HISTORY OF THE EMINENCE CHURCH

1838-1932

This history was written by Eva Jane Ewing Ketterson who was born May 10, 1885, in Eminence Township, the daughter of Isaac Newton and Sarah Jane Frantz Ewing. She married Vernon Joseph Ketterson on April 17, 1912. Eva was a registered nurse. She died June 21, 1975, in DeWitt County. We do not know exactly why she wrote this history. It was transcribed by Michelle Rush.

To give a detailed history of the Eminence Christian Church would be to write the history of Eminee Township and a biography of hundreds of nobie men and women. These men and women were the foundation of our present civilization, and were pioneers in gospel teaching and moral reforms. That they were intellectual, earnest, upright, ever loyal to and courageous in defense of their convictions, and always gave precedence to the Word of God, truth and right was evidenced by their works and daily lives; and is evidenced today by the religious atmosphere that surrounds the township.

It would be gratifying to mention with honor all these excellent people who have gone before; who toiled and taught, braved and builded, laying well the foundation for a higher life themselves and leaving a sublime and almost divine inspiration for the multitudes that follow. They have gone to a glorious reward and their monuments are eternal, such as live in memory and bless the world till time is no more.

The history of the Sugar Creek or Eminence Christian Church organization begins June 24, 1838. In order to begin from the record as it appears today, we give the following note.

At a meeting of the Elders and Clerk of the Christian Church of Eminence, on the 16th day of June, 1875, they caused to be transcribed on the new book an exact copy of the original record of the first organization of the Church of Christ at Sugar Creek, and also a revision of the membership and records of said organization to the present time.

Elders - Peter Bruner

M . P. Carlock

Smith Stroud

Clerk - J. M. Phillips

ORGANIZATION

On Lord's Day, June 24, 1838, the Brethern and Sisters, whose names are hereafter annexed, do agree to live together in Gospel order as a Church of Jesus Christ; to take the Word of God as the rule of faith, and Man of our Council. The following are the names of the members who joined themselves together on the day above mentioned:

Robert Musick

James Hieronymus

Charles F. Ewing

Barbara Johnson

Mary Ewing

Melinda Johnson

Levi Johnson

Catherine Thompson

Sarah Miller

Esther A. Hawes

Sarah Stroud

Sarah Hawes

Monday, June 25th, the following named brethern and sisters were received into the Church.

Stephen Arnspiger

John W. Hawes

Delila Miles

Barbara Bruning

Isaac N. Ewing

Peter J. Hawes

Elizabeth Howser

The record shows that on Monday, August 21st, eight more were added, so we would conclude from this that these were the charter members, although only twelve names appear on the first date. The record also shows the number added on the following dates: May 26, 1839, three, June 16, eight; July 21, ten August 13, eight; thus we see that by the end of the second year, 1839, there were fifty-six members. The first Elders elected and ordained were C. F. Ewing and David G. Thompson; August 25th, 1839. The first Deacons chosen were Robert Musick and William Ryan; these were chosen Saturday, February 22, 1840. The record shows the organization to have been in 1838, but no regular officers chosen until 1839 and 1840. From the beginning the church had a wonderful growth with a corresponding influence for good.

The record is not very clear as to the year the first building was erected, but it seems to have been about 1839, was located a short distance southeast of Morgan's mill on Sugar Creek and on what is now known as the Gilbert farm, at that time it was known as the Sugar Creek Church. Among the preachers of the earlier years who preached in this old house were Hugh Bowles, Walter P. Bowles, Abner Peeler, James Lindsey, H. D. Palmer, Amos Watkins, George W. Miner, James Robinson, William Davenport, and A. P. Young. It is interesting to read the early record, where a certain member was expelled from the church on the charge of getting drunk or disorderly conduct, later on would be reclaimed. On another occasion one member withdrew because he would not abide by a decision of the committee sanctioned by the church and chosen by himself and the other party. Thus it would seem that they took their church life more seriously than they sometimes do now days. In the year 1844 the Church was visited by Alexander Campbell, one of the founders of the Christian organization.

In 1856 the church building at Morgan's Mill having become inadequate and not conveniently located, a new building was erected something over a mile east on the site of the present building. This was a very commodious and up to date building at the time it was erected, was built at a cost of about $1,600 and served the congregation for 35 years. The church went by the name of "The Smith Ewing Church" at the time due to Mr. Ewing donating the corner site. Among some of the most prominent and faithful workers in the church at that time were Peter Bruner and wife, Peter J. Hawes and wife, and M. P. Carlock and wife. It is said that these three named gave more strength and good teaching to the church during their time than any who have had the leadership. There were also Smith Stroud and wife, Jerry Miller and wife, James M. Hawes and wife, Wm. and George Mtjoy and wives, W. T. Sumner and wife, W. P. Adams and wife. Also some of the younger members were Mr. and Mr. S. B. Gresham, Mr. and Mrs. A. A. Applegate, and Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Miller. During this time the church was in a prosperous condition and much good was being done, the above named men were all officers in the church during their lives, and were a credit and a blessing to the cause for which they labored.

In the course of time it was found that more and better room was a necessity, so the old building was sold for $100.00 and in 1891 a new church building was erected on more modern principles than either of the former buildings. This church was erected at a cost of $3,600 on the site of the older house, having a seating capacity of nearly 600. It was well furnished throughout with carpets, furnace, and a baptistry.

This building was the pride of the congregation and community and payment was all provided for on day of dedication. This building served the congregation well for ten years and the church continued to flourish. On the night of March 18, 1901, to the surprise and consternation of everybody the church was seen to be on fire. It was a terrible blaze of short duration and when morning dawned alt that was to be seen was the foundation wall and a heap of ashes to mark the spot where this building stood.

For more than 50 years this congregation had not been without a place of worship and what was to be done? It remained to be seen what sort of energy had been instilled into the church by the heroic deeds of the fathers and mothers. Would the present generation simply rest and witness the downfall of all that had been done with much cost and sacrifice and labor? No - with enthusiasm and noble action prompted by the spirit of right, started things to moving and soon the present splendid building was erected on the site of the two former buildings. I can remember of hearing my father tell with so much pride that over half of the cost of the new building was subscribed before the fire was all out of the basement. We wish here to mention the names of Bro W. B. Miller, who served the congregation for many years as elder; Bro W. B. Stroud, also an elder, and John W. Adams, a deacon, who in connection with many other good men and women labored with untiring energy and interest in bringing about the construction and furnishing of this splendid building of which we are so proud. This building was erected and finished at a cost of about $6,000, which was all provided for on the day of dedication, April 13, 1902, conducted by L. I. Carpenter of Wabash, Indiana.

We are able to give a partial list of the ministers who have labored for the congregation since the last three named houses were built. No doubt there are others whose names we failed to secure. Leroy Skelton, Knight, Mitchell, Miller, Robinson, T. T. Holton, Baily Chaplain, Sam Mowe, Isaac Stout, John Lindsey, Mavity, Evans, Ingraham, Porter, W. 0. Lappln, Mendahall, Hughes, Harry Fonger, J. W. Camp, W. D. Deweese, W. J. Burner, Owen, Moore, E. U. Smith, I. H. Beckholt, 0. P. Wright. The record shows that the following have been ordained to the ministry from this congregation: Wm. Ryan, George Hatfield, and George Carlock. The record shows that 642 names appear on the membership list since it was revised August 19, 1894, while there are only 184 holding membership with us today.

For a period of a little over eight years 1924 to 1932, no regular services were held due to a small attendance and not being able to hire a minister. In September 1932 a good Samaritan came along in the person of I. H. Beckholt and asked permission to hold a meeting and if an interest was shown to reorganize and hold regular service and this accomplished. While the church is In a fairly prosperous condition, we sadly feel the loss of so many of our members who have gone to their reward, and also the loss of so many who have removed from us; but we feel that our loss is a gain to many surrounding churches, and we hope to press forward and not let the cause of Christ weaken in our community.

The church has as its pastor, O. P. Wright, located in its midst rendering full time service and the board consists of the following officers:

Elders - Clarence Leach, Ray Thompson, Frank Ferguson, and Ira Day.

Deacons - Charles Warrick, Charles Phillips, Tom Brandt, Henry Bradway, Ray Long, Roy Thompson, Mack Turner, and A. E. Adams

We feel that the church exerts a mighty influence for good in the community and inspires people to arise to an occasion when it comes to building up after being burned down or redecorated and made good to look at after the wear and tear of the years have left their mark, but a greater influence is that which unites the people into one happy family faithfully serving the One who said "I will not forsake thee and am with thee always."




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