In 1865, just as the Scotch/Irish settlers were putting the finishing touches on this small church in the boyhood home of John Muir in Marquette County, Wisconsin, a rider on horseback came up this road to tell the builders that the Civil War had ended.
Recently, strong winds ripped off the entire side of the roof on this historic building which is owned by the Wisconsin Friends of John Muir. We are asking for your help in the restoration of the Wee White Kirk which sits beside what John Muir called “the pioneer cemetery”. In his autobiography The Story of My Boyhood and Youth, John Muir wrote, “An acre of ground was reserved and fenced for the graves, and soon comsuption came to fill it.”
The congregation was organized in 1852 as a United Presbyterian Church, and first met in homes and then in school houses before this church was built in 1865. This settler neighborhood had no shortage of its own local preachers. Daniel Muir, John’s father, was one of them. It is said that he was a popular preacher, not one of hellfire and brimstone, but rather, he was gentle and soft spoken, although rather long-winded. He is known to have preached in this church which stands not far from the lake in which Daniel baptized his children and the Muir’s second home in Wisconsin, Hickory Hill. In the cemetery next to the church, lie many of the first settlers of Marquette County as well as the founders of this church. In addition, two of John Muir’s nephews are buried here along with a brother-in-law and several of his close childhood friends. The church was built with contributions and one hundred dollars borrowed from the Board of Church Extension. The lumber was brought by mule from Marquette, Wisconsin. Neighbor George Reid, who is buried here, directed the building “bee”. His sons William, Andrew and Charles were Psalm singers on Sundays and Charles corresponded with John Muir.
Since the dissolution of the congregation in 1905, the church has been cared for by descendants of the first settlers and others whose love for the little Scotch/Irish Kirk meant preserving the rich heritage that goes with the small building. Now, it needs help once again to replace the roof so that the heritage and history of John Muir’s neighborhood and the people who settled here can remain tangible in the little church on the hill. Will you please consider giving a donation towards the repair of the roof of the Wee White Kirk? All donations are tax deductible since the Wisconsin Fiends of John Muir is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Send a check to: Wisonsin Friends of John Muir PO Box 811 Montello, WI 53949 or online at: https://www.johnmuirwi.org/wee-white-kirk-fundraiser Thank you for your support!