly reaped also sparingly.


It has been a very healthy revival of religion, and has left the churches in good condition. Our union was uncommonly free from jars or friction in any form. Our love was not in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth.

Sacramento, April 15, 1875., A. M. H.


(For the interval 1875-78, see page 26.)



Rev. Robert Bentley, D. D., 1878-’81

Dr. Bentley was born in Cambridge, England, May 6, 1838. Though baptized and reared in the Church of England, it was at the age of seventeen years, after coming to America, that he experienced for the first time the certainty of the Divine favor in the forgiveness of his sins. He was a graduate from the Northwestern University and also the Garrett Biblical Institute. He joined the Rock River Conference in 1862. He was transferred to the California Conference in 1868. In 1874 he was transferred to the Taylor Street Church, Portland, Oregon, and two years later returned to this Conference. Dr. Bentley has served some of our largest churches with unusual ability. He served two of our largest districts as Presiding Elder. Dr. C. V. Anthony says: “He has been specially active in benevolent work. Our large and flourishing orphanages owe more to his enterprise and administrative skill than to any other man’s. He, with some others, originated the Home for the Feeble-minded, which soon after was adopted by the State, and is now doing a most beneficent work. In all these Christian duties his wife has been a willing and very efficient helper.” Then Dr. Anthony wrote: “With a robust, constitution, the very picture of health, he gives promise of many years of future labor in his Master’s vineyard.” And then pathetically adds: “He died suddenly a few months after these words were penned.” It is generally believed that the severe strain of the duties of the Presiding Eldership broke his health.

Dr. Bentley is of precious memory in First Church. Several items of interest are here mentioned: May 5, 1879 - Philip Uren was elected Steward to fill the vacancy of Bro. Hillhouse. September 10, 1879 - Johnson Jordon and Northrup made Stewards. Mrs. Bohl, Mrs. Hoyte and Mrs. Dillman, Parsonage Committee. June 28, 1880 - Mrs. Julia Barrett a Steward. Character of Bro. John Uren, Local Preacher, passed and license renewed. A committee appointed to get Bishop Simpson to preach for church before leaving the Coast.

Rev. T. S. Dunn, D. D., 1881-’84


Here is a three years’ pastorate full of unremitting toil, attractive and inspiring preaching. Says C. V. Anthony, D.D., in his “Fifty Years of Methodism”: “Rarely has the Conference been so fortunate in an acquisition to its working force as when Thomas Skillman Dunn was transferred to us from the Cincinnati Conference. This honored pastor of First Church was educated at the Ohio Wesleyan University. He was noted as a preacher, ‘witty, humorous at times, always sprightly, original, and when at his best a most effective preacher.’ Like many another faithful pastor from the East, where gracious revivals followed their ministry, he deeply regretted that the conditions in California were such as to prevent similar results of his hard toil. His ministry was a fruitful one, and as a reformer it is said he stood in the front rank. He has a worthy son in Chauncey H. Dunn, one of the pillars of the old church his honored father served, who also stands in the front rank of those who lead in reform. The slavery and temperance evils he attacked mercilessly, regardless of cost to himself.


He was born near Cincinnati, Ohio, November 11, 1831, and was converted when a boy. He never questioned his call of God to preach the Gospel. In 1853 he married Miss Freelove M. Conklin, who still survives him, and the year following he joined the Cincinnati Conference. He joined the California Conference, 1860, which was held at Santa Clara, and preached before the Conference on Sunday night. He preached from the text, “Grow in Grace,” and it is said captured his audience, and won appointment to San Jose, an appointment which he served three times, as  long as the time limit would permit.


The following strange experience occurred during his third pastorate: One Sabbath morning, though not feeling well, he insisted on going to church and preaching. He rode there, conducted the services, except the opening prayer, which was offered by Dr. Martin, preached with more than usual unction and intellectual clearness, but no remembrance of that service could be recalled by him until the day of his death. It is said he could not even remember going to church. He became conscious as he returned to his home, while passing through the grounds of the State Normal School, and wondered where he had been, and what he had been doing. A terrible sickness followed, and he was for a long time at death’s door. Although he rallied, he never was again able to take up his lifework so dear to his heart. It was less than two years from that date that he went to his crown.


Some snapshots: January 24, 1881- Presiding Elder appoints a committee to request Bishop E. O. Haven to pay our church an official visit soon as convenient, with a view of inaugurating a method of cancelling our church debt. December 25, 1882 - J. W. Reeves was made a Steward. December, 1882 - The Pastor reports: “Through the effort of Bro. Bohl and the liberality of many within and without the church, a debt of $2,900 has been paid, the money having been subscribed and collected during the Quarter, besides about $800 toward needed repairs, leaving us free of all financial embarrassment.


March 12, 1883 - C. H. Dunn elected usher. August 3, 1883 - The members of the church who habitually neglect the means of grace be notified to appear and show cause. Then follows a list.


May 5, 1884 - John B. Gough requested to lecture Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday, the proposition being $500, and 60 per cent. Bohl and Maydwell Committee on Printing, and Advertising Board to act as Committee for selling tickets. “Lights and Shadows of London Life,” and “Peculiar People.” May 19, 1884 - Bros. Hillhouse and Reeves act as ticket sellers, Bros. Uren and Barber to take tickets at door. Bros. Bohl, Dunn, Lenoir, Smooker and McConnell as ushers for Gough lecture. Bro. Dunn as Reception Committee. That ever-present church comforter, “deficiency,” is mentioned frequently: “On motion, we make the attempt to collect the deficiency on the 17th inst.”


The best legacy left this church by this lamented pastor is the honored son, Chauncey H. Dunn, who is one of the foremost workers and supporters of the church.


Rev. E. R. Dille, D. D., 1884-’87


Dille” has become a pleasant by-word in all Methodist homes in California, and it is pleasant to record that one of the honored men who served as pastor of First Church is Dr. Dille. He was born in Middleport, Illinois, April 7, 1848. His conversion dates from 1864. When in his teens he was doing service as a soldier for his country, just what we would expect from one so saturated with true patriotism. He was educated in Frankfort Seminary, Indiana, and for a time taught in the same institution.


He was transferred to this Conference in 1873, from the Northwestern Indiana Conference. He was licensed to preach in 1870, his certificate to that effect bearing the signature of Bishop Joyce, then a Presiding Elder in Indiana. He was a deacon of the second class when transferred to California. He was ordained elder in 1874. The University of the Pacific honored him with the degree of D. D. in 1886. As a preacher, Dr. Dille stands in the front rank. As a reformer, he is wise and fearless. As a pastor, his very name is precious for his genial spirit and his wise and kind words.


How is this? September 11, 1884 - “It was moved, that as -----------  ------------ had been notified to appear at this meeting and explain why she had not attended the means of grace, and having failed to appear, that her name be erased from the church record. Motion adopted. September 22, 1884 - Bohl elected collector, Lenoir and McConnell alternates. October 21, 1884 - On motion, the first Sunday evening of each month be devoted to music. December 10, 1884 - “Discounted coin plugged with lead.”


March 10, 1885 - Communication with reference to holding revival services received from W. McDonald. Bro. Dille requested to answer. August 25, 1885 - Josh Billings engaged to lecture and the ladies to take the proceeds. September 29, 1885 - Moved that a committee be appointed to confer with the Trustees of the Evangelical Association with reference to opening the church at Twenty-fourth and K streets. Bros. Huntoon, Walter Lenoir, Dunn and Maydwell committee. November 10, 1885 - Bro. Lenoir, on behalf of Music Committee, nominated Miss Nora Bessy as church organist.


April 26, 1886 - Trustees a committee to ascertain cost of contemplated improvements in church. August 11, 1886 - Bros. Ough, Bohl, Dille and Huntoon thanked for work on improvements. Vote of thanks given Bro. Leitch for donating an organ to the Sunday School.




There is no pastorate in all my ministry of which I have more pleasant and precious memories than I have of my three years (1884-7) spent in Sixth Street, Sacramento. Appointed there by Bishop Foss, I succeeded Thomas S. Dunn of precious memory, and found his influence and record such that Methodism and religion were quoted higher because of them.


On reaching Sacramento my wife and I were welcomed to the home of Bro. Bohl until the parsonage should be ready; and then began a friendship with that gracious and godly family that has grown stronger with the lapse of years.


Sixth Street Church was in those days as now in excellent spiritual condition, and many conversions crowned our labors together. Notably was this true during the special services held under the leadership respectively of Dr. Munhall and Dr. William McDonald, and during a series of meetings conducted by my colleague, Dr. Filben, and myself, assisted by Dr. M. C. Briggs and others.


Among the incidents of the pastorate that linger in my memory are the visits of Dr. (afterwards Bishop) Newman and Dr. (afterwards Bishop) Joyce.


When the church was reopened after extensive improvements in the summer of 1887, Dr. Joyce was on the Coast, and as he was an old friend of the pastor, he was secured to preach the reopening sermon. No one who heard that sermon can ever forget it. It was the hottest day I ever saw in Sacramento; but the glowing periods, the impassioned fervor of the preacher, made his audience oblivious to all physical discomfort.


When Dr. Newman came to California to conduct the memorial services in honor of Leland Stanford, Jr., the son of Senator and Mrs. Stanford, he spent a month in Sacramento, lecturing and preaching and mingling socially with our people. Dr. Newman was then in the zenith of his splendid powers. Sixth Street welcomed him with its usual heartiness, and they were mutually charmed with each other.


I recall also a Sunday General O. O. Howard spent with us. He preached the Gospel from our pulpit with wonderful simplicity and power, and when at the conclusion of his address the altar was crowded with inquirers, that splendid Christian hero, that Sir Galahad, that knightly veteran, went down into the altar and knelt with one man and another and pointed them to Christ.


My mind reverts to those days, among the busiest and happiest of my life, when I wrought side by side with a people who for loyalty and devotion have no superiors and few equals. The church then as now was like a larger family, dwelling together in Christian harmony, and with a mind to work at the church’s one business, the salvation of men. It were invidious to name any of my fellow-workers, there, when all were so faithful; many with whom we took sweet counsel and went to the house of God in company, have passed on to the fellowship and the rewards of heaven; those of us who survive than God upon every remembrance of the dear old days in Sixth Street Church and pray that she may go forward and that her future may be even more fruitful and illustrious than her past has been. ELBERT R. DILLE.


Rev. A. T. Needham, D. D., 1887-’91

Another of the most able of the preachers of the California Annual Conference who served First Church is Rev. Arnold Thomas Needham, D. D. He was born on the Island of Guernsey, August 14, 1838, of English-Norman parentage. He was brought by his parents to America when only a child, settling in Chicago. He was converted when about nine years of age, but for want of sufficient encouragement he didn’t unite with the Church until about sixteen. He says he lost much by not being in the Church. He attended school at Evanston, graduating from the Theological Seminary. Failing in health, he returned to Chicago, where he was employed in the Methodist Book Depository in that city at the breaking out of the war.


He enlisted in the 13th Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry. Being a licensed exhorter, he often preached to the soldiers in the absence of the chaplain. He was in about fifteen battles, and was taken prisoner in the storming of Vicksburg. He was made an army chaplain, which office he filled well.


Dr. Needham has ever been a most loyal and patriotic lover and defender of the flag and his country, and his Church has been ever dear to him, as a faithful Methodist pastor.


Some snapshots: December 12, 1887 - Bro. Bohl authorized to purchase a house for parsonage.


January 9, 1888 - Pastor authorized to rent room for a study, the rent not to exceed $10 per month. July 9, 1888 - Board of Trustees allowed Bro. Clouch use of basement one evening a week for one month for the meetings of the Temperance Society. September 17, 1888 - Bro. Jacks made a class leader. September 26, 1888 - Special meeting called by pastor at close of Prayer Meeting, to consider renting of house for pastor at Twelfth and O streets. Bro. Bohl appointed committee to secure house if possible and expend $50 to induce present occupant to remove.


January 12, 1889 - On motion, a collection for the poor be taken at each Sacramental service. July 23, 1889 - Special meeting of Official Board called by pastor to consider matter of purchasing a parsonage. Bros. Bohl, Huntoon, Uren, Dunn, Jordan, Anderson, Hutchinson, Lander, Cronkite, Maydwell present. A communication was read from M. A. Andrews, stating terms and conditions upon which he would furnish organ. On motion, the Board authorized the ladies to contract for the organ. The mover and seconder of the motion withdrew their motion, and a motion prevailed that the chair appoint a committee to ascertain cost of building for the organ - Huntoon, Bohl, Ough, said committee. August 12, 1889 - Special Committee on building for pipe organ read, advising postponement until next year, stating estimate cost to be $3,400. Report accepted. November 11, 1889 - Officers of Epworth League confirmed: President, Maydwell; 1st Vice-President, Mrs. C. H. Dunn; 2d Vice-President, Agnes Needham; 3d Vice-President, John Uren; 4th Vice-President, E. E. Avery; Secretary, Miss Williamson; Treasurer, Bro. Brand.


March 10, 1890 - On motion, Bro. Uren was licensed as an exhorter. On motion, Bro. Hugo appointed assistant collector for the gallery. April 14, 1890 - Bro. Driver appointed assistant usher for Bro. Dunn. April 28, 1890 - Adjourned meeting of the Official Board to discuss matters in reference to the Mission at Twentieth and O streets. After a great amount of talk, it was decided to let the question of rent of house be as it is at present. June 9, 1890 - On motion, the Committee on Mission School recommend that the money raised for the building fund of the Mission be used as they direct, with the consent of the ladies who collected the fund. On motion, the written consent of the parties interested in raising the fund be obtained by the chairman of Mission School Committee, and report at next meeting of Board. July 3, 1890 - Special meeting of Board. Bro. Gomer tendered his resignation as Superintendent of Sixth Street Mission Sunday School at Twentieth and O streets. Voted to discontinue said Mission School for present. Bros. Leitch and Gomer a committee to look after all property belonging to said Mission Sunday School, organ, library, and instructed to have some stored in safe and proper place.


Dr. Needham writes, among other interesting items, the following:




I was appointed September 1, 1887, by Bishop J. M. Walden to the Sixth Street Church, Sacramento. The church was then without a parsonage, and though I had a family of six children, we managed to live for a time in a small cottage of six rooms, that had been occupied by my predecessor, who had no children.


During my stay as pastor, a term of four years, the different evangelical churches combined in annual union revival services, resulting in many conversions, and great spiritual refreshing to the churches. I recall the delightful fellowship I had with the various pastors of the other churches, Drs. Herrick and Forest of the Baptist Churches, Dr. Bane of the M. E. Church South, Dr. Merrill of the Congregational and especially with Dr. Wheeler of the Presbyterian Church. He had been an officer in the Confederate Army and I in the Union Army, and yet a delightful feeling of comradship (sic) sprung up between us.


The first of our union revival services was under the leadership of Dr. E. Payson Hammond, the noted Children’s Evangelist. These meetings were held in the large brick building on the northwest corner of Sixth and M streets. It was a precious season, and many young persons started out in the new life.


Then there were meetings under the leadership of such men as B. Fay Mills, Sam Jones, and Mr. Crittendon, all of which brought blessed results. I conducted a Children’s Class most of the time of my stay, and these were attended with encouraging results. Some of the children of these classes are now among the active workers in the church today.


In the Sunday School room in the basement, I noticed a Sunday School banner with a superb oil painting on the front and on the back. I was impressed that it was a fine piece of art. I invited the Art Professor who was in charge of the School of Art at the Crocker Art Gallery to come and see the banner. He came and pronounced it one of the best productions of Nahl, the distinguished California Artist. He said Nahl at that time took more pains in working up the detail of his pictures than he did subsequently when he became famous. I also learned this story of the banner: The Superintendent of Sixth Street Sunday School was a special friend of Nahl, and out of friendship for him, the artist painted the banner. The picture of the little child leading the lion is a picture of Nahl’s own daughter, and the little child with black curls, where Christ is teaching the children, is the likeness of a child who since became the wife of a Sacramento business man. I obtained from the Official Board permission to have the banner taken apart, the pictures retouched by the artist at the Crocker Art Gallery, and each picture framed, and thus preserved.


May it be our joy to meet many redeemed ones whose first promptings to a holy life, grew out of the contemplation of the pictures made from the Sunday School banner, and which hung on the walls of the old Sixth Street Methodist Episcopal Church.


After my pastorate at Sixth Street Church, I became Presiding Elder of Sacramento District, and for six years made my quarterly visits to the dear old church. May God’s richest blessing ever rest upon the old church that now reaches its 60th anniversary.     ARNOLD T. NEEDHAM.


Rev. T. C. George, D. D., 1891-’93


Dr. George was born in Mansfield, Ohio, in 1840. He was transferred from one of the Iowa Conferences in 1871. He attended the Iowa Wesleyan University in 1861, but left it to serve a term in the war as a Lieutenant of the 45th Regiment of Iowa Infantry. He graduated in 1867. For most of his active life he was a professor in our schools of learning. He taught not only in Iowa, but was Principal of our Napa Collegiate Institute, and Professor of Natural Science in the University of the Pacific. He resigned to become a pastor. He was successful as teacher, pastor and preacher. He was truly a Christian gentleman, a scholarly man and an able minister of the Gospel. His health broke while he was pastor of First Church and he was forced to give up his work, Dr. C. V. Anthony taking his place. He never recovered and soon went to his crown.


Snapshots: January 12, 1891 - Endorse change from chairs to benches with movable backs for lecture room. March, 1891 - Bro. Geo. Shepstone recommended for full connection; collection to be taken every evening at revival services conducted by Mrs. L. O. Robinson. June 8, 1891 - Bro. Clouch, assistant leader of evening class. August 15, 1891 - Bros. Hosking’s and Uren’s license to exhort renewed. “Deficiency” to be raised. October 22, 1891 - Recommended the ladies accept the offer of an engagement from Philip Philips. Bro. Ough requested to present figures at next meeting showing cost of addition to church for pipe organ. Little organ was loaned to Chinese Mission School. October 26, 1891 – Walter, Huntoon, Hocking, Jacka, Uren, Conkrite, (sic) Bohl, Davis, Ough, Dunn, Jordan, Avery, called to discuss ways and means to plan erection of an addition to church. Bro. Ough submitted plans and drawings for the proposed addition to the building for an organ loft, estimated cost $3,000 to $3,500. On motion of Bro. Davis, it was carried that the plans submitted by Bro. Ough be accepted as the preliminary (sic) plans.  On motion of Bro. Cronkite, it was ordered that the subscription list toward the church improvements be commenced.


February 1, 1892 - On motion of Bro. Bohl, the pastor was instructed to confer with the “Young People’s Union,” and Epworth Leagues to get their amounts, and for course of lectures to raise means toward the church improvements. November 16, 1891 - Bro. Huntoon moved the request of “Young People’s Union” to meet in the church be granted on condition that they pay $2.50 per evening for necessary expenses, and submit programs for each evening to pastor. Donation of chairs made to Chinese Mission. Pastor stated that Sister Klotz desired to establish a Mission School at Twenty-fourth and P streets. Bro. Uren moved a committee of three inquire into it and report next meeting. January 10, 1892 - Uren reported on Mission School. Report received and committee discharged. Motion carried to proceed to get subscriptions for organ improvement.


It should be said at this point that the ardent and ever-willing Peter Bohl, in 1887, had bought and donated to the Trustees of the Church a lot 20 by 80 feet lying to the rear of the church, on which was to be erected the much needed addition, making a large Sunday School room below, an excellent choir room and pastor’s study above, and room for an organ loft in which was to be placed a pipe organ of superior quality.  This work was not completed till 1892, under the pastorate of the consecrated Dr. George. For this gift the Official Board unanimously thanked Bro. Bohl.


Mrs. George writes: “The organ, so loved by my husband, is the material reminder of his short stay, and its harmonies express better than any words his beautiful, loving spirit.”


Miss Amelia Bohl


March 2, 1892 - Special meeting of Official Board at residence of Bro. Ough to inspect plans for addition to church for organ loft. Plans accepted and Building Committee of three appointed: Huntoon, Davis and Ough. Decided to purchase and put in place a Buher motor, while building is being put up. Moved and carried that Miss Amelia Bohl be invited and engaged to play the new organ as organist. (It is due Miss Amelia Bohl to here acknowledge the part she took in making our splendid pipe organ a possibility. None took more interest in raising the money than she. Several splendid entertainments which realized a neat sum for the organ is to her credit, and she has the honor of being the first church organist after the purchase of the pipe organ. That her valuable service rendered was appreciated, is evidenced by the resolutions of the Official Board.) Dr. Jewell invited to be present at opening service when pipe organ is in. July 2, 1892 - Building Committee reported total costs of improvements, $4,833.95; paid. $3,225.00; unpaid, $334.50, leaving $1,274.45 yet to pay; $800 of balance pledged and provided for in Board. October 17, 1892 - Epworth League officers approved: President, W. W. Lewis; 1st Vice-President, Mary Kiefer; 2d Vice-President, Carrie George; 3d Vice-President, Anna Woods; 4th Vice-President, E. E. Avery; Secretary, Minnie Kiefer; Treasurer, H. B. Marsh; Organist, J. M. Uren; Choirister (sic), W. H. Dunster. December 19, 1892 - Bro. Bohl and Amelia thanked for two stops to organ. The following confirmed as officers of Boys’ Brigade: Captain, C. W. Bentley; 1st Lieutenant, W. H. Renwick; 2d Lieutenant, F. F. Scott. Question of doing away with cushions in lecture room referred to Trustees.



Rev. C. V. Anthony, D. D., 1894


January 5, 1894, Rev. George was granted a vacation till he regained his health. March 9, 1894, at a special meeting in Bro. Dunn’s office, letters were read from Dr. Needham, Bro. and Sister George, and Bishop Goodsell. Dr. George’s health would not permit him to resume his work, and C. V. Anthony was suggested as supply. The Board voted unanimously for him. Dr. Anthony was appointed in April to fill out the year.


Dr. Anthony’s name rises as sweet incense throughout the California Conference. He was born of a Quaker family, in Portage, New York, February 22, 1831. Through Bible reading and prayer, at age of 12 years he entered into a happy Christian experience, but having no encouragement, he soon fell into his father’s ways of thinking, which was then Universalism. He came to California in 1851, joined the Methodist Church in 1852, and was happily converted in the following November.


He taught school the winter of 1854-5, and in May joined the California Conference on trial. Dr. Anthony has been one of the great leaders of California Methodism all these years. He is the author of “Fifty Years of Methodism,” “The Children’s Covenant,” and was a professor in Iliff School of Theology.


The short time that this prince among men served this church is guarded as a sacred memory by many who sat under his excellent pulpit ministry, and those who welcomed him in their homes. Alas, alas, how are these mighty towers of strength in our California Methodism falling! Will the coming generation provide those fit to take their place?


Rev. M. D. Buck, D. D., 1894-’97


Milton D. Buck is the son of Dr. D. D. Buck, a member of one of the New York Conference. He was born in Lyone, Wayne County, New York, March 29, 1852. He graduated at Syracuse in 1875, and came to California soon after. He was a very methodical pastor, affable and tireless in his work. Mrs. Buck was a most indefatigable worker, especially with young people.


October 22, 1894 - Committee on Music reported that some of the choir had struck because the leader was not a professional, and by motion, with the consent and calm reason of Bro. Elwood, Miss Dunster was given charge of the selection of the music. Vote of thanks give Bro. Elwood for his past services in choir and other meetings and for his promise to continue these services. Dec. 16, 1894 - Accepted invitation to unite with Dr. Anderson, of the M. E. Church South in meetings in January.


January 2, 1895 - Pastor asked to engage Evangelist C. H. Yatman, in middle of February. April 21, 1895 - Resolution on death of Rev. T. C. George passed. June 5, 1895 - Committee to put up six framed cards in six hotels, advertising church. July 3, 1895 - Rev. Miss Shaw invited to preach in near future; derelict members discussed. October 2, 1895 - Unanimously extended a vote of thanks to Bro. Bohl for his services in securing the finances to close the year. October 22, 1895 - Sister Van Cott invited to hold special meetings. Bro. Speer and Bro. James committee on ushers for the meeting.


January 1, 1896 - Decided to change prayer meeting from Thursday to Wednesday, if other churches in city do the same. Trustees instructed to proceed at once to change the front entrance to the audience room of the church. The change was made. March 9, 1896 - Bro. Anderson’s request for use of church for Carradine meetings, from June 23d for five days, granted. John Anderson thanked for decorating vestibule, and Adolph Lichey for sidewalk. October 26, 1896 - Bohl thanked unanimously for planning for lighting church by electricity and raising $175 to pay for wiring church and putting in electric lights.


January 18, 1897 - Miss Francis Healy requested to act as deaconess for the church, and pledge Home Missionary Society $8 per month towards her salary.


Dr. Buck writes:


I regret that to be present at the anniversary celebration will be impracticable. I recall with pleasure the three years spent with Sixth Street Church, the good times with Sister Van Cott, the large Junior League like a second Sunday School on a week day, the faithful officers and members of the church, the fraternity of ministerial brethren, and the many friends whom we shall meet on the other side. May you have a blessed week, a time of joyful fellowship and of showers of blessings.   Your Fraternally, M. D. B.


Rev. S. J. Carroll, D. D., 1897-‘01


Dr. S. J. Carroll came to California from the Arkansas Conference. He became a member of the New England Southern Conference in 1871. He was a splendid preacher and a great worker. His pastorate of this church was indeed remarkable for the number of probationers (224) and full members (239) received.


Snapshots: January 31, 1897 – Pastor reported Evangelist Munhall to hold special meetings if five other leading churches will unite. It was unanimous that he be secured. February 15, 1897 – Bro. Willie James elected collector for Sunday evenings. March 28, 1897 – Evangelist A. C. Bane unanimously invited to hold two weeks special meetings, commencing May 24th. The White Rose Circle and Richard Watkins thanked for the beautiful electric lantern that has been placed in front of the church. Decided that nothing be allowed to take the place of, of interfere with the regular Sunday morning and evening collections. October 7, 1897 – Decided not to hold Leaders and Stewards’ meeting separately, but hold all as Official Board. Bro. Dunn made treasurer of the Stewards’ fund. Bro. William James appointed committee to pass on what church notices handed in are proper to be given, and give such to the pastor. November 4, 1897 – Official Board to hold social. Pastor’s plan to have eight socials for year adopted.


October 6, 1898 – Pastor authorized to get 50 copies of Book of Psalms for church. Bro. Dunn appointed to give church notices. Nov. 10, 1898 – Pastor authorized to present Oak Park Church for subscriptions for their indebtedness. December 8, 1898 – Pastor reported he had served J. H. Weber for evangelistic meetings in January.


February 16, 1899 – Money voted to paint steeple. April 6, 1899 – Bro. Bohl thanked for having infant Class Room and stairway tinted at his own expense. June 1, 1899 – Collection baskets give way to silver plates. October 5, 1899 – Board voted to have a jubilee week celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the church.


February 11, 1901 - Dr. Matthews and Rev. Chynoweth presented the matter of removal of Central Church, if this church purchase a lot farther east, say between Eleventh and Twentieth streets, and if so, whether this church would permit the Bishop to appeal to this church for funds to assist in making such changes. Dr. J. A. McKee moved that we recommend to Central Church to purchase a new lot in a more desirable locality and move there when they can. Dr. McKee further moved that the question of permitting the Bishop to take a collection in this church to aid Central Church be granted. District Conference invited to meet in this church. Decided Official Board meet first Tuesday of each month. June 4, 1901 - Committee of three to report at next meeting of Board as to the advisability of establishing a Mission Sunday School in neighborhood of Twenty-third and K streets.


Rev. W. K. Beans, D. D., 1901-’03


We are not in possession of any facts touching the early life of Dr. Wesley K. Beans, who served this church for two years. Not having served many years in this Conference, we are not conversant with his ministry. But his pastorate of First Church, the only pastorate he served in this Conference, is well remembered by many. He was the gentleman and the preacher of ability He writes the author from South Pasadena where he was serving successfully a church; “My memories of Sixth Street are very pleasant. A united church, a royal people, hospitable, kind-hearted, responsive. Sunday School ideal under the skillful direction of Bro. Chauncey H. Dunn; Epworth League flourishing, splendid company of young people; the Ladies Aid ‘a mighty means of usefulness’; The Woman’s Foreign and the Woman’s Home Missionary Societies right to the front, well officered and efficient; the choir a comfort and an inspiration, as good as the best, under the guidance of Lottie Shepstone James; benevolences running over always; membership steadily increasing, congregations always inspiring; weddings numerous, a proof of love abounding. Blessed old Sixth Street ! ‘Immovably found in grace, may she stand as she ever has stood.

And brightly her builder display

And flame with the glory of God.’”





Rev. W. W. Case, D. D., 1903-’06


Rev. Westwood W. Case was a transfer from the Detroit Conference. He formerly belonged to the Erie Conference, which he had joined in 1861. He was a school teacher by profession, and was converted when 19 years of age. He was transferred to his Conference in 1887. Dr. C. V. Anthony says of him: “His work in this Conference has been of the first efficiency in every respect.”


Snapshots:  March 10, 1904 - Special meeting of Official Board held at residence of Bro. Bohl, called on account of damage to church by wind storm, a brick pinacle (sic) from the tower having fallen through the roof and through one gallery. Bros. Bohl, Bawden and Dunn a committee on repairs. Decided to arrange for services on Sunday. March 11, 1904 - Special meeting. Decided to secure architect to prepare plans for repairing church. Decided that steeple be taken down. Dr. Case committee on art glass windows for church. April 5, 1904 - Bro. Bohl reported for committee on repairs to steeple, that the architect and city authorities reported steeple perfectly safe and no occasion to take it down. Approved. June 7, 1904 - Mrs. Kirk deaconess, employed for a month. September 23, 1904 - Building Committee reported church improvements had cost $5,810.76, and were completed and church ready for opening Sunday, September 25, 1904. December 5, 1904 - Church services on Sunday morning changed to 10:45 a. m. September 10, 1905 - Decided to secure deaconess services for six months.


Dr. Case certainly did a splendid work when he had the auditorium so beautifully decorated and the magnificent art glass windows put in. There is scarcely a more beautiful auditorium to be found in this part of the State.



Rev. J. H. N. Williams, D. D., 1906-’07


Rev. J. H. N. Williams was born in Nevada City, California, November 21, 1866. His parents took him when four years old with them to their native country, England. He was converted April 6, 1881, and licensed to preach on the St. Anges Circuit, Cornwall, July 6, 1885. He was accepted by the Wesleyan Methodist Conference as a candidate for the ministry in 1887, but returned to California and joined the California Conference in the class of 1888, of which the author was a member. He served faithfully for some years in the Nevada Mission, and his work in this Conference has been marked with success. He has served as Superintendent of the Napa District and was for three years Secretary of the Conference. He is an able and interesting preacher. His pastorate of only one year at First Church is pleasantly and profitably remembered. Dr. Williams is a student and a preacher and a writer of ability, and his pulpit ministrations while in this pastorate were always uplifting. November 6, 1906, he organized the men of the church into a Wesleyan Brotherhood, afterwards changed to Methodist Brotherhood.








Transcribed by: Jeanne Sturgis Taylor. 

Proofread by Betty Vickroy.

Donated by SFgenealogy.com.

© 2010 Jeanne Sturgis Taylor. 





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