The first church building to be erected in Evanston was that of the Baptists, who put up a substantial edifice on the corner of Center and Ninth Streets in 1871. Mr. Crossley, the colored manager of the Rocky Mountain Hotel, was a well educated man and was minister. With the exception of the year 1875, when Rev. J. W. Howe was in charge, he held services until 1877, when he left town. Owing to the shifting population, the membership decreased until it was deemed advisable to give up the property, and in 1877 it was sold to the Roman Catholics. In 1889 there was organized in the home of J. L. Atkinson the present Baptist Church, of which Leroy M. White was the first pastor. He and his family are still remembered for their purehearted devotion to Christian ideals, to which the church, though not one of the strongest in the community, has always adhered, thus adding much to the spiritual life of the town. Among the prominent workers are the members of the Isherwood family, Mrs. Claude Linsley, Mrs. Arthur Morrison and Mrs. L. Starr. The present place of worship,of this denomination is a commodious and convenient building on the corner of Eighth and Center Streets.
In the books of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Evanston there is the record of the organization of the church in 1870 by Rev. G. M. Pierce, Presiding Elder of the district. On a lot donated to them by the railroad company a building was put up and dedicated. Ministers from Utah, among whom is the name of Rev. Mr. Seymore, preached occasionally. Rev. Marshall Howison was in charge in 1875. In 1878 union revival services were conducted by C. T. Iliff, with the result that all of the religious interests of Evanston were strengthened. Rev. W. D. Thornton was pastor at this time, and the church membership that had dwindled to three began a steady increase that has been sustained throughout its subsequent history. Prominent workers were A. V. Quinn and wife, Elias Goodman and family, Mrs. John Sights and Mr. and Mrs. James McKenzie. These who have passed from earth are survived by Mrs. Samuel Dickey, who has been a member since the early days, and a fine band of workers. , Among the names of ministers those of W. O. Fisher, W. H. Pierce and S. F. Beggs stand out prominently, and the helpful ministry of E. E. Hollar is still remembered. He preached here do the ‘gos and often held services at Fort Bridger and adjoining towns. There was a son, and a daughter named Crecy who taught in the public school and is now the wife of C. W. Haggard of Kansas City, Kansas. In the summer of 1923 she visited Evanston with her little daughter and was surprised to find many of the friends of her youth still living here. During the World War Rev. A. A. Pogue was preaching for the Methodists, and as the Presbyterian Church was at that time without a pastor an “Allied Church” movement was entered into under his able leadership and carried on for two years with what seemed to be a great success, but was later dropped. Mr. Pogue was followed by Rev. U. S. Crowder. Rev. J. L. W~1lliams is the present minister, and is ably seconded by his wife, who is also an ordained minister of the gospel. They make their home in the parsonage on the same lot as the church.
In the spring of 1871 Dr. Sheldon Jackson made his first visit to Evanston and on the twenty-fourth of April held a service in the Amusement Hall that resulted in the organization of a church called the Union Presbyterian. The first trustees were J. L. Atkinson, A. V. Quinn and E. P. Brown. A building was completed in December, but the record states that “owing to a snow blockade it was not occupied until spring.” There were five charter members. Rev. F. L. Arnold, who was sent out to Laramie by the Home Mission Board in 1869, traveled across the state once a month, to fill the pulpit, until July, 1872, when Frederick B. Welty, a young divine from Pennsylvania, took charge. He found the church building occupied by the public school, and for six months he held services in the Baptist Church. In January, 1873, the first schoolhouse having been completed, pews and pulpit were set in place and worship was begun in the building dedicated to that purpose, which served the congregation until i9oo, when a more modem edifice was erected on the same lot. In igz2 it was enlarged, and is now a convenient and spacious church home.
Rev. F. L. Arnold moved with his family to Evanston in 1875 and remained here as a pastor for thirteen years, when he accepted a call to the Westminster Church of Salt Lake City. He was a frequent visitor in the homes of his children, who remained in Evanston, and his influence grew stronger with the passing years. He was called “Everybody’s Pastor”, and the interest he evinced in the welfare of the people of all ages and conditions gave him a right to the title. He died in Salt Lake in i9o5 shortly before his eightieth birthday, and the beautiful memorial service conducted by the ministerial association of Salt Lake was attended by many of the friends who had come under his helpful ministry in Wyoming as well as those from all parts of Utah. His wife, Hannah Ramsey Arnold, died in 1922 and was buried by his side in the Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Other ministers of this church who left their mark on the community are the Rev. Charles M. Shepherd, under whom the new church was built and who is remembered for his scholarly and spiritual attainments ; Rev. Leon C. Hills, who won the hearts of young and old by his tireless service, and who after a pastorate of ten years in Cheyenne is now in charge of the Park Hill Church of Denver ; Rev. D. M. Davies, who served the cause of God and man on the street as well as in the pulpit, and who, with his much-loved wife, is now at Aberdeen, Idaho ; and Rev. J. F. Vernon, now engaged in mission work in Alaska, under whom the last addition of the church was built. The present pastor is Rev. Timothy G. Paddon, a native of London, and the church is prospering under his earnest and eloquent ministry.
The Mormon Church began in the spring of 1872 with a membership of eight as a branch of the Bear Lake Stake, and William G. Burton was made Presiding Elder. Henry G. Matthews, brother of Percy Matthews, was clerk. In 1877 the organization was completed and Mr. Burton was given the office of Bishop, a position he held until i88i, when he moved to Utah. He was succeeded in office by James Brown. In 1915 Mr. Brown was advanced to the rank of President, and Percy G. Matthews became Bishop.
Bishop Brown, as he is still called by his many friends, is one of the outstanding figures in the life of the county. From Scotland he came to Almy when eighteen years of age, and in i88o began work as blacksmith in the railroad shops. In 1893 he was made deputy county clerk under J. R. Arnold, and the next year he was elected county clerk, a position that he held for six years. For four years he was connected with the Evanston National Bank, and in i92o was the choice of the people for the office of clerk of the court. For twenty years he has served on the school board, and his services are in demand in almost every patriotic or other public meeting, where his pleasing voice and dignified bearing are sure to bring pleasure to his auditors. In 1882 he married Miss Christina Hunter of Salt Lake City. She died in 1922.
The brick edifice put up in 1889 as a Mormon meeting house has been enlarged to meet the demands of the growing membership. The church offices occupy a building across the road on Eighth Street, and a movement is on foot to erect a modem building commensurate with the needs of the people. The Mormons have done much to foster the musical spirit of the town, and their present choir, under the trained leadership of John Neilson, is an organization of which any community might be proud.
Up to the year 1884 there was no resident priest of the Roman Catholic Church in Evanston, but it was attended as a mission by priests from other towns. Among them was Father Cusson of Laramie, who, in the winter of 1877, interested the adherents of his faith in the purchase of the building now occupied by them. Father Fitzgerald was in charge of the church from 189 to ,1896, and under his ministry the church prospered. He was interested in the town and did much f or its progress by working for the establishment of the fire department and other improvements. He built the house now owned by George E. Pexton, which was for many years the Joseph E. Cashin home. Other resident priests and the year of the beginning of their work in Evanston were Rev. Peter Casey, 1896; Rev. Michael A. Kennedy, 1901; Rev. P. T. Haines, 1902 ; Rev. P. J. Walsh, 1903; Rev. T. J. Barrett, 1904; Rev. D. M. Tully, 1907; Rev. M. A. Kennedy, 1908; Rev. P. J. Lynch, 1910; Rev. R. B. Groener, 1911 ; Rev. John F. Moreton, 1914; Rev. John O’Connor, 1923. Father Groener, who is affectionately remembered for his ability and the strength of his friendships, is now located in Lawrence, Kansas. Father Moreton, an able young divine from the state of Vermont, brought with him his parents and other members of his family. His father died here in 1922 and the widow and three of the daughters remained in Evanston, after Father Moreton went to Casper. A comfortable parish house has been added to the original church building, and the property is a valuable one. Among the members who have helped to make a success of the work of this church will always be remembered the Hamilton brothers and their families, Mr. and Mrs. James Smith, John Smith, Mrs. James Code, Miss Nell Byrnes, John Ward and wife, and the families of Derrick Allard, Joseph LaRivierre, John Foley and Joseph and William E. Cashin.
The Episcopal Church was built under the scholarly ministration of the Rev. Samuel Unsworth, who had charge of the mission work in Evanston in connection with his work in Utah, during the early ‘Sos. From the year 1873, when Bishop Spaulding came here from his headquarters in Denver to preach in the place of worship belonging to the Baptists, occasional services had been held by ministers from Utah, with which diocese Evanston was then connected. In August, 1885, the tasteful and dignified building that was made possible by self-sacrificing efforts of a few devoted members and the liberality of their friends, was consecrated by Bishop Tuttle of Salt Lake City, assisted by Bishop Spaulding, Bishop Rafter of Cheyenne, and others. Rev. Allen Judd, from Iowa, was the first resident rector, and during his stay the rectory was built. He was succeeded by Rev. H. C. Galaudet.
Among the active workers of this early day were Mrs. Frank Foote, Mrs. Louis Dempson and H. B. Hilliard and family. Mr. Hilliard was employed in the railroad shops. The family consisted of his wife, and daughters, Bess, wife of P. E. Glafke of Denver, Florence, who is a trained nurse, Grace, who, with her husband, J. T. Ray, is on the stage, and Margaret, who married George Harvey of Hamilton, Ontario. The Rev. Bert Foster, who was for many years rector, so slight of body that according to his own statement, he was rejected from the army because he was “not big enough to stop a ball”, is remembered for his devotion to the church. Rev. Hyrum Bullis remained with the church for nine years, and left the missionary field, in which his life was spent, to go to, California, where he died. His widow survives him. Rev. George Hunting, later Bishop of Nevada, has a lasting memorial in the hall built during his ministry which bears his name. Mr. Hunting’s memory will always be held in high esteem because of his sterling worth. He died in 1924 and his widow survives him. Rev. Guy Kagie was here during the World War, and was one of the most active workers in national as well as church affairs. With his wife and little son he went from Evanston to Olney, Maryland, where he has a flourishing charge. The Evanston church, which is known as St. Paul’s, is now under the care of Dean Franklin C. Smith, who makes his home in Evanston and preaches in Kemmerer alternate Sundays. He is editor of the Wyoming Churchman, a monthly publication that would be a credit to any state.