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Churches and Religion

Pages 285-294

Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists, 1886

S. H. Mitchell

 Published by Burdette Co., Burlington, Iowa




Keokuk Association (Formerly Des Moines)
— Remarkable and Continuous Revivals -
History From 1860 to 1886

UPON the 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. T. Westover.

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.

In 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 has 1,851.

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 West Point.

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 supplying.

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.

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