IAGenWeb Project - Clayton co.
updated 04/29/2021

First Congregational Church of Elkader

historical name:
First Congregational Church of Boardman Township
aka the "Round Church"

The above photo of the church is from their Facebook page

The above is a Google image of the church.


Unless otherwise credited, the information on this page was transcribed by S. Ferrall for Clayton co. IAGenWeb.

First Congregational Church Dedicated September 12, 1858

On March 12th, 1855, the first Congregational Church of Boardman township was formed at Elkader with D.B. Davidson, moderator and E.V. Carter, clerk. In addition, there were present, Mrs. Charry Carter, Wm. M. Keys, Fidelia Keys, Mary H. Carter and Harriet H. Carter, all of whom were members of the Congregational church at Garnavillo.

On the 29th of the same month they purchased lot one of block four in East Elkader of Amos Warner for the sum of sixty dollars. Later they built on this lot an octagonal church known for years as the round church, the walls being made of lime grout, and it was dedicated on Sept. 12th, 1858.

This is the first church building that members of First Congregational Church of Elkader worshipped in. It was referred to as the "Round Church." It was dedicated in 1857 as "First Congregational Church of Boardman Township." The church was located at the corner of what is now East Bridge and North Second Street in Elkader.

From 1855 to 1862 meetings were held quite regularly and a pastor employed. About this time the building was sold to the Universalists and the foundation started for a new church, but it was abandoned as most of the people interested had moved away.

In 1870 the desire for a Congregational church here was again awakened and Rev. M.M. Wakeman was secured as pastor with services every other Sunday. By the fall of 1872 the congregation had grown to such proportions that it was able to hire a regular full time minister, and Rev. B. King was secured. He worked untiringly until his death in January of 1875. After his death meetings were not held regularly again until in 1883 when in another burst of enthusiasm W.S. Potwin was secured as pastor, and there was preaching services every other Sunday. After this passed over, the church died out until the forming of the present congregational church.

In March of 1894 a Christian Endeavor society was formed and from the nucleus a Congregational church was organized in August of that year with Rev. B.V. Child as temporary pastor. On October 21st, 1894, Rev. Franklin L. Fisk became the regular pastor.

By April 1896 the congregation had grown to thirty-three members, a good Christian Endeavor society and a Junior Endeavor society. Meetings had been held in the old round church and in other places. The interest was such that Sunday evening audiences numbered from 150 to 250. Feeling the need for a church building, a lot was secured and the present church building was erected at a cost of about $3500. F.D. Bayless, H.H. Barnard and L.F. Gossmon were the building committee.

In the years since then the Congregational Church of Elkader that steadily done its share in bringing the teachings of Christ to this community. The present pastor, Rev. W.J. Warner has been here since the spring of 1922 and occupies a warm place in the hearts of not only his congregation, but all with whom he has come in contact.

~The above newspaper article is from The Elkader Register, September 10, 1925. The vintage photo of the Round Church & caption are from the Clayton County Register, Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - Moments in Time column.

A Congregational Sunday School was organized at the church on Sunday last with the following officers:
Supt. - John Everall, Jr.
Assistant Supt. - Mrs. H. H. Barnard
Secretary - Mrs. J. M. Leach
Treas. - Aug. Borman
Librarian - Martin Hagensick
Organist - Mrs. E. M. Paul
The school is to meet from 11 to 12 o'clock each Sunday morning.
~Elkader Register, Fri. morning, 21 May 1897. Local Scrap Bag columns

At the annual meeting of the Congregational church, on Monday evening, the following officers were elected:
Trustees - H. H. Banard, H. W. Wilke, J. E. Branch, John Everall, Fred Kramer
Deacons - F. Ehrlich, J. E. Branch, Marvin Cook
Clerk - Marvin Cook
Treasurer - Mrs. S. S. Leach
Chorister - Mrs. H. H. Barnard
Organist - Miss Ella Wilke
Church Board - Pastor, Deacons, Clerk, Miss Lizzie Leibrock, Mrs. E. Russell
Auditing Committee - Henry Meyer, Mrs. L. F. Gossmann,
Ushers - Geo. Wolf, Henry Gmelin, Fred Kramer, Louis Ruegnitz, Frank Bayless
~Elkader Register, Fri. morning, 10 Sept. 1897. Local Grab Bag columns

~both articles were contributed by Reid R. Johnson

The young people of the Congregational church organized a C. E. Society Thursday evening and the following officers were elected:
Pres. - Ella Wilke
Vice Pres. - Madge Noble
Sec. - May Landon
Treas. - Emma Ruegnitz
Organist - Amy Himes
Cor. Sec. - Abbie Munger
~Elkader Register, Thur., 02 Oct. 1902. Local News columns
~contributed by Reid R. Johnson
At a meeting of the members of the Congregational church at Elkader on Monday evening last, the following officers were elected:
President - H. H. Barnard
Clerk - John Everall, Jr.
Treasurer - H. W. Wilke
Trustees - H. H. Barnard, A. J. Carpenter, A. F. Kramer, H. W. Wilke, Mrs. James E. Corlett
Deacons - J. E. Branch, M. Cook, Mrs. M. L. Himes
~Elkader Register, Thur., 08 Sept. 1904
~contributed by Reid R. Johnson
At a meeting of the Congregational Church Society Monday evening the following officers were elected for the ensuing year:
Clerk - A. J. Carpenter
Treas. - Mrs. E. M. Paul
Deacons - A. J. Carpenter, 1 year; Geo. Lenth, 2 years; J. E. Branch, 3 years
Trustees - H. D. Brown, H. H. Barnard, 1 year; Mrs. Jas. E. Corlett, A. J. Carpenter, 2 years; Geo. Lenth, 3 years
S. S. Supt. - Robert Rienow
Asst. Supt. - Rev. J. G. Dickey
~Elkader Register & Argus, Thur., 09 Jan. 1908
~contributed by Reid R. Johnson


Though there was much rejoicing when it became known that hostilities had ceased on the battle front, the real rejoicing is just commencing now that the boys are beginning to return home to us. This week Ray Talley was mustered out, and arrived in Elkader on Tuesday noon and Fred Turner is expected home this week on a short furlough. The boys will have some very interesting stories to tell, especially those who were permitted to go to Europe and take part in the struggle. A royal welcome awaits the boys.

But while we rejoice over those that have returned our joy will be tinged with sorrow for we cannot forget those that went who will not return. Just the day before hostilities ceased one of Elkader's finest young men, in the person of Henry Lemka, paid the price of victory with his life; another blue star has been touch to gold, but it tells the story of heroic service to his county. Our hearts go out in deepest sympathy to the loved one of our boys who thus have fallen.

After serving well for a number of years as superintendent of the Sunday school, Mr. Carl Becker at the annual election of officers, asked that he be released from his duties to make place for someone else. Mr. A.H. Andrea was elected to the superintendency with Mr. Becker as his assistant. May we turn out in full force next Sabbath and help Mr. Andreae to work out his winter program for the school.
G.R. Hull, Pastor

~Elkader Register, Thursday, December 5, 1918 (Congregational Church column, page 5)

At their meeting yesterday the Ladies' Guild of the Congregational church elected the following officers to serve for the coming year:
President - Mrs. Albert Allen
Vice-President - Mr. S.V. Jack
Second Vice-President - Mrs. Max B. Bishop
Secretary - Mrs. Bertha Stoops
Treasurer - Mrs. Paul Buckman

~Elkader Register, Thur., 25 Sept. 1924. Local News Notes column.
~contributed by Reid R. Johnson

125th Anniversary for First Congregational Church

The First Congregational Church of Elkader will celebrate its 125the anniversary, Sunday, March 16, at a special morning worship service, 10:30 a.m. The Rev. A. Ray Appelquist D.D. will be the guest minister. The Rev. Appelqust is from the Executive Staff of the National Association of Congregational Churches, Oak Creek, Wis.

This church was first organized March 12, 1855. Charter members were William and Philedrin Keys, Mrs. Chary Carter, E.V. Carter, Mary H. and Harriet H. Carter. There were thirty other names on the first membership list. That list, the original 1855 minutes and the church covenant written at that time, are in records still legible in the handwriting of E.V. Carter, the first clerk of the church.

It was this group who built the hexagonal building which has always been known as the Round Church. It was dedicated in 1857 as the First Congregational Church of Boardman Township. Prior to that, the meetings had been held in the home of members. Itinerate missionary ministers served the congregation after the Round Church was built.

A reorganization of the fellowship took place in 1894 under the supervision of Rev. B.V. Childs, a young missionary Pastor studying at Oberline College, and on June 30, 1897, the present building was dedicated. Quoting from old records this building was "Designed by M. Herr of Dubuque and erected by Wm. F. Fuelling of Farmerburg, the contract price being something over $2,300, exclusive of glass." The only remnant left of the Old Round Church is the bell, which is now atop the bulletin board on the corner of the present church property.

There were sixteen charter members recorded for posterity at the time of the 1894 reorganization. They were Mrs. Mary H. Carter, the only surviving charter member of the 1855 organization; Mrs. E.W. Jack, Mrs. Emma Gossman, Mrs. S.S. Leach, Mrs. E.W. Merritt, Mrs. Minnie Leach Meyer, Miss Amy Meyer, Mrs. Madge Barnard, Mrs. John Everall Sr., Mr. Arthur Carpenter, Miss Lizzie Leibrock, Mrs. Bachtell, Mr. Ransom Barnard, Miss Carrie Becker, Miss Ella Wilke, and Mrs. Lizzie Paul.

The first trustees of this organization were H.H. Barnard, J.E. Branch, E.H. Jack, John Everall Jr., and H.W. Wilke.

The building committee was F.D. Bayless, H.H. Barnard, L.F. Gossman, Marvin Cooke (clerk) and Henry Meyer (treasurer). Rev. F.L. Fisk was the first resident Pastor.

In 1898, the parsonage and lot upon which it stands was donated by Mrs. Caroline Hertrich. History tells us that this house had been Elkader's first school building. Also in 1898 F.D. Bayless presented a pipe organ to the church. It had been displayed at the Omaha Exposition. This organ was in use fifty-two years, until Ray and Alvin Allen of Cedar Rapids presented the Hammond organ in 1950 as a memorial to their parents and sister. The late Ella Wilke Hopeman was organist for many years during the old "pump organ" era. In 1909 Mrs. Ella Merritt and Mrs. Mary Jane Williams, daughters of Isaac Havens, gave the church a bell, which is in use at the present time.

Twenty-one Pastors have served the parish since Rev. Fisk. Two of them, Rev. Geo. Richter and our present Pastor, Rev. Ted B. Newton, each returned for a second pastorate. To Rev. Richter goes the credit for putting a basement under the entire building which resulted in our Friendship Hall. That dedication was September 3, 1942. Before Rev. Richter left the parish a second time, he was elected Pastor Emeritus, "such office having been created and bestowed by the congregation in order that there be tangible evidence of the esteem in which he was held." This was in June 1960.

An added bit of history concerning Pastors is the fact that at the 75th Anniversary of the church, Rev. Chas. Brewster was ordained. The ordination of David B. Howell was a part of the 100th Anniversary and come March 16th, at which time the 125th Anniversary is being celebrated, our present Pastor, Rev. Ted B. Newton will renew his vows and receive a certificate of ordination from this church, which is now in fellowship with the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches.

In retrospect the First Congregational Church, though small in numbers, has been a living and influential part of the religious life and community activities of Elkader for all of its One Hundred Twenty-five years.

~Clayton County Register, March 5, 1980


These early members of First Congregational Church of Elkader stand at the front of the church, shortly after it was built in 1897 at it's current location at 200 Chestnut Street S.E. The church members:

Front, from left - Miss Lizzie Leibrock, Miss Mae Gifford and Mrs. Madge Barnard.

Middle, from left - Mrs. Chas. Long, Miss Martha Mentzel, unidentified, Mrs. Ella Lamm, Mrs. Lucy White, Miss Ida Stemmer, Mrs. B. Ruenitz, Miss Anna Paul, Mrs. Gus Wilke, Miss Clara Preston and Mrs. Bell

Back, from left - Gus Borman, Chas. Ruenitz, Rev. Baxter, Wm. E. Witt and Chas. Haggensick.

Note the poster that says "Remember the Maine". The Main was a U.S. warship which was sunk during the Spanish-American War, which was fought in 1898.

~Clayton County Register, Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - Moments in Time column

~Note: although this photo did not reproduce clearly on the microfilm of the paper, it may be of some interest to decendants of the early church members.


See also: The Pilgrims of Iowa - Congregational Home Missionary Society

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