Muscatine County Iowa

Source: History of Muscatine County Iowa, Volume I, 1911, pages 312-316


In preparing this sketch of Trinity Episcopal church a history of the organization, written in 1892 by J. P. Walton, has been consulted for the main facts. Mr. Walton in preparing his work carefully and diligently made research for data in the county records' minute books of the Iowa lodge, NO.2, which was a limited co-partner in the first church building; also the church registers and record books were conned over and every means adopted to collect every item of importance to the church history and at the same time adhere, as closely as possible, to facts.

Mr. Walton begins his narrative by stating that "in 1839, Matthew Matthews, and son, Dorrance, and Hiram Matthews and Joseph Matthews, his brothers, with their wives and children came to Bloomington and organized the first Episcopal church. The following year, when Bishop Kemper visited here, he found the church with seven communicants and a lot with timber hauled on to the lot for a church edifice. This was most likely the first Episcopal church organization in Iowa."

In Bishop Kemper's diary, dated September 26, 1839, is recorded: "Reached Stephenson (Rock Island) at 4 p. m. Cauffman, at Stephenson, knows of no Episcopalians now, either here or in Davenport. September 30--Stopped at Bloomington a short time. A small, new looking village." In 1840 the bishop preached at Bloomington in October and in November, "communion to seven-- that being the number belonging to the church at this place." On the evening of November 1, 1840, the good bishop baptized "Ruah Ann, daughter of Joseph Clark, and Maria Matthews, Geraldine Havens, daughter of Dorrance and Glorianna H. Matthews."

It is gathered from Bishop Kemper's diary, that on October 31, 1840, he was in Bloomington and "walked with Mr. Matthews," and learned that the latter had "appropriated a good lot near, the public square for a church, with timber already on the lot for a building.' On November 1, the bishop records having promised $100 toward building the church, providing it be free of debt when finished. Mr. Matthews promised that the church would be ready for worship by Easter.

In July, 1841, the bishop records a good congregation at Muscatine and the exhibition of much interest in the cause of the church. He also makes note of the plan of the church being enlarged; "but the Masons are to put a half story upon it, which I do not like."


Mr. Walton describes the first Episcopal church building erected in the (state of Iowa in the following words: "A contract was previously made on the 6th of May, 1841, between the vestry of Trinity church, J. S. Richman acting as their committee, and the Masonic fraternity, T. S. Parvin, B. P. Howland and P. G. Jeans acting as their committee, by which the Masons agreed to put on a second story to the Episcopal church, about to be erected. The building was completed in the season of 1841. The Masons held their first meeting December 13, 1841, and formally vacated it on March 7, 1854, after which the second story became the property of the church. This church was the first church of any denomination erected in this county, and the first Episcopal church in the state.

"This old church was a frame building 22x50 feet, one and three-fourths stories high, with eight side windows, fifteen lights of 8x10 glass, with a small vestry room about 7x9 feet in clear. During the periods of rest that Trinity church had in its younger days, the Presbyterians held services in it. Their bell was mounted on the vestry room; it answered for both denominations. The front door was a specimen of good workmanship for the times, a plain ten-panel door, but it took one man fully a week to make it. The lower story was about eight feet high and had a row of square columns extending along the center aisle. The pews were made of black walnut painted white. Walnut was the best wood to be had for them, but it was too common without having it painted. The old church was purchased by your humble servant and rented to the city for school purposes."

May 1, 1842, the first sermon was preached in the new church, Rev. G. H. Goldsmith, of Davenport, occupying the pulpit. June 25th, Bishop Kemper officiated and it is officially recorded in the archives of the church that "The Masons occupying the second story so offended the bishop that he utterly declined to dedicate the church."


June 28, 1842, Bishop Kemper recorded in his diary that "Trinity parish, Bloomington, was reorganized. Fourteen persons present. Humphreys and Lakin, wardens."

The church records show that the constitution of the church was adopted on the 13th day of April, 1844, and was signed by Ansel Humphreys, John S. Lakin, Hiram Matthews, J. W. Richman, Suel Foster, J. Scott Richman, W. G. Woodward, T. S. Parvin, Charles Mattoon, J. C. Matthews, with W. G. Woodward, chairman, and certified to by Hiram Matthews, Charles Mattoon and J. Scott Richman, vestryman. Previous to this Rev. Samuel Sherwell was the pastor, but got into disgrace through intemperate habits and was removed. His successor was James Keeler, who served from 1846 to 1849. In speaking of the vestry at this time, a writer of the day passed down to posterity the following: "The vestry of old Trinity is worthy of mention; in those days none of them were communicants. I think it was composed of Doc. Reeder, General Gordon, John B. Dougherty, Joe Green and Deacon Moore--all I can recollect. If a clerk in the store can be believed, they were a jolly lot. They generally met to discuss church matters upstairs in Gordon's store. The clerk says they would 'spin yarns, talk church, spin more yarns, smoke, chew and adjourn.' I think all of these gentlemen of whom I speak so familiarly yet without an atom of disrespect, for I reverence their names, became communicants under Mr. Ufford's administration, and their pure and worthy lives proved they were servants of the Master. All of them, except Mr. Moore, have, with their beloved pastor, solved the mystery of life."

The next minister to hold forth in old Trinity was Rev. John B. Calhoun, who was a man well fitted to look after the financial affairs of the parish. Services were still held in the old frame church, but a desire was plainly manifested by the parish for a new building, to keep up with the rapid strides other churches in Muscatine were making.


In the spring of 1851 sixteen members of the parish subscribed $1,250, in sums ranging from $25 to $200, for erecting a new church. Among the list of subscribers we notice the names of J. G. Gordon, $200; J. B. Dougherty, $200; George Reeder, $100; E. H. Albee, $100; H. W. Moore, $100; J. A. Green, $100; J. Bennett, $100; Ansel Humphreys, $50; J. S. Lakin, $50; A. 0. Warfield, $25; J. J. Hoopes, $25; Mrs. E. H. Bevard, $25; and several unknown names, in all $1,250. They then started Rev. Calhoun east to collect more subscriptions. He collected $1,298.50 from one hundred and sixty-eight different individuals. The reverend brother seemed to have understood his business, for he had two lists, one for the big subscribers for the large amount of ten dollars and upwards, and another for smaller ones. He also secured plans and specifications for the front part of the present stone church from the noted church architect, Frank Will, of New York city. The cellar walls and foundation were built in the fall of 1851 and the cornerstone laid November 11. No further work was done that season. The wall with the cornerstone stood all winter without much protection.

The building was of stone and its construction dragged on about three years. The dedicatory services were held by Bishop Kemper, May 25, 1854, assisted by Rev. John Ufford, who performed the first marriage ceremony held in a protestant church in Muscatine. The couple united on this occasion was H. W. Moore and Ellen Stone. At the time of the consecration of the new church the fOllowing were confirmed: William Leffingwell, Mrs. Francis Leffingwell, Mrs. Anna Elizabeth Palmer, Mrs. Elmira Reeder, Mrs. Nancy Reece, Miss Caroline Bridgeman, Mrs. Josephine Humphreys, Miss Eliza Moses, Miss Lucilla Humphreys, Miss Ella Klein. In 1855 the building was enlarged and in 1856 a bell was placed in the cupola, and as the years passed changes and improvements transformed the building into its present appearance and character.

In August, 1854, the completion of the organization of the diocese of Iowa was effected, representative church men of the state meeting in Trinity for that purpose. The records from this time on largely have to do with reports on the church debt, admittance of new members, baptisms, marriages and deaths and the condition of the church financially, socially and spiritually.

In 1854, as a moderately "low church" man, Henry W. Lee was elected bishop of Iowa. Bishop Lee's first official act was the confirmation of a class of twenty-six at Trinity church in 1855, and his last official act was on May 14, 1874, when, at Trinity church, he confirmed a class of six. That year the worthy prelate died and the church was draped in black during the period of mourning in honor of his memory.


The first service held in the old Trinity church was the funeral service of Matthew Matthews, March 16, 1842. It was conducted by Rev. John Stocker, a Presbyterian preacher. The church was not plastered, but as no other more convenient building could be had, the church that Mr. Matthews had been so active in erecting was used for that occasion. The city had no permanent cemetery at that time; graves were dug helter skelter on the ground where the Third Ward schoolhouse now stands, hence the body was deposited beside the church and afterward removed.

Probably the first Episcopal service ever held in Bloomington, now Muscatine, was held October 31, 1840, by the Rev. Bishop Kemper. The first regular church service held in old Trinity church was on the first day of May, 1842, by Rev. G. H. Goldsmith, of Davenport. May 12, 1843, Rev. Samuel Sherwell, a deacon from New York, was placed in charge of the church. Rev. James Keeler came most likely in 1846; Rev. John B. Calhoun, November 6, 1850; Rev. John Ufford, November, 1852; Rev. Mr. Allen officiated twenty days in August, 1861; Rev. Robert H. G. Page, 1861-63; Rev. Thomas H. Vail, D. D., 1863-65; Rev. Stephen T. Allen, 1865-68 ; Rev. Frederick Humphreys, 1868-72; Rev. R. T. Roach, D. D., 1873-75; Rev. A. C. Stilson, from Davenport, 1876; Rev. William H. Gallagher, 1877-80; Rev. H. B. Restarick, 1881-82; Rev. S. C. Bradden, 1882-83; Rev. Dr. C. H. Seymour, 1883-86; Rev. Charles M. Kellogg, three months in 1886; Rev. E. C. Paget, called in October, 1886. December 27, 1891, Rev. Frederick Kendall Howard was ordained to the priesthood in Trinity church.

At Christmas time, 1852, six communicants were added: Ansel Humphreys, Mrs. David Lashorn, Mrs. Laura Humphreys, Mrs. E. A. Hall, Mrs. Sarah Gordon and Mrs. E. Klein, all now deceased. In this year Rev. John Ufford became the pastor. His wife was a most estimable woman. During the prevalence of cholera she labored among the stricken ones, took the contagion and died, September 11, 1855. Rev. Ufford served this parish from November, 1852, until July 12, 1861, when a leave of absence was granted him to officiate as chaplain of the Sixth Regiment Iowa Volunteers. His final connection with the parish was not severed until February 16, 1863. When he first came to Trinity there were but six communicants. When he had finished his labors here, there were sixty-six. During his absence at the front the pulpit was filled by a Mr. Allen, who soon became subservient to the influences of Father Laurent and was removed. He was followed by R. H. G. Page, who served from 1861-63; Thomas H. Vail, D. D., 1863-65; Stephen T. Allen, 1865-68; Frederick Humphreys, 1868-72; R. T. Roach, D. D., 1873-75; A. C. Stilson, 1876; William H. Gallagher, 1877-80 ; H. B. Restarick, 1881-82; S. C. Bradden, 1882-83; C. H. Seymour, 1883-85; Charles M. Kellogg, three months in 1885; E. C. Paget, October 1885--April 17, 1899; W. Parry Thomas, May, 1899--April, 19oo; F. F. Beckerman, July 15, 1900--October 1, 1906; A. I. Ernest Boss, January 6, 1907--0ctober 1, 1910; Webster Hakes, January 15, 1911, and is the present incumbent.

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