Jesus was a Jew who lived over 2000 years ago.  Christianity grew from its starting point in the Roman Empire and it spread through the rest of Europe and the world.  Christianity eventually split into three major branches:  Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant.


Christianity grew from being a small sect born from Judaism to the dominant religion of the Mediterranean region in less than 400 years.  Now, it is one of the world's three most practiced religions and it continues to grow.

Scott Township was surveyed in 1791 but no treaty was ever made with the Huron nation who occupied the territory at the time. The Township was opened for settlement in 1807; many Quakers purchased their land from 1804-1807 but later settlers were granted title. The township was incorporated into York County in 1850 and was probably named after Thomas Scott, an Attorney General and Chief Magistrate of Upper Canada. In 1852 it became part of the newly formed Ontario County. Municipal elections were held as early as 1853 but the Township Hall was not built until 1860.
The community was unusual in that it did not grow up around a mill. In 1836 there were only 55 people in Scott, increasing to 76 in 1839. By 1840 there were quite a few settlers in the area but no shops or sawmill. These all arrived later. Peak settlement was in 1871 when there were 2,775 citizens, including 360 farms. The arrival of the railway in neighbouring centres caused a decline so that by 1891 there were only 2,342 people, with farming acreage also decreasing. A school was built in 1853 and there was enough activity that the area became a hamlet in 1864. One of the earliest settlers was Jonathon Bear who lived on Lot 4, Conc.3. Neighbours included Stuart, Moore, Lundy, Sharpin, Johnson, Bateman, Burling, Shell, Smith, Meek, Somerville, Lemon, Dick, Carruthers, Davidson and Widdifeld.
Methodist Circuit Riding preachers came to Uxbridge-Scott area in the 1830s.  J. Adams and other lay preachers held meetings in homes and halls until 1851. At that time the community was called Salem. A frame Primitive Methodist building was constructed on the NE corner of the lot owned by Jonathon Bear, one half acre, the present site of Memory Cemetery. William Stuart, William Sharpin , Rev. Moore, George Johnson, Harry Shell, John Bateman and William Moore registered the deed. In the 1861 census the chapel was valued at $200.00. There was room for 150 seats and 100 Sabbath pupils attended after the group was formed in 1857. The 1869 Gazette lists Rev. R. McKee as the Primitive minister.
By 1863 the first building was too small and was moved to another location making room for the construction of a larger edifice. In 1872 the Sabbath School celebrated its 15th birthday in the new building. An adjoining ½ acre was purchased from Anthony Steele, who had moved to the community from York County. This deal was facilitated by A.W.Moore, William Bell, and Thomas Burnham. By 1883 the circuit consisted of Siloam, Providence, Zion-Thomas Foster and Hartman. The Post Office opened in the store in 1862, after which the name changed from Salem to Sandford, possible after Sir Sandford Fleming.
An 1881 property schedule says that Rev. John Garner was the Superintendant of the circuit when the when the church opened in 1864, the church could hold 250 people while the average attendance at Sunday School was 100! Total cost of construction was $12.00 but there was no insurance, nor any debt.
Rev. James Smith and local preachers conducted services in the chapel until 1871 after which a resident minister, Rev. William Newton was hired. In 1873 he was able to move into a newly erected parsonage close by. Between 1871 and 1880 there were 169 children baptised, many coming from quite a distance. In 1887 the circuit consisted of Hartman, Providence (which closed in 1903), Sandford and Ashworth.
In 1888 a Ladies Aid was formed with Mrs. Steward as president, Mrs. Fred Taylor as Secretary and Mrs. Joshua Moore Treasurer. In 1892 a Women’s Missionary Society (WMS) was formed. For many years this group existed side-by-side with the Women’s Association but later they were combined into the United Church Women.
On April 11, 1898 the frame church burned accidentally. It was valued at $1400.00. It was insured for $700.00 but because of the nature of the incident they only received $600.00 compensation. Services were held in the Oddfellows Hall until the new brick building was completed and opened on Nov.1, 1899. The present site was purchased from Fred Taylor for $200.00. The sod-turning was accomplished by Fred Taylor and John Flumerfelt. Overseers of the construction were Thomas Oliver, Fred Feasby, Allen Dick, Ed. Taylor, Joel Hackner, James Smockum, William Risebrough, Ben Widdifield, W.J. Moore, David Harwood, Thomas Card, James C, Meek and John Flumerfelt. The building was valued at $2,200.00
Due to changes within the Methodist Church the congregation was now known as Episcopal Methodists rather than Primitive Methodist. They celebrated with a fowl supper in the upper part of the Oddfellows Hall. That same year Zephyr joined the circuit with Sandford and Ashworth.
Large shed were built for the horses in 1911. An adult Bible Class was formed in 1915 and in 1925, after the union of the Congregationalist, Methodists and Presbyterians the congregation became Sandford United Church. In 1918 the parsonage in Sandford was sold and a house rented in Zephyr, a new parsonage purchased in Zephyr in 1923. This was sold and a new one built in later years. Lately it has been rented out as recent ministers prefer their own accommodation.
In 1952 a Tuxis Boys Square and the Sandford-Zephyr Young Peoples’ group formed. In 1959 there was a complete renovation of the church and Sunday school rooms. Over the years a number of gifts have been dedicated to the church, mostly in memory of members and loved ones. On Apr.11, 1979 the church’s oldest member, Byron Risebrough, and young Lewis Adams officially turned the sod for a $31,000.00 new addition to the rear of the existing building. The 75 year old shovel was presented by Milburn Meek and came from the Harwood family. This addition included a useable basement, a meeting room, 2 accessible bathrooms and a kitchen. At that time there were some 35 children attending Sunday School. The mortgage was paid off in 1982!
Later expenditures were a wheelchair ramp in 1994, new church steps and brickwork repaired around the front door in 1999, window protection and well covers, new roof and front door, along with continuous maintenance. Recently the sanctuary has been redecorated. Working together Sandford United Church congregation has withstood the changes brought about by time and circumstances- WW1 and WW2 when many of the young men went off to war, the Depression and changes in the economy, changing social mores of society, an aging population and disagreements within the church family. Today we celebrate 163 years of ministry and service to the community of Sandford. With God’s help this illustrious history will continue to unspool for years to come.
Happy 163 Anniversary, Sandford United Church!
Information Sources:

  1. History of the County of Ontario, 1615-1875 by Leo A. Johnson
  2. Churches of Uxbridge-Scott by Allan McGillvary
  3. Decades of Harvest – A History of the Township of Scott 1807-1973 by Allan McGillivray
  4. Ruth Dick from an article written in Oct. 1999
  5. Documents on hand and Census Reports, and a commemorative plate

Much fuller detail, as wll as photos, can be found by reading the books written by Allan McGillivray.
Picture on the right... is a copy of the Dedication service for the Sandford church extension in 1979.

                                                                                        Written by: Clarkson B. Arnold
Our present day Church can trace its history back to 1863 through past records now in the archives of the United Church of Canada.  This part of the church building, now used as a Sunday School, was built in 1864 on the present day site of the east half of Zion Methodist Cemetery.  This church operated there until 1885, when after much controversy, it was decided to move the building and build a new church in the village.

The lot for the church was purchased from Thos. Pickering for $25.00 to be refunded if a new church was built within two years.  In January, 1887, a Building Committee made plans for a new church and also mapped out the site where the old church had been, for a burying ground.  The plots were to be 7' by 16' and were to sell for $4.00 or single graves were to sell for $.75.  Mr. Jesse Cook was hired, as contractor, to build the new church.  He completed the job and the new church was opened on October 17, 1887.  The church was built at a cost of $1,674.94.

There have been many improvements made to the church over the years.  Originally, it was heated with box stoves in the front and in the Sunday School which burned wood.  In 1949, the church underwent a major renovation and a furnace was installed under the church.  This burned wood but later an oil burner was installed.  This has now been replaced by two oil furnaces.  The church has been carpeted and  redecorated several times.

Many of the furnishings of the church have been donated by families in memory of loved ones and names will not be mentioned in case someone may be missed.

In 1987, which was our Centennial Year, a special service was held on June 7.  The Rev. Walter Sellars and The Rev. James Moulton, both former ministers, were present.  The Rev. Sellars dedicated a new organ and two stained glass windows.  The windows were placed in memory of the pioneer families who had the courage and foresight to start this church.  These were made of blocks bearing family names, present and past, of our community.  Also, a large mural depicting the moving of the church from the top of the hill to the village in Zephyr was painted on the north wall of the Sunday School room.

Over the years, the Church has been remembered in several Estates.  An Organ and Memorial Fund was established in 1979.  These funds are invested and income from them used to fund capital projects, as needed.  One of our members, William Bacon, donated new Oak Doors for the front of the church.  The original Bell on the Sunday School was re-installed in a new belfry with money from the Estate of Borden Cain.

Over the years, the church has been maintained in good condition.  Although our present members attending are down, as is the case in most churches, the hope for the future is to be able to continue that which our forefathers had the courage and foresight to start.

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