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Michigan Religion – Religion in Michigan History

Religion in Michigan History

Free online books and articles with descriptions. Michigan Religion, Religion in Michigan History. Pioneer ministers, Moravians in Michigan, Missions to Indians, Histories of Denominations.

“A Sketch of the History of Methodism in Detroit”

Historical Collections Vol 3, 1881, 225-243

Arnold, J. M.
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

See the Menu at the top of every page for Directories of Free Online Fiction and NonFiction Books, Magazines, and more, on 400 pages like this at Century Past

History of the Presbyterian Church in Michigan – Religion in Michigan History

Comin, John and Fredsell, Harold F.
Ann Arbor: Ann Arbor Press 1950

“Pioneer Ministers of Washtenaw County”

Historical Collections Vol 8, 1886, 214-223

Davis, Rev. Lorenzo
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

According to the author, the first Christian church in Michigan, west of Detroit, was established in 1825 at Woodruff’s Grove, which would later be called Ypsilanti. The Methodist minister was Rev. Elias Pattee, and a short biography is included. The author goes on to profile many other ministers who served communities in the county, usually in Ypsilanti or Ann Arbor, in the later 1820s and early 1830s. The author became a county resident in 1828, and personally knew several who were there after that date.

“The Moravians in Michigan”

Historical Collections Vol 30, 1906, 44-51

Day, John E.
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

“The Moravians in Detroit”

Historical Collections Vol 30, 1906, 51-63

Burton, C. M.
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

These two historical papers are about the same small community of Moravian Indians, led by Moravian missionary John Heckewelder. In the first paper, the author writes that, “It is the purpose of this paper to inquire, 1st, who and what were the Moravians; 2nd, their purpose in Michigan, and 3rd, their success.” According to him, the Moravians traced their history to the 9th century, as an off-shoot of the Greek Orthodox church, and located in Bohemia. The group was decimated by persecutions at the time of the Reformation. In the early 1700s a small group settled in a community in Saxony; soon afterward immigrating to Bethlehem, PA. Two leading tenets of the Moravian Church are: (1) adherence to the word of God and, (2) missionary zeal. Their missionary efforts with the Delaware and Chippewa Indians took them into wilderness areas in New York in the 1740s and west of the Ohio River in the 1760s. In the latter region they created settlements at Schonbrunn, Salem and Gnadenhutten.

In an infamous massacre at Gnadenhutten in 1782, a Pennsylvania militia company killed 96 peaceful Delaware Indians who were members of the Moravian mission. In the wake of that disaster, the remaining Moravian Indians and missionaries, led by John Heckewelder, were summoned to Detroit by the British commander and given land in what would later become Macomb county on which to resettle.

The second paper, by Burton, picks up the story with a narrative about the same Moravian group during their time in Michigan, from arrival in 1782 until their departure in 1786. When the Michigan settlement was terminated, part of the Moravian Indians returned to their eastern Ohio settlements, and part went to a new settlement on the Thames river in Canada.

Other works on the Moravians can be found on this website. See A Narrative of the Mission of the United Brethren … by John Heckewelder, and The Life and Times of David Zeisberger, by Edmund De Schweinitz, both on the Great Lakes Region Religious History page.

See our spiritual and religious books

A Brief History of the Diocese of Michigan

Ford, Charles O.

The Protestant Episcopal Church.

“Indian Missions”, “The Old Church and Mission House at Mackinac”

Historical Collections Vol 3, 1881, 154-158

Heydenburk, Martin
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

Two brief, closely related articles relating the author’s experience teaching Indians at the Mission in Mackinac from 1824 to about 1833. They include information about the early mission and school, and the author’s perspective on the treatment of Michigan Indians by the state.

Detroit vacation guides

By Cross and Anchor; The Story of Frederic Baraga on Lake Superior

Jamison, James K.
Paterson, NY: St. Anthony Guild 1946

The account of Father Baraga (1797-1868), who spent many years in Michigan as a missionary to the Indians and miners.

Created for the Ages: A History of Mariners’ Church of Detroit – Religion in Michigan History

Mariners’ Church of Detroit
Mariners’ Church of Detroit 2001

“Lady Antoinette Von Hoeffern”

Historical Collections Vol 39, 1915, 221-224

O’Brien, Rev. F. A.
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

Lady Von Hoeffern was the sister of Father Baraga, who established an Indian mission in Little Traverse about 1831. She was the devout widow of an Austrian aristocrat who decided in 1837 to join her brother in his work with the Indians. This article sketches her work in Little Traverse, Mackinaw and Superior. She ruined her health, returning to Austria and dying in 1840 at the age of 37.

Detroit Industrial Mission; A Personal Narrative

Paradise, Scott I.
Harper & Row 1968

The Catholic Church in Detroit, 1701-1888

Pare, George
Detroit: Gabriel Richard Press 1951

A bibliographer wrote that this book “is an outstanding work which, in spite of the title, goes back to the years before 1701 to indicate how the Jesuit missionaries influenced the French development of Michigan”.

See also:
– Blanchard, Charles., ed., comp., History of the Catholic Church in Indiana in Indiana Religious History
Lamott, John Henry, History of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, 1821-1921 in Ohio Religious History;
Garraghan, Gilbert Joseph, Catholic church in Chicago, 1673-1871 in Illinois Religious History;
Heming, Harry Hooper, The Catholic Church in Wisconsin in Wisconsin Religious History

The Jesuits in North America in the Seventeenth Century

Volume 2


Parkman, Francis
Boston: Little, Brown 1867

Francis Parkman may have been America’s most famous historian in the 19th century, and is still well-known for books on the Oregon Trail and the French in North America. He did a lot of work on French Canada, and this is one in a 7-volume series on the French and English in North America.

For more works on Jesuits in the region, see:
Kip, William Ingraham (Rev.), The Early Jesuit Missions in North America; compiled and translated from the letters of the French Jesuits, with notes in Great Lakes Region Religious History;
Nute, Grace Lee, ed., Documents relating to Northwest Missions, 1815-1827 in Great Lakes Region Religious History;
Palm, Mary B. (Sister), The Jesuit Missions of the Illinois country, 1673-1763 in Illinois Religious History;
Thwaites, Reuben Gold, The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610-1791 on this page;
Verwyst, Chrysostom, Missionary Labors of Fathers Marquette, Menard and Allouez, in the Lake Superior Region in Wisconsin Religious History

“Congregationalism in Michigan; A Sketch of its Introduction, Establishment and Progress” – Michigan Religion

Historical Collections Vol 10, 1887, 351-361

Pierce, John D.
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

The author established a church in Marshall in 1831, when there were only a few families there. He explains the difference between the Congregational and Presbyterian churches, and why it is often difficult to trace distinct histories of the two. He names a number of other Congregational churches established in Michigan Territory from 1827 to 1835, and describes collective efforts of Congregationalists to expand their presence in Michigan.

Protestantism in Michigan: being a special history of the Methodist Episcopal church and incidentally of other denominations…

Notices of the Origin and Growth of the Principal Towns and Cities of the State; Biographical Sketches of many Prominent Pastors and Laymen connected with the Birth and Growth of Protestantism in Michigan. Illustrated

Pilcher, Elijah Holmes
Detroit: Tyler 1878

Lights and Shades of Missionary Life : containing travels, sketches, incidents, and missionary efforts, during nine years spent in the region of Lake Superior – Religion in Michigan History

Pitezel, John H.
Cincinnati: Western Book 1857

The author, Rev. Pitezel, accepted his first missionary assignment to the north in 1843. He, with his family, was assigned to take charge of a mission in Sault Ste. Marie. After a year he was reassigned to Kewawenon, 250 miles west on the shore of Lake Superior at Keweenaw Bay. This volume seems to cover his experiences in northern Michigan until 1852.

The narrative is well-written and lively. It contains descriptions of the full scope of his daily life in running the missions, which included schools, and also describes family and domestic concerns and activities. The book is partly a travelogue, with descriptions of the numerous trips Pitezel made to other missions in Northern Michigan and to conferences or events at cities in southern Michigan. He also spent time ministering to miners in the area of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

The book contains, in addition to the narrative of his daily life, chapters about the Indians, about Missionary life in general, and various other topics. The author appears to have intended this partly as a guide for prospective missionaries.

“Sketches of a Pioneer Ministry”

Historical Collections Vol 4, 1883, 84-88

Porter, Rev. Jeremiah
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

Memoir of Rev. Jeremiah Porter, who was recruited while a student at the Theological Seminary in Princeton for service in the West. In 1831 he went to Sault Ste Marie, where he lived in the home of Indian Agent Henry Schoolcraft while he established a small Presbyterian church. In 1832, during the Black Hawk War, he went to Fort Dearborn, where John Kinzie was laying out a new town. Porter established one of the first churches in Chicago in 1833.

The Fathers Still Speak; A History of Michigan Methodism

Prescott, William Ray
Lansing: 1941

The Story of the Mariners’ Church of Detroit 1848-1945

Quaife, Milo Milton
Detroit: Detroit Public Library 1945(?)

History Of The Diocese Of Sault Ste, Marie And Marquette;

Containing A Full And Accurate Account Of The Development Of The Catholic Church In Upper Michigan, With Portraits Of Bishops, Priests And Illustrations Of Churches Old And New

Rezek, Antoine Ivan
Donohue 1906

Includes biographical sketches of the four bishops of the diocese and some missionaries, and also describes the general development of the diocese.

Ancient and Modern Michilimackinac, Including an Account of the Controversy between Mackinac and the Mormons – Religion in Michigan History

Strang, James Jesse
Beaver Island, MI: St. James 1856

The author of this booklet had attempted to succeed Joseph Smith in the leadership of the Latter Day Saints upon the latter’s death in Nauvoo, Il in 1844. When instead Brigham Young became the church leader, Strang led a faction out to Voree, WI, which then moved on to Beaver Island, MI beginning in 1847. Strang would reign as ‘King’ of an ecclesiastical monarchy there until his murder in 1856. He also served during these years as a state congressman in the Michigan House of Representatives.

This small book was printed at Beaver Island’s own press, the first one in Michigan north of Grand Rapids. In it Strang provided a competent history of Michilimackinac and a detailed account of the conflict between Mormons and ‘gentiles’ in the area, which gradually escalated in violence. The state of Michigan tried and acquitted Strang on charges of treason, counterfeiting and other crimes. While Strang lay dying from gunshot wounds in July 1856, a mob from Mackinac and elsewhere descended upon Beaver Island and evicted all of Strang’s 2,600 followers from the island, robbing them of their money and personal possessions.

The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610-1791

Thwaites, Reuben Gold
New York: Pageant Book Co, 1959

This source was also listed in the “Great Lakes – Explorers and Travelers” page of this site. There are 71 volumes of documents, in the original language (French, Latin or Italian) with English translations. There are also portraits and maps.

“History of the Episcopal Church in Michigan”

Historical Collections Vol 3, 1881, 213-221

Trowbridge, C. C.
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

History of Baptists in Michigan – Religion in Michigan History

Trowbridge, Mary Elizabeth Day
Philadelphia: Michigan Baptist state convention 1909

Chapter Headings are:

– Beginnings – The American Baptist Home Mission Society – Kalamazoo College – The Michigan Christian Herald – State Missions – American Baptist Missionary Union – The American Baptist Publication Society – Women’s Societies – The Baptist Ministers’ Aid Society – Other State Organizations – Some Ministers of Michigan – Some Honored Laymen of Michigan – Reminiscences – Statistical Chapter

For more works on the Baptists in the region, see:
McCoy, Isaac, History of Baptist Indian Missions, embracing remarks on the former and present condition of the aboriginal tribes … in Great Lakes Region Religious History;
Brand, Edward P., Illinois Baptists; a History in Illinois Religious History;
Stott, William T. , Indiana Baptist History, 1798-1908 in Indiana Religious History;

Pioneer Piety

Historical Collections Vol 13 , 1889, 407-430

Various authors
Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society

This is a collection of short articles about the establishment of early pioneer churches around Michigan. Titles and authors are:

“Early Church Organizations and Preachers in the Saginaw and Flint Districts”, by Albert Miller
“History of the Presbyterian Church of Flint”, by Henry M. Curtis
“Leroy Congregationalists” (in Calhoun County), by Rev. F. W. Bush
“John Monteith” by John Monteith Jr.
“That Pioneer Church” by D.M.C.
“Christianity in Detroit” by Robert E. Roberts

The History of the Church of the Brethren in Michigan

Young, Walter M.
Elgin, Il: Brethren 1946

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