HISTORY OF COMMUNITY PRESBYTERIAN
1887 -- 1985
Along the Little Colorado River in southern Apache County, Arizona, nestled close to the White Mountains, is found the town of Springerville. It is in a peaceful bowl-shaped valley--a valley where the pioneers found favorable conditions in which to live and raise families. Once the basic pioneer needs were met, they desired a church for worship. Thus began the First Presbyterian Church of Springerville.
The history of a church is a history of its people--people who saw a dream and made it a reality. That dream began with a nucleus of nineteen. They had come here from different parts of the United States, and their love of God brought them together. It was their persistence in the face of adversity that established the community and the church. The history of the founders is as follows (except for P.H. and Julie Snow and Mary Harper whose histories have not been located).
In the fall of 1874 Texas cattlemen came into the Valley prospecting for good cattle range. They returned to Texas, via Belen, New Mexico, stopping at the Becker Brothers Store. While they were making their purchases, they described the Valley in such glowing terms that one of the brothers, Julius, decided to sell out his interest in the store to his brothers and come to the Valley. With two wagons full of merchandise, he opened a store in Springerville in the spring of 1875, on land he homesteaded. The following year, his brother, Gustav, decided he would enjoy living in this area, so he also came and homesteaded.
In April 1876 three wagons pulled out of Carrol County, Arkansas, with a dream of a new life in the West. These new-comers had chosen the territory of Arizona because of a glowing report in a newspaper article. The leader of the wagon train was Dr. William Mann Rudd. Accompanying him were his wife, Eliza, and their children, (born thus far) James, Nancy, Rosalia, Davis, Charles, Emeline, Virginia, and Olney. Also with the wagon train were William's brother, Jim and his family, the Bush family, and the Conway Bunch. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, William met Mr. Springer. It was Mr. Springer who convinced him that Round Valley was the place to homestead. They arrived on August 25, 1876.
Meanwhile the Becker Store thrived and Julius occasionally went to Chicago, Illinois, to purchase stock for the store. On one trip he met, courted, and married Wilhalmina (Minnie) Homrighausen. He brought his new bride to Springerville, and the entire Homrighausen family soon followed. Gustav courted and married Louisa Homrighausen.
In 1888 another young man and his wife arrived in Round Valley. He came from Texas looking for new grazing lands for his cattle. His name was Samuel Saffell and his wife's name was Emma. Likewise, in the early 1890's Charles "Hank" Sharp arrived in the valley; he liked the area and decided to homestead. Subsequently he traveled to Missouri to marry Anna, whom he had rescued from the Indians a few years before.
Ernest H. Franz came to the valley in about 1886 to be an apprentice at Becker Merchantile. He was a cousin of the Beckers and had come from Germany with them. He courted and married Clara Homrighausen.
Life was not easy in Springerville. The nearest railroad was Holbrook; the nearest town was Magdalena, and it was fifty miles to Fort Apache. The Tenth Calvary was stationed at the Fort with about five hundred men and horses. The soldiers required staples and the horses hay and grain, supplying the military was about the only cash crop for Springerville. Freight lines were the life-line of the whole area, and roads were actually trails made by the wagons themselves. In dry weather they were rough and bumpy, and in wet weather they were mud bogs.
Indians were never a threat to the area, but outlaws found the quiet valley a suitable place to go when driven from adjoining States -- prominent were the Cavanaugh gang, the Clantons, the Westbrooks (remnants of the Butch Cassidy gang), and Billy the Kid.* In fact, the outlaws so outnumbered the better citizens they were almost completely in control at times.
In February of 1887, the Presbyterian Sunday School was organized, with Mr. Ernest H. Franz, Superintendent. When Mr. Franz moved it was reorganized on December 14, 1890, with the folowing officers: L. A. Swan, Superintendent; Conway Bunch, Secretary-Treasurer; L. A. Swan, Mrs. Eliza Rudd, and Miss Virginia Rudd, teachers. The Superintendent appointed a Ways and Means Committee to raise necessary funds for supplies. Within two weeks, $16.90 was raised by donations, and supplies were immediately purchased. During the first year, an organ was bought and paid for from proceeds from a supper and individual donations. Familiar songs were sung, because it wasn't until a year later that the first song books were purchased.
The Sunday School once again had to be reorganized on December 21, 1891, because Mr. L. A. Swan moved from the area. Dr. William Mann Rudd was appointed the new Superintendent. Two weeks later, the attendance in Sunday was recorded at forth-five. Sunday School was held at 2:00 p.m. every Sunday in the schoolhouse on Main Street, Springerville.
It was not until February 17, 1894, that a group of prominent citizens met for the purpose of organizing the First Presbyterian Church of Springerville. Reverend Mr. James A. Menaul, the moderator, was born in Trone, Ireland. He came to the Southwest in 1881, and in 1889 was appointed Synodical Missionary for the area. It was his responsibility to help communities establish churches, and so he worked with the people that were interested in a Presbyterian Church in Springerville. The original members were:
|John Homrighausen, Sr.
Mary Homrighausen, (Mrs. John Sr.)
Wilhelmina Becker (Mrs. Julius)
William M. Rudd
Eliza C. Rudd (Mrs. William)
Nancy E. (Rudd) Murray (Mrs. Claude)
Rosalia (Rudd) Colter (Mrs. James)
Mary A. Harper
Anna A. Sharp (Mrs. Charles "Hank")
Louisa Becker (Mrs. Gustav)
Virginia E. Rudd (later Mrs. Joseph Williams)
Helena Homrighausen (later Mrs. Guy Holt)
Jean Woods (later Mrs. Olney Rudd)
Ida M. Rudd
Lydia Homrighausen (later Mrs. "Bud" Franz)
Catherine B. Rudd (later Mrs. Quincy Randles)
Julie Snow (Mrs. P.H.)
Emma Saffell (Mrs. Samuel)
At the organizational meeting Mr. John Homrighausen, Sr., Dr. William Rudd, and Mr. P.H. Snow were elected as ruling elders, and on Sunday, February 19, 1894, were ordained and installed. Mr. John Homrighausen, Jr., Mr. P.H. Snow, and Mr. Gustav Becker were elected trustees, and Dr. William M. Rudd, Clerk of the Session. The Sunday services were held in Hunter's Hall (the original name for the Legion Hall building), and Reverend Mr. James Menaul came twice a year to add his support to the new Church. During the week of August 23-30, 1896, Rev. Mr. Menaul delivered lectures of the "History of the Church during the First through Fifth Centuries."
The new Church had visiting pastors, but no regular minister. On Sundays when there was no visiting pastor, the regular Sunday School meetings were held. The visiting pastors included: Reverend Mr. Thomas C. Moffett, Reverend Mr. Beal, Reverend Mr. Verlups, Reverend Mr. Eadie, Reverend Mr. Himebaugh, and Reverend Mr. Evans.
Social events during the early years of the Church included picnics at Becker's Lake, with boating, swimming and eating around a campfire; marshmallow roasts at Water Canyon; pot-luck and box suppers at the schoolhouse, and birthday dinners at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Gustav Becker. At the birthday dinners people would furnish their own food and entertainment. It has been said from an old time resident, by doing it that way it gave the people "more enjoyment and closer friendly feeling than high-class cafes and professional entertainment."
On May 10, 1906, Reverend Mr. H.H. Gaines took charge of the Church for three months at a salary of twenty-five dollars per month, and at the end of his visit the Church secured its first resident pastor. His name was Robert Ballagh, and he took charge at the same salary. Reverend Mr. Ballagh was born, educated, and ordained in Ireland and came to Springerville from Solomonville, Arizona. On April 1, 1907, he left Springerville to pastor a church in Chloride, Arizona, and so the congregation was again without a minister.
On September 24 through 26, 1915, Reverend Mr. Harlan Page Cory, of the Home Missions Board, visited the congregation. Reverend Mr. Cory was born in Boone County, Indiana, in 1849 and ordained in 1877. During the years 1915 - 1922 he was the Synod Superintendent of Home Missions Board of Arizona, and while he was here he helped organize the Ladies Aid Society. At their first meeting, September 27, 1915, officers were elected: Mrs. Herms, whose husband worked for the Forest Service, was elected President; Mrs. Howland (her husband worked at Beckers' Merchantile) was elected Vice President; Mrs. Janie Morre (Dr. Dave Morre's wife) was elected Secretary, and Mrs. Dye was elected Treasurer (she was a music teacher and her husband also worked at Becker's Merchantile). There were nine women who comprised the original Ladies Aid Society of the First Presbyterian Church. They were:
|Louisa Becker (Mrs. Gustav)
Eliza Rudd (Mrs. William M.)
Mrs. Dye (Mrs. Clayton) Mrs. Howland
Nancy Murray (Mrs. Claude)
Janie Morre (Mrs. Dave)
Mrs. Bernice Reagan
The Ladies Aid Society met twice a month, and through various fund-raisers (suppers, bazaars, food sales, fancy work sales, etc.) and dues purchased needed equipment and supplies for the Church. Through the years they have purchased tables, flatware, dishes, and a communion set; made curtains; recovered furniture, and even helped pay the pastor's salary. It was at their meeting of May 4, 1915, that they appointed a committee, comprised of Mrs. Howland and Mrs. Morre, to inquire about the prices of various vacant lots for building purposes.
Several months later the Ladies Aid Society, for three hundred dollars, bought from Mrs. Emma Saffell (by then a widow), Clem Saffell (her son), and his wife Irene Saffell, a corner lot in Section 33, Township 9, of the Town of Springerville. Plans could now be made to erect a Church building. It is interesting to note that the meeting of the Ladies Aid Society was cancelled September 5, 1918, because the Town had been "quarantined" due to smallpox.
During the planning and erecting of the new Church there were two pastors. The Reverend Mr. Miller served from May 1916 until April 1917. He was followed by the Reverend Mr. George C. White. In 1918, during White's pastorate, the new Church building was completed and the first services held. The Ladies Aid had an ice cream social, and raised the money necessary to purchase a piano.
The Christian Endeavor Society was also reorganized. It had been organized earlier, but discontinued on June 14, 1912, when Reverend Ayres, then pastor, decided it interfered with Church services. During this reorganization, twelve young people pledged themselves to support the Society and the Church.
Mr. E.H. Franz had moved to California and died in the early 1920's in a car accident. His wife, in his memory, donated a cast bronze bell to the Church. It was made in 1923 by the Meneely Bell Company of Troy, New York, and weighed an estimated eight hundred and sixty pounds. It was installed in the Church's bell tower in 1925.
Ladies Aid Society --- 1925
Party for 89th Birthday of Eliza Mann Rudd
|Standing - back row ( left to right
Reverend Mr. William Forsythe
Mrs. Louise Becker
Mrs. Ann Becker
Children - (left to right)
|Seated - (left to right)
Mrs. Melvin Brown
Eliza Mann Rudd
Virginia Rudd Williams
Nancy Rudd Murray
In 1929 the Ladies Aid Society bought a Victrola for the Church, and, in the same year the Church decided to buy the vacant lot behind the Church in case there was ever a need for expansion. They bought it from the Saffell family, with the Ladies Aid paying ninety dollars towards the cost.
Apache Street in 1930 (looking east)
Catholic Church and Community Church
The records show that on May 8, 1930, the Ladies Aid Society gave the Boy Scouts, sponsored by the Church, one hundred dollars towards their uniforms. This is the earliest recorded history of the Church's sponsorship of the Scouts. The Ladies Aid decided on February 5, 1931, to purchase a range for the kitchen, and on May 5, 1931, a wood stove for the Church parlor.
July 18, 1934, the Presbyterian Church bought another parcel of land from Alvin and Lillian Trammell, described as Block 14, in the Town of Springerville by the County Recorder. The property which included two houses was located directly across the street. On the corner was a home that had been built by Clayton Dye, and next to it was a red lumber home. The Church had been renting various homes for the pastors during the years, but it was decided that a permanent home was needed. The Ladies Aid Society set to work by buying furniture for the house on the corner.
On April 2, 1936, Mrs. Katherine (Rudd) Randles donated to the Church a silver communion service. It was given in memory of Dr. William Rudd, his wife, Eliza Catherine, and their son, Davis Rudd. The year 1986 will be the Golden Anniversary of the communion service set.
Boy Scouts - (year unknown)
Left to Right - Jimmy Becker, Unknown, Dave Williams, Bobby Schuster, Mike Stansbury
Child -- Barry Williams
The Boy Scout program was now nine years old serving a need for the boys of the Church. Some similar activity was wanted for the girls of the Church. So, it was on February 20, 1939, that the Church Board voted to sponsor the Campfire Girls.
Since the manse was in really poor shape by 1940, and the Church had no monies by which to make the needed repairs and the Ladies Aid did not have the monies either, the Ladies Aid Society went to the Bank of Belen, September 1941 and borrowed three hundred dollars to make repairs.
During World War II the Church became very active in the"war effort." On August 2, 1942, the Board asked Reverend Mr. Parrish to get a Service Flag for the Church with the names of all who joined the service from our area. On November 8, 1942, a War-Time Service Sunday was held, and also in November the Wednesday-night prayer services were started to remember our leaders and all who were serving in the armed forces. On March 12, 1943, the Church observed the World Day of Prayer. Mrs. Annette Booth was asked on April 4, 1943, to blow the Town siren every evening at dusk. This was to call the community to pause and pray for peace, and both the Catholic and Mormon Churches joined in this observance. The Church also made donations to the War Service Fund.
On January 17, 1945, the Church Board decided to sell to Reverend Mr. Surber the red lumber home that had been used as a rental house for a number of years that was located next to the manse. The selling price was six hundred dollars. The Board was later advised that since the property had been used to obtain a grant it would be neccessary for the Church to repay the grant if the property was sold. At the quarterly meeting on July 13, 1945, the Board refunded Reverend Mr. Surber's money and took back the property. (It is interesting to note that the only records on the rent charged was for 1952 and the monthly rent was twenty-five dollars).
The Church also decided in 1945 that the kitchen needed remodeling. Again, the Ladies Aid Society, through different fund raisers, installed the sink, cabinets, and linoleum. It is interesting to note that before the addition of the kitchen sink, the women of the Church carried water in and used wash tubs.
On April 13, 1951, The Church Board requested of the Sunday School Council and the Ladies Aid Society that they cut stencils and mimeograph a Church bulletin to be used on Sunday mornings. This is the earliest recording of the use of Church bulletins.
During the building period the Trustees felt the Church needed to incorporate. Over the years the Church name seemed to change with every document. It has been the First Presbyterian Church, Springerville Community Church, Springerville Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Community Church, The Community Church, and the Community Presbyterian Church. When the Church incorporated on May 22, 1959, it was legally named the Community Presbyterian Church of Springerville.
The new addition was completed, except for the kitchen, and was used for the first time October 24, 1959, for a Halloween Party honoring the new minister, John Wright, his family, and the new members received into the Church during the year. The Ladies Aid Society helped finish the kitchen by having the cabinets and linoleum installed. The kitchen was ready for use February 16, 1961.
The present Church floor plan was completed in 1963, with Ray Lowe again serving as the architect. New windows were needed for the sanctuary and it was at this time individual members were asked if they would like to buy a window in memory of a loved one. All windows were obtained in this manner. During the remodeling the old pews were removed and folding chairs were used in the sanctuary. In 1964, Church members were asked if they would like to purchase one of the new pews needed for the sanctuary. About this same time a new pulpit, communion table, and chairs were bought for the podium area. The Ladies Aid Society had the new paneling installed in the sanctuary in 1964.
On July 3, 1967, E.C. and Ann Becker donated to the Church Lot 5, Block 2, in the Fairlane Plaza Subdivision, and the Session decided it was perfect for a new manse. The pastor at the time was Wayne Douglas, who quite a handyman, and under his direction the new house became the next project for the Church. Men would meet during the week and on weekends to work and soon the house was completed.
In 1968 the Guild (Ladies Aid Society) took on another project--a fund for a new organ. This would be their last project, for they disbanded May 7, 1969.
On May 30, 1976, the congregation welcomed a new pastor, William John Buehler. He was born in Emery, South Dakota, ordained June 15, 1958, and came to the Church from a ministry in Superior, Arizona.
In 1979, Margaret (Mrs. Alvin) Becker passed away leaving a large amount to the Church to be used for "educating the youth of the Sunday School." With this in mind the Session voted, on October 16, 1981, to acquire Section 33, Lot 6 from Louisa Smith, and the planning moved ahead for added class rooms and a recreation area for the youth.
Early in 1980, during a Session Meeting, it was decided that a new sanctuary was needed for our growing congregation. Lot 3, in the City of Springerville was donated for that purpose.
Plans were drawn to add classrooms to the east of the building and remove the south wall of the sanctuary and to extend it. As engineers studied our design several problems arose. The wall we proposed to move was a bearing wall, the bricks were of a soft grade, and it was cost prohibitive. The Session then decided to build a new sanctuary on the property across the street.
The Community Presbyterian Church began discussing an Outreach Program to establish mission churches in the communities around Springerville. To assist in this Outreach Program an assistant pastor was added to the staff, and working on a part-time basis, Reverend Mr. Richard Lupke filled this position. Reverend Mr. Lupke was born in New York City and ordained in New York City on May 16, 1954. This Outreach Program is in the form of a "tent-making" ministry; he preaches each Sunday at a "House Church" (which is his residence in Concho). Reverend Mr. Lupke also preaches in Taylor and fulfills pastoral duties where needed on weekends and in his spare time. By 1981, services began in Snowflake, Taylor, Concho, and St. Johns, Arizona.
Ground breaking for the new sanctuary was held on Easter Sunday 1982, and, as in the case of the manse located in Fairlane Plaza Subdivision, the tireless members of the Church began to donate their time and money to the completion of the project. Volunteers did all of the underground preparation work, which included heating ducts, and electrical lines, prior to pouring the concrete floor.
Once the shell was completed by the contractor, the volunteers constructed the framing on the inside of the building, installed electrical and plumbing systems, hung dry-wall, taped, textured, and painted. It is because of the efforts of so many in the congregation that a Dedication could be planned to celebrate the completion of such an enormous task.
During the planning of the new sanctuary it was decided to use the Church bell, which had beeen donated by Mrs. Franz years earlier. But a sturdy bell tower was needed to house it, and the monies to build it. Donations came in the memory of E.C. Becker and the Church had the monies it needed. So the bell was removed from the old tower, cleaned and polished, and moved to the new Church steeple.
During the summer of 1985 a second assistant pastor was added to the Church. Reverend Mr. Myron White was born in Dodge City, Kansas, and ordained at Ennis, Montana, on September 28, 1958. He is serving as Mission Specialist and is responsible for building up the ministry work in the outlying areas which include, Taylor, Snowflake, St. Johns, Nutrioso, Alpine and Concho.
The Community Presbyterian Church has seen many changes. The first pioneers found miles of undeveloped land. The people who later came found a little Arizona town, many miles from railroads or cities. The people arriving today are finding a quiet community, but one that is rapidly growing. All that have been a part of the congregation, have had one common factor - their Christian fellowship with each other, with God and, with His Son, Jesus Christ. It is this common factor that has seen our Church endure for the past ninety-eight years. It will still be that way ninety-eight years from today!
*Jack Becker's note: I have no real evidence that Billy the Kid was ever in Springerville.