Bethlehem is one of the oldest points in Wayne County. It was platted June 6, 1853, by Columbus and Martha Parr. Morgan Parr & Sons built a saw-mill here in 1855. Benjamin Parker was the first merchant and Columbus Parr the first postmaster. In 1857 Bethlehem was a good town. William McCarty was merchant and stock-dealer, and saw-mill was in full operation (though removed the following year), Dr. L. D. McKinley was practicing medicine. Drs. John Boswell, William Prather and Dr. Townsend were all early physicians here. In that year, 1857, the different denominations partially built a church, which was used by them jointly until 1861, when the Methodists purchased it and completed it. This building remained in use until 1885, when it was sold and the Methodists and Baptists united in remodeling the Baptist church, which was built in 1865. Revs. Swim and Coiner were early Methodist preachers, and Rev. Bolster is well remembered by the Baptists.
Eli Hammer kept the first “tavern” for several years. A steam saw and grist mill was built in 1875, and operated intermittently until the fall of 1885, when it burned.
In 1867 the farmers of Union Township organized the Union Township Agricultural Association, and held two very successful exhibitions in the autumns of 1867 and 1868 at Bethlehem.
Louis Protzman is the present merchant, and William King postmaster.
Transcribed from the Biographical and Historical Record of Wayne and Appanoose Counties, Iowa – Originally published 1886, Inter-State Pub. Co., Chicago, IL