Northport Indian UMC is a historic Church dating back over 160 years. The Church was founded in 1857, and finally got its home on May 17th 1882, when the one-acre parcel of land the Church building sits on was purchased for $15 from Charles and Elizabeth Stebbins. The deed records it was conveyed to Thomas Antoine, Peter Shawandase, Joseph Lightsky, Joseph Redbird and Perter Yaguagezhick; the trustees of the Northport Indian Mission M.E. Church. (The Methodist Episcopal Church (M.E. Church) is the first and oldest expression of Methodism in the U.S. established in 1784.)
Here is our best pieced together information on this history…
In 1848 history records that an epidemic of smallpox broke out in the what is now the Holland Michigan area. This may been one of the reasons that Chief Peter Waukazoo accompanied Reverend George Smith to move the local mission from the Black River area to the northeastern tip of the Leelanau Peninsula. Smith and his group sailed the coast on the schooner Merrill, and Waukazoo and his band traveled in canoes. Chief Waukazoo then settled his band of Ottawa Indians and named the settlement Waukazooville which later became Northport.
The Northport Church must have had its beginnings here, for within a decade of that time (1859) the Methodist Church annual conference minutes recorded that the sum of $40 was allotted to Northport. Also from 1872 – 1879, $50 a year was designated for the Northport Indian Mission.