Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists, 1886
S. H. Mitchell
by Burdette Co., Burlington, Iowa
(Formerly Des Moines)
— Remarkable and Continuous
History From 1860 to 1886
dissolution of the old Des Moines Association in 1859, the
new organization comprising the south division of its
territory took the name of the Keokuk Association. This body
held its first meeting at West Point in August, 1860.
The following churches were reported: Bethlehem, 28 members;
Big Mound, 47; Denmark, 47; Farmington, 26; Fort Madison,
140; Glasgow, 96; 1st Keokuk, 96; 2d Keokuk, 82; Liberty,
106 Mt. Zion, 119; Pilot Grove, 82; West Point, 111;
Warren, 30; making 13 churches with 998 members. The year
had been one of remarkable prosperity. Pastor Cochran
reported 16 baptisms at Big Mound, Eggleston 24 at Denmark,
Johnson 54 at Fort Madison, Lee 18 at Pilot Grove, and
Coggshall 23 at West Point; and Liberty, though without a
pastor, reports 14, also W. S. Cochran 17 at Warren. Total
in Association 173. Besides the above, W. H. Turton was
pastor at Farmington, T. S. Griffith at 1st Keokuk, and M.
Sutton at Mt. Zion. For the next five years respectively the
anniversaries were held at Fort Madison, Liberty, Bonaparte,
Denmark, and Keokuk. Moderators in their order were R.
Hubbard, Ct. J. Johnson twice, M. Sutton, Hon. J. M. Beck.
The clerks for the same years were Charles Hubbell two
years, W. H. Turton and D. W. Ford twice. And the annual
preachers were T. S. Griffith, J. Lee, J. Lewelling, and J.
1861 ... The revival continued through
1861 with great power. 265 baptisms were reported. Rev. W.
A. Eggleston has become pastor at Mt. Zion (Bonaparte) and
reports 48 baptized. Brother Griffith 72 at Keokuk and
Johnson 36 at Fort Madison. Rev. P. Inskeep is preaching at
Bethlehem, Jefferson, and Charleston and reports 53 baptisms
at the two latter churches—28 and 25. Brother Sutton is
preaching at Big Mound and Glasgow. The Association was held
in the spacious new edifice of the Fort Madison Church.
After the morning service on the Sabbath the congregation
repaired to the banks of the Mississippi, three squares
distant, and witnessed the baptism by the pastor, G. J.
Johnson, of four young ladies, recent converts. In 1862 two
small churches were added, bearing by a singular coincidence
the same name. Cedar Church, Lee county, organized in 1862,
and Cedar. Van Buren county, from the Oskaloosa Association.
The Liberty Church, near Charleston, where the Association
was held, had lost its meeting house by fire during the
year. West Point had given more than half her male members
to the Union army. The Keokuk Association was intensely
loyal; acknowledged in the clearest terms the wrong that had
brought on the war, and resolved most distinctly upon the
putting away of slavery as necessary to a permanent peace.
Notwithstanding the distractions of the times there was a
good degree of spiritual prosperity. Twelve of the 15
churches reported baptisms. Fort Madison had a precious
revival in March and baptized 27. They have finished and are
occupying the basement of their church edifice. The name of
the 2d Keokuk Church is dropped. It was estimated that of
the 1202 members in the Association 200 were in the Union
army. Rev. J. Lewelling was pastor in 1862 of the Bethlehem
and Jefferson Churches. In 1863 a church was organized at
Rome. The name of the Cedar Church, Van Buren county, was
changed to Bratton's Grove. The Tippecanoe Church, J. M.
Wood pastor, was admitted to fellowship. This was
afterwards called Locust Grove. Pastor J. M. Coggshell of
West Point followed many of his members into the army where
he died, October 29. 1863, at Little Rock, Arkansas, after
only a few days sickness. Rev. T. S. Griffith, four years
pastor at Keokuk, has returned to New Jersey. He had
identified himself as a stirring man and an untiring worker,
with all our Iowa Baptist interests, and will be much
missed. The eminent evangelist Morgan Edwards has supplied
the church at West Point. An incident of the anniversary in
1863 was the baptism of 14 happy converts in the Des Moines
river at Bonaparte, the fruits of a revival in progress in
an adjacent neighborhood. Baptisms reported in all
141, members 1290.
The report in 1864 was again
encouraging. A number of the churches reported revivals. The
First African Baptist Church, of Keokuk, was received. The
Keokuk Association had at that time the largest membership
of any association in the State. Rev. G. J. Johnson resigned
at Fort Madison and was succeeded by Rev. C. F. Tolman. Rev.
J. T. Westover also became pastor at Keokuk. In 1865 Rev. J.
Lewelling is found preaching at Farmington, M. Sutton at
Harrisburg, P. Inskeep at Mt. Zion, S. Pickard at Jefferson
and G. W. Shelton at the Keokuk African Church. The Locust
Grove Church, formerly called Tippecanoe, was the home of
Hannah Beard, and the scene of her first successful effort
at supplying destitute churches with meeting houses. Here
was converted her brother Rev. Wm. Beard, since an active
minister of the Word.
About this time the writer
formed the acquaintance of another name that is a green spot
in the memory of a Missionary Agent. A letter was received
from Denmark, Iowa, bearing these words, "Dear Brother,
enclosed find $25.00 for the State Convention, to be
credited to the Lord Jesus," and signed L. M. Whiting.
Brother Whiting kept a small dairy a few miles from Denmark.
He said "a few cows belonging to the Lord," and he was
accustomed to give his entire income, above a certain amount
for current expenses, usually in $25.00 contributions, to
benevolent objects. He became afterward an active minister
of the Gospel.
The anniversaries for the next
half-decade, 1866 to 1870, were held at Fort Madison, Pilot
Grove, Rome, Harrisburg and Bonaparte. The Moderators were
J. T. Westover, four years, and W. H. Lane, one. Clerks, D.
T. Brown, W. H. Turton, W. A. Clark, Charles Hubbell and
Rufus Hubbard. The introductory sermons were preached by L.
Frescoln, J. Trevitt, W. G. Johnson and W. C. Pratt, all in
the order named.
1866 ... In 1866 Brother Tolman had
resigned at Fort Madison. A church had been organized at
Salem, 29 members, D. Simons, pastor. Rev. J. C. Burkholder
was pastor at Bonaparte, L. Frescoln at Glasgow, R. C. Hixon
as Union, W.G. Johnson at Jefferson and John Trevitt at West
Point. A good degree of revival characterized the year, 102
baptisms were reported and 1,567 members. "Two of the
churches have completed houses of worship, and two others
are in process of construction, one of which, when
completed, will be the best in Southern Iowa,'' so wrote
Rev. J. T. Westover. The house referred to as the best was
that being erected by his own beloved church in Keokuk.
In 1867 Rev. John Packer appears as pastor at Fort
Madison, and J. C. Carey, of the First African Church, at
Keokuk, and the last named church reports 43 baptisms;
Pastor Hixon at Charleston 25, and a new organization at
Clay Grove 12; First Keokuk reports 17; Pilot Grove 22;
String Prairie 12; Warren 9, and Croton 9. Rev. W. G.
Johnson was pastor at Warren and Croton. The whole number of
baptisms was 189, in 21 churches with 10 pastors and 1,666
members. The Clay Grove and Croton Churches were received in
1879 and Bethlehem and Union disappear. The Keokuk
Association has still the largest membership in the State,
the Davenport coming next with 1,532.
In 1868 the
Pleasant Hill and Birmingham Churches were received. Rev. G.
H. Berry was preaching at Pleasant Hill (post office Rome)
and at Bratton's Grove, S. Pickard at Charleston and Mt.
Zion, Wm. Potts at Clay Grove, H. Burnett at Locust Grove,
J. T. Milner at Pilot Grove and Rev. John Trevitt at
West Point, where he had been pastor three years. Baptisms
in 1868, 114. Among the number were 12 at Salem, who were
immersed by the writer in a meeting at that place, of which
grateful mention is made in a previous chapter.
1869 the Hebron Church was received, G. H. Berry, pastor.
Rev. H. McAllister was pastor of the Keokuk African Church
and reported 78 baptized. Rev. J. H. Delano was dispensing
the Word at Charleston, W. C. Pratt at Denmark and R. F.
Gray at Fort Madison. The Association now takes the second
place in number of members, having 1,678 while Cedar Valley
In 1870 Rev. J. T. Westover has closed
his seven years' pastorate at Keokuk and gone to take charge
of the North Baptist Church, Chicago. He is followed at
Keokuk by Rev. S. K. Leavitt, of Indiana, who recently left
the bar for the pulpit. Rev. John Trevitt resigned a four of
five years' pastorate at West Point. Pastor W. G. Johnson
has been supplying Bonaparte, with other points, for two or
three years. A church has been formed at Dowd's Station, J.
L. Cole, pastor. One hundred and forty-five baptisms were
reported. From 1871 to 3875 the anniversaries were held at
Glasgow, Charleston, Salem, Denmark and Keokuk. Moderator:
W. H. Lane, two years, S Pickard, E. C. Cadey and W. C.
Pratt. Clerks: Royal N. Joy, W. H. Turton W. C. Pratt, R.
Hubbard and Turton again.
1871 ... The year 1871
finds Rev. J. Trevitt preaching at Bonaparte, E. Anderson at
Denmark, following W. C. Pratt, who soon succeeded Brother
Trevitt at Bonaparte, W. Young at Charleston, D. C. Adams at
Fort Madison, J. H. Miller at Dowd's Station, D. Moore at
Pleasant Hill, and E. Crane at Glasgow. Baptisms only 57.
For the first time in nine years and the second in the
history of the Keokuk Association the number of baptisms
falls below 100. In 1872 Rev. H. L. Field began preaching at
West Point and D. D. Proper at Pilot Grove. A great revival
has broken out again and 271 baptisms are reported and 1,765
members, a gain over the previous year of 420. In 1873 D. C.
Adams was succeeded at Fort Madison by Brother E. E.
Cadey, and Brother Leavitt at Keokuk by Rev. F. D. Bland,
who also came from Indiana. Pastor Leavitt went to take
charge of one of the churches at Cincinnati. A Colored
church appeared at Fort Madison in 1874, and the Glasgow
Church did not report. Rev. S. H. Worcester, of Ottumwa, was
supplying at Dowd's Station. In 1875 Pastor Bland has been
succeeded at Keokuk by Rev. S. Washington, J. B. Edmonson is
preaching at Harrisburg and W. N. Whitaker at West Point.
The next five years, 1876 to 1880, the Association met at
Harrisburg, Glasgow, Fort Madison, Farmington and
Charleston. Rev. Arthur Stott was clerk all these years.
1876 ... In 1876 Rev. J. W. Hough had become pastor at
Denmark, and was Moderator of the meeting at Harrisburg.
Brother Stott was at Fort Madison. Rev, J. Lewelling, who
began his ministry in this Association in 1862, and who was
for several years pastor at Denmark, removed about this time
to the West, and is either in Kansas or Nebraska. In 1877
some of the churches, notably Big Mound and Harrisburg, were
blessed with revivals, but there was little change in
the working forces. Brother Stott removed in 1878 from Fort
Madison to Denmark, succeeding Brother J. W. Hough who*
removed west to Prescott, Iowa. Rev. S. Washington resigns
at Keokuk after three or four years' service, and W. C.
Pratt, after five or six years of faithful labor at
Bonaparte goes to Monroe, Iowa. R. P. McAuley is preaching
at Charleston, and C. R. Workman at Pilot Grove. Revs. Wm.
G. Johnson and Wm. Young were very successful in revival
work. In 1879 Rev. C. H. Moscrip is found settled at Keokuk,
Rev. L. S. Livermore preaching at Bonaparte and Harrisburg,
and Wm. H. Turton to his old charge at Farmington. But in
1880 Rev. D. L. Clouse occupies Bonapart and Harrisburg.
Rev. Thomas Powell is supplying Charleston, Fort Madison and
The Association met in 1881 at
Bonaparte. Brother Stott still continues to act as clerk.
Brother William Young had, during the year, been cut off by
death. He had been very active in evangelistic work. Rev.
Thomas Powell was also called up higher. Brother Powell had
impressed himself upon the people, by his brilliant
qualities of mind, and consecration of heart and life, as
few ministers are able to do in so brief a time. At this
time, 1881, the churches were more than usually well manned
for work, in their pulpits, and gave evidence of solid work,
though there was little marked progress in spiritual
results. In 1882 the Association met at Denmark. Rev. D. L.
Clouse had become pastor at Bonaparte, and was made clerk.
Rev Elihu Gunn, D. D., who so long and faithfully served his
generation in southeastern Iowa in the early days, but has
been laboring in Kansas for the last twelve years, has
returned and is pastor at Fort Madison. Keokuk, under the
lead of pastor C. H. Moscrip, is vigorously pushing the
work. The Association adopted a "New Constitution, and
Articles of Incorporation, " and they were duly signed by
one member from each church represented, acknowledged before
Geo. F. Hilton, a Notary Public of Lee county, and recorded
as required by law. This is the only instance within our
knowledge of an Association becoming an incorporated body
capable of owning property, suing and being sued, etc. The
principle object was probably the control of a Ministers'
Widows and Orphans Fund, which at the last report in 1886
amounted to $474.65.
1883 ... The Anniversary in
1883 was at Keokuk, Rev. E. Gunn was Moderator, D. L. Clouse
clerk. Rev. Wm. Beard was preaching at Bethel (formerly Big
Mound), H. R. Yolton at Fairview, and J. Lee at Harrisburg.
A year of prosperity 180 baptisms and 1263 members. The
Association leads in the state in the number of baptisms.
The church at Keokuk, with 325 members, makes an excellent
record, especially in Sunday School work. The average
attendance at the Home School is 239, and at the two Mission
Schools respectively 116 and 147, making a total Sunday
School attendance under direction of this church of 502.
They report 76 baptisms. In 1884: the Anniversary was at
Harrisburg, Arthur Stott Moderator, C. L. Custer clerk. Rev.
D. L. Clouse closed his labors at Bonaparte and removed to
Grand Junction. Rev. C. L. Custer is preaching at Charleston
and H. H. Depperman at West Point. Brother Stott reports 44
baptized at Denmark, Gunn 25 at Fort Madison, and Beard 24
at Warren and 5 at Bethel. Rev. C. H. Moscrip, pastor at
Keokuk since 1879, has resigned and gone to -Jerseyville,
111. His one pastorate of five years in Iowa has earned for
him a large place in the confidence and esteem of his
brethren, and the growth witnessed at Keokuk under his
ministry makes for him an honorable record. Brother Lee has
been pastor at Salem ten years and Stott at Denmark six. Met
in 1885 at Salem. Officers the same. A year of changes. We
note Brother Gunn from Fort Madison to his old and "first"
Iowa *'love," the 1st Baptist Church of Keokuk. Brother
Stott from Denmark to Bedford, Iowa. Rev. F. M. Coffey is
preaching at Farmington and Bethel, J. A. Stanley at
Croton, C. R. Workman at Glasgow, and E. M. Jones af Fort
Madison. Except Brother Lee at Harrisburg, old pastorates
are terminated and new relations formed. Brother Caster has
been ordained at Bonaparte. In 1886 the Association met at
Farmington, J. Lee Moderator, C. L. Custer still clerk.
Brother Gunn, owing to continued poor health has been
compelled to give up work at Keokuk and repair to his home
and family in Kansas. Brother Jones goes from Fort Madison
to Morgan Park, and thus the pulpits in the two principal
cities are left vacant. Brother Coffey at Farmington has
suspended active work for a time, on account of impaired
health, and Rev. G. C. Goodenough who resides here is
The churches in this Association are
situated chiefly in Lee, Van Buren and Henry counties, and
in common with other localities in the older parts of the
state, their strength has been diminished by emigration to
the west. Eight of the churches have less than fifty members
each, six have between 50 and 100, and four have over
100. The 18 churches report 1342 members. During the first
thirteen years of this history from 1860 to 1872 the number
of baptisms fell below 100 only twice, and in 1861 and 1872
they were above 200. The largest number in any one year was
in 1872, 271. In the fourteen years since 1872 the number
baptized has been 100 or over but four times, and the
largest in any one year was in 1883—180. The lowest number
of members reported any year since 1861 was in 1882—1069.
The highest number was in 1872—1765. For the last five years
there has been a steady but slow increase, while for the ten
years' previous there had been a steady decline.