Two Churches with Dexter Connections

Penn Center Methodist Church

Revival meetings were held in the Penn Center school house in 1869, with services before this performed there by a minister from Winterset. In 1872, another revival was held. Forty-nine people joined the church, which was on a regular circuit for a pastor who also traveled to Dexter, Earlham, Stuart, and Guthrie Center. A one-room frame building was dedicated in 1875.

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The present building was built in 1918.

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Bear Creek Friends Church

According to the Dexter Centennial history, the first white settler in what is known as the Bear Creek neighborhood (or Quaker Divide) were Richard and Elizabeth Mendenhall in 1853. They were soon joined by William H. Cook and his brother Richard Cook. All were members of the Society of Friends or Quakers. The first public meeting of Friends was held in 1854 in William Cook’s home. The first formal “meeting house” was built in 1856, where services were held for the next 20 years.

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Across the road from Bear Creek Cemetery.

In 1872 land was bought where the present church stands. The first meeting was held in it in 1874. There was no pastor until 1890. The building was remodeled in 1901 and a basement added 1918.

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Source: 1968 Dexter Centennial history, pages 85-87


    • Population now–600 souls. Never more than 795 and that was in 1900. But we had our share of history happen there! Mom’s family grew up there during the Great Depression. I’ve just started telling those stories (under Depression Era), then the folks bought a small farm just south of Dexter after the war. My sis and I–and all my Neal cousins–went to school in Dexter until reorganization in 1958. There were only 13 in my class then. Because Dexter is near the corner of four counties, we were split up between Stuart (Guthrie County), Earlham (Madison County), and Dexfield (Dexter and Redfield, Dallas County). My sis still lives on the farm and is on the museum board there.

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