(Continued from History, Part 1)
Outdoors, too, he pleased his wife by leveling up the ground with a stone retaining wall and planting hardy lilies and wild rose bushes. Almost seventy years later when his daughter, Caroline, visited the place she was reminded of her father’s devotion to her mother and his attempts to make up to her for taking her away from the comfortable home they had left in Ohio. So this new home in the new west became “Dell Nook” to the poetically inclined Barnes family and is still “Dell Nook” to the descendants and friends. Here the three daughters grew to womanhood. Julia, being the oldest, was the first to leave home, going back to Ohio where she married a minister, Rev. George Gear, and lived to an advanced age. Kate married David Wightman and, after his death, she married George McKenzie. No descendants are living. Caroline married Levi and Mary Hillman’s son, William. One daughter is living, Mrs. D. E. Smith, of Richland Center, Wisconsin. She has two daughters, who, with the grandchildren and greatgrandchildren, carry Mr. and Mrs. Barnes’ line out to the sixth generation.
In January, 1855, E. L. Clark built a 16×24-foot schoolhouse. It was constructed of basswood boards placed upright and battened and sealed with lumber inside. It stood to the southwest from the present bandstand. Just on week after he started to build it, with the aid of one other man, thirty-one pupils assembled and he turned from carpenter to teacher. This was the schoolhouse to which Levi referred.
An occasional itinerant preacher came by to hold forth in the little building. It was near the camping ground and, besides being filled with local people, people from the wagon trains came, arid stood around outside. Levi wrote Mary about one such occasion, presumably during the time Mr. Barnes was sick. He said that he had just come from church, or rather meeting, in the schoolhouse. This time the speaker was what Levi called a “western preacher” and Levi went on at some length to compare him with their Mr. Hall of the Jonathan Edwards Congregational church, to which they belonged in Northampton, Massachusetts. The text was “God Is Love” and, although the speaker knew plenty of big words, he lacked Mr. Hall’s direct simplicity. This was written June 1, 1856.
No doubt Mr. Barnes was soon able to be about again. He had chosen the country life for the sake of his health and expected to produce a living for his family on the farm. He was a preaching farmer or a farming preacher, whichever way one chooses to look at it. One day when his horse needed shoeing, he drove into town only to find the smithy doors closed and was asked by someone nearby if he didn’t know it was Sunday. It must have been something of a shock but, gentleman that he was, he didn’t let it ruffle him. He borrowed suitable clothing and a Bible and, choosing a text, preached from it as though that was what he had come into town for in the first place!
Mr. Barnes’ daughter, Caroline, seventy years later told of another amusing Sabbath day episode. Hoop skirts were the fashion and, when a man came along selling sets of reeds for hoop skirts, her mother purchased a set for Julia, the oldest daughter. Not to be outdone by Julia, she and her sister, Kate, went to the Little Cannon river and gathered willow branches. Then they made skirts with tucks into which they put the willow branches after taking off the bark.
“There we had two fine hoop skirts but we were to receive our lesson for trying to be fashionable,” she said. “The next Sunday we went to church in the schoolhouse, we in our finery, but the willows had become dry so when we tried to sit down and crowd our skirts under the school desks, crack went the willows calling the attention of everyone to us. To say we were embarrassed was putting it mildly, and then think of how we looked going out of the church with those sticks broken and standing out in all directions! We never tried to wear hoop skirts again until we were older and bought them ready-made of something more suitable than willow sticks.”
Can’t you just imagine their father saying, “Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall?” Perhaps though he thought they had had lesson enough.
July Fourth, 1856, came and passed and it is hoped that Mr. Barnes was able to deliver the oration as planned. Things were shaping up faster than Levi had realized. Many of those “fine families” were sending back home for their church letters. Sometime that month Levi made the long trip back to Massachusetts to bring Mary and the children to Minnesota, and perhaps while there he got his letter and Mary’s from their church.
Finally the date was set for organizing. Rev. R. Hall, a Congregational missionary, had promised to be with them July 31st. It is regrettable that the account of the proceedings of that memorable meeting were lost in the fire that destroyed a large part of the business district in May, 1887.
The church register, however, was not with the other records and the list is just as it was inscribed that day so long ago-Seventeen names with the date July 31, 1856, and the words “By Letter” after each one.
These are the Charter members:
1. Jeremiah Root Barnes
2. Caroline M. Barnes
3. Julia A. Barnes
4. Joseph Peckham
5. Mary H. Feckham
6. Charles W. Gillett
7. Jane R. Gillett
8. Sherman Hale
9. Jonathan Clifford
10.Susan B. Clifford
12. Harriet 0. Monson
13. Joseph Edward Chapman
14. Hannah Augusta Chapman
15. Levi C. Hillman
16. Mary M. Hillman
17. Mrs. Jane Paxton
Without the minutes of that memorable meeting, there is much to wonder about. A calendar for the whole 19th century shows that July the thirty-first came on Thursday. All through the years of the last century that was prayer meeting night. Was that the reason they met that night? Or was it a daytime meeting? Who acted as moderator? Did they find any points to argue about or did they accept Rev. Mr. Hall’s way on organizing? Who acted as clerk? Were all the members-to-be present?
Levi Hillman was a good churchman and he probably was there but more than likely Mary remained at home in the country as she had just made the long, tiring trip from Massachusetts. Only three weeks later their fourth child was born. No doubt, Mrs. Barnes was there to lend a woman’s influence if any were needed. Did Jonathan and Susan Clifford come in from west of town, and the Chapmans from out beyond the Dibble farm? There is no question but that they asked God’s blessing and divine guidance in preparing the soil and sowing the seed that has grown steadily for 100 years.
It was not an acorn that they planted that would grow into a mighty oak but rather an apple tree with fragrant blossoms of spirituality and practical fruits of service. It lacked the thorns of discord and petty quarreling, never, in 100 years being rent by anything more disastrous than the breaking off of a twig. It grew through the years, affected by its environment, by the hard times and the prosperous ones, loss of workers who could not well be spared, and accession of members who fed the growth of the tree.
To change the simile, it was the Biblical “house founded upon a rock,” “a house not divided against itself.” To complete their organization that day Sherman Hale and Jonathan Clifford were elected deacons and, in the democratic way brought to this country by the Pilgrims, a woman, Mrs. Mary Peckham, was elected clerk. Although his name was not on the roll, Luther Scofield was credited with being the first church treasurer. Trustees were not chosen until six months later, when Sherman Hale and J. E. Chapman were elected to that office.
A review of the charter members should begin with a little something about Mr. Barnes’ further work at that time. One writer said, “Services were not held every Sunday.” That would account for the fact that he was able to go over to Northfield to hold meetings and help them organize their Congregational church in September of the same year.
In 1889, when Mr. and Mrs. Barnes had been married fifty years, Mrs. M. W. Skinner wrote in a letter of congratulations, “The Northfield church is much indebted to you both for your loving care during its infancy. I seem to see Mr. Barnes standing by the little table in the old schoolhouse, and Mrs. Barnes rising from the desks to speak in meeting, an example which has been well followed by our women ever since. You were long regarded as our near neighbors, though fourteen miles away. Northfield rises up this day to call you blessed and to wish you grace, mercy and peace.” To which the Cannon Falls church could well say Amen!”
Just before the Civil war the Congregational church in Minnesota decided to establish a liberal arts college but it was not until 1866 that Carleton College in Northfield was started in one small wooden building. Mr. Barnes was one of the founders. This story has not told of Mr. Barnes’ ability as a poet. Every special occasion in his life inspired him to write about it in verse. Besides a long poem about the Biblical character, Jephtha, and one about the loss of his brother at sea, a book of his poems contains many other short poems.
Sherman Hale and his family came to Cannon Falls from Maine in 1855. He built a substantial house on the West Side which still stands. In his family were three young daughters of his first wife, Anna, Sarah and Emily. He and the second Mrs. Hale had one daughter. Everett and Sarah Hale Clifford brought up a daughter Florence (Mrs. E. A. Kirkpatrick) and a son Clarence in the church so that the Hale line was carried out in the church for about sixty years.
Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Clifford came to Stanton township from Maine in 1855 with a daughter and five growing sons. They came west to keep their sons from following the sea when one son never returned from his first voyage. One son, Arthur, had already been at sea long enough to have his gait permanently fixed in a sailor’s rolling walk. Later Everett Clifford married Sarah Hale, uniting two of the original members, as the marriage of William Hillman to Caroline Barnes united two others.
These four families were the ones destined to remain here longer than any others of the church group. The Clifford family was represented in the present membership by Mrs. Olaf Lilleboe, (Hazel Morell) great granddaughter of Jonathan and Susan Clifford, until her untimely death in an automobile accident last December. Her Grandmother Morell, her father, uncle and an aunt were also members long ago.
Levi Hillman lived only six years after the founding of the church but Mary held her membership until her death in 1897, outliving all of the other local charter members with the exception of Susan Clifford. There has never been a time in the 100 years that Levi and Mary Hillman’s family has not held at least one membership in this church. Mrs. Richard Poe (Myra Hillman Scofield) is their granddaughter, as well as granddaughter of Luther Scofield, the first treasurer. Morris and Marjorie Poe (Mattix) were members while living at home and Dean Poe still is a member. The Chapman family put down their roots into the soil with intent to remain, owning a farm southwest of town. In 1858, other members of the family united with the Congregational church, eventually transferring to the Episcopal church after it was established here.
Joseph and Mary Peckham, Charles and Jane Gillett came to Cannon Falls together from New England in 1856. The women were sisters. Mr. Gillett built the house on the West Side, long owned by William Golden, Sr. and both couples lived there. Mr. Gillett had been a sea captain and, as was customary, was called Captain Gillett. Mr. Peckham was a Congregational minister, graduate of Andover College and of Union Theological Seminary. He was a member of the Minnesota Constitutional convention in 1857 and of the Territorial legislature in 1857 and 1858. He introduced the bill which established the Winona Normal School, the first one west of the Mississippi.
Church records show that he had a pulpit in Massachusetts in 1858 and 1859, so Mr. and Mrs. Peckman must have left Cannon Falls that fall. Mr. Gillett was a member of a company that owned a sawmill. The panic of 1857 found no building going on and the sawmill business at a standstill. It seems more than likely that Mr. and Mrs. Gillett returned to the East with the Peckhams. Apparently Mrs. Paxton was here with her son, J. Wilson Faxton, who could be called an investor, or a realtor, from the number of times his name has appeared on deeds and abstracts. No record whatever is left of the Monsons’ place in the community and the hard times probably drew them elsewhere.
The years, 1860 to 1870, recorded many events of interest in the progress of the little church.
At a meeting December 28, 1861, the church was reorganized under the state law and named the First Congregational Church. In 1858, Minnesota had become a state and undoubtedly there were advantages to be gained by the society under the new laws. The first trustees elected were Benjamin Chapman, J. L. Clifford and Sherman Hale.
In 1862, probably at Mr. Barnes’ request, a minister was called to take his place. Rev. John N. Williams remained only until 1864, when Mr. Barnes, having had a rest, again took his place in the pulpit.
In March, 1864, Wilbur B. Scofield and his wife, Lucy Oakes Scofield, joined the little church. They were young, only in their twenties, and no doubt the members found them a welcome addition. Both were singers and Mrs. Scofield could be called on to play the organ, if and when they had one to use. Through the years there were not many offices that Wilbur did not hold, being deacon or trustee many times. For a long time he was superintendent of the Sunday school. Mrs. Scofield interested herself in the young people and taught in the Sunday school.
Two years later, having been discharged from the service, James L. Scofield, Wilbur’s younger brother, united with the church as well as the Barnes youngest daughter, Caroline. They were also singers, a tenor and an alto, to add to the choir. Like his brother, James was usually in the center of activities in the church. He lead the choir for over thirty years and kept a continuous interest in the Sunday school, either as a teacher of the young people or a member of the Bible class.
All this time the little group had been meeting in the public schoolhouse which had been built in 1857. Now with the Civil war ended it began to seem possible that with all working together they might build a church.
They purchased a lot on the West side, at the foot of the hill on Hoffman street, and set to work to raise the funds to build a church 35×48 feet in size. As one historian said, “It required a couple of years to collect the money and anything that could be turned into cash was gladly accepted. There were but few people here then and none of them were rich, in fact they were all poor together. One of the more generous offers was a quantity of lumber from Benjamin Van Campen, grandfather of the present Benj. Van Campen. Wilbur Scofield is credited with being very successful in soliciting funds. Finally, in 1867, they felt they were ready to build.
The coming of the railroad was still fifteen years in the future and all of the lumber and building material had to he hauled by team from Hastings. When it was finished, late in the year, they found it had cost $3,000.00 of which $500.00 was contributed by the Congregational building society. It was painted brown and affectionately became known as the Brown church long before the song, “The Little Brown Church in the Vale,” was popular. The dedication ceremonies were held January 2, 1868, with the Congregational minister from Northfield, Rev. E. S. Williams, delivering the sermon.
Mr. Barnes had been an active and interested participant in the building of the church but a month later again relinquished the pulpit to another man. This time it was Rev. E. W. Merrill, who became pastor in February, 1868.
Sometime before this two Scotsmen, had come to Cannon Falls and bought land northwest of town, Charles Smith one mile out and David Valentine four miles away. By the time the church was built, they had ‘both married and the years ’68 and ’69 saw Charles and Elizabeth Smith’s and David and Esther Valentine’s names on the church roll. Charles and David became pillars of the church, an oldfashioned expression that fits as well today for, always, the church needs stalwart men who can be depended on to support the structure. They gave of their means, their official help and their counsel. Through the years the Smith and the Valentine pews were seldom vacant, the Smiths having four sons and three daughters and the Valentine’s four sons.
Circumstances set apart Miss Agnes Smith and George Valentine as the two conspicuous church workers in the two families. Agnes remained at home through her life time, being the comfort of her parents’ declining years. It would be hard to estimate the work she did through the years in the women’s societies. George Valentine was, like his father, a pillar and, with his wife Alma, worked in both the church and Sunday school, George as superintendent and Mrs. Valentine as a teacher. George was long either a deacon or trustee and Alma one of the women to be depended on in the Missionary and Ladies’ Aid societies.
George’s brothers, Robert, Fred and Walter, were active as long as they remained here. Dr. Walter Valentine practiced medicine in Tracy over fifty years. Fred Valentine was long a choir singer and soloist, both here and in Minneapolis. Dr. Walter is the surviving member of the David Valentine family and their remains no one in the present membership.
The Smith family is still represented by the late Charles Smith Jr.’s daughter, Agnes May, Mrs. Ray Black. She and her husband are actively engaged in church work and their three young sons, Ralph, Paul and James are being brought up in the family tradition.
Just when Mr. E. W. Merrill left Cannon Falls is not known but Rev. C. A. Ruddock became pastor in September, 1874. In that year, William Hillman joined his parents’ church and the next year his sister, Mary, became a member. She was twenty years old and had been playing the church organ for three years, something she continued to do with few interruptions for thirty years. The next year she and James Scofield were married in the house across the street east of the church, the home of the minister, with Wilbur Scofield and William Hillman as witnesses.
The next year they built a house across town and the miles they walked in the next twenty years to prayer meetings on Thursday evenings, choir practice Saturday nights, and church and Sunday school on Sunday, would constitute a marathon. Besides this Mary sometimes taught a Sunday school class and did her share in the women’s work.
During Mr. Ruddock’s ministry between forty and fifty were taken into the church. Reviewing the roll it is seen that many moved away and some who remained were inactive.
Among the active, were a number of Susan and Jonathan Clifford’s sons and their wives. In April, 1875, Arthur T. Clifford and his wife; daughter, Minnie, and son, Frank, joined the church. The daughter became Mrs. Wilbur Morell, the mother of the late Hazel Morell Lilleboe. Another Clifford son and wife, Fred and Jeanette, joined that same day as well as two unmarried sons, Everett and Albion.
It has already been mentioned that Everett married Sarah Hale, who had become a member twelve years earlier. In the same group was Mary E. Curran who soon became Mrs. Albion Clifford. Mr. and Mrs. Fred Clifford moved to Northfield. The most outstanding worker among these people was Mrs. Mary Curran Clifford. For years she sang in the choir which meant practice one evening every week. She taught a class of teen-age girls and was their friend even to giving up the comforts of home and going camping with them in tents between Monday morning and Saturday night. No staying away from home and church over Sunday!
Her work was important and valuable in the women’s societies as well. Mr. and Mrs. Clifford lived diagonally across from church and it was Mr. Clifford’s voluntary task to see that the church was heated. After one last look at the furnace before the sermon, the folks in the choir would see Mr. Clifford slip quietly into his chair at the back of the church.
The Malletts had come to Cannon Falls in the fifties but it was twenty or thirty years later that they became members of this church. Three daughters, Ida, Blanch and Alice, and a son, Wayne Mallett, and his wife, Lizzie Cook Mallett, joined in the seventies and eighties. Mrs. Blanch Mallett Clark is still living in her home in Kenyon.
The Henry Cook family attended the Congregational church and two of their sons, Cyrus and Spurgeon, became members in 1878 and 1886 respectively. About the same time, Mr. and Mrs. N. J. Burr and Mrs. Burr’s mother, Mrs. N. P. Robertson, joined the church and their three daughters, Verna, Myrtie and Winnie went to Sunday school. Another family who came to Cannon Falls about this time the Michael Blacks. Mrs. Black became a member and a worker in the church.
In 1876, Mr. and Mrs. D. E. Yale, Robert Yale’s parents, and Dr. and Mrs. A. T. Conley became members. Dr. S. Lewis Conley of Blackduck is a son of the latter couple. For a number of years Mr. Yale led the singing with his cornet and the singing was fervent and spirited. Dr. Conley was another leader in the church, attending prayer meetings, Sunday school and holding office, making it, as many others did, his main interest outside his family and profession.
In 1877, a room was built onto the south side of the church which was always called the Lecture room. Perhaps that was the customary title for an additional room but its main use was for prayer meetings and Sunday school. Back, before the turn of the century, it was customary for the men and women to meet, usually with the minister in the chair, to discuss some Bible theme. Then one after another they would rise to testify to the action of God’s grace in their lives or to follow each other in short prayers.
Some years after it was built, cupboards were added in one end which housed the Sunday school library. In another cupboard, along with hymn books and other things, was the first piece of kitchen equipment the women owned, a copper coffee boiler with a faucet on it. No doubt it was made by Mr. Yale. It could be heated on a neighbor’s stove and brought to the church for picnic meals.
In August, 1877, Mr. and Mrs. Ruddock left Cannon Falls. In the early 1900’s, after Mrs. Ruddook’s death, the Misses Carrie and Edith Ruddock came back to teach in the high school here and their father lived with them. Both Mr. and Mrs. Ruddock are buried in the Cannon Falls cemetery.
Benjamin Fay Mills was just out of Seminary when he came to this church in the fall of 1877 and unmarried. He was ordained here the following February but remained only until July. He afterwards became a noted evangelist. When he held meetings in St. Paul, 5,000 people attended the first meeting. In the early nineties, he held a series of evangelistic meetings here in a large tent placed in the street in front of the church.
The church was without a minister for six months after Mr. Mills left. Then in January Rev. C. A. Conant and his wife came to carry on the work.
About a year later the present parsonage was purchased and the Conant family moved into it. It had been built two or three years previously by Mr. Gardner of Hastings who had an interest in the Goodhue mill. The Beacon of May 14, 1880, which reported this purchase, also stated that they had laid a fine new carpet in the church. All this would cause a flurry of money-raising projects, concerts, entertainments and sociables in the homes. These sociables were the forerunners of the Ladies’ Aid.
It would be announced in the Beacon and probably from the pulpit and the church people would gather at one or another of the roomier homes for Christian sociability and to become better acquainted. The young people usually repaired to the upper floor for games and guessing contests while the older folks visited. The hostess served sandwiches and cake much as they do today, and the few dollars taken in was turned directly over to the trustees.
Mr. Conant introduced an innovation in printed leaflets containing the prayer meeting texts and topics for the year of 1879. The subjects for January were “The Old and the New,” “Fields White to the Harvest,” “Covenant with God,” and “Feed My Lambs.” It no doubt quickened interest in the meetings.
The year 1881 closed twenty-five years of uninterrupted progress of the little church group. The register shows that about 130 people had united with the church but this does not account for removals and deaths.
Wednesday, the 21st day of September, 1881, was chosen for the celebration of the anniversary. In the forenoon, Rev. Mr. Conant read a history of the organization and related many of the trials and difficulties through which the church had struggled to the then comfortable circumstances. Quoting the Cannon Falls Beacon’s account, “After the ladies had served an excellent dinner, Rev. J. R. Barnes gave a most interesting reminiscent address. J. L. Scofield followed with his recollections of the ministers who had served the church since its organization, and W. H. Scofield spoke of his experiences in collecting funds for the building of the church.” The following hymn, written by Mr. Barnes for the occasion, was sung. In it he refers to the disappointment in Cannon Falls not quickly growing into a city.
Where savage feet for ages stood
And with a war whoop ran to fight,
We reared in faith the house of God
More bright than suns the source of light.
A quarter of a hundred years
Have passed away so like a dream
The present chides all faithless fears,
And bids our hopes more brightly gleam.
What though a city has not come
To justify our early pride,
We founded here a happy home
And wait the future’s golden tide.
We planted here a goodly seed
To honor Christ, our God and King;
As He approves our work and creed,
Children will rise our deed to sing.
This plant may flourish through all time,
As God shall give its genial rain,
And yield a harvest most sublime
When final reapers count the gain.
Then those that sowed with them that reap,
Shall gather round in jubilee
And all the blest, who wake, or sleep,
Shall join, 0 Lord, in praise to Thee.
Mr. Barnes had lived in Minnesota about twenty-five years at that time, mostly here at Cannon Falls. After another year, discouraged by growing deafness, he and Mrs. Barnes returned to Marietta, Ohio, where their oldest daughter welcomed them into her comfortable home. He died there January 1, 1900, at the age of ninety-one years.
Through the years of Mr. Conant’s ministry, thirty-five people came into the church. Among them were Mr. and Mrs. S. S. Lewis, Louise, Carrie, Amelia and Mathilda Youngberg, 0. E. Falck, Jacob Fraley, Susie Scofield, Mrs. Carrie Harnisch, and Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Engstrom. Louise Youngberg became Mrs. 0. E. Falck, and the Engstrom, Lewis and Falck families contributed their help in all ways to the growth of the church. Together they raised sixteen children in the church, five of whom are present members, Mrs. Myrtle Lewis Von Kohlston, Lucretia Lewis, Mildred Engstrom, Glen Engstrom, whose wife is also a member, and Grace Falck whose home is in Washington, D. C.
After only a little over twenty years of membership, Mr. Engstrom’s untimely death cut short his work in the church. But in that time he had become one of those who “could not be spared.” In his turn he held the church offices as the other church leaders did. Though his years as county superintendent of schools kept him away from home most of the week, the Engstrom family were, like the Valentines and Smiths, consistent church attendants, the family pew on the north side of the church being almost always well filled.
Mrs. Engstrom, through the twenty-five years of her widowhood, kept up her active interest in the church though for a time she carried on a business of her own. She was elected assistant Sunday school superintendent and often presided. She was a member of the Bible class, taking part in the discussions which often waxed interesting, if not heated. The class was usually divided into two camps, the literalists and those who favored a broader interpretation of the Bible. With her on the latter side were her brother, Dr. A. T. Conley; Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Scofield and Mrs. A. L. Clifford, when they were not teaching classes of their own, and Mrs. M. M. Barlow. Mrs. Barlow was an Episcopalian but she enjoyed adding her voice and opinions to the discussions and became a member of the class. In 1917, while Mr. Harris was pastor, she became a member of this church. No doubt at times the class was in agreement but when they were not, each side went home staunch in their own convictions.
In 1882, after three years of productive work, Mr. Conant left Cannon Falls and the next month Mr. and Mrs. Rowland Cross and little daughter, Mary, moved into the parsonage. Mr. Cross remained as pastor five years and during that time he took thirty people into membership. Among them were families, or heads of families, who left their impression down through the years. The list contained the names of Charles and Emma Curran and his sister, Mrs. Belle Price, Mrs. Robert Yale’s mother. Mr. and Mrs. Curran did not live here long but their sons, Clay and Paul, and daughter, Mary Curran, came back here to live after their parents’ death and were members of the church. Mr. and Mrs. George Brooks are on the list. They, with their two daughters, Margaret and Bessie, long were active in church work. Mrs. Blanch Mallett Clark of Kenyon is the oldest living member of the church, followed by Dr. Walter Valentine and Miss Margaret Brooks. Miss Brooks taught at Worthington for many years and is now spending her years of retirement there. Jasper Grisim became a member in 1886, his wife and daughter, Grace, still being members. Mrs. John Ritchie’s name went on the roll the same year and her family still carries on.
Just before Mr. Cross left, Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Scriver came to town and began to take an active interest in the work of the church. Mr. Scriver was Sunday school superintendent for a number of years.
While the church was increasing in membership, the Cross family also increased; a daughter, Grace, and a son, Edward, were born in the parsonage. Grace died at the age of five years. Ned grew to manhood and became a Congregational minister and was pastor of several important churches before his untimely death. One of Mr. and Mrs. Cross’ greatest accomplishments was the rearing of a fine family. Their son, Rev. Rowland Cross, and daughter, Laura, were missionaries at the same time in China. He is now in New York City and she in Minneapolis where the oldest daughter, Mrs. J. A. A. Burnquist, wife of former Governor Burnquist, also lives. Willard Cross has been superintendent of the Faribault schools and a worker in the church there. Then there are two more sisters, Miss Margaret Cross of Hawaii and Mrs. Emerson Dagget of Los Angeles.
When the Cross family moved away, the parsonage, in 1888, became a bachelor apartment. Rev. David Henderson, who had come from Scotland some years before, was unmarried. He was somewhere around seventy years of age and a rugged individualist. It is said that in Scotland the people are very critical of their minister’s preaching. His sermon must be well organized and progress through several numbered divisions to a logical conclusion. It is said that Mr. Henderson’s sermons were scholarly. He must have been something of a naturalist as he took long walks alone, almost always cutting himself a cane of some peculiar form, and the hail upstairs in the parsonage always contained an array of between twenty and thirty canes.
One day when he had chosen to walk up the banks of the Little Cannon he found he was approaching a herd of cows. With his stick in hand, he strode on thinking to drive them away if they became too curious. Suddenly, without warning, he discovered that the male of the species was beginning to resent his approach and was coming at him with increasing speed. Fortunately there was a tree nearby and he sought safety in the branches, where he was obliged to stay until the farmer heard his cries and came to get him out of his predicament. Needless to say, for some time he confined his walks to public lanes and open fields.
Among the names written into the register between 1888 and 1892, Mr. Henderson’s pastorate, were Mrs. W. B. Davidson, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Hillman and Mrs. H. A. Van Campen. During those years of the late eighties and early nineties, Mrs. Mattie Bacon and her sons, George and Dexter, and daughters, Celia and Fannie, became members, but they have been long gone, with the exception of Celia, Mrs. Mills, of Puyallup, Washington. In 1889, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Smith came to Cannon Falls and the next year they joined the church. Eventually they raised six daughters in the church. One daughter, Anna, became Mrs. Charles Smith, Jr. and is still actively engaged in church work. She has been a member of the Ladies Aid longer than any present member, her name appearing first on the roll the year she was married, 1908, and she has been a member of the church since 1893.
The Davidson and Fred Hillman families grew up in the church and there have been Van Campens in the church continuously for sixtysix years. Four sons and one daughter, Viola, of Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Van Campen were followed by their oldest son Benjamin’s family of three sons and two daughters. Now only Ben and Irene are left but their work and attendance at church has been continuous since their marriage in 1908, and Ben’s even before that. Gilbert A. Youngberg, now Brigadier General, retired, joined the church in April, 1892, being with Mrs. Clark and Dr. Valentine and Miss Brooks, the only persons still living whose names went on the roll earlier than any present members.
Early in the nineties, professional painters redecorated the interior of the church, stenciling panels on the ceiling and walls. In the front of the church were inscribed two Biblical phrases, “Praise Ye the Lord” and “Search the Scriptures.” A new, wall-to-wall carpet was laid and everything was new and fresh again. Mr. Henderson left Cannon Falls in September, 1892, and lived only four years, dying in 1896.
When Rev. William Jenkins came to Cannon Falls, Mrs. Jenkins had been dead for some time. He had three daughters, Alferetta, Eva and Grace, and Mrs. Jenkins’ sister, Mrs. Arab Carpenter, came to live with them as homemaker. She had two sons, Allen and James. Retta and Allen attended Carleton College and the other three were in the local school.
When Mr. Jenkins and his daughters became members, Kate Clifford, now Mrs. W. A. Rossman of Grand Rapids, Minnesota; Marian Price, now Mrs. R. P. Yale, and Lewis Conley also joined. Mrs. Rossman no longer belongs, nor does Dr. Conley, so Mrs. Yale holds the longest membership of any present members. While Mr. Jenkins was here nearly fifty people were enrolled in the church. He finished his ministry here in November, 1895, and the next two years the church had as its pastor, Rev. B. F. Paul, who was married and had one small son Charles.
In 1893, Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Scriver left Cannon Falls and Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Grass came to take their place. The Scrivers were missed but Mr. and Mrs. Gress help was sincerely appreciated through the years that they remained here.
One of the families, appreciated while here and missed when gone, was the Mr. and Mrs. Charles Thayer family of six girls. Maud, Mabel and Eva joined the church with their parents in 1893. In 1902, letters were granted them to a Congregational church in Pullman, Washington. Mr. Thayer was a nephew of Mrs. Sherman Hale. Charles Ryberg, a student at Carleton college, supplied the pulpit for awhile and then was asked to become resident minister. He was unmarried and his sister, Winifred, came up from Iowa to keep house for him and their sister, Elrna, came here to attend high school. After leaving here Mr. Ryberg gave up ministerial work and became an attorney.
It was while Mr. Ryberg was here that Jean Ritchie, now Mrs. John Robertson; Agnes Ritchie and Myra Scofield, now Mrs. Richard Poe, joined the church, being the last of the present membership to have joined over fifty years ago, fifty-seven to be exact. The others have been mentioned before but this is the assembled list: Mrs. R. P. Yale, Mrs. Anna Smith, Miss Lucretia Lewis, Mrs. Myrtie Von Kohlston, Mrs. John Robertson, Miss Agnes Ritchie and Mrs. R.M. Poe. Mrs. Jasper Grisim, Miss Grace Grisim, Mrs. B. H. Van Cainpen, and Dr. Doely are present members who are nearing their fifty year anniversary, having joined in 1909. Mrs. Doely joined later and she and Dr. Doely have worked constantly for the good of the church, as has the Grisim family.
At the annual meeting in January, 1900, it was voted to ask the Minnesota Methodist conference if they would supply a minister for this church and the local Oxford Methodist churches. In September, the conference had offered the services of Rev. N. de M. Darrell and the church voted to ask Mr. Darrell to come. It was a happy arrangement. In October, Mr. and Mrs. Darrell with their two small sons, James and Norris, moved into the Congregational parsonage. They had come to Minnesota only a few months before from the West Indies where they had been raised, he of English parentage, she of Dutch, her maiden name being Pondt.
The weather often being very hot there and native help inexpensive, their homes had been well staffed and they came knowing little about looking after their own wants. Mrs. Darrell not only had to learn to keep house but she had to struggle against her inborn thought that doing menial tasks was not ladylike. She became sincerely embarrassed when Dr. Conley went by as she was carrying a pail of water. Mr. Darrell adapted himself quickly to the American attitude toward work and learned to cook. He laughed years later about his predicament when they were presented with a live chicken soon after they came to Minnesota. He said that in some way or other he got it dressed and cooked.
His father was a Methodist minister and kept seven or eight servants so they could ask for a glass of water and have it served to them. The American way of life was quite a change. Mr. Darrell preached in the Congregational church Sunday morning and at the Methodist church in town in the evening. The afternoon was given over to the Oxford Methodist church. A very heavy schedule for $800 and parsonage, Congregations of each church attended either service as they pleased. The young people joined in a society they named Young People’s Society of Christian Workers, and gave up their denominational names, Christian Endeavor Society and Epworth League.
While here the Darrels’ first daughter, Beryl, was born in the parsonage. After leaving here four more girls were born to them and their two sons and five daughters are all living and all married. James (J. E. P.) has been with the Minnesota State Highway departrnent for around thirty years. Norris became a successful attorney and lives in New York City. Two of the girls live in McAllen, Texas, in the Rio Grande valley. Mr. and Mrs. Darrell spend their winters there and their summers in their own home in Minneapolis. After three years here the Methodist conference assigned Mr. Darrell to another change and their Cannon Falls friends had to let them go. In the fall of 1903, Rev. J. L. Keene came to Cannon Falls and he and Mrs. Keene and their son, Edward, moved into the parsonage. At this time the little Brown church had been in use nearly forty years and, while it was still sturdy, it lacked the appointments of comfort and beauty that a new building could furnish. Mr. Keene highly commended the idea and always spoke in favor of building a new church but nothing was done until December, 1906, when a committee was appointed to look into the cost of remodeling the old church. This was not considered feasible and plans were set Under way for a new church.
The first move was to procure pledges from the men of the church and seven together pledged $4,050. Dr. A. T. Conley, David Valentine, C. W. Gress, J. L. Scofield, Charles Smith, Harrison Slocurn, and George T. Vanlentine constituted the building committee. A lot, 120×142 feet on the corner of Main and Third streets was purchased for $1,250.00 and excavating began in the summer of 1907. It was decided to dispense with a general contractor and hire local men as much as possible. With good building stone in the hills there had been a succession of stone masons to he called on through the years. By September tile walls of the basement were finished and it was time to lay the cornerstone.
The Beacon of the time said, The afternoon of the twenty-eighth was one of such beauty and quiet that it seemed that the blessings of heaven were visibly descending to sanctify the work of the builders. The ceremonies were opened by a hymn sung by a quartet composed of Miss Myra Scofield, Miss Emma Nelson, Mr. Wilbur Morell and Mr. George Olson, with Miss Anna Williamson accompanying on the organ. Rev. J.L. Keene read from the Scripture and invoked God’s blessing on the occasion. The address was given by Dr. Salmon, president of Carleton college. At the close of the address, C. W. Gress deposited a metal box in the hollow of the stone in which were copies of the church roll, a history of the church, names of the officers and building committee and other documents and papers. The ceremony of laying the cornerstone was performed by David Valentine. The exercises closed with the singing of the hymn, How Firm a Foundation, and the benediction by Rev. T. G. Haggquist of the Swedish Mission church.”
The work progressed and James Scofield changed his route from the store to his home by way of Main street. He had the best chance of any of the building committee to watch the work as four of them were farmers, Dr. Conley lived on the West Side, and Mr. Gress on the South Side. Wilbur Scofield’s interest had been keen in the building of the first church and in the new school building in 1893 and now James was having his turn at the excitement of watching a favored project progress.
There was usually something that had to be checked on, the stone for the window sills, the millwork from Red Wing. The cornerstone had been lost in transit and he had gone up to St. Paul and hunted it out at Minnesota transfer. It was a Biblical four who went to Minneapolis to select the stained glass windows. The James was James Scofield and one of the Marys was his wife, Mary Hillman Scofield. The other were Mary Conley Engstrom and Mary Curran Clifford. They came home happy with their choice.
This story has made no mention of Charles Barnes, Rev. J. H. Barnes’ son by his first wife, except to speak of his birth. He, nineteen years of age and employed when the rest of the family came to Minnesota. J. R. Barnes was a brother of Albert S. Barnes of the book publishing company and Charles Barnes was given opportunity to go into the firm, eventually becoming wealthy as head of the Chicago branch of the concern. Oldsters learned to read from the Barnes readers. The first and second readers printed in 1883 by the A. S. Barnes Company are ascribed to Charles J. Barnes and J. Marshall Hawkes, as the authors.
At the time of the building of the church, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Barnes were living in Paris, France. When it was proposed to Mr. Barnes that the new church be called the Barnes Memorial church, in memory of his father, the Rev. Jeremiah Root Barnes, he responded with a check for $5,000.00. Later he asked that a suitable inscription for a memorial tablet be prepared and sent to him. Prof. George Huntington of Carleton College, who had known Rev. Mr. Barnes, composed the eulogy, and the son had the beautiful bronze memorial tablet made and shipped from France.
The Church at the Foot of the Hill
Remember how often we gathered down there,
In the church at the foot of the hill:
With a wee scripture verse and a hymn and a prayer
While the old world grew thoughtful and still?
The grownups and children in worship found rest;
Nor were given to doubtings profound;
And the faithful old sun, as it sank in the west,
Spread the glory of heaven around.
Since then the old world has been all upside down,
With weary debate and dull doubt;
Trying to work out a thousand of things,
Which men are not asked to work out.
And I long for a bit of the old scripture book;
A hymn and a verse and a prayer;
With the faithful old sun lighting up every nook;
For the glory of heaven was there.
-Judge Charles P. Hall
The committee were fortunate in having present three former pastors, the Reverends C. A. Ruddock, R. S. Cross and W. M. Jenkins, each taking a part in the morning service. Just before the sermon by Rev. E. B.. Dean, Mrs. Caroline Barnes Hillman unveiled the memorial tablet. A dinner was served at noon in the dining room. During the afternoon service the dedicatory covenant was read responsively by the pastor of the church, Rev. C. Vincent, and the people. At an evening service James Scofield talked on the first fifty years of the church and David Valentine reviewed the history of the building of the church.
The following dedication hymn, written by Rev. Mr. Barnes at some past occasion, was sung:
Builder of worlds so bright above,
Who hast to us revealed Thy love.
Accept the house we raise to Thee,
Thine earthly temple, Lord, to be.
We consecrate it to Thy praise,
Where songs of gladness we may raise;
And celebrate Thy gracious care
In tribute pure of faith and prayer.
Long may it be the sacred place
Where we and ours may seek Thy face,
And gain assurance of the rest
Thy chosen share among the blest.
The church had cost $15,600.00 and was dedicated free of debt. Rev. Mr. Vincent left in October, 1911, and between then and 1922 three pastors served the church, Horace S. Wiley to 1914, Louis L. Harris to 1918, and Arthur L. Golder to May, 1922. These ministers all occupied the parsonage, the Wileys with no family, the Harris family with two grown sons, and the Golders with one son. It was a time of activity during which about 125 persons joined the church. In the intervening time the church has lost a few of those members by death but by far the larger number moved away. About seven or eight are still on the church roll~ one or two being absentees.
In 1920, Mr. Gress resigned as president of the First National bank and he and Mrs. Gress moved to Minneapolis. Arthur Scriver came from Northfield to take his place and, with his wife, Katherine, joined the church in 1921. He was back in the church he had been born into, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Scriver, being members of this church. Arthur and Katherine’s little daughter, Jeannette, Was born before they came here and grew up in the church, as did her brother Hiram and sister Vilaty, who were born here. One of the gold stars on the church World War II service, flag is in memory of Hiram who died while in the service. Mrs. Vilaty Patnode lives in Washington, D. C.
The Scrivers immediately became involved in church work and, after twenty-five years, are as active as ever. Katherine must have inherited the place at the organ soon after they came and has kept it, except for short intervals, ever since, most of the time directing the choir from her place at the organ. Besides all this, she has worked with the women’s organizations. Arthur soon began his turn at the church offices and for some time was Sunday school superintendent, as his father had been before him. The tradition has been kept up by Jeannette, now Mrs. John Burch, who served for a time in that capacity. She has also taught a Sunday school class, sung in the choir, taken her mother’s place at the organ summers and at other times and been active in the women’s work. She and John are bringing up the Scriver fourth generation, their Johnnie Hi and Ann, in the church. After a period of letting younger men serve as church officers, Arthur has taken over the responsibility of general chairmanship for the celebration of the church’s one hundredth year. Who should have more interest? After all the Scriver roots go back almost seventy years of the one hundred.
Another family that has grown up in the church is the William Eiler family. One after another the boys went to Sunday school and joined the church. Roy Eiler’s gold star is also on the service flag. Through the years, about 35 in fact, Mrs. Eiler has been a help in the women’s organizations.
Alter several months of supplies or candidates for the pulpit, the members asked Rev. John Edward Everett to he their pastor and he and Mrs. Everett moved into the parsonage, in 1923. They had two sons and a daughter already established in their own homes, but Margaret, Mary and Edward, all of college age, called the parsonage their home. Of course, ministers’ salaries are notoriously inadequate but, largely through Mrs. Everett’s care in budgeting the family finances, all six children became college graduates. She also took her place among the women of the church, doing her share.
In the fall of 1926, Mr. Everett recommended that the 70th anniversary of the church be celebrated, feeling that there were some in the church who might not be present five years hence. Sunday, October 31st, was the date selected and, with Dr. Lewis Conley as chairman, morning and afternoon sessions were planned, with a dinner at noon in the dining room. Two former ministers, Rev. Mr. Darrell and Charles E. Ryberg, were present, as well as Rev. George Conley, Dr. S. L. Conley’s uncle. All had a part in the morning service, after introductory remarks by Mr. Everett on the important place in our lives that tender memories have.
Music was furnished by the choir and soloists. The afternoon was given over to reading letters from former members and reminiscences by visitors and others. One of the letters read was from Mrs. Julia Barnes Gear, the last living charter member of the church. She wrote in part, “I am sure the celebration of so old and staunch a church will be seen in God’s sight as good. The growth has not been alone in numbers, but in spiritual life reflected from the Father of all men in whom we live and move and have our being.” She was eighty-six years old at the time.
George Valentine read a history of the church that he had prepared. He talked of the ministers, there being only two that he had not known.
As is always true of such an occasion, the reunion of old friends was a pleasing part of the day’s activities. All went home at the end of the day hoping to meet again. Over 200 people participated in this event.
Everyone in the church was very busy that fall of 1908. The young people chose and paid for the lighting fixtures. The women, through tile help of Mr. Charles Smith and his daughter Agnes, chose a carpet pattern from a St. Paul firm for which the women paid $324.00. Did anyone ever get a better bargain? It perhaps should have been discarded a little sooner but it has seen nearly 48 years of wear before being replaced by a new carpeting for the centennial celebration.
The women, of course, looked after the kitchen. They purchased a wood range, bought some kettles and other important items and had a kitchen shower, each one contributing small items so necessary in the kitchen.
Sometime in October, when completion seemed in sight, Wednesday, the 16th of December, was set for the dedication of Barnes Memorial church.
At the time of the dedication of the first church building, someone wrote “They were a happy people”. That applied as well to the church people of 1908. There may have been six or seven people present at both dedications. James Scofield was present both times, and quite likely Mr. and Mrs. Charles Smith were at the first service as they were members and they were much interested in the second church. Mr. and Mrs. David Valentine did not become members until 1869 but may have been present both times. Mary Hillman and her brother, Fred, were in their teens but lived only across the street and it was their family church, so, they may have been present in 1868, as they were in 1908.
Although the seventieth anniversary celebration had been planned rather than the seventy-fifth, when the time approached it was decided to again mark the important year. Much the same type of service was planned with Rev. A. K. Voss, superintendent of the Congregational churches of Minnesota, delivering the sermon. At noon a covered dish meal was served and the guests and members enjoyed the pictures of former pastors and old scenes that were on display. The afternoon was given over to the reading of letters, a short address by Mr. Voss. Mr. Scriver spoke of the present church and again George Valentine reviewed the history of the church. The choir, under the direction of Mrs. Scriver, rendered special music, both forenoon and afternoon.
This was largely a quiet celebration by the congregation and there were few out-of-town guests. In the fall of 1933, the Barnes Memorial church had been in use 25 years, so the last day of the year, Sunday, December 31st, was set aside for a quiet observance. Rev. A. E. Parsons, minister at large of the Minnesota Congregational churches, was the morning speaker and there was music by the choir. The noon lunch was followed by an afternoon meeting at which A. T. Scriver acted as chairman. The Beacon account published at the time stated that George Valentine reviewed the story of the efforts and sacrifices of those who labored for the erection of the church. Miss Grace Grisim told of the activities of the day of dedication and Mrs. Richard Poe gave a talk on the memorial windows; especially referring to the persons whose names were inscribed on them.
The day closed with the singing of the hymn, “Blest Be the Tie That Binds.” as the dedication service twenty-five years before had closed, followed by the benediction.
Although the congregation knew that Mr. Everett was looking forward to his years of retirement, no one felt ready to accept his resignation, which he presented to the congregation in February, 1935, after twelve years in this pulpit. He stated that he wanted to have time to write the story of his parents’ years in the controversial state of Kansas before the Civil war, when both proslavery and antislavery factions were trying to get control of the state politics. They had planned to come to Minnesota but were persuaded to go to Kansas to add to the anti-slavery vote.
In May, Mr. and Mrs. Everett moved to New York state, living at Brewster, a little north of New York City. After Mrs. Everett’s death, Mr. Everett lived in the city near his daughter.
When word came of his death on September 6, 1952, at the age of 89 years, a brief memorial service was held the following Sunday. Later friends had a bronze plate placed on the front of the church with a plate in the entry dedicating it to his memory. At the service of dedication, Rev. Richard Kozelka gave the appropriate prayer which follows:
In Memoriam, John Edward Everett
Most merciful God, who hast not left Thyself without a witness in
We praise Thee for the life of Thy servant, John Edward Everett, who
witnessed for Thee in the ministry of Thy church.
Those who knew him remember with affection and joy the many
traits which endeared him to his people:
His humble friendliness for all men, making the whole town his care;
His trustworthy judgment, which brought many to him for counsel:
His gentle wit, pointing the humor of life without malice or barb;
His practical faith, by which he sought and served Thee in the common
experiences of life;
His kindly manner, testifying to all the graciousness of his Lord.
These memories of him warm the hearts of his friends, and make them
praise Thee, as he would have wished.
And of those who knew John only through his friends, are reminded
again of the on-going of influence, the endless outreach of life,
victorious over distance or death.
As he goes from us still closer to Thee,
We rejoice in his life more than we mourn our loss.
Grant that we may live with Thee, as he lived with Thee–
that we may die in trust, as he died in trust-and that
we may at last come, with him, into Thy kingdom.
These things we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, his Lord
and our Lord, Amen.
During Mr. Everett’s ministry, a number of people came into the church. Among them were Mr. and Mrs. Ray Hall, Mr. Hall has passed on but Mrs. Hall is doing her share and more in the women’s work. Mr. and Mrs. Eldridge Peters have contributed to the work of the church through the years. Eldridge has served on the church board and committees and Marge has sung in the choir and helped with the women’s work.
The Wahlbergs, Ralph and Jeanne, came into the church twenty or more years ago. Ralph has served on the church board and Jeanne was church clerk at a time when the roll was revised and did a large amount of work to bring it up to date. Their daughters, Kay and Virginia, grew up through the Sunday school into young people’s work and sang in the choir during their teens, until they went away from home.
Ray and Myrtle Goodwin joined the church the day the Wahlbergs did and have had a somewhat parallel experience in church work. Ray sang in the choir for years and has been a trustee. Myrtle has engaged actively in the women’s work. Bob and Dixie grew up in the church and now Bob and his wife Mary are following in his father’s footsteps and their children are attending Sunday school and Mary is doing her share of work.
While Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Kraft’s names were not entered on the church roll, Mrs. Kraft worked with the Ladies’ Aid and Russell and Seymour called it their church, joining in 1936 and 1941 respectively. Seymour and Grace have done much to further the work of the church, as officers and working members of the church organizations.
Like Seymour Kraft, Harlan Anderson wouldn’t be able to remember when he began going to Sunday school. He joined the church while Mr. Everett was pastor and his wife, Marie Larson Anderson, became a member in 1941 and they have found their place among the active members. Charles and Craig are coming through the Sunday school toward youth work, Karen already having arrived there and is a member of the choir.
The fall after Mr. Everett’s departure, the church secured the services of Leonard Hildebrandt, a student at Hamline University. During his three years here he gave the church the privilege of hearing many fine speakers, bringing them down with him from the city.
January 10, 1937, the church quietly celebrated the passing of the 80th year which had been completed the July before. This was in conjunction with the annual church meeting. At the morning service the church history was given by Mrs. Richard Poe and the anniversary sermon was by Rev. A. A. McBride, state superintendent of Congregational churches.
In the afternoon letters were read from Rev. H. S. Wiley, Rev. N. de M. Darrell, Rev. A. L. Golder and Rev. J. E. Everett. After a letter from General Gilbert A. Youngberg was read, the assembled congregation voted a formal thanks to him for the gift of the lighting fixtures in the auditorium. He had presented them to the church the previous summer in memory of his parents and sisters. The church department reports were then given and election of officers held. At four o’clock a vesper service was held with Rev. Merrill Abbey of Northfield as the speaker.
In 1938, Mr. Hildebrandt was succeeded by Rev. Leland Porter, who lived in Minneapolis, coming down to spend a day or two each week and Sunday here. While he was here several special occasions were observed. December 27, 1942, the organ, given by Mrs. C. W. Gress in memory of her husband, Clifford W. Gress, was dedicated. Arthur Scriver presented the gift for Mrs. Cress who was not able to be present and it was accepted for the church by Seymour Kraft. “The Organ in Worship” was the topic chosen by Rev. Mr. Porter, tracing the history of the organ from the earliest inception to modern pipe or reed organs powered by electricity. Mrs. Scriver presided at the organ in the morning.
At 4:30 in the afternoon a dedication concert was presented with Miss Florence Haglund as guest organist. Miss Marjorie Poe sang, “Come Unto Me” and Miss Charlotte Alexander “He Shall Feed His Flock,” companion solos from Handel’s Messiah. The report in the Beacon commented that the dream of many had come true with the installation of the fine organ.
In January, 1943, the Christian flag in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander McKinley, and the service flag in memory of Ms. Elmer Smith were dedicated at the morning service.
Mr. Porter was followed in December, 1944, by Rev. Roy L. Adams who stayed one year. In May, 1946, Rev. Dwight 0. Jackson accepted the call of the church people and he and Mrs. Jackson came to live in the parsonage. He had served as chaplain with the U. S. Army during World War II and been married after returning home.
In 1946, the church had been in existence ninety years and on October 26th, the church services were in observance of the event. Mr. Jackson read a brief history of the church and in his sermon dwelt on the influence of past members on the character of the church. A fellowship dinner at noon followed the service with the flowers on the table a gift from Mrs. Frances Falck Brown in memory of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. 0. E. Falck.
In the afternoon, Dr. Doely presided at an informal session when letters were read and reminiscences of by-gone days told. The meeting closed with the singing of the very appropriate hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers.”
After four years here, Rev. Mr. Jackson accepted a call to the Congregational church at Benson, Minnesota. Finding anyone to take his place proved difficult and it was not until November, 1951, that Rev. Richard B. Kozelka came to take his place in the pulpit.
Mr. Porter had kindly consented to supply the pulpit in the interim and it was while he was here that the lights in the newly remodeled dining room were dedicated. In the fall of 1950 Brigadier General Gilbert A. Youngberg had had them installed in memory of his sisters at a special service January 14, 1951. Arthur Scriver presented them in behalf of General Youngberg and Dr. R. L. Stultz accepted them.
At the annual church meeting in the afternoon a brief history of the Younglberg family was read.
A bronze plaque, mounted on a black walnut panel, placed on the north wall of the dining room indicates that the lighting system was presented in loving memory of his sisters, Amelia ((Mrs. A. D. La Due, 1853-1938), Louise (Mrs. 0. E. Falck, 1861-1937), Mathilda (Mrs. Elmer Doty, 1863-1937. All were members of the church at one time. Richard Bradley Kozelka had been graduated from Yale Divinity school in the summer of 1951. While attending school he had married Miss Jane Reeves of Madison, Connecticut. They came to Minnesota for his ordination in his home church, Plymouth church of Minneapolis, going back again to Connecticut. When they finally came in November, they had with them the new member of the family, small Sara, who had been born on October 8.
It is interesting to note that, as the church approaches the end of 100 years, the pastor is again a graduate of Yale Divinity school. It seems very fitting and it is hoped it is an omen of another one hundred years of worship and service.
What marks a story as history? One of the basic elements is Time, Today isn’t history, but is Yesterday history? If so, five or ten or fifteen years should be included in this story and such names as McKeag, Tate, Schlick, Conley, Ista, Diercks, Duncan. Norris, Bethke, Stultz, Bridge, Saunders and Callister, bring to mind much work done, much good accomplished. Each of these persons knows how to evaluate his own work and by one’s works is he known.
Before concluding the personal memoirs space must be reserved for a tribute to Miss Mary McKinley. When the Oxford Methodist church lost too many members to carry on, some of those left joined this church. Among them were Mr. and Mrs. Alexander McKinley and their daughter, Mary, who made her home with them and in their last years kept their home going for them. After retiring from teaching in Red Wing, she threw herself into the church work. becoming Sunday school superintendent, president of the Ladies’ Aid and working continually for the good of the church.
In a strange, hard to believe, succession her two brothers died of cancer and, when she was told that she was next, she kept her head up just saying that it was hard to believe one’s days were numbered. The church people presented her with a comfortable chair and did all they could to show her their affection and esteem. She carried on as long as possible, going to church for the last time on a Communion Sunday when she was really too ill but saying that she must go. She died January 19, 19~4, at the age of seventy-five. Soon after her death the Sunday school presented the church with a pulpit Bible of the new translation in her memory, and it was dedicated in a simple ceremony during a morning church service.
This narrative has mentioned few deaths, leaving it to the reader to realize that all of the early people have passed on. It seems only fitting though to mention the deaths of three church members on the eve of the Centennial year.
Mrs. Olaf Lilleboe, nee Hazel Morell, died following an automobile accident December 18, last. She was looking forward to the celebration, for she was a great granddaughter of Jonathan and Susan Clifford, charter members. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Clifford were her grandparents and her parents, Dr. Wilbur and Minnie Clifford Morell, were at one time members, as was her grandmother, Jane Morell.
A week after Mrs. Lilleboe’s death, Mrs. Alma Larson Mattson died unexpectedly, the day before Christmas. She had been a member of the church for twenty years, always doing her share until age and ill health compelled her to admit that she could no longer cooperate actively. Even then the church was one of her interests and she enjoyed watching from her window what went on across the street at the church.
As has been said before, the church has had its ups and downs. It is a happy coincidence that the end of the one hundred years comes at such a favorable time in the life of the church. Never has there been so much new blood, so many new members and friends who carry on the work with refreshing enthusiasm, with a minimum of human friction. This is the end of 100 years but also the auspicious beginning of the second hundred.
The Church Choir
Undoubtedly the first singing in the pioneer church was from each family’s own hymn book that they had brought with them from the East. The minister would choose a well-known hymn and read it from the first to the last line and the people sang whether they had a book or not. This custom of reading the hymn was carried out long after there was any need for it, just because they had always done it that way.
In the early seventies, there were enough singers to form a small choir. They had a small chapel organ and sixteen-year-old Mary Hillman played it. James and Wilbur Scofield had good voices and could read music. Wilbur’s wife and Caroline Barnes had pleasing alto voices. Mary Curran, who became Mrs. Al Clifford, could lead off with her soprano and they had the nucleus of a choir. When the Brown church was first built, the choir sat on chairs on the level of the church floor but, in the early nineties, a platform was built on a level with the pulpit platform and a railing placed around it. Just at the turn of the century, the Ladies’ Aid paid one or another of the public school teachers to lead the choir and they presented creditable anthems.
In the nineteen thirties, the church had one of the best choirs in its history. With a good soprano section and a number of men who sang well, they were able to master difficult music and sing with precision. They sang at an anniversary program in 1933 and signed the register for the day. The sopranos were the Misses Viola Grisim and Marjorie Poe, Medames Grace Conley, C. E. Stockinan, C. W. Sherwin and Beth Westman. Altos were Medames Ethel Whitney, C. E. Wohlfahrt, Hiram Scriver and Richard Poe. Tenors, 0.E. Doely, J. C. Christopherson, Wesley Johnson. Basses, Hiram Scriver, R. E. Goodwin and C. W. Sherwin. Of these sixteen only three are here now, 0. E. Doely, Ray Goodwin and Myra Poe. While this choir was functioning, vesper services were held every few weeks at four or five o’clock on Sunday. Maroon choir robes were acquired several years ago.
For some time the choir has been composed of women and young girls and trio music is sung. The last few months some of the young boys of the church have been helping out on the lower part. While the men are missed it has been a sweet and harmonious combination of voices and very pleasing to the ear and a real contribution to the church service.
The women of the Congregational church have always been an active force in the work of the church, both socially and financially. The Women’s Missionary society was first organized during the pastorate of Rev. R. S. Cross in 1881, by Mrs. Cross, and made a contribution yearly to the Women’s Home and Foreign mission work of the Congregational church.
Later a Ladies’ Aid society was brought into existence. They had regular monthly meetings at the homes of the members. Rummage sales, bazaars, bake sales and church suppers were sponsored by the society, which added greatly to the financial aid of the church, and also to its social life.
A few years ago the two women’s organizations united and is successfully performing the duties of the former societies. At the present time, it is functioning under the name of The Women’s Fellowship. We are divided into three circles, two meeting the second Friday of each month in the afternoon, and the third one in the evening. Each circle elects its own officers and agrees to raise a definite amount each year toward the financial aid of the church.
The whole organization meets every three months at a general meeting to discuss the current affairs. A general president, vice president, secretary and treasurer are elected every year and perform their duties in regard to the business affairs of the whole body. They pledge a regular amount each year to the church budget, This sum is raised by the yearly dues of the members and various other means.
The Women’s Fellowship also sponsors two Thank offering meetings a year for the missionary work of the church. An active Sunshine committee of our society does a very worthwhile duty by sending cards and messages to the sick and bereaved members.
After visits to other church kitchens, a committee from the Women’s Fellowship adopted various good points and laid out plans to remodel the church kitchen in 1954. New sinks and electric stoves were installed and numerous cupboards built. These things the women paid for and the men of the church did the painting. The women who were most responsible for the planning were Mrs. Harlan Anderson, Mrs. J. M. Alexander and Mrs. Adam Bergtoll. About the same time the dining room was refinished and tile flooring laid, largely the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lester Tate, with a tile shuffle board court given by Mr. and Mrs. Eldridge Peters. The kitchen floor is of the same tile.
During the war the women of the church purchased government bonds and laid them away, toward the purchase of a church carpet when a better quality could be secured than was available during war time. This was laid on the 11th of May, and, together with the new appointments in the chancel, gives the church a new and fresh appearance. Tile was also laid over the whole of the auditorium floor and the aisle carpeting laid on it. The new communion table is a gift from Dr. Walter Valentine in memory of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. David Valentine and his brother and sister-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. George Valentine.
Considering the work of the women’s organizations, the names of many women, who have done much work over the years, come to mind. Among these should be mentioned Mrs. Arthur T. Olson, Mm. Mary Stedman, Mrs. William Atchison, Mrs. Willie Robinson, Mrs. Frank Lapham, Mrs. Mildred Sackett, Mrs. Elmer Erickson, Mrs. Clarence Pagel, Mrs. Asa Van Guilder, Mrs. Harry Fox, and the women of the Goudy families.
Among the newcomers who have been helpful are Mrs. Loren Bacon, Mrs. James Brown, Mrs. Lynn Kepfler, Mrs. John Wille, Mrs. Edward Boersma, Mrs. Walter Freier, Mrs. Mary Gilbert, Mrs. Robert Molenaar, Mrs. Maurice Penfield, Mrs. Allen Cole, Mrs. Bernie Lindahl, Mrs. J. E. Norris, Mrs. Robert Hogue, Mrs. Adam Bergtoll, and Mrs. Malcolm Weigel.
The Sunday School
When the church celebrated its seventieth anniversary in 1926, George Valentine wrote and read a history of the church. Concerning the Sunday school he wrote:
“There has been a Sunday school in connection with this church ever since it was organized and has done important religious work with the children and young people. Those who have served as superintendents of this Sunday school as I can recall them are W.H. Scofield, H. A. Scriver, A. E. Engstrom, Mrs. Arah Carpenter, Dr. A. T. Conley, Geo. T. Valentine, Prof. C. 0. Swanson, A. T. Scriver, Mary McKinley and J. E. Everett, our present pastor and Sunday school superintendent. Some of the other pastors acted as Sunday school superintendents occasionally for a short time.
Going back to the days in the Brown church, some of the high lights, looking that long way back, were the Christmas and Children’s day programs. In the early nineties, the Christmas tree celebration was on Christmas night. Few people went out of town for Christmas and the program climaxed the day. It was hard on the Sunday school teachers who had to prepare a family dinner but to the children it was fairyland. One year it was truly a fairyland when the Fairy Queen was there and helped Santa Claus out by turning the bricks of the fireplace into candy boxes for the children. Something had happened to Santa’s pack. “‘Santa Claus’ Dilemma” was one of the cantatas put on by Mr. Jenkins’ sister, Mrs. Arah Carpenter. She was a member of Plymouth church, Mineapolis, and was used to putting on more elaborate productions than this Sunday school was accustomed to.
Another Christmas program long remembered was the one in 1897, the year after the church was wired for electricity. Robert and Fred Valentine, who had built the electric light plant, constructed a large Dutch windmill reaching nearly to the ceiling. The lighted arms turned and the children’s bags of candy and popcorn came out as grist from an opening near the bottom of the mill.
Of course, most of the time was spent in Bible teaching with few of the helps teachers have today. Sunday school was held after church, as soon as the children and grownups could be settled in their places. A table bell to be struck with the palm of the hand was a “must” for the superintendent. All gathered for the opening exercises and then retired to their allotted class seats, the little folks to the lecture room, and then gathered again after class for the secretary’s report and the benediction.
The secretary’s book for 1919 to 1926 shows that the top attendance remained at about fifty with nine teachers.
Since the Sunday school superintendents whom Mr. Valentine named in his history, the following have served: Carl Ostrom, Hiram Scriver, Mrs. Gareth Conley, Russell Duncan, Mrs. John Burch, Mrs. Harlan Anderson, and Mrs. Arnold Hjermstad, our present superintendent. The enrollment is at present approximately 100.
Young People’s Societies
What may have been the organization of the first society for the young folks of the church was recorded in the Beacon in March, 1878. It was called the Young People’s Christian Association. The officers were G. A. Follett, president; Mrs. J. L. Scofield, vice president; C. A. Cook, secretary, and Minnie Clifford, treasurer.
In 1885, while Mr. Cross was pastor, a Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor was organized. During the last years in the Brown church it was a going organization with members from high school age to a few oldsters, who met every Sunday evening at 6:30 or 7:00 for a prayer meeting. Just when it languished is not known but Mr. and Mrs. Golder are credited with reorganizing it in 1919.
A Junior Endeavor society was organized in 1893 by Mr. Jenkins but died out after a time. With Sunday school just over at one o’clock it often took persuasion to get the little flock back to the church at three.
Mr. Everett revived both the Junior and Senior Christian Endeavor societies but again they disbanded. Mr. Hildebrandt organized Junior and Senior societies that went by the name of Comrades in Adventure.
Since the Congregational church established the Pilgrim Fellowship the teenagers have carried on successfully with adult leaders.
The Mothers Club
This is the newest organization in our church. It came into being during the pastorate of Rev. Dwight Jackson. Mrs. Jackson was the organizer. The membership is limited to mothers having pre-school age children, and is doing a very worthy work in the affairs of the church.
Mrs. Jackson took charge of adding the names to the cradle roll and sending out birthday cards, and Mrs. Kozelka inherited the task. Perhaps it will become ex-officio.
For an organization with such a short lifetime, the Mothers’ Club has much to its credit. After the church officers had a floor laid in the little room in the basement at the foot of the stairs, they turned it into a very attractive kindergarten, with a bright linoleum floor and low shelves for toys and books.
They planned the purchase of choir robes, buying some which started the ball rolling and others finished buying what were needed. They also bought bulletin boards for the Sunday school.
Their latest project is the purchase and presentation to the church of bronze candelabra.
It is a very worthwhile organization and, no doubt, at times will be the means of drawing new members into the church.
Couples Club of the Congregational Church
In 1949 our minister and his wife, Rev. Jackson and Mrs. Jackson, together with Mr. and Mrs. Watson and Mr. and Mrs. DeValois organized and started a “Friendship Club” of the members of the church. This was the fore-runner of the Couples Club of the church which came into existence the following year.
The Club is made up of couples from the membership and friends of the church and meets quarterly or more frequently on special occasions. The Club has functioned for both instructional and social gatherings and has had a membership of from 15 to 30 couples at various times.
The Club has assumed leadership in many projects furthering the work of the church, having purchased tables for the junior Sunday School Class, started the table project for the dining room, purchased a slide projector for the use of the organizations of the church. Since the Club’s organization they have served the Easter Morning Breakfast for the Sunday School each year.
The present officers of the Couples Club are Mr. and Mrs. Dale Peterson, president; Mr. and Mrs. M. D. Weigel, vice president and Mr. and Mrs. E. L. Peters, secretary and treasurer.
What’s past is prologue. Every ending, with God, is also a beginning. This record ends, and does not end, for each day adds to it. John Edward Everett, beloved minister of First Church, has a word for us, written New Year’s Day, 1906:
The Old and the New
Oh, what shall I speak of the old,
And what of the new shall I say?
Of the dear old world whose days are told,
And the new that smiles today?
To the old a sad farewell,
To the new a greeting true;
While the old year’s grim and solemn knell
Makes a happy chime for the new.
To the old, “Good night,” and a tear.
And a fair “Good morn”, to the new;
For with grief we leave the dead old year,
While the new with joy we view.
To the old the grave and a sigh,
To the new health, love, and mirth;
For though with the years our old hopes die,
New hopes, as dear, have birth.
So we greet the new with zest,
Whether sad were the old, or glad;
For we’ll make this year the very best
That ever yet we have had.
Officers of the First Church, 1956
CHAIRMAN OF CHURCH COUNCIL: Allen J. Cole
CLERK: Mrs. Russell Duncan
TREASURER: John Burch
DEACONS: John Tate, A. C. Ista, ~Myron Bethke
DEACONESSES: Mrs. B. H. Van Campen, Mrs. Charles Smith
TRUSTEES: Allen Cole, James H. Johnson, Arnold Hjermstad
CHURCH SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT: Mrs. Arnold Hjermstad
BOARD OF EDUCATION: Mrs. Robert Hogue, Mrs. Seymour Kraft, Mrs. Ezra Bridge
WOMENS FELLOWSHIP: Mrs. James McKeag, President; Mrs. R. A. Black, Vice-President; Mrs. Seymour Kraft, Secretary-Treasurer
COUPLES CLUB: Mr. and Mrs. Dale Peterson, President.
MOTHERS’ CLUB: Mrs. Albert Johnson, President
PILGRIM FELLOWSHIP: Dennis Callister, President
PILGRIM FELLOWSHIP ADVISORS: Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Callister
HEAD USHER: Harry Fox
Committees for Centennial
Committees for the Centennial celebration of the First Congregational Church in Cannon Falls, Minn., June 10-17, 19~6.
GENERAL COMMITTEE-Arthur T. Scriver, chairman; Agnes May Black, secretary; Dr. Robert L. Stultz, E. L. Peters, Seymour
PUBLICITY-E. L. Peters, chairman; Walter Saunders, Jeanne Wahlberg, Ray Goodwin.
HISTORICAL-Al Johnson, chairman; Myra Poe, Mildred Engstrom, Anna Smith, Dr. 0. E. Doely, Myrtie Von Kohlston.
PROGRAM-Dr. Robert L. Stultz, chairman; Lucille Bethke, Mary Molenaar, Richard Kozelka.
MEMORIALS–Seymour Kraft, chairman; Dr. Ezra Bridge, Katherine L. Scriver.
HOSPITALITY AND ARRANGEMENTS-Agnes May Black, chairman; Irene Van Campen, Marie Anderson.
The list of ministers during the one-hundred years.
Rev. Jeremiah Root Barnes
Rev. John N. Williams
Rev. Elijah W. Merrill
Rev. Charles A. Ruddock
Rev. Benjamin Fay Mills
Rev. Charles A. Conant
Rev. Rowland S. Cross
Rev. David Henderson
Rev. William Jenkins
Rev. Benjamin F. Paul
Rev. Charles E. Ryberg
Rev. Norris de M. Darrell
Rev. Josiah L. Keene
Rev. Corwin Vincent
Rev. Horace S. Wiley
Rev. Louis Harris
Rev. Arthur L. Gokler
Rev. John E. Everett
Rev. Leonard Hildebrafldt
Rev. Leland Porter
Rev. Roy Adams
Rev. Dwight 0. Jackson
Rev. Richard Kozelka