On the Hundredth Anniversary of Mt.
Hope Presbyterian Church, we will on these pages
present a brief history of incidents and occurrences
as they happened while in these years Mt. Hope was
making her pilgrimage from milestone to milestone. A
Hundredth Anniversary can only be approached with
thanksgiving to God, who in His love and mercy and
grace, guided, preserved and kept Mt. Hope through
these many years.
As it happens in the lives of
individuals, so also Mt. Hope has had her lights and
shadows in the first hundred years, already a longer
span than lived by individuals. The members of the
fourth generation of Mt. Hope can say today as Israel
said in days of old Psalm 126:3, "The Lord hath
done great things for us; whereof we are glad.
Mt. Hope has an interesting history, especially so
because of the rugged pioneer life, as it has been
lived by the early fathers and mothers. We today can
hardly conceive as to what it meant for them to
become organized as a church, so that they could
regularly worship God on the Sabbath Day. We have a
high regard for the pastors and charter members who
did the organizing. It took courage for those eleven
charter members to organize a congregation in the
wildwood, with the first contribution, a
gold coin of five dollars. That minister's wife's
heart was with "Home Missions" when she
sent that coin along from Wheeling, West Virginia.
The pastors who served Mt. Hope over
a period of a hundred years were very conscientious
and accurate in keeping the church records. We shall
let these records speak for themselves, some of them
written with elderberry juice for ink. The early
settlers of the vicinity of Mt. Hope were served by
traveling ministers, or circuit riders, whose trips
to the community were sometimes at three months
intervals. Services were conducted in a log school
house on the bench land of the Benjamin Ratcliffe
farm which had been erected in 1850. The settlers
come by ox team and otherwise with their growing
families to attend religious services. A Presbyterian
Church of eleven members was organized in the Old
Stone House, now owned by Charles and Albert Hartley,
on August 15th,1858, by Rev. Joseph Adams of
Frankville, Charles Fitch of Dubuque, and Rev. A.H.
Houghton, a congregational pastor. E.T. Albert and
Benjamin Ratcliffe were elected as elders. By
unanimous vote, the church was named Mt. Hope
Presbyterian Church. At stated times, Rev. Adams of
Frankville and Rev. James Frothingham of Caledonia,
Minnesota, came to serve the church, but Rev.
Houghton later served as supply.
The eleven charter members were:
E.T., Jane, Daniel, and Elizabeth Albert, who came
from the Millsville Presbyterian Church in Ohio; Mrs.
Mary Roe, Mrs. S.D. Allen, and Benjamin and Charlotte
Ratcliffe, who came from First Presbyterian Church in
Wheeling West Virginia; John Shakelton; Mrs. Sophia
Shakelton; and Mrs. Merritt. Since writing materials
were not plentiful in these early days, the minutes
of this first meeting were recorded in elderberry
juice. Plans for the building of the church were
disrupted and delayed by the Civil War. Services
during these years were held in homes and various
In a letter written in February, 1870
by Benjamin Ratcliffe to his sister in Wheeling, West
Virginia, he states, We have determined to
build our church a frame building 26-41 feet. Nine
hundred dollars has been subscribed, and we expect it
to cost sixteen hundred dollars. We will build it
after corn planting.
The first contribution for the new
church was a five dollar gold coin, brought from
Wheeling by Charlotte Ratcliffe, Mrs. Benjamin
Ratcliffe, which had been given to her by her
pastors wife in Wheeling, with the expressed
wish that it be used for the building of a church in
the new land.
Sunday School had already been
organized in the year 1857.
The new church was dedicated on the
21st of February, 1871, by the Rev. Frothingham of
Lansing, and a new organ was purchased for this
Other gifts that were received for
the church were seven pounds of sterling from a
relative in Scotland, and a gift of $300.00 from Mrs.
McClure of New York.
The first wedding in the church was
that of George Bellows and Mary Agnes Ratcliffe.
In the month of October, 1877, the
women organized as a Ladies Aid.
A cemetery was laid out adjoining the
church, and a parsonage was built on the church
grounds in the year 1872. The parsonage stood for 71
years. On October 23rd, 1956, it was destroyed by
fire in the night.
The ministers who served Mt. Hope
within this span of a hundred years were Rev. Adams
and Rev. Crawford of Frankville and Rev. James
Frothingham of Lansing. Dr. A.H. Houghton of Lansing
served as supply and preached in a vacant house in
French Creek until the school house was built, which
was then used for worship services. He also preached
in English Bench in a school house until the church
was built, when Rev D.A. Wallace came to preach for
one year. Since then, services have been rendered by
the following pastors:
Rev. Edwin Robb - 1871
Rev. George Leonard - 1872 - 1873
The following served at intervals:
Rev. Frothingham of Caledonia, Minnesota
Rev. Adams of Frankville
Rev. Crawford of Frankville
Rev. Levi Greene - 1874
Rev. Hanna of Rossville - 1882
Rev. Robinson of Frankville - 1882
Rev. McCaskey - 1885 - 1895.
Rev. Crousnz - 1896 - 1901
Rev. Sutherland - 1902 - 1904.
Rev. J.C.B. Peck - 1904 - 1906.
Rev. Davidson - 1907 - 1908
Rev. Grossman - 1906 - 1907
Rev. Stewart - 1906 - 1907
Rev. J.E. Johnson - 1908 - 1914
Rev. Howard Smith - 1914 - 1917
Rev. R.E. Paden - 1917 - 1919
Rev. J.T. Reagan - 1919 - 1925
Rev. A.D. Rundall - 1925 - 1927
Rev. A.C. Prust - 1927 - 1931
Rev. H.J. Noeding - 1932 - 1935
Rev. C.M. Haas - 1938 - 1944
Rev. Calvin Willomssen - 1945 - 1954
Rev. Edmond DeBuhr 1954
Those servants of God all made a
contribution to build up Mt. Hope, some of them under
the hardships of pioneer life. We know very little of
the history of those pastors who served in the
beginning of the century. Some of these pastors may
have soon died after they served here, and may be in
the grave nearly a hundred years. We honor them,
however, for they have laid a good foundation, upon
which we build, and future generations will build.
Let us now learn where some of these
old pioneers hailed from, who settled around Mt. Hope
and English Bench. Francis Hartley and wife,
Hephzibah, were the first white people to settle on
English Bench. They were from the village of Manea in
England, some thirty miles north of London, where it
is known he worked as foreman of a ditching gang on
what they call, "The Upper Flats". They
sailed for America in 1848, and landed at New York.
It is also known that in a short time after landing,
they were at Portage, Wisconsin. By the year 1853,
they were plowing land on what is now English Bench,
and had built themselves a small log house.
William Beardmore Sr. sailed from
Liverpool, England for America on the 1st of
February, in the year 1853. Mrs. Beardmore with three
children, William, Agnes, and Alfred, followed in the
fall of the year, settling in Wheeling, West
Virginia, where they lived before coming to Union
City township, Allamakee county, in April 1865. Along
with his farming and blacksmithing, his two sons
William and Alfred operated a Ferry Boat across the
Iowa River, where the Dawson Bridge now stands. Mrs.
Elizabeth (Sadler) Beardmore, wife of William
Beardmore Jr., served as organist at Mt. Hope Church
over forty years, taking the place of Mrs. Agnes
(Ratcliffe) Bellows who had been organist for many
years in the early beginning of Mt. Hope Church. Mrs.
Hepsie (Hartley) McClintock was Sunday School
organist at this time.
Judge Thomas A. Beardmore, Captain in
World War I, is still serving as Circuit Judge. It
was through his efforts that the English Bench and
Mt. Hope cemeteries were organized for perpetual
care. The English Bench Cemetery was platted in the
early days before Mt. Hope Church was built. There
are a large number of the early settlers buried on
those burial grounds.
Two soldiers are buried in the
English Bench Cemetery; namely, John Sires and Joseph
Hartley. The following soldiers are buried in Mt.
Hope Cemetery: John Dowling, James Singleton, Jacob
H. Singleton, Jacob Singleton, Joseph Green, John
Williamson, John W. Hartley and George Robinson.
John Sires came to this community at
the early age of seven years. He came from Princeton,
Indiana, with his mother and step-father, William
Bulman, in 1854. He was married twice, first to Sarah
Duff, and later to Katherine Burroughs. His
descendents, and those of the present generation, are
very musically inclined and talented. They have
served this community for many years with their
talents by rendering music.
John W. Hartley, George W. Bulman,
William Bulman, all born in Cambridgeshire, England,
came to this country while very young, and settled in
Allamakee county, and later raised large families.
Mrs. George Bulman, or Aunt Ann, as
she was better known to all who have heard of her,
has rendered a marvelous service to people of this
area in their infirmities, when doctors and nurses
were hard to get. No night was too dark or stormy for
her to go to the bedside of a sick friend or
neighbor. We today can hardly conceive what great
sacrifices these good women have made when in the
heat of the summer, and the cold of the winter they
entered the homes, log houses, to minister unto those
who were ill.
William Sadler was born in
Cambridgeshire, England and crossed the Atlantic in
1851, and settled in Indiana. He married Mary Bulman,
also from Cambridgeshire. They started out for
English Bench in search for her brothers Thomas and
William. The story is told that they camped at the
foot of the hill leading to the Bench (near what is
now the Fred Bulman home) and discovered at daylight
that they had stopped within a few rods of the home
of the brothers.
George Bellows, Andrew Leppert,
William Beardmore Jr., Benjamin Hartley, Leonard
Bulman, and George Hartley have served as elders down
through the years. Our present elders are listed on
the last page of this booklet.
Some of the names of the old fathers
immigrated into this area are no longer on the Mt.
Hope Church roll. Some have moved out, but others
have moved in and received into the congregation.
After one hundred years of agricultural work it has
become very evident that the hills are not only good
to look at, but are also productive, where past
generations have made a good living.
Another family that left the homeland
to come to America were grandpa and grandma Bulman,
who were married in England October 9, 1848. Thomas
Bulman was born in "the round house" in
England in Little Thetford, and his wife was born in
Chatteris. They sailed from Liverpool, October 31st,
1848, on the William Kent. They landed at New Orleans
December 9th, 1848, where they stayed about a month,
and then took a river boat to Evansville, Indiana.
The boy, to pay the fare worked on the boat, taking
the place of those that were sick with cholera. In
1854 they left Evansville to take up land in
Winnebago Strip, where Francis Hartley then was. They
traveled by wagon and team. They reached the banks of
the Upper Iowa River on the morning of October 31,
and forded the river near Mt. Hope bridge, that is,
where the bridge is now located, and on the same day
reached the log house of Francis Hartley on the east
side of English Bench.
The name of a family; namely,
Gilchrist, no longer known by the younger folks, was
interwoven into the family relationship of English
Bench and Mt. Hope areas. The name Gilchrist broken
down becomes gil (boy) and Christ. At the time of the
Crusades the boys who went on the Children's Crusade
were known as Christ boys, and hence Gilchrist. A
good ancestry for the staunch Scotch Presbyterian.
The "big stone house" built
by John Gilchrist on the Mt. Hope farm was a
gathering place for early settlers for miles around
when they met to discuss affairs of the community.
One day a message traveled from house to house that a
band of Indians were "on the war path and headed
this way. All the families hastily gathered at
the big stone house, women and children for safety
sake and men for defense ready to fight. (This was
the New Ulm Massacre period.) About the third day a
scout reported back. It was true, the Indians were on
the warpath, but had passed on the east side of the
Mississippi. So the frightened families returned to
their homes. For the children, throughout their
childhood, the thick stone walls of the house spelled
fortress for them, with guns ready to shoot from
Two early ministers of Mt. Hope
married Ratcliffe daughters. Jane Anne Ratcliffe
became Mrs. George Leonard, and Isabelle Ratcliffe
became Mrs. Bird. Both ministers were Princeton
Lottie Ratcliffe Albee of Portland
Prairie has childhood memories of the actual building
of Mt. Hope Church in 1870. She is now in her 94th
year, and was not quite six years old when the church
We could go on and on and mention
other families who settled in this area and became
affiliated with Mt. Hope; Beardmore, Wild, and
Sadler, to name a few. The Weymiller family married
into the Mt. Hope family in later years. The
forefathers of these folks belonged to the rugged
pioneers, who braved it across the ocean, and settled
in this beautiful hill country, where God richly
The mother of the Beardmores served
as organist of Mt. Hope Church for over forty years.
What a wonderful example of church loyalty.
Grandma Rose (Wild) Sadler, now lives
in Waukon, and with her keen memory can relate very
interesting things that happened in the days when Mt.
Hope still was a young church.
Some of the Mt. Hope folks have held
and are still holding responsible positions in civil
life. One held the office of assemblyman, judge,
sheriff, supervisor, and attorney, and one who
resided in Chicago, was called "a man of
We think especially of the ten men
whose graves are decorated with flags on Memorial
Day. On the tombstone of one of these loyal service
men it says, "fought in the war of 1812.
Mt. Hope was well represented when the call came to
serve under the flag of our country.
As to the office held and the service
rendered, the record of Mr. Benjamin Hartley is
unique. He served as elder of Mt. Hope for 57 years,
and was Sunday School Superintendent for 55 years.
We are thankful to Mrs. Allen
Hartley, Mrs. Earl Beardmore and Mrs. Leo Pottratz
for the material and records used to compile this
brief but interesting history of a church that lived
a hundred years of faith.
The dreams of the members of Mt. Hope
have finally come true. For several years there were
many dreams as to what should be done, and what might
be done. We were handicapped in so many ways because
of lack of room and of many inconveniences. There was
much talk about more room inside, more parking room
outside, landscaping on the grounds, etc. Committees
were appointed and meetings were called, many of them
long meetings, beyond midnight, at times when most of
us were yawning.
At a meeting on August 19th last year
the "go" sign was given, and on September
1st, the congregation adopted the building program.
Thereafter there was much determination and action.
Much hard work was wrought here, but today we
joyfully reap the benefit of all the labor that was
wrought, and of the contributions that have been made
toward this project of remodeling the church. All of
this, however, shall be dedicated to God, and to Him
be all honor, praise and glory.
We shall now present the officers of
Mt. Hope Presbyterian Church:
Moderator: Rev. Walter Martin of
Supply Pastor: Rev. Edmond DeBuhr
Elders: Edward Wild, Earl Beardmore, Allen
Hartley and Art Beardmore
Trustees: Alton Bulman, Grant Hartley and Leon
Mt. Hope Women's Association: Mrs. Hope
Weymiller, President; Mrs. Harris Wild,
Vice-President; Mrs. Art Beardmore, Treasurer;
and Mrs. Lee Weymiller, Secretary
Sunday School: Mrs. Art Beardmore,
Superintendent; Miss Greta Mohwinkle, Secretary
& Treasurer; and Miss Delores Beardmore,
Assistant Secretary & Treasurer
Music: Mrs. Allen Hartley, Organist; Miss June
Weymiller, Assistant Organist; and
Mrs. Glen Beardmore, Choir Director
Much more could have been said, but
time would not permit. There are sufficient records
and enough material compiled through the years, so
that a book could be written. May future generations
add to what has been written in this brief history of
Mt. Hope, perhaps at some other anniversary. Should
any errors have crept into these few pages, please
forgive. "To err is human, to forgive is
divine. Mt. Hope will live on in the faith of
the forefathers. As to the present generation, we can
truly say they are bringing honor to the heritage
handed to them by their fathers and mothers. Men are
sturdy workers and women are good housekeepers.
Together they work and pray, and God has given His
increase. Living among these beautiful hills, one
cannot help but be aware of the presence of God.
May the members of Mt. Hope continue
praying, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the
hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh
from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.
~source: 1958 Mt. Hope Presbyterian
Church Centennial and Dedication Booklet
~transcribed by Errin Wilker