Churches in Dodge County, Nebraska

It can be truly said that the religious element has always predominated in Dodge County. This is not to be understood that all pioneers and those who settled here at a later date, were Christians or church members, for many were not, but a majority of them were of some one of the many religious denominations, owing to nationality and location from which they emigrated. The Catholics were early in the field, and the Protestant churches were well represented by those who came in from some one of the New England states, or possibly from the Middle and Southern states. The Methodists, here as everywhere, were among the pioneer band; also the Congregationalists, from York State and New England.

As soon as the various communities had built for themselves such buildings as were needed for residences and stables, they at once commenced to cast about and agitate the matter of building schoolhouses and churches. Frequently the schoolhouses, though of logs, were built with the view of using the building for both school and church services. The sturdy pioneer who came in from the East, having crossed the two great rivers, Mississippi, and Missouri, had left homes where the sound of the church-going bell still echoed in their ears, though here they had settled on a trackless prairie, far removed from chapel or church. They had been reared under religious influences and wanted to raise their sons and daughters in the faith of their fathers, hence assisted in providing convenient church edifices, when possible to do so.

First Church in County

The distinction of having organized the first church in Dodge County must be credited to the First Congregational Church of Fremont. It was organized August 7, 1857, with seven members. From this small beginning it has grown to a strong active church of five hundred members, forty of which number are now absent members. This church was formed by Rev. Isaac E. Heaton, and seven persons as follows:

Edward H. Barnard
William R. Davis
Nathan Heaton
Isaac E. Heaton
Mrs. Miranda N. Heaton
Mrs. Alice Marvin
Henry A. Pierce

Mr. Davis soon returned to his former home in Wisconsin and Father Nathan Heaton died the following October, so the good minister and wife, with three charter members, commenced in reality to build up the interests of the church-the first within Dodge County of any denomination. Rev. Isaac Heaton served as pastor twelve years during which he increased the membership to fifty. In the spring of 1869, Rev. Isaac Heaton resigned and in October that year. Rev. J. B. Chase was called and served two years. Following is a list of other pastors:

Rev. Roswell Foster, three years, during whose pastorate the church edifice was enlarged;
Rev. George Porter, one year;
Rev. A. T. Swing, in 1878 a pastorate continuing eight years;
Rev. F. L. Berry, who served two years.
Rev. William H. Buss followed with a pastorate of nearly twelve years
Rev. John Doane whose service was of three years.
Rev. William H. Buss who conducted a second pastorate of twelve years resigning in 1918. The next minister was
Rev. O. O. Smith who began September 1, 1918.

First Parsonage in Nebraska

The first few years after the organization of this church, services were held in a small frame building later incorporated into a residence still standing at the corner of Eighth and C streets. An outline of the various places where services have been held by this church is as follows: While the above building was being used and in 1860, material was gathered for a church building. This was all destroyed by fire. Soon after (probably 1861), a small unfurnished dwelling was used for a church and continued to be used for a number of years. In 1868 a frame church was erected, its size was 28 by 40 feet. In this building's tower was placed the first church bell. In 1874 this church was enlarged, under pastorate of Rev. Roswell Foster. About 1880, the building was again enlarged under Pastor Swing, and during his pastorate a thousand dollar pipe organ was placed in the church. In 1885 the present beautiful brick church was erected at a cost of $25,000 and the pipe organ formerly in the old frame building was transferred to the new edifice. In 1907, under the pastorate of Rev. William H. Buss, the new Austin pipe organ was dedicated. It was purchased through the efforts of the Ladies' Aid Society. Its cost was $3,200. The present church building stands on the same site of the former frame structure at the corner of Military Avenue and Broad Street. It was dedicated June 6, 1885. Its seating capacity is about seven hundred five hundred in the main auditorium and two hundred in the social rooms.

Under the pastorate of Rev. William H. Buss, the church has celebrated both its fortieth and its fiftieth anniversaries, attracting prominent visitors from all parts of the country and adding luster to the annals of the organization. In each of these years large improvements were made in the property at the cost of thousands of dollars; and the church made a record in the last quarter of a century for benevolence and membership growth. It also built a parsonage at Thirteenth and I streets that cost nearly four thousand dollars. This building was sold and an old parsonage property near the church was rebuilt in 1914 at a cost of $2,000 and in 1919, improvements in the church property were made to the value of $2,000. The entire property is now valued at $75,000.

The Scribner Congregational Church

The Scribner Congregational Church was organized in 1871 and now has a total membership of ninety-four. A building was erected in 1882 and was later enlarged to meet the demands of the growing congregation. The society also owns its own parsonage. The Sunday school connected with this church has an attendance of about one hundred and twenty. The present superintendent is E. H. Koch.

The charter members included these: (Rev. Thomas Douglas of Fontanelle, being the moderator of the organized meeting) Andrew and Sarah Warwick, Lina Clayton and Maria Wright.

The various pastors have been: Rev. Andrew Warwick, L. E. Barton, Wallace Bruce, A. L. Seward, A. Doremus, M. B. Harrison, R. W. Birch.

The Dodge Congregational Church

A Congregational church was formed at the village of Dodge February 14, 1887, by Rev. J. D. Stevenson. The first members included these: S. Lant, E. H. Lant, H. Stormer, H. S. Stormer, Helen Campbell, W. Hatton, A. A. Hatton.

At first services were held in the railroad depot but in 1887-8 an edifice was built costing $1,000.

A good parsonage was soon provided for the pastor, costing $640. Among the earlier pastors here were Revs. J. D. Stevenson, Samuel Pearson, P. H. Hines.

This denomination has churches at Uehling, and possibly other points in the county not reported to the writer.

Methodist Churches in Dodge County

Methodism was early in the religious field of Dodge County, coming only second to the Congregational denomination. "The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Fremont" was organized in the winter of 1857-58 with the following as charter members:

E. H. Rogers, Lucy J. Rogers, Mary Flor. Wealthy Beebe, L. H. Rogers. The first pastor was Rev. J. Spillman. At first services were held at the residence of E. H. Rogers, but a frame church building was erected in 1866, which stood on the corner of Eighth and Broad streets, the site of the present edifice. This frame structure served well its purpose until the end of twenty years when the present frame church was erected, a portion of the edifice being worked into the new church. Its total cost, originally was $10,000. About 1900 the building was inadequate for the growing congregation and it was enlarged considerably, but for a number of years it has been altogether too small for the congregation with the various departments of church and Sunday school work, hence the matter of rebuilding was agitated recently and it was voted to build a new edifice costing about $90,000. The preliminary work of raising funds is now (July, 1920) going forward. The building will stand on the present site, opposite the beautiful city park, an ideal place around which clusters many a hallowed memory of earlier days in Methodism in the City of Fremont.

In 1875 a parsonage was erected at a cost of $1,000. In 1903 a new parsonage was built costing $5,500.

The charter members of this church are now all deceased. The present total membership is nine hundred and sixty (960) at this writing.

The present Sunday school has a membership of 500 and its capable superintendent is Miss Linna Barnett.

For a few months this church occupied jointly with the Congregationalists, their church building; the Methodists here have been independent as a society and owned their own church property. The various pastors who have served this church are as follows:

Revs. Jerome Spillman
J. Adriance 1858-59
L. W. Smith 1859-60
David Hart 1860-61
Theodore Hoagland 1861-62
J. H. Ailing 1862-63
M. Pritchard 1863-65
J. Adriance 1865-67
Joel A. Van Anda 1867-70
E. J. Mechesney 1870:
Charles McKelvey 1870-72
G. W. De La Matyr 1872-73
J. M. Richards 1873-75
C. G. Lathrop 1875-76
G. W. De La Matyr 1876-78
L. B. W. Long 1878-79
J. W. Shank 1879-81
W. F. Warren 1881-83
J. Fowler 1883-84
George M. Brown 1884-87
T. B. Hilton 1887-89
J. W. Robinson 1889-92
George M. Brown 1892-94
F. M. Sisson. 1894-97
W. P. Murray 1897-99
F. H. Sanderson 1899-1905
John A. Spyker 1905-08
Thomas Bithell 1908-11
F. M. Sisson 1911-17
Emory D. Hull, 1917

Other Methodist churches of Dodge County are located at Hooper, North Bend, Ames, Purple Cane, Bethel Church, southeast of Hooper and Nickerson. Some of the information blanks sent out to the churches have not been returned to the historian, hence only meager account is given of such societies.

The Hooper Methodist Episcopal Church

This church was organized in 1872 by Rev. George De La Matyr. The first members were : Mr. and Mrs. Orlando A. Heimbaugh, Mrs. Andrew Baker, and either two or three other persons. The first meetings were held in the railroad depot. A neat frame church was built in 1884, at a cost of $3,200. This building was dedicated by J. B. Maxfield, D. D.

The present membership is one hundred and forty.

The Sunday school connected with this church has an enrollment of 125 scholars; its superintendent is George W. Heine.

The pastors who have served at Hooper have been:

Revs. L.
Charles, 1882
W. G. Pyle, 1883
W. A. Davis, 1884
Charles C. Wilson, 1885-86
J. E. Q. Flaharty, 1887-88
O. Eggleston, 1889-92
J. B. Leedom, 1893
William J. Hatheral
L. D. Matson
W. W. Shenk
William Esplin, 1895-98
B. B. Kiester, 1898
A. A. Luce, 1901
William Esplin, 1902-03
L. R. De Wolf, 1904
George B. Warren, 1905-06
T. H. Hard, 1907-08
C. O. Trump, 1909
T. E. Smith, 1910-12
B. F. Eberhardt, 1913
W. W. Whitman, 1914-15
A. H. Brink, 1916-18
E. H. Tipton, 1919

 North Bend Methodist Episcopal Church

This church is unfortunate in having many of its earliest records lost, but from what can be now, at this late day, gathered from quite reliable sources it may be stated that the following is about the outline history of this Methodist Church: It was organized in 1858 by the pioneer minister. Rev. Jacob Adriance. In 1869, Rev. J. Van Anda formed a Sabbath school, the first members of which were: Dora V. Johnson, Mary H. Skinner, Mrs. Benjamin, and Mrs. S. L. Lester.

At first they assembled in the school house, but in 1872 a frame building was erected for their use. The present (1920) total church membership is 146.

The following have served as pastors of the North Bend Methodist Episcopal Church: Revs. John Van Anda, J. M. Adair, Reverend Charles, C. W. Dawson, D. Marquette. John Brooks, C. C. Wilson, Peter De Clark.

No record at hand for further pastors except the present one, Rev. W. H. Jackson, whose salary the last year was $1,700.

The present church edifice was erected a few years since at a cost of $15,000, including parsonage and grounds.

Nickerson Methodist Episcopal Church

Up to 1888 religious services at Nickerson were held by various denominations at the school house but during that year the Methodists built a neat chapel costing $1,300. The railroad donated $200 towards the purchase of the lot on which to erect the church building.

The present total membership of this church is 275; present Sunday school membership 201; value of church property $1,700. The present pastor, Rev. E. O. Johnson, receives a salary of $400 a year from this church.

Ames Methodist Episcopal Church

No data was furnished the historian from which to compile a history of this church organization. Conference reports in 1919 gave the membership at 114; its pastor Rev. Frank L. Reeder, salary, $1,110. The total value of the church property is $11,500.

Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church

This church is situated in Maple Township, Dodge County, and was organized February 16. 1874, by charter members as follows:

Edgar Adriance
Anna Adriance
Louisa Bemar
James Hanson, Sr
James Hanson, Jr.
Charles Brown
Catherine Brown
Ann Bradbury

At first services were held at the Brown schoolhouse, but in 1878 a neat frame church was erected and was dedicated by Presiding Elder Slaughter. This building was built on the southeast corner of section 4, township 18. In 1891 there was a total membership of forty persons here.

Among the earlier pastors of this church may be recalled: Revs. [acob Adriance, Reverend Dans, J. O. A. Flaharty, W. G. Harrigan, j. Adair, Peck, W. J. Pyle, W. S. Davies, C. C. Wilson, and Rev. O. Eggleston. (No record.)

The present pastor is Rev. H. S. Grimes; membership is 98; salary, $1,250; value of church property, $1,250.

Jamestown Methodist Episcopal Church

This was organized in October, 1888, by Rev. T. C. Clendening and the first members were: J. Adriance and family, T. Craig and wife, R. Kemp and wife. The schoolhouse was first used as a meeting house for this society, but in the fall of 1890 a frame building was erected and dedicated by Rev. P. S. Merrill, of Omaha. The building referred to stood on the southwest quarter of section 20, township 18, range 7, east. The facts concerning this church since the nineties is unknown to the compiler of this chapter.

Other Methodist Churches

Besides the above churches of this denomination there are others at country stations where services are held in schoolhouses.

The Free Methodist Church of North America

March 19, 1903, there was organized at the City of Fremont a Free Methodist Church under the above auspices. Its charter members included:

William McElfresch
J. P. Dibble
W. S. Johnson (trustees)
A. S. McClure
Ida McClure
Maud McClure
James McCreath
Mrs. McCreath
Etta Guthrie
Joseph Dibble
Dellia Dibble
S. Anderson

This society now has a membership of sixty, with a usual congregation of 150.

A  frame church was built in 1913, as well as a neat frame parsonage at the same date.

The Sunday school has for its superintendent Alice Pettit; the attendance is about ninety.

The pastors who have thus far served this church at Fremont have been:

Rev. A. S. McClure
W. McElbreth
T. W. Rutledge
H. Hayden
W. McElbreth
Mary McIntire
F. E. Miller
L. M. Rutledge
H. Williams
F. E. Miller
W. W. Whyte
H. C. Williams
L. M. Roby
W. M. Adams

United Presbyterian Church

There was a society of this denomination organized at North Bend in 1861. The exact date was July 19. Rev. Thomas McCartney was organizer of this church. The charter members were as follows :

Alexander Morrison and wife
John Miller and wife
Mrs. W. S. Cotterell
George Young
James Slass and wife
Robert Graham and wife
James Graham
Thomas Patterson
Edward Johnson

There are now 225 members in this church, with 150 attending Sunday school, with Mrs. Gertrude Johnson as superintendent.

The pastors have included these:

Revs. Joseph G. McKee
T. P. Proudfit
Isaac A. Wilson
Robert Campbell
David Inches
L. W. Williamson
G. T. Scott
Peter Swan
Charles W. Ritchie
James Black
J. A. Kennedy, D. D.
W. C. Davidson, D. D.

At first services were held in schoolhouses but as the schoolhouse used mostly was a mile west of town, in 1869 a church edifice was erected at an expense of $1,700. It was erected on the corner of Eighth and Sycamore streets and was still owned by the church in 1893, but not used, as in 1885 a neat frame edifice was built on Ninth and Chestnut streets. The belfry was provided with a clear-toned heavy bell. The cost of this edifice, aside from its furniture, was $5,000. Dr. Johnson of College Springs, Iowa, dedicated this structure in February, 1888. A parsonage was built in 1895 and the present one in 1920.

Fremont Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church at Fremont was organized November 23, 1873, and incorporated April 12, 1874, with charter members including these:

James G. Kinnier
Mrs. Annie Kinnier
John A. Kinnier
Robert Kinnier
Thomas S. Kinnier
James M. Kinnier (from a Presbyterian Church in Ireland)
William Porterfield
Mrs. Mary Etta
Porterfield (from Council Bluffs, Iowa)
Mrs. Mary E. Fullinneider,
Mrs. Clara B. Pilsbury (from the Congregational Church of Fremont).

A frame edifice was erected in 1875, which with the lot cost $3,600. This was built on Fifth Street, between C and Union streets. The present building was erected in 1910; dedicated December 4, 1910.

The parsonage in use now was erected in 1914.

The present Sunday school superintendent is D. D. Rowe and the school has an enrollment of 275 scholars. For a number of years this church has supported Dr. J. F. Kelly on the foreign field in China and is known as a strong missionary church.

The only other Presbyterian Church in Dodge County today is the Webster Church in Webster Township in the northwest part of the county, located nine miles to the north of North Bend.

The pastors of the Fremont Presbyterian Church have been:

Revs. Edwin Schofield
A. B. Byrons
P. S. Hurlbert
George M. Brown
R. M. L. Braden
Daniel Blose
Noah H. G. Fifer
Nathaniel Chestnut
Clarence W. Meyer
J. Frank Reed
Nathaniel McGriffin.

The Fremont Baptist Church

The largest church of the Baptist faith in Dodge County today is the one in the City of Fremont. This society was organized July 15, 1869, by Rev. George W. Freeman. The charter members included these:

George H. Morrell
H. R. Harmon
William H. Wick
Grace M. Wick
Abraham Tice
James Tice
J. C. Blackman
H. C. Ward
Charles H. Lewis
Amanda A. Lewis
Miranda Condit
Maria Harmon
Mattie L. Harmon
Deborah Whittier

The first services were held in the old courthouse. The first baptism was administered February 23, 1870. In the autumn of 1871 a church building was erected at a cost of about $2,500. It was built on Fifth and C streets. It was enlarged and remodeled several times and the property is now estimated to be worth $14,000.

The present total membership is 350.

The Sunday school superintendent is Mrs. D. E. F. Manter, and the attendance is about one hundred and sixty.

The pastors of this Baptist Church have been:

Revs. J. McDonald
Reverend Guild
Thomas Jones
A. Hitchcock
T. H. Storms
J. W. Osborn
J. C. Lewis
E. R. Curry
H. W. Tate
C. W. Bringstad
T. L. Ketman
E. F. Jordan
H. B. Foskett
I. W. Corey
J. Batzle
R. B. Favoright

There is also a Baptist Church at the Village of Dodge, the particulars of which were not forthcoming.

The Lutheran Churches

This denomination is well represented within Dodge County, and is divided into several branches and nationalities-German, Danish, Swedish, and Danish-Norwegian.

The City of Fremont has the following Lutheran churches : German Lutheran with a good frame edifice on the corner of Third and C streets and in the same block is a two story frame parochial school building, well attended and properly conducted. The Salem. Danish, Swedish, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran and Danish-Norwegian churches of this faith have good frame buildings and have regular pastors and services. Salem church just mentioned, has a frame building on the corner of Fourth and D streets, erected in 1902; the Danish Evangelical Church has a frame structure on the corner of Fourth and Union streets, erected in 1907.

Zion's Lutheran Church-Hooper

This church was organized March 1, 1890, by Karl Kruger. The first membership was largely from among the German settlers in that vicinity. In 1890 a neat frame church was erected over which stood a seventy foot tower. This building cost $2,000. It was dedicated by C. Huber and C. Kruger. The present value of the church is $6,000 and the parsonage, $3,000. Reverend Schrader is Sunday school superintendent and has sixty pupils. This denomination also has a church work and society in Logan Township, Dodge County.

The total membership of the Hooper Church is 248 confirmed persons.

The pastors have been these:

Rev. Karl Kruger, 1890-92
L. Grauenhorst, 1893-1900
E. Walter, 1900-08
E. Osthoff, 1909-11
F. Matthiesen, 1911-14
Rev. J. Schrader, 1914

Grace Lutheran Church-Hooper

The last organized Lutheran Church in Hooper is that known as Grace Lutheran Church which was organized in 1915 by Rev. W. T. Kohse, missionary superintendent. A frame edifice was erected in 1916, valued at $14,000. The only pastor called thus far has been the present pastor. Rev. K. de Freese.

The present membership is 178. The Sunday school has a membership of 125 and has for its superintendent Mrs. A. E. Herker.

The sub-joined is a list of those included in the charter membership of this church:

B. Monnich
Dr. W. Howard Heine
J. Sanders
Mrs. M. T. Gellers
Mrs. J. Sanders
W. E. Sanders
Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Herker
Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Herker
Mrs. F. J. Egan
Mrs. J. Killenbach
Mrs. C. C. Cushman
Mrs. J. Schwab
Miss F. Geisert
Mr. and Mrs. William Bucholz
Dr. and Mrs. C. N. Ralph
Harold Kallenbach
R. L. Scharb
Mrs. C. W. Conyers
Mrs. J. Ring
E. M. Uehling
Mr. and Mrs. Ed Schwab
Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Bott
Charlotte M. Monnich
Mrs. A. P. Larson
Mr. and Mrs. H. T. Ring
Martha Kallenbach
Mrs. Ida Easier
Mrs. P. J. Ewold
Mrs. H. Wagner
Norman Wagner
Harry Wagner
Mr. and Mrs. Ike Brondt
Mr. and Mrs. H. F. Waterman
Gifford Zellers
Chelsea Cushman
Monroe Zellers
Harry Schwab
Frank Schwab
Louis Alperstedt
Walter Killenbach

Other points in the county where this denomination is represented are : Fremont, Ridgeley, Scribner, Uehling, Ames, Winslow, and Snyder.

Roman Catholic Churches

Dodge County has numerous Catholic congregations including those at Fremont, Scribner, North Bend, Dodge and Snyder. The Fremont congregation is a strong organization and dates back early. It has a handsome, large, red brick edifice at the corner of Fourth and C streets; also a fine red brick school building built in 1913. It is three stories high and modern appointments throughout. It faces Fourth Street and is next to the church property.

Unfortunately the writer was not furnished with the usual information blank sent to the churches of the county, hence no details on the various Catholic congregations can be had in this connection. Rev. Father O'Sullivan is pastor of the Fremont church at this time.

The Adventist Church

Only one organization of this denomination is found within Dodge County and that is at the City of Fremont. The society is not large and is not supplied regularly with a pastor. They own a small chapel, centrally located.

The Christian Churches

The Christian (Disciple) Church is represented in Dodge County at points as follows: North Bend, Fremont.

Christian Science Churches

Fremont and North Bend each have a Christian Science organization, and the few of this faith in the two communities meet for regular weekly services, but so far no buildings have been provided for the societies. The believers in this denomination and its teachings hope not far distant to be strong enough to have a church edifice of their own.

St. James Protestant Episcopal Church

This church was organized at the City of Fremont July 14, 1865. Episcopal services were held, however, at this point at a much earlier date. At first they worshiped at the house of pioneer Robert Kittle, and later at the schoolhouse. It was in the summer of 1867 that they reared the first edifice which stood near the present one. It was a frame building and was consecrated September 15, 1867. The original membership of this church was as follows:

Robert Kittle
Helen Kittle
Ella Kittle
Wm. V. Johnson
O. C. Dake
J. F. Reynolds
Rebecca A. Reynolds
John Ray
Lucy Ray
Harvey H. Robinson
Benjamin Turner
Emily J. Turner
Samuel W. Hayes
Sarah Hayes
Abraham Howes
Sarah Howes
George Turner
John S. McCleary
Aletha C. McCleary
Theron Nye
Caroline M. Nye
Luther J. Abbott M. D.
Clara F. Abbott
Anna E. Abbott

The following include the various rectors of this church and parish:

Rev. O. C. Dake
Rev. J. May
Rev. Martin F. Sorenson
Rev. Frank E. Bullard
Samuel Goodale, D. D.
Rev. Timothy O'Connell
Rev. Alexander Allen
Rev. John Hewitt
Rev. C. McCracken
Rev. A. B. Spaight
Rev. J. C. Gallandet
Rev. H. B. Jefferson
Rev. Harry Moore
Rev. W. H. Frost
Rev. James Cochran Ouinn, D. D., Ph. D., LL. D.
Rev. John McNamara, D. D.
Rev. C. E. Brandt July 1, 1895
Rev. E. Warren Clarke in 1901-02

The last mentioned clergyman connected with this parish, according to the record-book of the parish was Rev. George S. G. Tyner.

The parish is without a rector at this time (1920).

Of the building operations let it be said that Bishop Talbot appointed Reverend Dake as first rector in July, 1865, as a missionary clergyman to organize a parish here. Fifteen hundred dollars was donated by St. James Episcopal Church of Chicago toward a building fund and that is how this church in Fremont took its name, "St. James." The citizens of Fremont including Episcopal members raised $1,500 more toward building. A number of lots were bought where now stands the church at the corner of Fifth and D streets. At first a cottonwood hall was erected for school and church uses, but on account of the warpy character of the home grown wood this building proved a failure after a few months use and was abandoned for the use intended. The present brick edifice was completed May 1, 1888, at a cost of $9,800. The rectory, etc., added to this made the total outlay $15,000.

Dodge County | Nebraska AHGP

Source: History of Dodge and Washington Counties, Nebraska, Rev. William H. Buss and Thomas T. Osterman, Volume 1, The American Historical Society, Chicago, 1921.

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