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Elk Chapel
Decatur County, Iowa

Fred Young's dog, Laddie, was a faithful member of the Elk Chapel congregation, ca. 1950's
Photograph courtesy of Joyce and Andy Johnston

'A HISTORY OF ELK CHAPEL'

The following interesting history of Elk Chapel, written by A.S. ROSS, one of the pioneer settlers of Elk Chapel neighborhood, was read at the fortieth anniversary of the dedication of the church, held on August 20, 1916: Salem, Mo., Aug. 15, 1916. To whom this comes greeting.

I have been requested to give a history of the Elk Chapel Church since it was constructed. I beg leave to go back to the formation of the U.B. Class which was organized about 62 years ago. The first to start in the organization were IRA B. RYAN, RESIN TIPPIE and LEWIS HOFFMAN and just a few years later by CHRISTOPHER OSBORN who had just moved in from Ohio. Father EVERHART and F.R.S. BYRD were the principal preachers at that time.

I came there 57 years ago and I lived there until '62 when I went to California and returned in '66. From that time I was secretary of the Q Conference all the time up to 11 years ago. The old U. Con Journal became filled and a new one used. The old one was sent to Dayton, Ohio, there to be preserved among the archives of the U.B. Church. When I came away from there the new one was in the hands of GEORGE WILLIAMS, U.Con Secretary. The incorporation papers of the U.B. Church for the county of Decatur, were placed in the hands of J.M. ASHBURN and he deposited them in the bank of Lamoni for safekeeping. They are recorded in book 59, pages 73-74, of the Decatur County Records.

It was first thought to put the door on the south side of the church. MR. AKERS said that if we would put it on the north side we would be at the expense of putting a cupola on it which he did. It was dedicated on the 20th day of August, 1876, which will be just forty years ago the 20th of this month (the day I understand this paper is to be read at your picnic.)

I was there in 1903 and while there I was authorized to sell the church and parsonage. I sold the parsonage to ELMER AKERS and the church to the Episcopal Methodists. I think I sold the church for $300. I sent the deeds to Des Moines and had them acknowledged. I delivered ELMER's to him and left the church deed to be recorded in the records. That includes the acre on which the church stands on as long as it is used for church purposes and if not so used to fall back to the original owner.

And now for a little personal experience. Somewhere between '93 and '94 we had an evangelist from Des Moines by the name of MCALLISTER, to hold a ten day revival service. I have no record of those converted but it was a grand success. Some joined the Brethren and some the Methodist Church. At the time the church was dedicated, MISS MATTIE GAY, who lived somewhere east of Decatur, furnished us with some mottos to put on the walls, which are perhaps still there.

A good many of the following list have passed away and some have moved and a few remain. Now, if you see fit to have this inserted in the Decatur County Journal I have no objections.

Members of Elk Class as revised September, 1887:

C. OSBORN, ELIZA OSBORN, JOHN OSBORN, RUTH PATTERSON, O.E. PATTERSON, HIRAM D. BRYANT, NANCY BRYANT, MARTHA ETTA BRYANT, J.K. TAPSCOTT, MALINDA TAPSCOTT, JANE MCLAUGHLIN, A.S. ROSS, MARY ROSS, EVE ROSS, S.P. BOND, PAULINE BOND, MARY EURITT, HARVEY SHIELDS, SARAH A. BRYAN, ELLEN SHIELDS, MATTHEW R. RYAN, LIZZIE SHIELDS, FLORA SHIELDS, REBECCA PAYTON, EMMA DUNBAR, EREMA ANDREWS, NORA BULLARD, MAGGIE ROSS, LEVI JOHNSON, GEO. L. JOHNSON, WM. F. JOHNSON.

-- A.S. ROSS, Salem, Mo., Route 5, Box 13.

Copied by Nancee (McMurtrey) Seifert, March 13, 2002

The Leon Journal-Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
either 1975 or 1976

COUNTY BICENTENNIAL -
Reflections of Decatur County -

This is Elk Chapel Church, Grand River Township. Picture was taken in 1975. It was site chosen for a meeting Sept. 6 of the three Grand River Township trustees, Raymond Van Laar, Section 1, and Day Wookey, Section 2, both of Grand River, and James Hembry section 24, Lamoni. Others attending were James Phillips, Decatur, Elk Chapel descendant trustee, Gloria and Don Pierson, Lamoni, Elk Chapel Restoration Workforce chairpersons and Lorine Warrick, Grand River, treasurer, Bertha Bedell, advisor. The trustees agreed to give one-third of the State Improvement fund for Grand River Township, which was allocated by the county supervisors this year. This sum should be sufficient to buy shingles to re-roof the structure.

Elk Chapel Workday is Saturday, Sept. 11. Men are to bring tools to help shingle, roof and repair exterior. Ladies are to bring tools to help work on exterior or interior and a basket lunch. Donations of money and labor will be posted.

Elk Chapel, 2010
Photographs courtesy of Sharon R. Becker


NOTE: I have attempted to find out who owns Elk Chapel - or the land - in an attempt to see about restoring the church. All efforts have failed, included a search through all available records at the Decatur County Courthouse. Because this was a church and sat on church property, the land and building(s) have a property tax exemption. The last documented record dates back to 1943 when the congregation changed their religious affiliation. Sadly, there's a big hole in the southeast corner of the roof and almost all of the windows are gone. As time passes this little church seems to be doomed to a slow 'death.' ~ SRB

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