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Church Index

Congregational Church, Strawberry Point

Strawberry Point Congregational Church
First Congregational Church was organized in 1872 and in 1883 a church building was erected. Later a parsonage was added and in 1916 improvements to the value of $4,200 were made. The present pastor is Rev. C.C. Harris and the church is in excellent financial condition and has 118 members. Connected with the church there are a Ladies' Aid, Thimble Society, Christian Endeavor, and a flourishing sunday School with an enrollment of 100.

~source: History of Clayton County, Iowa: From the Earliest Historical Times Down to the Present, Volume 1, Edited by Realto E. Price, 1916. Pg 363


Congregational Church Organized February 1872
by Mrs. F.R. Buckley, read at the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the church, June 25 and 26, 1922

It must have been in the winter of 1871 that two Congregational ministers from Manchester, Rev. Mr. Amsden and Rev. Mr. Stiles, came to look over the ground in Strawberry Point and gather the elements together to organize a Congregational church. A few people in the place desired a church home of that demomination.

The result of the visit was that the next year, Feb. 1872, a little group came together in the Joseph Taylor home and organized a church - this church.

There were 11 charter members. They were Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Inger, Sr., Mr. and Mrs. N. Harwood, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Taylor, Mrs. Julie Ely, Mr. and Mrs. Herman Bassett, Mr. Sawyer and Mrs. Buckley.

The infant church started on its career homeless and houseless but the Baptist people were friendly and offered the use of their church for meetings and we were all together in Sunday school.

All went well until a new minister came whose conscience could not endure such heterodoxy lodged within the walls of their sacred temple and we were obliged to find another place of meeting. Mr. Amsden, who was the first mininster of this church and who was instrumental in organizing the church, came from Manchester once in two weeks and held services and had a fatherly oversight of the young organization.

The Methodists being desirous of repairing their church and not able to do it alone invited us to share their building and also the expense of the repairs, which the young church did. All went well for a time but they too found they wanted their church to themselves and again we were obliged to seek other quarters. This time we went to the unused Universalist church, which is now a part of the lumber yard. We sojourned there a few months when they decided to revive the church activities and would need their church to themselves.

We were without a pastor at the time and overtures came from the friendly Baptists to return to their church and join in a union Sunday school which we did. This continued about a year when a division arose in their ranks concerning the advisability of continuing a union Sunday school. A small majority decided against the proposition and again, and at once the Congregational pilgrims adjourned to Baker's Hall (over the present Gildner's store.) We did not go alone, however, for a number of the leading members of the Baptist denomination went with us and the union Sunday school was continued. Preaching service was also maintained and this continued until we had a permanent church home of our own.

The church was all the time making friends. New members had come in and the sturdy little organization had become strong enough to want a home of its own. Although we knew that we could not build a pretentious or costly building, we set about the enterprise. A Ladies Aid society had been formed and with their usual zeeal and ability, contributed largely to the work. They served meals two years at the Strawberry Point Fair and made money enough to buy the lot and help pay for the first consignment of lumber for the building. The lot cost $150 and $79 was applied on lumber.

The structure went up and was finished and dedicated free from debt except a grant of $300 from the Congregational Church Building society and from that time to the present the church has never failed to send an annual contribution to that society in recognition of that grant.

In 1899, during the pastorate of Rev. D.O. Bean, a lot was purchased and the parsonage was built. The funds for it were raised locally except again we resorted to the Church Building society and made a loan of $500 which the Ladies Aid assumed and paid at the rate of $100 a year until all was paid. Only those who have had a like experience know the anxious scanning of the treasurer's funds and the possible resources available as the quarterly payment became due.

Additions and improvements have been made upon the building and grounds from time to time, keeping pace with the surrounding modern homes.

During Mr. Van Sweaengen's pastorate, which was the longest in the history of the church, substantial improvements were made on the building. The memorial windows were placed, a steel ceiling and other modern conveniences were added and electric lights installed.

During the pastorate of the Rev. Mr. Harris the church took on new life and with the growth that followed "outgrew" its old accommodations and more room was needed to care for the general expansion. Accordingly in 1916 the church was repaired and enlarged and brought up to its present condition.

~source: Centennial issue of the Clayton County Register, July 1936.
Editor's note in the 1936 reprint of the 1922 reading: "Mrs. F.R. Buckley, now deceased, was mother of Mrs. B.W. Newberry and Miss Helen Buckley of Strawberry Point"

~transcribed by S. Ferrall

~Contributed by Reid R. Johnson

The annual dinner and business meeting of the Congregational church was held Wednesday, the Rev. P. C. Packer called the meeting to order having been elected moderator. The following officials were elected for the ensuing year:
Trustees - B. W. Newberry, Wm. Dooley
Deacon - Parke Buckley
Clerk - N. A. Simmons
Treasurer - P. E. Peck
Organist - Miss Helen Buckley
Asst. Organist - Maye Peck
Sunday School Superintendent - Mrs. C. W. Dorman
Committee on Finance - Mrs. W. M. Coykendall, A. R. Carrier
~Elkader Register & Argus, Thur., 16 Jan. 1919, Strawberry Point column. Condensed from a longer article.

Strawberry Point: The Thimble Society of the Congregational church met Thursday afternoon with Mrs. G. W. Barr. The following officers were elected:
President - Mrs. J. J. Mathews
Vice President - Mrs. Chas. Gallentine
Secretary - Mrs. Fred Smith
Assistant Secretary - Miss Kate Westfall
Treasurer - Mrs. G. E. Dunfrund
~Clayton County Register, Thur., January 14, 1932, Strawberry Point column

Strawberry Point: The annual meeting of the Congregational Church was held at the church Tuesday, Jan. 11. The officers for the year were all re-elected as follows:
Treasurer - Miss Kate Westfall
Clerk - N. A. Simmons
Trustee - Harold McKean
Deacon - N. A. Simmons
Organist - Miss Helen Buckley
Asst. Organist - Mrs. J. S. Knight
Choir Director - Mrs. Carrie Slagel
The entire years program was outlined by the Minister, Rev. Lewis Troyer.
~Clayton County Register, Thur., 21 Jan. 1932

Strawberry Point: The annual meeting of the Congregational church was held Tuesday. The following officers were elected:
Deacon, 4 years - Ed. Angier
Trustee, 3 years - M. F. Harwood
Treasurer - George W. Barr
Clerk - N. A. Simmons
Organist - Helen Buckley
Assistant Organist - Mrs. John Knight
Chorister - Mrs. Carrie Slagle
~Clayton County Register, Thur., 18 Jan. 1934

Old Landmark Soon to Disappear

Strawberry Point - A 68-year-old landmark soon will disappear from the Strawberry Point scene. Given up by its congregation and sold to George Bowers and Cleo Seward, the Congregational church building will be razed and new homes eventually will replace the old church structure.

The history of the building goes back to its completion and dedication in March of 1884. But the history of the congregation dates back to the winter of 1871 - 81 years ago.

Still standing, the parsonage, too, has been sold and already is being occupied by the Vern Robbins'.

Decline of the congregation's ability to continue was brought to focus at a meeting held in early January of 1951. The last services were held on June 8, 1952. The last pastor was the Rev. Ben Shaw, who served both Edgewood and Strawberry Point Congregational churches.

Reasons for the final move to sell the church property included inability to have a resident pastor, decrease in the size of the congregation and in the fact that there were few and sometimes no children in the congregation.

Sale of the church properties, church building and the parsonage - will result in some funds being turned over to the Methodist church, to which many Congregationalists will go to worship. Proceeds from the sale of furnishings of the church have been set aside by the church conference for the Thimbles, a women's society long identified with the Congregational church, and an organization will continue in the community.

~Source: The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Sunday, January 25, 1953 - the photo at the top of this page accompanied the Gazette article
~transcribed by S. Ferrall


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