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Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists
S. H. Mitchell

Page 19-22


Beginnings - The First Church - Constituent Members.
Illinois Preachers.

SOME few years prior to 1834, the date at I which our story begins, in a revival of religion, it is supposed, in the Brush Creek Baptist church in Green County, Kentucky, two young persons of humble parentage and circumstances were converted to God and immersed into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Their names were William Manly and Hepzibah Mathes. The latter and her sister, afterwards Mrs. Chandler, were baptized into the fellowship of the Brush Creek church by Rev. Johnson Graham, their pastor. In a year or two after their baptism these two were united in marriage, and in 1834 removed to the then territory of Iowa, on the west bank of the Mississippi river. When they landed, where the city of Burlington now is, they found four or five log huts. The spring of 1835 may be regarded as the beginning of white settlements in this part of Iowa. There was, as far as is known, no religious organization. Brother and sister Manly and a few other Baptists from Illinois and Kentucky were among the earliest settlers. Though young and inexperienced, and coming to take up their abode in an almost unbroken wilderness, they had had the forethought to bring with them a copy of the articles of faith of the Brush Creek Baptist church, and they were not long to remain without church privileges. There was evidently the will, and the Lord soon opened the way. Desirous of organizing themselves into a regular Baptist church, the hardy pioneers invited Elder John Logan, of McDonough county, Illinois, to come over and preach to them and assist them in their purpose.

On the 19th day of October, 1834, Elder Logan and Gardner Bartlett arrived in the settlement. On the same evening, in the rude hut of Noble Hously, Elder Logan preached, it is believed, the first sermon ever preached in this part of Iowa, by an evangelical minister to a congregation of white people. On the next day after another sermon in the same place, by the same preacher, the following brethren and sisters were organized into the Regular Baptist church at Long Creek, Iowa, now the Danville Baptist church. Their names were : Enoch Cyrus, Rebecca Cyrus, Anna Cyrus, Frank Cyrus, Rachel Dickens, Mary Ann Dickens, Noble Hously, Naomi Hously, William Manly, Hepzibah Manly and Jane Lamb. The Articles of Faith adopted were those of the Brush Creek church, brought by sister Manly, and are still preserved in the records of the Danville church. Though somewhat crude in their phraseology, they are eminently sound and clear in all the doctrines that characterize Baptist churches at the present day.

Thus we have the record of the planting of the Baptist tree in the soil of Iowa. Before we proceed to note the successive steps of its growth, let us pause for a moment's meditation upon the time.

Fifty years ago! What changes have marked this half century in the world's history! What an epoch in the annals of our Baptist life! The greatest preacher of modern times, C. H. Spurgeon, was then an infant in his mother's arms. A few months before Barnas Sears had baptized that historic group, the hero Oncken and his five associates in Germany. By and by Oncken was to be welcomed, as our annals will show, under the shadow of this Iowa Baptist tree, and to water its roots with the refreshing stream of his own gracious life and words. One of the ministries of these reminiscences, we trust, will be to emphasize the preciousness of these sanctified associations of the great Christian brotherhood, to remind us of the connection we are permitted to have with the mighty movements of the age.

This Iowa Baptist brotherhood now, in 1834, begins its history with a single church and a membership of eleven souls. A few more may have been received before the year closed. One, still living, sister Chandler of the Danville church, then a widow and sister of Mrs. Manly, came within a week or two after the organization. Also Wm. Mathes and family. ''The visits of the Illinois preacher. Elder Logan, were continued, at irregular intervals perhaps, up to the spring of 1836. " Up to this time we have no record of any Baptist minister settled in Iowa.

The next record of organization is that of a church about six miles southwest of Burlington, by Elders James  Lemen, Moses Lemen and John Clark, from Rock Springs, Illinois. The name at first adopted for this church and an incident out of which the name grew, are suggestive of a struggle already begun, which has since borne a rich harvest to humanity. The name chosen for this second organization was " The Baptized church of Christ, Friends to Humanity." It had its origin in Kentucky under the labors of Elder Clark who had formerly been a member of the M. E. church. When about to close his connection with that body he refused to take his pay for services rendered; the reason stated in his own words being, "It is the price of blood."  When asked, "What shall we do with it then ?" he replied, "Buy a place to bury the negroes in," which it is said they did. This second Iowa organization was afterwards called" Rock Spring, " and after a few years became extinct.

Of the Illinois ministers mentioned above we find the names of Gardner Bartlett, John Logan, Moses Lemen and John Clark, as missionaries of the American Baptist Home Mission Society in 1834.  Some of them two or three years earlier.

In 1889 material for history began to increase, with the first associational organization. This we reserve for the beginning of the next chapter.

Pages 219 - 236

The Great Central Valley of Northern Iowa.
1855 - The Cedar Valley Association.
Organized in 1856-1856 to 1886.

IN 1855 a Church was organized at Waterloo, Iowa, and is reported among the unassociated Churches that year, with twenty members, also one at Toledo, Tama county, with fifteen members. These seem to have formed the basis for the organization in 1856 of the Cedar Valley Association.

1856.    This Association was constituted with six Churches, as follows: 1st Waterloo, organized in 1855, J. C. Miller,  pastor, baptized 74, members 112; St. Charles, organized 1856, G. F. Brayton, pastor, 24 members; Toledo, organized 1855, G. G. Edwards, pastor baptized 18, members 58; Waverly, organized 1856, D. Terry, pastor, members 17; 2d Waterloo, J. C. Miller, pastor, members 17, and Vinton, Rev. A. Chapin, pastor, one baptism and 22 members. Six Churches, 5 pastors, 93 baptisms and 250 members. There is here the anomaly of two Churches in the same place with a membership of only 129, neither of them two years old, and the same person named as pastor of both. Second Waterloo Church is not heard of again after another year. Rev. G. F. Brayton, Freeman, Floyd county, is corresponding secretary of the Association. The First Anniversary was held in 1857, at Waterloo, A. D. Bush, secretary. Three new Churches are added, all organized the present year, viz: Horton, D. Terry, pastor, 11 members; New Hartford, J. R. Dean, pastor, 22 members and two baptisms; Riceville, G. F. Brayton, pastor, 10 members. A. G. Eberhart appears as pastor at Waterloo, with 102 members and A. D. Bush at Waverly. The young Association starts off in the great Cedar Valley with a cluster of names in its ministry that are destined to be historic in Iowa Baptist annals. It is hard to realize that less than thirty years ago there were to be found here only these small beginnings.

1858.    The Second Anniversary was held at Waverly. A. D. Bush is still secretary. Already the cords are rapidly lengthening. The year has been one of great prosperity. Seven new Churches are added, six of them organized within the year. These are Cedar Falls, Chickasaw, Clarksville, Independence, Janesville, Rockford and Rock Grove. U. R. Walton is reported pastor at Cedar Falls, D. B. Mead at Rock Grove, and J. H. Parmelee at St. Charles City. Other pastors are Terry, Chapin, Eberhart and A. D. Bush. Brother Eberhart has baptized 23 at Waterloo, and Brother Bush 16 at Waverly Churches 13; pastors 7; members 494; baptisms 78. The Churches in the Association are scattered over Benton, Buchanan, Black Hawk, Butler, Bremer, Chickasaw, Floyd and Mitchell counties, the very heart of northern Iowa. Three meeting houses have been completed during the year. The Toledo Church withdraws to unite in the organization of the Iowa Valley Association just organized this year.

1859.    Meets at Independence September 23. Rev. U. R. Walter is Secretary. New Churches have been organized at Floyd, Providence, and Fairbank. These unite with the Association, making, with the Polk Church, also enrolled for the first time, IG Churches, with 9 pastors, who have baptized 60 persons, total membership 517. Rev. H. H. Burrington has succeeded Rev. A.D. Bush at Waverly. Rev. John Fulton has begun pastoral work at Independence. Rev. E.G.O. Groat is preaching at Chickasaw and Providence, and Rev. P. Colgrove at Fairbank. The Vinton Church is transferred to Linn Association. Brother Eberhart has baptized 26 at Waterloo and now reports 140 members. In 1860 the Association met at Charles City. Rev. H. H. Burrington is Secretary. New Churches are admitted from Fredericksburg, Rev. E. G. O. Groat, pastor; Frederica, Rev. J. F. Rairden, pastor; Lester, same pastor, and Osage and Mitchell, A.J. Colby, pastor. Rev. Alva Bush is preaching at Fairbank. The first mentioned in connection with this Association of a name than which none, in its subsequent history, is suggestive of more sacred memories. Rev. A. D, Bush is now located at St. Charles. New Hartford, Rockford, Waterloo and Cedar Falls are pastor less. Churches 19; pastors 10; baptisms within the year 82, and a total membership of 593. Rev. A. G. Eberhart has removed to Cedar Rapids.

1861.    The annual meeting is at Cedar Falls. Brother Burrington continues as clerk. Rev. C. E. Bailey is pastor at Cedar Falls, and Brother S. Sherman at Eden, a new Church with 12 members. The largest number of baptisms is by Rev. A. I). Bush at St. Charles, 6. It is a year of spiritual dearth. The Frederica Church received last year does not appear, while the Eden Just received takes its place, making the number the same. The name of the Lester Church is changed to Lester and Barcley. While it is not the purpose of these Sketches to perpetuate the names of unworthy men who have dishonored the ministerial office, yet the truth of history, and the lesson it conveys, warrant the following reminiscence of this period. In 1861 the name of C. E. Bailey appears as pastor of the Baptist Church at Cedar Falls, and they report 64 members. The next year his name appears in the list of ministers as living at Cedar Falls, but "without charge."  A.G. Eberhart has succeeded him and they report 37. Bailey's name is no longer found. As we write this sketch in 18SG the same man has just visited the village where we write as one of the principle participants in a Horse Trotting and Racing Association, where gambling is the principle business. "He went to his own company.''

1862.    The Seventh annual meeting took place at Waterloo. V.W. Baker, Charles City, clerk. Rev. A.G. Eberhart has returned and become pastor at Cedar Falls; 2. A. Bryant at Chickasaw. Rev. E. G. O. Groat has removed from Fredericksburgh to New Hartford. Rev. C. Billings Smith is pastor at Waterloo, and Rev. H. I. Parker at Osage and Mitchell. The Churches in this large field are very weak. Only three in the Association report more than 50 members. These are Rock Grove 55; Waterloo 105 and Waverly 60. Waterloo reports the smallest number this year, since the organization of the Association. The Clarkesville Church is no longer found. Rev. J. R. Dean, the last pastor, died August 19, 1863, of hemorrhage of the lungs. He had removed, with his family, to Pike's Peak, hoping to regain his health, but God ordered it otherwise. Brother Dean was a graduate of Kalamazoo Theological Seminary. He came to Iowa in 1857 and was ordained pastor of the New Hartford Church at the meeting of the dissociation at Waterloo, September, Another pastor of the Association, Brother Colgrove, of Fairbank, Fayette county, died August 1, 1869. [See obituary notes.]

1863.    Met at Waverly. Clerk same as last year. In a report to the Convention in October of this year. Rev. Wm. Wood says this meetings: was characterized by harmony and a commendable devotional spirit. Every Church in the Association was represented, and two new ones added. The letters indicated "increased prosperity." Brother Wood makes his first appearance in this field this year, and labors as a missionary of the Convention in the northern part of this Association. The new Churches organized are Jacksonville, H. Green, pastor, and Grove Hill, J.F. Eairden, pastor. Other new pastors are J. C. H. Miller, at Chickasaw, and Brother Gibbs, at New Hartford. Brother Eberhart has baptized 26 at Cedar Falls, J. Fulton 11 at Independence, and S. Sherman 11 at Fredericksburgh.

1864.    Met with the Church at Osage, Rev. Wm. L. Hunter, clerk, Waterloo. A Church has been organized at Hardin City, A. Orcott pastor. Shell Rock has also organized with 21 members. Rev. S. Sill pastor here and at Janesville. The name of the Polk Church is changed to Syracuse. Rev. H.I. Parker has removed from Osage and Mitchell, and W. Ross is pastor. Brother Parker's stay in Iowa was short, but as he labored just over the border in Minnesota for a number of years he was not lost sight of in Iowa, nor did he lose interest in Iowa affairs. A man of marked culture and ability, but not very firm health, he spent his later life in California and died there only a year or two ago. Rev. A. Marsh has begun a long and useful service at Riceville. Another name prominent in later years is that of Rev. T. H. Judson, pastor at West Fork. The column of Benevolent Contributions tins year amounts to $515.43, Rev. Wm. L. Hunter is pastor at Waterloo.

1865.    The Annual meeting is at Charles City, J C. Whitney clerk. Four new Churches are received in 1865, Mission Kidge, Wayne, Hampton, and Chapin. The reports bear marks of increased prosperity and spiritual power. Brother Hunter reports 19 baptized, and 34 additions in all at Waterloo, and Brother Judson 18 baptisms, and 26 additions at West Fork. Rev. J. C. H. Miller has baptized 20 at Riceville, Rev. J. Fulton 20 at Independence. Churches, 29, pastors 16, baptisms 110, total membership 1,063, for the first time above 1,000. Rev. J. M. Wedgewood appears as pastor at Eden Church, R. L. Jones at Floyd, Rev. T. F. Thickstun at Waverly. The Iowa Baptist State Convention is taking hold in this large field, and helping forward the growth of this Association. Besides Rev. Wm. Wood, Associational Missionary this year, Rev. T. H. Judson was under appointment at Hampton, Chapin, etc., and Rev. Rev. S. Sherman at Tripoli. In 1864 Revs. J. C. H. Miller, S. Sherman, and Wm. Wood were under appointment in this Association. One effect of this close relation to the Missionary Societies will always be to stimulate the benevolence of the Churches, and that is to stimulate and keep in tone the active Christian spirit.

1866.    The eleventh Anniversary - so called, though it is only the tenth Anniversary - of the Association occurred with the Church at Waterloo, convening September 21, at 10 a. m.. Rev. John Fulton of Independence Moderator, J. Cheston Whitney of Hampton clerk. Brother S. Sill of Shell Rock preached the introductory sermon from Proverbs XI:30. The Church at Jessup was received into the Association. The year has been one of unusual prosperity. There have been received into the Churches by baptism 150, and by letter 194, and the present membership is 1291, a net increase for the year of 222. At Waterloo Rev. W. L. Hunter has baptized 41, at Waverly Rev. T. F. Thickstun 23, Hardin City, Cedar Falls and New Hartford follow with 20, 18, and U respectively. Rev. John Fulton retires from a six or seven years' pastorate at Independence, and is preaching at Jessup and other points. Rev. W. C. Learned is the young pastor at Independence. Rev. C. T. Tucker has entered the work as pastor at Charles. City, Rev. A. W. Hilton at Grove Hill, Rev. C. D. Farnsworth at Syracuse. Rev. A. Bush is preaching at Osage and Mitchell in connection with his work in the Cedar Valley Seminary. This Anniversary at Waterloo was a very inspiring occasion, partaking of the aggressive zeal and quickened activity that so generally marked these years of the sixties in Iowa and the west. Rev. G. J. Johnson was present and preached and took a collection for the Publication Society, amounting in cash and pledges to $100. A resolution was passed heartily approving " the Prohibitory Liquor Law of the state, and that we as heartily condemn the inefficiency of those Judicial officers who, for political or personal considerations neglect to enforce it." The Obituary Committee make sad mention of the loss by death of the wife of our beloved brother. Rev. John Fulton of Independence, and of the serious and lingering sickness of Rev. Hazzard Green of Jacksonville, Chickasaw county, who subsequently died January 6, 1867. The harvest of the stern reaper in Iowa during this year was one of very choice sheaves, of which notice will appear in the proper place.

1867.    The Association met at Janesville. W.L. Hunter, clerk, Waterloo. The Church at Mason City was organized in 1866. There are also Churches reported at Nashua, North Washington and at Applington. Some of these, at least, are destined to be of short duration. G.W. Goodrich is reported pastor at Eden Church, and D. P. Maryatt, this year and last, at New Hartford. This Association, now eleven years old, is the largest, as to number of churches and pastors, in the State. There are now, churches 33; pastors 20; baptized within the year 151; received from all sources 356, and a total membership of 1,526. Rev. L. N. Call has become pastor at Hampton and Chapin.

1868.    The anniversary in 1868 was at New Hartford. W. L. Hunter, clerk, Waterloo. Rev. A. G. Eberhart has closed a six years pastorate at Cedar Falls, and is succeeded by Rev. D. N. Mason. Rev. W. C. Learned made but a brief sta3^ in our Iowa ministry, though long enough to be much esteemed, and after an interval is succeeded at Independence by Rev. A. D. Bush, who returns to Iowa after several years absence in the east. Rev. A. Carpenter is preaching at Hardin City and Rev. C. Spragg at Jessup. Brother John Fulton has transferred his labors, for a time, to the State of Illinois. One hundred and seventy-nine baptisms were reported, and a total membership of 1,699. Of the 35 Churches in this large field, including a number of central and growing towns, there are only two Churches of over 100 members. Waterloo has 252 and Waverly 135. Rev. T. F. Thickstun, who began his ministry in Waverly in 1865, has resigned to take up the important work awaiting him at Council Bluffs.

1869.    Osage is the place of meeting. Moderator, Rev. J. Hall, D. D., clerk, Rev. W- L. Hunter, Independence. Brother Hunter after baptizing 44, at Waterloo in 1868, closed a four or five years' pastorate there, and is pastor at Independence. He is succeeded at Waterloo by Rev. Wm. Tilley. Rev. D. N- Mason has resigned at Cedar Falls, and they are without a pastor though they report 30 baptisms this year. How sad it is that just after a revival of religion, and oftentimes when there has been a large in-gathering, needing the greatest care, then the minister has to leave, and the lambs are left to the wolves! Is it the fault of the minister? or of the Church? Or of both? Is it not true that while in modern times we magnify the first part of the Great Commission, "Go, and make Disciples," we have too much overlooked the second part, "teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever I have commanded you"! Rev. Thomas Ure is now preaching at Mitchell, P. S. Crandall at Mason City, and A. T. Cole at Waverly. The Winthrop Church comes into the Association, Rev. Myron Root, pastor. Churches 36; pastors 21; baptized 121; present membership 1,851. The largest now, as to Churches and members in the State. The contributions for the Convention, in 1869, were $608.50, the largest of any Association except the Linn, which was S670.58.The previous year the amount raised in the Cedar Valley was $932.05, of which, however, $542.35 was raised by, and paid to Rev. Wm. Wood, Associational Missionary.

1870.    The Association convened at Waverly September 23, W. L. Hunter, Independence, clerk. Among new pastors we notice D. S. Starr at Cedar Falls, C. T. Roe, Charles City, W. M. Simons, Jessup, A. Plumly, Rockford, G. M. Adams Shell Rock, and E. K. Cressey Waterloo. Zion Church, southwest of Waterloo, has just been formed, L. H. Thompson pastor, where 17 have been baptized. 136 baptisms reported and 1880 members. The value of Church property is placed at $75,000. In 1871 met at Charles City, E. K. Cressey of Charles City clerk. The number of Churches has fallen off to 30, pastors 18, baptized 149. Received from all sources 349, total membership 1879. Rev. E. K. Oressey has removed from Waterloo to Charles City, and the veteran Rev. A. G. Eberhart is again preaching at Waterloo. Rev. H. C. Henry is preaching at a new Church called Geneseo, organized the past year. Rev. M. E. Arkills has been several years pastor at Fredericksburg, Rev. L. Ellingwood a year or two at Otter Creek, and Rev. E. P. Barker at Parkersburg. Rev. S. C. Sale is pastor at Mason City. J. S. Cox at New Hartford, and Rev. J. N. Lukins at Riceville.

1872.    The Association met at Mason City Rev. L. N. Call, of Hampton, clerk. Rev. W. H. Stiller is pastor at Cedar Falls. Charles City has Rev. W. W. Whitcomb as pastor, and reports 50 baptisms. Rev. T. H. Judson, at Rock Grove, reports 34. Rev. G. W. Preston is pastor at Independence, Rev. F. A. Marsh at Waverly and J. Hall, D. D., at Shell Rock. Rev. S. Sill is preaching at Plainfield. There are now 31 Churches reporting, 20 pastors, 151 baptisms reported, and a total membership of 2,050. The only Association reporting over 1,800. In 1873 Shell Rock is the place of meeting. Rev. L. N. Call, of Hampton, clerk. Rev. C. T. Tucker, after an absence
from the Association and the State, returns and is pastor at Mason City. Rev. E. L. Benedict is pastor at Mitchell,
N. H. Daily at Plainfield, J. A. Abbott at Rock Grove and Rev. A. A. Russell at Waterloo. Churches 30; pastors 18; baptized 59; total membership 1.969. The Association occupies the great central district of Northern Iowa, comprising the counties of Black Hawk, Bremer, Butler, Floyd, Chickasaw, Mitchell, Cerro Gordo and Franklin, and at times, parts of other counties.

1874.    The anniversary takes place at Jessup. Rev. W. H. Stifier, clerk. Cedar Falls. Rev. Wm. M. Simons has removed from Jessup to Fredericksburgh. Rev. F.A. Marsh has succeeded Brother Hunter at Independence. Rev. H. D. Weaver is at New Hartford.  Rev. R. Garton begins his long and successful pastorate at Waterloo. Rev. T. F. Thickstun has returned to his old field at Waverly. Brother Stiller has baptized 68 at Cedar Falls, and Waterloo reports 55 baptisms. It is a year of progress in the Association, and of labor well repaid. Baptisms 266: members 2,070.

1875.    In 1875 the Association met at Cedar Falls. W. H. Stiller, clerk. At Shell Rock Rev. B. H. Bras led has baptized 32, and at Waverly Rev. Robert Leslie, pastor, 28. Rev. W. L. Hunter is preaching at Charles City, F. H. Hannah at Clear Lake, G. W. Prescott at Nora Springs and Rock Grove, A. J. Amerman at Plainfield and C. T. Emerson at Riceville and Wayne. The aggregate amount paid for Church expenses is put down at $15,319.70, and the benevolent contributions at $2,125.15. Rev. L. N. Call has closed a pastorate of eight years at Hampton and become Financial Agent of the Cedar Valley Seminary, at Osage. The Church at Hampton is doing without a pastor and making an effort to pay off their debt of $3,200 by July, 1876. An obituary report tells of the death of Rev. Shadrach Sherman, who died at Riceville, Iowa, January 7, 1875. The Church at Nora Springs was organized last February, recognized in July and admitted to the Association at this session. Rev. Alva Bush was Moderator. Rev. Wm. Whitney, of Osage, preached the introductory sermon. Rev, Robert Leslie has succeeded Pastor Thickstun at Waverly.

1876.    The Twentieth Anniversary was held with the Church at Fredericksburgh, September 8. Rev. Richard Garton preached the introductory sermon and was elected Moderator, and Rev. Robert Leslie, of Waverly, clerk. Upon the report of the proper committee the names of the Chapin, Geneseo and Otter Creek Churches were stricken from the Minutes. Rev. W. H. Stiller has closed a four years' pastoral term at Cedar Falls, and has removed to Cedar Rapids, in the Linn Association. Appreciative mention is made of the missionary work of Rev. E. L. Benedict among the feeble Churches in the western part of the Association. Rev. S. H. Mitchell became pastor at Shell Rock in February last. Much interest is felt in the affairs of the Cedar Valley Seminary, and in the efforts being made to increase its finances.  A  good revival spirit has pervaded many of the Churches. There are now in the body 30 Churches, 19 pastors, 167 have been received by baptism, 125 by letter, and the present membership is 2,068.Brother Carton has baptized 60 at Waterloo and they have now 275 members.

1877.    Charles City is the place of the anniversary. Rev. R. Leslie, clerk. Another year of glorious reaping. Baptisms 218: total membership 2,267. More than ever before, and more, by 500, than any other Association in Iowa. Rev. L. T. Bush is pastor at Cedar Falls, where his admirable spirit is very helpful in a time of need. The Church have suffered greatly during the last year by the abuse of an unworthy minister. Rev. James Patterson is pastor at Independence. Rev. Wm. M. Simons has returned from Fredericksburgh to Jessup. Rev. C. H. Mitchelmore has succeeded, at Shell Rock, the one Mitchell, who has removed and become pastor at Grundy Center, in the Iowa Valley Association.

1878.    In 1878 the Association met at Clear Lake. Rev. Robert Leslie, of Waverly, clerk. Baptized 150; present membership 2,422. Rev. A. Myers is pastor at Charles City, H. C. Nash, at Clear Lake, W. L. Hunter at Floyd, J. A. Abbott, at Fredericksburgh, Rev. Wm. Wilder has become pastor at Hampton, L. D. Lamkin at Nora Springs, A. B. Coates at Mitchell, N. F. Hoyt at Northwood, Thomas lire at Riceville and Wayne and A. E. Spring at Plainfield.

1879.    Met at Hampton. J. C. Whitney, of Hampton, is clerk. Cedar Falls is again without a pastor. Rev. C. T. Tucker has returned to Charles City. Rev. G. Sutherland is at Independence. Rev. A. E. Simons has taken up the work at Parkersburg, where a house is to be built for the Lord. Rev. D. B. Mead is preaching at Rock Grove this year and last. A Church has been organized at Rudd where twenty have been baptized and there are 41 members, with M. E. Arkills as pastor. Rev. B. H. Brasted has served the Shell Rock Church for two years. Rev. Robert Leslie has closed a four years' pastorate at Waverly, and Rev. T. J. Keith has succeeded him. There are now in the Association, 34 Churches, 20 pastors, 143 baptisms reported and a total membership of 2,524. The largest by over 700 in the State, and the greatest number of Churches by ten. Of the 20 Churches having pastors, seven have begun their work in 1879, six began in 1878 and are on their second year, while Rev. J. A. Abbott, of Fredericksburgh, Wm. Wilder, of Hampton, Wm. M. Simons, of Jessup, and Thomas Ure, of Riceville, settled in 1877 and are now on their third year, and Rev. Richard Garton, of Waterloo, is on his fourth.

1880.    The anniversary this year is at Independence. J. C. Whitney still serving as clerk. Rev. O. T. Conger has become pastor at Osage, A. R. Button at Cold Water, a new organization. Rev. M. H. Perry at Fredericksburgh, succeeding J.A. Abbott who is now preaching at Plainfield, and Thomas Ure is preaching at Wayne. Rev. A. R. Button is preaching also at Rockwell and Sheffield Churches. Waterloo entertained the Assoniation in 1881. J.C. Whitney, clerk. Of 20 Churches having pastors, eleven date their settlement the present year. We are introduced to quite an array of new names, S. M. Davis at Bethel Church, Henry Williams at Cedar Falls, H. B. Waterman at Clear Lake, J. G. Johnson at Fredericksburgh, F. Bower at Jessup, W. H. H. Avery at Mason City, J. W. Daniels at Northwood, E. H. Page at Osage, L. W. Atkins at Rock Grove, and J. J. McIntyre at Shell Rock. Hampton, Waverly and Independence, with ten other churches, are without pastors. Rev. Wm. Wilder, in infirm health, has removed to Minneapolis, Minnesota, there to tarry for a few years and to obtain his honorable discharge and go to his well-earned rest. Rev. T. J. Keith has resigned at Waverly to take charge of the East Side Baptist Church, Des Moines. The only form of activity that seems to have characterized this year among the churches, is activity among the ministers and their families moving from field to field. They at least are not likely to become sluggish for want of exercise. It is noticeable, however, that the spiritual dearth is general. Only 638 baptisms are reported in all the State, against 1,075 the year before. The first year that less than a thousand have been reported since 1863, when the war as distracting the country. It will be a relief to note, as we shall, that the low water mark has been reached, and that the Lord has not forgotten to be gracious to his Zion.

1882.    The Association met at Osage. A. R. Button, of Osage, clerk. A general weeding has taken place and the names of 10 churches are missed from the list. churches 23; pastors 18; received by baptisms 106; by letter 59; present membership 2.059. Of the Churches having pastors, ten date their settlement within the year. We note Rev. C. Holroyd at Charles City, J. F. Bryant at Sheffield and Cold Water, James Mitchell at Fredericksburgh, L. B. Plummer at Hampton, W. C. Pratt at New Hartford, F. W. Gardner preaching at Plainfield, G.G. Dougherty at Rock Grove, and G. W. Burnham, of Leroy, Minnesota, at Wayne Church. Rev. W. M. Simons has removed from New Hartford, to which place he had removed from Jessup, in 1880, to Waverly. Rev. C. T. Tucker has removed from Charles City, closing a three years' second pastorate with that Church, to Clarinda in the Southwestern Association, taking up there a very important and arduous work for which he seems to be the one man especially fitted. In 1883 Mason City is to entertain the Association. Rev. A.R. Button, of Osage, clerk. Brother Button has been for a couple of years engaged in a most important and successful work as Financial Secretary of the Cedar Valley Seminar}^, for which he resigned his work at Sheffield and Cold Water, some two years ago. Rev. I. W. Edson is pastor at Charles City, Rev. A. C. Nichols at Plainfield. Rev. Henry Williams has closed a three years' pastorate at Cedar Falls and is preaching at Rock Grove, P. O. Nora Springs.

1884.    The Association met at Waverly. Rev. A. R. Button still serves as clerk. Churches 26; pastors 17; received by baptism 57; by letter 68; present membership 2,041. The ratio of baptisms in this, still the largest of the Associations, to those in the State-57 to 1,538, seems to indicate an almost phenomenal barrenness in this part of Iowa. We notice, however, that only three Associations in the State report above 100 baptisms this year; Keokuk 126; Southwestern 142, and Central 292. These bring up the aggregate to the figures stated. There is no general revival. Of the pastors in this Association this year, the following are introduced for the first time: Rev. J.C. Shipp, Charles City; Rev. Robert Smith, Fredericksburgh; Rev. B. G. Boardman, Hampton; Rev. A. J. Colwell, Mason City, and Rev. A. M. Duboc, Osage. Rev. J. B. Edmonson has removed from Parkersburg to Shell Rock. Rev. A. M. Duboc begins a work at Osage, that is to culminate in a new and commodious Church Edifice soon.

1885.    The place of meeting is Charles City. Rev. H. H. Burrington, of Waverly, is clerk. Brother Burrington returns thus to the position which he honored in 1860 and 1861, 25 years ago. The brethren honor themselves by thus honoring him. Churches 25; pastors 16; baptized 202; total membership 2,052. The number of baptisms is the largest of any Association in the State, Only three others reach 100 or over, Davenport 138, South-western 142 and Upper Des Moines 100, Mason City reports the largest number of baptisms, 63; Waterloo 38. Rev. W. W. Onderdonk has been ordained pastor at Cedar Falls. Rev. A. Hunt is pastor at Cold Water and Sheffield Robert Smith at Fredericksburgh, J. P. Stephenson at Hampton, P. E. Moore at Waverly, Rev. E. Pierce, of the Wayne Church, and Rev. L. A. Hall at Mason City. Rev. W. L. Hunter is now preaching at New Hartford.

Being, as has been seen, much the largest Association in the State. Occupying one of its greatest and most prosperous valleys, with a large number of thriving towns and cities. Having always a full share of the ablest ministers in the State and early made the field of the missionary activity and beneficence of our State and Home Mission Societies. The Cedar Valley Association may fairly be taken as a representative body in the respects named, and its history may be studied with profit in the light of the bearing of the past upon the future. A brief comparison of the past ten years, with the decade just preceding, presents some figures that may safely be left without comment by the historian. The contributions of the Churches and members of this Association from 1876 to 1885 and inclusive, to the treasury of the Convention, were $2,099.25, or an average of S209.92i per year. From 1866 to 1875, the preceding decade, they were $3,998.95, or an average of $399.89 per year. Two things need to be taken into consideration in giving these statements their proper weight, 1st, that during the earlier half of the earlier decade, when the largest amounts were raised, a larger portion of it was for Associational Missionary work, conducted by Rev. Wm. Wood, who was a very successful collector; and, 2d, that during the last half of the later decade collections have been in the name of the Convention and Home Mission Society, whereas, during the earlier ten years whatever was collected for the Home Mission Society would be additional to the amount given above. During a part of this time not less than eight pastors or missionaries, in the field of this Association, were being aided by the Home Mission Society. It is reasonable to infer that contributions, to that Society, were considerable in addition to amounts reported for the Convention. From whatever cause, the benevolence of the Churches of this Association in the direction of contributions to State and Home Missions during the last decade, shows a remarkable falling off from the decade immediately preceding. A comparison of spiritual results for the same period gives the following results: The number of baptisms for the ten years, from 1866 to 1875, was 1,447, or an average of 144 and 7-10 per year. From 1876 to 1885 the whole number of baptisms was 1,250, or an average of 125 per year. But for the last half of the last decade they were only 480, or an average of 96 per year. If the spirit of giving and the reaping of spiritual results sustain to each other, as is 'generally supposed, the relation of cause and effect in any measure we may begin to look for an increase of prosperity in this association. During the last half of the last decade the contributions for the Convention were an average of $323.70 per year, against an average for the whole decade of only $209.92 per year.

The year 1886 presents a good measure of prosperity One hundred and forty-seven have been baptized, 259 added from all sources, and there are now 2,172 members. Rev. Richard Garton, D. D., has closed his 12 years' pastorate at Waterloo and become leader of the forces at Cedar Rapids. Rev. D. Read, LL. D., has succeeded him without an interval at Waterloo.

Pages 464-470

The Coon Valley Association Organized in 1871.
Dallas, Guthrie, and parts of Boone, Greene, and Carroll Counties 1871 to 1886.  

THE COON VALLEY BAPTIST Association was constituted in 1871, with eight churches, having four pastors and 330 members. The churches with the number of members reported the following year, were. Coon Valley, 41; Calamus Creek, 20; Perry, 44; Panora, 26; Panther Creek, 28; Pleasant Valley, 16; North Union, 61 and Guthrie Center, 59. The Guthrie Center, Panora, and Panther Creek churches were from the Western Iowa Association; the old North Union Church from the Upper Des Moines, and the other four were new organizations. The pastors were E. J. Wood, J. Hill, J. Carson and A. E. Simons. Brother Simons was the first clerk.

The second meeting was at Perry. Rev. J. Hill, Moderator, A. E. Simons, clerk, Deacon A. Parker treasurer. Father Hill preached the introductory sermon. 1872. The Mt. Zion Church was received. Among the pastors in 1872 in addition to those named before, are Rev. E. R. Swain at Coon Valley, Ed. Tuffin at Panora, and the venerable W. J. Sparks at North Union. A timely circular letter written by A. E. Simons, on "The duty of rendering to pastors a just compensation for their labors," was adopted and printed in the Minutes, Baptisms reported in 1872, 82, members 309. The anniversary in 1873 was at Guthrie Center. The opening sermon was by Rev. George Scott. A. E. Simons Moderator, Deacon C. F. Reed clerk. The Dexter Church was received with 13 members, but no pastor. The state of religion was reported very low. Only two baptisms in the Association. The Perry and North Union churches have completed meeting houses.  The Perry and Guthrie Center churches report Baptist Sabbath Schools; two others report union schools.

In 1874 met at North Union. Introductory sermon by J. Hill, Moderator George Scott, clerk A.E. Simons. Mount Zion Church has become extinct, but the Stuart and Freedom churches were received. Rev. George Scott is preaching at Dexter and Stuart. There is some increase of spiritual interest, 48 baptisms reported, and 389 members, A gain of 90. A missionary committee, appointed the year before, had employed Rev. Wm. Wood of Cedar Falls for three months, at a salary of $50 per month. He had labored in protracted meetings at Perry, Guthrie Center, Calamus Creek and North Union. The work had been self sustaining, enough being received on the field to pay all expenses. Brother Wood had been entirely laid aside by sickness for some time. The fifth anniversary was held in 1875 at Perry. Introductory sermon by Rev. Wm. J. Sparks, Rev. H. S. Cloud Moderator, A. E. Simons clerk. The church at Perry had had a great revival and baptized 53. They have enlarged their parsonage and made it a commodious dwelling place for their pastor's family. They have a prosperous mission station at Peoples Settlement, 8 miles east, which will ere long become a self-sustaining church. Baptisms reported in the Association 75, other additions 43, members 475. The amount reported for church expenses, $2,450; grand total for all purposes $2571.20.

In 1870 the Association met with the Freedom Church. Rev. H. S. Cloud preached the annual sermon and was elected Moderator, Brother Simons still clerk. The churches were all represented except Panora, and four new churches were received. These were Richland Center, North Branch, South Coon and Dallas Center. Rev. J. Carson is preaching at Richland Center and South Coon, H.S. Fish at North Branch, where there are 53 members, and at Guthrie Center, and Rev. Demas Robinson at Stuart. Brother Robert McCoy, of the Calamus Creek Church, wrote a circular letter on "The faithful performance of work by the Lay Members of the church," which was read and adopted and ordered printed in the minutes. It was the writer's privilege to witness the baptism of Brother McCoy in 1868, he having been previously a member of the Church of England. The circular letter written by him shows a very intelligent and just view of the duties of a Christian and a member of the church.

In 1877 the Association met with the Coon Valley church. Brother Simons preached the sermon and was Moderator, C. F. Reed clerk. The Dexter church had disbanded. Rev. E. G. O. Groat was preaching at Guthrie Center and Dallas Center, Brother Wm. Hooks at Panther Creek, C. F. Reed at Coon Valley and North Branch, J. F. McCluen at Richland Center, J. M. Gilbert at Calamus Creek, H. S. Cloud at Freedom and Pleasant Valley, J. Carson at South Coon, A. E. Simons at Perry, W. J. Sparks at North Union, and J. A. Nash at Stuart.

The Association met in 1878 for its Eighth Anniversary with the Peoples Mission, of the Perry Church. Rev. J. Z. Zimmerman was, by a vote of the body, invited to preach the opening sermon. Rev. J. F. Childs, of Des Moines, was elected Moderator, C. F. Reed, clerk. The Casey Church was received with 7 members, C. F. Reed, pastor. Brother Childs is preaching at Stuart and A. J. Delano at Guthrie Center. Rev. Wm. J. Sparks died June 30, 1878. The church at Stuart have bought a house of worship and fitted it up at a cost of $464.50. Met in 1879 at Guthrie Center. Rev. J. F. Childs preached the annual sermon and was elected Moderator, C. F. Reed, clerk. Rev. A. E. Simons, who has been pastor of the Perry Church from its organization, and one of the most efficient members of this body through the ten 3^ears of its history, has removed and taken up work at Parkersburg, in the Cedar Valley Association. Rev. J. M. Gilbert, of Calamus Creek, is also missed from the councils of this Association, but Rev. A. Hunt appears as pastor at Coon Valley and H. W. Wilson at Perry. The North Union Church has returned to the Upper Des Moines Association, and the Peoples Mission has become a separate organization and united with that body also. Rev. H. S. Cloud has removed to Corning, Adams county, Iowa. The departure of Rev. J. Carson from this Association seems to have been a year or two earlier.

The anniversary in 1880 was held at Perry. Introductory sermon by W. F. Hooks. Moderator, A. Hunt, clerk and treasurer, A. D. Phelps of Perry. This anniversary was saddened and chastened by the death, December 4, 1879, of the beloved father, Rev. Joshua Hill of Guthrie Center, who had "by reason of strength reached four score years." The Casey, Richland Center and Dallas Center churches disappear from the records. Bro. E. Hatfield appears as pastor at Calamus Creek, A. Mackey at Guthrie Center, and L. W. Atkins at Stuart. Other pastors are W. F. Hooks and A. Hunt. There are now 10 churches, 5 pastors, 39 baptisms reported and 408 members. Of the baptisms 22 were at Guthrie Center. From 1881 to 1885 the anniversaries were held respectively at South Coon, Panther Creek, Fredonia, Pleasant Valley, and Peoples church. The Moderators in the order named were A. Hunt 4 years, and A. E. Simons ;clerks A. D. Phelps two years, A. E. Simons two years, and F. M. Gaines.

In 1881 Rev. A. Mackey preached the annual sermon, "A thrilling sermon from James 1:22, 'Be 3^e doers of the word, and not hearers only.' Rev. L. D. Lamkin was preaching; at Perry and Rev. J. M. Gilbert removed to Creighton, Nebraska. The Guthrie Center church spent $500 in permanent improvements. A Women's Missionary Society for the Association was organized. Sister R. E. Bailey president, Naomi Mackey secretary, and Sister R. B. Reed treasurer. In 1882 Rev, C. F. Reed preached the annual sermon. The new Bethel church of Audubon county was received, Charles Berry pastor. Rev. A. E. Simons, late in 1882, returned to his old field at Perry. In 1883 Rev. Charles Berry preached the introductory sermon. The Peoples Baptist church was received from the Upper Des Moines dissociation. Rev. Harmon Hunt pastor, with 35 members. Rev. W. A. Welsher of Des Moines was preaching at Stuart. During the Sabbath session of the Association at Freedom in 1883 the exercises were suspended to hear the experience of a sister who wished to unite with the Panther Creek church. This sister, who lived several miles from the place of meeting of any Baptist church, had been converted while at home alone, but desired to follow her Lord in baptism and find fellowship with his people. Her experience was clear and satisfactory, and she was unanimously received by the delegates of the church with which she wished to unite. Two others, a man and his wife, who had been immersed and were formerly members of the United Brethren church were also received into the fellowship of the Freedom church at the close of the morning service. It was voted to hold quarterly meetings of the Association, the object being "to pray and talk and preach the gospel, and plan for more and better work in the broad field the Lord has given us.''

In 1880 the Coon Rapids and Mount Zion Churches were received. Rev. A. Mackey was pastor at Coon Rapids, and A. Hunt at Mount Zion. Rev. R. R. Albin was preaching at Stuart. Baptisms were reported by the Peoples Church, 27; Perry, 11; Mt. Zion, 11; Stuart, 7; South Coon, 5; Coon Rapids, 3; Freedom, 2, and Panther Creek, one; making 67 in all; other additions, 52; total membership, 533. Rev. A. Mackey, besides Coon Rapids, is supplying New Bethel and North Branch. In 1885 the Dallas Center Church reappears with 45 members reported, but no statistics. A church called Union also appears with 41 members, A. Mackey pastor. Rev. F. M. Gaines is preaching at Freedom. In 1886 we find Rev. D. L. Clouse settled at Perry, F. M. Gaines preaching at Freedom, Pleasant Valley and Peoples, A. Mackey at Union and W. F. Hooks at Panther Creek. Baptisms 36; membership 548. Rev. A. E. Simons has yielded to the necessity of taking rest for a season from the full work of the pastorate, and is in business at Emerson, Iowa, but still preaching the Word as occasion offers. It is much to the credit of Rev. Wm. F. Hooks and the Panther Creek Church that, raised up and called into the ministry among that people, he has been enabled, regularly, to break unto them the Bread of life without interruption for ten year; first as licensed by them, and afterwards, January 29, 188U, Ordained. The important question of continuing in one place in the ministry has not been without consideration in the Coon Valley Association. At the meeting in 1885 the Circular Letter, written by Mrs. Naomi Mackey, treated with apathy the subject of the pastoral relation, and especially the advantages of long pastorates and how to secure them. We append one or two extracts. "A strangers first sermon may please the people immensely because it enunciates and explains some truth already thoroughly understood by them. The sermon may not lead them one step higher in Christian knowledge, but their self love has been tickled to find the stranger agreeing with them and stating their views eloquently. The pastor who has been long on the field learns where his people are weakest and on what points they most need instruction, and can govern himself accordingly. An old friend whose love has been proved so as to be beyond a doubt can do this much more efficiently than a recent acquaintance." That is, can reprove, rebuke, and give the needed instruction to strengthen the weak places. "A magnetic orator, without a clean heart, can rouse and fire and sway an audience by his presence and oratory and the result be little permanent good and much permanent evil.
*** But when personal magnetism and the grace and charm of oratory are backed by a known character of Christian consistency, then the oratory is a power for good. The pastor is to be a care-taker - one to take care of the church. The preacher who stops with the church only a few months or a year hardly gets acquainted with the people, certainly not so acquainted as to love them and care for them as a pastor should. *** Even a farm that changes tenants every year is soon overgrown with weeds and in a dilapidated condition."

This Association has some elements of history peculiar to itself. Bordering closely upon the capitol of the State on one side, centrally located, and cultivating a district comprising in whole and in part, six counties, it has but one county seat church, and that not strong. It has few churches located in the towns. It has had less missionary aid, perhaps, relatively, than any other Association in the State. It has fewer meeting houses, or has had until recently, than other parts of the State. The churches are weak, and yet there has been a noble holding on and a faithful cultivating of the field with the means at hand.

By the advent of railroads and mining interests, changes are being wrought that betoken more rapid growth, and emphasize the importance of a more vigorous cultivation of this field and increased cooperation between the Association and our General Missionary Societies, State and Home.

Published by Burdette Co., Burlington, Iowa
Contributed by Constance Diamond

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