History Churches in Marengo, IA
From: History of Iowa County, Iowa And its People
By: James C. Dinwiddie
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. Chiago 1915


The Evangelical Lutheran St. John's Church of Marengo was organized May 1, 1885, and held semi monthly meetings in the church owned by the St. John's Germain Reformed congregation. They were attended by Rev. George Boyer, who was at that time pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran St. Martin's Church located in St. Clair Township of Benton County. Reverend Bouer accommodated the St. John's people until they purchased the old church owned by the Presbyterians on May I, 1904, for which $1,500 cash was paid. The building was bought just as it stood, furnishings and all and it was at that time that Rev. George Boyer removed to Marengo and became the permanent pastor. The charter members of St. John's were: John Mahnke, Chris Stemler, Henry Seidel, John Gode, Sr., Fritz Branch, N. Guenther, Aug. Koglin, John Trautmann, George P. Baltz, J. R. Young, Gottfried Denzler, John H Rodeick, George S. Roepke, Peter Zoph, Colonel Koehler, Frederick Phillip Specht, William Ackermann, Andrew Roth, Andrew Reinhof, C. H. Kruse, Peter Lacalli, S. Gerner, Jacob Schindler, Herman Graverm, Jacob Raabe and Albert Fitz.

The St. James Episcopal Church was organized in 1872, with the following charter members: H. Deffinbaugh, Dr. W. C. Schultz, James Westervelt, B. F. Reno, W. E. Downard, F. E. Spering, John Scott, John Stocker. The present church, which is a frame structure, was built in 1874 at a cost of $3,000, but it was not dedicated until about 1882, when Rev. William Wright came here as resident pastor. The original congregation had a membership of twenty six communicants, but owing to the small number the congregation was attended as a mission except during the pastorate of Reverend Wright, which lasted about three years, and Rev. F. E. Judd, who was pastor for about five years. The other pastors who have served this church are: Revs. Samuel Cary, B. S. Bray, Camon, C. H. Kellogg, Cassidy, Samuel Wilson and Williams. In the '90's the church was closed for about eight years on account of scarcity of members. At present the society holds semi monthly meetings and are attended by Rev. John J. H. Wilcock of St. Steven's Episcopal Church at Newton, Ia.

St. John's German Reform Church was organized in the year 1869 by Rev. Charles Zepf, who was its first pastor. The organization grew out of the reform movement which started in Switzerland in 1861. The church was built at a cost of $1,400 in 1870 and was used by the St. John's congregation only until 1885, when the Evangelical Lutheran Society used the building for their semimonthly meetings. In 190o improvements in the way of a steeple and a bell were added for $600. Following is a list of the charter members of this church: G. F. Eyric, Henry Key, Gottlieb Schottke, Conrad Zimmerman, Paul Offenbach, John Lacher, John Remftie, Jacob Stevens, all with their wives. The St. John's congregation has grown steadily under the efficient management of Reverend Grief and now there are about thirty families in weekly attendance at the church.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was first organized as the Marengo Mission, Iowa City District, Iowa Conference, in the fall of 1849 by H. W. Reed, presiding elder, and the first meeting was held in the Marengo Hotel, then kept by G. W. Kirkpatrick. The meeting was presided over by Rev. Asbury Collins. It is said that at this meeting the preacher's shirt impressed William Downard more than his sermon and that after the service Downard took the preacher to his store and made him a present of two shirts and a vest. The first Sunday school reported in Marengo was in 1853. The following were the charter members of the church: Lewis Wilson and wife, Mrs. J. Groff, Mr. and Mrs. William Downard, Lewis Lanning and wife, Mr. Talbott and wife, Squire Meacham and wife, William Athey and wife and Sylvester Middleworth and wife, William Taylor and wife, G. W. Kirkpatrick and wife, H. Hull and wife and others.

The first property owned by the church was two lots on the east side of the public square. Then these two lots were exchanged for a pair of lots on the southwest corner of the square, owned by B. F. Crenshaw. The first church building was erected in the summer of 1858. The church worshipped here until 1887. During the pastorate of J. E. Corley, somewhere between 1885 and 1887, the church and parsonage were sold to Charles Baumer for $4,000 and on March 3, 1887, the trustees purchased two lots from A. Cutright and a new church building was begun in the summer of '87. The parsonage was begun in October, 1887. and finished in January, 1888. The church was dedicated on March 11, 1888, and the total cost of the structure was $7,500. The parsonage cost $1,400. It was found afterward that the building committee had made a mistake of $1,400 against themselves.

In 1915 the church society is engaged in erecting a new church building, the cost of which is to be close to $35,000. It will be one of the handsomest buildings in the state, will be modern, and equal in capacity to any emergency.

The pastors who have 'served the Marengo charge have been: Revs. Asbury Collins, I. A. Bradrick, W. N. Hall, J. W. McDonald, J. E. Corley, J. G. Barton, Edwin Hughes, E. C. Brooks, J. W. Lewis, W. R. Stryker, J. M. McClelland, Fred B. Tucker, Charles A. Myers, John P. Morley, C. R. Zimmerman, E. Monkman.

In the absence of sufficient records a brief history of the First Presbyterian Church in its early days prepared by Alexander Danskin in the year 1887 has 'been most helpful to those who have taken the present work in hand.

In 1852-53 seven of the original members of this church came to Marengo. They were natives of Scotland and Covenanter stock; and finding themselves away from church privileges, they agreed to spend a part of every Sabbath together in worship. In 1854 the Rev. N. C. Robinson was sent out by the Presbytery of Iowa City as their Presbyterial missionary and frequently visited Marengo and conducted the worship for the little group.

The Rev. Williston Jones, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Cedar Rapids, visited the town in February, 1855, and after spending some little time in holding religious services, assisted in organizing the church in the latter part of the same month. The following persons were its charter members: George Danskin, Sr.; Ebenezer Danskin and Jane Danskin, his wife; Gilmore Danskin and his wife, Janet Danskin; Alexander Danskin and his wife Annie Danskin; Mrs. Martha Slocum and Miss Eliza Claff. Alexander Danskin, having formerly been ordained as an elder, was chosen and installed as elder in the infant church. At this time the Rev. Joseph Lowrie became the stated supply of this church and also the church at Brooklyn.

In September, 1858, the Rev. Alex Lemon took up the work in the two churches.

Following this pastorate the church remained vacant for about two years. In 1862. Rev. William W. Cain became stated supply and served the church for one year. On December 20, 1863, Rev. S. B. Rogers came. From May I, 1865, until September 15 of the same year, the Rev. W. K. Boggs ministered to the church. At this date the Rev. F. L. Arnold became stated supply and on July 15, 1866, he was installed as pastor which relation continued until August 28, 1870. The church was again vacant until February 12, 1871, when the Rev. John Wilson became stated supply and was afterwards installed as pastor. It was during this pastorate in 1872 that the church became self supporting and since that time it has received no pecuniary aid from the board of home missions. On March 19, 1876, the Rev. D. McDermid came as supply and remained until April 4, 1879. On July 19th of the same year the Rev. William R. Stewart became the pastor and in 1884, March t9th, he was succeeded by the Rev. W. B. Phelps.

Early in the spring of 1860 a subscription paper was circulated for the purpose of securing money for the erection of a house of worship. A lot was donated by Mr. Robert McKee. Material was procured and the work progressed through the summer of 1860 and late in the fall the house was put under roof. The next summer the work was completed and in July, 1861, the new organization moved into its new church. In the year 1867 an addition was made to the building at a cost of an additional $2,000. This is the church building now occupied by the German Lutheran organization.

In 1888, during the incumbency of Reverend Phelps, a new parsonage was built. Early in the year 1895, Reverend Phelps received a call to the church at Sigourney and then the Rev. Amos A. Randall, of Fort Dodge Presbytery came to Marengo in May, 1895. Owing to his wife's illness, at the end of the year, 1898, Mr. Randall resigned taking her to California, where she died a year or two later. Reverend Randall was followed by the Rev. O. T. Langfitt, who came to this place from West Liberty in February, 1899.

The subject of building a new church had been agitated for some time and Reverend Langfitt fostered the idea, keeping it in the minds of the members. It was during this agitation that Mrs. Chauncey Bailey then superintendent of the Sabbath school, solicited the first money for the new church and placed it in the bank as the nucleus of further contributions. In July, 1903, Reverend Langfitt accepted a call to the church at Pipestone, Minn., and left here, followed by the best wishes of all who knew him. His place was filled in the Marengo church by the Rev. Theodore Morning, who came from Kansas in September, 1903. Mr. Morning entered enthusiastically into all the plans for the building of the new church, which had been definitely decided upon, prior to Reverend Langfitt's departure. The building committee consisted of the following members: C. H. Carson, chairman; Henry Gode, secretary; J. C. Engelbert, treasurer; W. E. Hibbs, E. F. Brown, Theodore Morning, J. H. Branch and Mrs. C. H. Carson.

Work on the edifice was begun early in the spring of 1904, Reverend Morning turning the first spadeful of soil. The building was completed and dedicated in November of the same year, at a cost of $11,000. The dedication sermon was preached by Rev. Willis G. Craig, of McCormick Seminary.

Reverend Morning remained to enjoy the fruits of his labors for four years, then a call came to him from a larger place, Independence, Ia., which he accepted, resigning here in February, 1908. His place was filled by the Rev. David A. Johnson, just out of the seminary.

In 1909 a pipe organ, costing $2,000, was installed. Mr. Johnson organized the boys of the town into Scout Bands, the first Boy Scouts in the town. He utilized the musical talent possessed by the boys by organizing a Scout band, led by himself. Reverend Johnson left in January, 1914, to accept a call to a Rock Island church, the vacancy in this church being filled by the Rev. Archie C. Preston, the present incumbent. Mr. Preston began his work in February, 1914, graduating from the seminary the following June.

St. Patrick's Parish of Marengo, Ia., was organized in the year of 1862, by the following members: Mrs. Mary McForton, Mrs. Parker, William Carroll, James Conroy, Peter White, Michael Dolphin, James Moran, James Pearle, Patrick McGill, Mr. Corcoran and James McCallister.

A church was built in 1862 on the southeast corner of the rectory, was a frame structure and accommodated the parish until 1874, when an addition was built on at the west end of the building, giving the building a seating capacity of about one hundred and eighty.

The parish was attended as a mission from 1860 to 1862 by the well known Rev. Father Emmons who attended the parishes at both Brooklyn and Oxford as missions and who reached these missions either by stage, on horseback, or was taken to and from by the section men on a hand car.

In 1862 the mission was assigned to Rev. Philip Shannon, in the absence of Father Emmons who went to join the ranks of the volunteers as chaplain.

Between 1863 and 1870 the mission was attended by Fathers McGinnis, McGlaughlin and Shields, at intervals of from six months to two years.

Father Emmons returned in the spring of 1870 and attended until the fall of that year, when Father Walsh succeeded him, and served the parish until February, 1871. Father Walsh was the first resident pastor and lived in a house just south of the old church.

Rev. Francis Hartin served as pastor from February, 1871, until the time of his death, which occurred in the fall of 1873, at which time he was buried just west of the old church. It was in the following year that the addition before mentioned was built and at this time the question of moving the remains of Father Hartin was taken up but it was decided to leave them where they were. However they were later removed and placed under the new church, by Rev. Father Larkin, who at a later date became pastor of this parish and who played such an important part in the beautifying of the rectory grounds.

Succeeding Father Hartin came Father Martin Rice, who was pastor from October, 1873 until May, 1874.

In the spring of 1874 a parsonage was built just north of the old church, which was replaced during the pastorate of Rev. James Dunning by a well improved modem dwelling.

In the fall of 1874, Rev. Father A. F. Moynihan succeeded Father Rice, who had resigned to accept a pastorate at another point.

In the spring of 1877 work was started on the new church and with the thought in mind that the new church would be completed in 1878, a stone cut was placed in the front of the church, with the following inscription, "St. Patrick's Church, July, 1878, Pastor Rev. A. F. Moynihan."

However the old church was not abandoned and the new one used, until 1881. In August of that year Father Moynihan resigned to accept a pastorate at Kirksville, Mo.

The abandoned church was used as a school for private tutoring, and later as a literary hall by the St. Patrick's Literary Society, and the Marquette Club, of St. Patrick's Parish.

The new church is of brick, 50 by 150 feet. It is free from debt, has a membership of about eighty five families, and a seating capacity of about 400.

From August, 1881, until March, 1882, the parish was attended by Rt. Rev. Father Davis, of Davenport, who is now bishop of the Davenport Diocese.

Succeeding Father Davis in the order in which they are named, came Fathers J. C. White, H. B. Kelley, James M. Dunnion, and William E. Carroll.

Father Carroll, the present pastor, came to this parish in 1904, as a graduate of the St. Ambrose College, Davenport, and the famous St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, Md., while serving the parish faithfully, as its pastor, has also accomplished much in the way of beautifying the church interior, and the grounds around the rectory by new sidewalks, parkings, etc.

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