Buena Vista County, IA
USGenWeb Project

History of the Methodist Episcopal Church
Alta, Buena Vista County, Iowa

The early history of the Methodist church at Alta is the same as that of the church of the same denomination at Storm Lake.  In the year 1870 Rev. Horsewell was sent to the Storm Lake charge, then without a church and organization, to look after the spiritual welfare of the people and if possible to effect a Methodist organization.  A class had been formed some time before by Rev. Thomas Whitely and Mr. Horsewell perfected this organization.  Northwest of Storm Lake, on the prairie, he found another settlement anxious to have religious services and so, in 1871, a class was organized at the Hunt schoolhouse, three miles northeast of Alta.  In 1872 Rev. O. S. Bryan filled the appointment and in 1873 Rev. Smith D. Fry was pastor.  In 1874 Rev. Wilmot Whitfield came as pastor of the Storm Lake circuit and the Elk charge was added, services being held in homes and schoolhouses.


In 1875 church buildings were erected at Storm Lake and Alta, and the charge was divided, the Elk charge going with the Alta church.  Rev. Henry Brown was the first resident pastor of the Alta church.  The church, built during the summer, was dedicated shortly after the appointment of the pastor.  The incorporation of the church dates from April 19, 1875, the incorporators and board of trustees being Hosea Bennett, J. L. Bennett, Geo. G. Espe, J. L. Wilson, W. S. VanBuskirk, G. H. Richmond, C. Shell, William Lownsberry and T. W. D. Orswell. These were elected at the quarterly conference held at Storm Lake, before the church was organized here.


The church grew steadily from the beginning.  In 1887 an addition was built to the main part, and this was occupied until 1906 when a handsome new brick church was erected, through the efforts of Rev. G. W. Southwell and the society, which pledged about twenty-five thousand dollars for the church and furniture.  The outside public was also generous in contributing to the building fund.


The pastors who have filled the charge since the organization of the Alta charge are C. B. Winter, William Mooney, William Preston, Robert Smiley, Bennett Mitchell, W. F. Gleason, F. J. McCaffrey, R. Burnip, J. L. Whitney, G. W. Barnes, T. S. Cole, G. W. Southwell and the present pastor, G. O. Kidder.


The present official board is constituted as follows:  Trustees:  Samuel Parker, president; D. H. Carpenter, secretary and treasurer; F. G. Tincknell, W. F. Corneliussen, C. H. Millard, W. S. VanBuskirk, N. P. Swanson, John Stomberg, B. J. Edwards and C. McMullen, Board of Stewards; F. N. Sipe, D. H. Carpenter, secretary; D. E. Hadden, G. F. Tincknell, A. E. Hilderbrand, J. H. Allen, C. R. Abbott, Robert Parker and John Crombie.  Class leaders:  Thos. Gurney and John Crombie.


The women in the church have several societies of which the Social Union is for the social upbuilding of the church.  Mrs. N. P. Swanson is president and Mrs. John Stomberg secretary and treasurer.  Miss Minnie Tincknell is president and Mrs. G. O. Kidder secretary of the Woman's Home Missionary society and Mrs. F. N. Sipe president and Mrs. S. P. DeLay secretary of the Woman's Foreign Missionary society.


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. 157-58.