Hardesty's History of Wirt County

THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH

From what the writer has been able to learn he is satisfied that 
this denomination was the first to send a minister into this valley.
No one now living can remember who he was, or when he came, 
for all those early settlers have passed to the other shore, but in a
work entitled "Rise and Progress of Religion in Ohio and 
Western Part of Virginia," and bearing publishers date as 1822,
which the author has in his possession, he finds the following
mention of the work in this valley:--

"William Beauchamp and Rees Wolf, two local preachers from
the Monongahela waters, with a few members of society, having
settled on the Little Kanawha river, by letters and petitions to 
their friends and their preachers in the Baltimore conference,
represented their distressed situation and called for help.
Accordingly, in the spring of 1799 Robert Manley, a man of God,
and well qualified for the task, volunteered his services and was
sent to that part of the work; he continued there about nine 
months, and formed two circuits, which extended on the Ohio river 
from thirty to forty miles, and up the Kanawha thirty miles.  He
found scattering members on both sides of the river.  There were 
several souls awakened and converted this year, and ten or twelve 
small societies formed.  Mr. Manley left the work with the close
of the year, and died in 1810, at which time his funeral sermon 
was delivered by the Rev. James Quinn, who then remarked of 
the deceased "that he sustained the afflictions of life, and bore 
up under the agonies of death like a Christian." Thus died Robert 
Manley, the first to preach repentance on the banks of the Little
Kanawha river.  He was succeeded in the year 1800, by the cele-
brated Lastly Mathews, who remained upon the work one year.  The 
writer has been unable to learn the name of his successor.  It was 
in the year 1810 that Bishop Asbury--now one of the most
celebrated names which appears on the pages of American church
history--paid this valley a visit.  In speaking of it afterward, he 
jocosely remarked that he visited this remote country "that the 
people might see and know their superintendent, for;" he added, 
the shepherd ought to know the flock, and the flock the
shepherd;" and farther on he says, "I went nearly one hundred 
miles out of my way to see them." During the first half of the
century the work was known as the Hughs river mission, in which
all of the organized societies in the county were then included.
Prominent among them was the church at Elizabeth. It dates its
organization in the year 1840, although there had been an
appointment in the town for many years, and several members of
the church resided here, but were connected with the Hughs river
church until the above date, when the conference made provision
for the formation of the church at this place.  The work was
performed by the Rev. Samuel Steele.  A class was organized
consisting of the following named persons: Thomas Merrill, Edith
Meredith, James Fisher, Elizabeth Fisher, James Wilson, Barnett
Ball, Rebecca Ball, and David Nutter and wife.  This church is
now in a flourishing condition.  They have a neat frame building,
built in 1858, with a seating capacity of 350.  Rev. Grimes is the
present pastor.

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