A GLANCE AT THE GRIDLEY CHURCH HISTORY: as per told by Mrs. Troy King, September 27, 1982
At this time of the celebration of our church’s 118th year in Gridley, let us pause and look back at the
years past and remember some of the memorable events and some of those unforgettable people who worked so
faithfully to keep our church active and alive in the Lord’s name from September 27, 1964 to the present time,
September 27, 1982.
Gridley Church was started in Civil War days, noting its’ early beginnings in 1863 in a camp meeting held
by Rev. J.H. Mayfield, north of Gridley near what is now the cemetery. There were about 50 persons converted in
this first effort. Rev. Phillip Boulware, our first pastor held meetings in a tent until a small church building
could be built.
With the coming of the railroad in 1870, the town began. In 1865 Mr. Garret Keppel, John Hurburt and two
other men bought 40 acres and gave the land to the church. In 1874, under the leadership of Rev. J.L fields, the
congregation built the structure which was the first house of worship in Gridley and was known as Upper Live Oak
Church. A parsonage was built where the present Grace Lutheran Church now stands. The parsonage burned and
another parsonage was built here on the site where our present church building stands. It also burned and in 1942
a new parsonage was purchased at 910 Indiana. It was sold after our present church and parsonage were built.
Rev. Francis Fisher, who served as pastor here for 13 years, from 1888 to 1901, established our Durham
Church, a church at Bangor, a church at Live Oak, and one at Biggs. Live Oak church burned and they joined with
others and formed a community church. Bangor Church was also badly damaged by fire and was abandoned. During
this pastorate in 1898, Mrs. Mamie Sala Bollman joined the church by profession of faith. Many of us remember
this good Christian friend and her many efficient abilities.
According to old records this church has entertained the annual conference three times during its’
existence –in 1872, 1892, and 1926; and Roy Wiser remembered that there was also a conference here sometime
between 1911-1914, when Bishop Bell presided.
Fire destroyed the church building in 1924. For a time services were held in the old Woodrow Wilson
School and later in the old Moose Hall, until a rude structure known as “The Tabernacle” was completed. This
small building had neither floor or seats. The congregation sat on boards which were placed on boxes.
In June 1925 we began holding services in the new church, which is now the Grace Lutheran Church.
It would take too much time to mention all the ministers who served here. Mention will be made of only a
few whose memory is especially dear to some of our members of long standing.
Rev. Homer Gallaher, who served from 1913-15, took into membership and later married the parents of Verna
Gwen Wiser Grimsley, who is still a ver4y active member of this church. Her parents were Roy and Ruth Wiser. He
also took into membership Gwen’s 2 grandmothers, 2 great-grandmothers, 6 aunts and 6 uncles. One of her
grandmothers, Daisy Vest Johnson, served as church organist for many years.
Other special memories are of Rev. Howard who served as pastor from 1916-21, Rev. Haller from 1921-26,
Rev. Shull from 1926-27, Rev. Dettweiler from, 1927-30, Rev. Waldron served from 1930-31. It was during his
pastorate that Otterbien Guild was organized here. It was a missionary society for girls. Mr. Neta Ray Howell
was the first president and for many years Mrs. Elta Wheeler gathered the girls for these meetings.
In the later years, many of us have happy memories of Rev. and Mrs. Everett Johnson, who served from 1948
-51. They were the parents of Mrs. Marjorie Linning, who is still a very active member of our congregation.
During Rev. Johnson’s ministry, we built and moved into our present church here on the corner of Haskell and
Wilson Streets. On July 23, 1950, Bishop Warner conducted a farewell service in the old church, the present Grace
Lutheran Church and then the congregation marched to the new building. The dedication of our present church
building was September 17, 1950.
It is difficult not to go on relating special memories but space does not allow that in this short
article. Needless to say, there are surely many worthy things to remember about all the ministers that served in
the years following the ministry of Rev. Everett Johnson:
Rev. Verdun LaChance1951-1952
Rev. John Hull1952-1954
Dr. Shively and Dr. Paul Miller1953
Rev. Harry Flickinger1954-1956
Rev. A.A. Ehlers1956-1958
Rev. John Visick1958-1965
Rev. A. W. Garretson1965-1966
Rev. Foster Hamilton1966-1967
Rev. Neal Neuenburg1967-1971
Rev. Dean Moore and
Rev. John Hancock1971-1972
Dr. Wayne Long1972-1976
Rev. Donald Sager1976-1980
Rev. Ellen Rowan1980-1982
Rev. Gary Parsons1982-1985
Rev. Wesley Osman1985-1986
Rev. James D. Patterson1986-1988
Rev. William B. Jefferies1988-1980
As with former ministers, so it is with former members. Only a few have been mentioned in relating
certain events. So many others come to mind and have been faithful in contributing so much to our church and its
activities these past 118 years………………..
The list could go on and on. There are many, many others who are duly recorded in our church’s historical
records. They will never be forgotten.
Now in the future recording of events in our Gridley Church, there will be many names that will add to our
history and our present past, Gary Parsons, his wife Jean, daughter Susan and son Joseph, will certainly be among
The events and people recalled here were taken principally from “A Brief History of Gridley E.U.B. Church”
written by Verna Gwen Wiser Grimsley on the 100th anniversary of our church in Gridley. As she ended her “brief
history” so this “glance at the history of our church in Gridley” will close with these words:
“We trust in God for the future and know He cares for us.”
Respectfully submitted by:
Mrs. Troy King
September 27, 1982
There seems to be no definite record as to the time that the United Brethren began work in the vicinity of
Gridley. It is certain that J. H. Mayfield held a revival in this vicinity in 1864m, in which there were over
eighty conversions. The Boulwares, Sligers and A. E. Davis were among the first members in and near Gridley. A
small building that stood north of the town was used for a church and Rev. P. Boulware did the first regular
At the annual conference in 1864 all the territory along Feather River was constituted as Feather River
Mission. Live Oak Class is mentioned as the nucleus. J. W. Harrow was appointed as pastor.
In Septemeber, 1865, a man named Hurlburt deeded to the church 40 acres of land which is now in the city
of Gridley. The purpose of the donor was that this land should be used to support the work of the Church. Within
a few years the trustees decided to subdivide the property and sell it as needed. This was done and finally in
1912 or 1913 the last three lots were sold.
In 1874, under the pastorate of J. l. Field, the first church in the town was built. The subscription
list is still available. Records for the years following are very meager. The annual conference records do not
separate the churches on the charge, so few facts about the Gridley church itself are available. The church
entertained the conference three times --- 1872, 1892, and 1926. In 1911, and again in 1921, improvements were
made in the church, and in 1924 the whole structure was destroyed by fire. The congregation heroically undertook
rebuilding and the new church was occupied in June, 1925. Francis Fisher, who was pastor of Feather River Circuit
from 1888 to 1901, furnishes information regarding the activities in the valley. There were six preaching places
on the circuit, though in previous years there had been as many as fifteen. When he came there were only two
members living in Gridley and the church was rented to the Disciples. The membe3rs held services at Biggs, where
they leased the Baptist church for several years. When the lease of the Christian Church in Gridley expired, he
organized a Sunday School and prayer meeting. The then unfortunate division in the Church occurred and rendered
advance difficult, but to use his expression, he “Dug in and Waited.” In 1892, a Reverend Hamilton of the
Methodist Episcopal South came to Gridley to hold a union meeting with the two churches, but the Methodist
Episcopal pastor withdrew from the arrangement. Fisher stood by him and for a week the evangelist spent most of
his waking hours on his knees. Near the close of the second week the Spirit gave the victory and a gracious
In Live Oak the church used the Methodist Episcopal Church one-half the time for several years, and then
when they demanded the full use of the church --- the United Brethren built a new church. On dedication day,
Bishop Castle was the preacher and the financial effort seems to overshadow the spiritual In the afternoon the
bishop disappeared and did not return until the evening service. He preached with great power and then the
revival came with many conversions.
Bangor was twenty miles away but a promising place and much good was done but the place was finally
abandoned because of the distance.
The services at Biggs were discontinued when Gridley and Live Oak prospered. There was an appointment
west of Gridley. The ranches were large and the people wide’y scattered and the adobe soil made work impossible
in the winter, but the services were carried on in the summer. Here lived the Kepples, the Littles, the Browns
and the Bigelows and others. The church at Durham was also the result of the work at Gridley. An account of this
has been given under the Durham church history.
In 1908 the Live Oak Church was made a station and a controversy grew out of the division of the charge.
Live Oak asked for $500 as their share of the joint property and finally the matter was submitted to arbitration
and the Gridley church paid the amount asked. Live Oak continued as a separate station until July 1928, when the
church and parsonage were destroyed by fire. Then the Methodist Episcopal church invited the United Brethren to
join with them on a federated basis which was agreed to and continued for two years. Finally, the community asked
both these churches to abandon the field and the Presbyterian Church took possession. This was done in the
interests of harmony and unity in the community and illustrates the spirit of brotherhood that exists in the
United Brethren of California.
The pastors who have served for seventy-five years are as follows:
J. W. Harrow, S. D. Ensley, J. Ackerson, C. W. Gillette, E. Harrow, J. Dollarhide, J.L. Field, A. Musselman,
G. W. Burtner, W. L. DeMumbrun, J. P. Beck, D. Shuck, A. G. Wright, F. Fisher, J. R. Shoemaker,
H. O. Wiley, William Thompson, M. C. Lutz, R. Fisher, O. E. Gregg, H. Gallaher, L. Hammond, H. H. Haller,
S. E. Shull, E. W. Dettweiler, V. J. Waldron, D. L. Ringland, Allen G. Tucker.
We have given an unusual amount of space to Gridley because of its long history and the fact that it has
been a center from which work has been carried on in many directions.
“Seventy-Five Years for The Kingdom”. A History of California Conference United Brethren in Christ.
Lloyd L. Epley, A.M., D. D. 1940