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Hancock County, Illinois

Church Histories


Source: History of Hancock County, Illinois, by Th. Gregg, 1880, Transcribed by J.S.
Religious Progress, listed by Township

Augusta Township
Mr. Benjamin Gould, to whose reminiscences, in the Augusta Herald we are much, indebted, says: "On the 22d of Feb., 1833, I celebrated Washington's birth-day by hauling logs for the first house ever built in the city fo Augusta." Then he and Henry Abernethy kept "bach" in it. The same manner he put up the log house in which the first religious services were held. Both these buildings we believe are still standing, forlorn looking as a candidate who has been left out.

In the severe storm of July 4, 1873, the Christian Church at Augusta was moved from its foundation and the spire blown down. The Presbyterian church had its spire also blown off with part of the roof, and a number of other buidlings blown down. No one hurt.

We have mentioned that Mr. Gould put up the log house in which the first religious exercises were held. Mr. G. mentions the first Sunday-school, in which Mr. Oliver was Superintendent, but does not gives[sic] its date. It seems to have been previous to the summer of 1834. The Presbyterian Church was organized July 28, 1834, by Rev. Cyrus L. Watson, of Rushville at that time; Rev. Reuben, K. McKoy, of Clayton, now deceased; Dr. Blackburn, of Kentucky, was present, and probably Rev. John Lawson, of Carthage. The members then received were nine, viz.: Alexander Denny, deceased 1868; Mrs. Elizabeth Denny, deceased 1837; Phebe W. Candee, lately living in St. Louis, over 80; Samuel B Mead; Arietta Mead, deceased 1865; Evelina M. Abernethy, now of Nebraska; Benjamin Gould, Mr. and Mrs. Dunbar, who soon afterward left the place.

The first sermons preached in Augusta township were probably by Revs. Wm. McCoy, Ralston, Boren and VanHorn; Father Cartwright a little later, and Rev. Lawston about 1834-7.

The Christian Church of Augusta was organized in 1843, at Mr. Gould's residence; James Stark and B. Gould, Elders: E.G. Browning, Deacon. First membership, Benjamin and Rebecca Gould. James and Mark Stark, William and Mary Ann Dron, Mrs. Cynthia Jones, Mrs. Nancy Tarr, Mrs. Mary Craig, and Hiram Jones. In 1851 the church building in Augusta was erected and dedicated. New building erected about 1870. Present membership about 230.

The M.E. organization was first in Pulaski; removed to Augusta in 1849. Held first meeting in school-houses. First church erected about 1856. New brick erected five or six years ago. Names of members at organization in town, by Rev. Halton; David Rice, class leader; Samuel Parrott and wife Mary; Thomas Leach and wife Dorcas Ann; Mrs. Sophronia Sullivan, Mrs. Elizabeth Kennedy and David Rice and wife Clarinda.

There is also a United Brethen Church near the southwest corner of the township, of which we have no particulars.

Bear Creek Township
We have but a meager report of religious matters for Bear Creek township. The town of Basco contains its solitary church edifice, built by the United Presbyterians, now owned and occupied by the Methodist Episcopal, who have for their pster Rev. Mr. Madison, who has been preaching several years in that and the adjacent townships. On the east line, near the northeast corner, stands another church belonging to the Baptist denomination, which has been in existence somewhere near thirty years. We know of no other Church organizations in the township.

Carthage Township
The first religious services held at the county-seat were in the log-cabin court-house south of the square. The date of the first cannot be fixed; but as Rev. John Lawton, the Home Missionary of the Congregational Church, settled there in 1834, and as its builder, Elder Owen, was also a minister of the gospel, the presumption is that services were held in it soon after its erection. The first authentic information we have of any Church organization in the town, is that of the Cong. Church, organized in March, 1836. It was supplied by Revs. B.F. Morris, Joseph Mason, James A. Hawley, Wm. E. Catlin and Wm. B. Atkinson, but gradually declined, most of its members going to other denominations, and for 15 or 20 years pasts the organization has ceased to exist.

About the same period a society of Methodists and also of Baptists was formed, all holding their meetings in the log court-house, and none of them having regular pastors. A Methodist Episcopal Sunday-school is said to have been established as early as 1835, Col. Freeman, Superintendent.

There are at present seven church edifices in Carthage, the handsomest and costliest being the Lutheran. There is also a German Lutheran, and unprentious frame building; a Presbyterian, of brick; a Methodist Episcopal, of brick, a Missionary Baptist, of brick, a Christian, of frame, and a Catholic, of brick. Most or all of the above have their regular services and regular pastors, and some of them large congregations. There is also a small society of Espiscopalians, who, without a church, rent a building for church services. We have no further statistics of any of the foregoing. There is also a new M.E. Church at Middle Creek Village, and a congregation worshipping there.

The only other church in the township, we believe, is that known as the Old Brick Church at Middle Creek, in the southwest corner. This is undoubtedly the oldest Church organization in the county. It is of the Old-School Baptist order, and was organized, its records say, "on Saturday before the second Lord's Day in August, 1832." by Elder William Bradley and John Rhea, upon articles of faith submitted. Said Church has kep up its regular organization since, meeting in the same little old brick in the woods. Elder Thomas II. Owen was Clerk at said organization, and afterward preached to the congregation for many years. Its membership has been at times quite large, but has of late become reduced to 25 or 30. The late Elder Dennis Smith, of Carthage, to whom we are indebted for these facts, was a Pastor of this Church for several years.

Chili Township
Of the Methodist, Episcopal Church, the Revs. Oliver, Elliott and Griggs are remembered as being among the earliest. The date of their ministry is not fixed. Meetings were held in houses of members, or in such school-houses as were in existence. Rev. Peter Cartwright, so well known everywhere, is remembered as having held services there in early days. The history of the M.E. Church in Chili, other than as above, we have failed to obtain. Concerning the Presbyterian we have been more successful. To Mr. J. Clarkson Caine, deacon in said hurch[sic], Cwe[sic] are indebted for the following sketch of its history:

"In 1841 Rev. Joseph Buffington came and preached here and at Woodville, in Adams county, where there was a Congregational Church organized (he was New School Presbyterian). During his stay here there was a brick house of worship built by 20 by 30 feet, then supposed to be large enough to accomodate the place for some time; this was in 1843.

"In January, 1847, Rev. Edward Hollister, assisted by Rev. Warren Nichols, organized a Church here, called the First Presbyterian Church of Chili, consisting of the following named persons: Levi Weldin, John Slater, David F. Parker, Samuel C. Parker, Stephen A. Eckley, C. Caine, Eliza Weldin, Jemima Todd, Mary T. Hollister, Tryphena, Holden, Elizabeth Eckley, Sarah E. Todd, Mary a. Caine, Mary T. Hollister, 2d, Emily G. Hollister, Eliza J. Dee, Eleanor Howell, and Sarah Ann Worrell, and soon after, Elisha Worrell.

"In May, 1847, Daniel F. Parker was chosen as Elder. Rev. E. Hollister continued to preach here until Dec., 1850. The Church was then supplied with occasional preaching by Rev. Henry Abernethy till 1857. Rev. Joseph Worrell took charge of it at that date, and continued with it till 1870. In 1872 Rev. John C. Wagaman came and preached for the people till Sept., 1877.

"In 1878 Rev. Bloomfield Wall took charge of the Church, and is its present supply."

Elders.-John Mills and Joseph C. Caine, 1857; Wm. Kennedy, 1855; David G. Todd, 1866; Alex Cochran, 1879.

The Society used the little brick house till 1867, when a much larger frame was built, and is still in use.

In Bown there is a Congregational and also a Methodist Episcopal Church; both have been built since the town was begun in 1863. We have no data concerning them.Among

Up in the northwest corner of the township is a Church belonging to the Second Adventist denomination, and in which they worship. No statistics of this congregation obtained.

Durham Township
As stated above, the first preachings in Durham were by Revs. Johnson and Pool. We have no data as to Church organizations. The M.E. society has a church edifice at Durham Center, built in 1865, which we believe is the only one in the township.

Fountain Green Township
Revs. Abell, Logan and Lawton are are remembered as among the earliest gospel ministers in Fountain Green. There were a number of  Catholic families in the neighborhood, and a Catholic Society was organized at an early day, and a house of worship erected about the year 1838. The organization was kept up but for a few years, when the edifice was sold. This organization was effected through the instrument of Rev. Mr. St. Cyr.

Of the several Churches in Fountain Green we have only been able to procure the history of the Presbyterian, for which we are not indebted to Rev. Thomas M. Walker, its Pastor.

The Presbyterian Church of Fountain Green was organized Nov. 27, 1840, by a committee of the Presbytery of Schuyler (O.S.), consisting of Revs. Wm. Stewart and James M. Chase, of Macomb, in the district school-house in the village. Members enrolled: Thomas Geddes, Susan Geddes, James McConnell, Margaret McConnell, Martha McConnell, Samuel Glass, Rachel Glass, Jane Seal, Wm. Foy, Ruth Foy, Irene Foy, and Mary McClaughry; Thomas Geddes and James McConnell, Elders.

The congregation was supplied by the before-named ministers till the summer of 1849; then for nearly two years by Rev. Ralph Harris, residing in Carthage; afterward by Rev. Joseph Worrell, of Chili. In June, 1852, an invitation was extended to Rev. Thomas M. Walker to become the state supply, and in 1853 he was regularly installed Pastor of the Church, and from that time to the present (1880), he has almost without interruption, ministered to this congregation. Other Elders: Aug., 1852, James Blair, John M. Walker and James Miller; March , 1855; James Campbell and John McClaughry; Oct., 1874, Solomon Kions, Joseph Spangler and Cyrus M. Geddes. The present session consists of Thomas Geddes, John M. Walker, Joseph Spangler and Cyrus Geddes.

A neat and commodious house of worship was erected in 1851, costing about $1,000. In 1872 this property was disposed of to the M.E. Church, and the new one now occupied, erected at a cost of about $6,000. This is a neat and handsome church, 34 by 62 feet, with a full-size basement, all suitably furnished.

This Churuch has enjoyed at least an ordinary degreee of prosperity. In the winter of 1873 an extensive revival of religion added about forty to the number of its membership; and again, in 1875, seventeen more were added by profession of faith. But while there have been additions, there have also been losses by almost continual emigration to the West, so that this Church has stood in the relation of a feeder to many newer congregations in the localities beyond the Mississippi, and to some nearer home. There were 115 reported as memebers in the spring of 1879.

Hancock Township
We have been unable to learn the actual number of Church organizations in this township, or whether there are any but the one church building. This one is situated on section 28, and about three miles east of old Middle Creek Baptist Church, in Carthage township. Concerning it we have no report. Members of the various religious societies south of the creek, it is presumed, unite with the Churches in St. Mary's, and those north of the creek with the Churches in Fountain Green.

Harmony Township
The oldest Church in Harmony is that known as Mount Pleasant, belonging to the Christian denomination, located on sec 13, near the east end of the township. It was organized about 1837, and the building erected as early as 1850. No statistics.

The Christian Church in Denver was built about 1873.

The M.E. Church at Bentley was organized about 1864, before the town was built, with the following named members: J.W. O'Hara, Paulina O'Hara, Wm. J. Bates, M.A. Bates, J.A. James, Wm. R. Lackey, Nancy Lackey, Barbara Shoup and Wm. A. Thompson. The building was erected in 1875.

The Baptist Church was organized about 1873, with a small membership. The edifice was erected about the same period; present number of members about 20 or 25.

La Harpe Township
We are not advised as to the beginning of religious work in this township, the earliest obtained being that of the Congregational Church in March, 1836. In that month a Congregational Church was organized, consisting of sixtten members. The names of these members have not been obtained. Twelve years thereafter a re-organization took place, under the ministration of Rev. Warren Nichols, with the following named 12 members: Samuel Hutton, Henry Comstock and wife, L.C. Maynard and wife, Lanren Tuttle and wife, Henry Bliss and wife, William Leavitt, Mrs. W.A. Nichols and Mrs. S.W. Nudd. April 27, 1848, Lewis C. Maynard was chosen Deacon. The church edifice was erecgted about 1854. Of its earlier Pastors, we have the names of Revs. Apthorp, Hawley, Williams, Rankin, Perkins, Babbitt, Nichols, Henry, Johnson, Pennoyer and Atkinson.

For the foregoing we are indebted to a memorial pamphlet, published by the Illinois Association in 1863. Repeated applications have failed to elicit any data form the other Churches in La Harpe. There is a Methodist Episcopal organization, a Protestant Methodist, a Christian and a Catholic, all of which, we believe, have regular services, and most of them church buidlings. There is also a Protestant Methodist Church on North Prairie.

Pilot Grove Township
Concerning early religious work in this township we have little data. The village of Burnside contains two churches. The Christian church was built in 1873, at a cost of about $4,000. The Methodist Episcopal church was built the next year, costing about the same amount.

The Jubilee school-house, in the southwestern portion of the township, was formerly also used for church purposes, and very likely others also.

Pontoosuc-Dallas Township
The first religious movements about Spillman's Landing, was the preaching of Mr. Bennett from Adams county, of the Protestant Methodist Church. In the spring of 1838, Rev. Enos Thompson was sent in the section by the Illinois Conference. He organized the first M.E. society, with the following named members: John R. Tull and wife, Alexander Martain and wife, Wm Tull and wife and William Pratt and wife, with Mr. Pratt as leader.

A Presbyterian minister from Fort Madison, sometimes came over and preached on Sunday afternoon (date not known) near the river, under the shade of trees, the audience seated around on the grass.

Mr. Thompson occupied the field forabout[sic] two years preaching every four weeks, his circuit being extenstive. This afterward took the name of Carthage circuit. The first quarterly meeting in the north part of the county was at the house of Wm. Pratt, Rev. Richard Haney, Presiding Elder.

The first Sunday-school in the section was on April 18, 1841, John R. Tull, superintendent. It was composed of the Tulls, Athertons, Van Tassels, Lakes, Loomises, Pratts, Ollises, Martains, Bennums, Neals, Vaughns and McAuleys, 37 in number, nearly half of whom are now in the spirit world, the remaining ones nearly all members of Churches.

There was also preaching (date not given) at an early day, by a Baptist minister, at the residence of Mr. Stevens.There

The first church built in Dallas City was of stone, by the United Brethren in 1855, of which we have no further data.

The Congregational Church of Dallas City was organized Jan. 17, 1859, by Rev William Salter, of Burlington, and Rev. Andrew L. Pennoyer, of La Harpe, with 19 members; viz., Geo. H. Ames, Mrs. Frances Ames, Henry F. Black, Mrs. Mary N. Black, Thos. C. Patterson, Mrs. Catherine E. Patterson, John F. Thomas, Mrs. Jane Thomas, Mrs. Marietta Rollosson, Stephen Jackson, Mrs. Sarah Jackson, John D. Jackson, Mrs. Elizabeth Jackson, Lyman B. Rand, Miss Diantha McMullen, Miss Amanda Sayres, Miss Rachel Ann Sayers, Miss Emma Stoops, Mrs. Julia M. Bryan, some of whom were members of other Churches. In 1860, a brick church, with stone basemetn, was built, 30 by 45 feet. Later data not obtained[sic]

Of the other Church organizations in Dallas and Pontoosuc, we have no record.

Prairie Township
At Elvaston there are two or three Church organizations each with small but neat and substantial church edifices. The Presbyterian and the M.E. societies have benn organized ten or twelve years, and have now regular services and good and increasing congregations.

A large portion of the people of Prairie, on its eastern border, bordering on Carthage, connect themselves with the Churches at the county-seat.

Rock Creek Township
Our information of Church matters in this township is very limited. There is a Methodist church edifice and society at Adrian, number of members not stated; and one, if not more churches and societies, at Ferris, of which we have no account.

There is a congregation of the Reorganized Church of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the Josephite Mormons) located near the west line of the township. It was organized in 1863, by Elder James Burgess, with about 20 members. It was composed principally of persons who, having belonged to the old organization, rejected the polygamy doctrines and other teachings and practices of the Brighamites, and chose to remain behind, rather than follow a false prophet into the wilderness. This branch continued steadily to increase, and now (1879) numbers 40 or 50 miembers, Elder Lambert being its Pastor. The snug little building for worship erected for this branch is situated near Mr. Lambert's residence, and was put up several years ago.

Rocky Run Township
The first preaching in this township was doubtless by those same pioneers who led in Walker and Wythe, namely, Walker, Hatchett and Knox, as they were in close proximity. Of this we have no data. There are two or three church organizations in the township, with church buldings, but we fail to obtain statistics concerning them.

St. Albans Township
The well-known Peter Akers is mentioned as among the first itinerant preachers in this township, and is said to have visited and preached in private homes as early as 1837 or '38. The new towns of West Point and Stillwell each have churches, data concerning which we have been unable to obtain.



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