"Harold Bell Wright Church, Peirce City, Mo."
As illustrated on the postcard above (Courtesy Dave Hadsell), the name of the town was spelled, "Peirce
City" until the early 1920's. The First Christian Church
(Disciples of Christ) in this little
Missouri town was Harold Bell Wright’s first
pastorate. Though no exact records are available, it appears that Wright
began preaching in Pierce City in the summer of 1896, became the full-time
pastor during the winter of 1896-1897, and left in late 1897 when he accepted
a call to pastor the First Christian Church in Pittsburg, Kansas. Residents
of Pierce City still proudly claim Wright
as part of their history.
In March, 2000, Quentin Burke, president of the Harold Bell Wright
“The edifice contains the organ and several pews used by the
congregation. On the walls
are decorations dating back to 1896, when Wright rode a horse some 25
miles every Sunday to preach here. These
include a clock in use at that time, a big church key which was for the
lock on the original door, and a picture of a local schoolteacher who was
reportedly enamored of the young preacher.” [Gazette, Vol. 8, No 3]
Tower, at The Shepherd of the Hills Farm in Branson, is a painting by
Harold Bell Wright that was displayed for over 20 years on the wall behind
the pulpit of the little Pierce City church. But that painting -- of a
river in Ohio -- never belonged to the church. Before the painting was
hung in the church, Wright had given it to a member of the church, a Mr.
John W. Taylor. Later Wright asked Taylor if he would loan it to the
church, which he did. When the church closed in the 1920s the painting
went to Taylor's widow. It remained in the Taylor family for several
generations. I do not know how or when it went to Inspiration Tower.
By late 2000 the city library had been moved to new quarters in a
brand new building in the main section of town, and the city had begun to
turn the historic little church into a real Harold Bell Wright Museum. In
the summer of 2003, an excellent collection of all Harold Bell Wright's
books and many related materials was donated to the museum, making it a good
destination for at least regional researchers. The library is open by
appointment only, so check the museum website and contact the director
on May 4, nearly the entire town of Pierce City was destroyed by a
tornado. No damage was done to the Harold Bell Wright Museum, but the new
city library, where the books from the old church were
moved a couple years earlier, was totally destroyed.