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BY MIKE AVITT
The Diagonal newspaper plant burned in December 1917 taking the past newspapers with it. We still know a great deal of Diagonal’s early history because of the coverage in newspapers from Mount Ayr, Clearfield, Shannon City, et al. Most of the information I will share this week comes from the November 17, 1911 Mount Ayr Record-News.
In December 1856, the Stahl, Keller, and Talley families organized a Methodist Sunday School class in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Adam Talley. These families lived a short distance west and south of present-day Diagonal. Classes were held in this home until 1864 when the group moved to the Hannelley Schoolhouse. In 1868, the Bethel Methodist Church was built on the site of the Bethel Cemetery. Later, the church building was used as a schoolhouse and still later, as a barn on the George Putney farm west of the Bethel community.
The town of Goshen was established in 1882 less than a mile north of Bethel and a new church was built in Goshen in 1883. This is the church building that was moved to the new town of Diagonal in December 1890. This building was used until it was moved to make room for construction of the new church. The old church building was moved to the south end of Main (Broadway) Street and used for a farm implement building.
The building in this week’s article was built in 1911 at a cost of $13,000. The basement was constructed with an auditorium, Ladies’ Aid room, kitchen, and furnace room. The main floor was built with a pastor’s study, two classrooms, an Epworth League room, a choir room and loft, and the main auditorium. One of the windows contained the names of the thirteen charter members from 1856 and the name of the current pastor, Reverend Charles M. Edmondson.The Diagonal Methodist Epicopal Church was dedicated November 12, 1911.
On January 1, 1981, the United Methodist Church in Diagonal became the United Church of Diagonal after merging with the United Presbyterian Church and the Christian Church.
The new church building was started in 2013 and first services were held in December 2014. The 1911 building was torn down (the windows were saved!) and removed in October 1913. The new church is still going strong and is surrounded by beautiful landscaping.