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The History of Saint Mark's Congregation

Click here to download A Brief History of Saint Mark's in PDF format - includes clergy listing, sources, and picture of Old Saint Mark's 1.3MB

A Brief History of Saint Mark's Church,  Beaver Dam

Among the first Episcopal missionaries to the area was Rev. Melancthon Hoyt, an ambitious man who was happiest when he was pioneering, and with a particular genius that enabled him to establish new missions and build them into parishes.  He moved from missionary work in Connecticut to Indiana, Michigan, then to Wisconsin and later to the Dakotas.  In 1846 he located at Watertown, Wisconsin, where he became rector of Saint Paul’s Church and used this location as the center of his missionary work in Wisconsin.  The 1847 Journal of the Primary Convention of the Wisconsin Diocese gives a report of Rev. Hoyt’s 1846 “itinerant” ministries in communities from Milwaukee to Portage, Waupun, Fond du Lac and points between.  The account mentions that he “officiated” four times that year to four families living at Beaver Dam.  There are also reports that Rev. George R. Bartlett, a deacon serving Delavan, Johnstown and Elkhorn, may have done missionary work at Beaver Dam in 1847 and 1848.  Before being charted as Beaver Dam the town was sometimes referred to as “Mackie” after Thomas Mackie, an early settler in the area. 

Records are more complete of the work of Father Leverett Denison Brainard, who was assigned by the Board of Domestic Missions shortly after his ordination to build up the congregation at Beaver Dam.  Two communicants attended the first service conducted by Father Brainard.  One passed away a few days later, and the other soon moved from the community.  However, the Rev. Brainard worked ardently to develop the congregation.  New souls were attracted, and the mission was named and officially organized as Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church on March 25, 1855 (a full year before Beaver Dam or Madison were chartered as cities).

Father Brainard enlisted the help of Rev. Luther Gregory to assist with fundraising and building of a church facility.  Rev. Gregory traveled East to solicit support, but returned with only $100, a very discouraged man.  The Rev. Brainard made a similar trip East, then toured the South, and was far more successful, returning with $1,500 from donors.  Upon his return a lot was purchased, church furnishings were collected, a melodeon (reed organ) was donated, and the initial work on the first structure was commenced.  The corner stone was laid May 15, 1858 and after two years of church growth the property was debt-free. 

In 1861 two lots were purchased to be used for a church parsonage. That same year Rev. Richard Foster Sweet, a deacon, was called to begin his ministry at Saint Mark’s.  On August 3rd, 1863 the building was consecrated by Bishop Jackson Kemper.  There are indications in church records that Rev. Brainard remained active in work at Saint Mark’s for ten years, working along with Rev. Sweet, until Deacon Sweet was ordained priest and assigned elsewhere, and until Rev. William E. Wright was called in 1866.

Click here to continue with Saint Mark's history in PDF format

Old Saint Mark's Church, built and enlarged in the 1800's, still standing in downtown Beaver Dam, in use as a child care facility. 

Click here to visit our 2005 sesquicentennial web page with information on parish and community events

Click here to view the stained glass windows at Saint Mark's Church



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Saint Mark's Episcopal Church



This site was last updated 07/06/16