Long after the first Native Americans settled in what is now Miami County, Spanish and
    French explorers entered her boundaries.  It was not uncommon for Catholic priest to be a
    Christian religion to Native Americans.  As the years past, other members of the Christian
    faith send missionaries into the region to convert and educate the native population.  
    When Kansas was opened for settlement, towns and communities began to spring-up
    within the county.  The settlers brought with them their religious faiths and a need for
    community fellowship.  

    Before churches were organized and built, circuit riders would travel throughout the
    region.  They would hold services at an individual’s home or wherever people would gather
    in order to meet their spiritual needs.  As population increased, so did the need to build a
    home for the people of like faith to gather and worship.  Churches were built in towns and
    larger communities across the county to satisfy the religious need of these early settlers.

    (Note:  A building was used at the Miami Indian Village as a place of worship for several
    Christian faiths.)

    The following is a brief review of the early churches in Miami County before 1900:

    The Catholic Church:

    The presence of the Catholic Church in Miami County dates back to 1822 when a Jesuit
    Missionary entered Kansas at the eastern border of the county on his way to the Osage
    Mission.  Between 1822 and 1838, the “blackrobes” made regular visits to the Indians
    living in the county.  In 1838, the Pottawatomie Indians living on Pottawatomie Creek west
    of present day Osawatomie, invited Father Hoecken to stay with them.  In March 1839, the
    Pottawatomie moved to a new mission in Linn County along Sugar Creek.  

    From this humble beginning, the Catholic faith grew to include churches at Louisburg,
    Osawatomie, Paola, and Wea.  The Ursuline Convent Chapel was established in 1902 and
    served the Convent sisters and students (until the closing of the academy) on a daily basis
    until the sisters moved to Kentucky.  On Sundays, the Chapel was opened to the
    community as a “parish without boundaries”.  

    The Presbyterian Church

    The Presbyterian Church’s first presence in the county was the  establishment of  the Wea
    Presbyterian Mission in February 1834 on the site which later became known as the Wea
    Baptist Mission.  The Mission served the Wea Indians until 1838; when it was closed.  The
    property was purchased by the U.S. Government and became an Indian Agency.

    The first church, Spring Ridge Bethel Church, was established in Stanton Township in 1865.
    Mt. Zion Cumberland began serving the needs of the community of Marysville in 1866.  The
    congregation moved to Hillsdale in 1873 and became the Hillsdale Presbyterian Church.
    The church in Paola was organized in 1867 and chartered in 1869.
    The Fourth Presbyterian Church of Miami County (Miami Presbyterian Church) was
    organized in Middle Creek Township in 1887.
    The Osawatomie Presbyterian Church was chartered in 1887 and organized in 1889.

    The Methodist Church:

    The Methodist Church started as a mission for the Pottawatomie Indians in 1837 just east
    of the present city of Osawatomie.  The mission was closed when the Pottawatomie moved
    to a new reservation northwest of Topeka.

    In 1854 Reverend W. H. Goode came to Kansas to select sites for the stationing of
    ministers.  One site was the Marais des Cygne Mission, later to be known as Osawatomie.
    As the county grew, the Pastor at Osawatomie served a circuit where Methodist met to
    worship at Mound School House, Fairview, Wade’s Branch, Ten Mile, Tontzville, Walnut
    Creek, Stockwell, and Stott’s Branch.  

    As the years past and communities developed, Methodist Churches were established in the
  • The congregation at Osawatomie first met in 1854 and became an official member of the
    conference in 1856.
  • Paola was originally a part of the Osawatomie Circuit and held its first service in 1858.  
    Paola became a separate congregation in 1860.
  • New Lancaster. The United Brethren Church was established in 1859 and the Methodist
    Church in 1860. In 1881 the Methodist, Brethren and Presbyterians built the Union Church.
    The United Brethren deeded their interest to the Methodist in 1949.  There is no record of
    when the Presbyterians withdrew from the Union Church.
  • Fontana  was organized in 1860.
  • St. James A.M.E., Paola  was organized in 1871.
  • Hillsdale had two churches – the South, organized in 1876 and the North.  The two
    churches merged in 1939
  • Brown Chapel, A.M.E., Osawatomie was organized in 1880.
  • Bucyrus: The Union Chapel was established in 1880 as a place of worship for the use of
    any sect or denomination.  The first Methodist Church building in Bucyrus was built in 1904.
  • The date of the organization of the Plum Creek Church is unknown.  However, the Church
    building was erected in the early 1880’s on the present site.
  • The Beagle Methodist Church was organized in 1891.

    The Baptist Church

    The Southern Baptist Church purchased the Indian Agency property from the U.S.
    Government and established the Wea Baptist Indian Mission east of Paola in 1844.  The
    mission and school was in operation until 1858.  

  • The First Baptist Church was organized in Paola in 1860 and has been  serving the
    community to the present day.
  • The Baptist church at Osawatomie was established in 1862 and disbanded in 1880.  In
    1882 the church reorganized at Indianapolis as the Pottawatomie Baptist Church.  In 1883,
    the congregation moved from Indianapolis to Osawatomie and named their church the
    Osawatomie Baptist Church.
  • The Second Baptist Church was organized at Paola in 1865.  In 1956 the Mt. Olivet Baptist
    Church at Hillsdale merged with the Second Baptist Church to become Mount Olivet Baptist
  • The Antioch Baptist Church was organized in 1870.
  • The First Baptist Church of Louisburg first met at the Circle Grove log school house in 1872.  
    The Congregation moved to Louisburg in 1877.
  • The Elm Grove Baptist Church was organized at Chiles in 1879.
  • The Second Baptist Church of Osawatomie was organized in 1892 and became the
    Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1910.
  • The Green Valley Baptist Church was organized in Osawatomie Township in 1897.

    The Christian Church

  • The First Christian Church of Louisburg was organized as the Church of Christ in 1872.  The
    name was changed in 1951.
  • The Fontana Christian Church was organized in 1872 and chartered in1879 as the Church
    of Fontana.  This church disbanded in the early1900’s; however, the church was re-opened
    in 1907.
  • The First Christian Church of Paola was chartered in as the Church of Christ in 1881 and
    final organization was completed in 1884.
  • The First Christian Church of Osawatomie was organized in 1892 and held its first service in
    their new church building in November 1893.

    The Lutheran Church

    Trinity Lutheran Church was organized at Block on 1866.

    The Friends Church

    The Friends Church located 7 miles SW of Osawatomie was established in 1859.

    Churches no Longer in Existence

  • Rockville ( Later Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church)  was organized in 1862.  There is no
    record of when it closed.
  • Bethel Baptist Church – organized 1877; closed 1974.
  • Somerset Baptist Church – organized from the old Beaver Creek Church – in 1888; Closed
  • The First Christian Church of Hillsdale was organized in 1882 as the 1st Christian Church of
    Columbia.  It closed in 1926.  The building is used as the Marysville Township Hall.
  • New Hope Baptist Church, Hillsdale – organized 1890; closed 1956.
  • Plymouth Congregation Church, Paola – organized 1871; closed 1921.
  • Church of Christ, located 1 mile from Tontzville -  organized prior to 1899;   closed 1962.
  • Hillsdale A.M.E. Church (Columbia) -  organized 1886; closed late 1940’s.
  • Pleasant Valley Church - organized 1870’s; closed 1947 or 1948.
  • Interdenominational Church, Bellview -  founded 1891; closed early 1900’s.
  • Little Mission Parish was established in the spring of 1866 at the home of Ellen Kubrea
    McGuirk 3 miles west and 1 mile south of Louisburg.  The “Little Mission” served the needs
    of the community until the Immaculate Conception church was built in Louisburg in 1887.
  • McCabe Chapel (Jingo Methodist Church) - organized 1897; closed 1970.
  • Somerset Methodist Episcopal Church - organized 1877; closed 1934.
  • Wagstaff Presbyterian Church (Cumberland Presbyterian) - organized 1881;  closed 1956.
  • Zion Evangelical Church, Highland -  organized 1880; closed 1966.
  • Eden Chapel (Methodist) - No record of when it started ; Closed 1956.

    In 2011, Bernice Chitwood made a complete survey of the active churches in the county.  
    This up-to-date (as of 2011) list is available for review at the museum.

    Primary source:  History of Churches, Miami County Kansas, 1976, A Bicentennial Project of
    the Paola Association of Churches, 1976.

    Author’s Note:  Over the years I’ve learned there are two things that will get you into
    trouble “faster then a speeding bullet”: politics and religion.  If I made any mistakes or left
    anything out, my apologies.  Corrections or additions will be appreciated.

    For more detailed information about the early churches, the History of Churches is
    available for review at the museum.
Researched and written
by Jim Bousman

    The Early Churches in Miami County

    Every since the first Native Americans set their eyes on the land we now call Kansas, there
    has been a spiritual presence.   They brought with them their individual and community
    spiritualism that has continued to the present day.  In order to fully understand their
    spiritualism, one has to be raised in their culture and understand their connection with
“Spirituality is not religion to American Natives.
Religion is not a Native concept, it is a non Native word,
with implications of things that often end badly,
like Holy wars in the name of individuals God’s and so on.
because they already know the answer.
To native people, spirituality is about the Creator, period ~”
Hannes Poetter Design and Sponsorship - all rights reserved
Miami County Historical Museum - 12 E. Peoria, - Paola, KS 66071 Phone: 913-294-4940
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