First United Methodist Church Clarinda, Iowa [part 3]

1881-83  Benjamin F. W. Cozier



Rev. Cozier had been the presiding elder of the old Corning district. Rev. Blodgett describes his successor Rev. Cozier as “a man of fine executive ability.  During all the years of the history of this church and of this conference the author of this sketch feels free to affirm that no more efficient and harder working elder has ever been appointed than Brother Cozier.” (6) 


Rev. Cozier first stated the need for a larger building in his report to the board on October 16, 1881.  “Toward a gracious revival of religion and a might enlargement of the church I shall daily pray and labor.  I suggest that all concerned immediately begin to think and plan for a new church, an improvement urgently needed.  I think this year money seems to be so abundant and the enthusiasm so decided in our town that the auspicious hour has most certainly arrived for the first steps in such an enterprise.”(12) 


Under his leadership, in1882 the present church construction began.  The building would seat 700 and was to be constructed at a cost $15,000. (14) It was described as “built of solid brick masonry. It is a fine structure and is in a charming spot with a good basement that serves for lecture room, classroom, parlors for receptions, and business meetings.”


“The entire building is heated by steam, is lighted by gas and is neatly carpeted and furnished in modern style of church architecture. The audience room is provided with nicely cushioned pews and the lecture room with easy chairs.


“The belfry contains a 500-pound bell, costing $150. (an 1892 clipping tells that

Henry Loranz rang the same church bell that he had rung 40 years before in Illinois . “This building was not dedicated and fully completed until January 1888.” (4)


“All money shared have been put up by this time, but there are men in all churches who expect to get to the better world on 15 cents and get a front seat and the best robe and harp and then they will growl because their wigs and crown do not fit.” (16)


“The Methodists will hold services in the Opera House until their church is completed.”  (16)  On June 8, 1882 Cornerstone laid by Rev. Cozier and trustees and building committee. (16)  Young people “expect to cool the multitude” with ice cream, lemonade and a lunch counter at the county fair (16)


The “Topmost” spire added Nov. 13, 1882, 120 feet from the ground, highest point in the city.


The present church is this 1883 structure remodeled many times.  The old church and lot were sold to Elijah Beal for $6,000 and the land where the church is located was purchased for $2,000.  A contract was awarded to N.A. Olson to build a new church for $9,600, with the 260,000 brick that they had already purchased to be furnished by the trustees. (1) 


The church was completed and in use, but not dedicated until the debt was paid off in 1889.  The Page County History (2) gives a good description of the building.  “The present magnificent edifice was erected in 1882, at a cost of $15,000.  It has a seating capacity of nearly 700 and is built of solid brick masonry.  It is a fine structure and is in a charming spot.  A good basement serves for lecture room, class room, parlors for receptions and business meetings.  The entire building is heated by steam, is lighted by gas and is neatly carpeted and furnished in modern style of church architecture.  The audience room is provided with nicely cushioned pews and the lecture room with easy chairs.  The belfry contains a 500 pound bell, costing $150.  The building was not dedicated and fully completed until January, 1888.”


The Democrat reported regularly on the church construction. 


January 12, 1882:  “The new Methodist Church Building is now certain to be built and all will be pleased to know this, as it is something much needed.  The money is not all raised, but enough in sight to set the managers to work in earnest.  All money shared have been put up by this time, but there are men in all churches who expect to get to the better world on 15 cents and get a front seat and the best robe ad harp and then they will growl because their wigs ad crown do not fit.  There are a few of these kickers and as time goes on they will get warm under the collar ad do their duty, a better church will be got then if management is not done in a slovenly way.”


March 9, 1882:  “For some time our Methodist Brethern have been looking at plans and churches which they thought would suit them, but failed to find just what they wanted. 


They the ordered our townsman N.A. Olston to get up a plan and submit it to the building committee.  He went to work and got up plans and they have been approved ad the church will be built after them.


We will give an outline of the building, so that our people can have some idea of it.


The size of the building on the ground will be 54 feet by 76 feet.  Built in the shape of a cross with 2 towers in front, a large one and a small one.  The basement lecture room will be 33 feet by 49 feet.  There will be 2 parlors, each 18 feet by 20 feet, and connected by sliding doors.  A cloak room, 9 feet by 9 feet, a kitchen, 8 feet by 10 feet and a boiler room 8 feet by 20 feet.  All in the basement story.


The ceiling in the basement will be 12 feet high.  There will be 2 entrances, one in each transept.  The entrance to the audience room will be from the front and go in straight with wide stairs and stone steps on the outside.  The auditorium will be 48 feet by 50 feet, study room 12 feet by 13 feet, gallery 14 feet by 38 feet, rostrum 10 feet by 33 ½ feet, height of ceiling 28 feet.  The seating capacity of the church will be 500 persons.


The main tower from the grade line will be 116 feet high.  The building will be of brick trimmed with stone in the Gothic style of architecture.  When completed it will be an edifice that will for years to come stand as a monument of the enterprise of the church.  We are proud to know that Clarinda has an architect that is not excelled by any who can get up plans and specifications that equal those of the best architects of the great cities.  The church when completed will cost about $15,000 dollars.”


April 6, 1882:  “The old Methodist Church is being taken down.  The Methodist’s will hold services in the Opera House until their church is completed.”


May 4, 1882:  “Excavating is being done for the church.”


May 18, 1882:  “Brick was brought to the site for the new Methodist Episcopal Church.”


June 8, 1882:  “Friday at 5:30 p.m., the cornerstone of the Methodist Episcopal Church will be laid by Rev. Cosier and Trustees and Building Committee.  The ceremonies will be interesting and all are invited to be present and witness it.”


June 13, 1882:  “The young people of the Methodist Episcopal Church have an eye to business.  They have undertaken to raise $500.00 for furnishing the new church and they will do it too.  Mrs. Hinchman, their President, is full of push and energy.  They expect to cool the multitude at the county fair with ice cream, lemonade and also run a lunch counter all in connection with the Methodist ‘boarding house’.”


June 15, 1882: “On Friday afternoon last, the corner stone of the new Methodist Episcopal Church was laid without any display of trumpets, as is usually the case on such important occasions.  There was a large number of people on the ground and the ceremony, as laid down by the Methodist Episcopal Church was carried out to the letter, Rev. Cozier being the conductor.


As to the building itself, a good description of that was published in the Democrat some time ago and of course we refrain from making any mention of that at this time.


After signing and reading of a portion of scripture, Rev. Malcom offered up a prayer.


Bro. Bresee, who had been telegraphed for and was present, then came forward and delivered an address in his usual easy and eloquent manner, but we are not stupid enough to attempt a synopsis of it.


Rev. D.C. Wilson then made some appropriate remarks and congratulated his Methodist friends on their good fortune at being able to erect so fine an edifice to worship in and hoped it would not be many years until his people would be able to build themselves a better church building.


Rev. Tucker, at the request of Br. Cozier, then appeared and talked in a very pleasant vein.  He remarked that he was a short man, and as it was getting late he would make a short talk.  He said, from what had been said, and from those present, it was almost impossible to detect that it was the laying of a corner stone for a Methodist Church .  That in years gone by, especially at the laying of a Baptist Church corner stone, this would not have been the case, as much would have been said about water—DEEP WATER.


After this Br. Cozier deposited in the box a Bible, a Methodist Hymn book, a Methodist Discipline, a historical sketch of the church, list of subscribers to the church, a sketch of the history and incorporation of the church, a copy of the Democrat, Herald and Star, a list of county officers, Westminister SS Lesson Leaf “THE TRANSFIGURATION”.


Champ Ballard, the tinner, who had made the box, was on hand ad soldered it up.


A.G. Dixion, had prepared the stone by engraving the figures “1882” on its face and chiseling a hole for reception of the box.  After the box had been properly sealed, Br. Cozier deposited it in the hole, in the stone and then pronounced the Benediction.


Just at this time O.H. Park photographed the stone and the crowd surrounding it, and if Br. Bailey’s beautiful face does not appear in that picture, it will be on account of his unbelief of ungodliness.  Mr. Dixion placed some slate over the box and cemented it nicely and thus ended the ceremonies and the crowd dispersed, glad to see the work progressing so finely and hoping to see it finished without accident or hinderence.”


It was noted in the Page County History that “the subscription to the building was supplemented by the sum of five hundred and sixty dollars cash, placed at the disposal of the board of trustees, by the Young People’s Aid Society, for the purpose of purchasing the gas fixtures.” (6)


November 13, 1882:  “The new Methodist Episcopal Church is to be heated with steam, lighted with gas, have a pipe organ and cushioned and glided, grandly, beautiful.  A matter of pride; pride to the membership and pride to the young city that can point to this splendid church . . .”


November 20, 1882:  “The topmost of the Methodist Episcopal Church spire was put up today, 120 feet from the ground.  This is the highest point in the city.  It is said that from the top of the scaffolding, Creston can be seen with a field glass.”


From the Iowa Conference Archives at Mount Pleasant , Iowa we learn that “The Des Moines Annual Conference with Bishop Matthew Simpson presiding, was held at the First Methodist Church , Clarinda , Iowa , September 12, 1883. . .” 


The Page County History tells us that Bishop Matthew Simpson was the Methodist Bishop who was invited to give the national eulogy at the funeral of Abraham Lincoln. (5)







The 1922 directory said of the church that “it was a mansion in those days.” (7)  The membership at the time was 335.












Ruth Tritsch provided a copy of her grandparent’s marriage certificate which was signed by Rev. Cozier in 1883.

1883-85 Thomas McKendree Stuart


Rev. Stuart was born in 1843 near Williamsburg , PA and died on April 3, 1911 in Council Bluffs .  His father was a farmer and a teacher and finally a preacher in West Virginia .  During the Civil War Rev. Stuart enlisted in a West Virginia company.  He was admitted on trial to the Iowa Conference at Osceola in 1865.  While preaching he attended Simpson College .  In 1888 he was granted a doctor of divinity degree from Little Rock University .


He served many churches: Monroe , DeSoto, Chariton, Afton, Clarinda, presiding elder of the Corning district, Broadway in Council Bluffs , Grace Church in Des Moines , Centenary in Beatrice , NE , Harlan, Glidden and Dunlap.


His writings include “Divine Inspiration” and “The Errors of Campbellism”.  His obituary said “He was a diligent and faithful student of the Bible and of men; a thinker of deep thoughts. . . His power in debate was marvelous. . . he feared no foe. . . and could smile in the presence of his foeman’s defeat with a peculiar sunny sweetness which gave charm to his combativeness. . . His love of music, of literature, of life, were to be noted.  What an art was his in the consecration and administration of our ritual in the sacramental services, his like has never been witnessed in our Iowa churches.”


Locally he was remembered “as a scholarly, faithful preacher and pastor, and left a large circle of friends.”(3)

1885-87  Henry H. O’Neal (O’Neil)



The 100 year historical sketch says that Rev. O’Neal’s “strong pulpit deliverances are still remembered by the older members.” (1)  It was during his pastorate in 1885 that a new parsonage was built next to new church that was quite a mansion for those days. (1)

Blodgett says that, “with the present equipment of the church and modern facilities of the parsonage, the Clarinda charge is one of the best equipped in the Des Moines conference.” (6)  The membership at that time was reported as 335.

1887-88 William Fox Burke



Little is known about Rev. Burke’s pastorate except that due to failing health, he had to give up the work at end of year (6)  He is remembered as a faithful, conscientious Christian.