Milton a.k.a Helmick

Town plat for Milton as it appears in the 1886 Kansas Atlas. (Courtesy Morris County Historical Society.)

Quite some time back we learned a little bit about Helmick.  One thing we did not learn at that time was the beginning of Helmick and why it was first named Milton.  I have learned a lot more since working on the book Morris County, which by the way is scheduled for publication the last week of January 2014.  As I had mentioned in the previous article on Helmick, Janet Adam was working on a paper about it for Kansas State University.  Janet has since completed her paper and it is available in hard copy at the Morris County Historical Society or can be read online by searching Wilsey vs. Helmick A Twin Town Rivalry.

In 1878 circuit riding preacher John W. Helmick of Illinois purchased 320 acres from the Missouri, Kansas and Texas railroad about six miles west and a little south of Council Grove. He continued to live in the Land of Lincoln until 1886 when it appears he moved to Morris County and built a house on his 320 acres.  That year, 1886, he platted a town site and named it after his son Milton P. Helmick; hence the origin of the town Milton that preceded Helmick.  Although I do not know for certain, I presume that the Topeka, Salina and Western railroad was Helmick’s incentive for platting a town site at that time.

The reverse of this photo reads, “House built by Mr. Helmick. Mr. and Mrs. Quince Dains lived in the house from 1913 until 1964.” (Courtesy of Morris County Historical Society.)

From the Council Grove Republican Friday October 30th 1903 we read, “Dedication at Helmick-The new Methodist church at Helmick will be dedicated next Sunday forenoon, November 1st, with services beginning at 10:30, President Murlin, of the Baker University, will preach the sermon.  Evening service at 7:30. Everybody invited.”  Information from Janet Adam’s paper leads me to believe there was another church prior to the one mentioned in the above article.   Although there is no documentation at present, oral traditions seem to support that Reverend Helmick had built a Methodist church and preached there until he moved to Baldwin City around 1895.  After that, neighboring pastors tended to services at Helmick.  The Methodist church at Helmick was closed in 1925 and the building moved to Wilsey where it was added to the parsonage of the Wilsey Methodist Episcopal Church.

Milton P. continued at Helmick for awhile after the turn of the century and was active in business and real estate in the town.  Another figure that shaped the fortunes of Helmick was James H. Smart.  He was born in Wisconsin but we find him living in Council Grove on the 1910 census.  The 1901 plat shows Smart owning 90 acres south of Helmick and by 1923 his property had grown to 220 acres.  Smart started out trading mules and horses and then opened a quarry on his land later installing a rock crusher.  Old-timers from the area tell of Black and Hispanic gangs that worked at the rock quarry or on the railroad.

Some may recall Helmick lake.  James Smart is responsible for the construction of a dam which created this lake.  According to Adam it was built for the refreshment and recreation of Smart’s employees at the quarry.  However, others seem to think that it had a practical purpose as well.  If one walks the prairie around Helmick they might just stumble upon some of the old cables which I was told cut the stone at the quarry.  These cables purportedly ran out to the lake where they were cooled in the water.  Since I don’t know much of the stone cutting business at the turn of the century I cannot verify nor discredit this claim.

One last puzzling bit about Helmick is the post office.  The plat map shows that Stener post office was established there.  I have found no other record of this post and the State certainly doesn’t recognize it existed.  It is very possible the State does not have complete records, for there is one other post office mentioned in Morris County and it is also absent from State records.  I came across Beond Bend post office in a 1954 Council Grove Republican.  It reads, “A collector’s item, which is almost a philatelist’s dream, appears among heirlooms on display in Main street windows this week.  It is a postal cancelation by the now abolished “Beond Bend” post office in Morris county.  The envelope bears a 2-cent brown stamp and the cancellation date of Jan. 4, 1888.  It is the property of O. L. Burnett.”  We know nothing else of Beond Bend, and since it was only typed once in the article we are not sure if it was actually spelled ‘Beond’ or if the y was simply left out.  If any of my readers have any clue as to where the Beond Bend post office may have been I would love to know!  What we do know is the post office named Helmick was opened May 14th of 1887 and closed November 30th 1907.

And there you have a few more pieces of the great puzzle known as Helmick.

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Council Grove Barber Shop

Circa 1880 back bar and circa 1923 Paidar chairs.

June 14th of 2003 I completed my 1500 hour course at the Old Town Barber and Beauty College in Wichita, Kansas.  After having passed the State Board examination I set out to seek employment around my home near Lyndon in Osage County.  After much searching and disappointment I recalled one of the instructors at barber school mention that Council Grove had no barber shop.  At the drop of a hat, with no further thought, I jumped in the car on a hot summer afternoon and drove to Council Grove to investigate.  Arriving in the Grove shortly before the town closed up, I pulled up in front of Bluestem Brokerage and there met Bill Wilkerson who would afterward prove a faithful and entertaining customer.

Tools of the trade.

Well, to skip ahead, I purchased the old Council Grove Telephone office at 210 W Main, which also had living accommodations above, making it a very convenient opportunity.  The deal was closed on September 22nd of 2003 and by the last week of October the Council Grove Barber Shop was open for business.  It hasn’t changed all that much since then, but the first thing patrons saw when they entered was a five mirrored oak back bar with marble top dating to the 1880s. There were two antique chairs, one an Archer from 1894 and a Climax from 1887.  The Climax chair was used for a number of years to cut hair in.  Since it had no hydraulics a box was used to stand on while cutting hair much as was the custom 150 years before.

The clock that hung in the first Frisco depot at Augusta, Kansas in 1880.

On the wall was an oak clock that originally hung in the Frisco Depot in Augusta Kansas when it was first built in 1880.  When the depot was torn down my great uncle Melvin ‘Hap’ Bailey, rescued the clock from the trash heap and it has run faithfully ever since.  Many have often pointed out to me that the second hand on my clock is broken.  Much to their surprise I tell them it doesn’t have a second hand.  The red hand with a crescent moon points to the day of the month.

Eventually newer chairs were purchased for the shop.  Two matching Emil Paidar chairs dating to about 1923.  I got a good deal on these chairs and drove to Oklahoma to get them.  Some other additions since opening were a National cash register from the turn of the century, glass display cases for the tonic and talcum powder, and an ongoing collection of shaving mugs and other paraphernalia.  The Council Grove Barber Shop has always made an effort to fit the historic atmosphere of the town and to give patrons the feeling that they are walking into a turn of the century barber shop.

It was about a month after opening that the barber shop started hosting a weekly jam session for musicians.  Every Tuesday at 7 people from all over would gather in or in front of the shop depending on the weather.  This went on for maybe a year when the jams were held on the last Tuesday of each month only.  Sometimes the last musicians didn’t leave until 2 in the morning.  That made it very difficult to get up and go to work the next day.  The final jam was held this past Tuesday with food and drink to mark the 10th anniversary of the barber shop.  I will not be hosting any more jams at the shop.

Personalized shaving mug collection.

I have many special memories in the Council Grove Barber Shop.  One is of my regular customer from England; at least he was more regular than some in this town.  About once a year John and his mother would fly to the states to visit a friend in Emporia and they always made an effort to come see me.  My wife and I also received a card from them when we got married.  It’s the only wedding card we have that came from England.

Ten years have passed and young boys that I remember sitting on the booster seat are now about to graduate high school.  I’ve witnessed some, whose hair has turned grey over the years and others whose hair has turned loose.  But I have noticed some grey in my hair as well.  I’ve also had many patrons go to their long home in this time.  And so, thinking back on the past decade I have mixed emotions; joy, sorrow, excitement, disappointment, frustration, anticipation, a sense of achievement but at the same time a feeling of inadequacy.  I think, however, that the good has outweighed the bad.

One of the original cigar advertisements on the old back bar.

I have been very fortunate to make the friendships I have, which in turn have lead me to discover my family’s deep roots in this area.  So much of my family history here was unknown to me until I started meeting folks who turned out to be relation.  They were generous enough to share what they knew.  Now, instead of feeling like I have made Morris County my home, I feel that I only just returned home.

Addendum:  The Council Grove Barber Shop closed its doors on July 17th, 2015, just three months short of 12 years in business.  Although my customers have been very good to me over the years and very supportive, the increasing cost of keeping a business operating, along with the poor economy and continual decline of the town, have left me no choice but to throw in the towel.  I will very much miss visiting with customers and hearing their stories.

Cemetery Tour (continued)

Continuing with our Cemetery Tour from last week, we will look at some of the living history presentations that have been given, symbolisms of the stones and forgotten practices of funerals.

Christy Alexander played the role of Susie Huffaker at our first Cemetery Tour.  She told her tale of how she drowned in the swollen Neosho River on the night of May 14th 1872.  Susie’s funeral announcement is preserved in the archives at the Morris County Historical Society.  It is a plain half page piece of paper with a black border that gives details for the service.  This was very typical of 19th century announcements.

Another grim artifact in possession of the Morris County Historical Society is a wicker coffin.  In the last half of the 19th century these wicker ‘body baskets’ were primarily used by funeral parlors to transport the body from the home to the parlor, but they were also used for burial.    These decomposing coffins were very popular in the crowded graveyards of England, and supposed to allow the corpse to decompose quicker and more efficiently.  One Englishman was purported to say, “Bury me, when I am dead, bury me in an earth-to-earth wicker coffin, so that I may get out again into God’s pure air just as soon as possible.”   From the Dallas Weekly Herald of July 10th 1875: “Willow coffins are now the rage in England. They are more comfortable in hot weather, it is claimed.”  Going ‘green’ is not a new idea at all.   In fact, wicker and decomposable coffins are still made and used by those who are concerned about their carbon footprint.

Beside wicker coffins were the common plain wood coffins the wagon maker often turned out upon demand.  One documented story we have is the drowning of the Poole children near Parkerville in November 1879.  The wagon maker at Parkerville made two coffins and two children were placed in each.  Also in use in the 1870s were coffins with a glass window so one could look upon the countenance of the departed.  Early Morris County pioneer Percy Ebbutt mentions the funeral of a young girl near Manhattan who was buried in such a coffin.

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Headstones tell us a story through the images carved on them.  Some symbols are easy to interpret such as a broken tree trunk or column signifies a life was cut short.  Others can be less evident.  An urn, wreath or ivy vine symbolizes immortality or eternity.  The willow and anything that is draped represent mourning.  A dove or lily indicates the resurrection.  Two hands clasped together are indicative of a farewell handshake as Earthly acquaintances are parted.  A hand pointing upward seams to say ‘do not look for me here, but look to Heaven,’ while a hand pointing downward represents God reaching down for the soul.   The Bible or books often stand for the Book of Life in which the departed’s name is written.  A lamb is often found on the stone of a small child and symbolizes Jesus Christ the Lamb of God.   A sea-shell signifies baptism or rebirth.

The variety of stones is endless.  You can make a family outing by going to your local cemetery and seeing who can find these different symbols and who can find the most.  Also see how many different fraternal organizations you can find, such as Grand Army of the Republic; Free Masons; Odd Fellows; Knights of Pythias; Modern Woodmen of America; Ancient Order of United Workmen, etc.

Besides marble, granite and other stone markers, there are white bronze markers.  White bronze markers, which are actually sand cast zinc, were manufactured by the Monumental Bronze Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  The company produced these markers from 1874 to 1914.  They were about one third the cost of what a stone monument of similar size would be, and they held up better in the weather.  I am aware of two white bronze markers in the County, perhaps my readers know where there are some more.  There is one in Greenwood Cemetery and one at Kelso Cemetery.  The one at Kelso has Western White Bronze Co. cast in it.  The Western White Bronze Co. at Des Moines, Iowa was a subsidiary of the Monumental Bronze Company at Bridgeport.  Western White Bronze operated from 1886 until 1908.  Although it doesn’t make sense to me, information I have come across claims that Western White Bronze never cast these markers, they only assembled them.

White bronze (zinc) marker in Greenwood.

A notable historic figure that was portrayed at the first tour was Jack McDowell, who was hung by persons unknown.  D. J. Bremer dressed the part with army revolver and all, and made quite the impression on folks.  McDowell is one of the numbers in Greenwood whose final resting place is unknown.  Another obscure character who lies in an unmarked pauper’s grave is Indian Juan.  The early years of Indian Juan are unknown, but he is said to have been half Apache half Mexican.  Charles Parker adopted the orphaned boy in his Santa Fe freighting days.  It may be possible that Indian Juan was a victim of a Navajo raid on Mexicans, but this we surely can never know.

The Alliance Herald-Guard of Friday, June 19th 1891 announced the death of Indian Juan.  “Indian John, commonly known as ‘Juan’ died at the poor farm east of Council Grove Tuesday night.  He was brought from New Mexico by C. G. Parker, of Parkerville, twenty-four years ago, and has lived around in different portions of the county ever since.  He was a character well known in Council Grove, Kelso and Parkerville and was kindly regarded by everyone who knew him.  He has been under the weather for the last six months and suffered terrible agony, but he has now departed to the ‘happy hunting grounds’ of his forefathers where trials and tribulations will no more molest him.”

No one attended the burial of Juan, save the grave diggers and a curious Republican ‘imp’ who followed the wagon to the cemetery to discover who had died.

The final resting place of Indian Juan may not be known, but at least we have this only photo of him. (Courtesy Bob Strom collection.)

It occurs to me here that we could easily continue with this subject, but I’m a feared I must stop at this.

Cemetery Tour

Sarah Conn, the first interred in Greenwood Cemetery.

There is no Greenwood Cemetery Tour planned in Council Grove for this October.  For my readers who have not taken one before, I have decided this would be a good opportunity to give you a tour without leaving the comfort of your home.  At previous tours we have asked five or six locals to dress up as individuals buried in Greenwood.  As groups are lead through the cemetery we stop at each grave and hear a short biography of the individual.  Besides biographical information we also like to learn about the stones and the cemetery’s history.

In 1862 Samuel Wood donated a tract of land just west of the original town site for a city cemetery.  Shortly after, Seth Hays donated another tract just inside the city limits adjoining Wood’s.  Sarah Conn, wife of merchant Malcolm Conn, was the first interred in the new cemetery in 1863.  However, if you pay close attention as you walk around the cemetery, you will find stones that pre-date Greenwood Cemetery.  Council Grove historian Ken McClintock has done considerable research that explains why this is and points to the first white burial ground in the County.

Stone of James White.

On August 27th 1846 the Mormon Battalion arrived at Council Grove on the Santa Fe Trail.  They just crossed what was commonly called Council Grove Creek and camped upstream about half a mile.  This Council Grove Creek we know today as the Neosho River, and a half mile up the Neosho from the crossing puts the campsite in the vicinity of the Kaw Mission (which of course was not yet built).

In company with the battalion was an elderly couple by the name of Bosco.   Jane died on the 27th and her husband John followed her the next morning.  William Bigler, who was present, described the burial of the Boscos.  “John Bosco by the side of his wife Jane.  As rock was handy we overlaid and enclosed in one, their graves, with a stone wall to prevent wild beasts from disturbing them.”  Other diaries also mention the burial site and describe the stone wall as two feet high, seven feet wide and ten feet long.  No doubt this grave was recognized as such for many years after.  We can only suppose that this heap of stones may be the reason the Kaw Mission was later built nearby.

As Council Grove grew from a small trading post to a hamlet, there was obviously need for a graveyard.  Since the Bosco’s grave was clearly known, others were buried next to them and the old graveyard grew.  Early settler Christopher Columbia passed away November 16th 1861 and was laid to rest in the graveyard near the Mission.  After Greenwood Cemetery was established Columbia’s remains were removed to that new cemetery.  Bonnie McClintock has stated that Mahala Milleson was also moved from the old graveyard; her grave can be found directly north of the restrooms.  In light of this evidence it is reasonable to presume that the others in the old graveyard were moved at the same time, and that is why there are stones in Greenwood that pre-date its establishment.

Stone of Nicholas Shamleffer.

Prior to 1870, when the Odd Fellows took over the cemetery, it was not platted and burials were made in a somewhat haphazard fashion.  The Odd Fellows purchased additional land from Hezekiah McNay to square up the cemetery.  Then in 1871 they erected a stone wall around the cemetery.  Only the south wall along Main Street remains today.  In 1917 the Odd Fellows turned the cemetery over to the city.

In August of 1979 between the hours of 2:15 and 3:05 a.m. the cemetery was vandalized.  140 feet of the limestone wall was knocked over as well as 74 tombstones, mostly the tall pillars, which is why so many stones you see in the old part are broken or the finials are missing.  One crowbar, wrecking bar and two sledge hammers were found at the scene.  The following day citizens went to work uprighting the stones.  The damage was estimated at more than $5,000.

At the highest point in the cemetery is a group of stones originally from a small cemetery four and a half miles north of Council Grove.  Sometime before the reservoir was completed in 1964 these graves were removed from the floodplain and placed in Greenwood.

We will continue this subject next week by deciphering the symbols on tombstones and uncovering some obsolete practices of body preparation and bygone customs revealed by artifacts and documentation at the Morris County Historical Society.

Mistur Editur…

I found this cryptic letter to the editor from 1859 amusing and hope you do too.  But before you read it I must put it into context, otherwise you’ll be left in a state of befuddlement.

This letter came after, and in response to, the incident between the Kaw Indians and Seth Hays on June 2nd 1859.  In short, the Kaw had stolen a couple horses from a Mexican trader and Hays demanded the return of them.  About 90 Kaw rode into town and met Hays in front of his store.  Words were exchanged; Hays was irritated and fired off his revolver[s]; in return two Kaw each shot a white man and fled town.  After a council between whites and Indians the two Kaw were handed over and hung by town folk.  Thomas Hill, who was at the ‘Last Chance’ store when this event played out, was the first to write an account of what had occurred for the paper.  The following week H. J. Espy wrote another letter to the paper to correct a few things that Hill had said.

It is not clear who wrote the following letter but it appears to come from someone in Council Grove and is addressed to the editor of the Kansas Press, Sam Wood, who was operating out of Cottonwood Falls at the time.  The coaxing in this letter must have worked to some extent, because Wood moved his paper to Council Grove September 5th of 1859.  It appears to be a jab at Council Grove for their eagerness to hang the Kaw Indians and an insult to their intelligence is evident by the phonetic spelling.  There is also a jab at Tom Hill as the ‘stoan stor-house, on the hill’ was the location of the day long hanging.  Hill had exaggerated in his letter that the people were ‘perfectly blood thirsty’ after the Kaw.

“Counsel Groave, Kanzas June 29, ’59.  Mistur Editur—Deer Sir: The peeple hear hev selected me as a sootable, purson to rite to you.  We wont you to moove up, and fetch your paper, and fixens to make papers with you.

            The peeple will pleg themselves to firnish local mater ennuff every weak, to fabrickate a substanshal sheat.  You will not then be rejuced to the necescity of saying at the cloase of an article, “Exchange,” as Editurs hev to doo sometimes.  Yu cood hev a winder too your sanctum , overlooking the city; and thor yu cin set and rite with one hand and look out at the winder with tother, and let your hed run along to keep hit in a condishun for publickashun.  Then wee wood not  heve to rite yu the nuse, or ecspress the wooshes of the peeple; fur tha cood poak in thare heds nou and then and speek fur themselves.

            Sense yu wor up hear times hev, bin poorty brisk, we hev haid one hangen, but the material warent good—nuthen but Cau Injens, you ort tu hev bin here to witnessed that.  They gin them ar Caus one of thee jewhilicanest stretchens ever yu sou.  They hung em tel they war ded ded, ef yu call a day and nite any thing.

            On the 21st ov next munth, we or gowing to hev a hangen what is a hangen.  That is general hang day fur this county.  We will hev materal selected that cant bea beet in these parts.  It is expected that ther will bee quite a number of specktaters; allso a good meny that wood rather be specktaters than tu take as active a part as thare populararity will foce on ‘em.  Hang ours, from ten A. M. tel, foar P.M.; and continued from day tu day tel, all ar hung, ef yu sea any body down your way that wants hangen, tel them tu bea hear, at the stoan stoar-house, on the hill [the Last Chance store], at the time pinted, with there meeten close on, and wee will try  mity hard to commodate them; as wee Counsel Groave fokes make it a pint of oner tu alwaze tend tu strangers furst.

            Wee will look fur yu up on that ‘kashen; and yu will spair no meens in given it publikashun threu the country.

            I must close my letter for feer thee peeple think that I am gowing fudder nor I was ‘structed, and rote all I knowed; theirfour I am dun.  Respeckfully, yours, FESSOR.”

Commercial House

Hotel built by Thomas B. Eldridge in 1871-1872 at the intersection of Mackenzie and Commercial Streets, White City.

I had mentioned this briefly in an article about White City some time back, but wish to expand on the subject now.  The house that now stands at the south east corner of Mackenzie and Commercial Streets in White City has a considerable history.  Thomas B. Eldridge built it in 1871 or 1872.  Thomas and his brother Colonel Shalor Winchell Eldridge were both involved in the New England Emigrant Aid Society, and arrived in Kansas in January 1855.  By May 1856 Thomas and Shalor were lessees of the Free State Hotel in Lawrence which was burned to the ground on the 21st of that month by pro-slavery men.  It was rebuilt then burned again during Quantrill’s raid August 21st 1863 and rebuilt again.

September of 1856 found Thomas the agent of the National Kansas Committee in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.  There he arranged for transportation and purchased supplies for emigrants moving to Kansas.  Besides providing wagons, horses, camp and garrison equipment Eldridge also provided guns as the period was a very precarious one for the Territory of Kansas.  Thomas was greatly responsible for several hundred Free-State men coming to Kansas in 1856.

Although Cutler’s History of the State of Kansas gives a favorable biography of Thomas, Samuel Smith of Lawrence, Kansas wrote to a friend in Massachusetts on November 26th 1856 saying that Thomas and Shalor had several complaints filed against them, namely that “nature never designed them for distributions of charity.”   

When Thomas returned to Kansas in 1857, he and his brother started the Kansas Stage Company which ran a line from Lawrence to Leavenworth and Lawrence to Kansas City.  He was also involved with companies that were locating towns throughout the Territory, which may be how he found his way to White City about 15 years later.  Thomas is known to have built the Broadway Hotel in Kansas City, and it is likely he contributed to other towns in this same way.  During the Civil War Thomas earned the rank of major while doing staff duty in the western theater.

It appears that Thomas did not stay long in White City.  By 1873 he was serving in the Montgomery County Legislature and was also engaged in bank business at Coffeyville.  Thomas died at his home in Lawrence on Sunday December 3rd 1882 of ‘rheumatism of the heart.’  The history of his hotel in the decade following the birth of White City is practically unknown, but at some point Francis C. White took over the hotel and it eventually became known as the Commercial House.

James Thornley was the proprietor of the Commercial House in August 1885.  The White City Whig stated that Thornley kept a first-class house and that he had repainted it and put up a sign to ‘guide the weary and hungry to a place of rest.’

In early September 1899 T. Jenson arrived in White City from England.  It was not long until Jenson bought the property and began making improvements.  By mid September he had put up a windmill then a carriage house and barn.  April 7th 1900 the newspaper reported that C. M. Reese had rented the Commercial House and would open the hotel about the first of May.  Reese must have lost interest for we find no more mention of this person.  Instead, W. S. Jamison who had operated a livery business in White City for many years had taken charge of the hotel.  After the papering was finished the hotel was up and running in early June 1900.  About the same time the name was changed to the Jenson House.

In March 1902 Mr. Jenson was preparing to build an addition to his hotel, and it appears from the news paper that it was about finished by the end of May.  When the building sold in January 1931, the 1902 addition was separated and moved to the lot east of the hotel where it was remodeled into a home and the original hotel was remodeled into a duplex.  Sometime during the summer of 2013 (much to this author’s disappointment) the 1902 addition was torn down.

Fortunately, the original structure from 1871-2 still stands.  I earnestly hope that someone or some group of individuals become interested in the preservation of one of White City’s oldest standing structures.  Its significant history ties White City to some of the most active figures in the shaping of this great State, and it is a story worth retelling.  The old hotel is conveniently situated near the Katy Park, Baxter Schoolhouse and is right on your way into town from the east.  It would no doubt make a very good museum and attraction for the community if devoted citizens get involved.

First Congregational Church

congregational church post card

Postcard from 1910.

This past Sunday the First Congregational United Church of Christ of Council Grove marked its sesquicentennial.  Along with the festivities of the day (such as ice cream, pie and the releasing of 150 balloons) Pastor Christy Alexander was officially installed as minister.  It was a fitting time to reflect upon the past and look forward to the future.

On December 17th 1862 a group of interested citizens met in the home of Robert M. Wright for the purpose of organizing a Congregational Church in Council Grove.  Then on January 23rd 1863 a meeting was held at the Brown Jug school house to incorporate the new church.  The trustees elected at that meeting were Robert Wright, Charles Columbia, Henry Akin and Samuel Wood.  For a number of years the congregation continued to meet in the Brown Jug.  Brown Jug or Little Brown Jug school house (as it is known either way) was built in 1860-61.  It got its name from the native wood that remained unpainted for many years causing it to turn brown.  In later years it was painted brown to perpetuate the name.  In 1919 the Brown Jug was moved north of its original location to 218 Chautauqua Street where it stands today as a residence.

When the Brown Jug became too cramped the congregation moved to Huffaker Hall which was located on the second floor of the building at 200 West Main Street.  July 27th 1871, the trustees discussed constructing a church building the congregation could call their own.  In September of that year, brothers Benjamin and James Scott began construction on the new brick building.  It was erected a bit up the hill north of the present structure.  On the 10th of April 1872, a strong wind storm damaged the church while in construction, but repairs were made and work continued.

Samuel Scott gives us an amusing anecdote concerning construction.  “While B.R. and J.P. Scott was building the old brick Congregational church in Council Grove (as it has been razed) they were raising the steeple or spire, with a very high “gin” pole, and had a colored fellow turning the windlass.  The “gin” pole broke, and everyone yelled.  The darkey started toward Elm creek, which was about one-half mile south, on a swift run, and has never been seen since.  The Scott Bros. contractors owed the darkey $17.00, and to this day.”

The first Congregational Church as seen in the 1873 photograph of Main Street.

The Reverend Lauren Armsby served as the first ordained minister there beginning June 17th 1873, and served until 1902.  In 1898 it was feared the walls of the church building were not sound and so services were held elsewhere until a new building could be made.  Construction on the new church began in March 1899 just south of the old building.  It was completed in time for dedication August 6th 1899.

The house which stands at 19 North Belfry Street was built in 1902 as the parsonage for the Congregational Church.  It stands on the site of the original church.  A barn was also built at that time west of the house.  In 1926 an addition was made to the north part of the sanctuary and the barn was torn down at that time and supplied some of the lumber.

Many other changes occurred over the years but one of particular note was in 1965 when the present lights were installed in the sanctuary replacing the chandelier which now hangs in the Cottage House above the main stairway.