Turkey River Association
Rev. Charles E. Brown
much of the matter contained in this Sketch we are indebted to
a history of the Turkey River Association, written by Rev.
Charles E. Brown and printed in the minutes for 1875.
The oldest churches of this Association were found, first in
the Davenport, and afterwards in the Dubuque Association. At
the meeting of the Dubuque Association, held at Delhi in 1860,
a resolution was presented by Rev. Charles E. Brown and
adopted, recommending a division for the purpose, to such
churches as might desire to enter into the formation of
a new Association on the north. At a meeting of brethren
interested, during a recess of the same session, a convention
of delegates from churches so desiring, was called to meet at
West Union in the following month.
This Convention was held in July 1860. An introductory
sermon was preached by Elder Brown
Elder John Williams, of West Union, called the Convention to order.
Brother Brown was electedModerator and A. Bush, clerk. Revs. George Brown. Elder John
Williams, of West Union, called the Convention to order. Brother
Brown was elected Moderator and A. Bush, clerk. Revs. George Scott,
L. M. Newel, E. G. O. Groat and John Williams were appointed
a committee to draft Constitution and By-Laws, which as reported by
the committee, were adopted, and the organization completed. The
churches named in the organization are: Erie, Illyria, New Oregon,
Oran, Rossville, Strawberry Point, Vernon Springs, Waukon, Westfield
and West Union. These are 10 churches, 6 pastors and 352 members.
The pastors were: George Scott, C. E. Brown, James Schofield, L. M.
Newell, A. Bush and John Williams.
In his historical paper,
Brother Brown gives us this information concerning the beginnings of
Baptist work in what is now the territory of the Turkey River
Association. “The first Baptist Church in this territory was
organized by Elder Miles, in January, 1841, at Winnebago Mission, on
Yellow River, in Allamakee county, consisting of 11 members. Elder
Miles and some of the members removed to Wisconsin; others left and
this pioneer church soon lost its visibility.” This Elder Miles came
from Indiana and is supposed to have been the first Baptist minister
to preach the Gospel in Northeastern Iowa. “Two of the constituent
members of this church were still living in Iowa in 1875, ---John
and Hiram Frances – one in Clayton county near National, the other
in Allamakee near Rossville.” “The second Baptist church within the
territory was organized in 1848, by Elders B. F. Brabrook, Ira
Blanchard and C. E. Brown, in a settlement a short distance
northeast of Elkader, and called the First Baptist Church of Clayton
county. Several persons were baptized on the day the church was
organized.” Elder Blanchard was instrumental in gathering this
church, and traveled a distance of 40 miles and back to supply them
with preaching once a month. In 1849 we find this church represented
by Rev. Ira Blanchard in the State Convention, meeting at Iowa City.
Also in the report of the Executive Board of the convention made at
this same meeting, it is stated that Rev. Ira Blanchard, on the 2nd
of October, 1848, was recommended to the Home Mission Society, “to
preach at the Delaware county, Cascade, Fairview and Clayton county
churches, with an appropriation of $100 for one year. The first
statistical account we have of this church is in 1861, when in the
Davenport Association it is named without a pastor, with these
statistics. Received by letter 11: by experience 1; dismissed 21;
died 1; present number 15. Soon after, or about this time the First
Baptist Church of Clayton county ceased to exist. These
organizations represent the first beginnings of Baptist work in
The third organization was at West Union, in
1852. “On the 19th day of May, 1853, this church resolved
to purchase a lot and proceed to erected small house of worship, not
to exceed in size 20x26 feet. This was the first meeting house built
in the territory of this Association. The second was built by the
church at Strawberry Point and dedicated August 1857. Of the field
to be cultivated by this new Association, Rev. George Scott says in
a report to the convention in the fall of 1860, “It embraces a
territory of a little more that 3,346 square miles, with a
population of no less than 60,000. It has within its bounds only
three Baptist Church edifices, and one of these is so small that it
is not occupied. Allowing the other two to afford accommodations for
500 each – which is probably beyond their capacity – we have
sanctuary accommodations for only one in sixty, and one minister to
8,571 souls. Truly the field is almost without
The first annual meeting was held at Waukon,
September 6th, 1861. Rev. A. Bush preached the
introductory sermon, from Galatians VI:2. Rev. J. Schofield was
chosen Moderator and Alva Bush clerk. The Baptist church at McGregor
was received into the Association with 23 members, Rev. L. M.
Whitman pastor. They have just completed a house of worship and bid
fair to exert an extensive influence in the community and the
Association. There are now in the Association 13 churches, 7
pastors, 10 persons baptized during the year, and 418 members. The
pastors are George Scott, Strawberry Point and Erie; C. E. Brown,
Lime Springs and Vernon Springs; L. M. Whitman, McGregor; J. A.
Pool, Rossville; J. Schofield, Waukon; A. Bush, Westfield, and John
Williams, West Union.
The second annual meeting was held with the
McGregor Church Friday, June 13, 1862, the time of meeting having
been changed from September to June. The introductory sermon was by
Rev. John Williams of West Union, from 1st Timothy I:11,
“The glorious gospel of the blessed God.” Brother Williams was
chosen Moderator, and G. M. Colgate of McGregor clerk. Some evidence
of revival appears in the statistics. Two new churches have been
organized this year; the Union Church at Pleasant Ridge with 41
members, of whom 35 were received by baptism, and the Paint Creek
Church with 14, of whom 9 have been baptized during the year.
Seventy-three baptisms reported and 525 members. The name of Brother
Scott is not found, but reappears two years later in the Western
Iowa Association. Brother James Sunderland is preaching at
Strawberry Point. Among the visitors is Brother Jackson of
Milwaukee, who soon after becomes pastor at McGregor, Elder Whitman
having resigned. At Rossville Rev. John A. Pool had baptized 27 of
the 73 reported.
The third Anniversary was at West Union, in
1863. May 27, Elder John A. Pool preached the sermon. Moderator C.
E. Brown, clerk G. M. Colgate of McGregor. Brother Bush read a
Circular Letter upon the “Importance of Love for this Church.” The
Fourth Anniversary was held at Strawberry Point in 1864. Rev. John
Jackson preached the sermon, C. E. Brown, Moderator, Brother Colgate
again clerk. The Volga City Church was received and the Hardin
Church dropped. Brother Sunderland read a Circular Letter upon
“The Importance of Fidelity in Maintaining our Denominational
Principles.” Rev. J. B. Ward is preaching at Ward’s Corners and
Fayette, and F. Hill at West Union. Pastor John Jackson is succeeded
at McGregor by Rev. C. T. Tucker. The beginning of an honorable
record of service for the Master in Iowa. Brother Sunderland
supplies the new church at Volga City in connection with his home
church at Strawberry Point.
The Fifth Anniversary in 1865 was
at Rossville, commencing on Friday, June 2. Brother Tucker presiding
and Deacon Colgate still clerk. Sermon by Brother Sunderland. The
Ossian Church was received, Rev. J. M. Wedgewood pastor. Organized
in April, 1864. The McGregor Church have been specially proposed,
reporting 33 baptized, Volga City 10, and Ossian 7; whole number of
baptisms 57, members 563. In 1866 McGregor was the place of
meeting. Preacher and Moderator, James Sunderland, clerk unchanged.
The York Church on Bro. Sunderland’s field was received was received
with 14 members. The Paint Creek and Illyria Churches have become
extinct. This was an inspiring session. The clerk made this
memorandum. “On Monday morning the delegates separated for their
homes delighted with their pleasant visit and successful
anniversary, while the friends in McGregor felt sad that the session
was not of longer duration.” Collections were taken amounting to
$73.10 for the Convention, and $55.91 for the Missionary Union. The
present writer had the honor of taking that collection for the
Convention, Rev. C. F. Tolman representing the Missionary Union.
Rev. C. D. Farnsworth was at the time pastor at Rossville and
Waukon. Other pastors were Ward, Wedgewood and Sunderland, Brother
Tucker having about this time closed his labors at McGregor and
removed to Charles City, Iowa.
In 1867 the Anniversary was at
Strawberry Point. The opening sermon was delivered by Elder J. B.
Ward of Ward’s Corners. Rev. F. Kidder Moderator, Colgate clerk.
Only six baptisms reported. Rev. John Jackson returned to the
pastorate at McGregor and died during the year, greatly beloved and
lamented. Deacon George M. Colgate of McGregor, the excellent clerk
of this Association since 1862, also “died full of faith and good
works.” Brother Colgate was connected with the well-known Colgate
family of New York, and did not fail, by his earnest and Christian
life, to honor the name here in the west. Rev. F. Kidder is the
pastor and able preacher at Strawberry Point and Volga City. D. S.
Starr, at Waukon and West Union, is Missionary of the Association
during the eventful years of the “Sixties” seems like a part of our
Jackson died at McGregor, Iowa, in
1867. He was born in England. About 1852 he became pastor of
the English Baptist church at Agra, East Indies, and continued
five years. His health becoming impaired he left Asia and came
to America. He was for six years pastor of the West Baptist
church at Milwaukee, and then removed to McGregor, Iowa. After
serving one year as pastor of the church here he went back to
India and settled at Alahabad. But feeble health soon led him
to return to this country and to the bosom of his friends at
McGregor, where he “peacefully departed this life to enter
into the joy of his lord.” His friends at Milwaukee claimed
the honor of his remains and he is buried at that place.
The Eighth Anniversary was held with the church at West
Union in 1868. Sermon by Rev. F. Kidder, who was elected Moderator,
and J. M. Wedgewood clerk. Some advance movement is apparent in the
reports. Nearly all the churches are supplied with preaching at
least a part of the time. Three new churches have been organized,
viz.: Decorah, Castilia, and Grand meadow, under the labors
respectively of Brethren Starr, Wedgewood, and Hilton. Rev. J. M.
Stifler (now Dr. Stifler of Penn.) supplied the church at McGregor
for a time. Volga City was supplied by A. G. Emery, a member of the
church. Whole number of baptisms 39, members 540.
M. Colgate of McGregor died full of faith and good works.
He was clerk of the Turkey River Association for several
years, and was an unusually intelligent and devoted Christian
and church member. Brother Colgate was converted when thirteen
years of age and baptized by the Late Wm. R. Williams, D. D.,
being the first candidate baptized into the fellowship of the
Amity Street Baptist Church of New York City, of which Dr.
Williams remained pastor until his death over fifty years.
In 1869 the ninth
annual meeting was at Ward’s Corners. A. W. Hilton preached the
sermon. Deacon Benjamin Morse of West Union was Moderator, L. F.
Carrier of Strawberry Point clerk. Rev. R. F. Powers was pastor at
Fayette and West Union, P. S. Whitman at Lime Springs, S. Sill at
Strawberry Point, and W. Chapman at Vernon Springs, besides pastors
before named. The church at Ward’s Corners was formerly Erie
Church. Rains and high waters greatly hindered the success of
the meeting in 1869.
The tenth anniversary in 1870 was at
Rossville, preacher S. Sill, Moderator J. M. Wedgewood, clerk L. F.
Carrier. The Taylorsville Church was organized in 1870, F. Kidder
pastor. Rev. W. C. Wright is preaching at McGregor, L. L. Frisk at
Waukon, and C. J. B. Jackson at West Union. Also C. Spragg at Volga
City. There are now (1870) 16 churches, 12 pastors, 30 baptisms
reported, and 605 members. The largest church as to membership is
Ward’s Corners, with 71. Only three others have over 50, and no
church in the Association has ever had 100 any one year. Met in 1871
at McGregor. Rev. W. Chapman, pastor for two or three years at
Vernon Springs, preached the sermon, Moderator C. E. Brown, clerk
Carrier. Rev. F. Kidder has succeeded S. Sill at Strawberry Point.
Lime Springs entertained the body in 1872. Brother Wedgewood
preached the sermon, C. E. Brown clerk. Brother Hilton closed, about
this time, his labors in this part of the state, and another year
will be found in Western Iowa. Rev. D. P. Maryatt is supplying
Council Hill, J. H. Beach Forrestville, Thomas Ure Lime Springs, and
G. M. Adams at Waukon. Forrestville Church was received in 1871.
Decorah and Taylorsville Churches have disappeared. In 1878 met
at Waukon, C. E. Brown preacher and Moderator, Thomas Ure clerk.
Rev. E. K. Cressey, preaching at McGregor, reported 36 baptized,
Brother Ure at West Union 6, Lime Springs 6, and Castalia 2. Total
baptisms 50, members 551. Rev. J. E. Rockwood was present
representing the Baptist Sunday School Union. Brother Ure preached
an annual missionary sermon, and a collection of $40 was taken for
the Convention. The Forrestville and Volga City Churches
disappear from the records. Waukon and West Union are engaged in
The anniversary in 1874 was at Strawberry
Point. Rev. F. Kidder preached the opening sermon. Thomes Ure,
clerk. Rev. E. P. Dye is preaching at Rossville and reports 65
baptisms, Council Hill reports 16, and Rev. L. M. Whiting is pastor
at Strawberry Point and reports a new organization at Edgewood, with
13 baptisms and 42 members. Whole number of churches 14; pastors 6;
baptisms 106; members 671. A revival has been enjoyed, greater,
seemingly, than ever before in this Association. The Fifteenth
Anniversary in 1875 was held at McGregor. L. M. Whiting, annual
preacher. J. M. Wedgewood, Moderator, Thomas Ure, clerk. Rev. J. C.
Douglass preached for a short time at West Union. At this meeting
Rev. Charles E. Brown read his history of the Association for our
indebtedness to which acknowledgement was made in the beginning of
this Sketch. Brother Morse wrote a circular letter which was adopted
and ordered printed in the Minutes.
The annual meeting in 1876 was at West
Union. A. A. Johnson, of West Union, clerk. A church had been
organized at Charmont and appears upon the records with 10 members,
and Volga City is restored with 12. A committee, consisting
of Brethren Whiting, Wedgewood and Williams, had been appointed to
visit the brethren at Volga City during June, 1875. Rev. John Brown
is their pastor. Brother Wedgewood is still pastor at Waukon, the
only pastor left. Rev. L. M. Whiting has removed from Strawberry
Point to Manchester, Epworth and Farley in the Dubuque Association.
Rev. C. H. Mitchelmore is at Strawberry Point. The great revival at
Rossville two years before had been followed by the usual reaction,
but they rejoice that some seed fell upon good ground and is
bringing forth fruit to the glory of God. In 1877 Clearmont was the
place of meeting. A. A. Johnson, clerk. Rev. C. E. Brown has again
taken up the gospel trumpet at Lime Springs. Rev. M. H. Perry is
proclaiming the glad tidings at West Union and Clearmont.
Castalia entertained the meeting in 1878.
Brother Johnson still clerk. Rev. F. N. Eldridge has succeeded
Brother Wedgewood at Waukon. The Vernon Springs Church has
disappeared and Cresco Church seems to take its place. Randalia has
a church of 34 members, of whom 13 have been baptized during the
year, Rev. M. H. Perry pastor in connection with West Union. Rev. E.
W. Green is the preacher at Cresco and Lime Springs. In 1879
Rossville was the place of meeting. Rev. J. C. Harrington appears as
preachers at Ward’s Corners. Brother Green at Cresco is sustained by
the Convention, and a meeting house is the great need there. From
1880 to 1886 the anniversaries have been at Ward’s Corners, Cresco,
Waukon, West Union, Strawberry Point, Lime Springs, and Rossville.
A. A. Johnson continued to serve as clerk until 1885, when Rev. F.
W. C. Wiggin was clerk, and in 1886 F. Y. Whitmore.
A church had been organized at Fort
Atchinson in 1880, and Elder C. E. Brown was pastor. Rev. E. W. Green
baptized 16 at Cresco. Rev. A. F. Sharpnack is at Strawberry Point,
and R. H. Shafto at Ward’s Corners. M. H. Perry has removed from the
Association and become pastor at Fredericksburg, in the Cedar
Valley. The Castalia, Edgewood and Grand Meadow Churches have
disappeared from the list.
In 1881 Rev. E. W. Green had removed
to Wisconsin and A. H. Carman had succeeded him at Cresco, and F. N.
Eldridge from Waukon to Shenandoah in Southwestern Iowa. But M. H.
Perry had returned and was preaching at West Union. The McGregor
Church made no report. But two baptisms were reported in the
Association. These were in Waukon. Rev. A. F. Sharpnack removed from
Strawberry Point to Audubon, in the west part of the State.
Brother Perry appeared at Strawberry Point and Ward’s Corners, and
Rev. Robert Smith was pastor at Waukon. Only 11 persons were
baptized and the membership 485.
In 1883 Pastor Robert Smith
immersed 12, but there was little other advance.
In 1884 Rev. E. R.
Pierce appeared as preacher at Lime Springs. Brethren Carman and
Perry are the only pastors. The McGregor church finally
disappears from the records. This is the saddest case of church
mortality in our knowledge. A live town like McGregor! A church
containing the live elements that this once did, with a good live
Sabbath School, become completely extinct! Can this be the final
In 1885 Rev. F. W. C. Wiggin had been laboring
at Waukon and perhaps some other points with marked success.
Baptisms at Waukon 23, Cresco 15, West Union 15, Rossville 7, Lime
Springs 6, and Hawkeye and Strawberry Point one each. Whole number
of baptisms 68, members 511. Brother J. O. Dean was preaching at
Olwein and Randalia. Rev. M. H. Perry removes to western Iowa, and
after a brief stay in the Sioux Valley is found preaching at Silver
City in southwestern Iowa.
The year 1886 found Rev. G. H. Starring
at Waukon, and F. Bower at West Union. Other pastors are Carman, Wedgewood, Brown and Kidder. Number baptized 33, members 519. From
reports since the annual meeting there is reason to hope for an
increase and a better report in 1887. The Turkey River Association
occupies the territory comprising the counties of Fayette, Clayton,
Allamakee, Winneshiek and Howard. It has been from the first a most
unfavorable soil for the growth of Baptist churches, and as time has
wrought its usual changes in the character of the publications the
unfavorable conditions have increased instead of diminishing. A
large part of the population of the counties named is foreign, and
the Catholic church has here a very strong hold and is increasing
that hold by buying out the settlers who remove farther west. There
is also a large Scandinavian population which is anti-Baptistic. The
largest Norwegian College in the west is located within the
territory of this Association at Decorah. The brethren who have
labored on and held on in this barren field are worthy of all praise
for their fidelity to the principles we all hold dear.
The church at Strawberry Point has had a history that
is worthy of special mention. Organized in 1856, it
appeared in the Dubuque Association with 21 members
that year, Rev. George Scott pastor. This brother
seems to have remained as pastor most of the time for
six or seven years. The growth was never rapid nor
did it ever attain to a large membership even for a
village church, but among those connected with it
have been some of the brightest families that Iowa
has known, and from its ranks have come such workers
as Rev. Alva Bush, James Sunderland and wife and John
E. Clough and wife. Brother Clough may not have been
at any time a member of this church, yet his home was
there, and his wife’s family, and they are intimately
associated in the thought of many with Strawberry
point. Few churches are so honored in this respect.
Brother Scott’s ministry at this place was one of
faith if not of sight.
Rev. J. E.
His account of their struggle to get a meeting house,
we will remember. They had come to a stand-still
financially and the work had to stop. Money was not
to be had. Finally the pastor went out among the
farmers, and prevailed with them to consecrate,
perhaps one a colt, another a calf or a pig, etc.,
etc. These animals to be taken care of by the donors
until ready for market, when they became the property
of the church and were sold, and the work completed
and paid for.