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History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois And Surrounding Territory

Prepared by Continental Historical Bureau of Mt. Vernon, Illinois
December, 1960

Page B-5

Belle Rive Methodist Church

On April 21, 1884, William S. Chaney and his wife Mary M. Cheney conveyed Lots Six and Seven in Block Thirty-one in the Village of Belle Rive to Joseph Guthrie, Jesse Laird, Richard J. Eaton, Zadock C. Maulding and Thomas A. Johnson, Trustees of the Belle Rive Methodist Church and their successors in office for the use and benefit of the church "In trust that said premises shall be used, kept, maintained and deposed of as a place of divine worship for the use of the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America; subject to the discipline, usage and ministerial appointments of said church as from time to time authorized and declared by the General Conference of said church, and the Annual Conference within whose bounds the said premises are situated."

According to Bonnie Nell Smith, the organization of the church was in 1885.  Samuel T. Laird hauled lumber to be used in construction of the building.  Rev. Jesse Laird, father of Samuel T. Laird, had requested that his funeral be held in the new church building.  The building was almost completed when he died, but was not yet equipped with seats.  Temporary seats were arranged for and the funeral held as requested.  Samuel T. Laird was licensed by the Methodist Church as a minister.

Following is an undated letter written a few years ago by Nellie Wall Weaver:

"The Belle Rive Methodist church originally a mile south of town at New Hope cemetery, in a log building.  My grandfather, Ealiza Goodner and his family were members there.  The town of Belle Rive was started and the congregation moved into town. My mother Laura Goodner Wall and Aunt Mary Allen were the last two members of that congregation.  My mother passed away in July 1939 and Aunt Mary two or three years later. [Editor's note: in 1945].  They met with the Christian church people for a time and in the Masonic Hall some time and decided to build.  About the first I remember was watching from my home, the men working on the church.  They had raised the rafters but had not got braced when a windstorm blew them over and they had to raised again.  The building was enclosed when Uncle Jessie Laird died.  He so much wanted his funeral preached in it they swept out the shavings, got boxes and nail kegs, put boards on them for seats and carried out his wishes.  I wasn't more than eight years old.  The first pastor I remember was William Browder.  They used chairs, nail kegs and boxes with boards for seats for some time and finally raised the money and got the seats that are in use today.  When they got ready to dedicate it, Rev. J. B. Thompson, D. D. of Salem, Ill. preached the dedication sermon September 8, 1895.  J. J. Hunter, P. C.  That was a time of great rejoicing.  There had been plenty of hardships and a lot of sacrificing but with Gods help the battle was won.  The church services had large attendance and the Sunday school was grand.  Classes were so crowded there wasn't any room left.  Oh how we did look forward to Sunday.  As I remember the trustees at the time were Tom Johnson, Larkin Boswell, R. G. Wall, Joe Guthrie and Doug Holland."
Many of the records of the church statistics are lost or not available, especially those records during the time this church and the Opdyke Church were one charge.

The record of ministers serving the church is incomplete in that dates are not available, and they are not arranged in chronological order.  They are: A. C. Snell, J. K. Hunte, J. W. Bain, P. H. Hearn, L. Smith, G. Groves, J. A. Bell, S. H. Hoor, E. F. Hicks, J. A. Martin, Newman Phillips, S. O. Sheridan, H, M. Wills, R. H. Phillips, W. E. Browning, N. D. Motzer, S. F. Clarkson, A. D. Dewhirst, Rev. Atcheson, F. J. Glotfelty, H. M. Fish, C. R. Barnett, J. A. Kennison, R. W. Linder, C. R. Wise, W. E. Shaffer, H. Hutchcraft, J. A. Taylor, Virgil Miller, Bill Swyear, Rev. Story, O. R. Buess, W. J. Fagan, Rudolph Barnett, Russell Oden, Ronnie Bogart.

Sunday School superintendents include: C. L. McKnight, Mrs. Joe Guthrie, D. C. Holland, I. D. Hampton, R. B. Karnes, Mrs. Della Bloodworth Brown, Henry Wall, Frank Marlow, and Mrs. Earl Bechtel.

Many school activities in the past were held in this church building, among them many graduation exercises and baccalaureate.

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