Mt. Zion (Tennessee) Christian Church

Richland Township, Decatur County, Iowa
Mt. Zion Christian Church was located north east of Grand River in Richland Township and directly south of the Wheelis (Tennessee) Cemetery. It was on the east side of the road.

John "Thomas" EMLEY was born in Vermillion County, Illinois on March 5, 1839, and was descended from a long line of pastors. On January 7, 1849 he married Huldah MOSS (1832-1902). The family came from Danville, Illinois to Richland Township, Decatur County, Iowa in 1858, settling approximately a mile from where the church was located. Thomas was one of the co-founders of the Mt. Zion Christian Church and the Brick School which was located west of the Wheelis (Tennessee) Cemetery.

The neighborhood was known at the "Little Tennessee Community" of Richland Township because many of the early pioneers who settled in the area came from Tennessee.

Thomas was a farmer and a country doctor. He died at his home on March 6, 1910 at the age of eighty years.

Thomas and Huldah were interred at the Wheelis (Tennessee) Cemetery.



Herald of Gospel Liberty
by General Convention of the Christian Church
Elias Smith, editor. Christian Publication Association.
Volume 101, Issues 27-52. p. 1120. 1909.

The Des Moines Annual Conference of the Christian Church of Iowa convenes at the Mt. Zion church, five miles northeast of Grand River, September 22 to 20, 1909. All persons intending to attend the conference should get tickets for Grand River, where you will be met by those that have been allotted to look after this matter and will bring you to the church, where you will find a kind welcome.

All delegates who can possibly do so should arrange to arrive at Van Wert, Iowa, Wednesday, September 22d, on the morning train which leaves Des Moines at 8:20 a. m. and arrives at Van Wert about 11 a. m. Delegates from the Des Moines, Truro and Oak Run churches join en route. Those from Peru, Winterset, Liberty Center are within driving distance of the K. and W. R.R. can easily arrange to make the train. Delegates from the Pleasant Ridge and Hill of Zion churches can make connection via Osceola. Dinner will await the delegates at the church and all may thus be in time for the convening of conference at 2 p.m. Those who cannot make arrangements, as per above, will be met at Grand River which must be kept in mind for only the one trip will be made to Van Wert. The Mt. Zion church extends a hearty welcome to all who will come.
J. F. CLAWSON, Clerk.
The Grand River Local
Young People's Class, Mt. Zion Church, Summer of 1941
Girls, L-R: Norma FOLAND, Berniece FULLERTON, Ocnea BOLES, Rayola (BOLES) ANDREWS
Boys, L-R: Dale WEST, Junior EDWARDS, Mansel BURCHETT
Church photograph Courtesy of Decatur County Museum, Leon, Iowa

Foland & Emley photographs courtesy of Norma G. (Foland) Becker
Submission written by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2013
"A Century Of Memories" Of Van Wert, Iowa
1880 - 1980, p. 36

The Little Tennessee Chapel, once known as the Mt. Zion Christian Church, is located in Richland Township in the Northwest part of Decatur County. It is believed that people from Tennessee built the little chapel around the turn of the 20th century. Perhaps the rolling hills and lay of the land in the area surrounding the church brought memories of their Tennessee homeland. A cemetery is located just north of the church and many relatives and friends of the community of Van Wert rest there. The little chapel no longer raises praises to the Father, but most certainly "made a joyful noise" in the days of its existence.

Contributed, Courtesy of Larry McElwee, Dodge City, Kansas,

The church eventually closed due to diminishing membership and sat vacant for quite a few years. The building was moved southeast to the Everett and Frances BOLES' farm where it was utilized as a farm shop. It no longer remains standing. ~ Sharon R. Becker
Church Index     *     Decatur County IAGenWeb