1854 - 1954
Contributed by Larry Reynolds
This is your invitation to observe with us the 100th anniversary of the Coleta Evangelical United Brethren Church. In this booklet you will find an announcement of our anniversary services, a roll of the ministers who have served this church, a list of the present officers, a brief history of the church with pictures, and descriptions and acknowledgements relating to the projects we have completed to mark our Centennial.
We hope you experience pleasure as you look through this booklet, at the sight of the names and faces of old friends of yours or members of your family who had a lot to do with the life of this church. We offer it to you in the hope that it will recall to your mind days of helpful association and service in our church.
We are looking forward to seeing you at one or more of our anniversary services. This will be a time for fellowship with friends old and new; for praise to God for the record of the service to Christ of this church for 100 years; and it will be a time of looking forward as we are inspired with vision for the future.
The Publicity Committee
*Former pastors still living who were unable to participate are: Rev. E. C. Owen of Plainfield, Indiana, stationed at Coleta from 1941-1943;
Rev. C. W. Perkins retired, served this church from 1933 - 1936; Rev. E.D. Jones now living in Missouri served here from 1947-1949.
We regret the fact that illness has kept our Bishop from sharing this occasion with us.
(Right) Dr. Paul V. Church, Superintendent of the Naperville District, Illinois Conference
MEMBERS OF THE LOCAL CONFERENCE
Pastor - Rev. Wesley Norton.
Trustees - C. J. Heide, Clare Deets, Kenneth Overholser, Fred Overholser
Adult Director of Christian Education - Fred Overholser.
It was noted in compiling our history that with the exception of three., all members of the present local conference are related directly or by marriage to the various families who founded our church. This reflects neither a closed church circle nor that the present membership is made up of close relatives, but rather a stable community and family life during the century past in which the Christian faith was taugh and lived so that it was has persisted and now lives in the present generaton
Of those former pastors still living, Rev. Sanford's service is the earliest
(Right) Rev. Wesley Norton, the present pastor, has served at Coleta since March 1949
ROLL Of MINISTERS
His wife, Cynthia taught a class of juniors in the Sunday School from 1915 until in recent years her daughter-in-law, Fern, took the class. She was president of W.M.S. for many years and has held other offices.
Their three children are all active members in the church today.
Amanda, his wife, served as missionary secretary and church treasurer for many years.
Five of their children at present very active in this church.
You will find his picture among those who made up a church orchestra. His activity with the orchestra is one of the things which his memory recalled especially at when when the pastor has visited him.
Mr. Hurless is a son of the Caphas Hurless mentioned in our history.
Mrs. Overholser was a charter member of the W.M. S. and its president for many years. They
brought up their family of 7 children in a Christian way, impressing upon them that the
work of the church was first. Mr. Overholser was in the act of writing a check for the
church when death called him.
Mrs. Deets was recording secretary for about 20 years and held offices in the W.M.S. She
was the teacher of the children's class for many, many, years. They were more than
generous with their gifts of money. Mrs. Catherine Deets, his mother, and a sister of
D.c. Overholser, was very active int he early church also.
In the early 1800's pioneers were directing their thoughts toward the beautiful, fertile country which lay far to the west. We are prone to ask why these pioneers wanted to leave the comforts and pleasures of a settled land to travel into this new and almost unknown country, bearing unbelievable privations on the way. We learn it was more from necessity than choice. Much of the land in the east was barren and was overcrowded. Unceasing work and continuous poverty were the heritage of the working man and his children.
After the Black Hawk War in 1832 the pioneers were assured that the Indians would not likely molest them. They eagerly looked toward the beautiful Rock River Valley of which they had heard. The broad prairies and beautiful groves of what is now Whiteside County sounded like a paradise to them.
Many of the pioneers came into this country without a dollar, but with more than ordinary ambition and endurance. They were determined to carve out their fortunes and build up a country. To see how well they have succeeded we have only to look around us at the beautiful homes, well stocked farms, fields of hay and grain, thriving towns, churches, schools and every convenience. After traveling over this great country of ours, we can look at this area and see how well our forefathers located. Surely this is a place of abundance and blessing. We should remember with gratitude those who made those blessings available to us, and ever cherish in memory the sturdy pioneer and his log cabin. What a heritage we have!
The first settlement of what is now Genesee Township was in 1834. By 1840 twenty-six families were establishing homesteads. The first school was started in1837. Also in 1837, a Methodist minister began to hold services in various, homes. Class mettings were held by the Christian Church, also in homes, in 1839.
Among the pioneers who left their homes and traveled many weary miles in covered wagons there were two who reached Genesee Grove sometime in the summer of 1854. Martin and Barbara Overholser, with their family of ten children, established their first home near where the Walter Anderson family now lives. Coming with them was the family of George and Susanne Hurless. Their oldest san, Cephas, had married Elizabeth, a daughter of the Overholsers. George Hurless settled on an unbroken tract of land northwest of Coleta where LeRoy Anderson now resides.
(Right) Philip Lenhart, one of the early settlers and one of the members of the church in its very early years
The first thing these early settlers did upon arrival was to build a log cabin. Their next thought was to get some land under the plough and raise some food for the coming winter. After this was accomplished, they gave attention to schools and churches. These people lived close to God and knew the importance of worshiping Him.
Martin Overholser and members of his family had joined the United Brethren Church soon after it was organized in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. The Hurless's were also members in Ohio. It was only natural that these men and theirfamilies, along with neighbors who had been members of the United Brethren Church in the East, should want to have a church of their own faith to attend. Under their leadership in 1854 the Hazel Green Class of the United Brethren Church was organized. It its early days the church was a part of the Bluffville Mission of the Rock River Conference. Services were held in the Hazel Green SchoolÂhouse. According to the Conference records the first minister was W. T. Bunton.
Four years later, in 1858, a brother of Martin Overholser, John and his wife, Julia, and eleven children, came by covered wagon to Genesee Township (One child perished during the trip). They settled just north of Coleta. ' Others came and united with the church. ' Apparently the schoolhouse became too small and it was decided to build a church. On July 1, 1858, George and Susanne Hurless, for one dollar deeded a plot of ground upon which to build the church. The church probably was of log construction and
built by the men of the church. It was located on the south side of the road across from
the present Hazel Green cemetery where many of the early pioneers rest today. According
to very early histories this was the first church to be erected in Genesee Township. The
trustees were Cephas Hurless, John Meakins, William Winter, David Winer, and Azaniah
Christian Overholser, son of Martin and a very active member of the church
Credit for the founding and subsequent growth of the church goes to these, early pioneers. Martin Overholser was a devout man and very active in the work of the church and held many offices. He was at various times Class Leader, Trustee, and Steward. His son, Christian, was a very very active member. He held practically every office within the church. He also held many township offices. John Overholser, brother of Martin, was another who did much to promote the church in its early years. He was an upright, honorable man. He and his wife, Julia, were warmly loved by allJn the community. They were exceptionally Christian in their dealings with humanity. Their son, David Overholser, carried on the same tradition of work in the church
Cephas Hurless joined the United Brethren Church when he was 19 and was a zealous worker in the church all his life. He became a minister in 1860 and served two charges. On the death of his wife he was forced to retire from active ministry. He preached many times as a local preacher and always took an active part in the church, holding many offices. His youngest son, LeRoy, continued the pattern of activity in the work of the church all his life. He also held local offices in the community. A younger brother of Cephas was Parker, who had taught school in Ohio and was one of the early teachers in Whiteside County. He was one of the first converts of the local church. He became a United Brethren minister and served for many years, twice serving this church. He was also a presiding elder. In the 1880's he continued his ministry in the Congregational Church.
(Right) Parker Hurless, younger brother of Cephas. One of the first converts of this church and eventually became a minister.
In the year 1865 the Bluffville Mission was divided and Larrish, Franklin, Jefferson, Hazel Green, and Steuben classes, as they were called, formed the Genesee Grove circuit with Rev. Parker Hurless in charge. The membership of the Hazel Green class was 64 at the close of the Conference year. So in 11 years there was a flourishing class of United Brethren in Coleta. At the annual conference, October, 1866, Rev. George Schneider was assigned to the circuit. The membership was 74. It was under the leadership of Rev. Schneider that the present church in Coleta was erected. The smaller church erected ten years before had become too small. Land for the present location was given to the church by Martin Overholser. No records are available showing how much the church cost or how the money was raised. Much of the labor for the building was undoubtedly supplied by the men of the church and cash was given at considerable sacrifice.
The church as it was then had a long porch across the west side and there was an entrance at each corner. A wooden partition down the center divided the church. The men of the church sat on one side and the women on the other, following a custom of people of their background. The church was heated by two wood burning stoves, one on each side of the partition.
By 1878 it was felt that a parsonage should be provided for the pastor and his family. On October 15, 1878, under. the leadership of the Board of Trustees, comprised of Summer Cobb, David Overholser, and Christian Overholser, the house directly across the street from the church was purchased. It was purchased from John and Elizabeth Hannas for $830 cash and a mortgage of $400 was assumed in addition to the cash.
By 1883 the church had attained a membership of 125 and was in a flourishing condition. The pastor, Rev. John Baumgardner, was providing good leadership. The average attendance at Sunday School was 75, the Sunday School being under the leadership of D. C. Overholser as superintendent. The Sunday School has always given consistent support to the church through the years. Most of the members have been added to the church membership from the Sunday School roll. Much credit is due those faithful officers and teachers who have served so well through the years and have had such a marked effect on the lives of their pupils.
In the year 1880 the Coleta Local of the Women's Missionary Society was organized by Mrs. M. E. Hallowell.This group has held its monthly meetings ever since and has done much to keep the missionary spirit alive and growing in the church. Since the merger of the Evangelical and the United Brethren denominations in 1946, it has been known as the Women's Society of World Service. The membership currently is 41. A total of $471 was given for missions this past year and every requirement was met for honor society status.
The first remodeling on the church was done as nearly as we can tell during the summer of 1910. The porch across the front was torn off. A portion of the basement was dug out and cemented to make a classroom. The entrance hall and tower as they are at present were added and the large window to the west was installed. The partition down the center was removed. Gas lights were installed. The present pews were installed facing toward the southwest corner where the platform with the pulpit furniture was located. There are no records available to show what the cost of the remodeling was.
Two youth organizations began in 1914, the Otterbein Guild, a missionary organization for girls, and the Young People's Christian Endeavor. The Guild was organized by Miss Elsie Hall. This was an active group through the years under the leadership of Mrs. Edna Maxwell, Mrs. Josie Deets and others, until it was incorporated as a part of the Youth Fellowship as it now is. The Y. P. C. E. was organized with 49 members and remained an active organization for many years. During the ministry of H. A. Barton the Sunday School had a remarkable increase and 48 members were added to the church rolls. In 1916 the Sunday School enrollment reached 172. It became necessary to provide more room for the Sunday School classes, so it was decided to excavate tlie basement under the entire church. A furnace was installed, a kitchen provided, and the balance was made into class rooms. According to the records the cost was $590.
Rev. Sylvester Sanford came to Coleta in 1916 to his first pastorate being ordained in 1917. He possessed a magnetic personality, fine singing voice, and played several musical instruments. Under his leadership the church progressed rapidly with 67 members being added to the roll. Putting his musical talent to use, he organized a large choir and an orchestra. During this time he also served the Elkhorn Church, which was part of the circuit. A brick church and brick parsonage were built under his leadership her. Under his guidance the Coleta Church carried forward plans to build a new parsonage. The trustees at the time were D.C. Overholser, Fred Overholser, C.L. Hurless, Will Deets and Isaac Reecher. The parsonage is semi-bunglow with eight rooms and bath. At first it was lighted with a Delco plant which also served to light the church. At the time of its building and for a long time thereafter this parsonage was considered one of the finest, if not the finest, in the Conference.
The nearly completed parsonage was dedicated August 31, 1919, with Dr. J. M. Philippi, editor of The Telescope, presiding. The total cost of the building was $6,000. D. C. Overholser and wife gave an offering of $1,000 and Will Deets and wife gave a total of $500 the day of dedication plus what they had already contributed. The balance was pledged during the morning service.
The church was redecorated and the building painted from time to time as needed. In 1926 a new roof was put on at a cost of $110. In 1928, during the pastorate of Rev. Guy Jordan, the interior of the church was extensively remodeled. The platform was built across the front with a stairway to the basement class rooms. A curved altar rail, which has been modifed slightly in the current remcodeling, was constructed. Rev. Jordan did much of the work himself.
During the pastorate of Rev. C. W. Perkins 48 members were added to the roll. The Church and Sunday School continued to grow under the leadership of the pastor. Further additions and improvements were found to be necessary, and during the pastorate of Rev. E. C. Owen in the fall of 1942, a large remodeling program was undertaken. Rev. Owen had charge of the work. The labor was provided by himself and various members of the church. A furnace room and kitchen were added to the basement the entire length of the church on the north side. The original basement was made into five class rooms with folding partitions. Stained glass windows were installed, floors were sanded and refinished, as were the pews and pulpit. Cost of the windows was $700 and the total cost of all the work was $1800. Thirty-one members were added during the pastorate of Rev. Owen.
One of the best loved pastors who served Caleta was Rev. J. A. Smith. He was like the gardener with the green thumb in the way things responded to his touch. His presence was felt all through the community as Boy Scouts, 4-H Club, Grange, and Farm Bureau all received his helping hand.
During the summer of 1952 a Connsonata organ was installed at a cost of $1725. Water had been piped to the church from the parsonage the summer of 1951. In 1953 the passageway to the basement, at the rear of the church was remodeled and a modern rest room installed. The cost of this was about $1,000. In 1950 the Youth Fellowship sponsored the planting of lawn arid shrubbery to form an outdoor chapel. The current centennial projects involve painting the exterior, new carpeting, minor remodeling in the sanctuary and kitchen, and redecorating. The final cost of this is expected to be about $1500.
A more significant work of the church is involved in the fact that many of the sons and daughters of the church have been sent out into the world to minister as Christians to the needs of people.
Mrs. Julia Drury, (photo on the left during her 40 years as missionary), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. D. C. Overholser, with her husband, Philo, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, went to Puerto Rico as a pioneer missionary in 1900. There they gave forty years of their lives in faithful and effective service. During many of those years this local church supported them financially.
The Drurys now live in retirement in California.
In 1914 Miss Ida Reecher went to Dayton to attend Bonebrake Seminary in preparation for missionary service. She met and married Ray Applegate, who was preparing for the ministry. They served several charges in Illinois and are now serving a Baptist Church in Ohio. Others have gone out to become teachers, doctors, business men, etc., guided by the teachings of their Sunday School teachers and the influence of their church. Dr. George Procter, Dr. David Procter, Jr., Dr. John Overholser, and Dr. Waldo Overholser are among those who have so gone. Besides these are the many who have received and shared the blessings of this church in their role as laymen.
We have tried to bring a picture of the beginning and growth of our church down through the years. We have listed the ministers who served and did so much and we have listed only a few of the laymen who have given so faithfully of time, money, effort and prayer. Were it not for all of these with their influence for righteousness and spiritual living in the church and community, we would have no church. We regret that it is impossible to list everyone and indicate the work which they did.
We recognize the richness of our heritage and realize that our duty and the duty of our children is to carry on the work of the church as our forefathers have done. As we look ahead let us recall the words of Hebrews 12.1, "Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily best us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."
Ruth Frankfother, Lydia Rosenberry
Jeanette Heide, Joan Nicholson
COMMITTEES FOR CENTENNIAL
Program Committee: Pastor, Chairman, Lois Nicholson, Wayne Shank, Fred Overholser, Grace heide, Doris Heide, Maude Glafka
History Committee: Lois Nicholson, chairman, Ruth Frankfother, Jeanette Heide, Clare Deets, Fred Overholser, Lydia Rosenberry, Joan Nicholson, Wesley Norton
Publicity Committee: Wesley Norton, chairman, Vonda Shank, Bertha Grubb, Grace Heide, Virginia Spaulding
Committee for Entertainment: Christine Weber, Cynthia Overholser, Carmen Milroy
Redecorating: Sarah Gettle, Berthabelle Spaulding
Remodeling: Clarence Heide, Wesley Norton
Exterior Painting: Claire Deets, Fred Overholser
Carpet: Lois Nicholson, Jeanette Heide
We all have a share in the beauty,
Someone has blended the plaster,
Making a roof for the weather,
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