Henry County IAGenWeb Churches


Early Church History

Dr. Jackson and his very capable and interesting wife are members of that fast growing group of people who spice everyday living with a dash of hobby. The Jacksons employ the candid camera in the field of local history. Weather permitting, each weekday afternoon off and Sunday afternoons the Jackson family fill the doctor's car and start out to take pictures of historic spots in Henry county and also along the many highways and byways where Nature paints its glorious pictures.

Recently the Jacksons spent an evening with us in our home and brought along a lot of their camera works in colors. We are not sure just where to put a finger on the real artistry revealed by the camera, but one of the two surely has a flair for taking shots at the right time and the right place. Well on second thought, probably both possess something which makes picture taking an art.

The Jacksons are covering the county in a systematic manner. They started in Salem township, then to Jackson and then Baltimore. Historic buildings were hunted up, visited, the story obtained, then the picture. Tippecanoe, Center and New London are the present field of photographic venture. Then will follow Canaan, Marion and Trenton and finally the three north townships, Scott, Wayne, and Jefferson.

We are very sure the Jacksons will be very happy to receive information as to the location, not only of places of wide historic values, but also spots of unusual interest, old homes of distinguished people, old schools, old churches, rural cemeteries. There is one thing about the camera. It tells the truth, if given a chance. The Jacksons have been invited to show their pictures at a number of gatherings and homes, and a large interest is developing in their work.

But right here within a few blocks from Dr. Jackson's office, northeast corner of Henry and Jackson streets, stands a small but neglected one story frame building which commands the close attention of the Jacksons. It is an historic spot of singular interest and its story cannot fail to capture the imagination and stir up deep emotions. This old building, glorified by the years of its service which now number 100, stands neglected. Dr. Jackson can find no structure in our county that may command deeper respect and historical interest than this century old deserted church.

For it was the first spiritual home of the First Presbyterian church; it was the first spiritual home of St. Michael's Episcopal church and was later for years the spiritual home of St. John's Methodist Episcopal (African) church. After the suspension of the colored congregation some years ago it was used off and on by the smaller and homeless religious bodies of the community.

This old neglected church was built in 1849 by the congregation now known as the First Presbyterian church, and on the site of the present Presbyterian church, corner Main and Madison. In 1858, finding their church building too small, the Presbyterians built their second and larger church, the old brick, and on the same site and which in 1897 was taken down and the present edifice erected.

St. Michael's Episcopalian Mission society was organized in 1856. Anticipating a church home of their own as soon as possible, they purchased two vacant lots at Henry and Jackson. When in 1858 the Presbyterians decided to build a larger church they sold the old building to the Episcopalians, who moved it to their Parish lots on West Henry and here they worshipped until 1866, when they occupied the present Episcopal church on East Washington.

The only major change in the historic old church on West Henry was a new front with its modified early Gothic pinnacles, the general character of Episcopalian church edifices.

Just east and adjacent to this old historic church stood, and still stands, a single story residence, also rounding out its first century. It is understood, and the evidence seems rather conclusive, that this one story structure was the first Presbyterian manse, and stood adjacent to that church. When the latter built its second edifice, and sold the first to the Episcopalians, the latter also bought the residence and moved it to the Henry street location, where it served as the first Episcopalian rectory and later still as the parsonage of St. John's. It is now used and for some time has been used as a residence, given the new look and and stands neat and comfortable.

The historic old frame church which for a full century has served our community, is now neglected. At times recently used for religious services, at times as a family shelter, it patiently awaits the end. it probably will be purchased by some home builder, as the location is a very desirable one for a dwelling. But before that happens Dr. Jackson should by all means transform the drab that clings to it today into the magic cameral glow of local history.

If the silent walls of that old church could re-echo the songs, the services, the prayers, the rites of marriage, a baptism and burial, what a story they would unfold.

-- "Bystander's Notes" by Charles S. Rogers, Publisher-Editor of The Free Press [weekly newspaper published in Mt. Pleasant, IA] Saturday, January 15, 1949 p.2
earlychurch4.jpg (187811 bytes) earlychurch.jpg (206680 bytes)

...."the Churches of Mount Pleasant.  African Methodist Episcopal.  Corner of Henry and Jackson Streets." 

Picture taken 1903

From Donald Young, Historian, Mt. Pleasant, IA. 

"...date unknown.  This is a view of the first building that the First Presbyterian Church built at the intersection of Main and Madison, southwest corner, in the early 1850s.  This building was moved in 1858 to the corner of West Henry and North White Street where it became the first permanent home of St. Michael's Episcopal Church.  In 1865 that building was sold to the congregation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, who then occupied the building for many years.  It was last used as the Jay-Cee Hall.  The building was demolished about three years ago."

- From Page 52 of "Cornerstones", published in 1991 by the Mt. Pleasant Beautiful Committee. 

The above in red is probably incorrect....it should read West Henry and North Jackson Street.

1968...Mt. Pleasant Jaycees Home.

From Donald Young, Historian, Mt. Pleasant, IA. 

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