Sometime in the late spring of 1837 an itinerant Methodist circuit rider stopped at the homes of Arphaxed Crane (in section 36) and Nathan Varnie (also in Howard Township, Winnebago County, Illinois), and preached to any of the settlers who would come to hear him. Perhaps he was the Reverend Mr. Whitford, who is credited with preaching the first Methodist sermon at the home of Scott Robb (in section 14). Not many people lived in the woods or on the prairies of the township at that time. The very first settlers had come in 1835 and the number of votes cast in the whole county in 1836 was only 158.
The area was part of the Pickatolica territory, which was all that land west and north of the Rock River, and was administered by Rev. Thomas W. Pope. He extended the Buffalo Grove (Polo) circuit into this part of the country. At annual conference in the fall of 1837, Rev. James McKean was appointed to the Picotolica circuit (note the evolution of Pecatonica), and the membership increased from 132 to 170. The next year it was called the Freeport circuit and Rev. McKean continued in charge. In 1839 Samuel Pillsbury had the Freeport circuit and he was returned to the charge in 1840 when the Rock River Conference was formed from the northern part of the Illinois Conference.