The first to preach the gospel in this locality was the Rev. Jacob Bird, of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He began his labors there in 1845. His field was in that early day an extensive one; and, though church edifices by the members of his denomination were early created in other parts of the county, no building was ever put up by them within the bounds of Hickory Township.
In that day of sparse population almost any ordinary cabin was sufficiently commodious for the demands of the small congregations who assembled to hear the occasional expounders of the Word; and, as population increased, the shady groves afforded, in the summer season, shelter for the camp meetings which constituted, in that day, a prominent feature in the religious life of the early settlers.
The first of these assemblies to occur in this locality was held in the summer of 1857, on a farm occupying section 32, township 61, range 37. at that time the property of Esquire Bragg, but now (1882) owned by his son-in-law. The presiding elder at this meeting was the Rev. Mr. Ashby, assisted by the Rev. W. Naylor, and other itinerant ministers. These assemblies continued for many years after to maintain their popularity. In 1877, 1878 and 1879 largely attended camp meetings were held on section 33, township 61, range 37, in Nickols Grove.
Source: "History of Holt and Atchison County, 1882" transcribed by Karyn Techau, 2016.