The Coon Valley Association Organized in
Dallas, Guthrie, and parts of Boone, Greene, and Carroll
Counties 1871 to 1886.
THE COON VALLEY BAPTIST Association
was constituted in 1871, with eight churches, having four pastors
and 330 members. The churches with the number of members reported
the following year, were. Coon Valley, 41; Calamus Creek, 20; Perry,
44; Panora, 26; Panther Creek, 28; Pleasant Valley, 16; North Union,
61 and Guthrie Center, 59. The Guthrie Center, Panora, and Panther
Creek churches were from the Western Iowa Association; the old North
Union Church from the Upper Des Moines, and the other four were new
organizations. The pastors were E. J. Wood, J. Hill, J. Carson and
A. E. Simons. Brother Simons was the first clerk.
meeting was at Perry. Rev. J. Hill, Moderator, A. E. Simons, clerk,
Deacon A. Parker treasurer. Father Hill preached the introductory
sermon. 1872. The Mt. Zion Church was received. Among the pastors in
1872 in addition to those named before, are Rev. E. R. Swain at Coon
Valley, Ed. Tuffin at Panora, and the venerable W. J. Sparks at
North Union. A timely circular letter written by A. E. Simons, on
"The duty of rendering to pastors a just compensation for their
labors," was adopted and printed in the Minutes, Baptisms reported
in 1872, 82, members 309. The anniversary in 1873 was at Guthrie
Center. The opening sermon was by Rev. George Scott. A. E. Simons
Moderator, Deacon C. F. Reed clerk. The Dexter Church was received
with 13 members, but no pastor. The state of religion was reported
very low. Only two baptisms in the Association. The Perry and North
Union churches have completed meeting houses. The Perry and
Guthrie Center churches report Baptist Sabbath Schools; two others
report union schools.
In 1874 met at North Union.
Introductory sermon by J. Hill, Moderator George Scott, clerk A.E.
Simons. Mount Zion Church has become extinct, but the Stuart and
Freedom churches were received. Rev. George Scott is preaching at
Dexter and Stuart. There is some increase of spiritual interest, 48
baptisms reported, and 389 members, A gain of 90. A missionary
committee, appointed the year before, had employed Rev. Wm. Wood of
Cedar Falls for three months, at a salary of $50 per month. He had
labored in protracted meetings at Perry, Guthrie Center, Calamus
Creek and North Union. The work had been self sustaining, enough
being received on the field to pay all expenses. Brother Wood had
been entirely laid aside by sickness for some time. The fifth
anniversary was held in 1875 at Perry. Introductory sermon by Rev.
Wm. J. Sparks, Rev. H. S. Cloud Moderator, A. E. Simons clerk. The
church at Perry had had a great revival and baptized 53. They have
enlarged their parsonage and made it a commodious dwelling place for
their pastor's family. They have a prosperous mission station at
Peoples Settlement, 8 miles east, which will ere long become a
self-sustaining church. Baptisms reported in the Association 75,
other additions 43, members 475. The amount reported for church
expenses, $2,450; grand total for all purposes $2571.20.
1870 the Association met with the Freedom Church. Rev. H. S. Cloud
preached the annual sermon and was elected Moderator, Brother Simons
still clerk. The churches were all represented except Panora, and
four new churches were received. These were Richland Center, North
Branch, South Coon and Dallas Center. Rev. J. Carson is preaching at
Richland Center and South Coon, H.S. Fish at North Branch, where
there are 53 members, and at Guthrie Center, and Rev. Demas Robinson
at Stuart. Brother Robert McCoy, of the Calamus Creek Church, wrote
a circular letter on "The faithful performance of work by the Lay
Members of the church," which was read and adopted and ordered
printed in the minutes. It was the writer's privilege to witness the
baptism of Brother McCoy in 1868, he having been previously a member
of the Church of England. The circular letter written by him shows a
very intelligent and just view of the duties of a Christian and a
member of the church.
In 1877 the Association met with the
Coon Valley church. Brother Simons preached the sermon and was
Moderator, C. F. Reed clerk. The Dexter church had disbanded. Rev.
E. G. O. Groat was preaching at Guthrie Center and Dallas Center,
Brother Wm. Hooks at Panther Creek, C. F. Reed at Coon Valley and
North Branch, J. F. McCluen at Richland Center, J. M. Gilbert at
Calamus Creek, H. S. Cloud at Freedom and Pleasant Valley, J. Carson
at South Coon, A. E. Simons at Perry, W. J. Sparks at North Union,
and J. A. Nash at Stuart.
The Association met in 1878 for
its Eighth Anniversary with the Peoples Mission, of the Perry
Church. Rev. J. Z. Zimmerman was, by a vote of the body, invited to
preach the opening sermon. Rev. J. F. Childs, of Des Moines, was
elected Moderator, C. F. Reed, clerk. The Casey Church was received
with 7 members, C. F. Reed, pastor. Brother Childs is preaching at
Stuart and A. J. Delano at Guthrie Center. Rev. Wm. J. Sparks died
June 30, 1878. The church at Stuart have bought a house of worship
and fitted it up at a cost of $464.50. Met in 1879 at Guthrie
Center. Rev. J. F. Childs preached the annual sermon and was elected
Moderator, C. F. Reed, clerk. Rev. A. E. Simons, who has been pastor
of the Perry Church from its organization, and one of the most
efficient members of this body through the ten 3^ears of its
history, has removed and taken up work at Parkersburg, in the Cedar
Valley Association. Rev. J. M. Gilbert, of Calamus Creek, is also
missed from the councils of this Association, but Rev. A. Hunt
appears as pastor at Coon Valley and H. W. Wilson at Perry. The
North Union Church has returned to the Upper Des Moines Association,
and the Peoples Mission has become a separate organization and
united with that body also. Rev. H. S. Cloud has removed to Corning,
Adams county, Iowa. The departure of Rev. J. Carson from this
Association seems to have been a year or two earlier.
anniversary in 1880 was held at Perry. Introductory sermon by W. F.
Hooks. Moderator, A. Hunt, clerk and treasurer, A. D. Phelps of
Perry. This anniversary was saddened and chastened by the death,
December 4, 1879, of the beloved father, Rev. Joshua Hill of Guthrie
Center, who had "by reason of strength reached four score years."
The Casey, Richland Center and Dallas Center churches disappear from
the records. Bro. E. Hatfield appears as pastor at Calamus Creek, A.
Mackey at Guthrie Center, and L. W. Atkins at Stuart. Other pastors
are W. F. Hooks and A. Hunt. There are now 10 churches, 5 pastors,
39 baptisms reported and 408 members. Of the baptisms 22 were at
Guthrie Center. From 1881 to 1885 the anniversaries were held
respectively at South Coon, Panther Creek, Fredonia, Pleasant
Valley, and Peoples church. The Moderators in the order named were
A. Hunt 4 years, and A. E. Simons ;clerks A. D. Phelps two years, A.
E. Simons two years, and F. M. Gaines.
In 1881 Rev. A.
Mackey preached the annual sermon, "A thrilling sermon from James
1:22, 'Be 3^e doers of the word, and not hearers only.' Rev. L. D.
Lamkin was preaching; at Perry and Rev. J. M. Gilbert removed to
Creighton, Nebraska. The Guthrie Center church spent $500 in
permanent improvements. A Women's Missionary Society for the
Association was organized. Sister R. E. Bailey president, Naomi
Mackey secretary, and Sister R. B. Reed treasurer. In 1882 Rev, C.
F. Reed preached the annual sermon. The new Bethel church of Audubon
county was received, Charles Berry pastor. Rev. A. E. Simons, late
in 1882, returned to his old field at Perry. In 1883 Rev. Charles
Berry preached the introductory sermon. The Peoples Baptist church
was received from the Upper Des Moines dissociation. Rev. Harmon
Hunt pastor, with 35 members. Rev. W. A. Welsher of Des Moines was
preaching at Stuart. During the Sabbath session of the Association
at Freedom in 1883 the exercises were suspended to hear the
experience of a sister who wished to unite with the Panther Creek
church. This sister, who lived several miles from the place of
meeting of any Baptist church, had been converted while at home
alone, but desired to follow her Lord in baptism and find fellowship
with his people. Her experience was clear and satisfactory, and she
was unanimously received by the delegates of the church with which
she wished to unite. Two others, a man and his wife, who had been
immersed and were formerly members of the United Brethren church
were also received into the fellowship of the Freedom church at the
close of the morning service. It was voted to hold quarterly
meetings of the Association, the object being "to pray and talk and
preach the gospel, and plan for more and better work in the broad
field the Lord has given us.''
In 1880 the Coon Rapids and
Mount Zion Churches were received. Rev. A. Mackey was pastor at Coon
Rapids, and A. Hunt at Mount Zion. Rev. R. R. Albin was preaching at
Stuart. Baptisms were reported by the Peoples Church, 27; Perry, 11;
Mt. Zion, 11; Stuart, 7; South Coon, 5; Coon Rapids, 3; Freedom, 2,
and Panther Creek, one; making 67 in all; other additions, 52; total
membership, 533. Rev. A. Mackey, besides Coon Rapids, is supplying
New Bethel and North Branch. In 1885 the Dallas Center Church
reappears with 45 members reported, but no statistics. A church
called Union also appears with 41 members, A. Mackey pastor. Rev. F.
M. Gaines is preaching at Freedom. In 1886 we find Rev. D. L. Clouse
settled at Perry, F. M. Gaines preaching at Freedom, Pleasant Valley
and Peoples, A. Mackey at Union and W. F. Hooks at Panther Creek.
Baptisms 36; membership 548. Rev. A. E. Simons has yielded to the
necessity of taking rest for a season from the full work of the
pastorate, and is in business at Emerson, Iowa, but still preaching
the Word as occasion offers. It is much to the credit of Rev. Wm. F.
Hooks and the Panther Creek Church that, raised up and called into
the ministry among that people, he has been enabled, regularly, to
break unto them the Bread of life without interruption for ten year;
first as licensed by them, and afterwards, January 29, 188U,
Ordained. The important question of continuing in one place in the
ministry has not been without consideration in the Coon Valley
Association. At the meeting in 1885 the Circular Letter, written by
Mrs. Naomi Mackey, treated with apathy the subject of the pastoral
relation, and especially the advantages of long pastorates and how
to secure them. We append one or two extracts. "A strangers first
sermon may please the people immensely because it enunciates and
explains some truth already thoroughly understood by them. The
sermon may not lead them one step higher in Christian knowledge, but
their self love has been tickled to find the stranger agreeing with
them and stating their views eloquently. The pastor who has been
long on the field learns where his people are weakest and on what
points they most need instruction, and can govern himself
accordingly. An old friend whose love has been proved so as to be
beyond a doubt can do this much more efficiently than a recent
acquaintance." That is, can reprove, rebuke, and give the needed
instruction to strengthen the weak places. "A magnetic orator,
without a clean heart, can rouse and fire and sway an audience by
his presence and oratory and the result be little permanent good and
much permanent evil.
*** But when personal magnetism and the
grace and charm of oratory are backed by a known character of
Christian consistency, then the oratory is a power for good. The
pastor is to be a care-taker—one to lake care of the church. The
preacher who stops with the church only a few months or a year
hardly gets acquainted with the people, certainly not so acquainted
as to love them and care for them as a pastor should. *** Even a
farm that changes tenants every year is soon overgrown with weeds
and in a dilapidated condition."
This Association has some
elements of history peculiar to itself. Bordering closely upon the
capitol of the State on one side, centrally located, and cultivating
a district comprising in whole and in part, six counties, it has but
one county seat church, and that not strong. It has few churches
located in the towns. It has had less missionary aid, perhaps,
relatively, than any other Association in the State. It has fewer
meeting houses, or has had until recently, than other parts of the
State. The churches are weak, and yet there has been a noble holding
on and a faithful cultivating of the field with the means at hand.
By the advent of railroads and mining interests, changes are
being wrought that betoken more rapid growth, and emphasize the
importance of a more vigorous cultivation of this field and
increased cooperation between the Association and our General
Missionary Societies, State and Home.