Pueblo County, Colorado
History of Pueblo Churches

Contributed by Jean Griesan.

In 1868, One Church, In 1918 and Now Pueblo Supports 54 Houses of Worship

Today in France, one forgets that there are such things as church denominations. The Jew sits in the Y.M.C.A. hut between the Baptist and Presbyterian, listening to a Catholic “padre.”

Today, in Pueblo, there are eighteen varieties of churches, to say nothing of the four Y.M.C.A.'s, the Salvation Army, and several missions, meeting in almost sixty different buildings.

Yesterday, in Pueblo, the church situation was somewhat like that at the battle front today. Just as many denominations inherited the earth, but they did it in a friendly fashion. If the Methodists of the frontier village, Pueblo, were giving a “sociable” to build a new church, all the other church people and non-church people of the settlement helped to enjoy the good time and to fill the coffers of the embryonic church. In like manner, the “meeting houses” were shared, and as there were not enough meeting houses to go around, the little adobe church and the old court house were used as a church between school sessions, not only by one but by several denominations.

Compared with the 54 churches in Pueblo of 1918, there were in the early 70's three, St. Peter's, at Seventh and Santa Fe; the First Methodist Episcopal, at Seventh and Main, and the First Presbyterian, at Ninth and Court. Just one church has the right to a fifty-year place in the records of Pueblo. St. Peter's was built in 1868, then the First Methodist, and in 1872, the First Presbyterian.

The first church of Pueblo was built on the “outskirts” of Pueblo, on Seventh and Santa Fe, with just two buildings beyond it. Services had been held in the old court house at Third and Santa Fe until after the organization of the church had been affected. The names of the committee members are available: George A. Hinsdale, H. C. Thatcher, Wilbur F. Stone, J. W. Snyder, F. W. Walker, James Rice and Klaas Wildeboor, the building committee being Messrs. Hart, Young and Weston.

The man who probably did the most to bring about the erection of the first church building in Pueblo was the Rev. F. W. Winslow, a missionary. He was followed by another missionary, the Rev. S. Edwards, who came to Pueblo in 1870. Mr. Edwards was the father of Mrs. Thomas, who is one of the oldest members of the parish. W. T. Albert is another of the oldest members. Mr. Edwards was followed by the Rev. F. W. Tompkins, who came to St. Peters in 1875.

The congregation of St. Peters later purchased the church at Ninth and Court now occupied by the Unity and Christian Science churches, and finally built the beautiful Church of the Ascension at Eighteenth and Grand.

Pueblo's second church is standing today at the corner of Seventh and Main streets, the adobe building used by the Frick Printing company. This church was erected by the Methodists of the village of Pueblo shortly after St. Peter's was built. There are today no charter members of the First Methodist church in Pueblo. The oldest member of the church is Mrs. Booth, living in California. When Mrs. Booth was first connected with the church, she lived on the old Booth ranch and faithfully attended services, coming from Turkey creek to do so.

The first pastor of the adobe church was the Rev. O. P. McMains. Another of the early ministers was Tom Uzzell, the founder of the Uzzell Temple in Denver, who built up a general mission in Denver, famous over the state. One of the most picturesque figures in the early history of the First Methodist church was the “Snow Shoe Itinerant” the old white-haired parson who came down over the mountains from Cripple Creek to preach to the three churches on the circuit, in Canon City, Hardscrabble and Pueblo.

The adobe church met the needs of the congregation for about 14 years. Then the building now used by the First Methodist church was built under the leadership of the Rev. Mr. Morehead. Altho the donor did not wish it to be announced, the organ for the new church was purchased largely thru the gift of Mr. Yerkis, then a Puebloan, who was responsible for the building of the London tubes. The tower of the church was later built by the Piper brothers, then well known contractors.

One remarkable thing about the First Methodist church is that during its almost 50 years of existence, the prayer meeting services have been continuous. For many years this church served as the mother of Methodism in the community; some of its members withdrawing when neighborhood churches were branched from the original church. One of the old members of the church was the old soldier and class leader, J. E. Howe, who withdrew from the First church at the time of the organization of the Bethel Methodist church. Mr. Howe, or “Comrade” Howe as he was known by the other members of the Grand Army post died about two months ago.

As picturesque as the plains themselves, the early history of the largest Protestant church in Pueblo, the First Presbyterian at Court and Tenth streets, might well form a part of any pioneer tale of the western frontier. The church which now has 750 active members began with four. At the present time practically all of those 750 members live within the city limits of Pueblo. But only 25 per cent of the four original members lived in Pueblo. Mr. and Mrs. John Irvine lived 18 miles up the Fountain, Mrs. J. R. Jamison lived 20 miles southwest of Pueblo, while Mrs. Anna Lowthair had the distinction of being the only town member of the young congregation. The church was organized thru the efforts of Sheldon Jackson, then in the home mission field. The early files of The Chieftain tell that when Mr. Jackson came to Pueblo, he found one Baptist, 11 Methodists, four Catholics, two United Brethren, three Lutherans, two Jews and four Presbyterians. The four members began to hold services in 1870, meeting in the homes of its members and in other homes in the town, later meeting in the old court house on Santa Fe. At this time there were about 500 people in the village of Pueblo. In 1871, the little church received a supply minister, the Rev. Roger S. Adams, from Central City. For a while he lived on Tenth street, then he moved to Fifteenth, in Craig's addition, then considered far out in the country. “Preaching” was in Connell's hall, in the old theater on Seventh, now known as the Beville, just west of St. Peter's church, now the Mission garage.

Like other of the first congregations the Presbyterians met in the adobe school house on the site of the Centennial high school building. Morning preaching and Bible school were held every Sunday. There was no evening service, as the records go, because there was no way of lighting the old school house. In 1872 the church at Ninth and Court, at a later time used by the Church of the Ascension and now by the church of Unity and the Christian Scientists, was built by the Presbyterians. At that time the Rev. William T. Hamilton, the first regular pastor, was installed. In 1875, the bell now in the church at Tenth and Court, was brought to Pueblo, one of the first pieces of freight carried over the Santa Fe railroad. Beginning with four members in 1870, the congregation grew to 37 in 1874, to 59 in 1878 and by 1880 really began to grow, until now it has 750 active members. Altho there are no charter members in Pueblo, there is one member of the first choir.

Twenty-three years after its organization, the First Presbyterian church dedicated its building at Tenth and Court streets, February 27, 1895. The next year, the old bell was moved to the new church where it is still hanging.

Organized in 1872 and incorporated (words missing) …zation, the First Presbyterian (Baptist?) church is one of the few Pueblo churches which has had but one church home in Pueblo. The building now occupied by the First Baptist church, although the only one the church has had, has been remodeled and enlarged until it is one of the most modern church buildings in the city. One unusual feature of the 37-year-old building is the roof which is so built as to permit open air services. The Rev. Samuel Cornelius was the first pastor of the church. There are no charter members in Pueblo and it is thought that the only living charter member is Mrs. E. W. Olin, a sister-in-law of F. E. Olin of Pueblo. Mrs. E. W. Olin is living in Lennox, Mass.

The first meetings of the First Baptist church were held in the rooms over what is now the Fulton Market. One of the most active members of the church at the time of its organization was Mrs. E. S. Owens. Mrs. W. D. Latshaw tells about going to church with Mrs. Owens. Altho then a Presbyterian, Mrs. Latshaw used to go to Baptist prayer meeting with Mrs. Owens to play the organ, because at that time no Baptist was available. The Rev. Adam Chambers was then pastor of the church. At that time Mrs. Latshaw was living at the corner of Ninth and Greenwood which she says was considered “way out of town.”

Organized in 1878, the First Congregational church of Pueblo, has the unique distinction of having all but two of her ten pastors alive. Three of the pastors Harrison, Wright and Hicks have retired and are living in Nebraska, Idaho and Massachusetts respectively.

After its organization in 1878, the church meetings were held in the Corona school house until the year 1881, when the frame church was erected in Block P. Nothing but a portion of the foundation of this first Congregational church building remains. The careful observer can see about 15 feet of the crumbling ruins of the old foundation. Six years later the building now used by the First Congregational church was built. This church building with its club house is considered one of the most efficient church plants (plans?) in the region. It was designed by the late Charles H. Stickney, a devoted member of the congregation. During its history, the First Congregational church has had but three treasurers, H. R. Jones, J. W. Root, and J. D. Kellogg.

Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Jones were among the first members of the First Congregational church of Pueblo. Mrs. McDonald, 813 south Union, is another of the pioneer members.

The Minnequa Congregational church was organized thru the efforts of the present pastor of the First church, the Rev. J. A. Jeffers.

Organized in 1881 (1871?), with the present church built two years later, the Holy Trinity was the second Episcopalian church in Pueblo. The first rector of the church was the Rev. John Roberts. Mrs. Warren Rayner is the only charter member in Pueblo.

The Central Christian church was organized December 17, 1882, with a membership of 37. The only charter members now remaining are Mrs. Nellie Phillips and Mrs. Ella Shephard Chew. Among the charter members were William B. Shepherd and wife, Mrs. Lois J. Shepherd, Mrs. J. H. Barnard and Mrs. Martha J. Noble.

Services were first held at the Montgomery opera house on Seventh street between Santa Fe avenue and Main street. A. H. Mulkey was then pastor. Later with A. C. McKeever and then with John C. Hay as pastor, moved to store room next to corner of Eighth and Main streets, now occupied by the Fulton Market.

Under the leadership of John C. Hay the chapel of the present church building was erected at Seventh and Summit streets in 1887, and during his ministry of some 13 years, the main part of the church was built in 1891.

Later the pastors were Albert S. Dabney, Rufus B. Preston, Charles S. Early, now one of the prominent evangelists of the Christian church, L. J. Marshall, Wm. Bayard Craig, James H. Mohorter, now general secretary of the National Benevolent association of the Christian church; D. W. Moore, Scott Anderson, A. L. Ward, J. Elwood Lynn, W. T. Hilton and J. E. Henshaw and now present pastor, George H. Bassett.

The German Lutheran church was organized in 1883, and a church building erected the same year, the first pastor being the Rev. Mr. Meyer. Mr. D. Kurtz is the only charter member now in Pueblo. Four years ago a parochial school was made a part of the church. The attendance of the school is about 30.

The St. Paul Methodist Episcopal church was organized in 1885 as the Methodist Episcopal church, with 25 charter members. Mrs. C. E. Livingston and Mrs. J. H. Robinson are the only charter members now connected with the church. E. J. Wilcox, the first minister, preached his first sermon July 20, 1885, in the Mesa Baptist church.

The first church building of St. Paul Methodist Episcopal church was built in 1888, at the corner of Broadway and Evans, adopting the name Broadway church. The building now used by the church, at south Union and Routt avenues, was erected in 1912.

One of the members of the first board of trustees was W. L. Hartman, who has continued in that capacity ever since and is now the only member of the original board holding that office.

The church has had 13 pastors, the Rev. O. K. Maynard who is completing his fourth year, being the thirteenth.

A decidedly patriotic church is the Pilgrim Congregational, organized on the Fourth of July, 1888. Before the erection of the Pilgrim church at Thirteenth and Grand in 1890, the Congregationalists met in the old Methodist adobe church at the corner of Seventh and Main. The organization of the church was effected largely thru the efforts of a Mr. Ormes, now living in Colorado Springs, the librarian of Colorado College. Of the 13 charter members, only one, Mrs. Geo. Draper, is living in Pueblo. The Irving Place mission was organized in 1904.

The Swedish Lutheran church, organized in 1887, erected its present building in 1893, with a membership of 40. The first pastor was the Rev. C. J. Sporns. Other of the early pastors were L. J. Sunquist, Peterson and Larson.

“One of the Pueblo churches which is out of debt” has been true of the United Brethren church since June, 1916, when its last thousand dollars of indebtedness was wiped out. This church was organized in 1890, with 10 charter members, of whom there is one in Pueblo: Mrs. A. B. Hill. Soon after its organization, a building of frame was erected at the corner of Northern and Pine. In 1902 this was replaced by a new, modern brick structure. The congregation now numbers 230.

Of the 53 charter members of the United Presbyterian church, organized in 1891, there are seven now living in Pueblo, Mrs. D. C. Porter, Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Gordon, Mrs. Ross, Mrs. Whetsel, Mrs. Bear and Mrs. Bacy, who lives near Pueblo. The home of this church was erected in 1892, the first pastor being the Rev. T. L. Hervey.

About a quarter of a century old is the Northern Avenue Methodist church, altho it has been called by that name only since 1902, where the present church was built. The first church was on Pine street. Mrs. D. W. Evans is one of the charter members of the church. Mr. and Mrs. Lyman Boucher have the distinction of being the first couple married in the church which was built in 1903.

In 1892 over Goldsmith's Grocery, on east Fourth street, the present Park Avenue Presbyterian church was organized with 14 members, of whom two, Mr. and Mrs. J. O. Caldwell, are now in Pueblo. The first structure was a frame building at east Fifth and Fountain streets, which has but recently been removed. The present church building was erected in 1911.

The first building of the Lake Avenue Baptist church was dedicated in 1895, three years after the organization of the church. This church stood at the corner of Cypress and Mesa and was used until the dedication of the present church in July, 1905 (1903?). The first pastor was the Rev. Mr. McNeil, who came here from Denver. There are only two of the 10 charter members now in Pueblo, Mr. and Mrs. George Shouse. This Baptist church was first called the “Bessemer Baptist” church, then the Pilgrim Baptist church and now bears the name “Lake Avenue Baptist.”

The Broadway Christian church, which only last January dedicated a handsome new church, was organized in 1899. For nine months, R. B. Preston, now superintendent of the Roselawn cemetery, was the pastor. He was succeeded by the Rev. Clyde Darcy. The first services of the Broadway Christian church were in a store room in the Masonic Temple building, later they bought a building from the Broadway Methodist church. This building was used by the Broadway Christian congregation until its destruction by fire. From the time of the fire until the dedication of the new church, the services were held in the Masonic Temple.

Two charter members of the Bethel Methodist church are now in Pueblo, Mr. and Mrs. E. M. Crick. This church was organized in 1902 and the church was dedicated the following year. Later additions to the building have been made. The Rev. John Alderson was the first pastor of the Bethel Methodist church.

The English Lutheran church has tithed its membership for Uncle Sam. One tenth of its members are now in government service.

St. Mark's English Lutheran church, organized in 1904 was incorporated under that name in the following year. Until May, 1906, the congregation held services in the W.O.W. hall and the Y.M.C.A. rooms. At that time the present church property was purchased from the Providence Presbyterians. Of the charter members but five are now living in the community and still active, Mr. and Mrs. Hans Nielsen, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Christensen and Otto Wolf. The first pastor of the church was the Rev. W. R. Huber. The Rev. T. F. Weiskotten has been the minister of the church since April, 1915. Under his leadership the membership has more than doubled.

The East Side Baptist church was organized on Christmas day, 1912, with 40 charter members, of whom about half are still in Pueblo. The first building, which is the one now used, was dedicated on August 29, 1915.

The Orthodox Jewish church, organized about 10 years ago, now has a membership of 50. Abraham Penter is the president of the organization. In connection with the church, there is a religious school of about 35 pupils, attended by the children every day, after public school, for Hebrew religious instruction.

Temple Emanuel at the corner of Fourteenth and Grand, was dedicated September 7, 1900. The dedication sermon was delivered by the Rev. Dr. E. G. Hirsch, of Chicago. The first pastor of Temple Emanuel was Rabbi Harry Weiss.

The Jewish mission for the foreign born Hebrews of Pueblo is even more recent than the other two churches.

Picture Caption: The first church erected in Colorado was erected on what was known as Doyle's ranch on the Huerfano river about 20 miles southeast of the city of Pueblo. It was called Santa Teresa church. It was built by Catholic priests but the exact date seems to be unknown. But it is said to have been long before Pueblo was laid out. The ruins still stand.

Picture Caption: First Two Churches in Pueblo – Upper picture is of the Methodist church erected in 1869 and the lower is St. Peter's erected the year previous. Both buildings were used many years by various denominations and are still standing. The Methodist church is at the corner of Seventh and Main streets and St. Peter's is at the corner of Santa Fe avenue and Seventh street.

Catholic Churches

Pueblo, like the other thriving trading posts, came early under the influence of the Catholic fathers. As early as 1860, from Santa Fe there came two Catholic priests, Father Machebeuf and Father Raverdy, to administer unto the spiritual needs of Pueblo. The work of these men was carried on largely thru visits to the Mexicans and also to the settlers, the priests staying at Autobee's and Doyle's ranches. In 1867 services were held in the old court house, at the southeast corner of Third and Santa Fe. Two well known Pueblo pioneers were faithful attendants at these services, Charles Henkel and Captain J. J. Lambert, then quartermaster of the United States military post of Fort Reynolds, about 20 miles east of Pueblo.

In 1873, the Rev. Charles Pinto came to Pueblo. Captain Lambert was then living in his little house at 411 Tenth street, which was then considered a spacious residence. He gave one of the rooms of his house to the Rev. Father Pinto to be used as a study and chapel. The Catholic records show that soon after then, Sunday mass came to be said in the old adobe school house at Eleventh and Court streets and then in the new court house.

The first Catholic church, St. Ignatius, in Pueblo, was built in 1873, at the southwest corner of Thirteenth and West streets. This brick building was used until 1882 (1892?), when it was destroyed by fire. In this same year St. Patrick's was built. The next year the church at Eleventh and Grand was dedicated, and was used until the erection of the present Sacred Heart church, the newest Catholic church building in Pueblo.

There are now nine Catholic churches in Pueblo, some of the later buildings being St. Anthony's, 215 Park street; St. Leander's on College avenue and Sixth street; St. Francis Xavier on Spruce and Logan streets; St. Boniface, 532 north Summit; Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 421 Park; Holy Family church, Salt Creek; St. Mary's on Park between B and C streets.

Published by the Pueblo Chieftain,
Sunday, June 23, 1918

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