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History of LeGrand Friends Church

The wagons rolled westward. Friends were moving, and as they moved they established churches. Some were along a gentle stream, others near a grove of catalpa, out on the open prairie. Some came to the new state of Iowa.

They came from the South and East marking well the ruts of the pioneer wagon trail, this deeply committed people with their Quaker bonnets and hats.

There near the rise of a hill with fertile land to the south, east and west of them and the valley of the Iowa river to the north, with its rock formations and its meandering stream on the valley floor, they built their church. The water would grind their wheat, the fertile fields would provide their livelihood. Another distinct advantage was its proximity to the railroad and to the neighboring village.

Yes, this was the perfect place to raise their children, tend their fields and worship their God.

The year was 1855. Friends set up the Westland meeting under the supervision of Indiana Yearly meeting. The name was later changed to Le Grand.

The first meeting house was built in 1856 in what is now the north part of the Friends Cemetery. Constructed by the men of the meeting it cost $160. The building was enlarged in 1860 at a cost of $226.

The meeting grew rapidly as other settlers came west and a need for a bigger meeting house was felt. A new building was erected in 1868 on the site west of the Friends Cemetery at a cost of $3485.04. This building was moved to a location two blocks west of the town square and remodeled at a cost of $12,000.

The education of their children was a concern to the early settlers and an academy it had 125 graduates.

The early church did not use music or singing in worship but in 1896 liberty was granted by the monthly meeting for its use in the meetings for worship.

The story has been passed down from earlier generations that before permission was granted for the use of music in the church that the young people of the meeting smuggled a pump organ into the building in the middle of the night. How surprised and astounded those staid Quakers must have been when on entering the meeting house they found what they called an instrument of the devil.

Plans were begun in 1949 for the ultimate building of a new structure just north of the old church building.

Monday, June 18, 1951 the cornerstone for the new church was laid. The new building was dedicated Sunday, February 10, 1952 at a cost of $93,121.21. Built of brick and mortar it is a monument to those early settlers who had a vision that this was a place set apart for the gathering and the nurturing of Gods people.

The Le Grand Friends Church observed one hundred years of physical and spiritual growth with a Centennial Observance August 6-9, 1955.

The first parsonage was located west of the school grounds, the second across the street from the old church building and the present building was completed in 1961 and conveniently located just north of the present church structure.

With the rapid growth of the Sunday School it was soon apparent that more space must be made available and through the generosity of O.W. and Edna Johnson a six room annex was built on the east of the original building and dedicated on January 17, 1965.

Many pastors have shared in preaching the Word. Among them are Isom P. Wooten who was the first pastor. Others are C.C. Reynolds (1890); Joseph L. Beane (1890-91); John H. Hadley (1891-97); Edgar P. Ellyson (1897-1900); Fred Comfort (1900-01); John H. Hadley (1901-05); Ezra Pearson (1905-05); George Deshler (1909-11); Alfred Hanson (1911-25); John Wright (1915-19); Frank Ashba (1919-21); Guy Harvey (1921-25); Homer Biddlecum (1925-27); Taylor Guthrie (1927-36); Floyd Hinshaw (1936-38); Leonard Wines (1938-41); Roy Thompson (1941-43); John Hadley (1943-45); Vernard Cox (1945-46); Lewis Savage (1946-51); Edward & Irma Morris (1951-54); Wm. R Abram (1954-58); Wayne Conant (1958-

Elders and Overseers assumed the duties of the pastor in the early years of the church and later there were lay ministers who shared their leadership with the church.

Many persons have gone out in Christian service from the church serving in different capacities and many different areas.

The years have hurried on. The meeting house struggled with new forms of presenting the Good News. Elective courses are presented to the Youth and Adults in Sunday School. A course in Revival with further in depth Study Grouple in the home are offered.

The membership report taken from the Iowa Yearly meeting minutes for 1970 states that Le Grand has a total membership of 310. Average attendance at Sunday School 180, with 16 classes and 32 teachers.

The church has an active United Society of Friends Women and several Youth groups.

Services are held twice each Sunday and on Thursday evening.

The church has grown since those first Quakers founded their meeting house on the rise of a hill, but the witness is the same, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." Psalm 127:1.

--pg 1-2, LeGrand Friends Church, LeGrand, Iowa, by unknown 1974.

 1974 Church Directory   
(c) Copyright 2007-18 by Jennie Williams Pahls. Last updated on April 17, 2018.