Source: REGISTER OF OLD SETTLERS , BOOK One, page 268 & 271
submitted by Charlene Nichols Hixon, Aug. 29, 2007

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Reminiscences of Peter Jackson –
Address of Rev. Dr. Murphy and
Short Speeches by
the Pioneer Preachers Last Night.

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The Old Folks’ Meeting To-Day – Sermon
by the Venerable B. H. Cartwright.

There was another large and interested audience in the First M. E. church last evening, it being the second evening meeting of the Methodist Jubilee. Prayer was offered by Rev. J. B. Blakeney and a Scripture lesson was read by Rev. J. B. Hardy. The song “O, for a heart to praise my God” was sung, with Miss Parkins presiding at the organ and a choir led by Mr. Boydston.

The pastor of the church, Rev. w. G. Wilson, feelingly alluded to the sad manner in which death had thinned the ranks of the preachers as well as the membership of the church since its organization. Only two of the first members remain and but one preacher who ministered to the church fifty years ago. In looking over the records he found that 102 members had died since 1869 and 27 were laid to rest during his own ministry, and while the majority of these were aged persons some of the most promising young people had been called hence. He said there were a number of citizens who had lived here all that time, and one of these, Peter Jackson, had located at this place two years before the church was organized. He would now give some of his recollections.

Mr. Jackson then read a very interesting paper, as follows:

    How glad and thankful we all ought to be, to-day, that one of the very first organizations in this city was the “First Methodist Episcopal Church,” which all through these years has been so precious an exemplification of Christ’s saying, “Ye are the salt of the earth!” What would this community have been, and how would our children have grown up without the enlightening and moral influence of the church and Sunday school?

    To the churches we owe everything that is praiseworthy and estimable in character and standing as a community. And by means of church and Sunday school privileges, instead of our children growing up in ignorance and vice, they have learned to become good and useful citizens, able to take a respectable place in any civilized community.

    Were it necessary, I could cite many instances, among us, of the influence of Christian men and women holding in check evil tendencies and immoral and debasing practices, beckoning on to something far nobler and altogether more enjoyable and lasting, and desirable in every way.

    The first sermon I heard in Muscatine was in July, 1838, preached by Bro. George Bumgardner, in Mother Reece’s dining room in lower Muscatine, then Kasey’s Landing.

    The first quarterly meeting I was present at was held in a log cabin on Water street, situated in the middle of block eleven, where a Pennsylvania Dutchman, by the name of Peter Dietz, with a large family, were stopping a few days on their way to Cedar county, and preaching and family discipline were going on at the same time. The meeting was presided over by a minister from St. Louis.

    The places of meeting I recollect very much better than the names of the preachers, although they were continually changing.

    We had preaching in a cabin where Judge Brannan’s residence is now situated, where I have seen the minister shaking with the ague while preaching, and I cannot recollect of any other book in sight, only a small hymn book which the preacher held in his hand all through the service. There was no pulpit or desk to lay anything on.

    We had preaching in a cabin where the Tribune building now is, where Charles A. Warfield and Mrs. Dana (author of that beautiful song “Under the Rod”) used to sing most delightfully together. Also in the second story of a new frame east of the Avenue, opposite where the passenger depot now is, and Charles A. Warfield, when he came along occasionally, used to give a ten-dollar bill a twist and put it in the contribution box.

    Brother Bumgardner continued to preach for us as a supply for a number of years, and was quite prominent at all our meetings, a power in singing and prayer.

    Brother Jewett was the first minister we had with us, to preach anything like regularly, and whom I recollect well.

    We had preaching then in the Education Society building, jointly with the Presbyterians, with which arrangement Brother Jewett was very much dissatisfied and said “they should have a church of their own if it was only ten feet square.”

    Brothers Kirkpatrick and Thompson I have very little recollection of.

    Brother Norris I recollect well; he was the first preacher we had who really impressed himself and his work on the community, and was the means of getting up the first decided revival among us. A very active, zealous minister, “diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord,” and during his harvest vacation took an interest in a threshing machine and assisted in running it.

    Brother Barlow was now the prominent layman in the church, and took a very active part in all its work. Class No. 1 met at his house and he was leader.

    About this time, Hon. S. C. Hastings became a member, and the ownership of the Education building was agitating the church. Stephen A. Whicher obtaining a judgment against it, Bro. Hastings bought it in and donated the building to the church.

    At this time (1844) preachers were George Bumgardner and Jacob Mahin. Class leaders, George Bumgardner, J. M. Barlow, Thomas Morford, S. C. Hastings and Joseph Williams; chorister, Thomas S. Battelle.

    The Sunday School up to this time, union, was now (Feb. 17, 1844) organized distinctly Methodist, with Joseph Williams superintendent and John A. Parvin assistant. Rev. D. Worthington was a very modest, unassuming pastor. I always recollect his first text, when he “came among us not with excellency of speech or of wisdom.” 1 Cor.2:1.

    Rev. J. B. Hardy, whom you all know well, we still have with us.

    In 1847, Rev. John Harris first came among us, to my mind the best pastor we ever had. It seemed he had not another thought or interest only the welfare of the church; nothing grieved him so much as any disagreement among its members and he could not rest until the breach was healed.

    Brother Porter thought so much of him that he use to say to him wherever he might be at Brother Porter’s death he must come and preach his funeral sermon. Brother Dennis I have very little recollection of only in the pulpit.

    Brother Wm. Hulbert came in 1850 and built our second meeting house – now the City Hall – finishing the audience room up stairs. During Bro. Harris’ second term this church was remodeled, finished above and below, and very much improved every way.

    Henry Clay Dean was a sensational preacher but not to edification – uncouth and coarse in all his ways, he attracted an altogether different crowd than our usual congregation.

    Joseph Brooks’ family very much diverted the attention of the church from himself. I think he went to Missouri and became an editor.

    James H. White was just one of us – companionable and warm-hearted, friendly and sympathetic, whenever or wherever met, especially to the troubled and sorrowful.

    J. W. Sullivan came from Indiana and not appreciating the future of Iowa returned to Indiana.

    Frank W. Evans was our great revivalist and could make the most vivid impression on saint and sinner. With him the members were most thoroughly enlisted in the work, and held meetings during the winter, late and long, sometimes until midnight, and conversions were most marked.

    I have often seen the floor all around the altar covered with seekers, some one rising every few minutes, their countenance all a glow with a sense of the joy of sins forgiven, and Father Doughterty standing up on top of the alter railing, exhorting with all his might, and giving the most exulting experiences.

    Brother Porter was during these years the prominent laymember of the church, giving a great deal of his time and attention to all its interests.

    Dr. John H. Power was one of our great preachers, and the church felt rather honored in having him minister. Under his administration (1862) the Sunday School was organized into a missionary society, the speaker (P. Jackson) being then superintendent. We had a large ingathering of the Sunday School during his pastorate. The doctor was a man of indomitable courage and perseverance in accomplishing his object, and the church not coming up t his idea of revival work, he dismissed them, and called a meeting of the Sunday School scholars, and held a series of meetings with them, resulting in forty-two joining the church, many of them to-day being still members.

    Rev. W. P. Watkins came to us in 1864 and helped us acquire our first parsonage on Sixth street, east of Mulberry.

    Brother George N. Power we have had more than once, and esteemed him very highly, using and enjoying the sociabilities of his home, perhaps more than any pastor we have had. Dr. Power was especially successful in bringing out the younger members.

    Brother Cowles, I think, was our first three years pastor, and occupied a very large field with us, not only as a minister, but as a man of business. To his great ability and persevering effort we largely owe the fine church building we now enjoy, for which we now enjoy, for which we will continue to thank him every time he comes among us.

    Brother Andrew Davidson about this time becomes the most conspicuous Methodist in the church, securing for us the lots on which the church is built – the largest worker and most useful member, like Paul of old, “in labors often,” for over twenty years giving a most loyal and continuous service. And the beauty of it is that he get his pay right along as he goes, in his high appreciation and enjoyment of church privileges.

    Brother Blakeney was the beloved disciple. He made everybody and everything around him so lovely and delightful we just wanted to keep him all the time.

    Brother McDonald was considered a great preacher and we enjoyed his fine sermons very much, but never could harmonize the members into getting up any…

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    …successful revival. Brother McDonald had one excellence above all the others, he was the only minister, with perhaps the exception of Brother Blakeney, we ever had who could sing by the book.

    Brother Murphy was a very learned man and had great difficulty in getting Muscatine up to his standard.

    Brother Haynes was “a doer of the Word.” Religion was with him first, last and all the time.

    Brother Wing I will have to touch very lightly, as he wields rather a free lance himself. But this can truly be said of Brother Wing that he made as large a mark in Muscatine for good both inside and outside of the church as any on we have ever had.

    Brother Wilson is still with us, serving the church his fourth year, very faithfully and acceptably.

    The first presiding elder I knew much of, or recollect very distinctly, was Elder Weed. He was altogether the most cultivated and finest speaker we had up to this time. A gentleman of fine presence and pleasant address, altogether away ahead of any associations or support we could give him at that early day, 1844. But he got in trouble on leaving. In those days the lines of what was just right and proper to do and not to do were not very finely drawn. The Sabbath day was not as strictly observed as it ought to have been and this was a favorite topic with the Elder, especially doing any business or going on a journey on a Sabbath day. All our commerce and travel at that time (18458) was carried on by steamboats on the river, and every day was alike to them. Elder Weed left late in the fall to go from here to St. Louis by boat, when the river was very low and few boats running. He got his furniture all on the landing early in the week, so he would not have to travel on Sunday, and anxiously waited day after day, but no boat came until Sunday afternoon, and the Elder, very much to his annoyance, had to get his goods on board and leave on the Sabbath.

    The presiding elders were really a superfluity so far as Muscatine was concerned, and I do not recollect much about them.

    Sunday School was a much more important and interesting institution, from which the church has always received its largest acquisitions and best material of membership, and Muscatine has always prized and cherished its Sunday Schools, and they have been always noted for their excellence and have wonderfully grown and improved under this fostering care.

    I well recollect the early days of our Sunday School. The back door of our home and the pulpit end of the church were only a few feet apart and we enjoyed the full benefit of the singing without leaving home; Judge Williams was then chorister and sung with great spirit, and as they only had two songs, the scholars became very familiar with both words and music and joined in heartily. The school opened with singing.

    “Where our teachers come to meet us
    With the word of life to greet us
    At our dear Sunday School.”
    And closed with

    “There is a happy land far, far away.”

    There is a wonderful charm about the Sunday School to young folks. Every child likes to go to Sunday School, and ours has been favored with a very fair attendance of adults.

    We have had four annual conferences held at Muscatine. The first (1846) presided over by Bishop Hamlin. The committee and cabinet meetings ere held in our parlor, the general sessions in the first church, and the Bishop preached in the Court House on the Sabbath.

    Before our second annual conference (1859) we had built our then now brick church on the corner of Sycamore and Third, in which its meetings were held and presided over by Bishop Simpson, who preached in the church on the Sabbath, lifting Methodism higher than ever it had been before in Muscatine. The third, was held in 1869, at the dedication of our new church on the Avenue, and presided over by Bishop Thompson. The fourth (1882) was held in the same place, Bishop Wiley presiding.

    These conference meetings were of great benefit to the church and community, and raised religion and Christian observance greatly in the estimation of the people, leaving a lasting impression for good.

    The church from the small beginning of seven in 1839 has now (in 1889) a membership of 523. It has large, well-furnished audience and Sunday School rooms, in a building worth over $20,000; a very fine, comfortable parsonage, lately built, with modern improvements, costing nearly $4,000, with no indebtedness, and enjoying great harmony and peace within her borders.

    In looking up church matters I came across an old paper connected with the communion service. In our family we had a small crystal decanter which the church borrowed at communion seasons to hold the wine, and was used up to 1856, at which time the members thought they ought to have a better service, and I was made a committee to procure one, the original subscription for which I found and will read:

    We donate the sums below for the purchasing of a communion service for the M. E. church of Muscatine:

    Peter Jackson $3.00   T. D. McMurray $1.00   G. Spraks $1.00
    E. Sells $3.00   W. D. Ament $2.00   Mrs. Brewster $3.00
    Luke Sells $3.00   T. W. Jackson $1.00   Bro Brown $0.50
    John H. Lucas $1.00   George Perry $1.00   Bro. Tufts $3.00
    Wm. Little $2.00   H. Morrison & Son $2.00   John Semple $3.00
    Chas. H. Wilson $1.00   M. A. Dunsmore $2.00   Bro. Sumner $1.00

    Bought the set Nov. 22, 1856, of J. H. Turner, for $37, and delivered it to Sister Porter for safe keeping. This service lasted over thirty years, when the plating being very much worn, we procured the vessels now in use.

    While looking over this history I have felt that I could not do it anything like justice in a paper like this. The members and incidents were so numerous, and extended over so long a time that nothing short of a book would suffice, and I have had to condense and leave out the greater part. We have had so many noted brethren connected with this church, many of whom I would have liked to mention. And the sisters not a whit behind in every good word and work have held up the church many a day, when it would have languished, only for their very efficient and faithful support. We who remain shall ever gratefully cherish their memories and anticipate a joyful reunion in the Church above.

    After the conclusion of Mr. Jackson’s reminiscences, the congregation sang “My Faith Looks up to Thee.”

Rev. Dr. Murphy, who served this church in 178-9, was then introduced for an address, Dr. G. N. Power, who was on the programme for this occasion, having failed to arrive. Dr. Murphy was inspired by the presence and the remarks he had heard from the venerable pioneer preachers present and he made these the text of his discourse. He likened the church to a tree, with grand and enduring principles which take root in the soil of the human mind. The plastic period in this country is represented by the three old-time pastors now with us. There was a problem with God in those days – the building of this great nation. A nation cannot be built by philosophy or culture alone but by the beneficent principles which underlie a Christian civilization. The teachings of Plato were cold and inhumanitarian; the aged, weak and infirm were left to themselves; this system recognized only the survival of the fittest or the most powerful physically and intellectually, while the grand teachings of Christianity brought about freedom to the oppressed and the degraded, and the monuments of its charity and love were seen in the numerous hospitals it erected for the care and treatment of the unfortunate. Dr. Murphy said he was not advocating a union of church and State; he was opposed to that; but merely setting forth what are the true foundations in the work of State-building. Here he quoted the words of Sir William Jones:

“What constitutes a state?
Men who their duties know,
But know their rights, and knowing, dare maintain,” &c.

Continuing Dr. Murphy said the influences of the saloons and of popery are detrimental to those principles which build up a State. He said when a man is converted he is a prohibitionist and is in favor of banishing the liquor traffic from the land. A Christian becomes a better citizen and a Christian civilization is our only safety as a people.

Rev. B. H. Cartwright said he had been trying to recall a text of one of his sermons preached here fifty years ago but could not positively fix one of them in his mind. He remembered, however, preaching about that time on the vision of Ezekiel in regard to the image with four faces – that of an ox, a lion, an eagle and a man. He said it was necessary, especially in this western country, for the pioneer to have four faces, though the popular idea was that even a two-faced man was hypocritical. But he should have the push represented by the ox, the courage of the lion, the loftiness of purpose and aim of the eagle, and the sociability, brotherhood and friendship of a man.

Rev. J. B. Blakeney made a few approbriate remarks, as did Rev. L. B. Dennis and Rev. J. B. Hardy, the last named treating of early experiences in their work. Their reminiscences were highly interesting and it would be difficult to convey to the reader on paper any idea of their interesting character.

The pastor in closing the meeting, referred to the wife of Rev. L. B. Dennis, whom he married 55 years ago, and who is yet so vigorous and active in her household duties that her neighbors in Illinois accuse her of violating the Sabbath because she gets her washings out so early Monday morning that they think she must do some of the work on Sunday!

The meeting closed with singing ‘All hail the power of Jesus’ name,” followed by general handshaking and greeting.



At the 10:30 services this forenoon the front part of the auditorium was well filled with aged people, and before the close of the exercises the entire room was tolerably well filled.

The exercises were opened by Rev. J. B. Hardy lining the hymn “Am I a soldier of the cross,” and following the singing by an appropriate prayer.

Rev. L. B. Dennis read 1 Chronicles 16:8-29, relating to the everlasting covenant. The congregation then sang “Jesus, lover of my soul.”

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The patriarchal Rev. B. H. Cartwright then arose in the pulpit, where he had been for some time turning over the leaves of the Bible and reading without the use of glasses. He said in opening his discourse that he never realized as fully as at this hour that he was in the presence of God. He had after being notified that he was to preach to the old people on this occasion cast about for a text and his mind turned upon the lives of Jacob and Joseph. The first lived to be 130 years of age and the second to 110. They could be regarded as specimens of God’s dealings with men. In the 48th of Genesis is an expression of Jacob’s faith and in Hebrews 11th an allusion to the faith of Joseph. The latter, though he had been many years a ruler in Egypt, did not want his bones to remain there lest his children would stay and become idolators. Jacob’s early life, or until in fact he was 70 years of age, was shown to be tricky and distrustful of God’s protecting care. At that time he had a settlement with God, which every unregenerate man must have to enjoy his favor. Joseph, on the other hand, was a good boy at 17 and never failed to put his trust in God, even while in the enjoyment of magnificent royalty in Egypt. Faith, said the preacher, in view of the certainty of God’s word, is not remarkable. The lack of it is remarkable. God’s word is true, as he has the power to perform. We should look back upon the past only to get an inspiration for what is before us.

The venerable preacher closed his sermon with a fervent exhortation, which called forth frequent amens and earnest ejaculations of approval.

The congregation joined in singing “Rock of Ages, cleft for me,” during which the veteran preacher would occasionally repeat feelingly the words “for me.”

An earnest and fervent prayer was offered by Dr. Emory Miller, of Indianola. It was replete with thoughts and sentiments in line with the sermon and in harmony with the occasion, and elicited hearty amens, one good old lady becoming shouting happy.

Rev. Wilson desired all in the audience who were in the Territory of Iowa fifty years ago to rise to their feet. Thirteen persons rose up. Our reporter endeavored to get their names but could only obtain the following: B. H. Cartwright, P. Jackson, B. Matthews, Mrs. J. B. Hawley, Mrs. G. W. Kincaid, Mrs. M. Couch, Mrs. R. H. Hoopes, Mrs. T. L. Olds, Mrs. W. A. Drury, Mrs. L. Coe and Mrs. Gould.

After the benediction much handshaking and many greetings and congratulations were in order, and this remarkable meeting ended.

There was present a child of the fourth generation from one of the founders of the church, George Bumgardner. The child was Harry Hoopes Springer, eighteen months old.

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