Bethany History

The Early Settler's - early 1800's - 1878

The first settler in what is now known as Bethany was an English carpenter and contractor named John Thacker. He arrived in Canada with his family during the year 1819. He chose as the site of his new home a piece of elevated land east of the Grand River and built his log cabin and a small shelter for crops and livestock near a creek in the midst of a beautiful and rich bush land. It is on this land the present Bethany Church stands.


Another early settler was Mrs. George Wallace who with her husband and four sons, John, Alexander, Donald and Hugh, in the year 1825, left Scotland on the sailing vessel "Planet" for South America where they landed at Carracus, Venezuela. Eighteen months later they arrived in Guelph known as the LaGuayra settlers. George Wallace died August 18, 1828 and was the second body buried in the old cemetery behind Chalmers Church which is now a city parking lot. Mrs. Wallace and her four sons then settled in Pilkington where the sixth generation is still residing.


Our first record of Bethany Church, then Methodist, was for the purchase of the lot for the Cemetery at Ponsonby. This was bought on October 3, 1843 from Oliver and Mary Lasby for 2 pounds and was three-quarters of an acre. The church trustees at that time were Hugh and Donald Wallace, Samuel Cunningham, Robert Fasken and Thomas Moore. On the tombstones in this cemetery we find names of some of the pioneer families. These include John Allen - died 1875; Joseph Hall - d 1861 aged 41 years; Thomas Howse - d 1874; Mary Peckover (Howse) - d 1855; Ann Howse (sister of Thomas) - d 1881 at 93 years,Levi Patmore-d 1872; Mary, wife of  Joseph Lasby --d 1876; Joseph Lasby -d 1876, and many others. This cemetery was used until about 1888.


At that time, the Bethany Church belonged to the Elora Circuit and services were held in a log school house that was situated on the farm now owned by Stanley Steen, Lot 9, Con. 2, Pilkington Township.


The first church was built of stone and was situated on Lot 9, Con. 2 Pilkington Township on the farm now owned by Kenneth Barton (Alvin Skerritt). This property was seventy feet square and was bought from Joseph Lasby on the 13th day of February 1863 for twenty dollars. The trustees at this time were Donald and Hugh Wallace, Joseph Lasby, Thomas and Edmund Hall, Gilgian Bettchen and William Bye. The minister was Rev. R. Forman.


Owing to the nature of the land, a good foundation had not been built under this church and a new site soon had to be chosen. On the 9th of December, 1875, three-eights of an acre of land was purchased for Fifty Dollars from William Thacker and his mother Catherine, widow of John Thacker. The present church was built of red brick in 1876 with Rev. Thomas Cobb as minister and the trustees were Gilgian and Joseph Bettchen, Hugh and John D. Wallace, Donald
McKay, William Bye, Charles Nicklin, William Martin, Edward and Henry Patmore Benjamin Fyfe, Henry Hall and Joseph Lasby. The corner stone of the new church was laid by Col. Charles Clarke, member of the Provincial Legislature.


A tea meeting was held at the time of the opening and the church was packed for the occasion. William Thacker was presented with a brass-bound Bible for having sold the most tickets for it.




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