First Presbyterian Church: 1895 – 1995
In the late nineteenth century, Donald Gunn Ross left Beaverton, Ontario, Canada, with his three sons, to start a lumbering business in Michigan’s north woods. They settled in an area in the middle of the lower peninsula where they started not only a lumbering business but a Presbyterian Church, and a town they named after the town they had left behind in Canada.
The First Presbyterian Church was incorporated on July 17, 1895. The land on which the church stands in Beaverton, Michigan, was purchased for $50.00 from Ronald and Donald Ross and their wives and was registered at the Gladwin County Registrar of Deeds office, March 17, 1896. The church was dedicated in December of the same year. The first minister was the Reverend E. H. Bradfield, who was Pastor of both the Gladwin and Beaverton churches. In August 1896 Velma Leo Ross was the first person baptized.
In 1903, Beaverton, Michigan became a city. On November 10th according to the Gladwin County Record, the manse that was located just south of the church burned and all the church records were lost in the fire. Today we show the first member of the church to be Ronald Ross, one of the three sons of Donald.
In 1940 the congregation was reorganized and elected a Session and a Board of Trustees. In 1955 the church celebrated its 60th anniversary of mission to Beaverton by adding an addition to the original church building. This addition housed an all-purpose room, furnace room, indoor bathrooms and a kitchen, and enlarged the Church Sunday School facilities.
On July 26, 1959, Mrs. Hattie Ross, the Clerk of Session, participated in the ground breaking ceremonies for the soon-to-be Manse. After 4 years of planning and building, the new Manse at 137 W. Saginaw Street was dedicated on September 16, 1962. During reverend Hyde’s ministry the church began to plan a new addition to house a Fellowship Hall, Pastor’s study, Library, Kitchen, two classrooms and two bathrooms. The cement block building, south of the church, was dedicated in 1968.
The church purchased the log building next to the Fellowship Hall added it to the facility in 1983 after Reverend Aeron Davies accepted a call to the Beaverton church. This added a boardroom, a larger office for the pastor, a church office, space for the library/class-room and reception area.
This small church of 80 some members has been both good times and bad, but has never faltered in its Mission to serve the community in which it was founded. It started a day nursery school which today is the Beaverton Co-operative Nursery and still meets in the Fellowship Hall. For years the Senior Citizen meal program was served in the facility until the program outgrew the Fellowship Hall and moved to the Community Center. AA meets in the building 3 times a week, Battered Women’s group when ever there is a need. The Community Santa greeted children here for many years and the Beaverton School District has used the facility during the times they were enlarging their own to ease their over crowding.
The First Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is today the only Reformed church in Gladwin County area. It is the oldest church in Beaverton. The Presbyterian and Reformed Historical Society has listed the church on the Heritage Church list and the original building now has the Historical Marker Plaque on the front door of the church. The only other Presbyterian Church in Gladwin County area was built in Gladwin about the same time, but closed during hard times and never reopened. Today, descendants of the original founders are active in the church’s mission; the youngest descendent, Joshua Mercer, was baptized on August 26, 1990.
The church celebrated its first 100 years on July 17, 1995.
By the Tobacco broad and clear
That runs and ripples all the year,
A new community is sprung
By Bard or Minstrel yet unsung.
We all remember years ago,
The forest far and wide did grow,
And flourished in its lovely pride,
Along the deep majestic tide,
And bye and bye the famous Ross.
The country borders came across
And with an eye to business keen
Surveyed the fine commanding scene,
And with his young devoted sons,
Who work like warriors at their guns,
He built his mills, securely planned,
And now they run them bravely manned.
‘Tis labor makes the nation great
With wealth and traffic in the state,
And men of capital and brain,
Bring peace and plenty in their train.
I saw the enterprising Ross,
When Coleman branch he came across,
A tall impressive, sturdy man,
A Scotchman of a northern clan.
The eye, the head and heart were there,
With money plenty and to spare,
And now we see a transformation,
A thriving “local habitation”,
Behold the dwellings all around,
And camps along the level ground.
See a post office and a store,
And a railroad never there before.
A handsome schoolhouse in the spring,
Where all may learn to read and sing.
And halls and churches yet shall rise,
To strike the stranger with surprise.
God speed the Brothers, “Ron and Don”,
And bless and prosper Beaverton,
A monument and proof to be
Of human faith and energy.
Selections from a poem
by the Scotch Poet: John Taylor
in March 1891