Finney County Churches
Garden City Congregational Church
From "Conquest of Southwest
Kansas," Leola Howard Blanchard, 1931
Garden City was first determined upon as a place
for a permanent town by William D. and James R. Fulton, who were also the first residents of this place. They
came here in March, 1878. The town continued to have
a gradual growth, and sometime in the winter of 1878
and '79, Elder Spencer of Sherlock, Kansas, held a religious service, preaching a sermon. This was the first and
only service until Rev. W. D. Williams of Sterling, Kansas, visited the place May 18, 1879. Preaching services were
held morning and evening and a Union Sabbath school
was organized in the afternoon. The attendance was so
large and the interest so manifest that it was deemed expedient to continue religious services, and Rev. Williams
announced that he would visit them again in three weeks.
The services were held in the Landis and Hollinger store
building, which was so nearly finished that by boarding
up the front doors and arranging the work benches, and
making temporary sittings of the lumber scattered around
the building, the room was as comfortable as it was commodious.
Levi Wilkinson and W. H. Armentrout were appointed a committee to draft a constitution and by-laws,
which they did on June 15, 1879, and on August 4, of the
same year, the organization was completed with twenty-seven charter members from five different denominations.
Permanent officers of the Congregational Church were
elected. Rev. W. D. Williams, moderator; J. E. Edwards,
Frank Rhoades, deacons; Levi Wilkinson, clerk; W. H.
Armentrout, George Rock and C. M. Walters, trustees.
Rev. L. H. Piatt was the first pastor of the new church,
and began his pastorate November 15, 1879, and continued as pastor until July, 1884. For the first three years
the services were held in the hall over Landis and Hollinger's store. During those first years they received from
the Home Mission fund $300.00 a year and the same
amount was supposed to be contributed by the local members for the support of the church.
The church was the social center of the community.
For some time they had the advantage of a travelling
library, and were supplied with good books and literature. An organ was furnished by C. J. Jones and the
organist was a woman with exceptional musical ability
and training. D. R. Menke played the violin and instructed George Finnup and other boys of the town. The town
has never had a better song leader than Levi Wilkinson.
He had a fine tenor voice and he loved to sing. He taught
the children and led the young people in many splendid
song services. There were special programs, and organizations for the women. The work of every department was
carried on with interest and efficiency. N. M. Carter was
the superintendent of the Sunday School and was a
faithful worker. The attendance at all the church services
was nearly 100% of the population of the community.
Everybody who was able to be up, went to church. Business men, housewives, old and young, and the cowboys
from far out on the range. The pioneers of Finney county
were an educated, ambitious people, and they sought for
the same culture in their new homes that they were accustomed to in the home towns they had left in the east.
The records of the church for July l0, 1881, show
that a request be made of the Congregational Building
Fund Society for a loan to build a church, and during the
year 1882 the first church building in Garden City was
built at the corner of Eighth and Fulton Streets.
The following is the list of pastors as they have served
the church: Rev. L. H. Piatt, Nov. 15, 1879, July, 1884;
Rev. Homer Thrall, Rev. Samuel Wood, Rev. Layman
Hull, Nov. 5, 1889, Nov. 1897. Charles N. Severance, Nov.
1897. W. F. Harding, J. A. Henry, W. E. Brehm, F. B.
Bates, L. C. Schnache, and H. O. Judd. Mr. Judd has been
laboring faithfully for the church since the first Sunday
in February, 1915.
The Charter members of the First Congregational
Church August 4, 1879: J. S. Edwards, Mrs. Mary Edwards, Levi Wilkinson, J. C. Smith, Mrs. Rebecca Smith,
John Creveling, Chas. Creveling, Elizabeth Knittle, Mrs.
Kate Hall, Mrs. Elizabeth Walker, Frank Rhodes, Mrs.
Maggie Stapleton, W. H. Armentrout, Mrs. W. H. Armentrout, Anna Armentrout, George Rock, Clarence McLaughlin, Wilber Elliott, Henry W. Crow, Mrs. Sallie
Crow, J. B. Smith, Dora Smith, R. N. Hall, Martin J.
Finney Co. KHHP
This website created March 17, 2012 by Sheryl McClure.
© 2011-2012 Kansas History and Heritage Project