LIMA COMMUNITY CHURCH
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LIMA COMMUNITY CHURCH
Lima, Sec. 13, Westfield Township, Fayette County, Iowa
Text below is from Chat's with Old Timers by O. W. Stevenson, late 1930's, edited and transcribed by Barry Zbornik, 1999.
....Lima has had one church building, originally erected for the
Congregationalists. Rev. S. D. Helms having organized a congregation of
that faith in 1857. Winslow Stearns and wife, Ebenezer Hyde, wife and
daughter Esther, and Rev. S. D. Helms and wife, where the organizing members.
The church grew to a membership of 20 as the community grew. Pastors were
S.D. Helms, W.S. Potwin, E.C. Moulton, and a Rev. Hill.
was deacon. Later the congregation was abandoned, and a United Brethern
Chruch was organized and disbanded.
....The old church succumbed to the ravages of time, and a new church appeared in its stead. Here all denominations sustain a union Sunday school and attend other religious services as propounded from the pulpit by Methodists, United Brethren, or other advocates. In 1882 the Lima Union Church Builders Association was established with 67 members donating from $5 to $150 each. On March 15, 1882, work was started to be completed by September, on the original building, 30x40, on land deeded to the Lima Union church by Winslow Stearns. The land had been intended for a courthouse when the people of of the area thought lima would get the vote (which missed by a count of 35).
....The lumber for the church was sawed by Norton Henry and finished by Mr. Beardsley, with pews and other inside work done by John Elson. Many others also donated work and material.
....In 1910 when the old church stoves were removed, a cordwood furnace was put in and used until the 1950's when a Stoker (coal) was installed. With the REA came electricity (late 1930's), which replaced the bottled-gas lights.
....In 1914, a 20x24 addition was made to the church. Also four stained-glass windows were installed, bearing the names of Hensley, Helms, Henry and Stearns to honor early members. A belfry and bell were also added in 1914, donated by interested persons.
....Early pastors were John Dawson, the Rev. Herrington, and T.O. Kent. the Rev. Tom Jones held revival meetings in 1910, and many persons joined the church at that time. The Rev. G. W. Ukena, a Presbyterian, was the last pastor when services were discontinued in the 1940's so that people could join their own denominations with their children.
....The Superintendent of the Lima Union Sabbath School is Mr. Richmond.
....A Ladies Aid Society was organized in about 1890.
....(basic information by Elizabeth Dickinson)
...The first church organized in Lima was Congregational, started in 1857. Member-
ship grew from seven in that first year to about 20 in 1878. A United Brethern
Church was organized but soon disbanded. The first building used as a church was
either moved or torn down. Then the congregation was reorganized as the Lima Union
Church which exists today. The building constructed in 1882, was added to in 1914.
Four stained glass windows were installed on which were inscribed names of some of
the first members. Hensley, Helms, Henry and Stearns.
...The Lima Cemetery Association incorporated in 1865. It is in the cemetery that
the life-size statue of John Crawford and his beloved dog stand. The statue was
erected by Mr. Crawford's employer Libbie Harrison, in appreciation for his many
years of faithful service as a farm hand. The statue was paid for in great part with
the unclaimed wages Mr. Crawford had earned.
Taken from notes compiled by the late Elizabeth Oelberg Dickinson, Fayette, Iowa
and the late Merl Durfey.
...A Congregational Church was started in 1857, but was discontinued. A United
Brethern Group was formed a little later but it too, disbanded.
...In 1882, a group of
67 people of the community under the name of Lima Union church Builders Association
was formed and the main part of the present church built. (Until this time church
had been held in a cabin near the present sight.) An addition was built in 1914, and
the belfry and bell added. Sheds for about 10 teams were built in 1911, but were torn
down when cars became common.
...The land where the church stands was deeded to the Lima Union church trustees by
Winslow Stearns for $1.00 and had been kept to use as a court house square when
they thought Lima might become the county seat.
...A cemetery was laid out in 1865 by the Lima Burial Group Association.
...A ladies Aide group was formed about 1890 - the original records were lost when
the Lima store burned. There are now 20 active members, most of whom being members
of other denominations but working together to keep up the church as a community
center where Memorial Services, dinners, weddings, funerals and club meetings are
held each year.
...The Lima Union Church and Sunday School was organized in 1882 with a Mr. Richmond
LIMA COMMUNITY CHURCH
...As we attempt a little story about the Lima Community Church, earlier known as
the Lima Union Church, it is with keen regret that we did not take some written notes
years ago, when our grandfather Reuben Hensley, and other Lima locality pioneers were
here telling their stories of the "early days". But we shall do the best we can with
our limited and uncertain data, and our own early boyhood memories.
...The Lima church has four tinted memorial windows, Helms-Henry-Hensley-Stearns.
We believe it to be correct that the Helms window is in memory of "Elder" Helms,
the first preacher of this church. The Henry window is in memory of the late Norman
Henry's father, Millwright of the early Lima water-power mill, where the native lumber
for the church was sawed. The Hensley window is in memory of A.J. "Jack" Hensley, who
gave the first one hundred dollars toward a new church. The Stearns window is to
commemorate Winslow Stearns, carpenter-foreman of the church building work crew.
...Norman Henry and George Kuhens, young men at the time, (1879, as we calculate it)
helped haul the saw-logs to the Henry mill. Here let us digress for a paragraph. The
Lima water-power mill was a short distance on the upstream side from the present
Volga River bridge, south of the Lima Store. The dam was made of logs and stones. The
mill pond was not so very deep. Some of the year the water was too low to provide
power for either the saw or the stone burrs. Some of the time the mill yard was
flooded. And one local wit said, so the story goes, "when the river was right, the
millwright had to file the saw and sharpen the burrs".
...The first pulpit and seats were handmade by John Elston, Mrs. Laura Shepard,
Henry's uncle, and the finishing and varnishing was done by Mrs. Shepard's brother-
in-law, Joseph Beardsley.
...Reverend Taylor and Reverend McCormick were two of the earliest ministers.
Another pioneer minister, Reverend Israel Shaffer, grandfather of I. F. Shaffer of
Fayette, preached his last sermon at the Lima Church. He unhitched, put his horse
in the barn at the "Jack" Hensley farm, near the church. After his sermon he returned
to the Hensley barn, and was hitching his horse to his carriage in the Hensley farm-
yard, when he suffered a fatal heart attack.
...Among the young people who attended social functions at Lima Church was Marion
Shepard, who later in life as a Township Constable was shot and killed by "Ike"
Barber of the Barber Brothers, whom Constable Shepard was attempting to arrest for
...The church was rebuilt, the east addition added, in 1914. The late Albert "Chub"
Oelberg, proprietor of the Lima general store, furnished cement, hardware and other
supplies at cost. Most of the work was donated. George "Gunner" Earle was the
finishing carpenter. Later a large shed was built northwest of the church, as a
shelter for the horses and buggies or surreys. This shed was razed quite some time
...Through our boyhood years the church was affiliated with the Methodist Conference,
and usually had a student pastor from U.I.U. Some of them were very able and a few
were mediocre and tactless indeed. For a time in the 1940's the Lima group were very
fortunate in having Reverend G.W. Ukena of West Union as a pastor for evening church
service. During recent years the church has served as a community center, and is the
site of a few annual events, as the Cemetery Improvement Ass'n. chicken dinner, and
the pre-Memorial Day memorial service.
...As we revive our boyhood memories of those faithful farmer Christians, we would
summarize it in these words...Their Sunday suits were not custom tailored, their
shirt collars were perhaps not always wrinkle free. But their moral and religious
concepts were very good indeed.
“Lima, Iowa, then and now”,
an ode to the Lima Community Church,
By Catharine Bishop Anfinson, Lima area native.
descend into the Valley of Lima
And, I look at the age old hills.
My emotions are filled with a reverent awe,
For I love every rock, every rill.
love the white church in the Valley
Which now as remained for so long,
Twa’s the Spirit of god who sustained it
And, made its people so strong.
sinew walls has weathered the elements
Now for one hundred years,
Strengthened by Courage and Compassion,
Sometimes saddened by tears.
Birthday Dear Lima Church
I thank God that He blessed you this way
And for your strong pioneer spirit,
And that it remains in your Valley today.
thank Him for your beautiful sacred hills|
Which embrace you, they have helped sustain
You in sadness and song.
It was your precious pioneer heritage,
And His will, that has made you so brave and so strong.
were born in your valley, and later to |
Adulthood grew, all were loved and cuddled
And welcomed by your people, and always Dear, by you.
Young girls and young boys became women and
Men, were educated, then married, and soon
new generations begin.
extended a welcome to each Christian faith|
Sunday School and Church worship, to both
black and white race, with no inner thoughts
of race discrimination, all were Gods people
with no limitation.
community gatherings were so often held,
And the custom remains today, as it did in your
Youth and younger years, Mid sunshine and rain,
Mid joy and tears.
And, when you are in need of basic repair,
Dear Friend, your people come with love, and
You they meant.
times all have been saddened by the final
Call from above, as death, silently called a soul
From your Volga Valley of love.
You they mend.
Many times all have been saddened by the final
Call from above, as death, silently called a soul
From your Volga Valley of love.
And, I thank God for the devoted loving spirit
Which is so much a part of you,
He has sustained you through one hundred
Years, And to His values you have been true.
so very close to you Dear Church,
For twenty-three short years.
Joys and sorrows came our way,
As did smiles, and friendship and tears.
so strong and beautiful,
Your hospitality was so kind,
Never one rejection did you give,
My errors, which were many,
Your people seemed not to mind.
me feel so welcome,
And, I leaned upon you Dear,
If only, I could retrieve those years,
Yet, they will never again appear.
Twenty-tree years changed our family,
Our children from childhood to adults grew,
Yes, time changes families and environmental living and me,
But time can never change you.
and Verle were married within your
Age old wall,
And, Reverend Ukena’s melodious voice in scripture
And, Clarence Bishop’s voice in song.
Sealed their marriage vows forever,
And made our prayers more strong.
Thirty-two years have nearly gone by
Yet the blessings of that winter day,
Are vivid in our memories,
And, within your walls, will stay.
stand within your picturesque valley of Mystery,
And you guard with your loving care,
You guard each living member,
And the sepulchers of departed friends.
Silently resting there.
guard each silent sepulcher be it large or be
It small, and you stabilize each living spirit
As they in turn accept your call.
remain a Sentinel of Time,
And you embrace each silent Sanctuary
With your love and care sublime,
And short eulogies tell the story of their life,
Silently, briefly and well.
man has changed the age old scene
Where pioneer feet have trod,
Yes, it is Modern, And the lake is beautiful,
But, No man, can compete with God!
Modernism can never change the Spirit of Lima
The hills or the rock or the sand,
They can only change surroundings
They can only change the land.
Modernism can never rob you, of your dignity
Or the dignity will remain forever, in the flowers,
Rocks and rills.
has become an art,
We love it and must accept,
But memories of departed days,
We never will forget.
customs that have vanished,
Different, but well spent.
Gone is the train, the Lima depot, the Mill,
The Wells, the houses and log cabins, from the flats, and from the hills.
the harness wagons and sled,
The old hitching posts, to where horses were led.
Lima Store, so spacious and grand,
The old Country Schools, the old dusty roads,
Was tubs and copper boilers, and scrub boards, too,
Home made soap, water pails and dippers.
Woolen lap robes, coon skin coats, many were
Frayed, a few were new.
dry yeast cakes to leaven the bread,
To recall each lost tits, can never be said.
Birthday, Dear Sweet Friend,
You are not old, you are young, I say.
And you and the values of Lima, will forever
Remain that way.
you could speak, Dear Friend,
The stories you could tell,
But you remain in silence of the past,
And you have guarded all secrets so well.
surrounding have changed in the valley
Of Lima, yet the spirit of the past remains,
And the age old power of the Lima love,
Will never, never change.
Birthday Dear Lima Church of the
Present, and the Dear Lima Church of the past.
And May your dedicated people, and the strength
From above, Keep, you secure for ever and
Every in your Beautiful Valley of the Love.
year you become more famous
And your friends in numbers grow,
They enjoy you, and your hospitality,
And more of your Virtues they know.
your golden years Dear Friend,|
And forever remain a shrine,
And cleave to all who love you,
And assure their peace of mind,
And guide gentle breezes from you surrounding
Hills to whisper love and compassion to me and to all
....A burial ground association was formed in 1865. Ground was bought and laid out where some graves were already located. The Lima Cemetery contains many markers of the pioneers of the Lima Valley and their families.
Lima Cemetery Deed (abbreviated translation, bz/2002)
Registered January 27, 1864, Book O, pages 173-174.
….Know all men by these present: That Mr. Samuel Lacy and Mary L. W. Lacy, his wife of Fayette County, State of Iowa. In consideration of the sum of thirty four dollars in hand paid by the Lima Burial Ground Association of Fayette County Iowa. Do sell and convey unto the said Lima Burial Ground Association the following tract of land ------: it being , a part of the SE ¼ of the NW ¼ of Sec 13, T93N, R8W, at the end and center of 4th Street of the Village of Lima, Fayette County Iowa. Thence N 80 ½ deg E 9.15 chains to the E line of said SE ¼, thence N on said line 3.36 chains thenc S 85 ¼ deg W 9.16 chains to the center of the East Street of Lima and thence south along the center of said Street 4.09 chains to the place of beginning containing 3.42 acres be the same more or less. Except -----.
The Lima Cemetery entrance is now up the small gravel lane at the lower right.
With the Lima Community Church in view to the north.
The Church now represents the only structure left of the Lima and Albany Villages.
A Methodist Church was in operation at one time.
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All of my direct surnames were
very early pioneers into Fayette Co, generally in the mid 1850's. Growing
up in Fayette and trekking the hills, prairies, streams throughout the county
when the small villages and farms were so active and functional before the
1960's, the now lost history and memories of the pioneer generations and
lifestyles from 1840-1960 continue to hold my interests.
625 N. Section
Hannibal, MO 63401