Genealogy Trails

Richland County, Illinois
Genealogy and History

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Churches in Richland County

Salem Evangelical Lutheran
This church was organized in 1843, by Rev. SECHRIST as pastor. The first edifice was erected in the same year in what is now Olney Township. There were forty-one original members. The second edifice was erected in 1862, in Claremont Township, and the name changed to Saint James Evangelical Lutheran Church. It now has 149 members. The following have been pastors: Rev. D. SCHERER, J. SCHERER, C. KUHL, C. HUNDERDASSE, D. D. SWUNEY, G. H. SCHNUR, J. M. HURKEY, C. L. LUNER and J. HURSH, present incumbent.

German Reformed
This church in Olney was established and erected by a few families, about ten in number, and mostly all of Swiss emigration. At a meeting on the 24th of June, 1860, the congregation organized itself, and the following members were elected as trustees to manage and facilitate the building of the present church: John VON GRUTEN, Christian BOHREN, J. J. FUETZ, John SCHILT, and Jacob MILLER. Operations were immediately commenced by the said trustees; the building site -- about one acre of ground, worth $300 -- was deeded by Mr. T. W. LILLEY, gratis, and the church was erected during the same year, 1860, at a cost of $2,000. A few years after, a fine bell, the best in Olney, was put in the cupola at a cost of $325. In 1874, the parsonage near the church, was built by the congregation at a cost of $1,200; the best parsonage in Olney. The first pastor was Rev. G. F. LAUNER, an ordained theologian from Switzerland. In 1874, the congregation, through the management of its pastor, Rev. Fr. JUDT, and old graduate of Basel, Switzerland, associated itself with the German Reformed Synod of America. The present membership amounts to about sixty, and its present pastor is Rev. EICHEN.

German Reformed at Grand Prairie
This church was established by about twenty families, mostly all of Swiss emigration. In the same settlement there were living a number of families known as Lutherans, and two branches, Reformed and Lutherans, were supporting together one church and one pastor in common, for a number of years, but matters did not work all right together; the Lutherans being too orthodox for the liberal minded Reformed, and they separated. At a meeting then held by the Reformed members on the 5th day of February, 1852, a resolution was unanimously adopted to establish and form a church of their own. A few of the prominent members then, such as Peter INGZI, Christian INGZI, Christian STERCHI, Henry STERCHI, John Jacob HAUCK, Philip J. ZIMMERLE and others, now all dead, took the matter in hand, purchased a tract of land of twenty-four and a half acres for a building site, and the present church was then erected at a cost of $800. In 1876, or 1877, a very handsome parsonage was also erected near the church; the first pastor, Rev. G.F. LAUNER, a theological graduate of Berne, Switzerland. In 1874, the congregation associated itself with the German Reformed Synod of America, through the management of Rev. Fr. Judt, a graduate of the Basel Missionary Society, Switzerland, of many years ago. The present membership is large, amounting to about 100, and its pastor is Rev. KIPER.

Church of Christ
There are ten congregations of this denomination in Richland County. Two are in Madison Township, at Parkersburg, and Fairview, each of which has a membership of about seventy-five persons. In Decker Township, there are congregations at Fransonia and Green Hill, with a membership of about fifty each. In Noble Township there is one at "Brushville", with a membership of 100 members under pastoral charge of Rev. H. M. SANDERSON. In Denver Township there are two, with a membership of about 100. There is also one in German Township, "Prairie Hall," which has a membership of upwards of 100; one in Claremont Township "Eureka" with 110 members, and one in Bonpass Township, "Shiloh," having a membership of 100, under the pastoral charge of Rev. F. M. SHEIK. The church at Olney, was organized in the year 1867, by W. B. F. TREAT, with thirty members. The congregation met in the court house as they had no place of worship of their own, until about 1874, when they secured a hall. In 1878, the church purchased a small frame building and fitted it up with a total cost of about $1200. The pastors succeeding Mr. TREAT have been Revs. Erastus LATHROP, G. W. MORRELL, J. F. JAMES, and John MAVITY. The church has been without a regular pastor occasionally, and has enjoyed the services of a large number of ministers who were not regulary employed. The membership now reaches to the number of 125 persons. Of the other churches no reliable data can be given. The Baptist denomination number some seven or eight congregations in the county, and the Moravian, two organizations.


St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran
As far as is known, Rev. SEACRIST was the first Lutheran minister who preached the gospel to the scattered Lutherans in Richland County, Ill. Rev. Daniel SCHERER succeeded Rev. SEACRIST, and labored faithfully among the people, preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments, his field, however, being so large, he called his son Jacob from Gettysburg, to his assistance. He preached several years in the log church, in the Schlichenmyer neighborhood, and various other places. Rev. C. KUHL succeeded the SCHERER's, and organized the Saint Paul's in 1851-52, two miles southwest of Olney; he labored but a few years, and was succeeded by Rev. HUNDERDASSE, who remained six months or a year. Rev. SWANEY was the next Lutheran minister who supplied the St. Paul's with the preaching of the gospel, for a year or two. Rev. George H. SCHNUR became his successor in 1861-62, and continued pastor for several years, when he resigned. The congregation next invited Rev. J.M. HURKEY, from Mount Carmel, to preach for them as a supply until they could obtain a regular pastor. In the month of October, 1869, in obedience to a regular call, Rev. J. M. HURKEY became the pastor of the church, and remained so until the fall of 1874. During the pastorship of J. M. HURKEY, the Saint Paul's resolved to change the place of worship from Schlichenmeyer Schoolhouse, to the city of Olney. On the 23rd day of September, 1873, the Saint Paul's laid the corner-stone of their house of worship, according to the ceremonies of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The building is a brick 36 by 65 in size, and was erected at a cost of $4,500.


Saint Paul's Evangelical Lutheran of Preston
The Rev. G. H. SCHNUR had been preaching for some time in the neighborhood of the present Saint Paul's Church, but without any organization In the spring of 1869, Rev. J. M. SINGLE accepted a call from the Claremont Pastorate and commenced preaching at this point. On October 30, 1869, he organized the Saint Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, with the following eleven members, vis.: John ZIRKEL, Levi KESLER, G. W. DOZER, Socrates DOZER, Henry STANG, Nancy ZIRKEL, Mary KESLER, Eliza A. DOZER, George STANGE, Elizabeth STANG, and Catharine STANG. The Rev. J. M. SINGLE was succeeded by Rev. W. FRIDAY, who served teh congregation from February, 1871, to April, 1872. Rev. W. FRIDAY was succeeded by Rev. A. LEATHERS, who took charge of the congregation in the fall of 1873. The next minister in charge of this church was Rev. J. P. SCHNUR. He commenced his services on the 10th of December, 1876. Rev. J. P. SCHNUR was succeeded by Rev. E. A. BEST, who took charge of this congregation, in connection with Olney, in the spring of 1878, and served them until the spring of 1883, when Rev. E. SCHWARTZ, the present pastor, took charge of the congregation. The present membership of the congregation is fifty-four. The first officers of the church were Levi KESLER, elder, and George W. DOZER, deacon. They were also the first trustees. A Sunday-school, not very large, but in good running order, is kept up during the whole year. The church house in which the congregation worships is a frame building, and was erected in the year 1871, and cost about $1,100.


Olney Presbyterian
This church was organized January 8, 1858, by a committee of the Palestine Presbytery, with these members: Mrs. Mary KNIGHT, Mrs. Elizabeth DARLING, Mrs. Mary McCLURE, Mrs. Milla BURRELL, Mrs. Rebecca A. WILSON, Mrs. Harriet N. CROZIER, John BOYD, James CROZIER, Mrs. Jane WILSON, John HENDERSON, Mrs. Jane HENDERSON, Miss Mary A. HENDERSON. Elders of the church, since chosen: George W. CONE, D. MARQUIS, David SMITH, John L. CAMPBELL, James W. BECK, Horace HAYWARD, William H. WALLACE, L. M. PARKER, E. BOWYER, J. C. ALLEN, J. H. MORGAN, John HORNER, J. P. WILSON. Ministers, since the organization: John CROZIER, H. E. THOMAS, A. H. SLOAT, Solomon COOK, R. J. L. MATHEWS, John STUART. The church building is a neat frame structure, erected in 1860, at a cost of about $3,000. A parsonage was built in 1864, at a cost of about $1,500. The church and parsonage are on the same lot. The church is out of debt and has a membership of a little over one hundre. In the history of this church the Rev. John CROZIER is entitled to special mention, as he was really the founder of the church and has done more since to build up its interests than any other one man. On account of the health of his family he has recently moved to Minnesota.

First Congregational
This church was organized in June, 1873, by Rev. Robert WEST, of Alton, Ill., with a membership of twenty-six persons. The first pastor was Rev. Edward ANDERSON of Boston, Mass. The first officials of the church were G. W. FRITCHEY, and Prof. David EDMISTON, deacons; Horace HOWARD, president, Andrew DARLING, J. M. WILSON, Gary GADDIS (Robert BYERS, secretary), trustees; Mrs. M. V. BYERS, treasurer; Mrs. Sarah EDMISTON, clerk; David EDMISTON, Sunday-school superintendent. The present church edifice, a handsome structure in the Gothic style and one of the finest in the city or county, was erected in 1875, at a cost of $8,000. The church has a membership of about sixty persons and is in a flourishing condition. The pastor is the Rev. D. C. McNAIR.


Roman Catholic
The Catholic Church is represented in Richland County by two congregations, one at Stringtown, German Township, and the other at Olney. The first, as noted above, was organized in 1844 as an off-shoot of the church in Saint Marie, in Jasper County. It is served by the officiating priest at Olney, and is in a vigorous condition. A Catholic school was organized and a building for this purpose erected in 1879, at a cost of about $300. The membership is composed entirely of Germans, and numbers about fifty families.


ST. JOSEPH'S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, of Olney, was established in this city in 1859. One of the first priests was Father Longhran, and the first child baptized in the church was Patrick Burges, the ceremony being performed July 24, 1859, by Father Longhran.  At that time the congregation was small and the work of improvement slow, but at this writing the membership has increased so that it ranks as one of the first churches in the city. The good work has steadily grown until they now own and occupy one of the finest sites in the city, with creditable improvements thereon. The names of the priests who have resided here since the establishment of the congregation are respectively Rev. Fathers Longhran, Sandrock, J. Vahey, H. J. Hoven, Thomas Walsh, J. Marty, P. Dee, A. David, P. Kearney, J. Meckrel, J. Molitor, J. W. Mersher, F. Budde, and the present occupant, Rev. J. B. Schnelten.  [Portrait and Biographical Record of Effingham, Jasper and Richland Counties Illinois, Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, Governors of the State, and the Presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), p.355 - Submitted by Judy Edwards]


REV. JOHN BERNARD SCHNELTEN, pastor of St. Joseph's Catholic Church of Olney, was born in the province of Hanover, Germany, and in the common schools of that country received his early education. When about sixteen years of age he was brought to the United States by his parents, who settled in Carrollton, Greene County, this State, where the family still resides. There the subject of this sketch grew to manhood and was successfully engaged in farming and mercantile pursuits for some years.  Deciding to devote his life to the Church, Rev. Father Schnelten pursued a classical course of study with the Franciscan Fathers in Quincy, Ill., and finished his philosophical course in St. Louis University, from which institution he was graduated in 1883, with the degree of A. M. He then took a three-years course in theology at the seminary in Milwaukee, Wis. In 1886, he was ordained a priest and had charge of St. Stephen's Church at Flora, Ill., for nearly two years. On the expiration of that period he was transferred to his present position, in which he has labored earnestly and faithfully in the interests of his church and people for the past five years. Under his management the church was located on its present desirable site, and the comfortable, convenient residence was built under his direction in 1892. Father Schnelten enjoys the respect and confidence of all classes of people in the community.  [Portrait and Biographical Record of Effingham, Jasper and Richland Counties Illinois, Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, Governors of the State, and the Presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), p.356 - Submitted by Judy Edwards]

THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH of Olney was organized in November 1841, in Brother H. Barney's log cabin, by the Rev. William H. Reed, whose uncle, the Rev. Jacob E. Reed, was the Circuit preacher of the Mt. Carmel circuit of the Illinois conference. The constituent members were W. H. Reed and wife, Scott Thrapp and wife, N. D. Jay and wife, Jonas Notestine, M. B. Snyder, and one probationer, George W. Butler. Mr. Notestine was appointed leader. Class and prayer meetings were held every other week and preaching every fourth week in Brother Barney's log cabin. The county, having just been organized, had no court house and the community no schoolhouse.  In the fall of 1842 the County Commissioners proposed to give to the society a lot, if they would build a church and allow it to be used for a court house and schoolhouse. The proposition was accepted, and by subscriptions in labor and material the church was built. It was an unpretentious log structure, but served fully the treble purposes of worship, education and county business. There many of those who are now leading citizens of Olney received the rudiments of their education, and there the first Sunday-school of this section of the county was organized. This Sunday-school was formed in the summer of 1844 by the circuit preacher, the Rev. William Royal, assisted by Jonas Notestine and others, not as a Methodist, but as a union Sunday-school. Mr. Notestine was the first Superintendent. The school prospered for a while, but subsequently was not so well attended and was opened irregularly. In the summer of 1851 it was re-organized with C. M. Hoover as Superintendent. In 1852, the old church having become dilapidated, a movement was made to build a new one. Pending that event, the church and Sunday-school were held in a large two-story frame house on Main Street, at which time E. B. Page was elected Superintendent.  In the fall of 1854 the new church was so far advanced in construction that meetings were held in the basement, and the Sunday-school was removed to the same, from which time to the present the school has had a continuous existence. Mr. Page continued as Superintendent, and during his service a new library, costing $2,000, was procured. On his death, which occurred November 29, 1857, A. W. Mace was chosen his successor, and in January, 1858, the organization was changed from a union to a Methodist Sunday-school. In October following, Mr. Mace refusing to serve longer as Superintendent, John H. Gunn was elected his successor. The new Superintendent re-organized the school, making various changes in its management, which proved beneficial. At that time the school had an enrollment of two hundred and an average attendance of one hundred and twenty-five. It prospered, increased its numbers, and a new library costing $200 was purchased. On the 24th of June, 1860, Mr. Gunn resigned and G. D. Morrison was elected his successor, but he refused to accept, and Mr. Gunn continued to serve.
On the breaking out of the late war, in the spring of 1861, many of the older boys of the school enlisted, thirty-six in all going from the school during the war, of whom ten were either killed or died in the army. Notwithstanding the loss by enlistment, the school continued to increase until, toward the close of the war, the enrollment reached four hundred, with an average attendance of three hundred. Great interest was manifested in missionary work, and the school contributed largely to that cause. It also donated liberally to aid the boys in the field during the war. In September, 1865, in spite of some opposition by the church, an organ was introduced into the school. Mrs. Lizzie Babitt was made organist, and for many years her influence was a power for good in the school, and more real and genuine religious interest was manifested on the part of the teachers. In 1873 Supt. Gunn resigned and Brother William E. Ravenscroft was elected his successor. At the end of the year Mr. Gunn was again elected Superintendent and served until September, 1879, when G. D. Slanker was chosen his successor, and held the office until 1881, when he declined to serve another term. Mr. Gunn was then once more elected and served until January, 1885, when Dr. H. J. B. Wright was chosen his successor and he, in turn, was succeeded by the Rev. D. F. Houser in 1887, who filled the office until 1889. In that year G. D. Slanker was re-elected, and has continued in the office up to the present time.  This Methodist Sunday-school from its ranks has furnished to the force of Christian pastors twenty-eight ministers of the Gospel, the greater number of whom are still in active service throughout the West. Liberal amounts of money have been contributed by the school for various religious and other worthy purposes, and hundreds who received their early religious training within the fold are now heads of worthy Christian families, and each, in his or her way, doing good work in the world.
The pastors of the church in order of service are as follows: Jacob E. Reed, John Fox, William Royal, McKendree Thrapp, E. Joy, Austin Rogers, R. I. Nail, John Gilham, John Adams, Cavey Lambert, A. Campbell, M. Shepherd, John Shepherd, J. T. Johnson, J. W. Miller, N. Hawley, A. B. Nesbit, H. Chapman, Jeremiah W. Phillips, N. Allen, J. Glage, Rev. Carlisle Babitt, J. T. Hough, T. F. Houts, J. Earp, C. I. Houts, John Van Cleve, J. W. Phillips, J. W. Lane, J. W. Locke, William Wallace, J. W. Van Cleve, N. B. Cooksey, B. R. Pierce, Joseph W. Van Cleve and C. Nash, the present pastor.
The church, which was built in 1854, is a fine brick structure, capable of seating four hundred people, and is still in use. The society has been prosperous and its pulpit has been ably filled through all these years. This denomination is the most numerous of any in the county, having sixteen places of worship and several appointments not provided with church edifices.  [Portrait and Biographical Record of Effingham, Jasper and Richland Counties Illinois, Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens, Governors of the State, and the Presidents of the United States. (Chicago: Chapman Brothers, 1887), p.533 - Submitted by Judy Edwards]

St. James Church
1938-?  -- MENDENHALL, Rev. Newell

1934-1938 -- ZUMSTEIN, Rev. Ray O.

1930-1934 -- ALTHAFER, Rev. A.O.

1928-1929 -- LOTTICH, Rev. F.J.

1927-1928 -- KUNKLE, Rev. H.A.

1926 -- WIKE, Rev. C.P.

1925 -- KIRSCHKE, Rev. George P.

1925 -- BOATMAN, Rev. Wm. J.

1924 -- ARBAUGH, Rev. A.H.

1924 -- BROOKS, Rev. Edwin

1919-1923 -- RAUSH, Rev. J.R.


1910 -- HAMRICK, Rev. C.F.

1908-1910 -- KNAUR, Rev. John

1904-1906 -- SAPPENFIELD, Rev. J.V.

1880-1894 -- HURSH, Rev. Issac

1876-1878 -- LANER, Rev. W.C. L.

1868-1875 -- HARKEY, Rev. J.M.

1862-1867 -- SCHNUR, Rev. G.H.

1861 -- BARTH, Rev. Wm.

1860 -- SCHWARTZ, Rev. D.D.

1858- 1859 -- ABELE, Rev.

1857 -- BURWICK, Rev. J.

1857 -- HUNDERDOSS, Rev. Wm.

1856 -- KUHL, Rev. Conrad

1852-1856 -- LAUSNER, Rev. Gottlieb

1844 -- SCHERER, Rev. Jacob

1842-1844 -- SCHERER, Rev. Daniel

Before 1842 - SEACRIST, Rev.


Church Council:  Stanley Chaplin,  Harry Sager, Leroy Burgener, Alfred Scherer, Arthur Fritschle, William Gregory, Arthur Scherer

Church Officers:   
SCHERER, Roscoe - Secretary
CHAPLIN, Stanley - Treasurer
Sunday School

FRITSCHLE, Arthur -Superintendent
SAGER, Harry -Asst. SuperintendentCHERER, Junior -SecretaryFRITSCHLE, Vera May -Asst. Secretary
BURGENER, Leroy -Treasurer
BURGENER, Mrs. Leroy -Superintendent Children's Dept

Sunday School Teachers
McCREERY, A.J. - Mens Class No. 1
SCHERER, Roscoe - Mens Class No. 2
SCHERER, Alfred - Ladies Class No 1 & 2
SCHERER, Mrs. Arthur - Home Builders
FRITSCHLE, Mrs. Arthur - Young People
CRUM, Donald - Intermediates
ANDERSON, Lela - Juniors
McCREERY, Alberta - Primary
SCHERER, Mrs. Freda - Beginners and Cradle RollLuther League
SCHERER, Bernice - President
BOATMAN, Carl - Vice President
SCHERER, Junior - Secretary
CRUM, Eugen - Treasurer


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