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Churches and Religion

Pages 255 - 266

Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists, 1886

S. H. Mitchell

 Published by Burdette Co., Burlington, Iowa



The Linn Association Beginning in 1857 The
Lower Cedar Valley Linn, Benton, Jones
- And Other Counties 1857 to 1886.

Quickly following the formation of the Cedar Valley and Bedford Associations comes the Linn. This Association was organized in 1857, at Marion, Rev. J. V. Dewitt was its first Moderator Rev. R. King, clerk, A. Chapin, preacher, and N. B. Homan, writer of circular letter. The Association was made up of the following churches: Marion, J. V- Dewitt, pastor, 109 members; Linn Grove, N. B. Homan, 21; Simmons Creek, N. B. Homan, 21; Fairview, N. B. Homan, 43; Harrison, R. King, 9; Shellsburg, 49; Jordan's Grove, D. Rowley, 17; Quasqueton, J. Woods, 25, and Kingston (West Cedar Rapids), J. Woodward, 52. Nine churches, six pastors and 346 members. Rev. Richard King was laboring at the time as missionary of the Iowa Baptist State Convention. The annual report of the Board for 1857 says, "Brother King has labored several years on this field amid great difficulty and destitution, and with gratifying success. His field is one of great importance, situated in the heart of the Cedar Valley, and comprising in its borders some of the most fertile soil in the State." It "must soon become densely populated, hence the importance of planting here, early, the seeds of the truth as it is in Jesus."

The First Anniversary was held in 1858, at Shellsburg, Rev. J. Woodward preached the sermon and was Moderator, J. Hays, clerk. The Bear Creek Church, Wyoming post office, Jones county, transferred its connection from the Dubuque Association. Four newly organized churches were received, viz: Anamosa, with 9 members; Center Point 12; Parker's Grove 27, and Palo 19. Rev. R. King was pastor of the last two and of Shellsburg, Rev. A. G. Firman is pastor at Quasqueton. Rev. Jonah Woodward reports 29 baptized at Kingston. Brother King 19 at Shellsburg and Rev. J.V. Dewitt 10 at Marion. Seventy-one have been baptized in all and the membership is 496. " One house of worship completed and two others in process of erection. Rev. D. Rowley was missionary of the convention on this field, at a salary of $300 to be raised in the Association. He reports $327.80 raised. Brother King was appointed to labor in Tama and Benton counties but before entering upon his labors the indications of Providence plainly pointed to his continuing with the churches he had served in this Association where his labors were greatly blessed. Rev. H. Holmes also labored under appointment of the Board at Bear Creek and other points. It is of historic interest to notice the convention rendering a helping hand in the Linn Association, where its appeals for aid have always, since, met with a ready and generous response.

1859.    In 1859 the annual meeting was held at Fairview, J. Hays Moderator, M. B. Allen clerk, D. Rowley preacher of the introductory sermon. The Church at Rogers' Grove, organized in 1858, was received. Only 5 pastors for the 15 churches. In 1860 met at Cedar Rapids. N. B. Homan preached the sermon, Rev. A. A. Sawin Moderator, J. Crawford clerk. The Kingston Church has given place to anew organization at Cedar Rapids, the 1st Baptist Church of Cedar Rapids, Rev. A. G. Eberhart pastor, with 36 members. The Prairie Hill Church, Rev. James Kay pastor, was received, and the Vinton Church came in from the Cedar Valley Association, A. Chapin pastor. There are now 18 churches, 9 pastors, 27 baptisms reported, and 617 members. Rev. A. A. Sawin has become pastor at Marion, and Rev. J. B. Peat at Rogers' Grove, where he seems to have been ordained about this time. The Jordan's Grove Church entertained the Association in 1861, Rev. A. Chapin Moderator, C. C. Buell clerk. The annual sermon was preached by Brother King, and Rev. J. B. Peat wrote the circular letter.

1862.    In 1862 met at Vinton. Rev. J. B. Peat preached the sermon, N. F. Ravlin Moderator, A. A. Sawin clerk. Rev. N. F. Ravlin is pastor at Cedar Rapids and they report 116 members. Two new Churches have been organized, Clinton, IS. B. Homan pastor, and Bell Prairie, a few miles west of Cedar Rapids. Jackson Township Church, organized in 1861, was received. Rev. J. Carrington is preaching at Fairview, and D. S. Starr at Jackson Township. Rev. J. C. Burkholder is preaching at Quasqueton. The meeting in 1863 was at Quasqneton, preacher Rev. James Kay, Moderator N. B. Homan, clerk N. F. Ravlin. Rev. J. Fulton of Cedar Valley Association is the preacher at Quasqueton and J. C. Burkholder now at Rogers' Grove. Cedar Rapids reports 25 baptisms, and Prairie Hill, where Rev. James Kay is serving, 16, while 58 are reported in all, and 760 members. In the annual report cf the Convention Board for 1863 Brother Childs, the secretary, said, ''The days in which our lot is cast are eventful. The nation is passing through a fearful struggle, out of which, under the sovereign purposes of God, she is to rise to a higher plain of political and national life."

1864.    The Association in 1864 held its eighth anniversary at Rogers Grove. Rev. John Fulton preacher and Moderator, N. B. Homan clerk. "During the session peace and harmony prevailed, and the exercises were marked by humble, earnest devotion." The membership has been much reduced by the war and by removals. To the present writer, this meeting at Rogers Grove in 1864 is a cherished recollection. A few months before we had met, for the first time, at his own home in Strawberry Point, John E. Clough, who, with his accomplished wife, was seeking an appointment as missionary to the Foreign field. At the time of this session of the Linn Association the appointment had been made, and Brother Clough was at the meeting, preparing for and looking forward to their departure later in the fall. His presence gave an abiding interest to all that pertained to this session. As we look back to it now, the thought comes to us. ''In that rather spare, unpretending, and in no way, except for his honest earnestness, especially striking young man, who would have seen the prophesy of the most renowned missionary of modern times." Truly ''It is the Lord's doing and marvelous in our eyes." Rev. N. F. Ravlin has been succeeded at Cedar Rapids by J. Y. Aitchison; Rev. G. B. Bills is preaching at Marion, and Rev. A. Bardin to three of the country churches. In 1865 the anniversary was at Marion. Rev. J. Y. Aitchison preached the introductory sermon and was chosen to preside. Rev. A. H. Harris, clerk. Brother Harris had taken charge of the Church at Vinton, but died November 26, of this same year, at only thirty-eight years of age. It is said of this meeting that "the Spirit of the Master was present. The letters did not show any large increase of membership, but were characterized by unswerving fidelity to the truth."

1866.    In 1866 Parker's Grove entertained the assembled brethren. Rev. Amos Pratt was preacher and Moderator, and H. R. Wilber clerk. Brother Pratt is pastor at Marion, and Brother Wilber at Cedar Rapids, Rev. H. Samson at Mount Vernon, J. Z. Zimmerman at Jordan's Grove and Roger's Grove. Brother Fulton reports 27 baptized at Quasqueton, Homan 22 at Fairview, Pratt 21 at Marion. Also there were 8 at Cedar Rapids and 11 at Roger's Grove. There are now 18 churches, 8 pastors, 107 baptisms and 902 members. This is the first year that above 100 baptisms have been reported. Rev. Charles Perkins has labored as Missionary of the Convention about ten months. The amount reported from the Association is $416.35. The anniversary in 1867 was at Fairview. Rev. John Fulton Moderator, Rev. H. R. Wilber preached the sermon and served as clerk. Revivals have increased, 128 have been baptized and 230 added in all ways- Rev. J. Sunderland has entered this field as pastor at Vinton. Rev. G. W. Gates has succeeded A. Pratt at Marion, and Rev. M. Hazen is preaching at Shellsburg and Parker's Grove. Brother King, after long and faithful service here has removed to the Burlington Association and is preaching at New London.

1868.    In 1868 the meeting was at Shellsburg, J. Sunderland preacher and Moderator, N. B. Homan, clerk. The growth of the Linn Association had for the first 8 or 10 years seemed relatively slow. Now it is quite marked, not so much for increase in the number of its churches, but in the development of existing resources. 165 baptisms are reported and there are 1,284 members, a gain of 213 over last year. The amount reported for Convention work was $741.44. Rev. D. H. Cooley has become pastor at Cedar Rapids, and reports 80 baptisms and 251 members. The wife of our beloved brother, H. R. Wilber, has been removed by death and he has returned with his stricken family to his friends in Massachusetts. We shall miss him sadly in our Iowa counsels. A brother of rare excellence was Rev. H. R. Wilber. He was the son of Deacon Wilber, of Boston. Rev. M. C. Kempsey is pastor at Anamosa and Rev. J. V. Dewitt is occupying, for a time again, his old place at Marion. The Mechanicsville, Monticello, Springville, Viola, and Missionary Union Churches were received.

1869.    Annual meeting in 1869 at Anamosa. Rev. I). H. Cooley preached the annual sermon and was Moderator, Milton Remley, Esq., clerk. In all the seven years' work of the writer as General Agent of the Convention, the culmination of interest and success in taking a collection was at Anamosa in 1869. Rev. Br. Cleghorn, then of Illinois, but since of Northwestern Iowa, preached the Sabbath morning sermon. In its general effect it is remembered as the best preparation for a benevolent appeal to the congregation that we ever witnessed, though the preacher had probably no thought of the kind in its delivery. The agent followed the sermon as had been arranged with a brief presentation of the cause. Rev. M. C. Kempsey was acting pastor of the Anamosa Church. As the enthusiasm in responses rose, Brother Kempsey went into the congregation and announced the names with their pledges. In some instances, in his enthusiasm, it was said he did not get the consent of the owner of the name. But the agent being informed of this took the necessary precaution that no attempt should be made to collect any pledge that was not voluntary, and no trouble was known by him to grow out of it. The pledges were mostly in life memberships, to be paid in $5.00 and $10.00 installments, and we probably hazard nothing in the opinion that more money was pledged and afterwards paid at that meeting than at any single district associational meeting in the history of Iowa Baptists for this one object. Linn's report of money paid to the convention in 1869 is $670.58, and the church at Anamosa, of less than 100 members, is credited in this and the next three years (the time required to pay the installments on a life membership), with $312. Rev. S. West was preaching at Jordan's Grove, J.B. Portlock at Center Point; E. S. Edwards at Mechanicsville P. P. Shirley at Parker's Grove and Shellsburg, and F. Kidder at Quasqueton.

1870.    In 1870 Jordan's Grove entertained the brethren. Rev. N.B. Homan preached the sermon and presided, J. Sunderland clerk. Rev. Robert Leslie has settled at Anamosa, J.L. Coppoc is preaching at Center Point, J. S. Ward at Jackson Township, J. A. Abbott at Prairieburg, J. Cauch at Quasqueton, and J. W. Thompson at Shellsburg. Brother Cooley is still preaching at Cedar Rapids. He has baptized 48 this year, and 147 in three years on this field; 155 have been baptized this year in the Association, and the membership in 20 churches is 1407. The meeting in 1871 was at Cedar Rapids, P. P. Shirley Moderator, A. St. Clair Smith clerk. Rev. J.W. Thompson preached the annual sermon. Four new Churches were received, viz.: Urbana, Troy, Florence, and Winthrop. The last was organized in 1859 and comes from the Cedar Valley Association. Rev. G.W. Lewis is pastor at Mechanicsville, J. T. Long at Mt. Vernon, and A. V. Bloodgood at Florence. Rev. D. H. Cooley has resigned at Cedar Rapids, and Brother Sunderland has removed from Vinton to Sioux City after a four years' pastorate.

1872.    Vinton was the place of assembling in 1872. Rev. G. W. Lewis preached the sermon, N. B. Homan Moderator, P. P. Shirley clerk. Brother Shirley is pastor at Marion, A. Chapin again at Vinton, J. W. Daniels at Cedar Rapids, and C. J. B. Jackson at Anamosa, Brother Robert Leslie having closed a two years' pastorate there. In 1873 met at Marion, preacher Rev. C. J. B. Jackson, Moderator N. B. Homan, clerk Milton Remley, Esq. Rev. Wm. Wilder has succeeded Brother Daniels at Cedar Rapids, and N. B. Homan has taken charge at Vinton. It is a time of spiritual decline, only 17 baptisms in the Association. In the following year there is more light. The meeting was at Anamosa, preacher Wm. Wilder, who was also Moderator, A. St. Clair Smith clerk. 127 baptisms were reported and 1,298 members. Brother Wilder has baptized 69 at Cedar Rapids, and Brother Cauch 27 at Winthrop.

1875.    In 1875 the Association met at Winthrop for its 19th anniversary". Rev. J. W. Daniels Moderator, Smith still
clerk. Brother Homan the preacher. Rev. L. H. Thompson is preaching at Castle Grove and Parker s Grove, G. D. Simmons at Marion, H. N. Millard at Mechanicsville, J. McCulley at Troy Church, F. W. Alnut at Fairview, and J. W. Daniels at Palo and Rogers' Grove. In a previous chapter is mentioned a meeting held by the present writer at Mechanicsville during the previous winter. It is mentioned in the letter of the Mechanicsville Church at this session.

1876.    The twentieth anniversary took place in 1876 at Marion. Rev. Wm. H. Stiller Moderator, clerk without change. J.W. Daniels preached the sermon. Rev. Wm. Wilder has resigned and accepted the appointment of Superintendent of State Missions, and Rev. Wm. H. Stiller has removed from Cedar Falls and is pastor at Cedar Rapids. Rev. C. Brooks is preaching at Center Point, L. S. Livermore at Fairview, and Rev. D. N. Mason is pastor at Marion, Rev. Amos Weaver at Vinton, and H.W. Theile at Anamosa. A church has been organized at Martelle with ten members, J. V. Dewitt pastor. In 1877 Shellsburg was the entertaining church. Rev. John Cauch preached the sermon and was Moderator. A year of changes and of increased activity. One hundred and twenty-five baptisms reported and 1392 members. Rev. C.T. Tucker has become pastor at Anamosa, J. C. Johnson at Belle Prairie, James Mitchell at Fairview; J. G. Craven is preaching at Benton Center, G. D. Simmons at Florence, and J. W. Daniels at Shellsburg. Marion reports 44 baptized, Cedar Rapids 24, Anamosa 15 and Vinton 10.

1878.    Met in 1878 at Mechanicsville, Rev. Amos Weaver Moderator; Rev. C. T. Tucker preached the sermon. A. St. Clair Smith, Esq., has now been the clerk five years. No important changes to note. In 1879 Fairview was the meeting place. Rev. D.N. Mason preacher and Moderator, H. M. Remley, Esq., clerk. Rev. Wm. H. Stiller has resigned at Cedar Rapids and goes to Davenport. Rev. H. N. Millard has also resigned at Mechanicsville, and is succeeded by Rev. M. W. Akers. R. King returns from Danville to his old field at Parker's Grove for a season. Rev. J. C. Douglas has been called to Shellsburg. During Brother Daniels' pastorate here, a debt of nearly $3,000 has been paid and their large and commodious house of worship Las been finished at a cost of nearly $1,000 more.

1880.    Met at Belle Plaine, officers same as last year, and Rev. J. C. Johnson preached the sermon. Rev. J. C. Burkholder has become pastor as Anamosa, Brother Tucker having returned to a former field at Charles City. Rev. D. C. Ellis is at Belle Plaine, H. C. Bristol, at Cedar Rapids, W. C. Pratt at Mechanicsville, and Rev. E. English has succeeded Amos Weaver, at Vinton. A second interest called the Olivet Church at Cedar Rapids has Rev. John Fulton as pastor.

1881.    In 1881 the Association met with the First Cedar Rapids Church. Rev. J. C. Burkholder was preacher and Moderator, H. M. Remley, clerk. Rev. J. L. Coppoc has been preaching at Jordan's Grove since 1879, and has now removed to Benton Center. Other pastoral changes are: J. Bodenham to Castle Grove and Prairieburg, J. C. Johnson to Fairview, Wm. L. Hunter to Winthrop and Rev. A. M. Duboc succeeds D. N. Mason at Marion.

1882.    In 1882 Vinton is the place, D. C. Ellis the preacher, Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, and A. J. Malahan, clerk.
The church at Benton Center has changed its name to Van Horn and is making progress. Rev. G. L. Morrill succeeds J.C. Burkholder at Anamosa, and Rev. L. B. Hibbard is pastor at Cedar Rapids, Rev. H. C. Bristol having gone to California in pursuit of health. Brother Fulton also accompanies a son to the Pacific in the same pursuit. Rev. A. Whitman, of Minnesota, has settled at Mechanicsville.

1883.    In 1883 the association met at Anamosa. Rev. E. English preached the sermon and was elected to preside, A. J. Malahan, clerk. During the year Rev. C. H. DeWolf has succeeded L. B. Hibbard at Cedar Rapids, and A. H. Lyons has settled at Fairview. The meeting in 1884 was at Marion, G. L. Morrill preached and presided, F. N. Eldridge, clerk. Rev. A. F. Howell, of Toledo, is preaching at Belle Plaine, H. E. Fuller at Marion, J. W. Allen at Quasqueton, H. L. Clouse at Van Home and F. N. Eldridge at Vinton. Other pastors same as last year.

1885.    In 1885 met at Fairview. Rev. C. H. DeWolf preached the sermon, H.E. Fuller Moderator, C. . Smith clerk. Rev. C. C. Smith, late of Clinton, Iowa, has succeeded Brother Morrill at Anamosa. Rev. F. IN". Eldridge has resigned at Vinton to become State Sunday School Missionary, and Rev. A.W. Fuller of Burlington has taken the Vinton field. E.E. Packer preaches at Jordan's Grove. The Olivet Church, Cedar Rapids, has disappeared from the records. It is understood that most of the membership have united again with the First Church. This Church has paid of a troublesome debt of $2,300.00 during the last year, have improved their property at a cost of nearly $1,000, and have bought property for their Mission School on the west side costing $1,300.00.

1886.    In 1886 the outlook has brightened somewhat. 118 baptisms are reported, and 1127 members. A gain of 111 over last year, and a larger number of baptisms than in any year since 1877. Rev. D. Given is preaching at Fairview where 20 of the baptisms are reported. Anamosa reports 29, Marion 26, and Vinton 17. J. R. North is pastor at Shellsburg and Parker's Grove.

Some comparisons of the condition of this Association, and of its chief city now, and ten years earlier, will give a correct idea of the struggle that it has required to maintain the institutions of religion in these older parts of the State. In 1876, the total membership in the Association was 1333, and in Cedar Rapids 259; and in 1886 the Association 1127 and Cedar Rapids 208. Taking the two periods named, and we have a loss within the ten years of 206 in the Association, and of 51 in Cedar Rapids. The explanation is not difficult. The emigration to the west, the peopling of the vast domain opened up by railroad enterprise, has drawn off the young blood from our churches and societies and made it a continuous struggle for existence in many of these older fields. But we must not be too much discouraged at this. The seed of the kingdom, matured in these fields, has been cast into a larger; the leaven into a larger "three measures of meal." These older churches and Associations have much vitality yet, and when the reaction comes, as it will come, a rich harvest may yet be gathered here. It is probable that Linn Association is entitled to the proud distinction of having contributed more money to the State Convention, in proportion to the amount appropriated within its borders, than any of the larger and older Associations. Without attempting to verify this remark, the following comparison of contributions within the Association for the last two decades respectively we make a very creditable record, of the 20 years, while suggesting perhaps the need of looking well to the present tendency and the future record. From 1866 to 1875 inclusive, the contributions in this Association for State Missions amounted to $4464.12, or an average of $446.41 a year. From 1876 to 1885 they were $2595.37, or an average of only $259.53| a year. A falling off for ten years of nearly one half. For the last five years of the last decade, when, be it remembered, the collections have been made in the name of the Home Mission Society and Convention both, the amount has been $1434.32 or an average of $286.86 a year.

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