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Cross Lanes Presbyterian Church
a/k/a Cumberland Presbyterian or Mt. Olivet
Locust Grove Township

Charles J. Fulton's "History of Jefferson County, Iowa", pub. 1914
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago
Vol. I, Page 220, Chapter XXIX, "In Territorial Days"

"An organization of Cumberland Presbyterians was early formed in the southeastern part of Liberty Township.... Eleanor STEEL, on November 11, 1845, deeded it a site for a church in Section 27. The trustees were John M. CAMERON, presumably the minister, Greenup SMITH, Anthony T. PREWITT, Luke KUNCE and Samuel G. LATIMER."


Jefferson County Deed Book 'C', Page 418
Recorded Feby. 28, 1846
Eleanor STEEL, grantor
To - Trustees of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Know all men by these presents that I, Eleanor STEEL, of the County of Jefferson & Territory of Iowa, have and in consideration of the sum of Ten Dollars lawful money of the United States to me in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby confessed and acknowledged, by John M. CAMERON, Greenup SMITH, Anthony T. PREWETTE, Luke KUNCE, and Samuel G. LATIMERE, Trustees of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Lebanon Congregation, of the County aforesaid, have given granted bargained and sold and do hereby give grant bargain sell and convey unto the aforesaid Trustees and their successors in office do and for benefit of said congregation and its assigns forever, all that certain piece or parcel of land in said county situate & described as follows, to-wit: Commencing at the divisional line running East & West through Section Twenty-seven (27), Township Seventy-one (71) North of Range Ten (10) West sixty-five rods westward from the Southeast corner of the NE qr. of section & running north five degrees West sixty 24/100 rods thence North eighty one degrees East fourteen rods 24/100 South five degrees East sixty rods 24/100 thence fourteen rods 24/100 to the place of beginning, containing five acres one rood seventeen perches & eight tenths of a perch more or less. Together with all and singular the hereditaments & appurtenances to the same belonging or in any wise appertaining to the said Trustees their successors in office, for the use and benefit of said congregation or its assigns forever, as a perfect & absolute estate in fee simple, and the said Eleanor STEEL for herself & her heirs doth hereby covenant to & with the said Trustees & their successors in office for use of said congregation or its assigns that she will forever warrant & defend the same to the said congregation or its assigns against the lawful (?) of each & every person or persons whomsoever. In testimony whereof the said Eleanor STEEL has hereunto set her hand & seal this fourteenth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-five.

Eleanor   X   STEEL.

In presence of:


"Fairfield (Iowa) Weekly Journal"
Wednesday, December 4, 1912
Page 8


One of the old land marks of Jefferson county has recently been remodeled and improved until the original structure is now but a memory. The Cross Lanes church which was erected in 1877 in Locust Grove Township, one mile north of Bernhart has just been completely rebuilt and remodeled and is now one of the prettiest country churches in this part of the state. This church has a most interesting history which runs back over two generations.

January 5th, 1913, will be given the dedication program of the remodeled Cross Lanes church, the construction of which has been going on for several months. Improvements to the amount of $1,500 or more will have been placed on the structure and a spacious basement to the building has been arranged.

Dr. J. F. HINKHOUSE of this city has been the pastor of the church for some time and it is during his pastorate that the improvement has been made. He has been actively engaged in assisting the the (sic) members of the church to secure this improved place of worship. Dr. HINKHOUSE has been chairman of the building committee of which the other members are J. H. MILLER and F. K. LAUGHLIN, all of whom have worked faithfully and are proud of the completed structure as it now stands.

A furnace and an acetylin gas plant are yet to be installed before the dedication exercises can take place but they have long been ordered and it is felt sure they will be here in plenty of time.

It was in the year 1849, Sept. 15th, of that year, that a Cumberland Presbyterian church was organized in the house of Micheal COSELL who resided some miles west of the present location. The record of that organization is given in the following quaint language:

"Whereas, the plain requirements of scripture as well as the usage of the Cumberland Presbyterian church demand a social u nion (sic) among the followers of Jesus Christ, and, whereas, there are a number of Brethern (sic) in this portion of God's vineyard who owing to various circumstances desire to form themselves into a church or congregation; and whereas, by the presence of Wm. F. LAURENCE, a regularly ordained minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, the opportunity of forming a legal congregation is afforded us. Resolved, therefore, that we form ourselves into a congregation; and Brother W. F. LAURENCE acting as chairman proceeded to organize a church to be known by the name of Competine Congregation and under the care of the Iowa Presbytery(.)
Done at the house of Michael COSELL this the 15th day of September, 1849."

Right after this record is given the following list of members. It is not said that they were the charter members but doubtless they were among the first people who were members: Andrew SMITH, Jonathan LAUGHLIN, Alexander LAUGHLIN, Jane LAUGHLIN, Harvey ORNDUFF, David PARRETT, Rachel FANSHER, David FANSHER, Barbary PARRETT, John VANESS, Rachel VANESS, Zalman SMALES, Robert SMALES, Andrew ORNDUFF, Levina LAUGHLIN, Amos VANESS, Lovisa HENDERSON, John PUFFINBARGER, William GILMORE.

For twenty-five years this congation (sic) was without a local habitation and worshiped in private homes and in school houses and groves, as circumstances made most convenient. It was not until April 2nd, 1874, that a definite move was made to secure a house of worship. On that day a committee was appointed to examine the old Free Methdist (sic) church building located on the site of the present structure, and to ascertain what it could be bought for. A week later this committee made report that the congregation could buy the building at a cost of $200. The congregation acted favorable on this report and continued this committee to raise the necessary funds for the purchase and repairing of the structure. The committee was W. G. BLACK, D. M. PARRETT, A. W. LAUGHLIN, James SMITH and T. S. LAUGHLIN. On this same date the following persons were chosen trustees -- W. G. BLACK, D. M. PARRETT, A. W. LAUGHLIN, Jacob COLLINS and Levi WHITMORE.

On April 12th the name of the congregation was changed to Mt. Olivet. On August 31st, the same year articles of incorporation were adopted. On October 1st to 3rd the Presbytery of Iowa met in this building. On the evening of October 5th, at about 11 o'clock the edifice was burned to the ground. The records say "being the work of an incendiary." A current newspaper item of that day says. that a meeting of the citizens of Locust Grove Township who live near the Cross Lane's school house, was held on the night of October 12th to determine what action should be taken toward rebuilding the church house. It also goes on to state that it was decided to rebuild and that a subscription paper was started in the house and that nearly $600 was subscribed in ten minutes, also that the following resolutions were adopted. "Whereas, we, the law abiding citizens of Locust Grove township residing in the vicinity of Cross Lanes without regard to religious or political creeds take this method, to earnestly, publicly condemn lawless, cruel and fiendish diabolism exhibited in the burning of the C.P. church house on the night of October 5th, and we do solemnly pledge each other that we will stand together as one man to ferret out and bring to punishment the guilty parties and to protect our property and to maintain our civil and religious rights which are as dear to us as life, and we warn those incendiaries that any repetition of diabolism will merit summary punishment at the hands of an outraged community."

The following building committee was then appointed at this meeting: W. G. BLACK, David LONG, and A. W. LAUGHLIN. Why it was that the building was not ready for dedication until April 22nd, 1877, the records do not show, but they state that this was the day of the dedication of the building -- the one that is now being overhauled. The sermon was preached by Rev. T. R. LESTER, and __125 was raised to pay off the amount still due on the building. How much was spent in building is not stated. The pastor at this time was the Rev. E. J. NUGENT who now resides at Monmouth Springs, Arkansas.

For thirty-five years this building has served the people of Cross Lanes neighborhood well. But they have for some time recognized that it was hardly in keeping with the commodious homes of the people 'round about. Repairs were sadly needed and at a congregational meeting called by the acting pastor Dr. J. F. HINKHOUSE, on October 3d, 1912, it was decided by unanimous vote to overhaul the whole plant so as to make it servicable for the new demands of country church life.


"The Fairfield (Ia.) Daily Ledger"
October 2, 1939
Section J, Page 4, Columns 4 & 5

Cross Lanes Is Old Country Settlement West of Fairfield

Cross Lanes was so named because of its natural location. When the large colony of Alexanders, LAUGHLIN (sic) family came from eastern Tennessee, they settled in Jefferson County in 1841, and held services in the Walnut Hill schoolhouse. The old cemetery is on the farm now owned by Ed. KRAMER.

Often the two creeks, Competine and Coon, were too high to ford, and bridges were unheard of in these parts at that time. Several families had to cross both creeks to get to the church.

The children went barefooted in the summer, carried their shoes and put them on after crossing the last creek. The mothers rode horseback with the smallest children in their laps, or behind them.

In 1849 the Cumberland Presbyterian church built their house of worship at Cross Lanes. Now no families were forced to cross both creeks to attend services.

When not able to procure a minister, Aunt Jane, wife of Jonathan C. LAUGHLIN, Andy SMITH, a seventh son of a seventh son, and others led the congregation in worship, and were called exhorters. Members of the LAUGHLIN family have always been active as elders, clerk of session, and teachers in this church since its organization under the name of Mt. Olivet.

In 1910 the church went with most of the denomination back to the original church, the Presbyterian U. S. A., and is now under that body. Among the early settlers was Dillon KOONS, who came to Iowa in 1838. Mr. KOONS was very much interested in education, and gave an acre of land for the schoolhouse and helped to organize the school district. His home, which he built, is about a quarter-mile north of the schoolhouse, and stands as built over a hundred years ago.

Cross Lanes church is now one of the most active country churches in Jefferson County, having a Sunday School which often takes the banner for large attendances. Cross Lanes is located about one mile north and five miles east of Batavia.


"The Fairfield Ledger"
Monday, October 13, 1952
Page 3, Column 4

Homecoming at Cross Lanes Presbyterian Church

Eight attended the church 50 years or more ago. Mrs. R. D. HUNT and Mrs. Jesse LOUTH of Fairfield; Mrs. Orren FORDYCE and Mervin LAUGHLIN of Libertyville; Mrs. Charles HIDY; Mrs Ransom WHITMORE; Mrs Bert GILTNER and Vester STARK of Batavia.


"The Fairfield Ledger"
Monday, February 12, 1962

[Note: This item is part of an article concerning the Rutledge family.]

.... "The Cumberland Presbyterian church was located east of Steele cemetery in Jefferson County. Later it moved to a new location, the Lebanon church.... The church building is still standing at its original location on the Anthony Woodrow farm. Other buildings were added years ago, making it into a haybarn and cattle shed."....


"The Fairfield (Ia.) Daily Ledger"
Saturday, January 19, 1963
Page 6, Columns 4 & 5

Cross Lanes Social Club Will Celebrate Fiftieth Anniversary

Wednesday, January 23, 1963, will be a red letter day for members of the Cross Lanes Social club, a club associated with the Cross Lanes Presbyterian church. The church is located about seven miles west and a mile north of Fairfield.

On that same date 50 years ago, January 23, 1913, the club was organized.

The 50th Anniversary observance will be held at the Turner hotel in Fairfield. It will start with a luncheon at 1 p.m. All those who have been members of the club during its 50 years of existence have been invited to attend.

Charter Members

It will be of special interest to two residents of Fairfield. They are charter members of the club. They are Mrs. William HESTON, 602 W. Merrill, and Mrs. Loren SIX, 505 W. Madison.

Present officers and members of the organization have found the names and addresses of every living member of the club since its beginning except one. Invitations have been sent to all of them.

The one whose address is still missing is Mrs. Luther HENSON, who moved from the Cross Lanes community several years ago. It is believe she moved to the Keokuk community, but no trace can be found of her.

Any former residents of the Four Corners community, and friends of the church who were never members of the club, are invited to visit the group at the hotel during the afternoon.

Church Organized.

The Cross Lanes Church was first organized over 100 years ago. It was organized at the home of Michael CASELL (COSELL) in Locust Grove Township on Sept. 15, 1849. It was first known as the "Competine Congregation" of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

It is believed the first location for the church was on a spot known as Walnut Hill located northwest of the present church site. A small cemetery is still located there.

In 1874 the church was moved to its present location and the name changed to Mt. Olivet.

Still later, in April, 1907, the church was received into the Iowa Presbytery of the Presbyterian church, U.S.A. It has continued since.

In 1913

The Woman's social class of the Cross Lanes church was organized in 1913 with three objects in mind. These were to cultivate neighborhood sociability, to assist in the financial work of the Cross Lanes church and to assist in the Benevolent work of the church at large.

These objects have continued down through the years as the church and its congregation struggled for existance.

The organization was only a few months old when it was called upon to assist the church in a major rebuilding and remodeling program. The project included a new basement, new storm vestibule, and other major repairs. It was enjoying regular church services, increased Sunday school attendance, and general interest among its members.

The late J. F. HINKHOUSE, Fairfield, was pastor of the church. UNKRICH's Boys' band from Fairfield played during the day-long dedication services for the newly remodeled church.

Down through the years the club has conducted various activities in order to aid the church to meet its financial obligations. They have aided with the minister's salary, kept the church in repair, painted the building, kept the furnace repaired, etc.


Similar to most all rural churches, it has had its problems during its long existence. At present it has no minister but through the efforts of the club, Sunday school classes continue.

Present officers of the club, recently elected, include Mrs. Dorsey HANEY, president; Mrs. Harold LAUGHLIN, vice president; Mrs. M. L. GANTZ, secretary; and Mrs. Francis NICHOLS, treasurer.

The following committees have been named. They are as follows:

  Devotions -- Mrs. Olin MULLIKIN and Mrs. Girtha HIDY.

  Cards -- Mrs. Roger RICHARD and Mrs. Warren HILL.

  Flowers -- Mrs. Jesse LOUTH and Mrs. Vesta STARK.

  Reporter -- Mrs. Henry MAIRET.


"The Fairfield Ledger"
Wednesday, November 17, 1965
Page 8, Column 6


Despite the fact its fate still hangs in the balance, a new neon cross is to be erected on the old Cross Lanes church located about five miles west of Fairfield. The new neon-lighted cross will be dedicated next Sunday, Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. Vester STARK, who resides in the Cross Lanes community and who made possible the erection of the new cross, said everyone is invited to the dedication services. He said the cross, in addition to calling attention to the location of the old church, is also designed in memory of those who have had a part in serving the church down through the years.

The fate of the church first came to light last July when STARK stated the building had been closed by the S.E. Iowa Presbytery. STARK said residents in the community wanted to buy the property and establish a non-denominational church, and indicated the Presbytery refused to sell the building to the group. Church officials said a committee has been named to dispose of the church, but no definite plans have been announced. STARK said he had written to Herold. A. Chandler, Winfield, a member of the committee, seeking information on the future of the old building, but had received no reply. STARK said he is taking the liberty himself to place the neon-lighted cross on the church in memory of those who erected the church.


"The Fairfield Ledger"
Friday, May 27, 1966
Page 1, Column 7

Rural Church to be Razed

The Cross Lanes Church, located four miles west of Fairfield, will soon be torn down on the order of the Synod of Iowa of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.

The Synod signed a contract Thursday with Ted HALL of the Hall Wrecking Co. to raze the frame building.

The action ends a one-man campaign by Sylvester STARK, who resides in the Cross Lanes neighborhood, to preserve the church. He had tried unsuccessfully to buy the building and convert it to a non-denominational church.

Last fall STARK erected a large neon cross on the church roof. A dedication service was held on November 21.

The contract with the wrecking firm specifies that the neon cross and other electrical equipment must be removed and returned to STARK. The project is to be completed within two weeks of the starting date.

The church property, totaling approximately one acre, will be sold by the Synod of Iowa at a later date.


"The Fairfield Ia. Ledger"
Saturday, January 13, 1973

60th Anniversary - A special cake with a frosting drawing of the Cross Lanes Church was on the table at the Stever House Thursday when the club marked its anniversary. Attesting to the fact that the philanthropic group keeps young as well as older matrons interested are three of the 1972 officers, Mrs. Melvin MULLIKIN, president; Mrs. John MULLIKIN, secretary; and Mrs. Leslie HICKENBOTTOM, treasurer.

Cross Lanes Club--
Members Celebrate 60 Years Of Service, Fun
by Joyce Gabbert

Seventeen members and nine guests, dressed in their fashionable 1973 best, celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Cross Lanes Club on Thursday at one o'clock luncheon at the STEVER House. Mrs. Harvey WHITMORE was hostess and overall chairman of the gala event.

The club has celebrated its anniversary every year but one during the 60 years, even in the coldest of Januarys. Long dresses, in style in 1913 when the club was organized are now back "in" and were in evidence Thursday.

Times have changed, however, for an old treasurer's report revealed that once in the early days 5 cents was spent for wicks and 10 cents was spent for lamp chimneys.

The late J. F. HINKHOUSE D.D. pastor of the Cross Lanes Presbyterian Church in 1913, believed the community needed a women's organization to help carry on the work of the church, which was located six miles west of Fairfield and a half mile north.

On Jan. 23, 1913, the ladies met at the church to organize the Cross Lanes Social Club, the purpose being to cultivate neighborhood sociability, and assist in the financial and benevolent work of the church.

The charter officers were: Mrs. T. S. LAUGHLIN, president; Mrs. W. W. WHITAKER, Mrs. Loren SIX, Mrs. John MINARD, Mrs. W. E. HESTON, vice presidents; Mrs. H. S. STARK, secretary; and Mrs. C. L. BRAWNER, treasurer.

The last charter member, Mrs. SIX, died in 1970.

The club now has an active membership of 24 of all ages. Since the church is now gone, the members have chosen other philanthropic causes. Now their special project is the Center of Hope in Ottumwa, a school for retarded children. They provide cookies for the school every month, send canned goods and have made 11 pillows for the enrollees. They also contribute to American Home Finding in Ottumwa.

Over the years, the active membership served many hundreds of sandwiches, pies and gallons of coffee at farm sales, hosted many church dinners, have come to the aid of families in the community in need and ministered to those in sorrow. The minister's salary, missionary contributions and floral offerings were made possible by their diligent work.

A past member, Mrs. C. W. WHITEHOUSE of Ottumwa, was a special guest on Thursday. Her husband, the late Rev. WHITEHOUSE, was pastor of the church when the club celebrated its 40th anniversary. Mrs. Harold LAUGHLIN has been the longest continuous member who is still living. Mrs. Charles GARDNER of rural Ottumwa came the farthest distance to attend.

Much reminiscing filled the afternoon. The group recalled that the 50th anniversary was celebrated at Woody's and on the 49th anniversary the husbands were guests for a cooperative dinner at the home of Mrs. Henry MAIRET who shared her scrape book (sic) of the history of the group.

Officers elected at Thursday's meeting are: Mrs. Melvin MULLIKIN, president; Mrs. Clarence HAGAN, vice president; Mrs. John MIDDLEKOOP, secretary and Mrs. Leslie HICKENBOTTOM, treasurer.

As has always been the custom, devotions were given, though the group no longer sings "The Church in the Wildwood."

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