Churches

HISTORY
Coppin Chapel

1979

Fort Dodge Coppin Chapel A.M.E. Church is part of the national group of Coppin Chapels. 

Read More


On July 22, 1855, a community meeting called together by Rev. Mr. Peet, rector of the St. Paul’s Church in Des Moines, organized St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

The first work of the congregation was to obtain a church building. Just one year after the organization, Bishop Lee offered to raise the remaining funds necessary for a chapel if Fort Dodge raised $1,000.00. The offer was not accepted. On February 17, 1858, the vestry resolved to build a church the next summer. Mr. J. L. Cheney, Mr. E. Bagg, and Dr. S. B. Olney were appointed the building committee. This building was a frame structure, standing just north of where Tobin College now stands.

The building was not completed until 1873-76 due to the panic of 1857 and the Civil War. This was made possible through the generosity of J. F. Duncombe, Webb Vincent, Beth Vincent, B. Grayson, H. Beecher, and Dr. S. B. Olney. On June 28, 1876, the church was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. H. B. Whipple and D. D., bishop of Minnesota.

The church was destroyed by fire on January 5, 1892. Immediately, steps were taken for the erection of a new structure. The vestry headed by Rev. J. W. Paige and Mr. Leon Vincent were appointed as the building committee. In the early spring of 1893, Rev. Page died. On April 23, 1893, the vestry appointed Messrs. J. C. Cheney, Webb Vincent, Leon Vincent, and A. J. Arthur as the new building committee. On May 24 1894, Mr. C. B. Hepler presented a proposal to build the new church with a cost of $7,000.00. This was accepted, and the building was erected. In 1898, the chancel was enlarged and a new organ was installed at a cost of $2,683.00.





First Baptist

1871

The First Baptist congregation has been serving the Fort Dodge community for almost 145 years.

Corpus Christi

1859

Father John Vahey was the first priest to come to Fort Dodge as a regular pastor in 1859. He built a small cabin to live in and started building the first of the church from rough-hewn logs.

Read More


The Early Catholic Church in Webster County

Prior to 1856, there were little Catholics within the state. A few mission priests traveled the prairies and wilderness on horseback from house to house to find the scattered members of the church. Among these men was Rev. Matthias Hannon, who came from the southeast in 1853.

Father John Vahey was the first priest to come to Fort Dodge as a regular pastor in 1859. He built a small cabin to live in and started building the first of the church from rough-hewn logs. Among those who helped cut and hew the logs were Dr. W. L. Nicholson, Peter Reilly, William Reilly, and John P. White.

In the fall of 1857, Father Vahey left. Father McCullough came and remained for the winter. He was succeeded by Father Ellwood who remained for about two years. After Father Ellwood, Father Marsh came in 1860. He was well beloved and gentle, and he remained until his death in 1865. His remains are resting in the Catholic cemetery north of the city. A gentler, kindlier, and more well-known man never stepped on the soil that constituted his parish, which extended from Fort Dodge to Emmetsburg and Spirit Lake on the north, and to Sioux City on the west. Often, in the dead of winter, he would drive with his ox team across the prairies to minister to those in distant parts of his parish. Father Marsh and some of his parishioners cut logs and lumber from the hillside near Arnold’s damn to build the first Catholic school in Fort Dodge.

After the death of Father Marsh in 1865, Fathers Delany and Butler came and remained until 1870. Along came Father Thomas M. Lenehan whose long and successful pastorate is a part of the general history of the state. He remained until 1897, when he was made Bishop of Cheyenne. Father Lenehan built the present Corpus Christ Church which was dedicated January 1, 1883. He also built the Old Convent and began construction of the present school.

Bishop Lenehan was succeeded by Father Campbell under a temporary appoint. In September 1897, Rev. P. J. Burke was assigned as pastor and remained until September 1903.

Rev. B. C. Lenehan, the vicar general of the Sioux City diocese, whose long and faithful service as priest earned him the honor of promotion as Monsignor, came in 1905. He was succeeded by Rev. James T. Saunders.





Read More


The First Baptist congregation has been serving the Fort Dodge community for almost 145 years.

Prior to 1871, occasional services were held in Fort Dodge by pioneering Baptist ministers such as Rev. H. D. Weaver who lived in Webster City, east of Fort Dodge. He continued to be alert to Baptists arriving in Fort Dodge, keeping in touch with them as he conducted these occasional services.

At last, this group of Baptists numbered 17 and the conviction was reached that the time for organization had come.

On June 16, 1871, this group met and Rev. Weaver was elected moderator of the group. The New Hampshire confession of faith was adopted, officers elected and so the First Baptist congregation of Fort Dodge came into being. Shortly thereafter, Rev. Weaver was called as the first pastor of this new congregation, a Sunday school was formed and a meeting place was secured.

Its first services were held in the old brick schoolhouse on Second Avenue south. In 1876 the congregation built a church on the corner of Central Avenue and Tenth street, where the Wahkonsa Hotel now stands. Rev. George W. Freeman was pastor at this time. The church was closed for several years and the congregation disbanded. In the winter of 1892. Rev. T. S. Bovell reorganized the church, holding a series of meetings which resulted in a number of additions to the church membership, and also served to increase the interest. Rev. Bovell served as pastor for seven years, and was followed by Rev. Arthur Parks, who was ordained by the church in June, 1899. Rev. Robert Carroll succeeded Rev. Parks in 1901. During his leadership a church building on First Avenue north and Tenth street

was erected. The dedication took place in November, 1903.

First Baptist is part of a wider fellowship of Baptists in the Mid-American Baptist Churches (Iowa-Minnesota) and American Baptist Churches USA. First Baptist is also committed to cooperation with other churches and Christians in our community and world.

Source:

*https://firstbaptistfortdodge.wordpress.com/





Read More


The Early Catholic Church in Webster County

Prior to 1856, there were little Catholics within the state. A few mission priests traveled the prairies and wilderness on horseback from house to house to find the scattered members of the church. Among these men was Rev. Matthias Hannon, who came from the southeast in 1853.

Father John Vahey was the first priest to come to Fort Dodge as a regular pastor in 1859. He built a small cabin to live in and started building the first of the church from rough-hewn logs. Among those who helped cut and hew the logs were Dr. W. L. Nicholson, Peter Reilly, William Reilly, and John P. White.

In the fall of 1857, Father Vahey left. Father McCullough came and remained for the winter. He was succeeded by Father Ellwood who remained for about two years. After Father Ellwood, Father Marsh came in 1860. He was well beloved and gentle, and he remained until his death in 1865. His remains are resting in the Catholic cemetery north of the city. A gentler, kindlier, and more well-known man never stepped on the soil that constituted his parish, which extended from Fort Dodge to Emmetsburg and Spirit Lake on the north, and to Sioux City on the west. Often, in the dead of winter, he would drive with his ox team across the prairies to minister to those in distant parts of his parish. Father Marsh and some of his parishioners cut logs and lumber from the hillside near Arnold’s damn to build the first Catholic school in Fort Dodge.

After the death of Father Marsh in 1865, Fathers Delany and Butler came and remained until 1870. Along came Father Thomas M. Lenehan whose long and successful pastorate is a part of the general history of the state. He remained until 1897, when he was made Bishop of Cheyenne. Father Lenehan built the present Corpus Christ Church which was dedicated January 1, 1883. He also built the Old Convent and began construction of the present school.

Bishop Lenehan was succeeded by Father Campbell under a temporary appoint. In September 1897, Rev. P. J. Burke was assigned as pastor and remained until September 1903.

Rev. B. C. Lenehan, the vicar general of the Sioux City diocese, whose long and faithful service as priest earned him the honor of promotion as Monsignor, came in 1905. He was succeeded by Rev. James T. Saunders.





First Congregational
1856

First United Methodist Church of Fort Dodge had its beginnings in the 1850's. This first congregation gathered to hear the word of God by Rev. Burleigh. The meeting lasted three days.

First German Methodist

1873

The First German Methodist Episcopal society was organized in 1873. At first, services were held in private homes and halls. In 1879, a lot was purchased, and a church was built on the corner of First Avenue North and Twelfth Street. Afterward, the lot was sold to the Christian Science Church. Currently, the church does not have an organization in Fort Dodge.

First Methodist Episcopal

1914

First United Methodist Church of Fort Dodge had its beginnings in the 1850's. This first congregation gathered to hear the word of God by Rev. Burleigh. The meeting lasted three days.

Read More


The First Baptist congregation has been serving the Fort Dodge community for almost 145 years.

Prior to 1871, occasional services were held in Fort Dodge by pioneering Baptist ministers such as Rev. H. D. Weaver who lived in Webster City, east of Fort Dodge. He continued to be alert to Baptists arriving in Fort Dodge, keeping in touch with them as he conducted these occasional services.

At last, this group of Baptists numbered 17 and the conviction was reached that the time for organization had come.

On June 16, 1871, this group met and Rev. Weaver was elected moderator of the group. The New Hampshire confession of faith was adopted, officers elected and so the First Baptist congregation of Fort Dodge came into being. Shortly thereafter, Rev. Weaver was called as the first pastor of this new congregation, a Sunday school was formed and a meeting place was secured.

Its first services were held in the old brick schoolhouse on Second Avenue south. In 1876 the congregation built a church on the corner of Central Avenue and Tenth street, where the Wahkonsa Hotel now stands. Rev. George W. Freeman was pastor at this time. The church was closed for several years and the congregation disbanded. In the winter of 1892. Rev. T. S. Bovell reorganized the church, holding a series of meetings which resulted in a number of additions to the church membership, and also served to increase the interest. Rev. Bovell served as pastor for seven years, and was followed by Rev. Arthur Parks, who was ordained by the church in June, 1899. Rev. Robert Carroll succeeded Rev. Parks in 1901. During his leadership a church building on First Avenue north and Tenth street

was erected. The dedication took place in November, 1903.

First Baptist is part of a wider fellowship of Baptists in the Mid-American Baptist Churches (Iowa-Minnesota) and American Baptist Churches USA. First Baptist is also committed to cooperation with other churches and Christians in our community and world.

Source:

*https://firstbaptistfortdodge.wordpress.com/





First Presbyterian

1856

First Presbyterian Church was organized on September 22, 1856 by Rev. S. T. Wells, a missionary.

Read More


The First Baptist congregation has been serving the Fort Dodge community for almost 145 years.

Prior to 1871, occasional services were held in Fort Dodge by pioneering Baptist ministers such as Rev. H. D. Weaver who lived in Webster City, east of Fort Dodge. He continued to be alert to Baptists arriving in Fort Dodge, keeping in touch with them as he conducted these occasional services.

At last, this group of Baptists numbered 17 and the conviction was reached that the time for organization had come.

On June 16, 1871, this group met and Rev. Weaver was elected moderator of the group. The New Hampshire confession of faith was adopted, officers elected and so the First Baptist congregation of Fort Dodge came into being. Shortly thereafter, Rev. Weaver was called as the first pastor of this new congregation, a Sunday school was formed and a meeting place was secured.

Its first services were held in the old brick schoolhouse on Second Avenue south. In 1876 the congregation built a church on the corner of Central Avenue and Tenth street, where the Wahkonsa Hotel now stands. Rev. George W. Freeman was pastor at this time. The church was closed for several years and the congregation disbanded. In the winter of 1892. Rev. T. S. Bovell reorganized the church, holding a series of meetings which resulted in a number of additions to the church membership, and also served to increase the interest. Rev. Bovell served as pastor for seven years, and was followed by Rev. Arthur Parks, who was ordained by the church in June, 1899. Rev. Robert Carroll succeeded Rev. Parks in 1901. During his leadership a church building on First Avenue north and Tenth street

was erected. The dedication took place in November, 1903.

First Baptist is part of a wider fellowship of Baptists in the Mid-American Baptist Churches (Iowa-Minnesota) and American Baptist Churches USA. First Baptist is also committed to cooperation with other churches and Christians in our community and world.

Source:

*https://firstbaptistfortdodge.wordpress.com/





Riverside Methodist

1892

Fort Dodge was growing, so dividing the First Methodist Church was needed. In 1892, the Riverside Methodist Church, located in West Fort Dodge, was organized. A church structure was built the same year. Rev. C. E. Leitzell was the pastor, ad he also was in charge of the Epworth Methodist Church, located at the corner of Eleventh Avenue South and Twenty-First Street.

Sacred Heart Parish

1897

Sacred Heart Parish was established June 3, 1897 by Arch Bishop Henessy. Father Edmond Heelan, rector of the Cathedral at Dubuque, was appointed to take charge of the new congregation.

Read More


Sacred Heart Parish was established June 3, 1897 by Arch Bishop Henessy. Father Edmond Heelan, rector of the Cathedral at Dubuque, was appointed to take charge of the new congregation. On July 21, 1897, work began on a church costing about $4,500.00. On Sunday, October 24, 1897, mass was celebrated in it for the first time and on Sunday, November 7, 1897, the church was dedicated with solemn and appropriate ceremonies by Monsignor Ryan and a large number of priests. Rev. R. Slattery of New Hampton preached the dedicatory sermon at morning mass, and at the evening service, Rev. W. Halpin lectured to a large audience.

The two Fort Dodge congregations are now among the most prosperous in the state. In 1910, the Knights of Columbus erected their building on First Avenue South and Ninth Street. St. Joseph's Hospital, built in 1908, was dedicated March 21, 1909 by Bishop Garrigan.

When Father T. M. Lenehan came here in 1870, there was only the little old. Today there are two churches in Fort Dodge, two parochial schools and residences, a fine brick church, a school in Clare, and churches in Barnum, Moorland, Lehigh, Duncombe, Vincent, Coalville, and the church on the Lizard, almost on the Pocahontas county line. The parish he had in 1870 has now over one hundred sub-divisions but few of his old co-laborers are living.

The soldiers left the old fort in 1854, and fast upon the advancing and protecting rifle came the Catholic pioneers. In 1855, Mrs. Hannah Reilly and family came. They settled upon the north half of section thirty-three in the Cooper township. They received a patent from the United States government. This patent was held for nine years, and then they were evicted. George Crilly was another of the vanguard coming in 1855. He settled upon the quarter section of land that is now a part of Oleson Park. He, too, had a title from the government but lost his land. For many years, Mrs. Reilly and George Crilly fought for their homes. Mrs. Reilly's case went to the United States Supreme Court, and George Crilly stormed the chambers of congress pleading for his home. They both lost but bravely turned their faces to the future and began again. Mrs. Reilly died here in Fort Dodge, and George Crilly died a few years ago in South Dakota.





St. Mark's Episcopal 
1855

On July 22, 1855, a community meeting called together by Rev. Mr. Peet, rector of the St. Paul’s Church in Des Moines, organized St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

Read More


On July 22, 1855, a community meeting called together by Rev. Mr. Peet, rector of the St. Paul’s Church in Des Moines, organized St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

The first work of the congregation was to obtain a church building. Just one year after the organization, Bishop Lee offered to raise the remaining funds necessary for a chapel if Fort Dodge raised $1,000.00. The offer was not accepted. On February 17, 1858, the vestry resolved to build a church the next summer. Mr. J. L. Cheney, Mr. E. Bagg, and Dr. S. B. Olney were appointed the building committee. This building was a frame structure, standing just north of where Tobin College now stands.

The building was not completed until 1873-76 due to the panic of 1857 and the Civil War. This was made possible through the generosity of J. F. Duncombe, Webb Vincent, Beth Vincent, B. Grayson, H. Beecher, and Dr. S. B. Olney. On June 28, 1876, the church was consecrated by the Rt. Rev. H. B. Whipple and D. D., bishop of Minnesota.

The church was destroyed by fire on January 5, 1892. Immediately, steps were taken for the erection of a new structure. The vestry headed by Rev. J. W. Paige and Mr. Leon Vincent were appointed as the building committee. In the early spring of 1893, Rev. Page died. On April 23, 1893, the vestry appointed Messrs. J. C. Cheney, Webb Vincent, Leon Vincent, and A. J. Arthur as the new building committee. On May 24 1894, Mr. C. B. Hepler presented a proposal to build the new church with a cost of $7,000.00. This was accepted, and the building was erected. In 1898, the chancel was enlarged and a new organ was installed at a cost of $2,683.00.





St. Olaf's Norwegian Lutheran
1891

St. Olaf's Norwegian Lutheran Church was organized on September 22, 1891 by Rev. B. K. Berkeland with twenty members. For three years, services were held in the Swedish Lutheran Church. During the summer of 1893, a movement was started to raise funds to build a new church. Plans were drawn and accepted. In September of the same year, the foundation was laid. The church was finished and dedicated the last Sunday in October 1894. The pastor was Rev. P. C. Danielson.

St. Paul's German Lutheran

1861

The first worship service of the small congregation in Fort Dodge was held in the Leonard Fessel home on January 20, 1861 . The Rev. Dr. Frederick Fickenscher walked from Boone to Fort Dodge to conduct services once every 4 weeks.

Read More


Sacred Heart Parish was established June 3, 1897 by Arch Bishop Henessy. Father Edmond Heelan, rector of the Cathedral at Dubuque, was appointed to take charge of the new congregation. On July 21, 1897, work began on a church costing about $4,500.00. On Sunday, October 24, 1897, mass was celebrated in it for the first time and on Sunday, November 7, 1897, the church was dedicated with solemn and appropriate ceremonies by Monsignor Ryan and a large number of priests. Rev. R. Slattery of New Hampton preached the dedicatory sermon at morning mass, and at the evening service, Rev. W. Halpin lectured to a large audience.

The two Fort Dodge congregations are now among the most prosperous in the state. In 1910, the Knights of Columbus erected their building on First Avenue South and Ninth Street. St. Joseph's Hospital, built in 1908, was dedicated March 21, 1909 by Bishop Garrigan.

When Father T. M. Lenehan came here in 1870, there was only the little old. Today there are two churches in Fort Dodge, two parochial schools and residences, a fine brick church, a school in Clare, and churches in Barnum, Moorland, Lehigh, Duncombe, Vincent, Coalville, and the church on the Lizard, almost on the Pocahontas county line. The parish he had in 1870 has now over one hundred sub-divisions but few of his old co-laborers are living.

The soldiers left the old fort in 1854, and fast upon the advancing and protecting rifle came the Catholic pioneers. In 1855, Mrs. Hannah Reilly and family came. They settled upon the north half of section thirty-three in the Cooper township. They received a patent from the United States government. This patent was held for nine years, and then they were evicted. George Crilly was another of the vanguard coming in 1855. He settled upon the quarter section of land that is now a part of Oleson Park. He, too, had a title from the government but lost his land. For many years, Mrs. Reilly and George Crilly fought for their homes. Mrs. Reilly's case went to the United States Supreme Court, and George Crilly stormed the chambers of congress pleading for his home. They both lost but bravely turned their faces to the future and began again. Mrs. Reilly died here in Fort Dodge, and George Crilly died a few years ago in South Dakota.





© 2020 by Fort Dodge Community Foundation. Proudly created by SPIN.