From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
The history of the First Presbyterian church of Leavenworth is the history of the organization in Kansas, for, form this mother church were sent out many branches which were to plant the seeds of faith in every city and hamlet in the state.
Little thought has been given to the religious life of Leavenworth in those first hurrying days of the city founded in 1854. Always there were the sounds of hammers, the whining of saws and the swish of trowels as the pioneers brought a city out of a hazel brush wilderness.
On a warm spring day in 1855 there came to the new born city from Lexington, Mo., the Rev. B. M. Hobson. What his faith was has been lost in the curling mists of the years, but Rev. Mr. Hobson was endowed with great christian courage. In a grove of jack oaks at the corner of Fifth and Miami streets Rev. Mr. Hobson preached one of the first sermons heard in Leavenworth. It was a great day in the young city. The seed sown by the pioneer missionary minister took root and flourished and today no city in Kansas is blessed with better churches than Leavenworth.
Three lots at Fifth and Shawnee streets were given for the erection of a Union church to be used by all denominations and for school purposes.
Rev. C. D. Martin, who came from Philadelphia, was its first pastor. A man of energy and devotion who met the necessities of a new country with unfaltering courage.
Rev. Mr. Martin, contrary to the comfortable parsonages now enjoyed by the pastors of the churches in Leavenworth, lived in a tent with the barest necessities until he had completed a log cabin in Salt Creek Valley.
For a few months he preached in the Union church planning the while his first step for the organization of the First Presbyterian church service in Leavenworth. That step was taken on the first of January, 1856, when he perfected the organization unfurling the banner of the First Presbyterian church in the state.
There were just nine members to sign the church role. George Park and Auly Macaulay were the first elders and John J. Moore was chosen deacon.
Border warfare with all its wanton cruelty came and the First Presbyterian church was disrupted, the pastor and others of the most faithful took refuge in Nebraska. There were dark days in Kansas. With the lessening of border troubles there was a semblance of peace restored.
Renewed courage was taken by the coming of Rev. A. W. Pitzer from Danville, Ky., on January 1, 1858. He was the first Presbyterian minister to be ordained in the territory of Kansas. So eager were the people of that day to lead in the cause of religion that a fine new church was erected on Miami street near Sixth. Within a few months the church had a membership of 113. For a few years the church enjoyed prosperity and then came the Civil war to spread its blight upon the nation. the congregation and pastor were dispersed.
Taking courage in 1863 the Rev. W. A. Sterrett came to supply the church and conducted religious services for six months.
On January 22, 1863 the church called Rev. George Woodward of Parkville, Mo., to the pastorate in Leavenworth. With his coming a great spread of prosperity set in, a war-worn people turning to the solace of the church. Within a short time 200 were added to the church. He was succeeded by Rev. W. L. Green, under whose pastorate the building on Delaware street was built. Owing to ill health he was succeeded by Rev. W. R. Brown. Rev. W. N. Page was installed as pastor December 7, 1873, and his services covered a period of thirty-two years. Through his devotion for the success of the church Rev. Page helped the church to grow until it became one of the strongest churches in Kansas. Before his resignation in 1905 Dr. Page paved the way for the erection of the new church on Fourth and Walnut streets.
With his resignation Rev. Mr. Ellwood in 1908 and Rev. A. H. Morrison served as supplys until 1910 when the Rev. R. B. A. McBride was called from Cedar Rapids, Ia.
Following Dr. McBride the church called Rev. A. B. Miller who maintained the high standard set by his predecessor. Rev. Miller was followed by Rev. W. B. Dodd.
Rev. John Baxter Clyde, the present minister and under whose pastorate the church never was more efficient and prosperous, was installed November 1, 1922. Dr. Clyde is as popular with those outside the church as he is with his congregation. He is a man of outstanding ability and commands the administration of all who know him..