CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH AT SIBLEY
The first 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. The 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, L. 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
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
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 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 is the 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 work at Plentywood, Montana. Following the removal of Mr. Henry
came the 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.
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