The Methodist Episcopal Church of Walnut Township had its birth in
a log cabin owned and occupied by Isaac Reager and family where he
and his neighbor, Ransom Bishop and wife, made arrangements to
hold services in their homes alternately. This was in the spring
of 1855. The meetings were conducted most of the time by
"exhorters." Winterset, at the time, was a mission under
the care of Rev. Richard Swearingen, who came out to Walnut
Township on occasion to preach. On August 16, 1855, he organized
the little company of Walnut Township worshippers, 16 in all, into
the "Reager class" with Isaac Reager as leader. The
charter members were Isaac Reager and wife, Mary Sutherland Reager;
Mrs. Jane Gregory; Joesph Quinn and wife; Mary Quinn; William
Quinn; Andrew Reager and wife Orpha Gregory Reager; Joseph Reager
and wife Rachel; Fanny Baker; Polina Vorse; Hamilton Reager; and
In 1856 the Reager school house was built and the preaching moved
from the homes to the school house. A Sunday school was organized
the same year and Andrew Reager was elected superintendent. Joel
Mason was the preacher in charge of the Brooklyn circuit, Brooklyn
being a small village 1 1/2 miles south of Peru.
CHURCH - PERU
There were eight regular preaching points on the Brooklyn circuit
in 1856, which embraced all of Madison county south of the Middle
River and also included New Virginia and Irish Grove in Warren
county and Lapart and Green in Clarke county. There were about 170
members on the circuit. Preachers included John S. Jordan, David
Worley, John W. Guiberson, L. W. Smith, and Bazel Shepherd.
Exhorters were Robert A. Mathews, Isaac J. Knotts, Norval S.
Allcock, John Moore and Jacob Haskel.
In 1857 a church and parsonage were built east of Brooklyn and the
name of the society changed to the Ohio circuit, a name retained
until 1885 when it was changed to Peru. The Elm Grove class is the
oldest in the circuit, having been organized in 1863 at the home
of Norval Allcock while he lived where Hanley is now located. In
1867, a new church was built and named the Elm Grove church. In
1881 a small frame building in Peru belonging to the Adventists
was purchased by the Reager class. They held services in that
until 1885 when the new church was built.
The Methodist Episcopal church of Peru was built in 1885 at a cost
0f $1,400. When the Great Western Railroad bypassed Peru in 1894,
the church, along with many other buildings, was moved to East
Peru, about a mile from the original location.
The old church was remodeled into a house in 1915 when a new church
was built on Peru's main street. The large arched stained glass
window shown on the facing wall in the photo to the right was
preserved in the new church.
The following is a list of church elders who served the Peru
congregation from the beginnings of that parish in 1885 to 1915
when the newer Methodist church was dedicated: J.
B. Hardy, J.
G. Eckles, James
M. Holmes, M.
D. Collins, J.
W. Vincent, S.
C. Rhyman, V.
C. Martin, James
W. Webb, J.
H. Sesseney, W.
W. Reece, E.
M. Holmes, Dr.
W. L. Brown, and A.