Ranking In Religious Matters - Growth And Prosperity - Liberal, Attitude -Presbyterian Church - Latter Day Saints - Church Of The Brethren.
Bates county ranks high among her sister counties in religious matters. All religious denominations usually found anywhere in Missouri are well grounded in Bates county. The church and the Sunday school may be found nearly everywhere. The County Sunday School Association is one of the best and most earnest in the state. The pastors and preachers of all denominations will rank well up with the best to be found anywhere ; and they are supported by church organizations as active, earnest and progressive, as may be found any place. The morality of Bates county is of a high order. Saloons have been banished, bawdy houses are unknown; crime is at a minimum. The people are religious and God-fearing; tolerant and liberal; just and charitable. The spirit of brotherly love prevails to as great a degree as can be found in the most cultured and refined society. There is no controversy, no church strife, no bickering over doctrines; and in our cities and towns the most delightful spirit of Christian fellowship between pastors and congregations is almost universal.
The church and the Sunday school came with the pioneers, and they have grown and prospered as our people have multiplied and made the county move forward from the wild and reckless pioneer days to a well ordered Christian society, the equal of the best.
We had hoped to give in detail the date of establishment and organization of the several denominations and had the promise of such information from representative members of the several church denominations in the county; but nearly all have failed us in this respect. Data supplied is used and so far as not supplied we are compelled to trust all others in a general way; which really may be amiss at this day so far removed from the struggles and triumphs of the early organizations, many of which have passed or been reformed into our present success full and prosperous congregations. Besides, nearly all of the preachers and people who raised the banner of the Cross in this county in the early days have long since gone to their reward; but the results of their sacrifices for the Master are here, our inheritance from the heroic men and women who built wisely and well for the coming generations. The church and the Sunday school are coordinate institutions of which all our people are justly proud.
The Presbyterian Church.
(By J. H. Raybourn.)
The Presbyterian church was here before Bates county was organized. It was established and organized by Drs. W. C. Requa and Amasa Jones, pioneer missionaries identified with Harmony Mission. After the abandonment of Harmony Mission in about 1838, Dr. Requa settled near what is now known as Peru in Lone Oak township, and Dr. Jones settled near Germantown in Henry county. Dr. Requa in connection with other missionary work organized a church near his home, probably the oldest in the county, and he preached at other points in what is now western Bates and Vernon counties. The old dobe church built by Dr. Jones still stands near his old home just north of Germantown, Henry county, where he preached for almost a generation. He often preached in eastern Bates county. I heard him preach at what was called the Gilbreath school house before the Civil War. On that occasion his text was: "As Moses lifted up the serpent, so must the son of man be lifted up." I heard Dr. Requa once after the war in the first church built in Butler under the supervision of Rev. Seth Clark, who was a later and younger man. He preached in Presbyterian missions. Rev. Clark also built a church house at old Hudson, and preached and organized churches at other points in the county.
About the year 1857, the Cumberland branch of the Presbyterian church of the Lexington Presbytery was organized and established in Bates county, by Rev. James A. Drennan and Rev. Jim Henry Houx, as he was called, two able, devout young men. They organized and established churches at different points in the county, mostly at school houses - at Butler, Mulberry, Pleasant Gap. Radford school houses. But like most everything else these congregations went to pieces and down under the ravages of the Civil War in this desolated county.
When peace returned the congregation was organized at Butler under the ministry of Rev. J. Cal Littrell and Rev. Riley, with J. M. Patty, Washington Holloway and F. V. Holloway as ruling elders, and a church building was erected. The congregation at Radford school house was reorganized September 28, 1867, under the ministry of Rev. James A. Drennan. In 1872 a church house was erected near Spruce, during the ministry of Rev. Riley, with William Crabtree, John L. Ludwick and William B. Price as ruling elders, and Andrew J. Jarvis and J. L. Peck as deacons. The church at Pleasant Ridge was organized under the ministry of Rev. Provine McCluney, August 16, 1866, with G. W. Raybourn, and Clark Wix as ruling elders, and G. W. Pharis and J. H. Brummitt as deacons, with about thirty lay members. About the year 1888 a church edifice was erected on land donated by J. W. Brown (now owned by Clark Wix) on the road leading from Butler to Appleton City.
In 1903 the question of uniting the churches having been agitated, for several years, action was taken at Spruce. Rev. S. B. Sullivan, then pastor of the Presbyterian church at Rich Hill, acted as moderator, and Rev. J. W. Mitchell as stated clerk, which action resulted in favor of the union. The question was carried throughout the United States and the united church is now known as the Presbyterian Church of America.
Dr. Requa and Dr. Jones above mentioned as pioneer ministers, were M. D.'s and D. D.'s and they doctored the l)odies as well as the souls of both red and white men ; administering herb decoctions for bodily ailments, and old-fashioned Presbyterianism, with a strong sprinkling of Calvinism mixed in, for spiritual ills. I can still see in memory a little, old, round-faced, pug-nosed man, with curly, grizzled hair, sitting before an old time fire-place with cups of brewing decoctions about him on the hearth - that was Dr. Amasa Jones while treating and curing me of a spell of bilious fever when I was a mere boy.
Latter Day Saints.
(Supplied by W. A. Searfus.)
In justice to the Latter Day Saints of Bates county, we copy a preliminary statement of the organization of the early church as published by the Bureau of the Census, Government printing office, Washington, D. C. Religious bodies: 1906, part II, separate denominations: History, description and statistics.
"The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was founded by Joseph Smith, a native of Vermont, in 1830, at Fayette, Seneca county, New York. About ten years previously when fifteen years of age, he had become deeply interested in the question of the salvation of his soul and in that of the true church of Christ, and was particularly disturbed by the variety of denominations and the varied interpretations put upon certain passages of the Scripture by different sects. While in the woods near his father's home, he says he "had a vision of a great light and two glorious personages appeared before him and commanded him to 'join none of the religious sects, for the Lord was about to restore the gospel, which was not represented by any of the existing churches."
Three years later another vision instructed him as to the second coming of Christ and as to his own relation to the coming dispensation. Other visions followed and in one he received directions enabling him to obtain "the sacred records," an abridgement of the history kept by the ancient inhabitants of America which "were engraved upon plates which had the appearance of gold." These records, constituting the "Book of Mormon" he translated, dictating the translation to Oliver Cowdery and others, who wrote it down, and who, with David Whitmer and Martin Harris, after the completion of the work, gave to the world their testimony that they had actually seen the plates. Smith and Cowdery also testified that an angel appeared to them, conferring upon them authority and giving them instruction which resulted in the organization of the church at Fayette, Seneca county. New York, April 6, 1830.
There are two bodies called Latter Day Saints, as follow:
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with headquarters in Utah.
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with headquarters at Lamoni, Iowa.
It is the Reorganized Church with which our "Bates County History" deals. The following citation is taken from the "Special Reports on Religious Bodies by the United States Government," as referred to above:
"The Reorganized Church repudiates the revelation on plural marriage and maintains 'that marriage is ordained of God, that the law provides for but one companion in wedlock for either man or woman, except in cases of death or where the contract is broken by transgression; consequently, that the doctrine of plurality and community of wives are heresies and are opposed to the law of God.'
Beginning with first preaching done by Daniel S. Crawley on the streets in Rich Hill in 1881, the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints has been very active in denouncing Utah Mormonism and appealing to the public to make an impartial examination of the difference between the doctrine and practice of the Mormon church and the faith, doctrine and practice of the original church established through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith and others of which the Reorganized Church claims to be a legal continuance.
The claims of the ministry of the Reorganized Church in Bates county are that Brigham Young's pretense when he led ten thousand of the saints to Utah after the martydom of Joseph Smith was an assumption of authority.
The original church was known by the name "Church of Jesus Christ," the phrase "Latter Day Saints" being used to signify of what the church was composed. That offense of confusing them with the Mormons should be avoided by the public.
The organization has by action of the body, as well as through committees and representatives favored wholesome legislation against the crimes of polygamy and unlawful cohabitation.
Many of the most noteworthy articles against the crimes of socalled Mormonism, which have been published in some of our leading magazines together with an indefinite number of books and pamphlets now obtainable have been written by members of the Reorganized Church and it appears that they ought to be recognized as active and well qualified opponents of LTtah or polygamus Mormonism.
Church of the Brethren (Dunkards.)
(Supplied by Irvin V. Enos.)
This society was formed in Germany in 1708. Eight persons from different branches of the Protestant church formed the first congregation under the leadership of Alexander Mack. In Germany they were called Tunkers or Tauffers because of their belief in immersion. In America this nickname was translated to Dunker or Dunkard. They believed that faith, repentance and baptism were the steps to salvation, baptism being administered by trine immersion. Feet washing as taught in John 13 was held to be a devine ordinance. Government was democratic
They avoided legal controversies and refused to take up arms in time of war. They opposed secret societies, and they held marriage as a divine ordinance that cannot be dissolved by courts of law. Aged and poor members were cared for by the brotherhood. These are some of the distinctive features of the church.
In Germany they suffered all sorts of persecution from the state and state churches. They grew in numbers but because of persecution they separated and in 1715 there were three large congregations.
In 1719 twenty families came to America. Their first congregation was formed at Germantown, Pennsylvania. In 1727 fifty-nine families came over. Others came later until the church in Germany ceased to exist. These people had met the same treatment in Germany that the Quakers met in England. In America they grew and worked together for a time, but were distinct in organization and doctrine. They held their first annual conference in 1742.
In 1917 the total membership in America was about one hundred thousand. They own their printing presses, maintain nine colleges and seminaries, have seventy-six missionaries on foreign fields besides many home and city workers.
The first members came to Bates county, and settled near Crescent Hill about 1865. Among them were John Kinsly and wife, T. P. Eyeman and wife, John Fansler and wife and others. Their first minister was W. G. McClintoch. An organization was effected about 1869. They had no church house but worshiped in private homes and school houses until November, 1890. when their new house in Adrian was completed.
Mrs. John Thomason is the only charter member now living in the congregation, which now has a membership of seventy-seven, twenty three of whom live in Pleasant Gap and Prairie township. They have their own house and will soon be organized into a separate congregation.
The Mound (or Adrian) church has preaching and Sunday school each Sunday morning, besides the main school they have graded primary work in a separate room, home department and cradle roll ; also Christian workers meeting each Sunday evening, which supports one orphan in China. The church contributes regularly to the support of one missionary in India, Sister Jennie Moliler. of Leeton, Missouri, besides making quarterly offerings to home missions and offerings to general mission work.
History of Bates County Missouri by W.O. Atkeson 1918
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