Reprint from The Blue Mt. Eagle
August 24th, 1972
By Jo Southworth

The Fox Church is a monument to pioneer religious spirit. Materials and labor were generously given to make a fine tall building reaching up toward God instead of a mere shelter.

The story of the church began when faithful Baptist families from Missouri moved to the Fox Valley. Several of the wives, maybe all of them, were sisters. They included the Bill Barnards, William Hiatts, Bob Woods, Phillip Adkins, and Marshall Adkins families. Most of their numerous children settled in the valley.

These people provided much of the leadership and resources to build the church in 1900 or just before that time. Jim Berry hand picked the timber on his place. It was sawed at Harry Halstead's sawmill located near the highway's south entrance to Fox Valley. They even supported a resident minister for a short time - the Rev. George Eades. He was married in the church by a traveling preacher. His may have been the only wedding in the Fox Church, as most people had home weddings in those days.

The church bell was heard for a long ways over the valley, especially on a clear cold morning. It's ringing is missed by some who remember the sound as one of the good things of those times. For a while there was a family living on nearly every 160 acres in Fox Valley. Saddle horse and team transportation meant that people went to Fox rather than through it. Sunday School was held the year around. Church services were held whenever a traveling minister was in the area. Dressing for the sleigh ride to the church in winter probably prepared the people for the temperature inside. Two wood stoves provided the heat. They were near the second windows from the entrance. Their two stove pipes joined below the chimney in the center of the building. The people cut the wood and stored it in the entrance hall. Six gas lamps hung on long rods attached to the ceiling. They were fueled, pumped up and lighted to provide a rather dim light for evening affairs. Organ music always accompanied the singing.

The Sunday School teachers are fondly remembered as good Christian women who were full of fun. They really liked the young people they taught and often invited them to their homes. The Baptist Young People's Union was a large group. They had services every Sunday evening. There were Easter programs. The Christmas programs included a tree with gifts for everyone. Sunday School picnics were held in the summer in the timber up Fox Creek or at a home with a shady yard. Traveling evangelists held revival meetings, usually for a week. The last meeting was often a baptism by immersion in Fox Creek for the new members. The Ladies' Aid had all-day meetings in homes of neighbors. They tied comforters and helped needy families. Everyone enjoyed a pot luck at noon. There have been many funerals in the church, followed by burial in the Fox Cemetery. Before the days of mortuaries the neighbors prepared the body for burial and local men dug the grave. The coffins were purchased in Long Creek.

A few of the enthusiastic Baptists who had been pillars of the church moved to Idaho. Then many others followed. So the church was without much of its leadership and congregation. For some time the only meetings in the Fox Church were those held by traveling ministers. In the late '20s or early '30s some residents were anxious to have regular Sunday School for their children. So the Rev. Thorndyke, Presbyterian minister in Monument, (Preceded by Rev. Cookson) began holding church and Sunday school each Sunday afternoon.

A World War II Service Honor Roll was hung on the church wall to honor the eight or ten Fox Valley boys in the war. All of the boys returned. As ranches enlarged and population dwindled, the congregation became small. So one of the ministers moved his lectern from the oval pulpit to the main floor of the church to be closer to the people and the stove. The church was a big building to heat and maintain. Coats of paint were applied at various times. It was re-roofed, and new banisters were built by the steps. One especially disappointing time in the latter '40s, itinerant painters offered to paint the structure at a special rate since it was a church. The whole community contributed to their $200 fee and furnished part of the paint. The painters left at night before anyone could inspect the job. Then some of the paint washed off during the next rain.

In the 1950's the Village Missions began sending ministers to Long Creek. Some broken windows were replaced in the Fox Church and regular Sunday afternoon services were held again by the Village Mission ministers from Long Creek. They also conducted Bible study groups in the homes. By the late '50s the Fox School had become the Fox Community Center. It was a much more comfortable building than the old church. So the congregation decided to move the organ and the services to that building.

As the population continued to shrink so did Church attendance. By the early 1960's the last church services were held in the Fox Community Center. The remaining congregation went to other communities to attend church.

It is hoped that a restoration and a useful life might be in the future of the Fox Church. It has meant so much to the many people who strengthened their relationship with God by worshipping there.

Many thanks for time and information to Mrs. Max Justice (lately of Canyon City. She died Dec. 24, 1972*)
 
 


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