The Illustrated Historical Atlas of Sioux County Iowa

Part III Section 2 Page 3

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outstanding and nothing to show for them. Meeting after meeting was held by the Board but all to no avail; they would not approve the bonds. So the word was sent to the settlers in the east and northeast of the county that something had to be done to bring them to time. The Board having adjourned to meet again January 22, 1872, some twenty odd teams gathered early on that day at Orange City and decided to go to Calliope and attend the meeting of the Honorable Board and beg of them the acceptance of the bonds and place our people in office whom we had legally elected to the same. As the train of teams came in sight of the courthouse in Calliope where the Board was in session, the chairman seeing the string of teams heading for their place, at one adjourned the meeting and prepared to take flight for the Dakotas, but he had no sooner hitched his horses when they were again unhitched by the settlers and placed back in the barn an he was left in his sled and told that he had no business in the Dakotas but that he was to attend the meeting, approve the bonds, and place our men in office, but he still refused. The late Judge Pendleton of Sioux City was there by request of the people to plead their cause which he kept up all day, aided by Henry Hospers, while the visitors kept themselves busy by taking care of their teams and frying bacon and ham of which there was a good quantity found in a barrel in the courthouse, evidently belonging to the county, at least no evidence to the contrary as it was taken by the visitors. We have heard it said that it was the best ham that was ever had and especially since the weather was very cold, being several degrees below zero.
     The Board refusing to do anything in regard to the bonds, the Judge threw up his hands and said "Boys, it is all up," whereupon the visitors at one hitched their teams and took action by loading all the books of the different officers on sleds and preparing to start for home. But there was a large safe in the Treasurer's office which had been overlooked for a while and the question was raised what should be one with this. "Go it must," was the reply. But having no tools or tackle, how to get it out of the building and on to a sled was a question which was soon answered. A sled was backed up against a corner of the building where the safe stood, the wall of the building was cut away with an ax. And in less time than it takes to write this, the safe was put on the sled, the horses hitched, and off we started for Orange City, with the wind and snow blowing at the rate of sixty miles an hour. They arrived at Orange City at about midnight with all their belongings with the exception of the safe which got stalled on the west branch of the Floyd where it was left until the following morning and brought to Orange City by Hymen Den Hartog when great was the rejoicing and a thousand guns were fired in honor of the occasion. This only lasted for a few days when the sheriff, Thomas Dunham, came with the necessary documents and several yoke of cattle and took it all back to Calliope again, the Board having agreed to approve the bonds and settle the matter.
     During the summer a petition was circulated for the removal of the county seat in a legal manner to Orange City, which was signed by every inhabitant except those on the west side and the question was brought before the people at the election and carried, so the county seat was legally moved to Orange City where it has remained ever since although it has been contested time and again by other towns asking for the removal to their place. Also the question of issuing bonds for a new building having been defeated several times until the question was raised again and the people were asked to vote bonds for Sixty Thousand Dollars, Orange City putting up a bonus of Fifteen Thousand Dollars. The bonds carried and the building was erected at a cost of One Hundred Thousand Dollars.

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     The next incident that befell the pioneers was the grass-hopper siege, which is probably still remembered by a good many of the old settlers. It was on a Sunday forenoon, we being in the old schoolhouse where services were being held, it looked as though snow was falling outside, but when we came out we found it to be nothing but grass-hoppers. They came so thick and heavy that by Monday morning all our cops were stripped and gone. They remained with us for only a few days and moved on northward, coming back in the fall of the year, depositing their eggs and going on south. The following spring when warm weather set in, the grass-hoppers were hatched by the millions and destroyed the crops. The same thing was repeated for two years. The people did all they could to destroy the hoppers by building large pans or scrapers of sheet iron, sixteen feet long, three feet wide, and a back of two feet high, placing some tar and coal oil in the same and hitching a span of horses to each end would scrape the fields and catch bushels of grass-hoppers but it did not seem to have any effect on the amount and on their appetite for destroying crops. We have heard it said that they were so thick and hungry that they ate a pitchfork handle in one night although I have not seen it. It is true that a person could stand and count the hoppers on one side of a corn stalk and could count three hundred and eight-seven on one stalk. The result of the grass-hoppers was that a good many of our settlers left us, some of them selling their lands, others leaving it unsold. In one instance a man got so disgusted that he sold his eight acres for Two Hundred Twenty-five Dollars, throwing in a span of mules, wagon, and cow, worth at least Two Hundred Dollars. But those who withstood the siege and remained on their farms have never since regretted it as we have raised crops enough to keep us and to spare, ever since.
     People often talk about blizzards. No one who has not actually seen and been in knows what they are. The sky would be as clear as could be and you could see a cloud coming from the west and northwest, and in less than an hour a blinding snow storm would be on you so that you cold not see six feet ahead of you. It happened at one time that five teams were on their way fro Le Mars when a snow storm struck them eight miles south of Orange City at one o'clock at noon, which lasted and could not see the road or anything else along the track, for three days. Those five teams made the trip to Orange City having to depend upon the horses alone, the leaders being a span that had traveled the road often. The others were tied one behind the other, the drivers walking along the side, when the horses led up against the one store that was then in Orange City. Two of the teams got left behind but made their escape by stopping at A. Van Wechel's who happened to have a sign right on the road and the horses turned in towards their barn. There was a barn in town which could comfortably hold ten head of horses; that night twenty-four were packed in it. The owner of the barn, an old lady, Mother Mouw as she was called, attempted to go from her house to the barn, a distance of about sixty feet, with a lamp, to see that the horses were well provided for. She lost her way and strayed from the place. As soon as it was found out that the old lady was lost, some ten or fifteen men turned out and started on a hunt, yelling at the top of their voices in order to keep within hailing distance. This lasted fully an hour when the old lady was found not over seventy-five feet from her residence with her lamp in her hand. Her fingers, ears and toes were frozen and she would not have lived another hour if she had not been found. Others did not fare so well; in the north part of the county several were frozen to death by being lost. Some who were lost would travel all night in a circle until daylight when they could see their house or barn, they having strayed away only to feed cattle or do some errand around the house. Such were the experiences with blizzards in those days.


Rev. J. P. Winter

     Although two Holland speaking churches provided Orange City with religious services, the need of services in the English language for the benefit of the younger generation of Holland-Americans, and for the sake of such families in the community as did not understand Dutch, soon became evident. English services provided by the First Reformed Church once a month on Sunday evening, did not meet the need, although much appreciated. Finally the Rev. John A. De Spelder took up the matter and a petition for an English speaking Reformed Church was circulated and then presented to the Iowa classis. In the meantime preaching services were begun, March 7th, 1885, in the County Court House. The classis of Iowa, through a committee of which the Rev. A. Buursma was chairman, organized the new church on April 27th, 1885, the charter members numbering twenty-one. Jacob J. Van Zanten was elected elder and James M. Oggel, deacon. These officers were installed May 3rd, 1885. The new organization adopted the name, The American Reformed Church of Orange City, Iowa.
     For some six months, services continued to be held in the Court House, after which they were held in the building now know as the Town Hall. A room down stairs was first occupied and later the increasing congregation met in the larger room on the second floor. Here the church regularly met for service until some four years after the organization of the church, when a church edifice was completed, being dedicated Jan. 20th, 1889. The cost of the building including furniture, etc., was about $6,000. The Rev. Peter Stryker, D. D., preached the dedication sermon. The Rev. John A. De Spelder, principal of the North Western Classical Academy of Orange City, served as stated, supply of the church for two years, after which he accepted a call to become pastor. Seven years later he resigned, March, 1894.
     The Rev. Jas. F. Zwemer supplied the pulpit until November, when the Rev. A. A. Zabriskie became pastor. The pulpit again became vacant early in 1896 by the resignation of the pastor. The licentiate John L. De Jong arrived in May and began his labors, intending to remain only through the summer. He was however called to become pastor of the church and was ordained to the ministry and installed as pastor November 1st, 1896.
     In the mean time the church building was struck by lightning, June 16th, during a severe storm, and burned to the ground. Efforts were soon begun to rebuild, and the new, more beautiful edifice was dedicated April 18th, 1897. Owing to continued illness, the Rev. John L. De Jong resigned as pastor August 1897, 

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and was succeeded by Mr. James Sterrenberg, who was ordained and installed September 29th, of that same year. This pastorate terminated January 1st, 1899. The present pastor, J. P. Winger, began his work August 13th, 1899, and was installed on September 17.
     During the summer of 1899 a parsonage was built, various improvements, such as cement walks, etc., have followed, and during the past year and a half, the balance of the church debt, $1,800.00, has been paid.
     The present membership of the church is 163.


Rev. E. W. Stapelkamp

     The First Reformed Church of Orange City was organized in the early part of 1871. Mr. T. Heemstra, G. Van de Steeg and M. Verheul were chosen elders, and S. Sipma, J. Pelmulder and W. Van Rooyen, deacons. The first pastor of the church was Rev. S. Bolks from 1872 till 1878 when he became, because of old age, emeritus. Rev. A. Buursma was the second pastor. He served the congregation from May 1879 to 1889 when he accepted a call to Grand Rapids, Mich. Then followed Rev. H. Van der Ploey in 1890. In November of the same year, Rev. M. Kolyn became pastor and served this congregation till 1898 when he accepted a call to the principalship of the North Western Classical Academy at Orange City. The next Pastor of the church was Rev. N. M. Steffens, D. D. He came to this field in 1899 and served the church till august, 1899. In the fall of the same year, Rev. E. W. Stapelkamp was called and he began his work in November. He is still the pastor of the Church.

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     The church was organized with 45 families, at present it numbers 216 families, 456 members in full communion and 500 baptismal non communicants. The first services were held in a school house, now the congregation worships in a large church building; there is also a large chapel for the Christian Endeavor Meetings.
     The congregation holds preaching services in the Holland language. Preaching services are held 9.30 A. M. and 1.30 or 2.00 P. M. Sunday school from 3 to 4 P. M. in the winter, and 3.30 to 4.30 in the summer. Christian Endeavor prayer meeting Sunday evening 7.30. On week days and evenings catechetical classes composed of the children and young people of the church meet for instruction in the Truth. The congregation meets for prayer Wednesday evening, 7.30.

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