Franklin Brethren Church

Center Township

Photos contributed by Barbara Petticord Whittsitt
Original Franklin Church
The organization of the Dunkers church (incorporated, German Baptist Brethren church) grew out of the great religious awakening which occurred in Germany during the closing years of the seventeenth century, when large numbers, becoming dissatisfied with the condition of spirituality in the State church, withdrew from it and met together for the worship of God. . . .

In 1856 the Decatur county congregation was organized, with twenty-six members. The name has since been changed to the Franklin church. A house of worship was built in 1874, about five miles northeast of Leon, Decatur county. The present membership is about thirty-six, although upwards of 300 persons have been identified with this congregation since its organization. A. Wolf, of Udell, Iowa, is the elder in charge, and L. M. Kob, of Garden Grove, Iowa, is the pastor. This flock was formed by Elders Frank Myers and John Garber. S. A. Garber and Wm. J. Stout were the first ministers.

~ Mohler, John E. "The Dunkers in Iowa." Vol. 7 No. 4. Pp. 270, 275. The Annals of Iowa. Iowa State Historical Society. Iowa City IA. 1906. Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, April of 2015
Circa 1920's

Following are the transcriptions from "Franklin Church of The Brethren Centennial - 1856 - 1956"

'Origin of the Church of The Brethren'

[Page 1] The organization which was to become the Church of The Brethren came into being in 1708 at Schwarzenau, Germany, in the valley of the Eder River with an initial membership of eight---three married couples and two unmarried members.

Their resolve to start a new church was a part of the pietistic movement against a highly organized state church which they believed did not set a high enough value upon the individual and which often suppressed the rights of the individual conscience.

Those eight persons examined carefully the other churches growing out of the pietistic movement and found all of them falling short of bringing the individual, unhampered by restrictive creeds, into personal contact with the whole teaching of the New Testament, and with Jesus Christ. They felt therefore, that a new church should be organized. Accordingly, one of the eight baptized by trine immersion their recognized leader, Alexander Mack, and he in turn administered baptism to the other seven. In this manner and for this reason, the Church of The Brethren was born.

The Brethren began migrating to America in 1719, and by 1729 most of them had migrated to this land of freedom and liberty. The first church organized in the early colonies, was at Germantown, Pennsylvania on Christmas day, 1723. Their doctrines included plain and unadorned dress for both women and men; wearing of the covering during worship and prayer by the women; trine immersion; washing of the feet and bestowal of salutatory kiss as a part of the communion service. They also believed it was wrong to go to law for collection of debts, and persons practicing law were not admitted to membership. Their church houses were of the simplest type of construction and for the most part the interiors were also very plain and unadorned.

Early History of Franklin Church

Early in the year 1850 when settlers began to move into Decatur County, a number of The Brethren settled in different parts of the county. Among those was a group in the vicinity of the village of Franklin (nicknamed Wiggleburg) in Center Township. The first record we have of the forces behind the organization of the Franklin Church is an old letter from David Brower, a minister of the South English Church in Keokuk County written to The Brethren in Appanoose County where a church has previously been organized. In this letter, he urged the Appanoose County Brethren to organize a church in Decatur County.

Accordingly, an Elder from the Fairview Church in Appanoose County, Abraham Replogle, came to Decatur County in the fall of 1856 to effect this organization. Those interested, gathered at the home of Christian Heasten, and the church organization was perfected. Brother William Stout, Brother Sam Garber, and Brother Harvey Spurlock were elected to the duties of the ministry. Brother Spurlock soon moved away, leaving the other two to carry on the duties of the ministry at this place. Those men traveled all over the county, as well as into Lucas and Wayne Counties, and Northern Missouri, conducting services in school houses, and in any other available meeting place. They transported themselves on foot and on horseback, in all kinds of weather, and always without pay. It was a part of The Brethren doctrine that the ministers should not receive remuneration for their services.

The main body held meetings at the Methodist Church in Franklin, and also in the old Franklin school house. In about the year 1859 or 60, there were 18 added to the church membership, including Brother L.M. Kob and wife. Brother Kob was chosen to the ministry in three or four years and served the church faithfully until his death in 1911.

The first communion meeting was held in the home of James Ownsby, in Decatur City, and until the Church House was built communion meetings were held in the house of different members.

Charter Members
There is no complete and authentic list of the actual charter members, but the following were probably in the original group.
Brother and Sister Stout (William and Letitia Sears)
Brother and Sister Garber (Samuel and Nancy Peebler)
Brother and Sister Spurlock (Harvey)
Brother and Sister Heaston (Christian)
Brother and Sister Sears (James and Mary)
Brother and Sister Sears (Jacob and Edith)
Brother and Sister Ownsby (James)
Brother Sam Sears
Sister Susan Sears
Brother and Sister Huff
Brother and Sister Hendricks
Brother and Sister Harshbarger
Brother and Sister Payton Brother and Sister Chandler
Brother and Sister Pace Brother and Sister Guyer
Brother and Sister Sears (Daniel and Elizabeth)

Other names in the early history of the church included:
Caster Caldwell
Meyers Spidle
Kob Barr
Hauch Perkins
Springer Porter
Deck Beavers
Greenland Riddle
Warner Goodman
Moore Gittinger
Schott Kiem
Gilbert Swihart
Walker McVey

'The First Church - 1874-1920'

[Page 2] The first church house was erected in the year 1874 on land adjoining the Franklin Cemetery which was already established at that time. It was built by carpenters named Niece and Howard ably assisted by the men of the community. This building served the congregation until the year 1920, when the present building was dedicated. The old building was sold to A.L. Sears. It was moved to a piece of land just east of the present building where it was remodeled and still [1956] serves as the dwelling house of the Carl Gittinger family.

'Farewell Service of Old Church'

Farewell services were held in the old church at the time of the dedication of the present building, with F.A. Garber in charge. He wrote the following poem for the occasion.

Old Church, to thee goodbye
The hands that raised thy sacred walls
In mouldering silence lie
Their footsteps answer not thy call.

Or if perchance, they live
With trembling step and palsied hand
And nought but love to give,
They're pilgrims in a stranger land.

For two score years and more
Beside the city of the dead
In calm and tempest roar
In silence thou hast reared thy head.

Where are the little feet
That hurried blithely at thy call?
Where are the hearts that beat
As beats the heart in one and all?

In every land and clime
By fates decree they scattered are
Changed by the hands of time
And worn by ceaseless grind of care

What sounds of sacred truth
Thy sturdy walls have echoed forth
The voice of joyous youth
And sages wise of matchless worth.

The mourners helpless sigh
Hath often filled this solemn place
Where friends were called to die
And last we saw their pallid face,

What sacred memories rise
As here we linger for a while
And view familiar scenes
And fleeting shades we highly prize

Again a last farewell
The tears we shed while viewing thee
Are for the tales you tell
And sacred scenes of yore we see.
--F.A. Garber.
'Dedication of New Building'

Dedication services for the new building were held on June 6, 1920. Brother M.W. Ennert, of Mount Morris, Illinois preached the dedicatory sermon. He was accompanied by D.L. Miller who gave three of his Bible land talks.

The building was erected at a cost of about $5,000 dollars. Wiley Sells was the carpenter, and some of the labor was donated by the men of the community, particularly the excavation and cement work in the basement.

Elder A.L. Sears donated both time and money for this project, and the fund-raising project was largely in the hands of Edgar Castor and Anga Snyder. Pledge cards were sent to all those who had relatives or friends buried in Franklin Cemetery.


The Lord's Prayer is also a part of the tradition of the Church of The Brethren, too. It is used at the close of nearly all prayers, and most generally is repeated in unison by the congregation. Below is a poetic version.
"Thou to the mercy seat our souls doth gather
To do our duty unto Thee ---- OUR FATHER

To whom all praise, all honor, should be given
For Thou art the great God ---- WHO ART IN HEAVEN

Thou, by Thy wisdom, rul'st the world's whole frame
Forever, therefore ---- HALLOWED BE THY NAME

Let never more delays divide us from
Thy glorious grace, but let ---- THY WISDOM COME

Let Thy command opposed be by none,
Let Thy good pleasure and ---- THY WILL BE DONE

And let our prompters to obey be even
The very same ---- ON EARTH AS 'TIS IN HEAVEN

Then for our souls, O Lord, we also pray,
Thou wouldst be pleased to ---- GIVE US THIS DAY

The food of life, wherewith our souls are fed,
Sufficient raiment, and ---- OUR DAILY BREAD

With every needful thing, do Thou relieve us
And to Thy mercy, pity ---- AND FORGIVE US

All our misdeeds, for Him, whom Thou did'st please
To make an offering for ---- OUR TRESPASSES

And forasmuch, O Lord, as we believe
That Thou will pardon us ---- AS WE FORGIVE

Let that love teach, wherewith Thou dost acquaint us

And though, sometimes, Thou findest we have forgot
This love to Thee, yet help ---- AND LEAD US NOT

Through soul or body's want to desperation
Nor let earth's gain drive us ---- INTO TEMPTATION

Let not the soul of any true believer
Fall in the time of trial ---- BUT DELIVER

Yes, save them from the malice of the devil,
And both in life and death, keep ---- US FROM EVIL

Thus pray we, Lord, for that of Thee, from whom
This may be had ---- FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM

This world is of Thy work, its wondrous story
To Thee belongs ---- THE POWER AND THE GLORY

And all Thy wondrous works have ended never,
But will remain forever and ---- FOREVER

Thus we poor creatures would confess again
And would thus say eternally ---- AMEN.
'Long Time Members'

75 years or more:
Brother F.A. Garber has been a member of this church for over 75 years. He was converted in a meeting conducted by Jonathan Swihart, in February of 1877 and was baptized in a tributary of Brush Creek. The snow was thawing and the creek was bank full. Twenty were baptized at this time and they had to go a half mile to change clothes.

60 years or more:
Brother A.L. Sears, minister since 1903 Sister Anna Duffield Sister Ella Petticord

45 years or more:
Sister Anga Snyder Sister Kate Sears

Fifth Generation Member:
Glenmore Hughes -- Great great grandson of L.M. Kob.

Fourth Generation Members:
Myrtle Hughes -- Great granddaughter of L.M. Kob.
Irene Snyder Starry and Dorothy Sears Harger -- Great granddaughters of Daniel and Elizabeth Sears.
Ruth, Maxine and Thomas Hughes -- Great grandchildren of Jacob and Katie Castor.
Agnes Kemp and James Bunch -- Great grandchildren of Samuel and Nancy Garber.

'Traditional Meetings'


[Page 3] The big event of the church year during the first 50 years or more, was the Big Meeting or Communion meeting when friends and members came from far and near on Friday evening for the candle lighting service, the communion and Lord's Supper. This was observed just as they felt Christ and his apostles observed it in the upper room, with supper, communion, and the washing of feet, along with the singing of a hymn.

The church was usually packed with friends who came to see the service, and the homes of The Brethren were filled with members who lived too far away to return home so stayed for the two nights with members who lived near the church. On Saturday, the deacons of the church and their good wives got dinner at the church for all who would come. Usually a whole beef was cooked for this occasion, with potatoes and vegetables, and the broth of the beef poured over bread was placed in small bowls around the tables. There was always apple sauce and apple butter. Some stayed for supper, while others went home to do chores and come back for evening service. Services were held Saturday morning, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday evening, and on Sunday morning. In the afternoon all would depart for their homes.

'Community Day'

Shortly after the new church building was erected, the custom of observing the last Sunday in June as Community Day was established. At this time all the churches in the surrounding territory (of all denominations) were invited to come and join in the services, stay for basket dinner, and contribute one or more numbers to the afternoon program. These services were held every year for some 25 years or more.

'District Meetings Held At Franklin'

FRANKLIN CHURCH served as host to the annual meeting of the Southern Iowa District three times since 1900. It was held at Franklin in 1921, the year after the new church was dedicated, again in the fall of 1929, and again in the fall of 1937.

All members who attend district meeting from a distance are entertained in the homes of members during their stay. Meals are served at the church to all who come. The meeting lasts from Friday until Sunday, a total of seven meals being served and two nights lodging being provided.

When a congregation is small, it makes a great deal of work for the families involved. Usually some of the women have to stay at the church during the time the meeting is in progress to be sure the meals will be ready on time.

In 1929, Franklin had a very active young people's group and a very nice pageant was presented on Saturday night. It was a missionary theme with an Oriental setting, and the local group received many compliments from the visitors for their splendid performance.

In 1937, Mary and John Baker, and Virgil and Irene Starry set up a tent on the church grounds, and the four of them did the cooking for those attending. Of course, much food was brought already prepared by other ladies of the congregation. Dorothy Sears Harger also stayed with them and was in charge of the dining room.

'The Sunday School'

The first Sunday School Superintendent was Jacob Castor. His assistant was Dock Dilsaver. The song leader was Ephraim Green and they used the song book entitled "Pure Gold". He was Superintendent from the time the first church house was built until his death in 1888. The average Sunday School attendance at this time was 100. Mr. Castor was a very good business man, one of the best, in the early days of the county, and he was equally good in his church work.

He organized the Sunday School Picnics that were held for many years across the road from the church. He died at an early age, leaving a family of two sons and three daughters, and his good wife Katie Castor to carry on and raise the family. He was truly a great church worker and was greatly missed by his church.

In the second half of the century, many have served as Supt. of the Sunday School. Brother A.L. Sears taught the young people's class for many years, and in the late 1920's this class alone numbered near thirty members when they were all present. Anna Long taught the adult class at that time, and she too was very faithful in her services in this capacity as well as being pianist for both Sunday School and Church Services. Sister Myrtle Hughes has served as Sunday School Supt. for a number of years.

A history of the Sunday School would certainly not be complete without making mention of the contribution of Jemima Kob. She was born in 1860 and died in 1937. She became a member of the church at the age of 17, and was a 60 year member at the time of her death. She taught the primary class at Franklin for the most of her life. Aunt Jemima, was loved by all who knew her, young and old alike. She was always ready to help anyone in need, and took no credit for anything she did. She cared for her mother and father as long as they lived, and spent several months at different times in Indiana caring for aged relatives, there. She was also Church Clerk for a number of years.

Vacation Bible School was held at the church at least two summers, possibly more, in the late 1940's.

'Ladies Aid Society'

[Page 4] The Franklin Aid Society was organized in 1918. Before that time the group had been serving farm sales, and holding bake sales in store windows, but it was decided the group could work to better advantage as an organized group.

The first president was Anga Snyder, who has held that office most of the time since and still is president of the group. Susie Coontz also served as president at different times, and there might have been others. The records are somewhat incomplete.

The organization did sewing for needy people in the community, quilted for themselves and others served farm sales, held bake sales. In later years they have served at the Leon Sale Barn, and helped with the cemetery work.

This organization worked and earned $1,800 for the building fund of the new church, helped with sewing for Bethany Hospital, made comforters, did Red Cross work during the war and contributed to many other needs. Whenever there was a job that needed doing the Ladies Aid came to the rescue.

It should be made clear, however, that the membership has not been confined to women. Many of the men have also been members and have worked right beside their wives in this enterprise.
A church is not a transient thing
Though boards perhaps and bricks may fall
And lie unheeded, yet a church
Is not confined to these at all,
And whether blueprints are complete,
Or if birds nest within the steeple,
These are unimportant, for
A church is God, and faith, and people.
Doris Chalma Brock

"I'm sure God knew what he was doing when he put man's eyes in front of his head ---
WHERE HE'S GOING is more important than WHERE HE HAS BEEN."
'Ministers Who Have Served The Church'

Harvey Spurlock .... 1856-1858

Samual A. Garber .... 1856-1888

William Stout .... 1856-1898

Lewis M. Kob .... 1864-1911

A.L. Sears .... Elder since 1911

John Brower .... 1912

F.A. Garber .... Elder since 1921

Charles Colyn .... (nothing written)

While Elder A.L. Sears and F.A. Garber have been the overseers of the flock since 1911, they have been relieved of some of the work at times by the following people: Samuel Garber now minister near Rippey, Oklahoma; Edgar Castor, now located in Kansas; and Myrtle Hughes who has done much of the work for the past several years.
The following have served as summer pastors:

Joe Jennings Bayard Snyder - 1947
Henry Snyder - 1949
Dwight Farringer - 1951
Robert Boyer was here for almost a year, June, 1947 till the spring of 1948.
W.F. Sell Daniel Zook C.H. Shaneberger
Martin Replogle John Fillmore Abraham Wolfe
L.W. Teter David Seick George Thomas
Jonathan Swihart Wyman Foldger Brother Palmer
Mike Thomas William Grosbeck Brother Cable
Christian Porter S.G. Stump Harry Rogers
J.Z. Gochenour Charles Flory - 1914 John Burton - 1915
John Burton - 1913 Harvey Snell - 1917 J.Z. Goughenour
James Swallow - 1916 B.C. Whitmore - 1924 A.G. Crosswhite - 1923
Glen Montz - 1922 Billy Thompson - 1932 B.M. Rollins - 1937
Bennett Stutsman - 1929 Wayne Carr - 1948 Oliver Davison - 1949
Ralph Quakenbush - 1940 William Sleckler Brother Zook - 1954
Sam Riddle   
The Franklin Church

This church is located in Section 14 of Center Township, Decatur County, Iowa. It was organized in the fall of 1858 by Bro. Christian Heaston. Elder Abraham Replogle was present and installed three brethren into the ministry: William Stout, Samuel Garber and Harvey Spurlock. Bro. Spurlock soon moved away. Among the charter members may be found the names of Garber, Hutt, Hendricks, Heaston, Harshbarger, Ownsby, Payton, Stout, Spurlock, Chandler, Pace, Guyer and Sears (of whom Eld. A. L. Sears is a descendant).

The exact number of members at organization is not known--perhaps about twenty-five. In about the year 1859 or 1860 there were eighteen added to the church, including Bro. L. M. Kob and wife. He was chosen to the ministry in three or four years.

The first communion meeting was held at the home of Bro. James Ownsby, in Decatur City. After the organization was completed, there being house of worship built until 1874 the preaching service were held in schoolhouses once a month or oftener, and social or prayer meetings were held at private houses. By the untiring efforts of the above-named three ministers the Gospel of simplicity was being preached in all parts of the county and surrounding community. The work being ably seconded by the lay membership, it grew and prospered to such an extent that at one time the membership reached about 170. They were, however, much scattered, some residing in Lucas and Wayne Counties.

In the early eighties the church began to decline, and Bro. Samuel Garber expressed himself as deploring the lack of unity and consecration in the members of the congregation. Just how the sentiment of division originated and what progress it made we are unable to say, but we find that the promoters of division were given opportunity to get in their work.

In 1892 S. H. Bashor came to this place and held a series of meetings at the request of some of the more progressive members of the church. He began the meetings at the Franklin church house; then they were transferred to the Union schoolhouse, where the Progressive Brethren organization was effected. They then built a house one mile west of the Franklin house and about a dozen members went with them at that time, including one deacon and wife. No minister withdrew at that time. The attendance greatly decreased at the old church, and the work has been greatly hindered ever since on account of the division. The Progressives have three church houses in this county, all in Center Township. They claim to be “just like the Church of the Brethren,” and those who know no better in regard to the matter go to the Progressive churches, because they are nearer home.

The church had declined to such an extent that in 1914 there were only eighteen members in the Franklin church. In the fall of 1915 Bro. J. F. Burton, of Northern Iowa, was called to hold a series of meetings and the visible result was that sixteen were baptized, besides some renewing their covenant. The work took on new life, and there is hope that in spite of all discouragements they may yet be a force in the community.

Bro. Samuel Garber had the oversight of the church from his ordination to the time of his death, in 1888. Then Bro. Wm. Stout was bishop until his death in 1898, being assisted by Bro. L. M. Kob, who was then presiding elder until his death, in 1911, with the exception of 1902-1906, when he resigned and Eld. A. Wolf was chosen as overseer. Since 1911 Bro. A. L. Sears has looked after the spiritual interests of the flock. .

The Sunday-school was organized long before the church house was built, and was first held in a schoolhouse, afterwards in a Methodist church house, and later transferred to the new church building. Large numbers attended and a good, interesting Sunday-school was the result, Bro. Jacob Castor was a loyal superintendent for years. After the Progressives built their church house so near, the attendance greatly diminished, and it has not fully revived, but a faithful few have been enjoying the privilege of keeping: the Sunday-school alive. One of the sisters said, “It has not been evergreen, although we have attempted to make it such this year, but on account of bad roads and sickness this winter, we were unable to accomplish our purpose.”

Prayer and social meetings were held for a number of years, but on account of the scattered homes of the members only occasional meetings of this kind were held the last few years. In the last year or so there has been a Christian Workers’ meeting organized, and a lively interest is reported in that as well as in other church activities.

Besides the ministers already named the following may be mentioned: Samuel Riddle, prior to 1878, moved west and has since died; Jonathan Swihart, a year or so before 1878, was a fluent and entertaining speaker; Edward Johnson, elected in 1900, died 1903; J. D. Brower,by letter for one year, 1912; A. T., Sears, elected ----, ordained----.

Some of the deacons are as follows: James Ownsby, died in 1884; Howell Chandler, before 1878, died in 1898; Jacob Castor, prior to 1878, died 1889; S. V. Sears, prior to 1878, moved away, 1886; J. J. Sears, chosen 1894, died 1911; L. D. Garber and Hiram Porter, installed 1879; the latter died in 1888; John T. Caster and John Moore, chosen in 1889; Glen Petticord, chosen 1907; Nelson Prowant, installed about 1905; served for a year or so; Abe McVey was chosen in 1894; F. A. Garber, who is one of the ministers, was installed in 1915 and advanced to the full ministry Sept. 16, 1921

A new church house was built. It was begun in late 1919, and was dedicated June 6, 1920. Bro. M.W. Emmert, of Mount Morris, Ill., preached the dedicatory sermon. He was accompanied by Eld. D. L. Miller (of sacred memory), who gave three of his Bible land talks. “The present ministers (Nov. 19, 1923) are A. L. Sears, F. A. Garber, and Bro. Olaf Caskey, who has lately moved to Leon, but as yet has not presented his letter. This was formerly a part of the Fairview church and when first organized was called the Decatur County church.

Eld. Samuel A. Garber

Samuel A. Garber was born in Cambria County, Pa. Jan. 1, 1832. His parents, John and Sarah Garber, were of German descent and members of the Church of the Brethren. In 1838 they emigrated to Iowa, coming by Steamboat down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi. They settled in Jefferson County, near Libertyville, his father, John Garber, being the first elder in the Libertyville congregation and the first Brethren preacher ever ordained in Iowa. Samuel grew to manhood and was married in the spring of 1853 to Nancy A. Veebler, whose ancestors were members of the Brethren church in Switzerland shortly after the church was organized. They soon fled to Holland and later to America, to escape military duty.

Samuel and his wife united with the Church of the Brethren shortly after they were married, and in’ the spring of 1885 emigrated to Decatur County, Iowa, settling a few miles north of Leon in Center Township. He afterwards traded this farm for another, also in Center Township, where he lived until his death. He was elected to the ministry when the Decatur County church was organized, and ordained a number of years later, being the first elder ordained in the Decatur County church. After being elected to the ministry he entered actively into the work, and during the rest of his life preached almost every Sunday. In addition to his regular appointments he was called to all parts of the Southern District of Iowa and North Missouri. Twenty-five years age it would have been rare to meet a person in Decatur County who had never heard Sam Garber or Lewis Kob preach. The seed sown still remains, and there are many fruitful fields in this part of the country where they labored, waiting for the harvesters.

Bro. Garber always made a great effort to attend all the District Meetings, and held various offices in the District. It was thought by some that he was favorable to the Progressives when the church was divided. The following circumstance will show how he stood:

While the division was going on among the various congregations a sister from the Decatur County church wrote a letter to the Progressive Christian, complaining about conditions in the church, and a Progressive wrote to Bro. Garber, suggesting that it was about time for a division in Decatur County. His answer was: “The Scripture says, ‘Beware of them that cause divisions'.” In a letter still preserved, which he wrote to his son only a few minutes before he was killed, he spoke of the church and deplored the fact that the local congregation was not prospering as it ought to do. On the 14th day of June, 1888, he, with his daughter Fannie, drove to Leon and on account of the threatening weather started for home early. They were overtaken by the storm two miles from town and he was killed by a stroke of lightning. He was 56 years, 6 months and 14 days of age. His wife died in 1910. Bro. Garber was a man of genial disposition. His education was limited to what was afforded by the country school in pioneer days of Iowa. He was a lover of music, and taught singing schools at different places. His work was accomplished by tireless energy rather than natural ability, and the joy of having done his duty was a greater reward than “filthy Iucre.”

Eld. Wm. J. Stout

Wm. J. Stout was born Sept. 22, 1816. He united with the Church of the Brethren in 1844, came to Decatur County, Iowa, in 1854, was chosen to the ministry in 1856, and ordained to the eldership about 1877. With Eld. L. M. Kob he had the oversight of the Decatur County church from the time of the death of Eld. Samuel Garber, in 1888, to the time of his own death, Jan. 23, 1898. When a young man Bro. Stout married Letitia Sears, and together they traveled life's journey. To them were born seven children--four girls and three boys. One son died in childhood. Eld. Stout engaged in the milling business at an early day at Leon, Iowa. He was no loud speaker, having a weak voice, but his loudest sermons were his daily life. His earnest desire was always for the enlargement of the borders of Zion. While he never made a great mark as a public speaker, he deserves mention as a pillar in the local congregation of Decatur County.

Eld. L. M. Kob

L. M. Kob, son of Philip and Christena Kob, was born in Dauphin County, Pa., on Christmas day, 1834. His mother, whose maiden name was Christena Rothrock, died when he was about two years old. When he was about six years old, he, with his father, stepmother (whose maiden name was Barbary Horst), one brother and one sister, moved to Henry County, Ind. where he grew to manhood, and in 1857 was joined in marriage to Miss Anna Wimmer, daughter of Abraham and Hannah (Heckman) Winter of that locality.

Eld. L. M. Kob and wife were the parents of five children, three daughters and two sons. The sons preceded their father in death, one in youth and the other just two weeks after he was married. Two of the girls are married, and with their families are living in the county of their birth. The other one, with the mother, resides on the farm on which the parents located in 1858. Thirteen grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren came to them before the death of Bro. Kob.

As soon as they were married, Brother and Sister Kob started west with ox team to find themselves a home, settling in Decatur County, Iowa, where he resided at the time of his death, June 26, 1911.

There was a Church of the Brethren already established at this place, although they had no church house until 1874, when one was built adjoining the Franklin cemetery. Prior to this time meetings were held at members’ houses; also in schoolhouses here and there. After about one and one-half years Eld. Kob and wife, with sixteen others, with the church. Three or four years later he was called to the ministry and was advanced in a very short time and ever tried to serve the church faithfully. True. Eld. Kob, with joys intermingled, met with many trials and discouragements, and sometimes seemingly lost faith in his fellow-man, but his faith in Christ his Savior never faltered.

In the early days of his ministry he traveled much on foot and horseback; later by wagon, and then with a single open rig, through heat, rain, mud, snow and cold, seldom failing to fill his appointments. The writer well remembers a trip with him in an open buggy to Nodaway County, Mo., when the thermometer registered 20 degrees below zero. On our return trip a heavy snowstorm set in, through which we traveled nearly all day; then stopped with a dear sister in Christ and family, where we had to remain several days, on account of the deep drifts, still some forty miles from home. So anxious were we to get there that we had the pleasure of breaking the roads much of the way when we did resume our trip.

Another time Bro. Kob went to Mercer County, Mo. and a fearful snowstorm overtook him. He left his conveyance and started for home on his faithful beast, riding through tunnels dug in the snow, over fences, through fields--any way to reach his little family. During this experience his helpmate was struggling to get along with the chores, etc., through the deep snow. What part will she have over there? Let these two instances suffice to show some little of what he underwent for the great cause he loved so well. All his work was done with but little recompense so far as this world goes, but the record was kept up yonder. He often said in late years, when advised by friends to stop and give the work over to younger ones, “Better wear out than rust out.” His motto was, “Spend and be spent.”

He was called to perform the marriage ceremonies for about one hundred couples and to conduct the funerals of nearly two hundred people. The last service he held away from home was the funeral of a friend, April 10, 1911. He kept the family altar burning bright as long as he was able to exercise in that capacity. His form is gone from us, but surely his works do follow him. His power in the pulpit lay in his aptness at illustrating, backed by his personal zeal and consecration, which was devoid of anything that was ludicrous, The expositions and illustrations that he advanced impressed one with the character, devotion and sincerity behind them.

Most of this article is the words of his daughter, Jemima Kob.
Source: A History of the Brethren Church in Southern Iowa, compiled by Willis P. Rodabaugh and A. H. Brower
Published 1924 by Brethren Publishing House, Elgin, Illinois, pages 91-100, "The Franklin Church"
Transcribed & contributed anonymously. Added 17 Jan 2020.

October 7, 1956
Morning Services 10 A.M.
Sunday School
Worship Services Speaker, W.H. Brower

'Basket Dinner At Noon'

Afternoon Services 2:00 P.M.
Opening Hymn....Faith of our Fathers
Invocation....W.H. Brower
History of Franklin Church....Irene Snyder Starry
Highlights of Memories.  
Special Music.....Garber Family
Letters From Absent Members - Ministers  
Recognition of Long Time Members.  
Special Music.....Russel and Mary Goodman
An Evaluation of the Past....Sam Garber
Special Music....Lorena and Wanda Castor
Looking to the Future and Benediction Service....Edgar Castor
Closing Hymn and Benediction 
Contributed by Barbara Whitsitt, October 06, 2002
Transcriptions by
Nancee (McMurtrey) Siefert
Decatur County Journal
Leon, Decatur County, Leon
October 29, 1914

The work of the Brethren began in Decatur County in 1856 when Elder Abraham Repiogie, of Appanoose County gathered together the members of the church at the village of Franklin and organized them into a church with William J. Stout, Samuel A. Garber and Harvey Spurlock as the ministers in charge. The charter members were Susan Hendricks, Jacob Sears and wife, Christ Heaston and wife, Jacob Heaston and wife, Samuel Sears, William Stout and wife, Harvey Spurlock and wife, Samuel Garber and wife, Jas. Ownesby and wife. The first communion was held at the home of Jas. Ownesby at Decatur City.

As long as they lived, Elders Stout and Garber went everywhere preaching the gospel with apostolic fervor according to the interpretation of the Brethren. As a result thirty years ago there was scarcely a person in the county but who had heard one of the elders preach, and adherents to the faith of the Brethren are to be found in every corner of the county.

The following are some of the places in Decatur County where they preached with some regularity at various times: Franklin M.E. Church, Franklin School, White Oak, Pleasant View, Whitehall, Bradney, Reynolds, McAlister, High Point, Kendall, Riddle, Beavers, West Eden, Welcome, Virnon Ridge, Jack Oak, Rauch, Decatur City, Stone, Foland, Westerville, Machlan, Wilson, Elm -- mostly school houses. They also preached in Mercer, Nodaway, Harrison and other Missouri counties as well as almost every county in southern Iowa. This is an astonishing field of labor for these pioneer preachers who earned their living by farming. We gladly pay them the tribute of our admiration and praise.

The first Brethren Church was built in Decatur County in 1874 at a point about six miles northeast of Leon where it still stands and is known as Franklin Church.

In 1883 came the unfortunate division of the Brethren over the question largely of uniformity in religious garb. The liberal conference joined with the Presbyterians in building a union chapel at Crown, where more converts have been made doubtless than at any other church in the county during twenty years. The following preachers have served there: S.H. Bashor, Mrs. Clara Flora, Noah Flora, Isaac Thomas, Sadie Gibbons, W.A. Witty, S.G. Wood, F. Rawlinson, J.F. and F.A. Garber, G.T. Ronk.

Copied by Nancee (McMurtrey) Seifert February 5, 2002
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