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Churches and Religion

Pages 455-463

Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists, 1886

S. H. Mitchell

 Published by Burdette Co., Burlington, Iowa



Iowa Baptists and their Institutions of Learning.
Work and Workers Other Means of ImprovementóMinisters' Institutes
The Standard And Other Religious Papers




EVIDENTLY the time has not yet come to write the history of Iowa Baptist Institutions of Learning, nor is the writer of these Sketches the one to be the historian of that department of effort. It should be the prerogative of some one connected with each school, perhaps, to hand down its history to those who are to bear the burdens after them. This, in some instances, it is highly probable will be done in due time. Our work however, would be too incomplete without such mention of those who have toiled and sacrificed in the cause of Christian learning as our memory, with the aids at hand, will enable us to make. We have given some account of the founding of the institutions at Burlington and Pella. Of the men and women who have labored in the departments of instruction in these institutions we can only give the names of such as come to mind: Rev. G. W. Gunnison, Lorenzo B. Allen, D. D., James Henderson, Joseph T, Robert, LL.D.  Prof. L.E. Wortman, Prof. Stearns and wife, Miss Norwood, Prof. Clement and others doubtless as worthy of mention have been instructors in this Institution.

Rev. E. C. Spinney, D. D., president of Burlington College since 1883, was born in Wilmot, N'. S., March 27, 1845; matriculated at Horton Academy in 1864, graduated at Acadia College in 1868 and at Newton Theological Seminary in 1876. Entered senior year at Harvard College. Was pastor of First Baptist Church, Pella Iowa, 1872-84, also Professor of Greek in Central University. He was pastor of Pleasant Street Baptist Church at Concord, N. H. 1876-78, and of First Baptist Church Burlington, Iowa, 1880-84. Also member of Board of Hebrew School at Chicago, and one of the special editors of the " Western Pulpit and Pew." He has had associated with him in the Faculty of Instruction his excellent wife. Prof. Clement, Miss Rudd, Profs. Loughridge, Forward, Forbey and others.

In Central University Prof. E. H. Scarff, Mrs. B. C. A. Stoddard, Rev. Elihu Grunn, Prof. A. N. Currier, and others whose names are not recalled, did long and excellent service in the earlier days. Rev. L. A. Dunn, D. D., was called to the presidency in 1871, and continued for ten years. He was succeeded in 1881 by Rev. G. W. Gardner, D.D., who filled the position for three years, when failing health compelled his resignation and return to Massachusetts. Dr. Gardner had associated with him as Chancellor during his administration Deacon F. E. Balch, who had earned a reputation and valuable experience as a financier in the east. Rev. D. Read, LL.D., was president during 1885-6, previous to which Prof. R. H. Tripp had been Acting President since the resignation of Dr. Gardner.

Cedar Valley Seminary at Osage, Iowa, was started by Rev. Alva Bush about 1863. The citizens of Osage made a proposition in September, 1862, to the Cedar Valley Association, to "furnish appropriate buildings if the Association would establish and maintain an institution of learning? suited to the wants of the community." The Association voted to accept the proposition, and after canvassing the subject Rev. Alva Bush, "who had just completed an engagement as Professor of Mathematics in the Upper Iowa University, moved his family to Osage, and on January 10, 1863, commenced a school in the Court house, which was given the name of Cedar Valley Seminary. The entire meeting of the prescribed conditions and the transfer of the fine property of the institution by the citizens to the Association did not take place until 1870, though excellent work had been done in the meantime, the seminary sending out its first graduating class in 1871. Brother Bush continued to serve as president and principal until his death, July 26, 1881, eighteen years. It is safe to say that through its entire history this has been the most successful, in the work undertaken, of all our Iowa Baptist schools. Hon. A. Abernethy is the present principal.

The University of Des Moines originated in 1865 in a conviction in the minds of many Iowa Baptists that providential circumstances favored, and that the Baptists ought to have an institution located at Des Moines, the growing capital of the state. A building that had been designed and partially completed by another denomination for educational purposes was offered for sale on reasonable terms. Rev. Luther Stone of Chicago, who from the first had evinced a deep interest in educational affairs in Iowa, advanced the money to purchase the property and hold it for the denomination until further steps could be taken.

A school was started in 1866. Rev. J. A. Nash, D. D., had been interested in the education of the young from the early days in Des Moines, keeping for years a sort of private school for such as came to him to receive instruction. He has been closely identified with the interests of the University from the first, and was for years its president. Rev. J. F. Childs, Rev. Thomas Brand and others have borne financial burdens to maintain its existence. Judge Frederick Mott, Hon. A. Abernethy, Rev. Ira E. Kenney, and the late Prof. D. F. Call were called to preside over the institution, and a goodly array of teachers have given instruction in its walls. The old campus and building were disposed of and the institution removed to its present site at Prospect Park under the presidency of Dr. Kenney. Prof. A. B. Price is the present principal. During 1886 the expectations of many Baptists were turned anew towards this institution and many hopes and resolutions have been expressed for its prosperity. The one thing now needed is for its friends to arise and meet the emergency of the times and Iowa Baptists may have an institution at the state capital that will be a source of good to the generations to come. Will they do it, Prof. Goldthwaite, Rev. H. A. Brown, Mrs. Sawin, and a number of others have done good work teaching in this institution. Many names of ministers and missionaries who stand high in the roll of the Master's owned and honored servants, both in the Home and in the Foreign field, have been students in these several Iowa institutions. Though we Lave not the data nor the memory to name them, all their names are written above, and the record is one that we can trust to honor God and the memory of sacrificing ones who have toiled in the years gone by with perhaps little reward or recognition here.
  Ministers' Institutes.  
Among modern methods for mutual improvement the Ministers' Institute was doubtless suggested by the success of Teachers' Institutes, which had, since about 1855 or a little later come into general use and proven so beneficial to the teaching forces in our public schools. The writer attended and participated in the first Teachers' Institute held in Iowa between 1855 and 1860. The Ministers' Institute was first suggested, if we mistake not, by Dr. G. S. Bailey, then of Illinois, later of Iowa, now of California. The first of these in Iowa was at Oskaloosa about 1873, within a year, at least, of that date. Rev. E. C. Spinney was the secretary and kept a full minute of the proceedings, but the record has been mislaid and cannot be found. This is much to be regretted, as the occasion was one of very great interest. The attendance was large, and the people of Oskaloosa, many of them, became so deeply engaged that they listened hour after hour to lectures on theological subjects without once thinking of their being dry. Rev. G. W. Northrup, D. D., of Chicago, the late Jeremiah Hall, D. D., J. A. Nash, D. D., Rev. J. E. Hopper, N. S. Burton, D.D., and perhaps some others delivered lectures. Dr. Northrup on the Holiness of God as Fundamental, and the relation of this doctrine to the Atonement, and other doctrines in theology, in a course of lectures running through the entire week; Dr. Hall several lectures on Homiletics, Dr. Nash on Worship, Dr. Burton, The Kingdom of God and the Church of Christ, and Brother Hopper on the Higher Life. Subsequent Institutes were held at Des Moines, at Burlington and at Marshalltown, in which, among other lecturers, we can remember as we write. Rev. Lemuel Moss, D. D., E. C. Mitchell, D. D., G. W. Gardner, D. D., Rev. Henry G. Weston, D. D., Dr. J. M. Stifier, Dr. Galusha Anderson, Justin A. Smith, D. D., Dr. T. J. Morgan, and others, whose words of counsel and instruction stirred and quickened many an humble Iowa pastor, and doubtless were felt on many a field of toil in influences, the results of which only eternity will measure. It is to be regretted that such means could not be more frequently available to the toilers in the Master's humbler fields of patient usefulness.
The Religious Newspaper as a Means of Improvement Among Iowa Baptists.
The religious press has been recognized by Iowa Baptists from the first as a necessary concomitant of a productive religious life. It appears that at the meeting in 1842 for the organization of the State Convention, a committee was appointed on the subject of a periodical. At the first anniversary in 1843 Elder Hezekiah Johnson from the committee reported, recommending ''that the Baptists of Iowa patronize the North Western Baptist published at Chicago, at $1 per year," The Macedonian, "published by the Board of Foreign Missions," was also represented at this meeting. A similar resolution commending the North Western Baptist was passed in 1844, and Rev. Charles E. Brown appointed a committee of correspondence with the paper. A year later we find the Convention "adopting" and endorsing the Western Star, published at Jacksonville, Ill., and edited by Rev. A. Bailey. Also in 1846 the Des Moines Association passed resolutions endorsing the Western Star and the "Mother's Journal, Missionary Magazine and Macedonian." About the year 1847 Rev. Luther Stone started a paper in Chicago called the Watchman of the Prairies, and in 1848 the Des Moines Association recommended this paper to the patronage of the churches. We note these proceedings as illustrating how thoroughly alive our Baptist fathers were to the value of this species of religious reading for the families of their churches. In 1853 the subscription list of the Watchman of the Prairies was sold by Rev. Luther Stone to Rev. J. C. Burroughs, and the resultant new paper, the Christian Times, was published for a few months by Dr. Burroughs, "in association with Rev. Henry G. Weston, then of Peoria, and Rev. A. J. Joslyn of Elgin. In November 1853 Rev. Leroy Church and Rev. Justin A. Smith became joint proprietors of the Christian Times.

Mr. Smith soon transferred his proprietary interest to Rev, J. F. Childs, who was in turn succeeded by Edward Goodman, the present senior proprietor of the Standard, the name finally taken by the paper. So much preliminary history, as to the origin of the paper itself, seemed to be necessary in order to properly represent The Standard in Iowa as one of the efficient forces in the history of the denomination in the state. The circulation of the paper in Iowa was quite limited until October, 1854, when Mr. Edward Goodman, the present senior proprietor, visited the state with a view to introduce it more generally among the churches. He began at Davenport, October 20th of that year, the Iowa Baptist State Convention being in session at that place, and .traveled as far west as Des Moines, through a large number of counties, visiting every church, and a great many of the members at their homes. The canvass continued for seven months; a large number of subscribers was obtained, and thus began a general circulation of the Standard in Iowa that has continued and increased as the years rolled by. The conductors of the paper regard Iowa as one of the most interesting sections of their large field, and have shown their desire to serve the cause in the state, not only by allowing a liberal space for church news in the columns of the paper, but also by the publishing of large Supplements at various times, devoted especially to Iowa interests. As regards questions upon which the denomination in Iowa is divided, such as that of the location of the Baptist State University, the conductors of the Standard have kept in mind the fact that such questions are rather to be determined by the wisdom of Iowa Baptists themselves, than by their brethren elsewhere, however much interested while, when it seemed duty, they have frankly expressed their views upon certain phases of the question. They have borne in mind the fact that the Standard is the organ for the whole body of Baptists in Iowa, and that brethren holding opposite views upon special questions are, in the same, entitled to a hearing in its columns. The endeavor of those engaged on the paper has been to show their good will toward all denominational interests in Iowa, and, as in other states, to serve not to rule. The present conductors of the Standard are Rev. Justin A. Smith, D.D., Edward Goodman, Mrs. E.R. Dickerson, and J. Spencer Dickerson.

Other Baptist papers have had considerable circulation in Iowa, as the Examiner of New York, the Watchman of Boston, the National Baptist Philadelphia, the Journal and Messenger of Cincinnati, the Central Baptist of St. Louis, and some others. In earlier days the American Baptist, published by Dr. Nathaniel Brown in the interests of the American Baptist Free Mission Society, had quite a circulation in some of our churches where the antislavery sentiment was the strongest. About 1874-5 Rev. A. Robbins, afterwards associating with him Rev. J.B. Hawk, and subsequently Rev. J.D. Morris, started the Baptist Beacon, published first at Pella and then at Des Moines, Iowa. Brother Robbins made a good paper, but for want of means it was suspended after a few years. The Western Pulpit and Pew was a monthly, periodical started and edited by Rev. W.A. Welsher but only continued for about one year.

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