Written by Lulua Jane Boots & Olie E. Boots
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
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
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
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
The pastors that have served from 1936- 1956 are as follows:
1936 Rev. Raoul
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
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.