Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb

Church Histories

The United Presbyterian Church

Vail, Iowa


A history of the Vail Presbyterian Church would not be complete without a short background of Dr James DeWolf who was born a Vermont Congregationalist Feb 23, 1819. He attended two Presbyterian Academies, one at Hartford Pa. and one at the Grand River Institute in Ohio. He helped start a Presbyterian Church in Clarence, Iowa before coming to Vail.

On Jan 7, 1872 the first Sabbath School started in Vail with the election of Dr James DeWolf as Superintendent which position he held until January 1890. when his son John DeWolf was elected as superintendent. The first Sabbath School was made up of all who could be induced to attend, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Catholics and Presbyterians. There were English, Irish, Norwegians, Swedes and some of the native American birth. The meeting place was the school which was located on the hill, where the old brick school that burned was located, it was moved to the Malloy and Whiteing property in 1874 where it was held until it was transferred to the Presbyterian Church in 1878.

June 14, 1873 in response to the need of an organized church in Vail, a "Call for Church Organization" was prepared as a petition and signed by James Dewolf, Anna DeWolf, Mary E Strong, George DeWolf, John H DeWolf, Mrs Elizabeth Maxwell, Mrs Anna Maxwell, James Bremner, Margaret K Bremner, S A Powers, J F Powers. A D Young and Thomas Maxwell. The call dated June 14, 1873 and was as follows.

"Whereas we whose names are undersigned believe that the worship of Almighty God is solemn duty as well as a high and holy privilege, and is calculated to secure the highest good of the race in this world and in that which is to come; and whereas the Church of Christ in its organized capacity is the greatest instrument through which God is pleased to work in elevating, blessing and saving the world, we therefore earnestly request organization of a Presbyterian Church in this place of which we desire to become members and to which we pledge our cordial support".

June 15,1873, the First Presbyterian Church was organized following a sermon by Rev. Henry Carroll of Chicago, Supt of Missions in Synod of Iowa and Dakota. (Meeting place was at the school house.)

Rev. W H McCuskey served as the first minister during the years 1873 and 1874. In 1875 the Vail Presbyterian Church was placed in the care of the Fort Dodge Presbytery. The Rev. T A Shaver of Denison was supply minister for the years 1875 and 1876.

Plans for building a Church were started on September 10, 1875 when the ladies of the Church raised $76.50 by holding a Fall Festival.

The Church in compliance to state laws, was incorporated on March 24, 1878. A subscription paper was circulated to raise funds enough to warrant the trustees to advertise for erection bids. The contract for the carpenter work was let to Adam Baker for $150.00. In October 1877 a lot for the church building was bought and it was morgaged in December to secure a grant of $400.00 for the erection fund.

Early in 1878 the church building was completed enough to be used and Rev. Ward of Denison began a two year service as supply minister. May 11, 1879 the building was completely furnished and dedicated to the worship of the living God. Total cost of lot, building and pews was $1,751.08. The ladies raised $157.50 for furnishings and $125.00 for the bell.

The first resident minister was Rev. Pressly who lived in the house now occupied by Matt Brogan, and rented by the church.. Rev. Head was first to live in the Manse, which was ready January 1, 1883. October 1884 Rev. Hostettler was the first minister to be ordained in the church and served until 1890 and again in 1910-1911 when he left to become President of Buena Vista College at Storm Lake.

The Church was remodeled in May 1898 and building of a Social Hall was started in 1917. On May 12, 1939 the Church was destroyed by fire of unknown orgin, but the Social Hall was saved. Mr Maurice Mjorkgren was given the contract to build a new church. In 1953 a modern new manse was built , and the Mease family moved in. Plans for a new church are now under way, the new building will be on lots bought from Laura Ruch.

The following ministers have served the church;

Church Pastors

  • Mr W H McCuskey (1873-1875)
  • Rev. Thomas A Shaver (1875-1876)
  • Rev. W G Moffatt(1876-1877)
  • Rev. W A Ward(1878-1879)
  • Rev. Thomas C Porter(1880-1881)
  • Rev. R T Pressly(1881-1882)
  • Rev.S C Head(1882-1884)
  • Rev. Harvey Hostettler (1884-1890)
  • Rev. George W Fracker(1890-1891)
  • Rev. D W Cassatt(1891-1895)
  • Rev. L C McEwen ( June 1895-Sept 1895)
  • Rev. Fred H Grace(1895-1897)
  • Rev. A H Tanner(1897-1898)
  • Rev. W A Pinkerton(1899-1900)
  • Rev. J D Sweeney(1900-1901)
  • Rev. A D Hubbard(May 1901- Nov 1901)
  • Rev. W J Creswell(1902-1905)
  • Rev. R Pughe(1905-1909)
  • Rev. Harvey Hostettler (1910-1911)
  • Rev. Rollan McNall(1912-1913)
  • Rev. Roy Jones (1913-1917)
  • Rev J Huffman(1918-1919)
  • Rev. P J Byram(1920-1921)
  • Rev. George O Long(1921-1924)
  • Rev. James McGinnis( 1925-1928)
  • Rev. J G Reinhardt(1928-1931)
  • Rev. E E Zimmerman(1931-1940)
  • Rev. D C Davis (1940-1947)
  • Rev. Frank Turnull(1947-1952)
  • Rev Frank R Mease ( 1953- )

The Church has an active Womens Organization, two Youth Fellowship groups, a choir and a Mens Organization. With Westside Presbyterian Church they have cooperated in forming a Credit Union with over $75,000 in assets.

The present officers of the Church are, on the session, Wayne Kruger, clerk; Ira Crane, Ted Hawley, Lorne North, Dick McCollough, Fred Podey, James North, Eral Whiteing, Leonard Riessen, Clifford Jordan, Martin Aschinger, Blair Baughman and Rev. Frank Mease, moderator; on the board of Deacons, Charles Hawley, Walter Krock, Dick Bair, John North, Leslie Slecta and Herman Jesche, The present Church School Superintendent is Everett Crane, Womens assoc. pres. is Mrs Bernice Crane, aand Mens organization pres. is James W North.

A history of the Church in Vail would be incomplete without a mention of the ecumenical movement that is taking place throughout the world and reaching out to the community. From the very beginning the different denominations have worked and worshipped together. The firts Sabbath School was attended by all denominations in the community.

Other examples have been the willingness of the different church groups to work together in community affairs. Some of the most recent have been the way money was raised for the Medical Clinic and the swimming pool. The way the entire community works to make the pony show successful and the way they have worked in planning and carrying out this Centennial program.

The Roman Catholic Church and the United Presbyterian Church have had three meetings together since last fall and more will be held in the future. These meetings have been successful because of the leadership of the pastors of the two churches, Rev Father Clark, who has led his people in Vail for 30 years and Rev Frank Mease, who has directed his people for 14 years. They have served God in his community in such a way that their churches have gained recognition beyond National boundaries, Rev Father Clark as far as Rome, and Rev Frank R Mease to Japan.

Source: The history of the Vail United Presbyterian 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.