Pleasant Grove Community Church
A Brief History

      Church services were held as early as 1856 in the little red school house east of the present church which was serviced by circuit riding preachers. It was decided in 1873 that a church should be built. Fifty community families agreed to take on this task. An easement to the land the church is on was purchased by the church trustees from Thomas R. and Eleanor Hughes for $25.00. As a result of many long hours of labor by these early pioneers the present church became a fact.

      The new church was to become also known as “The Little White Church in the Oaks”. Records show that the first preacher of the new church was Rev Artemus Brown. Other early ministers of the church were Rev A. M. Harnard and Rev M. T. Butterfield, who later returned to the church to take part in several homecoming programs.
A view of the Pleasant Grove Church, mid-1930's.
      In those days the church was the center of many of the community's activities. Activities included ice cream socials, bob sleigh rides, and a play “Cranberry Corners” to raise money for a new pulpit. The choir was reported to be very good. Many speakers would come for an evening at the church and an old time revival meetings were held lasting for two weeks. From 1911 to at least 1921, a neighborhood social group met for evenings together and was known as the Pleasant Grove Country Club. In 1914 the Pleasant Grove Orchestra was organized and played both for the church and the social club. An Epworth League for the youth was in place for at least twenty years and they typically met on Sunday evenings.

      The church was very active until the First World War. Then it was closed for a period of seven years. It was opened again in July of 1925 as reported by Mrs. Geo. R. Sowers, secretary. “Having been without services of any kind at Pleasant Grove since the epidemic of Flu in the year of 1918, when so many of our boys left for Service in the Worlds War, it was decided to try and organize a Sunday School. .” During the 1920's those with past memories of the church formed an organization known as the Homecoming Association. Their first meeting was in 1927. This group met once a year for 15 years. Friends of Pleasant Grove Church would return to gather for all day meetings and past ministers of the church were asked to return to the church to speak. The church closed again in 1933.

      In 1939 the people of the community again opened the Church with the help of Rev C. E. Lookinbill. The people collected money and pledges of labor to reclaim the original appearance of the church. With much faith and determination these folks came early and stayed late and worked hard. In one day the church had a new outside coat of paint, the inside was cleaned and the woodwork and pews were painted. Other necessary repairs were made during this time including the digging of the basement which was done by hand in the summer of 1940. Electricity was installed September 5, 1941.

      A rededication service was held and the church was back in service again. Not only people came to church. In 1944 Edna Hughes, who enjoyed wielding her mighty 4-10 shotgun around, and was always looking for an appropriate opportunity to use it, shot a ground hog in the basement and another time George Roberts, who lived much closer to the Church than did Edna, shot a skunk in the building. (One can almost imagine them, each racing to their homes to get their valuable, beloved firearms to protect the parishioners from the predator animals.) Various other animals showed up through the years such as a squirrel and snakes. The church continued until the middle fifties when Rev Lookingbill's health was failing. No other minister could be found so the Church was again closed. It was reopened in 1960 with Rev Hector Thompson as minister and has continued until the present. Improvements have been made in the church in the years since but this was always done with the thought of keeping the original charm of the “old country church”.

      On Sunday, 25 Oct 1942, the last note of indebtedness on the Church was ceremonially burned at 2 PM in an all day service which started at 10:00 AM. A basket dinner was held at noon followed by a musical program and a speech by W.S. Rupe from the Ames Tribune.

From "Milford Township and Proud of It" by Dale Hughes and Jurine Borton. Used with permission.
Available through the Iowa GenWeb

Additional historical documents:
Church History Main Page My Church, a poem by Stella Roberts
Volunteers, a poem by Stella Roberts A Tribute to Our Pioneer Folks, a poem by Dorothy Sowers Bielefeldt
Homecoming Association Church History: Founding Families
Youth Organizations Special Ceremonies
Church History: 1874 to 1933 Church History: 1939 to WWII
Church History: 1950 to 1964 Church History: 1973 to Today
Church History: Baptisms Church History: Early Membership Roll
Pastors and Official Members, 1892 to 1895 Record of Pastors