History of the Shire of Esk

month also serve as a gathering point for arts and crafts and plant stalls.36

St James Anglican Church erected in the 1890s at Lowood has always been a part of Rosewood parish. As a result of the Spring Fair held in McKenna's Hall they were able to extend the church in 1928. Among the wardens during the war years Miss E. Patrick was rector's warden at a time when it was rare for women to be wardens.37

An energetic effort was made in 1936 to open a church at Somerset Dam. An old church was shifted from Fernvale and renovated by Mr Hobbs of Esk under the direction of the diocesan architect, Mr Percy. S. Scott made the altar voluntarily and the lectern was a fine example of gothic artistry. The first wedding, of Nancy M. Morris and Cyril R. Stirling of Pittsworth was held on Wednesday 6 May 1936 in the uncompleted St Mark's church.

    Both the Church of England and Roman Catholic churches at Somerset were dedicated on the same Sunday, 30 August 1936, by the respective Archbishops of Brisbane, Wand and Duhig. Two special trains, the first with two locomotives and nine coaches and the second with six coaches, came from Ipswich and thirty trucks took them all out to Somerset Dam. Archbishop Wand's car overturned when it skidded in gravel near Mt Brisbane; Mrs Wand was injured and the car was towed to an Esk garage. However Archbishop Wand continued with his engagements at Somerset Dam that day.38

The first Methodist church in the Brisbane Valley was built at Fernvale on land donated by Emmanuel Denman in 1871. After the completion of the Primitive Methodist Chapel and fencing the opening was celebrated by Superintendent Lancaster with a special tea on 18 June 1872. Rev. J. Spalding arrived in April 1882 as Clergyman for the district and commenced services in Esk. Rev. W. Little, who used to ride down from Crow's Nest for services, opened a church on 25 November 1883 in Middle Street at a cost of £37. The Brisbane Valley circuit was formed in 1902 with Rev. J. Moorehouse was its first minister. The Esk congregation built a church beside the Esk Shire Council headquarters and the old building was moved to Toogoolawah in 1906. Wilfred Hawken, stalwart of both the Methodist church and the Esk Shire Council, welcomed the new minister, Rev. T.H. Taylor in July 1919. Later ministers who served in the Esk- Toogoolawah circuit were M. Lee to March 1932, Rev. Thomas Cherry, Rev. Williams and Rev. I. H. Grimmett, who went to King's College at the University of Queensland in 1939; Dr Ian Grimmett returned to Esk to preach the eightieth anniversary address in 1963. Three stained glass windows made in Toowoomba were installed in the church in October 1983 in honour of two of the longest-serving church members, Richard and Elsie Muller.

A Methodist church was established in Lowood in the early 1890s following the efforts of the committee comprising E.C. Nunn, W. Denning, E. Michel, H. Lindeman, H. Linke, A. Benhagen, H. Lawson, H. Phelps, and W. Michel. That church lasted until 1902. In the 1920s Assistant Station Master at Lowood, Bert Evans, assisted with all the Methodist concerts, social evenings and church services. A short list of the various ministers were Rev. S. Musico to 1917, Rev. I. Castlethon from 1917, Rev. J.J. Wilson from April 1928 through the 1930s, Rev. S.J.R. Muir from 1941 to 1946, Rev. G.B. Robinson to 1950, Rev. O.J. Gunders, and Rev. Evan Jones in the 1960s. A new parsonage was built in 1957 to replace the old 1899 house.

There were also Methodist churches at Moore and Toogoolawah from 1907. The Toogoolawah church was the old Esk one remodelled with a new roof, the vestry was added in 1926, electricity installed in 1936, and the Celia Hawken youth room was added in 1962. The first Methodist church at Linville was built by the Carseldines before World War 1. After its eventual closure an old school building was remodelled at Linville and opened as a Methodist church on 6 July 1963 by Harold Richter, MLA.

The Methodist and Presbyterian churches at Esk and Toogoolawah officially combined to form a co-operative parish in 1973 and the Methodist minister, Rev. Kevin Bachler, was recognized by the majority of Presbyterian members. It became the Brisbane Valley Parish of the Uniting Church of Australia on 22 June 1977, extending from Coominya to Mt Stanley.39

The Presbyterian Church was the first church established in Esk. David and Mary McConnel saw the project as a celebration of their silver wedding anniversary. Until the Methodists and Anglicans erected their own buildings the church was used by all three denominations and known as the Union Church.

The McConnels were Presbyterian and had employed a minister, Rev. Adam McIntyre at Cressbrook in 1864. At the land sale in Esk in 1873 the McConnels bought land on the southern side of Redbank Creek near its junction with Sandy Creek. They promoted a subscription list for the church and pastoralist and businessman Alexander Raff was among local pastoral lessees who donated money for the.building. James Jones, John Milner,