The First Presbyterian Church of Anamosa was organized September 20, A. D. 1868, by a Committee of the Presbytery of Dubuque, appointed for that purpose, consisting of Rev. James McKean and Rev. J. L. Wilson and Ruling Elder S. F. Glenn. Those uniting in the organization were as follows : John McKean, Nancy A. McKean, Mrs. Pamelia Yule and her two daughters, Arvilla Yule and A. Yule, Mrs. J. H. Fisher and Mrs. D. C. Tice. John McKean was duly elected ruling elder of the church, and installed according to the usages of the Presbyterian church. The meeting was held in the Baptist church edifice. Rev. Jerome Allen was present and, by request, preached in the morning: Rev. J. L. Wilson in the evening. Rev. Jerome Allen supplied the church temporarily with preaching during the fall and following winter. The first regular stated supply was Rev. Bloomfield Wall, a laborious and faithful minister, who remained with the church for one year from August 1, 1869. During this year, the church grew considerably in numbers, worshipping in what was then the courtroom, where is now (1879) Miller's photograph-rooms.
Rev. Wall having removed at the close of the first year to the southern portion of the state, the church was left vacant and remained so until 1871, when the church secured, in connection with the then Presbyterian church of Wayne, the labors of Rev. J. Nesbitt Wilson for the three successive years. After this time, up to the spring of 1878, the church, although now left destitute of stated preaching, was supplied about once a month by Rev. H. L. Stanley, the able and accomplished pastor at Wheatland, Iowa. During these years, the times were hard, emigration was against the church, several of the most efficient members removing, and death thinned the ranks by the loss of several of the most pious and devoted members—the beloved Mrs. Ditto, Mrs. Pamelia Yule and the accomplished Capt. F. C. McKean being of the number. Notwithstanding seemingly discouraging circumstance the members seemed generally to cling with more tenacity to the faith so true to Christ and the principles of representative republican church government, embraced in its order, as distinguished from absolute democracy on the one hand and the rule of a hierarchy on the other.
A Sabbath school has always existed in connection with the church from the first pastorate of Rev. Wall, and weekly prayer meetings upheld.
In the spring of 1878, having no house of worship, on invitation of the citizens of Strawberry Hill, the place of worship was removed to Strawberry Hill schoolhouse, where services were held until the completion of the church building, November 17, 1978.
As a preparatory step to the erection of a church building on May 5, 1878, articles of incorporation were adopted in due legal form, under the name and style of "The First Presbyterian Church of Anamosa." They were signed and acknowledged by the following persons : William T. Shaw, Joseph Wood, John McKean, Albert Higby, B. F. Smith, Abraham Everett and Eugene Carr.
The first board of trustees were : John McKean, Joseph Wood, Albert Higby, B. F. Smith and B. G. Yule, of whom Judge McKean was elected president and Albert Higby, secretary, with Joseph Wood, treasurer. Col. William T. Shaw had most generously donated to the church, for its use for building purposes, one-half of a block of lots. The church at once prepared to erect a building.
The contract was let to Messrs. Parson & Foley, of Anamosa on July 1, 1878, and the cornerstone laid shortly afterward by Rev. Daniel Russell. The building was dedicated, free of debt, November 17, 1878, just four months afterwards, complete and finished, which speaks well for the contractors, the church and the generous hearted citizens who so liberally aided by their funds and sympathy.
The building was of brick, twenty-eight by forty-eight feet, with ornate tower ten by ten feet, on the northeast comer, about sixty feet high. The stone work was of the finest Anamosa limestone, with which the building was elegantly trimmed. The style of the architecture was Gothic. The grounds were fenced and ornamented with walls and trees, tastefully arranged under the supervision of Joseph Wood. The bricks were selected by B. F. Smith from his kilns on Strawberry Hill.
This building which was situated on Strawberry Hill, now a part of the city of Anamosa, was destroyed by fire in October, 1901. The fire being started from a bonfire of leaves in cleaning up the church property. The wind blew the burning leaves onto the roof and the dry shingles immediately caught fire and destroyed the church.
In 1902 the recent stone structure situated on North Ford street was built, the stone being furnished by James Lawrence and taken from his quarry. This new church was dedicated on the third day of May, 1903.
Rev. Daniel Russell severed his connection as minister in 1886. The following persons served the church as pastor since the very effective and conscientious serving of Daniel Russell; William Grey; A. W. McConnell; D. Street, W. J. Bollman; David Brown; J. C. Orth ; DeWitt White and Charles M. Whetsel, who is now the present pastor.