Churches.The first churches in what is now the State of Kansas were established while it was still unorganized territory. Missions were established among the Indian tribes during the first quarter of the nineteenth century by various denominations, and from that time the church and the mission school dwelt side by side, and worked hand in hand for the evangelization and education of the red man. In 1854, when Kansas was erected as a territory, the Methodists had churches at Shawnee mission and at Wyandotte; the Baptists had a mission church 2 miles northwest of the Shawnee mission, one near the Delaware postoffice and still another in what is now Mission township, Shawnee county; the Friends had a mission and school west of the Shawnee mission, and among the Sac and Fox Indians the Presbyterians had located a mission and school near the present site of Highland, Doniphan county. Two missions had been established by the CatholicsSt. Mary's, located in what is now Mission township, Shawnee county, with three stations within a radius of 20 miles, and a second on the Neosho river, in what is now Neosho county.
Nearly all the free-state settlers had belonged to churches in the communities from which they came, and one of the first provisions they made after settling in the territory was for religious services and schools for their children. At first the services were held in the open air, in tents or rude cabins, but as settlements increased church buildings were erected, many of which are used to the present day in different localities. In the outlying districts where settlement was thin, the people gathered at some convenient locality and were ministered to by circuit riders or missionaries. Many of these early congregations later became permanent and prosperous churches.
The earliest available record of churches in Kansas is that taken by the state board of agriculture in 1875, which is meagre and may not accurately give an idea of all denominations, but it gives the largest which in that year were: the Catholic church with 202 organizations and a membership of 37,198; the Methodist church with 621 organizations and a membership of 22,696; the Baptists with 286 organizations and a membership of 12,197; the Presbyterians with 220 organizations and a membership of 7,962, and the Congregationalists with 121 organizations and a membership of 4,458, making a total of 1,484 organizations and 85,924 communicants. By 1880 the number of organizations had increased to 2,155 and the membership to 189,629, or more than twice that of 1875. As settlement has passed westward across the state, churches have been established in nearly every community and their growth has been steady and satisfactory. In 1890 the proportion of church members to aggregate population in Kansas was about 28 per cent. There were 4,920 organizations with a membership of 336,575. In 1906 there were 994 church organizations in the state with a total membership of 458,190. Of the organizations reporting, 4,020 have church edifices and 602 use halls or other buildings for places of worship. The aggregate value of the church property in the state in 1906 was $14,053,454. It was found that in that year that 78.7 per cent. of all church members in the state belonged to Protestant bodies; 20.3 per cent, to the Catholic church; O.5 per cent, to the Latter-day Saints; and O.5 to all other bodies. (For information concerning any particular church look under the denominational head.)Pages 346-347 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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