History of Bangor Liberty Friends Church
(excerpts from the 125th Anniversary records)
In the year 1850, a group of Friends left North Carolina and traveled by
horses and covered wagons to the northwest. They were in search of new homes
where they could be free to worship as they chose, and free from the slave
trade which they could not conscientiously uphold. The following were among
the first to arrive in what is now Bangor Township, Marshall County, IA: Abel
Bond, Elam Jessup, William Hobson, Nathan Bales, Fred Caviness and perhaps
In the fall of 1851, they arrived at Bangor after spending the winter and
most of the summer near Salem, Iowa. Before locating permanently, they looked
the country over and decided to settle on Honey Creek, where there was timber
for fuel and building, and good prairie farm land waiting for the plow.
One of the first things the Friends did was to find a place where they
could worship God. They built a couple of benches, and in a house William
Reece has rented, the first Friends meetings were held. Soon there was a
demand for a permanent place to worship. A site was selected southeast of the
present Bangor Cemetery and a log church was built. Here Western Plains
Preparative Meeting was set up in 1853, and this was the regular meeting
place for some two years.
The village of Bangor was platted by Abijah Hodgin in 1854. Some members
wanted the meeting house nearer to the village, but others were not anxious
to move. Tradition tells us that a group of young men leveled the first
meeting house one night, probably in 1855. This may be the reason that
Western Plains Monthly Meeting met for the first time as a monthly meeting
and was organized in the home of the first clerk, David Davis. On April 4,
1855, Abijah Hodgin deeded the present meeting house grounds to William
Hobson, John Hockett and Elam Jessup as trustees. Another log church was
built here, and it was used until June of 1858, when the first Bangor
Quarterly Meeting was held. A new frame building was being built for this
occasion, but because it was damaged by a storm and could not be finished in
time, a rude shed was added to the old building to take care of the crowd for
the day. The seating capacity was about 300 and it was full!
The Western Plains Monthly Meeting was dropped in 1860 and the meeting has
been Bangor ever since.
In 1860, Bangor Quarterly Meeting was visited by Elijah Coffin, a member of
the Indiana Yearly Meeting, who was sent to serve on a committee to set up
Iowa Yearly Meeting. He reported that there were about five hundred people
present. At that time, Bangor was said to have been the largest Friends
meeting in the world.
Because of their opposition to slavery, it is very natural that the early
Bangor Friends were interested and active in the organization that aided
run-away slaves in their escape to Canada - the Underground Railroad. All
mention of the organization was purposely left off the records for security
reasons and it will never be known how many went though Bangor. With the
start of the Civil War, traffic on the underground ceased abruptly, but
Bangor Friends were still active. Several Negro families came to Bangor
community after the war, but only one, the Warrens, stayed. They are buried
in the Bangor Cemetery and their tombstone records the ripe old ages of 109
Friends have always been very much interested in education. As the
organization grew and new meetings were set off, each new meeting was
expected to maintain one or more elementary schools presided over by a
Friend, in which the Scriptures should be taught daily. This Bangor did from
the very first.
Between 1862 and the turn of the century meetings in Iowa continued to grow
and develop. New Meetings were set off by the early settlers as they spread
across Iowa's fertile plains, One of these meetings, helped by the Friends at
Bangor, was Liberty.
The first regular Missionary Committee was appointed by Bangor Monthly
Meeting in 1879. House to house visitation was a common practice of the early
Friends and inquiry was made into the spiritual welfare of the family. Family
worship was encouraged and it was seen that each family had a copy of the
Holy Scriptures. Music was considered worldly and frivolous because it was
used in the dance and other forms of entertainment, of which the solemn and
stoical early fathers disapproved. The use of music and singing in worship,
and as a form of praise to God, was to many early Friends impossible. But
Bangor had a more open-minded group than many meetings.
The first song sung in Bangor Quarterly Meeting was either "I'm a Child of
the King" or " Come, Thou fount of every Blessing." It is not certain which,
but it was sung by a beautiful and talented lady minister, Julia Ann McCoo.
The inspiration of the song could not be denied, although there was some
dissension. Soon some local women learned songs and sang them in worship
service without the use of instrumental music. after this, things became
"modern" rather quickly.
In 1975, Bangor and Liberty Monthly Meetings entered a trial merger for one
year. In 1976, the merger was completed; the new organization being known as
the Bangor Liberty Monthly Meeting of Friends. It is commonly referred to as
Bangor Liberty Friends Church.
History of Community of Friends Church of Liberty Meeting
Compiled by Marjorie L. Norman
On October 10, 1901, seven Christian families, wishing to serve their Lord
more effectively, met in the small frame building known as Liberty School No.
1, to establish a monthly meeting, to be known as Liberty Monthly Meeting of
Those pioneers, whose names appear on the record as 35 charter members are
Eleaser B. Harris, his wife, Libbie A Harris and their daughter, Grace;
William R. Pruitt, his wife Anna M. Pruitt, and their children, Jesse J.,
Furnur M., Edward H., and Robert W., Phebe A. Raley and her brother Thomas A.
Clarence Skinner, his wife, Lulu Skinner, and their children, Harry, Ross,
John S. Test, his wife Mattie E. Test, and their children, Emmet D.,
Blanche, Bertha A., and Clara J.;
Abner B. White, his wife, Bessie White, and their children, Aurthur F.,
Anna M., Elwood C., Mary E., Nettie and Wellington;
John H. Winslow, his wife, Aby D. Winslow, and their children, William J.,
Carrie, and Lora B.;
Myrtle Winslow, wife of William J. joined one month later.
Phebe Raley was selected as the first recording clerk, an office she held
almost continuously for the next 21 years. Her records, so faithfully kept,
form the basis for the first part of this history.
Finances were handled on a percentage, with various percentages being
apportioned out to each family.
The first mention of a pastor is in an indirect way in the minutes of the
ninth monthly meeting, 1902. It reads as, and I quote, "The Pastoral
committee reports in part -- we are united in keeping Abner B. White for the
coming year and that we shall help him financially." So it is presumed that
he had the honor of being the first pastor of the church and was paid --
$142.00 to be exact. His son, Arthur, acted as the first janitor.
The first yearly report lists two ministers of the Gospel. William R.
Pruitt was also a recorded minister and a charter member, so he no doubt,
served as pastor during this time also.
In November 1903, Carrie A. Butler came to Liberty as a pastor and was
given an increase in salary. She served in that capacity until 1904.
This Church has always been interested in missions. During that year a
special collection of $1.91 was sent to Jamaica to be used in replacing the
building which was destroyed by storms.
The records through the years show many such contributions more substantial
than this, however, to various fields, both at home and abroad.
IN 1905, Taylor Guthrie transferred his membership to Liberty from Linden
Monthly Meeting. The minutes mention welcoming him as a member, but no
mention is made of him as pastor. It is know, however, that due to his small
stature and youthful continence, he was referred to as "the boy preacher". He
was recorded a minister of the Gospel while serving here on February 17,
The next year Clifford N. and Lillian Jones of Stanford served as pastors.
It was during his ministry that the plans for the new church were made and
Four sites were offered to the church. After a ballot vote, the offer of
Mark Brindle and his wife was accepted. The quote from the minutes April 27,
1907 -- "We, as Friends Monthly Meeting at Liberty, accept the offer of Mark
Brindle and wife, and most sincerely thank them for it. May the Blessing of
God rest upon them and theirs for this gift."
The new church was completed in December at a cost of $2,109.30. By March
all but $100 had been paid. That, however, had been pledged.
The large room of the structure measured 22' by 34' by 15', the small room
was 14' by 20', and the hall was 8' by 10'. It is interesting to note that
three lamps were brought from the school, the organ was brought and paid for
by a box social and subscriptions. The Missionary Society donated the
carpeting, 11 window blinds, three chairs, pulpit, two side lamps, call bell,
and a broom!
On a stormy day, December 29, 1907, a goodly number assembled for the
dedication services, words of greeting and commendation were read from C. N.
Jones and A. B. White, former pastors, the sermon was preached by W. Jasper
Jadley, Supt. of Iowa Yearly Meeting of Friends. After the announcement that
the funds had been provided for, the dedicatory prayer was offered by Rev.
Hadley and the building to be known as the "Friends Church at Liberty" was
formally dedicated to the Lord.
During the winter of 1915-1916, J.R. Howard purchased the land formally
used by Liberty school No.1 and presented it to the church organization as a
site for a parsonage. (This fact may not be entirely correct as records
conflict.) Mr. Howard was the Chairman of the building committee.
We believe the building to have been completed in 1918, and to Carrie
Butler goes the distinction of being the first to occupy it.
Taylor and Erma Guthrie returned in 1919 and served the congregation until
1927. During his pastorate the church presented him with the keys to a new
Ford car when his wore out. The church passed its 25th birthday in 1036. In
October of that year plans were made to remodel the church building. It was
so done, and, free of debt, was rededicated to the Lord on January 2, 1927.
During the years of the big depression Lawrance and Sarabelle Sams served
the church. With the exception of the winter of '31 they were here from 1929
until 1936. They organized the Christian Endeavor in 1933.
A quotation taken from the M.M. minutes 10/4/33 is as follows: "Reported 2
weeks of unusually good and profitable revival meetings. About 65 came to the
alter with 50 or more conversions, the rest seeking deeper grace and
There are many such accounts of special meetings down through the years
with such speakers as Rev. Loft, John and Mattie Hadley, Rev. Byrd, Fred
Lester, Fred Moore, O.C. Gatrelle, Don Jay, L. K. Harper, Wendell and
Pertelle Hansen, Lowell Roberts, Rendell Cosand, Don Gatrelle, Marvin
Hoeksema, Don and Dorthy Sinton, The older folk recall the soul inspiring
tent meeting conducted by Rev. Loft back in 1906 or '08.
Rev. Arthur and Inez Moon came in 1936. In 1938 the first daily vacation
Bible school was recorded in the books. These daily vacation Bible schools
were held each summer for over 30 years and were always well attended. During
1939, according to the minute book, was the first time that Liberty
entertained the Bangor Quarterly Meeting.
On Sunday morning, December 14, 1941, the Liberty Church building was
destroyed by fire. During the next three months of confusion, the services
were held in the gymnasium of the Liberty Consolidated School.
In March 1942 the Bivens Grove Christian Church was purchased and remodeled
for use. With Rev. Richard Newby, Yearly Meeting Superintendent present, the
dedication of the building was held on May 31, 1942 as -- The Community
Church of Liberty Monthly Meeting.
During Sept. 1943, Wade and Luella Dillavou began their work here. As a
result of their well rounded program of activities both the church attendance
and membership steadily increased. The records show that 1951 surpassed all
previous years in these areas.
A fifty year observance was held October 14, 1951 with L. W. Sams, a former
pastor as the morning speaker, The theme of his message, as well as for the
entire day was - "How Firm a Foundation." Phebe Raley Harris and Elwood
White, both charter members, were present as well as several pastors. In 1951
the meeting built a cottage at Quaker Heights.
In the 50's and the early 60's Liberty was blessed with much musical
talent. During these years, under the leadership of Orville Norman, the choir
presented two musical services outdoors each summer. These were known as the
"Concerts Under the Stars."
Tom and Doris Good were our spiritual leaders from 1960 until 1966. In 1966
it seemed advisable to share a Pastor with Bangor. Warren Hendersnott served
both meeting that year. The next year both meetings extended a call to Dave
Lewis. He accepted and served both meetings until 1974. In 1974 Barry and
DeDe Bucker and Jerry Vincent led as pastors of the Meeting.
During the 75 years that Liberty Monthly Meeting was active 382 names were
entered on the membership book. Taylor Guthrie, Wade Dillavou and Lloyd
McDonald were recorded as ministers in Iowa Yearly Meeting while members of
our meeting. Dave Lewis was recorded while a pastor of our Meeting.
Two organizations should be mentioned in this history of Liberty Friends.
The Woman's Missionary group was organized during the formative years.
Member's "egg" money was used to finance various missionary projects and
during the depression the Society served many threshing dinners at the church
to help defray church expenses. The other organization was Quaker Men
organized several years later.
In 1975 Bangor and Liberty Monthly Meetings entered a trial merger for one
year. In 1976 the merger was completed; the new organization being known as
the Bangor-Liberty Monthly Meeting of Friends.
Ministers at Liberty:
Abner B. White - 1901-1903
Carrie Butler - 1903-1904
Taylor Guthrie - 1904-1906
Clifford N. Jones - 1906-1907
W.H. Hickman - 1907-1912
Clifford N. Jones - 1912-1913
W.H. Hickman - 1913-1914
Clifford N. Jones - 1914-1915
L.E. McCarger - 1915-1916
Arthur E. Heakcock - 1916-1917
Carrie Butler - 1917-1919
Taylor Guthrie - 1919-1927
Guerdon & Athena Mortimer - 1927-1929
Lawrence & Sarabelle Sams - 1929-1936
Arthur Moon - 1936-1940
Guy Harvey - 1940-1943
Wade Dillavou - 1943-1951
Wellington Whittlesey - 1951-1955
Audry Miller - 1955-1857
Lester Figgins - 1957-1960
Thomas Good - 1960-1966
Warren Hendershott - 1966-1967
David Lewis - 1967-1974
Barry Rucker - 1974
Jerry Vincent - 1975
If you would like to receive more information about family, Quaker, or
local historical information in the area of Marshall & Hardin Counties,
please contact Mike Martin:
607 Jerome St.
Marshalltown, IA 50158
This could include the Friends meetings at Bangor, Liberty, Stanford,
Hartland, Marrietta, Marshall, Marshalltown, Legrand, Honey Creek, New
Providence, Iowa Falls, Fairview, Union, Highland, and Grundy Plain.
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