Ladies aid society clears the mortgage of ‘little white church’

On December 4, 1853, when Washington was still a Territory, Arthur and Mary Denny, John Nagle, and Catharine Blaine, with the Rev. David Blaine as pastor, founded our church, then known as the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Seattle. In their journals, Rev. and Catharine Blaine wrote of those pioneer days:

The church was planted amidst a sparse and remotely scattered population, with comparatively few families and many adventurers, single men, often having no fixed home. [Most] were in the grasp of stern poverty, having reached this country in a state of destitution, and in the commencement, it was a bitter struggle to live … these new settlers were possessed of diversified aims and views; entire harmony and union was not to be expected. — David Blaine

I am thankful the future is concealed from our view by an impenetrable veil. If it were not so and I might, at one glance, behold my future as it appears to God who sees the end from the beginning, I should not have the courage to look… — Catharine Blaine

The first service was held in the log cabin of Guthrie Latimer. Soon afterwards, Rev. Blaine set to work building a parsonage on donated land, which in 1854 would serve as the Blaines’ home, First Church’s house of worship, and Seattle’s first school. The Blaines planted a cherry orchard behind their parsonage, along what is still called Cherry Street. In 1855, the “little white church” next door, at 2nd and Columbia, was consecrated, which would remain First Church’s house of worship until 1889.

Money to pay off a subsequent mortgage on the little white church was raised by the Ladies Aid, the women’s organization of First Church in those days.

The church had a mortgage. Where to get the money was placed before Ladies Aid. Lumber in huge beams was being sent to San Francisco as well as salted salmon in good barrels, and any woman not doing her own bakery was denominated as shiftless. So, how could these church women make enough to clear the mortgage? … One woman with promoter’s vision said, as she addressed the chair [of Ladies Aid]: “Let’s have an excursion.” [So the Ladies Aid organized a tour from San Francisco to the Northwest.] “… the excursionists came, looked and admired the huge trees that stood far up the hillsides of Seattle and loved Victoria, a quaint replica of an English town. When income and expenses were settled the Ladies Aid Society had $900.00 net, which was promptly used to clear the mortgage on the white church.

— Mrs. Lulu Hall, History of Women’s Work Vol. I.