Illinois Genealogy Trails/Alexander County

If you know of any churches 100 or more years old, please send a picture and the church history to Anna.  

Source:  Part of this list was obtained from Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)





















Cairo, IL--The dedication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of this city will take place on the 19th day of next month.  Several noted colored clergymen will be present on the occasion, among whom will be Bishop Wayman, of Baltimore, Maryland.  --Cairo Daily Bulletin, Thursday, 12 Aug 1875; transcribed by Darrel Dexter.

Elder Meyers, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of this city, left Cairo on Tuesday afternoon for Sparta, where the will attend the conference of the church to be held in that city on the 13th instant. Among the prominent colored ministers to be present at the conference will be Bishop Wayman of Baltimore, who will preside over the conference, and the Rev. B. F. Tanner, of Philadelphia, also an able colored minister. On or about the 17th of this month, after the conference has closed, Bishop Wayman and the Rev. M. Tanner will arrive in this city, where they will remain for several days for the purpose of taking part in the dedication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of this city, which takes place on the 19th inst. Bishop Wayman will preach the dedication sermon and Mr. Tanner, one of the proprietors of the Christian Records, a religious newspaper published at Philadelphia will also deliver a sermon. The members of the church are making extensive preparations for the event, as a large number of people are expected to be present to witness the ceremony.  --The Cairo Daily Bulletin, Thursday, 9 Sep 1875; transcribed by Darrel Dexter.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church is being newly painted.  --The Cairo Daily Bulletin, Saturday 11 Sep 1975; transcribed by Darrel Dexter.

During the dedication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of this city, which takes place next Sunday afternoon, one side of the church will be reserved for the accommodation of white visitors, who may wish to witness the ceremony.  All are cordially invited.  --The Cairo Daily Bulletin, Wednesday, 15 Sep 1875; transcribed by Darrel Dexter.

    The dedication service of the African Methodist Episcopal church, conducted by Bishop Wayman, of Baltimore, Sunday afternoon, was a very largely attended by both black and white.  It is estimated that between six and seven hundred people listened to the sermon of Mr. Wayman, two hundred of whom were white.  After the ceremony was conducted, the Bishop remarked that he had a secret to tell his listeners; that it was the desire of the people who built the church to raise the sum of three hundred dollars, and that he hoped the contributions would be liberal.  He then started out the collectors, who succeeded, with the aid of the Bishop—who, by the way, is the most accomplished beggar we ever saw—in raising the sum of one hundred and five dollars.  After the collection, Judge Bird conducted His Honor, Mayor Winter, to the pulpit, who presented the Sunday school with a library of one hundred volumes.  After a few extempore remarks by Mr. W., in which he said his speech (which the Bishop had frequently referred to as one that would be eloquent; that it had not been his intention to say anything on the occasion until a very few moments before entering the church, he addressed the congregation as follows:
    MY CHRISTIAN FRIENDS:—It is my pleasant duty today to present your church this collection of books for Sunday school purposes.  Although a trifling gift, it may result in a large amount of good.  It has been said the motive of the gift is for selfish ends.  Such is not the case.  There is not a benevolent institution in your city but what has received at my hands some twenty-five times as costly as this.  I thought there could not be a more appropriate day than this to present such a gift.  It is a gift that will, I am satisfied, be remembered longer and be more appreciated than money could possibly be.  Receive it—believing it is a gift from a benevolent heart, and from one who wishes the progress of your race towards education and morality—any may the little ones who read the pages of these simple volumes, remember and bear in mind that when their education is far enough advanced to read a better and higher grade of books than these, that the same hand will be ready to present you with a far more valuable library.  Loose no time, but peruse them, and profit by their teachings.  Come to your Sunday school regularly, but it is here your youthful minds generate the first step towards morality.
--The Cairo Daily Bulletin, Tuesday, 21 Sep 1875; transcribed by Darrel Dexter.

There is quite an interesting revival in progress in the African Methodist Church in this city, not less than thirty-five persons having united with the church during the two weeks past. The minister in charge informed us yesterday that there are forty-one persons on “the anxious seat” who tell him that they “can’t recollect when they were more powerfully moved by the spirit than under his ministration.” Wherefore he may safely argue that, as a revivalist, he is a decided success.
--Cairo Daily Bulletin, Saturday, 15 Feb 1879; transcribed by Darrel Dexter.

Rev. Jacob Bradley—that exemplary elder of the Antioch Colored Baptist Church—is appealing to the public for means to relieve his church from debt. He has probably not thought of a lecture tour.  --Cairo Daily Bulletin, Wednesday, Mar 5, 1879; transcribed by Darrel Dexter.


Photo contributed by J. C. McNelly

Directions:  Turn off old Route 3 onto Bean Ridge Road.  Go eight/tenths of a mile.  Church sits on the left.
If you have the history of this church, please email.


Picture taken in 2004 and provided by Stephen Newell

Excerpts taken from the One Hundredth Year Anniversary booklet, dated October 28, 1979.

Before Elco came into existence about the year 1867 several gentlemen built a large hewn log building at what was then known as Hazelwoodtown, and later called Schillings Creek. There the first services of the new Methodist Church were held. In those days services were conducted by the Circuit Riders and the only salary was a free will offering. Miss Paralee Williams was christened in this building at the age of four years by the Rev. Foss. Paralee Williams Kee was the last surviving member of the original church.

About the year 1875, the church was moved to the new town of Elco. Services were held in the upstairs of the Briley Building and was called Briley Chapel. The people worshiped here for about three years.

During the winter of 1878 donated labor under the supervision of Miles Cauble, W. W. White, Croft Braddy, and Miles Coleman, Sr., cut timber on the farm of Miles Cauble to construct a new church. The timber had to be snaked out on the snow by the use of a "lizzard." This was a crudely constructed drag made from a forked tree and smoothed off on the under side to slide on the ground or snow and the front end of the log was placed on this for moving. In the bitter cold of that winter this timber was moved into Elco to the sawmill of Ben Duncan and the pattern for the present church was cut. All the weather boarding and finished material was planed by hand, as modern tools were unknown in those days.

In April 1879, Lafayette and Nancy Whitaker agreed to sell the church Lots No. 7 and 8 in the Whitaker's Addition to the town of Elco for the sum of $20.00. They would not give the church a deed until the building was completed and a dedication service was held. In the cornerstone of the church was placed the following: A Holy Bible, a Methodist Discipline, a hymn book and a copy of the county newspaper. The cost of the building was about $800.00.

The trustees of this church were the following: Thomas Smithey, H. F. Putnam, C. E. Miller, James W. Durham, Miles Cauble, Salmon Hazelwood, and J. W. Renfro. The first minister was Rev. John Harris. All of the material with the exception of the plaster and wainscoating is still within the walls of this church. At that time the church was heated by two wood and coal burning stoves and the pastor was often a school teacher and janitor.

In 1949 the membership, under the pastorate of Rev. A. N. Burris decided to remodel the church. A basement was dug and the church was moved approximately fifty feet East and thirty feet North to it's present site. The church was completely remodeled inside and out with an annex built on the East side. Services were held in the basement while the sanctuary was being finished. The building program was completed in 1950 and a dedication service was held. A baby grand piano was purchased at that time.

In 1952 new pews were added. A chord organ was purchased in memory of Harriet Cauble Van Sandt. New offering plates and a new Bible were purchased in memory of Effie Greer, and the estate of Joshua Cauble left a sum of money to be used for upkeep of the church. With this a new heating and air conditioning system was installed. A bathroom was installed about 1979 with money given by Cleta Cauble Moore's family. And a new bulletin board was erected about this same time by Donald Jordan.

--Sunday, 7 Sep 1879, Cairo Daily Bulletin; transcribed by Darrel Dexter--The M. E. church that is being built (in Elco) under the supervision of Esq. Samuel Briley, promises to be a very neat structure.



    First Central M. B. Church is celebrating their 106th church anniversary on Sunday, April 27 (2014) at 3 p.m.  The theme is from Revelations 3:8, "The Church with an open door."  "I know thy works:  behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it:  for thous hast a little strength and hast kept my word and hast not denied my name."
    Dinner will be served about 1:30 in the Fellowship Hall at 2601 Sycamore in Cairo.  --The Cairo Citizen, April 24, 2014.



After so long a time, the Fourteenth Street colored Baptist church is being crowned with its cupola.  It will add very considerably to the appearance of the structure.  --Cairo Daily Bulletin, July 23, 1879; transcribed by Darrel Dexter.

The new cupola and spire of the colored Baptist church reminds one so strongly of a shut-up telescope, that the impulse to climb up and pull it out about three joints is almost irresistible.  --Cairo Daily Bulletin, Aug 9, 1879; transcribed by Darrel Dexter.

Consternation Among Black Worshippers
The Mount Orange Baptist Church building caught fire last night during service.  The house was crowded with colored worshippers, and the night being somewhat cold the two stoves were fired up to a red-hot temperature.  From the pipes of these the fire was communicated to the wooden ceiling, and promised for the moment, the most serious result.  The crowd rushed for the door, which opening on the inside, was closed by the immense pressure of a hundred panic-stricken people, and the small windows being ten feet from the floor afforded no means of escape.  The application of a little water soon removed all cause of alarm, however, and the services continued, the minister making the point out of the occurrence that if a little fire here is so alarming, sinners ought to tremble unceasingly in view of the lark of liquid fire, etc. presided over, etc. by the arch enemy of mankind.  
--Cairo Evening Bulletin, March 1, 1869; transcribed by Darrel Dexter.

Ordinance of Baptism
The ordinance of baptism, by immersion, was administered to nine colored persons yesterday forenoon, in the waters of the Ohio near Galligher’s mills.  The entire number (eight females and one male) were converts to the faith of the Mt. Orange Church, corner of Fifteenth and Walnut.  There were fully four hundred colored spectators.  The occasion was singularly free from that noisy, shouting, hand-clapping, excitement that usually characterized such ceremonies.
--Cairo Evening Bulletin, May 3, 1869; transcribed by Darrel Dexter.


Contributed by Evelyn Caldwell

Rock Springs was a popular spot for picnics and gatherings in early years. I have pictures of large church gatherings, picnics held at the springs especially on Easter Sundays. No one is available today, that can identify the participants. Recorded in church records in September 1, 1912, the Thebes Baptist Church would hold a Sunday-School Convention and Picnic at the Rock Springs area. The Sunday school lesson was taught and a basket dinner enjoyed at 12:00 on that day. Area churches providing exercises during the afternoon were the Thebes Baptist Church, Pence Baptist Church, Beech Grove Church, Methodist Church of Thebes and the Fayville Missionary Baptist Church. Everyone was asked to bring baskets well filled and make this the best convention ever held in the county. The Iron Mountain Railroad was also asked to stop at Rock Springs on this day and their request was granted. Some of the names listed on the program are W. J. Margrave, John T. Bishop, P.C. Shaver, C. W. Gillespie, M. V. Norris, Andrew J. Honey, D. W. Sammons, J. G. Sadler, Blanche F. Miller, Rev. R. J. Mitchell, Harry Brown, and Lloyd F. Cox. A neighbor received this program from Gaynelle Berndt. The Pence School stands today along Rock Springs Road. The Church was located across the creek from the school and later moved to the present day site of the Rock Springs Baptist Church. The original church burnt and was re-built.

NOTE:  Martha Ann Kelley Vines states that this photo is a 1905 Thebes School picture.  She has an exact copy of the image.  Her great-aunt Letha Douglas and her grandfather, Owen Kelley, can be identified.


(If you have history of this church, please email.)

The Sexton’s Creek Baptist Church has voted a removal from Brownsville to Thebes, and has purchased the old courthouse from Dr. Gibbs.  It is now being rapidly converted by repairs into a church building.  Elder Reeve will preach the dedicatory sermon, on the fourth Sunday in October.
--Cairo Daily Bulletin, Sep 20, 1879; transcribed by Darrel Dexter.


Picture credit goes to their website.
CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION PLANNED--The First Baptist Church in Tamms is planning a centennial celebration on Sunday, Oct. 4 (2015).  The church is located at 350 Third St.  Morning worship will be at 10:30 a.m. Lunch will be served at 11:45 a.m.  The Glory Road Travelers will sing at 1 p.m.  Those who plan to attend are invited to wear "vintage clothing."  --Monday's Pub, September 28, 2015.



Picture courtesy of Ron Mansker

Information contributed by Evelyn Caldwell

First Baptist Church, Thebes, Illinois

1841 - 1941

The First Baptist Church of Thebes, Illinois, was first organized as ‘Sexton Creek Baptist Church’. The following information was copied from the Historical Resume of the Churches prepared by the church clerks in August of 1900 for the Clear Creek Baptist Association’s annual book. Sexton’s Creek located at Thebes , Illinois, is recorded in the minutes of 1841, but the clerk, Sister Amy A. Corzine, writes that the records of the early days of the church are misplaced or destroyed, and all the older members are dead. However, a notable event in the history of the church was the entertainment of the association in 1861. At that time, General Sterling Price’s command was shelling the woods across the Mississippi River, and Jeff Thompson’s band was everywhere and nowhere in particular; hence the association was very fearful of being “took in,” for Baptists are always patriots. It is said that they met, organized, appointed committees, heard their reports without discussion, and a majority of them started home before supper! As the association in those days held an all-day session, without stopping for dinner, it is probable that the membership had less burdens of hospitality than for any session before or since. The association also met with this church in 1843. In 1869, the church was reorganized and changed its name to the Union Baptist Church of Thebes, Illinois. The first service was held in the Liberty School just two miles east of Thebes. Union Baptist Church remained the name of the church until 1879 when it changed back to ‘Sexton Creek’. In 1906, the name of the church was changed to the First Baptist Church of Thebes.

In August 1879 the church bought the building known as the courthouse for $242.50.  They worshipped in this building until 1900.  They sold the building for $500. and deposited the money in the Sturdivant Bank at Cape Girardeau.  In September 1879 Mrs. Merida and Cyrille A. Marchildon donated a bell to the church.  In October 1879 Elder Bernard Reeves preached the dedication sermon found in I Kings 8:13.  Lots were bought in the Brawn Subdivision for $50.00 on which to erect a new building.  This building was destroyed by a wind storm in 1921, during the pastorate of Rev. H. B. Atherton and was replaced by the present brick structure.   The church purchased the adjoining property east of the church in 1954 to be used as an educational building, which has since been rebuilt for use as a parsonage.  New pews and furniture were added in 1959.  A new addition in 1969 included classrooms, choir room, a baptistry and rest rooms.  The pastor in 2006 was Carl Fisher.

Note: To the right of the picture you will notice the railroad bridge across the Mississippi River and also the Old Thebes Cemetery.


Photo contributed by Martha Vines

Source:  Alexander County Illinois: History & Families 1819-1989. Volume I-1989.  Paducah, Kentucky: Turner Publishing Co., 1989.
Page 40, Louise P. Ogg and Monica L. Smith.. 
(cited with permission of MLS: 07/06/2010)

The present location is the original site of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Thebes. The late Ida Caldwell recalled a log construction at this place which was used as a place of worship.
    The original church, built in 1879, was a white frame building which faced the west. Early pictures show gas lights on the street near the church. The land had been donated by Severe Marchildon and his wife, Marinda.
    For the present structure, the old building was used for the sanctuary with ten feet added on the east, an annex on the north, and a pastor’s study. The building was raised, tiles were used for the foundation, and a full basement with kitchen and heating facilities was put underneath. Outside walls were finished in stucco. (This was later replaced with slate blue siding.) Handmade pews and lectern from the original church are still in use.
    The church has beautiful stained glass windows. Records by Harry Brown, long-time trustee and treasurer, show that the glass in each of the two large triple windows including inscription cost less than $175.00. The church was dedicated in 1926.
    In 1968 with the union of Methodist Episcopal and Evangelical United Brethren churches, the name was changed to United Methodist. The Thebes church has a proud (in the good sense) heritage. Though its future is uncertain, Pastor Jesse Bellamy and his wife Vera are joined regularly for weekly Sunday morning services by a small group of loyal worshippers.

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