Dr. Anthony in his Fifty Years of Methodism in California, 1847-1897, says that any church which was organized or a church building erected before the first Annual Conference of February 1853 should be considered a Pioneer Church. Ione can make the claim to be Pioneer on both counts, for the church was organized in 1852 and the building of a place of worship was almost complete at the time the first conference was held. Thomas Rickey and family were largely responsible for this and we are glad to honor their memory on this occasion.
Ione and the church grew up side by side and the one has had an elevating influence over the other. Early visitors here say, “Ione is located in a beautiful valley with massive oaks, luxurious grass, man high, and acres of poppies.” James McCauley, writing thirty years after the event describes the rare beauty around Ione in 1849 as he stood on the eminence east of town and looking west saw nature at her very best and herds of antelope grazing. “Ione is a beautiful town in a beautiful valley,” says Rev. Isaac Owen; and Rev. Isaac B. Fish was “astonished at the enormous growth of all kinds of vegetation in Ion (sic) Valley.”
The cornerstone was laid in 1862, constructed of locally fired brick. The church was completed in 1866. Dedicated as “Ione City Centenary Church” and later popularly known as the “Cathedral of the Mother Lode.” The church was the first to serve the religious needs of the people in the area.
Thomas Rickey laid out the city of Ione, and also built the church in 1852
Rev. Issac B. Fish was the one of the ministers servng the Methodist communityh of the Gold Rush - Ione City. Although he is better know for preaching in the barrooms of Jackson and founding the Methodist church in that town, he also shared ministerial duties in Ione in 1854 and 1863.