Was the first Protestant denomination to hold religious services in this county. Dr. Lisle says: "The first preaching in Chetopa was by an old missionary of the Methodist Church South, on or about the first of December, 1857, and once every four weeks until spring." The name of this preacher was J. P. Barnaby. He was succeeded in October, 1858, by Rev. J. E. Bryan, who preached every three weeks during the next two years, when he was sent to Council Grove. In the fall of 186o Mr. Foresman succeeded Mr. Bryan and remained a year, when Mr. Robbins was sent to the charge. The latter was in sympathy with the Rebellion, and was about to be hung by some Kansas soldiers who caught him in Cherokee county. He was let go on condition that he would leave the country, which he did, going directly to Texas. This closed the work of the church till after the war. Of these services Dr. Lisle says: "The preaching was in some settler's house until the school-house was built, in the spring of 1858, when it was in that regularly. It being about the center of the settlement, gave all parties a chance to attend, which they did pretty generally." When the county commenced. to settle after the war there were quite a number came who had been members of this church in their former homes, but scarcely enough in any one settlement to form and maintain a class. In fact, I do not know of the formation of a class at any place in the county, although there may have been some formed. However, preachers of that denomination, either local or those in charge of work in adjacent territory, occasionally preached at a few places in the county. Among the places where they sometimes held services was the log church, between Oswego and Montana.
Several local preachers of this denomination settled, in the county and commenced preaching and holding services in their respective localities as early as the fall of 1867, and perhaps even earlier in the year. Oswego was the only point at which a class was formed prior to the meeting of conference on March 30, 1868. At that conference the Oswego circuit was formed, embracing all of Labette county, and included in the Emporia district, of which Rev. C. R. Rice was presiding elder. The work remained a part of the Emporia district the following year also, under the charge of Mr. Rice. In March, 1870, the Oswego district was organized, including within its limits all of the county, with Rev. C. E. Lewis, P. E. The work remained in the Oswego district with the same presiding elder until April 1, 1873, when it was placed in the Humboldt district, in charge of Rev. A. K. Johnson, P. E. This arrangement continued two years. In March, 1875, Parsons was placed in the Fort Scott district, where it has ever since remained. At the same time, the Independence district was formd,[sic] and all the county except Parsons has ever since been in that district. The presiding elders of the Fort Scott district have been: 1875-77, D. P. Mitchell; 1877-81. B. Kelley; 1881-85, E. C. Boaz; 1885-91, A. G. Robb; 1891-97, J. E. Brant; 1897-, John H. Price. The presiding elders of the Independence district have been: 1875-79, S. E. Pendleton; 1879, D. P. Mitchell; 1880-82, A. T. Burris; 1882-86, Ananias Cullison; 1886-90, J. A. Hyden; 1890-96, S. S. Murphy; 1896-98, Bernard Kelly; 1898-, Alexander R. Maclean. Before the close of his last year Mr. Kelly resigned the district, and Mr. Maclean was appointed in his stead.
German. - While there may have been occasional preaching prior to that time, the Methodist Episcopal German work was regularly started in this county in the spring of 1892, by Rev. John Koehler, who commenced preaching at the Timber Hill appointment. In July, 1892, work was commenced on a new church three and a half miles south of Dennis. It was finished, and on August 28th was dedicated, by their presiding elder, Rev. C. Harriman. At their conference the last of August the work in the county was organized into the Parsons circuit, and put in charge of Rev. John Koehler again. A class was to be formed at Parsons at once.
0swego. - The First Methodist Episcopal church of Oswego was organized March 1, 1868, in the little frame building that then stood at the northeast corner of block 33. John Mark, a local preacher living in the township, effected the organization, with 13 members, including himself, as follows: John Mark, wife and daughter, Elisha Hammer and wife, John Logan and wife, William Logan and wife, Job Beal and wife, Eliza Elliott, and Mary A. Cowell. Mr. Mark had been preaching in town for some weeks previous, alternating with Mr. Canfield, Congregationalist; Messrs. Richardson and Flouronoy, Baptists, and perhaps others. But one service was held in town at a time, all meeting in the room above referred to. At the ensuing conference, which convened on March 30, 1868, a young man living in what was then known as the Labette City settlement, near the mouth of Labette Creek, named John S. Harryman, was admitted into the conference on trial. All of Labette county was formed into the Oswego circuit, and Mr. Harryman was sent to it as its first pastor. At the first quarterly conference, which was held June 6, 1868, in Read Brothers' hardware store, which was then just inclosed, but into which they had not yet moved, Elder Rice appointed David Stanfield, a local preacher, as assistant to Mr. Harryman, and during the balance of the year the two occupied the field as best they could. Since the first year the pastors have been as follows, commencing after conference in March or April of the year named: 1869, Patterson McNutt; 1870, H. W. Conley; 1871, J. E. Bryan; 1872-73, J. B. Orwig; 1874, B. C. Swarts; 1875-76, P. T. Rhodes; 1877, M. L. Gates; 1878-79, D. T. Summerville; 1880-81, T. S. Hunt; 1882-84, H. McBirney; 1885, J. A. Hyden; 1886-87, J. B. Ford; 1888-90, R. P. Hammons; 1891-92, Ananias Cullison; 1893-94, John Maclean; 1895, C. R. Rice; 1896, N. V. Moore; 1896-97, S. L. Chase; 1898-1901, S. A. Ross. During his pastorate, Mr. Moore's health failed and he had to resign his work in the middle of the year. There have been no records preserved of the first year's work, and I have not been able to learn who were the officers for that year. J. F. Molesworth was elected recording steward for the ensuing year at the fourth quarterly conference, Feb. 6, 1869. When conference met, the north part of the county in which he lived was put into another work; so that he never served. At the first quarterly conference for 1869 A. S. Cory was elected recording steward, but only served for that session, and at the second quarterly conference the office was declared vacant, and J. Q. Cowell was elected and served out the balance of that year. At the fourth quarterly conference for that year, held on Dec. 29, 1869, Nelson Case was elected recording steward, and by reelections continued to serve till conference in March, 1879. The following year I. W. Patrick served in that position. At the close of that year David Zimmerman was elected, but declined to serve; and at the first quarterly conference for the following year, held May 3, 1880, Nelson Case was again elected recording steward, which position he has held, by annual reelections, since. At the close of the first year the quarterly conference asked the presiding elder to secure a division of the work. This was done, and during 1869-70 Oswego and Chetopa, with the intervening territory, constituted a circuit. This arrangement lasted but a year, for at the conference in March, 1870, both Chetopa and Oswego were substantially made stations; each had a part of the time after that, one or two appointments in the county attached to them, in which the ministers at these points would preach Sunday afternoons. At the close of the first year the presiding elder reported that a subscription Of $1,500 had been secured with which to build a church at Oswego. However, little or nothing came of this subscription. Before the close of Mr. McNutt's pastorate he had secured rock to be placed on the ground for a foundation, he and Mr. Mark doing a large part of the work themselves. When Mr. Conley came, all felt that the first thing to do was to secure the erection of a church. During Mr. McNutt's pastorate services were held in Dr. Crouse's building on lot 5 in block 39, which was, now found inadequate to the demands, and Wells' Hall, near the northeast corner of block 32, was rented. Work was commenced, on the church building early in the summer, and by the middle of summer it was inclosed. Services were then held in it in its unfinished condition. In the fall the spire was built, the house plastered and seated, and on Dec. 18, 1870, it was dedicated by Dr. W. R. Davis. The parsonage was built during Mr. Orwig's pastorate. On July 2-4, 1889, an Epworth League was organized in connection with this church, with Blanche Case president, and Cloe McLane, secretary. The League has been maintained with a good degree of prosperity up to the present.
The Second M. E. church is composed of colored members. It was organized in April, 1879, and has had the following pastors: Robert Rector, W. B. Avery, Daniel Ross, Thomas Allen, M. Bell, J. A. Lee, E. Q. Plummer, C. P. Thompson, James J. Cable, J. W. Talbert, T. M. Hooks, J. W. Patton, __ Thomas, T. Ross, and __ Jackson. Soon after organizing the members bought a two-story store building and moved it to lot 12 in block 15, the lower room of which they used for a church, and the upper part for a parsonage. The building becoming somewhat racked, they caused it to be cut down to a one-story building, which they still occupy for church purposes.
Neosho Township. - More or less preaching in various parts of the county was undoubtedly done by the Methodist local preachers who settled in the county, of which no account has been preserved. Rev. Joseph Rogers was a local preacher who settled in Neosho township in the spring of 1867. Very soon after his settlement there, it is said, he commenced, preaching in private houses in several places. This was the first preaching they had in that township. After the school-houses were built, more regular services were held in them. Classes were formed at the Hopkins school-house, in District No. 62; at the New Hope school-house, in District No. 15; at the Lone Elm school-house, in District No. 21; and perhaps at other points. But in few, if any, of these points were permanent classes formed or services held regularly, for many years, It may be said that Center Chapel is an outcome of some of this work.
Center Chapel. - About the year 1878 Rev. C. A. King preached at the Franklin schoolhouse, in District No. 55, and organized a class. Soon after this it was put with the Labette and Montana work, where it has been since. In 1887, under the charge of Rev. J. S. Budd, the chapel was built, on the northwest corner of section 19, in Neosho township, and dedicated by Rev. Allen Buckner. The building was erected on mortgaged land, and the mortgagor failing to pay, the mortgage was foreclosed, and the land, together with the church, was sold in the summer of 1892. It cost the church nearly $500 to redeem their property.
Montana. - As early as 1868 a class seems to have been formed at Montana, with James Livesay as class-leader. Preaching was had occasionally by ministers in charge of neighboring work. In 1871 the Montana circuit was formed, and placed in charge of Rev. T. B. Palmer. From that time on to the present it has been united with Labette and has been served by the same ministers, a list of whom is given tinder that head. The church was incorporated January 23, 1892. A contract for the purchase of the Christian church building was made in 1892, and for a time the same was occupied by the Methodists; but the Christians becoming dissatisfied with the sale, it was rescinded. The Methodists were then without property of their own until 1900, when they purchased the Presbyterian church building, which they have repaired and are now using.
Labette. - The Methodist class at Labette was organized in the spring or summer of 1871, by Rev. T. B. Palmer, who was in charge of the Montana circuit. Services were held in the school-house. The next year it formed a part of the Parsons circuit, in charge of Rev. J. W. Fox. In 1873 this, with Montana, was supplied by Rev. H. W. Conley, and the same arrangement continued during 1874. In March, 1875, Rev. J. W. McIntosh was appointed to the Montana and Labette circuit. In 1876 Rev. P. A. Pearson was appointed, but failed to take charge of the work, and it was supplied a part of the year by Rev. Jesse Williams, who was again appointed to the work in March, 1877. In March, 1878, the South Parsons circuit was organized, and included Labette. Rev. W. B. Poinsett and Rev. A. S. Freed had charge of the work, the former living north of Mound Valley and the latter at Montana. In March, 1879, Labette and Montana were cut off from the South Parsons circuit and put in charge of W. B. Poinsett, who got the people at Labette to purchase a house and put on the church lots, which had been donated, for a parsonage, and moved into it, and stayed there for three years. The school-house having been blown down, Mr. Poinsett preached for a time in the depot, and afterwards in the Baptist church. The same year the church was built, and on Oct. 5, 1879, was dedicated by Rev. D. P. Mitchell. During the winter a protracted meeting was held, resulting in quite a large number of conversions. In March, 1881, Rev. D. F. Holtz was sent to Labette, and the following year Rev. William Shambaugh. He was followed in 1883 by Rev. C. W. Swarts. The next year Rev. H. J. Walker was appointed, but failed to come; Rev. J. S. Budd was then appointed, and remained for three years from March, 1885. In March, 1888, Rev. Salem Hedges was put in charge of the work, and served as pastor until March, 1892. Since Mr. Hedges was pastor the church has had the following pastors: J. D. Skaggs, one year; P. G. Wager, one year; V. Staley, one year; John P. Martin and Ernest Everett, one year; W. M. Betty, one and a third years, - he died during his second year's service; J. R. Hawkins, one and two-thirds years; D. M. Campbell, two years.
Spring Valley. - About 1869 or I870 an acre of ground was purchased on the northwest corner of section 32, in Liberty township, which was set out to trees and a cemetery laid out thereon. About 1871 a frame store building was purchased and removed to it from Elston. This was remodeled into a church. This has formed one of the regular appointments of the Labette circuit almost from its organization, although at that time it belonged to the Elston circuit and the next year to the Timber Hill circuit, both of which were in charge of Rev. R. P. Bukey.
Stover. - In the fall of 1869 a class was formed on Deer creek, in the west part of Fairview township, with I. W. Patrick, leader, and was admitted into the Oswego work. Rev. P. McNutt, pastor, went out there occasionally and preached for them. Services were held in a private house or a vacant claim house. When the school-house was built in District No. 29, the class moved to that point, where it has since been maintained. The class was organized at the Stover school-house about the last of December, 1869, or first of January, 1870, by Rev. R. P. Bukey. E. B. Wheeler was the first to hand in his letter, and George Pfaff was the second. For a number of years it was attached to Oswego, but in 1880 it was made a part of the Labette work, and still continues in that circuit. For a few years past, the class at Stover has been occupying the church built by the people in that neighborhood, to which the officers of the Church of God obtained title.
Dennis. - This circuit was formed at the conference held in March, 1885, and J. W. D. Anderson was appointed to the work. However, he never took charge of the work, and M. U. Ramsburg was appointed in his place. During the year a parsonage was secured in the town of Dennis. In March, 1886, P. H. Fisk was placed in charge of the circuit. During the next two years the work was divided, a part being united with the Galesburg circuit, under the charge of Rev. R. M. Cullison. In March, 1889, the Dennis circuit was reformed, and placed in charge of Rev. W. T. York. The work embraced the classes at St. Johns, Mount Zion, Excelsior, Pleasant Hill, Dennis, Moorhead; also, Shiloh, in Neosho county. The following year Rev. H. M. Hughes became pastor, but after six months' service was succeeded by Rev. Thomas Deaton. Rev. S. W. Gamble became pastor in March, 1891; he was succeeded in 1894 by P. G. Wager, who served the charge three years. At the end of that time, the Dennis circuit was discontinued and the place was made an appointment on another circuit.
Excelsior. - At an early day a class was formed at the Mount Triumph school-house, in District No. 63. Some few years ago, this class was moved to the Excelsior school-house, in District No. 88. Here services were conducted till about the fall of 1891, when, under the pastorate of Rev. S. W. Gamble, a nice frame church 26 by 48 feet was erected on the southwest quarter of section 21, in north Mound Valley township. It was dedicated January 17, 1892, by Rev. B. Kelley. During 1892 the organization of a Y. P. S. C. E. was effected.
Pleasant Hill. - A class was formed a number of years ago at the Pleasant Hill schoolhouse, in District No. 77, where services were regularly held till 1889, when a new church was built under the pastorate of Rev. W. T. York, on the southwest corner of section 30, in Walton township, at a cost of about $1,200. It was dedicated, free of debt, on Dec. 15, 1889, by Rev. J. E. Brant.
Moorhead. - A new church was built at this place, just in the edge of Neosho county, in 1891. Quite a large portion of the membership lives in Labette county.
Fletcher Chapel. - This class succeeds one of the oldest classes in the county. There were a number of Methodist families among the early settlers in the northeast part of Richland township, among them the Rice families, the Greens, and Rev. David Stanfield. A class was organized, probably as early as April or May, 1868. Arrangements were soon made for erecting a building: a site was selected on the east side of the east road leading from Oswego to Chetopa, near the northwest corner of the southeast quarter of the northeast quarter of section 10, and a foundation laid that spring. L. D. Bovee had the contract for putting up the building, and had it inclosed that season. A store building at old Labette, on section 14, was torn down, and out of the material the church was partially constructed; but it was never finished, and the class weakened rather than gained in strength. However, services were kept up and meetings were held in the school-house in District No. 3. The class was attached a part of the time to Oswego and a part of the time to Chetopa. It was decided to make another attempt to secure a building, and in the summer of 1883 a church was commenced, and by fall it was inclosed, and so far completed that services were held in it in winter. It is located on section 4, in Richland township. It was completed during the spring, and dedicated June 22, 1884, by Rev. F. M. Sisson.
Chetopa. - This church shares the misfortune of many early enterprises, of having no record of its organization. It is said the first Methodist sermon in Chetopa, aside from the preaching before the war by ministers of the M. E. church South, was preached in September, 1867, in W. H. Reid's home, by Thomas B. Palmer, who carried the mail from Osage Mission to Chetopa, and who was also a local preacher. No regular preaching was had and no organization was effected till after the appointment of the preacher in 1868. Tradition says the church was organized in June, 1868, with 13 members. Soon after the organization a building committee, consisting of James C. Watson, G. W. Hoover and D. J. Doolen, was appointed, and had charge of the erection of the church building, which was commenced in November, 1868, and finished in 1870, the dedication sermon being preached by Rev. Thomas Bowman, D. D., on Sept. 4, 1870. In 1868 the church was under the charge of Rev. John S. Harryman. of Oswego, who had all of Labette county for his circuit. In the spring of 1869 Rev. Patterson McNutt was appointed to the joint work of Oswego and Chetopa. In 1870 Chetopa was made a station, with Rev. J. W. Lowry as pastor; he was returned in 1871, and was succeeded in the spring of 1872 by Rev. G. W. Pye, who also continued two years. The next two years Rev. John Paulson was pastor. In March, 1876, Rev. Hugh McBirney became pastor, and continued in charge till March, 1879, when Rev. R. M. Scott was appointed to the work, and remained till March, 1881, Rev. J. W. Fox was then in charge of the work for a year. Rev. A. P. George came in March, 1882, and remained till August, 1883. In the following month Rev. W. W. Curnutt became pastor, and continued as such till March, 1886, when he was succeeded by Rev. C. T. Durboraw, who remained three years, and was succeeded May 1, 1890, by Rev. W. H. Mulvaney, in place of Rev. N. B. Johnson, who had been appointed to the church but failed to come. Mr. Mulvaney served as pastor five years, from 1890 to 1895; he was succeeded by John Maclean, who also served five years, being followed in 1900 by Harman J. Hoover, the present pastor. In the fall of 1870 a parsonage was built on a part of the church lots. In 1880 this parsonage was removed and a new parsonage built in the north part of the city. The church was built of stone, and at the time of its dedication was considered the finest in the county, it having cost some $6,700. In October, 1894, the church was torn down and in its place there was erected that winter a fine, frame structure, commodious and convenient, costing about $6,000, which was dedicated March 10, 1895, by Bishop Thomas Bowman. The church has had a number of revivals of marked power. In January, 1875, November, and December, 1884, and the winter of 1885-86, the revival meetings resulted in large accessions to the church. During Mr. Mulvaney's pastorate, a revival, awakening a great interest and resulting in nearly 100 accessions to the church, took place at Fletcher Chapel. In the fall of 1900 about 100 conversions and accessions resulted from a revival held in the Chetopa church by Mr. Hoover. The members and probationers of the church now number about 375, November 4, 1889, an Epworth League was organized, with J. M. Cavaness as president.
Second M. E. church. This organization was formed in 1881, and is composed of colored members. Some ten or twelve years ago, they built a church, and have maintained regular services most of the time; recently, they have erected a tower on the church building and put in a bell. Robert Rector, W. B. Avery, Andrew Riley, Marion Bell, Thomas Allen, A. J. Lee, E. Q. Plummer, C. P. Thompson, A. R. Clarady, J. J. Cable, I. W. H. Terrill and M. L. Jackson have served as pastors. On Easter Sunday, 1892, a Y. P. S. C. E. was organized by Anna Householder and Ella Higby. The members of the other two colored churches in town unite in maintaining this society.
Timber Hill Circuit. - Methodism was organized in the west part of the county nearly as soon as there were any settlers there. Joseph McCormick, the first settler in Mound Valley township, was a Methodist, and his home became the place around which Methodism clustered. As early as 1867 a local preacher by the name of Spaugh preached at McCormick's house. Mr. Claspell writes methat "this was the first preaching I heard on Big Hill." In 1868 all of Labette county was embraced in the Oswego circuit, in charge of Rev. J. S. Harryman, with Rev. David Stanfield as an assistant, the former having been admitted into the conference on trial that spring, and the latter being a local preacher. Mr. Stanfield moved out into the western part of the county, and preached, there. In March, 1869, the Westralia circuit was organized, embracing parts of Labette and Montgomery counties, and put in charge of Rev. J. S. Harryman and Rev. Sheldon Parker. In 1870 the Timber Hill circuit was formed, and put in charge of Rev. Sheldon Parker. It embraced all of the western part of Labette county and the eastern part of Montgomery. In 1871 Rev. R. P. Bukey was put in charge of this work and stayed two years. Rev. E. M. Bussert, a local preacher, about this time commenced to render efficient aid, which has been kept up much of the time since. During these early years (but I have found no one who is able to fix even the year) classes were formed at a number of school-houses in Osage and Mound Valley townships, several of which became permanent Methodist centers. Of these I may mention Mount Zion, in District No. 36; Mount Triumph, in District No. 63; St. John, in District No. 76; Harmony Grove, in District No. 30; Pleasant Hill, in District No. 77; and Maple Grove, in District No. 102. In April, 1873, Rev. J. P. Hight was placed on the Timber Hill circuit, and sent back the following year. In March, 1875, Rev. W. B. Poinsett was appointed, but on account of sickness failed to go, and the charge was united for that year with Labette, under Rev. J. W. McIntosh. The next two years Rev. W. B. Poinsett was in charge, at the end of which time the Timber Hill circuit ceased to exist, the most of the appointments being merged in
The South Parsons Circuit. - This circuit was formed in March, 1878, and put in charge of Rev. W. B. Poinsett and Rev. A. S. Freed. In March, 1879, this work was reduced in size and put in charge of Rev. S. F. Harriman, who formed some new classes, among them one at Mound Valley, and at the end of this year the charge ceased to exist under that name. From this time on the classes in the extreme western part of the county have generally been in charge of a minister at Cherryvale. In the spring of 1886 a parsonage was built in the Mount Zion district, and it became the head of the Cherryvale circuit. In 1892 this parsonage was sold, the proceeds to be applied toward the erection of a new church in the near future.
Mound Valley. - The Methodist class at Mound Valley was organized in the summer of 1879, by Rev. S. F. Harriman, who was then in charge of the. South Parsons circuit. About 10 members composed the class at the time of its organization. In March, 1880, the Mound Valley circuit was organized and put in charge of Rev. E. A. Graham, who continued on the work for three years. He in that time built three churches, doing a large part of the work with his own hands. The parsonage was built, and occupied in the fall of 1879 by Mr. Harriman. In the spring of 1880 a small church was completed on the southeast corner of block 15, and dedicated, free from debt, by Rev. A. T. Burris, at a cost of about $1,200. In March, 1883, Mr. Graham was succeeded by Rev. Isaac Hill, who was followed the next spring by C. E. Creager; he remained two years. The first year of his pastorate the old church property was sold, and other lots secured in block 10, lying just south of the railroad track, and on these a fine new church was erected, and on Oct. 12, 1884, was dedicated by Rev. J. B. Ford. During the following winter union meetings were held, under the direction of W. H. Hurlbut, an evangelist, and resulted in a great revival. W. T. Freeland was appointed to the work in March, 1886, and stayed two years, during which time the old parsonage was sold, and a new one built by the side of the new church, and accepted July 6, 1887. In March, 1888, Rev. W. W. Curnutt was sent to the work, and died just at the close of his first year's services there. The next year Rev. J. B. Gibson came; and the next, Rev. W. T. York. The latter did the church a good service in raising the money to pay off the indebtedness, which had been a great burden to it. In March, 1891, Rev. R. M. Cullison was put in charge of the work, and returned to it in March, 1892. Mr. Cullison continued to serve until March, 1894, when he was succeeded by J. R. McNabb, who served two years; the next two years F. H. Flickinger was pastor; in March, 1898, Mr. Flickinger was succeeded by E. W. Spencer, who served until September, 1899, when the present pastor, Angus M. Maclean, was sent to the work. An Epworth League was organized about November 1, 1891, with Rev. R. M. Cullison, president; Minnie Wallis, first vice-president; William Cruzan, second vice-president; Nellie O'Brien, third vice-president; Eva Sanders, secretary; and Edgar Simpson, treasurer.
Bell Mound. - A Methodist Episcopal class has been maintained at the school-house in District No. 99 for several years, and has usually been supplied with preaching by the ministers in charge of the Liberty work.
Hopewell. - In December, 1871, Rev. J. P. Hight, a local preacher, held a protracted meeting in the dwelling-house of James Beggs, which resulted in several conversions, and at its close, on January 5, 1872, a class was formed, which thereafter took the name of Hopewell. Meetings were held in private houses till the completion of the Henderson school-house, in District No. 83, in the fall of that year, where the meetings were thereafter held till the completion of their church. This class formd[sic] a part of the Timber Hill and South Parsons circuits, and was ministered to by the preachers in charge of those works, till the formation of the Mound Valley circuit, in the spring of 1880, when it was put into that circuit. Since then it has formed a part of either that or the Altamont circuit, most of the time, however, with Mound Valley. In 1882, under charge of Rev. E. A. Graham, a neat church was built on the southeast corner of section 18, township 32, range 19. There were several other classes in the neighborhood, which now form a part of this church.
Altamont. - The town of Elston having been started in the summer of 1869, a Methodist class was formed there in the fall of that year, and admitted into the Oswego work in charge of Rev. P. McNutt, pastor. H. N. Brooks, a local preacher, and E. M. Bussart, an exhorter, were members of this class. At the conference in March, 1870, the Elston circuit was formed and put in charge of Rev. R. P. Bukey, who formed classes at a number of places in the central part of the county. At the end of one year this circuit was broken up and the work combined with other circuits. Classes were maintained most of the time in several school-houses in Labette and Mount Pleasant townships. This work preceded the organization of the class at Altamont when that town started. Prior to 1885 Altamont formed a part of the Mound Valley circuit. The class at this place was organized with 10 members, on June 19, 1881, in the Presbyterian, church, by Rev. E. A. Graham, who on that occasion preached the first Methodist sermon in the place. In the fall of 1882 and spring of 1883, Mr. Graham built, largely with his own hands, the church, which, on July 15, 1883, was dedicated, by Rev. H. McBirney, free of debt, with the exception of a small loan obtained from the Church Extension Society. Rev. Isaac Hill, in 1883, and Rev. C. E. Creager, in 1884, being in charge of the Mound Valley circuit, also preached here. At the conference in March, 1885, the Altamont circuit was formed and placed in charge of Rev. H. R. Volmer; he was reappointed the next year, but his health failed, and he resigned in December, 1886. In 1885 a parsonage was built, at a cost of about $400. In January and February, 1886, a revival meeting resulted in the church receiving about 75 accessions to its membership. Rev. A. C. Bennett was appointed in 1887, Rev. W. H. McVeigh in 1888, and Rev. John P. Slaughter in 1889. The latter, desiring to go to school, resigned the work. In March, 1890, Rev. J. D. Skaggs was appointed to the circuit, and reappointed the following year. Rev. W. T. York began his pastorate in March, 1892; during his term, which ended March, 1894, an addition was made to the church at a cost of $400. Rev. D. B. Brummitt succeeded him, and remained until the spring of 1895, when he was followed by H. A. Church, whose pastorate closed in March, 1900, at which time the present pastor, Rev. M. N. Ramsburg, was sent to the work. Connected with this work are appointments at several school-houses in the adjoining townships. An Epworth League was organized April 26, 1892, and has been quite a feature of the church work; at first under the leadership of the pastor, it has, more recently, enlisted able workers among the membership.
Fairview. - Two or three of the school-house appointments that had formed a part of the Altamont circuit united in 1898 in an effort to erect a church in the western part of Fairview township, a few miles southeast of Altamont. The church was completed in the spring of 1899, and was dedicated in July of that year by Rev. I. B. Pulliam. Its cost was about $1,000. The organization and incorporation of the church was on September 27, 1898.
Matthewson. - A new church building was erected at this point and dedicated November 4, 1894. It has been one of the appointments of the McCune circuit, and is served by pastors having charge of that work.
Angola. - A church at this point was incorporated in December, 1892, and work was commenced on the foundation for a new building. The church was completed in the spring of 1893 at a cost of about $1,500, and dedicated June 11, 1893. It then formed a part of the Coffeyville circuit under the charge of Rev. William Betty. In 1894 the Angola circuit was formed with W. S. Bundy in charge. Subsequently different combinations of appointments were made. At present Angola forms a part of the Edna work.
Elm Grove Circuit. - In 1872 the southwest part of the county had settled to such an extent, and there was such a call for preaching and the organization of Methodist classes, that the presiding elder appointed Thomas Summerfield, a local preacher living in Elm Grove township, to supply these points with preaching. During this time a number of classes were formed. In March, 1873, the southwest part of the county was organized into a work called the Elm Grove circuit, and Rev. Thomas Moffat was appointed preacher in charge; the next year he was also sent as a supply on the same work. During his ministry there was an extensive revival. In 1875 Rev. George W. Rigby was sent to the work, and stayed two years. In March, 1877, Rev. J. M. Boon took charge of the work, and was returned again the next year, but got into trouble during the year and was suspended. He held protracted meetings at several points, which resulted in many conversions. In September, 1878, Rev. Z. B. Hitchcock had charge of the circuit, and was returned in the spring of 1879. At the next conference, in 1880, the name was changed to that of
The Edna Circuit, and Rev. C. W. Swartz was put in charge. In March, 1881, Rev. Azor McDole was sent here, and continued to August, 1883, when he started to Evanston to school, and was succeeded by Rev. Salem Hedges, who stayed till March, 1885, at which time Rev. A. S. Freed was appointed, and stayed two years. The two years following, Rev. E. A. Grabeal was in charge. In March, 1889, Rev. Henry Carlyon was appointed, and the next spring Rev. L. N. B. Anderson. He remained but part of the year, and was succeeded. by Rev. H. V. Spears, who was, in March, 1891, again sent to the work, and was followed by Rev. J. H. Hubbard, in March, 1892. Mr. Hubbard remained three years, and during his last year had a great revival, resulting in about 100 additions to the church. G. F. Bundy was put in charge of the work in March, 1895, and had a pastorate of three years. An excellent Epworth League under the presidency of Miss Gertrude Hileman, and also a fine junior League, were maintained. The present pastor, G. E. Tifft, was sent to Edna in March, 1898. In the fall of 1882 a building was begun, and inclosed so that services were held in it that winter. It was not completed until 1883, and was dedicated about November 1st by Rev. A. Cullison. During the last year of Mr. Bundy's pastorate a new church building was commenced, which was completed the following year, under Mr. Tifft's pastorate, at a cost of $2,500, and was dedicated, on Sept. 25, 1898, by Dr. W. H. Milburn, chaplain of the U. S. Senate. In 1900 the church sold the old parsonage and erected a fine new one in its place. Mollie Pearren and Anna Hoole have been Epworth League presidents, and Mrs. Long and Mrs. Tiffts, superintendents of the juniors.
Valeda. - Methodist classes had been organized and maintained for several years in the "seventies" in a number of the school-houses in the southwestern part of the county, among them the Blackford school-house, District No. 6; in the Trenton school-house, District No. 67; and in the Snow Hill schoolhouse, District No. 35; and perhaps in one or two more. A class was formed in the Dresser school-house, District No. 51, in 1878, and kept up there until the town of Valeda was started and the Congregational church moved there, in the fall of 1886. The class was then removed to Valeda, and the services held in the Congregational church. All the classes that had been held in that vicinity were now united in this one appointment. This class belongs to the Edna work, and a list of the pastors will be found given under that church.
Cecil. - In the summer of 1882 Rev. A. P. George, then in charge of the Methodist church at Chetopa, commenced preaching at the Liggett school-house, in District No. 87, and soon formed a Methodist class. Arrangements were made with J. L. Jones to secure ground on the northwest corner of section 5, township 35, Hackberry township, for a church and cemetery. On October 11, 1882, the ground was formally accepted. On November 18, 1882, the corner-stone was laid, the address being made by Nelson Case. The work on the building, which was of stone, was pushed as rapidly as those interested could get the material upon the ground, so that by April 24, 1883, it was inclosed, and on that day Mr. George preached the first sermon within its walls. At the conference in March, 1883, the Cecil work was formed, and placed in charge of Rev. H. R. Volmer, who was reappointed to the charge in 1884. On May 13, 1883, just after the services had closed and the people had reached home, a cyclone came up from the southwest and blew the church to atoms. The roof was carried about half a mile, the organ and table were crushed to splinters; the Bible lay upon a box which had been used for a pulpit, and after the storm was found just as it had been left, entirely unharmed. Steps were at once taken to rebuild; this time, however, a frame instead of a stone building. On August 19, 1883, the first sermon was preached in this new structure, by the pastor. It was dedicated (about September 1, 1883) by Rev. A. Cullison. On July 2, 1884, another storm passed over that section; the church was struck by lightning, and also torn to atoms by the wind. Some money was realized from insurance, and the brethren for a third time started to erect a church edifice. It was commenced in October, 1884, and finished during the winter, and on Feb. 22, 1885, was dedicated by the presiding elder, Rev. A. Cullison. At the conference the following month Rev. J. B. Seiss was appointed to succeed Mr. Volmer on this work. Since then this point has formed a part of the Edna circuit, and has been supplied with preaching from the ministers in charge, a list of whom will be found in connection with that work.
Bartlett. - The class at this place, while one of the newest in the county, may still, not inappropriately, be said to be one of the oldest. In the report of Rev. P. McNutt, pastor at Oswego, to the quarterly conference held at Oswego, May 15, 1869, I find the following: "On May 9th I organized another [class] at Hackberry." "I have been on Hackberry but once; found a very intelligent, wide-awake people there. I organized a class of 10, with Bro. William Payne as leader, and have great hopes of soon seeing a flourishing society there." I learn that this class was organized at the house of Mr. Horace Horton, on the southeast quarter of section 27, in Hackberry township. Among the 10 members who were taken into the class at its organization were Wm. H. Payne and wife Louisa, Samuel McMillen and wife Margaret, Thomas F. Weaver, George W. Jenkins. Mr. McNutt preached frequently during the year, and Thomas Summerfield, a local preacher, also preached for them more or less during the next year or two. Preaching, prayer meetings and class meetings were held in a number of houses in the neighborhood at the home of H. D. Knight, on section 33, as much, perhaps, as at any place. This class became a part of the Elm Grove circuit when it was organized. The class met for a time at the Lockard school-house, in District No. 28, and then at the Bishop school house, in District No. 7. Preaching and class services were maintained at both of these places, sometimes at one and sometimes at the other, with a good degree of regularity, until the spring or summer of 1888, when regular services were abandoned at these points and the class was removed to Bartlett, where services were held in the school-house, and Edith Dorland was appointed class-leader. September 1, 1892, work began on a new church building, which was completed during the summer of 1893, and was dedicated October 29, 1893. The cost of this edifice was about $1,600. At this time Bartlett was a part of the Edna circuit. In March, 1894, the Bartlett circuit was formed, and E. H. Spencer placed in charge. After serving one year, he was followed by M. D. Stout, who staid three years. M. L. K. Morgan came to the work in March, 1898, but resigned in the middle of the year, and was succeeded by B. F. Ross, who filled out that year and came back the next. In March, 1900, William Milliken was appointed to the work.
Parsons. - First Methodist Episcopal church of Parsons: Methodism in Parsons does not know the date of its birth. The first religious services on the present site of Parsons were held in the summer of 1870, in Abraham Cary's log house on the northwest quarter of section 18, by A. W. King, a local preacher from Osage township. Mr. King continued to preach there every two or three weeks during the summer and fall. The town having been started in November, a number of buildings were on the ground by December. Among these was a two-story frame standing on lot 32, block 25, next to the southeast corner of the block, the lower part of which was occu pied by Charles Hazard with a saloon. In the room over this saloon, on the evening of Dec. 15, 1870, Mr. King preached the first Methodist sermon that was delivered in the town of Parsons; it was also the first sermon preached in Parsons by any minister. In March, 1871, Rev. G. W. Pye was appointed to the New Chicago (now Chanute) work, with the understanding that he should also visit Parsons and preach occasionally. During the spring he visited Parsons, preached, organized a class, and commenced the first regular Methodist work done at this point. During the year he came about every two weeks. Services were first held in what was known as Hewes' Hall, on Forest avenue. During the spring Cary's Hall, on the northwest corner of block 42, where the opera house now stands, was built, and the upper story seated by the Methodists and Presbyterians, in which to hold services. In this room, in the month of May, 1871, the Methodist class was organized. Adam Gebert was the first to give his name and his hand to the pastor, Rev. G. W. Pye, and Abraham Cary was the second. At the con ference in March, 1872, Rev. J. W. Fox was sent to the Parsons circuit, which included, besides Parsons, Montana, Spring Valley and Labette City appointments. His salary was estimated at $800, and he was paid about $600. At the first quarterly conference, on April 6, 1872, a building committee was appointed; which committee, on April 27th, adopted plans and specifications for a church, building, and at once advertised for bids. On May 8th the bids were opened, and the contract awarded at $4,753. But, owing to the pressing needs of the settlers and the financial distress generally prevailing, a meeting of the committee was held on June 10th, and it was decided to indefinitely postpone the project of building. In the fall of 1872 a small building denominated a "tabernacle" was erected on the site of the present church, at a cost of about $700. These lots were donated to the church by the town company. The tabernacle was dedicated Nov. 3 1872, by Rev. H. D. Fisher. In this building the church services were conducted until the fall of 1876, when it was sold to the United Brethren and removed from the lots on which it was built. In March, 1873, Rev. C. R. Rice was sent to the work, and early in the year built a small parsonage in block 47, at a cost of about $300. Services were held, quite irregularly, on account of the inability of the church to support the pastor, and in December he removed his family to Emporia and supported them with his own labors, having received less than $200 from the church during the year. Notwithstanding all this, Mr. Rice did some very efficient work. Rev. Peter DeClark was the next pastor. He arrived from the East in April, 1874. Small-pox, grasshoppers and hard times were too much for him, and in July he resigned the work. He was followed in November by Rev. Boyd Lowe, who was returned to the work in 1875, and for his services received all that was promised, viz., $500 the first experience of the kind the church had had. In 1876 Rev. J. F. Boone was in charge of the work, and in March, 1877, Rev. C. A. King came, and remained three years. The tabernacle having been sold the previous fall, services had to be held in halls, vacant store-rooms and such places as could be secured. This made the church see the importance of building a house, and the pastor proceeded at once to take steps for its accomplishment. On Nov. 5, 1877, the corner-stone of the present church edifice, on the southeast corner of block 42, was laid by the Masons. The foundation was completed, and covered during the winter, and work resumed in the spring. In the fall of 1878 the church was inclosed, and opened for services by Bishop Bowman. An extensive revival followed. In March, 1880, Rev. M. H. Wilson was appointed to the work. His ways were not congenial to the membership, and after six-months' trial he was allowed to depart, and was followed for the balance of the year by Rev. C. E. McClintock. In 1881 Rev. G. W. Pye was returned to the work, and in March, 1882, Rev. H. W. Chaffee came. The church and pastor were mutually satisfied with each other, and he remained till 1885, when, under the limitation, a change was required. During his pastorate the church, which since its erection had been occupied in an unfurnished condition, was completed and furnished, and on Feb. 22, 1885, dedicated by Rev. E. C. Boaz. In March, 1885, Rev. H. A. Tucker became pastor, and continued as such for three years. The following three years, commencing with pastor. March, 1888, Rev. J. E. Brant was Rev. R. P. Hammons was appointed to the charge in March, 1891, and continued two years, being succeeded in March, 1893, by Rev. John H. Price, who remained three years, being followed by Rev. Hugh McBirney, who staid until the conference of 1901. During the last year of Mr. Hammons' pastorate, the church was enlarged and improved at a cost of about $4,500. The debt against the church, amounting to $2,000, was paid under Mr. McBirney's administration, and, in addition to this, some $1,500 was expended in enlarging the grounds and in improving the property. The membership of the church is about 500. In the fall of 1881 the young people of the church organized the Aftermath Society, and elected as its officers Mrs. Frank Curtis, president; Bell Letton, secretary; and Thomas Clark, treasurer. Under its management the first young people's prayer meeting of the church was organized. It did much toward encouraging the social life of the church, and was also of material assistance in its financial management. This society was succeeded by the Adelphian Society, which was organized March 1, 1887, with W. J. Wirt, president; Miss Frankie Reed and Miss Bertha Kaysing, vice-presidents; Mertie Shannon, secretary; and Charles Nordyke, treasurer. This society did much toward helping in literary and normal work. In the spring of 1889 it reorganized as the Young People's M. E. Union, with Maggie Elliott, president; P. W. Blake, vice-president; Jennie Martin, secretary; and A. D. Lucas, treasurer. Haven Chapter of Epworth League was organized December 10, 1889, with Rev. J. E. Brant, president; T. R. Breese, Will J. Wirt, Miss Jennie S. Martin, J. T. Tendrum, vice-presidents; Maggie S. Elliott, secretary; John W. Sleigley, treasurer; and a membership of 17, which in three years increased to about 140. All departments of the work are well in hand, and it has been a great help in the general work of the church.
Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901
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