Church History
Hamilton Co., IL

[From: History of Hamilton County, Illinois; pub. Goodspeed 1887; pgs. 322-334]
Typed as written.  Enhanced with graphics.


It is generally believed that Ten Mile Church was the first one established in the county, and also, that the first white persons who died in the county was buried there.  About the same time a Baptist Church was established at Old Village, in the southern part of the county, and it is a remarkable fact that at this Baptist Church, camp meetings, commencing about 1828, were thereafter held for forty consecutive years.  Robert Moore was the first preacher at Ten Mile Church, and the second was Chester Carpenter, who established another church near the Wayne and Hamilton County line, about the time of the establishment of the church at Old Village.  Concord Methodist Episcopal Church was also one of the pioneer churches, and among the pioneer ministers of the gospel were Archibald Harris, Scott Harrison (colored), David McLin, Thomas Files, Rev. Mr. Manns and Rev. Mr. Fox.  Most of the preaching in the early day was at homes of the settlers, and was attended by congregations collected together from distances of from ten to twelve miles, and it is generally believed and frequently asserted that there was more real piety then in the community than now.

            Ten Mile Church was organized September 2, 1820 by Elders Wilson Henderson, John Wren and Chester Carpenter.  It has nearly always been one of the largest churches in Hamilton, and Elder Hosea Vise has been its pastor for over twenty-five years.

            Beaver Creek Baptist Church was organized in 1844, under the labors of Elder Hosea Vise.  In 1855 it had a membership of fifty-five, and that year united with the Franklin Association.  In 1857 it united with the Fairfield Association.  In 1875 the church was removed to Thackeray, and has since been known as the Thackeray Baptist Church.  The membership is about seventy-five, and the pastor is Rev. Thomas A. Dulaney.  The present church building cost about $800.

            Little Prairie Church was organized in the winter of 1844-45, under the preaching of Elder T. M. Vance, who began to preach there in June 1843.  This is now called Dahlgren Church, and belongs to the Fairfield Association.

            Antioch Church was organized May, 1845, with the following membership:  N. Harrelson, Thomas T. Hanks, John Whiteland, Nathaniel Vise, William B. Vise, James Matheny, Henry Whitehead, James Whitehead, William Meadows, Elizabeth Hanks, Mary Edwards, Sara Matheny, Keziah Vise, Elizabeth Vise and Susannah Whitehead.  Elder Hosea Vise was the first pastor, and served the church in that capacity over twenty-five years.  A Sunday school was organized in 1845.  Antioch Church is one of the largest Baptist Churches in Hamilton County, having a membership of more than one hundred, and Rev. M. J. Jones is the present pastor.

            Blooming Grove Church was organized May 19, 1850, with twenty-two members.  The council consisted of Elders Robert Lee, C. R. Pitman and R. Shirley.  The deacon was J. W. Ingram.  Elder Russell Shirley was the first pastor.  This church is about three miles west of McLeansboro.  It has sent out six ministers of the gospel.  It practiced foot-washing two years, since which time the practice has been abandoned.  The present membership is one hundred and sixty-five, and Rev. Laban Estes is the pastor.

            Union Baptist Church was organized November 23, 1870, by Elders C. Allen and C. Y. Allen.  It is located ten miles west of McLeansboro.  Elder C. Y. Allen was the first pastor and remained with the church seven years.  It is the regular successor of the Union Church established in 1851 in a schoolhouse near where the present Union Church is located.  This was organized by Elders S. A. Martin and W. P. Sneed.  For some time it grew and prospered, but in 1867 its membership was reduced to twenty, and they agreed to dissolve.  The present church is in a flourishing conditioning.

            McLeansboro Baptist Church is the successor of two other organizations of the same kind, both of which failed.  It was organized February 13, 1872, by Rev. C. Allen and John A. Rodman with the following members: A. DeFoe, James H. Daily, James Braden, Elvira Howard and Julia Gray.  On April 12, 1874, John C. Hall, A. DeFoe and Henderson Daily were appointed a committee to draft plans for a new church building.  The building committee consisted of Jasper Boyd, J. H. Daily and T. B. Wright.  A. A. Young, of Hoodville, took the contract to build the church for #2,250, and it was dedicated in 1876 by Rev. Mr. French.  Since then its pastors have been Revs. C. Allen, John Rodman, W. H. Carner, Mr. Goodwin and the present pastor, Rev. Laban Estes.  The present membership is about one hundred and sixty.  T. B. Wright was the superintendent of the Sunday school from 1883 to 1886, and the present superintendent is J. C. Asher.  There are ten teachers and one hundred and seventy-five scholars.

            Hopewell Church was organized October 29, 1877, under the labors of Elder James King and six members—one male and five females.  The council consisted of Elder James King, Deacon M. W. Fuller and J. W. Smith.  Elder John W. Dillingham was the first pastor.  In 1877 the membership increased to seven.  This church is located on the State road, three miles east of McLeansboro.  The present pastor is J. C. Elliott.

            Knight’s Prairie Church is located seven and a half miles southwest of McLeansboro.  It was organized about 1853.  Its house of worship was blown down in 1886 and in the fall of the same year a new frame church 30x40 feet was erected at a cost of about $700.  The present membership is about one hundred and sixty and the present pastor is Rev. Laban Estes.  The Sunday school consists of about fifty scholars, and Huston Burnett is the superintendent.

            Hickory Hill Church was organized in March 1861, with twelve members.  Mr. James Twigg being the first upon the list.  The presbytery consisted of A. H. Benson and John Grider.  The church belongs to the Fairfield Association.  The first pastor was Rev. A. H. Benson.  The first building used by this church was a log one erected in 1858, and this was superseded in 1884 by a frame structure 30x50 feet in size, and worth about $1,000.  The present membership is about one hundred and thirty, and the present pastor Rev. J. C. Elliott.

            New Hope Church was organized in 1859.  Rev. John B. Smith was pastor of this church in all twenty-seven years.  The present pastor is Rev. Thomas A. Dulaney, and the present membership one hundred and twenty.  R. T. Webb is the superintendent of the Sunday school which consists of about forty scholars.

            The other Baptist Churches in Hamilton County are Belle City and New Liberty Churches.

            Concord Methodist Episcopal Church was among the earliest religious organizations in the county.  It is located five miles east of McLeansboro and was established about 1830.  A log house was built which was used until about 1860, when a new one was erected.  The present frame church was erected in 1871.  It is 36x40 feet in size and cost about $1,000.  At this time the church has forty-five members, and Rev. J. A. Leatherman is the pastor.

            The first class organized in McLeansboro is said by some to have been as early as 1835, and the first preacher here to have been Isaac G. Barr.  Both Mr. Barr and J. C. Houtse were circuit riders here in 1837 or 1838.  Services were held in the schoolhouse and in the courthouse for about twenty years.  Rev. Simon Walker was also one old the early circuit riders, the circuit then extending from Carlyle to Carmi.  He was on this circuit for many years.  About 1853 a church building was erected 40x60 feet in size at an expense of about $1,200, but in the spring of 1856 this edifice was destroyed by fire, and it again became necessary to have recourse to the courthouse, which they continued to use until 1870, when they erected the present two-story brick church on a lot presented to them by John S. Kinnear.  The building committee consisted of R. L. Meador, E. E. Welborn, and John S. Kinnear.  P. C. Eudaly contracted to erect the building, which is 46x80 feet in dimensions, and cost $8.000.  It was dedicated in the spring of 1871 by Rev. Mr. Bowen.  The present membership of this church is about one hundred and fifty, and of the Sunday school about two hundred.  A Longworth is the superintendent, and there are in the school eleven teachers.  The pastors of this church have been Revs. Walker, Morris, Bayard, Caughlin, Thompson, Ravenscroft, and Pender.

            Mary’s Chapel (Methodist Episcopal) is located four miles south of McLeansboro.  It was started about 1851 or 1852.  Services were held for a number of years in a schoolhouse.  Its first six members were Thomas Edwards, Margaret Edwards, William and Mary Matheny, Eliza and Mary Carey.  After the last of whom the chapel was named.  At the present time this organization has a church building similar to that of Concord Church.  The membership is about one hundred, and Rev. J. A. Leatherman is the pastor.  The Sunday school, of which Henry Madison is superintendent, has bout sixty scholars.

            Thackeray Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in the spring of 1880, with twelve members – C. G. Neel, Mrs. M. E. Neel, O. O. Walker, Mrs. Amanda J. Walker, F. A. Ferry, Mrs. Frances Ferry, P. G. Threlkel, Sylvester Nelson, Mrs. Mary Nelson, Miss Catharine Fuller, Miss C. A. Hamill, William A. Phipps, Miss Nancy Malone and James Livingstone.  Following are the names of the ministers of this church:  Rev. W. A. Browder, Rev. W. T. Morris, Rev. J. H. Bennett, Rev. W. A. Porter and Rev. W. T. Morris, Rev. J. H. Bennett, Rev. W. A. Porter and Rev. J. A. Leatherman.  The church building was erected in 1883 at a cost of $723.  It is 28x36 feet and has a seating capacity of 250.  The building committee was David Hamill, E. G. Neel and O. O. Walker.  The present membership is about seventy-five, and the church in a good condition.  The Sunday school, of which David Hamil is superintendent, has about fifty-six scholars.

            Sulphur Springs Methodist Episcopal Church lies about two miles southeast of McLeansboro.  It has no church building, but worships in the same building with the Baptists.  The present membership is fifty-two, and Rev. J. A. Leatherman is the pastor.  The Sunday school, of which Milo Biggerstaff is superintendent, has bout sixty scholars.

            Dale Methodist Episcopal Church was started in 1880.  Having no church building, services are held in the schoolhouse.  There are about forty-five members, and Rev. J. A. Leatherman is pastor.  The Sunday school, of which Rev. C. T. Douthit is superintendent, has about forty scholars.

            Oliver Methodist Episcopal Church lies about five miles southeast of McLeansboro.  It was started in 1885, by Rev. William A. Porter, with fifteen members.  They now have forty members, and a church building 24/30 feet, which cost them $500.  The present pastor is Rev. J. A. Leatherman.

            Dahlgren Methodist Episcopal Church was organized as a class in 1872, by Rev. Mr. Caldwell, with fourteen members, and Rev. C. W. Morris was the originator and principal mover in the building of the new church which was erected in 1873, and dedicated on July 20, 1875, by Bishop Bowman of St. Louis.  The pastors of this church have been Rev. Mr. Caldwell, in 1872; Rev. C. W. Morris, 1873; Rev. J. N. Bostorff, 1874; T. N. Johnson, 1875; L. C. Cullon, 1876; C. C. Young, 1877; Arthur Sharp, 1878; Ollen Rippitoe, 1879; J. W. Field, 1880; Rev. Mr. Franklin, 1881; J. W. Bain, 1882-83; Hardin Hutchcraft, 1884-85; J. T. Huffman, 1886-87.

            Josiah Allen, a deacon of the Missionary Baptist Church, organized the first Sunday school in Hamilton County, and Mrs. Hosea Vise organized the first in the immediate neighborhood of Macedonia.

            The McLeansboro Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in 1822, by Rev. David W. Macklin from the Anderson Presbytery, Kentucky, with six members.  Rev. Mr. Macklin continued to preach a number of years, and was followed by Rev. Jesse Pearce, W. M. Hamilton, J. Alexander and William Davis.  In 1837 the church became disorganized, but after some time it was reorganized by Revs. Milledge Miller and R. M. Davis.  This was about 1850, and services were held in the courthouse, but soon transferred to Union Hall some distance out into the country.  Here again the church became disorganized, but in 1874 it was the second time reorganized by Rev. R. M. Davis, who continued as pastor for eight years.  In 1875 A. T. Sullenger, A. M. Wilson, A. Weldon and a few others raised a subscription, and built their present church building on Market Street, near the depot, which was dedicated by Rev. Mr. Hogg.  The building is 32/60 feet, and cost $3,000.  Since the retirement of Rev. Mr. Davis, Rev. George W. Williams has been the pastor.  The membership of the church is about seventy-five, and of the Sunday school, of which A. M. Wilson is the superintendent, one hundred.

            West Union Cumberland Presbyterian Church is located in Beaver Creek Township.  The building was erected in 1878, at a cost of $750, with a seating capacity of 800.  The building committee were William Land, J. F. McCord and R. W. Jordan.  The original members were William Land and wife, Daniel Land, Thomas Land and wife, J. F. McCord and wife, James and Mary Dryden, John F. M. Oliver and wife, Samuel Gowdy and wife, E. N. Miller, Richard Land and wife, John Fields and wife, Nancy Quals, R. W. Jordan and wife, William, Edward, Alexander and Miss Martha Jordan.  The first minister was Rev. J. M. Miller, and the present one Rev. C. W. Fields.  The present membership of the church is fifty-four.

            On the 9th of February 1880, Mrs. Mary A. Pake went to the home of Mrs. J. J. Beecher for the purpose of meeting there Rt. Rev. George F. Seymour.  Her object was to solicit his assistance in the establishment of an Episcopal Church in McLeansboro, and to invite Rev. M. Stelle, of Cincinnati, to take charger of it.  The Bishop suggested to the prospective members at McLeansboro to raise $500 to pay a part of the salary of the rector.  The sum of $200 was promptly subscribed and Rev. I. N. W. Irvine invited to take charge of the church.  The services were held for a time in the hall of J. M. Shoemaker.  The first members were Mr. and Mrs. William Rickcords, Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Pake, Miss Annie Jones, Miss Mary Jones, Mrs. John Darley and Mrs. J. M. Shoemaker.  Charles H. Heard gave a lot July 5, 1880, and under the supervision of William Rickcords, J. M. Shoemaker, C. G. McCoy, S. J. Pake and L. Powell, a church was built, the corner-stone being laid August 19, 1880, by Rt. Rev. George F. Seymour.  The contract to build the church was let August 13, 1880, to W. S. Thompson, of Mount Vernon, and when completed it cost $10,000.  The first sermon was preached in this building February 19, 1882, by Rev. R. B. Hoyt.  The church is of brick with a short tower, and is quite an ornament to the town.  It is even said to be the finest finished church edifice in southern Illinois.  The rectors have been Revs. I. N. W. Irvine, R. B. Hoyt and C. B. Mee, the present incumbent.

            The First Christian Church of McLeansboro was organized February 9, 1876 by Elder James T. Baker, with seventeen members as follows: John J. Buck, Dorcas Buck, George W. Garrison, George Lee, M. R. Gullie, R. H. Stanley, Sarah Drew, Nancy Drew, Eliza Dickson, Letha Etta Garrison, Della Stanley, William H. Buck, Mary Lee, O. L. Hyatt, Flora Hyatt and Wesley Chelf.  The first officers were as follows: Elders, John J. Buck and George W. Garrison; deacons, P. L. Dickerson, N. R. Gullie and George Lee; O. L. Hyatt, clerk and Wesley Chelf, treasurer.  Services were held in the courthouse until their present church building was erected.  The building committee consisted of B. F. M. Pemberton, J. J. Buck and Oscar Lee.  Liberal subscriptions were made by the citizens, and in June 1880, the contract was let to George Haufman for $1,365.  The church is a frame building, standing at the corner of Main and East Border Streets.  When completed about January 1, 1881, it cost about$1,800.  At the present time the church has 110 members, and the Sunday school, of which J. W. Jones is the superintendent, has about 120 scholars.  The pastors have been T. W. Wall, D. Logan, G. W. Murl, George E. Flower, J. W. Higley, B. R. Gilbert, N. S. Haynes, J. S. Clements and J. P. Davis.

            The Church of God (Christian) is located in Beaver Creek Township.  In August 1854, it was organized, services being held in David Upton’s barn.  In March 1855, a log church was erected at a cost of $13.  The first members were Jefferson Garrison and wife, Frances; Sarah Smithpeter, Alfred Drew, Eliza Lasater, Jane Reynolds, John W. Fry, William C. Davis, Lotta Jones, Vica Vaughn, Caleb Ellis, Sarah Farmer, Henry J. Williams, Nancy J. Drew and James E. Lee; the elders were Alfred Drew and Caleb Ellis; deacons, James Drew and Jefferson Garrison; the first minister was Joseph Goodwin.  In 1874 a church was erected at a cost of $800, the building committee being M. E. Ellis, John Mason and W. W. Buck.  The ministers since Mrs. Goodwin, have been Samuel V. Williams, Alfred Drew, Joseph Bayless, D. Logan and D. A. Hunter.  The church is in a flourishing condition.

            The New White Oak Church (Christian) is located in Beaver Creek Township.  It was organized in 1885, and a church building erected at a cost of about $600.  The building committee consisted of J. R. P. White, Edmond York, Henry Bailey, James Hobson and James Madcalf.  The first minister was Rev. D. Logan and the next, Rev. Thomas Purvis.  This church is also in a flourishing condition.

            Mt. Pleasant Christian Church was organized about the year 1856 by Elder Moses Goodwin with about twenty-seven members and the following officers:  Elders, Alfred Drew and William I. Richards; deacons, Jefferson Garrison and James E. Lee.  The organization was effected at the residence of Jefferson Garrison in Jefferson City.  For some time the society met from house to house, but in the next year after the organization they erected a log church.  A new church was built in the fall of 1873 and spring of 1874; the building is 36x50 feet and cost $1,200.  The present membership is about 125.  The present pastor is Rev. J. T. Purvis; the Sunday school, of which Charles L. French is superintendent, has now about fifty scholars.

            Macedonia Christian Church was organized in 1886, with twenty-three members; as yet it has no church building.

            (St. John's Catholic Church). Twenty-five German Catholics arrived at Piopolis from Baden, August 21, 1841.  Soon after their arrival they united in one of their humble dwellings in private worship, according to the custom of the old church of the Apostles.  The first priest to visit them, February 12, 1842, was Rev. Father Elisha J. Durbin, who resided at the chapel near Morganfield, Ky.  Rev. Father Roman Weinzopfelin came here May 16, 1845, from St. Wendel, Md.  After 1849 this small congregation of Catholics was attended from Shawneetown, Ill, by Fathers Fahy, McCabe and Walsh, and in 1858 by Father Fischer of St. Marie, Jasper Co., Ill.  The church property, forty acres, was bought in 1844; a block church was erected, which had to give place to a more spacious structure in 1857.  The first bishop of Alton, Rt. Rev. H. D. Juncker, was here August 13, 1859, and appointed the Fathers of the Franciscan order at Tentopolis, Effingham County, to attend the place regularly.  Thee pastors were Rev. P. Capistan, 1859-60; Rev. P. P. Ferdinand, 1860-1861; Rev. P. Servatius, 1862; Rev. P. Kilian, 1863-64; Rev. Father Edward Herman, the first resident priest, 1864, who was succeed in 1865 by Rev. Blasius Winterhalta, and in 1871 by Rev. Father John Neuhaus.  In 1870 the Sisters of the Precious Blood arrived from Baden, and started a parochial school, which has been kept up ever since.  Until 1876 the neighboring congregations of McLeansboro, Enfield, Carmi, and Mt. Vernon were supplied from this place and Mt. Vernon and McLeansboro, even until 188-0.  The congregation now numbers 562, but they are neither German nor Dutchmen, 445 of them being native Americans.  The new brick church measures as follows:  tower and sanctuary included 118 feet long, it is 50 feet wide, height inside 41 feet, outside 51 feet, and to the top of the gilt cross 131 feet.  The cost was $13,000, exclusive of the work done by the congregation.  Rev. John N. Enzlberger is the present pastor.

            St. Clement’s Roman Catholic Church at McLeansboro is a body of Catholics originally worshiping about two miles west of McLeansboro on the McGilly farm, and afterward on the farm of Lawrence Paul about one-half mile east of McLeansboro.  It then had about twenty-five members, and was attended from Piopolis.  It is now attended by Rev. H. J. Hazen, from Mt. Vernon, Ill.  In 1884 this body erected a frame church building, worth about $2,000, in the eastern part of McLeansboro, when the membership was about 40.  It is now 140, and arrangements are in progress to made an addition to the church at an expense of about $1,000.

            McLeansboro’ Presbyterian Church was organized December 16, 1867, by Rev. John Huston.  Religious services had been conducted previously, however, to this time in McLeansboro, through the efforts of Elder Milton Eckley in 1866, who secured a visit to the town by Rev. John Crozier, who preached several times in the courthouse.  The members of the church, organized by Rev. Mr. Huston, were Henry W. White, Joseph R. Siddall, John Parkhill, Martha Parkhill, Elizabeth Parkhill, Julia White, Sarah Parkhill and Rebecca H. Siddall.  A church building was dedicated in April 1869, which cost $3,500.  The ministers have been Rev. John Huston from the time of the organization until January 1, 1873; after him Rev. John Branch served the church several times, and in 1879 Rev. B. C. Swan became the pastor.  This church was received into the Presbytery of Saline April 2, 1868, and the presbytery met here April 22, 1869, Rev. B. C. Swan remained until the spring of 1884, and was followed by Rev. J. I. Campbell, who was stated supply during the summer.  The pulpit was then vacant until February 1886, when Rev. J. H. Stephenson, the present stated supply, began preaching.  The membership of the church is now twenty-four.  The Sunday school has about sixty scholars and six teachers, and T. M. Eckely is the superintendent.

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