Visit All Saints at 151 N. Main, Brooklyn, MI 49230 (517) 592-2244. See map below.

History of All Saints


All Saints Episcopal Church

A History
Compiled By John Messimer

 In Brooklyn, Episcopalians began having private small group prayer meetings in 1850 and a mission was established in 1852.

All Saint’s congregation was established in 1858, with the first meeting of the vestry in Felt’s Hall across the street on School Street. The cornerstone for the building laid on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1860, which is said to contain gold, newspaper articles and other memorabilia, and construction completed in 1862. In an article by the Rev. W. R. Blatchford from November 9, 1905 he states, “In due time the corner stone of this very ecclesiastical building, a veritable house of God, was laid on June 26th 1860, 45 years ago. The clergy vested for the occasion in the chapel over the furniture store, first held a service, and then marched in procession to the church lot where amid appropriate ceremonies; Mr. A.P. Cook officially declared the stone truly and well laid. The clergy present included Rev. William Lyster and Bishop McCoskry”.

Evidently there is some confusion about when the cornerstone was placed. It seems the cornerstone was placed in December and consecrated in June.

At the first meeting of the vestry the name of the church was to be St. Gabriel’s Church. When the congregation presented the official documents to the diocese, the name decidedly was All Saints.

Plans for the church were secured and the erection begun, with the contract for masonry awarded to Mr. Lew Greenman the foremost mason of the time. The contract for the carpentry work was awarded to a Frenchman by the name of Oliver P. Stone. Mr. Stone was regarded as a master carpenter, who could not read or write but his aptitude for working plans was extraordinary. Mr. Stone used his carpenter’s square to “reckon” figures in some unaccountable way. Mr. Stone did the carvings on the main altar and inscriptions. He also built the two sanctuary chairs and the altar rail.

Mr. Stone was not a learned man but his mastery with the steel square is also evident in the wood roof trusses. It is said Oliver could operate with or without his flask by his side but traditions says tolerably better “with”.

Mister Addison Porter Cook a local businessman donated the lumber and part of the property. Mr. Cook was the first Senior Warden of All Saint’s and served for the first 30 years. A plaque commemorates Mr. Cook’s service behind the pulpit.

The architect of the building was Mr. Lloyd, from Detroit, a friend of A.P. Cook. Mr. Lloyd provided the plans and came to Brooklyn several times to oversee the progress of the work.

The land was said to have been used as a carnival ground for the village. Much of the money was raised to build the Church from the Ladies’ Aid Society. The estimated cost of the whole building including the land was valued at about $5000. The actual cost in dollars was about half of that as most of the labor was donated as well as half of the land.

The brick used to build All Saints was a soft brick because the people weren’t sure if the center of the community would by Brooklyn or Cambridge Junction and the population would move to the south and All Saint’s become unused and possibly demolished. Considering the location of the crossroads of “The Old Sauk Trail” or U.S. 12 and the intersecting M-50 it was assumed the population center might be at Cambridge Junction and not Brooklyn.

With the advent of the railroad that idea was put to rest and Brooklyn became the commercial center of the area.

The first rafters erected were the pair at the West End of the building and as they were raised an American flag was place at the peak. The crowd assembled to watch the raising shouted “hurrah” as the flag waved in the air. It is said that a Mr. B. Thompson’s parrot upon hearing the “hurrah” could not be silenced for the rest of the summer after hearing the cry.

One accident occurred during construction, when Mr. Mack fell from the roof landing on a heap of stones and was rendered unconscious for a time. He was carried home on a shutter.

The building was formally opened on April 4, 1862, although the roof was not finished and the windows not installed.

During one service a donkey stuck its head through one of the window openings, bringing laughter to the congregation.

A young couple, a Mr. Culver and Betty Clark wishing to be married in the Church three months before the floor was completely installed, thought better of the idea when it was mentioned that the bride and wedding party could end up in the basement! Rev. Lyster had suggested that boards be placed on the floor joists in the alley of the nave and the ceremony take place before the altar.

The couple ultimately was married in Rev. Lyster’s residence.

The first marriage performed was the wedding of Mr. Brown and Miss Hattie Pierce. The first baptismal service was performed for Jennie Bertram, Dr. Crowell, and Reid Crowell. The first organist was Mary Keith.


The Civil war saw many men from Brooklyn serving and lack of labor delayed the building. The lumber used was native timber said to be butternut, ash, maple and oak. The lumber was milled at the south woods on

 County Line Road off Brooklyn Road. The plaster heads on either side of the Church were a part of the architectural design at the time. I cannot find any description of the heads or whom they represent.

The construction of the All Saint’s building was inspired by English and Irish country churches, with the unique church “porch” on the side.

The original roof was slate and was replaced in 2002, also with slate. The design and pattern followed the original roof design. The slate roof was installed by Castle Construction, owned by Mr. Kraig Hardcastle.


All Saints was founded along with other churches in the area along US 12 or the Old Sauk Trail under the untiring leadership of our first pastor the Rev. William Narcissus Lyster.

William Lyster was born in Ireland in 1805 and graduated from Trinity College in 1822 at the age of 21 with a BA degree and ordained a deacon. Between 1822 and 1830 he preached in Ireland and made a trip to America preaching in Cleveland and Detroit which had a population of 2000 at the time. In 1830 he became rector of Trinity Church in Cleveland after being ordained a priest in Ireland.

He was asked by the bishop of Michigan to be a missionary to the wild south of this state and he established his first church in Tecumseh, St. Peter’s Church in 1833 laying the cornerstone in 1832.

Between 1832 and 1836 he preached and conducted services throughout the Irish Hills, a name for the area attributed to Rev. Lyster as he said “these hills remind me of my native homeland”.

Rev. Lyster established Grace Church Jonesville in 1836, which he built with his own money, Christ Church Adrian in 1838, St. Michael and All Angel’s in Cambridge Junction in 1843, St. John’s Clinton in 1856 also build with his own money, All Saint’s Brooklyn in 1858, St. Peter’s in Hillsdale in 1859, served Trinity Church in Marshall in 1840, held the first communion service in Albion, and preached in Homer every 3rd Sunday.

In 1841 he preached 140 sermons! He preached in Albion, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Monroe, Waterloo, Eckford, Flat Rock, Jackson and Detroit. Springville, Manchester and Iron Creek.

A typical year in the “Lenawee Mission” was 142 services conducted, 2440 miles covered and between 20-200 communicants at each service.

Remember that this is all on horseback!

One Sunday he said in his journal that he “walked on a snowy Sunday morning to Tecumseh and held the 10:30 service, dined, rode to Adrian for an afternoon service and returned home unfatigued.”

Rev. Lyster owned 1000 acres on the shores of Angel’s Lake now called Sand Lake. When he came to America, he had much of his own wealth, as his

 family had significant land holdings in Ireland. Throughout his ministry however, the funds ran low and he did pursue donations on a national level with contributions from President Andrew Jackson, Senator Henry Clay and Senator Daniel Webster.

He borrowed money, pledging his inherited land near Cleveland and evidently selling off some of the 1000 acres on Sand Lake as later the land is referred to about 700 acres.

Rev. Lyster retired in 1870, died in 1877 at the age of 72. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Detroit on the family plot. A window on the South wall of the nave shows the headstone at Elmwood.

The windows help tell the history of All Saints.

The window at the back of the nave was dedicated to the Addison Porter Cook family on Trinity Sunday 1862. The message taken from

Ephesians 4:5 can only be read from the outside, “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God and father of all”. The baptismal font in the window is still used. The Cook family was also instrumental in the formation of St. Michael’s and All Angel’s Church at Cambridge Junction.

At the same time the Lyster family dedicated a window to Mrs. Lyster who died in Georgetown, Washington, DC where she had gone to care for her son, a soldier in the Civil War. The Lyster coat of arms face what was once the family pew in the extreme right front or Epistle side of the church and display the shamrock indicating their Irish heritage and “the harp that once through Tara’s halls” was played.

The window behind the altar was dedicated at Rev. Lyster’s death in 1877 and shows the entire grouping of the Gospels.

The organ was donated by Mr. and Mrs. C.F. York in 1921 and was used until 1962 when a 4 rank pipe organ was purchased. The 1921 organ was a pump style and later electrified about 1952 or so. The first pipe organ was 4 ranks and built in 1962 by Bentschnieder of Napoleon. The present organ is a 9 rank pipe organ build by the Fowler Organ Co. of Lansing and installed in 2003.

In 1903 a portable organ was purchased by “Daughter’s of the King”, a young ladies society of the church. There is no history of musical instruments before this time such as a piano, or other instruments in the records.

The Guild Society was formed on May 8, 1890 composed of the younger ladies of the Parish. They raised $1800 for the placement of a pipe organ.

The original altar rail is still being used as well as the butternut pews, which were not made for modern builds

The chancel lights are a memorial to my mother; Evelyn Messimer installed in 1966. The original chancel lights are now in the “Jesse James” room of the Golden Nugget Restaurant on U.S. 12.

Foster Hall, named for beloved rector, the Rev. Thomas Foster, was built and dedicated in 1957-58. The parish hall was built in 1974 replacing the old one, which was built in 1904.

Twenty five priests have served the Parish as rector; the longest serving was the Rev. Dr. Richard Wilds for 25 years.  The longest serving Deacon was the Rev. Reginald Angus for 30 years. Rev. Lyster served the area churches from 1833-1870. Two priests served for two different time periods; Rev. Charles Ramsay in 1931 and 1943-1944 as a supply priest and Rev. Frank Ireland 1939-1942 and 1944-1948 as rector.

The congregation has had between 25 and 140 families as members over the years. The highs are reached when a full-time resident clergy is present and the lows, when supply clergy is used.

Many supply clergy have served at All Saints during the interim between rectors and most recently with the leaving of The Rev. Dr. Leslie Muray in 2001.

These include: The Revs. Paul Hymia, Debra Semon-Scott,  Richard Singleton, Robert Walton, Ben Baldus (ELCA), Lew Towler, Sandra Benes, Gary Fertig.

All Saints Rectors

Rev. William N. Lyster                                                 1858-1870
Rev. S.W. Frisbie                                                          1870-1874
Rev. A.J. Morton                                                           1874-1878
Rev. J.H. Eichbaum                                                      1878-1883
Rev. Henry Hughes                                                     1883-1886
Rev. A.P. Flower                                                           1886-1889
Rev. J.H. Eichbaum                                                      1889-1901
Rev. W.R. Blatchford                                                  1901-1909
Rev. Rev. A. Kinney Hall                                            1909-1910
Rev. Harvey Kerstetter                                              1910- 1911
Rev. Joseph T. Ewing                                                  1912-1920
Rev. George Backhurst                                               1920-1923
Rev. Alfred Shaw                                                         1923-1926
Rev. John James Preston                                            1927-1930
Rev. Thomas Wright                                                   1930-1932
Rev. Eric Eastman                                                      1936-1938
Rev. Frank Ireland                                                      1939-1942 and 1945-1948
Rev. M.H. Hopson                                                        1942-1943
Rev. Arthur Parcells                                                   1948-1951
Rev. Thomas Foster                                                    1951-1958
Rev. Robert Bickley                                                     1959-1962
Rev. Robert Willoughby                                              1962-1969
Rev. Dr. Richard Wilds                                              1969-1993
Rev. Clyde Elledge                                                       1995-1996
Rev. Dr. Leslie Muray                                                 1997-2001