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Denton Community Historical Society


Lancaster Co., NE

United Methodist Church, Denton, Nebraska. Steeple replaced November, 1999, after it was destroyed by lightning 80 years before. 

Saint Mary Catholic Church, Denton, NE, built in 1963. 

Jamaica Church, 1885 to 1952. The first church in the Rokeby area (located on the Jamaica church site) was built in 1885. The church was dedicated as a Baptist Church.

Rokeby Congregational Church, 1893 to 1951. Rokeby, Nebraska. 

Wesley Chapel, 1893 to 1951, Rokeby, Nebraska. 

Trinity Chapel, 1952 to present. Rokeby, Nebraska.


Buda Precinct 
The German Evangelical Congregation Church was organized on April 24, 1893. It was incorporated by Albert Gerdes, Peter Gansemer, and P. Van Hoc. Rev. J. Morach was the first pastor. The first church was built in 1893. In 1928 it was replaced with a brick building and called the United Congregation Church. 


Buda Precinct 
The Hallam Methodist Church was organized in September 1917 and was
the outgrowth of uniting two country churches--one located one mile north  of Hallam and the other church located one mile south of Hallam. The Zion Church two miles north and one and one-half miles east of Hallam was torn down to make the new church. The church was built of red brick. It was dedicated in September 1918. The first pastor was Rev. John Koehler who served from 1917 to 1918. There was also a parsonage. Rev. Lawrence Powell was pastor in1971. Glen Holtz is pastor today. 


Buda Precinct 
On Dec 28, 1927, Deutschen Evengelischen Congregational Gemeinde of Hallam and the Olive Branch German Congregational Church united. The church was build in the west part of Hallam. The consolidation of the two churches enabled the congregation to build a well equipped church which was dedicated March 17, 1929. The church building was constructed of bronze brick and tile with large art-glass windows. The auditorium and balcony would seat four hundred people. 

The building cost about $25,000. Material from both churches was used in the structure. The first pastor to serve this church was Rev. J. P. Hohnstein, a graduate of the Chicago Theological Seminary, who served from 1929 to 1931. Rev. John Daniel Gross also served as pastor. February 1966, the Cortland and Hallam churches voted to hire Rev. Francis Turpin to serve the two churches. In April 1966 they voted to build a new parsonage. 

Olive Branch Precinct 
The Olive Branch Church was organized in March 1875. For several years the services and Sunday School were held in two school houses. In 1878 the church was incorporated and a frame building was erected on two-acres bought from G. J. Grotenhous. Rev. Jacob Morach was the pastor. He became pastor of the German Evangelical Congregational Church of Hallam in April 1893. In June 1893, they started building a frame church. Church was held in this building for 35 years. February 1928, the members voted to build a new church at a cost of not more than $25,000. In 1901 Rev. William Suess was the pastor. In 1901 they also decided to move the church building two miles north on the John Moser farm. The church tower was remodeled and a bell was placed in it. 


Buda Precinct 
The church started in 1896 with a few members. It was located in west Princeton. 


1903 -1920
Buda Precinct 
The Princeton Methodist Church was located on Highway 77 and was organized in 1903. The first Methodist pastor was Rev. Wilbur W. Gettys. In that building from 1903 to 1920, the Methodists held services alternately with the Congregational Church. The Princeton Methodist Church remained active until 1920 when due to lack of members and finances, it was forced to disband. In 1921 the congregation merged with the Cortland Methodist Church. 


1875/6 - 1947
Yankee Hill Precinct 
The beginning of Wesley Chapel Church was in 1875 or 1876, in the schoolhouse of District #29. In the spring of 1879 the schoolhouse of District #103 was built and services were held there. 

Rev. J. D. M. Buckner, then an university student, was the minister. Rev. Buckner also served the congregations in Roca, Hickman, and Jamaica. He preached two sermons each Sunday, alternating among the four groups. During this time, he lived in Roca and commuted to school and the churches either by train or horse and buggy. 

During the winter of 1892 and 1893, there were revival meetings in the schoolhouse of District #103 with Rev. J. W. Embree and Rev. J. W. Kimberly as the preachers. Many people joined the church. In the spring of 1893 the members decided to build a church. The four Bower brothers, William, Ed, Dudley and Arthur were leaders in the church along with Fred Hay, Charles Coffman and Mr. Osborn. 

It was difficult to decide upon a suitable location, but after conferring with the Methodist Church officials, the hilltop site seven miles south and three miles west of Lincoln was chosen. It was one and a quarter mile west of Rokeby. (Today this is West Rokeby Road between SW 27th and SW 40th Streets.) The land for the church was deeded to Wesley Chapel July 3, 1893, by Herman Steinhausen. Joseph Burgess Sr., A. Felix Steinhausen, and O. D. Reddish were selected as a committee to raise money for the building fund. After much effort, they secured pledges amounting 

to $1,700. The contract was awarded to A. L. Metcalf of Lincoln. Carpenters and painters received $2.25 to $2.50 a day for 10 hours work. O. D. Reddish assisted them at a wage of $1.50 per day. Considerable labor was donated by members of the church hauling lumber and bricks The church was well built. The classroom was also used as an overflow room, adjacent to the sanctuary. 

The cornerstone was laid in June 1893. On Aug 27, 1893, Wesley Chapel was dedicated and was free of debt. Rev. J. W. Embree was the pastor at the time of dedication. Joseph Jones served as Superintendent of Sunday School for 25 years. During the 1920's the young people of Rokeby Congregation Church joined the young people of Wesley Chapel in combined services. 

At the suggestion of Orin Peterson, and with the active support of Rev. Richard W. Miller, the Wesley Chapel Community Co-ops organized in 1932 to provide entertainment, education and fellowship for the people of the church community. 

The women of the church formed the Wesley Chapel Ladies' Social Circle. On August 2, 1940, members of this organization became charter members of the Woman's Society of Christian Service, with Mrs. Albert Sandfort, as the first president. 

The fortieth anniversary of Wesley Chapel was observed on Aug 27, 1933. Both Rev. Buckner and Rev. Embree, former ministers, participated in the service that day. In 1938 Rev Kenneth Nye and Rev. Luther Powell served the church. On Aug 22, 1943, the church observed its fiftieth anniversary. Rev. J. W. Henderson was the pastor, and also served the Jamaica Church. In 1947 Wesley Chapel united with Jamaica Methodist and Rokeby Congregational Church to form Trinity Chapel Church. (See Rokeby-Trinity Chapel Church.) 



Saltillo Precinct 
The first church located on the Jamaica church site was built in 1885 on the north side of Saltillo Road between South 14th and 27th Streets. It was the first rural church located in this vicinity. The church was dedicated a Baptist church and was used for many years as a community church by various denominations. On Jan 17, 1914, the property was deeded to the trustees of the Methodist Church. 

The first known minister of the Jamaica Methodist Church was Rev. John Chapman. In later years the church was served by Dr. J. D. M. Buckner and Dr. Embree. 

In 1920 a new church was built on the site. The church was dedicated Oct 17, 1920. Rev. G. O. Peterson was the pastor. The building and finance committee consisted of Charles Damrow, Chairman; Fred Keil, L. B. Hoy, Mrs. E. W. Hoy, Charles Burnett, A. E. Baker, Mrs. Harry Lidolph and Rev. Glenn O. Peterson. Other loyal workers and followers were the families of McNeil, Lidolph, Baker, Mussetter, Wilterdink, Burnett, Keel, Cropsey, Abbott, Schrader, Meyer, Stoughton, Fischer, Tate, Perkins, Weaver, Eis, Wallen, Anderson, Wilson, Kleager, Abraham, Hudson, and McClintock's. 

Rev. J.D. M. Buckner served this congregation along with Wesley Chapel, Roca and Hickman. In 1943 Rev. J. W. Henderson was the pastor, and he also served the Wesley Chapel Church. Rev. Donald Tillman was pastor in 1946. In 1947 Jamaica Methodist united with Wesley Chapel and Rokeby Congregational Church to form Trinity Chapel Church. (See Rokeby-Trinity Chapel Church.) The Jamaica Church served the community for 66 years until it was sold in 1952. 



Centerville Precinct 
The Sprague Methodist Church was organized September 13, 1908. The church was originally built by the Presbyterian Church in 1894. It was a large frame Gothic designed building. It had two towers in front, on containing a bell, the other a steeple. There were beautiful large stained glass windows The church was dedicated in 1894 by the Presbyterians and was used by them until 1904. 

The town of Sprague purchased the Presbyterian Church and used it as a community church until 1908. In 1908 the Methodists leased it and the parsonage to hold services. The people who bought the church voted to be known as the Sprague Union Church and that its services be open to anyone regardless of denomination. In 1918 an addition to the old structure was made and the church was remodeled. 

Some time before 1924 the name of the church was changed from Union Church to Sprague Community Church. Reverend Sapp and Reverend Comstock were itinerant ministers who first served the Sprague Community Church. Dwight Skow served the church as a full-time pastor. Fred Krull was the first Sunday School Superintendent. 

John Spellman was Treasurer of the Sunday School for 34 years, and caretaker of the Centerville Cemetery for 56 years. He was Janitor of the Sprague Church for 35 years. 

Rev. Frances R. Schmidt conducted a special service in 1966 to dedicate the new church front and memorials were dedicated. Harlan Wittstruck presented the cross on the front of the church in memory of Mrs. Lena Frohn. Mrs. Irene Krull presented the baptismal font in memory of Charles Krull. 

Ministers who have served in Sprague Churches are: 

  • A. W. Comstock, Presbyterian, 1893

  • John Hammel, German Methodist, 1903 
    Smith, 1905 

  • Joe Irvin, Seventh Day Adventist , 1905

  • H. Wesley Wagner, Methodist Episcopalian, 1908-1910 

  • W. B. Cornish, Methodist Episcopalian , 1910-1911 

  • C.C. Weishoner, Methodist Episcopalian, 1911-1912 

  • H. L. Williams, Methodist Episcopalian , 1912-1913 

  • W. B. Price, Methodist Episcopalian, 1913-1916 

  • Eugene Meyers, Methodist Episcopalian, 1916-1917 

  • J.C. Walker, Methodist Episcopalian, 1917-1918 

  • Walter Zimmerman, Methodist Episcopalian, 1919 

  • Ernest Pengelly, 1919-1922 

  • W. S. McAllister, 1922-1923 

  • William H. Stevens, 1923-1927 

  • Ernest Pengelly, 1927-1928 

  • Otto Fabre (Pop), 1931-1935 

  • R. N. Kunkle, 1936 

  • Edgar Price, 1938 

  • Wilbert Ehlert, 1938-1940 

  • Arthur Hannah, 1940-1941 

  • Roy Richmond, 1941-1942 

  • Oren Watson, 1943 

  • Don Bliss, 1944-1945 

  • Bob Wendt, 1946-1948 

  • Gordon Hamilton, 1949-1950 

  • Rex Sample, Student minister 

  • Larry Moore, Student minister 

  • Blake Mitchell, Student minister 

  • Daryl Keck, Student minister 

  • Merle McDonald, Student minister 

  • Harold Holland, Student minister 

  • Otto Fabre, 1959-1962 

  • Herbert Gilbert, 1963-1964 

  • Francis R. Schmidt, 1965-1966 , 1967 

  • McChesney, 1968-1969 

  • Dwight Skow, 1970-1971 

  • Lincoln Justice, 1972-1976 

  • Rev. Carr Hume, 1976-1977 

  • Janice and Don Williams, 1978-1979 

  • Sprague Community Church withdrew from the Methodist Conference June 27, 1979 

  • Richard Oehring, 1980 

  • David Okerlund, 1980 - 1987 


Buda Precinct 
This church began in 1916 but has since been discontinued. 


Buda Precinct 
This church was located two and one half miles north and a little west of Princeton. It may have disbanded in the 1930's. The Stockville Cemetery is located on the hillside at the location of this former church. 


Buda Precinct 
In 1920 the Methodist Church of Princeton was forced to close its doors. In 1934 the Presbyterian Church of Princeton also was not able to continue serving. The community, finding itself without a church of any denomination, decided to buy the old Congregational Church building so that people of any denomination could worship. Thus, in 1935 the Princeton Community Church was organized. The building was a small frame mission-type building and was never dedicated. The church was located on Highway 77 and was served by pastor, Rev. Vettern S. Barkley of Havelock. 


Dates unknown
Buda Precinct 
This church is located on the main highway north of the main intersection of Princeton where the Congregational Church was located before it was moved. The cemetery is still used today. Reverend Kenneth Swain, William Lowe, and LeRoy Anson have served this congregation. 



Yankee Hill Precinct 
The early settlers of Rokeby were Charles, Williams, Cropsey, Seidell, Safford, Nootz, Tuttle, and Allen. When the Rock Island Railroad built their line and a depot in Rokeby, these early settlers thought a church in Rokeby was essential to the community. The Rokeby Congregational Church was organized Sept 6, 1893, with 19 charter members. Five of the charter members were Mrs. John Tuttle, Mrs. B. G. Safford, Mrs. K. F. McMillan, A. J. Charles and George L. Williams. 

A small one-story frame building with plain windows of Gothic design was built in the village of Rokeby. The church was dedicated March 1894. Rev. John Doane, of Plymouth Congregational Church of Lincoln, was the first pastor at a salary of $250 a year. Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, is named after John's uncle. 

Rev. John Doane served for six years. By 1898 there was 79 members. On Jan 3, 1894, they had enough money to pay all the debts of the church. The members liked the song "The Church in the Wildwood" so they adapted it to their congregation and when the chorus was sung, they sang "The Little White Church on the Hill." 

The Rokeby Ladies Aide began Oct 5, 1893. During the early years of the church the Rokeby Ladies Aide purchased an organ for the church for $75.00. Lasting friendships were developed by making friendship quilts and the study of the Bible. The Ladies made 36 friendship quilts with blocks pieced with the names embroidered on the blocks. Everyone received a block on their birthday. Marie Allen and LaVern Rockenbach were united in marriage on April 5, 1942, and this was the only marriage conducted in the Rokeby Church. 

Rev. Sprague lived in the Rokeby community. His daughter, Ruth, became a missionary in India. She used the money Rokeby Church sent to establish a library in India and they called it the Rokeby Library. Rev. Albert George Heyho also served as pastor. In 1947 Rokeby Congregational Church united with Wesley Chapel and Jamaica Methodist to form Trinity Chapel Church. (See Rokeby-Trinity Chapel Church.) 


1947 to present

Yankee Hill Precinct 
The Jamaica Methodist Church, Wesley Chapel Methodist Church and Rokeby Congregational Church for many years served their respective communities faithfully and effectively. However, as years passed the population of these communities dwindled so greatly that the number of people attending the three churches was not sufficient to maintain the churches. The solution seemed to be to consolidate the three churches into one united group. 

The first meeting of all three churches was held Sunday, Sept 29, 1946, at Wesley Chapel Church with Rev. Donald Tillman as pastor. Services were held for one month at a time in each of the churches. This arrangement continued for about one year. Later all services were held at Jamaica, due to better heating facility and more Sunday School accommodations. 

In June 1947, Rev. Emil T. Prietz became the pastor. On Sunday, Nov 23, 1947, there was a meeting to adopt a constitution and unite the three groups. The name Trinity Chapel was chosen. A new church register was opened and 37 people signed as charter members. The Trinity Chapel 

Woman's Society was organized which included members of the Jamaica Ladies Aid, Wesley Chapel W. S. C. S. and the Rokeby Ladies Aid. Meetings were held monthly. However, the ladies of each of the churches maintained their own women's organizations. A Youth Fellowship was formed. A choir of about twenty-five people was organized. 

Plans were made for the building of a new church building. A building fund was started and Merlyn Rosekrans was employed to draw up plans for a church. The building committee consisted of J. B. Hoy, Chairman; John Munn, Carl Helmkamp, Mrs. M. S. Nichols, Mrs. Joe Burgess, and Mrs. Glenn Peterson. 

In 1948 the work of dismantling Rokeby Church and Wesley Chapel began. The lumber was to be used in the construction of the new building. Jamaica Church was sold in June 1952. Mr. & Mrs. W. W. Pierce gave one acre located a half mile east of Rokeby to Trinity Chapel for the purpose of erecting a new church building. It was possible to build the structure for about $20,000, probably less than half what it would cost if labor had been hired. On April 29, 1951, ground breaking ceremonies were held.

Immediately following this service at the new church site, there was a dedication service at Jamaica Church for the new electric Hammond organ that had been presented to Trinity Chapel by Mrs. Anna Peterson, in memory of her husband Mr. Emmanuel Peterson. 

Another campaign for funds was made May 20, 1951. Glenn Peterson was the campaign chairman. Because the drive was so successful, they decided to start building. Construction started in July 1951 with James and Merlyn Rosekrans as contractors. The responsibility of the building program largely fell upon the shoulders of the trustees, namely, J. B. Hoy, chairman; George Allen, Elmer Runge, Louis Thelander, Orin Peterson, and Carl Helmkamp. The men in the community all helped in tearing down the three old churches and in building the new church. 

June 8, 1952, a dedication service was held. Rev. Merlin Frantz was the first pastor of the new building in March 1952. Unity and understanding which developed between members of the three churches is symbolized by the inscription on the corner stone of Trinity Chapel which says "United in Christ." 

The mortgage for $7,000 had been issued for five year but due to the generosity of the members, in 1956, it was paid in full in just four years. In November 1957 the church purchased one-half acre of ground adjoining the church property from Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Pierce to be used for parking. 
Rokeby Ladies Fellowship is the only ladies group that meets today. They celebrated their 100th anniversary in 1993. 

Pastors who have served this church are: 

  • Rev. Donald Tillman, 1946 

  • Rev. Emil Pietz, 1947-1950 

  • Rev. Rudolph Rojahn , 1950-1952 

  • Rev. Merlin Frantz, 1952-1954 

  • Rev. Allen Menefee, 1954-1955 

  • Donald Kline, 1955-1957 

  • Rev John Eversole, 1957-1958 

  • Dr. Gilbert Savery, 1958-1968 

  • Rev. Albert Lapthorne, 1969-1970 

  • Dr. William Pfeffer, 1970-1973 

  • Dr. Leonard Krammer, 1973-1974 

  • Rev. Clarke Mundhenke, 1974-1982 

  • Rev. Clarence McConkey, 1982-1984 

  • Rev. Wayne Schreurs, 1984-1990 

  • Rev. Michael McMurtry, 1990-1995 

  • Rev. John & Jeanne Tyler, 1995-1999 

  • Rev. Kenneth McQueen, 2000- 


Centerville Precinct 
The first church to be founded in the community was the German Methodist Church in 1869. It was located in Section 21 on the northeast corner. They also built a parsonage. The church was torn down in the early 1880's and a better structure was built. In 1928 the church was disbanded and the building was torn down. Many of the members transferred their membership to the Sprague Community Church. 



Centerville Precinct 
In 1874 the German Lutherans organized and built a church on the southeast quarter of Section 35. 


Centerville Precinct 
In 1890 the English Methodists organized and met in District #85 school house. 



Centerville Precinct 
On July 23, 1893, a meeting was held in the McGillivrae Hall for the purposes of organizing a Presbyterian Church of Sprague. Dr. Thomas L. Saxton was appointed Chairman and John W. Taylor, Clerk. James Andrel, Henry F. Mitchell, William Finley, Allen P. Ferguson, M. O. Deahl, Chauncey F. Deahl were also on the committee. 

The following people were taken in as charter members: John W. Taylor, Mrs. Fannie Finley, William H. Finley, Frank B. Spellman, Mrs. Lena Spellman, Clinton J. Mitchell, Mrs. Adaline Krull, Miss Lula Krull, Mrs. Alice C. Mitchell, Norman Wells, Miss Martha Poland, Chaucy F. Deahl, Mrs. Flora O. Deahl, and Mrs. Hallie M. Deahl. 

Clinton J. Mitchell, Norman Wells and Martha Poland were adults who were baptized on the same day. Children that were baptized that day were: Home Chauncy Deahl, Myrtle Elizabeth Deahl, Evalin Poland, Orvill Chancy Deahl, Winnie Ester Deahl, Allen Andrew Deahl, Elma Finley and Hazel Stevenson. 

Trustees selected that day were Henry F. Mitchell, William H. Finley, Chauncy F. Deahl, Allen P. Ferguson, and James Anderl. The next day the church building committee elected F. S. Spellman, Chairman; W. H. Finley, Treasurer; and J. W. Taylor, Secretary. 

Sunday school and church services were held in the McGillivrae Hall while the church was being built. The Presbyterian Church was built on Section 18, Lots 20 and 21 in Block 11 in the Village of Sprague. The lots were donated by J. W. McGillivrae and his wife, N.M. McGillivrae, to the trustees of the Presbyterian Church on January 29, 1894. 

The lots were part of an original homestead settled by Joshua H. Buel on August 1, 1860. The church was dedicated April 1, 1894, with 22 people who became members. It was a large frame Gothic designed building. It had two towers in front, one containing a bell, the other a steeple. There were beautiful large stained glass windows. 

Fred W. Krull was the first Sunday School Superintendent and Rev. A. W. Comstock was the first pastor. The teachers and other officers include Mrs. Carrie Ferguson, Miss Ella Crozier, John Taylor and Lucy Taylor. Carrie Ferguson was the first organist. The Ladies Aid Society was organized about this time. 

Some of the first ministers were Thomas L. Saxton, A. W. Comstock, Rev. Brithour, John Bane, and W. D. Patton. The church was used by the Presbyterians until 1904 at which time it was sold to the town of Sprague to be used as a community church. The people of the church voted to be known as the Sprague Union Church. 


Garfield Precinct 
This church was organized in 1922 under the leadership of Rev. Charles. L. Hartley, pastor, and Dr. J. H. Clemens, District Superintendent. It was located in the vicinity of the State Hospital. The property was purchased in December 1922, and the Methodist City Union contributed $600. A basement was made over for Church purposes. In October 1925 Rev. Harold Sandall succeeded Rev. Hartley. In October 1927, Rev. Glenn Shanks became the pastor. In the beginning there was much interest of the neighborhood, but after several years the support dwindled and the church was discontinued in October, 1929.


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Denton Community Historical Society of Nebraska