First United Methodist Church

Photographed December 6, 2014
Erected 2001 by First United Methodist Church
Green Bay, Brown County, Wisconsin

is the oldest chartered Methodist Church in Wisconsin, having been started by Col. Samuel Ryan among those stationed at Fort Howard in 1826. The congregation worshipped in several places before coming to this site in 1858. The current building was dedicated in 1929, after a fire destroyed the previous building in the year of the congregation's centennial. First United Methodist Church continues to witness to the good news of Christ, to support a life of discipleship, and made a difference in our community and world in the 21st century.
Given to the glory of God,
on the 175th anniversary
of the congregation.

The marker is located on the grounds of the First United Methodist Church on one-way eastbound Howe Street, at its intersection with northbound South Madison Street, at 501 Howe Street, Green Bay, Wisconsin 54301.

NOTE: The church and marker on the north side of Howe Street.

First United Methodist Church

First United Methodist Church of Green Bay: History 

The New York Public Library: Internet Archive:
History of Brown County, Wisconsin, Past and Present, Volume 1 (1913) (pp. 259-260)
by Deborah B. Martin
(Scroll down to the bottom of this post to see a transcription of the text)

The marker is at the far right corner of the church building.

M. E. Church, Green Bay, Wis.
Postmarked October 4, 1913
(The building destroyed by fire in 1926,
the year of the congregation's centennial.)

First visited July 10, 2014:

This is a small marker, and somewhat easy to miss!

The marker is to the right of the entrance, and to the right of the tree trunk.

The following content is in the public domain.
The following excepts are taken from History of Brown County, Wisconsin, 
Past and Present, Volume 1, by Deborah Beaumont Martin (1913) (pp. 259-260),
available online at:
The New York Public Library Internet Archive
The first Methodist service was conducted at the garrison [Fort Howard] by Colonel Samuel Ryan. In 1832 the New York conference sent as missionary to the district about Green Bay the Rev. J. C. Clark, who on his arrival preached at the fort to both soldiers and citizens and also formed the first class consisting of Samuel Ryan, class leader, and three other members, one of whom was Mrs. George M. Brooke, wife of the commandant.

In 1834. Rev. George White was appointed to the mission and the following description is given of the church during his pastorate: 
“In 1836 the writer passed through Green Bay enroute for St. Louis, and remained two weeks in the small hamlet. Sunday services were no longer held in the Fort Howard block house as in former years but were continued in a little yellow wooden schoolhouse just in rear of what is now the Citizen Bank building, where a fraternal arrangement existed between two rival sects.

“The Protestant Episcopal and Methodist Episcopal ministers took turn about in the services, the one officiating in the morning, the other in the evening, and vice versa; the two clergymen, Rev. Richard Cadle, a close student, very shy in general society and thorough churchman, and Rev. George White, the Methodist, also retiring and reserved in manner, yet both so permeated with a love for humanity and a single eye to their high calling in Christ that no antagonism seemed to mar the sacred services. The coalition was temporary only waiting the completion of their denominational churches.

“The stronghold of Methodism still lay on the Fort Howard side of the river, the garrison held a number of faithful communicants while outside its pickets the delegation was solid for Wesley and his adherents. A few rods from the river shore on a slightly raised plateau were the government quarters of families outside the fort, who yet were attached to the United States army. First in order came the two fine buildings of hospital and surgeon’s quarters, from thence ran along the river shore in straight line a row of modest picturesque cottages, vine covered and flower enameled, wherein resided Col. Samuel Ryan and his excellent wife, both of them from head, front, and very foundation of Methodism, the Stoddards, the Hubbards, and Col. David Jones, all members save the last named. And thus when the little company of worshippers were transplanted in 1835 to the small wooded schoolhouse on east side of river, it took in quite a notable set in military rank and social prestige.

“The new church was completed in 1836, and when the writer returned from a two weeks’ sojourn in St. Louis, in 1837, it had been for some months in use and fully equipped. In was fifty by thirty-five feet in dimensions with no gallery for singers, only raised seats at entrance opposite the pulpit. There were fine voices in the choir here and from Sunday to Sunday for several years, a more than average of intelligent and appreciative audience gathered.

“Of the fault in executive management and church affairs that resulted in bankruptcy of finance and final sale to the Roman Catholic congregation of the beloved church building on the square I have slight knowledge. It proved a most unfortunate episode and brought much depression and discouragement for several years.”
The first church built on the property facing Jackson square was completed in 1858. This became unsafe and war torn down when the present modern and convenient edifice was erected.

In 1867 the First Methodist church was divided and residents of Fort Howard formed a separate congregation taking the name of St. Paul’s Methodist church. A new church has been built within recent years, a neat, comfortable and suitable structure. The congregation is in a flourishing condition.
NOTE: The foregoing was transcribed exactly as printed in the 1913 text; therefore, there may appear to be errors in spelling, capitalization, and punctuation when compared to how the English language is written today (2015).

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