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Tool’s Chapel Celebrates 100th Anniversary


Posted By: JCGS Volunteer
Date: 4/26/2017 at 21:32:02

Tool’s Chapel Celebrates 100th Anniversary Sunday
J. A. Tool was closely identified with the work from the commencement. He received his license as a local preacher in the fall of 1858, during the pastorate of E. Wood
Complete Plans for Program
The one hundredth anniversary of the founding of Tool’s Chapel will be observed next Sunday, September 11.
The Rev. Raymond Moore, Indianola, a son of Rev. Forrest A. Moore, a former pastor, will give the sermon at the 11:00 o’clock morning service Sunday.
A basket dinner will be held after services at noon. An afternoon service will be held at 2:00. There will be special music at both morning and afternoon services.
Invitations to the anniversary have been sent to all living former pastors as well as to former residents of the vicinity, and the public is cordially invited to attend.
The history of Tool’s Chapel and the history of Jasper County are closely identified. In fact, the history of the Methodist itinerant pastor and the United States run side by side for, nearly as rapidly as the western boundary of this country was pushed westward; the friendly face of the Methodist circuit rider was seen in the work of spreading the gospel.
This was true in the early settlement of Iowa and Jasper County. It was May 1, 1849 and one could have seen Adam M. Tool and William Highland blazing out the first claims of 320 acres each in what was destined to be Jasper County. In the early part of the summer of 1884, while Mr. Tool was on his way to get supplies for a new house he met a stranger on the prairie on horseback. A friendly greeting and a few moments of conversation revealed the fact that he was a Methodist sent out to visit the people and establish a circuit.
Mr. Tool invited him to make his house a preaching place a day was set, the appointment was filled, and a four weeks’ service was held by the Rev. Mr. Johnson.
In 1845 two ministers were sent; their circuit took in Old Agency and Tool’s Point, making the circuit 75 miles long.
In 1846 the work was changed so that it extended northwest to connect Tool’s Point with Coon Mission, extending to where Boonsboro is now located, then across the Des Moines and Raccoon rivers at Fort Des Moines, then down the Three River County.
That was the foundation work of the Methodist church in this section.
James A. Tool, son of Adam Tool, and for whom the chapel was named, was born June 25, 1835, in Washington County, Virginia. In 1836 with his parents he moved to Coles county, Ill., and in 1841 to Jefferson county, Iowa, and in 1843 to what is now Fairview township, Iowa. His claim was four miles east of where Monroe now stands, the government patents to his lands were signed by president Polk June 1, 1848.
The first religious services held in his section was in the home of Mr. Tool in 1849 in a 10x12 log house. During this year a camp meeting was held by the big spring north of Draper, by the Rev. Mr. Parker, a supply to the Monroe mission.
Four years later, or in 1853, the class known as “Tool’s class” was organized, R B. Allender being preacher in charge and John Hayden presiding elder with James A. Tool as the first class leader.
The members were: James A. Tool, Mrs. S. Tool, Allen McDannel, Louis Wright, Mrs. Elizabeth Miller, Mrs. Mary F. Franklin, William Burns, Mrs. Amelia Burns, Mrs. Mahala Romans and Mrs. Sarah Rater.
J. A. Tool was closely identified with the work from the commencement. He received his license as a local preacher in the fall of 1858, during the pastorate of E. Wood, and although he was eligible to be ordained, he refused, feeling “That he was not worthy of it.”
Among those who helped to build the early church were E. R. Wright, a local preacher and class leader of Monroe, Hodgen Barnes, David Fuller, Phelix Conner, Daniel Harcourt and Allen Mather and wife.
In 1866, under the direction of the pastor, Rev. I. O. Kemble, another camp meeting was held near the big spring. So gracious was the work that it was decided to build a church. No sooner was the question settled than the work began and soon a new church 25x36 was completed. The church was dedicated in 1867 by Rev. E. H. Winans, and cost $1,425. The name “Tool’s Chapel” was given it by the local pastor, I. O. Kemble. The ground for the church was given by James A. Tool.
The church was remodeled in 1899 under the direction of the pastor, Rev. D. S. Dunlavy. The church is seated with curved pews bought during 1904.
In 1915, during the pastorate of Rev. C. E. Fitsimmons, a new building with full basement was built. The cornerstone was laid September 18, and the church was dedicated the following February 6, 1916. Several years later the entrance was changed, with cement steps replacing the wooden ones, and electric lights being installed.
A Cradle Roll department was organized in June 1918, with Mrs. John Wood as superintendent, and she has remained in charge to this date. Mrs. Wood was also a Sunday school teacher for 30 years, and a member for 71 years.
In the early days it was the custom for the men to enter the west door and sit together on the west side of the church. There was no musical instrument in the church.
In 1920 a bell was bought from George Ammer, then living in Babcock, Wis. The bell cost $40 and was hung by the men after which the women served a dinner in the basement.
Rev. George Pennington is the present pastor and an up-surge of activity and interest has taken place and it is likely that Tool’s Chapel will be celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2049.
Source: Monroe Mirror; September 8, 1949


Jasper Documents maintained by Barbara Hug.
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