Strawbridge Methodist Church Records, 1843-1954, MS 1799

Strawbridge Methodist Church Records, 1843-1954

Maryland Historical Society


(Text converted and initial EAD tagging provided by Apex Data Services, March 1999.)

Strawbridge Methodist Church Records, 1843-1954
Maryland Historical Society

Contact Information:
Manuscripts Department
Maryland Historical Society Library
201 West Monument Street
Baltimore MD 21201-4674
Fax: 410.385.2105


Descriptive Summary

Strawbridge Methodist Church Records, 1843-1954

MS 1799

Maryland Historical Society

Baltimore MD 21201-4674



Scope and Content

The records of the Strawbridge M.E. Church consist of 15 vols. and approximately 260 items (in 7 document boxes). The bulk of the collection is made up of parish registers and roll books. Also important are a number of church minutes and treasurer's reports. And there are miscellaneous other reports for various church organizations and special committees, Sunday School lists, correspondence, etc. There is a good typescript history of the church too, done by one of the members in 1932.

The parish registers and roll books exist from its founding as a church in 1843 up through the mid 1950's. The registers contain lists of members, marriages and baptisms, while the roll books list only members. But books of marriages, baptisms and funerals for the time of the roll books make the records fairly complete.

The church mimutes [UNK] reports are extant for 1930-1940's only--and, even though not complete, are valuable. There are also Quarterly Conference Records for the early 1940's, pastoral reports, etc.

The miscellaneous reports contain many interesting items like a survey of the neighborhood to determine the unchurched, which unfortuneately does not record the date it was made, minutes of different church organizations, reports of the Finance Campaign of the Maryland Council of Churches, 1939-41, and material for a 1954 audit.

Finally, very important is a typescript history of the church, complete with pictures and clippings done in 1932 by Miss Suaanna A. Forsyth, and several one page capsule summaries of the church's history.

Except for roll books, the records of this Baltimore church are not complete--though often the run is long enough to get an idea of trends, etc. Also unfortunately, not everything is dated, so some items' intrinsic worth is diminished.


Biographical Note

(xerox of a one page summary of the church's history from the collection itself.)


Park Ave. and Wilson St., Baltimore 17, Earyland

Arthur C. Day, Pastor

Brief Historical Statement

In June 1836, a Sunday School was started in the Richmond Market neighborhood, in the home of Mr. William Coulter at about 850 North Howard Street. This Sunday School grev rapidly.

In 1839, to accommodate this growing Sunday School a frame chapel was built at a cost of $1,000.00 on the lot now known as 887-889 North Howard Street and dedicated in February 1840.

In April 1843 the Howard Street Station of the Methodist Episcopal Church was incorporated to provide a church building.

In 1845, the lot at Garden (Linden) and Biddle Streets was purchased and the corner stone of the new building was laid on September 4, 1845. By 1846 services were held on the ground floor and in 1847 the auditorium was completed and dedication took place in November 1848. The new Church grew apace, outstanding revivals resulted, the revival of 1858 lasted three months and 350 people were converted. In some years as many as sixteen active class meetings were carried on. In 1858 the Church was partially burned, it was rebuilt and improvements were made.

The missionary zeal of these early Methodists was high, attempts were made to establish Sunday Schools in needed localities, the effort in Hampden resulted in the formation of a separate charge, Mount Vernon Station with a membership of 200.

In 1860 Howard Street Station had its name changed to Strawbridge Methodist Episcopal Church, but the charter was not amended until January 25, 1883.

In 1881, Dr. John F. Goucher was appointed Pastor and his first text was Rise and Build, for the neighborhood of Garden (Linder) and Biddle Streets was fast becoming a business district and there was need for a larger church in a residential section.

Mr. Erastus Mitten offered a site at Park Avenue and Wilson Street, this was accepted and the building at Garden (Linden) and Biddle Streets was sold to a colored congregation.

While the new building was being constructed services were held in a tent on a lot adjoining. On December 31, 1881 a Watchnight. Service was held in the newly finished Chapel.

In June 1882, the church proper was dedicated free of debt, by Bishop Matthew Simpson.

In 1885, a Parsonage was built on Wilson Street, adjoining the Church, this became later a Guild House, next a rented Parsonage until a property was secured on Bolton Street south of Wilson Street, this was used until the one at 1719 Park Avenue was acquired.

The Rev. R. W. H. Weech served longer than any other Pastor, his two terms amounted to nine years, fruitful years and of gracious memory.

Fiss Nellie Mathews, whose membership began in 1882, continues to give faithful and valuable service to Strawbridge Church.

Dr. C. Guyer Kelly, before becoming a missionary, gave splendid service to Strawbridge Church; he is now head of a Boys' School in Tunis, North Africa, and the famous organizer of inter-racial baseball teams.


Processed by: N.G. Boles

Date: March 1970



The records of the Strawbridge Methodist Episcopal Church were donated to the Maryland Historical Society by the Reverend Mervin Gray, 1719 Park Avenue, Baltimore, Maryland in March, 1970. The papers were actually brought in to the Society by Miss Sara E. Crockett, who borrowed them from the church to do some genealogical work on her own.

All property rights belong to the Maryland Historical Society.

Accession number: 62815 7 boxes

Ms. number: 1799*


Box Inventory


Parish Registers, 1843-1871





Parish Registers, 1871-1891





Parish Registers, 1891-1919 and marriage licenses, 1889-1913.





2 Membership Roll Books, 1920-1950 ca. One book of weddings, maptisms, and funerals, 1930-1951, and 2 Church Guest Books.





Correspondence, 1891-1915, 1940-1951. Minutes, 1934-1944. Treasurer's Reports, 1941-1944. Pastors Own Work Book and Records, 1940-1945. Visitation list, ca. 1940. Sunday School roll (N.D.).





History of the church, typescript booklet and one page sheet. Finance campaign of Maryland Council of Churches, 1939-1941. Treasurer's reports and minutes of 2 church organizations, 1930-1941. Neighborhood survey of the unchurched.





May, 1954 material of audit.



Mr. Filby learned that the Strawbridge Methodist Eposcopal Church had a fine collection of parish registers and so initiated correspondence on December 10, 1969, to add Strawbridge to the Society's growing file of registers. Rev. Gray agreed but, in spite of Mr. Filby's persistence, never set up a time when the records could be picked up. Evidently, as a black minister of a now integrated church, he had no real interest in these records of the time when Strawbridge was high society and white. The fact that Rev. Gray even let a genealogist borrow the records for as long as she wished tended to confirm this impression. Fortunately for the MHS, the genealogist, Miss Sara E. Crockett, brought the volumes to the Society when she had finished because she thought they belonged here. She felt that there might be more records, but was not positive. So on March 14, 1970, the Strawbridge Methodist Church records finally were added to the Society.