Cheyenne County

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Churches
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Cheyenne County is in the extreme northwestern corner of the state of Kansas. This part is still sparsely settled, but in 1886 there were enough Brethren in the county to justify an organization. Immigration flowed in from the Dorchester church, Saline County, Nebraska, and also from Marshall County, Iowa. Free homesteads were attractive to the Brethren.

The prime mover in church affairs was Esrom Slifer, formerly of Lanark, Illinois, but later of the Iowa River congregation in Marshall county, Iowa. He moved to Cheyenne county in 1886. Largely through his efforts the fourteen members resident in the county met on August 19, 1886 at the home of George W. Meyers, to organize. Elders M. M. Eshelman, B. B. Whitmer, and John Hollinger had the work in charge. They drove from Quinter in a two horse buggy, "sleeping out" two nights on the road.
The Cheyenne County church extended over a large territory, embracing the counties of Rawlins, Cheyenne, and Sherman, until an organization should be perfected in Thomas or Sherman County. At the organization, Geo. W. Meyers and John H. Cakerice were elected to the ministry and Theodore Slifer was elected a deacon. M. M. Eshelman was made elder in charge. The charter members were Geo. W. Meyers, wife and two daughters, Daniel Fager and wife, Mrs. Samuel Wilson, Mrs. W. D. Gilchrist, Theodore W. Slifer and wife, Esrom Slifer, J. H. Cakerice and wife and John F. Cline and wife.

Bro. Meyers soon moved away. Bro. Cakerice later moved back to Iowa, then to Abilene, and is now an elder at Eldora, Iowa. Bro. Cline was one of the most heroic and devoted of the Brethren in the trying times in western Kansas. When the Sherman county church was organized (1888) he was ordained to the eldership. His last days were spent at McPherson, where he met a tragic death (May 8, 1911), by being buried by the caving in of a sand pit.

In 1890 Esrom Slifer was elected a deacon. On February 12, 1890, his son, Oliver c., was elected to the ministry. He was leading educator in Cheyenne county and at the time of his death (October 8, 1891), was principal of the Bird City Schools. In the spring of 1890, he attended McPherson College, preaching his first sermon in the East McPherson church.

The congregation never owned a church house, but made use of the country school houses and a union church. Before the advent of even these, they worshipped in the homes of the members. Tents were used for love fesats.

In 1889, Joseph Gilchrist, a prominent Christian minister, united with the Brethren. He was elected to the ministry (January, 1890), and later moved to his old home at Fairfield, Iowa. Henry Fry, who lived over in Rawlins county, was also elected to the ministry (September 14, 1895). His present address is Ludell, Kansas. On September 11, 1897, George H. Sharp and Chas H. Slifer were elected to the ministry. Bro Slifer had attended McPherson College and now resumed his studies, pursuing them with a few interruptions until 1906 when he was graduated with the A. B. Degree - a member of the class in which where the Crumpackers, Emma Horning, J. H. B. Williams and S.C. Miller. After graduation he engaged in school work, became interested in Florida land and was instrumental in August 1914 in establishing the Brethren church at Arcadia, Florida. He is now professor of mathematics in the North Carolina College of Agriculture at Raleigh.

George M. Lauver was principal of the St. Francis schools in the year 1898-1899, and while here preached for the Brethren. Several of the young people of this community came down to McPherson College, largely, probably through the influence of C. H. Slifer, In earlier days, however, C. Everett Kemp came to McPherson and was graduated with the academy class of 1896. In 1896-1898 he taught in LaVerne (then Lordsburg) college. While at McPherson he united with the Church of the Brethren. He is now one of America's leading readers on the Chautauqua platform.

Mention should be made of the pioneer work of Bro. Sharp (a blind minster) who preached at several places about the county. He lost his sight because of exposure while in prison during the Civil War. His knowledge of the Bible was phenomenal. He moved to Iowa in 1899. Then Elder John Snowberger of Holyoke, Colo., who was elder in charge for several years used to drive across the country about one hundred and twenty-five miles to minister to the church. In September 1896 J. F. Cline succeeded Bro. Snowberger as elder and continued in that capacity for some time.

But the drouths of the nineties brought crop failures and people began moving out. Many moved back to Nebraska and Iowa. Others moved further east in Kansas. The church was never disorganized. There are few if any members now resident in the county. (A History of the Church of the Brethren in Kansas, by Elmer LeRoy Oraik, 1922)
 


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