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Churches and Religion

Page 115-122

Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists, 1886

S. H. Mitchell

 Published by Burdette Co., Burlington, Iowa


The Davenport Association -
The Second in the State.
Organized - September 1842
-1842 to 1862-

THIS was the Second Association organized in the State. It was organized in the City of Dubuque, in September, 1842. It embraced all the Baptist Churches then existing in the territory north of the Iowa River, except one. There names were, Bath (afterwards Le Clair, Bloomington (now Muscatine), Davenport, Dubuque, Iowa City and Maquoketa. There was also a Church at Delaware, on the line between Delaware and Jones counties, which afterwards united with the body. The pastors at the time of the organization were Burton Carpenter, of Dubuque; W. B. Morey, of Iowa City; Ezra Fisher, of Bloomington and Charles E. Brown, of Maquoketa.  Dubuque had the only meeting house for the Baptists in the territory, "a low wooden building 18 or 20 feet wide by 30 in length." The Church in Davenport had succeeded in "getting up the brick wall for a house about the same size, which was enclosed during a thaw in the month of January, 1843." The Churches at Iowa City, Muscatine and Le Clair built houses about 1846 and 1847. In 1843, the year after its organization, this Association comprised 7 Churches, 5 ministers, had baptized 11 persons and had a membership of 134.

1845.    The membership had reached 257 with only 13 baptisms reported. Up to 1850 the growth of this Association seems to have been very slow.  Churches were added at Marion, in 1843 ; La Motte, in 1844: Blue Grass, Scott county, in 1845; Cascade, in 1846; Clayton county and Fairview, in 1848; and Hickory Grove, Scott county, in 1849. Maquoketa also seems to drop out of notice after 1842 and appears again in 1848. The ministers in this Association prior to 1850 and not named in its organization were, T. H. Archibald, 1847; B. F. Brabrook, 1844; Dexter P. Smith, 1844; Ira Blanchard, and perhaps a few others. The only indication of revival we find up to this time, is that in 1847, there were baptized at Dubuque 20, at Bloomington 8, at Iowa City 9 and at Davenport 8, with 6 in other Churches, making 51 in all.

1849.    The Association met at Cascade. B. F. Brabrook, of Davenport, Moderator ; T .H. Archibald, of Dubuque, Clerk.  The minutes of this year bear evidence of vigorous and earnest thought, on all the questions agitating the times. There are resolutions against slavery, against members of the Churches being members of secret societies as ''unscriptural and injurious in their influence and dangerous in their tendency," against countenancing circuses and theatres, in favor of total abstinence, and recommending the first Monday of the next January, as a day of fasting and prayer, "if God peradventure will turn again the captivity of Zion."  There is also a circular letter of marked vigor of style on "The Nature and Importance of Scriptural Discipline in the Church."

1850.     Met at Marion. Dexter P. Smith, Moderator ; Geo. H. Gorham, Clerk. There are now 17 Churches, 12 ordained ministers, 37 baptisms and and 534 members.  John Williams is pastor at Marion; John Bates, at Cascade; J. Currier, at La Motte; T. H. Archibald, at Davenport; G. H. Gorham, at Dubuque; W. Rutledge, at Le Clair; S. P. Johnson, at Muscatine; D. P. Smith, at Iowa City; C. E. Brown, at Maquoketa and O. S. Harding, at Fairview.

1851.     Met at Maquoketa.  B. F. Brabrook, Moderator; S. B. Johnson, Clerk. Churches have been admitted at Colesburg, 26 members, and Comanche, 13.   J. Baldwin is preaching at Comanche and C. D. Farnsworth, Licentiate, at Colesburg. George Scott, at Maquoketa. There are 17 Churches, 44 baptisms reported and 620 members. Rev. G. J. Johnson, of Burlington, is here as a visitor from the Des Moines Association.

1852.    Met at Iowa City.  Moderator, Rev. John Bates, of Cascade; Clerk, Rev. A. Russell Belden, of Iowa City. Church at DeWitt received with 13 members and Second Davenport with 29 members, 702 members in the Association, of whom 22 have been baptized within the year. Rev. E. M. Miles has became pastor at Second Davenport; A. R. Belden, at Iowa City; W. A. Wells, at Muscatine; and J. C. Ward has succeeded Pastor Williams at Marion. The minutes this year contain a fine cut of the Iowa City Church which was dedicated Nov. 2, 1848, size 41 by 63 and cost $4,300.

1853.    Met at Colesburg. Rev. E. M. Miles, Moderator; N. S. Bastion, of Dubuque, Clerk; Rev. A. R. Belden, of Iowa City, Corresponding Secretary. Five new Churches in north-east Iowa have been organized within the year, viz., Rossville, West Union, Yankee Settlement, Delhi and Bear Creek. These aggregate 67 members. There are marked indications of revival, 84 have been baptized during the year and 107 received by letter. Of the baptisms, Iowa City has received 21, LaMotte 26 and Muscatine 21. Churches 24, members 862. Among the pastors this year appear O. A. Holmes, at Maquoketa and T. W. Clark, at DeWitt; also Elder Thomas Slade is pastor at First Davenport. A committee consisting of Brethren Scott, Rupert, Currier and Slade were appointed to consider the propriety of dividing the Association. This committee reported recommending "in view of the vast extent of territory and the rapid increase of our Churches in numbers and strength," that a division be made "on the south line of Jackson and Jones counties,"' and that "to accomplish this object properly, the subject be referred to the Churches for their decision, to be sent in their letters to the Association next year." A resolution was also passed most earnestly recommending to the Home Mission Society, the appointment of a missionary in Allamakee and Clayton counties.

1854.    The anniversary was to be with the Comanche Church. For the years 1854 and 1858, inclusive, we have no minutes of this body at hand as we write. From other records we gather such facts as we can. The revival interest continues. There are 22 Churches, 73 baptisms, 201 received by letter and 1,022 members. The Churches sharing in the revival, as indicated by the baptisms, are Muscatine 21, A. G. Eberhart, pastor; Cascade 15; Maquoketo 7, and 2d Davenport 13. Besides the coming of A. G. Eberhart to Muscatine, the changes in pastors are, G. D. Simmons to Iowa City, D. H. Paul to Comanche and J. Schofield to Rossville.

1855.   Met at Muscatine. During this year Rev. A. R. Belden, of Iowa City, has been removed by death. By the organization of the Dubuque Association, August 30, 1855, taking off considerably more than half the Churches of this body, the Davenport Association has become very much reduced in members and territory. Only nine Churches remain, viz.: 1st and 2d Davenport, Le Claire, Muscatine, Iowa City, Blue Grass, Comanche, DeWitt and Hickory Grove. The revival, however, has greatly increased. Baptisms reported, 106: whole number of members, 634.   Davenport 1st has baptized 31, Wm. Rutlidge, pastor; Le Claire, P. P. Shirley, 40 ; Muscatine, A. G. Eberhart, 16, and Davenport 2d, 12. Besides the pastors named, Rev. C. Billings Smith is at Iowa City, W. J. Parkhurst at Comanche and L. Carpenter still at Blue Grass. The next meeting of the Association is to be at Blue Grass.

1856.     There are but few changes to note. N. S. Bastion has become pastor of First Davenport, and Geo. J. Miles, a brother of the Second Davenport, pastor, at Muscatine. A small Church has been organized at Mill Creek, in Cedar county, with P. A. Gates pastor, which is to be shortlived however, and a German Church at Muscatine, with Rev. C. Shoemaker as pastor, and 54 members, 9 of whom have been baptized during the year. The glorious revival has continued with evident increase and great power. The eleven Churches have reported 188 baptisms and 837 members.  Of the baptisms Rev. P. P. Shirley, LeClaire reports 42; G. J. Miles, Muscatine, 69; L. Carpenter, Blue Grass, 13; W. J. Parkhurst, Comanche, 33; and E. M. Miles, Second Davenport, 20.  Next Anniversary at LeClaire.

1857.    Rev. I. Butterfield has assumed the pastorate at Second Davenport, Rev. Wm. Wood at DeWitt, and a Church has been formed at Lyons with 23 members and A. A. Sawin as pastor.  Also Zion Church near LeClaire where Rev. P. P. Shirley has baptized 31 and there are 79 members. Baptisms in the Association 121, members 1025, in 13 Churches, with 11 pastors. It is a time of wonderful growth in the Association and in the entire state.

1858.    Comanche is the place of meeting. Another 3^ear of unprecedented prosperity, the baptisms indicate. Two hundred and forty-one baptisms are reported and the total membership in 15 Churches, with 10 pastors, has been swelled to 1,311.  A Church has been formed at Clinton where H. R. Wilber is pastor and reports 23 members. Zion, P. P. Shirley, pastor, reports 87 baptisms ; Davenport 2d, I. Butterfield, 42 ; Iowa City C. Billings Smith, 35 ; others smaller numbers. Not a Church reporting at this anniversary meeting but reports some baptized. Rev. H.R. Wilber, the Secretary, in a note to the State Convention, makes glowing mention of these Spiritual blessings and says, ''Nor have we ground to suspect that the outward advancement of the Churches has outrun their inward and Spiritual prosperity. We will fain believe that with the lengthening 'cords' the 'stakes' have been strengthened also." It is refreshing even now, at the distance of almost 30 years, to sketch this period of the "years of the right hand of the Most High."

1859.     The Association met at Davenport with the 2d Baptist Church. Rev. J. Edminster preached the introductory sermon, Rev. C. H. Remington, Moderator and Rev. G. W. Folwell, Clerk. Two Churches are received, Mt. Joy and Princeton. At the latter place there had been an organization earlier which had become extinct. The present organization was not to be very long lived. New names of pastors appear upon the records as follows :  J. Edminster, Comanche (1858); G. W. Folwell, First Davenport, (1858); and in 1859 D. D. Gregory, DeWitt, A. H. Starkweather, Lyons, James H. Noble, Mill Creek, C. H. Remington, Muscatine, and S. Morton, Van Buren. There are now 17 Churches, 14 pastors and 1282 members, of whom 62 have been baptized during the year, and 157 received from all sources. The name of the venerable Thomas Powell, so long and honorably connected with Home Missions in the west, appears this year as a delegate from the Second Church in Davenport. Also that of Rev. I. J. Stoddard, representing Foreign Missions, is among the visitors. The year has been one of reasonable prosperity, and the Churches seem to be well manned for work; but the great revival of last year has manifestly in a measure passed away.

1860.    Zion Church near Le Claire is the place of meeting, time Wednesday, September 12. Moderator, Rev. I. Butterfield: clerk. Rev. A. H. Starkweather. The introductory sermon was preached by Rev. Thomas Powell. During the past summer the Church at Comanche have lost their House of Worship, some of their valuable members their lives, and others their homes, in the terrible tornado which swept away much of the town, in the month of June, 1860. The pastor, Bro. J. Edminster, also lost his library and furniture. By the energy of the pastor however, and the liberality of friends abroad, the meeting house has been replaced with another and the Church still lives. Complaint is made of a rather unfruitful year in spiritual things. There are 19 Churches, 17 pastors, 73 received by baptism, 227 from all sources, and a total membership of 1238. Rev. John Scott has been settled as pastor at Clinton, James Dixon at Iowa City, and E. D. Philips has been ordained pastor at VanBuren. Brother Starkweather, in a report to the State Convention, while lamenting the barrenness of spiritual fruits expresses hope for a better report in the year to come.  He says, "Indeed, if the interest manifested at our annual gathering may serve as a criterion, we shall doubtless have much good news to relate in our next report."

1861.   Met at DeWitt. Rev. C. H. Remington preached the sermon. Moderator, J. Edminster; clerk, A. H. Starkweather. The hoped-for increase of spiritual power has not been fully realized, but perhaps we shall discover that the inspiration noticed last year had been given for another purpose. The great National crisis just breaking out in the Rebellion will demand all our resources of courage, grace, and grit. The Davenport Association will not be lacking in the support of our country. A letter was received from R. B. Fulton of the army in camp at Burlington, Iowa, setting forth the temptations and the needs of army life, and earnestly pleading for Christian sympathy and prayer in their behalf. The letter was ordered printed in the minutes and hearty resolutions of sympathy with the Government were passed. There are still some indications of spiritual life in the Churches, notwithstanding the adverse conditions abounding. There have been baptized 61; received in other ways, 112; present total 1346 in 20 Churches, of which 15 are supplied with pastors.

The First Davenport Church has disbanded and given place to a new organization called the Main Street Baptist Church, with Wm. Storrs as pastor. Have had a revival and baptized 13. Second Davenport is still prospering, with pastor Butterfield and have baptized 11. Zion Church is oppressed with a debt. Bro. Arthur Stott, a Licentiate, is supplying the pulpit. Lyons have completed and dedicated a new house of worship.


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