Church History in Atchison County, Kansas
From: History of Atchison County, Kansas
BY: Sheffield Ingalls
Standard Publishing Company
Lawrence, Kansas 1916


Methodism was introduced into Atchison by the Rev. James Shaw, who had been a prominent member of the Detroit conference, both as pastor and missionary among the Indians along the Lake Superior district, and also as presiding elder. Being in poor health and desiring a new location, he came to Leavenworth in March, 1856, and finding that Leavenworth was already provided with a pastor, he proceeded to Atchison. He did not find Atchison very friendly toward preachers when he arrived, and the Pardee Butler incident was fresh in the minds of the people at that time. So the Rev. Mr. Shaw went farther north, to Doniphan and Geary City, which were Free State towns. He soon thereafter went to Detroit for his family, and soon after his return to Geary City; he was appointed as pastor at Atchison and Monrovia. He preached his first sermon in May, 1857, in the office of S. C. Pomeroy, which was located on the corner of Third and Commercial streets, and this was the first sermon from the lips of a preacher of any denomination that was delivered in Atchison. He organized the Methodist Episcopal church in January, 1858, with members from various denominations. The first services were held in a room in the building on the southeast corner of Second and Commercial streets. He later raised $2,000 for a new church building, S. C. Pomeroy, O. F. Short and Robert McBratney each pledging $500, on condition that the new building should be located on the north side of Parallel street, near Fifth street.

Rev. I. F. Collins succeeded Mr. Shaw, and Rev. C. H. Lovejoy, who had been preaching at Lawrence for two years, was sent to Sumner. Upon the arrival of Mr. Collins, he at once began the erection of the new church building on Parallel street, the two lots on which the building was subsequently erected being donated by the Atchison Town Company. The trustees of the church at that time were: John T. Dougherty, Edwin O. Collins, Archie C. Master, David F. Beagle, William A. Butler, Joseph H. Gilbert, Robert Hancock, Cyrus A. Comstock and Calvin W. Phelps. The church building was completed in April, 1859, and was fifty eight feet long and thirty two feet wide. It had a seating capacity of 35o people, and cost $3,075. The structure was dedicated May 8, 1859, and Rev. Hugh D. Fisher, the famous Fee State Methodist preacher, came up from Leavenworth and assisted in the dedication. During the first year in the new church, two young men came to Atchison, who afterwards became successful and honored citizens of the town, Samuel Gard and D. C. Newcomb. They subsequently formed a partnership and conducted a drygoods store under the name of Gard & Newcomb, which for many years remained one of the leading firms of the city. Mr. Gard died many years ago, and in 1915 Mr. Newcomb still lives. The Methodist church, perhaps, owes more to D. C. Newcomb than any other man who was ever identified with it. His money, business sagacity and consecration have made possible the success of Methodism in Atchison. His motto has always been, "It is safe to do right, and unsafe to do wrong."

Butcher, Auld & Dean, famous contractors of an early day, who built the first railroad between Atchison and St. Joseph, with their families, united with the Methodist church and became stanch supporters of it. J. C. Reisner, who came to Atchison in 1858, and his wife, Rebecca, were also prominent early members of the church. They built the Tremont House, which for a great many years was the leading hotel, located where the Burlington freight house now stands. Rev. Dr. Christian F. Reisner, pastor of Grace Church, New York City, was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. Reisner. The fourth session of the Kansas-Nebraska conference, which met in Omaha in May, 1859, returned Rev. Collins to Atchison, and during that year Mr. and Mrs. John M. Crowell and the McCulley brothers united with the church. In December, 1859, Abraham Lincoln, on his visit to Kansas, spoke in the little church edifice on Parallel street, reference to which has already been made in this history. In the fifth session of the Kansas-Nebraska conference, Rev. Milton Mahen was appointed to Atchison. It was a critical period in the history of the town, and the Rev. Mahen was admonished to be very cautious on the question of slavery, but he had courage and patriotism enough to order the Stars and Stripes hoisted on his church. That year T. B. Davis and his wife, Kathryn, came to Atchison and became useful members. "Grandma" Davis is living in 1916, and on February 21, 1915, celebrated her ninetieth birthday. Owing to the great drought that visited Atchison in 186o, the church did not prosper greatly during the period of Mr. Mahen's pastorate, but in the succeeding session of the Kansas conference, which met March 21, 1861, Mr. Mahen was returned to Atchison, and it was during this year that a severe storm, which destroyed Sumner, wrecked the church building so that extensive repairs were necessary. In the seventh session of the Kansas conference, March, 1862, the Rev. Mr. James Shaw was returned to Atchison.

W. M. Davies was the superintendent of the Sunday school, having been elected in 1859. In 1863 Rev. W. Marlatt was appointed for Atchison, and March to, 1864, Mr. Marlatt was succeeded by Dr. W. R. Davis, who had been president of Baker University. Rev. Mr. Davis was retained in March, 1865, by the tenth session of the conference, and was succeeded by Rev. W. K. Marshall. Mr. Marshall was returned to Atchison in 1867, and in March, 1868, Rev. Hugh D. Fisher, who was known during the war as the "fighting chaplain," was made pastor at Atchison. He found conditions rather discouraging, but went to work to pay off the debts on the church property and repair the building. He created a great deal of interest in the town in religious matters, and the little church building on Parallel street having become too small, two lots on the corner of Fifth and Kansas avenue were purchased in 187o, and the basement of the present building was erected and dedicated by Dr. Fisher, who remained pastor of the church for three years. Dr. Fisher was one of the strong preachers of Kansas in that day, and a strong anti-slavery sympathizer. He built the church at Leavenworth in 1859, which was one of the famous churches of the State, and popularly known as the cradle of prohibition. He was in Lawrence when Quantrell sacked the town, and after an eventul life as pastor, chaplain and missionary, Dr. Fisher died at Baldwin, Kan., October 23, 1905.

Rev. T. J. Leak succeeded Mr. Fisher, and it was during Mr. Leak's pastorate that the new church was dedicated, October 26, 1873. Three years later the Rev. Mr. Leak was succeeded by Dr. George S. Dearborn. Rev. William Friend succeeded Dr. Dearborn in March, 1876, who was succeeded by E. W. Van Deventer. Dr. Philipp Krohn became pastor in 1882. He was succeeded by Rev. A. H. Tevis. Dr. J. W. Alderman came to Atchison in 1887 and remained until March, 1893, and was succeeded by Dr. E. H. Brumbaugh, who became pastor in March, 1893. Rev. S. V. Leach followed Dr. Brumbaugh in 1897, who in turn was succeeded by Rev. G. W. Grines, and since that time Dr. H. E. Wolf, Rev. W. T. Stott, Dr. I. B. Pulliam and Dr. John W. Scott filled the pulpit of the church down to the year 1914, when Rev. Thomas E. Chandler, who for five years previous had been superintendent of the Ottawa district, became pastor of the church. Dr. Chandler is one of the best informed, most eloquent and beloved pastors the church has ever had. He is not only popular among his own church people, but has made numerous friends outside his fold. In September, 1915, through the efforts of Dr. Chandler, assisted by Dr. C. F. Reisner, pastor of Grace Church, New York City, together with C. D. Walker and others, $42,000 was raised for the erection of a new church. When it is completed it will be one of the finest church edifices in Kansas.


The Christian church was organied in Pioneer Hall, corner of Kansas avenue and Fourth street, May 20, 1882, with twenty four charter members. At the end of the first year there were fifty five members, and in April, 1884, the church was incorporated under the laws of Kansas. The first church edifice was located at the corner of Tenth street and Kansas avenue, and was dedicated May 24, 1885, at a cost of $2,604. The building was much enlarged during the ministry of W. H. White. In 1912, the congregation having outgrown its old building, agitation for a new building was started, and a new site was selected at Seventh and Santa Fe streets, and on August 19, 1914, a beautiful new church was dedicated, which cost $47,000. The church also owns a lot adjoining the church, upon which a parsonage will be erected The present membership is 1,400, and the Bible school is next to the largest in the State. The Sunday school is thoroughly graded, with eight departments, sixty five officers and teachers, with H. P. Armstrong, superintendent. The church has thirty deacons and elders.

The records show that as early as 1869 the Christian church had followers in this community, and among the pastors who served in the early days were William C. Rodgers, James E. Gaston and C. C. Band. The early congregation went so far as to purchase a lot at the corner of Seventh and Santa Fe streets, opposite the present new edifice, and a foundation was laid for a building, but the plan had to be abandoned because of lack of funds.

Miss Etta Beason, of Atchison, and T. D. McCleery, of Effingham, are the two surviving charter members.

The names of the pastors who have served the church since 1882 are as follows: M. P. Hayden, W. S. Priest, J. S. Myers, Rev. Cox, W. H. White, Lowell McPherson, Rev. Ingram, M. E. Harlan, E. L. Ely, W. T. Hilton, Z. E. Bates. The present pastor of the church is Rev. Jesse M. Bader, one of the most popular, aggressive and conscientious ministers in Atchison.


The First Presbyterian Church was organized October 21, 1858, by a committee from the Presbytery of Highland, Rev. Alexander W. Pitzer, of Leavenworth, chairman. The number of persons entering into the organization on that day was eight. Their names were as follows: William M. Davies, Mary Davies, George B. Irwin, Rebecca Irwin, Annie Love, Andrew Hamilton, Maximilla Ireland and Edward Hair. The following persons have served the church as ministers: Rev. Julius Spencer, from April, 1858, for about eighteen months; Rev. H. H. Dobbins, for seven months, from September, 1863; Rev. T. P. Lemis commenced his labors in April, 1865, and continued with the church until February, 1868; Rev. Edward Cooper had charge of the church from December, 186g, until December, 1875; Rev. J. H. Clark officiated as pastor from March, 1876, until June, 1878; Rev. M. L. Howie began his labors in November, 1878, and continued with the church until November, 1882; he died in Chicago in August, 1913; Rev. D. C. Milner began his work in December, 1882, and continued with the church until September 23, 1887; Rev. M. L. Howie (second term), November 11, 1887, to 1897; Rev. J. D. Countermine, from 1897 to 1899; Rev. B. F. Boyle came February 25, 1900, and continued as pastor until in the fall of 1911. Rev. W. I. Alexander came in November, 1911, and continued his labors until September, 1914. Rev. W. C. Isett was called in September, 1915.

For some months after its organization the church had no regular minister and services were held in a store room, hall and private residences. For a time the church held meetings in Bang's Hall on Commercial street, and in Price's Hall, on the corner of Fourth and Main streets. During the pastorate of Rev. Lewis, the building on Fourth street, between Commercial and Main streets, known as "the Presbyterian halal," was erected, and the congregation commenced using it as a place of worship in 1865. The congregation began the erection of the present church building in 1880. The corner stone was laid on September 15 of that year. About the time of beginning the building, Mrs. S. Donald, Mrs. Judge Berry, Mrs. C. A. Stuart and Mrs. A. J. North canvassed the city and secured large subscriptions to the building fund. The building committee consisted of A. W. Simpson, A. F. Martin and J. M. Covert. The elders in 188o were as follows: A. B. McQueen, A. J. North, J. M. Covert, J. W. Allen, J. S. Trimble, and Harry Harkness. The deacons in the same year were as follows: B. F. Hudson, J. Edward Lewis, S. D. D. Smith and D. M. Wynkoop. The trustees were as follows. B. F. Hudson, president; A. F. Martin, secretary; David Lukens, treasurer; E. K. Blair, R. B. Drury. A. W. Simpson, S. D. D. Smith. Officers of the Sunday school were as follows: A. F. Martin, superintendent; J. M. Covert, assistant superintendent, and J. E. Lewis, secretary and treasurer. Officers of the Ladies' Aid Society were as follows: Mrs. A. J. North, president; Mrs. W. C. North, secretary; Mrs. E. K. Blair, treasurer. Young Ladies' Society: Miss May Seaton, president; Miss Tola Thomas, secretary; Miss Nellie George, treasurer. In the year 1858 the persons active in the church at that time were: Mrs. Thomas Seip, Mr. and Mrs. William Davis, Mr. and Mrs. A. B. McQueen. The first deaconesses were: Mrs. C. J. Parmenter and Miss Anna J. North, ordained in 1888.


The First Baptist Church of Atchison was organized in 1858, in Allen's Hall, on the northwest corner of Second and Commercial streets. At the time of the organization there were but nine members, of whom three are still living and members of the church, though non resident: Mrs. L. A. Alderson, Mrs. Aaron Stephenson and Mrs. Mary A. Challiss. Dr. W. L. Challiss was soon added to the membership. The lots on the corner of Ninth street and Kansas avenue were donated by Luther C. Challiss, and a house of worship was erected upon it, and this location has been the home of the church ever since.

Rev. L. A. Alderson was the first pastor of the church, and he served faithfully three years without salary. Then followed Rev. Dr. Perkins from New Jersey, and Rev. Frank Remington.

Just at this time the troubles of the war came on and very little could be accomplished. Rev. J. W. Warder became pastor in 1866 and the church grew strong under his ministry. Rev. H. A. Guild successfully served the church for a time in 186g. Rev. J. Sawyer accepted the pastorate, and then Rev. E. Gunn.

Rev. J. W. Luke was pastor directly before Rev. Mulford. He baptized some of our best workers and did excellent and permanent work for the church.

The twenty fifth anniversary was fittingly celebrated at the home of Mrs. John M. Price, and a silver offering was received toward a new building which came soon after, under the pastorate of Rev. J. B. Mulford, who was called to his reward from here.

Rev. D. D. Proper followed and Rev. E. P. Brand and Rev. G. W. Rogers, all of whom served the church under great difficulties. There was a heavy debt left upon the new building, which was drawing a high rate of interest, and the constant calls for money which was paid with apparently no returns, discouraged the membership. Still, the pastors resolutely worked at the great task. Rev. G. W. Rogers undertook to raise $5,000 of the mortgage, and B P Waggener, who had always been a generous contributor, gave $2,000, and made a liberal loan besides. Not long after Rev. Rogers was called to another field, and again the church had a pastorless period, but greatly enjoyed the ministrations of the late Dr. Murphy. Rev. J. R. Corner was called to the pastorate June 1, 1895, and faithfully served the church twelve years. Much of the money pledged during Dr. Rogers' pastorate was paid in or collected while Rev. J. R. Corner was pastor. Then the remaining $1,500 mortgage and all other debts were bravely taken up and paid, and the church celebrated its victory in burning the mortgage and a general rejoicing, and also a firm determination never to go deeply in debt again.

During the present pastorate of more than eight years the church has strictly followed this rule, but this has not prevented some large purchases. In 1909 the church purchased and placed a new pipe organ at a cost of $4,500, and two years later purchased the property adjoining the church on the west for the accommodation of the growing Sunday school. This was done at a cost of $5,500 for property and furniture, and the money was raised at a Sunday morning service. It is in the minds of many of the members of the church that in the near future there must be a new church building, and to that end over $6,000 has been accumulated and is being held for the time when the membership of the church shall be ready to erect a structure that shall be worthy of the city and an honor to God.

The work of the church has grown and developed and every department has accepted a larger share in work, local and world wide Last year the church contributed over $1,200 for missionary and benevolent work, besides some gifts which did not pass through the church treasury.

The church stands for a strong and helpful and constructive religious work, and a faithful adherence to the teachings of the Bible, and a loyalty to the Lordship of Christ. The present pastor is Rev. A. J. Haggett, who has served his congregation long and well.


The Evangelical Association located a mission in Atchison in 1882, with Rev. C. Brandt as the first missionary. A number of German families were gathered and signified their willingness to effect a church organization. Accordingly, a hall was rented at 614 Commercial street and services held. In 1884 the organization numbered forty seven members, and the Kansas conference of the Evangelical Association at its annual session in 1884 decided to build a church at this time. Rev. Daniel R. Zellner was appointed pastor, and Rev. John Wuerth, presiding elder of the Holton district. During the pastorate of Rev. D. R. Zellner in 1884 the church was built at 522 Atchison street, and dedicated by Rev. John Wuerth, presiding elder, as the Salem church of the Evangelical Association, and service has continued uninterruptedly ever since. Following are the ministers who served consecutively as pastors: Rev. C. Brandt, D. R. Zeilner, C. Brant, second pastorate; C. F. Erffineyer, Samuel Mueller, Jacob Schmidle, John Wuerth, C. F. Iwig, Peter Scheumann, D. R. Zellner, third pastorate; Charles Linge, E. E. Erffineyer, D. R. Zellner, fourth pastorate, L. M. Nanninga, J. M. Fricker, Samuel Breithaupt, present pastor (1916).

The following served as presiding elders during the past thirty four years: John Wuerth, Henry Mattill, J. F. Schreiber, Albert Brunner, C. F. Erffmeyer, W. F. Wothensen and C. F. Iwig. The Evangelical Association was organized as a denomination in 1800, with Jacob Allbright as its founder.

Originally, the language used was German, but in the past half century the German language was rapidly superseded by the English language. At this time there are very few congregations in the denomination that worship in the German language exclusively. The services in the Evangelical church in this city for the past few years are conducted in English.

This society maintains a well organized Sunday school, with weekly sessions every Sunday at 10 o'clock a. m. G. W. Bradley is superintendent; a Young People's Alliance, E. B. Breithaupt, president, and a Woman's Missionary Society, Mrs. Samuel Breithaupt, president. This organization maintains free pews and extends an invitation to strangers when in the city to worship with them.


In the summer of 1893 a number of men, among them Rev. Nestel, of St. Joseph, Mo., who had received a special invitation, met at the home of August Manglesdorf, Sr., and organized a German Evangelical congregation. It was decided to have services in Odd Fellows hall. Rev. Nestel came over from St. Joe from time to time and conducted the services. In January, 1894, Rev. C. Stork, of Concordia, Mo., took charge of the congregation as their first own pastor. In 1894 two lots of land, at the northwest corner of Ninth and Santa Fe streets, were bought, upon which the church was built. In 1895 the congregation became a member of the German Evangelical Synod of North America. In the same year the parsonage was erected, and in 1908 a school building was added to the church. Besides Rev. Stork, the following ministers served the congregation: H. Limper, 1897 to 1901; C. Bechtold. 1901 to 1905; P. Stoerker, from 1905 to 1909, and Emil Vogt, the present pastor. Besides the annual donations for their own church, the members have spent $2,000 for home and foreign missions. The church has a Sunday school, a teachers' training course, a choir, a Young People's Society, and a Ladies' Aid Society.


Mrs. Henrietta E. Graybill, of Milwaukee, might properly be called the founder of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Atchison. She was the original first reader when she came to Atchison from Kansas City in 1894. In March, 1895, she began a class in instruction at the Byram Hotel. This was the beginning of the local church. On September 7, 1895, the followers met in temporary quarters in the Ingalls' building, at Seventh and Commercial streets, seven being present. The church was organized April 9, 1895, with seven charter members. The first testimonial meeting was held January 3, 1896, and January 15, 1896, the first Sunday school was organized, with seven children in attendance. Before the end of 1896 the church was moved to more commodious quarters, at the southeast corner of Fourth and Commercial streets. These quarters were soon outgrown, and in March, 1897, the German Methodist church at Ninth and Santa Fe streets was purchased and the first services held there were on July 4, 1897. This church was dedicated in April, 1900, by Mrs. G. W. Pennell, who had become first reader, and from the start had been a constant and enthusiastic worker. Ten years later, March 28, 1910, lots at the northwest corner of Fourth and Santa Fe streets were purchased, as a site for the permanent church. Land was secured and the foundation started September 11, 1911; corner stone was laid July 7, 1912, and first services held in the Sunday school room May 25, 1913. First services were held in the auditorium September 7, 1913, and the church dedicated October 19, 1913. Among the permanent members of the church are Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Pennell, Mr. and Mrs. James W. On, L. H. Munson, Miss N. S. Donald and Miss Emma Maage, the first reader, and D. W. Rowe.

The present church edifice was erected largely through the liberality of Mr. Pennell, at a cost of $50,000, and is pronounced an architectural gem.


St. Patrick's congregation, near Mt. Pleasant, was founded in the early fall of 1857, by the Rev. Father Augustine Wirth, O. S. B. He came from Doniphan, Kan., over the prairies and through dense timber on foot, not having the means to buy a horse or secure any kind of a conveyance, in the summer of 1857. The Benedictine Fathers had been sent west by an American founder, Rt. Rev. Boniface Wimmer, O. S. B., to establish a priory in the eastern part of Kansas. They settled in the hills of Doniphan, and from this county they founded and attended missions in Atchison, Brown, Nemaha and Jefferson counties. Among the first parishes established by these priests was one near Mt. Pleasant. Mt. Pleasant at that time was quite a commercial center, owing largely to the overland freighting outfits that passed through there on their way to Denver and the Pacific coast Patrick Durkin, who is a resident of Walnut township in 1916, and the late John Delaney were teamsters on this route, and had many interesting experiences and struggles with Indians and Jayhawkers. Following the first visit of Father Augustine, after he had told the few Catholic settlers how he had traveled on foot from Doniphan, a small congregation collected enough money to pay for a horse, saddle and bridle, and presented it to him.

Father Augustine attended to the spiritual demands of the early Catholic settlers in the Mt. Pleasant district about once a month during the period of his services there. There was no church edifice during that period, and divine services were held in the humble log cabins of the Catholic settlers, usually at the homes of John Knowles, Owen Grady, Ned Cotter, Bernard Lee and James McArdle. Mary Honorah Clare was the first child baptized at St. Patrick's parish, September 28, 1857. The first marriage was that of James Barry, to Catherine Hennesy, May 9, 1857, at the home of Edward Cotter. The ceremony was conducted by Rev. Augustine Wirth. In the fall of 1857 the first church was built, which was a small affair, constructed out of native timber. It was poorly constructed and was of short duration, as it was blown down by a strong wind one cold winter day, and wrecked beyond repair. Following the destruction of the first church, the members concluded to build a more substantial edifice of stone, and in the spring of 1866 the walls were built. The stone work was done by the late Nicholas Greiner, a German stone mason, who came to Sumner in the late fifties, and subsequently died, one of the wealthiest farmers of Walnut township. The church was dedicated December 8, 1866.

In addition to the church proper, the Catholic settlers of Walnut township, near Mt. Pleasant, have also erected a commodious parish house for their priest, and a hall for public meetings.

The following is a list of the priests in charge of St. Patrick's Church since it was established:

Irregular pastors. - Rev. Augustine Wirth, O. S. B., September, 1857, to November, 1859; died, December 20, 1901. Rev. Edmund Langenfelder, O. S. B., November, 1857, to December, 1860; died, April 18, '885. Rev. Philip Vogt, O. S. B., February, 1860, to January, 1861; date of death not known. Rev. Emanuel Hartig, O. S. B., December, 1860, to June, 1861; died, September 1, 1910. Rev. Thomas Bartel, O. S. B., April, 1862, to August, 1867; died, November 30, 1885.

Regular pastors. - Rev. Timothy Luber, O. S. B., January, 1864, to March, 1871. Rev. Placidus McKeever, O. S. B., March, 1871, to August, 1873; died, September 22, 1896. Rev. Maurice Lynch, O. S. B., August, 1873, to August, 1875: died, December 13, 1887. Rev. Eugene Bode, O. S. B., August, 1875, to April, 1880. Rev. Raymond Danial, O. S. B., April, 1880, to September, 1880; died. September 25, 1910. Rev. Peter Kassens, O. S. B., September, 1880, to April, 1881. Rev. Adolph Weaseling, O. S. B., April, 1881, to April, 1883; died, September 24, 1891. Rev. Urban Tracy, O. S. B., April, 1883, to April, i885; died, May 13, 1915. Rev. Timothy Luber, O. S. B., April, 1885, to April, 1890; died, March 29, 1901. Rev. Augustine Baker, O. S. B., April. 1890, to December, 1893; died, June 23, 1909. Rev. Thomas Burk, O. S. B., December, 1893, to December, 1897. Rev. Columban Meaney, O. S. B., December, 1897, to December, 191o; died. January 8, 1911. Rev. Ignatius Stein, O. S. B., January, 1911, to September, 1912. Rev. Lawrence Theis, O. S. B., September, 1912, to September, 1913 Rev. Robert Salmon, O. S. B., September, 1913, to September, 1914. Rev Lawrence Theis, O. S. B., September, 1914; still in charge (1916).


This church was organized November 3, 1857, as St. Mary Magdalene's Church, by Rev. Lewis R. Staudenmayer, John H. Stringfellow, Joseph P. Carr, G. W. Bowman, William O. Gould, John M. Maury, James W. Stringfellow and Daniel Adams. The Rev. L. R. Staudenmayer, a German, of middle age, was the first pastor, and the first property owned by the parish was at the northeast corner of Kansas avenue and Ninth street, where a small rectory was built in 1859. The first vestry was as follows: Richard C. Mackall, A. Hanson Weightman, James L. McClure, Philipp Link, John M. Maury and Joseph P. Carr, and in October, 1859, a committee from the vestry was authorized to procure estimates for building a church on its property upon Kansas avenue at a cost of $1,500. The foundation for this edifice was laid and some money expended, but the resignation of Mr. Staudenmayer in January, 1860, and his removal from the city, brought to a standstill the construction of the edifice. The court house and Price's Hall were used as places of worship for ten years. The Rev. Faber Byllsby succeeded Mr. Staudenmayer, and in 1863 the Rev. John E. Ryan succeeded Mr. Byllsby. After Mr. Ryan's resignation, in September, 1864, Bishop Thomas H. Vail was made rector of the church, and notwithstanding the manifold duties which pressed upon him as bishop of the diocese, he gave much of his time to his work here, with the assistance of his son in law, Rev. John Bakewell who proved to be a very successful rector. It was during his rectorship that agitation for a new church building was started, and due to the efforts of Mr. Bakewell, Col. William Osborne, Richard A. Park, Judge Otis and E. S. Wills, the present church edifice at the corner of Utah avenue and Fifth street was erected, at a cost of $20.000. It is built of stone, in the early English style of Gothic architecture, slate roof and interior finished in black walnut and pine, and stands today, one of the ornaments of Atchison. In 1871 Mr. Bakewell resigned and was succeeded by Rev. P. Nelson Meade in January, 1872, and continued in charge until April, 1874, when he was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas G. Garver, who resigned in September, 1875. Rev. Frank O. Osborne became rector in February, 1876, and was succeeded by Rev. Abiel Leonard. Rev. M. Leonard found a congregation of 150 communicants. who in May, 1882, erected a two story brick rectory on T street for him. It was during the Rev. Mr. Leonard's rectorship that St. Andrew's Mission, on west Commercial street, was built. Mr. Leonard was succeeded by the Rev. Francis K. Brooke, who in turn was succeeded by the Rev. John Henry Hopkins, who built a parish house adjoining the church, which was opened for use in 1905. Upon the resignation of Mr. Hopkins, Rev. John E. Sulger became rector, but he remained only a short time, and was succeeded by the Rev. John Henry Molineux. Rev. William R. Cross succeeded Mr. Molinèux, and then came the Rev. Francis S. White, who remained in the parish until 1911, and was succeeded by the Rev. Otis E. Gray.

The present vestry of the church is composed as follows: E. A. Mize, senior warden; Dr. W. G. Beitze1, junior warden and clerk, and W. W. Hetherington, T. L. Lawrence, Clyde Hastings, J. W. Barlow, W. J. Brownson, Henry Diegel and Sheffield Ingalls.


The history of English Lutheranism in Atchison is interesting. The work of establishing St. Mark's was fraught with hardship and discouragement. Several of the early efforts failed. But the battle was renewed and success at last achieved. Early in 1867 J. H. Talbott, through the Lutheran Observer, called attention to Atchison as a point for a Lutheran mission. By correspondence he secured the interest of Rev. Morris Officer, then secretary of the general synod's home mission board. At the convention of the general synod at Harrisburg, Pa., in 1868, the Rev. Officer persuaded the Rev. M. G. Boyer, then pastor at Marklesburg, Pa., to become a missionary to Atchison. Rey. Boyer and his young wife arrived here June 3o, that year. Price's Hall, South Fourth street, between Main and Commercial, was rented and fitted up as a meeting place. Services were begun and a Sunday school. organized. On September 20, 1868, the congregation was organized with twenty five members. The first church council consisted of C. Weber and H. Gehrett, elders: A. H. Talbott, J. Beamer, H. Snyder and F. Brendt, deacons.

In the spring of 1869 the board of church extension granted the congregation a loan of $500, which amount was invested in the purchase of an excellent lot on Kansas avenue. There were bright hopes of having a chapel soon, but these hopes were scattered when an aged minister advised delay on account of the financial stringency of the times, and the numerical weakness of the church. Among the members at this time was the Rev. A. W. Wagnalls. afterward one of the founders of the publishing house of Funk & Vagnalls, New York City. While here he was in the real estate business. At his suggestion the congregation purchased a fifteen acre tract adjoining the city of Atchison on the northwest, which section was platted and offered for sale with the hope of making enough profit to erect a church building. "In this the Lutherans were disappointed," says the historian, "for they sold only enough lots to pay for the land."

After that venture the congregation used the Congregational church building. About that time many English Lutherans left the city. Rev. Boyer resigned at the end of the year 1869, and for ten years the church was without a pastor. The Rev. Wagnalls supplied the pulpit now and then until his removal in 1876, but finally the congregation disbanded. The lots belonging to the church were sold for taxes, but were redeemed at the eleventh hour through Mr. Talhott's efforts, and deeded to the board of church extension.

In 1880 the Rev. W. I. Cutter, a returned missionary to India, with the assistance of Rev. David Earhart and his daughter, Mrs. H. E. Monroe, gathered the English Lutherans together again. Mrs. Monroe was then conducting a private school known as the "Atchison Institute," and she offered her school room as a place of worship. On the eighth of August the congregation was re-organized and the following officers elected: Elders, J. H. Berlin, W. H. Kuhns and N. D. Kistler; deacons, J. L. Heisey, E. D. Kistler, and John Fusselman; trustees, J. H. Talbott, W. H. Smith and S. J. Clark. Rev. Cutter served as pastor two years. During part of this time aid was received from the Home Mission Board. In 1882 this aid was withdrawn and Rev. Cutter resigned.

Not until 1884 did the second organization flourish. In November of that year the Rev. George S. Diven was commissioned to come to Atchison and revive the mission. New interest was taken and the rejuvenated congregation held its first service in the home of Henry Snell at 921 South Seventh street. The Odd Fellows' hall was then secured as a place of worship and a Sunday school was organized. Under the leadership of Pastor Diven this school is said to have quickly become the largest in the city. That year the pastor reported sixty members.

Atchison's boom season occurred during Rev. Diven's pastorate, and everything was rushed along at a tremendous pace. The movement for a Lutheran college for Atchison started at this time. The location of Midland College here was largely due to the efforts of Rev. Diven and his congregation, supported by the public spirited citizens of the city. In February, 1885, the church was incorporated as St. Mark's English Lutheran Church. Rev. Diven resigned in 1887 and was succeeded by the Rev. W. F. Rentz, in April, 1888. Rev. Rentz set to work at once to secure a lot and erect a church building. The present location, corner of Sixth and Park streets, was purchased for $5,000. The southern end of the lot with the dwelling on it (now the Keith home), was sold to the pastor for $1,750. The chapel (now the Sunday school room) was erected in 1888, the cornerstone being laid August 19, and the church dedicated December 16. The building and equipment cost $4,010. Pastor Rentz served nine years, resigning in May, 1897.

The Rev. L. S. Keyser, now professor of dogmatics in Hamma Divinity School, Wittenberg College, became pastor November 7, 1897, and served most acceptably until April 7, 1903. During his pastorate the church became self supporting, after receiving aid for fifteen years from the Home Mission Board. The Rev. R. W. Hufford, D. D., served as pastor from January 9, 1904, to November 27, 1904. After a vacancy of nine months the Rev. A. E. Renn became pastor August 18, 1905.

The outstanding achievement of Rev. Renn's pastorate was the erection of the present church building. The movement began October 21, 1907. Plans were adopted March 17, 1908, and the building committee ordered to proceed. The cornerstone was laid during the summer following. The building was erected under the supervision of A. B. Zimmerman, contractor, and cost, including organ and furnishings, about $14,000, a marvel of church financing. The opening service was held May 23, 1909, and marked an epoch in Kansas Lutheranism. During this pastorate the congregation adopted the historic Lutheran vestments for pastor and choir, and advanced in churchly worship. Rev. Renn resigned September 1, 1911.

The Rev. Howard C. Garvic was installed pastor the first Sunday in March, 1912. No pastor of St. Mark's surpassed him in zeal and energy for the upbuilding of the Lord's kingdom. Day and night he labored in personal appeal and in teaching classes of adults and children. In a little more than two years 175 names were added to the church roll, constituting the largest growth of any pastorate. The death of the pastor in the prime of manhood in March, 1915, produced a profound impression upon St. Mark's and the city of Atchison. The Rev. Robert L. Patterson, D. D., became pastor October 17, 1915.


St. Benedict's Abbey, church and college, are conducted by the Benedictine Fathers. The first Benedictine father that came to Kansas was Henry Lemke, O. S. B., who arrived in Doniphan in 1855, where he laid the foundation of a monastery. He was shortly followed to Kansas by a number of brother workers, who were sent here by Father Boniface Wimmer, O. S. B., who founded the monastery of St. Vincent's, in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania. They immediately opened a Latin school with a few pupil, but Very Rev. Augustine Wirth, O. S. B., soon discovered that Atchison would surpass Doniphan, and on this account the Catholic brothers transferred their home to Atchison in about 1859. The Rev. Augustine Wirth, O. S. B., came to Atchison from Doniphan once a month to hold religious services, which were conducted in the home of Charles Burnes, located on the southwest corner of Second and L streets. The following year Father Augustine built a frame parish church in which services were held for the first time on Christmas day. In this rude structure the faithful worshipped until about 186, when the parish, having increased to such number, it became necessary to build a larger church. Under the aggressive leadership of Father Augustine, the parishioners concluded to invest in this structure $25,000. Francis George Himpler, now living in New York, and for many years a partner of the late J. P. Brown, was employed ash architect. The work was pushed forward and instead of the proposed church, a magnificent Basilica was conceived, and the construction of it wars carried forward with great earnestness. The foundation was completed in 1866, and the cornerstone was laid in October. The Rev. John Hennessy, O. S. B., who later was archbishop of Dubuque, and one of the most eloquent orators of the church, delivered the dedication sermon. To obtain brick for the church walls, Father Augustine bought expensive machinery, and, under the supervision of the late Peter Bless, started a brickyard in East Atchison, but the undertaking proved a failure, as the bricks were not servicable for the church. Instead of using them in the construction of the church they were used to build several cottages and store buildings in the immediate neighborhood and, later on, when suitable bricks were obtained, the work on the church was continued, and by the summer of 1868 the walls were finished to the window sills.

Father Augustine resigned June 18 1868. and went to Minnesota, and subsequently died while pastor at Melrose in that State. December 19, 1901, at the age of seventy three years. He was succeeded by the Very Rev. Louis Mary Fink, O. S. B., July, 1868. and it was during his pastorate that the church was solemnly dedicated Trinity Sunday. 1869, but it was not completed at that time, and, in fact was not completed for many years thereafter. The church is built in Roman style and is 152 feet long and fifty six feet wide. Father Louis was succeeded by the Very Rev. Giles Christoph, O. S. B., who was appointed prior in July, 1871. In January, 1875, Very Rev. Ouswald Moosemueller, O. S. B., became prior. Under his direction the church flourished and he is particularly remembered for his exertions in founding and building up a good library for the church and school. The members of the church had grown sufficiently large, so that the priory was promoted to an abbey April 7. 1877, and on September 29 of that year Rev. Innocent Wolf, O. S. B., was elected abbot, and still retains his place (1916). loved by all. Rev. Innocent Wolf's election as abbot was celebrated with appropriate ceremonies, and the Very Rev. Boniface Verheyen, O. S. B., was appointed pastor, and at that time the status of the house was as follows: Rt. Rev. Innocent Wolf. O. S. B., abbot: Very Rev. Boniface Verheyen, O. S. B., prior: Very Rev. Pirmin Kaumly O. S. B., prior of St. Benedict's: Rev. Augustine Wirth, O. S. B., Emanuel Horlig, O. S. B., Rev. Timothy Luber, O. S. B., Rev. Peter Kassens, O. S. B., Rey. Eugene Bode, O. S. B., Rev. Adolph Wesseling, O. S. B., Revd. Ferdinand Wolf, O. S. P., Rey. Winfried Schmidt. O. S. B., Rev. John Steoder, O. S. B., and Rev. Matthew Bradley, O. S. B. Besides these there were four priests from St. Vincent's, Pa., who acted as assistants, whose names were Rev. Ambrose Huebner, O. S. B., Rev. Casimir Elsesser, O. S. B., Rev. Theodore Schmitt, O. S. B., and Rev. Anslem Soehuler, O. S. B. There were seven clerics, ten lay brothers, five candidates and ten scholastics. Rev. Charles Stoekle, O. S. B., succeeded Father Adolph as pastor of St. Benedict's Church in 1890, and remained pastor until 1898, when he was succeeded by Rev. Longinus New, O. S. B., who was one of the most beloved and active pastors of the church. He was a priest burning with zeal and he delighted in preaching. He was a powerful speaker, and his sermons were always well prepared and written out. He had a strong voice; used plain and simple language, and spoke with such zeal and sincerity that he left a lasting impression on all of his hearers. His health failed him, however, and he was compelled to seek a southern climate, and died in a hospital at Birmingham, Ala., March 2, 1899, aged fifty three years, and in the twenty eighth year of his priesthood. He was succeeded by Rev. Girard Heinz, O. S. B., who was appointed to take his place January 1, 1899, and Father Girard remains the pastor of the church in 1916.


This church was organized in 1866 by Rev. C. F. Liebe, home missionary of the Evangelical Lutheran synod of Missouri, Kansas, Ohio, and other states. The first regular minister was Rev. Mr. Menge, who was installed in 1867. Rev. G. Landgraf succeeded Mr. Menge in December and was installed the first day of that month. The church building at the corner of Tenth and Commercial streets was dedicated at the same time. In 1869 a parsonage, adjoining the church, was erected, and the following year C. Janzow, of Weston, Mo., succeeded Mr Landgraf, who in turn was followed by Rev. C. Hartman, who died in the fall of 1872, and after which the call was extended to Rev. W. Zschoche, of Miami county, Kansas. Under the pastorate of Rev. Mr. Zschoche the congregation increased to a membership of 130, and a day school was conducted in connection with the church by Mr. Zschoche until 1881.

Rev. C. Vedder succeeded Rev. Zschoche, who in turn was succeeded by Rev. Theodore Bundenthal, whose untimely death in the latter part of 1915 deprived the church and its congregation of one of the best ministers it ever had. Mr. Bundenthal was succeeded by Rev. Frederic Niedner, who is in charge of the church in 1916. The present church building at the corner of Eighth and Laramie streets was built in 1889. There are 500 communicants and the church is affiliated with the Missouri synod.

In addition to the churches already enumerated, there are several negro churches, of which the Ebenezer Baptist Church, organized in 1867, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, organized in the summer of 1868, are the most prominent. There are also several other denominations represented in Atchison, including the Latter Day Saints, and the Holy Rollers.

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