The First Baptist church of Waukon celebrated its
semi-centennial in the year 1904, by the erection of
a fine new edifice, which was completed and formally
dedicated to the service of the Lord on Sunday,
September 17, 1905. Its organization dates from June
17, 1854, on which day Azel Pratt and wife Mary, John
G. Pratt, Lathrop Abbott and wife Emily, Miles
Nichols and wife Hannah, Phoebe Hersey, and C. J.
White, assembled at the dwelling of the first named,
in the New England settlement named Makee, on what is
now as Makee Ridge, two miles north of Waukon, and
organized under the name of the Allamakee Baptist
church. Of these nine constituent members none is now
living, but their memory is fittingly honored by the
beautiful window in the south front of the new
building. The first named of the, Deacon Azel Pratt
and wife, the strong pillars of the church in the
first quarter century of its existence, entered into
rest but a few days apart, in 1881.
The Baptist Mission pioneer, Rev. James Schofield,
extended the right hand of fellowship to the members
of the little church, and by the end of the year six
more were added to their number by letter and
experience. In July, 1855, the rite of baptism was
first administered to seven persons, by Elder
Scholfield, and the church grew rapidly, seventeen
being received by baptism and seven by letter in
1856. John G. Pratt was the first church clerk, and
in January, 1855, Azel Pratt and Isaac D. Lambert
were chosen as the first deacons. Public worship was
held in the Makee schoolhouse; but the growth of the
village of Waukon and removal thither of many of the
members made it necessary to have service here also,
and in March, 1855, Samuel Hill, Jr., was engaged, at
a small remuneration, to preach one-half of the time;
in the morning at Makee and in the evening at Waukon,
the schoolhouse here being built in that year. Elder
Schofield continued to labor with the church a part
of the time until July 1, 1856. Meanwhile the young
preacher Samuel Hill had been, on May 18th, ordained
for the ministry, and became the churchs first
pastor. In 1857 he returned to his former home in
The second pastor of the church, according to the
records, was Rev. L. M. Newell, who was on May 23,
1857, called by the church at a salary of $500,
one-half of which was paid by the Home Mission board,
and he remained on the field until June, 1859. In
this time the church had assembled in Waukon; and in
1860 we find services were held in the Methodist
church every fourth Sunday. Here follows a period of
scant records; Rev. C. D. Farnsworth preaching a part
of the time and Rev. James Schofield was pastor in
In 1866 Rev. D. S. Starr was called and it was during
his pastorate on July 4, 1868, that the old church
society was reorganized and incorporated as the First
Baptist church of Waukon, with the following
officers: Azel Pratt, A. T. Maltby and A. H. Hersey,
trustees; John G. Pratt, clerk; and C. O. Maltby,
treasurer. They immediately proceeded to build a
house of worship, a frame building, on the north side
of Pleasant street, in which the first services were
held January 17, 1869. In the spring of 1871 this
frame building was sold to A. H. And A. Hersey, and
remodeled as a place of residence, for which purpose
it is still used, by several tenants, and is known as
the bee-hive. The church then purchased
the brick building erected by the Congregational
society on the present site in 1883 (sic), in which
they worshiped for thirty-three years, until it was
razed, in July of 1904, to be replaced by the present
modern structure, at a total cost of about $18,000,
including a $2,400 pipe organ built by the
Hook-Hastings Co. Of Boston.
The pastors of the church since 1869 have been as
follows: Rev. L. L. Frisk, 1870-71; Geo. M. Adams,
1872-73; John M. Wedgwood, 1873-78. Farther Wedgwood
was greatly beloved of his flock, but health failing,
he took an interval of rest. Later he served the
Rossville church two or three years, but increasing
ill health caused him to retire to a farm in Fayette
county, where he occasionally preached as he was
able. In 1887 he returned and built him a home in
Waukon, when he continued to reside until his death,
in 1891, in his seventy-second year. F. N. Eldridge,
1878-81; M. H. Perry, 1881-82; Robert Smith, 1882-84;
F. W. C. Wiggin, 1884-85; Geo. H. Starring, 1886-87;
D. N. Mason, 1887-93; E. E. Tyson, 1894-96; Robert
Bruce 1896-98; W. C. Stewart, 1899-1902.
Chas. Henry Stull, 1902-05. Under his tireless
activity and encouragement the new building
enterprise was undertaken and successfully carried
out. Having seen the completion of this great work,
shortly after the dedication of the new edifice, Mr.
Stull tendered his resignation, which was reluctantly
accepted, and he has since occupied important fields
at Denison and Iowa Falls, this state; St. Paul,
Minnesota, Huron, South Dakota; and now in Ohio.
Howard Percy Langridge was then called to this
church, in December, 1905, and took up the work with
an energy, devotion and tactfulness that brought
immediate results; and with so great a sympathy and
helpfulness for all in misfortune that he soon
endeared himself to the entire community, within the
church and without. The circumstances
of his tragic death by drowning in the lake of
the power company on the Oneota river, May 22, 1909,
are too fresh in the hearts of his still sorrowing
friends to call for repetition here. A young man of
but thirty-five, in athletic vitality, devoted to
this family of wife and three young sons, and to the
cause which he had espoused; and with so bright a
future in prospect, the deplorable event seem
impossible. The funeral services were conducted by
Rev. A. W. Caul of Vinton (under whose pastorate he
was ordained five years previously), assisted by the
local pastors of sister denominations, and the
remains were taken to Manchester, Delaware county,
his former home, for burial.
W. H. Belfrey next became pastor, from October 1,
1909, until June 1, 1912. In September following he
was succeeded by the present pastor, W. J. Bell.
The church clerks have been: John G. Pratt to 1869;
L. W. Hersey 1869-81; John W. Pratt, 1881-94; Mrs.
Charlotte Hancock, 1894-1901; E. B. Gibbs, 1901-03;
Miss Frances Lathrop, 1903-05; P. A. Anderson,
1905-12; Dr. J. H. Johnson, 1912-13.
Any historical sketch of this church would be
obviously incomplete without special reference to
Brother John W. Pratt, who was for so many years not
only its never-absent clerk and deacon, but also, for
over a quarter of a century, the faithful chorister,
and who departed his life in 1897. It would also be
unjust to omit mention of the faithful organist for
many years, Miss Estelle Pratt, still a faithful
assistant; and her successor, Miss Lizzie Spaulding.
The same might well be said of Mrs. Flora Crawford,
Mrs. Ella Howard and Mrs. Evy Howe, the leading
members of the choir.
On November 3, 1902, in her eighty-first year, Mrs.
Nancy B. Whiting entered into the reward of a long
and patiently suffering Christian life; and a few
weeks later, January 6, 1903, her brother, Lewis W.
Hersey also died, in his seventy-eighth year. His
wife, B. A. Hersey, lovingly known by the entire
congregation as Aunt, Ann, survived him
but a few years. She had made the erection of the new
church a possibility by her original contribution of
$5,000, when the project was undertaken, which she
had later increased, and bequeathed $3,000 as an
endowment, the interest to be used only for current
expenses of the church. Sister Whiting deeded her
comfortable home to the church for a parsonage; and
Brother Hersey had been a financial stand-by of the
church for many years. All three were very helpful to
the church while living, and their works do follow
In December, 1903, it was decided that a new church
edifice be erected, at a cost of not exceed $9,000.
In January, 1904, the plans of architect Dohman of
Milwaukee were adopted , and a building committee
appointed, consisting of F. W. Goodykoontz, P. A.
Anderson, E. H. Fourt, Dewight Sherman and Mrs. B. A.
Hersey with C. O. Howard and M. S. Howard advisory
members thereof. In June following three additional
member were appointed, Pastor Stull, E. B. Gibbs and
J. H. Johnson. C. O. Howard did not live to see the
work completed, having passed away on the 7th of
September. With various alterations made in the plans
it was found that the original limit would not be
sufficient, and the contract as let to Wm. F.
Fuelling of Clayton county called for an outlay of
about $13,000, and the old material; which amount was
eventually considerably exceeded.
In July, 1904, the old structure was razed, and work
begun on the foundation. The cornerstone was laid
October 9 by the deacons of the church; and the new
building was opened for services June 23, 1905,
though incomplete, upon the occasion of the meeting
here of the annual session of the Turkey River
Baptist Association. Meanwhile, since the preceding
June the regular meetings of the church had been held
in the City Hall. The formal dedication of the new
edifice took place September 17, 1905, the dedicatory
services being conducted by Rev. H. O. Rowlands, D.
D. , of Davenport. On this occasion the trustees
reported the total cost and expenses to date to be
$16,101.19. The trustees at that time consisted of:
E. W. Goodykoontz, E. H. Fourt, R. A. Anderson, E. B.
Gibbs, and M. S. Howard. Deacons: E. B. Gibbs,
Dewight Sherman and E. M. Hancock. Deaconesses: Mrs.
Margaret David, Mrs. S. D. Torrey and Miss Lida
June 20, 1908, a terrific hail storm badly damaged
the art windows on the north side of the church. The
interior decoration of the church had never been
completed, and early in 1910 this work was taken up,
and the interior remodeled, a capacious gallery
constructed, and the choir loft greatly improved.
These repairs and improvements caused an additional
expense of some $2,400, and made a very beautiful
auditorium. The church was reopened April 17, 1910.
The present membership of the church is about ninety,
with the following officials: Trustees, E. H. Fourt,
P. A. Anderson, A. E. Entwisle, Mrs. Flora Crawford,
E. B. Gibbs. Deacons: E. B. Gibbs, Dewight Sherman,
E. M. Hancock, Deaconesses: Mrs. Millie Markley, Mrs.
Maude Kelley, Mrs. Ida Entwisle; and Mrs. Margaret
David, honorary deaconess for life. Clerk, J. H.
Johnson. General auditor, E. B. Gibbs. Chairman of
finance committee, E. M. Hancock, Choir; Mrs. Flora
Crawford, Mrs. Ella Howard, Mrs. Evy Howe, Mrs. Mabel
Colsch, Mrs. Beth Allanson, Messrs. Anderson, Fourt,
Goodykoontz and T. T. Ericson. Organist, Miss Lizzie
Sunday School: Superintendent, Mrs. Ida Entwisle,
assistant, Miss Lida Sherman; secretary, Wm. N.
Brown; librarian, Miss Estelle Pratt.
In 1875 the old church was supplied with a bell,
through the labors of the young ladies society called
The Merry Workers, and it was hung in
February. Two months later it was decided to be
unsatisfactory in tone and power, and with renewed,
effort it was soon after replaced with a much finer
and heavier one, the bell that is still in use.
and Present of Allamakee County, Iowa, by
Ellery M. Hancock, 1913