This little Pioneer Church of Carroll County is located between Savanna and Mt. Carroll. My husband took these pictures in December 2003. It was a truly quiet Monday with nobody around to disturb the absolute calmness that prevailed over the Cemetery and the Church. The cemetery that sits adjacent to the church, is well kept and seems to realize its importance as the keeper of so many of Carroll Counties pioneer families who sleep here in quiet dignity.

The church still remains a "Lighthouse on the Hill"

Center Hill United Brethren Church in Christ is located half way between Savanna and Mt Carroll on Highway 64. This denomination began during a revival movement among the German Reformed and Mennonite churches in the east in 1767. The majority were German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. Many later moved to Center Hill with friends and relatives following and conducted services in German. The land purchased from John Fulrath to build a church cost $40.00 and a fence was constructed at a cost of $54.50. In 1883 the cemetery in the church yard was surveyed and divided into lots, although some burials occurred prior to that date. In 1874 the church building was erected.

Mt. Carroll Mirror-Democrat 09 May 1974
Center Hill Church Celebrates 100th Anniversary

Nearly 125 people crowded into Center Hill United Brethren Church last Sunday, May 5th, for the 100th anniversary celebration. T he history of the church, located between Savanna and Mt. Carroll on Route 64 dates back more than 100 years. The first pastor for the Mt. Carroll Circuit was assigned in 1857-58. The people met in a school house until the first church was built at the present location in 1874.

A variety of items composed the interesting program. Rev. Cecil Smith, Sterling, and Rev. Dorold Coppernoll, Fennimore, Wisc., both former pastors, addressed the congregation. Rev. Chaney Bergdall of Rockford also gave a greeting. Rev. Larry Beverly is currently pastor of the church.

Mrs. Evelyn Bergdoll gave a history review of the Women's Missionary Association. Mrs. Marion Harr talked on the Ladies' Aid and honored Mrs. Laura Fulrath, age 97, as the oldest living member of the Center Hill Church and the Ladies' Aid group.

Nellie Smith spoke on Christian endeavor and Mrs. Lillian Newman told of various historical incidences in the church. Mark Nicklas spoke about early evangelistic services and several letters of greeting were read.

Frank Newman and Loyal and Mildred Siedenburg performed musical numbers.

After this program the congregation sang a song, without accompaniment, in the spirit of the early church.

In conclusion, Bishop Raymond Waldfogel of Huntington, Ind.; addressed those gathered in the church.

The group which traveled from throughout Northwestern Illinois to attend, enjoyed pictures and other historical items after the ceremony.

Current officers and committees of the Center Hill Church area:

Administrative board: Pastor Beverly, Mark Nicklas, George Bergdall, Edna Brunner, Gladys Siedenburg, Loyal Harr, Frank Newman, Glen Brunner, Louis Decker, Alvin Siedenburg, Donetta Brunner, Daryle Rockafellow, Evelyn Bergdall, Marian Harr, Alta Rockafellow and Harlan Brunner.

PERSON RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Pastor Beverly, Mark Nicklas, Wilma Brunner and Daryl Rockafellow.

W. M. A. OFFICERS; Evelyn Bergdall, president; Fern Natt, vice president; Marian Harr, secretary, and Alta Rockafellow, treasurer.

CHURCH AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Pastor Beverly, Mark Nicklas, Harlan Brunner, Gladys Siedenburg, George Bergdall, Marian Harr and Alta Rockafellow.

SUNDAY SCHOOL OFFICERS: Harlan Brunner, supt.; Frank Newman, associate; Lillian Newman, secretary; and Grace Getz, treasurer.

MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE: Pastor Beverly, Nark Nicklas, Harlan Brunner, Frank Newman and Evelyn Bergdall.

TRUSTEES: Loyal Harr, Frank Newman, Glen Brunner, Louis Decker and Alvin Siedenburg.

FINANCE: Pastor Beverly, George Bergdall, Edna Brunner, Gladys Siedenburg and Henry Brunner.

LADIES AID OFFICERS: Alta Bockafellow, president; Virginia Weber, vice president; Nellie Smith, secretary; and Emeline Keeffer, treasurer

The Prairie Advocate, 29 Oct 2003, contained an article announcing the 146th anniversary of the Center Hill Church. The articles states that in 1857 the Bickelhaupt's, George Meister and John P. Fulrath families came to Illinois and settled in the area. Land was bought from John Fulrath and in the spring of 1874 the Schauts and John Patton along with other church members built the church.

Lori Gilbert Research:
Rev. John Logan Buckwalter began preaching as a United Brethren minister in 1891, and conducted services at the Center Hill Church in the early 1900's when he served as an itinerant pastor in Rock River Conference. Many early members of the Center Hill (and Woodland Brethren) Church were acquainted with Bishop Milton and Susan Wright who were associated with Huntington College and the United Brethren associations in Indiana. They are the parents of Orville and Wilbur Wright who are accredited with the first successful plane flight at Kitty Hawk. Rev. Buckwalter often stayed at their home in Indiana while attending meetings for the church. Bishop Wright also made trips to Carroll County on church business and visited friends he had made in the area

Many thanks to Lori Gilbert


Illinois - "Our Way"