This fine old farming community, a mile east of Row’s corners, grew around the homestead of the early pioneers of Grenville County and Augusta Township. Settlers were farming here in the 1790’s. A Methodist congregation was thriving here in 1830 (though they had no church).
The community derived its’ name from the Biblical ‘Bethel of the Holy Land’. Just as the prophet Jacob called his old home town Bethel, so did the pioneer settlers of this area.
Bethel United Church stands in the centre of this community as a tribute toits early settlers . The first Methodist services were held in the home of pioneer William Dalton, who threw their home open to church services for more than 40 years, until the congregation built the present church in 1878. Sunday services were also held in the nearby Read’s School.
There was a Temperance Hall in Bethel that was built in 1855 on the Third Concession Road. It was demolished in 1928 after deterioration proved too much for repairs.
Bethel was a hotbed of Masonic activity since 1783, and boasted as being one of the oldest Masonic Lodges in Ontario – “St. James Lodge No. 74”.
Read’s Public School, a log structure, was built in 1831 and served for nearly 50 years until a stone building was erected in 1880 on the same plot of land. The land had originally been donated by UEL Pioneer Guy Carleton Read (1785-1849). The Read family gave their name to the school and the nearby Read’s Cemetery, which dates back to 1800.
The original log school was also used by Methodist circuit riders for church services.
Among the early teachers were Jehiel Collins, in the early 1800’s; William Garvey around 1820; John Walker 1854; Tom Henderson 1855; Catherine Wright 1858 and many others.
Bethel is located on County Road 26 east of Row’s Corners at Bethel Road intersection
(Recorder and Times, Darling Scrapbook Collection Book 3 pgs 17-29)
Ed Hough’s House in Bethel