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Morrisburg Church

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History of the Franklin-Morrisburg Church 

  Written by Lulua Jane Boots & Olie E. Boots 
April, 1969
       In giving a history of the present Franklin-Morrisburg Church we find it necessary to go back to the first permanent settlers who came to Guthrie County,Iowa .  In 1848, the first pioneer, John Nevins, settled a few miles east of the present Morrisburg Cemetery. This settlement was not permanent as Mr. Nevins put in his crop, harvested it and then returned to Polk County.    On September 1, 1849, the Benjamin Kunkle family moved to Guthrie Co. and settled on the farm now occupied by Myron and Crystelle Godwin and family. It was in the Benjamin Kunkle home in the winter of 1851 that the first religious services were held by Rev. Hare, a Methodist minister from Des Moines, Ia. In the history book of Guthrie Co. there were twelve people present. They were Mr. and Mrs. J.W. York, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Cummins, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Denslow, Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Kunkle, Fred Frey and his mother and David and Russell Bay. 

       On July 8, 1851, Guthrie Co was organized with two townships, Jackson and Cass. Panora was made the first county seat. At that time there were two hundred and twenty-two people in the county.

       The first Methodist church was built in Panora in 1857 and had a membership of twelve.  It was not until the town of Morrisburg was laid out by J.J. Morris and James Moore in 1855 that a church building was erected. (The name Morrisburgh was originally spelled with the letter H on the end of the word.) This was the second Methodist church built in the county. Another record from the Guthrie Co. History says, “It was a solid frame structure of respectable size, it, however was never completed or paid for and in 1872 it’s use for regular church services was finally abandoned.” The town of Morrisburgh was then situated about one mile and a quarter miles south of where our present church stands. It was destroyed by a tornado in 1871.   

       Among the familiar names of that time were Sam Moore, Sam Williams, J.A. White, Stephen Mount, Abraham Burnham, J.J. Morris, T.E. Harbour, D.A. Lilly, A. Swisher, J.A. Trent, M.Mount, John Lonsdale, Eli Boots, Benjamin Marlenee, John Kenworthy, and many others whose names were not recorded.   

       On May 3, 1902, a group of people united to form and establish a Christian church in Jackson Twp, Guthrie Co., Iowa, They were John H. Hall, Mina Hall, James Tam, Sade Tam, Allie Hall, Mollie Hall, Will Dudley, Alice Dudley. To this original number many more were added. In the church covenant it was to be known simply and only as “Christians” but on Sept. 3, 1904, at the official church board meeting the motion was made and carried that the church become a member of the South Western Congregational Christian Conference.   

       Until 1906, the church meetings were held in the school house.That year subscriptions were solicited for erecting a church near the school house and $1,000 was subscribed.  

       A United Brethren church building was bought in Stuart and moved to the present location, The church was completed and dedicated Jan. 27, 1907.  

 From then, to the present time, this church as most others, has had it’s periods of ups and downs.  The ministers serving here during the Christian church period were:
1903-1908 Rev, Robert Lewis 
1908-1909 Rev. C.E. Burdine
1909-1910 Rev. A.C. Burnham
1910-1911 Rev. Robt. A Lewis 
1911-1912  Rev, A.C. Burnham
1913-1914 no pastor         
1915-1917 Bro. Clarence White                             
Sept 1917-Sept 1918 No pastor 
1919 Rev. O.E. Huff    
1920 sermons donated by Rev. Robt Lewis and Rev. Rhodes
1921-1922 Rev. Robt. A. Lewis. Further church records from 1922-1931 were not found.
1931-1932 Rev. Hurd-Rev. L.T. Proctor 
An interesting comparison between then and now was the amount of the ministers salary.Up to 1908 the pastor’s annual salary ranged from $67- $98.50. Now, it is $8,000 with fringe benefits.

       For the period of time from 1932-1936 due to many misunderstandings and loss of interest in the welfare of the church, only an occasional service was held.  

       In the spring of 1936, under the ministry of Rev. Raoul Caulkins, the people of the Franklin community, because of the loss of their church by fire, bought the Morrisburg church building from the Christian Congregational Church Conference for $150. The name of the was then changed to the Franklin-Morrisburg Methodist Church. Thus began a new area in the life of the church.  
The pastors that have served from 1936- 1956 are as follows:
1936 Rev. Raoul Caulkins                          
1936-1937 Rev. Wolfe
1937-1941 Rev. Clement Rowe
1941-1947 Rev. O.L.Allison
1947-1949 Rev. Chas. Likely
1949-1950 Rev. Winter
1950-1951 Rev. Franklin Clark                   
1951-1954 Rev. W. Fay Ford
1954-1956 Rev.Herbert Phillips
         In June of 1956, Rev. Leroy Moore was sent by the district conference to this community with the purpose of combing the Methodist churches of Yale, Panora, Linden, Prairie Center, and Franklin-Morrisburg into a parrish having two pastors or a pastor and a lay speaker.  
        In January 1960 this was accomplished and the name of the Hope Methodist Parish was selected, Rev. Moore served until  June 1960. Rev. Richard Lawrence was associate pastor for 1950-1960. Since then the five friendly churches of the Hope Methodist Parish have worked together successfully under a parish council made up of three representatives from each church.    The following pastors have served since then.
1960-1963 Rev. James Seeber
1961-1965 Rev. Robert Aitken
1963-1965 Rev Robert Deeds
1965-1967 Rev. Herbert Thomas
1965-1967 Rev. Clifford Haider
1967-1969 Rev. Alfred Clark
1968-1969 Rev. Thomas Hotle

       One red letter day each year which is Homecoming day, is the last Sunday in September when present members and friends old and new, join together for morning worship and at the noon hour for a basket dinner.   

       In the afternoon, a short program is given which ends with everyone that desires taking part with short anecdotes, stories, and reminiscing of the past.   

       So the Franklin-Morrisburg church still stands on the corner just back of the little triangular park that separates it from the highway.  

       We hope it has as many years ahead as it has left behind.
       Just an added note, the concrete tables and benches in that little park were made by Olie E. Boots.