Chapter 4
Worshipping God
Part #1: Society of Friends

When the community around Friendswood, just west of Bethel, was being settled between 1850 and 1856. Many of the people were Quakers form Indiana. Later they formed the Ironton monthly meetings of Friends. The chapter members of the church that was organized there in Jan. 18, 1860 were as follows: Solomon Cook, Mary Cook, Martha Brown, Thomas Mason, Jessie Dennis, Rachel Dennis, Antoinette Cook, Martha E. Cook, Benjamin Pickering, Issac Jay, Ruth Jay, Charlotte Brown, and Francis Jones. They met in Fielder Brown's house for their organizational meetings. The same year they put up a log building in which they worshipped until they started to build the building that later became the Academy.

In 1867 a new church 30 by 50 feet was built. They planned to add a second story but it wasn't finished until after 1880. The upper part was used for an Academy where high school subjects were taught. It was Antoinette Coryell who led the people to complete the building. This took place after Mary Cook died and Jabez Brown moved to Madison. It was opened Oct. 6, 1884 with Jesse Kellum of Earlham College, Indiana, as teacher. The following students were enrolled:

Mattie BallengerC.A. BatteyClemma BeesonEddie J. Cannon
Drusilla M. CookElla CoryellFred CoryellElla Davis
May GardenerLilbie GroverC. H.. HamburgH. E. Harvey
Anna HarveyStephen HorineJulie HorineLizzie Horine
T. F.. LawrenceJohn MortimerMary MortimerCharles Pickering
Eunice PreshallAlice PriceLester PriceSusie Thompson
and seven others. The next year George Mortimer and twenty others had enrolled.

The lower story where they held church services was built with a partition that was removable. They only used the partition when they wanted to separate the two parts of the meeting room. This took place once a month when there was held a monthly meeting. It was customary to have the women meet in a separate room from the men on such occasions.

When the Valton society of friends was organized in June 1873 it became subordinate to the Ironton Friends monthly meeting. Jimmie Stanley was their minister. In 1880 the Friendswood Church had 128 members. This took in 18 entire families and 17 parts of families. In the early 1870's the church experienced a great spiritual awakening when James H. Heyworth from Indiana came to hold special services. Jabez Brown's sister, Mary Cook, was looked up to as a spiritual mother. She became a minister and later her two daughters, Antoinette Coryell and Ella Veeder had great interest in the young peoples spiritual welfare. Ella had been converted while she attended the Iowa yearly meeting. She returned to organized prayer bands among the young people. Antoinette Coryell purchased a Library for the Sunday school. It became a profitable circulating library and was even used by other communities.

The early friends encouraged people to enter the ministry and served the local congregation. As a result as many as four men and women were licensed to be local preachers and served the church at the same time. Three of the early ministers were James Stanley, Thomas Mason, Hannah Mann. Uncle Jimmie Stanley, as he was affectionately called, was a local preacher at Oaks and Valton for over 40 years. By using the local preachers they didn't feel the need of paying any money for their support. The Valton friends did not have a minister who was promised a salary till after 1888 when Philip Slack, doctor and minister, came to be their pastor.

Melissa Brown, writing for the State Historical Journal, tells of some interesting things about the early days among the Quakers at Friendswood. In there worship service they did not sing much. Of course there was no organ or other musical instrument. Every thing was very plain and simple. Their dress was quite uniform. The women wore black dress. Garments and bonnets. The men wore large hats with wide brims. When the leader took off his hat the service started. The people would sit in silence until one of the Elders (local ministers) felt the moving spirit. No one would speak unless he felt that the holy spirit had moved him. Sometimes they would sit in silence for the whole service and go home without having a sermon or prayer when the spirit didn't speak to anyone. When a prayer was offered the one who prayed would stand up while the rest of the congregation knelt.

The language of the early Quakers was mixed with Bible language. For the pronouns you and your they would say instead thee, thou and thy etc. They lived very exemplary lives and were models of good clean living before all men.

Even though they were usually serious, Melissa Brown tells of times when she could see things to be amused at. After they built their first church the green lumber warped and the opening underneath was so big that several pigs found it a nice place to shade. One time the pigs got to fighting and the people had to drive them out before they could go on with the service.

When the Slack family came to the community they attended services at Oaks (Friendswood). The first Sunday they saw Uncle Jimmie Stanley and Aunt Jemima come into the church their little brother, a little cut up, was walking in behind the Stanley's. The older members of the Slack family were mortified to see their little brother imitate Mrs. Stanley's walk and posture. She was crippled and bent over in her later years.

This is a story told about Uncle Jimmie which is quite familiar at Valton. It was common habit for him to pray with his eyes open. One day while in the middle of his prayer he saw his horse without his bridle outside at the hitching post. Brother Stanley went out to fasten the horse all the while bent over in the attitude of prayer. He finished praying when he got back in the church.

The following incident took place at the Valton church. The meeting opened for testimony and they were giving experience and victories, temptations, etc. one man told about a temptation that came to him when he passed a neighbors pig pen one moonlight night. He told how once the pigs looked lying there in the moonlight. "For a moment I was tempted to reach down and take one of the once little fellows", he said the owner of the pig was at the meeting and was experiencing emotion of a different kind, When the testimony had gotten this far the owner of the pigs spoke up in some excitement "It's mighty well ye didn't".

Another custom should also be mentioned. The early Friends, when coming into the meeting house would divide the sexes at the door. The women and children sat on one side and the men and boys sat on the other side of the room. Melissa Brown, who was born at Friendswood spoke of this in her letter to me. The first time she saw a man and woman sitting together in church, she was shocked. But the people didn't frown on having dates, it seems. Once a Mortimer boy took her to the meeting in his buggy. She held up her umbrella to shield them from the sun but it scared the horse. They were quite young and didn't realize that the umbrella was making the horse run faster. The driver hung onto the reins but they were arriving at the church much sooner than they had planned.

The Friendswood community began breaking up around 1882 when many people living there moved to California. When the great migration was over, there were not enough left to keep up the church. The academy was torn down and some of it was used to build the Friends church and parsonage at Oaks. William Figgie and Marion Risinger were the ministers when the church at Oaks was built. The parsonage was their home for many years. Later the supporters of this church began moving away and church services were discontinued. By 1924 the Sunday school was also closed and the few members left transferred to Valton. The friends at Valton worshipped for a time with the United Brethren in their new building (built in 1880) during that time they had been contributing to the support of the church and had perhaps given a considerable sum toward the new building. One Sunday morning something came up, about the Friends didn't agree with and they walked out in body, leaving the U. B.'s to finish the service alone. After this the Friends held services in a hall over the Moses Hutchens Furniture Store. This event took place around 1886. Many years up to the coming of Dr. Slack, Uncle Jimmie Stanley served as their elder. The meetings were conducted on the principle of silence. That is, they would meet in silence and wait till the spirit moved. This practiced was largely dropped after Brother Stanley no longer served.

When Dr. Slack came the church was ready to begin a new church. They had been holding services where ever they could find a place to meet. One home that was open to them was the house that stood near where Keith Mortimer's house now stands. By 1891 the church begun and was finished in 1892. Many people contributed their labor.

When speaking about the places the Friends held there meetings, one place omitted. There use to be a house standing on the same lot the church stands now. When they decided to build the church, the house was torn down and well filled in. This house had been used for their church.

The Friends parsonage was built in 1915 while Orin and Oshea Hutchens were pastors. Hattie Smith wrote in her diary for that year that the ladies were making carpet for the floors. She also mentioned drilling the well. The man that did the work drew off quite a bit of the cost, so that they had only about $44.00 left of the bill. Lona Mortimer was the carpenter in charge of the building.

The basement of the church was dug out and partly finished when Rev. Raymond Targgart was there in 1923 but was greatly improved in 1938 during the ministry of Rev. McCarger.

Revivals and special services: The friends church has looked on many times of blessing under the preaching of nationally known evangelists. In 1896 a mighty revival shook the whole community while Rev. Rufus Garrett was the evangelist. The aisles were full with seekers who were unable to get to the alter that was already crowded. Birdie and Inez Bachelor two woman evangelists held an outstanding meeting in 1898. Then Birdie stayed on for awhile as pastor. There were many winter revivals held through the years and in the summer there was Holiness camp meetings. More will be written about the Holiness convention that was recorded by one who attended.

Other Evangelists who should be mentioned were: Seth Reece, Charles Weigle, Fred Deweerd, Harry Hays, Hatfield, Jack Linn (the converted actor etc.). Uncle Bud Robinson, a Nazarene, spoke to an overflowing crowd on a weekday afternoon. In those days it was customary for special speaker, engaged for a two week meeting to hold afternoon meeting, all week as well as night meetings. On Sunday there was always a afternoon meeting besides the two regular meetings. If the evangelist had a singer with him, he would often conduct the children's meeting after school or just before the evening service. Two other evangelists that should be mentioned before any others were John Henry Douglas and Zeno Martin. Some who were converted under their meeting became outstanding and life long Christian laymen. Zenos Martin assisted with the dedication of the new church building, the only one the Friends have ever had.

Some mention has already been made of the lay preachers that have served the Valton Friends Church. Jimmie Stanley was the first one to serve as an Elder and continued to do so for about 40 years. Uncle Jimmie Stanley was my Great-Great-Grandfather on my mother's side. Grandmother Dora (Stanley) Shore, was the daughter of Elkana Stanley and Catherine Wright. Elkana was the son of Uncle Jimmie Stanley and Jemima (Mills) Stanley. "This has been added by Marcella (Mortimer) Scrivens."

Due to the fact the Valton church was a member of the Iowa yearly meeting, many of the pastors had come from Iowa. The Valton church had shared with one other church the distinction of being the only two Friends Churches in Wisconsin.

The following ministers have served the Valton Friends Church, the dates indicate when they came to Valton.

James Stanley 1857Birdie Bachelor 1920
Dr. Philip Slack 1890Clayton Quackenbush 1921
Birdie & Inez Bachelor 1899Raymond Targgart 922
William Tiffie 1900Grover Simcox 1926
Marion Risinger 1901Philip & Bess Moon 1927
Melvin Smith 1902Lawrence Sams 1928
Carrie Curtis 1903Samuel Jackson 1929
Jesse Monroe 1905Lewis May 1931
Ernest Tetweiler 1906Sylvia Pipkin 1941
Taylor Guthrie 1907Willus & Nora Craven 1945
Orin & Oshea Hutchens 1915Eber Hobson 1949
J. D. Stanley 1950
This chapter would be long indeed if we would give short sketches of the people named above. I shall confine my remarks to a few comments. Viola Smith will long be remembered in the community for her sacrificial service during the Influenza Epidemic. When the Oscar Shore family was ill and near death with the flu, Miss Smith went there to take care of the sick folks. No doubt their lives were saved because of her faithful nursing. Rev. Ray Targgart won distinction with his original poems and word written to music. While he was at Valton he compiled a little book containing 16 songs that were all of his own except one or two that his wife wrote and the last one was written by the author of this History (Gilbert Mortimer). Ray also put out a little paper containing the news of the community mostly regarding the two churches. There was usually a poem of his on the front. He also had his poems and songs put up in sheets of two pages. After leaving Valton, Rev. Taggart went into Sunday school work. At this writing he lives in Oregon (If you know of others in the above list who deserve a special attention, please contract the author).

backBack-To Mortimer Genealogy Home Page.

backBack - To Chapter Three - Getting an Education, Page 6.

forwardForward-To Chapter Four -Worshipping God Part # 2: The Wesleyan Methodist Church, Page 8.