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History of GUMC


President, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant attended GUMC.

General Ulysses S. Grant moved to Galena in April 1858 to work in his family's leather store with his brother. During this time, Grant attended Galena Methodist Church. When the Civil War began, Grant, a retired West Point graduate, drilled volunteers in Galena and later led them into battle.

At the end of the war, he returned to Galena and the entire town welcome him home with a banner and parade downtown. The Methodist Church was decked with flags and buntings to welcome and honor him.

When news reached Galena of President Grant's death at Mount McGregor in 1885, the church was draped in mourning and a memorial service was prepared.

According to author Wilbur Crummer, "The pew formerly occupied by the General was covered with the United States flag, tastefully draped. The house was filled with his friends and neighbors, and a feeling of personal loss was felt by all. The services were simple but beautiful. Several of his personal friends spoke feelingly of the great General's life."

The pew General Grant occupied while in Galena is marked with a flag and a plaque.

The birth of Galena United Methodist Church.

Born 1829, Galena United Methodist Church (GUMC) has been home to many prolific preachers. The first church appointed pastor was John Dew. Another early preacher was Reeves Caramack. He and his family were some of the first members of the new congregation.


Dew remained in Galena only one year.  He was replaced by Benjamin C. Stephenson. After Stephenson's first year at GUMC, raised the congregation from just 12 members to over 75. In 1833, a plain frame church was built on Bench Street between Washington and Green Streets, but was later lost to a fire in 1838. 

A building of stone and bricks commenced immediately and was completed in 1841. The brick house clinging to the hillside behind the church lot was the first church parsonage. The old church building two lots south of the new building was retained for "parish house" activities and community meetings and was knows as Harris Hall.  

The congregation eventually outgrew its building and the present edifice was erected in 1856. Twelve stained glass windows were donated to the church by congregants to be used in the sanctuary. 

In 1963-64, the old parsonage just North of the church was converted to an Educational Unit. A modern home with garage which had been built on the site of Harris Hall was purchased and is currently the parsonage. During a period of financial difficulty in 1979, the Educational Unit was sold. A 18-rank Moline pipe organ was installed in the 1880's and was later rebuilt in 1959.

The years 1980-1988 marked a period of growth and commitment in the church and many changes and improvements to the church building. The entire first floor was remodeled and the pews uin the sanctuatry were repaired, refinished and seat cushions were added. From 1984-87, ten of the twelve stained glass windows were restored in the church sanctuary. The final two windows were restored in 1991.

In 2015, the church created a memory garden outside, underneath the staircase to the left of the building. You will find bricks in honoring past and present members. 


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