Centerville First United Methodist Church
Monday, July 22, 2024





 Church - Centerville in the 1800's

In the mid-1800's, settlers were rapidly moving westward and Iowa was becoming home to more and more new residents. In 1846, Iowa became the 29th state of the union. That same year the First Methodist Episcopal Church (the pre-cursor to our current First United Methodist Church) became the first organized church in Appanoose County. The original six members met at the home of William and Isabel Manson who lived south of Centerville. Most churches at this time were served by a pastor who traveled a circuit and preached at several churches in the area. Our church was led by Reverend Hugh Gibson, who was part of the Bloomfield Circuit which consisted of most of Appanoose County west of the Chariton River.
Six years later in 1852, our first church building was built at the corner of Washington and Haynes. The 30' x 40' church cost $800 to build. It was one of the nicest meeting places in town, and consequently was often used for political meetings and public gatherings. At one point, court was held in the church and the Justice of the Peace had his office in the building.
The church continued to grow over the next 10 years and in 1868 Centerville became a Station served by a permanent minister instead of a circuit rider. By 1876, a new larger church was needed and the foundation was laid on the southeast corner of Washington and Main. In 1877 the cornerstone of the new church was put in place and construction on the new building began. This original cornerstone is still part of our church - it is visible in the north hallway of the basement.
The second church building was finished in 1878 and was dedicated by Bishop Andrews. The brick structure was 45' x 80' and cost $7,000 to build. The new building had a furnace room in the basement, a gallery in the front, a classroom under the gallery, and a chapel in the rear of the auditorium. A church bell was purchased and installed. That $400 bell is still used and enjoyed by our church today!
In 1888, the Ladies Aid society (today we know them as the United Methodist Women) had the walls and ceilings of the building frescoed for a cost of $300. This is the first time the Ladies Aid society is mentioned in the church history; however it was believed to be in existence since the beginning of the church. Stay tuned.. .coming next month...our church in the 1900's and your stories!!
Information for this article -was taken from a church history compiled by Eleanor Devore-Teater andMarsha Teater in 1995.