116 Years of History
It started in 1906 ...
when a number of Methodists in the Neshanic Station area, who were tired of hitching up a horse to a buggy and traveling the three miles to Centerville Methodist Church, decided a church was needed in Neshanic Station. John V. Huff accepted the leadership of the effort to organize the new church.
In the spring of 1906 services were held in the Knights of Pythias Hall. On June 21, 1906 a lot was purchased by Daniel Halleron, John V. Huff and Jacob B. Williamson, Trustees for the Methodist Episcopal Church for the sum of $350. The Neshanic Methodist Episcopal Church was incorporated on March 4 1907.
A request was sent to the extension division of the Methodist Church to have John May, son-in-law of John V. Huff, transferred from the Central Illinois Conference to Neshanic Station. This request was granted and the Rev. John May and his family came to Neshanic as Pastor of the new church. The May family arrived via the Black Diamond Express train of the Lehigh Valley Railroad which made a special unscheduled stop in Neshanic Station so that they would not have to come all the way back from Newark on a local train.
One of the most immediate tasks Mr. May faced was to erect a church building so that the little congregation would have a place to worship. Most of the congregation were farmers who were barely making a living for themselves so Mr. May was obliged to look outside the congregation for funds. He first went to James B. Duke in Somerville whose American Tobacco Company was making him wealthy. Mr. Duke was known for his philanthropic acts and that he was quite favorably inclined toward the methodists. Mr. May told Mr. Duke that he needed $7,000 to erect the church and asked Mr. Duke for $3,500. Mr. Duke said: "That is a lot of money, but if you can raise that much I'll match it."
Mr. May traveled to Philadelphia and secured $500 from the extension division of the Methodist Church. While in Philadelphia he attended a bible class conducted by John Wanamaker in a Baptist Church. Upon hearing Mr. May's story, John Wanamaker contributed enough to make $3,500. Now he had the $7,000 needed to erect the church.
The church was built by J. Herder Quick, a local contractor, for approximately $6,800. The cornerstone was laid on October 24, 1907, and the church was dedicated March 26, 1908. The Building Committee consisted of John V. Huff, Lester Shurts, Rev. John May, John H. Marquis and George S. Corle. This was the first church in Branchburg Township.
Land was purchased for a parsonage on March 28, 1910 for $300. The parsonage was erected in 1911 at a cost of $2,200 by William Housel. James B. Duke also made a contribution toward the parsonage as did Miss Elizabeth Rodman Voorhees, sister of Governor Forster M. Voorhees. The Reverend L.J. Gordon was the first minister to reside in the parsonage.
The preceeding was written by John L. Schenck, Jr., who acknowledges the help given by Robert May, son of the founding pastor, who contributed his own knowledge as well as a copy of "The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Neshanic United Methodist Church."
On October 7, 1909, the bell, a 38" Blymer Church Bell was ordered by John V.L. Hilpot to be inscribed: Methodist Episcopal Church, Neshanic Station, NJ. It would be presented to the congregation in loving memory of his mother, Sarah. E. VanLiew (1836-1908).
On September 26, 1930, the basement was completed.
October 2, 1955 saw the dedication of the first organ. Edward Wilkins was minister at that time.
For many years, Neshanic, Centerville and Mount. Zion churches were served by the same minister. 1980 was the first year that Neshanic and Mount Zion broke off from Centerville, and Rev. Nelson Lamb was minister at that time.
On October 25, 2007, the members of the Neshanic United Methodist Church, together with past ministers and the community of Neshanic Station, celebrated the NUMC's one hundredth anniversary