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A History of Carlisle United Church

The Church of 1852

By 1852, the congregation had grown to such an extent that it was necessary to have a building to use for church purposes alone.

At this time the village of Carlisle contained about 100 inhabitants, a grist mill, and a steam saw mill. The little congregation of Eaton was one of the 10 preaching appointments on the Dundas Circuit in the care of two ordained ministers and several lay preachers. ( The other nine points on the circuit were Dundas, Flamboro, Waterdown, Rock Chapel, Lyons, Millgrove, Zion Hill, Ryckmans and Hopkins.)

The church built in 1852 was a plain, oblong, frame building, painted white, with two classrooms at the back. It was erected on a site immediately south of our present sanctuary in what is now part of the cemetery. It was probably built on the same acre of land that the Chapel had been on since there is no record of the Wesleyan Methodist Church acquiring any more land at this time. The motto "Holiness Becometh Thy House, Oh Lord of Hosts" was written in old script in an arch over the dorsal wall. The pews were handmade and one still sits at the top of the back stairs in our present church.

In keeping with old Methodist tradition, the congregation was divided, with men on one side of the church and women on the other. At first there was neither organ nor choir. The singing was lead by a "precentor" with the aid of a tuning fork. It wasn't until about 1870, when the village had swelled to 150 inhabitants, that the first choir was formed and the first organ installed.

One of the stories relating to the building of the first church is that a "bee" was going ahead with the nailing on of the siding when Enoch Eaton, son of the first pioneers, came along. He observed that a considerable number of boards all the same length were being put straight up the wall without breaking the joints. He demanded that the men, volunteers all, redo the siding - insisting that the Lord's House be built properly. Though not pleased about having to do a lot of extra work, the men did it.

About the same time as the 1852 church was being built the question of a name for the community was being considered. For some reason, the name Eaton or Eatons or Eatonville was not thought suitable and the name Centerville was chosen. When this was found to be already in use, the name was changed again to Carlisle, after a border town that had passed, over the centuries, back and forth between England and Scotland. The early settlers were mostly English, Scottish and Irish and some of one of the nationalities said they did not care what it was called " if only it had a 'hotill' in it". At one point there were four.) Thus on the circuit plan of 1853, the name "Carlisle" replaced the name "Eatons"

In 1854, Waterdown became the head of a new circuit to which Carlisle was attached.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, churches of many different denominations were starting up all around the Carlisle church which was Wesleyan Methodist. In 1853 a church was built at Bethel (east of Town Line in Halton) which was New Connexion (Connection) Wesleyan Methodist.

Recently, a legal deed was discovered that shows land was purchased from Andrew Patton for 12 pounds, 10 shillings for the site of a Meeting House or Chapel and Burying Ground on Lot 7, Concession 8 on Carlisle Rd. Trustees were appointed on Nov. 5, 1858 to represent the Chapel of the Canadian Wesleyan Methodist New Connexion (Date of Registry - 27 Aug., 1860). These Methodists put up the church and started the cemetery but sold it in 1871-72 by public auction to the Anglican Church (St. Paul's) for $350.00. Eventually the building disappeared. Jack Bennett suggests that once the church was legally closed it might have been moved to serve another function such as a home. Mr. Bennett remembers that his grandfather and father moved whole buildings with their oxen team, and that there was a very organized party of workers involved with such a project, even to the young boys who went in front of the oxen team , trimming back trees that might in any way impede the movement of the building. The horse shed that stood at the back of the property was taken into Carlisle to become Bates Store. The cemetery still exists surrounded by land owned by the Beaumont family, but has fallen into disrepair and only four stones are recognizable, showing dates of death as 1863 and 1864.

It has been suggested that this Chapel on the hill on Carlisle Road was also known as the Chapel-at-the-Twelve and was the forerunner of our 1852 church. (Deeds were often registered years after they were written.) It was probably not.

Firstly, the date on the deed is definitely 1858, six years after the 1852 church was built on Centre Road.

Secondly, none of the surnames of the 5 trustees on the deed matches the surnames on the roll of the 1839 church.

The class book of 1839 lists the surnames as: Crooker, Morden, Markle, Eaton, Kerr, Graham, Harper, Knight, Vance, McCall, Lewis, Orr, Kitchen, and Nixon.

The surnames of the trustees of the 1858 New Connection church are: Alison, Anderson, Davis, Van Norman, Stewart. None of the names is found in both churches.

Thirdly, there were various Conferences of the Wesleyan Methodist Church. The church on the hill was New Connexion Wesleyan Methodist. These Methodists had seceded from the Wesleyan Methodists in 1797. They differed only in conference structure and not in Doctrines and Order but they were definitely a separate unit. In the Upper Canada Census of 1851-52 the 207,656 Methodists were divided as follows:

Wesleyan 96,640, Episcopal 43,884, New Connection 7,547, Other Methodists 59,585.

Fourthly, on the 1865 circuit of Nelson, Carlisle appears along with Kilbride, which was known as Zion Methodist Church New Connection. Carlisle was not shown on the 1856 plan or the 1873 plan which makes sense if it only existed between 1858 and 1871. On the other hand we know that "Eaton" began as a preaching point on the Dundas Circuit, and Carlisle became part of the Waterdown Circuit in 1854 and retained an interest in the Waterdown Parsonage until 1875. At no time is there any record of our present church being a part of the Nelson Circuit.

Thus it would appear quite definite that there were two completely separate Wesleyan Methodist Churches existing on the same lot (Lot 7), in the same small settlement of Carlisle on either side of the Twelve Mile Creek between 1858 and 1871.

Legend has it that John Eaton attended this church on the hill but became angry over some incident and refused to be buried there. Instead he was buried behind the blacksmith shop ( and moved to our present cemetery later). We know that he died 18 June 1837 just about the time they were creating the Centre Road Cemetery and over 20 years before there is any record of Andrew Patton selling his land on the hill to the Methodists. Therefore it seems more likely that it was the Centre Road Cemetery in which John Eaton refused to be buried!

Also around the middle of the century there was a church at Harpers Corners, one at Brock Road, a little later one at Carmel (on #6 Hwy. near Freelton) and in 1870 Zion (Methodist Episcopal) on the Tenth Concession Road.

Also in the mid nineteenth century there was a Millerite or Disciples church at Progreston and the Congregational church held meetings in the front yard of the Gunby home there.

Eventually Carlisle emerged as the dominant church and all the other little congregations disappeared.

When Canada was made a Dominion in 1867, it seemed to stimulate the church groups to also achieve unity. At one time there were six different branches of Methodists across the country, divided into 16 organizational units. (Remember there were various conferences of the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada.) By 1884, through eight different unions, these were all welded into The Methodist Church of Canada. The union of Wesleyan and New Connexion Wesleyan units in 1874 brought Bethel in with Carlisle but the Bethel church is still maintained and holds one service each year, partly to maintain its tax exempt status.

The Union of the Wesleyan Methodists (Carlisle) with the New Connection Wesleyan Methodists (Bethel) brought about the formation of a new circuit in 1875 with Carlisle as the head, giving us at last a full time minister.

From: A History of the Carlisle United Church: From Its Beginnings to 1991
Navigation Aid: A History of Carlisle United Church

Many thanks to all who have contributed names, dates, photographs and stories. Corrections are always welcome.

Our research is ongoing and the validity of the information presented should be judged by the quality of our sources.

Our study includes our ancestors and their descendants (our cousins) and our cousins' spouses and their parents. The parents of our cousins' spouses will show as "Not related to the children of Susan and Barry Reynolds" and their other children will not be included unless they are connected to our family.


Last Updated
November 22, 2014

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