9521 Miller Chapel Rd

Ottumwa IA 52501

Ph 641.682.2631



Pastor Ricky Fiedler           Sunday School 9:30    Church 10:30


Miller Chapel (so named because the land for the building was donated by Tom Miller) was built in 1909 and is located seven miles southeast of Ottumwa, Iowa. Before the building was erected a tent was set up on this ground and revival services were conducted by the Reverend J.W. Foste, who served as assistant pastor to the Reverend William Hormel at the East End Presbyterian Church. When the people of he community decided to build a church they contacted Ed Gruwell to supervise the work. Money and labor were donated by virtually everyone in the area as well as outlying areas. Riley Monohan sawed much of the lumber as the men cut down trees and hauled the logs to his sawmill. Two years after the building was finished a large recreation room ad kitchen, made possible through a gift from Mrs. Cyrus Mc Cormick of Chicago, Illinois were added.

In the spring of 1912 a chapel near Cliffland was sold and the proceeds, Fifty Dollars, Four dozen chairs, an organ and alter, were given to Miller Chapel. It was commonly reported that the donated alter, was made by a Civil War veteran (Captain Humbart) from near Agency. The first alter in use at the church was built by Ed Gruwell. The pulpit and chairs were given by T.D Foster.

Harper & McIntire Hardware Store gave a new for the kitchen. Mr. Thomas Teesdale gave the large bell (still in use) for the belfry. The first pews were purchased from the Methodist Church in Agency. The first United States fag for the church was a gift from the D.A.R. and many years later the 4-H clubs donated a United Nations flag.

During the First World War (September 1918) a flag was dedicated, a blue star indicated that the person it represented was alive and a gold star indicated a death. This flag had three gold stars resulting from a flu epidemic. The flag in honor of the military personnel from Keokuk Township during World War II bore forty four stars all of which remained blue. The available information indicates that all these military personnel were male. (It may be interesting to know that across the road from where Miller Chapel now stands is the field in which Captain Bitten of Bloomfield drilled his home guard troops during the Civil War.)

The Reverend Hormel who had organized several chapels in the area (on of which was Miller Chapel) was interested in the progress of the chapel and for a number of years furnished speakers and singers. Among those speakers were: Reverend Stinson, Charles Pool, John Laring, Gene Palmer, Harry Frank, Lawrence and Allen Kuhns (the last two, converts from Reverend Billy Sunday evangelistic meetings). Reverend Hormel also furnished horse and buggy and transportation to the church. In 1914 he resigned the pastorate at the East End Presbyterian Church. By this time Miller Chapel was self-reliant enough to assume all of the responsibilities and from that time has depended on its support from local congregation.

The Reverend M.D. Cox officiated during 1917 and was followed by Reverend Wilson who served during 1918.

Note: there seems to be no official records of the pastor (s) between 1918 and 1931.

The Reverend Gardner served as pastor during 1931 followed by the Reverend Charles Lawrence in 1932 until 1938.

In 1938 Henry Gruwell and Leo Simmons, realizing the building was very much in need of repairs, volunteered their time and labor to repair the windows and perform the general cleaning up. They also conducted services at the church for one year.

Following them were Royce Petit, then George Campbell and Wilton Willet. The later two young men brought cots and lived in the community room at the back of the main church. The Reverend Cresswell, a retired minister, also served the Church for a time.

The Reverend Arthur Truitt was the pastor from 1943 until his death in 1963. One of his daughters, Anita Truitt was very active ministering to the youth of the church and also had a friend, Colleen Guinn, who visited the church frequently. Colleen became a missionary to India where she served many years. Miller Chapel was privileged to contribute to her support on the mission field.

Jack Stater, reverend Truitt’s son-in-law, also worded with the youth and following Mr. Truitt’s death served briefly as pastor but eventually the chapel was closed.

After the building had been vacant for a few years the Presbytery decided it should be demolished. When some of the people in the vicinity of the church heard of the church heard of this plan a petition was circulated by Everett Streeby, Henry Gruwell, Henry “Pete” Fiedler and Fred Martsching. The building was subsequently bought for the total sum of four hundred dollars. Remodeling included painting, roofing, lowering of ceilings and installation of florescent lights. The cross which pastor Truitt had mad was returned to the chapel.

By 1970 the church began holding regular services again with Wilbur Thomas, a Sunday School teacher from Eldon, as the pastor and Carol Martsching Sunday School Superintendent. After serving for 9 months Mr. Thomas resigned to return to his former position.

In June 1971 the Reverend Milton Forbes was installed as pastor and served until March 1972.

The Reverend Henry Gruwell was pastor from April 1972 until his resignation in September 1978. During his tenure the rural water and bathroom (May 1977) and gas furnace (January 1978) were installed.

In the fall of 1977 Reverend Glen Springer conducted revival services at Miller Chapel and when Reverend Gruwell resigned, assumed the pastorate in October 1978. During his tenure the church was refurbished in 1989 with a sizable donation form the Everett Streeby estate. An office for the pastor was also added. Mr. Springer was absent for a nine month period during which time Reverend “Bud” Wilder served as pastor. January 2000 reverend Springer resigned.

Dave Benson was pastor form March 2000 till his resignation April 2003. During his tenure air conditioning and speaker system was added. Mr. Benson and his wife donated a new kitchen stove.

In the spring of 2003, Ricky Fiedler (grandson of Henry Gruwell) assumed the pastorate and is pastor at this time.

Events of interest at Miller Chapel

The first funeral was that of Charles Sedore (date unavailable) He was buried at Fiedler Cemetery.

The first two united in marriage were Patricia Mc Millen and Don Whipple.

The first Ladies Aide group members were Mrs. Thomas (Mary) Teesdale and her daughters, Mame Young, Jean Mc Millen and Agnes Kerfoot.

     Vacation Bible School in 1972 had an average daily attendance of 45 boys and girls.

     In 2004 the annual Vacation Bible School was once again started.

     In 2006 new windows were donated and installed in the church (by Jim and Susan Boxx)

     In the spring of 2007 central air conditioning and a new furnace were installed

     In September of 2007 new carpet was installed in the sanctuary

     In October of 2007 the sidewalk and step at the front door of the church were replaced

-History written by Pastor Glen Springer & Contributed by Pastor Ricky Fiedler