Methodist Episcopal Church History

In the foregoing chapters we have noted the fact that Methodist services were held in Schuyler County as early as 1823, but it was not until several years afterwards that an organization was effected. In August, 1826, Rev. William See, of the Peoria circuit, which extended a hundred miles along the east side of the Illinois River, came to Schuyler County and a church of twenty members was formed. All united by letter except W. H. Taylor, who united on probation and was converted a few days afterwards, being the first convert in the county. Regular services were afterwards held every three weeks by the circuit preacher, Rev. Levin Green filling the pulpit on intervening Sabbath days.

The first quarterly meeting in the county was held in 1827 by Rev. Peter Cartwright at the home of Levin Green. Schuyler County was at this time attached to the Atlas circuit, with William Medford as minister. In 1828 the first society was organized in what is now the city of Rushville, the meeting being held at the home of Richard Black. Among the early preachers may be mentioned Asa D. West, 1828-30; James Bankston, 1830; Barton Randle, 1830-31; David B. Carter, 1831-32; Henry Summers, 1832; Thomas N. Ralston and Peter Borein, 1833; W. H. Window, 1833-34.

In February, 1834, plans were made for a revival meeting, and Rev. W. C. Stribling, a celebrated divine from Jacksonville, was engaged to assist. Such a religious awakening had never before been witnessed in Illinois Methodism and, at the close of the conference year, 544 members were reported to Conference.

At the session of 1834 the town of Rushville was separated from the circuit and made a station. Up to this time services had been held in the court house and in the room over Rev. John Scripps' store; but, with the rapidly increasing congregations, there was a demand for a church edifice and a fine brick church was erected, which at that day was the finest church building north of the Illinois River. This church was completed in 1836 and that same year the Illinois Conference met in Rushville. The preachers came from Green Bay, Lake Superior, St. Peter, Minn., Prairie du Chien, Cairo and Shawneetown, and were accorded a warm welcome by the citizens of the village.

The conference sessions were held in the new brick church and were presided over by Bishop Morris. The Illinois Conference then included not only our own State, but Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin and there were many questions of importance to be discussed, which kept the conference in session from Wednesday, Oct. 5, to Friday, the 14th. The routine business of the conference had little interest for the lay members, but the camp meeting held a mile north of town was largely attended and great interest was shown.

Among the new members admitted to the conference in Rushville were a number of young men, who later played a prominent part in the church work. Prominent among these were Chauncey Hobart, afterwards known as the Father of Methodism in Minnesota, who spent more than fifty years in active ministerial work. Richard Haney, one of the best known and beloved ministers in Illinois, was admitted at this time, as was also John P. Richmond, afterwards missionary to Oregon, and Norris Hobart and Wm. H. Taylor, who were both residents of this county.

By this time Methodism in Schuyler County was firmly established, and it has since had a steady and constant growth as the city grew in population. In 1867 the present church building was erected.

Excerpted from Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Schuyler County, 1908, edited by Howard F. Dyson.
Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen 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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