First Methodist Church
Fayette, Fayette County, Iowa
Fayette was a farming and college town, the college was a Methodist institution.


Contains webpage links to various Fayette Co. surnames and history projects.
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The photo hosting site contains material regarding history, maps, genealogy of Fayette, Co, Iowa
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Page Chronology:  2014Apr27, page initially uploaded.

Time Line

Fayette.IA developed as a farming community and college town, beginning in the Mid-1850's.

...There is some UIU background on this page:
...Numerous pages linked off  Iowaz Index Page  will have Fayette.IA material.

 The college (UIU) developed in association with the M.E. Church.
...Do a Google Search for the historic background on the Methodist religion.
...M.E. Church

The M.E. Church comes to Iowa and Fayette County.

1833Nov06...Pioneer Methodist preacher Rev. Barton H. Randall, from the Illinois Conference paddled across the Mississippi River in an Indian canoe and preached an evening sermon in J.M. Harrington's tavern at the Spanish Mines area of Dubuque.  This was the first M.E. sermon in Iowa.

1833May18...Rev. Randall formed the "Methodist Society" on the Iowa side of the River.

1833June01...The first Methodist 'class meeting' was held by Rev. Randall, in what would be the Dubuque circuit of the Illinois conference.

1833Nov14...The first quarterly conference of the Dubuque circuit was held in a log cabin in Dubuque with Alfred Brunson, as acting elder, presiding over northern parts of Illinois and Iowa, with no definite boundaries.

1839...At the Illinois conference in Bloomington, the Iowa district was formed, running from the Turkey river south to the Missouri line, as far west as setters were to be found.

1839...Simeon Clark, pioneer M.E. preacher in Delaware county was making a living hunting bee trees for honey, to include the river flowages of Fayette.Co, thus was likely also preaching whenever finding a cluster of settlers.

1840...At the Illinois conference the Iowa district was split into the the Burlington district to the south and the Dubuque district to the north, with Rev. Bartholomew Weed as presiding elder.

1844Jan&Feb...Simeon Clark, pioneer M.E. preacher in Delaware county was making a living hunting bee trees for honey, held services and preached at the (Franklin) Wilcox cabin on the Mission Trail, about 2mi SxSW of 'to-be' Fayette village.

1844Aug14...The Iowa conference was organized at Iowa City, to include all of Iowa territory, with Bishop Thomas A. Morris presiding elder.
...The Iowa conference had three districts:  Dubuque, Burlington, Des.Moines.

1844-1855...Iowa Methodist membership and organizations saw rapid growth with coming of the 'white tide.'

1850Jan9, Rev. John Hindman  preached the first sermon in Fayette County by a regularly ordained Methodist minister  at the James Robertson's cabin, which was the old Franklin Wilcox cabin 1+mi SxSW of today's Main.St, Fayette.IA.  The 1840 Wilcox cabin has been credited as the first in Fayette.Co.IA, but probably was just one of the first several.  Either way the Wilcox cabin became the core for the 'Wilcox Settlement' of several pioneers families along the Mission Trail from Dubuque to Ft.Atkinson, so was historically very important,  bz/2012.
...At the first service a class was organized with James Robertson appointed leader, which he held through the 1850's.  The group included James & wife Jane Robertson, Elizabeth Alexander & dau's Hannah & Dezine/Desire.
...The class met nearly every Sunday with a preacher arranged by appointment for once a month on Fridays. 
...Phebe Messenger joined at the second served, on probation.

1850Apr...James Robertson moved into what is now the SW area of what would be Fayette village (west of today's the Mechanic & Madison St intersection). 
...Sabbeth school/meeting moved from the Wilcox cabin to the James Robertson home in 'Fayette' valley.
...Robert & Elizabeth Alexander had moved by that time to the area near today's Klock's Island to build a mill and would plat Westfield village in that area several years before Fayette was platted and College Hall started in 1856 for an M.E. Seminary school.

1850Spring...Rev. Hindman organized a class at Eldorado.  An M.E. Church was built in 1869; members were James George, Richard Dewey, James Young, Geo. K. Eckert, Thomas Kincaid.  By the late 1800's the organization and building were abandoned.

1850Summer...The first quarterly meeting of a Methodist organization was held in a cabin, 3 miles ExSE of West Union, called the 'Otter Creek Mission' (on Otter Creek flowage running from the West.Union area to the Turkey River at Elgin).  Rev. G.B. Bowman was presiding elder; members present were Rev. H.S. Brunson, John Hindman, Eli Elrod, Benjamin Iliff, J.W. Foster, James Robinson, G.P. Slayton.

1850Summer...Rev. H.S. Brunson held services, organized a Methodist class in the log school at West.Union, consisting of Mrs. Eliz.Cook, Mrs. Lucinda Stafford, J.W. Foster & wife, Mrs. Ellen Cruzan, G.P. Slayton.  Rev's. J.B. Hollingshead & Elisha Hartsough were the first local preacher.

1850Fall...Rev. Wm. Greenup was appointed M.E. preacher in charge of the Otter Creek Mission/Circuit of which the Fayette/Westfield area formed a part.

1859Fall...Rev. H.S. Brunson organized an M.E. class in the Auburn school house.  A church was built in 1866 with Rev. Smith as preacher, but was abandoned later.

1851Fall...Otter Creek Circuit became the Turkey River Circuit.
...Samuel & wife Sabra Robertson, Cyrus H. & wife Rhoda Price joined the Fayette area class.

1852...Rev. John Cameron was appointed preacher in charge of the Turkey River Circuit.

1853...Generally first services and classes were organized in log cabins of settlers, then often moved to log school-houses.  The first M.E. Church was built at West Union, lead by Dr. Levi Fuller, C.R. Bent, J.S. Brewer, Rev. J.R. Cameron.  A parsonage built in 1855, burned in 1859.  A bugger church was completed in 1868 for $8k, later replaced for $15k in 1901 by a brick building.

1853...The Turkey River Circuit name was changed to the West Union Circuit, and Rev. Isaac Newton was put in charge.

1853...Rev. J.R. Cameron organized a class at Elgin, with members Elder Newton, Eli Elrod, C.W. Cooley, Mr. Hosmer.  Samuel Conner donated a lot and a church built in 1857, F.C. Mather as pastor.  In 1878 the building was sold to the German Lutheran's.

1853Spring...The Methodist preaching location was moved from the James Robertson home to the District school house (new log school built about a 100yds in the woods off the SW corner of today's Mechanic & Clark St's.)

1853Jun14...N.N. & Diana Sykes, and Frank M. Robertson (son of Samuel & Sabra Alexander Robertson) joined the class, increasing the members to 13.

1853Fall...A Methodist class was organized at Lima.

1854...A new district of the Iowa (Methodist) Conference was formed, and called the Upper Iowa District, with Rev. H.S. Brunson as presiding elder (he would become president of UIU), and Rev Lewis Sells Ashbaugh as pastor of Fayette area.

1854Fall...The M.E. class enrollment at Fayette/Westfield had reached 19 memebers.

1855Dec...The year closed with a class numbering 37 members.  Rev. J. M. Rankin had been made preacher in charge.  Cortez & wife Sylvia Paine & their son Jason Lee Paine, Dr. Charles C. & wife Sarah Parker were among uniting/joining the class by letter.

1856May...The Iowa conference was divided.  The Upper Iowa conference thus formed with Rev. H.S. Brunson as presiding elder.
...The Upper Iowa conference was later divided into Dubuque (Arlington, Clermont, Maynard, Oelwein, Randalia, West.Union) & Decorah districts (Fayette, Hawkeye, Lima, Waucoma).

1856Dec...The Fayette class had 78 members.

1857...At the M.E. Conference the name was changed form the West Union Circuit to the Fayette Circuit and served by ministers David Poor, S.H. Halbert and others.

1857...Rev. Brooks held a revival in  Richland (Bethel) Twp, converting 110 settlers, which later became separated with no church organization developing.
1857...Rev. H.W. Zimmerman held meetings in Fremont.Twp, organizing a church with members N.W. Spears & wife, James Chichester & wife, and Mrs. Angeline Morehouse.  A church was built in 1878, with the organization extinct by 1900.
1857...The Lima church was dedicated, but sold by 1900.

1876...The Fayette.IA M.E. Church was being constructed.

1877Jan7...The Fayette M.E. Church was dedicated, cost $7k.

1877...Maynard church was dedicated, cost $2k.
1877...Brush Creek (Arlington) church was dedicated, and destroyed in 1884 by a tornado.  Another church was erected immediately, with a large addition in 1902, total cost $6k.

1891...Oelwein church built, cost $5k.  Rapid Oelwein growth as a railroad town, led to a 1908 brick church, cost $35k.




1877Jan7...The Fayette M.E. Church was dedicated, cost $7k.


1926...Church basement excavated and built.

1926Aug12Thur...Fayette County  Leader article:  History of Reformation Built Into Church (M.E.) Architecture.  Fireplace Finished.
...Every evening, and steadily on Sundays the old Gothic church at Fayette is already drawing local people by the house full and tourists by the car full to preliminary inspection.  With dedication yet three weeks away, the first floor is rapidly becoming completed.  Because of many questions asked, the Leader here prints the architectural interpretation of the history of the Protestant Reformation as built into the church on the Hill.
...The development of Christianity, like the development of the Bible, has for years been on of the romances of literature.  As the old Gothic church stands as a reminder for today of the romance of architecture, so on the first floor, the development of Christianity is taken from literature and made a romance of architecture as well.  For fifty years, the old church with its cross-shaped ground plan, has stood for nothing but an auditorium (central cathedral). 


...Then came Jan.9.1926, the 76th anniversary of the 1st service held in Fayette, and the blasting by dynamite to the north of the church that entry might be made below (basement level), that excavation chairman Frank Ressler and his crew of a total of 120 men had begun work on removing 700 loads of rocky dirt below the floor of the church.  The venture was complected as a community project, much as the old cathedrals were built, by each man giving his time.
...Now after 9 months of work, you can descent to the first floor (basement), arranged as an historic pilgrimage of the Christian progress of the last 400 yrs.
...The first small room is the Tyndale Detail.  With window barred and plain wall and bench, the suggestion is of the old cell where Wm. Tyndale, an Oxford and Cambridge student, was forced to live criminal-like, that he might translate the Bible from the Latin into English.  His was the first printed Bible of 1525, taken so well from the Hebrew and Greek that it formed the basis for the larger part of the King James version.  And because he gave this treasure of truth to the world, on Oct.06.1536, he was strangled and his body burned.  A poster and a duplicate of the original manuscript are furnished by the American Bible Society.  The bars at the window were taken from the old wood-burning furnace which once heated the church.

...Following the tiled effect painted on the floor, through the opening to the left as you enter the Tyndale Detail, are the heart of the foundation of the church, is the small square Wesleyan Niche.  Through the Wesley's lived in the 1700's, because of their central place in Methodism as well as English history, this little feature room is introduced out of exact historic line.  Fayette is a college town and Wesley was a college man with his sensible Christian appeal, "if you heart is as my heart, give me your hand."  From time to time church treasures will be added to this museum room at the heart of the old church.

...By the old style, circle-top door, entrance is made to the Lutherhouse.  While Tyndale thought in England, Luther was doing and thinking in Germany.  In his virtual imprisonment at Wittenburg, in the Lutherhouse, he was writing the sermons 400 years ago, which led to the founding of the protestant faith.  Directly across this room the light streams through an old type of window of Hesagon-shaped panes heavily leaded, a duplicate of the original one in the Lutherhouse in Germany, and presented to the Fayette church, by Gaytee Studios of Minneapolis.  The replica of the table on which Luther wrote is the work and gift of Prof. J.W. Crain, manual training teacher in the Fayette school.  The old electrified kerosene lamp and window-seat pew are relics of the old auditorium furnishings above.  The lamp, even to the unbroken chimney, was found by excavators, as it had been pushed under the church when discarded.  So far as known, this room is the only American replica of the birthplace of Protestantism.

...As Luther thought for himself and broadened out in his thinking, so people of his age and since have done.  Progress in this historical  architecture would naturally be from the Lutherhouse to the Broad Room.  Without question the feature of the Broad Room is the Upper Iowa Firplace.  All the continents of the world are represented by stones around this electric hearth.   These stones were asked for from the pulpit Sunday evening, Mar.02.1926.   Each giver was asked for an accompanying $2.50 that localities from which the stones came might be sandlbasted into them.  From 21 states and territories of U.S.A friends of the University and of the town/Fayette, began to send their relics until three months afterward the quota of 105 rocks had been passed.  The work 'rock' occurs 105 times in the Bible.  The 1400 pounds of rocks were trucked to  Northeastern Iowa Memorial Co, at Monona in Calyton.Co.IA, where H.B. Dickinson, used his tools and ingenuity to work such names as Huntington Park, Calif., on four square inches of rock surface, for instance. 

...Then came the assembly of the rocks.  It took 5 days and great is the credit due Walter Eugene Hunt, the veteran stone mason of Fayette county, who at the age of 75 handled every rock and shell and built squire corners out of petrified stumps and clams, Indian hammers and arrow heads, volcanic lava and polished onyx, Alaskan marble and Fayette coral.  And his tender, John Robbins, was in his 73rd summer.  Mr. Robbins has probably invested more days in the building of the church than any layman of the organization.   At the fireplace and about the room at intervals are 12 bronze lanterns.  Above the pulpit upstairs once hung an old chandelier of 12 cone shaped glass globes arching from their brass supports like a bursting sky-rocket.  These 12 globes, now turned points to the sky, in harmony with the lines of the Gothic building they form a part of, form the shades for these 12 lanterns.  The windowed sides of the lanterns are made from the excellent old tin in the cold air pipes of the furnace installed 50 years ago, and the assembly, together with the funnell, harness ring and various articles from his stock at the hardware store was accompanied by C.W. Knight.  His brother John Knight, as the anvil of his shop, fashioned the fireplace crane from an old iron bar found in the old furnace with the bars of the Tyndale Detail window.  In this Broad Room, student, scout, school and supper activity will largely center.

Knight surname
Hunt surname  Thomas Vincent Hunt bro of Walter Eugene

1 HUNT, Walter Eugene b: 26 Jun 1851 in Shutford, Oxfordshire, England d: 03 Nov 1945 in Indpendence.IA hosp; res of NE corner Main/7th St, Fayette, Fay.Co.IA. Burial: 06 Nov 1945 Grandview Cem, Sec C, Lot 312, 2nd from S, burial #2163, Fayette, Fay.Co.IA. Note 7: 1860 Census: S.Wash.St, Fayette, Fay.Co.IA. Hunt: Reuben35Eng master mason $200/100, Eliz29NY, ThosV11Eng, WalterE9Eng, Eliz6, Washington4Eng. Note 9: 1870 Census: S.Wash.St, Fayette.IA. Hunt: Ruben46 mason $1200/330, Eliz40, Thomas20 mason, Eugene19 farming, Amelia17, Washenben14, Florie8, Ruben5, William2; adj. is James Farr70. Note 11: Bet. 1875 - 1892 Furniture, hardware, cabinetmaker, undertaking (24-41); NW corner of Main/Water St, Fayette, Fay.Co.IA. Note 12: 1880 Census: Note 13: 1885 Census: Furniture/undertaking, NW corner Main/Water, Fayette.IA. Hunt: WalterE33 cabinent maker, AmandaK28 dressmaker, FloraB2, bro. ThomasV Hunt36 plaster. Note 14: Mar 1891 Bro. Reuben Wrench partnered with at the Furniture/Undertaking. Note 15: Apr 1892 Sold Furniture/Undertaking to James M. Edmunds. Note 16: 1893 Moved, farm, S of Grandview Cem, Fayette, IA. Note 17: Bet. 1893 - 1920 Maple Grove Dairy farm, 130a, 1mi S of Fayette, Sec 32&33, Westfield.Twp, Fay.Co.IA (age 45-69yrs). Note 18: 1896 Plat: farmstead in 45a in N1/2ofSE1/4 sec 32, 1/2mi S of Grandview.Cem & 80a E across road, N1/2ofSW1/4, Sec33, Westfield.Twp, Fay.Co.IA; bro R.W. farming adj to the S. Note 19: 1900 Census: Dairy farm 1m S of Fayette, sec 32&33, Westfield.Twp, Fay.Co.IA. Hunt: W.E.48, Amanda43, Flora17, John14, Rubin12, Nillie9, Martha4. Note 21: Jan 1901 Paper; Maple Grove Farm & Dairy, W.E.Hunt, delivers milk, cream, etc. Note 22: 1910 Census: Note 23: 1916 Plat: farmstead in 45a in N1/2ofSE1/4 sec 32, 1/2mi S of Grandview.Cem & 80a E across road, N1/2ofSW1/4, Sec33, Westfield.Twp, Fay.Co.IA. Note 24: 1919 Moved from farm home S of Fayette to NW corner, Main/7th St, Fayette, Fay.Co.IA. Note 25: 1920 Census: Note 26: Bet. 1920 - 1945 Retired to NE corner, Main/7th St, Fayette, Fay.Co.IA, (age, 69-94yrs). Note 27: 1925 Census: Fayette, Fay.Co.IA. Hunt: W.E.73, Amanda68, Martha29. Note 29: Very active in M.E. Ch of Fayette.IA. Note 31: Cause of death: listed chronic nephritis (kidney inflammation).

.. +THOMPSON, Amanda Katura b: 12 Sep 1856 in Sec 36, W1/2, SW1/4, Westfield Twp, near head of Grannis Hollow area, 3+mi E, Fayette, Fayette Co, Iowa d: 26 Jan 1942 in NE corner Main/ 7th St (home, early morning) Fayette, Fay.Co.IA. Burial: Grandview Cem, Sec C, Lot 225, burial #1991, Fayette, Fay.Co.IA. m: 31 Oct 1878 in Fayette.IA, home of Rev. H.S. Bronson Father: Samuel Andrew THOMPSON Mother: Martha SHERMAN Note 2: Thompson genealogy is avaiable, bz/2010, iowaz AT Note 8: Bet. 1856 - 1865 Living with parents (age 0-9) on sec 36 farm, 3mi E of Fayette, Westfield.Twp, Fay.Co.IA. Note 10: 1865 Father Samuel died returning to home area in OH for his parents. Note 11: Aft. 1865 Lived (aft age 9) with Thompson uncles near Brush Cr/Arlington; see mother's timeline. Note 13: 1878 Married (age 22) Walter E. Hunt, lived in/near Fayette.IA rest of life. Note 15: 1885 Census: Furniture/undertaking, NW corner Main/Water, Fayette.IA. Hunt: WalterE33 cabinent maker, AmandaK28 dressmaker, FloraB2, bro. ThomasV Hunt36 plaster. Note 16: Helped with Furniture/undertaking store, farmwife, dress maker, seamstress. Note 19: 1900 Census: Dairy farm 1m S of Fayette, sec 32&33, Westfield.Twp, Fay.Co.IA. Hunt: W.E.48, Amanda43, Flora17, John14, Rubin12, Nillie9, Martha4. Note 29: Active in M.E. Church of Fayette.IA.

...As long as stone stand,
Walter Hunt has fashioned or himself a second monument in the building of the wall of the Franciscan Corner.  When in the 13th century, people had spent their time and money in architecture of Gothic invention, Franciscus, the son of a wealthy French merchant, called his young men friends to an upholding of the vital piety he felt has been overlooked.  They retreated within the stone walls of that first monastery and though seemingly at the edge of this century of architectural splendor, the one church of the times sainted this young man for his fine endeavor.  St. Francis was followed by the children.  He preached in the woods to the birds.  He was the children's Saint.  What more fitting name for the church nursery than the Franciscan Corner.  The old stones are such as the men of Fayette handled in the winter of excavation (basement, 1926).  The arch over the door is a perfect example of masonry at its best.  Here Walter E. Hunt worked in the cold winter days, his tender for this wall 9ft high by 20ft wide being Rev. Fred. P. Cassidy, a good Irishman of 82yrs.  All the wall lacks fro reality is the ivy entwined about it, and Mr. Cassidy has provided that for those who look around the church proper.  Here the Sunday School planted vines but it has been Rev. Fred Cassidy who was the faithful tender of over 50 shoots now started around the building. 

...At the Franciscan door, the long black hinges and latch string especially will bring to childhood the fact that Christ enters no heart door unless we from the inside extend the invitation.  Through the narrow curtained windows, admirers of the kindergarten may look in on the little folks from the outside of the wall without opening the door and interrupting the attention to the lesson.  By the windows will hang two old lanterns on hooks which once, suspended from the auditorium ceiling, held the old kerosene lamps, the last of which hangs in the Lutherhouse.  And when on the 3rd of October, the world remembers the 700th anniversary of the death of St. Francis.  It will have special significance in Fayette.  At the center of the Franciscan Corner is a Fayette innovation in church school equipment, the sand table under the floor.  Lifting the two doors covering a square in the center of the room, entrance is made to a pit 20 inches deep, with its fine white sand, the gift of Upper Iowa, through President Van Horn, where the sand table, surrounded by kindergarten benches is available when wanted.  The janitor has no gritty sand sweeping and there is no low, heavy table to move out of the way.  With doors closed down on the table as foundation, the floor looks as usual.  With doors lifted to upright position, partitions are automatically created for classes meeting on either side, against the old-style, trowel-marked walls with their stenciled animal pattern.  And this fundamental principle is automatically fulfilled by this submarine sand garden--"The successful church must have at its foundation the education of the child."  As the early Franciscan from his monastic corner called the work back to the reality of the spiritual, so the Franciscan Corner as the edge of the varied activity in the Broad room where food and fun prevail, will constantly remind people of the faith, fundamental to all life. 

...This who dream and scheme is the working out of the ideas of Rev. John D. Clinton, with whom Fayette folks have cooperated in such a fine way in these first ten months of his ministry.  Add to these rooms the service room, or step-saving kitchen and the latest forced air heating installation and the practical and the ideal have been combined in a way that merits the country side attention this church plant is receiving.

Gathering of Elders
on the steps of the First Methodist Church,
Fayette, Fayette County, Iowa, 1927





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