Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Memories of Jerome, Iowa - Part VIII - Jerome Methodist Church
In 1855 the Jerome Methodist Church was organized. The first meetings were held at the George Jackson home about 5 miles west of Jerome. The people remember the circuit rider's name being Allender and the conference journal gave the name of Richard Ballender as entering the conference in 1854. It was presumed it was he.
After holding services at Jackson's for about one year, they then came to the home of William McClain. The farm for many years was owned by Jesse Kinney and is now the C. E. Ervin farm.
In the fall of 1870 they commenced to build a church. The work was mostly donated. Men took their teams and wagons and went into Missouri and cut the lumber and hauled it to the mill and from the mill home. They would often be gone a week and sometimes two before returning home. The heavy lumber was gotten in this way and flooring, siding and shingles were hauled from Albia. Rev. J. M. Loughridge was the pastor. He was a local minister and lived northwest of Jerome on a farm.
James Hagan and Allen Taylor superintended the carpenter work. Mrs. Hagan and Mrs. Calvin Jackson boarded the workmen without cost. In October 1871 the building was dedicated. The land for the church was deeded to them by Peter and Susan Sidles. It was a gift and the deed was recorded June 23, 1871.
Older people telling of this dedication said it was a great day and the house was crowded. Women of the community had donated rags and Mrs. Jackson had woven carpets for the aisles.
The dedicatory address was given by a Rev. Jenico and his text was taken from John 6:12, "Gather up the fragments that remain that nothing be lost."
There was no musical instrument until 1886 when an organ was purchased. Mamie Kinney was the first organist and continued until her death. One person who will be remembered as a part of the old church was the janitor, W. R. Morrow, a well known character who built fires, rang the bell, put oil in the lamps and was present for all occasions for many years.
On May 6, 1911, the old church was sold by the well-known auctioneer, Ben Wells, who donated his services, and it was purchased by Henry Purdy for $200.00. It was moved down into the town and for many years was used for a store building but was recently sold to the county and used for county machinery.
At the death of Anna Gorman in 1837 her will continued from the will of Mrs. Maria Pendergast left half their possessions to the Jerome Methodist Church. Their home in Jerome was soon sold and a small sum of cash was collected and there was much enthusiasm that a kitchen and social room be built on the church. The contract was let Aug. 7, 1939, to Claude Lepper and Roy Packard of Numa. Much labor was donated. Later there was much need for more Sunday school room and the Gorman estate had been fully settled, there was much talk of extending the old kitchen into the social room and adding a new kitchen. The old church was completely renovated and blocks put on the ceiling, walls redecorated, floors sanded and a porch on the front. Many hours of labor were donated by men of the church and community. Everything was completed in early January 1954. The church and all additions were dedicated free of debt.
In spite of the many changes the church has carried on for 100 years. Much of its success is due to the faithful Sunday superintendents and teachers.
[From Memories of Jerome, Iowa, 1989 published for the 1989 Jerome Reunion.]