Warren County Iowa Genealogical Society




    Middle River Friends Church

    Carlisle Middle River Friends Church, 4057 S23 Highway, Carlisle, IA (previously 1790 Cleveland St., Carlisle, IA), phone (515) 989-3319, http://www.middleriverfriends.org first church built in 1853, rebuilt in 1880 and 1911.

    HISTORY OF MIDDLE RIVER FRIENDS CHURCH By Mrs. Louisa Ellis PATTERSON from History of Warren County, Iowa, by Gerard SCHULTZ and Don L. BERRY, The Record and Tribune Company, Indianola, Iowa, 1953, pages 119-151.

    The Society of Friends was the second religious group to establish a meeting in Warren County. This meeting, called Middle River Friends, was organized in 1851 with the following members: Charles HINSHAW and wife, Benjamin SMITH and wife, John WHITE and wife, John T. MOORMAN and wife, Daniel FRAZIER and family, James COOK and wife, John COOK and wife, John PIERSON and wife, Elias NEWLIN and wife, Suzannah WRIGHT, Ruth STANTON and Hannah HORSMAN.

    The first church was built in 1853 on a plot of land given by Solomon WRIGHT, at the present site, three and one-half miles southeast of Carlisle and one mile from the river from which it takes its name.

    During the early days, as was Friends' custom, the funds for carrying on the work were apportioned and a per cent given to each family to meet. Also according to custom, there were no pastors, and one member was appointed to care for the meeting house and was paid eight or ten dollars for the year.

    In 1866, no funds being available for a new building, services were held in the Union schoolhouse nearby for a time.

    A parsonage was built on the church grounds in 1907. It burned in September, 1932, and a new building was immediately erected with all the labor given by members and others in the community. A pleasant cottage, it is the home of the present pastor.

    The church now in use, the third building, was built in 1911 during the ministry of Edwin LOFT, who actively promoted the project. It has been well kept, repaired and redecorated. Frequent changes have been made to keep abreast of changing times.

    The membership, never large, has ranged from twenty-nine to ninety-nine, yet the church has been and is now a strong force for good, serving the whole community.

    Pastors since the turn of the century have been: Grace ELLIOT, Isaac COOK, Edwin LOFT, Taylor GUTHRIE, Bernard RAPER, Susan B. SISSON, Royal P. BOGUE, Arthur HEACOCK; Charles THOMAS, Cassa COMMONS, Henry MARLENEE, Murray HAWORTH, Byron and Mae DARRINGTON, Athena MORTIMER, Wayne HARGRAVE, Herschel and Mildred MENDENHALL and Henry M. VORE, a retired minister returned to active service in answer to the need of the community. (Henry VORE died in 1952.) The Rev. James O. MILLER is the present pastor.

    Through the years the names of these people and their families have appeared often in the records of the church: Rollin WRIGHT, George HAWORTH, David REES, Alma HANSEN, Lillitan HARTMAN, Bertha PALMER, Emma GARDNER, Samuel JAMES, Tillman GIBBONS, William ANDERSON, James GILDOW, Fannie WADE, Lucy LAMB, Jennie GIBBONS, and James Ellis.

    An updated history of the Middle River Friends Church is copied from The History of Warren County, Iowa, compiled by the Warren County Genealogical Society, Curtis Media Corp., Dallas, Texas, 1987

    In the decades from the 1950s, rural electrification reached the area and the church and parsonage both underwent extensive modernization. In 1970 an addition was completed to the church which included classrooms, restrooms, nursery, pastor’s study and foyer. Also in the last several years a shelter house with fireplace incorporated within has been completed. Due to a need for additional parking space, the owner of a strip of land adjoining the church property has allowed us to develop and use it for parking purposes.

    Our church membership at present is approximately 120. We have been fortunate in being able to provide full-time resident pastors who have lovingly served the entire community. Kenneth and Phyllis Routon are our present pastors and we are truly a growing church. In spite of many changes, much progress and adversities, 135 years have passed our meeting. God had richly blessed us.