History of Churches in Le Mars, IA
From: History of the Counties of Woodbury and Plymouth, Iowa
A Warner & Co., Publishers
Chicago Illinois, 1890-91

The Churches. - The German Methodist Episcopal church of Le Mars is one of the most thoroughly religious denominations in the county. Its history dates from the early days in 1872, when an appointment was kept at Melbourne - now defunct. The next meeting was in Johnson township, then at Sioux City, and finally organized at Le Mars in the fall of 1873. Here lived Daniel W. Held, the merchant tailor, and he, together with his good wife and six children, organized the first society. In the midst of a strong Catholic element, they kept their willing hands at work, until now the church of their choice has come to be a power in the land in which they live. At first meetings were held in the old public school building, which they finally purchased and used as a church and parsonage. This served until 1886, when they erected one of the finest churches in Le Mars. It stands on Main. street, cornering with Third street. It is a frame building, forty eight by seventy two feet, and cost $10,000. It seats about 500 persons, and is finished and furnished in good taste and modern style, and is heated by furnace and lighted by gas. A. thousand pound bell graces the spire, whose towering height is but an index of the character of the Christian spirit of Le Mars people. This church was dedicated during the month of October, 1886, by Bishop Bowman and Elder Coup, of St. Paul, and $1,600 was contributed on the day of dedication. The first, and one of the present class leaders of this church, was Daniel W. Held, whose family have the honor of having organized the society at Le Mars. The pastors who have served this charge are as follows: Rev. Edward W. Henke, Rev. John Houck, Rev. August Koerner, Rev. Aug. Beebechbauser, Rev. C. Stellner, Rev. F. Wellmier, Rev. A. Dulitz, Rev. William Koener, Rev. F. Wellmier.

The present membership of the church is 135; average of Sunday school, 100. The officers for 1890 are, in part, as follows: Pastor. Rev. F. Wellmier; trustees: Prof. J. Wernli (president), John Bailey (treasurer), D. W. Held, Conrad Haas, William Udich, Henry Kluckhohn, Charles Kluckhohn. There are now four classes, lead by J. Wernli, D. W. Held, Prof. Hirsch and C. Apperley.

At the time Rev. George Haddock was assassinated by the saloon mob element at Sioux City, and his remains were being conveyed through the state, over the Illinois Central railroad, D. W. Held, of this church, originated the idea of expressing sympathy by the tolling of every church bell, and that of the city fire department, while the train moved in and out of the city. The plan was carried out in full except by the Catholics, and the same was then taken up by each town along the line of road over which his body passed, throughout Iowa. It was indeed a truly befitting tribute to a grand life sacrificed on a temperance altar in Iowa. Though dead he yet speaketh in his influence!

The German Evangelical church, of Le Mars, known as Emanuel's, was formed by four families, in 1879, the first services being held in the court house by Rev. G. Heimmueller, now a missionary in Germany. In the spring of 1882 a frame church building, twenty eight by forty feet, was erected on the corner of Main and Second streets. It seats 200 persons and cost the society $1,800. The lot was donated by the railroad company. This church was dedicated in the month of April, 1882, free of all debt, and the society are still unincumbered and in a flourishing condition. Its present membership is 150. The Sabbath school, superintended by E. Schaffer, numbers eighty. The following have served this people as their pastor: Rev. G. Heimmueller, Rev. Cellhoefer, Rev. Valentine Griese, Rev. F. Loehle, Rev. Fred Bezer, Rev. Otto Gerhardt, Rev. Henry Kleinsoge. The present (1890) church officials are: Pastor, Henry Kleinsoge; class leaders, August Keon, Charles Knueth, George Koenig; trustees, J. G. Koenig, George Hamm, Henry Detlof, E. Schaffer, A. Kuehn; stewards, Jacob Meriman, George Hamm, Charles Knueth, W. Bonstein. The work of this denomination at Remsen and Struble is at present conducted by the pastor of this church. It may here be recorded that J. G. Koenig has been among the active members of this church, being instrumental in getting the lot upon which to build, and also in helping to lay the foundation stones.

The Free Will Baptist church, of Le Mars, was organized May 8, 1875, by eighteen members, as follows: S. H. Stevens, T. Wells, L. Crow, J. J. Murphy, A. Sherman, Charles Terwilliger, J. W. Saterly, J. E. Wells, Susie Walker, Hattie Crow, Sarah Murphy, Alice Murphy, M. Terwilliger, S. C. Bickhall, L. L. Redmon, S. S. Sherman, A. M. Thompson and A. Saterly. A frame church building was erected in 1882 and dedicated in 1885. Its cost was $1,400; its size thirty by forty eight feet, and it has a seating capacity of 200. The first officers were: S. H. Stevens, pastor; Charles Terwilliger, J. J. Murphy and A. Sherman, deacons; C. Terwilliger, clerk; J. J. Murphy, treasurer. The officers at present are; R. A. Coats, pastor; E. K. Thomas, G. N. Thompson, deacons; N. Redmon, clerk; Jane Duncan, treasurer; M. F. Crouch, Lewis Crow, James Duncan, N. Redmon, and ____ Moor, trustees; Sunday school superintendent, Jane Duncan. The present membership of the Sunday school is thirty four. The pastors have served in their respective order as follows: Rev. S. H. Stevens, Rev. F. P. Augir, Rev. S. Summertin, Rev. J. H. Motom, Rev. S. N. Jones, Rev. J. J. Clifton, Rev. S. Summertin, Rev. H. J. Brown, Rev. S. N. Jones, Rev. C. W. Dennis and Rev. R. A. Coats.

St. Joseph's Roman Catholic church, of Le Mars, was formed in 1872. In 1875 it had 300 families connected, and the same year erected a chapel, thirty five by forty feet, which was remodeled in 1876. The present church edifice was erected in 1885. Its size is fifty by one hundred and fifty feet; its seating capacity is about 800 persons. The cost of the structure was $33,000, and it is situated on the corner of Sixth and Park streets. The present enrollment is 230 families - all of German nationality. The only priest who has been pastor over this congregation, is Father Hermann Joseph Meis. The present church officers are J. Knorr, N. B. Kaiser, it Schaefer, F. Etzel and M. Fisch. The members of this congregation are residents both of Le Mars and of the surrounding country.

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran church was formed February 18, 1883, by about twelve persons. The first officers of the society were C. H. Suecker, August Thole and Charles Deuschle. The present (1890) officials are: Fred Kilker, president; J. C. Clods, vice president; Henry Benjegerdes, treasurer; Otto G. Berner, secretary. The church building was erected in the autumn of 1883, on the corner of Howard and Fifth streets. Its size is twenty four by forty feet, and it cost about $1,000. It seats 100 persons. The highest membership ever enjoyed by this church was thirty three. Its present membership is thirty one, while about sixty five families are adherents to this society. A Sabbath school was organized in 1884, In 1888 the school numbered fifty. Before the organization of this church the Revs, C. F. Off and W. Kampmeier had been preaching in a room in the county court house, and at the time the society was formed, services were held at the residence of Jacob Blamers, on the corner of Howard and First streets, The following have served as pastors: Rev. W. Echelmeyer, from February, 1883, to July, 1884; Rev. O. C. Miner, from August, 1884, to December, 1888; Rev. Jakob Fischer, from February, 1889, to March, 1890; Rev. J. Jans, since April, 1890, In 1886 the congregation built a residence for the pastor, costing about $600. In 1888 they bought a lot south from the church for $250, and in 1889 erected an addition in front of the church, the same costing about $325, The present condition of the church is flourishing, and the present indebtedness of the society is only $150.

The Methodist Episcopal church at Le Mars was formed in 1869, by a little band of devout Methodists, who formed a class. Among them were: C, B. Wright and his wife, J. H. Garrison and wife, E. H, Howard and wife, Peter Garrison, " Mother" Bennett and a few others. J. H, Garrison and C, B. Wright were the first class leaders, The first meetings were held at the log school house, just south of the present Le Mars city plat, They next held services at Mrs. Bennett's house, and also papered the railroad depot, and used that as a place for worship for a few months. They next worshiped in McDougall's hall and Amsden's hall. In 1873 they erected a frame church on the corner of Clark and Seventh streets, which was thirty six by sitty feet. It was placed on a lot donated by the railroad company, and is the present church site, The original building, together with a small parsonage, cost $2,500. This building becoming too small, in 1883 an addition of twenty four by forty feet was made, at an expense of $1,400. It seats about 450 people, A parsonage was built near the court house in 1871, at which time the church intended to build there. In 1874 they built a part of the present parsonage, at a cost of $4e0, to which was added, in 1883, an addition costing $600. In 1889 this church had an enrollment, in good standing, of 304 members, At present they have about 220. The following is a correct list of pastors who have served from the date of organization to 1890: Rev. J. T. Walker, 1869; Rev. Binks, 1870; Rev. H, D. Brown, 1871; Rev, Thornberg, 1872; Rev. J. T. Walker, 1873-74 (on account of ill health his term was filled out by Revs. Fairchild and Glass); Rev, R. C. Glass, 1875-76; Rev. John Hogarth Lozier, 1877; Rev. H. W, Jones, 1878-79; Rev. F. W. Gleason, 1880; Rev. A. Jamison, 1881-82; Rev. F. H. Sanderson, 1883-84; Rev. R. C, Glass, 1885; Rev. B, C, Corey, 1886; Rev. I. N, Pardee, 1887-88, and part of 1889, when be was placed in charge of university work and his place taken by the present pastor, Rev. John W. Klepper, who came from the work at Kingsley in the spring of 1890. The present officers are: Leaders, C, G, Norris, C. B, Wright; trustees, H. C, Curtis, H. S. Payne, C, G. Norris, S. Brunskill, W, J, Wernli, J, Dire, Henry March, D. R, Edmonds; stewards, W. H, Boyd, George Hemmett, Robert Jemison, J, W. Brown, Thomas Adamson, Samuel Albright, R. A, Bell, George Hoover, L. M. Garner, C, C, Dire; district steward, D, A, Edmonds; recording steward, W, H. Boyd; Sabbath school superintendent, W, H. Boyd. The total membership of Sabbath school is 185.

The Presbyterian church was formed May 31, 1885, by thirty charter members. The first church officials were: Elders, C, A, Spring, B. Mudge, D. McArthur; deacons, W. Spring, George Monroe; trustees, George J, Gray, B. Bucher, The society has at one time enjoyed a membership of 214 persons; at present it has 173 enrolled, The present Sabbath school has an enrollment of 225 pupils, The superintendent is J, M, Emery, assisted by A. R, Barnes. A church edifice was built in 1885 and dedicated June 24, 1886, Rev. T. S, Bailey, D.D., officiating, The size of the building is fifty two by sixty four feet, and its seating capacity about 275. It is furnished with pews and heated by furnaces, and the expense of the building was a trifle over $8,000 including the lot. The bell and organ were both donated to the church, Rev. D, W. Fahs has served as pastor to the present time. The church is in a flourishing condition and doing much good in Le Mars, The present elders are B. Mudge, W, Spring, C, Spring, D. McArthur, D. Gibbs, A. R. Barnes, R. Steele.

St. James Catholic church was organized September 23, 1883, by a membership of 200, A building was erected in 1883-84. It was a frame structure, and was destroyed by the fearful tornado of June, 1885. The present building was erected of solid brick and stone work, in 1886, at a cost of $15,000. It is forty by ninety feet, and has a seating capacity of 450. It stands on Front street, facing the east, and is a magnificent edifice, finished in fresco work and hard wood. The present membership of the congregation is 450 persons. Rev. James P, Barron has served the parish from its organization.

The Congregational church of Le Mars was organized July 20, 1871, very early in the history of the city. The following were the first members: John Blodgett, of Elm street Congregational church, Bucksport Me.; Rosella Amsden, of the First Congregational church of Dubuque, Iowa; Emma Moore, of Sioux City; Mrs. Julia A, Young, of the Sioux City Methodist church; Miss Ella M. Beadell, of the Peosta (Iowa) Presbyterian church, The following pastors have served this people: Rev. Rufus M, Sawyer, who died November 29, 1872; Rev, D. D. Frost, from May 1, 1873, to time he resigned, May 12, 1875; Rev. A, E. Arnold, from April 4, 1876, to January 8, 1882, when he resigned; Rev, Beardslee, from October, 1882 (ordained January 2, 1844), until he resigned, December 6, 1884; Rev. Isaac Patch, from June 4, 1885, until the coming of the present pastor. A frame building was erected on the corner of Clark and Sixth streets in 1873, costing about $2,500, which served until the present beautiful edifice was completed and finally dedicated March 3, 1889, This building is located on the corner of Main and Third streets and cost $15,000, It is a frame structure, heated by furnaces and lighted by gas. It comfortably seats 500 persons within its fine audience room of fifty feet square, The present membership of the church is 270. The average of Sabbath school attendance is 250, and is ably superintended by Dr. M. Hilbert, The present efficient church clerk is M. H. Finney; the deacons are John Blodgett, L, Butler, F. B. Cooper, George H. Spring.

The Woman's Christian Temperance Union at Le Mars met at the Congregational church, to take some steps toward the enforcement of the prohibitory liquor law, in September, 1885; or, rather, it was at that time that the Christian ladies of Le Mars met for such purpose, and,while assembled, formed a temporary organization of the W. C. T. U. The following named ladies were present and became members: Addie E. Struble, Dell E. Garner, Mrs, E, Mudge, H. J. Duncan, Ella Wilcox, De Etta Payne, Celesta C. Hoyt, R. J. Norris, Maria Spring, N. W. Gilbert, A. B. Hewes, Eliza Blakeway, Carrie H. Clay, N, W. Spring, Fannie Smith, and a few others, perhaps. Mrs. Mary D. Clark was chosen president; Mrs. Clara C. Lawrence, secretary; Mrs. Mary Dalton, treasurer.

Work was at once commenced. Dr. Collins, of Missouri, was engaged to give a series of lectures in Hoyt's Opera ball. Well filled houses greeted him each evening, and many persons, hitherto careless, took a decided stand in favor of the enforcement of the law, In November Mrs. Lawrence resigned, and Mrs, Dalton was elected in her place,

In February, 1886, the society became an autiliary of the state union. Since it was formed, the ladies have raised $624 by a sixty cent membership fee and the holding of various local entertainments; $590 of this has been paid for lectures and reading matter, The present officers are C. C. Hoyt, president; Mrs. Thomas Treat, secretary; Dell E. Garner, treasurer. There is still great interest manifested, but in another line of work. Indeed, the ladies of Le Mars have been instrumental in doing great good for the city, and sooner or later shall their sons and daughters rise up and call them blessed.

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