The Turkey River Association
For much of the matter contained in this Sketch we
are indebted to a history of the Turkey River
Association, written by Rev. Charles E. Brown and
printed in the minutes for 1875. The oldest churches
of this Association were found, first in the
Davenport, and afterwards in the Dubuque Association.
At the meeting of the Dubuque Association, held at
Delhi in 1860, a resolution was presented by Rev.
Charles E. Brown and adopted, recommending a division
for the purpose, to such churches as might desire to
enter into the formation of a new Association on the
north. At a meeting of brethren interested, during a
recess of the same session, a convention of delegates
from churches so desiring, was called to meet at West
Union in the following month.
Rev Charles E. Brown
This Convention was held in July 1860. An
introductory sermon was preached by Elder Brown.
Elder John Williams, of West Union, called the
Convention to order. Brother Brown was elected
Moderator and A. Bush, clerk. Revs. George Scott, L.
M. Newell, E. G. O. Groat and John Williams were
appointed a committee to draft Constitution and
By-Laws, which as reported by the committee, were
adopted, and the organization completed. The churches
named in the organization are: Erie, Illyria, New
Oregon, Oran, Rossville, Strawberry Point, Vernon
Springs, Waukon, Westfield and West Union. These are
10 churches, 6 pastors and 352 members. The pastors
were: George Scott, C. E. Brown, James Schofield, L.
M. Newell, A. Bush and John Williams.
In his historical paper, Brother Brown gives us
this information concerning the beginnings of Baptist
work in what is now the territory of the Turkey River
Association. The first Baptist Church in this
territory was organized by Elder Miles, in January,
1841, at Winnebago Mission, on Yellow River, in
Allamakee county, consisting of 11 members. Elder
Miles and some of the members removed to Wisconsin;
others left and this pioneer church soon lost its
visibility. This Elder Miles came from Indiana
and is supposed to have been the first Baptist
minister to preach the Gospel in Northeastern Iowa.
Two of the constituent members of this church
were still living in Iowa in 1875, ---John and Hiram
Frances one in Clayton county near National,
the other in Allamakee near Rossville.
The second Baptist church within the territory
was organized in 1848, by Elders B. F. Brabrook, Ira
Blanchard and C. E. Brown, in a settlement a short
distance northeast of Elkader, and called the First
Baptist Church of Clayton county. Several persons
were baptized on the day the church was
organized. Elder Blanchard was instrumental in
gathering this church, and traveled a distance of 40
miles and back to supply them with preaching once a
month. In 1849 we find this church represented by
Rev. Ira Blanchard in the State Convention, meeting
at Iowa City. Also in the report of the Executive
Board of the convention made at this same meeting, it
is stated that Rev. Ira Blanchard, on the 2nd of
October, 1848, was recommended to the Home Mission
Society, to preach at the Delaware county,
Cascade, Fairview and Clayton county churches, with
an appropriation of $100 for one year. The first
statistical account we have of this church is in
1861, when in the Davenport Association it is named
without a pastor, with these statistics. Received by
letter 11: by experience 1; dismissed 21; died 1;
present number 15. Soon after, or about this time the
First Baptist Church of Clayton county ceased to
exist. These organizations represent the first
beginnings of Baptist work in Northeast Iowa.
The third organization was at West Union, in 1852.
On the 19th day of May, 1853, this church
resolved to purchase a lot and proceed to erected
small house of worship, not to exceed in size 20x26
feet. This was the first meeting house built in the
territory of this Association. The second was built
by the church at Strawberry Point and dedicated
August 1857. Of the field to be cultivated by this
new Association, Rev. George Scott says in a report
to the convention in the fall of 1860, It
embraces a territory of a little more that 3,346
square miles, with a population of no less than
60,000. It has within its bounds only three Baptist
Church edifices, and one of these is so small that it
is not occupied. Allowing the other two to afford
accommodations for 500 each which is probably
beyond their capacity we have sanctuary
accommodations for only one in sixty, and one
minister to 8,571 souls. Truly the field is almost
The first annual meeting was held at Waukon,
September 6th, 1861. Rev. A. Bush preached the
introductory sermon, from Galatians VI:2. Rev. J.
Schofield was chosen Moderator and Alva Bush clerk.
The Baptist church at McGregor was received into the
Association with 23 members, Rev. L. M. Whitman
pastor. They have just completed a house of worship
and bid fair to exert an extensive influence in the
community and the Association. There are now in the
Association 13 churches, 7 pastors, 10 persons
baptized during the year, and 418 members. The
pastors are George Scott, Strawberry Point and Erie;
C. E. Brown, Lime Springs and Vernon Springs; L. M.
Whitman, McGregor; J. A. Pool, Rossville; J.
Schofield, Waukon; A. Bush, Westfield, and John
Williams, West Union.
The second annual meeting was held with the
McGregor Church Friday, June 13, 1862, the time of
meeting having been changed from September to June.
The introductory sermon was by Rev. John Williams of
West Union, from 1st Timothy I:11, The glorious
gospel of the blessed God. Brother Williams was
chosen Moderator, and G. M. Colgate of McGregor
clerk. Some evidence of revival appears in the
statistics. Two new churches have been organized this
year; the Union Church at Pleasant Ridge with 41
members, of whom 35 were received by baptism, and the
Paint Creek Church with 14, of whom 9 have been
baptized during the year. Seventy-three baptisms
reported and 525 members. The name of Brother Scott
is not found, but reappears two years later in the
Western Iowa Association. Brother James Sunderland is
preaching at Strawberry Point. Among the visitors is
Brother Jackson of Milwaukee, who soon after becomes
pastor at McGregor, Elder Whitman having resigned. At
Rossville Rev. John A. Pool had baptized 27 of the 73
Rev James Sunderland
The third Anniversary was at West Union, in 1863.
May 27, Elder John A. Pool preached the sermon.
Moderator C. E. Brown, clerk G. M. Colgate of
McGregor. Brother Bush read a Circular Letter upon
the Importance of Love for this Church.
The Fourth Anniversary was held at Strawberry Point
in 1864. Rev. John Jackson preached the sermon, C. E.
Brown, Moderator, Brother Colgate again clerk. The
Volga City Church was received and the Hardin Church
dropped. Brother Sunderland read a Circular Letter
upon The Importance of Fidelity in Maintaining
our Denominational Principles. Rev. J. B. Ward
is preaching at Wards Corners and Fayette, and
F. Hill at West Union. Pastor John Jackson is
succeeded at McGregor by Rev. C. T. Tucker. The
beginning of an honorable record of service for the
Master in Iowa. Brother Sunderland supplies the new
church at Volga City in connection with his home
church at Strawberry Point.
The Fifth Anniversary in 1865 was at Rossville,
commencing on Friday, June 2. Brother Tucker
presiding and Deacon Colgate still clerk. Sermon by
Brother Sunderland. The Ossian Church was received,
Rev. J. M. Wedgewood pastor. Organized in April,
1864. The McGregor Church have been specially
proposed, reporting 33 baptized, Volga City 10, and
Ossian 7; whole number of baptisms 57, members 563.
In 1866 McGregor was the place of meeting. Preacher
and Moderator, James Sunderland, clerk unchanged. The
York Church on Bro. Sunderlands field was
received was received with 14 members. The Paint
Creek and Illyria Churches have become extinct. This
was an inspiring session. The clerk made this
memorandum. On Monday morning the delegates
separated for their homes delighted with their
pleasant visit and successful anniversary, while the
friends in McGregor felt sad that the session was not
of longer duration. Collections were taken
amounting to $73.10 for the Convention, and $55.91
for the Missionary Union. The present writer had the
honor of taking that collection for the Convention,
Rev. C. F. Tolman representing the Missionary Union.
Rev. C. D. Farnsworth was at the time pastor at
Rossville and Waukon. Other pastors were Ward,
Wedgewood and Sunderland, Brother Tucker having about
this time closed his labors at McGregor and removed
to Charles City, Iowa.
In 1867 the Anniversary was at Strawberry Point.
The opening sermon was delivered by Elder J. B. Ward
of Wards Corners. Rev. F. Kidder Moderator,
Colgate clerk. Only six baptisms reported. Rev. John
Jackson returned to the pastorate at McGregor and
died during the year, greatly beloved and lamented.
Rev. John Jackson died at McGregor, Iowa, in
1867. He was born in England. About 1852 he
became pastor of the English Baptist church
at Agra, East Indies, and continued five
years. His health becoming impaired he left
Asia and came to America. He was for six
years pastor of the West Baptist church at
Milwaukee, and then removed to McGregor,
Iowa. After serving one year as pastor of the
church here he went back to India and settled
at Alahabad. But feeble health soon led him
to return to this country and to the bosom of
his friends at McGregor, where he
"peacefully departed this life to enter
into the joy of his lord. His friends
at Milwaukee claimed the honor of his remains
and he is buried at that place.
Deacon George M. Colgate of McGregor, the
excellent clerk of this Association since 1862, also
died full of faith and good works.
Deacon George M. Colgate of McGregor died
full of faith and good works. He was clerk of
the Turkey River Association for several
years, and was an unusually intelligent and
devoted Christian and church member. Brother
Colgate was converted when thirteen years of
age and baptized by the Late Wm. R. Williams,
D. D., being the first candidate baptized
into the fellowship of the Amity Street
Baptist Church of New York City, of which Dr.
Williams remained pastor until his death over
Brother Colgate was connected with the well-known
Colgate family of New York, and did not fail, by his
earnest and Christian life, to honor the name here in
the west. Rev. F. Kidder is the pastor and able
preacher at Strawberry Point and Volga City. D. S.
Starr, at Waukon and West Union, is Missionary of the
Association during the eventful years of the
Sixties seems like a part of our own
history. The Eighth Anniversary was held with the
church at West Union in 1868. Sermon by Rev. F.
Kidder, who was elected Moderator, and J. M.
Wedgewood clerk. Some advance movement is apparent in
the reports. Nearly all the churches are supplied
with preaching at least a part of the time. Three new
churches have been organized, viz.: Decorah,
Castilia, and Grand meadow, under the labors
respectively of Brethren Starr, Wedgewood, and
Hilton. Rev. J. M. Stifler (now Dr. Stifler of Penn.)
supplied the church at McGregor for a time. Volga
City was supplied by A. G. Emery, a member of the
church. Whole number of baptisms 39, members 540. In
1869 the ninth annual meeting was at Wards
Corners. A. W. Hilton preached the sermon. Deacon
Benjamin Morse of West Union was Moderator, L. F.
Carrier of Strawberry Point clerk. Rev. R. F. Powers
was pastor at Fayette and West Union, P. S. Whitman
at Lime Springs, S. Sill at Strawberry Point, and W.
Chapman at Vernon Springs, besides pastors before
named. The church at Wards Corners was formerly
Erie Church. Rains and high waters greatly hindered
the success of the meeting in 1869.
The tenth anniversary in 1870 was at Rossville,
preacher S. Sill, Moderator J. M. Wedgewood, clerk L.
F. Carrier. The Taylorsville Church was organized in
1870, F. Kidder pastor. Rev. W. C. Wright is
preaching at McGregor, L. L. Frisk at Waukon, and C.
J. B. Jackson at West Union. Also C. Spragg at Volga
City. There are now (1870) 16 churches, 12 pastors,
30 baptisms reported, and 605 members. The largest
church as to membership is Wards Corners, with
71. Only three others have over 50, and no church in
the Association has ever had 100 any one year. Met in
1871 at McGregor. Rev. W. Chapman, pastor for two or
three years at Vernon Springs, preached the sermon,
Moderator C. E. Brown, clerk Carrier. Rev. F. Kidder
has succeeded S. Sill at Strawberry Point. Lime
Springs entertained the body in 1872. Brother
Wedgewood preached the sermon, C. E. Brown clerk.
Brother Hilton closed, about this time, his labors in
this part of the state, and another year will be
found in Western Iowa. Rev. D. P. Maryatt is
supplying Council Hill, J. H. Beach Forrestville,
Thomas Ure Lime Springs, and G. M. Adams at Waukon.
Forrestville Church was received in 1871. Decorah and
Taylorsville Churches have disappeared. In 1878 met
at Waukon, C. E. Brown preacher and Moderator, Thomas
Ure clerk. Rev. E. K. Cressey, preaching at McGregor,
reported 36 baptized, Brother Ure at West Union 6,
Lime Springs 6, and Castalia 2. Total baptisms 50,
members 551. Rev. J. E. Rockwood was present
representing the Baptist Sunday School Union. Brother
Ure preached an annual missionary sermon, and a
collection of $40 was taken for the Convention. The
Forrestville and Volga City Churches disappear from
the records. Waukon and West Union are engaged in
The anniversary in 1874 was at Strawberry Point.
Rev. F. Kidder preached the opening sermon. Thomes
Ure, clerk. Rev. E. P. Dye is preaching at Rossville
and reports 65 baptisms, Council Hill reports 16, and
Rev. L. M. Whiting is pastor at Strawberry Point and
reports a new organization at Edgewood, with 13
baptisms and 42 members. Whole number of churches 14;
pastors 6; baptisms 106; members 671. A revival has
been enjoyed, greater, seemingly, than ever before in
this Association. The Fifteenth Anniversary in 1875
was held at McGregor. L. M. Whiting, annual preacher.
J. M. Wedgewood, Moderator, Thomas Ure, clerk. Rev.
J. C. Douglass preached for a short time at West
Union. At this meeting Rev. Charles E. Brown read his
history of the Association for our indebtedness to
which acknowledgement was made in the beginning of
this Sketch. Brother Morse wrote a circular letter
which was adopted and ordered printed in the Minutes.
The annual meeting in 1876 was at West Union. A.
A. Johnson, of West Union, clerk. A church had been
organized at Charmont and appears upon the records
with 10 members, and Volga City is restored with 12.
A committee, consisting of Brethren Whiting,
Wedgewood and Williams, had been appointed to visit
the brethren at Volga City during June, 1875. Rev.
John Brown is their pastor. Brother Wedgewood is
still pastor at Waukon, the only pastor left. Rev. L.
M. Whiting has removed from Strawberry Point to
Manchester, Epworth and Farley in the Dubuque
Association. Rev. C. H. Mitchelmore is at Strawberry
Point. The great revival at Rossville two years
before had been followed by the usual reaction, but
they rejoice that some seed fell upon good ground and
is bringing forth fruit to the glory of God. In 1877
Clearmont was the place of meeting. A. A. Johnson,
clerk. Rev. C. E. Brown has again taken up the gospel
trumpet at Lime Springs. Rev. M. H. Perry is
proclaiming the glad tidings at West Union and
Castalia entertained the meeting in 1878. Brother
Johnson still clerk. Rev. F. N. Eldridge has
succeeded Brother Wedgewood at Waukon. The Vernon
Springs Church has disappeared and Cresco Church
seems to take its place. Randalia has a church of 34
members, of whom 13 have been baptized during the
year, Rev. M. H. Perry pastor in connection with West
Union. Rev. E. W. Green is the preacher at Cresco and
Lime Springs. In 1879 Rossville was the place of
meeting. Rev. J. C. Harrington appears as preachers
at Wards Corners. Brother Green at Cresco is
sustained by the Convention, and a meeting house is
the great need there. From 1880 to 1886 the
anniversaries have been at Wards Corners,
Cresco, Waukon, West Union, Strawberry Point, Lime
Springs, and Rossville. A. A. Johnson continued to
serve as clerk until 1885, when Rev. F. W. C. Wiggin
was clerk, and in 1886 F. Y. Whitmore.
A church had been organized at Fort Athinson in
1880, and Elder C. E. Brown was pastor. Rev. E. W.
Green baptized 16 at Cresco. Rev. A. F. Sharpnack is
at Strawberry Point, and R. H. Shafto at Wards
Corners. M. H. Perry has removed from the Association
and become pastor at Fredericksburg, in the Cedar
Valley. The Castalia, Edgewood and Grand Meadow
Churches have disappeared from the list. In 1881 Rev.
E. W. Green had removed to Wisconsin and A. H. Carman
had succeeded him at Cresco, and F. N. Eldridge from
Waukon to Shenandoah in Southwestern Iowa. But M. H.
Perry had returned and was preaching at West Union.
The McGregor Church made no report. But two baptisms
were reported in the Association. These were in
Waukon. Rev. A. F. Sharpnack removed from Strawberry
Point to Audubon, in the west part of the State. In
1882 Brother Perry appeared at Strawberry Point and
Wards Corners, and Rev. Robert Smith was pastor
at Waukon. Only 11 persons were baptized and the
membership 485. In 1883 Pastor Robert Smith immersed
12, but there was little other advance. In 1884 Rev.
E. R. Pierce appeared as preacher at Lime Springs.
Brethren Carman and Perry are the only pastors. The
McGregor church finally disappears from the records.
This is the saddest case of church mortality in our
knowledge. A live town like McGregor! A church
containing the live elements that this once did, with
a good live Sabbath School, become completely
extinct! Can this be the final end?
In 1885 Rev. F. W. C. Wiggin had been laboring at
Waukon and perhaps some other points with marked
success. Baptisms at Waukon 23, Cresco 15, West Union
15, Rossville 7, Lime Springs 6, and Hawkeye and
Strawberry Point one each. Whole number of baptisms
68, members 511. Brother J. O. Dean was preaching at
Olwein and Randalia. Rev. M. H. Perry removes to
western Iowa, and after a brief stay in the Sioux
Valley is found preaching at Silver City in
southwestern Iowa. The year 1886 found Rev. G. H.
Starring at Waukon, and F. Bower at West Union. Other
pastors are Carman, Wedgewood, Brown and Kidder.
Number baptized 33, members 519. From reports since
the annual meeting there is reason to hope for an
increase and a better report in 1887. The Turkey
River Association occupies the territory comprising
the counties of Fayette, Clayton, Allamakee,
Winneshiek and Howard. It has been from the first a
most unfavorable soil for the growth of Baptist
churches, and as time has wrought its usual changes
in the character of the publications the unfavorable
conditions have increased instead of diminishing. A
large part of the population of the counties named is
foreign, and the Catholic church has here a very
strong hold and is increasing that hold by buying out
the settlers who remove farther west. There is also a
large Scandinavian population which is
anti-Baptistic. The largest Norwegian College in the
west is located within the territory of this
Association at Decorah. The brethren who have labored
on and held on in this barren field are worthy of all
praise for their fidelity to the principles we all
The church at Strawberry Point has had a history
that is worthy of special mention. Organized in 1856,
it appeared in the Dubuque Association with 21
members that year, Rev. George Scott pastor. This
brother seems to have remained as pastor most of the
time for six or seven years. The growth was never
rapid nor did it ever attain to a large membership
even for a village church, but among those connected
with it have been some of the brightest families that
Iowa has known, and from its ranks have come such
workers as Rev. Alva Bush, James Sunderland and wife
and John E. Clough and wife. Brother Clough may not
have been at any time a member of this church, yet
his home was there, and his wifes family, and
they are intimately associated in the thought of many
with Strawberry point. Few churches are so honored in
this respect. Brother Scotts ministry at this
place was one of faith if not of sight. His account
of their struggle to get a meeting house, we will
remember. They had come to a stand-still financially
and the work had to stop. Money was not to be had.
Finally the pastor went out among the farmers, and
prevailed with them to consecrate, perhaps one a
colt, another a calf or a pig, etc., etc. These
animals to be taken care of by the donors until ready
for market, when they became the property of the
church and were sold, and the work completed and paid
~Historical sketches of Iowa Baptists;
by S.H. Mitchell; Burlington, Iowa: Burdette
537 pgs.; Page 333 344
- transcribed for Clayton co. IAGenWeb by Constance