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Burnham Street Church in Yankee Hill

This article is taken from the October 2003 Tales & Trails
By Grace Finney and submitted to DCHS by June Barmore

The following is an account of how this church building got its start.  This information is not guaranteed to be accurate, but the best information several people could put together.

In 1876, Sumner W. Burnham acquired much property all over the area west of Yankee Hill, including the property on which the brickyard now sits.  In 1902, the Yankee Hill Brick Manufacturing Company was formed, and that area became a bustling, unincorporated village called Burnham.

The area, which is now Pioneer Park, was a large sheep-grazing pasture. Across the road to the east was an important stockyard, with hundreds of stock of all kinds that loaded directly onto the Burlington Railroad.  Also in this vicinity were many small company houses, owned by the brickyard.  The housing was for married workers residences.  There were also two large rooming houses for the stockyard men, a small grocery store and post office in a house, and a blacksmith shop.

It was into this thriving little community that Harry Bond, his wife and four children came.  He bought the grocery store and ran it for many years, along with the Post Office.  Later the Post Office was moved to the railroad.  At that time, the mail would be hung from the train in a bag on a mail arm.  It would then be picked up by Bond's and sorted.  It might also be interesting to note that grocery deliveries were made twice a day from the store by one of the sons with a team of mules and a spring wagon.

After some years, Mr. Bond started a Sunday School in a drying shed at the brickyard.  It go so large that he talked to Sumner Burnham about building a church.  Mr. Burnham agreed to donate property for the use and bricks for the church if Mr. Bond could find enough people to donate money to pay for the building of it.  This was done in 1905-1906.  Some of the people who donated for the original building were Turner's (one of the bosses at the brickyard and living where Krejdl's do*), Beasley's (living two houses east of the church, Fordyce's (foreman at the brickyard and builder of the brick house to the west of the church, known as the "Haunted House" during its period of no occupancy), Teague's (living in a small house directly west of the church--now gone) Robey's (she was the sister of Mrs. Sarah Burnham,, Hibbard's (he was the blacksmith, and the banker, Silas Burnham, brother of Sumner and husband of Sarah.

After the church had been in operation awhile, Reverend Bancroft, a minister of an Evangelical Church would come out from town with his family.  He would stay all day at Bond's until after the evening service.

It's not known why this church disbanded.  After the building stood empty for awhile, another Evangelical Church under the leadership of Reverend Samuel E. Meyers started up.  He had quite a large family and finally the church had to quit because they could no longer pay him.

Meanwhile, Sumner Burnham had died leaving his property to his brother Silas H. Burnham.  After Silas died, his property went to his widow, Sarah Burnham.  She cared nothing for owning all that property and proceeded to start selling it.

The church building had been standing empty for quite some time and Clarence G. Finney (better known as Jim) who owned the property east and north of the church, began to fear some unsavory group might  purchase the building for a dance hall or tavern or such.  It was then that he acquired the property from Mrs. Burnham, paying $1,000 for the building and property.

No congregation seemed interested in acquiring the church and the building fell into disuse and was finally used by Finney's as a place to store hay.  Seemingly God's house was done for as such , but in 1940, Reverend James B. Brown, a retired Orthodox  Presbyterian came into the area and determined to start up a church

Jim Finney gladly donated the use of the property and building to him for that purpose.

2013 Note: This property has been turned into a residence on Burnham St. in Yankee Hill


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