The Leon Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
Thursday, May 7, 1896


Grand River is all agog over a sensational affair that occurred at the Christian Church in that town Sunday evening.

Some time ago, it is said, MRS. HEDRICK, a milliner of Grand River, was "churched." Previous to this she was a leading member.

Sunday evening Rev. Kauffman filied the pulpit and proceeded to address the congregation. MRS. HEDRICK had taken a seat near the organ. The opening ceremonies over, the divine announced his text preparatory to expounding the Gospel to his flock, little dreaming that disturbance was brewing. On the organ rested the Sunday School Superintendent's bell, used to call to order the school. The bell gives forth soft, silvery tones when in gentle hands.

As Rev. Kauffman raised his voice in his first admonishment, MRS. HEDRICK grasped the handle of the bell -- it pealed a shrill rebuke. The elder paused. He knew what the lady meant; he had talked with her about dropping her name from the church roll; it was stricken from the record; she demanded a church trial; it was not granted.

Again the minister took up his sermon, but the little bell, in the strong hand of an enraged woman, gave forth sounds that fairly startled those assembled. The preacher requested that the lady desist, and made another effort to talk. The bell was undaunted. For a solid hour the bell and Elder Kauffman "took turn-about."

The speaker lost all patience at last and threatened to have MRS. HEDRICK arrested, but she scoffed him, and the bell rang every time the already disjointed sermon was taken up. The congregation was divided in sentiment. Threats of arrest were of no avail. A constable was called in, but the lady fearlessly rang when the preacher preached -- she would have justice. The constable made threats but, it is stated, was too big a coward to carry them out. The meeting was broken up.

Monday, Sheriff Beck drove to Grand River and arrested MRS. HEDRICK on a warrant charging her with disturbing a public meeting. She was allowed to appear at trial on her own recognizance and went to Leon Wednesday.

--Decatur Advocate.

The Leon Reporter
Leon, Decatur County, Iowa
Thursday, May 14, 1896

The trial of MRS. LAURA J. HEDRICK, of Grand River, charged with disturbing an assemblage gathered for the purpose of worship, attracted a large crowd to the court house on Monday and Tuesday. The case commenced before Squire Albaugh, but the defendant took a change of venue to Squire Parrish. The prosecution was represented by county attorney McVay, and Stookey & Brooks conducted the defense.

A jury composed of J.R. Bashaw, O.C. Clark, A.C. Bonsor, R.L. Clark and Geo. Custer were sworn and the trial commenced.

The evidence disclosed the fact that the defendant had been a member of the Christian Church at Grand River, and about the last of March, Rev. Kauffman, the Pastor, had announced from the pulpit that charges had been preferred against her, and that the fellowship of the church was withdrawn from MRS. HEDRICK. The accused demanded a church trial, but it was maintained that the discipline of the church did not permit a church trial.

On the evening of April 25th, it being his regular appointment, Rev. Kauffman and congregation were assembled at the church when MRS. HEDRICK appeared and demanded a trial, claiming that the minister had promised to give her a trial that evening. The minister claimed he had made no such promise, and when he attempted to start a hymn, MRS. HEDRICK announced there would be no services there that night until she had been given a trial, and stepping to the organ she sharply rang a bell used for calling the Sunday School to order. This was repeated for some time whenever the minister attempted to commence his services and finally a constable was sent for. The services were finally held and on Monday the minister filed an information against MRS. HEDRICK charging her with disturbing a religious meeting.

About thirty witnesses were examined, and the jury, after being out about four hours, brought in a verdict of guilty. Squire Parrish fined her $75 and costs, which were $142. The defendant filed an appeal to the District Court.

Copied by Nancee (McMurtrey) Seifert
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