History of Sioux City, IA (Part 3 Religious Societies)
From: History of the Counties of Woodbury and Plymouth, Iowa
A Warner & Co., Publishers
Chicago Illinois, 1890-91


SIOUX CITY is pre-eminently a city of churches, for no place in Iowa outranks it in this respect. There are thirty eight church organizations, and all have houses of worship but three.

Where the church spires and public school buildings are numerous, the " stranger within the gates "—no matter what his own belief may be—feels that be is in a safe and goodly abiding place. No better index can be given of a city than to learn of the welfare of its religious and educational institutions.

It will be the aim in this connection to give as much as possible concerning each society.

The oldest church organization of the city is the First Presbyterian, whose house of worship is on the corner of Sixth and Nebraska streets. According to its pastor, it was formed August 2, 1857.

In July, 1856, Rev. Charles D. Martin preached to this people at Sioux City. The original membership of the church was twelve, and the first pastor was Rev. Thomas M. Chestnut. Since then the pastors have been Revs. Stephen Phelps, A. E. Smith, E. H. Avery and George Knox. The present pastor, Rev. H. D. Jenkins, was installed December, 1889. The present membership is about 375, including its mission. Its home Sabbath school numbers 225. The property held by the church is worth $65,000. A $5,000 parsonage was erected in 1889, and a new edifice is now being planned, the present building having a seating capacity of about only 400.

The Second Presbyterian church was formed in 1887, and has about fifty members. Their place of worship is situated on Cook street, between Fourth and Fifth. It has a seating capacity of 125. The property is valued at $6,000.

The Third Presbyterian church was formed in 1888, and is still a small society. Rev. H. C. Herring has charge of this and also of the Second Presbyterian church. The value placed upon the property of this society is $3,000.

The First Christian church, holding services in the court house, was organized in 1888, and now numbers sixty seven. Rev. R. A. Thompson is the present pastor.

Emerson Heights Christian church was organized in 1888. It now enjoys a membership of sixty devoted Christian workers. Their church property is valued at $3,200. The pastor of the First Christian church also presides over this society.

The First Congregational church is one of Sioux City's first religious denominations. It was in the fifties that believers in this faith petitioned Home Missionary Rev. Mr. Gurnsey, of Dubuque, to have a minister sent to this section. In July, 1857, two Congregational men were visited here by Rev. John Todd, of Tabor, with a view of organizing a church. It was deferred until August 9, when W. H. Bigelow, H. D. Clark and Ed. C. Foster, met with Mr. Todd at Bigelow & Chamberlain's banking house on Douglas street, between Sixth and Seventh streets, and effected the organization. No further services were held until 1859, when Rev. George Rice, of Onawa, held communion services and added eight to the church. Union services were held with the Presbyterian people in a school house on Nebraska street, until the completion of the Presbyterian church. Early in 1861 they decided to call a pastor and worship alone. May 1, 1861, Rev. Marshall Tingley began his pastorate here, preaching his first sermon in the old council chamber town hail. The society passed through vicissitudes which befell so many early day organizations. In 1868, by self denial and liberality, the present frame edifice was completed and dedicated October 22, by Rev. Mr. Bull. Rev. Tingley was followed by Rev. J. H. Morley, who served for eight years. The frame building spoken of, stands just opposite the Oxford hotel, and has recently been sold, together with the lot, for many thousand dollars, and a new edifice is now about completed, on the corner of Nebraska and Eighth streets, that will seat 800 people. Its cost is to be $60,000, exclusive of a $4,000 pipe organ. The material of this edifice is Ohio sandstone. The present membership of the church is 350, and they own $75,000 worth of property.

Mayflower Congregational church, located on Center, between West Sixth and Seventh, has a seating capacity of 200. The valuation of the property is $3,600. The society was organized in 1887. Rev. R. W. Jamison is pastor.

Pilgrim Congregational church was organized in 1888, and now has a membership of 163. The society holds property worth $10,000. Their edifice seats 200 people, and it is located on Seventh street, between Wall and Iowa. Rev. J. E. McNamara is present pastor.

The first Methodist Episcopal church of Sioux City was organized in 1858. It is one of the pioneer church organizations in the place, and has ever been aggressive and zealous to the best religious interests of the city. Many of the most talented ministers of Iowa have, from time to time, been sent to this charge. Among those whose names will not soon be forgotten are Rev. Whitfield, Rev. R. C. Glass, Rev. John Hogarth Lozier and George Haddock, all of whom were active workers, not alone in strict church work, but who became great prohibition leaders, and from the Methodist Episcopal pulpit sounded forth words of wisdom, which ere long were put into practical use by the citizens of the place in the suppression of intemperance. This, however, was not brought about until Rev. George Haddock's life was sacrificed at the hand of a saloon element mob, who shot him down in life's prime. Concerning this tragedy see full account elsewhere in this work. This church has occupied numerous buildings as a worshiping place. For many years their church was located on Pierce and Sixth streets, where the Corn Palace has been built four years in succession. They sold that property for about $12,000. and built, in 1883, their present beautiful brick edifice on the corner of Seventh and Nebraska streets. The seating capacity is 375. The total value of church and parsonage is $35,000. The present membership is 430. Rev. W. D. Johnson is the present pastor, a man of fine attainments. It is designed to place a $3,000 pipe organ in the church during the present year.

Grace Methodist Episcopal church, located at Morning Side, has the following history: Rev. R. C. Glass began preaching at the little frame school house at that point on the first Sabbath of November, 1888, to a little congregation made up of the scattered families residing in that outlying portion of Sioux City. A few weeks later a Sabbath school was formed, with I. N. Stone as superintendent, which numbered some forty members. Early in 1889 a class was organized with six members, consisting of Mrs. I. G. Whitfield, wife of the presiding elder, Rev. Wilmot Whitfield, Mrs. R. C. Glass, Miss Lula Glass, Mrs. Lizzie A. Andrews, and Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Simons. In the latter part of March, 1889, the little society was duly organized and incorporated as Grace Methodist Episcopal church. The first board of trustees consisted of the following persons: E. C. Peters, James A. Jackson, F. H. Ludlow, Wilmot Whitfield, John T. Cheeney, R. C. Glass, E. D. Allen, H. E. Douglass and T. H. Stevens. Steps were at once taken to build a church edifice, which resulted in the erection of a beautiful brick structure, costing, with furnishings, about $10,000, which was dedicated to the worship of Almighty God, according to the forms peculiar to this church, December 1, 1889, by the Rev. Bishop Henry W. Warren, D. D., LL. D., in the presence of a large congregation. The church has continued to prosper, and at this date, August, 1890, numbers some forty members. Rev. R. C. Glass is still its pastor. He is also connected with the new university, now being built at Morning Side [see history elsewhere]. Rev. Wilmot Whitfield was presiding elder at the date Grace church was formed, and the same board still holds, with the exception of A. S. Garretson, recently added.

Haddock Memorial church, on the corner of Steuben and Fifth streets, Rev. J. B. Kilbourn, pastor, was organized in 1886. It now has a membership of 140. The seating capacity of their neat chapel is 225. The total value of church property is $10,000.

The Norwegian-Danish Methodist Episcopal church, on Iowa street, Rev. James Peterson, pastor, was organized in 1881, and enjoys a membership of eighty five. The seating capacity of their church is 125, and the value of church property is $5,000.

The German Mission holds services at a private place on Omaha street; Rev. Frank E. Moll is superintendent.

The German Methodist church, located on Steuben, between Third and Fourth streets, Rev. C. A. Schuldt, pastor, was organized in 1886, and has a membership of fifty. The value of church property is $8,000. The seating capacity of their chapel is 125.

The African Methodist Episcopal church, on Main and Sixth streets, Rev. S. McDonell, pastor, was formed in 1884, and now has a membership of fifty. The seating capacity of their church building is 200. Total value of property, $4,000.

The First Baptist church of Sioux City was organized in 1860, and now is one of the strongest in the city. It has a membership of over 550. Their property, which is valued at $50,000, stands in the very heart of the city. The estimated wealth of its membership is $4,000,000. The present pastor is Rev. C. H. Strickland.

Immanuel church, Oto, between Fifth and Sixth streets, was organized in 1886, and now has a membership of seventy. Rev. A. C. Blackman is pastor. Their building seats 350 persons, and the total value of their property is placed at $3,500.

Fourth Baptist church, located on Fourth street, between Howard and Clark, was organized in 1888, and numbers fifty five. J.W. Rees is pastor. The supposed value of this society's property is $8,000.

The First Swedish Baptist church is located on Virginia and Tenth streets. It was formed in 1874, and numbers thirty five. Valuation of property, $7,500; L. J. Ahlstrom, pastor.

St. Thomas Episcopal church was one of the first organized (in 1857), and they erected a frame chapel in 1859, which building served until 1870, when it was enlarged, and again added to in 1882. In June, 1890, the property was sold and another site procured. The original location was the corner of Seventh and Nebraska streets, and their recent purchase is on the corner of Twelfth and Douglas streets, upon which ground it is proposed to erect a magnificent edifice to cost $50,000, the plans for which are now being made in New York.

The present membership of this society is 275. The following have served as rectors: Rev. M. Hoyt, Rev. George W. Pratt, Rev. W. Esterbrook, Rev. L. Ramsey, Rev. Richard Ellerby, Rev. William Richmond, Rev. George H. Cornell. The present (1890) officials are: Wardens, Luther C. Sanborn, William D. Irvine; vestrymen, J. C. French, W. H. Beck, George D. Hicks, J. H. Bolton, J. M. B. Floyd, H. G. Pierce. The first vestrymen were elected in November, 1859, as follows: James M. Bacon, H. C. Bacon, William R. Smith, John H. Charles, John P. Allison, George Weare.

St. Paul's Episcopal church was erected in 1885 at a cost of $1,200. It seats 150 persons. It is located on the corner of West Sixth and Center streets. The present membership of the society is seventy two. The rectors have been William Richmond, W. E. Jacob and E. H. Gaynor.

Calvary church (Episcopal) is situated at Morning Side. It is a new society there. A chapel was erected in 1889 at a cost of $1,000. It has a seating capacity of about 150 persons. The present rector is Rev. E. H. Gaynor.

The First Swedish Mission (Lutheran) church, corner of Court and Seventh streets, Rev. F. O. Hultman, pastor, was organized in 1874. It now has a membership of 250. Their new church edifice, built in 1889, seats 300 and cost $15,000. Total value of property, $25,000.

The Swedish Lutheran Augustana church is one of the finest in the city; it was dedicated in February, 1890, and is located on the corner of Sixth and Court streets. It is built of Sioux City pressed brick, arranged in Gothic style. Its size is 54x98 feet, and has a tower 115 feet high. The seating capacity of the building is over 1,000. The present membership of the society is 400. The pastor, Rev. A. P. Martin, a native of Sweden, has been in charge since 1886. The church is in a flourishing condition, and possesses a property valued at $45,000. The Swedes are a church going people. "America need not be afraid of them — they love Sweden as their mother and America as their bride."

The German Evangelical church, on Jennings street, is the home of the society which was formed in 1889, and now enjoys a working membership of fifty. They have a neat church, valued at $7,000. Rev. W. Jones is the pastor.

The Trinity English Lutheran was formed in September, 1886, by Rev. D. L. MacKenzie, the present pastor. The membership is now sixty three, with a Sabbath school of 150. They own a fine church property on Eleventh and Nebraska streets, dedicated in May, 1889. Its cost was $10,000 aside from the $5,000 grounds. Only $100 stood against the entire property in 1889.

The First Unity church, one of the most refined and popular societies in the city, dedicated May 5, 1889, a beautiful church on Douglas street; it seats 600 people and cost $20,000. The society is a strong and growing one. It now has a membership of 325. Its devoted ministers are Revs. Mary Safford and Elinor Gordon. It may be added, this church is noted for fine music. A $3,000 pipe organ was placed in the church a few months since.

St. Mary's Catholic church was organized in 1863. Its present congregation numbers 4,000 souls. They owned a $75,000 church property (including lot) on the corner of Sixth and Pierce streets, which was sold and torn down in July and August, 1890. It was a brick structure with a seating capacity of 600. A new edifice is being erected on Tenth street, costing $50,000, intended for the cathedral of the Northwestern Iowa diocese. The new building has 2,000 sittings and is to contain a $4,000 pipe organ. At the time of gathering this data Father T. Treacy was pastor of the congregation.

St. Boniface Catholic church was formed in 1886, and now has a membership of 400. The value of their church property is $12,000. Rev. J. A. Gurlman is pastor. Their building is on Main street and West Fifth.

St. Rose Catholic church, at Morning Side, was organized in 1888, and has become a prosperous society, numbering about 200 souls. Their new church building and grounds are quite valuable.

The French Catholic church was formed in 1889, and has a membership of seventy five souls. A neat chapel was completed in 1890, which, with the lot, is valued at $7,000. It stands on Seventh, between Pearl and Water streets. Its seating capacity is 250.

Grace Reformed church, corner Cook and Sixth streets, was organized in 1888, and has a membership of twenty six. Rev. F. Wetzel is the pastor. Services are now held at Smith's hall.

The Sioux City branch of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was formed May 20, 1885, and now numbers about twenty five. The headquarters of this society, for Iowa, is at Lamoni, Decatur county, and the nearest branch to Sioux City is at Little Sioux, where there are about 200 members.

Trefoldigheds church, Rev. K. Skyburg, pastor, northeast corner of West Sixth and Bluff streets, was organized in 1872. It now has a membership of ninety. The cost of their edifice was $3,000 and of the parsonage, $2,000. The church seats 250 persons.

Zion Norwegian church, north side of Seventh, between Court and Iowa, Rev. H. Yderstad, pastor, was organized in 1885, and has a membership of seventy five. The church seats 125 and the property is valued at $1,200.

St. Paul's Evangelical church, Rev. C. Runge, pastor, was formed in 1875 and has a membership of sixty six. The property of this society is valued at $10,000.

St. John's church (Norwegian), on the corner of Court and Sixth streets, Rev. L. Harrisville, pastor, was formed in 1884, and now has a membership of seventy five. A small edifice stands on property worth $8,000.

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