During warmer weather in 2020, Iowa Adventurer was traveling to southeast Iowa and decided to head down to the small community of Floris in Davis County. My phone map app directed me to get off of the the four-lane Highway 63 at Ottumwa and, for whatever reason, sent me on a winding path of miles of dusty gravel roads. I'm not necessarily complaining, as it's a beautiful area of our state and I crossed over the Des Moines River at one point.
However, whether it was just the fact that their maybe is not a good direct route from Ottumwa to Floris via blacktops or if I somehow unwittingly set my app settings in such a way as to take me on the most direct route regardless of the road...I found myself doing many miles of gravel travel.
As I got about half way to Floris from Ottumwa, a small beautiful white church surrounded by a park-like setting appeared in the horizon. As I was without a hard schedule to meet, I found myself compelled to stop.
The church? Miller Chapel.
"The Little Church that Cares" is a non-denominational house of worship with a history that spans well over a century in southern Wapello County.
The church was built in 1909 on land that was donated by a local man named Tom Miller. Thus, you can see how it got its name. Prior to the church's construction, there had been tent revivals on this spot. After another nearby church was sold in 1912 for $50, the alter, which was made by a local Civil War veteran, was moved to Miller Church. The IAGenWeb website has a fanastic history of the church that spans from it's beginnings to 2007. There's some really interesting stuff in there about the church during the country's wars of the past century.
Unfortunately, the doors to the church were locked and thus I could not get inside to see the the alter, sanctuary, or anything else. However, I did enjoy the opportunity wander around the beautiful grounds a little bit.
There's a lovely picnic shelter with a number of different tables.
The shelter is connected to a gorgeous gazebo with patriotic bunting.
There's plenty of open space and trees. Unlike a lot of old country churches, there is no graveyard.
There's a large sign along the road that kind of grabs you. It simply asks, "Are you on God's Road"? After seeing this sign and going on the route that I went, I have contemplated whether there was a larger reason at play here.
The lighting hit the sign when I was taking the photo in such a way as to accentuate the message.
Whether you think you are are or aren't on "God's Road", you can go visit this nice little country church by hitting up the same gravel roads that I did. In this case, the road by the church is aptly named "Miller Chapel Road".
As this pandemic continues to rage, some churches have canceled in-person worship. I'm not sure what the present policy is at Miller Chapel, as their last Facebook post was from August of 2020. However, if you are a fan of old church buildings or just love some great Iowa history or just find yourself near Ottumwa, this is a neat little spot with a lot of history.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Wapello County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.