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HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF IOWA BAPTISTS
ON Friday October 23, 1863, a council of delegates from several Churches convened with the Baptist Church at Sidney, Fremont county, Iowa, for the purpose of forming a new Association. An introductory sermon was preached by Elder R. Alexander of West Union Association, Missouri, from 1st John 111:2. Rev. I. M. Seay was chosen Moderator and Rev. C. C. Baird clerk, protem. The same officers were continued in the permanent organization. Letters were presented from the Churches at Sidney, with 40 members; Nodaway, 56; Clarinda, 38; Lewis, 53; and Milford, 23. Also from Glenwood with 30 members, Big Grove 26 and Silver Creek 22. Glenwood and Silver Creek seem to be new organizations. The others are all from the Bedford Association. A Constitution and By-Laws were adopted, and thus was organized the Southwestern Iowa Baptist Association with 8 Churches, 4 pastors, and 288 members. The pastors were E. W. Hall, Big Grove, I. M. Seay, Clarinda, A. Martin, Glenwood, and C. C. Baird, Lewis.|
1864.. The Association met for its first anniversary with the Church at Clarinda, Page county, in 1864 on Friday before the second Sabbath in September. The introductory sermon was preached by Elder I. M. Seay from Deut. 1:30. Brother Seay was elected Moderator and James W. Brown clerk. The Bedford church with 79 members, Platte Branch 12, and Red Oak 12, presented letters and were received. There are now 11 churches, 85 baptisms reported, and 497 members. A Missionary Board was appointed and Rev. J. C. Otis elected Missionary of the Association. Though beginning missionary work in its own name and under direction of its own Board, there is hearty sympathy with other missionary organizations. Collections were taken at this first anniversary for the Foreign and Home Mission Societies, and for the State Convention. During the year 27 have been baptized at Lewis, 19 at Milford, and 32 at Sidney. Rev. C. C. Baird is pastor at Lewis and Milford, I. M. Seay at Sidney, Bedford and Clarinda, J. A. Martin at Silver Creek and J. Lambert at Platte Branch.
1865.. In 1865, the Association convened with the Milford Church, Montgomery county. Sermon by Rev J. C. Renfro. I. M. Seay Moderator, James W. Brown, clerk. The Nishnabotana Church was received. The churches in this vicinity are suffering from their proximity to the late Rebellion, and the consequent distraction of the public mind, nevertheless there has been some revival, and 71 baptisms are reported. Rev. J. C. Otis, the Missionary of the Association, who is also commissioned by the State Convention, has been very successful. He has held eleven protracted meetings, baptized 60 persons, and received into the churches 53 by letter and experience. At the meeting in 1865 a "Board of Conference and Solicitors" was appointed for the "South Western Iowa Seminary."
1866.. The anniversary in 1866 was at Sidney. Introductory sermon by Rev. J. C. Otis from Luke XV:10. Officers the same as last year. The Tabor and Providence Churches were received, Tabor 14 members, Providence 6. The Missionary of the Association and Convention this year was Rev. I. M. Seay, who labored nine months and resigned on account of failing health. The annual report of the Convention Board says: "In no part of the State are there more earnest and noble missionary spirits than in that body. In co-operation with the Convention they did not only as we had expected, but went far beyond, and gave most liberal contributions into your treasury. You will be ready to help them when they shall ask again. " In addition to $350 paid to Brother Seay, $130 were paid into the general treasury. Mention is made elsewhere of a missionary meeting at Glenwood during this year under review, in which, in a single collection $74.20 were contributed. It was decided not to assume control of the "South Western Seminary," but Sidney was endorsed as a suitable place for such an institution. These resolutions reveal the deep interest felt in educational matters, though the institution never materialized.
1867.. The meeting in 1867 was at Bedford, sermon by Rev. R. R. Hanley, Moderator and clerk the same as the last two years. The Middle Valley Church was received. There are now 14 Churches, 11 ordained ministers, 81 baptisms reported, and 777 members. Rev, Wm. F. Arnold has been employed as Missionary Colporteur, by the Association in cooperation with the American Baptist Publication Society, and the work is reported as very satisfactory.
1868.. In 1868 the annual meeting was at Glenwood. Rev. T. F. Thickstun preached the sermon. Rev. J. C. Otis Moderator, James W. Brown clerk. Four new Churches received. Council Bluffs, 19 members; Harlan, 26 ; Buchanan, 26 ; and Bartlett, 14. The ordained ministers, most of them, probably pastors, are Revs. J. C. Otis, Glenwood; C. C. Baird, Bedford; Wm. F. Arnold and R. R. Hanley, Tabor; I. M. Seay and S. E. Baldwin, Sidney ; B. S. F. Cake and Silas White, Clarinda ; T. F. Thickstun, Council Bluffs ; James Lambert and A. Blankenship, Harlan ; P. Andrews, Quincy ; M. F. Williams, Hamburg James Morris, Lewis John Evans, ; ; Bedford and J. A. Martin and C. L. West, Glenwood. The beautiful edifice of the Glenwood Church was dedicated on the Sabbath during this Association, Rev. G. J. Johnson preaching the sermon. A committee of seven brethren were appointed to work together for the organization and establishment of a Baptist Church in Hamburg.
1869.. In 1869 the Association met at Sidney Rev. C. C. Baird preached from Gallatians vi: 1. Rev. J. C. Otis, Moderator, C. M. Robins, of Harlan, clerk. The Atlantic church was received with 11 members, Hamburg 46, and Shiloh 14. Rev. James M. Smith, who, about 1864 had removed to Indiana, has returned and settled at Bedford. The Glenwood, Bedford and Sidney Churches now number over 100 each, Lewis 86 and Harlan 66. None others above 50. Council Bluff's has 46 members. Brother Thickstun and his family have begun a heroic effort to establish a Baptist Church in that city. Rev. J. W. Roe is preaching at Sidney.
1870.. The Seventh Anniversary was held at Lewis, in 1870. Rev. J. W. Roe preached the sermon. Moderator, Rev. J. M. Smith; clerk, L. Bentley, of Sidney. The Villisca, Sciola, and Tarkio Churches were received. A number of churches were struggling to build houses. Rev. J. W. Roe had labored six months as missionary, and had baptized 108 persons. At the middle of the year the Board released him at the earnest request of the Sidney Church to become their pastor. A great advance has been made. The Bedford Church now numbers 204 and there are in the Association 22 churches, 10 pastors, 183 baptisms reported, and 1,166 members.
1871.. The next meeting was at Red Oak. Brother Currier, who was to preach the sermon, not being able his place was filled by Rev. T. F. Thickstun. J. C. Otis, Moderator, Rev. C. Brooks, Grant post office, clerk. The Shenandoah, Pleasant Grove, Lacy Grove and Civil Bend Churches were received. Another year of almost phenomenal growth. Baptized 226, added in all 447, and members 1,451. Pleasant Grove reports 48 baptisms; Sidney 66; Clarinda 20; Glenwood 16, and Civil Bend and Council Bluffs 15 each. Nineteen of the 26 Churches report baptisms. Rev. B. H. Brasted is preaching at Atlantic and Lewis, Rev. W. P. Pattison at Red Oak, and J. W. Roe at Villisca.
1872.. In 1872 the Association assembled at Villisca. Sermon by Rev. J. C. Otis from 2d. Corinthians X:45. Rev. W. P. Pattison Moderator, G. W. Gunnison of Shenandoah clerk. Memory, Page county, Riverton in Fremont, Newlon's Grove in Cass, and Malvern in Mills counties, were new churches received. Churches 30, pastors 9, baptisms 160, members 1590. Resolutions were adopted favoring a Baptist Academy for the Western Slope and encouraging Rev. A. Robbins in his effort to establish the Baptist Beacon for Iowa. In 1873 the Association met at Hamburg. Annual sermon by Rev. James M. Smith, who was made Moderator and Rev. G. W. Gunnison clerk. Rev. Arthur Stott is preaching at Atlantic. G. W. Robey at Hamburg, J. R. Shanafelt at Red Oak and Malvern, E. G. 0. Groat at Harlan and Avoca, W. J. Gates at Liberty, C. L. Butts at Fremont, L. H. Thompson at Percival, W. C. Cunningham at Pleasant Grove, E. Burch at Big Grove, D. C. Ellis at Carbon; and last year, W. A. Cain at Malvern, J. Lambert at Harlan, T. Muxlow at Riverton and Sidney, and R. R. Hanley at Milford. There were 193 baptisms reported and 1654 members. The Nodaway Church has disbanded. Rev. J. C. Otis of Glenwood is overworked, and is given a three months furlough. Rev. T. F. Thickstun of Council Bluffs resigns and becomes Secretary of the State Convention.
1874.. In 1874 the eleventh anniversary was held with the Bedford Church. Rev. G. W. Robey preached from John 11:17, "The zeal for thy house consumes me. (Bible Union Aversion.) Rev. J. M.. Smith Moderator, G. W. Robey clerk. The Atlantic, Big Grove, Harlan, and Newlon's Grove churches have united in forming the Prairie Association, and cease their connection with this body. A committee report in favor of "a new Association from the eastern part of the Southwestern, and the western part of the East Grand River Associations." There are yet in this Association 94 churches, 14 pastors, 209 baptisms are reported, and 1602 members. Rev. Wm. Tilley is pastor at Bedford, E. C. Cady at Glenwood, J. W. Roe at Malvern, Amos Pratt at Shenandoah, W. A. Dorward at Milford and Sciola, and D. C. Ellis at Carbon near Quincy. Rev. R. R. Hanley has been holding the fort at Tabor for several years. Rev. J. C. Otis is still living at Glenwood but very feeble. In 1875 the Association met with the Percival Church. Sermon by Rev. Amos Pratt, who was elected Moderator and W. S. Goodell of Emerson clerk. 206 baptisms were reported, and 1730 members. Rev. T. J. Arnold of Plattesmouth, Nebraska, has labored successfully a part of the year as Missionary of the Association.
The Thirteenth Anniversary was held in 1876 with the Clarinda church. Rev. D.C. Ellis preached the sermon, Rev. \V. P. Pattison, Moderator, W. S. Goodell, clerk. To this occasion belonged the sad, and yet not unexpected duty of recording the death of the greatly beloved, Rev. J. C. Otis, of Glenwood. We copy in full the report of the Obituary Committee: " It, is the painful duty of your committee to report an unusual number of deaths during the past .year, many of whom were most faithful workers in our Zion. Prominent among those who have fallen asleep in Jesus, is our beloved brother, Rev. J. C. Otis. To speak that name is to use a household word in all western Iowa, that will ever stir the hearts of the thousands that knew him only to love him. With his name will ever be associated pleasant memories of happy meetings and sad partings. His was a life of unremitting toil in the Master's Kingdom, inspiring us all to noble deeds. His death was a triumph awarded only to those who fall with the armor on." As recommended a new Association—the East Nodaway has formed to the east of this. There are now in this body 23 churches, 7 pastors, 196 persons baptized during the year, and 1,653 members. Malvern has become the largest church, with 210 members, 45 baptized during the year.
In 1877 the Fourteenth Anniversary assembled at Emerson. Rev. J. H. Pratt, pastor. Sermon ^by Rev. L. E. Martin, of Hamburg, Rev. W. P. Pattison, Moderator, H. C. French, of Red Oak, clerk. The Essex, Fairview and Clarinda (Colored) Churches were received. Rev. J. W. Roe, of Malvern, died i: October, 1876. He was chairman of the committee that made the excellent report of Rev. J. C. Otis, given above. So soon has he been called to follow. A full notice of him will be found in "Obituary Notes.*' The decease is also mentioned of Sister Woodrow, of the Glenwood church. She and her sister, Mrs. J. V. Hinchman, are remembered as bearing almost alone, for years, the burden of keeping-life in the Glenwood Church, when the present writer first knew them, and the Church; and right nobly did they stand by their colors till the victory came. The Council Bluffs Church, in 1875, united with the new Association called the Prairie Association, afterwards the " Council Bluffs." Rev. O. T. Conger has taken the place of the lamented Roe, as pastor at Malvern. Rev. S. C. Sale is at Glenwood. Rev. C. Tilbury is preaching at Clarinda and Amity and Rev. John Davies at Riverton.
The annual meeting in 1878 was at Riverton, sermon by Rev. S. C. Sale, W. P. Pattison Moderator, H. C. French clerk. Rev. H. B. Foskett has become pastor at Shenandoah and Essex, and A. V. Bloodgood at Red Oak. There are 25 churches, 11 pastors, 197 baptisms are reported, and 1687 members. In 1879, met at Glenwood. Introductory sermon by H. B. Foskett, text, 1st Thessalonians 11:4. Rev. J. H. Pratt Moderator, H. C. French clerk. The Carbon church has united with the East Nodaway Association. Rev. T. F. Borchers has succeeded S. C. Sale at Glenwood, after an interval of nearly a year. Rev. J. B. Edmonson is preaching at Riverton, and Rev. John Barr at Villisca and Sciola. The wife of Rev. L. M. Newell, late pastor at Villisca, died during the year. Rev. George Weavers is preaching at Civil Bend and Lacy Grove. Four pastors are on their third year on their present fields, two on the second and eight on the first.
In 1880 the seventeenth anniversary was held with the church at Hamburg, Rev. J. H. Pratt preached the sermon. Text, 2d. Kings 11:10, "Thou hast asked a hard thing." H. B. Foskett Moderator, H. C. French clerk. Rev. H. B. Foskett, Jr. has been preaching at Clarinda three months, but has returned to his studies at Morgan Park. Rev. F. W. Parsons has settled at Glenwood„ Rev. T. F. Borchers was not able to continue there on account of ill health. Rev. F. Hill is pastor at Hamburg. Rev. O. T. Conger has resigned at Malvern and Rev. A. H. Rhodes is pastor there, and Rev. E. P. Savage at Red Oak, Brother Bloodgood having removed from there. Shenandoah have had to give up their place of worship, leaving them but one alternative, to build or disband. They resolved to build, and have a house nearly completed which will cost $3,000.
1881.. Malvern entertained the Association in 1881. Rev. F. W. Parsons is preacher, F. Hill Moderator, H. C. French clerk. Rev. L. L. Cloyd is preaching at Clarinda, A. W. Webb at Coin, P. M. Best at Sidney and Lacy Grove, and F. N. Eldridge at Shenandoah. Rev. H. B. Foskett is supplying Riverton in connection with Essex. Rev. T. M. Coffey has been preaching at Silver City since 1880, and Rev. W. K. Miller at Villisca. The church at Coin is called Bethel in the digest of letters. It was organized Nov. 29, 1880, as a result of meetings held by Rev. J. W. Thompson, was recognized and pastor Webb ordained since, and admitted to the Association in 1881. The Ingraham Church organized in 1876 has been changed to Silver City. Rev. J. H. Pratt has resigned at Emerson, after a successful service of four years. He and his family are greatly missed.
1882.. In 1882 the Association met at Shenandoah. Rev. J. C. H. Reed has settled at Emerson, and preached the introductory sermon. H. B. Foskett, Moderator, J. S. Frazee, of Glenwood, clerk. Rev. C. T. Tucker has begun work at Clarinda, Rev. J. C. Foster is pastor of the Colored Church, where Rev. J. A. Baker had been since 1878. Rev. H. B. Foskett, Jr., was ordained pastor at Red Oak, July 11, 1882. Rev. E. G. Trask is preaching at Silver City. Sidney report 36 baptized. Brother Best having resigned Rev. R. R. Hanley is kindly supplying. Nineteen have been baptized at Malvern, Rev. A. H. Rhodes still pastor, and 13 at Hamburg. Rev. F. Hill has resigned, and goes to Grand Junction.
1883.. In 1883 the Twentieth Anniversary was at Red Oak. Sermon by Rev. A. H. Rhodes, Rev. C. T. Tucker, Moderator, W. S. Goodell, clerk. The total membership is 1,335; a falling off from last year of 102. This is probably in part owing to a cutting off of dead branches. Rev. J. F. Leek is preaching at Bethel, Rev. D. F. Beebe at Hamburg, and O. T. Conger, D. D., at Shenandoah. Brother Conger returns to this field after an absence of three years.
1884.. The meeting in 1884 was at Emerson. Brother C. T. Tucker preached the sermon, F. W. Parsons Moderator, W. S. Goodell clerk. There are more evidences of revival than for several years; 142 have been baptized, and there is a net gain in membership of 130 with no new organizations. Shenandoah have baptized 25, Silver City 23, and Emerson and Malvern each 18. Rev. G. W. Robey is pastor at Malvern, A. H. Rhodes has removed to Sidney. The meeting in 1885 was at Silver City. Brother Robey preached the annual sermon. The 1st Baptist Church at Council Bluff's, and the Scandinavian Church of the same city, were received into the body. Also the Lone Willow Church of Fremont county. Owing to serious and seemingly insurmountable difficulties the old 1st Baptist Church in Council Bluffs disbanded, first transferring their fine property to the Home Mission Society, and the present organization was formed, received the property, and now reports 91 members. Rev. D. H. Cooley, D. D, is pastor. Rev. H. A. Reichenback is pastor of the Scandinavian Church, and they have 57 members. They are building a commodious house of worship, and give evidence of a healthy life. The old missionary, I. M. Seay is pastor of the new Lone Willow Church with 11 members. Rev. J. L. Shoemaker is pastor at Shenandoah, and Gilman Parker at Emerson, beginning in the fall of 1884. Baptisms 142, members 1521, in 22 churches with 12 pastors.
1886.. In 1886 the Association met at Sidney. Another prosperous year ; 234 baptisms reported, members 1798. This is a net gain for the year of 277. D. S. Dodd is pastor at Bethlehem, A. Jacobs at Greenfield, P. M. Wadley at Hamburg and Mount Olive, N. M. Allen at Pleasant Valley, I. W. Edson at Red Oak, and John Barr at Villisca. Others as before noted. Brother Rhodes has resigned at Sidney, and probably A. Jacobs at Greenfield. Elder Graham is pastor at Riverton. Of the 234 baptisms in 1886, Council Bluffs reports 27; Glenwood 55; Greenfield 39; Shenandoah 39; Percival 16; Pleasant Valley 14; Bethlehem 13; Sidney 9, and Emerson 8. This is a gratifying evidence of a general revival spirit. Probably no part of the State has shared more largely in the displays of saving grace.
The Southwestern Association is, at the time this history closes, a very healthy and vigorous body, well manned in its ministry and possessed of a spirited and aggressive membership. These same qualities have indeed marked its history through the 22 years of its existence, and were projected into its earliest life by the elements of the Bedford Association, which occupied the ground before it. Probably few Associations in the west have had a more prosperous career during the last quarter of a century. The Association has always given a hearty welcome to the representatives of our Denominational Societies and this welcome has attracted to its anniversaries to an unusual degree, talent and inspiration from abroad. Its records also show a home talent consecrated to these great enterprises, equaled by few similar bodies. Comment upon the facts just mentioned, in their connection with what was said of the growth and prosperity of the body, is unnecessary.
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