Welsh Congregational Church




A Narrative of the Principal Events Connected with it’s History. 

It is the purpose of the Gazette to give some special features during the year that will interest its readers. We believe the local press can do much
toward collecting and preserving local history and, at the same time, satisfy the demands of its readers for the local news.

With this end in view, we this week give a carefully prepared sketch of the Welsh Congregational church, prepared by one of the leading members of that organization. We think it will be found authentic; we know it will be appreciated by those of that nationality who have become citizens of Louisa county.

This sketch, we hope to follow soon with one of each of the Methodist churches of the same settlement.

We think our Welsh people will do well to preserve this week’s issue of the Gazette. To them it will grow more valuable as the years go by.

Here follows the sketch of the Welsh Congregational Church.

The first Welsh sermon, was preached by the Rev. D. Knowles, in what is now called the ‘Welsh Neighborhood’ on the second Sabbath in September, 1845.

This was not only the first sermon in this vicinity, but the first in the whole region west of the Mississippi river.

The place of meeting was at the home of John Griffith, which was located about six rods east of where the present Congregational church stands.

At that time the Welsh Neighborhood consisted of the following families, viz: John Griffith; Arthur Griffith; David Griffith, father of the two first named; William Lewis; Evan Thomas; William Arthur; Richard Williams; Thomas Evans; David Knowles; John Morgan; David Tudor and William Jones.

The church was organized by the Rev. David Knowles and Rev. J. A. Reeder, January 15, 1846, at the residence of John Griffith, father of Mrs. Dennis Thomas; the first Welsh church organized in the whole territory west of the Mississippi river.

This organization consisted of the following members: Rev. David Knowles and wife, Ann Knowles; Mrs. Elizabeth Griffith; Mrs. Elizabeth Griffith, mother of Mrs. Dennis Thomas; Arthur Griffith and wife, Margaret; Richard Williams and wife, Jane; John Morgan and wife, Catherine; Thomas Evans and wife, Sarah; William Arthur and wife, Catherine; Da[vid] Tudor and wife Mary; William Jones and Mrs. Ann Tudor; eighteen members in all. There is not one of those persons now living and of their number, fifteen are sleeping their long, last sleep in the Cambrian cemetery, which adjoins the ground on which the Congregational church now stands.

In 1848 the church bought the residence of John Griffith for $177.00 and remodeled it for a meeting house. This building was bought of the church by John A. Rees, in 1864, and made into a horse-barn, and it is still in use by his son, Rowland Rees.

The second church was built by D. N. Jones the same year.

The size was 26x32 feet. It was built at a cost of $1,000.00. It was consecrated, clear of debt, in October, 1864.

The third church, which is the present one, was built in 1887. Its size is 30x44; cost, all finished and furnished $1,828.56. It was free from debt when consecrated in September of that year. The ministers who officiated were Rev. David Knowles, who was ordained May 8, 1846; Rev. Daniel Jones, of Dodgeville, Wisconsin, and Rev. Charles Granger, of Crawfordsville.

Rev. Knowles served the church until November 22, 1854. Soon after his ordination, an English church was organized with about thirty members. The place of worship was the same as that of the Welsh congregation; but at a different hour, Rev. Knowles serving both organizations.

After Mr. Knowles left, the English church was moved to Columbus City. They worshipped, we think, in the frame building now occupied by Moore & Richie, as a storage room for furniture. Among the members was the late Phillip Rasley, long a pillar in the Presbyterian church in Columbus Junction.

On May first, 1856 Rev. T. W. Evans, of Newark, Ohio, became pastor of the Welsh church and remained in charge of it and Welsh church at Flint Creek, preaching at each church each alternate Sabbath, until May 1, 1861. By this time the church had gained in membership, but how much we do not know, inasmuch as there is no record of the church to be had, prior to 1864, when we found that the membership was fifty-three.

In 1859 quite a number of members withdrew from the church and organized the Calvinistic Methodist church.

On May19, 1861, Rev. David Knowles became its pastor for the second time, and remained such until May 15. 1866. During those five years, twelve joined the church by profession and thirteen by letter, making a total of twenty-five.

During this time Rev. Knowles had charge of an English church at Crawfordsville, for how long we do not know, as we have no record.

Between Rev. Knowles’ resignation and 1867 we find that Rev. Rhys Evans supplied the church for three months.

On March 1, 1868, Rev Owen Owens became its pastor, and remained as such until the last of August, 1871, when his connection with the church ended. Rev. Owens was a strong preacher, full of the Welsh fire, and was highly respected by both the church and the community in general. He left to take charge of a Congregational church at Pittsburg [sic], Pennsylvania.

In December, 1871, the church gave a call to Rev. S. Jones, of MiddleGranville, New York, which he accepted and commenced his labors in March, 1872 and continued until March, 1875.

On the first Sabbath in July, 1875, Rev. I. C. Hughes, B.D. of Ohio, took charge of the church until July 1, 1877. He was very earnest and energetic in his work. While here he had two books published. The subject of the first was ‘External Evidence of the Bible’, that of the second ‘The Denial of Rationalism’, or ‘Man, God and the Bible’. During the two years of his labors he had the pleasure of adding seventeen to the membership on profession.

From October, 1877 to April 1878, the pulpit was filled by the Rev. O. Owens and during this short time he received one Sabbath, eleven members into the membership on profession of faith.

On October 20, 1878, Rev. M. E. Davis took charge of the church and remained its pastor until Feb. 20, 1881.

On April 3, 1882 Rev. J. E. Jones, from And[*]nre[*]d, Pennsylvania, took charge of the church as its pastor, and remained until the last of June, 1889. We will say here that during Rev. Jones’ pastorate the church was the strongest in membership during any time in its history to the present time. In 1881 its membership was 115.

During the next two years the church was supplied by Rev. W. H. Jones for nine months and Rev. J. M. Richards for four months, and in November, 1891, Rev. Lloyd Williams took charge of the church and remained until the first of August, 1900, when he gave up the work to take charge of his old church at Givin, Iowa.

Rev. Williams was, and is yet, highly respected and dearly beloved by all who knew him. He has a host of friends and no enemies but the D---l [sic] on Long Creek; none among the Welsh churches of either denomination.

On April 7, 1901, Rev. James Jenkins commenced his labors as pastor. Mr. Jenkins was a very affectionate man, a true friend, an earnest Christian and a most excellent preacher.

During the spring of 1901, the church built a parsonage, a convenient and comfortable building, a monument to Mr. Jenkins’ energy and push. He, like Paul of old, labored with his own hands in reacting [sic] the house and improving its surroundings. He left us in September, 1903, with a living testimony of the regard and friendship the neighborhood felt for him. He went to Ebensburg, Penna; where he is now in charge of a church.

November, 1904, Rev. R. Price Roberts took charge of the work, and he is now the pastor in charge.

So we see that the Congregational church from 1846 up to the present time has been served by no less than thirteen ministers, but as far as we have been able to learn, only seven of them are now living. These are : M. E. Davis, J. E. Jones, W. H. Jones, J. M. Richards, Lloyd Williams, James Jenkins, and the present pastor, R. Price Roberts.

Rev. David Knowles and Rev. T. W. Evans are buried in the Cambrian cemetery where loved ones sleep beside them.


Although we have no early record of the church up to 1864, by diligent inquiry and close questioning, we believe that Arthur Griffith, father of Mrs. Mary Anwyl, and Mrs. Edward Davis, was the first deacon of the church.

In June, 1846, John Morgan, father of J. M. Morgan, of Columbus City, was elected deacon. From that time on, the following persons have held the office of deacon in the church: Evan Anwyl, D. N. Jones, George Lewis, J. L. Thomas, John Richards, J. R Owens, R. Pierce, Richard Williams, Lewis Jones, D. D. Davis, J. M. Rees and D. J. Evans, who died December 5, 1904. In January, 1905, Elias Williams was elected to fill the place made vacant by the death of Brother Evans.

Its present officers are: deacons, D. D. Davis, J. M. Rees, and E. Williams; clerk, Thomas Anwyl; trustees, T. H. Jones, R. Rees and T. J. Thomas.

(It will be in order right here for the editor of the Gazette to say that more than half of all the church records are written by D. D. Davis, clerk of the church for many years.)

The present membership is eighty-five.

The first death that occurred among the membership was that of Thomas Evans, March 23, 1855. During the last twenty-five years there have been fifty-four deaths out of the church membership, yet it looks as though it might go on and live for many years to come and be a power for good in the community.

I believe there are only two members in the church now who were living on Long Creek when the church was organized in 1846. These are: Mrs. Mary Anwyl, mother of Mrs. D. R. Jones and E. G. Anwyl, and John M. Morgan, now living in Columbus City.

So we see that fifty-nine years have made great changes in the church as well as the neighborhood, where you will not find four of the first of the Welsh Neighborhood living. Besides the two mentioned above, these are Mrs. Ed Davis, formerly Miss Griffith, of Elm Grove and Mrs. John Richards, formerly Miss Arthur, of Cotter.

In closing this short sketch, our wish is that God will bless and prosper the ‘old church’ in the future as he has in the past, and make it a blessing to the generation now growing up.