Happy Birthday Peoria Presbyterian Church

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If you are a new “kid” at P.P.C. you might be interested in some history of the early years. If you have heard the story you may be excused and go play.

Upon the completion of the Arizona Canal in 1885 the word got out to people in Peoria, Illinois that with irrigation water available in the desert making it profitable to clear the desert brush and plant crops. About twelve people came and settled thirteen miles northwest of Phoenix.

They named the new settlement Peoria after their former hometown after arriving in 1886. In 1889 H.C. Mann, his wife Jennie, and 15 year old daughter Alice arrived from Kansas. With no suitable housing, the Mann’s lived in a store which was the site for the first religious service. The closest well for domestic water was in Glendale, four or five miles away. Mr. Mann had a well dug 30 feet deep in now the old town business district. The water table is now maybe 300 feet deep.

Jennie Mann saw the need for a Sunday School and combed the area for children to meet in her home, the store building. This was the start of the first Presbyterian Sunday School in the 1890s. Adults also came for worship sitting on boards supported on boxes. There was no piano. In 1891 the first Peoria District #11 school building was built. Sunday School and worship was now held in the school house.

NOW FINALLY, a group from Peoria in 1891 affixed their names to a petition to request the Presbytery to organize a Presbyterian Church in Peoria. Their request was met and the Peoria Presbyterian Church was organized April 10, 1892. The group met in the schoolhouse until the present sanctuary (the north portion) was completed at the end of 1899 with the new being dedicated February 4, 1900. If my dates are wrong and if you were present at this time, lets talk.

Peoria was not the first Presbyterian Church organized. Before Peoria, Presbyterian Churches were organized in Prescott in 1876 following the first Presbyterian Church organized by Sheldon Jackson in Tucson, Arizona Territory. In 1879, P.P.C. in Phoenix; 1888 in Florence; 1889 the First Pima Indian Presbyterian Church; 1891 F.P.C. in Flagstaff; then Peoria in 1892.

There are some P.P.C. history books in the office, or there were or see me to borrow some if you do not find one. In the meantime, HAPPY BIRTHDAY PEORIA PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH FOR YOUR SERVICE OF 126 YEARS TO THE PEORIA COMMUNITY.

Ken Johnson

Categories: Newsletter

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