Religious Denominations Of The State—The Spanish And The French Catholics—Movements Of The Protestant Denominations—The Organization Into Church Groups—First Mass In Iowa—First Church—The Young Men's Christian Association—Number Of Congregations—Wealth, Character, Membership And Standing Of The Various Denominations Represented In Iowa—Religious Educational Institutions—Criminal Statistics.
IN viewing the West as a mission field, it is well to distinguish t h r e e periods in its development. The first may be known as its discovery and occupation by the Spanish and French Catholics from 1541 to 1803, nearly three centuries. This would be also characterized by their work among the Indians. The second period, following the purchase of the trans-Mississippi region in 1803, may be characterized by the settlement of Protestant denominations as its predominant feature. This may extend to about 1865, when the close of the war allowed the western railway movement to resume an impetus it had checked somewhat. From 1865 to the present, the stupendous spread of western railways and the nineteenth century " migration of races "-far more marvelous than that of the fifth century-may be called the period of organization and assimilation, for the most characteristic element of this period is the gathering together into churches the settlers from various parts of the world into convenient church groups. It is organization and assimilation, too, in another sense, namely, the rise of inter-denominational, religious and reformatory movements, such as the Young Men's Christian Association, the Sunday-school Association, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, etc. If these distinctions are borne in mind they form an explanatory thread which is somewhat of a guide through the mazy, shifting and gigantic changes in our western empire.
Iowa has passed through all of these periods, but with certain striking modifications, caused by her later settlement and her peculiarly rapid growth, arising from her location on the great trans-continental highway of trunk-line railways, together with her ready-made prairie gardens that lay waiting for occupants. There is another essential cause, however, in some degree more important than any of the above,