LONG GROVE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
One Hundred Thirty-Five Years
Sunday, June 30, 1974
[Written by Mrs. William Neil and read at a special service on June 17,
Insertions by Howard Brownlie, 1939 and 1974 for booklet.]
The early history of the
Christian Church of Long Grove is identified to a large extent with the early
history of Scott County and Iowa. It was in 1833 that Scott County was settled,
a part of the Blackhawk Purchase. Immigration into Iowa was so rapid and steady
after the purchase that provision for civil government became necessary. In 1834
all the territory comprising the present state of Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin
was made subject to the jurisdiction of the Territory of Michigan. In 1836,
Wisconsin Territory was created and Iowa became a part of that. In 1838 the
Territory of Iowa was formed and Iowa City was the capital. Iowa became a state
in 1846, and 1856 the capital was moved to Des Moines.
Among the many who were flocking to the west, came the
Quinn brothers, John and William. They settled first in Clinton County, then
came to Scott County as made the first permanent settlement in what is now
Winfield township. This was near the Wapsie on land that later was the farm
owned by J.T. Mason. This was in 1837. In 1838 Joseph and James Quinn joined
their brothers. A ferry was established and a town laid out called Point
Pleasant after the town in Ohio near which they lived. The ferry was used for a
long time but the town never materialized-the name remains, however, in local
use. We have the Point Pleasant road. Joseph and James stayed for a while with
their brothers in Point Pleasant, but later moved to Long Grove. Joseph settled
on land where Eldridge now stands. At that time Winfield Twp. was nine miles
square and contained parts of Sheridan and Butler townships.
In May, 1826, the Brownlie family arrived in Canada
from Scotland. Alexander and James lived there until 1838. Having become
dissatisfied with the British rule in Canada, they converted all their property
into money and clothing and started out to seek a new home in the far west of
the United States. Their destination was the southern part of Illinois. Arriving
at Alton, they left the women and children of the party there and started out to
look for a suitable location. They spent some time looking over the southern
part of Illinois and also along the Illinois River. They found nothing they
thought would do and returned to Alton much discouraged. In the meantime they
had heard reports of the Blackhawk Purchase and decided to look on the west side
of the Mississippi. They went to Burlington and stayed there awhile and finally
got to Davenport on the 25th day of August. Upon inquiry, they found that all
the timber land along the river had been claimed and was held at a high price.
They then turned their faces toward Long Grove. After a walk over unbroken
country they arrived only to find all the timber land there claimed. They met a
family by the name of Elder and a man named Alvord who had claims and learned
from them that a man named Coates had a claim but lived in Davenport. They went
east to Warren Grove, later called Walnut Grove and found all that land claimed
by Coates and a man named Pease. They went up the Wapsie bottoms and found James
and William Quinn living in a log cabin. From there they went to Allen's Grove,
then to Poston's Grove. After consulting together they decided to return to
Davenport, see Coates and try to buy his claim at Long Grove. They offered him
$160.00, which he readily accepted and then, according to the law of custom,
they were the owners of 160 acres of timber land and as much prairie land as
they wanted to claim. It was only the timber land that had any value in those
Having decided to make Long Grove their home, they
began getting ready a place to live. They found a man in Davenport named Dillon
(Judge Dillon's father) who hauled lumber for them and with that lumber and
logs, they built a house. That house stood on a rise of ground on the West side
of the road about a quarter of a mile South of this church. For a long time that
log house was the only house on the road between Davenport and Point Pleasant,
and many were the travelers who found welcome, food and lodging there. Later,
when a larger and better house was built on the east side of the road, the old
log house was moved across the road, and it is only a few years ago that it was
Robert Brownlie and his wife came to Long Grove in
1839. William and his wife and five children came in 1840. At later dates came
other settlers whose names are familiar to us and whose descendants live here.
Hugh Thomson, John Robertson, John Frieve [Grieve?] and John Pollock,
brothers-in-law, came together from Scotland. William Robertson followed them.
James Neil came in 1846. Robert Neil, his mother and sister came in 1847.
Leonard Cooper had come in 1839.
The first school was opened in 1841 by Dominick
Kennedy. Hannah Alvord was another early teacher.
Of the little community of Long Grove, Willard Barrows
in his history of Scott County, says this: "Nowhere in all the west do I
remember of having witnessed such a beginning as was exhibited by this little
colony. There seemed to be more of the faith of the Puritan fathers among them
then any other I ever saw. All seemed to feel an entire dependence upon on
another and on the ruling hand of Providence. One common interest seemed to
cement them together and a spirit of brotherly love prevailed throughout the
Sunday School and religious services were commenced in
1839-one writer says 1838- and have been kept up ever since. The meetings were
held in James Brownlie's house and the attendants were the Brownlie families,
the Quinns and the few other settlers. In 1840, a church society was regularly
organized by James Rumbold of Davenport, who organized the Christian Church of
Davenport in July, 1839. James Brownlie was made elder of the church. The
meetings continued to be held at his house until 1846, when a log building was
erected just north of where this present building stands. The whole community
helped to haul the logs and many helped in the work of erecting the building.
The building was used not only for church services, but as a school and for all
kinds of meetings. According the the Christian Register published at St.
Clairsville, Ohio, in 1847, the church at Long Grove reported 35 members with
James Brownlie, pastor, and a house in which to worship. At the second
convention of the Second District of Iowa which convened at Walnut Grove, Jones
County on May 4, 1851, Long Grove church presented the following report:
Additions by immersion, 6; additions by letter, 2; additions by recommendation,
4; expelled, 1; present number, 51. Officers: James Brownlie, Elder, A. Brownlie
and Joseph Quinn, Deacons. Meets on Lord's Day and Thursday evening. Hence the
early periodicals of the church tell us that from the beginning the church was
active with the entire Brotherhood. The first election to be held in Winfield
Township was held there in 1854. Previous to that time the elections had been
held at the Fifteen Mile house in what is now Butler Township. The house would
be at the junction of the present Highway 61 and Walnut Grove-Pease's corner, as
it is often called even now.
In 1858, (some accounts give it as 1860) a frame
building was erected at a cost of $1000 in cash and a large amount of work. That
is the building in which we are meeting today. Two additions have been made-the
room immediately adjoining, which was finished in 1872, the rear room in 1903.
The basement was excavated and finished for use in the winter of 1917. The
parsonage was built in 1910 and cost $250 for the lot and $1250 for the
The church yard was first fenced in 1858. At that time
it was much smaller in extent and contained but few graves. The first burial was
that of William Brownlie who died in November, 1846.
There is not time to mention all those who have served
the church as preachers during the years of its existence, but there are a few
who must be mentioned. James Brownlie gave many years of his life to the
service of this church. He not only preached, but took care of the building,
built the fires when needed, gave money. It would be interesting to know just
how and when James Brownlie and his brothers became followers of Alexander
Campbell's teaching. One thinks it must have been soon after their arrival in
Canada, for it is evident that they were members of the new church society and
well acquainted with its teaching. Alexander Brownlie, although he never
preached, donated the land for the church and grave yard and sums of money.
Alexander Campbell himself, born in County Antrim,
Ireland, came to America in 1809 to join his father in Washington, Pennsylvania.
The elder Campbell, a school master and clergyman of the Presbyterian Seceders,
had formed "an association for the sole purpose of promoting simple
Evangelical Christianity as a way to the union of the church." The son
agreed with his father's belief and began to preach in 1810. In 1812, he settled
in what is now Bethany, West Virginia, and adopted baptism by immersion into his
belief. his parents, wife, sister and others followed him and in 1827 he became
the leader of a new society called the Disciples of Christ, or Christians, their
creed, the Bible only. Some one has said of this new Reformation, "Luther
was great, but Campbell is greater."
James Brownlie preached the gospel not only in his own
little community. In 1843, we find a Christian church organized at LeClaire with
the assistance of James Brownlie and his brother William, "because James
Brownlie preached the gospel among us," the record book says.
Christian Brownlie Alvord and Margaret Brownlie Duncan,
daughters of William Brownlie and their families moved to California in 1875 and
formed a church at Red Bluff in a one-room building. Since it has grown and now
have a beautiful house of worship.
James Rumbold was born in Scotland and brought up in
the Church of Scotland, but in 1824, he united with the Scotch Baptist Church in
Aberdeen. In 1830, he came to America and settled at Troy, N.Y., where, with his
wife and two others, he organized a church on the Bible alone. In 1839, he came
to Davenport and organized the church there, the next year the one here. During
his preaching here, he lived on a farm about a mile and a half south of here,
the farm now occupied by Ferd Vandenberg.
Jonas Hartzell was born in Pennsylvania, but went to
Ohio at an early age. He married Alice Wollihan, a pious Methodist. Mr. Hartzell
was a Presbyterian. About a year after their marriage his wife said to him,
"What Scripture do you have for infant baptism? If you have any, I ask for
it, for I have no faith in my baptism." He endeavored to satisfy her mind
by referring to all the texts usually quoted The more he studied, the less he
believed in the old views. He became a subscriber to the Christian Baptist, a
paper edited by Alexander Campbell, who was preaching " a restoration to
primitive Christianity." Becoming convinced that Mr. Campbell was right,
Mr. Hartzell and his wife were immersed in June, 1828. In spite of only a year
of schooling in his life, Mr. Hartzell became distinguished as an able and
effective preacher. He was also a prolific writer, mostly on religious subjects.
he was a strong anti-slavery man and his writings on that subject did much to
educate people for the emancipation to be brought about by the Civil War. In
1854, he came to Davenport where he preached four years. Then he became an
evangelist. It was during the middle seventies that he preached in Long Grove.
He lived on the farm west of the Grove that is now owned by Mr. Henry Weeda.
It is unfortunate that the early records of the church
were lost as they were in the fire that partly destroyed the home of Robert
Brownlie in 1870. The record we now have begins in 1873, when the church was
incorporated in accordance with state laws.
A great many can well remember how the interior of the
church used to look with its straight painted benches, stoves and kerosene
lamps. Many improvements have been in appearance and convenience. One
organization in the Church has had much to do with procuring these changes by
raising large sums of money thru the years. I speak of the Ladies' Aid Society
which was formed in 1906. Their major fund-raising activity is the annual Church
Supper which has been held the second Thursday of October for the past one
hundred years or more. With additional help from several memorial gifts, they
have paid for redecorating the interior and exterior building several times.
From 1964 thru 1970, they have acquired a new gas furnace, a new roof over the
entire Church, a stone front, and a concrete parking lot. The Society has also
purchased the ground on which the parsonage stands and helped to pay for the
building, later sold in 1973. They also helped pay for the last addition to the
Church building and the completion of the basement in 1954. Many additional
donations and memorials were accepted for the beautification of the Church.
From the little handful of people who started the
church in a log cabin has grown a congregation and Sunday School that occupy an
important place in the community. And that means something in these days when
rural churches are dwindling and being abandoned. Like all churches, it has its
ups and downs, but has never failed to hold services. And I think it will never
fail. In the long years to come, the church of the Disciples of Christ at Long
Grove will be found watching, standing fast in the faith.