Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

History of the Presbyterian Church
Alta, Buena Vista County, Iowa

The Presbyterian church of Alta was organized on July 1, 1883, in the M. E. church building in Alta, by Rev. Joshua Cook of Storm Lake and Rev. George Knox of Cherokee.  The following were charter members:  Mr. and Mrs. David Clarkson, Mrs. W. R. Mallory. Mrs. W. P. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Tutt, Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson, P. W. Weidermaier, Mr. and Mrs. B. A. Colby, Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Detrick, and Mrs. Samuel Wilson, fourteen persons in all.  Officers were elected as follows:  Elders: David Clarkson, Samuel Tutt and B. A. Colby; Trustees:  Samuel Wilson, P. W. Weidermaier, W. R. Mallory, Dr. W. P. Smith and J. D. Adams.  Arrangements were made with the trustees of the M. E. church for holding meetings in that church, and two meetings were so held.  The society then leased Hunt's hall, and continued to use that for more than a year.  Rev. O. Langfit of Storm Lake was the first pastor, coming during the summer at intervals.  In the fall of the first year of the church a call was extended to Rev. R. T. Pressley, and he became the first resident minister.  Upon his arrival a Sunday school was organized on November 14, 1884 with fifty-nine scholars, with A. O. Kendall as superintendent.  The first Christmas entertainment was given the following Christmas and ended in a disastrous manner.  The young man who acted as Santa Claus in the distribution of presents wore a suit of inflammable material which unhappily caught fire and he was quite badly burned about the face and hands.


In the spring of 1884 the members of the church set about to raise money for a new church building and so successful were they that with the assistance of friends of the society a meeting was held in July and a building committee, consisting of G. Gerner, F. B. Browne, W. R. Mallory, B. A. Colby and Rev. Pressley was appointed.  In the same month the contract was let to F. L. Nelson for two thousand four hundred and ninety dollars and the church was built at once and dedicated that fall.


In 1899 the church was rebuilt at a cost of twenty-five hundred dollars and a heating plant was installed at the same time.


The pastors who have served are as follows:  R, T. Pressley, T. B. Greenlee, James H. Clark, John A. McAlmon, C. A. Price, (supply) Nathan Feather, Geo. H. Fracker, (supply) Chas. Ezra Fisk, W. B. Greenshields, J. J. DePree (ordained November 3, 1903 while serving as pastor), and J. G. Cardy. Mr. Cardy resigned April 1, 1909 and the church has no pastor at this time.


The present official board of the church is as follows:  Elders: A. C. Binnie, C. J. Hetrick and J. M. Heywood.  Trustees:  A. R. Browne, C. E. Cameron, James Yuill, William Farrow and C. P. Corneliussen. Treasurer, A. R. Browne.  The record shows that there are at present one hundred and thirty- five communicants.


Of the Sabbath school A. C. Binnie is superintendent and Alta M. Burns secretary.  The enrollment is seventy-five.


Mrs. C. J. Hetrick is president of the Woman's Home and Foreign Missionary society, Miss Lucy Heywood is secretary; Mrs. Martha Conner, treasurer; Mrs. A. C. Binnie, secretary of literature; and Mrs. C. P. Corneliussen, librarian.


The Ladies Aid society is a great factor in the social work of the church, the officers being:  Mrs. V. E. Herbert, president; Mrs. Martha Conner, vice president; Mrs. C. P. Corneliussen, secretary; and Mrs. A. R. Browne, treasurer.


Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole.  "Alta." Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa.  Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 158-59.