The roots of the Episcopal Church in Neodesha are as old as the town, which was founded in 1867. The town founder's wife, Amanda, was an Episcopalian and held a group meeting in her home in 1876. They met in each other's homes, hotel parlors, lodge halls and other churches. Several different archdeacons and rectors served the group.
The Reverend Hawke while in the area met and married the daughter. of a devoted church woman, Mrs. J. D. Nichols. Reverend Hawke wrote that his wife, Zella, was baptized in a hotel parlor, confirmed in a lodge hall and they were married in the stone church in 1911.
In 1902 the Neodesha Church's name was changed from Grace to Ascension--because there were numerous other churches in the diocese with the same name.
Activity flourished at the turn of the century. A church member gave a building site on 8th Street just north of what is now Heller School. The church was not built there but the name of Church Street remains to this day.
The church was built where it remains today and the cornerstone was laid on July 2, 1903. The stone was supplied by Henry Dooley from his quarry north of town. Frank Holley was the mason who laid the stone. Progress was slow--it was built as they raised the money. Actual completion date is unknown, but Dr. McCartney purchased a stain glass window in 1905 and had it installed.
By 1899, the number of communicates had grown to 46. Bishop Millspaugh consecrated the building in 1908 although services had been held there since 1906.
In 1929, the Rev. Charles Davies, who lived in Coffeyville with his wife, began serving Neodesha on a regular basis--traveling by train. On his first trip he arrived in town not knowing the location of the church. It was evening and he went in the first church he saw--the Presbyterian Church. After turning the lights on and investigating further, he discovered it was the wrong church. That was a source of amusement for both churches. Since the owners of the Brown Hotel were Episcopalians, he had a room there any time he needed to stay overnight.
The most memorable event while Fr. Davies was here, was the stone church was condemned. The east wall was cracking and leaning; and city officials required cession of use and fencing around the church protect pedestrians passing by. A contractor from Independence offered to fix it for $1800 by numbering the stones, removing them and relaying them in the proper order with rods conecting the walls. Funds raised from the congregation did not equal the needed amount. Jess Brown, a vestry member, offered to solicit friends and downtown businesses if Fr. Davies would go with him. The goal was reached.
Fr. Davies later was called to serve the Church in Chanute in 1931 and continued to serve Neodesha and Coffeyville. The missions and diocese helped him purchase a car since his total salaries were $2,700. He drove 2,400 miles a month over rough dirt and gravel roads. He held Sunday services in each town and spent one day visiting parishioners.