WYANDOTS, THE FIRST METHODISTS - WHEN THE METHODISTS WERE DIVIDED - EXPELLED THE REV. MR. GURLEY - RETURNING TO THE OLD CHURCH - THE METHODIST CHURCHES BURNED - THE OLD CHURCH REORGANIZED - THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH SOUTH - OTHER METHODIST CHURCHES - A CHURCH OF WAR TIME DAYS - THE ORGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH - SOLDIERS ATTENDED PRAYER MEETING - AS A PASTOR'S WIFE TOLD IT - THE DROUGHT OF 1860 - WHEN THE OLD CHURCH BELL RANG - THE BURNING OF LAWRENCE - THE OLD CHURCH ON FIFTH STREET - EPISCOPAL CHURCHES - THE PRESBYTERIANS - THE BAPTIST CHURCHES - THE METHODISTS PROTESTANT - CHRISTIAN CHURCHES - CHRISTIAN SCIENCE ORGANIZATIONS - OTHER RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS - SUNDAY SCHOOLS.
A writer hath said "the groves were God's first temples," and it might be suggested that the missionaries who came among the Indians were our first Kansas preachers. Sustained by a fervid religious enthusiasm, they were to endure exile, privation and, if need be, martyrdom in order to spread the Light as they saw it, and carry to the benighted savage the blessed precepts taught by the Peasant of Galilee. Carrying with them the Bible and the implements of agriculture, they taught the rudiments of productive and civilized industry to the red men, at the same time that they were unfolding the plan of salvation and proclaiming the present advantages and future glories that waited the true followers of the Prince of Peace. But, with the passing of years, the teepee of the red men gave place to the habitation of the Anglo-Saxon, and the old Indian mission gave place to the church which became the houses of worship for the white people.
White men who came from the east established missions among the Shawnee and Delawares in Wyandotte county, but, by a reversal of the usual order of things, the Wyandot Indians brought their mission with them when they came west from Ohio. So it turns out that the Washington Boulevard Methodist Episcopal church in Kansas City, Kansas, grew out of the Methodist mission that was organized in Ohio in 1819, and that was the first mission ever organized in the world by that denomination. It had been regularly supplied by the Ohio Methodist conference. In 1843, when the Rev. James Wheeler was the missionary, the Wyandots came to Kansas and he accompanied them. The church organization, for such it was, remained intact. The Rev. Mr. Wheeler, on his arrival, at once became a member of the Missouri Methodist conference and the bishop continued him in the work among the Wyandots, where he remained until 1846.
Even before they were located on the lands they purchased from the Delawares, the Wyandots held regular services on the strip of low land at the state line, with a little band of two hundred souls, nine class leaders and three local preachers. In April, 1844, after they had established. themselves and were erecting their homes a log church was built and ready for use. It stood about one-half mile west of Chelsea Park. It was there the whole community worshipped until 1847, when a brick church was erected on the Mary A. Grindrod tract near Tenth street and Walker avenue, one-half mile west of the Kansas City-Northwestern freight depot at Fifth street. Occasionally public services were conducted in the English and Indian languages, in the school house on the east side of Fourth street between Kansas and Nebraska avenues. The English speaking class met there and the first Sabbath school was organized in June, 1847. The Rev. Mr. Wheeler was succeeded by the Rev. E. T. Perry. He had been sent by the Methodied, Episcopal Church South, but he kept the records in the name of the Methodist Episcopal church.
In July, 1848, the official board petitioned the Ohio conference for a missionary, and the Rev. James Gurley volunteered to come in that capacity. He arrived in November. Previous to his arrival, the Rev. Abram Still, M. D., presiding elder of the Platte district (which included the Indian missions in this region), came to hold his first quarterly meeting, in October, 1848. Dr. Still preached Sabbath morning on the text, "My peace I give unto you," after which Mr. Perry organized the Methodist Episcopal Church South, with forty-one members. There were in the house one hundred and ten members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and sixty-nine refused to go into the new organization. Many of the old members of the church had died since they came to the west, and, at this time, there were but one hundred and sixty remaining. Renewed efforts were made to induce the members of the old church to unite with the new, but the highest number ever obtained was sixty-five, and soon after Mr. Gurley's arrival some of these returned to the old church. But, notwithstanding that there was a large majority in the Methodist Episcopal church, the building was stoned, so as to endanger the house and disturb the services, when Mr. Gurley preached in it, and the official board decided to withdraw from it, for a time, to a vacant dwelling house.
The last week in February, 1849, the United States Indian agent, at Wyandotte, expelled Mr. Gurley, at the instance of some members and adherents of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, though it was avowed he had committed no offense against the law, nor caused any of the disturbances. They existed before he came, and continued until 1857. The next Saturday after Mr. Gurley's expulsion, the presiding elder, Doctor Still, crossed the Missouri river in a skiff, swimming his horse amidst great blocks of ice, to hold his second quarterly meeting in the old dwelling house. Thirty persons united with the church upon this occasion. As soon as the spring rains were over, the services were held in a grove, and before winter another log church was built near the present Quindaro cemetery. The Rev. Squire Gray-Eyes and John M. Armstrong were sent to the Missouri conference at St. Louis (August, 1849), to petition for a missionary. The Rev. G. B. Markham was appointed, and arrived in a few weeks, remaining two years and being followed by the Rev. James Witten in October, 1851. Mr. Witten's wife was in failing health, died January 1, 1852, and she was buried near the log church, hers being the first interment in the Quindaro cemetery. The Rev. George W. Robbins was appointed presiding elder in October, 1850, and was continued three years. Following Father Witten as missionary were the Rev. M. G. Klepper, M. D., October, 1852; the Rev. J. M. Chivington, autumn of 1853; the Rev. J. T. Hopkins, presiding elder; the Rev. J. H. Dennis, fall of 1854; the Rev. W. W. Goode, D. D., presiding elder, and superintendent of the work in Kansas and Nebraska territories. He moved his large family from Richmond, Indiana, to a small brick house, about two miles from the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers.
RETURNING TO THE OLD CHURCH.
Soon after these preachers came, twelve persons returned from the Southern Church to the old church. One of them was Matthew Mudeater, the Wyandot chief, and the other Mrs. Hannah Walker, the wife of William Walker, the provisional governor of Kansas. She was a white woman. All the white women in the church and Wyandot Nation had united with the South Church, except one Mrs. Lucy B. Armstrong, and she was rejoiced when an English speaking class was reorganized, after a lapse of seven years, at Doctor Good's house. There were present Doctor Goode and family; the Rev. J. H. Dennis, wife and daughter; Mrs. Hannah Walker; Mrs. Lucy B. Armstrong and two of her family, who were then members of the church; and the former missionary, Father Witten - more than the requisite number for a primitive class. The class was continued until Doctor Goode moved into Iowa in October, 1855, to take charge of the work in Nebraska. The Rev. L. B. Dennis succeeded him as presiding elder of all Kansas north of the Kansas river.
In the winter of 1855-6 the health of the Rev. J. H. Dennis, who was continued missionary, rapidly failed, and near the 1st of May, 1856, he left Wyandotte for his mother's house in Indiana, where he died the following August. His memory is blessed. Before he left, on the night of April 8, 1856, both churches were burned by incendiaries. The Rev. William Butt, who had been appointed to the Leavenworth, Delaware and Wyandotte mission, moved here in November, and preached in a school house near Quindaro. In April, 1857, he was appointed presiding elder, and the Rev. R. P. Duval succeeded him as missionary. Services were held in Mrs. Lucy B. Armstrong's house from April to the last of December, 1857, when the old frame church, corner of Washington avenue and Fifth street, was completed. The same year a brick church was built at Quindaro.
The first quarterly meeting of the Methodist Episcopal church, after Wyandotte City was settled by white people and the church was re-organized, was held on Mrs. Armstrong's premises, September 1, 1857. The public services of the Sabbath were held on her lawn, under the shade of the trees. There was gathered a vast concourse of people from Wyandotte and Quindaro and the country around. Presiding Elder Butt preached the morning sermon, and the Rev. J. M. Walden, local preacher, politician and editor of the Quindaro Chindowan, delivered the afternoon sermon. After Mr. Duval, came as missionaries (April, 1858) the Rev. H. H. Moore, who remained one year; the Rev. G. W. Paddock, two years; the Rev. Strange Brooks, March, 1861 (the Rev. N. Gaylor, presiding elder), one year and the Rev. M. D. Genney, March, 1862 (the Rev. W. R. Davis, presiding elder), one year. The annual conference was held at Wyandotte, Bishop Simpson presiding. Mr. Genney was first lieutenant in the United States volunteer service. He attended conference and resigned his lieutenancy, but it was not accepted.
With the exception of about four months, during which time the Rev. C. H. Lovejoy had charge, the Wyandotte and Quindaro mission was without a pastor this year. At the conference held in Lawrence, in March, 1863, the Rev. Strange Brooks was appointed presiding elder of the district, and the Rev. M. M. Haun, missionary, In 1864 the Rev. A. N. Marlatt was appointed missionary, remaining about ten months, when a man was appointed who had been transferred to another conference, and therefore did not fill the appointment at Wyandotte. The Rev. D. G. Griffith, a young local preacher, did not complete the conference year.
In March, 1866, Wyandotte was made a station, the Rev. D. D. Dickinson was appointed pastor, and the Rev, J. E. Bryan sent to the Wyandotte and Quindaro mission, the Rev. H. D. Fisher, presiding elder. In March, 1867, came the Rev. H. G. Murch, and in March, 1870, the Rev. S. G. Frampton. The latter remained one year, but failed to keep up the Quindaro and Wyandotte mission appointments, partly because most of the Indians were about moving to the Indian territory. These appointments we're therefore dropped. The Rev. S. P. Jacobs remained two years from March, 1871, during which time a neat parsonage was built. The Rev. H. K. Muth was appointed in March, 1873, the Rev. William Smith, who succeeded him, remaining two years.
The corner-stone of a new church, the foundation of which had been laid on the corner of Kansas (now State) avenue and Fifth street, was laid by the Rev. William K. Marshall, and the basement was dedicated by the planting of Christianity in Wyandotte county. The church thus established, prospered and grew in numbers, and is one of the most popular in Kansas City today having upwards of one thousand members. Among its pastors in recent years, as well as in the early days, were many of the men who have been noted for their work in the church. The pastor at the present time is the Rev. Clyde Clay Cissell.
Of the one hundred and ten members of the original Methodist Episcopal church, organized in Wyandotte in 1843, forty-one joined the Southern branch when it formally was organized by the Rev. E. T. Peery in October, 1848. The church was given a lot by the Wyandotte City Company in 1859, at the northwest corner of the old Huron Cemetery. A brick church and a parsonage were built there in 1873-81 The church was occupied by the congregation until in 1889, when the property became of great value for business purposes and was sold. The next year the organization erected the present brick church, at the northeast corner of Seventh street and State avenue, and the name was changed to the Seventh Street M. E. Church, South. Some of the earlier pastors were the Revs. B. F. Russell, Daniel Dofflemayer, J. T. Peery, Nathan Scarrett, William Barnett, H. H. Craig, D. C. O'Howell, Joseph King, D. S. Heron, E. G. Frazier, G. J. Warren, T. H. Swearengen, J. W. Payne and W. H. Corner. The Rev. John Score was pastor in 1910-11.
The First German M. E. church was organized in 1859, with Frank Weber, Maria Weber, Louis Feisel, Marie Feisel, Abelhard Holzbeierlein, Catharine Schatz, Margaret Ortman, Henry Helm, August Gabriel, Carl Gabriel, Henrietta Gabriel, Gottleib Kneipfer and Margaret Kneipfer, as members. In 1866 a church edifice was erected at the northeast corner of Fifth street and Ann avenue and was dedicated in September of that year by the Rev. M. Schnierle. The congregation worshipped there until in the nineties, when the present church at Eighth street and State avenue was erected. Another German M. E. church is located at No. 320 South Tenth street.
The Central Avenue M. E. church, at No. 950 Central avenue, and the Central M. E. church, at No. 724 South Mill street, of recent formation, are separate organizations. Both, however, have large membership and handsome churches. The other churches of the denomination are the London Heights, at Fifteenth street and Garfield avenue; the Highland Park, at No. 42 South Seventh street; the Mt. Pleasant, at Fifth street and Waverly avenue; and the old Quindaro church, at No. 3023 North Twenty-third street. The Argentine M. E. church is at Twenty-sixth street and Metropolitan avenue, and the Quayle M. E. mission, at No. 210 South Fourteenth street. The Methodist churches at Rosedale, Bonner Springs and elsewhere in the county are mentioned in connection with those places.
The Wesleyan Methodists have an organization in the Tidings of Joy mission, at No. 445 Virginia avenue, conducted by the Rev. E. W. Howard.
The Free Methodists have also the Glendale church at No. 2717 North Tremont street; the Life Line mission, at No. 711 Osage avenue; and the Second church, at No. 738 South Fifth street.
The colored M. E. churches are: The African, at Mill and Valley streets; the Bethel mission, at No. 2141 North Water street; the Ninth Street, at No. 1417 North Ninth street; St. Peters African, at No. 409 Oakland avenue. The African M. E. church is at No. 2323 Ruby avenue, in the Argentine district.
The old First Congregational church in Kansas City, Kansas, was organized in the territorial days before the Civil war and around it is woven much of the thrilling history of the "border times" when the struggle to make Kansas a free state was waging. The Congregationalists, who came out from New England, were Free State people, and the organizer of the First church - the Rev. Sylvester Dana Storrs - was a leader among them. He was a member of the "Kansas Andover band," which included, beside Mr. Storrs, the late Rev. Richard Cordley, for nearly fifty years pastor of Plymouth Congregational church at Lawrence; the Rev. Roswell Davenport Parker, who planted Congregationalism at Leavenworth; and the Rev. Grosvenor C. Morse, who went to Emporia and started a church, taught school, and afterwards founded the Kansas State Normal School in that city.
Mr. Storrs, the first of the "Kansas Andover band" to come to Kansas, landed from a Missouri river steamboat at Quindaro in May, 1857. Mr. Storrs organized a church at Quindaro. He also organized a sub-station in the village of Wyandotte (now Kansas City, Kansas,) using Kirk's hall on Nebraska avenue, and later the old Methodist church at Fifth street and Washington avenue, where, on August 17, 1858, the organization which is now known as the First Congregational church of Kansas City, Kansas, was formed.
When Quindaro was abandoned as a town Mr. Storrs devoted his entire attention to the church in Wyandotte, preaching in store rooms until 1859, when a little building was leased on Nebraska avenue between Third and Fourth streets for services. There were then fewer than two thousand persons in Wyandotte. In 1859 the Rev. Roswell Davenport Parker succeeded Mr. Storrs as pastor. He remained eight years, which constituted the most stormy period of Kansas history. The Rev. Mr. Parker often shouldered a musket and stood guard with the men.
In the fall of 1861 a national fast was held in the church, and on that day the Twenty-third Iowa Regiment marched into the town after the battle at Blue Mills. On the following day two hundred and fifty officers and soldiers attended a prayer meeting in the church. The women of the church administered to the sick and wounded of the regiment. They also cared for scores of negro refugees who fled across the Missouri river to find refuge on Kansas soil.
From the pastor's annual report, given at the seventh annual meeting January 9, 1865: "We have great reason for thankfulness because of our protection from the invader. Price's destroying army came near to our doors, and for a short time it seemed impossible that our town could escape, but, by the blessing of God upon the efforts and bravery of our friends, the storm was turned away. We strove to commemorate this great deliverance by a suitable Thanksgiving on the 24th of November. To this your pastor was carried, and it was the first service he was able to attend for six weeks on account of severe sickness. However, through the kindness of Brothers Bodwell and E. Harlow, services were regularly sustained except upon the 'Battle Sabbath.'"
The early history of the First Congregational church is related by Mrs. Parker, wife of the war-time pastor, in a letter which was read at the fiftieth anniversary celebration in 1908, and which is as follows: "On a November evening of 1859 a Missouri river steam boat landed on your levee the first pastor of your church, with a young wife and a few boxes of books and household goods. I remember the newness of everything, and the desolate feeling that was creeping over us. But then we saw a man with a lantern making his way toward us through the medley of goods and chattels. And we heard a cheery 'Good evening, Brother Parker, we are looking for you,' as Arthur Downs grasped the hand of one and then the other. And he continued, 'Just wait a little till I see that your boxes are stored in the warehouse, and I'll take you to my house.' The cordiality of that greeting has lingered like a pleasant perfume in my memory during all the years since.
"Within a few days we found there were others as cordial and warm-hearted to welcome us to the little church that had been organized the winter before by S. D. Storrs, as an out-station to Quindaro; a group of friends such as few pastors in the new west are blessed with. No need to make a list of names. Old members will recall them, and to new people they would be only names, without a personality.
"There was no church building. We worshipped in a vacant store fitted up with chairs. At one end of the room, a drawer was set on end and another laid across it. Over these the ladies had draped some dark red curtains to make it seem like a pulpit. Our good Deacon Crosby, the only white haired man among us, was away in New England trying to raise funds to add to the little the people could give to build a church. A corner lot was secured and plans discussed. In the summer of 1860 the church was built. Mr. Cordley drove down from Lawrence across the Delaware Reserve to assist in the dedication, stopping at night with a civilized Indian. A year or two later we went to Lawrence the same way to help dedicate the first church there.
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project