From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.
Did you know there was a little magazine called "The Congregational Record" published in Leavenworth sixty-two years ago? The writer recently came into possession of two copies of this pioneer publication, dated July 1865 and August 1865. It was published monthly under the auspices of the General Association of Congregational churches of Kansas. Rev. P. McVicar was editor and Rev. J. D. Liggett assistant editor. It was printed at the Buletin Job Printing Establishment in Leavenworth. The subscription price was one dollar a year in advance. The size of the publication was 8 1/2 x 5 1/4 inches, 16 pages. These old magazines, which the writer prizes very highly, are interesting relics of early congregationalism in Kansas.
The leading editorial in the July, 1865 number is devoted to the work of reconstruction following the Civil War. this is followed by a report of the National Council, which was then in session in Boston. Then prepares(?) a areport of the Conference of (unreadable) churches, at topeka. The Articles of Association in the incorporation of Lincoln College, in Topeka, were printed in this issue. It also contains a poem by John G. Whittier, on "The Eternal Goodness", besides several articles and numerous items of interest.
Among the items of local interest contained in these two issues are the following:
"Kansas.--The present season is exceedingly encouraging. More rain has fallen already than in any one season since 1858. The prairies are in their glory. Stock if fairly luxuriating. Corn, oats, potatoes, and indeed all kinds of spring crops, give promise of abundance."
"Leavenworth.--We--that part of us not living there--had the pleasure, recently, of visiting the metropolis of the state. No one, especially from the more quiet and classic shades of the capital, can enter Leavenworth without noticing the marked improvement, life, and activity of the city. On the road leading from Topeka, we met about 100 wagons and vehicles along the last eight miles. Most of these were freight wagons, heavily laden, and drawn by three span of mules, or four, five and six yoke of cattle, wending their way to the West. The edifices, recently built, also, together with those now in progress, are of finer taste and finish. Everything indicates confidence in the future of the city."
"Leavenworth has made a fine beginning in the erection of public school edifices. Two buildings, one in North and another in South Leavenworth, are an ornament to the city. Under the enthusiastic direction of Prof. H. D. McCarty, the graded system of education is raised to a high standard of excellence."
A page and a half write-up of Grasshopper Falls, (now Valley Falls), in the August 1865 number, shows that the Jefferson county town at t'hat time, consisted of about 50 dwellings, three variety, two drug and one hardware stores, bakery, public house, beer saloon, harness shop, two shoe shops, three blacksmith shops, saw mill, two grist mills, a ginning and carding mill, and a mill, just commencing to operate, for the manufacture of woolen cloth, and two church edifices, Congregational and Lutheran. The town is referred to as "the hub of Kansas, in the midst of a very fertile and diversified farming country."
In an abstract of reports on religious conditions in the various communities of the state, those of Leavenworth are summed as follows: "A great change for the better, during the last two years; 31 hopeful conversions, condition, spiritually, healthy; conversions throughout the year; a $1,200 organ purchased."
The First Congregational Church in Leavenworth was organized March 14, 1858, with 27 members. It's first church building was erected at Fifth and Delaware streets, in 1860. It's first pastor was Rev. R. D. Parker, followed by Rev. J. D. Liggett, who was one of the editors of the Record. Rev. Liggett served ten years and was succeeded as pastor by Rev. Wm. Kincaid. Since then the church has been been served by various pastors.
The first Congregational missionary work in Kansas was that of Rev. S. Y. Lum, at Lawrence, in 1864, and the first church organization was established at that place the same year, with Rev. Lum as pastor. The first Congregational church edifice in Kansas was erected at Lawrence in 1857.