The Presbyterian Church
By Samuel C. Palmer
There are at the date ofthis 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 churchof 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 whowere active in securing this organization were Rev. Cyrus L. Watson, andRev. J. M. Ellis. Its original members were, Wm. Blair, Thomas Blair, MargaretBlair, Sarah Blair, Hugh McCreery, Sarah McCreery, Matthew McCreery, JaneMcCreery, 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 sessionincreased to five members, viz: Daniel Watson, John Young, David S. Taylor,William Blair and Robert A. Russell.
Mr. John Young, one of theseearly elders, organized and superintended the first Sabbath-school of Rushville,and probably the first in the county, in the log court-house, which stoodupon the ground where the present Elder R. H. Griffith is erecting hisnew hardware store. During this early period (1830-1837) the congregationmet 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 theseearly pioneers, Mrs. Sarah Young, relates that she distinctly remembersmeeting in the bar room of the tavern,–then standing on the northeastcorner of the square–where the Sacrament of the Lords Supper wassolemnly celebrated, which the little company of faithful believers greatlyenjoyed–Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there amI in the midst of them. In May 1836, Rev. Samuel Wilson was engaged toserve the church as stated supply. In April of 1837 an effort was madeto extend to him a call to become the settled pastor of the church. Thefirst ballot showed only a majority of one, and the last ballot only amajority of five in favor of the pastoral relation being consummated. Mr.Wilson consequently declined the call, but upon the united invitation tocontinue as stated supply, he remained until 1838. In 1837 the Presbyterianchurch in the United States divided into the two branches known as Oldand New School, which unfortunately divided many local churches. Mr. Wilsontook his stand with the old school party, taking with him a minority ofthe Rushville congregation. The attempt to maintain two separate Presbyterianorganizations, did not prove to be a success, and so in a few years wefind the family happily re-united and worshipping under one roof. Between1840-1850, which embraces all the years of the old and new school so faras Rushville is concerned, there labored in one or the other branch ofthe 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 theten years, and their graves are in the Rushville Cemetery.
The first Settled Pastorof this church was Rev. Alex. B. Campbell who came in Sept. 1850, and afterserving one year as a supply was installed in Oct. 1851, with the munificentsalary of $400 pledged for his support. He continued to sustain this relationuntil April 1855, when he removed to Mendon, Ill. Mr. Campbells pastoratewas 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-lawof Rev. A. P. Brown, a resident Presbyterian minister, in ill health, andwhose widow at her death showed her love for the church by leaving a legacyfor the Sabbath-school. In January 1857, Rev. S. E. Wishard was invitedto supply the pulpit; which invitation he accepted, and in the followingNovember, by a rising and unanimous vote he was called to become its secondpastor, being installed in December. This pastorate continued for aboutthree years, and was marked by earnest work and great prosperity, the membershipbeing increased from eighty-two to one hundred and sixty-six. Followingthe prosperous pastorate of Mr. Wishard, the church was supplied one yearby Rev. J. L. Jones, and two years by Rev. J. L. Whittemore. The timeswere troublous, and each served but a little while. In October 1864, Rev.T. S. Reeve was invited to supply the pulpit, which invitation he promptlyaccepted. The winter following was one of marked interest in the church,over thirty persons being added to its roll. He declined an invitationto serve the second year, and so in 1865 the pulpit was again vacant. Inthe same year the church sustained a severe loss in the death of two rulingelders, J. L. Aanderson and Samuel Hindman, the latter having served thechurch as elder for twenty-nine years.
The church was occasionallysupplied 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 ofMr. Bs ministry were marked by internal harmony and great success. Buton account of the ill health of Mrs. B., he was obliged to relinquish hischarge in 1872. In Jan. 1873, Rev. J. A. Pinze was called to the pastorateof the church, and was installed in the following May, being the thirdpastor over this much served flock. He continued in this capacity untilthe fall of 1880, making the longest pastorate ever enjoyed by this church.This too was a period of harmony, growth and prosperity. It was duringhis ministry that the congregation erected the present beautiful and commodioushouse of worship, in many respects a model for convenience and utility.The corner-stone of the house (which is of brick) was laid with appropriateceremonies on Monday, August 23, 1875, and although the times was markedby financial stringency all over the country, the house were pushed toits 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 lectureroom in March 1877. It is no disparagement to the others who aided in thisworthy enterprise to record the fact that not a little of this successwas due to the indefatigable labors of elder L. R. Caldwell, who has sorecently 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 triumphantin December of the same year. In May 1882, Rev. Samuel C. Palmer came tothis church in answer to a hearty and unanimous call which had been extendedto him in March preceding. The names of the Elders who have served thechurch since its organization are as follows; viz: Thomas Blair, WilliamMoore, David Watson, John Young, David S. Taylor, William Blair, RobertA. 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, AugustusWarren, George G. Clark, A. J. Byrns, J. M. Coyner, John Putnam, LouisR. Caldwell, Louis D. Erwin and Hershal B. Roach. The session as constitutedat 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 historyof Presbyterianism in Schuyler county should include also that of the CumberlandPresbyterian church, being another branch of the same family. Their onlyorganization in the county was effected in Rushville in 1834, four yearslater than the other church, whose history is briefly outlined above, ina 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 Taylorand Micaiah Warren were elected Ruling Elders. Rev. J. C. Jewel becametheir pastor in the same year, and they proceeded at once to build a houseof 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 buildingwas enclosed, so that his funeral sermon was preached in it by Rev. J.M. Berry. Losing severely by deaths and removals, they became too weakto support a minister, and soon suspended this separate service. At lengththey sold their building, and like the old school Presbyterians, identifiedthemselves with the First Presbyterian Church of Rushville, contributingto it some of its most esteemed and useful members.
The Presbyterian organizationat Doddsville is the next in chronological order. The village of Doddsvilleis divided by the county line of Schuyler and McDonough and the churchwas organized and the gospel preached for thirty-three years on the Schuylerside 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 wasorganized July 29, 1843, at the house of Andrew Walker, by a commissionsent by Presbyterians for that purpose–consisting of Rev. Wm. K. Stewart,Rev. James M. Chase and Elder Brisco. The names of the original membersof this organization are as follows; viz: Andrew Walker, Ann Walker, CharlesW. Walker, Rachel Walker, John M. Clark, Mariah Clark, Margaret Hoge, RebeccaClugsten, Jane Clugsten, Hetty McCoy, Isabella Scott Clugsten, John Scott,Rachel Scott, Sarah Black, Mariah Black, Thomas Shannon, and ElizabethShannon, seventeen in all. Of this number Andrew Walker was ruling elder,and the Sacrament of the Lords Supper was administered upon the next daywhich was the Sabbath. Of these original members, eleven were from nearGettysburg, Pa; four from near Urbana, Ohio, and two from Virginia; allbut five of them have already joined the ranks of the church triumphant.The names of those still living (July 1882) are: Chas W. Walker, MargaretHoge, Jane Clugsten, Isabella Clugsten, and Mariah (Black) Beaver. Thefirst four being still members of the Dodville church. Mrs. Beaver beinga member of the Presbyterian church at Plymouth Ill. On the 17th of September,1843, about seven weeks after the organization of this church, Elder AndrewWalker was called to his eternal rest and reward. During the thirty-nineyears of this organization, the church has been served by the followingnamed ministers, all but one in the relation of stated supply: Revs. JohnHoge, James M. Chase, John Marshall, Cyrus B. Bristow, Joseph H. Marshall,James T. Bliss, George A. Hutchison, Henry C. Mullen, Preston W. Thomsonand Rev. D. T. McAuley, the present incumbent, one half his time, Rev.Joseph H. Marshall was the only regularly installed pastor. Of theseministers 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, JamesMcDavid, 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 inlife. James Colleasure was elected to this office but died before ordination.
The church has also beenserved by the following named Deacons: George Bair, Wm. A. Black, SamuelHoge, John H. McGrath and James Colleasure,–all living but the last.
The present board of Trusteesare: 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 neverformally 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 theministry of the Rev John Marshall, when twenty-eight new members were addedto the church. The second revival was under the ministry of the Rev. Jas.T. Bliss, in Jan. 1867, when eleven members were received. In Decemberof that same year, eleven more were enrolled, under the ministry of theRev. George A. Hutchison. The most notable out pouring of the Spirit ofGod was in October 1874, in a meeting under the direction of the Rev. NeilJohnson, an evangelist, when thirty-five new names were added to the rollof 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 nameshave been connected with the church since its organization.
Next in chronological orderis the organization at Brooklyn; the writer has been unable to get anydetailed history of this church. A few facts have been furnished. The churchwas organized September 23, 1854, by the Rev. James Ballard, with six members;viz: Dan. L. Nutting and wife, (congregationalists) William H. Hite andwife (Lutheran) J. B. Compton and wife, (Cumberland Presb.) Of this numberbrothers Compton and Hite were elected ruling elders. Eleven members wereadded during the next year. Owing to many removals during the next sixmonths, the church seemed to die, no record being kept from October 14th,1855 to December 17th, 1858, since which time the church has been servedwith regular pastoral ministration by men who have given to this fieldone-half their time, the Rev. D. T. McAuley, the present incumbent, dividinghis labours between Brooklyn and Doddsville. A comfortable meeting-housewas built in 1867, at a cost of $3500, without incurring any debt, anda new parsonage has just been erected at a cost of $1200, also free ofdebt. The church has a flourishing Sabbath-school of about 100 members,and it is believed that the future will reveal still better things in regardto this organization.
The church at Huntsvilleseems to have had a double organization. First, in 1836, an old schoolbranch of the church was organized by Revs. Chase and Wilson, with a fewmembers, of whom John J. Gash and Col. George H. Brisco were chosen rulingelders. Rev. Milton Kimball, of Augusta, was the first minister, afterwhom there were a number of others. The present church was organized in1866 by Rev. Isaac T. Whittemore, with twelve members, of whom Isaac Pettijohn,Lagmore Ridenour, and Lewis R. King were elected ruling elders. The followingnamed ministers have served this church, viz:–Rev. E. L. Hard, Rev. AaronThomson, 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 churchbuilding, when the present house of worship was erected.
The organization of the OakValley Presbyterian Church was not consummated until April 3rd, 1872, althoughsteps looking to that end had been taken two years previous. The Gospelhad been faithfully preached by the Rev. Burchard and Pinger, of Rushville,and assisted in their labor by brethren of the session of the RushvilleChurch. The people heard the Gospel gladly, and during these preparatorytwo years, 26 professed conversion, so that when the church was organizedit had 26 members and three ruling elders, viz:–Archibald Woods, RobertAlen, and George Simpson. With so fair a beginning it was hoped that asteady growth would follow and the organization would soon be regularlyserved with the preached Word, but circumstances have seemed to be againstthem, and to-day they have only a name to live.
Concerning the Birminghamorganization, no data has been furnished the writer from which to presentany historic facts. The church is very weak.
It will thus be seen thatPresbyterianism has never taken any strong root in Schuyler County. Itis not in the province of the historian to search for causes, nor to speculateas to reasons. His work is simply to record the facts, and leave to thephilosopher the task of assigning causes. The writer, however, may venture,perhaps, the suggestion that the Presbyterianism which found so easy ahome in the county seat, and has grown from so small beginnings to itspresent prosperous condition, has had no small influence in shaping themoral tone and character of the whole county. Certain it is, that if wewere to obliterate all the churches and all the religious influences whichcentre about the church and the Sabbath-school, the county would affordfar less attractions than are found today. It is possible too, that somefuture compilers of Presbyterian history in this county will find a fargreater growth, as the county increases in population, and the villagesof today grow into populous towns.
Source: The CombinedHistory of Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, 1882
Transcribed by Carol LongwellMiller for Schuyler County ILGenWeb.
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