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Ringgold County's Oral Legend & Memories Project


Part III

August 29, 2009.

Elk Chapel, rural Decatur County, Iowa
photograph by Sharon R. Becker, August of 2009

Elk Chapel, originally of the United Brethren Church, was dedicated on August 20, 1876. Before the church was built, there was some debate among the parishioners as to which end the entrance should be. At first, the entrance was to be located on the south end, above photograph. Mr. AKERS stated that if the entrance was placed on the north side, he would place a cupola there, top photograph.

A. S. ROSS was authorized to sell the parsonage and church in 1903. Elmer AKERS bought the parsonage and the Methodist Episcopals bought the church.

Laddie & Fred M. Young, Elk Chapel, circa 1940's
photograph courtesy of Mrs. Andy (Joyce) Johnston

Fred Manning YOUNG (1887-1961), son of William H. and Nervesta (EDWARDS) YOUNG, faithfully attended services at Elk Chapel. Laddie, Fred's faithful companion, attended services, too. The pair occupyed the front pew on Sunday mornings.

Elk Chapel is slated for renovation in the Fall, 2009.

The History of Elk Chapel may be found on Decatur County's IAGenWeb site.

Mailbox Directly North of Elk Chapel
photograph by Sharon R. Becker, August of 2009

East Elk School, Grand River Township, Decatur County, Iowa
2009 photograph by Sharon R. Becker, August of 2009



  East Elk School No. 5, built in 1868, is still standing, approximately a mile north of Elk Chapel. Helen WARNER (1942-43) and Beverly (KINNEY) McCARL (1949-1950) taught at East Elk School. Curious, I peeked inside of the school to see what was still there. The ceiling had completely fallen into the building.

We stopped for lunch in Decatur City, then went on to Loving Chapel, Leon, Iowa, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.


"Uncle Billy" William and "Aunt Betty" Elizabeth LOVING
photographs by Sharon R. Becker, August of 2009

"Uncle Billy" William LOVING and "Aunt Betty" Elizabeth (LEE) LOVING were married in 1831, Kentucky. "Aunt Betty's" father, Edward LEE, was a cousin of General Robert E. LEE. "Aunt Betty" was born on April 22, 1810 North Carolina. "Uncle Billy" and "Aunt Betty" came to Decatur County, settling in Hamilton Township. In 1883, they sold out and moved to Leon, residing in the north part of town.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in Leon on February 14, 1851. By 1859, the congregation had grown in numbers to which they were financially able to erect an fine and commodious church building.

By 1887, under the leadership of Rev. C. L. NYE, the congregation prepared to raise funds for a new church building due to increasing membership and outgrowing their present facilities. When Rev. NYE was appointed to another area, the matter was dropped.

In the summer of 1888, a committee was formed to raise the necessary funds to construct a new church. They raised a little over $5,000, approximately half of their goal.

"Uncle Billy" and "Aunt Betty" donated an equal amount with the stipulation that they receive 6% interest for one year. "Uncle Billy" and "Aunt Betty's" donation not only guaranteed that the church would be dedicated debt-free, but it left a nice surplus of funds for fixing up the church grounds. Without the LOVING's donation, it is doubtful that the church would have been built.

The church was built with a floor plan shaped like a Greek Cross with the main room 30 x50 and an intercept of 15 x 30. The intercepts were fitted with sliding wooden doors which could be closed to create Sunday School rooms. The floor gradually rises as it approachs the rear, offering a good view of the pulpit from any seat in the sanctuary. It has been said the the accoustics in the sanctuary are near perfect.

The new church was scheduled for dedication on Sunday, March 17, 1889. With the church filled to capacity despite a slight freezing rain which fell all morning long, the dedication proceeded as planned. In appreciation of "Uncle Billy" and "Aunt Betty's" generosity, the new church was named Loving Chapel.

The stained glass windows of Loving Chapel:

I used to play the organ for church services at Loving Chapel in the late 1970's and early 1980's. My daughter was baptized at Loving Chapel by Rev. Al Clement and Rev. David Shogren. I have always admired the stained glass windows and never tired of looking at them.

Loving Chapel is on the National Register of Historic Places.

South, directly behind Loving Chapel is the parsonage. There used to be another 3-story circa 1900 house next to the parsonage, but it is gone now.

North from Loving Chapel, across Highway 2, is the Leon Library. It is a Carnegie Library. I spent many a Saturday afternoon in that library while my mother did her trading uptown. One Saturday afternoon, I decided to see what was on the other side of the juvenile books and novels. And there they were! The mother lode! The Agatha Christies, Ellery Queens, mystery, murder, and mayhem! As I reached for a promising Ellery Queen novel, the little tiny elderly librarian scurried out of nowhere, took my hand, and led me back to the children and juvenile section of the library.

"This is the children's section," she told me. "Those are not for you."

I was indignent but respectful. I didn't tell her that I had already read Gone With The Wind, cover-to-cover twice already. I was all of twelve-years-old and thought I could handle an Agatha Christie or an Ellery Queen novel. Sherlock Holmes ala Basil Rathbone was one of my idols and I did see a few Sir Arthur Coan Doyle volumes on the shelves, too. Consigned to check out a juvenile novel, I secretly vowed to figure out how I could get my hands on one of the mysteries. I never did. Well, not from the Leon Library, that is.

Decades later, I stood at the librarian's desk with a few Decatur County history volumes. I had learned well how to properly present my books, libary card pulled out of the little envelope and inserted behind the book cover. I asked if my libary card was still good to the amusement of the librarians. Of course it had expired 30 years ago or so. I must say that I'm now a proud holder of a library card from the Leon Library.

From the library, we met Bob Bixby at the Decatur County Museum and spent a few hours looking at the archives there.

From the museum, we headed east on Highway 2 to the High Point Methodist Church.

Contribution by Sharon R. Becker, August of 2009

To contribute to "Tales from the Front Porch: Ringgold County's Oral Legend & Memories Project"
contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold - Front Porch" in the subject line. Thank you.

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