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This week’s picture comes from a postcard with a caption that reads, “4069A Christian Church, Ellston, Iowa.”
My experience with these types of postcards tells me this card is from the years 1910-1912. We can clearly see a house to the left of the church.
The Evangelical Church in Wirt (Wirt became Ellston on January 1, 1896) was the first House of Worship to be built.
Wirt was established in 1881 and the Evangelical Church was built in 1883.
The next church was the Christian Church built in 1892-93 with the first services held in February 1893.
The United Presbyterians rapidly built their church which was dedicated July 2, 1893.
On a side note, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints began using the Christian Church soon after it opened. This was a common practice for congregations that were not yet large enough to erect their own building.
Also, you may have noticed the lack of a Methodist Church. I’ll get to that in a minute.
An 1894 plat map gives us the location of all three churches.
The United Presbyterians were located where the United Methodist Church is today. The Christian Church sat at the far end of West Main Street on the north side of the road. Therefore, a north-south road was on the left side of this church. The Evangelical’s Church was one block north of the old tavern on the northwest corner of the intersection.
For whatever reason, the United Presbyterians sold their building to the Methodist Episcopals in 1902.
The Presbyterian congregation dissolved.
It was about this time the Christian congregation moved into the former Evangelical Church building. That is why we see a house to the left of the church. I don’t know when the Christian Church decided to close.
In 1943, there was mention of a Nazarene Church in Ellston and in 1948, Alvin Lamoreaux was listed as the pastor of the Advent Christian Church. Reverend Seigle Potter was named as pastor at the Advent Church in 1950.
Ellston has one church today, the United Methodist, built in 1959-60 and added onto in 2010.
Now, I’ll share what I know of Ringgold County’s first church building.
For a time, all I knew was that Ringgold County’s first church building was located in Jefferson Township and was called Mount Zion.
According to an article in the April 3, 1873, Ringgold Record newspaper, the log, Methodist Episcopal, structure was dilapidated, but still standing on William Casner’s property in Jefferson Township.
An article in the July 8, 1880 Ringgold Record says Michael Stahl supervised the construction of Mt. Zion, the first church building in Ringgold County, Jefferson Township.
If you know anything about the Stahl family, you know they were all Methodists. One source says the church was built in 1858, three years after the county was established.
So, why Jefferson Township when the Methodist stronghold was in Grant Township in 1858?
Probably because Jefferson Township was one of the more populated townships and because of the town of Eugene which boasted a post office as early as 1857. Ringgold County was getting mail service from Mount Pisgah in Union County at this time and Eugene was a stopping point between Mount Ayr and Mt. Pisgah. Eugene had a United Presbyterian Church in town that was successful for many years.
And just for your information, all structures built before 1859 were of hewn log. Frame buildings did not begin in Ringgold County until 1859, and, of course, frame buildings were scarce until after the Civil War.