The Presbyterian Church
The Presbyterian Church
By Samuel C. Palmer

There are at the date of this writing (July 1882) six Presbyterian churches in Schuyler county, with an aggregate membership of 420 souls. They are located as follows: Rushville, 220 members; Huntsville, 45 members; Brooklyn, 65 members; Doddsville; 60 members; Oak Valley, 21 members; Birmingham, 10 members.

The first Presbyterian church of Rushville, was organized Jan 31, 1830, in a store room, owned by Mr. Thomas W. Scott on the north side of the public square. The clergymen who were active in securing this organization were Rev. Cyrus L. Watson, and Rev. J. M. Ellis. Its original members were, Wm. Blair, Thomas Blair, Margaret Blair, Sarah Blair, Hugh McCreery, Sarah McCreery, Matthew McCreery, Jane McCreery, Margaret McCreery, Sarah McCreery, Wm. Moore and Jane Moore. Of this number Thomas Blair and William Moore were chosen ruling elders. Rev. C. L. Watson ministered to the church as a stated supply until Sept. 1835, at which time there were sixty members enrolled, and the session increased to five members, viz: Daniel Watson, John Young, David S. Taylor, William Blair and Robert A. Russell.

Mr. John Young, one of these early elders, organized and superintended the first Sabbath-school of Rushville, and probably the first in the county, in the log court-house, which stood upon the ground where the present Elder R. H. Griffith is erecting his new hardware store. During this early period (1830-1837) the congregation met for worship in school-houses, private houses, vacant rooms at the court-house, private houses, and sometimes in the bar room of the hotel. One of these early pioneers, Mrs. Sarah Young, relates that she distinctly remembers meeting in the bar room of the tavern,--then standing on the northeast corner of the square--where the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was solemnly celebrated, which the little company of faithful believers greatly enjoyed--“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” In May 1836, Rev. Samuel Wilson was engaged to serve the church as stated supply. In April of 1837 an effort was made to extend to him a call to become the settled pastor of the church. The first ballot showed only a majority of one, and the last ballot only a majority of five in favor of the pastoral relation being consummated. Mr. Wilson consequently declined the call, but upon the united invitation to continue as stated supply, he remained until 1838. In 1837 the Presbyterian church in the United States divided into the two branches known as Old and New School, which unfortunately divided many local churches. Mr. Wilson took his stand with the old school party, taking with him a minority of the Rushville congregation. The attempt to maintain two separate Presbyterian organizations, did not prove to be a success, and so in a few years we find the family happily re-united and worshipping under one roof. Between 1840-1850, which embraces all the years of the old and new school so far as Rushville is concerned, there labored in one or the other branch of the church, the following named ministers: Rev. Breese, Rev. Alfred Carrington, Rev. J. T. Tucker, Rev. Henry Bergen, Rev. J. Haswell, and Rev. L. P. Kimball. Of these brethren, Revs. Carrington, Haswell and Kimball died during the ten years, and their graves are in the Rushville Cemetery.

The first Settled Pastor of this church was Rev. Alex. B. Campbell who came in Sept. 1850, and after serving one year as a supply was installed in Oct. 1851, with the munificent salary of $400 pledged for his support. He continued to sustain this relation until April 1855, when he removed to Mendon, Ill. Mr. Campbell’s pastorate was a prosperous one, quite a large number being added to the church membership. In the year 1856 the pulpit was supplied by Rev. J. Fowler, son-in-law of Rev. A. P. Brown, a resident Presbyterian minister, in ill health, and whose widow at her death showed her love for the church by leaving a legacy for the Sabbath-school. In January 1857, Rev. S. E. Wishard was invited to supply the pulpit; which invitation he accepted, and in the following November, by a rising and unanimous vote he was called to become its second pastor, being installed in December. This pastorate continued for about three years, and was marked by earnest work and great prosperity, the membership being increased from eighty-two to one hundred and sixty-six. Following the prosperous pastorate of Mr. Wishard, the church was supplied one year by Rev. J. L. Jones, and two years by Rev. J. L. Whittemore. The times were troublous, and each served but a little while. In October 1864, Rev. T. S. Reeve was invited to supply the pulpit, which invitation he promptly accepted. The winter following was one of marked interest in the church, over thirty persons being added to its roll. He declined an invitation to serve the second year, and so in 1865 the pulpit was again vacant. In the same year the church sustained a severe loss in the death of two ruling elders, J. L. Aanderson and Samuel Hindman, the latter having served the church as elder for twenty-nine years.

The church was occasionally supplied with preaching, by Rev. Ira M. Weed until 1866, when Rev. R. C. Swinton became the regular supply. In 1869 he became disabled by ill health, and was succeeded by Rev. W. C. Burchard. The three succeeding years of Mr. B’s ministry were marked by internal harmony and great success. But on account of the ill health of Mrs. B., he was obliged to relinquish his charge in 1872. In Jan. 1873, Rev. J. A. Pinze was called to the pastorate of the church, and was installed in the following May, being the third pastor over this much served flock. He continued in this capacity until the fall of 1880, making the longest pastorate ever enjoyed by this church. This too was a period of harmony, growth and prosperity. It was during his ministry that the congregation erected the present beautiful and commodious house of worship, in many respects a model for convenience and utility. The corner-stone of the house (which is of brick) was laid with appropriate ceremonies on Monday, August 23, 1875, and although the times was marked by financial stringency all over the country, the house were pushed to its present state of completion as rapidly as possible, at a cost of $15,000. The first religious services were held in the Sabbath-school and lecture room in March 1877. It is no disparagement to the others who aided in this worthy enterprise to record the fact that not a little of this success was due to the indefatigable labors of elder L. R. Caldwell, who has so recently entered into his rest and reward. In Jan. 1881, Rev. Daniel W. Evans was called to the pastorate of the church, but was never installed, as the Master whom he loved and served, called him into the church triumphant in December of the same year. In May 1882, Rev. Samuel C. Palmer came to this church in answer to a hearty and unanimous call which had been extended to him in March preceding. The names of the Elders who have served the church since its organization are as follows; viz: Thomas Blair, William Moore, David Watson, John Young, David S. Taylor, William Blair, Robert A. Russell, Samuel Hindman, James L. Anderson, David V. Dawely, O. M. Hoagland, William E. Withrow, Williaim Perkins, John McCreery, Peter H. Holm, … King, William K. Young, R. H. Griffith, William Speed, Thomas H. Matthews, Augustus Warren, George G. Clark, A. J. Byrns, J. M. Coyner, John Putnam, Louis R. Caldwell, Louis D. Erwin and Hershal B. Roach. The session as constituted at present is composed of the following brethren: R. H. Griffith, Wm. Speed, Augustus Warren, A. J. Byrns, H. B. Roach and L. D. Irwin. The history of Presbyterianism in Schuyler county should include also that of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, being another branch of the same family. Their only organization in the county was effected in Rushville in 1834, four years later than the other church, whose history is briefly outlined above, in a brick school-house on the lot where the Christian church now stands. Its original members were Micaiah Warren, Mary Warren, David S. Taylor, Sarah Taylor, Renseller Wells, Esther Wells, Abraham Tolles, Harriet Tolles, John B. Moffitt, Polly Ann Moffitt, Willis M. Chapman, Elizabeth Chapman, Sarah Durant, Francis Heminway and Willis Carson. Of these David Taylor and Micaiah Warren were elected Ruling Elders. Rev. J. C. Jewel became their pastor in the same year, and they proceeded at once to build a house of worship. The year 1834 is memorable as the cholera year, and Rev. Mr. Jewel became one of its victims and died, but not until the new building was enclosed, so that his funeral sermon was preached in it by Rev. J. M. Berry. Losing severely by deaths and removals, they became too weak to support a minister, and soon suspended this separate service. At length they sold their building, and like the old school Presbyterians, identified themselves with the First Presbyterian Church of Rushville, contributing to it some of its most esteemed and useful members.

The Presbyterian organization at Doddsville is the next in chronological order. The village of Doddsville is divided by the county line of Schuyler and McDonough and the church was organized and the gospel preached for thirty-three years on the Schuyler side of the line. In 1876 a new meeting house was erected at a cost of $3200, which stands upon the McDonough side of the line. The church was organized July 29, 1843, at the house of Andrew Walker, by a commission sent by Presbyterians for that purpose--consisting of Rev. Wm. K. Stewart, Rev. James M. Chase and Elder Brisco. The names of the original members of this organization are as follows; viz: Andrew Walker, Ann Walker, Charles W. Walker, Rachel Walker, John M. Clark, Mariah Clark, Margaret Hoge, Rebecca Clugsten, Jane Clugsten, Hetty McCoy, Isabella Scott Clugsten, John Scott, Rachel Scott, Sarah Black, Mariah Black, Thomas Shannon, and Elizabeth Shannon, seventeen in all. Of this number Andrew Walker was ruling elder, and the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was administered upon the next day which was the Sabbath. Of these original members, eleven were from near Gettysburg, Pa; four from near Urbana, Ohio, and two from Virginia; all but five of them have already joined the ranks of the church triumphant. The names of those still living (July 1882) are: Chas W. Walker, Margaret Hoge, Jane Clugsten, Isabella Clugsten, and Mariah (Black) Beaver. The first four being still members of the Dodville church. Mrs. Beaver being a member of the Presbyterian church at Plymouth Ill. On the 17th of September, 1843, about seven weeks after the organization of this church, Elder Andrew Walker was called to his eternal rest and reward. During the thirty-nine years of this organization, the church has been served by the following named ministers, all but one in the relation of stated supply: Revs. John Hoge, James M. Chase, John Marshall, Cyrus B. Bristow, Joseph H. Marshall, James T. Bliss, George A. Hutchison, Henry C. Mullen, Preston W. Thomson and Rev. D. T. McAuley, the present incumbent, one half his time, Rev. Joseph H. Marshall was the only regularly installed pastor. Of  these ministers all are yet still living except the Rev. James Chase and Rev. John Marshall. The following brethren have served as elders in this church: Andrew Walker, John M. Clark, John G. McGaughey, David R. Hindman, James McDavid, Elijah Hindman, John McMillen, Hugh McGaughey, Thomas Conner, Thos. McCoy, Henry Black, Wm. Pollock, John Colleasure and Samuel Hoge, fourteen in all--six of this number--printed in italics have departed in life. James Colleasure was elected to this office but died before ordination.

The church has also been served by the following named Deacons: George Bair, Wm. A. Black, Samuel Hoge, John H. McGrath and James Colleasure,--all living but the last.

The present board of Trustees are: George Bair, Samuel C. Hoge, John McGrath and William McLain.

The old church building, so recently vacated, was begun in 1851, and completed in 1855. It was never formally dedicated as a house of worship; its original cost was about $900. The first revival of any note was in February and March, 1858, under the ministry of the Rev John Marshall, when twenty-eight new members were added to the church. The second revival was under the ministry of the Rev. Jas. T. Bliss, in Jan. 1867, when eleven members were received. In December of that same year, eleven more were enrolled, under the ministry of the Rev. George A. Hutchison. The most notable out pouring of the Spirit of God was in October 1874, in a meeting under the direction of the Rev. Neil Johnson, an evangelist, when thirty-five new names were added to the roll of the church, the membership of the church at this time being eighty, the largest number it has ever reached at one time. About two hundred names have been connected with the church since its organization.

Next in chronological order is the organization at Brooklyn; the writer has been unable to get any detailed history of this church. A few facts have been furnished. The church was organized September 23, 1854, by the Rev. James Ballard, with six members; viz: Dan. L. Nutting and wife, (congregationalists) William H. Hite and wife (Lutheran) J. B. Compton and wife, (Cumberland Presb.) Of this number brothers Compton and Hite were elected ruling elders. Eleven members were added during the next year. Owing to many removals during the next six months, the church seemed to die, no record being kept from October 14th, 1855 to December 17th, 1858, since which time the church has been served with regular pastoral ministration by men who have given to this field one-half their time, the Rev. D. T. McAuley, the present incumbent, dividing his labours between Brooklyn and Doddsville. A comfortable meeting-house was built in 1867, at a cost of $3500, without incurring any debt, and a new parsonage has just been erected at a cost of $1200, also free of debt. The church has a flourishing Sabbath-school of about 100 members, and it is believed that the future will reveal still better things in regard to this organization.

The church at Huntsville seems to have had a double organization. First, in 1836, an old school branch of the church was organized by Revs. Chase and Wilson, with a few members, of whom John J. Gash and Col. George H. Brisco were chosen ruling elders. Rev. Milton Kimball, of Augusta, was the first minister, after whom there were a number of others. The present church was organized in 1866 by Rev. Isaac T. Whittemore, with twelve members, of whom Isaac Pettijohn, Lagmore Ridenour, and Lewis R. King were elected ruling elders. The following named ministers have served this church, viz:--Rev. E. L. Hard, Rev. Aaron Thomson, Rev. Albam Powell, Rev. W. S. Knight, Rev. Dr. Ashley, Rev. A. H. Park, Rev. Pryse, and two theological students of the northwest, Messrs. McBride and McAfee. Until 1870 they worshipped in the old school church building, when the present house of worship was erected.

The organization of the Oak Valley Presbyterian Church was not consummated until April 3rd, 1872, although steps looking to that end had been taken two years previous. The Gospel had been faithfully preached by the Rev. Burchard and Pinger, of Rushville, and assisted in their labor by brethren of the session of the Rushville Church. The people heard the Gospel gladly, and during these preparatory two years, 26 professed conversion, so that when the church was organized it had 26 members and three ruling elders, viz:--Archibald Woods, Robert Alen, and George Simpson. With so fair a beginning it was hoped that a steady growth would follow and the organization would soon be regularly served with the preached Word, but circumstances have seemed to be against them, and to-day they have only a name to live.

Concerning the Birmingham organization, no data has been furnished the writer from which to present any historic facts.  The church is very weak.

It will thus be seen that Presbyterianism has never taken any strong root in Schuyler County. It is not in the province of the historian to search for causes, nor to speculate as to reasons. His work is simply to record the facts, and leave to the philosopher the task of assigning causes. The writer, however, may venture, perhaps, the suggestion that the Presbyterianism which found so easy a home in the county seat, and has grown from so small beginnings to its present prosperous condition, has had no small influence in shaping the moral tone and character of the whole county. Certain it is, that if we were to obliterate all the churches and all the religious influences which centre about the church and the Sabbath-school, the county would afford far less attractions than are found today. It is possible too, that some future compilers of Presbyterian history in this county will find a far greater growth, as the county increases in population, and the villages of today grow into populous towns.

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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