By William Fowler
From the best information to be gained from the oldest persons connected with this organization it is as follows:
Elder John Hughs, of Ohio, on a preaching tour through Indiana and Illinois, on his way to Missouri, accompanied by Henry Johnston, passed through here and stopped with Mr. Benjamin Chadsey, the son-in-law of Henry Johnston, where they remained a few days. Elder J. Hewes preached a few discourses in Mr. Benjamin Chadsey's log cabin, 2 ½ miles northeast of the town of Rushville, in the year 1829, which was the first preaching in the county by this denomination. He was a very zealous speaker and a good expounder of the Holy Scriptures. His audience was composed of a few pioneer settlers, who listened with great interest to the venerable man as the doctrine was promulgated by him. The next week, Elder Hughs set out on his way to Missouri.
Mr. Henry Johnston remained here and bought a farm 4 miles north of Rushville, where he improved and built a house, and in the fall of 1830 Barton W. Stone, of Kentucky, came here and held a meeting in the log court house with a great interest. Robert Chadsey and wife were the first to be immersed in the county that were added to the church. In the spring of 1831 Elder James W. Davis and James Urbank came from Kentucky to this place, where Elder J. W. Davis preached every Lord’s day, and getting up an interest, they began making preparations to build a house of worship. Meanwhile they commenced a meeting in the log court house, conducted by Elders Hewett and Boker, where they organized a congregation in the fall of 1832, consisting of ten or fifteen members, who set apart Thomas Paydon as an elder, and Thomas P. Garrett as deacon of the first congregation in the county.
This meeting was in the fall of 1832, and continued until the weather became so cold that they moved the meeting to the house of Alexander Campbell, on the southeast corner of the public square, where the City Hotel now stands. In the spring of 1833 the meeting was moved to a small school house near where the church now stands. In the fall of 1833 the first church was finished, and they held a meeting in it with many additions. This meeting was conducted by Barton W. Stone on his second visit to this place. They now reorganized permanently on the 29th day of December, A.D. 1833. This organization was composed of persons, with testimonials of a good moral and Christian character, who, in coming together as a congregation, had been immersed upon a profession of their faith in the Messiah as the only begotten of God; and declared it to be their full purpose and determination to acknowledge no leader but Jesus Christ; no infallible teacher but the holy apostles and prophets; no articles of faith and practice but the Old and New Testaments, and to regard the latter as containing their faith and rule of behavior as Christians. Thus giving themselves to the Lord and to one another, according to the will of God, they have agreed to walk together as one common family, under the government of the Prince of Peace, to whom be glory, honor everlasting, Amen.
Thus this congregation began to build up, holding their regular meeting on every Lord’s day, having preaching when some good brother would come to their help, and at other times social meetings, conducted by the elders. The preachers were generally employed by the month on account of not being able to do otherwise at the time. Thus this congregation continued worship, and increased in numbers about 100 or 180 members, and in 1846 or ’47, they remodeled the house inside by changing the pulpit in front between the two doors, and raising the seats or elevating the floor in the back part of the audience room. This was done at some considerable expense, to which some took offense and caused the others to leave the church with them, and so the congregation was weakened.
But there was a majority of the congregation determined not to give up to the stubbornness of Satan and his coadjutors, and went on having preaching as usual. The congregation was again increased by the labors of Billy Brown, who held a month’s meeting, and added 25 or 30 to the congregation. In 1850 a Sunday School was organized and put in working order, and has been continued ever since, with encouragements and discouragements, with the natural ebbs and flows which such institutions are subject to, numbering, at times, from 20 to 125 members.
From 1850 to 1862 there was, most of the time, pastoral preaching; some intervals, however, between; William Brown one-quarter of his time that year, and in 1863 McGinnis gave all his time to the church. In 1865 the congregation employed A. H. Rice, who preached for a year and a half, and, at the expiration of his term, employed J. B. Corwin in 1867, and then the congregation was without preaching for five years, and when there was no preaching they continued their social meetings. In 1872 they employed John Lagrange who preached one year, and afterward they employed David Sharples, who ministered part of three years. In 1876 they employed Henry Puett. The next preacher was William M. Londy--1880 and 1881. At present we have no preacher.
In 1874 this congregation put under contract the building of a new house of worship, which was finished in February, 1875, and furnished complete, and was dedicated by President Thompson of Abington College, March 1st, A.D. 1875, at a cost of $5,600. Its dimensions are 40x60 feet, 24 ft. ceiling, with a capacity of seating 400 persons comfortable.
The charter members of this congregation in 1832 were as follows: Robert Chadsey and wife, Rachel Chadsey, Henry Johnston and wife, Alexander Campbell, wife and daughter, William Beverly and wife, Mary Delapp, Ira Bridge and wife, Thomas J. Garratt and wife. Preachers: James Hewes, B. W. Stone, Hewa & Baker, James W. Davis, O. S. Osborn, William Brown, Pardee Butler, William Malery O’Cane, D. P. Henderson, Sylvanous Bagby, William Lambert, Alexander Campbell, president of Bethany College, W. Va., Apison Moughan, Zibey Brown, Thos. Butler, Dawson McGinnis, A. H. Rice, John M. Sweeney, J. B. Corwin, Donan Roberts, Walling Lucass, Allen Johnston, Lagrange D. Sharples, M. D. Sharples, S. M. Connor, Tricket Puett, W. M. Londy, and others.
This place was first visited by Beverly Curry, in 1836 or ’37, the first Christian preacher, who preached at Joseph Dennis’ house. He preached occasionally in the neighborhood, either in the school-house or in the dwelling-houses, first one and then another--Philip Mulkey, Foster, and others--up to the time they organized a congregation, which was done in 1840, by Beverly Curry, with a membership of 31, who, with testimonials of a good moral and Christian character, on a profession of their faith in Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God, pledged themselves to God and to one another, according to the will of God under the government of the Prince of Peace, to whom be glory and honor everlasting, Amen.
It was then called No. 1 congregation; now it is called Bader, since the railroad came here. Elder G. P. Wilson was the first pastor employed at a salary in 1873. Henry Clay Littleton was the next in 1878 and ’79, in all two and a half years. We have had other preaching brethren interspersed along for a year or more at a time, but not on a stipulated salary--Elder Benjamin Walton, Elder Crofford, Joseph B. Royal, Wm. Grissom, President J. C. Reynolds, Henry Smither, J. Morgan, J. Carroll Stork, N. E. Cory, James M. Tennyson. M. D. Sharples is our present pastor in 1882. We have a membership of 87; church in a flourishing condition. The church building was erected in 1876 at a cost $1000; will seat 200 persons, and is insured for $900.
Seven miles north of Rushville, Bethany was organized in 1830 or ’40, preaching by Elder King, and afterward by Elder Patton, then Wm. Ross, in a school-house known as the Garrison school-house, where they had preaching at intervals, as they could secure the services of some worthy brother, and the cause flourished for a while. Then there arose a dissatisfaction between some of the members, and the congregation went down, and they had no meeting for a long time.
In 1870 A. Brown, in company with A. S. Robinson, came into the neighborhood and held a meeting in the Garrison school-house again and got up a good interest, and had some new additions, and some of the old parties had passed away. They reorganized in the Garrison school-house, and in the summer of 1871 they built a house of worship about one mile south of the school-house, which will comfortably seat 200 persons, at a cost of about $1,400 in all. The first regular pastor was A. S. Robinson, followed by Joseph Morgan, M. D. Sharples, and G. F. Adams, after which A. Brown preached for them three years. At the present time M. D. Sharples is employed again for one year; his term has not yet expired. So ends this history.
The first preaching that was done by the ministers of the Church of Christ was in 1840, or near that time, by James McHatton, and the next by D. P. Henderson. In 1859 Thomas Butler held a meeting and organized a congregation of 14 members. Not being able to support a minister they held social or Lord's Day meetings. B. Pwatt was the first added to this small group of disciples.
In the fall of 1866 Elder Henry Smither of Rushville, held a meeting that lasted for two or three weeks, assisted by A. H. Rice, the result of which was 25 good, substantial members (mostly heads of families), making in all thirty-five members, which enabled them to employ a regular pastor. The first pastor was Thos. Butler, and the next employed was Dr. David Ross, then living in Plymouth, who served one year. In 1872 Dr. Thomas Dunkiser of Mt. Sterling, became pastor, and afterward David Sharples, of Fairberry, and the next year he was succeeded by his son, M. D. Sharples, who was associated with the church at Camden. In 1875 Henry Puett preached one year, and his labors were attended with great success in adding to the church of Christ many souls. Then A. Brown, of Macomb, preached part of his time; then J. Morgan, and the next and present pastor, M. D. Sharpless, in 1882. The congregation consists of one hundred members.
The church was built in the summer of 1868. The audience room is 30x40 feet, with a 16 ft. ceiling. It cost $1,800, and has a seating capacity for 200 persons.
On the 24th day of September, A. D. 1881, a terrible tornado swept through the town of Camden, completely demolishing the church, leaving nothing but the foundation and floor. They went to work in the fall of 1881 and spring of ’82, and rebuilt the house at a cost of $1,000, using all the old material they could in the building, which is completed, a meeting having been held, conducted by M. D. Sharples, June 5th, A. D. 1882.
A. H. Rice was the first to preach in our place the doctrine of the Christian Church, where he added quite a number to the membership. In 1867 J. B. Corwin preached part of his time in the same church, also making some additions. Having moved into the school house, John Lagrange, in 1870, commenced a meeting in the M. E. Church, with some assistance and they organized a congregation, and in 1871 and ’72, they built a house of worship, with a seating capacity for about 180 persons, at a cost of about $800. They have had preaching, more or less, since that time, and kept up a congregation ever since. The regular pastors, since they have had a house of their own, have been as follows: David Sharples, Joseph Royal, P. D. Vermillion, Elder Black, and at present M. D. Sharples. The congregation is in a flourishing condition, but few in number.
This is a very short sketch of the history of this congregation.
Source: The Combined History of Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, 1882
Transcribed by Carol Longwell Miller for Schuyler County ILGenWeb.
Copyright 1999, 2000 Robin L. W. Petersen; all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright must appear with the information.
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