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History of Pleasant Ridge

Pleasant Ridge

A pretty country church surrounded by many large shade trees and a well kept and landscaped cemetery, stand on a high spur of the Ridge about six miles northwest of Newman. Although the membership is small in number they are a devoted band and the church has never been neglected.

The view from the church yard and cemetery is unsurpassed in Eastern Illinois. Many thousands of acres of the best land in Illinois can be seen to the south and southeast, and with the aid of a telescope more land and several towns become visible. Mrs. F. M. Kincaid, one of the early members, said it gave a pleasant view and a pleasant place for friends to meet on a pleasant ridge. The name Pleasant ridge was also given to the school house which stood on the other side of the road.

As was usual among the early settlers, they wanted a neighborhood church and a school. It so happened that most of that neighborhood were Methodist so a church of that denomination was organized. The school house was built in 1868 and J. B. Plowman was the first teacher. It was also a community center.

The decline in membership began, the tractor started to replace the horses and mules on the farm. With power machinery, one man could do the work which had formerly required three. Less housing was needed and many of the small, older houses were allowed to deteriorate and were torn down. The health of some of the older landowners would not permit them to operate a tractor and they retired. Membership in the church dwindled until only a few were left, to meet the constantly increasing expense of yearly operation.

In 1949, the church and cemetery were purchased from the Methodist Conference, the church then became, and will remain, a non-denominational church and will continue to serve the people of the community.

In 1924, the ladies of the church organized the Pleasant Ridge Community Club. It is still active and has been of a great service, in improving and beautifying the church and grounds. One of its members, Ione K. Epperson, gave $1,000 for the purchase of evergreen trees and shrubs.

Since 1950, over $4,000 has been spent in improvements which include a full basement, a new automatic oil burning furnace, concrete walks, crushed stone drives and re-decorating. The necessary labor was donated by the men and women of the community. It is their desire to maintain it as a House for worship, a place to meet friends and a Memorial to their dead.

William and Mary Heaton deeded the land for the church site and cemetery in 1870. Building operations began soon after and progressed rapidly, much of the labor being donated. It was well proportioned, strongly built and of the best materials. The entrance was into a hallway which had a stairway to an overhead balcony at the rear of the assembly room. The cost of the building was $5,000. The first trustees were David Todd, Stephen Fields, Daniel Heaton, James Hoover, and David McLean. The church was in the Newman Conference until 1895 and was then changed to the Allerton charge. Rev. J. B. Martin was the first pastor. Rev. J. R. McBride served as pastor for many years.

One of the prized possessions of the church is an old-fashioned sampler framed with a needlepoint motto "In God We Trust" made by Mrs. Mary Heaton, and has been upon the wall of the church for a great many years. Also on the church wall is a large oil painting, "The Lord in Gethsemane" which was painted by Mrs. Ervin Kincaid and presented to the church by her, the stained glass windows named and given by families in the church.

Extensive repairs and alterations were made at the church in 1904 and the same fine oak seats are still used in the assembly room.
[Source: From the "1857-1957 Centennial, A Tribute To Our Pioneers" - Submitted by Source #44]

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