... Eighteen hundred and forty-four was a busy year of planning and planting, and seed sowing and harvest. J.J. Hill of the Band, detained in the East by the sickness and death of his father, came on in the spring of this year, and took away Holbrook's boast that there was no minister between him and the north pole, by settling at Garnavillo, and taking possession of Clayton County.
The year 1847, marked the beginning of our work for the Germans in Iowa. There was need enough for it. Prairie La Porte had its name changed to Guttemburg [sic - Guttenburg]. No reader needs to be told the occasion for the change. The river towns were filling up with Germans.
... James J. Hill was still at Garnavillo. He had just dedicated a little church building, Mr. Holbrook of Dubuque preaching the dedicatory sermon, December 5, 1847. His parish took in Sodom and Gomorrah, about the toughest places in Iowa, on the borders of the Indian reservation. He tells of an Indian gashed by the blow of a tomahawk, in a drunken frolic, who refused to have the stitches taken in the wound, saying, "They sew moccasins, not men." Sodom and Gomorrah, according to Hon. James O. Crosby, of Garnavillo, were two rival saloons. The location was about three miles west of Monona, on the military road from Prairie du Chien to Fort Atkinson. Eliphalet Price, however, says: " Within a mile of the village of Monona may still be seen the ruins of the once flourishing and populous village of Sodom." At any rate, wherever the exact location is, this year, even here, in Sodom and Gomorrah, a little church of sixteen members was organized. The Garnavillo church at this time numbered twenty-three.
[another church] being organized at Garnavillo, February 15, of this year, 1848. ...The Garnavillo church began with six members and found a pastor of its own number. This man was "a schoolmaster, possessing childlike faith, and a deep experimental knowledge of the Word of God, has a good education, and agreat talent for teaching. At the last meeting of the Association, he presented himself for a license to preach the gospel. The examination turned out to the perfect satisfaction of the Association. He now preaches in two different places in Clayton County and as soon as he can afford to purchase a horse, he will preach in other neighboring settlements." This was the introduction of Carl V. Hess to our Iowa work, and, in due time, his two sons, Carl and Henry followed in his footsteps.
Churches were gathered this year at Le Claire, Sherrill's Mound (German), Guttenburg (German) and Warren. Of course, Mr. Hess was in charge of the new German work at Guttenburg in connection with his work at Garnavillo and Farmersburg.....
One of the new ministers was Hiram N. Gates. He began at Durango and Trivoli, but was soon settled for quite a season at the "Yankee Settlement," and he will be heard from time to time.
This year there were eight new churches [including] Farmersburg ...
...McGregor first comes into view as a missionary field, and the missionary preacher, located at Monona, gives it a pretty hard name. He says, "At McGregor's Landing, steamboats load and unload upon the Sabbath, just as they do other days; and the whistle of the boat is a signal for a general gathering. Merchandise of all kinds is freely carried forth from the village. there has been no regular preaching there during the summer with the exception of my monthly appointments; and the attendance has been small. It is unpopular to attend meeting. The house in which we meet is small and uncomfortable; and we have no bell, and sometimes no singing. We have tried to build a comfortable school-house; but the chief men of the place, being opposed to religious meetings, thwarted the effort, as they could not get a vote that it should not be used for religious purposes." It is difficult to those of us who know the McGregor of to-day, to recognize this as a true picture of the McGregor of 1855.
Now comes 1857, the year of the great financial crash; but it was a year of great activity in Iowa, both in secular enterprise and in church extension. So great had been the numerical and territorial enlargement of our work, that three new associations were organized, -- Garnavillo, Mitchell, and Grinnell.
... Other churches were organized this year as follows: The McGregor church, Oliver Emerson assisting in the organization. the first pastor, Rev. Joseph Bloomer, beginning in October of his year, fell at his post, February 21, 1858. He was a convert of Doctor Holbrook at Dubuque; studied at Iowa College, graduated at Amherst, 1856, studied awhile at Andover, and then came to McGregor. His time was short; but the results of his work were great. Few churches of our fellowship have been more to us and to the world, than this beloved church at McGregor.
.... "Unprecedented prosperity!! Our prairies never groaned beneath such a burden of wealth" Just the time for dedications, McGregor dedicated, and Stacyville and Osage.
The dedications this year, 1866, were numerous, and they were mostly along the railroad lines. ...
December 19, Monona dedicated, Rev. S.P. Sloan of McGregor preaching the sermon. The building is 34X50, and the cost $3,200.
June 23, Garnavillo dedicated its second house of worship, built at a cost of $3,000. this building is still in use.
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Missions & Pilgrim Missionaries
- Source: Pilgrims of Iowa
by Truman O. Douglass 1911; chapter IV: THE IOWA BAND, 1843-1844;
chapter V: OTHER MEN LABORED, 1845-1849; chapter VI: REACHING THE
MISSOURI, 1850-1854; chapter VII: UP IN THE NORTH COUNTRY,
1855-1860; chapter IX: ALONG THE RAILROAD LINES, 1866-1869
- extracted, transcribed & submitted by Sharyl Ferrall
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