(familiarly called Uncle Dark), lived near Oak Run for many
years and died at Winterset some years ago. A daughter, Martha,
married David Ellis, and another daughter, Mary, married Elwood
Hiatt, and lived one and one-half miles northeast of the church
until the time of his death.
and Eunice Ellis came here from Ohio in 1865. Reese and Sarah Ann Ellis came in 1871. Their son, Thomas
Llewellyn Ellis, was long one of the "standbys" of the
formation of the congregation began with an "indulged
meeting" at the home of Thomas Moorman in 1865. A preparative
meeting was organized at the home of Calvin Ellis, May 18, 1871,
to be known by the name of Oak Run Preparative Meeting. The name
was suggested by Calvin Ellis. The meeting was opened by a
committee of twelve from Ackworth Monthly Meeting, Warren County. This committee drove over in a big wagon and were entertained at
the home of Calvin and Eunice Ellis. The charter members were
Thomas C. and Rhoda Morman, Elwood and Mary Hiatt, David and
Martha Ellis, Calvin and Eunice Ellis, who still reside near the
the 15th day of September, 1853, Richard Cook and wife, in company
with his brother William H. Cook and family, and John Wilson and
family, left Marion County, Indiana, to move to Iowa. After about a month of travel by team and wagon, during which
time they underwent the hardships incident to a journey of this
character, they arrived in Warren County, where an uncle of Richard Cook lived. Before the end of October
his brother entered land in Union Township, Dallas County, and about the same time John Wilson entered land in
Adams Township of the same county. Richard entered land in the northwest corner
of Madison Township, as before stated, and about the same time two sons of John
Wilson, Abihu and Christopher, entered land in Madison and Penn
Cook made his home on the land which he entered until the spring
of 1857, when he sold to Wesley Cox, another Friend, also of
Marion County, Indiana, and removed to Dallas County . He, with his wife, whose maiden name was Mary Bowles, afterward
moved to Earlham, where they both passed away, Mrs. Cook in 1897,
and Mr. Cook in 1901. Christopher Wilson was a successful farmer
near Earlham during the remainder of his life. He was living in
the Town of Earlham at the time of his death, March 26, 1908.
records of Bear Creek Preparative Meeting show that a complaint
was entered against Abihu Wilson in 1855 for "accomplishing
his marriage contrary to discipline." He had married Eliza
Ellis, daughter of Peter Ellis. He evidently left the church at
that time, or at least ceased to take an active part, as his name
does not appear on the records after that date. He died in Dallas County
next Friends to enter land in Madison Township were Seth Wilson and his son, Milton Wilson, who came from Wayne
County, Indiana, in the summer of 1854. The Town of Earlham now covers part of the entry made by Seth Wilson.
Milton entered 500 acres of land in sections 17 and 18. He moved to
Iowa in 1856 with his wife, who in her maidenhood was S. Jane Murphy.
They were married October 18, 1852, and made their home on the old
homestead for eighteen years, where Mr. Wilson engaged in farming.
They then moved to Earlham and later to Des Moines, where they still reside. Their son, Isaac K. Wilson, was
representative from Madison County in the General Assembly for one term, being the youngest man ever
elected to that position from this county.
Wilson came with his family to Iowa in 1860. He died in Earlham some years ago. One of his daughters
married Cyrus Griffin, another married Josiah Stanley, a third
married David Beasley and a fourth became the wife of Oliver
Goldsmith Owen, a Friend minister, who later became rector in the Episcopalian
Barnett and family were the next Friends to locate in the
northwest part of the county, coming here from Marion County,
Indiana, the date of their arrival in Iowa being July, 1855. William Barnett and Mary Ann, his wife, had a
family of ten children.
families coming in that year were Wilson Barnett, a brother of
William, from Hendricks County, Indiana, and John Alien and
family. His wife, Margaret, was a daughter of Richard Mendenhall.
Mr. and Mrs. Alien were members of the Friends Church
and the other members of their family united with the society
after coming to Madison County.
1856 David and Hannah Smith Stanton located on the Pilot Grove
Farm, in Penn Township.
the fall of 1857, Thomas and Ruth Wilson came here from Marion
County, Indiana. Their family consisted of six sons and three
daughters, one of whom, Huldah1, became the wife of Wesley Cox,
whose home was on a tract of land purchased of Richard Cook. Here
the Wilson family stopped for a short time until a permanent location could
be made. They settled on the north half of section 16, Penn Township, the land having been purchased of Milton Muger for $7 per acre.
This continued to be the home of Mr. Wilson until his removal to
Earlham in 1874. He was one of seven who voted at the first
election held in Penn Township in the fall of 1858.
1858 Cyrus Griffin and wife Eliza, daughter of Seth Wilson, located near where North
Branch meeting house was afterwards built. He kept a general store
in one room of his house for some time.
other early settlers were Joseph Beasley, Stephen Hockett and John
Hockett, with their families.
first meetings in the new settlement were held at the home of
William Barnett Later the meeting place was transferred to a house
standing in Martin Compton's yard. This was the place of meeting
until about the year 1862 or 1863 when Friends built a frame house
on the southeast corner of Cyrus Griffin’s land. This
building was also used for a schoolhouse. William Barnett bought
this building, after the second house was erected, and moved it
into Earlham, where it is still doing service as part of a
dwelling. The second building was erected on a tract of five acres
bought for meeting house and burial ground. The
original deed states that said lot was conveyed by Martin Compton
and his wife Ann E Compton,
to the trustees of Bear Creek Monthly Meeting-five acres of land
on the northeast corner of the northeast quarter of section 9,
dated September 5, 1862, consideration $50. On
this lot North Branch Meeting House was built in 1869 at a cost of
about twenty-six hundred dollars, Seth Wilson, David L. Beasely
and William Barnett being the building committee. The house was a
frame structure 30 by 50 feet, with a sliding panel partition
dividing it into two rooms, the one on the east being occupied by
the men and the one on the west by the women.
This partition was left open during meeting for worship,
but was closed during meetings for business, the men and women
holding separate sessions. A gallery large enough for two rows of
seats ran along the north side of the rooms facing the entrance
and the main audience room had an inclined floor. The seats were
of the box pattern, made of black walnut. In 1893, when the house
was no longer used for meeting purposes, it was sold to William
Ramsey, who moved it away and converted it into a dwelling and
first meeting house in Earlham was erected on the southwest corner
of the east half of the northeast quarter of section 1, Penn Township
. The title to the lot was conveyed by Nathan Mendenhall and wife
to the trustees of Bear Creek
Monthly Meeting, December 15, 1868. The house built on this
lot was later moved into the Town of Earlham, where it served for meeting purposes until superseded by the one
now occupied by Earlham Friends.
is a copy of the minutes of the first preparative meeting held at
North Branch, as taken from the original record:
Branch Preparative Meeting of Friends opened and held in Madison
County State of Iowa, on Fifth day, 9th of 7th month, 1863, by the
approbation and direction of South River Quarterly Meeting of
Friends. Also there is a committee very acceptably present with us
and produced a copy of a minute of their appointment by Bear Creek
Monthly Meeting of Friends to attend the opening of this John
Hockett was appointed clerk for the day.
queries were all read in this meeting, with written answers
thereto, which the clerk was directed to forward to the monthly
meeting, and assist in making out a summary.
following named Friends are appointed to propose the name of two
Friends to next meeting to have the care of the burying ground,
namely: Joseph Beasley and John Wilson.
named Friends are appointed to propose the name of a Friend for
clerk, namely, Josiah Stanley, John Hockett.
Hockett, Clerk for the Day."
North Branch Friends were members of Bear Creek Monthly Meeting,
which had been organized in 1856, in Union Township, Dallas County; also of South River Quarterly Meeting,
Warren County, which had been organized in 1860.
the next meeting, held August 6th, John Hockett and William
Barnett were appointed a committee to care for the burying ground,
and John Wilson was appointed permanent clerk.
a later meeting, held October 8th, the subject of finances was
Barnett was appointed temporary treasurer, and the sum of $1 was
directed to be raised by the members, 56 cents of which was to be
paid to the monthly meeting for quarterly meeting stock, and the
balance to be used to purchase glass for this meeting and report
to next meeting.
10, 1863, Seth Wilson was appointed permanent treasurer. The
London General Epistle was read "to our edification and
of February 9, 1865. "William Barnett and John Wilson, who
were appointed a committee to ascertain cost of breaking meeting
house lot and fencing it, make a report that the cost will be
$17.50. They propose a rail fence on west and north to join to
John Hockett, rails to be furnished on the ground according to our
rate of apportionment."
second clerk of the meeting was Joel Hockett, appointed June 8,
1865. The "rates
of apportionment" referred to above appears in the minutes of
January 11, 1866, as follows: Seth Wilson, 14 per cent; William
Barnett, 14 per cent; Joseph Beasley, 12 per cent; Stephen Hockett,
8 per cent; Dayton Barnett, 7 per cent; David Beasley, 7 per cent;
William Beasley, 7 per cent; Christopher Wilson, 7 per cent;
Josiah Stanley, 5 per cent; Ira Barnett, 5 per cent; Joel Hockett,
5 per cent; Wesley Barnett, 4 per cent; Asa Barnett, 4 per cent;
John Hockett, 4 per cent; John Wilson, 4 per cent; Joseph L,
Hockett, 4 per cent; total, 111 per cent.
committee was appointed at this meeting to take into consideration
the size, plan and estimated cost of a new meeting house, namely:
John Hockett, Joseph Beasley and Seth Wilson. The committee made a
satisfactory report March 8th and the subject was dismissed for
12, 1866. "David Beasley and Eunice Wilson informed the
meeting that they propose marriage with each other, having
obtained consent of their parents, which is directed to be
forwarded to the monthly meeting." Also "John Day
and Hannah Talbert propose marriage with each other, which is
directed forwarded to the monthly meeting."
first request for membership seems to have been May 24, 1866. The
request is as follows: "The overseers inform that Cyrus
Griffin and his wife Eliza Griffin, with their minor children,
James, Henry, Milton W., Ella, Jane, Homer, Virgil, Benjamin S,
Sarah Elizabeth, Owen P., Edgar and Anna, wish to be joined in
membership with the Religious Society of Portends. The request is
directed forwarded to the monthly meeting."
order to make the next minutes of North Branch Preparative Meeting
better understood, two will be inserted from Bear Creek Monthly
Meeting. Under date of March 30, 1867, it is recorded that
"Friends of Penn Township, Madison County, Iowa, request for
a preparative meeting to be held on fourth day preceding Bear
Creek Monthly Meeting, and a meeting for worship on first and
fourth days, to be known by the name of Union Preparative
Meeting." A committee was appointed to take the request into
April 27th the committee reported in favor of granting the request
and a committee was appointed to attend the opening. The
approximate date of the opening was May 22, 1867. The place of
opening was the home of Joshua Newlin, where the meetings were
held until the house was built on a lot bought of Nathan
Mendenhall as previously stated.
North Branch minutes of April 25, 1869, Joel Hockett, Joseph
Beasley and John Wilson were appointed a committee to confer with
Friends of Union Preparative Meeting to consider the propriety of
requesting- for a monthly meeting.
23, 1869, the building committee reported the meeting house about
completed. There seems to be no further reference to the building
in the minutes. The
next step was the opening of the monthly meeting. Following is a
record from the minutes of the meeting of women Friends:
"North Branch Monthly Meeting of Friends opened and held at
North Branch, Madison County, Iowa, 9th month, 30th, 1869."
minutes of men Friends of the monthly meeting have not been found
and are supposed to have burned in the house of David Hockett, in
Earlham, who was clerk at the time.
next item of interest is October 4, 1869, when Union Preparative
Meeting requested that the name be changed to Earlham.
revolution now entered Bear Creek Quarterly Meeting. This first
started in the yearly meetings farther east and entered the
meetings of Bear Creek Quarter in the year 1873. This revolution
began by holding revival meetings, called "general
meetings," under the care of a committee appointed by the
quarterly meeting, in conjunction with a like committee appointed
by the yearly meeting. The first general meeting was held at North
Branch, February 9, 1873, and continued during six sessions. The
committee reported that they believed the meeting was "held
to the honor of truth."
next meeting was held at Bear Creek, following the quarterly
meeting in February, 1874. It began on the second day and closed
on the fourth night. The
report of the committee on this meeting was that the fore part was
held to pretty good satisfaction but the latter part was not so
satisfactory. The "not satisfactory" feature of the
meetings came out during the discussion of the report and proved
to be the closing meeting of fourth day night. At this meeting a
"mourners' bench" and "testimony meeting" were
introduced, after the well known custom of the Methodists. This
created much dissatisfaction among the more conservative members.
the quarterly meeting in February, for the next two years general
meetings were held at Bear Creek. It was evident that the two
factions were getting farther apart as the work progressed. The
climax was reached at the next general meeting in 1877. This, like
the others, followed the quarterly meeting in February. On the
third day of the meeting the leader arose, and after a few
remarks, called on all those who were tired of sin and desired to
live a different life to come to the front seats. About twenty
came in a body; others followed later. Great confusion followed.
Prayers, cries and groans, interspersed with an occasional stanza
of a hymn, were heard from all parts of the large room. For the
conservative, whose customary worship was that of "silent
waiting before the Lord," until the "risings of
life" should appear before speaking, this was too much. They
saw in this the death knell of Quakerism, and to save the
"beloved society" something must be done, even if it
required something desperate.
Apparently by common consent, the conservative Friends
began to depart for their homes and the die of separation was
conference was soon called of all Friends who were dissatisfied
with these revival methods, which culminated in a general
conference for the whole quarterly meeting, which met at Bear
Creek, April 29, 1877. At this conference it was decided that the
society had so far departed from its ancient testimonies as to
forfeit its right to an existence, and that in order to have such
society it was necessary to reorganize. Steps for reorganization
were accordingly taken. This was to take place at each of the
monthly meetings belonging to the quarter namely, Bear Creek,
North Branch and Summit Grove (now Stuart). North Branch Monthly
Meeting being the first in order following the conference was to
be the place of beginning. The date of this meeting was June 16,
meeting for worship which always precedes the business session
passed without anything out of the ordinary. When the time for
business came Joseph Beasley, who was "timer" of the
meeting, arose and made the customary suggestion that
"Friends might now proceed to take up the business of the
monthly meeting, and we have no clerk, some one should be
appointed for the day."
Jesse Beasley was named, and after taking his place, read a
short statement explaining the present action and then read the
opening minutes. Stephen Hockett now arose and objected to the
appointment of a "clerk," saying that they had one
"clerk" and that was enough; that Allen Barnett was
already the "clerk."
He then followed with the remark: "I understand
Friends that this action today means a separation in the church. I
have seen separations in the church before and I want to warn you
that the people who separated never did any good afterwards."
This was followed by other speeches on the same subject. A time or
two during the discussion Joseph Beasley was heard to say, “We
don't want any contention, Friends. We simply want to hold North
Branch Monthly Meeting." But the confusion was so great that
it was out of the question. So
they withdrew to the yard and held a council to decide upon
further action. After they withdrew, Allen Barnett opened the
meeting as usual, and the business meeting was held as though
nothing out of the ordinary had taken place.
who withdrew met at the meeting house on the fourth day following
and completed their reorganization. Separations in the other
monthly meetings followed soon and in August a quarterly meeting
was organized at Bear Creek and a yearly meeting a few weeks later
at Oskaloosa. It was discovered at North Branch that those who
withdrew composed almost all the members of the preparative
meeting. Those who remained sold their interest in the church
property to the conservatives and withdrew to Earlham. This gave
the conservatives undisputed possession. Later these people all
moved away, mostly to Earlham, where they built a new meeting
house, modeled after the old, which they sold to William Ramsey,
as before stated. The last business meeting held in the old house
was the conservative Friends monthly meeting, on the 26th of
D. B. Cook, Earlham, Iowa
by Judy Wight Branson
by Kent Transier