Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists, 1886
S. H. Mitchell
by Burdette Co., Burlington, Iowa
Atlantic Association - Organized
First, Prairie Association -
Then Council Bluffs.
Now Atlantic— 1874
PRAIRIE BAPTIST ASSOCIATION was organized in 1874. The Southwestern
Association had grown so large that, as early as 1872, a movement
was started to divide it, which resulted as stated above. The
churches at Atlantic, Big Grove, Harlan and Newlon's Grove
constituted the Association. The following was the roll: Atlantic,
A. Stott pastor, 85 members; Big Grove, E. Burch, 58 ; Harlan, J. E.
Rockwood, 66; Newlon's Grove, J. R. Morris, 12; total 221. The
Prairie Association thus launched upon the sea of life was a small
body, but it gives evidence of vitality. Every church has a pastor
and every one has baptized converts within the year. Rev. E. Burch
is the clerk.
1875 ... The first
anniversary or second annual meeting was held with the Big Grove
church. Avoca, 32 members, Lewis, 28, and New Hope, 14, are added.
Harlan reports W. A. Dorward as pastor, and Lewis, F. W. Leonard.
Pastors Stott and Burch remain as last year. Churches. 7, pastors 4,
baptisms 5, members 317; church expenses $3,729.50; benevolent
contributions 860.45. There is contributed to the State Convention
this year $20.25. The young Association is evidently starting to
cultivate the missionary spirit. Five Sunday schools are supported,
of which one is a mission school; 40 officers and teachers and 251
1876 ... Avoca is the place
appointed for the meeting. A. J. Delano is clerk. The name of the
Association was this year changed from "Prairie" to the Council
Bluffs Baptist Association. The Wiota Church with 29 members, Rev.
J. Currier, pastor, the Council Bluffs, T. F. Thickstun, 110, and
the Prussian—Fontanelle — E. Burch, with 10 members are added, and
Avoca disappears from the list. Rev. A. J. Delano is pastor at
Atlantic, Rev. Arthur Stott having removed to Fort Madison in the
Keokuk Association. Rev. W. F. Arnold is at Big Grove and New Hope,
Rev. Gilman Parker at Harlan. There are now, churches 9, pastors 6,
baptisms reported 35, other additions 52; present membership 432.
Reported for home expenses $1,590; benevolent contributions $119. Of
the baptisms New Hope reports 10. and Council Bluffs 13. Atlantic
reports church property valued at $3,000.
... The place designated for the anniversary this year is Newlon's
Grove. C. M. Robins of Harlan, clerk. Bowman's Grove and Shelby
churches are added with 15 and 18 members. Rev. E. C. M. Burnham has
succeeded A. J. Delano at Atlantic, and J. Hockett is reported
pastor of the Prussian Church, Fontanelle. Other pastors are E.
Burch, Big Grove and New Hope, Gilman Parker, Harlan and Bowman's
Grove, W. F. Arnold, Newlon's Grove, and T. F. Thickstun, Council
Bluff's. Council Bluffs are building, or have completed, a good
meeting house. Material progress is being made in the Association.
Home expenses, evidently including Permanent Improvement, $6,770;
benevolent contributions $207.71; value of church property $17,100,
of which Council Bluffs reports $10,000, Atlantic $3,000, Harlan
$3,000, Lewis $300, and Shelby $800. Indications of Spiritual
vitality are also seen. Atlantic reports 18 baptized, Bowman's Grove
11, Council Bluffs, 10, Harlan 8 and Shelby 7; other baptisms 9.
Churches now 11, pastors 6, baptisms 63; total membership 518.
1878 ... Shelby is the place of the annual
meeting this year, C. M. Robins clerk. Another year of spiritual
blessing, especially in the Atlantic and Harlan churches, where have
been baptized respectively 13 and 21 members. Bowman's Grove reports
7, Council Bluffs 3, Shelby 2, and Wiota 1. J. R. Wheeler is
reported pastor at Atlantic, R. Corbett at Lewis, and P. Andrews at
Shelby and Wiota. Brother E. Burch is still preaching at Big Grove
and New Hope, Gilman Parker at Harlan and Bowman's Grove, T. F.
Thickstun at Council Bluff's, and W. F Arnold at Newlon's Grove.
There are now 11 churches, 7 pastors, 47 baptisms reported, and a
membership of 553. Contributed for Home Expenses, $3,505.91
benevolent purposes $288.89. Ten Sunday schools, 78 officers and
teachers, 734 scholars, and a total average attendance of 482.
Sunday school expenses $221.05. Harlan has a mission school with 5
officers and teachers and 40 scholars. Two of the schools reported
are union schools.
1879 ... The sixth
annual meeting was at Council Bluffs. C. M. Robins continues as
clerk. E. Burch, P. Andrews and W. F. Arnold are missed from among
the pastors of last. year. Wheeler, Parker, Thickstun and Corbett
remain, and H. C. Adams is preaching at Shelby. Bowman's Grove
reports 17 baptisms, Council Bluffs 12, Harlan 3, Wiota 3, and Big
Grove 2. Atlantic, Council Bluffs and Harlan report 114 members, 128
and 118 respectively. The next largest, Bowman's Grove, has but 43.
Council Bluffs will not soon cease to bear the marks of Brother and
Sister Thickstun's toil and sacrifice in the construction of their
commodious meeting house. Some very sad things have since occurred
in the history of Council Bluff's Baptists, but that monument of
honor now stands, and the Master has much people in that city still,
and "of Zion it shall be said, "This man was born there, and This
and that man were born in her."
Atlantic entertains. C. M. Robins clerk. Churches 10, pastors 4,
baptisms 3, total membership 550. Bowman's Grove is evidently
engaged in building as they report $1,302 total expenses, and have
preaching a part of the time. Rev. Gilman Parker has resigned at
Harlan and is found this year at Washington, Iowa. Rev. W. A.
Welsher is preaching at Harlan and Bowman's Grove, Rev. J. F.
Heilner at Atlantic, T. F. Thickstun at Council Bluffs since 1868,
twelve years, and R. Corbett at Wiota since 1878. Five of the ten
churches report no preaching and virtually nothing doing. It is a
year of desolation in Zion in the Council Bluff's Association, and
not alone in this Association. One other in the State reports but
one baptism. The financial record is considerably below last year.
The contributions for Convention $79.36. Harlan has, so far as
known, the only parsonage in the Association valued at $1,000.
Bowman's Grove dedicated their meeting house October 10, costing
1881 ... The meeting in 1881 is at
Bowman's Grove. D. C. Cady of Atlantic is clerk. The name of C. M.
Robins of Harlan, so long a fixture in this clerkship is thus missed
from its accustomed place. This brother, if the writer mistake not,
is a near relative, if not a brother of President Robins of
Waterville College, Maine. The New Hope Church is missed from the
record this year and two new churches are added, Audubon and Exira.
Rev. A. F. Sharpnack is pastor of both. Audubon has 17 members and
Exira 11. Some improvement over last year is indicated in spiritual
progress. Atlantic reports 2 baptized, Bowman's Grove 5, Council
Bluffs 2. Exira 4, and Harlan 6. Rev. J. F. Heilner has removed from
Atlantic to Nebraska, and Rev. J. H. Pratt, late of Emerson, Iowa,
has succeeded him. Rev. T. F. Thickstun has closed his 12 years'
pastorate at Council Bluffs, and is succeeded by Rev. J. G. Lemen.
Rev. W. A. Welsher has closed his labors at Harlan and Bowman's
Grove and these churches are pastor less. Brother Corbett of Wiota
is the only pastor that was in the Association a year ago.
Contributed for the Convention $137.65. Rev, A. Jacobs has labored
13 weeks as missionary in this Association, and aid has also been
extended by the Convention at Audubon and Exira. The expenditures
have been, church expenses $2,679.03 ; permanent improvement $1,590;
denominational benevolence $348.87 ; grand total $4,826.57. The new
churches at Audubon and Exira were both organized within the year,
1882 ... Meets at Wiota, A. F.
Sharpnack of Audubon clerk. Rev. A. Jacobs is preaching at Harlan
and J. C. Carter at Bowman's Grove. Other pastors are J.H. Pratt,
Atlantic, Lemen, Council Bluffs, and A. F. Sharpnack Lewis and Wiota.
Council Bluffs reports 7 baptisms, Harlan 7, Atlantic 2, and
Bowman's Grove and Wiota leach. Churches 11, pastors 5, baptisms 18,
total membership 522 Rev. R. Corbett, for a number of years pastor
at Wiota, does not appear among the pastors. Audubon and Exira are
only heard from by ''statistics of last year." Church expenses
$3,748.89; permanent improvement, $1,061.52; denominational
benevolence 1615.92 ; grand total 15,884.49. Value of church
property $23,700; amount of church debt only $570; contributed for
Convention $135.76. Missionary aid granted Atlantic $100, Audubon
and Exira $175. Harlan is credited with $828 to Foreign Missions.
1883 ... The anniversary is at Lewis, A. F.
Sharpnack clerk. The death is recorded, February 6, 1883, of the
beloved pastor of the Atlantic Church, Rev. J. H. Pratt. Full
obituary notes will be given in that department of these sketches.
It may be of interest to mention here that Brother Pratt was pastor
at Dixon, Illinois, at the time, which will be remembered by many,
when on a baptismal occasion the bridge on which many spectators
were standing gave way, and a number of persons were killed. Brother
Pratt was administering the ordinance, and being of a sensitive
constitution, it was said that he probably never entirely recovered
from the shock caused by the accident and the unkind criticism of
those unfriendly to the practice of immersion. Brother Pratt was a
great sufferer during the later years of his life, but ceased not to
be a faithful ambassador of his suffering Lord. Rev. L.H.
Thompson is pastor at Bowman's Grove, and Rev. A. H. Post at Harlan.
Brother Post comes from Geneseo, Nebraska. Leman of Council Bluffs,
Post, Thompson, and A. F. Sharpnack, Wiota, are the only pastors.
Only one baptism reported in the Association. Present membership
479. The membership of some of the largest churches has been
declining for some years. Atlantic, once above a hundred, now
reports 72. Harlan and Council Bluffs only go above a hundred, and
neither of these as large as in 1880. The Convention this year
received $146.43. Brother Pratt was receiving aid at Atlantic at the
time of his death, only $25 being drawn for this Convention year.
1884 ... The annual meeting is at Harlan.
A. F. Sharpnack is still clerk. The Big Grove Church disappears from
the records. Also of Exira the exit should have been noted earlier.
Oakland with 15 members appears for the first time. Council Bluffs
reports 22 baptisms but no pastor; Harlan, A. H. Post, pastor, 5;
Atlantic 2, and Bowman's Grove one. Rev. D. H. Simpson is pastor at
Atlantic and Rev. H. Story is preaching at Newlon's Grove, Oakland
and Shelby as missionary of the Convention in the Council Bluffs
Association. Rev. D. H. Simpson, of Atlantic, L. H. Thompson, still
at Bowman's Grove, and A. H. Post, in second year at Harlan, with
Brother Story are all the pastors. Churches, 10; pastors, 4;
baptisms, 80; present membership, 506. A gain of 27 over last year.
In 1885 Atlantic reports 50 baptized; Harlan, 25; Bowman's Grove, 6;
Newlon's Grove, 7, and Massena, one; a total of 89. Members in the
Association, 446. Rev. M. D. Bevan has succeeded D. H. Simpson at
Atlantic, J. A. Kees is preaching at Bowman's Grove, R. Corbett at
Massena, a new organization, and A. F. Sharpnack at Wiota. Brother
Sharpnack is still clerk of the Association.
... In 1886 the Association met at Atlantic for its Thirteenth
Anniversary, and the name was changed to The Atlantic Baptist
Association." Deacon Samuel Harlan had served the Association for
twelve years as its Moderator, but by reason of "advancing years and
failing strength., he was excused from further service, and S. B. J.
Bryant, of Atlantic, was selected Moderator, and H. G. Curtis,
clerk. Brother Bevan, of Atlantic, is the only pastor of a church in
the Association who was reported as such last year. Rev. T. H.
Sherman is preaching at Cumberland, Massena and Newlons Grove and J.
R. Morris at Wiota. Only two baptisms are reported. Total membership
414 in ten churches. Deacon Samuel Harlan died since the meeting in
1886. Active measures have been taken that it is confidently
expected will secure a better report for 1887.
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