Primrose Methodist Church was established in 1867.
We want to express our deep thanks and appreciation to those folks who have shared so much valuable information. Special thanks are due Mrs. Ed Wright for her faithful service as recording secretary for many years and to Mrs. W. T. Dorough who for many years served as church historian followed by Mrs. W.M. (Frances) Dorough who succeeded her as historian.
Before a complete history of Primrose Church can be written, we think it would be well to go backward into time with a short history of the settlement of this community.
In 1829 a small group of immigrants from Germany and Bohemia arrived in this neighborhood and immediately set about acquiring lands on which to build their homes. Among the earliest families on which any records can be found were the George Daniel Peils from Wittelsburg, Germany.
A few years later they were followed by the Reichardts, Penzels, Rauchs, and Geyers. Most of these families bought lands, a portion of which is still owned by their descendants. As soon as they were eligible according to our laws, they became naturalized citizens. According to a paragraph from Mr. Peil’s naturalization papers:
“After first being duly sworn he renounced all allegiance and fidelity to any and every sovereign Prince, Potentate, State Sovereignty or Power whatsoever and particularly all allegiance and fidelity to the Elector of Hess, Cassell, Germany.”
There was no church in the area and for a time worship services were held in the two story log house that Mr. Peil had built for his family.
Near the close of the [United States] Civil War newcomers began moving into the area. Among these families were: The James Dicksons (later spelled Dixon), his wife Margaret Nelson Dickson; The James Moores from Texas; Jason Sowell and James Wooldridge, both from North Carolina; Gideon Wright Dorough, wife Margaret Caroline Hale, and five children from Georgia. Among these newcomers was a liberal sprinkling of Baptists which of course did nothing to increase the longed-for Methodist Church. However, it did enable the Baptists to plan for a church of their own and in 1869 Pine Grove Baptist Church was organized.
The Methodist Church in Arkansas was organized in 1854 as the WaShita (Ouachita) Conference and in 1866 the name was changed to the Little Rock Conference. Primrose Church was formally organized in 1867 and named in honor of the first pastor, the Reverend G.W. Primrose. No membership roll could be found for these early years. However, the deed showing the conveyance of five acres to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South by George Daniel Peil shows the first trustees to be James Monroe Dickson, Isaac Geyer and George Daniel Peil, Jr. In addition to the trustees, the following assisted in the erection of the first building: W.L. Smith (who later became a Baptist), James Moore and Jason Sowell. This simple one room frame building stood for 54 years until, under the pastorate of the late Reverend Roy Jordan, a new sanctuary was dedicated in October, 1921. The old building remained on its original site and connected to the new building by means of an enclosed passage which gave us our first education building. For some reason teh first Sunday school was not organized until 1904 during the ministry of Reverend W.H. Woodfin. Mr. Chris Tschiemer became the first superintendent and was followed in 1905 by L.A. Miller who served until 1940. James Russenberger followed and served for almost 20 years. He was followed by Charles Russenberger who in turn has been succeeded by Earl Seidenschwarz. The current superintendent is Carl E. Taylor.
During the ministry of Reverend Fred Harrison (1927-1930) the church purchased its first pipe organ. This was a second hand model from one of the old movie houses and had not been accustomed to producing what was appropriate church music. With some minor alterations it was finally installed and while the choir and congregation did not have many trained voices, the new organ did enable us to make a more joyful noise unto the Lord. The organ was later replaced by an organ purchased from Trinity United Methodist Church.
For many years Primrose Chapel was on a circuit with the Mabelvale Church which meant we had preaching services twice a month. In 1937 Primrose became a separate charge and Reverend M.W. Miller (1935-1942) became our first full-time pastor. Men of the church, with some outside help began the erection of our first parsonage. The Women’s Society agreed to furnish the parsonage but no record was kept of the chocolate pies, lemon jelly cakes, hand-pieced quilts, and bazaars that went into their money-making endeavors. During Reverend Miller’s ministry a new education building was erected on practically the same site as our present building. The building filled a great need but unfortunately for comparatively short time. Late one Sunday afternoon the entire building went up in flames.
During the ministry of Reverend L.E. Wilson (1946-1948) a new building was erected with a large basement for fellowship meetings and at last a kitchen (how proud the women of the church were with the first kitchen and running water). A pastor’s study and classrooms were on the floor above the basement. On September 16, 1948, the building was dedicated with Bishop Paul E. Martin delivering the address.
From the early days, the women had an organization known at various times as the Ladies Aid, Women’s Missionary Society. They functioned well as a small group of dedicated women and carried on many a money making project. The funds were used wherever the need appeared to be greatest. This oftentimes meant supplementing the regular church budget. When the organizational set-up of the women of the Methodist Church went into effect, the women accepted the change and on September 5, 1940 had their charter meeting with 29 members and thus became the Women’s Society of Christian Service. They observed their 25th anniversary on October 10, 1965. The name now is United Methodist Women UMW
In May, 1956 Primrose made a large payment on its debt to that small group of German immigrants who settled the community. The Methodist Committee for Overseas Relief undertook the task of relocating 5,000 families from war torn Europe. Reverend James Robert Scott (1954-1959) brought this to the attention of the church. After many months of hard work and the untwisting of the red tape involved, a young German couple with two small children arrived in the community and were guests at the parsonage for several weeks. All the organizations of the church assumed full responsibility for a job, home and the material and equipment needed to enable them to establish a brand new home in a brand new world to them. A trip to the adjoining graveyard was of special interest to them, for there on some of the headstones they found names of places in their homeland which they knew. Since many of the inscriptions are in German, they felt a close kinship. Truly this was a demonstration of international goodwill, as well as Christian fellowship.
Near the front of the graveyard is a fairly small rectangular plot which is referred to as “THE OLD PART.” Small granite boulders mark the graves of the children and plain granite headstones mark the graves of the elders. Large cedar trees grown to enormous size almost completely shade the final resting place of the hardy pioneers. Neighbors in their homeland, neighbors in the new world and now neighbors in their last sleep. Age, weather and erosion have obscured the inscriptions on many of the stones and the earliest one found bears this simple inscription:
Born Sept 30 1847
Died Dec 4 1848
In 1967 the Pulaski County Historical Society presented a plaque that is mounted on the front of the church and which reads:
“This marker commemorates the beginning of the settlement of this community by German and Austrian immigrants in 1833. It also commemorates the One Hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Primrose Methodist Church.”
It is impossible to list all the gifts, both spiritual and financial, which over the years have been made to this church. Special mention should be made of Mr. Dickson’s (Dixon) large contribution of six fine sons and a daughter. It is worthy of note, too, that fifth and sixth generations of the three original trustees have been baptized at Primrose’s altar. Many of them have spent their entire church life as members of this congregation.
When refurbishing of the previous sanctuary finally got underway all the stained glass windows were given as memorials by members and former members of the church. The pews and cushions were also memorials, the altar furnishings, Communion table, baptismal set, the reredos (altarpieces), collection baskets, chancel rail, and the new hymnals were all memorials. Some of them were purchased with money given as love gifts by former members and pastors. The large stained glass windows behind the altar of the present church were given by the church in memory of and in appreciation of a legacy from Mrs. Emma Rauch Sanderson, which to a large extent has made possible the education building that we use today. This building was erected during the ministry of Reverend Curtis Williams (1962-1965) and the service of consecration was held on March 14, 1965 with Bishop Paul Galloway delivering the sermon. Until this building was completed and ready to be furnished, our church did not know how many skilled craftsmen were among its members. Men of the church labored for weeks making tables, benches, rock-a-bye seats, bookshelves and many other items of equipment. All of the rooms were furnished as memorials, including two pianos, and suitable markers were prepared for each item.
The church began a nursery in June of 1969, which enabled parents of very young children to attend Sunday school and worship. In September of 1969, the monthly newsletter “Resound” was established.
In May, 1971 the “Vinson Estate” was willed to Primrose and in June 1974 the Board of Trustees agreed to sell this property, which provided funds to purchase three acres of land and to build a new parsonage. It is with grateful appreciation that we remember Mr. John Vinson and his wife, Sonnorag Carr, who united with Primrose Church in 1904 and their children who joined the church in 1909. All members of this devout Christian family now rest in Primrose Cemetery. The land for the parsonage was purchased in November of 1974. The dwelling completed in 1976 was first occupied by Reverend A.C. Madison (1974-1977) and his family. It is located at 3311 West Dixon Road, only a quarter-mile from the church grounds. The new parsonage was dedicated in the Spring of 1976.
During the ministry of Reverend Mackey Yokem (1977-February, 1980), the Family Life Building was built and completed in 1979. The mortgage-burning took place at Homecoming on August 10, 1986, when the Reverend Richard Lancaster (1981-1989) was pastor.
On January 10, 1980 a memorial garden was furnished by the Dixon Family and dedicated to the memory of James K. and Avery Dixon. The library was remodeled and new furniture purchased by the family of Mrs. W.T. “Jeff” Dorough and was dedicated in her honor on January 27, 1980.
At the Homecoming celebration in August 1981, Mrs. Dorough presented to the church an archivally preserved framed document which tells the history of the land now occupied by the church and cemetery from the time land was granted to officers and soldiers engaged in the U.S. military. This document is on display in the church.
All the books in our library were cataloged and coordinated by Julia (Avery) Peterson. Many new books have been added by the family of Mrs. Horace (Sue) Illing, in her memory. Mrs. Peterson is also responsible for the many beautiful banners now hanging in the Family Life Building. Those used in the sanctuary are the work and talents of Mrs. Peg (Page) Daniel. The banners have been carefully detailed and are an inspiration to all who worship here.
In March of 1983, Helen Scott, wife of Reverend Bob Scott (1954-1959), was buried in the Primrose Graveyard. Reverend Scott said Primrose was a second honeymoon for them and it was during this time that their daughter, Janis Robin, was born. He conducted the humble funeral service for his beloved wife.
During the ministry of Reverend Richard Lancaster (1981-1989) people began talking about building a new sanctuary. A church consultant, Mr Ken Calloway, helped the congregation realize the need for a long-range plan which involved leasing adjoining land and insuring first right of purchase of other adjoining property; increasing visibility; paving of the parking lot; and other preliminary measures to provide growth. Much of this was accomplished by August 25, 1985, and in a board meeting it was agreed that ballots would be furnished each member on how the building would be financed. They voted that one-third of the needed money must be in the bank before any sanctuary construction would be started.