Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book
Nichols - Our Town - 1984


Disciples of Christ

Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, pages 22-27

         In 1867 Eliza Wallingford was teaching Hubbard School, located on the west side of Wapsinonoc creek. The school was later called Lacy and is now the Pike Grange Hall.
         Eliza joined a new church in West Liberty. They called themselves Disciples of Christ and had been meeting since 1862. J. C. Powell was a young Christian minister who was preaching in eastern Iowa, and during the winter of 1863-64, he helped the West Liberty group organize a Church of Christ. It was here that Eliza met him after joining the newly formed church and asked him to have some meetings at the Hubbard school. Several meetings were held and baptisms resulted.
         This was the very beginning, in 1867, of the Nichols Christian church. Unfortumately, the first church records were destroyed in a fire, so much of the early church history has been lost.
         A missionary meeting was held in the fall of 1872. J. B. Vawter was the State Secretary of the Christian Church, and he came to assist during these meetings. More names were added to the membership list.
         The Nichols Christian church (Disciples of Christ) was formally organized in the fall of 1873. Meetings were held in the school building, in members’ homes and even in the newly constructed elevator at the edge of town.
         The Reverend Powell again came to Nichols in the spring of 1874 at the request of John Swickard. Meetings were held in the school house, and during this time plans were made to build a church. Sixteen hundred dollars were raised for this purpose. John Swickard and Elijah Younkin were named to serve as a building committee, and together with Jacob Henning, they were the first trustees.
         Both the Christian and Catholic people were planning to build at that time. Ben Nichols offered to give the brick for the building which was completed first. The Catholic people completed their building first, so they won the brick. Mr. Nichols then offered to give the ground on which the church was erected to the Christian Church, and this gift was accepted.
         The new church was built during the summer of 1875 at a cost of $2800. It was constructed of brick which was fired in a kiln that stood on the opposite side of the highway from the present school. Many of the members helped fire the red brick and lay it.
         The present church sanctuary was the entire first building, about 34 feet wide by 50 feet long. The old church building had two entrances on either side of the south end of the building. There were small wooden entryways or vestibules on the outside, which were painted white. A white church steeple with a bell tower topped the old building. The windows were clear glass with white shutters.
         As you entered the building through either one of the two front doors, you were facing the congregation. The pews were arranged so they faced the front doors on the south. Space was left in the center of the church for two stoves, one on the east side and one on the west side. The pulpit and baptistery were in the center front of the building, between the two front doors.
         This building still serves as the sanctuary for the Nichols Christian Church, although changes have been made in the arrangement.
         Dedication services were held 28 October 1875. The Rev. J. F. Hartzell of Davenport, Iowa, preached the dedicatory sermon, assisted by the Rev. Mr. Powell, then at Columbus City, Iowa, and an evangelist from Illinois, the Rev. Mr. Whistler.
         A three week revival meeting was held by the Rev. L. Lane of Durant, Iowa, representative of the Fourth District of the Iowa Christian Missionary Society. This resulted in more members joining the church.
         A partial list of the charter members are Mr. and Mrs. John Swickard, Mr. and Mrs. Elijah Younkin, Mr. and Mrs. James Rummery, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hartman from West Liberty, Mr. and Mrs. Beacon Brown, M. S. and I. J. Coyner from the Baptist Church.
         Also, Mrs. Melissa Jane Metcalf, Henry, Jennie, Sarah and Eliza Wallingford, George Slade and Mrs. Slade, George Brown, Eliza Black, Vincent Reynolds and Kate Reynolds. Arthur Black and Lydia Black, Mr. and Mrs. D. W. Younkin, Frank Stafford from West liberty and Florence Swickard.
         The new church was now fully organized. John Swickard was the first Sunday School superintendent; Elijah Younkin, the first elder; James Rummery, the first deacon; D. W. Younkin, the first choir leader; and Florence Silverthorn, the first organist.
         There have been many auxiliary organizations working in the church. The Ladies Aid Society, oldest of all, specialized in quilting. For many years this group of ladies met at the home of “Aunt Susie” Nichols every week to quilt.
         In October of 1923, Mrs. Emma Sampson, an art teacher and wife of the minister, organized the Delta Alpha Clss, a group of the younger ladies. The Delta Alpha Circle came into being on 8 January 1940 when the Aid Society and the Delta Alpha Class merged. From this group has developed the Christian Women’s Fellowship. C. W. F. follows a national unified program devoted to worship, study and service.
         The Young Adult Class was organized in 1938, with a membership of 46. Its name was changed to Homebuilders in 1949. This group disbanded in 1958.
         The Men’s Club has functioned at various times; however, it has not been active in recent years.
         Young people’s groups over the years have been Christian Endeavor, Triangle Clubs, Christian Youth Fellowship and Chi Rho. The Christian Endeavor lasted for the longest time.
         For many years a Junior Choir participated in Sunday services, as well as a Senior choir. Musical programs, cantatas at Easter and Christmas time, and special songs and anthems have been an important part of the Sunday services.
         For a number of years there were four services on Sunday: the Sunday School, followed by morning services, then Christian Endeavor, followed by evening services.
         At one time the Methodist and Christians alternated their evening services. That has been discontinued for several years, except for special occasions.
         Between 1927 and 1934 the church building was remodeled. In October of 1934, the 55th anniversary of the church and dedication of the building after remodeling and redecorating was observed.
         The remodeling was rather extensive. The two vestibules to the south were removed, and one front door was put in the center of the building. Steps and a porch were constructed. The shutters were removed from the windows, and stained glass was installed. The wooden bell tower on the steeple was found to be in such disrepair as to be dangerous, so it was removed.
         Inside the church, the pews were reversed, and what had formerly been the back of the church was now the front. A low platform was built across the front for the pulpit, piano and organ and chairs for the choir. Central heating was installed, so the two old heating stoves were no longer needed.
         The walls were painted alight color and a new carpet was put down.
         In 1951 the Church purchased the rural Pike school. This building was moved to the church property, just east of the sanctuary. A basement was dug beneath the school, and an addition was built to the front of the school to connect the two buildings. A door was cut into the church proper. A kitchen, dining or meeting space and restrooms are in the basement. The school building houses Sunday School class rooms, and a church library is located in the connecting room.
         Early in the 1940s, Alberta Metcalf Kelly started a church library. The Rev. and Mrs. Noble Bolinger donated the $50 needed to order the special books required by the Christian Board of Education for an accredited library. Almost 2,000 books are available for loan to church people and others in the community.
         The accredited library opened in September of 1958. Ora Nichols catalogued the books and served as librarian for a number of years. Loretta MacKenzie is the present [1984] librarian. The church board designates money to buy additional books, and money and books are donated by individuals. Many memorial gifts of books have been given to the library.
         Over the years a number of money making events were held, such as chicken suppers, mother-daughter teas, quilting, lunches served at farm sales, ice cream socials, pancake suppers, bazaars, silent auctions, white elephant sales, concerts, minstrel shows, window sales, traveling food baskets, plays, harvest sales, birthday calendars, soy bean and corn projects, smorgasbords and country stores. One of the most unusual was a buffalo barbecue.
         Om the early years, before the kitchen was installed, many of these events were held in the Opera House or in the large room over Mills Garage. Just think of the work as stoves had to be carried up to these rooms, tables had to be brought in, etc.
         Since 1965 the church has urged members to donate enough money to support the program without having to have money making events. The money is donated at a special service in the fall and is known as the Love Offering. Occasionally the C. W. F. will have a bake sale or serve lunch at a farm sale to help their treasury.
         The list of pastors who served include Rev. J. C. Powell, Rev. Haratzell, Rev. Whitsler, Rev. L. L. Lane, Rev. Estes, Rev. Clement, Rev. J. K. Ballou, Rev. J. W. Crow, Rev. Samuel D. Noah, Rev. Joseph MacKenzie, Rev. G. W. Hughes, Rev. H. F. Kern, Rev. John F. Oathout, Rev. Martin, Rev. Gish, Rev. C. A. Vannoy, Rev. Victor Morris, Rev. C. V. Allison, Bro. Cunningham, Rev. E. L. Sampson.
         Rev. J. W. Schondelmayer, Rev. Paul Elliott, Rev. C. A.Gains, Rev. Orville Graham, Rev. Loren Pecaut (revival meetings), Rev. C. E. Clark, Rev. E. L. Nickel, Rev. Cris L. Sias, Rev. Mina M. Hargis, Rev. Charles Hagee, Rev. Wilfred Tucker, Rev. Bishop Hopkins, Rev. Francis Kohler, Rev. Gaskins, Rev. Noble A. Bolinger (1947 5o 1970) and Rev. William Keller, serving both the First Christian Church in Muscatine and the Nichols Church in a yoked ministry.
         A special program was held October 1967 to observe the Christian Church Centennial. Another major redecorating project was completed in the spring of 1974. Work was started in August of 1973 when it was decided to redecorate the sanctuary. From this, enthusiasm grew, and it was decided to redecorate the entire church. Members of the church donated pews and other improvements. A dedication service was held Sunday, 5 May 1974.
         A new Allen electric organ was purchased in 1979.

~ Nichols Christian Church – 1984 – page 22.
~ Christian Church interior 1974 – Interior of Nichols’ Christian Church after an extensive redecoration. New pews were installed, new carpet put down, new lighting put in. - page 23.
~ Nichols Christian Church and Nichols School prior to school fire in 1914. – page 23.
~ Christian Church Ladies Aid Society Early 1920. – page 24
Back row, left to right, Emma Kirchner, Mrs. Sampson, Mrs. Fred Schmitt, Eva Jean, Dora Nichols. Second row, Jessie Swickard, Mary Frances Brown, Emma Shafer, Abiah Hesser, Hattie Ryan, Helen Trautman. Front row, Emma Cullins holding Harold Poole, Jim Poole, Elsie Poole. Picture was taken in front of Grandma Shafer’s home where their weekly quilting sessions were held.
~ New sign installed in 1983. – page 24.
~ Christian Church, October 1956 – “Sunbeams,” Neva Borgstadt (back) teacher, lef to right, Connie Walker, Connie Reinsager, Luana Hollenbeck, Johnny Borgstadt, Candy Abbott, Peg Elder. – page 25.
~ Christian Church “Sunday School Party” mid 1950s. – page 25.
~ Sample page, with advertisements, of Christian Church calendar. – page 26.
~ Nichols – The old Pike country school house which was located about three miles south of Nichols was moved last week to the lot by the Christian church. Plans are to use the old school building for Sunday school class rooms. – page 27.

October 1950
Auction, Homecoming Observance Will Highlight
75th Anniversary of Christian Church at Nichols

Nichols, Iowa Centennial Book 1884-1984, page 27

         Nichols – Scores of different items have been donated for the Harvest sale which is being sponsored by the Men’s club to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Christian church in Nichols. Dewey Gibson, West Liberty, will auction the items in the area south of the Nichols park Saturday. Perishable items will be displayed in the depot in the event of inclement weather.
         Items ranging from radio-record player combinations and the white House etching to pressure cookers and antiques have been donated by persons in Nichols, Muscatine, West Liberty, Lone Tree, Iowa City, Conesville, Cedar Rapids and the Quad-Cities. Many persons are offering farm produce such as grain, baled straw, live and dressed poultry, canned goods, potatoes, apples, fresh fruits and vegetables and cured hams. Baked goods and candy will go on the block along with lamps, furniture, oil, grease, merchandise coupons groceries, handmade rugs and a subscription to the Muscatine Journal.
         Lunch will be served from a small building near the depot by women of the Delta Alpha society. Mrs. Lloyd Longstreth is chairman of the committee in charge. Art Grim is chairman of the Men’s club which is promoting the sale. Proceeds realized will be placed in the building fund to improve and enlarge the church building which will be 75 years old on Saturday. The congregation organized 83 years ago and began building their church eight years later.
         Special services will be offered Sunday as homecoming for the many persons who have been members of the congregation and for several of the former pastors who are expected to attend. B. L. Metcalf, chairman of the board and an elder in the congregation, will give a history of the church and congregation. The Rev. Mina Hargis, a former pastor, will offer a history of the church brotherhood. A potluck dinner will be served at Mills hall following the services.
         Lines under photo with this story read: B. L. Metcalf, chairman of the board of the Christian church at Nichols and one of the older members of the congregation, reads the letter which accompanied the etching sent by Mrs. Harry Truman, to be included in the Harvest sale. The letter, on White House stationery, is addressed to Mrs. Charlene Meacham who made the written inquiry concerning a possible gift from the White House to be included in the sale. The etching is shown behind Mr. Metcalf.

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