HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF IOWA BAPTISTS
- Organized in 1874
First, Prairie Association -
Then Council Bluffs.
Now Atlantic— 1874 to 1886.
PRAIRIE BAPTIST ASSOCIATION was organized in 1874. The Southwestern Association had grown so large that, as early as 1872, a movement was started to divide it, which resulted as stated above. The churches at Atlantic, Big Grove, Harlan and Newlon's Grove constituted the Association. The following was the roll: Atlantic, A. Stott pastor, 85 members; Big Grove, E. Burch, 58 ; Harlan, J. E. Rockwood, 66; Newlon's Grove, J. R. Morris, 12; total 221. The Prairie Association thus launched upon the sea of life was a small body, but it gives evidence of vitality. Every church has a pastor and every one has baptized converts within the year. Rev. E. Burch is the clerk.|
1875 ... The first anniversary or second annual meeting was held with the Big Grove church. Avoca, 32 members, Lewis, 28, and New Hope, 14, are added. Harlan reports W. A. Dorward as pastor, and Lewis, F. W. Leonard. Pastors Stott and Burch remain as last year. Churches. 7, pastors 4, baptisms 5, members 317; church expenses $3,729.50; benevolent contributions 860.45. There is contributed to the State Convention this year $20.25. The young Association is evidently starting to cultivate the missionary spirit. Five Sunday schools are supported, of which one is a mission school; 40 officers and teachers and 251 scholars.
1876 ... Avoca is the place appointed for the meeting. A. J. Delano is clerk. The name of the Association was this year changed from "Prairie" to the Council Bluffs Baptist Association. The Wiota Church with 29 members, Rev. J. Currier, pastor, the Council Bluffs, T. F. Thickstun, 110, and the Prussian—Fontanelle — E. Burch, with 10 members are added, and Avoca disappears from the list. Rev. A. J. Delano is pastor at Atlantic, Rev. Arthur Stott having removed to Fort Madison in the Keokuk Association. Rev. W. F. Arnold is at Big Grove and New Hope, Rev. Gilman Parker at Harlan. There are now, churches 9, pastors 6, baptisms reported 35, other additions 52; present membership 432. Reported for home expenses $1,590; benevolent contributions $119. Of the baptisms New Hope reports 10. and Council Bluffs 13. Atlantic reports church property valued at $3,000.
1877 ... The place designated for the anniversary this year is Newlon's Grove. C. M. Robins of Harlan, clerk. Bowman's Grove and Shelby churches are added with 15 and 18 members. Rev. E. C. M. Burnham has succeeded A. J. Delano at Atlantic, and J. Hockett is reported pastor of the Prussian Church, Fontanelle. Other pastors are E. Burch, Big Grove and New Hope, Gilman Parker, Harlan and Bowman's Grove, W. F. Arnold, Newlon's Grove, and T. F. Thickstun, Council Bluff's. Council Bluffs are building, or have completed, a good meeting house. Material progress is being made in the Association. Home expenses, evidently including Permanent Improvement, $6,770; benevolent contributions $207.71; value of church property $17,100, of which Council Bluffs reports $10,000, Atlantic $3,000, Harlan $3,000, Lewis $300, and Shelby $800. Indications of Spiritual vitality are also seen. Atlantic reports 18 baptized, Bowman's Grove 11, Council Bluffs, 10, Harlan 8 and Shelby 7; other baptisms 9. Churches now 11, pastors 6, baptisms 63; total membership 518.
1878 ... Shelby is the place of the annual meeting this year, C. M. Robins clerk. Another year of spiritual blessing, especially in the Atlantic and Harlan churches, where have been baptized respectively 13 and 21 members. Bowman's Grove reports 7, Council Bluffs 3, Shelby 2, and Wiota 1. J. R. Wheeler is reported pastor at Atlantic, R. Corbett at Lewis, and P. Andrews at Shelby and Wiota. Brother E. Burch is still preaching at Big Grove and New Hope, Gilman Parker at Harlan and Bowman's Grove, T. F. Thickstun at Council Bluff's, and W. F Arnold at Newlon's Grove. There are now 11 churches, 7 pastors, 47 baptisms reported, and a membership of 553. Contributed for Home Expenses, $3'505.91 benevolent purposes $288.89. Ten Sunday schools, 78 officers and teachers, 734 scholars, and a total average attendance of 482. Sunday school expenses $221.05. Harlan has a mission school with 5 officers and teachers and 40 scholars. Two of the schools reported are union schools.
1879 ... The sixth annual meeting was at Council Bluffs. C. M. Robins continues as clerk. E. Burch, P. Andrews and W. F. Arnold are missed from among the pastors of last. year. Wheeler, Parker, Thickstun and Corbett remain, and H. C. Adams is preaching at Shelby. Bowman's Grove reports 17 baptisms, Council Bluffs 12, Harlan 3, Wiota 3, and Big Grove 2. Atlantic, Council Bluffs and Harlan report 114 members, 128 and 118 respectively. The next largest, Bowman's Grove, has but 43. Council Bluffs will not soon cease to bear the marks of Brother and Sister Thickstun's toil and sacrifice in the construction of their commodious meeting house. Some very sad things have since occurred in the history of Council Bluff's Baptists, but that monument of honor now stands, and the Master has much people in that city still, and "of Zion it shall be said, "This man was born there, and This and that man were born in her."
1880 ... Atlantic entertains. C. M. Robins clerk. Churches 10, pastors 4, baptisms 3, total membership 550. Bowman's Grove is evidently engaged in building as they report $1,302 total expenses, and have preaching a part of the time. Rev. Gilman Parker has resigned at Harlan and is found this year at Washington, Iowa. Rev. W. A. Welsher is preaching at Harlan and Bowman's Grove, Rev. J. F. Heilner at Atlantic, T. F. Thickstun at Council Bluffs since 1868, twelve years, and R. Corbett at Wiota since 1878. Five of the ten churches report no preaching and virtually nothing doing. It is a year of desolation in Zion in the Council Bluff's Association, and not alone in this Association. One other in the State reports but one baptism. The financial record is considerably below last year. The contributions for Convention $79.36. Harlan has, so far as known, the only parsonage in the Association valued at $1,000. Bowman's Grove dedicated their meeting house October 10, costing $1,000.
1881 ... The meeting in 1881 is at Bowman's Grove. D. C. Cady of Atlantic is clerk. The name of C. M. Robins of Harlan, so long a fixture in this clerkship is thus missed from its accustomed place. This brother, if the writer mistake not, is a near relative, if not a brother of President Robins of Waterville College, Maine. The New Hope Church is missed from the record this year and two new churches are added, Audubon and Exira. Rev. A. F. Sharpnack is pastor of both. Audubon has 17 members and Exira 11. Some improvement over last year is indicated in spiritual progress. Atlantic reports 2 baptized, Bowman's Grove 5, Council Bluffs 2. Exira 4, and Harlan 6. Rev. J. F. Heilner has removed from Atlantic to Nebraska, and Rev. J. H. Pratt, late of Emerson, Iowa, has succeeded him. Rev. T. F. Thickstun has closed his 12 years' pastorate at Council Bluffs, and is succeeded by Rev. J. G. Lemen. Rev. W. A. Welsher has closed his labors at Harlan and Bowman's Grove and these churches are pastor less. Brother Corbett of Wiota is the only pastor that was in the Association a year ago. Contributed for the Convention $137.65. Rev, A. Jacobs has labored 13 weeks as missionary in this Association, and aid has also been extended by the Convention at Audubon and Exira. The expenditures have been, church expenses $2,679.03 ; permanent improvement $1,590; denominational benevolence $348.87 ; grand total $4,826.57. The new churches at Audubon and Exira were both organized within the year, March 1881.
1882 ... Meets at Wiota, A. F. Sharpnack of Audubon clerk. Rev. A. Jacobs is preaching at Harlan and J. C. Carter at Bowman's Grove. Other pastors are J.H. Pratt, Atlantic, Lemen, Council Bluffs, and A. F. Sharpnack Lewis and Wiota. Council Bluffs reports 7 baptisms, Harlan 7, Atlantic 2, and Bowman's Grove and Wiota leach. Churches 11, pastors 5, baptisms 18, total membership 522 Rev. R. Corbett, for a number of years pastor at Wiota, does not appear among the pastors. Audubon and Exira are only heard from by ''statistics of last year." Church expenses $3,748.89; permanent improvement, $1,061.52; denominational benevolence 1615.92 ; grand total 15,884.49. Value of church property $23,700; amount of church debt only $570; contributed for Convention $135.76. Missionary aid granted Atlantic $100, Audubon and Exira $175. Harlan is credited with $828 to Foreign Missions.
1883 ... The anniversary is at Lewis, A. F. Sharpnack clerk. The death is recorded, February 6, 1883, of the beloved pastor of the Atlantic Church, Rev. J. H. Pratt. Full obituary notes will be given in that department of these sketches. It may be of interest to mention here that Brother Pratt was pastor at Dixon, Illinois, at the time, which will be remembered by many, when on a baptismal occasion the bridge on which many spectators were standing gave way, and a number of persons were killed. Brother Pratt was administering the ordinance, and being of a sensitive constitution, it was said that he probably never entirely recovered from the shock caused by the accident and the unkind criticism of those unfriendly to the practice of immersion. Brother Pratt was a great sufferer during the later years of his life, but ceased not to be a faithful ambassador of his suffering Lord. Rev. L. H. Thompson is pastor at Bowman's Grove, and Rev. A. H. Post at Harlan. Brother Post comes from Geneseo, Nebraska. Leman of Council Bluffs, Post, Thompson, and A. F. Sharpnack, Wiota, are the only pastors. Only one baptism reported in the Association. Present membership 479. The membership of some of the largest churches has been declining for some years. Atlantic, once above a hundred, now reports 72. Harlan and Council Bluffs only go above a hundred, and neither of these as large as in 1880. The Convention this year received $146.43. Brother Pratt was receiving aid at Atlantic at the time of his death, only $25 being drawn for this Convention year.
1884 ... The annual meeting is at Harlan. A. F. Sharpnack is still clerk. The Big Grove Church disappears from the records. Also of Exira the exit should have been noted earlier. Oakland with 15 members appears for the first time. Council Bluffs reports 22 baptisms but no pastor; Harlan, A. H. Post, pastor, 5; Atlantic 2, and Bowman's Grove one. Rev. D. H. Simpson is pastor at Atlantic and Rev. H. Story is preaching at Newlon's Grove, Oakland and Shelby as missionary of the Convention in the Council Bluffs Association. Rev. D. H. Simpson, of Atlantic, L. H. Thompson, still at Bowman's Grove, and A. H. Post, in second year at Harlan, with Brother Story are all the pastors. Churches, 10; pastors, 4; baptisms, 80; present membership, 506. A gain of 27 over last year. In 1885 Atlantic reports 50 baptized; Harlan, 25; Bowman's Grove, 6; Newlon's Grove, 7, and Massena, one; a total of 89. Members in the Association, 446. Rev. M. D. Bevan has succeeded D. H. Simpson at Atlantic, J. A. Kees is preaching at Bowman's Grove, R. Corbett at Massena, a new organization, and A. F. Sharpnack at Wiota. Brother Sharpnack is still clerk of the Association.
1886 ... In 1886 the Association met at Atlantic for its Thirteenth Anniversary, and the name was changed to The Atlantic Baptist Association." Deacon Samuel Harlan had served the Association for twelve years as its Moderator, but by reason of "advancing years and failing strength., he was excused from further service, and S. B. J. Bryant, of Atlantic, was selected Moderator, and H. G. Curtis, clerk. Brother Bevan, of Atlantic, is the only pastor of a church in the Association who was reported as such last year. Rev. T. H. Sherman is preaching at Cumberland, Massena and Newlons Grove and J. R. Morris at Wiota. Only two baptisms are reported. Total membership 414 in ten churches. Deacon Samuel Harlan died since the meeting in 1886. Active measures have been taken that it is confidently expected will secure a better report for 1887.
Transcribed For Audubon County by Constance Diamond, December, 2013 fromHistorical Sketches of Iowa Baptists
by S. H. Mitchell, Burlington, Iowa: Burdette Co., 1886, pg. 393-400.