Fremont County, Iowa

Hephzibah Faith Missionary Association
by Wanda Ewalt

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of 05 April 2009

Recently a friend sent us a picture of the Children’s Home in Tabor. and this sent us back to Paul Worcester’s book “The Master Key. the Story of the Hephzibah Faith Missionary Association,” and some newspaper clippings.

On May of 1888 Mount Zion church was established. Worcester’s book states “It was known as the mother church. This country church was located about four and one-half miles south and one mile east of Tabor, Iowa. The building site for the church was donated by a farmer, and it was a beautiful location on top of a hill. There the church was built, surrounded by many large shade trees and a carpet of bluegrass. ... It was a grand place for families to eat dinner together when all-day services were conducted. A parcel of ground was purchased across the road from the mother church to be used as a cemetery.”

One group spawned by the “mother church” was the Hephzibah Faith Missionary Association of Tabor. Forty acres of land in the southwest part of Tabor was purchased and a school begun there in 1893. “The school became known as a place where young people could receive a christian education. ... The rules of the school were very strict...a pattern of dress was demanded, which made students different in appearance from other young people...The school grew with a number of students from the River Brethren...also many Mennonites.”

The Hephzibah Faith Missionary Association also had an orphanage. In 1899 the newspaper reported that repairs had been made to the Children’s Home, but that a second building was needed.

Now and then the paper would mention the arrival of more children. In 1899 two children, Frank and Lizzie Austin, ages 5 years and 17 months respectively; in 1902 four little girls from Nebraska; in 1903 L. Worcester went to Kansas to get several orphans.

In 1907 the second building was begun. Also in 1907, four little girls. Mrs. O Dennison of Spekard, MO, brought three homeless children to the home; in 1908 Mr. and Mrs. Zook wrote that they were bringing twin babies from Africa...Also four children from Thurman, Iowa, two from Clarinda, four from Washington, and a Zulu boy from South Africa.

It a reported that “Mr. E. F. Trisler has charge of the garden for the Hephzibah Faith Home, and there are 12 acres. ... he has two assistants to help him. It takes lots of garden truck to supply the Home as they have something over 100 inmates there.”

The Children’s Home, the school, a dormitory and dining room, a laundry, bath and press room, and a couple of houses were south of the present Nazarene Church.

It is impossible to tell in one piece perhaps any piece, the whole story of this unique community (the missionaries sent out, the camp meetings, the two weekly newspapers, etc.)

In 1944, after the deaths of several community leaders and a fire, which destroyed the school building, some of the property was sold to the Church of the Nazarene with the provision that they continue the annual camp meeting.

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Page updated on May 10, 2017 by Karyn Techau