Verde Heritage 1971: CLEAR CREEK CHURCH; Plans for Preservation

MOVE IS STARTED TO PRESERVE THE OLD ROCK CHURCH LANDMARK

"By Florence Dickinson"

"Interest is being revived in preserving the old rock church near the Clear Creek Cemetery. It has been a landmark in the Camp Verde area since 1898, when the first rock was hauled to the site from the White Hills near Hayfield Wash."

"This little church has had an interesting and varied history. Mary Richards, old-time Camp Verdean, remembers that in February, 1898, a great picnic was held at the place chosen for the new church. All the families gathered from near and far."

"The men started early in the morning with their wagons to haul the rock to the site and the women prepared the food in the shade of the frame schoolhouse, 500 yards or so west of the new church. It was a great day because until then there was no church in the area and Sunday services were held in the schoolhouse."

"A man whose last name was Pattea, and whose first name seems to have been forgotten by all, was one of the church builders. But the man whom most remember is this connection is E. G. Nurcey. Nurcey had come out from the East and was a stonemason of some excellence. He was working for and lived on the ranch of W. G. Wingfield on Clear Creek."

"Mary Richards remembers passing the new church each day on her way to school Nurcey meticulously shaping each block of the white sandstone."

"In the cornerstone of the church were placed a Bible and a five dollar gold piece. Sometime in the 1920's the little gold piece was chiseled out and taken away."

"The tiny church was finished and dedicated in 1903. At one of the first Memorial Day services held there the speaker was 'a promising young lawyer,' Henry Fountain Ashurst, who went on to become Arizona's 'silver-tongued' senator."

"At that Memorial Day service the wife of Dr. Payne Palmer played the violin and Mrs. Jennie Bell, mother of Don Bell, of Prescott, played the organ."

"Nurcey stayed in the Camp Verde area, plying his trade as stonemason. He died in 1910 and is buried in the Clear Creek Cemetery."

"Sometime in 1914 a new Methodist Church was built in town and the little rock church was used for a school until the late 1930's. After consolidation of the Clear Creek School District with the Camp Verde District, the church was quiet for a while. The second World War brought it to life again. It was used as a cannery by the folks in the area as part of their war effort. Garden and orchard produce were brought in for processing to help in conserving the nation's food supply."

"Since those days of turmoil and strife the little church has remained empty and unused. Many may not know it, but the church is not too far from the original settlement of the first farmers to come into the Verde Valley in 1865."

"The floor is almost completely rotted away and there is much that needs repair. But still it stands, looking sturdily out over the cemetery. It could be waiting for us to give it the love and care that was given to old Fort Verde."

"A BRIGHTER FUTURE appears in store for this stone landmark. ... Plans are being made to restore this rugged link with the Verde Valley's past."

(The Verde Independent; Wednesday, June 9, 1971; page 1.)

The church was restored. The Camp Verde Historical Society is accepting reservations for the use of the Historic Clear Creek Church. The church is an ideal venue for weddings, memorials, and family gatherings. Information and applications for the use of the church can be obtained at the Camp Verde Historical Society / Visitor's Center, located at 435 South Main Street, in Camp Verde, Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., or call (928) 567-9560 during business hours.

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