Colfax Center Presbyterian Church

Church Will Get New Name

The Presbyterian church in Colfax township, known for many years as Drake's church, will be given a new name. When the church was founded it was named the "Holland Presbyterian church." Inasmuch as the church is not in the town of Holland but in the center of Colfax township, the name has been misleading and at the last congregational meeting of the church a resolution was adopted to change the name of the church to the "Colfax Center Presbyterian Church." The resolution will be presented for approval at the spring meeting of the Presbytery which will be held in the Bethany Presbyterian church, Grundy Center. If it is approved, the new name will be formally adopted.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 2 February 1939, pg 1

75th Anniversary Colfax Presbyterian Church

Church Was Founded While U. S. Grant Was President; There Have Been But Four Pastors; Rev. J. E. Drake Served Church 35 Years

One of the biggest events in the history of the churches of Grundy county will take place on the 9th, 10th and 11th of this month when the 75th anniversary of the Colfax Presbyterian church will be observed. It will be an event that will stand out as a red letter day in the lives of the hundreds of people who are now, and who have been affiliated, and who are descendants of hundreds of others who were at one time members of this large congregation. The present membership of the church is 317.

Plans for a fitting observance of this memorable occasion were laid several months ago and all is in readiness to welcome the large membership, former members from far and near and friends. The anniversary will be followed by the annual mission feast on Tuesday. The complete program for the anniversary and the mission feast appear in another column of this page of The Register.

History Of The Church
A very complete history of the church during its 75 years of service was prepared by Mrs. H. E. Knock and it appears below:

Many things previously mentioned at anniversaries are written for the benefit of the younger generation.

About the middle of the 19th century there was an influx of immigrants from Europe to the United States. This was temporarily halted during the Civil War, but was started again when the war was over.

Most of those who came from East Friesland, Germany, settled in Illinois near Freeport, and in Grundy county, Iowa.

Quite a few settled in Colfax township. These pioneers were very lonesome, especially on the Sabbath Day, because they had no place to worship God. The nearest churches were the East Friesland Presbyterian and the First Christian Reformed of Shiloh township, but the condition of the roads made it impossible to go there very often.

Old Grandpa A. Kruse sometimes took his cane on a Saturday afternoon, walked many miles to a friend's home near the East Friesland church. There he stayed overnight, went to church Sunday forenoon, and walked home in the afternoon. Who would do that today?

In 1869 a schoolhouse was built in the middle of Colfax township, and here itinerant preachers came once in a while.

One morning two men, Poppe Meents and Klaas Kruger, neither of whom knew of the other's intention, started out on horseback to ask Rev. John VanderLas, pastor of the East Friesland church, to preach for them some Sunday afternoon. Soon after that on June 11, 1871, our church was organized with thirty members, by the Rev. VanderLas and elders, Jans VanLoh, Gerhard Fokken, Poppe Meents and Bertus Dieken who were elected elders, and Dirk Harberts and Klaas Kruger, deacons. The same day the Rev. Jacob Brinkema was called as stated supply.

The first church was built in 1873. When the building was completed, the contractor locked the door, and kept the key until he had promissory notes, with a high rate of interest, from individual members for the debt. The pioneers were all very poor and sometimes found it hard to pay even the interest on those notes.

After three years of difficult pioneer work, the Rev. Brinkema left to do the same kind of work near Kamrar, Iowa.

In the fall of 1874, the Rev. B. Van der Las from Milwaukee, Wis., was called to be the new pastor. At the congregational meeting the moderator, Rev. J. Vander Las, told the people it was useless to call his brother, as he was a city man. One man answered, if the Lord wanted him he would come, and his long pastorate of twenty-five years proved that he was the man God had chosen.

One characteristic of those pioneer days was that when people visited each other, they could spend the entire evening talking about their soul's welfare, and we children would sit quietly and listen.

More settlers came, and slowly and steadily the church grew, not alone in numbers, but in grace and wisdom.

The first parsonage was a house 14x20x12 ft. When Rev. Van der Las came a kitchen was built on the south side, the next year a leanto on the north side, so the minister could have a study.

The present parsonage was built in 1888, remodeled during Rev. Drake's pastorate.

The first organ was bought in 1883. The pipe organ later and enlarged when the new church was built.

The first Mission Feast was held in 1883. The offering was $70.00, equally divided between home and foreign mission boards. Little by little the offerings increased, decreased again during the depression, gradually went up when times improved. The largest mission feast offering was $2530.00 on June 13, 1945.

In the spring of 1899, Rev. Van der Las resigned as he was unable to continue the pastoral work, but at the request of the congregation remained until December, when he moved to Grundy Center. There he lived a little over two years when the Lord took him home.

After calling different ministers, who declined, the Rev. J. E. Drake was called. He came in June 1900. So we again had a pastor, after a vacancy of seven months.

We firmly believe that he came in answer to the prayers of God's people. The Lord blessed this long pastorate of thirty-five years. The church, Sunday School and C. E. flourished outwardly and spiritually.

The first year Rev. Drake was here, the church which had become too small, was enlarged.

In 1917 the present church was built at a cost of about $29,000.

Every man, woman and child had a part in building the new church. The women were responsible for the basement and equipment, also upstairs for carpets and so forth. The young people paid for the electric power of the pipe organ and the Sabbath School for 7500 bricks.

The first service was held in the basement November 25, 1917. Text Eph. 3:20. We had our first service in the auditorium February 22, 1918. Text Psalm 24.

When the church was dedicated May 22, 1918, all debts were paid and about $1,000 in the treasury. Every dollar subscribed was paid.

In 1934, Rev. and Mrs. Drake found the strenuous pastoral work too much for them, so he resigned, but remained with us until April 16, 1935. He preached his farewell sermons on April 14, forenoon in the German language, text Isa. 45:22, evening in the English language, text 2 Cor. 13:11.

Different ministers were called but declined, until Rev. Swalve, the present pastor, was called. He preached his first sermons here as pastor Sunday, Nov. 24, 1935. Text forenoon Rev. 22:17, evening Acts 8:29. So the work goes on.

Many of the older members have passed away, but the younger generation is taking their place and the services are well attended.

We have a large group of young people who have had the privilege of a much better education than their parents or grandparents, who are faithful and loyal to the church. These are taking the place of the former generation.

The Young People's Societies and catechism classes meet regularly.

A large church choir, under the direction of Max Belz, has improved the congregational singing.

Thirty-eight of our young men entered the service of their country during the second world war. All have returned, except two, Edward Knock, organist and teacher of the Young People's class in Sunday School at the time of his induction. He was killed in a jeep accident in England and Lawrence Boekhoff was killed in action.

During all these years, seventeen heard the call to the ministry. The first, George Veenker, although not a member came from this church. Harm Kruger, A. C. Kruse and Toenjes Rabenberg came next. John C. Van der Las, a member of the First Presbyterian church of Grundy Center, had all his religious training here during his father's ministry. Next August Cramer, Henry Cramer, William Harberts, John Saathoff, Evert Dirks, Arthur Drake, Dick Dieken, Harm Knock and Edward Dirks. At present we have three studying for the ministry. George H. Swalve Jr., graduating in June, has accepted a call to Middle Creek Presbyterian church at Winnebago, Ill. Glen Dieken and Max Belz are studying at the University of Dubuque.

Ella Dieken Graham is our missionary to China. Esther Drake Primus taught several years in Allison James Mission School in New Mexico. Marian Swalve Tjaden, representing the Synod of the West, served as missionary on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, but not least eight ministers' wives went out from our church: Ellen Van der Las Everds, Martha Van der Las Everds, Gertje Van der Las Boell, Lillian Drake Eitzman, Lillian Kruse Shaw, Marian Swalve Tjaden, Esther Knock Borden, Mabel Kruse Brockway.

During all these years God has richly blessed us. All four ministers preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, each in his own way.

It has not always been sunshine. Dark days as well as bright days, discouragements as well as encouragements came to all.

One plants, another waters, only God gives the increase.

We hope and pray that the future generation may never forget the Word of God and the Faith of their Fathers. --Mrs. H. E. Knock

The Session
Geo. H. Swalve, Moderator
Harm GrooteD. D. Dieken
John J. KruseJ. H. Dieken

Other Officers
Front row, left to right: Peter J. Meyer, Andrew Stahl, Will Engelkes, Ontje Knock, Charles Vantiger. Back row: Alvin L. Smit, Rudolph Schmidt, Elmer Dieken, Charles Harberts.

Rev. Geo. H. Swalve
Began His Work Nov. 18, 1935

The Deacons
Ben JaspersWill Smit
Fred D. HarbertsJohn C. Abels

The Trustees
Matthew LogerJacob Abels
Jake StahlSamuel Rust

Three Members Over 50 Years

There are three people living who have been members of the Colfax Presbyterian church for more than fifty years.

They are Mrs. H. E. Knock, Mrs. C. G. Franken and Mrs. J. D. Snittjer. Mrs. Knock's membership dates back the farthest. She joined the church in June 1884. That is 62 years ago and she has been a regular attendant since. Mrs. Franken joined the church in January 1889, or 57 years ago, and Mrs. Snittjer's membership dates back to 1890, or 56 years ago.

Two years after she joined the church, Mrs. Knock became a Sunday School teacher and she has served in the same capacity for 60 years. She was the church organist 48 years.

16 Have Been Members More Than 40 Years

There are 16 people living who have been members of the Colfax Presbyterian church more than forty years. They are:
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Petersen, 1900.
Mr. and Mrs. Hei Heronimus, 1901.
Mrs. J. P. Meyer, 1901.
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Kruse, 1902.
Mrs. Andrew Stahl, 1903.
Mrs. Jake Stahl, 1903.
Mr. and Mrs. Ben Jaspers, 1903.
J. H. Dieken, 1904.
Mr. and Mrs. John C. Abels, 1905.
P. H. Knock, 1906.

Mrs. J. P. Meyer is the oldest living member of the church. She is 87.

Three officers Died Past Year

Three faithful officers of the church were called to their final reward during the past year. The last was John S. Dirks, who was taken at the time plans for the 75th anniversary were under way. Other late deaths among the official staff were:
Elder J. D. Snittjer, Feb. 11, '45.
Elder J. P. Meyer, Mar. 6, '45.
Trustee Eilert Knock, Aug. 22, '45.

The Churches--Past and Present

First Church

Second Church

The Present Pastor and Officers

Officers of Church

Following is a list of officers who have served the Colfax church through these many years, with the year indicated in which they were elected to their respective office. An asterisk reveals a service of 35 or more years--two asterisks a 40-year service:

Poppe Meents, 1871
Bertus Dieken, 1871
Dirk Harberts*, 1872
August Siefken, 1872
John F. Abels, 1876
Poppe Heronimus, 1876
Harm Meester, 1880
John Kruse*, 1885
A. VanDeest, 1896
John P. Meyer*, 1906
Jacob Kiewiet, 1911
J. R. Smit, 1919
Juhren H. Dieken, 1921
J. D. Snittjer, 1925
Harm Groote, 1930
John J. Kruse, 1941
George Knock, 1941
D. D. Dieken, 1946

Dirk Harberts, 1871
Klaas Kruger, 1871
Dirk Lay, 1872
Eilert Knock, 1872
Arend Schafer, 1872
George J. Bonk, 1875
John Schroder, 1876
Jacob Rieman, 1876
Harm Knock, 1879
Elso Groote, 1879
Lucas Kruse, 1880
Konrad Kruse, 1886
John F. Abels, 1889
Anton Neessen, 1890
Harm E. Knock**, 1896
Albert Saathoff, 1902
Evert Dirks, 1903
J. R. Smit, 1905
Jacob Kiewiet, 1906
Peter Knock*, 1912
Ben H. Jaspers, 1919
D. D. Dieken, 1921
John C. Abels, 1936
Will Smit, 1946
Fred Harberts, 1946

Arend Schafer, 1871
Harm Kramer, 1871
Harm Knock, 1871
John Saathoff, 1871
Freerk Krey, 1871
Harm Meester, 1872
P. Poppinga, 1889
Marcus Meyer, 1890
Christ Franken, 1896
J. P. Meyer, 1899
Juhren Dieken, 1906
A. J. Kruse, 1922
John S. Dirks, 1935
Eilert H. Knock, 1936
Jake Stahl, 1938
Samuel Rust, 1946
Jacob Abels, 1946
Matthew Loger, 1946

Klaas C. Kruger, 1871
C. G. Franken, 1896
H. P. Smit, 1913
J. R. Smit, 1918
Will Smit, 1926
Charles Vantiger, 1944

Two Gave Their Lives in War

Two young men who grew up in this church gave their lives to their country in the late war. They were:
Lieut. Edward D. Knock
Son of Mr. and Mrs. P. H. Knock, was born August 16, 1908, and attended Grundy Center high school, Coe college, University of Chicago, and Columbia university. Before entering the army he was Dean of the Junior college at Marshalltown. He was inducted into the army in 1942 and served in the intelligence branch. In 1943 he became a first lieutenant, and served as an instructor in intelligence at Camp Ritchie, Maryland. Then he was sent overseas and met death in a vehicle accident in London, August 17, 1944. He was buried in London.

Pvt. Lawrence Boekhoff
Son of Mr. and Mrs. John Boekhoff, was born in St. Cloud, Minn., Feb. 21, 1924. He came to Grundy Center with his parents when he was four years old, and attended school at Wellsburg.

Lawrence entered the service on May 12, 1944, and received his early training in Texas and Alabama. He was home on furlough in October and left for overseas on Nov. 14, 1944. The last letter his parents received from him was written December 21st. He lost his life when an American transport was sunk in the English Channel on December 25, 1944.

14 Sons of The Church Into The Ministry

Fourteen young men who were members of this church have been ordained and engaged in active service in the ministry. They are pictured below.

George Veenker was the first son of the church to enter the ministry. Toenjes Rabenberg was also among the first. John C. Van der Las was drowned with his wife while they were on their honeymoon when their steamer struck an uncharted rock on the coast of Alaska. He was a son of the second minister of the church.

August Cramer graduated from the Dubuque Seminary in 1910. At present he is pastor of the Lyon County First Presbyterian church at George, Iowa.

Rev. Harm F. Kruger, Deceased

Rev. Aiken Conrad Kruse
Now pastor of Presbyterian church, Steamboat Rock, Iowa.

Rev. Henry Cramer
Pastor Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Rock Rapids, Iowa.

Dr. Wm. Harberts
Pastor Grace Presbyterian Church, Daly City, California

Dr. John A. Saathoff
Dean of Jamestown College, Jamestown, No. Dak.

Rev. Evert O. Dirks
Pastor Presbyterian Church, Wayauwega, Wisconsin

Rev. Arthur E. Drake
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Lennox, South Dakota

Rev. Richard Dieken
Pastor First Presbyterian Church, Clarinda, Iowa

Rev. H. Calvin Knock
Pastor First Presbyterian Church, Scottsbluff, Nebr.

Rev. J. Edward Dirks
Religious Staff, Columbia Univ.

George H. Swalve, Jr.
Graduating from the University of Dubuque Seminary in June, 1946.

Other students at the University are Glen Dieken and Max Belz.

--The Grundy Register (Grundy Center, Iowa), 6 June 1946, sec 2, pg 1

List of Ministers

NameYears Served
Rev. Jacob Brinkema1871-1874
Rev. B. Vander Las1874-1899
Rev. J. E. Drake1900-1935
Rev. George Swalve1935-1952
Rev. Wiert Eekhoff1952-1962
Rev. Gene Straatmeyer1963-1970
Rev. Jerry VanCurler1972-1983
Rev. Arthur Ames1983-1987
Rev. Larry Hoop1988-