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HISTORY OF THE DISCIPLES IN ILLINOIS 1819-1914

by Nathaniel S. Haynes, A.M.

[Logan County, pages 264-277]

This book on the history of the churches now called Christian Churches was published by The Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1915. It is in the public domain and is available free online at Google Books. The formation of these churches is called the Restoration Movement and the members were sometimes called "Campbellites." Armitage is included although it is not in Logan County. Many of the Predestinarian Baptists went to these churches, particularly Buckles and Copeland.

It is a source of regret that no written records have been left of the first work of the preachers of the Disciples of Christ in Logan County. Without doubt there was preaching at a number of places in the thirties and forties by W. P. Bowles and his father (Hughes Bowles), by John England, Wm. Ryan, A. J. Kane and others.

The first church of Christ, so far as discovered, was formed about 1848. It was located seven miles west of Mt. Pulaski, on the Springfield road. It was known as the Bridge Church because it stood near the bridge that spanned the stream called Lake Fork. It was probably organized by Father Morrow. At least, he preached there for years. Residing on his farm, it was his custom to come from his home to the meeting-house, riding a mule, with a sheepskin saddle and saddlebags. This congregation continued until about 1860. Then those members who lived on the west of the lake formed a congregation known as the Turley Church and built a small chapel four miles north of the site of Cornland. Those residing east of the lake formed a congregation known as the Buckles Church and built a meeting-house two miles east of the old church and five miles west of Mt. Pulaski. This congregation continued to be an active Christian force until 1905. Then some of its members went to Mt. Pulaski and some to the Lake Fork congregation. The chapel was moved to the Carlisle Cemetery, where it still stands.

In the forties there was some preaching by Christian ministers and some conversions at French's ford, on Salt Creek, south of Lincoln, but whether a congregation was formed, could not be learned.

In late years a congregation was formed at Lawndale, but it has become extinct.


Armington.

Organized 1828, by William Miller; present membership, 222; value of property, including parsonage, $17,000; Bible-school enrollment, 300.

Hittle's Grove and the prairies round about it were as pleasing as any upon which human eyes ever rested. Into that locality, eighty-five years ago, the following named families began to settle: the Hittles and Judys from Ohio; the Albrights from Tennessee; the Burts, Quisenberrys, Hainlines, Dills and Millers from Kentucky, and the Hieronymuses from Virginia.

The first sermon ever preached in Hittle's Grove was by a Methodist minister named Walker, in a log cabin 16 x 16, owned by Michael Hittle.

After a time two women of the settlement wished to be baptized and a Baptist minister was sent for. Finding no church there to vote on the fitness of the candidates, after deliberation it was decided to immerse them on the simple confession of their faith in Christ. Thereupon, a Baptist church was organized with the following charter members: William Miller and wife, Isaac Miller and wife, Walker Miller and wife, and Sarah Miller.

On Jan. 11, 1829, this church became Christian only. The agreement signed with the seventeen names follows:

We, the undersigned, do give ourselves to the Lord and to each other as a church of Jesus Christ to be governed by His word contained in the Old and New Testaments. William Miller and wife, Jacob Albright and wife Esther, Strother Hittle and wife, Robert Musick and wife, William Darneil and wife Sally, William Burt and wife China, Joseph Lancaster and wife Hannah, John Judy and wife Christena, Jacob Judy unmarried.

These people met for public worship for a short time in their log-cabin homes, then used the log schoolhouse; later a church was built three miles west of the site of Armington. This served till 1865, when a more commodious house was built, one and a fourth miles west of Armington. In 1886, during the pastorate of John T. Owens, lots were bought in the village of Armington and the building moved to them. From this time the congregation was called by the name of the town. The last Lord's Day in August, 1906, the people bade a tender farewell to the old house; on the next Sunday they moved into their new and modern brick structure. J. C. Lappin was their pastor.

Hittle Grove Church was a familiar name to all the old-time Disciples in central Illinois for a period of sixty-five years. Most of the pioneers preached there. In the thirties there were James Mitchell and Abner Peeler; in the forties, W. P. Bowles and G. W. Minier; then later Samuel Knight, James A. and John Lindsey, William Davenport, Leroy Skelton, Baily Chaplain, Samuel and Joseph Lowe, L. M. Robinson, and Isaac and Elijah Stout. In recent years the pastors have been Mr. Edwards, Albert Nichols, J. E. Diehl, Mr. Jennette, E. J. Stanley, C. A. Heckel, J. E. Parker, W. D. Deweese, L. E. Chase, J. C. Lappin, and now R. B. Doan.

In 1857 the church made the following report to the State meeting: "Members, 136; meet twice a month; we break the loaf once a month and have preaching once a month. We pay teaching brethren $2 a day."

The Britt, Burt, Albright, Judy, Darnell, Hieronymus and Mason families have done much for the church.

Atlanta.

Organized 1855, by George W. Minier; present membership, 300; value of property, including parsonage, $14,000; Bible-school began 1856; present enrollment, 302.

This church was organized in the Baptist chapel, where meetings were held Lord's Day afternoons the first year. The first elders were C. F. Ewing and Andrew Wright; the first deacons, Jacob Judy and Jefferson Howser; James Shores, clerk. The additional twenty-five charter members were the following: J. P. Hawes and wife, Jefferson Britt and wife, T. H. Dills and wife, Ambrose Hall and wife, John Miller and wife, Calvin Riley and wife, George Dyer and wife, Dr. Arterburn and wife, Mrs. Dr. J. B. Tenney, Mrs. Sallie Strong, Mr. Gill and Mrs. Christenson.

At Atlanta the Disciples were publicly depreciated in the early years by the self-styled orthodox people, as they were in most places. It was a town where infidelity ran riotously. But after the Burgess-Burrows debate in 1868, many phases of religion changed.

The first pastor of the church was W. M. Guilford, who was at the same time principal of the public schools. Those who succeeded him were John Lindsay, W. P. Bowles, R. B. Chaplin, J. W. Monser, Leroy Skelton, Samuel and Joseph Lowe, J. A. Seaton, T. V. Berry, T. T. Holton, R. D. Cotton, R. W. Callaway, Dr. S. H. Bundy, L. M. Robinson, B. O. Aylesworth, L. G. Thompson, J. P. Davis, Mr. Miller, C. E. Selby, R. F. Thrapp, T. B. Stanley, L. W. Morgan, S. S. Lappin, W. R. Jinnett, Ivan W. Magee, and now R. H. Newton.

The first church building was erected in 1856. A modern building was occupied in 1913.

This church has given to the ministry J. H. Wright, Walter Rhodes, Roy A. Miller and Merritt Hoblit, a missionary in Mexico.


Bethel (Emden).

Organized 1853, by William B. Ryan; present membership, 105; value of property, $5,000; Bible-school began 1853; present enrollment, 75.

This congregation, located four and one-half miles east of Emden, grew out of the old Sugar Creek Church. A few members, desiring a more convenient place for their public worship, selected the site, which was given by one of the number, Norman Sumner. There were nineteen charter members, as follows: William B. and Elizabeth Ryan, William R. and Elizabeth Shirley, Samuel and Jemima Waters, Jeremiah and Sarah A. Miller, Norman and Margaret Sumner, George G. and Melville Ryan, Jesse P. and Marial Bowles, David and Elizabeth Bowles, James W. and Henry Shirley, and Nancy Bevans, who married John Lumbeck. Of these, only three survive--Sarah A. Miller, and James W. and Henry Shirley. The names of the other sixteen are read on the marble slabs in the four cemeteries located in two States.

The first officers were: Elders, David Bowles and William R. Shirley; deacons, George G. Ryan and Jeremiah Miller; clerk, Norman Sumner, with two trustees. The Christian faith of the Bowles and Shirley families has been so excellent that some of their members have filled the office of elder during the sixty years of the church's life.

The first house was built in 1853. The men went to the forest, felled the trees, cut and hauled the logs together, and, with broadax, foot-adz and such other tools as they had, fashioned and built this first temple for the Lord. For a period of twenty years this house was the happy home of its builders and their children. In 1873 it gave place to the structure that is still in use.

In addition to Mr. Ryan's, the old house heard the voices of Benjamin Franklin, G. W. Minier, W. P. Bowles, Dudley Downs, R. B. Chaplin, Leroy Skelton, Isaac Stout, Peter Hawes, James Mitchell, Charles Short, Peter Sheik, J. A. Seaton, R. D. Cotton, J. V. Beekman, Samuel Knight, Henry Smithers, S. C. Pruitt and many others. In addition to many of those who also ministered to the congregation in the new house, the following have served there: L. M. Robinson, T. T. Holton, G. W. Warner, H. S. Mavity, J. C. Hall, J. W. Porter, J. E. Jewett, J. A. Barnett, I. L. Parvin, H. B. Easterling, F. B. Jones and R. E. Stevenson.

This church has always been noted for the good common sense of its members. The spirit of brotherliness has always predominated. The people delighted to make others happy. In the period of the old house, families came to church in farm-wagons, seated with chairs which were carried into the house and used on occasion. The blankets and comforters which were used as wraps to protect from cold or rain were brought in at night and made into beds on seats or in a corner on the floor, and there the little ones slept during the worship. This church is proud of the fact that it is a country church. Its watchwords through sixty years have been, "Move Forward." Many of its members have gone out to help in the Lord's work in the world. R. E. Hieronymus began his Christian service here, and W. H. Kindred and Frank Sumner are in the ministry.

The old songs were an inspiration, as they are yet a tender memory with many.

C. R. Bowles has served as superintendent of the Sunday school for thirty years. In the earlier time children were encouraged to commit the Scriptures to memory and repeat them on Sundays. Many now past life's meridian can repeat whole chapters learned in childhood there.

Through sixty years the table of the Lord has been spread on every first day of the week. Preaching is maintained for half-time. The church is alive to all missionary activities. It has no other thought than to live by doing the will of God. The glorious memories of the past unite with the duties of the present in filling these people with high purposes.


Broadwell.

Organized 1863, by C. J. Berry; present membership, 99; value of property, $1,600; Bible-school began 1863; present enrollment, 56.

This church was formed in the public-school house with the following charter members: Samuel Buckley, Spencer Grogan, Jacob Eisminger, P. Eisminger, Elizabeth Eisminger, Mary Eisminger, Eliza Lloyd, Nancy Kline, Ellen Kline, May Critchfield, M. Wiley, L. Wiley and M. Wright. These persons organized as "The Church of Christ at Broadwell," upon the Bible as their creed and the New Testament as their only discipline. They "vowed before the Lord, angels and men to walk in obedience to the requirements of the gospel in all things."

The church was built in 1864.

Copeland (Mt. Pulaski).

Organized 1866, by John England; present membership, 100; value of property, $4,000; Bible-school began 1868; present enrollment, 125.

This church is located seven miles southwest of Mt. Pulaski. It was organized at the Copeland Schoolhouse. The charter members were Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Harbert, Mr. and Mrs. David Birks, Mr. and Mrs. John Birks, Mr. and Mrs. William Copeland, Mr. and Mrs. Roland Birks, Mr. and Mrs. Abner Copeland, Polly Peters, George W. Whitesides and Maria Copeland.

The church house was built in 1867. An addition and repairs were made in 1906 at a cost of $400. It was modernized in 1911 at a cost of $2,500.

The congregation has been a leading force for good in the neighborhood there many years.

The present officers are: Elders, Elmer Turley, Charles Bowers, Calvin Payne and J. H. Clendenen; deacons, George Bowers, Fred Bellatti, Stephen Edwards, R. Drabing and W. E. Simpson.

Cornland.

Organized 1874, by D. D. Miller; present membership, 120; value of property, $1,350; Bible-school began 1875; present enrollment, 72.

A few years prior to the formation of the Cornland Church a congregation had been formed, and a small house erected four miles north of the town site, called the Turley Church.

A series of meetings was held in the Day Schoolhouse in the village by D. D. Miller in 1874, which resulted in the formation of the church there. Of this the congregation four miles north became a part, and that building was moved into town. The congregation was much strengthened by a series of meetings conducted by Min. J. E. Cain in 1875. Many removals have reduced their numbers.


Emden.

Organized 1888, by W. H. Boles; present membership, 94; value of property, $2,500; Bible-school began 1873; present enrollment, 70.

A union Sunday school was formed in the public-school house in 1873 with E. L. Carnahan as superintendent. Three years thereafter gospel temperance meetings began to be held there on Sunday evening. Next came some sermons at the same time and place by G. W. Minier and R. B. Chaplin. A three weeks' meeting conducted by Evangelist Boles resulted in the organization of the church with fifty-three members.

The house of worship was completed in 1889 and the organization perfected. Later an addition was built.

The honored names in the congregation include Mr. J. L. Searle, Mrs. Lizzie Bennett and Mrs. Betsy Sumner.


Eminence (Atlanta).

Organized 1838, by its own members; present membership, 180; value of property, $5,000; Bible-school began 1845; present enrollment, 62.

This is a country church, located five miles northwest of Atlanta. It has been known by three or four local names. The first building was at Pekin Ford, near Morgan's Mill; hence it was first known as Morgan's Church. Later moved to the present site, where it was known as Smith Ewing or Sugar Creek Church; the latter name, however, held through the larger part of the seventy-five years of its life. In recent years it has been known by the name of the township in which it is located.

The first record reads as follows:

On Lord's Day, June 17, 1838, the Brothers and Sisters whose respective 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 named: Robert Musick, Charles F. Ewing, Mary Ewing, Elizabeth Simmonds, Sarah Miller, Sarah Stroud, James Hieronymus, Barbary Johnson, Melinda Johnson, Catherine Thompson, Esther A. Hawes, Sarah Hawes.

This was a spontaneous organization, originating among and completed by the members themselves. Lord's Day, August 25, 1839, the elders elected were Charles F. Ewing and David G. Thompson, who were ordained on Lord's Day, the 15th of the following month. The records give the names of those who have served the congregation as elders from that day to the present time.

Until 1845 the congregation met for worship where they could. In that year the first house was built, costing $1,000. This served eleven years and was then torn down. In 1856 the second house, costing $1,600, was erected. After being used for thirty-five years it was sold. In 1891 the third building, costing $3,600, was occupied. This was burned in 1901. The same year the present building, costing $6,000, was erected. It has a bell, a baptistery and gasoline lights.

Among the preachers of the earlier years there were Abner Peeler, Hughes and W. P. Bowles, William Davenport, James A. Lindsey, John England, G. W. Minier, William Ryan, Baily Chaplain, L. M. Robinson, John Lindsey, Isaac Stout, Leroy Skelton, Samuel and Joseph Lowe, J V. Beekman and T. T. Holton. Alexander Campbell visited the church in 1844.

The records show that the church has ordained the following men to the ministry: William Ryan, George Hatfield, and George Carlock.

The church now has a resident minister for all the time and is flourishing. Sarah A. Miller, the only living charter member, resides in Atlanta. Elizabeth Howser, who united with the church the next day after its formation, also survives at the age of ninety-four.

In the early days, when harness for horses came into use, with lines to drive with, a member of this congregation bought a set. Not knowing how to attach the lines properly, he hitched his team to the wagon one Sunday morning, placed his wife and children in the wagon, then mounted one of the horses and thus took his family to church and home again. His "style" attracted no particular attention and called out no comments.

One of the laymen produced by this church is responsible for the following:

Business in Religion and Religion in Business.

Before national banks were organized we had private or State banks issuing currency, or paper money, as in the fifties. I saw names of private parties placed on the backs of such bills with the dates; so if they failed to pass they could be returned to those from whom they were received as "no good." Now we have currency good in any and all States. If that currency is best that is good in all the States, then that baptism is best that is good in all the churches, and we all know that immersion is good in all the churches.

The following incident deserves to be rescued from oblivion. This picture is from the pleasing pen of Min. T. T. Holton. He says:

In 1889 G. W. Minier called me to assist him in a meeting at the Sugar Creek Church. He was then in his seventy-sixth year. He said to me, "Bro. Holton, you do the preaching and I'll do the baptizing." This was a very successful meeting. There were forty-three added to the church--thirty-eight by confession and baptism. When we went to select a place for baptism we found Sugar Creek too scant of water. We crossed the creek and found a beautiful little lake. The venerable Peter Bruner, who had been an elder in the church for a long time, was with us. He had done the baptizing for the church for many years, but had become too frail for the task. While the good elder and I were looking for a pole to test the depth of the water, we heard a splash and, turning suddenly, we saw Bro. Minier swimming around in the lake. It was late in October and there had been two cold spells that froze ice. Bro. Minier was not afraid of water. It was his custom to bathe every morning, sometimes of necessity at great inconvenience. He thoroughly explored the lake and marked a good place for the baptism. He had secreted a towel in his pocket, and, having thoroughly dried and reclothed himself, said, "Brethren, now for the ‘Wolf's Den.'" This took us up quite a steep high hill, Bro. Minier in the lead. From the "Wolf's Den" we viewed the landscape. Then Bro. Minier set about gathering some botanical specimens. As we returned to the Bruner home, at his suggestion we visited the Eminence school.

Of course Bro. Minier was asked to address the school. The plants he held in his hand he made his text. He gave their common names, also their botanical names, and descanted on the leaves, the bark, the roots, the sap, fruit, etc., to the delight of the whole school. When the day of the baptism came, an urgent matrimonial engagement called him, so I had to do the baptizing. It was the most beautiful scene I ever saw. The lake was surrounded by sugar maples and the leaves were like gold. It was a beautiful afternoon and the great crowd of people gathered there was quiet and reverent. The sloping ground gave all an opportunity to see and hear. I gave an invitation at the water's edge. A young lady came forward. Her mother approached and whispered to me "My daughter is deaf and dumb. She is educated and I think she understands the step she desires to take." This was the first experience I had ever had in introducing a deaf mute into the kingdom. I took a blank book and pencil from my side pocket and wrote, "Do you believe with all your heart that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God?" In response she took the pencil and wrote, "I do." And I baptized her.


Hartsburg.

Organized 1870; present membership, 29; value of property, $600; Bible-school began 1870; present enrollment, 48.

The early records of the church were lost. A few Disciples living in the country near the village began meetings for public worship. Later a building was erected on the farm of Henry Musick. Within four or five years nearly all of the original members moved away, some to other States. In 1875, under the lead of Fielding Musick, the chapel was moved to Hartsburg, where it is yet used.


Lake Fork.

Organized 1905, by J. D. Williams; present membership, 100; value of property, including parsonage, $3,200; Bible school began 1905; present enrollment, 100
.
="justify">This congregation is the product and continuance of the Buckles Church. The village grew up after the railroad was built.

The chapel was built in 1903.

Besides Minister Williams, the congregation has been served by M. M. Snow, D. H. Carrick and M. M. Hughes. The officers are Henry Horn and W. L. Follis, elders, with C. M. Shinn, Wm. Tebus, Galveston Thuer, E. R. Jones and Obid Gaffney, deacons.


Latham.

Organized 1891, by J. O. Sutherland; present membership, 250; value of property, $15,000; Bible-school began 1891; present enrollment, 113.

The church was the first result of a series of meetings conducted by Minister Sutherland. He also served the congregation two terms as its pastor. Those who succeeded him were G. W. Hughes, Mr. Weatherford, Z. M. Brubeck, C. S. Weaver, D. A. Lindsey, and now Ira A. Engle.

The first chapel was built during the ministry of Mr. Sutherland and occupied early in 1892. The present excellent modern structure was erected during the pastorate of Mr. Weaver. It cost $13,325, and was finished in 1910.

This church is largely rural. Its auxiliaries are large and active. In 1912 it paid $325 for general benevolences.


Lincoln.

Organized 1856, by W. H. Brown; present membership, 695; value of property, including parsonage, $29,000; Bible school began 1856; present enrollment, 370.

John England and Walter P. Bowles preached the primitive gospel in various parts of Logan County in the forties and early fifties. One place they visited was French's Ford1, on Salt Creek, about four miles south of Lincoln. Among those who became Christians was Miss Sarah Wade, who married Fred Wolf. When the town of Lincoln was started, Mr. Wolf, with others, moved there. He has furnished these facts. He was born in 1831. Thomas H. Denny had bought a farm near Lincoln and settled on it. Being a Disciple, he sent for Evangelist "Billy Brown," who held a series of meetings and constituted a church. There were about thirty charter members, Mrs. Wolf being one of these. The first officers were T. H. Denny and Hopkins C. Judy, elders, and Charles H. Miller and John M. Edwards, deacons.

Meetings for public worship were held in Boren's Hall, in a warehouse and other places. In 1854 they set to build a chapel that was finished the next year. After its enclosure it required a struggle of years to pay for it. The Circuit Court was held in this building in 1856, as the courthouse had burned just before that time. The present modern edifice was erected in 1903-04, during the pastorate of W. H. Cannon.

Other ministers include Dr. J. M. Allen, J. S. Sweeney, Alexander Johnson, Allen H. Rice, Charles L. Berry, George Owen, B. W. and N. H. Johnson, T. V. Berry, H. D. Clark, G. W. Minier, S. C. Humphrey, R. A. Gilcrist, Jesse Gresham, Dr. S. H. Bundy, T. T. Holton, W. H. Cannon, J. E. Jewett, T. F. Weaver, Albert Nichols, E. A. Gilliland and G. W. Wise.

Among those who did much for the church were John A. Simpson, R. C. Maxwell, H. O. Merry and L. P. Hanger; they merit remembrance. Three charter members are still living--Mrs. B. F. Warfield, Mrs. Wielan Ryan and Mrs. Ellen Chowning.

Not many years since the church "had a revival" that is said to have been a distinct injury.

Mt. Pulaski.

Organized 1868, by D. D. Miller; present membership, 361; value of property, $9,000; Bible-school began 1868; present enrollment, 271.

Min. D. D. Miller conducted a series of meetings in a public hall on the west side of the public square in the fall of 1868. This resulted in the organization of the church, in the following spring, of thirty members. Of these only two are left living--Mrs. Caroline Snyder and Mrs. Amanda Prompelly, who have continued faithfully. The first elders were Alfred Samms and Samuel Turley.

Through the efforts of Mrs. Pomelia Fisher and others, a lot was bought and a building, costing $2,000, was erected in 1870. In 1906, during the pastorate of David A. Lindsay, the old building was removed and its materials used in the construction of a modern house, costing $10,000.

For a number of years the church was without preaching and the congregation dwindled, but in 1887 a new start was made, since which time the church has gone steadily forward.

The pastorate of Gilbert Jones was especially fruitful.

The Bible-school is front rank, while the missionary and benevolent offerings continue to grow.


1    The church built at "French's Ford" was a Methodist Church.




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