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Elliott Creek Presbyterian Church, Bronson
The Elliott Creek Presbyterian Church preceded the town of Bronson by quite a few years. Before the Church was formally organized, the spiritual need of the families centered around Elliott Creek were met by supply pastors. Services were held in the Elliott Creek School which was located in a grove of trees south of the Elliott Creek.
One of the first recorded supplies [supply pastors] was W E Findley, a student from McCormick Seminary in Chicago, for three months in 1887. Rev Charles Sennett, a Congregational minister from Sioux City, supplied from August, 1887 to August, 1888, Rev A A Pratt was the supply from September, 1888 to September, 1889 and a Rev Rederus from November, 1899 to May, 1891. Rev Nathan Feather came on the field on October 11, 1891. He preached at Westminister Church in Sioux City at 11:00 a.m., at the Banner School House at 3:00 p.m., and at the Elliott Creek School House at 7:30 p.m. During this time, on April 18, 1893, the congregation sent a petition to the Session of the Sioux City Presbytery, asking that a committee be sent ‘to look over the field and if the way seems clear to organize us into a Presbyterian Church under your convenant’. The formal organization of the church took place at the Elliott Creek Schoolhouse at 3:00 p.m. May 8, 1893.
At that time four men and our women organized themselves into a church body to be known as the Elliott Creek Presbyterian Church. Those members were Alexander T Elliott, Mrs Icy Couch, Mrs Emma Lamb, John T Law, John Elliott, William Couch, Mrs Hattie Elliott, and Carrie Elliott. Together with seventeen friends who were interested in seeing a church society organized, this group made up the original congregation. ‘All those present then arose and entered into a solemn covenant to walk together as a church of Jesus Christ, under the form of government and discipline of the Presbyterian Church in the USA and were declared duly organized into a Presbyterian Church.’ The first Elders were Alexander Elliott and John Law. The first Trustees were John Law, Jr, Earnest Dawe, and William Couch. The first time the records of the church were examined and approved by the Presbytery was on April 18, 1894.
The Rev Nathan Feather served until October 11, 1895 and was succeeded by Rev James B Vance as stated supply. During Rev Vance’s ministry the following people joined the church: Mr and Mrs Isaac Law, Mr and Mrs David Law, Alexander Ezra Todd Elliott, Hattie Elliott, George Lamb, in November 1896. On February 12, 1898 the following joined the church: Ward DeWitt Lamb, Andres Wesley Copenhaver, Herman Haafke, Thomas Haskel Nichols, John LeRoy Anderson, Maude Myrtle Couch, Blossom Couch, William F Haafke, Henry Charles Lamb, Wilber A Porter, Charles Couch, William Amick, Alice Law, Ella Allen, Harriet A Anderson, and Edna Elliott. On February 13, 1898, the following persons were received into the church: George Burton Anderson, Agnes Haafke, Lewis Nelson Lamb, Omar Fairfield Anderson, Levi Judson Allen, John Thomas Law, Franklin Bruce Lighthall, Edna Jane Lighthall, Addie Paul, Winnie Isabel Paul, Alice Flossie Nichols and Laura Amick. Three days later, on February 16, 1898, Charles Nichols, Samuel Nichols and Henry Haafke were received.
Early records show that a meeting was held at the home of Ernest Dawe on January 11, 1897. Mr Dawe was elected chairman: Wm M Couch, Secretary; and Alex T Elliott, Treasurer. The purpose of the meeting was ‘to get a subscription paper prepared for the purpose of getting money to erect a church edifice to be built on the old site of the Elliott Creek School House, and all monies hereby promised to be paid on or before June 1, 1897. The said church edifice is not to cost more than the amount subscribed.’
On February 27, 1897, a meeting was held at school house #9. A building committee was appointed but they failed to act, so the trustees assumed the duties of the building committee. A T Elliott, G B Anderson, and Jake Amick were appointed to secure the school site. On June 26, 1897, the bid of Coley and Gould of Sergeant Bluff for $796.00 was accepted. The building was finished and paid in full of October of that same year. John Law, Sr, deeded land nearby for a cemetery. This was all accomplished during the tenure of the Rev Vance, who left in the fall of 1898.
The next pastor appears to have been Rev DeWitt White who served until September, 1902. He was succeeded by Rev Andres Herron. His resignation was accepted at the congregational meeting held on September 25, 1904. At a meeting held on October 23, 1904, it was decided to hire Rev Theo J Asmus for a year beginning as soon as a home could be built. He was to receive $600.00 per year and house rent. Mr I W Law agreed to build a house and rent same for a parsonage at the rate of $9.00 per month. Rev Asmus resigned July 23, 1905.
Rev S E Koons began his pastorate in November, 1905 and in the next few years many things were accomplished. On Wednesday, January 17, 1906, the congregation of the Elliott Creek Presbyterian Church was called to meet at 2:00 p.m. at the church ‘to consider the proposition to remove the House of Worship from its present site to a lot to be donated by the Bronson Town Lot Co.’ At this meeting a vote was taken and the majority voted in favor of moving the church to the townsite. The Trustees were instructed to receive bids for the old church property. In March the Trustees advertised for bids for the removal of the church building from its present site to the townsite of Bronson, Iowa. On April 2, 1906, the Trustees met at the ‘Hall’ in Bronson to consider bids for the removal of the church building and also to take bids on the old church lot. The bid of I W Law for $170.00 for the old church lot was accepted. It was also decided to purchase Lot #2, Block #2, from the townsite Co. provided they donate Lot #1, Block #2. The church was moved to the top of the hill on the main street of the townsite. Two years later, on July 11, 1908, the Trustees took bids for the building of a Manse on the purchased Lot #2. Mr James Horr’s bid of $1,655.00, without painting, was accepted. Work on the building was to be completed by September 1, 1908.
Rev Koons resigned to June, 1911. The records are very sketchy for the next few years. There is mention of a Rev F E Leazer from April, 1912, until the spring of 1913, and a Rev H B Erkman in July, 1916. He resigned April, 1917, to join the Army.
On October 14, 1917, the congregation voted to send a call to Rev F H Shedd of Cedar Rapids. He and his family arrived in November, 1917. Rev Shedd’s tenure saw many evangelical meetings held, with outside Evangelists invited to preach. Mrs Shedd was very active in the work of the church. In the Womens Missionary Society, the Ladies Aid Society, her name is mentioned in the minutes for most of the meetings as being on some committees or program. The Rev Shedd resigned in October, 1923.
Rev John S Swenk was called in March, 1924, but resigned in November, 1924. At the Annual Congregational Meeting, April 4, 1924, the official board of the Church recommended the rebuilding and remodeling of the church building. At the May 17, 1925, Congregational Meeting it was recommended to the Board of Trustees and to the Session, to remodel the church building ten feet on the North and a twenty foot addition on the west with a basement under all. A committee was formed and it was further recommended that the work begin at once.
Over the next five years the following pastors served the Elliott Creek Presbyterian Church: Rev Hal B Wimberly, January to June, 1926; Rev L H Shindledecker, Ocotber, 1927 to July, 1928; and Rev Hugh F Ash, September, 1928 to October, 1929.
At the Congregational Meeting November 24, 1929, it was voted unanimously to extend a call to Rev J Boyd Stevenson of Casson, Iowa. The call was accepted and Rev Stevenson, his wife and four children moved to Bronson to begin his pastorate in January, 1930. During Rev Stevenson’s pastorate many young people joined the church and there was a very active Christian Endeavor there was a very active Christian Endeavor Youth Group. Mrs Stevenson was very active in all areas of church work; she died in December, 1935. Rev Stevenson continue to serve Elliott Creek Church for the next seven years. His resignation was accepted by the congregation effective November 15, 1942.
At a Congregational Meeting on February 21, 1943, it was voted to extend a call to Rev W J Weinands, from Wessington, South Dakota. Rev Weinands started a Boy Scout Troop and worked actively with the youth of the Church. He terminated his pastoral relations with the Elliott Creek Church August 31, 1947.
In the next seven years the church was served by pulpit supplies. A few were mentioned in the records: Rev Wilson Gow, June, 1948 to June, 1949; and Gordon Riffle, November, 1949 to 1951. In March, 1954, Rev Frank Wimp was called and accepted, but asked to have his pastorate dissolved in December, 1954.
At the Congregational Meeting on January 30, 1955, a motion was accepted to extend a call to Rev W E Smith. Rev Smith accepted and soon after he and Mrs Smith moved from Lyons, Nebraska to Bronson. Rev Smith wrote a short church history during his ministry at Elliott Creek Church and it has been a very useful reference for the early history of the Church. Rev Smith retired in August, 1960.
Rev Robert Hummel came in September, 1960 and remained for one year, leaving in the spring of 1961. During this year the sanctuary of the church was remodeled, with a stairway from the pulpit being closed, the railing around the pulpit removed and, new carpeting was installed.
In June, 1961, Robert Peters was hired as a student supply. He and his bride Lorna took up residence in the Manse. They served the Church in Bronson for two years. They left in August for Dubuque where Bob was going to attend Seminary. Before leaving, their first child, Beverly, was born in the Manse on July 27, 1963.
Rev E J Nickerson of Wahoo, Nebraska, was extended a call in the late 1963. He and his wife moved to Bronson in January, 1966. Their ministry in Bronson will always be remembered as one of goodness and love of God and their fellowman.
During the next five years there were many supply pastors from Sioux City and Northwestern College in Orange City. Rev Paul Wierner from Sioux City was the regular supply from march, 1971 until late 1973.
In 1973 Rev Robert Peters, his wife Lorna, and their three children accepted a call to the Lawton Community Presbyterian Church. He began serving as Bronson’s regular supply and is continuing this ministry at the Elliott Creek Presbyterian church at the present time.
Through the years the Church has been served well by the many who have given of their time, energy, and talents, some as Trustees and Elders, Secretaries, Treasurers, Sunday School Teachers and Superintendents. Pianist and Organists, and others whose music added so much to the worship service.
The ladies organizations were the backbone of the body of the church. Whenever money was needed or a social even needed sponsoring, the members of the Ladies Aid Society rallied to the cause. They raised a share of the funds for the building of the first church edifice. They were from the very beginning an important part of the church. They helped pay the minister’s salary on a regular basis, bought a share of the fuel each winter, helped fund the building of the manse and contributed to the later remodeling of the church building. It was the Ladies Aid who paid to re-roof the manse and install inside plumbing, and sent money overseas to feed starving people after wars. They sent money, food and clothing on a regular basis to an Orphan Home in Council Bluffs.
The Ladies Aid held Thanksgiving Suppers, Harvest Suppers and Bazaars, ‘Intertainments’, socials, bakes, teas, and rummage sales. The variety of things they sold is incredible; knives, dish cloths, kitchen gadgets, vanilla, cards, spices, and other things too numerous to mention.
The ladies met in homes before the church was remodeled in 1925. After that they met in the church parlors in the basement. Before they had the basement, the suppers were held in the Bronson Town Hall, or just the ‘Hall’ as it was usually called. The tables were long boards borrowed form the lumber yard and set on saw horses. The Socials and teas were held in the members’ homes. When the Aid was being held in the homes it was a major event. It was nothing to have 50 people show up for the meetings, and the lunch was really a meal. The teachers who boarded in town always came after school and ate their evening meal with the Aid members.
The other active ladies group was the Womens Missionary Society. The meetings were held every month in the homes for the purpose of studying and supporting the various missions of the church. Another group that was active up until World War II was the Ladies Bible Study Class which met in the homes each month for Bible Study.
In the early 1960s, the need for an evening ‘Aid’ was satisfied by the formation of ‘The Ladies Evening Fellowship’. Young mothers and women who worked outside the home who could not attend the afternoon circle meetings, made up this group. They combined Bible study, missionary work, and fund raising into their activities.
Also, about the same time, the church was given the opportunity to operate a food stand at the Woodbury County Fair. During the ensuing years, this has been a project that has not only involved the Church members, men and women, but the whole community has been very active in supporting and working on this yearly Church project and fund raiser.
This is the past history and up to the present Presbyterian Church and up to the present day. It always has been and still is an important influence in the community of Bronson, Iowa, and will continue to be for many years to come.
If you know of any corrections or missing information please contact me.
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