Turkey River Association
Charles E. Brown
For much of
the matter contained in this Sketch we are
indebted to a history of the Turkey River
Association, written by Rev. Charles E. Brown and
printed in the minutes for 1875. The oldest
churches of this Association were found, first in
the Davenport, and afterwards in the Dubuque
Association. At the meeting of the Dubuque
Association, held at Delhi in 1860, a resolution
was presented by Rev. Charles E. Brown and
adopted, recommending a division for the purpose,
to such churches as might desire to enter into
the formation of a new Association on the north.
At a meeting of brethren interested, during a
recess of the same session, a convention of
delegates from churches so desiring, was called to
meet at West Union in the following month.
This Convention was held in July 1860. An
introductory sermon was preached by Elder Brown
Elder John Williams, of West Union, called the
Convention to order. Brother Brown was elected
Moderator and A. Bush,
clerk. Revs. George Brown. Elder John Williams, of West
Union, called the Convention to order. Brother Brown was
elected Moderator and A. Bush, clerk. Revs. George
Scott, L. M. Newel, E. G. O. Groat and John Williams
were appointed a committee to draft Constitution and
By-Laws, which as reported by the committee, were
adopted, and the organization completed. The churches
named in the organization are: Erie, Illyria, New
Oregon, Oran, Rossville, Strawberry Point, Vernon
Springs, Waukon, Westfield and West Union. These are 10
churches, 6 pastors and 352 members. The pastors were:
George Scott, C. E. Brown, James Schofield, L. M.
Newell, A. Bush and John Williams.
his historical paper, Brother Brown gives us this
information concerning the beginnings of Baptist work in
what is now the territory of the Turkey River
Association. “The first Baptist Church in this territory
was organized by Elder Miles, in January, 1841, at
Winnebago Mission, on Yellow River, in Allamakee county,
consisting of 11 members. Elder Miles and some of the
members removed to Wisconsin; others left and this
pioneer church soon lost its visibility.” This Elder
Miles came from Indiana and is supposed to have been the
first Baptist minister to preach the Gospel in
Northeastern Iowa. “Two of the constituent members of
this church were still living in Iowa in 1875, ---John
and Hiram Frances – one in Clayton county near National,
the other in Allamakee near Rossville.” “The second
Baptist church within the territory was organized in
1848, by Elders B. F. Brabrook, Ira Blanchard and C. E.
Brown, in a settlement a short distance northeast of
Elkader, and called the First Baptist Church of Clayton
county. Several persons were baptized on the day the
church was organized.” Elder Blanchard was instrumental
in gathering this church, and traveled a distance of 40
miles and back to supply them with preaching once a
month. In 1849 we find this church represented by Rev.
Ira Blanchard in the State Convention, meeting at Iowa
City. Also in the report of the Executive Board of the
convention made at this same meeting, it is stated that
Rev. Ira Blanchard, on the 2nd of October, 1848, was
recommended to the Home Mission Society, “to preach at
the Delaware county, Cascade, Fairview and Clayton
county churches, with an appropriation of $100 for one
year. The first statistical account we have of this
church is in 1861, when in the Davenport Association it
is named without a pastor, with these statistics.
Received by letter 11: by experience 1; dismissed 21;
died 1; present number 15. Soon after, or about this
time the First Baptist Church of Clayton county ceased
to exist. These organizations represent the first
beginnings of Baptist work in Northeast Iowa.
third organization was at West Union, in 1852. “On the
19th day of May, 1853, this church resolved to purchase
a lot and proceed to erected small house of worship, not
to exceed in size 20x26 feet. This was the first meeting
house built in the territory of this Association. The
second was built by the church at Strawberry Point and
dedicated August 1857. Of the field to be cultivated by
this new Association, Rev. George Scott says in a report
to the convention in the fall of 1860, “It embraces a
territory of a little more that 3,346 square miles, with
a population of no less than 60,000. It has within its
bounds only three Baptist Church edifices, and one of
these is so small that it is not occupied. Allowing the
other two to afford accommodations for 500 each – which
is probably beyond their capacity – we have sanctuary
accommodations for only one in sixty, and one minister
to 8,571 souls. Truly the field is almost without
first annual meeting was held at Waukon, September 6th,
1861. Rev. A. Bush preached the introductory sermon,
from Galatians VI:2. Rev. J. Schofield was chosen
Moderator and Alva Bush clerk. The Baptist church at
McGregor was received into the Association with 23
members, Rev. L. M. Whitman pastor. They have just
completed a house of worship and bid fair to exert an
extensive influence in the community and the
Association. There are now in the Association 13
churches, 7 pastors, 10 persons baptized during the
year, and 418 members. The pastors are George Scott,
Strawberry Point and Erie; C. E. Brown, Lime Springs and
Vernon Springs; L. M. Whitman, McGregor; J. A. Pool,
Rossville; J. Schofield, Waukon; A. Bush, Westfield, and
John Williams, West Union.
second annual meeting was held with the McGregor Church
Friday, June 13, 1862, the time of meeting having been
changed from September to June. The introductory sermon
was by Rev. John Williams of West Union, from 1st
Timothy I:11, “The glorious gospel of the blessed God.”
Brother Williams was chosen Moderator, and G. M. Colgate
of McGregor clerk. Some evidence of revival appears in
the statistics. Two new churches have been organized
this year; the Union Church at Pleasant Ridge with 41
members, of whom 35 were received by baptism, and the
Paint Creek Church with 14, of whom 9 have been baptized
during the year. Seventy-three baptisms reported and
525 members. The name of Brother Scott is not found, but
reappears two years later in the Western Iowa
Association. Brother James Sunderland is preaching at
Strawberry Point. Among the visitors is Brother Jackson
of Milwaukee, who soon after becomes pastor at McGregor,
Elder Whitman having resigned. At Rossville Rev. John A.
Pool had baptized 27 of the 73 reported.
third Anniversary was at West Union, in 1863. May 27,
Elder John A. Pool preached the sermon. Moderator C. E.
Brown, clerk G. M. Colgate of McGregor. Brother Bush
read a Circular Letter upon the “Importance of Love for
this Church.” The Fourth Anniversary was held at
Strawberry Point in 1864. Rev. John Jackson preached the
sermon, C. E. Brown, Moderator, Brother Colgate again
clerk. The Volga City Church was received and the Hardin
Church dropped. Brother Sunderland read a Circular
Letter upon “The Importance of Fidelity in Maintaining
our Denominational Principles.” Rev. J. B. Ward is
preaching at Ward’s Corners and Fayette, and F. Hill at
West Union. Pastor John Jackson is succeeded at McGregor
by Rev. C. T. Tucker. The beginning of an honorable
record of service for the Master in Iowa. Brother
Sunderland supplies the new church at Volga City in
connection with his home church at Strawberry Point.
Fifth Anniversary in 1865 was at Rossville, commencing
on Friday, June 2. Brother Tucker presiding and Deacon
Colgate still clerk. Sermon by Brother Sunderland. The
Ossian Church was received, Rev. J. M. Wedgewood pastor.
Organized in April, 1864. The McGregor Church have been
specially proposed, reporting 33 baptized, Volga City
10, and Ossian 7; whole number of baptisms 57, members
563. In 1866 McGregor was the place of meeting.
Preacher and Moderator, James Sunderland, clerk
unchanged. The York Church on Bro. Sunderland’s field
was received was received with 14 members. The Paint
Creek and Illyria Churches have become extinct. This was
an inspiring session. The clerk made this memorandum.
“On Monday morning the delegates separated for their
homes delighted with their pleasant visit and successful
anniversary, while the friends in McGregor felt sad that
the session was not of longer duration.” Collections
were taken amounting to $73.10 for the Convention, and
$55.91 for the Missionary Union. The present writer had
the honor of taking that collection for the Convention,
Rev. C. F. Tolman representing the Missionary Union.
Rev. C. D. Farnsworth was at the time pastor at
Rossville and Waukon. Other pastors were Ward, Wedgewood
and Sunderland, Brother Tucker having about this time
closed his labors at McGregor and removed to Charles
1867 the Anniversary was at Strawberry Point. The
opening sermon was delivered by Elder J. B. Ward of
Ward’s Corners. Rev. F. Kidder Moderator, Colgate
clerk. Only six baptisms reported. Rev. John Jackson
returned to the pastorate at McGregor and died during
the year, greatly beloved and lamented. Deacon George M.
Colgate of McGregor, the excellent clerk of this
Association since 1862, also “died full of faith and
good works.” Brother Colgate was connected with the
well-known Colgate family of New York, and did not fail,
by his earnest and Christian life, to honor the name
here in the west. Rev. F. Kidder is the pastor and able
preacher at Strawberry Point and Volga City. D. S.
Starr, at Waukon and West Union, is Missionary of the
Association during the eventful years of the “Sixties”
seems like a part of our own history.
Rev. John Jackson
died at McGregor, Iowa, in 1867. He was born in
England. About 1852 he became pastor of the
English Baptist church at Agra, East Indies, and
continued five years. His health becoming impaired
he left Asia and came to America. He was for six
years pastor of the West Baptist church at
Milwaukee, and then removed to McGregor, Iowa.
After serving one year as pastor of the church
here he went back to India and settled at Alahabad.
But feeble health soon led him to return to this
country and to the bosom of his friends at
McGregor, where he “peacefully departed this life
to enter into the joy of his lord.” His friends at
Milwaukee claimed the honor of his remains and he
is buried at that place.
Eighth Anniversary was held with the church at West
Union in 1868. Sermon by Rev. F. Kidder, who was elected
Moderator, and J. M. Wedgewood clerk. Some advance
movement is apparent in the reports. Nearly all the
churches are supplied with preaching at least a part of
the time. Three new churches have been organized, viz.:
Decorah, Castilia, and Grand meadow, under the labors
respectively of Brethren Starr, Wedgewood, and Hilton.
Rev. J. M. Stifler (now Dr. Stifler of Penn.) supplied
the church at McGregor for a time. Volga City was
supplied by A. G. Emery, a member of the church. Whole
number of baptisms 39, members 540.
Deacon George M.
Colgate of McGregor died full of faith and good
works. He was clerk of the Turkey River
Association for several years, and was an
unusually intelligent and devoted Christian and
church member. Brother Colgate was converted when
thirteen years of age and baptized by the Late Wm.
R. Williams, D. D., being the first candidate
baptized into the fellowship of the Amity Street
Baptist Church of New York City, of which Dr.
Williams remained pastor until his death over
1869 the ninth annual meeting was at Ward’s Corners. A.
W. Hilton preached the sermon. Deacon Benjamin Morse of
West Union was Moderator, L. F. Carrier of Strawberry
Point clerk. Rev. R. F. Powers was pastor at Fayette and
West Union, P. S. Whitman at Lime Springs, S. Sill at
Strawberry Point, and W. Chapman at Vernon Springs,
besides pastors before named. The church at Ward’s
Corners was formerly Erie Church. Rains and high waters
greatly hindered the success of the meeting in 1869.
tenth anniversary in 1870 was at Rossville, preacher S.
Sill, Moderator J. M. Wedgewood, clerk L. F. Carrier.
The Taylorsville Church was organized in 1870, F. Kidder
pastor. Rev. W. C. Wright is preaching at McGregor, L.
L. Frisk at Waukon, and C. J. B. Jackson at West Union.
Also C. Spragg at Volga City. There are now (1870) 16
churches, 12 pastors, 30 baptisms reported, and 605
members. The largest church as to membership is Ward’s
Corners, with 71. Only three others have over 50, and no
church in the Association has ever had 100 any one year.
Met in 1871 at McGregor. Rev. W. Chapman, pastor for two
or three years at Vernon Springs, preached the sermon,
Moderator C. E. Brown, clerk Carrier. Rev. F. Kidder has
succeeded S. Sill at Strawberry Point. Lime Springs
entertained the body in 1872. Brother Wedgewood preached
the sermon, C. E. Brown clerk. Brother Hilton closed,
about this time, his labors in this part of the state,
and another year will be found in Western Iowa. Rev. D.
P. Maryatt is supplying Council Hill, J. H. Beach
Forrestville, Thomas Ure Lime Springs, and G. M. Adams
at Waukon. Forrestville Church was received in 1871.
Decorah and Taylorsville Churches have disappeared. In
1878 met at Waukon, C. E. Brown preacher and Moderator,
Thomas Ure clerk. Rev. E. K. Cressey, preaching at
McGregor, reported 36 baptized, Brother Ure at West
Union 6, Lime Springs 6, and Castalia 2. Total baptisms
50, members 551. Rev. J. E. Rockwood was present
representing the Baptist Sunday School Union. Brother
Ure preached an annual missionary sermon, and a
collection of $40 was taken for the Convention. The
Forrestville and Volga City Churches disappear from the
records. Waukon and West Union are engaged in building.
anniversary in 1874 was at Strawberry Point. Rev. F.
Kidder preached the opening sermon. Thomes Ure, clerk.
Rev. E. P. Dye is preaching at Rossville and reports 65
baptisms, Council Hill reports 16, and Rev. L. M.
Whiting is pastor at Strawberry Point and reports a new
organization at Edgewood, with 13 baptisms and 42
members. Whole number of churches 14; pastors 6;
baptisms 106; members 671. A revival has been enjoyed,
greater, seemingly, than ever before in this
Association. The Fifteenth Anniversary in 1875 was held
at McGregor. L. M. Whiting, annual preacher. J. M.
Wedgewood, Moderator, Thomas Ure, clerk. Rev. J. C.
Douglass preached for a short time at West Union. At
this meeting Rev. Charles E. Brown read his history of
the Association for our indebtedness to which
acknowledgement was made in the beginning of this
Sketch. Brother Morse wrote a circular letter which was
adopted and ordered printed in the Minutes.
annual meeting in 1876 was at West Union. A. A. Johnson,
of West Union, clerk. A church had been organized at
Charmont and appears upon the records with 10 members,
and Volga City is restored with 12. A committee,
consisting of Brethren Whiting, Wedgewood and Williams,
had been appointed to visit the brethren at Volga City
during June, 1875. Rev. John Brown is their pastor.
Brother Wedgewood is still pastor at Waukon, the only
pastor left. Rev. L. M. Whiting has removed from
Strawberry Point to Manchester, Epworth and Farley in
the Dubuque Association. Rev. C. H. Mitchelmore is at
Strawberry Point. The great revival at Rossville two
years before had been followed by the usual reaction,
but they rejoice that some seed fell upon good ground
and is bringing forth fruit to the glory of God. In 1877
Clearmont was the place of meeting. A. A. Johnson,
clerk. Rev. C. E. Brown has again taken up the gospel
trumpet at Lime Springs. Rev. M. H. Perry is proclaiming
the glad tidings at West Union and Clearmont.
Castalia entertained the meeting in 1878. Brother
Johnson still clerk. Rev. F. N. Eldridge has succeeded
Brother Wedgewood at Waukon. The Vernon Springs Church
has disappeared and Cresco Church seems to take its
place. Randalia has a church of 34 members, of whom 13
have been baptized during the year, Rev. M. H. Perry
pastor in connection with West Union. Rev. E. W. Green
is the preacher at Cresco and Lime Springs. In 1879
Rossville was the place of meeting. Rev. J. C.
Harrington appears as preachers at Ward’s Corners.
Brother Green at Cresco is sustained by the Convention,
and a meeting house is the great need there. From 1880
to 1886 the anniversaries have been at Ward’s Corners,
Cresco, Waukon, West Union, Strawberry Point, Lime
Springs, and Rossville. A. A. Johnson continued to serve
as clerk until 1885, when Rev. F. W. C. Wiggin was
clerk, and in 1886 F. Y. Whitmore.
church had been organized at Fort Atchinson in 1880, and
Elder C. E. Brown was pastor. Rev. E. W. Green baptized
16 at Cresco. Rev. A. F. Sharpnack is at Strawberry
Point, and R. H. Shafto at Ward’s Corners. M. H. Perry
has removed from the Association and become pastor at
Fredericksburg, in the Cedar Valley. The Castalia,
Edgewood and Grand Meadow Churches have disappeared from
Rev. E. W. Green had removed to Wisconsin and A. H.
Carman had succeeded him at Cresco, and F. N. Eldridge
from Waukon to Shenandoah in Southwestern Iowa. But M.
H. Perry had returned and was preaching at West Union.
The McGregor Church made no report. But two baptisms
were reported in the Association. These were in Waukon.
Rev. A. F. Sharpnack removed from Strawberry Point to
Audubon, in the west part of the State.
1882 Brother Perry appeared at Strawberry Point and
Ward’s Corners, and Rev. Robert Smith was pastor at
Waukon. Only 11 persons were baptized and the membership
1883 Pastor Robert Smith immersed 12, but there was
little other advance.
1884 Rev. E. R. Pierce appeared as preacher at Lime
Springs. Brethren Carman and Perry are the only pastors.
The McGregor church finally disappears from the records.
This is the saddest case of church mortality in our
knowledge. A live town like McGregor! A church
containing the live elements that this once did, with a
good live Sabbath School, become completely extinct! Can
this be the final end?
1885 Rev. F. W. C. Wiggin had been laboring at Waukon
and perhaps some other points with marked success.
Baptisms at Waukon 23, Cresco 15, West Union 15,
Rossville 7, Lime Springs 6, and Hawkeye and Strawberry
Point one each. Whole number of baptisms 68, members
511. Brother J. O. Dean was preaching at Olwein and
Randalia. Rev. M. H. Perry removes to western Iowa, and
after a brief stay in the Sioux Valley is found
preaching at Silver City in southwestern Iowa.
year 1886 found Rev. G. H. Starring at Waukon, and F.
Bower at West Union. Other pastors are Carman, Wedgewood,
Brown and Kidder. Number baptized 33, members 519. From
reports since the annual meeting there is reason to hope
for an increase and a better report in 1887. The Turkey
River Association occupies the territory comprising the
counties of Fayette, Clayton, Allamakee, Winneshiek and
Howard. It has been from the first a most unfavorable
soil for the growth of Baptist churches, and as time has
wrought its usual changes in the character of the
publications the unfavorable conditions have increased
instead of diminishing. A large part of the population
of the counties named is foreign, and the Catholic
church has here a very strong hold and is increasing
that hold by buying out the settlers who remove farther
west. There is also a large Scandinavian population
which is anti-Baptistic. The largest Norwegian College
in the west is located within the territory of this
Association at Decorah. The brethren who have labored on
and held on in this barren field are worthy of all
praise for their fidelity to the principles we all hold
church at Strawberry Point has had a history that
is worthy of special mention. Organized in 1856,
it appeared in the Dubuque Association with 21
members that year, Rev. George Scott pastor. This
brother seems to have remained as pastor most of
the time for six or seven years. The growth was
never rapid nor did it ever attain to a large
membership even for a village church, but among
those connected with it have been some of the
brightest families that Iowa has known, and from
its ranks have come such workers as Rev. Alva
Bush, James Sunderland and wife and John E. Clough
and wife. Brother Clough may not have been at any
time a member of this church, yet his home was
there, and his wife’s family, and they are
intimately associated in the thought of many with
Strawberry point. Few churches are so honored in
this respect. Brother Scott’s ministry at this
place was one of faith if not of sight.
His account of their struggle to get a
meeting house, we will remember. They had come to
a stand-still financially and the work had to
stop. Money was not to be had. Finally the pastor
went out among the farmers, and prevailed with
them to consecrate, perhaps one a colt, another a
calf or a pig, etc., etc. These animals to be
taken care of by the donors until ready for
market, when they became the property of the
church and were sold, and the work completed and