“Walsh Heritage” Vol 2, pg 672
“In the summer of 1879, Almon Healy, a local preacher residing at Drayton on the Red River, visited the regions of the Park River looking for the scattered sheep. He had been commissioned to do this work by Presiding Elder Starkey. The service, held at the time in the house of John Wadge, was fairly attended, and Healy made a second visit in September of the same year. The preacher at that time was in his sixtieth year.
These dates and facts I have direct from Brother Healy. Rev. Ezra Healy was appointed pastor of Drayton and Kensington in 1880. In the following year Rev. R.J. Laird was give the charge of Kensington and Forest River, and in the fall of 1882 Grafton and Kensington were united under the pastorage of Rev. John Walton. Next year Rev. J. Turner was appointed pastor of Kensington.
The services of those years were held in the log school house on the farm of John Wadge. In the fall of 1884, the iron horse reached the Park River, about three miles west of the Kensington school house, and a new town sprang into being. Rev. H.P. Cooper had just been appointed pastor of Park River and besides had charge of Grafton. Services at Park River were held for months in a railway coach until March when the new church building was occupied, Rev. J. Turner preaching the first sermon therein. C.H. Honey and Robert Fletcher were active in this church work. The church was finished, and dedicated on Jan. 9, 1887. Cooper still being pastor of the charge. The membership changed very much during these years and the membership generally reached 100.” Written by H.P. Cooper, October 1887.
In the year 1918 the church burned, and in 1920 a new church was built. Trustee members of the first board were John Wadge, William Burbidge, John Harris, Robert Fletcher and James McMurray.
The “Alphabetical Record of Members in Full Connection” contains no mention of members received prior to 1881. The first member listed for 1881 is William Burbidge, received 1881 from Canada by Rev. E. Healy, followed by the notation “Died Dec. 21, 1910, TRIUMPHANTLY.”
Other members received during 1881 were Martha Brown, C.H.; Susan and Kate Honey; John, Harriett, Elizabeth and Hettie Harris; Mrs. R.B. Hunt; George and Sarah Nicklin; Sarah Elizabeth Ross; Mrs. E.W. Townshend; Joh Mary and Thomas (or Enos) Wadge; and Susie Wadge Code.
The first marriage of record was Nov. 1, 1882, when Richard Mitchell and Mary Maize, both age 25, Crystal, ND, were married. The officiating minister as John Walton and the witnesses were C.A. MacNamara and Jane Mitchell.
The earliest baptisms recorded were Robert James Higgins and Annie Higgins, children of Benjamin and Janet Higgins who were baptized on Dec. 16, 1885, at Tiber, ND, by H.P. Cooper.
Following is a list of pastors who served the Methodist Church to the time of the Federation with the Presbyterian Church.
RECORD OF PASTORS
Almon Healey, 1879
Ezra Healey, 1880
Robert J. Laird, Sept. 1881-Oct. 1882
John Walton, Oct. 1882-Oct. 1883, who preached the first sermon in Grafton.
Johnathan Turner, Oct. 1883 – Oct. 1884
H.P. Cooper, Oct. 1884 – Oct. 1886
W.E. Loomis, Oct. 1886 – Oct. 1889
G.H. Van Vliet, Oct. 1889 – Oct. 1892
William Love, Oct. 1892 – April 1897
James A. Strachan, April 1897 – Oct. 1902
W.J. Hutcheson, Oct. 1902 – Oct. 1905
C.E. Vermielya, Oct. 1905 – Oct. 1907
Charles E. White, Oct. 1907 – Oct. 1909
John H. Deniston, Oct. 1909 – Oct. 1910
A.W. Brown, Oct. 1910 – Oct. 1914
C.L.Wallace, Oct. 1914 – Oct. 1918
- Sharp, Oct. 1918 – Oct. 1919
E.A. Folley, Jan. 1920 – May 1921
John Morange, May 1921 – Oct. 1923
Robert Johnstone, Oct. 1923 – Aug. 1924
Thomas A. Simpson, Oct. 1924 – Oct. 1925
Fletcher Forster, Oct. 1925 – Oct. 1927
James Anderson, Oct. 1927 – Oct. 1930
Grant S. Moore, Oct. 1930 – Oct. 1932
C.W. Baumann, Oct. 1932 – Oct. 1935
Orlando Lee, March 1936 – Feb. 1939