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United Methodist Church

Mount Zion

A Little Country Church With a Great Big Heart!

Mt. Zion Cemetery, Fairmont, WV

History of the Mt. Zion United Methodist Church    

Compiled by

Bailey Y. MORGAN

Printed by



In Winfield District – Catawba, Marion County, West Virginia

Located Eight Miles East of Fairmont

      Some of the things of a century which had to do with the building of the Mt. Zion M. E. Church.

      In order to get some information concerning some of our pioneer church

history we wander backward over the winding paths of time that have been trodden by the fathers and mothers of the past until we count six generations and cover a distance of time of 158 years, which takes us back to the year 1793.  At that time there lived, likely in a humble log cabin, a man by the name of Jacob VANGILDER whose wife's name was Anna Margaret KIBLER.  To these was born on the above date a son and they called his name Frederick.  His father, Jacob, was born in 1760, and his mother was born in 1754.  Jacob was a soldier in the Revolutionary War.

      Frederick grew to manhood and was brought up to honor and serve the God of heaven and became a very able man in the Lord's work.  It is supposed at about the age of 20 he met a very fine young lady by the name of Susan LONGSTRETH.  She was born in the year 1800.  He fell in love with her and she with him.  He at the age of 22 and Susan at the age of 17 were married.  Their residence was in Monongalia County near Mt. Pisgah Church of which they were members.

    Away back when these things were being carefully planned and done, conditions were very different around this section of the country to what it is now.  The roadways, horse paths and foot paths were very narrow and wound their way over the hills and through the valleys through dark shady forests of virgin timber which were full of wild animals such as deer, bear, panther, wildcat, wolves, and others.

     Frederick VANGILDER had a sister by the name of Sarah, and about the year 1829 or 30 which is over 100 years ago, Frederick and Sarah came into this section  and began holding Prayer meetings in private homes which were far apart.  Near this date they bought property in this section.  In an old house which stood near the Mt. Zion Church which Frederick bought from a Mr. Harris was thrown open for church services and for school work.  Perhaps this was the first house for public worship in this community which dates back 100 years or more.  They brought a preacher from Mt. Pisgah Church where they were members and organized the first class of the Mt. Zion Church.  The date being as near as we can tell in 1833.  That was before the log church was built.

     Sarah VANGILDER, referred to above, married Tommy REED.  They reared five children, namely, Tommy Jr., Jonny, Caleb, Mary, who married Joseph MORLEY, and Elizabeth, who married Allen SWISHER, James VANGILDER, a helper in the work, lived on Cherry Run near McKonkey Church.

     These were some of the pioneers of Methodism in this community which meant at that time practically all of the Winfield District.  A lot of other pioneers joining them were as follows: Anna Margaret VANGILDER, John CAIN and wife, Mary Swisher CAIN, sister of Henry J. SWISHER, Benjamin BRAIN and wife, the great grandparents of B.Y. MORGAN, Isaiah HAWKINS, Philip BOOR, and others.

     Some of the charter members of the first organization were: Anna Margaret VANGILDER, Frederick VANGILDER, Sarah REED, Phillip BOOR, John CAIN, Mary S. CAIN, Benjamin BRAIN and wife, Isaiah HAWKINS, Dr. William VANGILDER, Squire Jacob SWISHER and Barsheba FARREL SWISHER, Salome MORGAN, Joseph VANGILDER, Sarah STANSBERRY, Asenath DOWNEY, Henry SWISHER and wife Mariam, James Morgan, MARK’S [Marcus’] father, Lydia MORGAN [Marcus’ daughter], Tommy DOOLITTLE and wife.

     Time rolled on a few years with the church work prospering, the folks

working very earnestly and zealously in the cause, and laying the foundation

firmly for the work of the Lord.  There were some enemies to the cause and some probably were doing things to discourage even to the burning of their little humble house of worship on a Saturday night.  At this time some began to pray that they might be able to build a temple--a house of worship.

  After the burning of the first house of worship, the membership resorted to

a house that stood in the field back of where Eldora MORAN lived.  The work was steadily growing and soon demanded an established house of worship.  Now

Frederick by this time near his fiftieth milestone and still full of faith and zeal, gave, according to court records in the year 1846, a deed for the piece of ground including the oldest part of the Mt. Zion Cemetery and on which to build the old log church house.  The trustees named in this deed were: Isaiah HAWKINS, Joseph SWISHER, Enoch FARREL, Thomas REED, William VANGILDER.  The plot was practically nine rods [half an acre] square.

     Information from other records verify the fact that the little old log church house was erected in the year 1846.  It is difficult to learn just who did this work but we are safe in saying that some of the older men who worked on this structure were: Frederick VANGILDER, Benjamin BRAIN, and Isaiah HAWKINS, Stephen MORGAN, James MORGAN, Dr. William VANGILDER, Elbert MORAN, Henry SWISHER, Squire Jacob SWISHER, Joseph SWISHER, and Allen SWISHER.  No doubt there were more but it is very difficult to get all the information we would like.

     The size of the building was 18 x 24 feet.  The roof was of clapboards nailed on with homemade nails made by a blacksmith.  The house stood north and south with the door in the south end.  The location is marked by a small wooden cross.

  The population of the community increased very rapidly and through the wonderful revivals that were conducted the church membership grew very rapidly.  One thing we wish to mention is that there was much emphasis placed on the Bible teaching, and the high standard of Christian living that was held out to the people by precept and example.  This brought about real conviction and that lead to many grand and glorious conversions.

     The names of some of the people who were converted in the old log church were:

Susan Downey HAWKINS, Miranda VanGilder BOYD, Emma Grubb SWISHER, Playford


In 1846 the Sunday School was organized, no doubt, in the log church.

The names of the officers for that year were:

     Superintendent:  Dr. William VANGILDER

     Assistant Superintendent:  Robert FARREL

     Secretary:  Selby MORAN

     Treasurer:  Henry J. SWISHER

     Librarian:  Jacob SWISHER

     Teachers: First Male Class: Caleb REED

     Members of First Male Class:  Peter MORAN, William H. HAWKINS, Elias

     FARREL, Richard P. MORAN, John HAWKINS, Allen SWISHER, Washington UNNER,

     Nelson MARTIN, Edgar FAST, John G. BRAIN, Oliver JOHNSON.


     Second Male Class Teacher:  Jefferson VANGILDER

     Members of Second Male Class:  William A. DOWNEY, Anson VanGILDER,

     Robert JOHNSON, Alpheus DOWNEY, Joseph VANGILDER, Nelson SWISHER, Jacob

     VANGILDER, Absalom CAIN, William TRAVIS, Perry HAYHURST.

     Third Male Class Teacher:  Solomon SWISHER

     Members of Third Male Class:  John W. SWISHER, James VANGILDER, Thomas REED, Phillip VANGILDER, Benjamin WILSON, Perry MORGAN, Enoch SWISHER, Joshua HAWKINS, Joshua FARREL, Solomon HAWKINS, Steenrod VANGILDER, William HAYHURST, James JENKINS, Iva HEISKELL, Eli HAYHURST, Eli DOWNEY.

     First Female Class Teacher:  Elizabeth VANGILDER

     Members of First Female Class:  Almida SWISHER, Louisa HAWKINS, Mary MARTIN, Ingabee BRAIN, Martha J. MARTIN, Mary Anne HAYHURST, Sarah Anne HAYHURST, Amy STANSBERRY, Latisha FARREL, Mishael HAYHURST, Elizabeth HAYHURST.

     Second Female Class Teacher:  Cassa MORGAN

     Members of Second Female Class:  Elizabeth MORGAN, Mary REED, Louisa

MORGAN, Manerva MORGAN, Phoebe HAYHURST, Alsinda HAYHURST, Rebecca FARREL, Sarah BUNNER, Prudence MARTIN, Sarah HEISKELL, Sophiah MAY.

     Third Female Class Teacher:  Aseneth VANGILDER

     Members of Third Female Class:  Elizabeth DOWNEY, Abegal VANGILDER, Nancy CAIN, Mary VANGILDER, Marian MORGAN, Alsinda SWISHER.   

     Fourth Female Class Teacher:  Elizabeth SWISHER

     Members of Fourth Female Class:  Sarah M. SWISHER, Preseilla WILSON, Nancy SWISHER, Sarah FARREL, Harriet SWISHER, Roana CAIN, Lize HEISKELL.

     The total membership including officers and teachers amounted to 86.

     We now come from the year 1846 with broken parts of records of both church and Sunday school membership up to the year 1875 when there was great activity in church work in this community.  Our fathers and grandfathers became very busy in making arrangements for a new house of worship to make the place of the log structure which had served its time and purpose well.  There was much enthusiasm expressed by the entire community and in the year 1875 they erected the new house of worship.

     The foundation which was laid was of large dressed stone and was what you would call a solid foundation all the way around the building.  Those stones were quarried from stone on the Marcus MORGAN farm which is about two miles southeast of the church building.  The large stone was underswung on wagons and hauled to the site of the new building--two of the men who hauled were Camden SWISHER and one of Elbert MORAN'S sons.  Those stones were chiseled and dressed by Lewis BOWMAN and Phillip VANGILDER.  This building is a wood structure and stands on a beautiful site with cemetery nearby.  The size of the new building was, length--40 feet, width--30 feet, height--16 feet to the square.

     A tower was erected on the building by Clark KINCAID and Eldora MORAN, to support the bell and that bell certainly has the most charming tone, which has sounded out for over 75 years, calling the people to this place of worship.

     The building is of one room and will comfortably seat about 300 grown

people.  It has always been lighted with oil and gasoline lamps except for the last five years when they started using electric lights. It has always been heated with two coal stoves.

  The deed for the lot on which this building was erected was made in the

year 1860, by Joseph H. KINCAID to the following trustees:  James VANGILDER, Joseph MORLEY, Jacob VANGILDER, Thomas N. SWISHER, and John MAY.  This lot joined the one the old log house stood on.  The building committee consisted of five members as follows:  Joseph MORLEY, Alpheus SWISHER, Ezra MORGAN, W. C. DAUGHERTY and Elbert MORAN.

     The number of people who subscribed and paid toward the building was 193 and the total cost of the house was $1,561.66.  We have the names of all the

contributors, and the amount each paid.  The amounts run from 10 cents to

$148.25.  The profits from the sale of the old house, stove and lumber was $17.32.

     The total membership of the Mt. Zion class in 1875 was 117.  At the close of a great revival conducted by Rev. William YOUNG following the completion of the new house there was added to the membership 15 persons on probation.

   The first person converted in the new house, we are told was Della MORGAN,

daughter of Marcus MORGAN.

     The names of the probationers can be furnished from old class records in

1875 by W. C. DAUGHERTY, class leader.

     The new building described above still stands and is serving its purpose at this date 1951.

     James VANGILDER received license March 4, 1876 to exhort in the Mt. Zion M.E.  Church.  The license was given by Rev. William YOUNG, he held this license over 31 years until he died.  To the above described church property there has been added by deed dated 1922.  By Frederick VANGILDER, Atha VANGILDER and Wesley VANGILDER a lot very beautifully located for cemetery and grove.  It contains about two acres which was paid for by subscriptions collected by Bailey Y. MORGAN which were very liberally contributed.  The price being $300.00 besides expense of improvements.

     Here are the names of some of the circuit riders and local preachers of this place.  George MARTIN, Isaiah HAWKINS, Francis CISCO, Chancellor ROWE,


     The entire list of preachers in their order I have not been able to obtain.

     In the year 1941 it was decided by the President of the Mt. Zion home coming, B. Y. MORGAN, and W. S. HANEY, Vice President, to mark the sight of the old log church.  There was a committee appointed for the purpose of deciding the site of the log church where the stake was to be driven. This committee consisted of: Jennie HOLLAND, Samuel SWISHER, Miranda BOYD, John REEVES, and Belle MORLEY. Each were 80 years old or more and all took part in driving the stake--where W. S. HANEY later planted the wooden cross in a concrete base.   At this time. July 1951, the trustees of this church are as follows:  HANEY, KINCAID, MORGAN, HANEY, SWEARINGEN, and MORGAN.

     The above was compiled by Bailey Y. MORGAN---taken in shorthand and typed by Ms. MEANS.

Mt. Zion Methodist Church Cemetery

Pastor Claude Kinty

Sunday 9:00 a.m.
Wednesday 7:00 p.m.
Fairmont, WV

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