History (from 1st Pres Archives)

An Early Historical Overview of North Presbyterian Church  Kalamazoo, Michigan

From an excerpt of historical article on First Presbyterian Church from their archives reprinted verbatim.

Pastor Job Pierson was installed at First Presbyterian Church on January 14, 1864. Pierson was a New Yorker by birth and a graduate of Auburn  Theological Seminary. While in Kalamazoo he lived at Rose and Lovell Streets in the small brick house still standing, but then facing Rose Street. It was in Pierson’s pastorate that the Mission Woods Sunday School was founded.

Four girls, about 14 years old (ranging in age from 14-18) thought the children of the northeastern part of the town needed the help afforded by a Sunday school. One Sunday afternoon in June, 1864, while Grant’s armies were resting from the bloody attacks at Cold Harbor, these girls -Ada Haley, Bertha Hilbert, Helen Reid, and Eliza Valentine, all members of the Presbyterian Sunday school – held their first classes in the woodland pasture at the south east comer of Gull Road and Riverview Drive. For seats, they used boards borrowed from the construction of the Michigan Female Seminary nearby. Before long, David 0. Roberts, superintendent of the Presbyterian Sunday school, noting the disappearance of the hymn books the girls had borrowed, got track of this project and became its sponsor.

With cold weather the Mission Woods school moved into a small frame building used as a schoolhouse by African American children, on the southeast comer of North and Walbridge Streets; and in April Frank S. Hillhouse, business associate of Roberts, became superintendent.

When increasing attendance raised the question of larger quarters, a lot was bought on the northwest comer of Burdick and Ransom Streets, and the Mission Chapel was built on that site. Twelve years later the people of the Chapel asked the Kalamazoo Presbytery to organize them into a religious society. The Presbytery met in the Chapel on March 13, 1878, and organized North Presbyterian Church with 37 members, of whom nine came from First Church, four from the First Baptist Church, three from the First Methodist Church, and four from the First Congregational Church. D.O. Roberts continued his personal interest, serving as superintendent from 1870-1888, and working tirelessly for the money that build the church house. The first pastor was E.B. Sherwood.