HISTORY OF OUR CHURCH
historical Sketch of Trinity Methodist Church
by Mrs. Jean Calvert
At the close of the Revolutionary War, there was a great rush westward, and hundreds of families began to pour into the land known as Kentucky. Many of these settlers came down the Ohio River by flatboat and landed at Limestone, where they were greeted by Simon Kenton, the famous pioneer who has been called “the father of Mason County.”
Kenton established the first Station in the country; and sometime prior to 1786, he welcomed Thomas Stevenson and his family, who had landed at Limestone, and gave them a place to live. Stevenson and his wife, Sarah, were from Maryland, and they soon purchased a farm beyond the village of Washington; and their home became a regular preaching place and was the setting for the birthplace of Methodism in this section of the state.
The population of Kentucky was increasing so rapidly that Bishop Francis Asbury, at the conference held in Baltimore in 1786, created a “Kentucky Circuit” and appointed James Haw and Benjamin Ogden as missionaries. Ogden came down the Ohio to Limestone, stopped at Thomas Stevenson's at Kenton's Station, and preached what was probably the first Methodist sermon in this area. By 1790, Bishop Asbury visited Kentucky and formed the “Limestone Circuit”, appointing Reverend Samuel Tucker and Joseph Lilliard to serve it. AS Tucker was on his way to his new post in a party with others on flatboats, he was attacked by Indians and mortally wounded. He lived until he reached Limestone but expired shortly thereafter. Thomas Stevenson and James O'Cull assisted in burying him. His grave is said to be at the northeast corner of Front and Market Streets and his burial service the first Methodist preaching held in Maysville.
The first deed for ground on which to build a church, on record in Mason County, is dated 1806. The lot contained an acre and was located about two miles above Maysville, where a road came to the Ohio River; and a town called Rittersville was layed out at an early date. Harry Martin, for the sum of one shilling, sold an acre of land to build a house of worship for the Methodist Episcopal Church.
It is thought that the first service held in a building in Limestone was in a house on the lot where the Washington Opera House stands, and that this house later became a school when in 1812 a lot was purchased on the south corner of Second and Graves Alley and deeded to the trustees John Tribby, Jr.; John Armstrong; and Peter Grant, an uncle of President U.S.Grant. A small frame building was erected and dedicated September 15, 1813. Bishop Asbury returning from the Ohio Conference of 1813, passed through Limestone and wrote in his Journal, “Wednesday: We passed through Limestone, where I consecrated our new house by bearing testimony to the truth of God, on Luke 14:10”.
In 1819, a Brick building, which was burned in 1851, superseded the small frame church and a third house erected. But before this date, storm clouds were gathering, and the question of slavery was causing dissent. The General Conference meeting in New York in 1844, drew up a plan of separation, and the church divided, with all property south of the Mason-Dixon line going to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and churches on the border being permitted to vote whether they would go with the new church or remain in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
Third Street M.E. Church
In Maysville, a vote was taken on August 31, 1845, and 109 voted for the Southern church, and 97 to remain in the old group. This meant there were two churches, with just one building, and trouble arose again. John Armstrong, a vigorous supporter of the old church sought court action. The Circuit court decreed that each should use the church on alternate Sundays, but the Southern church carried the case to the Court of Appeals, where it became a “test case”, and this Court gave the exclusive right to the Southern church.
Mr. Armstrong, a well-to-do merchant, set about to provide a place of worship for the old Episcopal members, and first built a cozy little edifice on his residence lot, for class meetings, prayers, and board meetings. He later purchased the Third Street lot where the building known as the Third Street Methodist Episcopal Church was erected and dedicated in 1847 with great ceremonies.
In 1854, the explosion of a powder magazine damaged the church of the Southern Methodists, as well as the Third Street Methodist Episcopal building. But not until 1890 did the Southern church appoint a building committee, and the building that still stands on Second Street and Graves Alley was erected in 1891.
On May 10, 1939, at a meeting of the General Conference in Kansas City, the General Conferences of the two Methodist branches decided to unite, and to again become one church. The two local churches did not vote to merge until May 19, 1946. After the reunion was accomplished, the name “Trinity Methodist” was chosen, and a service of union was held June 9, 1946 at First Methodist Church. With a combined membership of seven hundred, a need was felt for a new edifice, and the official board began the task of finding a new location. By January 1947, they had purchased the property adjoining the Third Street M.E. Church, and it was deemed fitting to build on the land that had housed the church for more than a hundred years. The Southern Methodist building was sold, and all services were held in the Third Street property until money could be raised to erect the new church. With the entire congregation working together harmoniously, contracts were awarded in 1953 for a modern religious education building, and in 1955 for the handsome brick sanctuary. On Sunday morning, December 23, 1956, the members of Trinity Methodist saw the realization of a dream come true, as they gathered for worship for the first time in the new church. The Trinity Methodist Church was dedicated March 25, 1962.