IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co. Church records
updated 5/9/2010

Old Stone Church
Linton twp. Allamakee co. or Giard twp. Clayton co.

The location of this church is said to have been "on Pleasant Ridge Road, in Allamakee county, or "in the rural community of Watson" Clayton co. A check of old plat maps & on-line geographical servers, shows that Pleasant Ridge road is in Clayton co., just south of the Allamakee county line. A satellite image obtained online from a map server appears to show the church in Allamakee county. (see map & image at the bottom of this page). The village of Watson was located near the Clayton/Allamakee co. border and is listed in Clayton co. having a postoffice as early as 1886, but discontinued before 1916. For certain, resident's of both Allamakee co. and Clayton co. were members of the congregation of this old church.

If anyone can pinpoint the exact location of the church, please email the Allamakee co. coordinator.

Old Stone Church ca 1959
Old Stone Church
Watson - Iowa

back of plate with description of church

Old Stone Church ---------- Watson, Iowa  

The Old Stone Methodist Church was founded in 1859 by a group of early settlers.  The original hand quarried stone building which was completed in 1861 still stands in the rural community of Watson - three and one half miles east of Monona, Iowa.  In 1928 the Pioneer Memorial Association was organized to preserve the building and to hold annual Home Coming services.

~Plate, found at a Goodwill store in Waterloo, IA by the contributor
~contributed by Georgia Nuehring Bruns


The Old Stone Church History

One of the old Methodist Churches in the area was the Old Stone church, on the Pleasant Ridge Road, in Allamakee County and near Watson. It was a "German" Methodist Episcopal Church belonging to the Yellow River Circuit and Clayton Mission. It was incorporated in 1859. Services were held by visiting ministers until 1859 when it was decided to build. It was built of stone and was completed in 1862. It and the Giard Methodist Episcopal Church belonged to the Northeast German Conference and were served by the same pastors. From 1838 to 1868 they lived in a parsonage at Watson. Since Giard was a flourishing village they built a parsonage there and the one at Watson was discontinued. The church continued until 1920, when the congregation dwindled and the German language was discontinued.

In 1929 the first homecoming was held, the building was repaired and an annual gathering was held there till 1968. The church was placed under the care of the Monona Methodist Church. When the final merger came in 1968, items from the church were sold at auction. The building is still standing, though the interior is in ruins.

~Church history, transcribed from "Garden City United Methodist Church History, 1996"
~contributed by Carol E. Chase


Bronze Marker at the Old Stone Church

Monona, Ia, Aug 12 - A bronze marker was placed on the Old Stone church near here to make it as a pioneer memorial, descendants of early settlers taking part in the tribute at which Bruce Mahan of the state historical society was the chief speaker. Miss Clara Sutter, daughter of a pioneer family which donated the church site, made response for the community. In the evening there was a band concert and address by Prof. Royal Holbrook, Ames. Representatives from seven states took part in the dedication as participants or spectators.

~Waterloo Evening Courier, August 12, 1929
~contributed by S. Ferrall


Iowa Churches - Old Stone Church
Erected 90 Years Ago on a Ridge Between Monona and Marquette

by Florence L. Clark

McGregor - An ox team, prodded along the trail by their owner, Charles Reidel, and his nine-year-old son, Henry, hauled the stone 90 years ago for Old Stone church. the one-acre building site east of Monona, just off the road on the ridge between Monona and Marquette, had been donated by John Sutter.

Reidel, Thomas Entwhistle, Conrad Ulrich, the Rev. Henry Wiethorn, and Charles and Louis Renziehausen, were leaders on organizing the settlers of the vicinity into a church society of the Methodist faith six years before. The first services were held in a log schoolhouse a mile away in Plank Hollow, where the Rev. John Plank, a minister from Chicago, had settled with his family.

When it was decided to build a church, quarrying rock, logging and sawing pine, oak and walnut for doors, window frames and interior furnishings, as well as the labor of construction, was all the work of members. One thing they were very particular about, was arranging for segregation of the sexes. Two entrances were made, one on the right for the men, and one onthe left for the women. The two sections of pews in the interior were divided from end to end of the room by a low line of boards. In the middle of each section, a drum type stove warmed the divided congregation in winter.

For a time the new church had a resident pastor, then it was service by the minister of the Methodist church at Giard, six miles away. Most of the members were of German descent, and services were in German.

In 1929, descendants of the pioneers who had founded the church, many of whom live in Monona who had rural areas, banded together in a memorial association and placed a bronze tablet on the church inscribed:

"Old Stone Church, 1859 - Pioneer Memorial 1929"

Since then, on the third Sunday of each August, after haying the harvesting, members of the association and their families and friends gather at the church for a homecoming and an hour of devotion and a picnic on the grounds.

The church stands today just as it was built, with foot-thick walls of well-plastered rough stones, pine pews, walnut altar rail and choir chairs, century-old organ, drum stoves, kerosene lamps and all, and it is the purpose of the association to maintain it as a memorial to the pioneers.

~Cedar Rapids Gazette, September 24, 1949
~contributed by S. Ferrall


Old Stone Church 100 Years Old
Celebration Sunday in "Church by the Side of the Road"

Monona - The words of "Church by the Side of the Road" will have a special meaning Sunday when they are sung in the Old Stone church north of Watson. That theme song is sung each year on the third sunday in August as residents of the area and former members gather for the church's annual homecoming service. At Sunday's homecoming service the "congregation" will pay tribute to the venerable old building on its hundredth anniversary. A picnic lunch will be served at noon. It will be followed by a memorial service in the church at 2.

Watson, 6 miles northeast of Monona, now is made up of a few houses and a store. At one time, many years ago, it was a town with its own store, creamery and post office.

Prior to 1859 families of the surrounding community met for religious services in what was known as the "Plank" log schoolhouse, on what is now the Figgie farm. Services were conducted by lay leaders. In the fall of 1859 they set up a planning committee for a church building. It's members included: George Koch, Henry Bernhard, J.B. Sutter Sr., Louie Renziehausen, Albert Brownsrote, Conrad Ulrich, John Plank Sr., John Plank Jr., Henry Pietzman, Peter Berger and Charles Reidel Sr.

An acre of land for the church was purchased for $10 from J.B. and Elizabeth Sutter. Stone was quarried on the then Conrad Ulrich farm and hauled to the church site. Construction was begun under the supervision of the Rev. William Fiegenbaum. It was finished under direction of the Rev. Curt Henry Wiethorn. The walls were laid by Thomas Roach in 1860. The joists, roof and window frames were placed by John Schmeiser, Sr., the next year. Completion then was delayed until 1862.

The church originally was part of the Northwest German Conference. One minister served both it and the Giard church, living in the Stone church parsonage. After 1868 the ministers lived in Giard, which had the larger congregation.

In 1920 the church became part of the Upper Iowa Methodist conference. Because the membership was small, the church was closed and the members transferred to Monona Methodist church. After the church had been closed for seven years, members and friends met and decided to restore the church as a pioneer memorial. They decided to meet in it once a year, on the 3rd Sunday in August.

Strange to relate, the dedication of the restored church (in 1929) could not be held in the church building. Attendance was so large the services had to be moved outside. Members of the planning committee had included descendants of the founders. Committee members were: Elmer Wiethorn, president; Nettie Sutter Schlitter, vice-president; Irene Entwistle, secretary and treasurer. Harry Morrow was pastor at Monona.

One change in the building has been made since that time. In 1958 George Wiethorn made a wooden cross and placed it on the front of the church.

~Cedar Rapids Gazette, August 15, 1959
~contributed by S. Ferrall


Reflections of a Pioneer Woman

Watson - Last August the Old Stone church observed its 110th anniversary. The church, located three miles northeast of Monona and just north of the village of Watson, was incorporated by "the Methodist Episcopal church of the Yellow River and Clayton Mission in Linton township, Allamakee county" August 11, 1859.

Services were held when visiting ministers were available or by lay members at the Plank schoolhouse north of Watson. In the fall of 1859, a planning committee met and one acre of land on which the church was to be built was purchased from J.B. and Elizabeth Sutter for the sum of $10.

Stone for the church was quarried, and the church was completed in the summer of 1862. In 1930 the church was officially closed. In 1927 former members met and formed a Pioneer Memorial Church Association to hold annual memorial meetings. Meetings were held annually at the church since Aug. 8, 1929. The woman who kept those meetings alive, Clara M. Sutter, died in September after the 110th anniversary.

Wendell Baskerville of Monona sent a pamphlet telling of Miss Sutter's thoughts about the church. Portions of the pamphlet follow:

"Our first house was built in 1863-1864 so close to the church that in summer one could hear the preachers roll out the sermons about hell fire and what would happen to sinners. Our home became a sanctuary for those who had walked the long trail and needed a cup of cold water or a foot bath. It was then that mother always had a teakettle full of water, a basin, and a towel. None could afford to wear the precious leather shoes for mere walking, so bare feet needed washing before the home-knit stockings could be put on. Mother often told of a young couple who walked through the meadow, washed their feet, then went over in the church and were married -- barefoot, by the Rev. Plank.

"Each member took the church key for one month and kept the church area clean, built fires and shoveled the snow. Few had clocks, and the road was long, so many times people came to our house to wait for someone to open the church. Mother decided she would take the key for Grandma Thias, Grandpa Muth and Grandma Krueger. Finally she did all the janitor work for 25 years. In the later years she was paid $25.00 per year. That was her church money. One preacher wanted each man to give a tenth of his income. Grandma Krueger said she would give what the eggs, laid on Sunday, would bring. She told us that it seemed as though those hens just laid around on weekdays so they could lay more on Sunday!

"When the roads became better, people drove to church. Because wagons were high, and women heavy to unload, the men built a platform with steps. the women could step out and walk down. One Sunday, Grandma Koch's hoopskirt caught on the wagon brake and [she] hung there until some men ran and stopped the horses, and others got Grandma untangled. It was some time before everyone calmed down enough to listen to the sermon.

"Flowers were not allowed in church because they were distracting, but when Grandma Koch died, mother took a bouquet. she said "The Lord made flowers, so why not use them to show our sympathy to the family!"

"In those days if no carpenter was free to make a coffin, the handiest man in the neighborhood made it, painted it, or covered it with a black cloth. I remember when a little Bohemian baby died, Uncle Bass Rupp made the coffin, barely three feet long. Aunt Lis lined it with part of a quilt. There was no priest near, so she read the Bible, Grandpa Sutter made a prayer, Uncle Bass dropped the three shovels of dirt, I cried, and that was that.

"When Grandma (Mrs. Charles) Renzienhausen died I couldn't understand why she couldn't talk to me. All the pictures were draped in black mosquito netting and, as was the custom, the clock was stopped when she died, not to be started again until after the funeral. I couldn't keep my eyes off Mary and Louise in their long black dresses with crepe veils reaching to the floor, which was the custom of the times. The men wore black arm bands -- for a full year.

"Few people had clothes fit for burial, so the neighbor women often sat up all night to make a shroud, to cover the upper part of the body, as there was only a small glass in the coffin cover. The coffin was hauled in the best wagon of the community, with the black horses going at a slow walk. I remember once when the horses were allowed to trot. "Yah! They were so glad to get rid of him, they trotted the horses!"

"Oh yes, there were happy times too, singing school and camp meetings, and programs. My very first recollection of the church was the Christmas before I was two. Cousin Clara Plank Hass had taught me to say "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, good will to mankind, Amen!" I had a new white dress with a ruffle. There was a blue ribbon sash, and mother kept saying, "Piddy do sit still till I comb your hair!" as she made sausage curls around her finger. Clara lifted me to the top of the sunday School stand, beside the big Christmas tree with flickering candles, popcorn string, toys, and one doll. After I said my piece, I must have gone to sleep, because I remember nothing more. People there must have been, but I was conscious of us two and that glorious tree.

"Then came later Christmas trees. If my nose is flat, I am sure it is because it has been pressed against our north window to get the first sight of the big boys coming over the hill with the Christmas tree that was so long that the sled was coupled out to the farthest length and still the top was dragging on the ground. They'd let me stand around while they trimmed it, because they needed me to run errands. Then came the sacks of candy, nuts, oranges, apples, peanuts and the big wooden pail of candy! Oh, boy, that was worth waiting for! It's a good thing everything was counted, because no matter how sleepy we were, every sack was emptied and pieces counted! Such were the ways of our times. There were no bells to ring out the glad tidings of Christmas, but oh the jungle of sleighbells as horses pranced in the cold frosty air!"

~Cedar Rapids Gazette, November 30, 1969
~contributed by S. Ferrall


Allamakee co. Linton twp.
area map, showing road names - Click to enlarge
Clayton co. Giard twp

Click map to enlarge.

image possibly showing the church
I think the building just south of the farm buildings may be the Old Stone Church. This is in Allamakee county. The county line bisects this image horizontally.

Click image to enlarge.

Maps, generated by Iowa Geographic Map Server, Iowa State University

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