Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Iowa
circa 1933 [77th church anniversary]
News-clipping provided by Kelli Skindzelewski, transcribed by
Stephen D. Williams
Williamsburg Church, Iowa County's
Oldest, Observes 77th Anniversary
WILLIAMSBURG FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
|| Mrs. George Meyer and Mrs. Rex Porter. The pastor, the Rev. George
E. Meyer, gave a memorial to the older members of the church. Old Welsh songs were
sung. The service closed with communion and singing of the old Welsh hymn of parting.
In 1844 two brothers, Evan and William Evans, their brother-in-law, Richard Pugh,
and their wives, settled along Old Man's creek, near an Indian burial ground. One
mile east of Williamsburg they built log cabin homes. The remains of one of these
three homes is still visible, that of "Middle House." The church had its
beginning as an organized body in these three homes, known as log cabin home chapels
of the early church.
In 1856 the church was organized, with Evan J. Evans the first pastor, and the services
were held at the three log cabins until a school house was built in 1857. The first
church, a frame structure, was built in 1859, the lumber being hauled from Iowa
City. It was located on the site of the present church on a lot which was given
by Richard Williams, one of the thirteen charter members, and for whom the town
of Williamsburg was named. Mr. Evans mortgaged his farm to raise $1,000 to build
the church. The present building was finished in March, 1917, and dedicated on Easter
Sunday, 1917. It cost $20,000.
The Welsh language, with its soft trills and pleasing inflections, was used in the
church exclusively until 1896. The Rev. Abram Jones, at that time pastor, was the
first pastor who could preach in English.
| Special to The Gazette.
WILLIAMSBURG—The first congregational church of Williamsburg, the oldest
church organization in Iowa county, observed its seventy-seventh anniversary Sunday.
The program included two services, with Rev. P. Adelstein Johnson of Grinnell, superintendent
of the Congregational Christian Conference
of Iowa, preaching a sermon on "Fellowship." A basket dinner in the church
basement followed the morning service.
Mrs. Mary Gittins
The birthday cake for the aniversary [sic], made by Mrs. Ezra Swartzendruber, was
|| Mrs. Mary Gittins, who holds the record of having been a member of
the church for the longest period of time, 72 years. The cake was given to the oldest
members and taken to the church shut-ins. At the dinner Mrs. Gittins was presented
a basket of American Beauty roses, sent by her daughter, Mrs. Harry E. Hull, of
Washington, D. C. They were presented by her grandson, Jimmie Gittins.
At the afternoon service the history of the church was read by Miss Luella James,
and greetings from absent friends and members were read by Mrs. Ezra Swartzendruber.
Greetings from Genoa Bluffs were read by J. D. Misbach. Musical numbers included
anthems by the choir, solos by Dorothy James and Ivor James, and numbers by a trio
composed of Mrs. M. E. Lewis,
In this $20,000 structure built in 1917, the First
church at Williamsburg, Ia., Sunday celebrated its seventy-seventh
The First Congregational church had its beginnings in three
log cabin homes near an Indian Burying ground. The ruins of one of
these cabins are shown above.
After the church was organ-
ized in 1856, the Rev. E. J.
Evans was first pastor.