Fremont County, Iowa

One Last Sermon ---One Last Hymn
by Sheri Perkins

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of December 1, 2012

Following one last sermon, a final hymn, and a tearful farewell, the congregation of the Randolph Presbyterian Church silently closed its doors in the early fall of 2011. A proud history preceded this difficult decision but an aging membership had left no other option. The "little white church" was organized in April of 1874 and was built on land donated by one of the town's founders. Anson Rood. Built at a cost of $1,800 the new building was dedicated in November of 1880. Previous to this, church was held in the Randolph Train Depot and the Riverside one room school house, with Rev A, Merwin as minister. At this time, the church owned a pipe organ valued at $800 which was the only one of its kind in Fremont County.

The church building was destroyed by fire but the people were resilient and rebuilt the present church and dedicated it in May of 1926. The last congregation are descendants of those first hardy settlers. The last minister of the flock was Rev Tom Clark.

The church and its people of farmers, businessmen, doctors, merchants and homemakers helped form and settle the town and continued its ministry up to the last Sunday. In 1959, the Presbyterian Church filled its basement with books creating the Randolph Public Library with member Mrs. Clara McCord as Librarian. Now, 53 years later. the same Library resides on Main Street with over 10,000 volumes for patrons to use and borrow.

The Ladies Aid of this church played a major role in the church and the community though their fundraising events, their ministry, fellowship and dedication to God's work. Everyone remembers the Election Day Soups Suppers enjoyed by all. Yearly their Cookie Plates at Christmas time were a thing of beauty with such a variety of tasty treats. The plates went to the sick, the lonely, the elderly and shut-ins. Probably thousands of dozens of cookies came from the church and its faithful women. They most certainly benefited the pecan growers of the South with thousands of pounds of pecans sold over the years. The community counted on those pecans to help us with our holiday baking.

Hundreds of beautiful quilts adorn beds around the country that were quilted by these talented women. To have such a quilt is a precious gem. These ladies spent an untold number of hours with the needle and thread as they stitched their way across rainbow colored cotton quilt pieces. Some they quilted for a fee--- some they quilted for themselves--and some were raffled off to raise money for the church. Known especially for their pie-baking abilities, their bake sales drew people like a magnet. Their cinnamon rolls were a favorite as was the garden produce.

Sadly, time marches on and times change. Rural communities are shrinking in population--- small farms have disappeared--- children move on to larger cities where there are jobs. Church doors are closing in many areas all over the United States. But the benefits from the presence for 137 years of the Randolph, Iowa, Presbyterian Church will remain in our community and with our people for many years to come.

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Page updated on June 22, 2023 by Karyn Techau