A History of Spring Grove

1999 version

The following history of Spring Grove Friends Church was compiled and partially written by Nathan James for the 140th anniversary of the Church in 1999. The church is located 3 ½ miles East of Lane and 7 miles Southwest of Osawatomie in Kansas.

The first Quaker meetings were held in the spring of 1855 at the home of Richard Mendenhall, about 3 ½ miles southwest of Osawatomie. It was a one-room house that measured about 14' x 16'. In the winter of 1856-57 Richard had logs made into lumber and built a new house.

In the fall of 1857 a school was started at the Mendenhall home. Students came to school on Monday and stayed all week. The children stayed in rooms on the upper floor. During the burning of Osawatomie in 1856 many families fled to this home for refuge.

Some of the people in these early meetings were the families of Richard Mendenhall, David Mendenhall, Calvin Barnard, Eli Coffin, and Simon Jones, as well as the Dunbars, Hamiltons, Holidays, and Hodsons.

During the trouble in Kansas all of the men except Lewis Jones were drafted. Because of their testimony against war, all the men were released from duty except Calvin Barnard who was kept as the company cook. During the Price Raids, they went to Paola and appealed to Colonel G. H. Humes to be excused from service, stating their objections to taking lives. Humes furnished the men with tools to build barracks to protect the women and children.

In 1858 the meeting place was changed to the home of David Mendenhall, ½ mile east of the present location.

Because these Friends were so far from any organized monthly meeting, they decided in 1859 to ask for a monthly meeting. Their request was granted by the Plainfield Quarterly Meeting in Spring Creek, Iowa on August 27, 1859. A committee from Pleasant Plain, Iowa organized the monthly meeting on October 6, 1859 at the David Mendenhall home. Richard Mendenhall was appointed clerk for the day, and was the first clerk and correspondent for the new meeting. John M. Coffin, Linley Durham, Millicent Jones, and Sarah Ann Mendenhall were the first overseers; Richard Mendenhall, Abraham Holiday, and Simon Jones were the trustees; and Simon Jones and Elizabeth Holiday were chosen elders. Spring Grove is the second oldest Quaker church in Kansas, Springdale Monthly Meeting north of Tonganoxie being the oldest.

The terrible drought from 1859-60 caused untold suffering; there was no moisture except one snow in two years. After a visit from a committee in 1860 a relief committee was formed. Help was received from New England, Ohio, Indiana, London, England, and the Eastern states of the United States. Some people were living on corn bread and pumpkin, while others were destitute in every manner. Ansel Rogers and William Coffin helped distribute aid and held evangelical meetings for encouragement.

Even though the Friends of the time were poor, the congregation decided to build a meeting house. Financial aid was given to Spring Grove from the Eastern Friends Societies. Some land on top of a small bluff was purchased from David Mendenhall. They obtained the materials in the winter of 1859-60, built it in the following spring, and it was ready for occupancy by June of 1860. It was about 32 feet long and 20 feet wide with two doors on the south side and one on each end. It also had a pine partition down the middle. It was boxed with native lumber and had a ceiling of good pine. In 1860 this building was used for a school taught by Kate Stevens.

In February 1860 Mary Harvey of Miami Monthly Meeting in Ohio made the first ministerial visit to Spring Grove. In August 1860 Thomas Jones and Richard Mendenhall received gifts of books to Spring Grove for a library. Other valuable books have been added until the collection numbered 166. These books are now housed in the Wichita office for safekeeping.

The church's first leader, Richard Mendenhall, died suddenly in 1864.

The Monthly Meeting was alternately held between Lane and Spring Grove from July 1874 to December 1875. By 1876 the building was badly in need of repairs. It was discovered that few were willing to repair the old house, but some would lend/donate money if a new building was built. So the old building was torn town and the present building was built in 1877 on the same lot.

It was (and is) here that people came annually to attend the big June meetings. These meetings continued for more than 25 years, being suspended in 1895. Starting in June 1896, the quarterly meeting was held at Spring Grove, and they continued there for many years. The quarterly meeting replaced the big June meetings. June meetings have been revived, and every year the church celebrates its heritage on the first Sunday in June. During the history of Spring Grove, these large meetings usually held in June (sometimes in July) have been called the "June Meeting", "anniversary meeting" or "annual homecoming." Currently the meeting is called "June Meeting."

Isaac Arnold, a carpenter who was a member of the church, made the plans for the building and seats. There were many donations of logs for frame material and donations of money and work. Many people, including Jesse Beals, N.C. Averill, Ruben Davis, David Davis, Joe Bones, Zeph Bones, Alex Burke, the Jones and all their sons assisted in building the church. However, most of the work was done by N. C. Averill and Jesse Beals (pronounced Bales). "The Quaker meeting house is still going up slow; one day it is N.C. Averill and Jesse Beals at work, and the next day it's Jesse Beals and N.C. Averill," the Miami County Republican stated (May 4, 1877, Col. 5, Pg. 3).

Three monthly meetings have been started by Spring Grove: Cottonwood friends, just west of Emporia, Kansas, in the spring of 1860; Spring River in the winter of 1866-67; and Edgewood, Missouri in the winter of 1866-67.

In 1869 a request was presented to the yearly meeting in Indiana to start a new yearly meeting in Kansas. The request was granted and in 1872 the first Kansas Yearly Meeting was held in Lawrence, Kansas.

Elkanah Murdock held the first revival meetings at Spring Grove in 1877. The revival resulted in many conversions and 10 accessions to the Church.

In 1946 a house was moved next to the church and used as a parsonage.

In 1964 an addition was built onto the west side of the church. Fay Wheeler was pastor at the time. In 1973 another addition was built on the north side of the 1964 addition. June Worden was the pastor when the second addition was built. The second addition was built entirely using volunteer labor, and was dedicated on March 18, 1973.

On June 23, 1977 the parsonage was struck by lightning and destroyed by fire. Funds were collected for a new parsonage, which was occupied by June Worden in May, 1978 and dedicated June 3, 1978.

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