Henry County Churches

History of First Finley Methodist Church

Photo courtesy of Jean Leeper, March 2004.

Over a hundred years ago, a small church and community center was built in the southwest corner of section 25, Jefferson Twp., Henry County, Iowa. It was named Finley. Several versions of how it got its name can be entertained. Some think the little church was named after a missionary by the name of Finley. Others attribute it to the fact that the first doctor in Trenton was named Wm Finley. Trenton was the nearest town to the Finley neighborhood.

The Finley Methodist Church has survived over the years with little known about its first years. The Wayland Centennial Book states that the Finley Chapel was part of Marshall Mission Circuit from 1851 and that the first quarterly Conference was held November 19, 1856. The Rev. Thomas reported 230 members, 30 probationers, 3 Sunday Schools, 49 officers and teachers, 204 scholars and 750 volumes in libraries.

Definite records can only be traced back to 1856 through the Iowa Conference minutes. Dillon Paynes' History of Finley, states that the church was built in 1856. with meetings being held previously in the Maple Grove school and in the home of John R. Everts. The school building was a short distance west of Finley on the south side of the road.

A plain rectangular frame building with two doors spaced equally in front, three windows on the side and a chimney in the center in the middle of the sanctuary. A new church building was built in 1901 and the old one was sold and moved to a nearby farm.

A cookbook was put out by the Finley Chapel members was a shower gift to me in 1951. It was the first cookbook I owned as a newlywed and still rests among a full collection of cookbooks now. It has some of my favorite recipes in it. nfj

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