History of Elwood Churches

This comes from the Elwood Centennial booklet, 1972. It was sent to us by Tom Upshaw.

More than 117 years ago the Elwood Methodist Church became an organization.  The early settlers or pioneers of Brookfield township were mostly from the eastern states.  Many obtained land directly from the government, thus leading to a farming community.  As these settlers formed their community, and being of true Christian faith, saw the need for a church.  So on New Years Day 1855, the Methodist Episcopal Church became an Organization.  The first Board of Trustees were J. C. Chaffee, J. Sparks, Simon Ames, J. M. Sparks, Andrew Woodruff, Isaac Wilkins, and E. R. Sparks.  No church building was built then even though they had bought the land on December 20, 1854.

The Elwood Church Organization became part of the Maquoketa Circuit in 1856, which included all the territory south and west of Maquoketa, for a radius of 10 to 15 miles, with Monmouth on the west and Welton on the south.  This was composed of 16 preaching units.  Worship services were held in the homes and country schools.  In the Elwood Territory the Sparks school (1/2 mile south and east of Elwood), and also the Hunt, Morton, Sacrider, Dunscomb and Mickerson schools served as places of worship.

About 12 years later in 1867, the Board of Trustees decided to build the Elwood Chapel on their plot of ground.  This had been acquired from John and Mary Woodward and which is now the Elwood Cemetery.  A 30x50 frame structure was built by C.C. Ruus, as head carpenter. This was the first church erected in this circuit and was dedicated on July 26, 1868, by C. Truesdall, Rev. Learse, Rev. Elliott, and Rev. Milner.

In about 1872, the "Brookfield Chapel" organization withdrew from the Maquoketa Circuit, and organized the Elwood Circuit of the Upper Iowa Conference. This included the Brookfield Chapel, Hunts school and the Dunscomb schoo. The total membership of this circuit was about 120 people, and the three Sabbath schools, meeting only in the summer, was nearly 150.

A parsonage was built in 1872 in Elwood just north of the present one. The land was donated by Kinsey Elwood. Lumber was purchased at Lyons, Iowa and hauled to Elwood by wagons and teams of horses. This lumber was boughth by the chairman of the building committee, Rev. Green, the circuit pastor. The first minister to reside in the new parsonage was Rev. O. W. Bowles.

In about 1873 a "Second Church" in the circuit, known as the Goddard Church was built. This was located about 4 miles north of Elwood, near the Goddard Cemetery.

In 1881, the Board of Trustees, under the pastorate of Rev. Hawn, a committee was appointed to find lots suitable in Elwood for a new church, but not until early 1904 was the Brookfield Chapel raised. The best lumber was used in the contruction of the new church, and the land was donated by the Leapleys.

The construction was under the direction of the Rev. Ellis with George E. Langham, Chairman of the building committee and Joseph Sadler as Treasurer of the building fund. The building was 40x60, with a steeple tower
9x9x56 feet, enclosing a 900 lb. bell. This church was dedicated on August 28, 1904, by Rev. W. F. Barclay. The church was finished in Georgia pine, with beautiful circular oak pews, artistic circular platform and choir loft. The beautiful art glass windows, given as memorials, added much to the beauty of the church.

In 1912, Rev. C. W. Cleveland organized the first Official Board to function in place and with the Board of Trustees. The first Official Board consisted of Rev. Cleveland, R. M. Sadler, E. D. Anderson, W. S. Hill, F. J. Ruus, S. N. Hill, D. M. Hicks, J. Dunlap, Frank Sparks, Mrs. James (Hanna) Anderson and Mrs. Herbert (Emma) McKenzie.

Electric lights were added in 1912 being supplied by C. C. Irwin plant, the cost of installation being $50. In 1914 the basement was enlarged, except for 10 feet on the north end. All work was done with volunteer laég?g
bor. The interior of the sanctuary was redecorated in 1915, and again in 1945. In 1948, the 10 feet was dug out and a modern kitchen and dining room refinished.

The 50th Anniversary of the Elwood Methodist Church would have been observed on August 28, 1954, but only ten days before, it was struck by lightning, during a severe electrical storm, and all was destroyed by fire in the early morning.

At once plans were made for a new church. The first meeting was held that same afternoon, even before the ashes were cold, with a group of 30 people meeting with Rev. M. C. Melcher. They immediately made plans for a new church.

Later at an Official Board meeting, held in the A. L. Creger home, the
pastor appointed a building committee, which was composed of the leaders of the present church organizations. Those appointed were: Official Board Chairman; Roy Cain, Lay Leader; Harlan Kroger, Sunday School Superintendent; Mrs. Clella Herkelmann, President of the W.S.C.S.; and Mrs. Ruth Schultz, worker with Youth Groups. Later V. C. Rutenbeck was elected as Treasurer of the building fund.

Much time and effort went into the building of the new church. Insurance money amounted to $25,00 and $20,000 and was quickly raised in cash and pledges. Ernest Soenksen, of Dewitt, Contractor, was hired to build the new church and the present plans were chosen by vote of the membership.

The land was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Schoenthaler for the site. This is on the hill, one block north and east of the Old Church. Ground was broken on April 7, 1955 with S. N. Hill turning the first shovel of earth. Others participatin in the ceremony were the Pastor, Rev. M. C. Melcher, and members of the building committee.

The service for laying the cornerstone was held on July 10, 1955 at a Special Ceremony, with Dr. Hartong, District Superintendent presiding, assisted by Rev. M. C. Melcher.

The "Opening of the Church for Worship" service was held on November 6, 1955. Before this all services had been held in the Elwod Consolidated School.

The dedication of the church was held February 12, 1956, about 18 months after the old church had burned.

The Elwood Church has over the years, had its own minister, but often shared its ministers with the Goddard, Lost Nation, Delmar and Charlotte churches. At present time the minister lives at Delmar and serves the Elwood, Delmar, and Charlotte churches.

The women's societies of the church were first organized on November 6, 1881, when an Auxiliary Society of Women Foreign Missionary was organized. Brother John Whitsell was appointed Secretary Pro tem, and a committee was appointed to solicit names. Thirty-five names were obtained. The following officers were President, Mrs. H. M. McKenzie; Vice President, Mrs. J. M. Sparks; 2nd Vice President, Mrs S. M. Leapley; Secretary, Mrs. John Whitsell; Corresponding Secretary, Mrs William Erwin; Treasurer, Mrs. Peter Whitsell. These women had as their projects the redecorating of the chapel with new stained glass windows. They also adopted the envelope system to defray expenses.

The Women's Home Missionary Society was organized March 7, 1897, they later changed their name to the Elwood Ladies Aid in October of that same year. The Charter Members were Mesdames H. M. McKenzie, Nancy Gregory, E. A. Cook, Amy Beard, Jennie Maxwell, Jessie Phillips, E. G. Franklin, Vesta Ketchum, Misses Hanna Jepsen, Kathleen Tuttle, Hattie Hill, Callie Gregory, Ella Teskey, Josie Hyde, and Christie Whitsell. This Society continued until April 11, 1945 when the members voted to become members of the Women's Society of Christian Service. On October 19, 1947, they observed their 50th Anniversary. Two Charter Members were present, they were Mrs. James Anderson (Hanna Jepsen) and Mrs. Harry Hicks (Christie Whitsell).

The present officers for 1972-73 are President - Ruth Cain; Vice President - Jeanette Durkop; Secretary - Helen Kroeger; Treasurer - Lois Myatt; with 8 other secretaries. The society has 65 members.

The Sunday School has been active over the 100 years and has at present an enrollment of 86 members with 10 teachers. The present superintendent of the Sunday School is Mrs. Howard Schultz.

Yhr zyouyh Grlloedhip 1972 officers are President - Don Dodds; Vice President - Dave Myatt; Secretary - Diane Durkop; Treasurer - Connie McDonald; Reporter - Julie Winchip.

The Methodist Church became the United Methodist Church at Annual Conference, when the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren were united in June 1969.

The church membership of Elwood is about 245 members.

Ministers who have served:

Maquoketa Circuit: _
R.W. Milner, 1867-1870
H.H. Green, 1870-1872

O.D. Bowles, 1872-1875
Isaac Newton, 1875-1856
S.Y. Harmer, 1876-1878
J.T. Spry, 1878-1881
C.A. Hawn, 1881-1883
R. Swearingen 1885-1886
O. W. Gould, 1886-1888
R. A. Miller, 1888-1891
G. W. Rogers, 1891-1893
John Gammons, 1893-1894
J. G. Eberhart, 1898-1895
F. H. Heatley, 1895-1896
E. Ketchem, 1896-1898
H. Williams, 1898-1901
F. Wyatt, 1901-1903
F. Ellis, 1905-1905
J. J. Kidder, 1905-1908
B. A. Davis, 1908-1911
C. W. Cleveland, 1911-1916
C. R. Disney, 1916-1917
J. C. Davis, 1917-1918
J. J. Snyder, 1918-1921
J. M. Smith, 1921-1922
R. B. Folk, 1922-1923
Otis Moore, 1923-1926
E. E. Welsh, 1926-1927
No pastor Aug. 1927 to Feb. 1928
E. C. Allen, 1928-1930
V. C. Grant, 1930-1931
A. M. Chamberlin, 1931-1932
D. C. Perry, 1932-1935
Paul V. Clements, 1935-1936
L. E. Wardle, 1936-1937
F. L. Brooks, 1937-1940
Stan Strosahl, June 1941-Sept. 1942
William Simmer, 1942-1944
S. V. Williams, 1944-1946
David A. Spear, 1946-June 1948
Herbert Shaffer, Aug. 1948-1954
M. C. Melcher, 1954-1960
Russell H. Schmitz, 1960-1962
James M. Lusher 1962-1967
Fred Pierce, 1967-1971
William T. Loraine, 1971-1972

The Elwood Communit also had another church, which was Presbyterian. This was located on the lots 6 and 7 of Block 1, which is now the corner lot belonging to Florence (Peg) Bachtell.

The only record available is that these lots were sold by Kinsey E1wood and wife to W.A. Clark in 1880, and who later sold it to the Trustees of the Presbyterian Society of Elwood, in trust for the Elwood Church for $100.

A Presbyterian Church was then built on these lots. The President of the Board of Trustees was R.M. Irwin and one of the trustees was James W. Anderson, who also signed the deed.

The church stood for about 25 years, and was then torn down about 1907, when it was sold for lumber to John Galloway for $690. Mr. Galloway used some of the lumber in building the house now owned by Roy Cain.

Mrs. Wilma Riggs has a Presbyterian Hymnal and Mrs. Florence Wirth has a table which were the property of this church.