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“Hartly Methodist Church (M-E.) was founded in 1840 and was called “Hawkins M. E. Church.” The first church was used until Sept. 18, 1886, when a new church a short distance to the east, was dedicated. The site had been purchased from Walter A. Clark on June 12, 1885. The first church building was converted to other uses.

In 1926, scores of mysterious fires broke out, in the dead of night, in the various homes and buildings in Hartly and its immediate vicinity. By the time ten properties had been destroyed the people had become thoroughly alarmed. There was no fire company at Hartly although one was organized and equipped a short time later as a direct result of this episode. The nearest fire companies were located at Dover, Clayton and Smyrna. The situation became so critical that these fire companies took turns staying on guard at Hartly each night. The state detectives and state police were called in and it reached a point where everyone left their homes fully illuminated each night.

Early on Mon., Apr. 19, the sheathing of the Methodist Church was torn off near the altar, the spot was saturated. with oil and set afire. This fire was discovered and extinguished with only $200.00 damage. But on Wed., Apr. 28, at 3:30 A. M., the firebug made a complete job of the church. The Dover Fire Company was on guard that night but, when discovered, the flames had made good headway. The other two companies were sent for but the church was completely destroyed. This made the eleventh victim of the firebug.

The burnings continued for several months and although several arrests, on suspicion, were made, the firebug was never caught.

The church was incorporated on Oct. 27, 1927. Land was donated on Dec. 22, 1927, by Geo. P. Grotten.

The erection of the present brick church was started and in the meantime the congregation met in the schoolhouse. The new church was completed and the opening service was held on Sun., Apr. 21, 1928, with the pastor, the Rev. Joseph Vaughn, in charge.

There is a large cemetery beside the church. The oldest tombstone is that of Jonathan Stant who died on May 26, 1857.” (1)

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Text Source:

1. Frank R. Zebley, The Churches of Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware, 1947, p. 209.

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