May 21, 2020
The Mayview Christian Church, often called Mayview Church or in later years simply Mayview, was located in Jewell County's Brown's Creek Township, Section 17. The church was in existence for more than 75 years.
It was a community church with the membership coming from the area farms. As Jim Nelson, who attended Mayview with his Russell grandparents, noted "There were more people around then." Farms were closer together and people "didn't travel far." Names associated with the church were Blacker, Russell, Mowers, Gish, Braden, Headrick, Thompson, Hosler, Dunham, McCune, Bean, Slate, Bowles, Birdsell, Fenner, Eychner, Welstead, Havice, Berg, Crites, Bon, Arasmith, Applebee and Meisner. There were sure to have been others.
Linda Woerner, Jewell, is in the possession of an unsigned typed document that tells the early history of the Mayview Church. It states the first services were "held in a sod hall on the Thompson place." More than a century later, the late Rex Headrick would say of Mrs. William Thompson, "She would go to church if she had to walk all the way in the mud." The Thompson family was always a part of Mayview Church.
Woerner's document also states "A Charter was given to the Christian Church of Brown's Creek in 1883." An obituary in 1904 relates that A. J. King of the Mayview community was a charter member of the Church of Christ at Mayview.
There were no other Mayview churches so it is wondered if the writers meant the Mayview Christian Church. No other mention of the charter of the church or of charter members has been found.
The Dec. 21, 1883, edition of the Jewell County Republican carries an item that supports Woerner's document. It reads, "Revs J. W. Garner and J. T. Kiggins are engaged in a series of meetings with the Christian Church on Brown's Creek."
In a later Republican, July 3, 1885, an item explains that the Brown's Creek Christian Church will alternate meeting sites every two weeks between Sheldon School and Welstead's Hall. Elder Garner was mentioned as was Sunday school superintendent J. O. Brunnemer. Moving services back and forth was not a long-term solution.
In the Dec. 18, 1885, edition of the paper readers learned, "The stone is on the ground for the foundation of the Church at Mayview." The land was donated by Saxon Welstead (the owner of Welstead's Hall) one of the early postmasters and storekeepers of the town of Mayview.
Additionally, readers were told the congregation had "two stone-masons, four carpenters, two plasterers and a painter," and it was thought the work would "go right on." According to Shute and Dillon's book Prairie Jewels, the construction was "under the management of Newtin Apger." Two months later, Feb. 19, it was noted "If the weather continues to be fine, the church at Mayview will be enclosed this week."
The dedication of the Mayview Church was held on Sunday, Jan. 2, 1886. Elder Garner "conducted the service and preached a very appropriate sermon." There was also an evening service during which the Rev. H. G Breed preached. (Rev. Breed is also part of the history of the Methodist Churches in Ionia and Jewell.)
The June 6, 1888, Jewell County Republican reported the Children's Day exercises at Mayview were "highly spoken of - "the house was more than full" and the collection "over $4." Through the years, Children's Day programs seem an important aspect of the life of the church. Newspaper clippings note programs held in many years in the 1890s thru the 1920s.
According to the June 10, 1920, Glen Elder Sentinel, girls from the Girls Industrial School in Beloit, "helped with the Children's Day Program at Mayview." The collection that year was "nearly $70." Vicki Birdsell Moyer (Overland Park) and Monty Bean (Beloit), who went to the church in the 1950s, also remember Children's Day programs held at Mayview.
In early September of 1888, the church was the sad scene of the "largely attended" first funeral. The funeral was that of "Mr. and Mrs. Reil's little child." (The name is thought to be "Real.") In late September, D. J. Sloan's funeral was preached by Elder Smith. Weddings were generally not held in churches in that era so there is no happy item about a "first wedding."
The congregation continued to improve their building. The April 4, 1890. Jewell County Republican reported, "The ladies of the Mayview Christian Church carpeted the church and had a good platform erected in front of the house." The front, as Roy Arasmith,Jewell, remembers "was to the west." Parishioners entered on the south side of the building, "toward the east end" of the sanctuary.
More improvements, the Western Advocate of Oct. 21, 1900, notes that Harry Miller and John Clark are "painting and papering the Mayview Church." There was also a "new roof" in 1904.
Beginning in the spring of 1906, a large addition was planned for the church. The women of the church were again at work. Their box supper brought in $12.80 with all proceeds going "to enlarge the church." Items in newspapers relate that R. F. Colburn was the carpenter and Willie Mosher was working on the project. L. C. Bowles and his son, George Bowles, did the foundation work.
On Sunday Oct. 28, 1906, the second dedication of the Mayview Church was held. The Nov. 2, 1906. Jewell County Republican had two items about the service. They reported, "Austin and McVey dedicated Mayview Church." Also Rev. Kennedy preached the dedication sermon and that evening preached his "farewell sermon." It was also noted The Rev. and Mrs. Kennedy gave the church a "new communion service."
The improvements continued. In 1911, the church added a "new gas lighting system." There was new Linoleum and a baptistry in 1915 and in 1919 there were "new shingles."
Leon Holloway,Georgetown, Texas, remembers the baptistry. It was under a trap door on the stage behind the pulpit. The area was where his Sunday School class met. The baptistry was not used anytime in his memory or of anyone's memory, including that of 99-year old Lucille Butts Ozmun, Beloit. Ozmun's family lived in the area and attended the church in the 1930s when she was a young girl. When she joined the Mayview Church, she was baptized at the Jewell Christian Church.
Using the baptistry would have been difficult. As Holloway pointed out "there was no water, not even a cistern." There were a few baptisms noted at the church after the baptistry was installed. After that, those receiving baptism were baptized at the Jewell Christian Church.
The women of the "Ladies Aid" maintained their good work through the years. Nearly each year in the 1910s it was noted they hosted "the Annual Bazaar." It seems the 1910's were a busy decade for the whole church. In addition to the annual bazaars there were "Annual All-Day Meetings." Ice cream socials, a pie social, a Thanksgiving dinner and a couple of New Year's dinners. The was also a "hen shower." The congregation gave their preacher hens so he would have a flock of chickens.
This writer recalls going to Ladies Aid meetings in the 1950s. One trip, recalled and laughed over several times with Melinda Headrick Rose, Manhattan, involved Ilene Headrick getting lost going to Decima Carl's for a meeting. At another meeting, I got to quilt on the quilt. One member, now forgotten, wondered who would rip it out. I, frankly, was rather proud of it.
Many ministers served at Mayview throughout the more than 75-year history of the church. In the early years, they were often referred to as Elder as well as Reverend. Elder Rev. Garner was involved in the first "meetings" and with the dedication. Others pastoring at the church according to early newspaper clippings were The Reverends Eyrich, H. J. Kennedy, L.W. Scott, J. G. Sapp, Fuller, Cornish, Babcock, John Williams, H. G. Breed and R. T. Rebout.
Another reoccurring event was a "meeting" or revival. These services were held regularly through the years. One, held in 1957, is remembered by several. The preacher was Maurice Graham, a well-known pastor at Mayview, Jewell and Belleville. Vicki Birdsell Moyer , Overland Park, Neita Blacker Colin, Wichita, Michelle McCune White, Yucaipa, Calif., and others remember the revival as the time they joined the church.
Colin was keeping a diary at the time and shared some memories. "It was a busy time...On Oct. 13, 1957, there was a church dinner and meeting." "The revival lasted eight days or seven."
Oct. 27, 1957 - Colin, her parents, grandmother and sister went to the service. She relates. "I joined the church, which involved walking to the front and answering questions for Rev. Graham and Rev. Moss. Rev. Moss asked if I love and believe in Jesus Christ."
Oct. 28, 1957 - "At church everyone wore overalls and print dresses...I was still totally moved by my experience the night before...Etta Knarr was in attendance this night. There were more than 100 people in attendance that night and the night before."
Oct. 29, 1957 - "I sang, "Whiter Than Snow."
Oct. 30, 1957 - "At the revival meeting, Vicki (Birdsell Moyer), Michelle (McCune White), and Stanley (McCune) joined church."
Nov. 3, 1957 - "We all went to Sunday School...we broke the record as we had 95 present. 70 had been the previous highest. We had a potluck dinner. To Jewell for the Baptism Service. Dad and I were baptized along with Jackie, Vicki, Michelle, and Stanley. To last revival meeting. Herm Berg joined. Mom, Dad, Marjorie and Doyle Bowles and Letha Berg joined this morning at church."
Michelle McCune White writes about the revival; "They were giving away a Bible and Stanley told Mom and Dad he wanted the Bible. In order to get it, he had to go around the neighborhood asking people to come to the revival and stand when his name was called for his guests being present. I remember Mom and Dad driving him around and he would go up to their door and invite the residents...At the end of the revival, Stanley got his Bible, gave his life to the Lord and was baptized."
Others also remember attending the revival. Linda Woerner remembers sitting beside Jessie Moss, the wife of the Mayview pastor, Don Moss. Each night the service ended with the hymn "Just As I Am." This writer remembers getting to sit one night with the late Jim Cross and singing that hymn.
Shirley Slate Wright,Claremore, Okla., remembers Mayview. Getting to see her grandfather, Claude Slate was always special. Another memory is of her "wonderful" Sunday school teacher, Elizabeth Braden. Braden was remembered and loved by others too. Vicki Moyer recalls Braden as a teacher but Erma Holloway was her Sunday school teacher. The class went to the Holloway home for parties. Moyer also remembers Rex Headrick teaching the adult class which included her mother, Gwendine Birdsell.
In the early years of the church's history, there must have been a pump organ. Myrtle Booze was the organist when she married Arthur Pimlott in 1900. In 1905, Lou Blacker was the organist when she married Charles Havice. Items noted each time the women were going to be missed. Both couples moved from the community.
Elizabeth Braden and Erma Holloway are also remembered as the pianists for the church. Neita Colin recalls the choir. Both Colin and Linda Woerner remember Ilene Headrick singing solos. There was no organ at the church in the 1940s or 1950s, a piano was used.
This writer remembers one Christmas the congregation had a large, tall tree. A group gathered to decorate, several where there. Someone had a box of some type suspended over the tree and when the box was opened, tinsel dropped out, cascading and draping over the branches. Truly beautiful.
Another poignant Christmas memory comes from Michelle McCune White. She writes "Erma Holloway was the pianist. Sweet woman. She played the hymn 'Silent Night' one Christmas while I drew the shepherds with their flocks over-looking Bethlehem on drawing paper. I was nervous but was asked to do this. I went upon the stage so everyone could see and drew the Silent Night, Holy Night scene of the birth of our Savior. Mom and Dad gave me an easel with a stand and colored chalk because I loved to draw."
Vicki Moyer remembers the church's potluck dinners. Her mother, Gwendine Birdsell, would make donuts for them. Moyer like others recalls the trees on the church grounds and children "playing hide and seek in the dark" among the trees.
Jim Slate, Glen Elder, remembers sitting on the back row of the church with Jackie Bowles. Monty Bean, Beloit, recalls using the "needing the restroom" trick to get out of church. At Mayview, it meant going outside and to the tree row where the two outhouses were located.
There are few items still in existence known to have been used at Mayview Church. This writer has a pew and two engraved silver patens from the church. (Patens are used in the communion service for the bread.) The patens had been in the possession of Kenneth and Elizabeth Braden and were purchased at their sale. The engraving reads, "Mayview Christian Church - In Memory of Adalaide by Mr. and Mrs. H. J. Kennedy.
Investigation revealed that H. J. Kennedy was one of the early pastors of the church. The family lived on a farm in the Mayview area. Their daughter, Adalaide, died, the result of a tragic accident during his pastorate at the church. She is buried in Athens Cemetery. It is thought these patens were part of the communion service given to Mayview Church at the second dedication in 1906.
The jewelry is a small Bible pin which, when opened, reveals the Ten Commandments. The pin was a gift from Sunday school teacher, Elizabeth Braden, on the occasion of memorizing the commandments.
Some may remember a student-minister from Manhattan Christian College Richard "Dick" Bates, who ministered at Mayview in 1959. A 1957 graduate of Montrose High School, he was also the 1959 summer baseball coach at Jewell.
Though the revival meetings of 1957 gave the church a boost, a steady decline in membership and attendance took its toll. In the early 1960s some in the congregation began to see the need to close the church. In March of 1962, the Mayview Church was officially closed. Today the only thing left is a field entrance which used to lead into the church yard.
Thanks to Linda Woerner for sharing clippings and photos of Mayview, to Neita Blacker Colin for sharing her diary, to Vicki Birdsell Moyer for sharing her memories and a photo of Mayview, and to Michelle McCune White for the memories of her brother, Stanley, and of Christmas. Thanks also to Diane McCune Brown, Kathy McCune Smiley, Melinda Headrick Rose, Shirley Slate Wright, Peggy Blacker Selvidge, Jim Slate, Monty Bean, Leon Holloway, Roy Arasmith and Jim Nelson for sharing their thoughts of Mayview. A special thank you to the late Darlene Brown Thompson who told me years ago I should write this article.