The Episcopal Church
1872 - 1958
The First services for the Episcopal Church in Crawford county were held in Vail in 1872. Several families from England had settled in the neighborhood of Vail, and being members of the church of England, a desire was felt by them for public worship. In accordance with this desire morning prayer was said in the Vail school house on Christmas Day, 1872, Mr. H Herbert Mundy officiating. On Christmas morning, 1873, services were conducted in the Vail school house by Mr. Fred Whiteing. Services were also conducted at the residences of the different church members, though usually at the home of Mr. Charles Wood, with Mr. Mundy or Mr. Whiteing reading the lay service.
The first visit of an Episcopal clergyman to Vail was on the occasion of the marriage of Mr. Charles Wood to Miss Emma Mundy, May 11, 1875 when the Rev. George Fisse, assistant minister of St. Barnabas Church, Omaha, Nebr. officiated.
The first minister to conduct public worship of the Episcopal church in Vail was Rev. Frederick Webb of St. Paul's Church, Council Bluffs, Iowa. This was in the summer of 1875. Sunday School was organized at Vail about this time.
That fall the Rev. Wm. Wright became a resident at Denison and was regularly in charge of services in Vail, conducting the first communion service there in the winter of 1876. In February 1876 Bishop Clarkson of Nebraska confirmed five at Vail. The first Iowa Bishop to visit Vail was Bishop Perry, on Saturday, May 11, 1878 when he confirmed 4 people. The Rev. Mr. Wright conducted services for about three years, assisted by Mr. J.P. Fitch as layreader.
In 1881 Rev. L.C. Facenthal took charge at Denison and held services on alternate Sundays in Vail in the Methodist Church. He was followed by the Rev. W. J. Lynd, who laid the cornerstone of the church building in Vail in 1882.
At this time the name of the organization at Vail was changed from Grace Mission to St. John's Mission. The first service in the new building was held by Rev. Mr. Flack in the summer of 1883. The building was moved in the spring of 1888 from lot 3, block 28 to lot 1, block 17.
The Rev. Peter Fox served the Vail church for a couple of years, then in 1886 Rev. W.W. Corbyn was appointed to take care of the two missions and he lived in Vail. The record in Vail says
Mr. Corbyn, a resident of Vail, zealous and devoted to his work, was able to offer more church privileges than as a mission we had before known. The church seasons were observed, weekday services were held, Saint's day kept, and frequent celebrations of the Blessed Eucharist held early and mid-day and appropriated vestments used.
Mr. Corbyn left in 1888 and the church was again served by Mr. Wright, living first in Carroll then in Vail.
In 1898 Bishop Morrison appointed the very Rev. Dean Allen Judd to the charge of several missions in western Iowa, including Vail. He was assisted by Rev. Talbot of Mapleton, and Rev. Mr. Joseph followed by Rev. C.A. Corbitt, and later, Rev. Mr. Pratt.
Some of the early families in the church in Vail were Wood, Mundy, Forrest, Whiteing, Heavysides; added soon were J.P. Fitch and family, the Chamberlains, Henry Shirtcliffe, Mrs. Ainsworth, Mrs. Reilly, the Kinyons, the Misses Evans, the Doblers, Prices and Mahons; Mrs. Wm. Butler and daughter Carrie, John Knowles, Miss Minnie Evison, Joseph Rundlett, H.E. Rasmussen family, and Thomas Bartlett.
The ladies of the church formed a Guild to raise money to help support the church, buy supplies for the altar and Church School, and to support the dioceasan projects. The meetings were held in the home of the members.
Several ministers served the church, commuting from Denison or Harlan. There was Rev. Mr. F. Horby, Rev. Mr. Whittle, Rev. Mrt. Birchenaugh, Rev. Mr. Eastburn, and Rev. Mr. Shlmandine. The Rev. Jessie Griffith, a supply priest for the whole state of Iowa, also came here many times.
In 1946 the Rev. Donald J. Curzon became resident priest in Denison for Denison and Vail, and services were held on regular schedule. He trained lay readers who assisted by holding services in Vail. The church was next served by the Rev. Vine Deloria, Rev. James Gundrum, and Rev. Jack Eales.
The last person baptized in the little church was Thomas Curtis Hamilton, son of Clarence and Helen Whiteing Hamilton, son of Clarence and Helen Whiteing Hamilton on Sept. 19, 1954. The members to be confirmed last were Sharlene Bauer, Robert Bauer, and Carol Bauer, who were confirmed April 13, 1952. The last wedding listed in the records was that of Ruth Irene Powell and William Lloyd Dobler, who were married in the bride's home at Yale, Iowa, January l, 1938.
Because of lack of communicants the church building was sold in 1958 and has since been torn down.
Source: The history of the Vail Episcopal Church was extracted from the book prepared for the Vail centennial, Vail Centennial 1867 to 1967.
We thank Cleone Podey of Vail for providing the centennial book for this purpose and typing from the book by Tamra Woods.