What is a Chautauqua? And why did Clear Lake host one?

by Beth Ann Schumacher president of the Clear Lake Historical Society

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of three articles preceding The Clear Lake Chautauqua Revisited to be held at City Park on Saturday, Aug. 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., hosted by the Clear Lake Historical Society and Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

Started in New York on the shores of Lake Chautauqua in 1874 by Methodists Lewis Miller and John Heyl Vincent, the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly was initially a summer vacation learning experiment.  Many protestant denominations joined in the project and the assembly’s success as a series of lessons for Sunday school teachers transformed into a life-long learning program that would start by offering academic subjects including art, music and physical education.  Methodist ministers from across the nation traveled to what was often referred to as the “Mother Chautauqua” in New York, to learn how to bring the energy and concept of the camp meeting/Chautauqua back “west.”

  The Rev. John Hogarth Lozier was one such Methodist minister who was very familiar with the Chautauqua movement.

In 1871, he was the presiding elder of the Northwest Methodist Episcopal Conference and was charged with finding a permanent location for the conference’s meeting grounds.  Even though Rev. Lozier initially thought that the Iowa Great Lakes region in Dickenson County would be an ideally suited location, Lozier dis-

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