OF MT. ZION CHURCH
by Alma Graham Mann, October, 1938
beginning a history of Mt. Zion Church, I find no better way than to quote an
earlier historian, Milton Boyer, who in July, 1778, wrote: “On the 14th
day of April, 1867, there might have been seen a small company of Christians
assembling at a schoolhouse, known as Silver’s Schoolhouse, in Webster
Township, Hamilton County, Iowa. They had for their purpose the organization of
a Sabbath School. Up to this time the children and young people of the
neighborhood spent their Sabbaths rambling around or idly staying at home, and
it was thought that a Sunday School could be successfully carried on, and be a source of lasting good. A school
was organized by electing the Rev. Thomas Barr, Superintendent; J.W. Barr,
Assistant Superintendant; John Boyer, Secretary and Librarian; and W.J.
Three teachers were appointed—Mrs. Eliza Barr, D.B. Newton and John Boyer. The
secretary, John Boyer, offered a prize of a Bible to the one who committed to
memory the most verses from the New Testament. Hannah Boyer won the Bible with
523 verses. Others competing were Thomas Silvers, 71 verses; Milton Boyer, 80
verses, Lafayette Meeks, 16 verses, Mary Fowler, 22 verses, and Delana
Brockshink, 17 verses. With an average attendance of 18, the school closed
September 15, not for want of interest, but because it was thought the winters
were too severe for anyone to attend, so it would be best to close while the attendance
was good, and reorganize in the spring. This plan was followed every year as
late as 1890.
same year the Sunday School was started, the Rev. Elijah Kendell, pastor at
Homer, organized a class of seven members
who met also at the Silvers schoolhouse which was then located less than one
mile east of where the Mt. Zion church was later built. In this schoolhouse
revival meetings were held and many convertions reported. In a short time the
building was moved southeast with teams of oxen to its present location six
miles south of Webster City and is now known also as Coal School.
historian, Milton Boyer, writes, “On
April 26, 1868, the Sunday School was reorganized by electing for
Superintendent, John Boyer; Assistant Superintendent, John Barr; Secretary and
Librarian, W.J. Silvers; Treasurer, John Claflin. The Superintendent offered the following
prizes to scholars learning verses from the Bible—
First prize- One copy of
Second prize- One Bible
Third prize- A book entitled “Our
Father in Heaven”
Fourth prize- One Testament
teachers appointed for the term were Miss Lottie Kirchner, Miss Edith
Biernatzki, Miss Josephine Dale, W. J. Silvers, and Robert Sibert. A collection
was taken amounting to $19.25 to be used in the purchase of Sunday School
Advocates and books. The average attendance of teachers during the term was 5,
of pupils, 23. Whole number of books in the library, 100.
following are the names of those who competed for the prizes and the number of
verses recited—Evaline Miller, 4784; Hannah Boyer, 4731; Thomas Silvers, 2031;
Milton Boyer, 2832.
July 4th of this year a union picnic was held at Royster’s Grove.
Sunday Schools from Webster City, Homer, Hook’s Point, Saratoga and Mt. Zion
were represented. Among the displays made by Mt. Zion was a tall tree planted
in a barrel and carried on a wagon, its branches reaching far above everything
else. The school was led by a banner, elegantly plumed in rosettes of three
colors, red, white, and blue, and borne by three young ladies dressed in colors
to represent our National Flag and to correspond with the banner. The whole
affair passed off pleasantly, Mt. Zion bearing off the palm for the best
1873, the average Sunday School attendance was raised to 48. The next year the
largest attendance on any one Sunday was 85. The first pastor, Rev. Kendell was
succeeded by the following ministers—Israel Mershon, Thomas Cuthbert, J. A.
Potter, S.C. Bascum and William Preston. From the beginning to 1889 Mt. Zion
and Homer were combined
and served by the same pastor who resided in the parsonage at Homer.
Rev. Preston was on the charge, about August 1, 1877, the following petition
was circulated—“We, the undersigned, herby agree to pay the sums set opposite
our names, in money or work, as stated, for the purpose of building a
churchhouse for the M. E. Church at the southeast corner of H.T. Billing’s
Money, or work, to be paid as follows: one-fourth by Oct. 1, 1877, and the
balance by Jan. 1, 1878, or as stated.”
Following this petition are ninety-two names listed, some paying cash, or work,
or both, some doing hauling. Some dealers of Webster City gave trade. The
largest amount listed was $100 in work and money by John Boyer who lived one
mile north of the church location. Carpenters were to be paid $2.00 per day and
common laborers allowed $1.00 per day and “board himself.”
3, 1877, at a quarterly conference held at the schoolhouse, the following
trustees were elected for the purpose of building , -- A. J. Barr, J. P. Dale,
J. W. Barr, C. Robbins, William Beightol, H. Olmstead and Milton Boyer. These
trustees met Sept. 3 electing A. J. Barr, president; Milton Boyer, secretary;
and William Beightol, treasurer. Motion was made and carried that William
Saunders be hired to do the main carpenter work, and that he allow any person
to assist in any work said person could do. Those who were willing were to haul
lumber free. Rev. J. P. Dale, grandfather of Rev. L. A. Dale, a former Mt. Zion
boy who is today is pastor at Dows, Iowa, was to act as a general building
committee, he to consult with the board on important questions. A section of
the minutes of the trustees’ meeting on September 3, 1877, states, “Motion was
made and carried that the size of the church be as follows—size on the ground,
26x40 ft. with 14 ft. posts, the foundation wall to be 18 inches above ground
at the lowest corner. Motion made that J. P Dale be paid wages for services
rendered by him in acting as building committee. Motion carried. Motion made
and approved of, to adjourn until September 8, at early candle lighting at the
residence of A. J. Barr. (signed) Milton
show the trustees held several meetings that fall. All were opened with prayer.
Details of building were decided, as the size of windows, chimney, stoves, etc.
At such a meeting, November 2, 1877, we read, “After a great deal of discussion
it was decided by the board to buy Patent Seats for the church. Seats to be
like those in the Hamilton Co. Courthouse, costing about $1.10.”
These seats were used throughout the life of the building.
bill of lumber bought of E.N. Lee and Brs. Gives the price of 4” x 6” material,
14ft. long, at $19.00 per M. These timbers were in good condition over 60 years
later when the building was destroyed. The total cost of the church exclusive
of work donated, was as follows; Material, $635.10; hired labor, $430.00;
seats, $138.68; table, $3.00; total, $1206.78. Minutes of the secretary fail to
mention the dedication of the church which may have occurred as early as
a later meeting of the board, June, 1878, it was moved and carried that Mrs. J.
P. Dale, Mrs. J. W. Barr and Mrs. J. Boyer act as a committee to get the carpet
for the platform. Clemual Robbins was engaged at 50 cents per week to serve as
janitor. It seemed difficult, however, to collect this fund, as the records
later show a balance of $59.00 due him on January 1, 1882. He with his sons,
Elmer and Will, set out trees around the building.
S. Olmstead was class-leader the year the church was built. Following is the
list of ninety members for the years 1877 and 1878:
January 20, 1876
90. Barbary Minor
On April 21,
1878, the first year Sunday School was held in the new church, the school was
reorganized by electing A. J. Barr, superintendent; M. C. Boyer, secretary;
Theodore Graham, librarian; J. C. Silvers, treasurer. Six dollars was collected
and sent for papers and seventy lesson leaves. Average attendance of teachers
during the term, 6; of scholars, 54. Least number in attendance any one Sunday,
38; largest number 100. Teachers appointed by the superintendent were John
Boyer, T. E. Silvers, J. W. Barr, J. G. Billings, Mrs. Olmstead, Mrs. A. J.
Barr and Miss Lana Brockshink.
Again the historian, M. C. Boyer wrote;
“Of the scholars and teachers who have taken part in the school at different
times, 19 have moved away and are living in different parts of the United
States. Ten have passed away from this world and left evidence that they have
joined the innumerable throng around our Father’s throne. About six have joined
other churches besides Methodist and about 48 of the scholars and teachers who
have been members of the school have connected themselves with the M. E. Church
since the organization of the school. Thus we have passed along from the origin
of the school until the present time. We have seen its numbers increase from
about 20 to about 75. It is accomplishing its object and fulfilling its
mission. Scholars are flocking in from distant parts of the neighborhood. The
seats are filled with pupils eager to learn about the ‘story of the Cross’, and
officers and teachers are laboring to instill into the minds of the children
thoughts that will be as seed that is sown on good ground. In due season, it
will bring forth fruit. We have seen the school start, as a little brook that
commences its course very timidly, but goes on and on spreading and increasing
in force until it becomes a mighty river; so the school commencing quite small,
but going on, though at times almost at a standstill, each year increasing in
size, and importance, scattering good seeds along its way and passing from the
schoolhouse to the church. And who can say but what some of the 45 or 50 of the
scholars who have come into the fold of Christ have not been influenced by
something that was said or done in the Sunday School? Some word that was
dropped, some song that was sung, or some tract or paper that was distributed, might
have awakened some soul to its need of Christ. And who can estimate the extent
of good it has done in spreading the Truth? Scholars have passed out from our neighborhood
to others, many of them carrying with them the Light of the Gospel and
spreading their truths learned in Mt. Zion Sabbath School and leading others to
Christ. And so its influence goes on, and those intimately connected with the
school, those who have labored for its advancement during the past eleven years
of its history, and those who are giving their time, talents and money to the
school will get their reward when the final reckoning is had.” (Signed) M. C.
M. C. Boyer died, January 22, 1879, and
his family later moved to California. On April 6, T. E. Slivers was elected
secretary of the Sunday School to fill his place. On a Sunday in May of that
year there was an attendance of 96, but the following Sunday a rain resulted
in only 30 present which was a decrease
of forty below the average attendance. Sunday School collections in those days
ran as small as two, four, seven, or eight cents. However they took special
collections at each reorganization to have funds with which to order supplies.
$200.00 is recorded due on the church June 26, 1879. On Thursday, September 4,
1879, as written by Secretary T. E. Silvers, “the long looked for and eagerly
anticipated Sunday School picnic is here. Everybody seems gay and happy. We all
met at John Dale’s. There the young folks were placed in a four-horse wagon
prepared for the occasion, adorned the playing of the fife and drum. The usual
order for the day was carried out—singing, lectures, etc. At evening we formed
in procession and hied away to our several abodes. The day of festivities is
ended and our great anticipations have come and gone. After the picnic there
was no formal closing of the school. Sickness and one thing and another diminished
the attendance until it finally closed of its own accord.”
At reorganization, March 28, 1880, $10.47
was raised by subscription. David Cook quarterlies were ordered, the Berean
Lesson Leaves being used previously. Sunday, May 30, of that year we read,
“This is the Centennial of the organization of S. S. We celebrated it by a
special program. Total number present, 105.” And again at the close of the
minutes for 1880, the secretary states, “There was no formal closing of Sunday
School. Just played out.” Average attendance, 60.
Sunday School in 1881 “carried on as
heretofore and a grand picnic held in September in which seven schools
cooperated. It was held one and one-fourth mile east of Excelsor Mill.”
April 10, 1882, the balance due on notes
to the church is recorded as $107.64. Sunday School was reorganized Mar. 19,
but did not meet for four Sundays following on account of storm and bad roads.
Following are several excerpts from the Sunday School Secretary’s book:
June 24, 1883. “No Sunday School on
account of laziness.”
May 4, 1884. “No Sunday School. Quarterly
meeting at Homer.”
Sunday, June 29, 1884. Sunday School
concert opened by singing, and prayer by Rev. Martindale. Three public schools,
Poplar Grove, Coal and Bethel, took active part in the program. There were
about sixty recitations and songs. Three Sundays in August that year had no
Sunday School because of rain.
June 28, 1885. “No Sunday School on account
of camp meeting at Lehigh, the most of the neighborhood going over.”
Sept. 27, 1885. “School closed for the
season. There were not many present on account of the weather. All felt as
though Supt. Crosby was a faithful worker in Sunday School as everything passed
off in good order through the summer. Now to this end I hope that Mt. Zion may
ever prosper, have a house well filled, and good be done.”
Signed by the
secretary, E. A. Robbins.
Sept 5, 1886. “No Sunday School. Got to
the church too late. Talked about picnic awhile, the invitation being sent by
Saratoga to be held in the Adams Grove. Decided to go.” On Sept. 26 of the same
year (1886) there was no Sunday School because of conference at Webster City.
Collections during the summer of 1887 were
$5.05, expenses $5.02, balance 3 cents. A basket dinner was held at Bell’s Mill
on Sunday, Aug. 26, 1888.
Della Dale was secretary in 1889. She
writes, “School closed Oct. 6. Had a good school, a good attendance, finances
kept up, and we hope for a good school next year, if we are permitted to live.”
The average S. S. Attendance for 1890 was
23. The officers were Henry Miller, superintendent; E. A. Robbins, assistant
superintendent; Della Miller, librarian; C. Robbins, treasurer; and Susie Robbins,
Many records are missing of the meetings
of the board of trustees after the year 1884, and of the Sunday School after
1890, therefore the remainder of this history touches only a few places.
The Mt. Zion charge was combined with
Lehigh from 1889 to 1891, then was with Evanston for one year. Beginning with
1892, Stanhope and Mt. Zion were together until 1901, with the exception of one
year with Kamrar (1894-5).
The Rev. J. P. Dale was elected president
of the board in February, 1896, and E. A. Robbins, secretary. Vernie Miller was
hired “to make fires, sweep, dust and all janitor work except scrubbing. For
same he shall receive $12.00 per annum.”
Members present at a board meeting, May
25, 1896, were J. P. Dale, T. J. Barr, W. Beightol and E. A. Robbins. “Motion
carried to plaster church and if enough money is raised to paint it.” Building
committee, E. A. Robbins; finance committee, W. R. Graham, Elsie Beightol, and
“In 1900 all expenses paid Vernie, and
Willie Miller took charge of church janitorship til 1902, Jan. 1, with a little
help from Bro. Gordon.”
Jan. 1, 1902, L. C. Dale was employed to care for the church at $18.00 per
year, and Willie Miller again took the work in 1903, followed by Carl Graham
the next year, salary the same.
Rev. H. J. Calkins was pastor at Homer and
Mt. Zion from 1901 to 1902, each charge paying him $200.00 After 1903 Mt. Zion
was placed with Kamrar until 1927.
In December, 1904, T. A. Barr was elected
trustee to fill the place made vacant by the resignation of his father, T. J.
Barr. On motion, H. L. Graham and E. A. Robbins were to act as a committee to
raise money and shingle the south side of the church roof. The Ladies Aid
Society was organized in January, 1910, with a membership of sixteen, which
later increased to twenty-two. This society proved to be of considerable help
to the church, financially and in other ways. To these ladies is due much of
the credit for paying the insurance assessments, even during these later years
when church services had been abandoned.
At a meeting of the board of trustees, May
2, 1911, H. B. Dale was added to the board. At Rev. Wood’s recommendation an
official board was organized with T. A. Barr, secretary, and W. P. Miller,
In November, 1912, on request of the board
of trustees, the Ladies Aid served an oyster supper on Thanksgiving Day.
The church was valued at $1200.00 in 1914,
and insured at $800.00.
The official membership recorded by Rev.
L. E. Wardle, pastor in 1917, is given as 67.
(See p. 92 of S. S. Sec. book)
The last pastor, Rev. William Bottom, also
pastor at Stratford, served the church from 1927 to 1929. For one year previous
Mt. Zion had been without a regular minister. The last Sunday School superintendent
was Ralph W. Graham; assistant superintendent, E. A. Robbins; secretary and
treasurer, Howard Graham. This Sunday School closed Jan. 1, 1932.
After 1929, Mt. Zion was without a pastor
and Dr. E. C. McDade, District Supt. made it a part of the Webster City charge.
The majority of the people found it convenient with modern means of travel to
attend services in Webster City. On April 27, 1938, our much loved church
building, around which so many happy associations had been made, was destroyed
by a tornado. People living nearby watched the funnel-shaped cloud form in the
southwest and take its winding path north and then eastward, laying this
pioneer landmark low, and breaking branches from trees. After this act of
violence the storm was nearly over, for the cloud dipped only once again,
damaging one neighboring building.
Thinking of all that this church has meant
to the people and of the end to which it came, I finish my history with a
feeling of sadness. May the good work begun by our forefathers be carried on
and on, and the influence of Mt. Zion continue through the ages.
Alma Graham Mann
PASTORS OF MT. ZION CHURCH
1870-1872 J. A.
1872-1875 S. C.
1878-1879 D. M.
1879-1880 A. A.
1880-1881 O. S.
1881-1883 T. M.
1884-1885 G. W.
1885-1886 W. K.
1886-1887 A. A.
1888-1889 J. W.
1891-1892 T. M.
1893-1894 J. D.
1894-1895 A. E.
1895-1896 I. A.
1900-1901 G. M.
1901-1902 H. J.
1902-1903 J. J.
1904-1905 C. H.
1905-1907 J. O.
1907-1909 W. E.
1909-1910 M. J.
G. F. Wood
1916-1918 L. E.
1918-1923 J. A.
1923-1924 A. J.
1924-1925 R. A.
1925-1926 L. J.
Without a pastor
Milton Boyer, in
“History of Mt. Zion Sabbath School, “Secretary’s Record, p. 3
Journal, Northwest Conference, 1937, p. 333
Secretary’s Book, pages 5 and 6
Note: The church
was located at the S. E. Corner of Sec. 27, Freedom Twp., Hamilton County,
Iowa. It was six miles, south and a little west, from Webster City.
Milton Coyer, in
Mt. Zion church Secretary’s Book, p. 1
Mt. Zion Church
Secretary’s Book, p. 8
Mt. Zion Church
Secretary’s Book, p. 14
Mt. Zion Class
Secretary’s Record, pp. 10, 11.
Secretary’s book, p. 20
Conference Records, 1937, p. 333
Secretary’s Book, p. 20
Secretary’s Book, p. 22