The Turn of the Century (1886-1914)

Note: after spending over a decade as a charge on the Federalsburg Circuit, in 1886 Bethesda became a station church in its own right, with charges of its own in its care. It retained that status for over a century, until the closure of its last satellite church in 1995.


Wilmer Jaggard (1911-1914)

Born March 23, 1856 in Philadelphia, Jaggard attended the local public schools and the Pennington Seminary, a college preparatory academy in New Jersey. He was converted to Christianity around 1878, licensed to exhort in 1880, and to preach in 1881. He served as a supply pastor in Milford Neck, Delaware, until 1884, when he was admitted to the Wilmington Conference on probation. That year, on July 30, Jaggard married M. Annie Short, of near Georgetown, Delaware; they had one child, who died in infancy. Jaggard became an elder in 1888 and served numerous churches on the peninsula.  In 1899, he and his family transferred to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and then, after he suffered ill health due to the altitude, to the Rock River Conference, in northern Illinois, where they remained for another eight years. Around 1909 the Jaggards returned to the Wilmington Conference, where he served at several churches, including Bethesda. Just after his appointment to Marshallton, Delaware, in 1915, Jaggard suffered from a stroke that robbed him of the ability to preach. A year later, the family removed to Millsboro, where Jaggard died on November 21, 1918.


C.N. Jones (1909-1910)

Biography coming soon.

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Edwin Gardner (1907–1909)

Rev. Edwin Gardner (1867?–1927) served as Bethesda’s minister from April 1907 to April 1909. He was born in Delaware in November 1867 (or 1869) to Rev. Samuel T. (1831-1891) and Louisa Moffitt (1847-1928) Gardner. He had a brother, Frank (1872–1925), and a half-brother, Thomas (1861–1931). Gardner became a candidate for ministry in the Wilmington Conference in 1891, and served churches across the conference before arriving in Preston. In March 1899 he married Emily Irving Sheppard (1873–1931), and the couple had two children: Edwin Sheppard Gardner and Miriam Louise Gardner. In November 1899 he also received a Ph.D. from Western University, in Chicago. After a popular and successful stint in Preston, Gardner was reappointed all over the peninsula before ending up in Marydel in 1920. After a year in the pulpit there, he was accused of appropriating benevolence money to supplement his own salary, and then lying about it to his superiors. A church trial brought his career in the Methodist Episcopal Church to an end, although in about 1925 he began working for the Methodist Protestant Church. He was serving the Crumpton Circuit when he died on February 12, 1927.


W.C. Stone (1906-1907)

Biography coming soon.

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Aloysius Green (1904-1906)

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G.C. Williams (1902-1904)

Biography coming soon.

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C.H. Williams (1901–1902)

Biography coming soon.

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O.S. Walton (1898-1900)

Olin Scott Walton was born on August 31, 1854 on Kent Island, Maryland, where his father, Rev. William Baxter Walton, was then serving as a pastor in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Converted by his father at the age of 12, after Walton graduated from high school in New Castle, Delaware, he attended the Conference Academy (today, Wesley College) and Wesleyan University, in Connecticut, although he withdrew from the latter due to illness. In 1879 he joined the Wilmington Conference, and served churches on the Peninsula until 1901. Bethesda was his last congregation before retirement, after which he served as a supply pastor for another five years, before retiring in 1906. Walton married Sarah E. Silver, of Red Lion, Delaware, on February 24, 1892, and they had three children. He died in Red Lion on April 3, 1928.

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W.E. West (1897

Biography coming soon.

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J.M. Mitchell (1896-1897)

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Theodore G. Eiswald (1894–1895)

Rev. Theodore Gustavius Eiswald was born March 29, 1869 in Rhode Island, one of at least three sons of Theodore Eiswald (1831-1879), a German immigrant, and his wife, Sarah Alice (1836-1913). Shortly after Eiswald’s birth his family relocated to Atlanta, Georgia where his father worked as a merchant and patent agent until his death. Around 1885, Sarah and her son relocated to Dover, Delaware, and she took the job of matron at the Wilmington Conference Academy in 1886. At the same time, Eiswald enrolled there in order to study for the ministry. He graduated in 1890, and almost immediately became a supply minister, filling the pulpit in Christiana beginning in 1892. In 1893, Eiswald married Sarah Belle Todd, of Dover, Delaware. The couple had at least three children: Alice (born 1895), Robert (born 1899), and James (born 1908). Due to below-average academic scores, Eiswald was not admitted on trial as a pastor in 1894 – a turn of events that no doubt left him deeply disaffected by the Methodist Church – but was reappointed on supply, this time to Bethesda, for another two years. Further supply positions followed in Millsboro, Delaware (1896-1898), and Westover, Maryland (1898-1900). In January 1900, Eiswald abruptly resigned from his post, left the Methodist Church, and became a Baptist minister. By the end of the decade, he and his family had relocated to Mansfield, Ohio, where Eiswald served as the minister of First Baptist Church. By all accounts, his pastorate there was very successful, and he became popular and influential in the community. His career after Mansfield, however, was rockier: a move to a church in Euclid, Ohio in 1913 ended in controversy and Eiswald’s sudden resignation two years later. After 1915, Eiswald vanishes from the historical record. His wife and youngest son were living in Miami, Ohio in 1920, but Eiswald was not with them. A newspaper reported his death in a sanitarium, presumably from tuberculosis, in New York in November 1928.


J.H. Wilson (1893–1894)

Biography coming soon.

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J.T. Sewell (1892)

Biography coming soon.

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Alvin T. Melvin (1892)

Biography coming soon.

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E.P. Roberts (1890)

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E.S. Mace (1890)

Born in Canada in 1859, Mace graduated from Drew Theological Seminary and joined the Wimington Conference (forerunner to the present Pen-Del Conference) in 1885, where he served for fifteen years. He married Mary Esterley Richardson (born 1862) of Snow Hill in 1887, and they had two sons, Calver Oram (1894-1967) and William Clark (1890-1976). During his tenure, Bethesda purchased its first parsonage, on Maple Avenue, and his wife established the Ladies’ Aid Society. In 1900 Mace transferred to the Central New York Conference before becoming Dean of Union College, in Barberville, Kentucky, in 1908. Towards the end of his life Mace joined the Oregon Conference, before declining health led him to retire to Pasadena, California, in 1923. His obituary in the 1927 Oregon Conference Journal noted that “Brother Mace was a quiet, scholarly preacher, characterized…as unusually sweet spirited, unselfish and optimistic.”


Edward Freeman (1889)

Biography coming soon.

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L.P. Corkran (1887–1888)

Louis Phillip Corkran was born in Dorchester County, Maryland in 1852. While studying at the Wilmington Conference Academy, in Dover, Delaware (now Wesley College), Corkran was licensed to preach. He was ordained a deacon by Bishop Matthew Simpson in 1883, serving in numerous churches up and down the peninsula until his retirement in 1917, following a bout of heart trouble. After a few years of rest, Corkran returned to the pulpit as a supply preacher for churches near his home at Church Hill. A gifted and popular preacher, Corkran was described as “plain and quiet and modest and even humble always.” Corkran married Ethelyn Small of Lincoln City (now Lincoln), Delaware in 1891. He died on November 27, 1931.


S.M. Morgan (1886)

Biography coming soon.

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F.J. Ward (1886)

Biography coming soon.

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Later Pastors                             Earlier Pastors