RELIGIOUS AND FRATERNAL BODIES
FIRST METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, MANCHESTER
When the first settlements were being made in
Delaware County, the itinerant preacher was not behind the
rest, and so we find that as early as 1855 Simeon Alger
lifted up the standard of the gospel among the first
settlers in this county. In a short time the Delaware
circuit was formed and included a large section of the
country and a number of the other towns near and far. In
1861 the circuit was reduced somewhat and appears on the
minutes as Delhi and Manchester, but still included
Greeley, Yankee Settlement, Bay Settlement, Hickory Grove
and many of the regions beyond.
In 1862 this was still
decreased in size and in 1864 Manchester appears for the
first time on the minutes as a station. In 1905 Sand
Creek, which had for many years been united with Silver
Creek, was left without a pastor by the death of Elder
Taylor, who had been so faithful for six years, and in
order to hold the work, it was added temporarily to the
Manchester work. This plan seemed so satisfactory all
around, and so necessary withal, that it was continued
until the summer of 1907, when the two charges were
united. Sand Creek is six miles southwest of the city and
has a membership of about fifty.
Among the earliest members of
the Manchester society were Ira P. Adams, Amanda Peers,
Mrs. Sarah Fox Jacobs, Mrs. Mary Nethercut, Rebecca Otis,
Susan Tush, Caroline Blanchard, D. H. Fox and his wife,
Rachel, and Mrs. Mary Houghton.
During the first years of its
existence the congregation worshiped in private homes,
halls, stores and other places. In 1863 plans were laid
for the erection of a house of worship, under the
pastorate of Rev. E. W. Jeffries, and in 1864 the building
was completed and dedicated by Rev. A. J. Kynett. The
first parsonage was built during the pastoral charge of
Rev. A. K. Johnson, in 1865-66. In 1884, the old church
having proved inadequate to the needs of the congregation,
the present church building was begun, during the ministry
of Rev. G. W. Brindell. The church was dedicated January
6, 1885, by Bishop Cyrus D. Foss. In 1906, in memory of
her late husband, Dr. W. A. Hines, Mrs. C. A. Hines
presented the church with a splendid pipe organ, which was
dedicated May 13th of that year. The present parsonage
was erected during the pastorate of Rev. S. N. Fellows,
and a few years ago it was remodeled and made more modern.
The pastors who have served the congregation from the time
of organization to the present are: Simeon Alger,
1855-56; F. X. Miller, 1856-57; S. C. Churchill, Jr.,
1857-58; John Webb, 1858-59; J. A. Van Anda, Jr., 1859-60;
J. F. Hestwood 1860-62; E. W. Jeffries, A. Hyde, Jr.,
1862-65; A. K. Johnson, 1865-67; R. Norton, 1867-68; L.
Catlin, 1868-69; L. H. Carhart, 1869-71; F. M. Robertson,
1871-73; J. R. Berry, 1873-74; F. X. Miller, 1874-76; D.
Sheffer, 1876-77; R. N. Earhart, 1877-78; J. F. Platt,
1878-82; G. W. Brindell, 1882-85; E. L. Miller, 1885-88;
S. N. Fellows, 1888-93; R. D. Parsons, 1893-97; W. F.
Pitner, 1897-99; H. O. Pratt? 1899-1904; J. E. Wagner,
1904-08; Roscoe A. Barnes, 1908-10; J. F. Black, 1910-12;
C. K. Hudson, 19.12, and the present pastor.
FIRST NINE YEARS OF THE METHODIST CHURCH
The following article was written some years ago by
Mrs. C. J. Friend, and appeared in a local publication. As
a reminiscence of the primitive church the sketch is
reproduced for the edification of the many readers of
On attempting to go back into the past
to trace the origin of any social structure, one is
confronted with the difficulty of finding really assured
facts as a basis from which to work, because of the very
meager accounts committed to writing.
It would seem that those who were
engaged in the struggle to establish themselves in a new
land, in organized conditions of life, either secular or
religious, had in their humility of mind so little thought
of the importance of the part they were playing in the
world's great drama, that it did not assume just
proportions in their own eyes, and consequently in their
engrossment with the rigid toil and hardship that is
always the portion of the pioneer, they failed to
chronicle their simple deeds of achievement, and in after
years when a great nation or a prosperous organization has
grown out of these small beginnings and the effort is made
to trace the ever-widening and on-rolling stream back to
its source, no really adequate data can be found upon
which to build correct historic records.
The First Methodist Episcopal Church
of Manchester is no exception to this general rule, and
original records are chiefly remarkable for their entire
absence. But this we do know. It had a beginning, and many
facts pertaining thereto are very clear and lucid in the
memories of the few survivors of those early days who
still remain among us. Let us look a little while at the
surroundings from which our church sprang into existence.
Remember that Manchester was still
unknown, that Burrington was scarcely yet but a name, as
only five years had elapsed since the first pioneer
located within the limits of what is now our pleasant
little city. During this half decade a few other settlers
had come, and like most sturdy pioneers, they brought with
them that religious zeal and fervor which carries with it
that strength of purpose and character necessary to the
opening up of a new country, and it must needs be that
this should find outlet and expression in some united
effort for the cherishing and strengthening of such zeal.
Among the early preachers who
traversed this yet sparsely settled region, alone on
horseback or perhaps on foot, and occasionally
administered the bread of life in some lone settler's
cabin, to the few scattered inhabitants who could be
rallied together for the occurrence, we find the name of
Simeon Alger, to whom the annals give the distinctive
honor of forming the first class here in the year 1855.
This as to time, upon which point
there is no variance, but as to place, authorities of
seemingly equal importance differ. Some say in the home of
D. K. Fox, which was a part of what has been known of late
years as the Wilmot House. Others say it was in the
kitchen of Deacon Merrill's house, which was one of the
first buildings in Manchester, and is now the home of D.
H. Young. The divergence of opinion enables us come-afters
to seize either horn of the dilemma, according as personal
predilection may favor.
Be this as it may, we do know that organic
life for this church began at the aforementioned time and
was of that vigorous type that early foretold the
prosperous conditions which we of later days enjoy.
As we read the honor roll of those forming
the nucleus around which others soon gathered we find the
names of D. K. Fox and wife, William Acers, Adolphus
Hardenderf and Alminda Peer, and the latter informs us
that her mother, Mrs. Polly Witter, was also among these
charter members. D. K. Fox was appointed class leader and
continued so for three years.
Very soon the following named persons were
added to the membership roll: John Otis and wife, John Nethercut and wife and Sisters Blanchard, Houghten and
Loomis, and also I. P. Adams, who succeeded D. K. Fox as
class leader in 1858.
Who can fitly portray the courage manifested
by this devoted band of Christians as they contended with
all the difficulties which would naturally surround them
in such an almost uninhabited land and so faithfully
nourished this small division of the great church
Services were held successively in the
homes of the members and in the schoolhouse, which stood
on the north side of the central schoolhouse lot and in
Hulbert's Hall — the building now occupied by Mr. Baxter.
While only irregular preaching was possible they always
kept up a prayer meeting, and a church which does that can
no more die out than an individual can backslide who is
habitually found at this special mid week service.
Let us pause a moment and dwell upon
the lives of those, our predecessors, and note the
earnestness of purpose that actuated them as they eagerly
assembled themselves together whenever the call went
forth that a preacher had come to hold services, and no
wonder there were conversions at these meetings, for there
was unity of aim and a mutual sympathy, one with another,
which also seems to depart as numbers and prosperity
Very early in the life of this church
a series of meetings was begun by the members themselves
and it is related that D. K. Fox and John Nethercut, who
by this time had removed to their farms, used to walk in,
a distance of over two miles, every night to assist in the
work. Let us think of this in these pampered days when
many of us are too weary at night to walk two blocks to an
evening meeting. After the laymen had continued their
efforts for a week the services of Rev. S. C. Churchill
were secured and a revival was the result, with increased
During 1856, 1857 and 1858 the following named preachers
supplied the circuit, extending many miles around: Revs.
F. X. Miller, John Webb, A. J. Van Anda and the
before named S. C. Churchill. The first mention of this
charge in the conference minutes was in 1859, under the
head of Delaware which meant a large part of the county
and to which charge Rev. John Webb was the appointed
Meantime, on January 23, 1857, the General
Assembly of Iowa had approved an act changing the name of
the young town from Burrington to Manchester, and this
church, under the latter name, first appears on the
conference minutes in 1860, with Rev. J. P. Hestwood as
pastor, who reported a salary of $222.72 for his year's
In 1861 Delhi and Manchester are found
in the conference minutes as united, with Reverends Hestwood and E. W. White as pastors, and besides these
places mentioned their fields of labor included Yankee
Settlement, Greeley, Hickory Grove and Bay Settlement,
besides other outlying country.
It was while occupying Hulbert's Hall
that the Dubuque District Ministerial Conference was first
held in Manchester and as it was then wartime, Rev.
William Brush preached a patriotic sermon on the last
evening of the session. At its close some young men in the
back of the hall mistaking it for a Union speech, broke
forth with that popular song, '' The Union Forever,
Hurrah, Boys, Hurrah!'' and sang it through with great
fervor, and it is said that they were somewhat
disconcerted when the presiding elder, Rev. P. E. Brown,
arose and pronounced the benediction. However, it was
regarded as a good joke on the preacher as well as the
While touching upon the war it is but
meet to mention the names of D. K. Fox, John Nethercut and
John Otis, who, from out of the ranks of this struggling
church, joined the ranks of those brave patriots who were
engaged in the greater struggle to save our native land.
There were probably others besides those mentioned who
joined the ranks of the army, but the writer has not
learned of them.
Imperfect records do not give the
records of the membership at this date, 1861, but in 1862
there were forty-three in full connection and Revs. E. W.
Jeffries and E. R. Latta were assigned to the field now
In 1863, Reverend Jeffries was
returned, with Rev. A. Hyde as junior preacher. During
this year it was decided to build a house of worship and
the work commenced. Previous to this a general conference
had passed an act extending the time limit from two to
three years, and under this act Reverend Jeffries was
returned for the third year to complete the erection of
the church, in which he was ably assisted by William Cattron and I. P. Adams, building committee.
The edifice was made ready for
occupation during the year. Rev. A. J. Kynett preaching
the dedicatory sermon and raising enough money to clear
the property from debt.
Thus ends this brief chronicle of the
organization and firm establishment of this church during
the first nine years of its existence.