The first settlers
began coming into this county in the spring of 1871.
Slight improvements were made during the summer and most of the settlers
returned to their former homes in the fall to avoid the long winter under
poorly prepared conditions.
The first preaching service was held in the house of Elbridge Morrison, one and one-half miles west of Sibley, by Rev. S. Aldrich, who was making this county his home at that time. Rev. Ira Brashears, a one-armed veteran of the Civil War, was assigned to the missionary field of O'Brien, Sioux, Lyon and Osceola counties. Rev. John Webb, who was in charge of the work in Spirit Lake, was directed to divide his time with Sibley. Accordingly on the 19th day of April, 1872, Reverend Webb and Reverend Aldrich met the people at the house of A. M. Culver, one and one-half miles south of Sibley. After preaching by Rev. Webb, a class of nineteen members was organized, consisting of the following persons: Robert Stamm (leader), Anna Stamm, John L. Robinson, Sarah Robinson, Ella J. Robinson, A. H. Miller, Almira Miller, L. C. Chamberlain, M. J. Campbell, Etta B. Campbell, Annice Webb, William Anderson, Mrs. C. M. Anderson, D. L. Riley, Mrs. E. A. Riley, Leuclia Bean, Elbridge Morrison, Huldah Morrison and Rev. S. Aldrich, local elder.
The first quarterly conference was held in Sibley, October 18, 1872. At the first session of the Northwest Iowa conference, held at Ft. Dodge, Iowa, September 18, 1872, Rev. John Webb was assigned to the Sibley mission, which was made to consist of Osceola county alone. The first board of trustees was appointed in the following October. In May, 1873, D. L. Riley, John L. Robinson and the pastor, Rev. John Webb, were authorized to procure subscriptions for the erection of a house of worship. By the close of the conference year a substantial frame building was erected, thirty-two by fifty feet in size, with no indebtedness except a loan of three hundred dollars,
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 607
obtained from the church extension
society. At a general conference, held
at Yankton, Dakota, the Rev. Ira Brashears was assigned to the Sibley
charge. Those were lean years, both for the ministers and the people, but
the church continued to
grow and develop. Rev. Brashears remained two
years and proved to be a tireless worker. He was followed by Rev. W. W.
Mallory, who also was a hard worker, strong on revivals and could give the
genuine old-fashioned Methodist shout with a vim. He also was a great
lover of horses, and if there was anything he loved as well as a protracted
meeting, it was a horse trade. The last heard of him he was successfullv
practicing medicine in the Niobrara country in Nebraska. He remained
here several years and did good work.
The following minister was Rev. J.W. Rigby, who remained but one year. Old residents of Sibley will remember Rev. Rigby as a big, red-faced, burly Englishman, who, when walking on the street with his wife, forged several feet ahead, while the poor little woman trotted along, receiving no more attention than as if she had not been in existence. As illustrative of his character, it may be stated that when he and his wife entered a room, he would stop inside the door and take a careful survey, and when he discovered the most comfortable seat, would proceed to occupy it regardless of how many ladies might have to stand. Then came the following pastors in the order named: John W. Lothian, S.P. Marsh, F.A. Burdick, W.F. Brown, J.J. Gardner, C.B. Winter, W.W. Brown, C. Artman, G.H. Kennedy, E.H. Smith, F.E. Day, Joel A. Smith, W.A. Black, G.W. Barnes, W.C. Wasser, A.A. Randall, Herbert Clegg, F.W. Keagy and the present pastor, F. F. Travis.
In the year of 1896 the original church was sold to the German Presbyterian society and a new church was erected on the same site. The church now owns fine property, consisting of two lots, a large modern church and a comfortable parsonage, the value of which is about eighteen thousand dollars. Numerically, it is the strongest Protestant church in the county. The officers of the church and its auxiliaries are as follows: F. F. Travis, pastor; trustees‐Levi Shell, C.E. Hanchett, O.B. Harding, O.A. Metz, W.F. Truckenmiller, C.L. Strickler and H.L. Wheeler; stewards‐Levi Shell, C.E. Hanchett, Will Thomas, C.C. Truckenmiller, W.T. Steiner, J.S. Campbell, W.W. Overholser, L.H. Morse, Mrs. O.J. Clark, Mrs. James Nisbet and Mrs. J.S. Campbell; treasurer‐Will Thomas; class leaders‐ Robert Smith, J. S. Campbell, H. G. Doolittle, O. J. Clark and Mrs. J. C. Broughton. Mrs. J.M. Tregilgus and Mrs. J.C. Broughton, president and
608 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
secretary, respectively, of Ladies' Aid Society. C. E. Hanchett is superintendent of the Sunday school and Glen Glazier is secretary.
The church is in excellent financial condition, three thousand two hundred seventy-one dollars and forty-seven cents having been paid during the last conference year for the support of the church and its benevolences.
Beginning in September, 1910, with services morning and evening in
the school house, the Methodist Episcopal meetings at Melvin were so well
attended, it soon became evident that a larger room was needed to accommodate the growing congregation. The German Reform church people
kindly threw open their church doors for the Methodist Episcopal services
until they could erect a building of their own. On the twentieth day of
November, 1910, twenty-one people of Melvin and vicinity united to form
Episcopal church and on January 6, 1911, a "church meeting" was
called, when it was decided to organize immediately a committee to solicit
funds for a church
building at Melvin. It soon became evident that it would
be safe to
proceed with a building. J.A. Smith, A. Tadd, W.V. Wilcox,
G.A. Romey and L.P. Gontjes were appointed as a building committee.
John Olson, of Rock Rapids, was given the contract for the basement, while
W. A. Fairbrother was assigned the contract for the frame structure.
On June 29, 1911, five men with teams, spades and scrapers began the excavation for the basement while three others hauled sand. A large amount of work was donated by friends, thus saving considerable expense. The building committee did its work so thoroughly that on December 17, 1911, the church was ready for dedication with only about nine hundred dollars to raise to free it from debt. The cost of the building was about four thousand five hundred dollars. The following amounts had been raised: General subscription, $2,320; the Ladies Aid Society, $600; the Methodist Episcopal church extension fund, $300; cash on hand and pledged, $400; total, $3,620. On dedication day the morning service was conducted by Doctor Craig, president of Morningside College. There was a musical program in the afternoon at which Rev. F. F. Travis gave a short address. At this afternoon service a quartette of singers from Sibley, consisting of Mrs. Harvey, Miss Dinsmore, Mr. Meyers and Mr. Reagan, gave some fine music. Rev. Dr. J.L. Gillies, district superintendent, took charge of the evening service, which was given over largely to raising the balance of the money necessary to free the church from debt. Dr. Gillies proved to be a good
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 609
general and the required amount was pledged. A very interesting feature
was reserved for the
closing meeting of the day. Rev. John A. Smith and
Louisa E. Coats, in the presence of the large congregation, in a solemn and
impressive manner, were made husband and wife. Reverend Doctor Gillies
In the fall of 1912, Rev. J.A. Smith was stationed at Royal, Iowa, and Rev. Z.V. Arthur was appointed to take his place at Melvin. Owing to Mrs. Arthur's illness, both pastor and wife left Melvin in May, 1913, for Ohio. For several months thereafter the church was without a pastor and then Rev. A. Dyson was appointed to fill out the year. At the conference held at Webster City, Iowa, October, 1913, Rev. J. A. Smith was appointed to take up the work at Melvin and he is still in active charge. The organization of the church includes a Sunday school, numbering seventy scholars; an efficient Ladies Aid Society of thirty-seven members; senior and junior boys' clubs and a Young People's Christian Endeavor Society. The membership of the church is constantly increasing and the outlook of the future is hopeful. A commodious parsonage is to be erected during this summer of 1914.
The Methodist Episcopal church at Ashton dates from the winter of 1881-82. The presiding elder and the pastor, W. A. Richards, decided to ask for subscriptions for a building, and sufficient money was raised to warrant the trustees to go forward with the work of building. They secured from the St. Paul & Sioux City Railroad company a grant of the two lots on which the church and parsonage now stand. During the pastorate of W. A. Richards the church was put under roof. In the fall of 1882 Rev. M. B. Keister became pastor and under his pastorate the church was completed and a parsonage erected. The church was dedicated on Sunday, July 8, 1883. The Rev. F. Miller, of the Upper Iowa conference, preached the dedicatory sermon. The parsonage was completed and occupied on July 4, 1883. The church building cost two thousand dollars. Lyman Hill was the contractor and builder. For almost thirty years the town of Ashton and immediate community were able to maintain a resident minister. The following pastors have been appointed at different times by the conferences to Ashton charge: W.A. Richards, M.B. Keister, F. Ashpole, C.W. Clifton, J.W. Lent, S.C. Olds, H. Allertson, F.L. Buckwalter, J.M. Tibbets, G.A. Platte, E.F. Figtley, C.L. Howarth, Earl Hanna, C. E. (39)
610 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
Bowen, S.L. Eddey, C. Yotlee, C. E. McKelvey. For many years the Goewey church was ministered to by the Ashton pastor until it became attached to the Melvin
charge. Then the church at George was visited on alternate
Sundays by the Ashton minister. Owing to many removals of Protestant
families from Ashton and
vicinity the church was unable to support a resident
pastor. Accordingly in the conference years of 1912 and 1913 it was
supplied by Rev. W.H. Montgomery, of Sioux City. The conference of
1913, held at Webster City, Iowa, attached Ashton to the Melvin charge, the
Rev. J.A. Smith being appointed to the work.
A Sunday school is maintained and meets every Sunday afternoon at two and the preaching service follows at three. The Ladies' Aid Society is well organized and does excellent work in helping to maintain the church.
This church was dedicated
July 19, 1899, by Dr. Seely S. Lewis, now
Bishop Lewis. The building and lots cost three thousand dollars, the whole amount
being donated. Rev. D. M. Simpson was the first pastor, and the
official board consisted of the
following: Messrs. Hamilton, Mothorp, Winterfield, Forbes and others of whom there is no record at the present time.
Rev. Thomas Burley had charge for one year and was followed by Rev. Echart, who served the charge very acceptably for two years. The next year Rev. Whiting was sent and served as pastor two years. Then came Rev. Peterson, who served with success for two years and was followed by Rev. Charles Richards, who also remained two years. Rev. Richards left Harris to attend school at Garret and was succeeded by Rev. Tower, who came at conference time and stayed about six months. He then returned to the East and the vacancy was filled by Rev. Moody. At the expiration of Rev. Moody's term, Rev. W.N. Bump, the present pastor, was sent to Harris. During the last year a much needed shed for horses has been completed, and a basement is now being planned.
The church has made a steady growth during these years. The membership numbers about ninety. The Sunday school has an enrollment of about two hundred with an average attendance of about one hundred. The church is progressive and is ministering to a large community.
The present official board consists of the following persons: Board of stewards, R.J. Robertson, Dr. C.C. Cady. J.E. Melick, A.T. Winterfield, Charles Gibson and Wilson Forbes. The recording steward and secretary is A.C. Wettasted. The board of trustees is composed of L.J. Hagerty,
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 611
C A. Barnes, R.J. Robertson, C.C. Cady, A.T. Winterfield, R. Halverson,
Arthur Haminton, J.E. Melick, Charles Gibson, J.E. Renn and Robert
Jordan. The president of the Ladies' Aid Society is Mrs. George Baur. The.
Sunday school superintendent is Charles Gibson, assisted by Will McCauley.
The secretary and treasurer is Adolph Wettestad.
The church is growing in importance, and receives the loyal support of many of the leading citizens of the town. The church building is centrally located and adds much to the attractive appearance of the town.
This church was organized in 1872 or 1873 by Rev. John Webb, the
first Methodist minister of
Sibley. The first records have not been kept, so
the first officers and ministers can not be enumerated. A fire occurred in the
church at one time and the early records are supposed to have been destroyed.
It can be recorded, however, that since its organization it has progressed
steadily and has always been a leading factor for good in the eastern part of
the county. Tradition has it that the first inception of church matters was
at a sewing circle in the eastern part of the county, where various matters,
wise and otherwise, are discussed. Among other things talked of at this
sewing circle was the desirability of religious services and, from that beginning, there resulted the organization and the subsequent erection of the Walnut Grove church, which later was moved to Ocheyedan. It has since been
enlarged until the present commodious church building is the result. The society also has a comfortable parsonage.
The present pastor is the Rev. J. G. Watterman. The trustees are F.J. Boyd, W. E. Ely, W. M. Roth, Ruse Davis and Frank Cole. The stewards are Charles Morton, recording, W.F. Hunt, Mrs. E.A. Underhill, John VanCleve and A.G. Fletcher. The church has an efficient Ladies' Aid Society and a prosperous Sunday school of about one hundred and sixty members.
This church was organized and a parsonage built in 1901. The presiding pastor is E. Fiene, who is also principal of the parochial school. The trustees are C.E. Miller, A. Menkens and V. Walther. The vestrymen are John Rusche, Herman Wassmann and August Arends and C E. Miller. Mr. Miller
612 OBRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
is president and Mr. Arends secretary. The church has twenty-two voting
members and one hundred and ten communicating members.
The preaching is in German every Sabbath with the exception that once in every two months the sermon is in English. The pastor is the principal and teacher of the school of about twenty-five pupils. The course of study includes the Lutheran religion, bible history, German language and common school branches. The church and school are supported by subscription.
Congregational church of Sibley was organized October 8,
1872, in the public school building of Sibley, a small frame structure that
stood on the corner now occupied by the fine residence of Frank Mackinson.
year following the organization of the church it was admitted to membership in the Sioux Association of Congregational Churches, which admission to the district association made the church a member of the Iowa State
Association of Congregational Churches.
Settlement preceded the construction of the first railway in Osceola county, the Sioux City & St. Paul road, now a part of the Omaha line of the Northwestern system. At the organization of the church most of the ten members lived east of Ocheyedan creek. Those members were Rev. Benj. A. Dean and Ellen P. Dean, his wife, Jennie Keeler, a young lady residing in Mr. Dean's family, Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Frick and Mr. and Mrs. James Sutton. At or near Sibley there were three members, Mrs. Rosanna Miller, the mother of W.J. Miller and J.Q. Miller, Harvey Bristow and J. F. Glover. At the organization of the church. Rev. John R. Upton, of Lakeville, Dickinson county, Iowa, was moderator. The home missionary on the field and first pastor of the new church was Rev. Benj. A. Dean. Mr. Upton and Mr. Dean were both graduates of Amherst College, as well as graduates of eastern theological seminaries. Mr. Dean and wife were tireless workers and others soon joined the church and congregation.
In the list of pioneer settlers who became identified with the church were Mr. and Mrs. C.M. Bailey, F.M. Robinson and Mrs. H.L. Baker, Mrs. W.J. Miller, the Green and Mandeville families, Mr. and Mrs. J.S. Reynolds, Mr. and Mrs. H.S. Westcott, Mr. and Mrs. C.P. Reynolds, Mr. and Mrs. S.J. Cram, Mr. and Mrs. O. Dunton, Mr. and Mrs. David Wood, I.G. Ireland and family, Captain R.J. and Mrs. Chase and Captain Chase's sister Mrs. Bellows and daughter Ida.
Notwithstanding the drawbacks of a new country, the pastor, church and
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 613
congregation worked so efficiently that in 1875 the neat and durable church
building opposite the northeast corner of the court house square, now the
German Lutheran church
building, was erected. Captain D. L. Riley, one of the
leading pioneer business men of the new town, was the contractor and
builder of the church, which was so well constructed that now, nearly forty
years after its erection, it is still a substantial building. The new and much
larger church opposite the southeast corner of the court house square was
erected in 1896 during the pastorate of Rev. Charles H. Seccombe. In the
new church on the north side is a fine memorial window to the memory of
Mrs. Ellen P. Dean, the wife of the first pastor. Rev. Mr. Dean held one of
the long pastorates of the church, remaining with the Sibley church until 1877.
He had calls to other churches, but was attached to the work at Sibley and
rendered it five years of efficient ministerial and pastoral work.
The Congregational Year Book of 1913, containing church statistics for 1912, has Rev. Benjamin A. Dean, located at Hildreth, Nebraska, in charge of the Congregational church there. Mr. Dean remarried and his present wife is also a regular minister of the Congregational church. Mr. Dean was ordained in 1866 and has been in the ministry nearly fifty years. Rev. D. J. Baldwin succeeded Mr. Dean in the pastorate. He was a good preacher but was troubled with the infirmity of deafness. He died in California in 1910. The next minister was Rev. Thomas Pell, an Englishman and a resident of Osceola county before he became the minister. He was a faithful minister but labored under the difficulty of a crippled ankle. He was a tall man with some resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. His death occurred in 1896. In 1884 Rev. J. D. Whitelaw came from the theological seminary to take charge as pastor. He was well liked and did good work. His present pastorate is at Fox Lake, Wisconsin. Following Mr. Whitelaw was Rev. Willis W. Mead, who resigned in 1886 to go as missionary to Turkey. Rev. Eugene L. Sherman succeeded Mr. Mead, becoming pastor in 1887. After a short pastorate he resigned to accept the pastorate of the Mayflower Congregational church of Sioux City. Mr. Sherman died in 1896. Following Mr. Sherman was Rev. J.C. Stoddard, who held one of the longer pastorates. He is now pastor at Warland, Wyoming. Mr. Stoddard was a good preacher, and helped the church to increased membership. He resigned to accept charge of the home missionary church at Primghar.
The first parsonage of the Congregational church was on lot 1, block 4, Chase's addition, at the southwest corner of the public park. The second parsonage occupied two lots on the southeast corner of block 9, Chase's addition, and is now the German Presbyterian church parsonage. The present
614 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
parsonage is on the same block with the church and east of the church building. Following Mr. Stoddard's pastorate came a short pastorate by Rev.
Fred L. Hanscom, who resigned in 1892. Mr. Hanscom is now pastor of the
Pittsfield, Illinois, Congregational church. Rev. P. B. West, a Civil War
veteran, was the next pastor and he proved a faithful worker. His pastorate
closed about 1894. Mr. West served a term as chaplain of the Iowa department of the Grand Army of the Republic. He is now residing on a farm at
Herrick, South Dakota. Mr. West was succeeded by Rev. John Gray. He
was a native of England, a well educated man and sincere in his effort to help
the church. He died in December, 1908, at Naper, Nebraska. Following
Mr. Gray came the Rev. Charles Seccombe, who became pastor in 1896.
The church went forward under his pastorate and the fine new church was
built and dedicated while he was
pastor. He was a strong man in the ministry and has held important pastorates. He is at present residing in Los Angeles, California. Rev. A. Craig Bowdish succeeded Mr. Seccombe. He had a three
years' successful pastorate here. He and his wife are now doing
missionary work at Sunnyside, Poisa Makowao mission, Hawaii. Following
Mr. Bowdish came the three
years' pastorate of Rev, W. Howard Moore, pastor of Richmond
Congregational church near Chicago. The next pastor was
Rev. William A.
Schimley, who served three years, a forceful speaker, who
went from here to the
Congregational church of Ashland, Oregon, where he
present pastor. He was succeeded by the Rev. F. E. Henry, a faithful
worker, who served two
years, and resigned and took up home missionary
Plentywood, Montana. Following the removal of Mr. Henry came
present pastor, Rev. C. M. Westlake, who began his pastorate November
1, 1913. He is a strong man, well equipped by education, experience and
travel for the manifold duties of the pastoral office.
The last year-book gives the church membership as two hundred and ten; of these seventy-five are males and one hundred and thirty-five females. Of the members thirty-five are absent. At the last roll call and banquet there were responses from about eight states. The Congregational families number about one hundred and twenty-five. During the last year Dr. F. P. Winkler has been the efficient superintendent of the Sunday school. Inez Reynolds is the church pianist. A sister of Miss Reynolds, Mrs. Mary Reynolds Newell, went as a missionary to China, and with her husband. Prof. George M. Newell, is engaged in educational work. For many years J. Fred Mattert, cashier of the First National Bank of Sibley, has been the efficient church treasurer. The present church deacons are C.P. Reynolds and W.P. Dinsmore. The third deacon, Mr. C.R. Mandeville, recently removed to Kansas.
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 615
The church property is valued at over eighteen thousand dollars. The pastor's salary is twelve hundred dollars, in addition to which he is furnished with a parsonage. The Ladies' Aid Society is a large and highly efficient society, and is a great help to the church. The Sunday school numbers one hundred and twenty-five or more, while the Christian Endeavor Society numbers thirty-five. The church and its auxiliaries were never in better condition for successful work.
Before the first Congregational church of Sibley built its new church in 1896, it sold its old building, which was still a good substantial structure, but not large enough, to the German Lutherans of Sibley and vicinity. Rev. O.C. Biermann, of Viola township, who officiates also in Viola township and at Harris, serves the three congregations. He lives in Viola township where the church owns a manse. The Lutheran church of Sibley is in a flourishing condition.
Ocheyedan Congregational church was organized in 1888 and the
present church building erected in 1893. Thomas Pell, L.R. Fitch, D. Donaldson, W.A. Brintnall, J.L. Brown, J.B. Chase, W.B. Jackson, E.T.
Briggs, R.W. Coats, J.F. Glover, F.R. Rawlins and George E. Brown
have been the
pastors, serving in the order named. The pastorates have
averaged about two years in length. Mrs. A.V. Randall, Mrs. E.O. Manville, Mr. and Mrs. John Armstrong, Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Wilson, Mr. and Mrs. VanCleve and Mr. C.L. Buchman have been
leading members for many years. Mrs. Belle Randall is the church clerk, and Mrs. Sarah Putney is the
church treasurer. The church
reports fifty-three members. Of these fourteen are males and
thirty-nine females. Of the members, six are reported
present Sunday school superintendent is Mrs. Ida Allard. The
members of the Sunday school number seventy. The church property is
worth about two thousand dollars.
The church at present receives assistance from the Iowa Home Missionary Society. It is also assisted by a highly efficient Ladies' Aid Society called the Busy Bees. Bernice and Beatrice Manville, the twin daughters of Mr. and Mrs. E. O. Manville, are fine musicians and are of much help in the choir.
616 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
The church has had regular services, with little interruption, since the date of organization. On several occasions Rev. W.A. Schwimley, while pastor in Sibley, preached revival sermons in the Ocheyedan church. Of the newer members of the church who were good helpers, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Bremmer, both of whom are now dead, deserve special mention. Of the older members the late Mrs. C.L. Buchman was the church treasurer for many years. The church is without a parsonage and it is hard to rent a suitable dwelling for one, but the church is not at all discouraged. Having survived about a quarter of a century, it has learned to be patient and overcome obstacles. It feels it has a mission in Ocheyedan and that it is a help to the community. With the further development of the fine country round about and the growth of the town the church will undoubtedly share in the general prosperity.
quarter of a century ago Germans from eastern United States
began to move westward and settle in the northwestern portion of Iowa and
South Dakota. Among these early settlers missionaries were very active.
J.E. Drake, the official missionary, Rev. H. Wortmann and other local
pastors of the German Presbyterian church, through their unabating activity
and the Grace of God, were instrumental in organizing churches among the
German speaking people of the Northwest.
During the year of 1892 missionary work was begun among the Germans of Sibley and vicinity. At first preaching services were conducted in the court house; later in the Baptist and the old St. John's Episcopal church. In 1896 the present church building was purchased from the Methodists. Two lots, 11 and 12, in block 30, in the town of Sibley, were secured from the Iowa Land Company on which che present church building is situated. The congregation also owns a seven-room manse, situated on lots 5 and 6, in block 9, in Chase's addition to Sibley. The entire valuation of the church property is eight thousand dollars, free from debt. Last year the entire church building was equipped with a spacious basement and a new heating system. The church on the inside has lately been decorated by the Ladies' Aid Society.
After the organization had been effected in 1895 and incorporated under the laws of Iowa, it was received under the care of the presbytery of Sioux City and synod of Iowa, and so remained until it was transferred to the presbytery of George and the German synod of the Northwest. Names
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 617
prominent among the charter members are: Oscar Schmidt, Krine Denth,
Cornelius Jensen, Min Schouhoven and Claas Huffmann. Ruling elders,
deacons and a hoard of trustees constitute the official staff. Rev. Aiken
Kruse served as the first local pastor of the newly organized church. He
was succeeded by Rev. L. Figge, Rev. E.B. Grancko and Rev. J. Schaelde.
For a while
during' the year of 1904 the church was without a pastor. Missionary E. Boell had charge of the field for a while until Rev. A. Proett became its regular pastor in the year 1905. About thirty new members were
added to the church
during his pastorate of five years. In the spring of
1910 the present pastor, Rev. Oltman B. Oltmans, was called and is still
serving the church.
The church now has a total membership of forty communicants. About fifty families are associated with the church, representing about three hundred individuals. The Ladies' Aid. missionary societies and the Sunday school are the only organizations connected with the church. The Ladies' Aid Society has a membership of eighteen and the Sunday school an enrollment of eighty members.
As early as 1874, a few of the Baptists of Sibley met in the furniture store of Mr. Mitchell, in what was known as the Shell building. This stood where Dr. Wilder's house now stands. No permanent organization was made at that time but the subject was discussed and in February, 1876, a meeting was called at the Congregational church. Ten persons responded to this invitation and passed a resolution to organize as the First Baptist church of Sibley. Bro. T.O. Wilbern was elected as the first deacon and Mary Caldwell as the first clerk. A list of all known Baptists in the county was made at this meeting and the number reported as twenty-five. At a business meeting April 1, 1876, it was voted to invite the Baptist minister of Spirit Lake, Rev. J.L. Coppoc, to preach in Sibley once each month. Two more deacons were appointed, Bro. Mitchell and Bro. Churchill, and two trustees outside of the church membership, C. I. Hill and J. F. Glover. The Cherokee church showed interest in our welfare at this time by presenting a communion set. At the June covenant meeting arrangements were made to call a council to meet with the church the last Saturday in July to consider the propriety of being recognized as a regular Baptist church. This council was held July 29, 1876, and the following churches were represented by delegates: Spirit Lake, Sioux Falls, Cherokee and Iowa City. The follow-
618 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
ing day resolutions to recognize the church were adopted, a recognition sermon was preached by Rev. Coppoc and the right hand of fellowship was
extended to the church. The list of members at that time numbered about
eighteen and others were added within a short time after this meeting. Thus
was perfected the organization that has gone steadily onward, sometimes in
the gloom of discouragement, and sometimes in the sunshine of success, but
always, as the church believes, under the care and approval of God.
For some time after the council meeting the subject of calling a pastor was discussed, but on account of the repeated failure of crops through grasshopper times, it was postponed until the winter of 1878-79, when Rev. Judson came to work in this part of Iowa in the capacity of a home missionary. In the following spring he was given a call to become pastor of the church. He was a faithful worker, preaching not only in Sibley but in some of the school houses of the adjoining country. He closed his work the first of March, 1880, and the church extended a call to Rev. E.M. Heyburn for six months, at the end of which time he was called for a year, and annually thereafter until his resignation in April, 1887. His seven years of pastorate were marked by many important events, principal of which was the erection of the present church. Before this time the services were held either in the Congregational church or in the old school house. The church site was purchased in April, 1882, and the money for the building was raised by private subscription and a loan from the home missionary society. Some of the work on the building was donated. The church was completed and dedicated in the fall of 1882.
Rev. Heyburn is remembered with warmest affection. He labored long and faithfully during the hard times when the society was hard pressed to pay off the church debt. In order to live and get along he put in many a hard day's work in the harvest field. After Mr. Heyburn resigned in 1887 Rev. C.E. Higgins became pastor, but in less than two months he passed to his reward. His death occurred at Independence, November 3, 1887. In June, 1888, Rev. Schutz, of Buchanan county, came to the church and remained until 1890 and during that time did much effective work. The baptistry was put in the church during the first summer he was here. Then came Rev. Richard Bradshaw from Vermont, in June, 1890. He was a native of England and proved to be a good and faithful worker until he began to suffer from ill health. In the autumn of 1891 he was obliged to give up his work. He went to California, but received no especial benefit from the change and soon received the message to come up higher. The church was without a pastor from November 1, 1891, to July 1. 1892, when Rev. Schutz
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 619
returned to Sibley and accepted a call. He remained this time two years,
closing his work here November 1, 1893. Again the church was without a
pastor for nearly a year. In October, 1894, Rev. McCollum came half time,
each alternate Sunday being spent in Worthington where he resided. He
was an earnest worker but the church felt the need of a resident
pastor on fulltime, so Rev. D. B. Livingstone began pastoral work in Sibley in December,
1895. The following June he resigned to accept a call to become pastor of
Calvary Baptist Church, of Sioux City. Soon after Brother Livingstone
left to go to Sioux City the attention of the pulpit committee was directed
to Rolla E. Brown, a student at Iowa Falls, and he was secured as pastor. He
began work in 1896 and remained for nearly three years. He was a faithful worker and
during his pastorate twenty-three members were added to
by baptism and one by letter. He resigned to resume his school
work. The next man called to this field was Rev. Baxter. He was a
man, but peculiar and was asked to resign after serving three months.
The church was then without a pastor for a period of ten months. In October, 1899, Brother C. A. Lemon was called and remained nearly two years, doing faithful work until he resigned August 29, 1901. During Bro. Lemon's pastorate there were added to the membership six by baptism and three by letter. Again the church was like a sheep without a shepherd for nearly nine months, but loyally held together until May, 1902, when Brother A. E. Chandler was called. During his pastorate the Sioux Valley Association met with this church. There were admitted to the church during his pastorate twenty-one by baptism, fourteen by letter and three by experience. He resigned October 30, 1904. May 22, 1905, Rev. Bancroft began work here and resigned March 29, 1906.
Rev. T.W. Harris, of Macon, Georgia, began his pastorate June 3. 1907. Both he and his wife were a great help in many ways. During Rev. Harris' pastorate the church roll was revised and forty-four were dropped, eleven dismissed by letter and seven lost by death. There were added twenty-seven by baptism, six by experience and ten by letter. Rev. Harris resigned June 28, 1908, his resignation to take effect the first of the following October. Once again the church was without a pastor eight months, depending on such supply as could be obtained. In April, 1909, Rev. H.R. Williams, of Doon, Iowa, was called to the church. Both he and his family have been much help to the church and all its auxiliaries. During Bro. Williams' pastorate thus far there have been added to the church two by baptism and eight by letter. One has been dismissed by letter. Rev. Williams is an earnest and scholarlv gentleman and is doing a fine work for the church and community.
620 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
At the present time the Baptist Young People's Union consists of twenty-eight persons, nearly all of whom are active members. It is one of the most promising departments of the church and points forward to achievements in future work.
The first German Lutheran settlers of Horton township came in 1883
county, Illinois. They were Fredrich Glade, Henrich Pinkenburg,
August Palenski and Diedrich Wassmann. Wilhelm Noehren and Karl
Griep followed in 1884. On Ascension day, May 22, 1884, the Rev. J.D.
Hesse, at that time pastor at Hull, Iowa, preached the first German Lutheran
sermon in the old Methodist church, then standing on the D. Wassmann
place, one mile north and one-half mile west of Ocheyedan. From this date
preached once a month, or as often as was possible, until 1886, when
H. Wind, a student from Concordia College, Springfield, Illinois, assisted
him, taught school during the winter, and preached. This marked the beginning of the German parochial school of Horton township.
On April 17, 1887, the congregation was organized and a constitution adopted. Since that time it has been known as the Evangelical Lutheran church. The first signers of the constitution were H. Pinkenburg, H. Rusche, Christ Bremmer, August Bremer, Karl Griep, D. Wassmann, Fred Glade, Chr. Pope. Fr. Kruetzel, August Palenske and Wilhelm Noehren. The first trustees were Fred Glade, H. Pinkenburg and D. Wassmann. The secretary was Wilhelm Noehren and the treasurer was Chr. Bremer. John Schinnerer was installed as first resident pastor on July 31, 1887. In 1888 the first church and parsonage was built. Fred Glade donated five acres and Karl Griep three acres of land for church and school purposes. In 1892 Rev. Schinnerer answered a call to Michigan and Rev. B. J. Ansorge took charge. In 1896 Rev. Ansorge resigned and Rev. Chr. Daeumler, of Sanborn, Iowa, was called. While he was pastor the German Evangelical Lutheran St. Peter's church was organized in 1901. This church built a new building in 1902 at a cost of forty-three hundred dollars. The corner stone was laid April 20, 1902, and the new church was dedicated August 31st of the same year. On the day of dedication only six hundred dollars remained unpaid. While Rev. Daeumler had charge of the congregation, he had two assistants, A. Kraft and F. Budi. In February, 1908, Rev. Daeumler followed a call to Oklahoma, and on November 1st, of the same year, the present pastor, D. W. Laugelett, was installed by Rev. A. Meukeus, of Ocheyedan.
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 621
The Lutherans in Horton township established a parochial, or church
school, before the congregation was organized and have maintained it ever
since. The reason for
establishing and maintaining church schools is because they feel it is their duty to instruct their children in the Holy Word of
God and make them
good Christians. While the Sunday school is good they
feel that it is not enough. At the same time they believe if they succeed in
making them true Christians they have the very best citizens of the United
States. They believe with Daniel Webster, one of the greatest statesmen
and orators America has ever known, when he said in his famous Plymouth
oration, "Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them also good
citizens." And Gladstone, the world renowned statesman of Great Britain,
often said, "Try to make good conscientious Christians of your children,
and Great Britain will be well satisfied with them as citizens." That is the
spirit that animates the Lutheran congregation. That is the
reason they affirm for establishing and maintaining their parochial schools.
They desire to give their children the "pearl without price"‐the Christian
religion‐and make them
thereby the very best citizens of this country.
At times this school has had an enrollment of more than forty names, but
present there are only twenty-one names on the roll.
The voting members of the church number thirty-three at the present time. The present trustees are August Clans, George Ostermann and Conrad Bremer. The German church, since its organization, has always been one of the most important matters among the Germans in Horton township. If by the teachings of the church and school they can make the growing generation as good citizens as the present generation, then the country may certainly be well satisfied.
Viola township received quite an influx of German Lutheran farmers
about twenty-five or thirty years ago. Wherever these people settle one of
the first things considered is church privileges. Many of the older of these
settlers do not understand the English language very well, hence they feel
the need of a church wherein the
preaching will be in their mother tongue.
As early as 1890 the question of a Lutheran church for Viola township and vicinity was discussed, and 1892 a church society was founded. Services were held in a school house at first and in 1895 a building was erected on section 22, on the northwest corner of the farm of Fred Attig. A parsonage was built in 1900, to which an addition was made in 1912.
622 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES. IOWA.
The first members were John Redinius, Fred Rubow, Gerd Behrends
and Herman Timmermann. The first minister was Rev. Beathke, who
preached in a school house occasionally as the settlers were coming in. Rev.
W. Dieter came in the fall of 1892 and resigned in 1894. He is now
located at Hosmer, South Dakota, officiating in a country charge. Rev.
Ludwig G. Weinerich accepted a call and was installed in December, 1804,
resigned in November, 1895. He is now a pastor in Germany. Rev. C.
Wandertich then held the charge a short time. Rev. F. Chworowsly served
as pastor from 1897 to 1902. He is now at Jackson, Minnesota. Rev.
John Bauermann served from 1902 to 1905 and is now at Ramona, South
Dakota. Rev. L. Wiedner came in
1906, died at Harris, Iowa, in the summer of 1907 and is buried in the Sibley cemetery. Mrs. Wiedner died
in 1913 and is also buried in the Sibley cemetery. Rev. John Linden
August, 1907, to March, 1911, and is now at Daykin, Nebraska.
Two of his children are buried at Little Rock. Rev. O.C. Biermann came
May 1, 1911, and is still in charge of the churches of this denomination in
Viola township, Harris and Sibley.
The first baptismals were Bertha Bechmann, dead; Martha Bechmann, the wife of William Kleve; Fred Carl Pieper, now at Rushmore, Minnesota, and Anna Redenius, now Mrs. John Luttermann. The first couple married were William Boesse and Minnie Rubow. Mr. Boesse is now located at Trosky, Minnesota. His wife died in 1910 and is buried at Sibley. The first funeral was that of Henry Julius Nachtigal, who was born November 9, 1846, and died March 20, 1893. This church is located in a rich community, and should prosper and grow as time passes.
About eighteen years ago there was quite a prosperous settlement of Presbyterian Germans in West Holman township, a few miles west of Sibley. Gerd de Vries was the principal moving spirit in the agitation which led up to the establishment of Hope church. A church society was organized and a church and parsonage erected, which flourished and sustained a pastor several years. The first pastor was Rev. Isaac Kruse. The second Rev. Figge and the third was Rev. Groncke. The present pastor is Rev. L. Heijenga, who has this church and a church in the east end of Lyon county, a few miles from George. He resides at the Lyon county church. Of late years many of the supporters of this church have moved
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 623
away, leaving it in rather a weak condition. However, they are keeping up the organization and are living in the hope of better times.
"Our Lady of Perpetual Help."
9th of June, 1871, the first two German settlers of this parish
came to Osceola
county to locate their homesteads. In 1872 and 1873 the
Germans increased their number to ten families but in the two following
years all except three families left Osceola county on account of the grasshopper scourge. As soon as this plague ceased new settlers continued to
come here, so that in the year of 1877 fourteen German families had settled
near Ashton and several Irish families near Sibley.
As soon as Rev. B. C. Lenehan of Sioux City and Rev. John Smith of Emmettsburg learned that Catholics had settled in Osceola county they occasionally came to Sibley to look after their spiritual wants. In 1877 Rev. P. J. Lynch was sent as resident priest to Sheldon and for a time looked after the Osceola county Catholics. Within a few years the number of German Catholics near Ashton had increased to twenty-six families and they now frequently spoke of building a church. On September 27, 1880, a meeting was held to determine upon a location for the church. The railroad company had liberally offered to donate five acres of land if the Catholics would build the church near the Ashton station. John Streit offered them five acres of his farm, two and one-half miles from the station, but nearer to the center of the settlement, and for this reason the last offer was accepted. At this meeting a subscription was taken which amounted to $1,213.00. When Father P. J. Lynch heard of their courage he at once came to Ashton to congratulate the settlers and on September 29, 1880, celebrated the first holy mass in the house of John Streit. Thus the blessing of God was called down upon the new parish and their undertaking. On October 10th work was begun on the new church, twenty-six by forty-eight feet, and it was eventually completed at a cost of $1,800. The young, but poor, congregation joyfully looked upon the result of their good labors and their joy was greatly increased when Father Lynch came on the 12th of March, 1881, and celebrated holy mass for the first time in the new, but unplastered, church. In 1882 Father Lynch was called away from Sheldon and Rev. J.J. O'Reilly became his successor, under whose care the congregation increased to about ten families. In 1883 Father O'Reilly removed from Sheldon and Rev. T. J. Sullivan succeeded him.
624 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
Under Father Sullivan's care the congregation increased to sixty-four
German families. Many more came with the intention of settling here, but,
finding it impossible to purchase land near the church, went to other places.
This, of course, greatly injured the growth of the congregation. Now they considered it a mistake to have built the church two and one-half miles from the station, which had by this time grown to a little village. For this reason Father Sullivan, with the consent of the Right Rev. Bishop, insisted that the church should be moved to the town of Ashton. In 1885 the present site was bought and the church moved thereon. At the same time four acres of land was bought for a parish cemetery. In June, 1888, Rev. James McCormack was sent to Ashton as the first resident priest. He at once built a handsome little frame parsonage at a cost of twelve hundred dollars, including the furniture. The same year eight new families came here, increasing the number of parishioners to seventy-two. In the spring of 1889 the good father erected the first parish school, a building thirty-six by thirty-eight, at a cost of thirty-two hundred dollars, and at once engaged three sisters of the Order of St. Francis (Dubuque) who opened the school in September with thirty-five pupils.
In 1890 Rev. Father McCormack was transferred to Sheldon and Rev. J.P. Hoffman was appointed to Ashton, taking charge January 25. 1890. The school and the mother language in the church drew German families from all sides, so that in 1892 the parish counted ninety-six families. This, growth called for more room in the church. Having already used all available space, it was impossible to give seats to each family. In a meeting it was decided in the following spring to build a new church. In accordant with this decision a lot was bought, the old church moved on it and changed into a parish hall. On May 28, 1893, work was begun on the new frame church building, forty-four by one hundred and twelve feet, at a cost of eight thousand three hundred dollars. On October 25th it was dedicated by Rev. T. Treacy, of Sioux City, who acted as delegate of the Most Rev. Archbishop Hennessey, of Dubuque. On this occasion holy mass was celebrated by Rev. Joseph Brinkmann and the German sermon delivered by the late Rev. Henry Hemmesath and the English sermon by Father Treacy. During the five following years the inside of the church was furnished with new pews, a communion rail, pulpit, pipe-organ, chasubles and two side altars, all at a cost of sixty-eight hundred dollars. The high altar was donated by Mrs. Eva Boor, in memory of her deceased husband, at a cost of fourteen hundred dollars. By this time the parish had grown to one hundred
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 625
and fifteen families and this
naturally increased the number of pupils in the
school. In the
year 1897 it was found something had to be done to accommodate the
increasing number of school children.
The parish therefore concluded that a new school building, forty by sixty feet, should be erected. This was done in the spring of 1898. At the same time the old parsonage was moved near the new school house and enlarged for a sisters' residence and the old school building was remodeled for a parsonage. All this was done at a cost of seventy-two hundred and sixty nine dollars.
Now it was expected there would be room enough in the school and church for years to come. But the parish continued to grow and in 1910 it was discovered the church was too small. The congregation therefore decided to put a cross addition to it, forty-four by fifty-six feet with a steam heating plant for the church and one for the school. The interior of the church was remodeled and during the year a total of fourteen thousand dollars was expended. The church will now seat seven hundred people and in the school will accommodate two hundred and fifty, two hundred and fifteen seats of which are occupied. Five sisters of the Order of St. Francis, from Dubuque, are instructing the children. The value of the church property is about sixty-five thousand dollars.
This parish has given the diocese one priest, another will be ordained within six months, and a third is studying philosophy. Three girls have become nuns. The confraternity of Our Lady of Perpetual Help has a membership of eight hundred and twenty-eight and the sodality of the Immaculate Conception has a membership of one hundred and forty-five. Since the parish has had a resident priest there have been six hundred and twenty seven baptisms, four hundred and twenty-four confirmations, ninety-five marriages and ninety-five deaths. J.P. Hoffmann, the present pastor, who has been the guiding spirit during the remarkable development of this school and church of the past quarter of a century, was born on November 11, 1855, in the grand duchy of Luxemburg. In the year 1871 he came with his parents to this country and lived with them on a farm near Council Bluffs, Iowa. In January, 1878, he began his classical studies, which he finished at St. Laurence College, Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin, in the year 1882. He went to St. Joseph's College, Dubuque, where he studied philosophy one year and from Dubuque he was sent to the Grand Seminary, Montreal, Canada, where he finished a three years' course of theology. On December 8,(40)
626 O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA.
1886, he was ordained priest at St. Raphael's Cathedral, at Dubuque, by His Grace, the Right Rev. Archbishop Hennessey. On the 20th of December he was sent to Willy, Carroll county, Iowa. On September 20, 1887. he was appointed assistant to Rev. August Sauter at Festina, Winneshiek county, Iowa, where he remained a little over two years. On the 20th of January, 1890, he received his appointment to Ashton, Osceola county. Iowa, where he has spent the best part of his life. A quarter of a century in one place with the results attained is a remarkable record.
The first Catholic settlers in Osceola
county were Nicholas Boor and
John Strict. They came on the 19th day of June, 1871, and filed on
claims in Oilman township. The first baby of Catholic parentage was born
1872. the son of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Larkin, and reported to be the first
white male child born in the
county. The first Catholic couple to be married by Father J.J. Caddon in 1874 was Mr. and Mrs. John Coughlin. The
Coughlins now live in Clark, South Dakota. The first funeral was Edward
Laharty in February, 1873, who was frozen to death east of Sibley,
on section 16. The first mass read in this
county was in May, 1873, in Holman township, on the southeast quarter of section 16, on the homestead
of Patrick Larkin, by an assistant priest of Father Lenihan, of Sioux City.
The Sibley parish was first served by priests from Soux City, twice a year, until 1875, when Father Mice, of LeMars, read mass until 1877. In 1877 Father P.J. Lynch was sent as resident priest to Sheldon and took care of the Catholics in and about Sibley. In 1880 the Ashton part of the congregation separated and built a church on the John Streit farm, about two and one-half miles northwest of Ashton. This schism considerably crippled the Sibley congregation. Father Lynch continued to occasionally attend the Sibley parish at the court house until 1882 when Father J.J. O'Reilly succeeded him at Sheldon. He also occasionally attended the Sibley parish. In 1883 the congregation bought the old Sibley school house for church purposes and the south half of block number 51, and moved the school building on it. Father O'Reilly was succeeded by Father T.J. Sullivan at Sheldon in 1883. Father Sullivan came to Sibley once a month until 1888, at which time Father P. J. McCormick was sent to Ashton and also had charge of the Sibley parish until 1890. At that time Father Dollard was appointed for Rock Rapids, reading mass each alternate Sunday in Sibley until the fall of 1897.
O'BRIEN AND OSCEOLA COUNTIES, IOWA. 627
During this time the present church was built and cemetery purchased.
In the fall of 1897 Father O'Reilly was appointed to Sibley as first resident
priest and the congregation then built the present parsonage. Father
O'Reilly was succeeded by Father Phelan in 1904, who in turn was succeeded by Father Hetherington in 1909. Father Hetherington remained
until the fall of 1913 when Father E. T. Nally, the present pastor, was appointed. The church in Sibley has always been secondary to Ashton, on
account of the Catholic school at Ashton, the Sibley congregation not being
able to support a school of its own.
The Sibley church property is valued at about twelve thousand dollars and the property is free from all indebtedness. At the first mass the following were present: Larkiris family, the Larathy family, Mrs. John Henderson. John Coughlin, John Streit and family, Nick Boor and family, the Zensen family and P. A. Cajacob. The Cajacob family is the only family left here, most of them being dead.