The Community Builds a Church
In the mid 1800’s, a controversy arose between the parishioners of the Churches of Scotland and the Free Church. The dispute reportedly centered on a disagreement concerning the separation of Church and State. The result was about sixty people breaking away from the Presbyterian Churches in Middleville and Rosetta to join the Congregational Church around 1848. The first log building was situated on the West half of Lot 16, Concession 6 directly across from the current Middleville fairgrounds. It had rough pine boards laid on cedar blocks for seats. The first deacons were Archibald Rankin Sr, Robert Affleck Sr, Robert Robertson, William Aitken and Robert Peacock.
The following historical account of the beginnings of the stone Church in Middleville gives an interesting glimpse into how a community project would unfold in the 1800's.
The church’s bell has a few stories of its own. In 1882, Rev. McColl’s wife, canvassed the community and surrounding districts on foot to collect money for a Church bell. This bell became a critical part of everyday life by calling worshippers to Church on Sabbath, tolling for funerals, welcoming new years, sounding the alarm in case of fire and as a daily time keeper being sounded at 7am, noon and 6pm by John Blackburn. The story goes that a neighbourhood dog owned by Mr. Croft, Gyp, howled along with the bell. When John Blackburn ceased ringing the bell, Gyp continued to howl at the appointed times each day.
When the Congregational Church was sold in 1999, the brass bell weighing one ton was taken down from the bell tower.
Moving the bell was a heavy task, but modern day machinery would make the task easier than the one the community members faced when it was originally hoisted up high and installed in the stone Church tower in 1884. This time bell was loaded on a truck and transported down the street to be installed in the bell tower of Trinity United Church. However, it never worked properly and was considered dangerous when people tried to ring it. In about 2016, the bell was brought down to the ground once more and hung in a specially made base. Today, the bell can be rung by passers by.
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This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.