The story of First Presbyterian Polly

Rev. Launcelot Graham Bell

In 1836, Rev. Launcelot Graham Bell came to Burlington on the Mississippi to establish a Presbyterian Church of the “Old School.” Services were held in homes or schoolrooms. After a General Assembly charter was issued, plans for the church building were made and the lot selected. Our present church building is on that same lot, which was purchased for $400 and recorded August 12, 1845. The building was completed in 1848, costing $4000. The pews had doors, the church was lighted with tallow candles in sconces nailed to the wall and heated by stoves, supplemented with tiny foot stoves filled with hot coals in the coldest weather.

Rev James Shinn
  After the many iternerant ministers, James Shinn was installed and ordained November 4, 1848. More itinerant ministers followed him until 1864; under Dr. George Steward the small church thrived and a process of renovation began with more pews added, a furnace installed, the gallery rebuilt into the choir loft and the minister’s salary increased from $700 to $1500.

Dr. C.J. McClintock

  In later years, Stewart was replaced and the church continued strong growth. During Dr. C.J. McClintock’s ministry following Dr. Stewart, the Sunday School supported a young Chinese Boy, Teng Yeng, who became pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Peking. At the height of his ministry, he and his family were killed in the Boxer Rebellion. The bronze tablet in Fellowship Hall is dedicated to his memory. McClintock served the church for 20 years, during which a new building was completed costing $40,000 and was dedicated on January 22, 1888. The manse was built during that time.


Several strong and spiritual pastors followed. After 1940, Rev. Carl Brown was pastor and under his leadership the Women’s Association was formed. Rev. Paul Calhoun was our pastor in the late 1940’s into the early ‘50s. At this time, we acquired the Aeolina-Skinner pipe organ as a memorial from Mrs. E.P. Eastman. The organ has three manuals, 34 ranks and 2138 pipes with mechanicals including harp and chimes. During this period the church building was remodeled and new areas added. A rededication service was held December 23, 1951.

Rev. Roscoe Wolvington


Following other pastors, Rev. Roscoe Wolvington came in January 1959 and was here until 1976. There were more changes in the church in the Women’s Association, and formation of new committees for our congregation. Westminster Presbyterian Church merged with our church during these years.

Click here for more information on Rev. Wolvington

Rev. Clifford Haskins

  Rev. Clifford Haskins was installed in September 1976. During his tenure, in the early 80’s the church was renovated, including the artistic restoration of the sanctuary. He also introduced the new “Small Group” program to our church, and it became a widespread activity with many diverse groups and up to 80 participants at different times. The use of members as liturgists during the worship service began during his time here.

Rev Sue & Forrest Krummel


During the pastorate of Sue and Forrest Krummel, our stained glass windows in the sanctuary were cleaned and restored. Under their leadership, strong efforts were made by various groups (Long Range Planning and the Mustard Seed Group for example) to seek vision for our congregation’s future. The formation of Small Groups and the Gems became an important part of our congregational life. The church also purchased property on Mason Road in the south part of Burlington.

In the early years of First Presbyterian, the labor, sacrifice and continuous prayers of the men and women who founded it are continued by succeeding generations. We have seen turbulence along with periods of serenity, which in the end preserves the strength of people together in Christian fellowship.

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