The Fort Dodge Messenger: July 18, 1905
Fiftieth Anniversary Episcopal Church
Saturday, July 22 Marks the Day of Organization.
The Church Will Celebrate
Ice Cream Social and Musical Program Will be Given On East Lawn of The Church – Appropriate Sermon Sunday.
This week and the Saturday of this week, mark the anniversary of the organization of the Episcopal parish in Fort Dodge, which occurred July 22, 1855. In commemoration of this coming event, the present prosperous church will give a lawn social on the east lawn of the church Saturday evening and will furnish a fine musical program as well as ice cream and cake. Sunday the present rector, Rev. Biggs, will deal largely with the history of the church in his address.
In a worn and almost yellow edged book, a record is to be found of the principal happenings of the church from the time of its organization. The first item mentioned is of course, the organization of the church which was accomplished largely by land commissioners who were sent out here by President Buchanan. Names which are signed to the first resolution ever written by this church, will be found to be those old in history of the city as well as the church.
Just a year from the date of organization Bishop George Washington Lee proposed that if the church would raise $1,000 ($23,971 today) he would secure enough more funds to build a chapel, but this proposition was not accepted. Following this move, the first pastor, Rev. H.A. Wilson, but upon hearing that he had publicly denounced Free Masonry he was informed that his services would not be useful in this church and the Rev. Mr. Wilton therefore did not arrive in Fort Dodge.
February 1st in ’58 a committee was erected to raise funds to build a church. They resolved “to build a church 30×45 feet of stone or wood, with Gothic or pointed windows.” J.L. Cheney, E. Bagg and S.B. Olney were on the committee and Rev. Fairchild, who had been elected pastor, was delegated to go to Chicago to raise money for the church among the stronger churches there. On December 23, $1,420 ($35,333 today) had been expended, $699 ($17,392) had been paid out and the church was in debt $741($18,438). A frame church was being erected north of the site now occupied by Tobin college.
December 27th the vestry resolved “that we proceed with work on the church as heretofore, until the windows are in, one more door made, the buttons are one, the roof finished and all cracks stopped. Then suspend work until further action is taken.”
Action was indeed suspended and nothing more was done until after the war – to be exact until Easter, 1867. Rev. John Hochuly was next called to the Fort Dodge church. He (didn’t have?) any idea of how to manage affairs here, leaves a voluble record of his rectorate and resigned with almost nothing accomplished. Then nothing more was done until 1870 when Rev. E.H. Harlow was called to this place. The question of debt came up during this year, but nothing was accomplished, as Rev. Harlow had scarcely any idea of hom (sic) to manage affairs and extremely little idea of the value of money. He remained a year and having resigned, nothing was done until 1873, when Rev. Charles Stout was called.
Rev. Stout was a young man and this was his first parish. He did excellent work and accomplished much toward liquidating the debt. The church had found themselves in dire straits when some of its creditors B. Grayson, H. Beecher, Webb Vincent, Beth Vincent, S.B. Olney and J.F. Duncombe donated their claims, almost wiping out the debt. Rev. Stout stayed about three years and the debt was about cleaned up. He asked the vestry if he might have services in Webster City and they conceded that he might do so one Sunday in six, “until such time as the railroad company changed its time tables.”
Rev. Stout’s resignation was received “most reluctantly” and following him, Rev. W.C. Mills was called and acepted (sic). During his pastorate there was the first informal talk of a new church. His pastorate was the longest the church had ever known and was prosperous in every way. Rev. Mills resigned in September, 1880, and no rector was called until all obligations could be wiped out. This was evidently accomplished by February, 1882, because Rev. C.C. Adams was called to the church and accepted. He remained a year and was succeeded by P.C. Wolcott, who also stayed about a year. Then the church was closed again for about a year.
Robert J. Walker was the next rector, and he began his pastorate by asking the vestry for a loan of $250 ($5,987). The records show that they considered it so long that it was dropped. Eight months later Rev. Robert Walker resigned. Rev. J.W. Paige followed him and was there until his death, serving the longest of any rector of the church. The records show his time of service to have been the most fruitful and prosperous the church had known and he was much beloved by all.
In January, 1892, the old church burned and measures were taken at once to secure a new church. The money on hand after the lot was sold and the insurance collected was $2,900 ($69,458). A subscription list was passed around and in a year the church aggregated the sum of $10,340 ($247,655). Plans were considered for a building to cost $10,000 and the contracts were about to be let when Rev. Paige died. At that time everything went slack and the new church matter was dropped. In April, 1893, the former plans were discarded and a new building committee, consisting of J.C. Cheney, Webb Vincent and A.J. Arthur were appointed with power to proceed with the original plans or adopt new ones. New plans were adopted and the present church as built. The architect was Clinton Nourse of Des Moines and the contract was let to Hepler and Brown. During the time of its erection, Sunday school services were kept up in what is now the Salvation Army hall. Mr. Rutka being the prime factor in this movement. He was ably assisted by Mrs. J.F. Duncombe, Misses Maude Lauderdale and Blanche Burnam.
Rev. A.V. Gorrell was the first pastor in the new church, remaining about a year after which Rev. C.H. Remington was called. Under his rectorate, the church was enlarged, the organ instituted and the church was successful in every way. His term of service was long and the church deeply regretted that failing health made his resignation necessary in 1904.
Rev. C.L. Biggs, the present rector, came to Fort Dodge the first of this year and has proved as excellent choice thus far in his work here.
Tags: 1905, Adams, Arthur, Bagg, Beecher, Biggs, Burnam, Cheney, Duncombe, Fairchild, Gorrell, Grayson, Harlow, Hochuly, Lauderdale, Lee, Mills, Nourse, Olney, Paige, Remington, Rutka, Stout, Vincent, Wilton, Wolcott