The Bethlehem Methodist Episcopal Church Records document the membership and activities of the Dorchester County church. Bethlehem Methodist Church was erected in 1858 in Taylors Island, MD, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The church is still active today. A Taylor’s Island’s Methodist congregation is believed to have been established as early as 1781.
The first Methodist congregation in Dorchester County, Maryland was organized in 1781 and met on Taylor’s Island in the home of Thomas Wellen. Bishop Francis Asbury visited the group in 1784. Moses and Elizabeth LeCompte donated half an acre of land on September 15, 1787 on which a chapel that became known as “Bethlehem Chapel” was built.
Reverend Freeborn Garrettson wrote in his journal about preaching in the new chapel. The church trustees at the time were Benjamin Keen Jr., William Geoghegan, Thomas Hooper, John Ashcom Travers, Peter Harrington, John Aaron, John Geoghegan, John Robson and Isaac Creighton. A new brick church was built in 1857 across the street from the original chapel. This building, commonly referred to as the “Old Brick Church,” was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in April 1975. It is listed as the best example of mid-19thcentury architecture in a Methodist chapel in Dorchester County.
In 1860 the Peninsula (Methodist) Conference split over the issue of slavery. On May 6, 1860 Bethlehem was the first Methodist Episcopal Church in Dorchester County to split from the main church and join the M.E. Church South. Some of the 16 charges on the Eastern Shore joined the Baltimore Conference. The others joined the Virginia Conference and became part of the M.E. Church South. The two divisions of the Methodist Episcopal Church merged in 1939. More can be learned about the Methodist Church and its split into two divisions by reading Garden of Methodism by E.C. Hallman.
A collection of materials pertaining to Bethlehem Methodist Episcopal Church is archived at the Edward H. Nabb Research Center. While the collection includes multiple ledgers containing marriage and baptism records ranging in date from 1885 to 1977; the majority of the activities are occurred during the late 1800s and early 1900s; marriages and baptisms from the ledgers are included in this abstract. It is not known if earlier records survive.
Family names found within the record’s of the Bethlehem Methodist Episcopal Church include Dunnock, Geoghegan, Lecompte, Newcomb, Linthicum, Horseman, Sard, Woolford, Wroten, Burton, Nabb, Windsor, Neild, Brannock, and Mowbray. While most of the records are legible, the spelling of names may vary greatly throughout these records. We have not attempted to correct or update the spelling, so when using this list, be sure to consider all possible spelling variations of the name which you are seeking.
1885-1977 Baptism and Marriage Records, Bethlehem Methodist Episcopal Church
Included are baptisms and marriages from 1885 to 1977.