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THE NINE MILE BAPTIST CHURCH
Combined History of Randolph, Monroe and Perry Counties, Illinois,
Published by J. L. McDonough & Co.,
Philadelphia, 1883, pges 268-269
Submitted by ©Marge Van Hemert
This is the name of the first organization of Baptists in Perry county.
Two considerations entitle it to the honorable appellation,
"The Mother of Churches."
First, its antiquity; and, secondly, the fact that nearly all the
Baptist churches subsequently organized in Perry county were partly composed
of members taken from the Nine Mile or were organized of material gathered
by the labors of ministers belonging to that body. Hence, the history of
the Nine Mile Church is of special interest.
On Saturday before the third Sunday of June, 1829, at a little log house
then standing on the west half, southeast quarter section 1, twp. 6, S.R. 2
W., where lived Peter HAGLER and
wife, there were gathered together four
brethren and four sisters in the Baptist faith. There were:
Abner KEITH, and Sarah his wife;
Van S. TEAGUE, and Rachel his
Peter HAGLER, and Frances his
Two Baptist ministers, Eli SHORT,
who lived in Short¹s prairie, Randolph
county, Illinois; and Silas CHRISLO,
who lived near Kaskaskia, Illinois, met
with this little company of pioneer Baptists, and the organization was
effected by the adoption of these eight members, of a church covenant,
articles of faith and rules of order. The name chosen and adopted was "Nine
Mile Prairie" Church, that being the name of the post-office, which is now
Du Quoin. Peter HAGLER was chosen
clerk of the church, and the same year a log house about eighteen or twenty feet square was built a short distance
from Hagler¹s cabin, on what was then "Congress land," afterward entered by
Leonard LIPE, now owned by Hon.
Here they held meetings monthly, to which the people would come from
distances of five, ten, and fifteen miles. Peter HAGLER was licensed by the
church, soon after its organization, and preached very acceptably to the
church and in the surrounding neighborhoods.
After a time, Elder Robert MOORE
became the pastor of the church, and
served until 1833, when a serious division rent the church, which at this
time contained about sixty members, and a number of members who had been
received by letter from churches in Tennessee holding the "Predestinarian"
doctrine, withdrew under the leader ship of John s. HAGGARD, who was then
clerk of the church. Prior to the time of this "split," a process of
separation had been going on in the Baptist churches of Tennessee and other
states. Those holding the extreme Calvinistic ( or, rather,
hyper-Calvinistic) doctrine, which leads toward fatalism and discourages the
employment of human agencies or means in the work of salvation, could not
remain in harmony with those, who, under the influence of the strong
missionary spirit infused into American Baptists by the conversion to
Baptist views of the missionaries, JUDSON
and RICE, were impelled to put
forth renewed efforts for the spread of the gospel in heathen lands. This
leaven had now reached southern Illinois, and in a few years the churches
were either divided or carried over to one side or the other, and have since
remained as separate denomination.
While it is true that this radical difference in doctrine was the real
cause of the division in the Nine Mile Church, a minor question was made the
pretext for withdrawal; this was an alleged irregularity in the reception or
approval of Amos ANDERSON as a
candidate for baptism.
Eleven members of the church, among whom was John S. HAGGARD, Matthew and Thomas JONES, voted against his admission to the church after he had been baptized by the pastor, Eld. MOORE,--and, withdrawing, organized a new body
which still continues as the old Baptist Church of Paradise Prairie, and bears the name of "Nine Mile."
As to which of these bodies is better entitled to the original name, or
to be regarded as the main body of the original Nine Mile Church, opinions
may differ, and some importance might attach to it, were the standing of a
Baptist Church dependent upon "unbroken succession." Without being a
stickler for "ecclesiastical pedigree," we assume that the body which
remained with Eld. HAGLER, and
which was distinguished by the descriptive
title, "Missionary Baptists and Friends to Humanity," is the church we are
endeavoring to sketch. (Some facts regarding the other body may be found
The Nine Mile Church, thus left to the enjoyment of the same doctrines
upon which it was founded, was obliged to withdraw from the Salem
Association, to which it had attached itself,--and, after some years of
isolated existence, it became a member of the Saline Association. Their
minister, Elder MOORE, having
adhered to the Salem Association party, they
were left without a pastor. A council was accordingly called to meet at
Limestone Church, in Union county, for the purpose of the ordination of
Brother Peter HAGLER as minister
of the gospel. Eld. John BROWNING,
member of the Nine Mile Church, residing in Franklin county; Elder Isaac
HERRIN of Franklin county; and
Elder Jeremiah BROWN of Union
county, who in 1828 had baptized Brother HAGLER and wife, composed the council; and Eld. HAGLER, being duly inducted into the ministerial office, became pastor of the Nine Mile Church.
About 1833 or 1835, the church erected a new house of logs, 18X24 feet,
on the west half of the northeast quarter of section 25, twp. 5 S. R. 2 Wl,
at the site of the present building. This log house afterward had a frame
addition, and the beautiful grove adjacent to the house was annually brought
into requisition as a place for camp meetings, where immense gatherings of
people were accustomed to assemble in the fall of the year--whole families,
bringing their teams and camping outfits, would remain for days and weeks
engaged in the work of the gospel.
Elder Nathan ARNETT, of St.
Clair county; Elder T.M. VANCE,
Ill., and others, here preached the gospel "in demonstration of the spirit
and power," and thirty to forty conversions and baptisms usually resulted
from these annual camp-meetings. How different the exercises in these
primitive meetings from what may be seen at this day in a fashionable city
church would be difficult to describe.
Of those who were prominently identified with these earlier years of the
church¹s history, besides those already named, may be mentioned: Eld. J.R.
HUTCHINGS, who was baptized and
ordained here, afterwards a member and
pastor of Concord church, and prominent in the civil organization of the
county; Eld. Richard G. DAVIS,
afterward pastor of the Pipe Stone church;
Elder P.W. JONES, now of Allendale,
Mo.; Elder John S. BROWN, who
life became a member of the "Latter Day Saints;" William THORNTON (now
deceased), and M. J. WILKS, of
Joplin, both of whom were afterwards ordained as ministers of the gospel; John WILKS(deceased), a licentiate of this church; also, William STATON, Peter WILKS,
Jordan HARRISS, and his wife Lucinda
HARRISS, who survives her husband
and is, with perhaps a single exception, the oldest living member, being about 76 years old, and the
mother of a large number of Baptist children and grand-children, including
Elders Johnson C. HARRISS (deceased),
J. Carroll HARRISS, and Marion
On Friday before the first Sunday in October 1845, ministers and
messengers or delegates from six other churches met the Nine Mile church,
and formed a new association called the "Nine Mile Baptist Association."
This church at that time had one hundred and two members. Robert KELLER was its clerk. The earlier church records having been destroyed by fire,
statistical information cannot be given for that period prior to 1845.
The following is a list of the church clerks since 1845:--Nelson HOLT,
served four year; John R. TEAGUE
(dec¹d), severed twenty years; Pleasant F.
STATON (dec¹d), severed seven
years; James W. LEMMON was clerk
in 1875, E. M. HARRISS in 1876;
Johnson C. HARRISS, from 1877
to 1881; since which time his son, Josiah E. HARRISS has been clerk.
In 1851, and again in 1863, the Nine Mile Association held its meetings
with this church.
In 1853 thirty-two members were dismissed to for the Paradise Baptist
In 1865 or 1866 the present house of worship, a neat frame building,
about 40X60 feet, was erected at a cost of $1200.
When the necessity for a new building was realized, the question of a
change of location came up. A considerable proportion of the membership
resided in Holt¹s Prairie, and an effort was made to locate the new house
upon the high ground east of Panther Creek, on the Pinckneyville and
Du Quoin road; but the strength of the old associations held the place of
worship at the original site by the old burial-ground.
With commendable spirit the church soon began to divide the appointments
for reaching, and about half the meetings were held at Holt¹s Prairie, and
the church recognized the reception of members at these meetings; and in
July, 1872, thirty-nine members were dismissed to go into the organization f
the Holt¹s Prairie Baptist Church. In its later years the church has
enjoyed several revivals. In 1874, in a meeting of seventeen days, Elder
J.M. BILLINGSLEY assisting, thirty
were baptized. In October 1876, nine
were baptized, as the result of a meeting held by Elders J. COLE and J.
In Dec. 1877, Brethren Johnson C. HARRISS, Marion TEAGUE,
and Elders Wm. R. McCLURE, Wm.
H. CARNER, J. Carroll HARRISS engaged with the church in a special effort
resulting in thirty-five baptisms.
In Nov. 1879, at a meeting in which Elder W. H. CARNER and Brother
Marion TEAGUE were engaged, nineteen
December 22, 1877, Eld. Peter HAGLER,
having served the church as pastor about forty years, resigned. About two years afterward, Bro. Marion TEAGUE, who had been in 1877 licensed to preach,
was chosen pastor, and on the 3d day of January, 1880, he was ordained,--the council of ordination being composed
of A.A. KENDRICK, D.D., Pres¹t
OF Shurleff College; Elders J. Carroll HARRISS, J. M. BILLINGSLEY,
Peter HAGLER and other brethren
At the suggestion of the new pastor, the church procured a library
costing $100. Dec. 1881, Eld. J. Carroll HARRISS was elected and is at this
time the pastor of the church.
The number of persons who have had membership in the "Mother of
Churches" is very great. No estimate can be made of the great amount of
good that has resulted and will result from the earnest, self-denying labors
of those who have served the lord in and through this organization. Purity
of doctrine has always characterized the church, and a spirit of benevolence
has never been wanting.
Note: Original punctuation except capitalization of surnames
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