VERDE HERITAGE 1938: COTTONWOOD; Methodist - Baptist Church, Part 2.
Peyton and Anne (Owen) Bristow and their 5 children moved from a small village in Indiana to Kentucky in 1837. Anne died before Peyton moved to Humansville in southwestern Missouri among the Ozark Mountains during 1848. At the age of 18, their youngest son, James Clawson Bristow, was converted and licensed to preach by the Mount Enon Church. James married Elizabeth Caroline Smith on January 17, 1857. A neighborhood friend returned from the Verde Valley with news about Arizona Territory. Soon a group of families were planning for the journey west and loading their wagons. Parson Bristow, his wife, and six of their children started west on April 26, 1875. In New Mexico, the Bristow family and the Hawkins family traveled together on a different route, arriving in the Verde Valley on August 18.
Parson Bristow camped on land in the area they called Central Verde [after 1885, Aultman, and now Middle Verde], constructed a brush arbor for shelter and eventually built a home nearby. On Sunday, October 3, 1875, Parson Bristow preached his first Baptist sermon in Arizona Territory in the shade of the largest cottonwood tree near his home. That day the people who had traveled with ox-drawn wagons from Missouri were joined by Verde Valley residents: George Hance, several soldiers, and two cowboys. The "Old Tree" Meetings on the first Sunday in October became a tradition. Rev. Bristow preached his last sermon at an "Old Tree" Meeting on October 3, 1920, with an audience of about 200 friends and relatives. (See: Verde Independent "Baptist 'Old Tree' Meetings;" October 3, 2012.)
Romulus Adolphus Windes, from Alabama, studied at the Baptist Union Theological Seminary at Chicago. He married Magdalene Ann Reid on May 4, 1874. They were parents of two daughters by the time he completed his studies in 1879. The American Baptist Home Missionary Society assigned Rev. Windes to be a missionary in Arizona Territory. The family traveled in an old milk wagon, leaving Chicago May 15, and arriving at Prescott on August 15, 1879. In 1880, Rev. Windes began visiting the Verde Valley. He rode a mule, traveling from Prescott on Friday night and returning Sunday night, after holding meetings on Saturday and Sunday, for which he was paid $4. (The Journal of Arizona History; Autumn 1998; "The Devil Kept His Cauldron Boiling;" by Magdalene A. Windes; pages 235-262.)
With the help of Rev. R. A. Windes, Parson James C. Bristow organized a Sunday school and church. He was ordained to the Christian ministry in 1882 at Middle Verde. Rev. Bristow served as the pastor until August, 1905. (Pioneer Stories of Arizona's Verde Valley; 1933, 1954; page 59.) Rev. Windes moved to Phoenix in 1882, and then to Globe.
In 1887, Rev. R. A. Windes was assigned to the Verde Valley. He stayed at Middle Verde, then moved to the Scott Ranch at Cottonwood, and then to Peck's Lake. Rev. Windes organized the Upper Verde Baptist Church, founded under the Northern Baptist Missions, on August 10, 1890. Rev. Windes was the first pastor-organizer. The original 5 members included: Anne T. Jordan (a daughter of Rev. James C. Bristow), Mrs. Mary Willard, and Mr. Mid Campbell. Rev. Windes preached at Cottonwood School during the morning, then rode a horse to the Peck's Lake School for Sunday school during the afternoon. He taught school at Cottonwood in 1892 (Coconino Sun; February 4, 1992). Their daughter, Stanley Windes also taught school at Cottonwood. Rev. Windes did missionary work at Oak Creek, Beaver Creek, Cherry Creek, and Lower Verde. As the population of Jerome grew, Rev. Windes began preaching there. The Baptist Church, built on the hill above the Catholic Church, was dedicated on September 29, 1895. (Verde Independent; September 30, 2014.) Mrs. Windes wrote about life in the Verde Valley as the "Upper Verde Correspondent" for the Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner at Prescott. (See: Verde Independent; "1895: Upper Verde Correspondent;" and "1896: Upper Verde Correspondent.") Rev. Windes retired during 1899 and the family moved to Tempe.
"Through the influence of Rev. R. D. Latter, a colporter and missionary for the American Baptist Publication Society, Rev. Eugene Keene, from Texas, came and took up the work. Another church was organized by Rev, Keene on the Upper Verde in August of 1906. Among other men to help spread the Gospel in the valley were: Rev. Melton, Rev. John Smith, Rev. R. P. Pope, Rev. Robert Fleisher, Rev. Leo McKee, Rev. Epperley, Rev. T. M. Blacklock, Rev. T. F. McCourtney, Rev. H. Q. Morton, and Rev. W. P. Bristow (a son of Rev. James C. Bristow)." Rev. W. P. Bristow was the pastor at Middle Verde before he became the pastor of the Upper Verde Church. (Arizona Baptist; December, 1964; "Arizona Baptist Beginnings;" by Stella Jordan, 1920.)
As the church grew, many of the members lived near Bridgeport, so Sunday services were held at the Willard School. On July 15, 1917, church services were moved to the new Amusement Hall built by the United Verde Extension Mining Company in their company town of Verde/Clemenceau. The congregation began a building project. "The new Baptist Church is about complete. Rev. Lee held dedication services yesterday at 11 o'clock and services again in the evening. This is he first church edifice to be erected in the town." (Verde Copper News; December 24, 1917; page 5.) Rev. W. P. Bristow became the pastor for 3 years prior to 1920.
As time passed and the congregation grew, 3 additional units were added to the chapel. During the spring of 1933, this chapel was moved and joined onto another building located at the corner of what became West Mingus and Candy Lane. Rev. L. L. Simmons, the 16th pastor, served from 1933 until 1937. Mrs. A. L. Sloper was the Sunday School Superintendent.
During 1938, plans were made for the Baptists to use the Cottonwood church building, however, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South needed a new deed allowing them to sell the property. "This indenture, made this 11th day of May, 1939, between United Verde Extension Mining Company ... first party, and Thos. B. Jones, Samuel L. Strahan, and V. D. McArthur, Trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, Cottonwood Church, Camp Verde Charge, of Cottonwood, second parties. ... That first party, for and in consideration of the sum of One Dollar to it in hand paid by second parties, ... has remised, released, and quit claimed and by these presents does convey ... to second parties and their successors in trust for church and religious, civic and residential purposes only, ... all its right, title, and interest ... in that certain piece or parcel of land, lying in the Verde Mining District. ... There is hereby reserved to Phelps Dodge Corporation a perpetual easement to the property ... to flood said property with smoke, fumes, gasses, vapor, etc. ... Said premises shall be used, kept, maintained and disposed of only for church and religious, civic and residential purposes." ... (Yavapai County Book 173 of Deeds; pages 421-422.)
Rev. Henry Buhler, the 20th pastor, served from 1943 until 1952. He refurbished the building, adding rooms on the east, which included Sunday School rooms, study, and baptistery upstairs and kitchen and classrooms downstairs. A new entrance was built on the west end of the sanctuary with a bell tower and more class rooms. He did most of the physical labor. During this time the congregation left the Northern Association and joined the Conservative Baptist Association."
"Rev. Barker, who served from 1961 until 1964, was instrumental in purchasing the land and building a church at 102 S. Willard (which is near the 1917, 1918 and 1933 church locations).
"Dr. Robert Warren, the 28th pastor, arrived in 1979. Under his leadership a Christian Church school was established, from preschool through 8th grade, and a second story was added to the educational wing. The school had 142 pupils and the membership was 619, with over 400 people attending Sunday mornings. Plans were made to build a new worship center." ... (Cottonwood, Clarkdale, and Cornville History; 1985; Cottonwood Chapter 2021, American Association of Retired Persons; "Verde Baptist Church;" Phyllis White Wilson; pages 58-59.)