Carroll County IAGenWeb
Church History
Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists, 1886
S. H. Mitchell
Published by Burdette Co., Burlington, Iowa
Pages 464-470
The Coon Valley Association Organized in 1871
--Dallas, Guthrie, and parts of Boone, Greene, and Carroll Counties 1871 to 1886.

THE COON VALLEY BAPTIST Association was constituted in 1871, with eight churches, having four pastors and 330 members. The churches with the number of members reported the following year, were. Coon Valley, 41; Calamus Creek, 20; Perry, 44; Panora, 26; Panther Creek, 28; Pleasant Valley, 16; North Union, 61 and Guthrie Center, 59. The Guthrie Center, Panora, and Panther Creek churches were from the Western Iowa Association; the old North Union Church from the Upper Des Moines, and the other four were new organizations. The pastors were E. J. Wood, J. Hill, J. Carson and A. E. Simons. Brother Simons was the first clerk.

The second meeting was at Perry. Rev. J. Hill, Moderator, A. E. Simons, clerk, Deacon A. Parker treasurer. Father Hill preached the introductory sermon. 1872. The Mt. Zion Church was received. Among the pastors in 1872 in addition to those named before, are Rev. E. R. Swain at Coon Valley, Ed. Tuffin at Panora, and the venerable W. J. Sparks at North Union. A timely circular letter written by A. E. Simons, on "The duty of rendering to pastors a just compensation for their labors," was adopted and printed in the Minutes, Baptisms reported in 1872, 82, members 309. The anniversary in 1873 was at Guthrie Center. The opening sermon was by Rev. George Scott. A. E. Simons Moderator, Deacon C. F. Reed clerk. The Dexter Church was received with 13 members, but no pastor. The state of religion was reported very low. Only two baptisms in the Association. The Perry and North Union churches have completed meeting houses. The Perry and Guthrie Center churches report Baptist Sabbath Schools; two others report union schools.

In 1874 met at North Union. Introductory sermon by J. Hill, Moderator George Scott, clerk A.E. Simons. Mount Zion Church has become extinct, but the Stuart and Freedom churches were received. Rev. George Scott is preaching at Dexter and Stuart. There is some increase of spiritual interest, 48 baptisms reported, and 389 members, A gain of 90. A missionary committee, appointed the year before, had employed Rev. Wm. Wood of Cedar Falls for three months, at a salary of $50 per month. He had labored in protracted meetings at Perry, Guthrie Center, Calamus Creek and North Union. The work had been self sustaining, enough being received on the field to pay all expenses. Brother Wood had been entirely laid aside by sickness for some time. The fifth anniversary was held in 1875 at Perry. Introductory sermon by Rev. Wm. J. Sparks, Rev. H. S. Cloud Moderator, A. E. Simons clerk. The church at Perry had had a great revival and baptized 53. They have enlarged their parsonage and made it a commodious dwelling place for their pastor's family. They have a prosperous mission station at Peoples Settlement, 8 miles east, which will ere long become a self-sustaining church. Baptisms reported in the Association 75, other additions 43, members 475. The amount reported for church expenses, $2,450; grand total for all purposes $2571.20.

In 1870 the Association met with the Freedom Church. Rev. H. S. Cloud preached the annual sermon and was elected Moderator, Brother Simons still clerk. The churches were all represented except Panora, and four new churches were received. These were Richland Center, North Branch, South Coon and Dallas Center. Rev. J. Carson is preaching at Richland Center and South Coon, H.S. Fish at North Branch, where there are 53 members, and at Guthrie Center, and Rev. Demas Robinson at Stuart. Brother Robert McCoy, of the Calamus Creek Church, wrote a circular letter on "The faithful performance of work by the Lay Members of the church," which was read and adopted and ordered printed in the minutes. It was the writer's privilege to witness the baptism of Brother McCoy in 1868, he having been previously a member of the Church of England. The circular letter written by him shows a very intelligent and just view of the duties of a Christian and a member of the church.

In 1877 the Association met with the Coon Valley church. Brother Simons preached the sermon and was Moderator, C. F. Reed clerk. The Dexter church had disbanded. Rev. E. G. O. Groat was preaching at Guthrie Center and Dallas Center, Brother Wm. Hooks at Panther Creek, C. F. Reed at Coon Valley and North Branch, J. F. McCluen at Richland Center, J. M. Gilbert at Calamus Creek, H. S. Cloud at Freedom and Pleasant Valley, J. Carson at South Coon, A. E. Simons at Perry, W. J. Sparks at North Union, and J. A. Nash at Stuart.

The Association met in 1878 for its Eighth Anniversary with the Peoples Mission, of the Perry Church. Rev. J. Z. Zimmerman was, by a vote of the body, invited to preach the opening sermon. Rev. J. F. Childs, of Des Moines, was elected Moderator, C. F. Reed, clerk. The Casey Church was received with 7 members, C. F. Reed, pastor. Brother Childs is preaching at Stuart and A. J. Delano at Guthrie Center. Rev. Wm. J. Sparks died June 30, 1878. The church at Stuart have bought a house of worship and fitted it up at a cost of $464.50. Met in 1879 at Guthrie Center. Rev. J. F. Childs preached the annual sermon and was elected Moderator, C. F. Reed, clerk. Rev. A. E. Simons, who has been pastor of the Perry Church from its organization, and one of the most efficient members of this body through the ten 3^ears of its history, has removed and taken up work at Parkersburg, in the Cedar Valley Association. Rev. J. M. Gilbert, of Calamus Creek, is also missed from the councils of this Association, but Rev. A. Hunt appears as pastor at Coon Valley and H. W. Wilson at Perry. The North Union Church has returned to the Upper Des Moines Association, and the Peoples Mission has become a separate organization and united with that body also. Rev. H. S. Cloud has removed to Corning, Adams county, Iowa. The departure of Rev. J. Carson from this Association seems to have been a year or two earlier.

The anniversary in 1880 was held at Perry. Introductory sermon by W. F. Hooks. Moderator, A. Hunt, clerk and treasurer, A. D. Phelps of Perry. This anniversary was saddened and chastened by the death, December 4, 1879, of the beloved father, Rev. Joshua Hill of Guthrie Center, who had " by reason of strength reached four score years." The Casey, Richland Center and Dallas Center churches disappear from the records. Bro. E. Hatfield appears as pastor at Calamus Creek, A. Mackey at Guthrie Center, and L. W. Atkins at Stuart. Other pastors are W. F. Hooks and A. Hunt. There are now 10 churches, 5 pastors, 39 baptisms reported and 408 members. Of the baptisms 22 were at Guthrie Center. From 1881 to 1885 the anniversaries were held respectively at South Coon, Panther Creek, Fredonia, Pleasant Valley, and Peoples church. The Moderators in the order named were A. Hunt 4 years, and A. E. Simons ;clerks A. D. Phelps two years, A. E. Simons two years, and F. M. Gaines.

In 1881 Rev. A. Mackey preached the annual sermon, "A thrilling sermon from James 1:22, 'Be 3^e doers of the word, and not hearers only.' Rev. L. D. Lamkin was preaching; at Perry and Rev. J. M. Gilbert removed to Creighton, Nebraska. The Guthrie Center church spent $500 in permanent improvements. A Women's Missionary Society for the Association was organized. Sister R. E. Bailey president, Naomi Mackey secretary, and Sister R. B. Reed treasurer. In 1882 Rev, C. F. Reed preached the annual sermon. The new Bethel church of Audubon county was received, Charles Berry pastor. Rev. A. E. Simons, late in 1882, returned to his old field at Perry. In 1883 Rev. Charles Berry preached the introductory sermon. The Peoples Baptist church was received from the Upper Des Moines dissociation. Rev. Harmon Hunt pastor, with 35 members. Rev. W. A. Welsher of Des Moines was preaching at Stuart. During the Sabbath session of the Association at Freedom in 1883 the exercises were suspended to hear the experience of a sister who wished to unite with the Panther Creek church. This sister, who lived several miles from the place of meeting of any Baptist church, had been converted while at home alone, but desired to follow her Lord in baptism and find fellowship with his people. Her experience was clear and satisfactory, and she was unanimously received by the delegates of the church with which she wished to unite. Two others, a man and his wife, who had been immersed and were formerly members of the United Brethren church were also received into the fellowship of the Freedom church at the close of the morning service. It was voted to hold quarterly meetings of the Association, the object being "to pray and talk and preach the gospel, and plan for more and better work in the broad field the Lord has given us.''

In 1880 the Coon Rapids and Mount Zion Churches were received. Rev. A. Mackey was pastor at Coon Rapids, and A. Hunt at Mount Zion. Rev. R. R. Albin was preaching at Stuart. Baptisms were reported by the Peoples Church, 27; Perry, 11; Mt. Zion, 11; Stuart, 7; South Coon, 5; Coon Rapids, 3; Freedom, 2, and Panther Creek, one; making 67 in all; other additions, 52; total membership, 533. Rev. A. Mackey, besides Coon Rapids, is supplying New Bethel and North Branch. In 1885 the Dallas Center Church reappears with 45 members reported, but no statistics. A church called Union also appears with 41 members, A. Mackey pastor. Rev. F. M. Gaines is preaching at Freedom. In 1886 we find Rev. D. L. Clouse settled at Perry, F. M. Gaines preaching at Freedom, Pleasant Valley and Peoples, A. Mackey at Union and W. F. Hooks at Panther Creek. Baptisms 36; membership 548. Rev. A. E. Simons has yielded to the necessity of taking rest for a season from the full work of the pastorate, and is in business at Emerson, Iowa, but still preaching the Word as occasion offers. It is much to the credit of Rev. Wm. F. Hooks and the Panther Creek Church that, raised up and called into the ministry among that people, he has been enabled, regularly, to break unto them the Bread of life without interruption for ten year; first as licensed by them, and afterwards, January 29, 188U, Ordained. The important question of continuing in one place in the ministry has not been without consideration in the Coon Valley Association. At the meeting in 1885 the Circular Letter, written by Mrs. Naomi Mackey, treated with apathy the subject of the pastoral relation, and especially the advantages of long pastorates and how to secure them. We append one or two extracts. "A strangers first sermon may please the people immensely because it enunciates and explains some truth already thoroughly understood by them. The sermon may not lead them one step higher in Christian knowledge, but their self love has been tickled to find the stranger agreeing with them and stating their views eloquently. The pastor who has been long on the field learns where his people are weakest and on what points they most need instruction, and can govern himself accordingly. An old friend whose love has been proved so as to be beyond a doubt can do this much more efficiently than a recent acquaintance." That is, can reprove, rebuke, and give the needed instruction to strengthen the weak places. "A magnetic orator, without a clean heart, can rouse and fire and sway an audience by his presence and oratory and the result be little permanent good and much permanent evil. *** But when personal magnetism and the grace and charm of oratory are backed by a known character of Christian consistency, then the oratory is a power for good. The pastor is to be a care-taker—one to lake care of the church. The preacher who stops with the church only a few months or a year hardly gets acquainted with the people, certainly not so acquainted as to love them and care for them as a pastor should. *** Even a farm that changes tenants every year is soon overgrown with weeds and in a dilapidated condition."

This Association has some elements of history peculiar to itself. Bordering closely upon the capitol of the State on one side, centrally located, and cultivating a district comprising in whole and in part, six counties, it has but one county seat church, and that not strong. It has few churches located in the towns. It has had less missionary aid, perhaps, relatively, than any other Association in the State. It has fewer meeting houses, or has had until recently, than other parts of the State. The churches are weak, and yet there has been a noble holding on and a faithful cultivating of the field with the means at hand.

By the advent of railroads and mining interests, changes are being wrought that betoken more rapid growth, and emphasize the importance of a more vigorous cultivation of this field and increased cooperation between the Association and our General Missionary Societies, State and Home.

~Transcribed and submitted by: Constance, IAGenWeb volunteer


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