Wabash County, Illinois
Some History of Barney's Prairie Church and the Barney, Pool, Wood, Pixley and Gard Families
A Little History of How the Church Came to Be
Barton W. Stone, a learned and eloquent minister, withdrew from the Presbyterian Church in 1804, and became very actively identified with the Christian Denomination. Thus there arose simultaneously in the East, South and West congregations that wished to be known simply as Christians. These were remote from one another and without a knowledge of one another's work. They urged the all sufficiency of the Scriptures as the rule of faith and life, the democracy of the local church, Christian character as the test of fellowship, and the name "Christian" to the exclusion of all denominational names.
Those years were particularly auspicious for the proclamation of such Christian truths. beginning in the last days of the eighteenth century with the Presbyterians in Tennessee and Kentucky, and continuing to near the close of 1801, there was a most extraordinary revival of religion. Caneridge, Kentucky, [my note: this should read: Cane Ridge, Kentucky, which was then in Logan County in Southwest Kentucky) was its center; its circumference was almost the outer bounds of the nation. Its slogan was, "The Bible our rule of faith and practice." Many thousands turned to the Lord.
Consecrated lives testified to the genuineness of their conversion. Its impressions were deep and its influences abiding. That revival was the John the Baptist of the movement inaugurated within less than two decades thereafter by the Disciples of Christ. This also had its beginnings in various localities-East, West and South. It came neither from the Biblical research nor thought of anyone man. It was not accidental, but providential. Its members approached the Bible "with all readiness of mind, examining the Scriptures daily."
It is believed by many that Alexander Campbell was the founder of the religious body known as the Disciples of Christ. This is a mistake, and the abundant and incontestable facts of history prove it to be such. It was at least a decade after the beginnings of this movement in various places that Mr. Campbell became the champion and later the most powerful advocate of those principles of Christian truth which differentiate the Disciples from all other religious bodies. This last fact was the occasion that led many uninformed people to call those with whom Mr. Campbell found himself to be in full accord "Campbellites."
William Barney and Family
William Barney came into what is now Wabash County, and settled about eight miles north of the site of Mount Carmel, in 1808. His family then consisted of himself and wife and the following children: George, William, Richard, James, Betsy, Jane, Sarah, Clara and Ann. Shortly afterward Mr. Barney's three sons-in-law, with their wives and children, also came. It is plain that this was a real Rooseveltian and patriotic family. Other settlers followed. Three forts for protection against the Indians in the locality were built.
Seth Gard came into this settlement in 1813. In 1814 he was a representative in the third Territorial Legislature, and in 1818 was a member of the convention that framed the constitution for the State. Evidently Mr. Gard was one of the leading citizens of that section. He, with Minister James Pool and others, on the 17th of July, 1819, organized the beginning.
Barney's Prairie Christian Church. Seth Gard was elected elder and Joseph Wood deacon. His grandson, O. H. Wood, now residing in that locality, has in his keeping the original book containing the record of this transaction. He is now in his sixty-eighth year, has been a member of the congregation for over fifty years, and affirms that from its beginning the Barney's Prairie Church has always stood on apostolic ground. This congregation has had an unbroken and useful life for ninety-six years. Mrs. Eliza Shoaff, Goldengate, Illinois, says that she was born in 1844 two miles north of the Barney's Prairie Church; that her grandparents, Job and Abigail Pixley, came to this locality in 1817, and that not long afterwards they united with the church. Both Mr. O. H. Wood and Mrs. Shoaff unite in affirming the unquestioned statements of their parents and grandparents, that before 1819 there had been a "New Light" church-as they there called themselves-about seven miles from Barney's Prairie, and that it had failed; and further, that when these people met on July 17 they decided to drop the name "New Light" and form a Christian church simply, which they did. Beyond question, in point of time, the Barney's Prairie Church leads all the Christian congregations in Illinois.
The Coffee Creek Church in Wabash County was the second. The original record reads: "At a meeting held at Brother Daniel Keen's on Saturday before the fifth Sabbath in August, 1819, a church of Christ was constituted, consisting of seven members." (See Keensburg.) The testimony of the original records, the history of Wabash County are the memones of the oldest residents of the community unite in affirming that from the first this was simply a church of Christ and has always continued as such.
See Also: Obits and Biographies with these family names, and also specific information of the James Pool family.
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