Source: Google Maps The First Baptist Church of Lima was formed in Lima Township in 1833. The map above shows the present day boundaries of Lima Township, Washtenaw county, Michigan. The 'A' pin denotes Lima. Lima Township is located between Chelsea, Michigan and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Church records can be a great find when researching your ancestors. I have found a few church records on my third, great grandfather Daniel Fenn, who married Huldah Rowley. These church records were found in Washtenaw County, Michigan. I am a member of the Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County (GSWC) and I have access to past issues of their publication, Family History Capers. These past issues have been a treasure trove of information and worth every dollar I have spent for membership in GSWC.
Blogging as 'cousin bait' helped with these records as well. Peter, a descendant on the Glover side of my family, found some Fenn family records and shared them with me. Peter visited Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, which houses some Baptist records. Peter has been a wonderful source of information. It is from the Family History Capers and Peter's research that I compiled this early history of the First Baptist Church of Lima.
Early History of the First Baptist Church of Lima
The early pre-1833 meetings, of what would become the First Baptist Church of Lima, were held in the home of Samuel Clements. It wasn't until 5 July 1833 when Baptist Christians met in a log schoolhouse in the South Part of Lima in the Michigan Territory that the church was organized. Here Rev. Twis and fourteen people organized and named First Baptist Church of Lima. Articles of Faith, the Baptist Covenant, were adopted and it became the church home for twelve years. The fourteen original members were:
- Benjamin M. Danielson
- Daniel Fenn*
- Tulley C.P. Fenn*
- Orlo H. Fenn*
- Luther C. Chipman
- Calvin Chipman
- Eunice Danielson
- Huldah Fenn*
- Sally Gage
- Fanny Hammond
- Useba Chipman
- Celinda Chipman
- Ruth Easman
- Betsy Ann Fenn*
* My Ancestors: Daniel Fenn, his wife Huldah Fenn; their children: Tulley C. P. Fenn and Orlo H. Fenn; and Tulley's wife, Betsy Ann Fenn, nee McIntyre.
I think back to what this first meeting must have been like. Lima Township was a wilderness at the time, it was in the Michigan Territory, four years before Michigan would become a state. I imagine the importance the members felt to have an organized church to attend. This tells me how important religion was in their lives. Daniel Fenn arrived in the area in the Spring of 1833.
The First Baptist Church of Lima continued to worship in Lima until 1845 when the meeting place was changed to Pierceville, in Sylvan Township, the next township to the east of Lima Township. In 1851 the church became Sylvan Baptist Church and met at Sylvan Center. The church eventually became a part of Chelsea Baptist Church, Chelsea, Michigan.
One never knows where church records will be found. Don't rule out the resources of the historical and genealogical societies in your ancestors area, I am glad I didn't.
For more information:
Clements, Samuel. Early History of the Town of Lima, Michigan. 1874? Available online at Hathi Trust.
Dexter Area Sesquicentennial-1976. 49,000 cards. Available at McKune Memorial Library, Chelsea, Michigan
Everett, Jessie Chelsea Standard-Herald Newspaper, Chelsea, Michigan, 13 December 1906.
Everett, Jessie (History of) First Baptist Church of Chelsea, 1921. Available at Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Family History Capers, Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County, Michigan. Volume 5, Issue 2: October 1981.
History of Washtenaw County, Michigan: together with sketches of its cities, villages and townships,...portraits of prominent persons...and biographies (Chicago: Chas. C. Chapman & Co., 1881). Available through Google Books.