Wicomico County MDGenWeb

Early Roots of Methodism on the West Side

This is another piece excerpted, with permission, from Bivalve United Methodist Church Centennial Celebration 1886-1986 by Paul Willing. Mr. Willing is one of the most prolific contributors of data to this Project, and we are very grateful for his willing ness [;o)} (I couldn't resist - sorry!) to share his knowledge of area history.

Methodism began in Wicomico County in November of 1778 with a visit by Francis Asbury, later the first Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Soon a Methodist Society was organized with the help of an itinerant minister, Freeborn Garretson. By 1782 a chapel had been erected in Quantico and in 1784 Bishop Thomas Coke administered the Sacraments.

In 1785 Thomas Haskins reports preaching at Nanticoke. As early as 1822, a Camp Meeting existed at Nanticoke Point. In The Parson of the Islands, p. 170, a reference is made to that Camp Meeting. He also refers to ministering at "Witipquin, Nanticoke, and Rockawalking."

The Chapel at Wetipquin was erected in 1827 and was on the Salisbury Circuit until placed on a charge with Quantico in 1850.

The First Methodist Episcopal Church on the West Side was Jones' Methodist Episcopal Church located on the southeast corner of Jesterville Road and Muddy Hole Road. The Church is gone, but the cemetery is there.

In the 1820's the Methodist Episcopal Church was split over two issues: slavery and the voting rights of Lay Members at Annual Conference. As a result of the split, the Methodist Protestant Church was formed.

In 1886 the Methodist Protestant Society had grown to the size that it needed a meeting hall of its own, and one was built at Waltersville (Bivalve). The original structure consisted only of the room presently used as a sanctuary today.

Footnote: There was seldom a horse seen hitched to the old hitching rail. One of the older citizens of Bivalve was reported in 'The Centennial' to have said that the Methodist Protestants, from an economic stand-point, were at the bottom of the totem pole. Methodist Protestants usually walked to church; Methodist Episcopals used a one-horse wagon; Protestant Episcopals usually drove a two-horse team.

The men and boys were dressed in their best black suit, which was made of heavy black cloth and worn winter and summer regardless of the heat; no one ever removed his coat in Church. The Ladies' dresses were long, swept the ground, and were tight in the waist. They wore tight hats or bonnets, and the older ladies had ribbons tied under their chin to hold their hats on.

Excerpts from "Directory of the West Side", published August 9, 1983. Taken from "Bivalve United Methodist Church Centennial Celebration 1886-1986" by Paul Willing, March 1998.

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