USGenWeb  Pilgrims
of Iowa

Page 201

The Sioux Association was organized in the Spring of 1872. The five churches uniting were Cherokee, Lakeville, Grant, Le Mars, and Sioux City. This last named ancient church, fifteen years of age, coming from the Council Bluffs Association, with its able and genial pastor, J.H. Morley, was a tower of strength to the new Association. Half of the membership of the Association was in this church, and church and pastor gave heart and hand to the pioneer work of the new regions now opened up. Father Upton, the pioneer missionary, was, of course, one of the charter members.
Rev. W.L. Coleman, too, coming from years of pioneer experiences at Bellevue, Stacyville and Mitchell, was one of the charter members, and a guiding hand in its affairs. He had much to do with the planting of the churches, especially those at Spencer and Emmetsburg, to both of which he ministered as pastor, serving the Spencer church for seven years. The other charter ministerial members were Rev. W.F. Rose of Cherokee, and J.H. Covey of Grant.
Pages 207-209

To this decade [1870-1879] and in this Sioux country especially belongs the story of the Grasshopper Invasion. In 1874 an eye-witness wrote:

An army of them is passing over my house going eastward. The air is filled with them as high as you can see. The lower strata look like snow-flakes in the air. Higher up they look like dust sprinkled in the sky. As soon as they strike they begin to eat. They have excellent appetites and a wide range of diet. Pungent articles are their favorites, but, when these fail, they thrive well on corn or grass, or leaves of fruit or forest trees, and even as a last resort, they devour the twigs and bark of the trees and the stalks of corn as the hardtack of the campaign. The rapidity of their work is almost incredible. The great corn-fields of the prairies seem to melt before them almost while you are looking at them; orchards and forests exhibit the baldness of winter, and the whole country looks as though a fire had passed over it. I drove several miles through the fields while the grasshoppers were working. The sound of their eating was as if a drove of cattle were in the field. The insect differs from the common grasshopper. It is no doubt identical with the locust of Scripture. The second chapter of Joel might literally be applied to the western plains today. They come like a strong people in battle array, with a noise of chariots upon the mountain of fire that devoureth the stubble. They march every one his way and do not break their ranks. The land as the garden of Eden before them, behind them a desolate wilderness.

Another testifies : “Last Saturday the thermometer stood at nearly fever heat. While longing for a shower to cool the air, we saw in the west what first seemed to be black clouds of smoke, as though the prairies were on fire. Soon we heard a sound as of the rushing of many waters, and then, drop! drop! drop! against the window-panes and upon the house, and lo, a shower of grasshoppers. The air was full of them. When they came between us and the sun there was an appearance of a partial eclipse. Their stay was long enough to convert our beautiful corn fields into rows of ragged bean poles, strip our fruit trees and almost totally destroy the vegetables and shrubbery of our gardens.” This is copied from the Home Missionary of October 1874.
They came first in 1867. They made a second visitation in 1873. They did their worst in 1874. They came in wandering bands in 1875,1876 and 1877. They spread their devastations over the whole Sioux country as far east as Kossuth and Wright Counties. They brought consternation and ruin to thousands of the homesteaders; they decimated scores of communities; they broke up churches. We have seen the bright prospect at Lakeville. The church did not long survive the grasshopper raid. One man exchanged his house and farm within half a mile of the church, for a team to get away with. The church long ago disappeared from our minutes and Lakeville village is not now on the map of Iowa.
It was somewhat better with the church at Grant. The grasshoppers broke up the church, and drove out all the members excepting “Mother Slack.” She simply would not go. At length the pest subsided, and people returned to the neighborhood, and thought it well to organize another church, and called a council for the purpose. Mother Slack objected to the new organization for, said she, “There is a church here now.” “Well, where is the church?” “I am it,” she replied. “Well, would it not be better for the church to disband, and form anew?” “I’ll never disband,” she said, and so she stood up and took in a dozen members into the old church, and preserved its “historic continuity,” and the earlier date is recognized in our minutes.
Page 210

A member of the Sheldon Church tells his experience:

I remember that we had a nice lot of hogs, and how proud we were of them, for the reason that we would be enabled to supply some of our necessities, and at the same time do so much for the cherished enterprise which was so dear to us (the building of the new church). But a disappointment lurked in our path; and just as we though we were nearing the fruition of our hopes, the pest came, and our dream, lovely as it was, vanished as the fog before the noonday sun. We had our hogs but they were not marketable, and we had nothing in the way of feed to make them so. They were turned out on the bleak prairie, to shift for themselves; and when all but one had succumbed to the pitiless ordeal, we took baskets in our hands and went into the fields and found a few nubbins, with which we kept his hogship alive until we got milk from our cows in the spring; then we made pork rapidly considering the means at hand. When the proper time arrived we sold our orphaned and companionless pig, and turned over the entire proceeds toward paying the lumber bill for the church.
Page 236

It is reported that a man coming from the East with a yoke of oxen, lest he should forget the place of his destination, named one of the oxen Prim and the other Ghar. The church organized there [Primghar] in 1888 has enlarged its building three times, and has now a membership of nearly two hundred.
Pages 326-362

The Churches in a Nutshell

It is great pity that we must crowd the great histories of our churches into the little nutshells of this chapter. Suggestions of what might be written of many of these churches may be found in the things that have been written concerning some of them in preceding chapters.
The list, alphabetically arranged with dates of organizations, names of pastors, etc., is substantially complete, only a few being omitted, and those of no significance. The number of the list if four hundred and seventy-one.
No doubt those familiar with the churches of the state will be surprised at the number of unfamiliar names here recorded. More than one-third of these churches are not now in existence. Some never had anything more than a name to live. Some died in good health and without cause or reason expecting unwillingness to bear the responsibilities of life. Many that dropped out by the way justified themselves in their living, and in their dying too. Some died to live in other churches, sometimes in churches of other names. The loss by death is not nearly as great as appearances would seem to indicate. This list of churches, names of pastors, and date of dedications represent decades and even centuries of consecrated toil and sacrifice with great forces intellectual, moral and spiritual, working for the making of the commonwealth, the leavening of the nation, and the saving of the world.

Gaza : February 5, 1897. Abi L. Nutting, J.F. Lansborough, F.C. Lewis, E.T. Briggs, E.H. Albright and Mary P. Wright. Dedication, November 8, 1896.

Grant : October 9,1871. J.H. Covey, 1871-1875; then “suspended animation” until 1882. Date of reorganization in 1882 retained until 1899 when original date was adopted; pastors after 1882, R.E. Helms, J.C. Stoddard (Dwight Strong and J.G. Langdale, students), D.E. Skinner, John Lansborough and F.C. Lewis. Dedicated, March 8,1884.

Primghar : March 20, 1888. D.L. Strong, N.L. Burton, T.G. Langdale, J.C. Stoddard, D.E. Skinner, James Parsons, C.L. French, H.H. Burch, F.C. Lewis, C.H. Gilmore, L.M. Pierce. Dedications, July 27, 1890, December 15, 1895 and June 5, 1910.

Sheldon : August 18,1872. H.D. Wiard, J.A. Palmer, E. Southworth, L.W. Brintnall, T.W. Cole, G.L. Hanscom, J.M. Cumings, W.L. Bray, 1889-1908, C.M. Westlake. Dedications, October 3, 1886 and February 23,1902.

Sutherland: 1882. R.E. Helms and J.C. Stoddard, 1882-1886. Disbanded in 1887.

Pages 363-416

Who's Who

This chapter is an attempt to list alphabetically the Pilgrim pastors of the decades, locating each, and a little more fully sketching a few. The list is not complete chiefly because the records are not. For a number of years the Welsh associations were not reported at all. Doubtless some have been inadvertently overlooked; and the names of a few have been purposely omitted because they simply passed through the state, and their ministry was of no significance because so brief.
Of necessity, for lack of space, the sketches are fragmentary, and condensed almost to nothingness. Some, however, would have been a little more complete if the information could have been secured. We looked in vain through the Minutes, the Year Book, and the Congregational Quarterly for the obituaries of many who had finished their labors here. We have been obliged to make out the records of many of the brethren by simply following them year after year through the intricacies, inaccuracies, and contradictions, of the Minutes and the Year Book. So the things written in this chapter are only measurably correct. But here is a list of more than thirteen hundred of the leaders of our Pilgrim hosts in Iowa, and of the fields in which they wrought; and here are suggestions of centuries of heroic service in the making of the commonwealth, and the building of the Kingdom.

Albright, E.H.. Born in Iowa. A Cumberland Presbyterian. Congregational work at Gaza and Clay, 1905-.

Bray, William L. Born, England, 1832. Newton, Marshalltown, Clinton, Oskaloosa, Sheldon, 1870-1908. Alton, 1910-.

Briggs, Erastus T. Pastorates, 1905-1908 at Woden, Ocheyedan and Westfield.

Brintnall, Loren W. (Vermont, 1828.) In Iowa, 1867-1896. Winthrop, Independence, Monticello, Sheldon, Ashton, Fairfax, Hartwick. Died, in Washington, May 3,1900.

Burch, Henry H. Methodist Episcopal training. Milford, Primghar, Rock Rapids, 1898-1906.

Burton, Nathan L. (Plymouth, Ill., 1847.) Eagle Grove, Otho, 1882-1887; pastor at large, 1887-1889; Tipton, Postville, 1889-1892. Returned to Illinois.

Cole, Thomas W. Sheldon, 1888-1889. Returned to Wisconsin.

Covey, J.H. Grant, 1871-1875.

Cumings, John M. (Ohio, 1848.) Percival, Exira, Spencer, Anita, Dunlap, Sheldon, Baxter, Denmark, 1874-1910. Farragut, 1910-. See Chapter XVI.

French, Charles L. Primghar, 1900-1902.

Gilmore, Charles E. Washta, Primghar, 1901-1906; Rock Rapids, 1906-.

Hanscom, George L. (Maine, 1862.) Sheldon, New Hampton, 1890-1898. Later in New York and Florida.

Helms, Reuben C. Grant and Sutherland, 1882-1885; Washta, 1899-1901.

Lansborough, John. Gaza, Runnells, Bear Grove, 1900-1904.

Lewis, Franklin C. Castana, Gaza, Primghar, 1895-1904.

Nutting, John K. (Massachusetts, 1832.) Polk City, Bradford, Monticello, Glenwood, 1858-1873, Glenwood again, 1890-1895, Buffalo Center, Thompson, Gaza, Sioux Rapids, College Springs and Farmington, 1895-1904. Later in Florida.

Palmer, John A. Sheldon, 1876-1877.

Parsons, James. Primghar, Harlan, 1898-1904. Later in Minnesota and Missouri.

Pierce, Lucius M. (Massachusetts, 1861.) Golden, Riceville, Reinbeck, Rockford, Sioux City Mayflower, 1888-1907, Primghar, 1907-.

Skinner, David E. (Pennsylvania, 1853.) Pastor and Genl. Miss’y, 1884-1903, serving Aurelia, Rockwell, Moville Kingsley, Primghar, Owen’s Grove, Nora Springs, etc. Moved to California, 1903.

Southworth, E.B. Cresco, Sheldon, 1872-1883. Died, 1907.

Stoddard, John C. Peterson Sibley, Primghar, Britt, Ogden, Garden Prairie, Kelley, Earlville and Almoral, 1886-1906. Later in Illinois.

Westlake, C.M. (Pennsylvania, 1856.) M.E. and Congl. pastorates east and west. In business also in the west. Hawarden, 1907-1908, Sheldon,1908-.

Wiard, Hiram D. Sheldon, 1872-1875. Later Sem. course. Pastorates and evangelistic work in Illinois; field work C.H.M.S., Supt. Missions South Dakota and California. Fort Dodge, 1897-1901.

From "The Pilgrims of Iowa" by Truman O. Douglass (Boston, Chicago: The Pilgrim Press),
Copyright 1911 by The Iowa Congregational Home Missionary Society.

Transcription by Krysta Wright

O'Brien County Iowa Genealogy - The IAGenWeb Project