The pastor's wife of the Park Congregational Church in Elmira, NY, Julia Beecher made her first cloth doll for her niece. When others in her family requested a similar doll, Beecher sought the help of the church's sewing circle. Soon the group engaged in making dolls to support the congregation's missionary work, and according to some sources, to pay off the church's debts. The church made the Missionary Ragbabies from 1893 to 1910. The church ladies used needle sculpting and hand painting to detail the dolls' facial features, fingers, or clenched fists and made the distinctive wigs for the dolls of strains of yarn. Beecher dolls were usually clothed in a baby dress and matching bonnet.