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Church & Religious Directory



Historical Sketches of Iowa Baptists, 1886

S. H. Mitchell

 Published by Burdette Co., Burlington, Iowa


Chapter XXIII,  


North-Eastern Iowa - 1855 - Dubuque Association.

Distinguishing Features - Turkey River Association Goes Out,

Circumscribing the Field - 1855 to 1869.



(Covering Allamakee, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Howard and Winneshiek Counties)


Prior to 1855 all the Baptist Churches in Iowa north of the Iowa River, and of a line running through Des Moines, with the exception of two or three churches in Boone county, belonged to the Davenport Association, excepting also an unassociated church at Waterloo with 20 members, and one at Toledo with 15.


     August 30, 1855, messengers from the churches north of the south line of Jackson county and of counties west, met at LaMotte, Iowa, for the purpose of forming a new Association. Rev. T. S. Griffith of Dubuque preached a sermon from Psalm XC:17. Rev. John Bates of Cascade was chosen Moderator, and M. A. Clark clerk. The churches represented at this meeting were Bear Creek with 19 members, Bellevue 33, Cascade 65, Delaware 36, Delhi 61, Dubuque 54, Fairview 44, Kingston (West Cedar Rapids) 16, LaMotte 60, Linn Grove 17, Makee 38, Maquoketa 103, Marion 91, Quasqueton 24, Rossville 34, Shellsburg 22, West Union 20, and Yankee settlement 26; total 769. The venerable Joshua Currier was at the time pastor at LaMotte. Other pastors were Luther Holmes, Bear Creek; John Bates, Cascade; C. D. Farnsworth, Delhi; T. S. Griffith, Dubuque, O. S. Harding, Fairview; O. A. Holmes, Maquoketa; J. V. DeWitt, Marion; A. G. Firman, Quasqueton; James Schofield, Rossville; Richard King, Shellsburg and George Scott, Yankee Settlement.  A. G. Firman was by request of the Quasqueton Church ordained  at this meeting. Thus was launched up on the sea of trial and of gracious ministry thirty one years ago the Dubuque Baptist Association. Two things strike us as of special interest in the Commencement of this history:

First, The large extent of territory for the cultivation of which the new Association became responsible, comprising, substantially, all that part of the State north of the (now) main line of the North Western Railroad. Second, The number of prominent brethren connected with it. How has the subsequent history of Baptists in Iowa, and in the country at large been affected by the labors and influence of Brethren Bates, Griffith, Holmes, Schofield, Currier, King, Dewitt, Scott, and others whose names are connected with the early history of this Association!

     The second meeting of the Association was held at Dubuque, October 3, 1856. In the absence of the brother appointed to preach the annual sermon, Rev. G. J. Johnson of Burlington preached, Rev. John Bates was Moderator, Benjamin Rupert, clerk. Strawberry Point was added to the list of churches, and D. M. Root of Delhi, J. Woodward of Cedar Rapids (Kingston Church), D. Rowley of Quasqueton and J. H. Parmelee of West UnionQuasqueton and J. H. Parmelee of West Union, appear among the pastors. Rev. Samuel Hill, post

Rev. T. S. Griffith

Rev. T. S. Griffith

office Waukon, appears also as pastor of the Makee Church. He came from Massachusetts and it seems, returned to that state in 1857. N. B. Homan seems to have been ordained about the this time and is pastor at Simmon’s Creek, which is a new Church with 21 members. Among the delegates from the Strawberry Point Church are the names of Alva Bush and James Sunderland, familiar names to Iowa Baptist since. Dubuque mentions having paid $900 during the year to Burlington University, and that one of her members has been licensed to preach and is studying at that institution. Baptisms reported this year 59, churches 21, members 948. Correspondence is opened with the Cedar Valley Association, organized this year on the west. There appears to be an unassociated church at Hopkinton with 20 members. There is some evidence of revival.


Rev. Charles Brown

Rev. James Sunderland

Rev. Charles E. Brown

Rev. James Sunderland

The Association met at West Union. Rev. C. E. Brown, Moderator, James Sunderland, clerk. Brother Baldwin preached the introductory sermon. The Hopkinton and Oran Churches were received. But in the meantime the Linn Association has been formed on the southwestern border, and the Marion, Linn Grove, Simmon’s Creek, Fair View, Quesqueton, Shellsburg and Kingston churches unites therewith, leaving in this Association 16 churches, 54 have been added by baptism, 90 by letter and there are 622 members. There is an unassociated Church at Epworth with 16 members. James Kay is pastor at Hopkinton, L. M. Newell at Makee Church, J. H. Ross at Oran and Horace Holmes at Bear Creek. Rev. H. R. Wilber appears as a visitor from the Des Moines Association. Horace Holmes seems to have been ordained this year.


    The Fourth Anniversary was held at Strawberry Point. Rev. L. M. Newell preached the sermon, Rev. O. A. Holmes, Moderator and James Sunderland, clerk. Rev. J. Y. Aitchison is pastor at Delhi, where he reports 24 baptisms. He is also pastor at Manchester, and the Manchester, Erie, Westfield and Hardin churches are received into the body. Yankee Settlement and Fairfield churches reported extinct. It has been a year of unusual revival and prosperity. Churches 18; pastors 10; baptisms 138; membership 862. Cascade reports 20 baptisms, Delaware 11, Delhi 24, Dubuque 44, and Strawberry Point 15.


     Brother Sunderland writing to the State Convention, mentions “some remarkable manifestations of Devine power, not only in conversions, but in leading converts to scriptural views of his kingdom and ordinances.” Churches were “organized where there had been previously neither Baptist minister nor members,” and “converts have sent for a distant pastor, been baptized and formed into a church, upon which Salvation has continued to fall, evincing the power of the Word and Sprit of God to awaken the conscience and lead men into all truth.”


      June 10, 1859, the Association met at Masquoketa. Rev. J. Y. Aitchison preached the annual sermon, Rev. James Schofield Moderator protem. This, if we mistake not, is the father of General Schofield and of Rev. J. V. Schofield of St. Louis. Jesse Clement of Dubuque was elected Moderator, James Sunderland clerk. Five new Churches are received, viz. Monmouth, North Bend, Iron Hill, Plum Creek and Spring Brook. Three of these are the fruit of revivals the present year, and the other two of the previous year. A striking feature of our history is the number of small Churches organized, never to attain to anything more than a most precarious existence, and in a few years to disappear from the records: while on the other hand, the vitality and tenacity of life of many of these feeble interests is a marvel of grace. And even where they do not abide, who can measure the good that may grow out of the work of these fleeting years? There are now 23 Churches, 120 baptisms reported, and a total membership of 1021. The largest part of the baptisms are among the new churches just received into the body. Monmouth reports 18, North Bend 12, Spring Brook 40, and Iron Hill 11. There are but 9 pastors within the bounds of the Association. These are John Bates, James Schofield, Luther Holmes, S. Morton, and Charles E. Brown. Rev. T. S. Griffith has removed to Keokuk and became pastor, and Rev. C. Billings Smith has succeeded him at Dubuque, and Rev. O. A. Holmes left Maquoketa a year or so ago and is pastor of an unassociated Church at Webster City. Rev. George Scott is this year without charge at Strawberry Point.


      1860. The Association met at Delhi. Rev. George Scott preached the sermon, John Bates Moderator, Jesse Clement clerk. Two new Churches are received, viz. Sand Spring in Delaware county, and Waterville in Allamakee, the latter with 5 baptisms and 11 members apparently never reported after this meeting. There are now 25 churches and 1025 members. The trial time is coming on, only one church reports more than 5 baptisms. Vernon Springs with Rev. Charles E. Brown as pastor reports 22. New pastors this year are John Cummings at LaMotte and Maquoketa, H. G. Davenport at North Bend, and Alva Bush at Westfield (afterward Fayette). Also John Williams at West Union. In the meantime, during 1860 the Turkey River Association was organized, taking from the north part of this field 12 churches with 352 members. The Dubuque Association has reached its highest point as to numbers up to the time of writing this sketch, but not necessarily in usefulness. Rev. Dexter P. Smith is the agent of the State Convention.


Sister Elizabeth S. Aitchison, wife of Rev. J. Y. Aitchison, died in October 1860. Her maiden name was Frazee. She was born in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. She was baptized in Davenport by Rev. E. M. Miles, about 1854. Was married about 1857. “Had lived for six years a highly consistent Christian life, and for three years and eight months a loving spouse and helpmeet to her bereaved husband.” Her end was peace.


     Friday, June 17th, 1861, the Association met at Cascade. Rev. C. B. Smith preached the sermon and was elected Moderator and Samuel Skemp, of Dubuque, clerk. By the organization of the new Association, on the north, cutting down the territory of this about one-half, the number of Churches is reduced to 16; reporting 62 baptisms and 595 members; though in the Convention records, for the year 1861, the number of members is 683. There is frequently a discrepancy between the numbers reported in the Association and in the Convention Minutes.  This may be accounted for by the changes that have taken place after the Association, and is more likely to occur when the meeting of the Association is early in the season as is the case with this. Rev. T. W. Clark, who has lived at DeWitt, in the Davenport Association since 1857, is preaching at Spring Brook and reports 20 baptisms. The Waterford Church, in Jackson county, and Worthington, Dubuque county are received this year. Elder Cummings requested, for Maquoketa, the privilege of withdrawing to unite with the Davenport Association. The matter was referred to a committee who reported, “that as the Association had been divided, the Maquoketa brethren be requested to remain with us and strengthen our hands.” The report was adopted and the Maquoketa Church has remained for a quarter of a century, one of the strong supports of the Dubuque Association. The Civil War having broken out, and become the all-absorbing topic of consideration, Rev. J. Y. Aitchison read a circular letter urging especially that our patriotism be supplemented by prayer. Rev. James Hill of Cascade is pastor of the Worthington Church and reports 3 baptisms and 10 members.


      1862. Met at Spring Brook. Rev. John Bates preached the sermon, George Scott Moderator, John Bates clerk, D. O. Montague treasure. Churches 15, pastors 7, baptisms 66, total memberships 580. Rev. Elam D. Phillips is pastor at Spring Brook, and they report 29 of the 66 baptisms; also at Maquoketa where 12 have been baptized. Rev. John Bates writing of this meeting, voiced the Missionary and the Christian that he was when he said, “Brethren, we need more of the spirit of God, more of a Missionary spirit, individual zeal, and enlarged benevolence in sustaining Sabbath Schools, and a better support could and ought to be given by the Churches to those ministers who labor in word and doctrine. Let us take heed that we are not absorbed too much in war. We are Christians as well as patriots.  The first honor is to be self-denying and ready to die as martyrs in the cause of Christ; the next honor is to be self-denying and ready to die as patriots in the cause of our county.”


     Met at LaMotte Friday, June 12, 1863, sermon by rev. James Kay, John Bates Moderator, Jesse Clement clerk. Churches 15, pastors 8, baptized 41, total membership 648. At this meeting the writer of these sketches first met with the Dubuque Association as agent of the Iowa Baptist State Convention. On his way to LaMotte he stopped over night with the family of Elder John Bates at Cascade. Brother Bates had gone on to LaMotte a day in advance. On entering the home we found it wrapped in a cloud of sadness never to be forgotten. Intelligence had just been received of the first great assault on the fortifications at Vicksburg. A breach had been made in the walls and the company to which Brother Bates’ eldest son, Samuel, belonged had fallen within the fortifications upon the repulse of the Union forces. Whether the noble young man had met immediate death or awaited the tortures of a rebel prison was wholly uncertain. We have never witnessed a deeper sorrow nor borne with more noble Christian courage. In the grief-stricken home were two beautiful young ladies who afterward became the wives of two of our Foreign Missionaries, Mr. Tympany and Mr. McLaurin of Canada. At this meeting the 2d Dubuque Church appears upon the records with 44 members, and Rev. A. Chapin soon after becomes pastor. The name of the 1st Dubuque Church continues upon the records for two or three years without any report and then disappears. H. G. Davenport is preaching at North Bend, J. Z. Zimmerman at Spring Brook, and E. D. Phillips at Maquoketa.


Lieut. Samuel Bates, 21st Regiment Iowa Volunteers, son of Rev. John Bates, “was mortally wounded on the memorable 22nd of May 1863 at Vicksburg, and died in a few days.


     1864. Manchester is the place of meeting. Brother Phillips preached the sermon, Rev. A. Chapin Moderator, and J. Z. Zimmerman clerk. Rev. H. Samson has succeeded E. D. Phillips at Maquoketa, and H. H. Half is preaching at Delhi, and Rev. T. W. Clark at North Bend. Rev. J. Y. Aitchison has closed a very successful pastorate of six years or more at Delhi and Manchester, where he has baptized over 50 into the two Churches, which number now (1864) 43 and 38 respectively. It has been a year of very limited spiritual fruitage, and great destitution. Only 11 baptisms are reported, 14 churches, and 550 members.


Mrs. Williams, wife of Rev. John Williams, one of the early Missionaries of the Convention died in 1864


    1865. This year the Annual meeting was a Cascade, Elam D. Phillips Moderator, Jesse Clement clerk, T. H. Bowen treasure. Rev. H. Samson preached the annual sermon from Job 19:25. There are now 13 Churches, 9 pastors, 28 baptisms reported, and 588 members. The Cascade and Manchester Churches show the only signs of revival. Cascade reports 12 baptisms, Manchester 13. The decease is reported of Rev. Luther Holmes of Monmouth. Born in Vermont, he had removed first to New York, where he was converted, under the ministry of “Father John Peck,” and united with the Baptist Church at New Woodstock, Madison county. He afterwards removed to Ohio, and in or about 1853 to Jackson county, Iowa. He had been in the ministry about 16 years. Rev. John Bates, after 14 years labor at Cascade, has removed with his excellent family to Canada. At this meeting it was voted that one Church, each year, beginning with the oldest in the Association, present a brief history, to be, if practicable, printed in the minutes. Brother Carlos Wilcot, a Licentiate from Fulton, Illinois, is preaching at Spring Brook. Rev. E. D. Phillips has removed to and is pastor at Manchester, and Rev. James Kay has succeeded Brother Bates at Cascade.


     1866. Maquoketa entertains the Association. Rev. A. Chapin preached the sermon, Moderator James Kay, clerk Jesse Clement. The Delaware Center, Masonville, and Epworth Churches are received. The history of the Cascade Church appears in the minutes. About 1845, Ira Blanchard of Delaware county began to preach once a month. A Campbellite minister coming about the same time, a Church was formed called the Baptist Christian Church, evidently intended to absorb the elements, Baptist and Disciples, or Campbellites as they were known. As might have been expected, this organization did not survive, and on the 16th of May, 1846, the Baptist Church of Cascade was organized with 9 members. Brother Blanchard continued to serve the Church as pastor until 1850, when he removed to California, where he died in 1852. He was assisted at various times at Cascade by Elders Morey of Iowa City, T. H. Archibald of Dubuque, and Charles E. Brown of Maquoketa. In July 1850 Rev. John Bates, just from Ireland, became pastor and continued in faithful labor for 14 years. In the year now under review, 1866, there have been in the Association 69 baptisms, of which number Cascade reports 28, Delaware Centre 12, Masonville 16, and Manchester 8, the whole number of members is 643. Among the pastors appear Rev. James Hill at Epworth and Worthington, J. Carrington at Delaware Centre, and Isaac C. Jones at South Fork (Sand Spring).


     1867. Dubuque is the place of meeting. Rev. James Kay preached the sermon, Rev. E. D. Phillips, Moderator, Jesse Clement is still clerk. Brother Phillips is about to go to Home Mission work in Nebraska, where in 1870 or 1871 he appears under commission of the Home Mission Society at Tecumseh. He soon after removed to Eastern New York, where he is still serving in the “Kingdom and Patience” of our Devine Lord. Revs J. Carrington and Isaac C. Jones also soon removed to Nebraska. Brother Jones served the Home Mission Society at various places from 1866 to 1871, and Brother Carrington was under commission of the Society at Peru in 1871. It is interesting to follow our Iowa brethren thus and trace their activities into other states. In the year now sketched, Rev. N. Whitmore has been preaching at LaMotte, J. C. Johnson at Epworth and Wm. E. Reed at North Bend. Maquoketa is without a pastor. Rev. H. Samson having resigned more than a year ago. This meeting is noted for the number of representatives of our Denominational Societies present. Revs. G. J. Johnson, S. M. Osgood and Thomas Powell are of the number. A period of great activity and large planning has followed upon the close of the war, and claims of the different Societies are being warmly and successfully pressed.


     1868. The Association gathering is at Delaware Centre. Rev. A. Chapin, Moderator, Caleb Saddler, clerk. Rev. J. F. Childs, being present in the interest of the State Convention, preached the opening sermon, both appointees being absent. The Association mourn the decease – on the previous 4th of July – of Rev. James Kay, pastor of the Church at Cascade. Brother Kay was born in Lancashire, England; was for a time on the city mission staff of the City of Manchester. Coming to this country in 1858, he became pastor of the Little Church of Delaware, in Delaware county, Iowa, preaching also at Hopkinton, and at Sand Spring. In 1864 he succeeded Elder John Bates as pastor at Cascade, where he labored with great acceptance until laid by his last sickness.  He is much lamented and greatly honored. “His life was holy, his ministry a great success, his death triumphant, his memory blessed.” There were this year 15 Churches in the Association, 25 baptisms reported and 673 members. The history of the Maquoketa Church was given. Organized in 1848, the first pastor was Charles E. Brown. He was succeeded in 1851 by Rev. George Scott, and he by Rev. O. A. Holmes in 1853 or 1854. Brother Holmes continues 5 or 6 years, and 1859 removed to Webster City to begin many years of most useful service in the newer fields of the upper Des Moines and Iowa Valley Associations.


    In May, 1859, the house of worship of the Maquoketa Church was entirely destroyed by fire. The lot had to be sold to pay a debt, and dark days set in. The day of adversity was set over against the day of prosperity. But the Church, though cast down, was not destroyed. The last year of Brother Holmes pastorate the Church had reported 115 members. In 1861 they were reduced to 74. Subsequently they prospered again and were able, in 1867 or 1868, to purchase of the Presbyterians a comfortable brick building, in which again to “keep house for the Lord.”


    1869. The Association met again at Cascade. Rev. William Aitchison, Jr. preached the annual sermon, and was elected Moderator, and Carlos Wilcox, of LaMotte, clerk. Fifteen Churches, 9 pastors, 44 baptisms reported and 623 members. Maquoketa with Henry L. Field ordained as pastor and 17 baptisms to report, and North Bend with 20 baptisms indicate the only revivals. Worthington has completed a house of worship. Delhi is building, and Monmouth is gathering material. Manchester has given up the hall which they have occupied for four years, but which is used through the week for a dancing hall. They are discouraged, but have secured another room and are struggling on.


    Brother Carlos Wilcox has been ordained at Spring Brook, and is preaching also at LaMotte, and Rev. J. A. Abbott has been ordained at South Fork Church (Sand Spring). Rev. John Brown has become pastor at Cascade, beginning some time in 1868. The history of the Delaware Church was given this year. Organized June 30, 1844, by Rev. Ira Blanchard. Its subsequent pastors were John Bates (supplying the Cascade), Luther Holmes, Hiram Barden, C. D. Farnsworth, and James Kay. This was always a small country Church, never becoming strong; it nevertheless occupied a prominent place in the pioneer religious work in this region. It is located on the line between Delaware and Jones Counties at Delaware Centre, now bearing the simple name “Delaware." 


~ source: Historical sketches of Iowa Baptists,  Mitchell, S. H., Burlington, Iowa: Burdette Co., 1886, 537 pgs.  Page 197 – 205

~ transcribed by Constance Diamond


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