This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

From Peoria, Illinois to Peoria, Arizona and the Presbyterian Church


If you like looking at old buildings in the Phoenix area, you've seen the Peoria Presbyterian Church. It's over by the Peoria History Museum, on 83rd Avenue west of Grand Avenue.

I visited it a couple of days ago and I immediately went into my "time-traveling" mode. It was 1892 and the church had just been built. Well, the building at least. The Presbyterian Church is the congregation of people who had moved from Peoria, Illinois, to Arizona. I'm not trying to be obtuse here, but a Church is wherever two or more are gathered in His Name. And in 1892 this area must have looked (please excuse the expression, but it's the best description) as God-forsaken as anywhere in the world.

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Look around you. Miles and miles and miles of desert. Dust, dirt, sand, and tumbleweeds. To the west you can see the White Tank Mountains, which the Apaches still protect. To the south are the Estrella Mountains, where the Pimas live. To the east you can see the Phoenix Mountains, and especially Camelback Mountain. The young folk with better eyesight can see the McDowell Mountains way out east, nearby where the Pima people also live. To the southeast are the Salt River Mountains, which would be come to be known as South Mountain. You can see Grand Avenue over there, although it's quite a fancy name for just a wide dirt road. There are laterals from the Arizona Canal, which is just north, and has been there for almost ten years, but relying on water from a canal just seems kinda iffy. A lot of people are drilling wells. And a lot of people are praying for rain.

The people around us have that combination of home-sickness and the feeling of promise that's typical of being so far away from home. Of course, we can take the train back to Illinois anytime we want to, it's not like we're stranded out here. But the train is expensive, and this is our home now. The congregation has built a church, and with hope there may be a chance of life. Time will tell.