Religious Influence Great in Red Oak

Page 82


 Church of Christ

The Christian Church was organized in Red Oak in 1871, the first elders being A. McConnell and C. M. Mills. Services were held in different halls until 1878 when their church was built on the southeast corner of Fifth and Hammond. In 1913 the present church was built and the members formed a parade as they went from the old to the new church. When the congregation celebrated their twentieth anniversary in this church in June of 1933, they retired the building indebtedness of $3800.00. In 1936 the sanctuary was remodeled and beautiful stained glass windows installed.


Bethlehem Lutheran Church


Pastor B. M. Halland met with a group of Swedish people of Red Oak Junction on January 9, 1872 and helped them organize the Bethlehem Lutheran Church.  There were twenty-four charter members when the organization was completed on January 26, 1872. At the annual meeting of the congregation in January 1873, Pastor Skeppstedt, resident pastor of the Fremont congregation was called to hold services at Bethlehem one Sunday a month, and in this same year they were accepted into the Augustana Synod.  The first church was built in southwest Red Oak on a lot donated by C. B. & Q. R. R. in the vicinity of the present depot, and was completed in June of 1875.  In September 1885 this church was moved to Reed Street, where the present church now stands.  In 1892 the church structure was enlarged, and in 1904 a new church was built, which is the present church building. The Swedish language was used entirely until a decision was made in 1915 to have two English Sunday evening services per month, and in 1916 it was decided to conduct morning services in English on the fifth Sunday of the month when ever there were five Sundays in the month. Not until 1929 did English become the prevailing language, and used at all services. On Easter Sunday 1942 a new pipe organ was dedicated.  It stands as a living monument to the memory of Pastor Walter F. Peterson, through whose ceaseless efforts and planning the new organ was secured. Since the war membership and attendance have increased perceptibly and many are beginning to think in terms of better church facilities for worship and education. 

St. Mary's Catholic Church

St. Mary's Catholic Church was organized in 1878, although a frame church building had been put up in 1875, at a cost of $800.00. The first pastor was Rev. J. Barry.  In 1902 the second building was dedicated.  It was erected at a cost of $7000.00.  This church is still serving its people today.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church

St. Paul's Episcopal parish was organized in 1878.  The first officers were Rev. J. Evans Ryam, rector, and Dr. Monell, J. C. Welch, F. P. Wormley, J. T. Brink and H. Ogden, vestrymen.  In 1878 they built a neat frame church which cost about $2000.00. At present this church is not in existence and the members are worshiping with the Shenandoah church.

The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army conducted its first meeting in Red Oak in the year of 1925 under the leadership of Ensign Helm.  Their first meeting place was in a room under Dr. Gillmor's office.  They continued to meet there until 1935 when they moved into the Salvation Army Chapel at 310 Market Street.  The Salvation Army still conducts services at this location under the leadership of Lt. Norma Reyner with the assistance of Lt. Thelma Young.

United Presbyterian Church

The United Presbyterian church was organized in Red Oak by Rev. D. C. Wilson in October 1871 with nineteen members, and in 1872 the church building was erected and dedicated at Fifth and Hammond. This church has since disbanded and the church building was sold to the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church.

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First Wedding in Red Oak

The first wedding ceremony in Red Oak was preformed by Judge Horton. The principals were Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bolt. It was the Judge's first attempt, and he got things slightly mixed, but little inaccuracies were overlooked.

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Mrs. B. B. Clark and Mrs. H. C. Houghton, Jr. were the committee appointed for getting a fountain in the public square.

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First White Man in the County

  The first white man to settle with his family in was John Ross. He was a native of Kentucky.

  Mr. Ross was an individualist. The stories told of him would fill a volume. He was fond of hunting and an unerring shot with his rifle. Mr. Ross was very illiterate, could neither read nor write, and yet he was a man of excellent judgment, and good sound sense naturally.


  The first settler of the County never received a letter in his life in all probability. Once while in Maryville, Missouri, John offered the postmaster a quarter of a dollar for a letter. He relates of the incident, "But don't you think that feller was so doggoned mean that he wouldn't give me one? He said he didn't have none, but I know he lied for I seen he had dozens of 'em. But he was just that mean he wouldn't let me have even a little one, though I offered him just what the other fellows paid for theirs."


  Mr. Ross had moved from Page County to Montgomery. He declared that the reason he left that county was because it was so thickly settled that he could hear his neighbors call their cattle and hogs. There were not more than half dozen families in the neighborhood.


  A story is related, that upon being asked his reason for leaving this county, Ross said: "Well, the other day there was some shoats runnin' about in front of the house, and my, children says: "Pap, whose hogs is them?" Now when-ever a county gets so densely populated that my children can see other men's hogs than mine runnin' about my dooryard, it's time for me to leave."


  There is, of course,  a great deal of exaggeration in these stories, but also a great deal of truth.

  By 1857 civilization had encroached upon Mr. Ross to such an extent that he sold out and sought a home in Kansas, where he was unmolested by the advance of civilization.  


  A year or two later, while on a hunting expedition, he was killed by a roving band of Cheyenne Indians.

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Red Oak became a city on March 20, 1876, but was officially Red Oak Junction until June 13, 1901, when the word "Junction" was dropped.