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Site of the Port Creek Church - First Evangelical Society in Michigan

by Ronald A. Brunger
(from the Historical Messenger, May 1979)

Location:  Monroe County - This historic site may be reached by, traveling west of Telegraph Road (in the Flat Rock area) on Will Carleton Road about 2 miles, and then south on Port Creek Road about 2 miles.  The site address is 14428 Port Creek Road.

Solomon Altimos was licensed as a preacher on trial by the East Pennsylvania Conference of the Evangelical Church in 1833.  He preached on a New York state circuit, on the Shenandoah Circuit in Virginia, and circuits in Pennsylvania.  But he was grievously afflicted with epilepsy.  All too often he was smitten with epileptic seizure.  Since his work called him from home much of the time, his condition occasioned great alarm.  It seemed impossible for him to continue as a pastor.  At the 1837 conference, he located.  But he continued to travel, preaching as opportunity presented itself, "with good effect".

He was a humble and very earnest man.  On Oct. 10, 1837, with John Seybert, later bishop, he ignored severe persecution in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and they preached morning and afternoon in the market. place.  A year later an Evangelical church was erected there.  The seed had been sown by two courageous men.

Sometime in 1838, Altimos joined the floodtide of migration to Michigan, and settled in Ash Township, Monroe County.  He reported holding a watch night service on December 25 at Port Creek where "four penitents prayed for grace".  By January 10, he had a class of 17 at Port Creek.  The work went on.  On December 31, 1838, he held a watch night service at Swan Creek (later Ash Center).  On January 5, 1839, he visited Detroit and preached three times in the German language.

Burdened for Michigan and the Northwest Territory, Altimos returned to Pennsylvania.  He laid before the General Conference a report of his work and begged for workers.  He returned and was stricken while preaching in the pulpit.  Taken to the home of a friend, he suffered one attack after another and died in a day or two, March 18, 1841.  He literally gave his life for the gospel.  A unique stone marks his grave in the Port Creek Cemetery.  He was a humble man who burned his life out for the gospel.

The class which he founded and led, disbanded for a time.  In time, it was revived, the Port Creek Church was built and flourished here until 1924 [Other sources show that the Port Creek Evangelical Church and its successor, the Port Creek Evangelical and United Brethren Church, survived until the merger of the Methodist Church and the EUB led to its merger with two churches in Carleton, Michigan].

We advise tourists that they may contact our pastor at the Flat Rock Church for guide service to this site.