Churches of Washington County, Nebraska

The first church of this denomination to be formed in what is now Washington County was the one organized by Rev. Reuben Gaylord, of Omaha, at Fontanelle, the date being in the month of May, 1856. Its charter members were as follows:

Samuel Strickland
Mrs. Emily K. Strickland
Thomas Gibson
Mrs. Sarah Gibson
James H. Peters
Mrs. Jane Peters
Rev. Thomas Waller
Lucien Kennedy
Rufus Brown
Mrs. Nancy Brown
James A. Bell
Miss Mary Bell
Edward Corless
Miss Mary Corless
John Francis
Mrs. Maria Francis
Silas J. Francis
Mrs. Celestia Francis
Cyrus Howell
Edward Holmes
Mrs. Elvina Holmes
William G. Brigham
Mrs. Lucy C. Brigham

Thomas Gibson and James A. Bell were appointed deacons; Rev. Thomas Waller was appointed the first pastor; the new church was presented with a fine silver communion set by the parent church at Quincy, Illinois. Among the pastors serving the Fontanelle Congregational Church may be recalled: Revs. E. B. Hurlbut, William McCandlish, L. H. Jones, C. G. Bisbee, Isaiah Smith, Thomas Douglas, Reuben Gaylord.

With the building up of other towns, the construction of railways and the almost abandonment of Fontanelle this church went down.

Blair Congregational Church

The Congregational Church of Blair was organized February 10, 1870, by Rev. M. Tingley, and charter members were as follows:

Rev. Marshall Tingley
Mrs. Cornelia Tingley
Niles Noyes
Mrs. Catherine Noyes
Mrs. Fanny Lantry
Mrs. Amy Kenny
Charles G. Maynard
Charles H. Eggleston

The present (1920) total membership of this church is 115. The present Sunday school has a membership of forty-nine and its superintendent is R. J. Murdoch.

A Gothic type of church building was dedicated for this church November 22, 1874, the cost of which was $2,070. At one date there was a parsonage, but that has been sold some years ago.

The only other Congregational Church in Washington County is the one at Arlington.

The pastors who have served faithfully and well at Blair are as follows:

Revs. Marshall Tingley
Randolph Campbell
George W. Wainwright
Henry M. Goodell
Albert M Case
Alonzo Rogers
John Power
Thomas D. McLean
George G. Perkins
Frank W. Gardner
J. Wallace Larkin
Areline G. Axtell
Jesse B. Burkhardt
A. M. Abbott
Royal C. Moodie
George R. McKeith
Charles A. Gleason
Jordan M. Kokjer
Abram R. Jones

Arlington Congregational Church was organized in 1883 by C. W. Merrill, superintendent of Congregational Home Missionary Society for Nebraska. The charter members were these: Messrs. and Mmes. W. Hatton, J. E. Dole, J. B. Chapman, W. J. Crane; Mrs. O. K. Lewis and Mrs. S. Delo.

The present total membership of this church is eighty-five. The Sunday school has a membership of about fifty and has for its superintendent Miss Leta Marshall.

The following pastors have served the church at Arlington:

Revs. B. F. Diffenbacher
W. P. Clancy
J. B. Bidwell
A. W. Ayers
John Kidder
T. E. Horton
G. T. Nichols
James Valier
L. S. Hand
Guy H. Rice
Gilbert Rindell
Jacob Flook
E. Lehman
Reverend Barnett
A. T. Davies
Wm. Kline and
A. E. Bashford
W. H. Buss

Methodist Episcopal Churches

The first Methodist Episcopal Church at Arlington, was organized in 1869 when the place was known as Bell Creek. Rev. Jacob Adriance was the organizer of this as well as most churches in the county for this denomination. The names of charter members are not now available.

The present total membership is 202. Total Sunday school attendance, 183. The 1920 superintendent is E. W. Eisner.

This church owns its own frame church edifice and parsonage, valued at about $6,500. The present pastor is Rev. Joseph Stopford, whose salary is now $1,625.

Other points in Washington County where Methodist Episcopal churches are established at this date are: Herman, Kennard, Rose Hill, Blair, Colby.

The subjoined is a list of the pastors for the Arlington church from date of formation until now:

Revs. J. Van Anda
Jacob Adriance
William Peck
George W. De La Matyr
Peter Van Fleet
S. A. Baer
Jacob Charles
Alfred Hedgette
R. B. Wilson
W. J. Pyle
H. K. Baldwin
Oscar Eggelston
H. Trazona
J. Q. Fleharty
T. W. Mathews
R. J. Cocking
William Van Buren
W. D. Strambaugh
W. H. Underwood
Reverend Frazee
G. M. Couffer
Amos Fetzer
G. M. Couffer
H. A. Chappel
William Esplin
T. A. Truscott
J. D. Hummel
Joseph Stopford

Herman Methodist Episcopal Church has a membership of 141; property valued at $6,000; the pastor in 1920 is Rev. A. C. Rice. Kennard Methodist Episcopal Church has a property worth $3,000; pays a salary of $1,400.

The Blair Methodist Episcopal Church, according to the last conference reports, has property valued at $14,500; pays a salary of $1,640; has a membership of 191.

Lutheran Churches

St. Paul's Lutheran Church, situated four miles north of Arlington, was organized in 1860 by A. W. Frese and now has a total membership of 665. Its parochial school has a membership of eighty. A brick church edifice was erected by this congregation in 1890, costing $15,000.

The following is a list of pastors serving this congregation since its Organization: Revs. A. W. Frese, E. J. Frese, J. Hilgendorf , H. Hallerberg, G. W. Wolter.

This denomination also has a church at Blair, and one north of Fontanelle.

Emmanus Lutheran Church-Kennard

This Lutheran Church is located at the Village of Kennard and was organized in 1895. The early records are not to be had now, says the pastor, hence all that can be recorded in this connection is that the church today has a total of fifty-four souls, and thirty-six confirmed members.

The present worth of church property is $2,500 for the church and $4,000 for the parsonage property.

Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church

A branch of this denomination is situated at Blair, Washington County. It was organized January 22, 1884, by Rev. A. M. Andersen. Charter members were: Morten Rasmussen, Lawritz Nyboe, Hans Smith, Mads Hensen, Peter Therkelsen and Christen Pedersen.

The present (1920) total membership is 273 men, women and children. The congregation owns a good brick church edifice estimated to be worth $12,000; it is a handsome brick structure. The parsonage is estimated to be worth $7,000.

A Sunday school in connection with this church has an attendance of 130. The present superintendent is Mrs. Ove T. Anderson.

The pastors who have faithfully served this congregation are: Revs. A. M. Andersen, G. B. Christiansen, A. Rasmussen, H. Jensen, K. Anker, A. H. Schultz, H. L. Kjoller and present pastor. Rev. A. H. Schultz.

Baptist Churches

The First Baptist Church of Blair, Nebraska, was organized September 18, 1869, by Rev. E. G. O. Groat and these as charter members: Rev. E. G. O. Groat, Mrs. Groat, Nathan Carter, Mrs. Nathan Carter, Burtis Rosa, J. S. Stewart and wife.

The 1920 total membership of this church is 235. The average Sunday school attendance is seventy-five, under Superintendent H. B. Taylor, The first building occupied by this society was the one donated by the Baptist Church at Cuming City where the work was organized February 20, 1858, and later erected a church building at a cost of $3,500, completed in the autumn of 1867. When the railroad was built and a town site made at present City of Blair in 1869, Cuming City was deserted and many moved to Blair. The Cuming City church was moved to Blair in the summer of 1872. This served until 1893, when the present church was erected at a cost of $5,800. A parsonage was erected in 1879 and an addition made in 1884. When the new church was built the parsonage was moved from the church lot to its present location. It was remodeled at a cost of $538.

Other Baptist churches are located at Herman and at Fletcher (New England Church) about seven miles west of Herman.

The following is a complete list of pastors who have served this Baptist congregation since its formation:

Revs. E. G. O. Groat
J. F Taggart
I. Elkin
J. D. P. Hungate
A. Hitchcock
W. H. Eller
John Young
G. W. Taylor
J. C. H. Read
Amos Weaver
O. A. Holmes
Thomas Anderson
W. A. Brown
John V. Whiting
James Sheppard
S. C. Green
C. E. Tingley
S. W. Richards
George L. Conley
J. W. Cabeen
F. M. Sturderant
F. E. Yolck
Rev. C. M. Foreman

First Baptist Church-Herman

The Baptist Church at Herman was organized December 20, 1879. The charter members were these: Turner Bailey, Lucy Bailey, John Bradford. Henrietta Bradford, John C. Bailey, Clara Bailey, James Fitch, Charlotte Fitch, James Allen.

There are now eighty-seven members in this church. Mrs. O. H. Godley is Sunday school superintendent and the school has an average of 125 scholars.

The first church building of this society was destroyed in the great cyclone of 1899 and rebuilt in 1900. The present church is valued at $3,500.

The following have been the pastors of this church:

Revs. John Patrick, 1880-85
W. M. Allen, 1885-86
T. M. Bay. 1887-88
P. A. Tinkham, 1888-91
C. B. Gary, 1892-93
A. M. McFarland, 1893-96
T. L. Kimball, student, 1897-99
G. A. Smith, 1901-02
T. C. Shaffer, 1903
C. T. Duholm, 1904-06
S. E. Bishop, 1907-09
Charles I. Naston, 1910-11
Edmond Clark, 1912-13
G. A. Smith, 1915-18
M. W. Ballanger, 1918-19
Rev. Kesterson, 1920

Catholic Church

St. Francis Catholic Church at Blair was organized in 1871 by Father Bums. There are now fifty families connected with this Catholic congregation.

The original church edifice was erected in 1871 costing $1,000; the second and present edifice was erected in 1889 at an expense of $4,000. In 1900 a good parsonage was built under the pastorate of Father Barrett.

The only other Catholic Church in Washington County is the one situated at Fort Calhoun.

The present pastor is Rev. C. O. Beyersdorfer, appointed here Thanksgiving Day, November, 1918. Other pastors, in order given, have preceded the present pastor; Rev. Fathers Burns, Flanigan, Daxaeher. Emblem, Killion, Aherne, C. Schmidt, Barry, N. J. Barrett, M. Brophy, T. O'Driscoll.

Episcopal Church

St. Mary's Episcopal Church is situated at Blair, and was organized June 5, 1882, by the Rev. Robert Doherty. The charter members included the following persons:

John Wilbur, warden; Harry Higley, warden; Edward C. Jackson, E. H. Clarke, E. A. Stearns, Jessie S. Hoke, I. M. Castetter, treasurer, the same constituting the vestry. Other members included these: Helen M. Castetter, Flora Castetter, Eva Phelps, E. C. Jackson, William Jackson, Ada Jackson, Joseph Jackson, Mrs. John Wilbur, E. H. Clarke, William Clarke, Harry Higley, Miriam Castetter.

The present total membership of the Sunday school is thirty-five. Rev. Marsh is present superintendent.

In 1882 a frame church building was erected at a cost of $2,500. The following pastors have had charge of this parish: Revs. Jacobs, Safford, McGill, 1884; S. A. Potter, 1890; Talbot, 1892; Young, 1893, and present pastor, who came in 1901. Presbyterian Churches

May 4, 1904, a Presbyterian Church was formed at Fort Calhoun by Reverend Braden, D. D., of Bellevue. A. W. Stanley and W. H. Woods were elected elders. The same year the society purchased the old Congregational Church building, a small one-room structure. In 1908 it was enlarged at a cost in excess of $2,000 and dedicated January 29, 1911. The regular pastorates have been: Reverend Black, followed by Rev. William Nicoll, William Primrose, Calvin Rice, Reverend Shallcross, August Hilkeman, Reverend Shimien, Benton Cleveland, Doctor Ramsey, Reverend Werner, H. M. Hanson, Rev. S. A. Hutchison.

While the church is not strong, it is in the fight to win and has been the means of doing much religious good for the community about old Fort Calhoun.

Nebraska AHGP

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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