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The 1879 History of Jones County Iowa was transcribed by Janet A. Brandt.


"The Methodists held their first meeting in Thomas Green's barn in June, 1855, and formed a class. It was then a part of Mineral Creek Circuit, and Joel B. Taylor was the preacher in charge, and J. G. Dimmitt was the Presiding Elder. I think the latter was a sound man on some theological points. I once heard him say that 'a lazy man was one of God's nuisances,' and I consider that a point in theology too much neglected. The Church has been very prosperous from its first organization, and very harmonious since the completion of its church edifice. For ten years, the meetings were held in the schoolhouse. They would all agree quite pleasantly, would talk, sing and pray with fervor, and wish for a house of worship. They were willing to give both time and money to procure a church edifice; but when location was talked, there was always trouble. On the hill, in numbers, they were the strongest. On the flat, they felt the omnipotent power of money. That little stream, innocent, in itself, to the brethren on the hill was a perfect terror. To the brethren on the hill, that flat was worse than the Slough of Despond, described by Bunyan; while to the brethren on the flat, that hill was worse than the Hill Difficulty, described by the same author. I have seen men go down to Jordan's stormy river more complacent than those brethren would approach the little rivulet. In the early history of the town, there was a great, but not always commendable, rivalry between the two sections. Where stand those brick blocks, the pride and ornament of the village, was considered way out of town, and yet they were hardly a stone's throw from what was then considered a wonderful place of business. In its business relations, this rivalry entered the Methodist Church, and for a long time prevented them from building a house of worship. Various expedients were resorted to to reconcile the inharmonious elements. At one time, it was thought best to raise the subscription and let that locate the church.
Bishop Haven said that 'every town has some building or structure that denotes its folly.' This Methodist Church building came near proving the rule true in reference to Wyoming. It had been built for a mill, by a stock company. The war and other circumstances caused the work on the mill to be stopped when the walls were up and the roof partly on. Here it stood with its windows open, but not as now-toward Jerusalem. Owls, doves and bats found homes in its attic. Its basement was filled with cribs of corn; but no famine made a demand for it, and part of it, at last, was fed to swine in the cellar below. Tired of its dilapidated look, the stockholders, with one or two exceptions, proffered to donate it to the Methodist society, if they would finish it for a church. The offer was accepted, the vestibule added, the Church united, and, as the result, we have this comfortable, convenient and almost elegant church. It was dedicated by the Rev. A. J. Kynett September 3, 1866. Who the first officers of the Church were the records do not tell. J. B. Taylor, Stevenson, A. Bronson, F. Amos, H. Bradshaw, J. Scholes, J. H. Todd, H. Taylor, R. Hawn, L. Catlin, G. R. Manning, W. A. Allen, B. C. Barnes, L. Taylor, H. H. Green, W. E. McCormac and J. A. Kerr have been Pastors. No minister has died, while ministering to this Church, since its organization. Two local preachers have died, who, in the early history of the Church, did much to encourage and sustain it. They were Rev. Ansel Brainard and Rev. Thomas Bronson. Both had long been identified with the Church, were ripe in years and rich in faith.


"The Presbyterian was the first church edifice in the town or in the township. The Rev. George E. Delavan, then living at Maquoketa, having occasion to pass through Wyoming, was pleased with its location, and, upon his representations, the Rev. James H. Spellman, a home missionary, came here to look up the interests of Zion, in connection with the organization of a Presbyterian Church.
"On the 17th day of May, 1857, a society was organized, as preliminary to the organization of a Church. A constitution was adopted, and Joseph Bryan, John Morse and Emmons Leonard, elected Trustees; A. W. Pratt, Treasurer, and A. M. Loomis, Clerk. The Rev. George E. Delavan became the Pastor. Articles of Incorporation were adopted April 8, 1859. The organization was effected at the house of A. W. Pratt. A. M. Loomis, A. W. Pratt, Jeremiah Gard, Thomas Haines, Sr., and A. M. B. Stiles were the members who signed those Articles of Incorporation. The Church thus consisted of six members. Four of them had passed the meridian of life, and two were young and full of hope.
"Capt. Loomis is the only one left in our midst to tell the old story of the organization of that Church, by those half-dozen men. How widely divergent have been their paths. Pratt, in Massachusetts; Bryan, gone West; Haines, gone North; Stiles in Chicago; Gard, moved to Kansas in the spring of 1878. He felt the infirmities of age, and remarked to the writer that he had only a little while to stay, and if the boys could do better in Kansas, he was willing to go. He died there in the fall of the same year. He was an upright man, a good neighbor and a sincere Christian. He organized a Sabbath school on Pleasant Ridge, and was the efficient Superintendent. His last meeting with his school was very affecting, and seemed more like a father bidding adieu to a family, than simply a neighbor moving away. He was not afraid to die.
When the news of his death was received here, every heart was sad, and all, with one accord, said in sober accents, 'Uncle Jerry died among strangers.' In Kansas, he organized another Sabbath school, and died with harness on.
"He had been twice married, and twice he had followed to the grave his partners. He left one daughter and four sons. He had lived in Wyoming nearly a quarter of a century, and had reached nearly fourscore years.
"During the summer of 1860, the old church edifice was erected. The Rev. Trowbridge, of Dubuque, laid the corner-stone, with proper ceremonies. An excavation has been made in the stone, where the records of the church, a copy of the Eureka and several other articles, were deposited in a sealed box. Mr. Delavan, the Pastor, was untiring in his efforts to build that church. He wrote, begged and worked, until his efforts were crowned with success. He witnessed the gradual rising of its walls with pride and pleasure, till the last brick was laid and the last flourish given by the mason's trowel. With one blast from the breath of Omnipotence, those walls were razed to the ground. The faithful gathered around to view the ruins, and with philosophic and pious mien, in solemn chorus, said

"' It was to be,
It's God's decree
From time's beginning.'

"Fondly cherished hopes were blasted. The numerical and financial feebleness of the Church almost made the idea of rebuilding hopeless. Standing on one corner of those ruins, Mr. Delavan, with uplifted hand, said: 'With God's assistance, these walls shall be rebuilt.' His untiring energy was again called into activity. He visited remote parts of the county, enlisted the sympathies of men and women abroad, and again had the satisfaction of seeing those walls rising in place.

"Mr. Delavan was the only minister that has died in Wyoming while sustaining pastoral relations to any of the churches, and he deserves very honorable mention in connection with the growth of Wyoming and its moral and religious development. He was an active worker in the field for the benefit of his fellowmen. The first winter after he came here, he organized a library association, and succeeded in gathering together quite a number of volumes of valuable books. He also caused to be read a paper. It was a semi-monthly publication, and was edited and read by a person appointed at each meeting, thus giving the editor two weeks to write his editorials. It was called The Iris.
"Some time in the fall of 1860, Mr. Delavan was attacked with bleeding at the lungs. He continued his ministrations after he became so weak that he could not stand while he preached; but, sitting in his chair and breathing with difficulty, he proclaimed the great truths of the Gospel. I remember going in to see him one morning, just as he was finishing his breakfast. He said to his wife: 'Get the Bible, and we will have our usual family worship.' She replied that she was fearful he was too much prostrated. Said he: 'I can acknowledge God.' Then, sitting in his chair, he devoutly implored the divine blessing upon his family and all mankind. March 18, 1861, he passed serenely from earth to receive the reward of the faithful, and his funeral was the first religious service held in the church he had labored to build. He was a man of marked ability, a thorough scholar, and, in his intercourse with men, exhibited very many of those excellencies that should adorn and embellish Christian character. His widow was left with four small children, in very limited circumstances. Trusting in the widow's God, she has done nobly. One son and one daughter are well situated in Pittsburgh, Penn.; one daughter is the wife of the junior editor of the Anamosa Eureka, and the youngest son is the editor and proprietor of a prosperous newspaper in Greene County, Iowa.
"The widow lives at Hopkinton, Iowa, and is at work for 'The Master.' Her time, voice and pen are freely given for the benefit of the Sunday school and missionary work. Her 'Bible Readings' evince a thorough knowledge of that book and a sincere belief in its wonderful teachings. Her addresses are remarkably clear, and show an order of talent that would grace any pulpit in the land. The ministers who followed Mr. Delavan as Pastors were Revs. George R. Carroll, J. L. Janes, A. K. Baird, Mr. Lodge and Mr. Goodale.
"Mr. Janes, while temporarily preaching at Floyd, was attached with cerebro-spinal meningitis, and died suddenly. He was brought here for burial. His connection with the Church as Pastor had been so recent, his many acts of kindness and generosity, his faithful preaching, his social manners, and all relations, whether as Pastor, friend or neighbor, endeared him to the people, whether in or out of the Church, and he was followed to the grave by a mourning community, who realized the great loss, but were consoled by the thought that it was his gain. His widow lives in our midst, esteemed and respected. Benevolent, generous and kind, with health much impaired, she patiently waits to 'enter into the joy of the Master.' The son is a successful physician, and lives at Newark, N. J. The daughter is the energetic and talented wife of E. B. Champlin, Esq., of Wyoming.
"This Church was organized November 4, 1859, by the Rev. Jonathan Stewart, with twenty members. Samuel Coburn, Jesse Barrett and J. W. Wherry were the first Elders. Coburn and Barrett are gone and Wherry alone of that trio is left. Of this organization, I have but a few incidents to relate; but, in passing, will simply state-their church was built without ostentation; they sing the Psalms of inspiration, and mind their business with admiration.
"The first preacher I recollect connected with this denomination, was John Anderson, a young man from Washington County, N. Y. He preached here before the Church was organized. He was sent out as a supply, was quite young, but his sermons were ripe with thought and careful preparation. He preached good sermons full of beauty, pathos and power, one of which I well remember. His subject was 'The Judgment Day,' and from the storehouse of thought and the elevated planes of imagination, with Gospel truth and eloquent zeal, he portrayed the scenes of that awful day. He warned, admonished, entreated, and if any of those who heard him receive the reward of the workers of iniquity, it will not be the fault of John Anderson. L. J. Crawford, J. U. McClenahan and William Donaldson have been the installed Pastors.
"The Baptist Church, which, in the early history of Wyoming, had an existence here, was organized on Pleasant Ridge, at the house of Judge Holmes, by his father, Rev. Luther Holmes, in 1852. In 1858, it was transferred to this town, where it retained an existence without any settled Pastor until 1862. At its organization, there were six members. The largest number connected with the Church at any one time was twenty-three, of whom two were united by baptism and the rest by letter. The Church was feeble; the removal of some and the death of others diminished their number, and, after a struggle of nearly six years, the organization was abandoned.
"Rev. Luther Holmes located on Pleasant Ridge in 1851, and died in 1858. He was among the first resident ministers in the township. During his residence here, his ministrations partook much of the character of our itinerant preachers. In winter, private houses, and summer, the groves, were used for Church purposes. His name is remembered as one of the early Christians who taught both by precept and example. He died at the age of seventy years.
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