First Congregational Church of Anamosa—About the year 1840, Rev. Thomas Emerson commenced special Christian labor in what was then known as "Big Woods," which included the whole of Fairview Township and also Greenfield and Rome Townships. His labors, through brief, were attended with some success, and after his departure to another State (Missouri), Rev. Mr. Rankin secured the names of a few persons with a view of organizing a Christian Church, but finding the project beset with many difficulties, he left it unaccomplished. Soon after this, about the year 1844, Rev. E. Alden, Jr., succeeded in gathering and organizing a small Congregational Church in Rome, which is thought to be the first Church organization in the county. But it was of brief duration. Discordant elements began to work, and the Church was dissolved early in 1846. In the spring of that year, Rev. Alfred Wright visited Big Woods as a missionary, and, in September following, removed to Anamosa, or to what was then known as Lexington. He labored here to impress upon the scattered Christians the need of a church organization, and, on the 14th of November, 1846, Samuel Hillis and wife, Solomon Hester and wife, Mrs. Margaret Hester and Mrs. L. C. Wright met to consider the importance of such a step.
After prayer and due deliberation, it was unanimously decided that a Congregational organization should be effected.
Samuel E. Ellis was then elected Deacon, and, on the following Sabbath, the members adopted the Articles of Faith as drawn up and adopted by the General Association of Iowa, together with a church covenant chosen for the occasion, and Brother Samuel E. Ellis was set apart by prayer and consecration to the office of Deacon. Mr. Wright continued his labors here until the fall of 1853, a period of about seven and a half years, his Church then numbering eighty-two members.
In 1851, a frame house of worship was erected a little outside and east of what was then the business portion of the town. The building is now used as a tin-shop, and stands on the north side, and just in the angle of Main street, in the western part of the town. This church edifice was probably the first erected in the county. It was neatly painted white, and comfortably seated with solid oak pews. In the latter part of 1853, or early in 1854, Father Wright removed to Quasqueton, Buchanan County.
In 1853, the name of the church was changed to the "First Congregational Church of Anamosa." Mr. Wright was succeeded in the spring of 1854, by Rev. E. O. Bennett, who remained here but six months. He was followed by Rev. H. W. Strong, who began his labors on the 1st of January, 1855, and continued the same length of time. On the 1st of June, 1855, Rev. S. P. La Dou commenced labor here and remained one year.
December 1, 1856, Rev. Samuel A. Benton entered upon the field and ministered to the Church during a period of five years, at the close of which he left, and was appointed Chaplain in the Fourteenth Iowa Volunteers, under Col. W. T. Shaw. Mr. Benton served but six months, when his health failed, and he returned to his home. During his last year as Pastor (1861), the present house of worship, then the most commodious in the town, was built, and during his ministry forty-nine were added to the Church.
June 1, 1862, Rev. O. W. Merrill was called to the pastorate of the Church, and continued his labors for four years as stated supply. On the 20th of June, 1866, he was installed as settled Pastor, and continued this relation until June, 1870, when, by his own request, and by advice of Council, he was dismissed to act as Superintendent of Missions for Nebraska; a position to which he was called by the American Home Missionary Society. During his ministry, a debt of over $700 was paid, the house seated at a cost of $500, a spire erected and a bell purchased at a cost of $700, an organ purchased and the house carpeted. From dependence on the Home Missionary Society for aid in supporting the pulpit, the Church became self-sustaining. In the eight years of his ministry, eighty-five were added to the Church. The working ability of the Church was more than doubled, as was also its average Sabbath congregation.
Rev. O. W. Merrill died at Lincoln, Neb., in the month of March, 1874. He was much beloved for his genial character as a friend, and for the higher qualities of a noble manhood and a consistent Christian.
In June, 1870, Rev. William Patton was chosen to fill the pulpit as stated supply, and preached during a period of three months.
In 1871, Rev. R. M. Sawyer began his ministerial labors, and remained with the Church one year.
September 1, 1872, Rev. J. B. Fiske commenced his ministerial labors, and still continues, to the full satisfaction of his parishioners.
M. E. Church When Iowa was still a wilderness, the Methodists commenced promulgating their doctrines, and the Iowa Conference established what was known as the Anamosa Circuit in the year 1849, and the Rev. Mr. Vail was sent to sow the good seed. Mr. Vail was succeeded by the Rev. Harvey Taylor in the fall of 1850. The population of the circuit at that time was small, but a class of ten persons was formed at Anamosa in the year 1851, and in February of the same year a church society was organized. For four or five years, the regular services of the Church were held in the Court House. After that the public schoolhouse was occupied for a time, and then the church edifice of the United Brethren. In the year 1865, it was determined by the society to build a church of their own. The necessary funds were subscribed, when a difficulty arose in regard to the location of the church building, which resulted in the withdrawal of about a third of the subscriptions and several of the members. Those who withdrew formed themselves into a society called the Protestant Methodist Church, which organization lasted but for a short time, dying for lack of support.
The building of the church progressed, however, and at the time of the dedication, in December, 1865, there was a debt of $2,500. This debt has since been paid, and the society now owns its own parsonage, and is in a very prosperous condition, having a debt of less than $200. The society owns other landed estate to the amount of about $800.
The first attempt at building a church was in 1851, but the money was finally expended in building a parsonage. A debt of some $200 was incurred, which ran along for a number of years, when the society was obliged to sell the parsonage. After paying the debts of the society, a balance of about $100 remained, and the old Congregational Church was purchased, which served as a place of worship until the present edifice was erected. The first class organized, as mentioned before, in 1851, consisted of ten persons. The first church record having been lost or destroyed, the historian is under obligations to Mr. D. Cunningham for the names which are as follows: Oliver Lockwood and Rebecca, his wife; Mr. Sedlers; C. L. D. Crockwell and Mary, his wife; Mary Bass; D. Cunningham and Sarah, his wife, and Mr. Vail and wife. From this beginning, the Church has grown, through many very severe trials, to its present proportions, having a membership at this time, August, 1879, of 230, with a large and prosperous Sabbath school.
The following are the names of the Pastors who have ministered to the spiritual wants of the society: Revs. Mr. Vail, Harvey Taylor, A. B. Kendig, A. Carey, G. H. Jamison, Otis Daggett, George Larkins, Isaac Soule, A. Bronson, F. C. Wolfe, A. Hill, A. H. Ames, U. Eberhart, Bishop Isbell, E. D. Rosa, E. W. Jeffries, S. H. Henderson, Wm. Fawcett, Wm. Lease, J. B. Casebeer, S. H. Church, John Bowman and J. M. Leonard, the present Pastor.
Protestant Methodist This Church seceded from the Methodist Episcopal Church at Anamosa in 1865, in consequence of a dispute in regard to the site of the new M. E. Church and other things, among them a feeling brought on by the war. Seven members, who were the leaders in the organization, bought the old M. E. Church building, and in it they worshiped. These members were Noah Hutchins, James L. Brown, John S. Belknap, Burrill Huggins, Joseph Moore, Samuel Brunskill and L. Belknap. They continued to hold services, although never incorporated as a society, until about the 1st of September, 1871, when they disbanded. The ministers who preached during their continuance were James Abbott and W. C. Beardsley.
Catholic Church When this western country was all a vast mission of the Catholic Church, occasional meetings were held wherever the priests could gather their congregations. We have no records of services of this denomination at Anamosa prior to 1857, at which time a mission station was established with this town as its head, the station at that time embracing a very large circuit, as the following towns were all included in the work: Anamosa, Castle Grove, Langworthy, Wyoming, Monticello, Fairview, Cass, Madison and the Buffalo Creek country. Meetings were held in the old Court House until the first church of this denomination was completed here in 1861. It was dedicated with considerable ceremony by Bishop Smith, assisted by several of the clergy. This church is a very neat, red-brick structure, and when dedicated was entirely paid for. It was built in the following manner: A number of the members of the Church got together, dug the foundation, and after this work was completed, quarried the stone, and, with their own teams, hauled it and laid it in position, not hiring any help. The lime was contributed, and all the money used was $100, donated by Mr. P. Flannery, who was at that time in the army and died there. This money was used to buy brick.
The church continued to be in the mission until 1865, when Father McLaughlin was first stationed here as the settled priest, and regular services have since that time been held in Anamosa. The circuit now comprises only this town and the Buffalo Creek country.
At the time the first service was held here in 1857, the congregation numbered less than fifty persons, including the following, with their families: John Flemming, Thomas Holt, Thomas English, J. Murphy, J. Connery, John Hayes, M. Doyle and James Spellman.
In 1874, this congregation built another church, having found the old structure too small for their needs. This new church is near the old one, and is quite an imposing structure, being 90x46 feet, and built of the limestone found in this vicinity. The cost was $10,000.
The following priests have ministered to this congregation, commencing with the mission station in 1857: Rev. Fathers Slatery, O'Conner, Gellestry, Cunningham, McLaughlin, Cannon, Shields, Lowery and Father Maher, the present incumbent, who has been with this people for ten years.
The Church is now entirely out of debt, and the congregation is large and influential. Among the members are some of the best citizens of the town and country.
St. Mark's Church (Episcopal, R.H.) August 14, 1859, the Eighth Sunday after Trinity, a parish was organized in Anamosa, Jones County, Iowa, under the name of St. Mark's, by the Rev. Walter F. Lloyd.
On Wednesday, March 15, 1860, after Morning Prayer and sermon, the corner-stone of St. Marks Church was laid by Rev. Walter F. Lloyd.
July 20, 1860, Friday, St. Mark's Church was opened for Divine service. Rev. W. F. Lloyd read Prayers. Bishop Lee preached, administered the sacred rite of Confirmation and the Sacrament of the Holy Communication.
The following Vestrymen were elected at the organization: C. W. Laing, E. H. Sherman, A. H. Peaslee, J. S. Dimmitt, E. Blakeslee, Bedford Fisher, William R. Locke, Matt. Parrott and John J. Welsh.
The following Rectors have served the interests of the Church: Revs. W. F. Lloyd, John H. Eddy, Hale Townsend, Ezra Isaacs, William Campbell, Robert Trewartha and the present Rector Rev. J. I. Corbyn.
Presbyterian Church 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, worshiping in what was then the courtroom, where is now (1879) Miller's photograph-rooms.
Rev. Mr. Wall being 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 circumstances, 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 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. Mr. 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, 1878.
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. Parsons & Foley, of Anamosa, on July 1, 1878, and the corner-stone laid shortly afterward by the Rev. Daniel Russell. The building was dedicated, free of debt, Nov. 17, 1878, just four months afterward, 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 is of brick, 28x48 feet, with ornate tower 10x10 feet, on the northeast corner, about sixty feet high. The stone work is of the finest Anamosa limestone, with which the building is elegantly trimmed. The style of the architecture is Gothic. The grounds are fenced and ornamented with walks and trees, tastefully arranged under the supervision of Joseph Wood. The bricks were selected by B. F. Smith from his kilns on Strawberry Hill. Col. Shaw aided much by his judgment in building matters.
The dedication sermon was preached by Rev. A. S. Marshall, of Marion, and was an able discourse.
The funds necessary to meet all indebtedness were raised at that time. The Church now seems to be in a fair way to prosper, for which the members and friends of the congregation are grateful, under the able pastoral care of Rev. Daniel Russell.
The Church is the youngest of the sister Churches of Anamosa, and has received much encouragement and sympathy from them in the passing years.
The Sabbath school has been under the superintendency of the following persons: Capt. Francis C. McKean, Dr. Alex McKean and John McKean, assisted by B. G. Yule, Calvin Hazlett and M. Wood.
Mrs. D. C. Tice, Miss Martha Allen and Miss Gertie Reece have presided at the organ in church and Sunday school.
No member of this Church, during its existence, has ever been suspended or expelled by the Session.
All who have died, so far as known, have departed in the glorious hope of life and immorality through Christ, our risen Lord and Savior.
Baptist Church The Anamosa Baptist Church society was organized June 26, 1858, with seven members, as follows: E. B. Alderman, Lydia A. Alderman, Eliphlet Kimball, Mary E. Kimball, Jane Trester, Mary Baker and Anganet Swazee.
July 31 of the same year, Lavina Burlingham and Anna Saxby were admitted to membership. Rev. N. B. Homan was the first Pastor.
The whole number received up to September 1, 1879, is 196; number of members at that time, 88.
In 1868, the society erected a good and substantial church edifice, situated on Garnavillo street, north of Main. The dedicatory services were on Sunday, the 1st of March of the year 1868. The cost of the building together with the lot, was $5,725, and remaining unpaid at the time of dedication, $2,155.15.
The dedicatory sermon was preached by the Rev. N. F. Ravlin, of Chicago, services being held morning and evening. The total amount subscribed during the two services was $2,547, the whole amount of the debt, leaving a balance to the credit of the society.
The Rev. L. T. Bush is now supplying the pulpit with a view to locate as Pastor of the church.
Present officers: H. M. Remley, Clerk; I. H. Brasted, Treasurer; Trustees: H. W. Sigworth, John Rhodes and W. D. Litzenberg; Deacons, C. W. Coe and John Stewart.
In May, 1867, this society organized a Sabbath school, and E. B. Alderman was elected Superintendent, and served in that capacity for three years. H. M. Remley was next elected, and served three years. C. W. Coe was next elected, and served three years. H. M. Remley was next elected, and served three years. John Stewart was elected in 1879, and is the present incumbent of the office. There are fourteen officers and teachers, and an enrollment of seventy-six scholars. Contributions for the last year, $58.80. The school is in a flourishing condition.
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