IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.

A History of
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Hopewell church

Several years ago I copied a list names associated with Hopewell Church because my ggg-grandfather was on the list. Unfortunately I didn't record the source, filed it and forgot about it until I came across the tattered photocopy in my files. The
1882 History of Clayton co., Mallory twp. gives brief mention to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, but I didn't associate it with the Hopewell Church until running across a full text transcription of the 'History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church' on the internet. I believe that the members of this congregation lived in the southern townships of Clayton co. (Millville & Mallory twps) and northern Delaware co. (in/near Colesburg, Colony twp.)

Although the book itself is in the public domain, having been written in 1899, I believe in respecting the work of others & so have used only exerpts of the on-line transcription under the US Copyright Law for "fair use". The researcher should visit the full text version for links to footnote(s) indicated by a bold number in parenthesis within the text. (link to full text is at bottom of this page)

Sharyl Ferrall, Clayton co. IAGenWeb coordinator, June 2005



[pg 336] The beginnings of the work of Cumberland Presbyterians in Iowa before the close of the third period (1842) were so small that it has seemed best to reserve the history of the origin of the church in that State for this chapter.

When David Lowry, in 1834, planted his mission in Iowa, the whole of that country except some small settlements was occupied by Indians, though treaties for its cession had been agreed upon. There were no Protestant churches on Iowa soil. At the points where Indian agents were stationed there were United States troops and some French families.

Mr. Lowry organized the first church of our people, and the first Protestant church in Iowa, in 1834. It was composed of soldiers, officers of the United States army, government employees, and a few Indians. When the Indians and soldiers were removed that was the end of the organization.

Iowa was organized as a separate Territory with its own Territorial government in 1838. Three years before this a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, the Rev. Joseph Howard, settled among the emigrants in Iowa. The next year, May, 1836, the Rev. Cyrus Haynes traveled in this country and organized a church in Mr. Howard's house. Counting Mr. Lowry's organization at the mission, this church in Mr. Howard's house was the second Cumberland Presbyterian congregation in Iowa. At the organization of
[pg 337] this church Mr. Haynes baptized Mr. Howard's infant son. That son is now the Rev. J.S. Howard, of Oxford, Mississippi.

In 1853 the Rev. J.G. White was laboring in Iowa as an independent evangelist, that is independent of any salary from church boards. The first camp-meeting of which mention is made was held by him and B.B. Bonham, August 1843, at Mount Pleasant. Thirteen professions were reported.

Like all the pioneer congregations in the new Territories, each of these Iowa Cumberland Presbyterian Churches embraced a large area, requiring several preaching places. In 1844 the Sangamon Synod ordered J.G. White, B.B. Bonham, Joseph Howard, and J.M. Stockton to constitute the Iowa Presbytery. In 1846 there were nine congregations represented in this presbytery.

In 1848 the Rev. Neil Johnson rode the circuit in Iowa, and received from the settlers two hundred and fifteen dollars for his services. There were then six ordained ministers (one had been deposed), and twelve congregations in Iowa Presbytery.

All through this early period there were in Iowa many Mormons and Catholics. Ruffianism was everywhere. Whisky and pistols, outlaws and murderers, mingled with the heterogeneous mass of emigrants. It required preachers with sterling courage to make their way in the midst of such a population. Men like J.G. White seemed to enjoy such hardships and perils. The Rev. John Cameron and the Rev. Wm. Lynn are also mentioned among the pioneers of Iowa,(7) but no facts or incidents connected with their work have been secured. The Rev Benjamin Hall was among the successful laborers in that field.

It was a favorite scheme of David Lowry to concentrate in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota a strong home missionary force. One of the warmest debates ever heard in the rooms of the Missionary Board at Lebanon, Tennessee, was on that question. That debate is mentioned in Dr. Richard Beard's diary, and he speaks in terms of the. deepest mortification and regret about the failure of Mr. Lowry's plans. Several of his letters, written to Lowry, on this subject are preserved.

[pg 338] In 1856 the board commissioned the Rev. J.C. Armstrong to go as missionary to the North-west. It was Mr. Lowry's wish that the missionary should begin his work at Prairie du Chien. Taking letters of Introduction, this young man, just out of the theological school, set out for his first field of labor. The Rev. J.M.B. Roach, who was appointed to accompany him, failed in health, and Armstrong went alone. On his arrival at Prairie du Chien, he found little but ruins. The town and Fort Crawford were gone. The church where General Zachary Taylor had regularly attended Mr. Lowry's preaching was gone. Only a few settlers remained.

A citizen of Iowa, named P.C. Balsinger, was a sporting gentleman, who kept race-horses, and who was wealthy. Armstrong had a letter of introduction to C.C. Balsinger, and, supposing this person to be the one intended, he presented his letter. Mr. Balsinger read it with a look of scorn and wrath, then tossed it back to Armstrong, saying: "Sir, I am not the man; this man lives away down on Turkey River." Armstrong, after some further conversation with him, set out for Turkey River. He found the right Balsinger this time, and met a most cordial welcome. This man was the father of the horse-racer, and was a Pennsylvanian who had been converted at one of John Morgan's meetings.

The missionary appointed a camp-meeting at Mr. Balsinger's. When this meeting began the races at Colesburg were going on. Great crowds of people passed the encampment, going to the races. Armstrong, though without ministerial assistance, went bravely on with the daily services. Monday, the fourth day of the meeting, a strange scene was witnessed. Loaded wagons began coming in from Colesburg, and kept coming. All these wagons brought tents, provisions, and families, coming to attend the camp-meeting. Among others who came was the sporting gentleman, P.C. Balsinger, with his family. When the call for mourners was made, Mr. Balsinger, the horse-racer, rose and made a talk. He said he had been under conviction ever since he read Armstrong's letter of introduction, and was now determined to seek his soul's salvation. Then, turning to his seven sons who had come with him to the camp-meeting, he asked the people to pray for him and his boys. He found the Savior that day, and his conversion gave new life to [pg 339] the meetings. A great revival followed. The converted horse-racer was a man of great liberality. Each day he would mount the pulpit and invite everybody to come and eat with him at his tent.

Out of this meeting grew the Hopewell church, which Armstrong organized, making P.C. Balsinger an elder therein. This elder made a large-hearted and faithful worker for Jesus. At this meeting the wife, daughter, and two sons of a Roman Catholic were converted. Almost at the risk of their lives by the enraged drunken husband and father, they joined the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

On an Indian pathway, at some springs in the prairie, there had grown up a little village called Waukon. Thither Armstrong next directed his steps. His work there was owned of Heaven, and many souls were converted. In September, 1856, he organized the Waukon church with thirty-one members. When the missionary left this field in 1859, Waukon congregation had built a house of worship, and paid for it.

In July, 1857, through Armstrong's importunities, the Rev. P.H. Crider was sent by the Missionary Board to his assistance, Armstrong guaranteeing missionary money enough from Iowa to meet the salary. In this arrangement his trust in the pioneers was not disappointed. The following letter gives a glimpse of Mr. Armstrong's labors in this field:

Waukon, Iowa, September, 15th, 1856.
The prospects are still bright here. My strength failed after I wrote last, and I closed the meetings. But as the interest was still great in the town, I afterward resumed the work, and we had meetings four nights, resulting in five conversions, making in all twenty-nine. Our little band, organized the 21st of August, now numbers forty-four members. Owing to the want of a house, we have not had our meetings regularly, but will resume them again tonight.

On Thursday next I will start again for Colesburg, sixty miles distant, and will hold a meeting in that
town. ... Waukon is improving very rapidly. Our Sabbath School is ably conducted. The number in attendance yesterday was 114, with increasing interest. The Maine Law is enforced to the letter in town. The Temperance Association has 200 members. We have a joint stock of seven thousand dollars to enforce the Liquor Law. Nearly sixty houses were built in all in 1856. [pg 340] Colesburg is a larger town than Waukon, and much older, but Satan has had almost supreme dominion in that community. The Protestant churches there are not much mole than a name. They have been daubed with untempered mortar. The truth startles them, enraging some, and breaking down many. Members of the different churches were seen crowding to the anxious seat, and crying for mercy at our late revival. Pray for us, for we are a needy few, often assailed and persecuted.

In 1857, Armstrong and Crider, and the Rev. Joshua Loughran, of Wisconsin, organized the Colesburg Presbytery, extending from forty degrees north latitude to the North Pole. In 1858 the Rev. D.A. Houghton came into the Cumberland Presbyterian Church from the Congregationalists, and took charge of the upper Iowa mission.

In these missions the pioneer preachers suffered many privations, and were often exposed to danger. Once Armstrong was shot at while in the pulpit preaching. At a camp-meeting a mob came to kill him, but others gathered to his defense and he was unhurt. He says he often went where there was danger of being killed, but God took care of him. He was never harmed. The pioneers contributed liberally to his support.

In Iowa at this time (1886) there is one small Cumberland Presbyterian synod composed of three small Presbyteries, with an aggregate of seventeen ordained ministers and six licentiates, but no candidates. In that field, and everywhere, the perpetuation and growth of the church demand that the money and the prayers of our people be devoted to raising up a home supply of preachers.

[end excerpt]

Register of Communicants of the Hopewell Church Congregation

Name Day of Admission How Received
John Frederic Schrunk Aug. 16, 1856  
Christopher Bolsinger Aug. 16, 1856  
Leah Hart Sept. 1857 By experience
Harriet Parke    
Wm. M. Parke    
Reuben Spangler Sept. 1857  
Susan Spangler Sept. 1857  
John Hart Sept. 1857 By experience
John Bowman Feb. 21, 1858  
Joseph Tweedy Feb. 21, 1858 By experience
Martha Craig Feb. 21, 1858  
Thomas L. Parke Sept. 1858 By experience
Olive M. Parke Sept. 1858 By experience
William Craig Sept. 21, 1858  
Harriet Parke    
Wm M. Parke    
Adam Geiselman    
Thomas Dickson    
Douglass Robbertson Sept. 1858  
Elizabeth Robbertson Sept. 1858  
Hannah Dickson Sept. 1858  
Jane Cassell Sept. 1858  
Thomas Griffith Sept. 1858  
Sarah J. Dingus    
Robert Henderson    
Richard Pearson    
Elizabeth Fleniken    
Letitia Campbell    
Heziah J. Bolsinger    
Eliza Harris    
Hannah Bowman    
Barbary A. Geiselman Jan. 10, 1864  
Mrs. Joseph Tweedy Feb. 11, 1864 By letter
Julia A. Springer    
William Bolsinger Jan. 10, 1869 By experience
Benjamin Bolsinger Jan. 10, 1869  
Alice Marshall Jan. 10, 1869 By experience
Margaret Smith Jan. 10, 1869 By experience
Nathaniel Smith Feb. 6, 1869 By experience
Elizabeth Chase Feb. 6, 1869 By experience
Sarah Barnett Dec. 19, 1869 By experience
Martha Bowman Dec. 26, 1869 By letter
Mary Torrence Jan. 9, 1870 By experience
Lydia Landis Jan. 9, 1870 By experience
Mary J. Waitt Jan. 9, 1870 By experience
John M. Bolsinger Mar. 13, 1870  
Henry McKinley Mar. 13, 1870  
Nathaniel Smith Mar. 13, 1870  
David Gull Jan. 14, 1870 Profession
Josiah Torrence Jan. 14, 1870 Experience
Mary E. Marshall Jan. 14, 1870 Profession
Mary Juniette Gull Jan. 14, 1870 Profession
John Walker Feb. 20, 1870 Profession

- source:  History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, by B.W. McDonnold, D.D., LL.D.; 4th Edition; Nashville, Tenn.: Board of Publication of Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1899
Full text:
Chapters 30-36, from which excerpts of Chapter 32 were taken

- source of Hopewell church congregation list is unknown; also unknown is why some names appear more than once on the list & if the above list is complete


Return to Church Index