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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 others.

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 and 116.

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 Friends.

Those pioneers, whose names appear on the record as 35 charter members are as follows:

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. Raley;

Clarence Skinner, his wife, Lulu Skinner, and their children, Harry, Ross, and Merrill;

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, 1906.

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 carried out.

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 spiritual strength."

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:

Mike Martin
607 Jerome St.
Marshalltown, IA 50158
641-752-3950
mcm1005@gmail.com

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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