Maries County, Missouri Genealogy Trails

County History



First Movements.

Neither church membership nor preaching seems to have been given any attention in Maries' territory until almost a decade after the first white arrivals. In about 1830 a Cumberland Presbyterian by the name of Rev. Frank Brawley preached at the home of " Uncle George Snodgrass," on Cedar Creek, and organized a congregation there. This was the first. They held camp-meetings near the mouth of Cedar Creek, and among other preachers were Rev. Jacob Clark, and later on Abraham Johnson and Hugh Burns. They did not thrive well, it seems, for in a few years the organization disappeared. Jonathan Burlison was the first resident preacher in the county. Some five years later the old Primitive or "Hard Shell" Baptists began at Thomas Johnson's (Jr.), and about 1838 they organized a church. Revs. Burgess, Lenox, Jenkins and others were among their preachers.

The Methodists appeared also about 1835, and grew rapidly. Rev. Babbit was the first to hold services; this was at Charles Lane's.   Rev. Brashear was about the next.   The Presbyterians and Methodists had a union church at Abraham Johnson's, where the vote on the great separation took place under the direction of a Rev. Cardwell. All voted south. Rev. Mr. Byrd caused some trouble at one of the union meetings. He was allowed to speak if he would exclude politics from his discourse. He promised, but as he grew enthused he violated his promise, and was led out by the Revs. Brawley (three brothers).

It was about the same time that the Free Will divisions of the Baptists broke og at an association near James Harrison's, on Little Piney. Revs. Burgess, Carroll, Avery and Woody headed the movement.   They did not thrive in Maries, however.

About 1845 Rev. R.S.D. Caldwell introduced the Missionary Baptist faith on Spring Creek. Rev. James Walker followed him, and this sect has prospered.

It was near the same time—possibly a little before these— that the movement revived by Alexander Campbell reached Maries County, on Lane's Prairie, and has since grown very fast. Rev. R. Rogers was among its first exponents.

The Catholics began organization in Vienna about 1860, and have steadily increased.

The denominations now represented in the county in the estimated order of their numbers are as follows: Christian, Missionary Baptist, the two branches of the Methodists, the Catholic and the Primitive Baptists.

The Christian Church.

This denomination is so thoroughly congregational in its government that its statistics are far from being as accessible as the Methodist and similar churches. They are thought to have the largest numbers in the county, however. Their congregations, in various stages of growth, are located as follows, and facts are given so far as obtainable: Liberty, Smyrna, Steen's Prairie, Vienna and Grove Dale.

Liberty Church was organized in 1856, on Lane's Prairie, by Elder Enoch Ferrell, but the war made it necessary for Elder James M. Tennison to reorganize it in 1866. The original members were Catherine, Elvira, J. M. and T. J. Ferrell, J. M. and Belinda Walker, Elias, Mary, Skelton and Elizabeth Bradshaw. J. M. Ferrell, Elias Bradshaw and F. M. Jones were elders, and T. J. and H. L. Ferrell were deacons. In 1869 a frame house was built at Bloomington, but it was destroyed by a storm in 1874. Since the first, 319 persons have been enrolled, but the membership is now fifty. Their pastors have been Revs. J. M. Tennison, H. D. Butters, J. M. Ferrell, H. L. Ferrell and John Giddens.

Smyrna Church is located near Tucker's Store, and was organized about 1879 by Rev. John Martin. The first elders were Samuel P. Tucker and John Shelton. In the autumn of 1888 they erected a frame church valued at $300. They now have about eighty members, whose pastors have been Revs. John Martin and A. J. Thompson.

The Missionary Baptist Church.

The Baptist is almost, if not quite, as numerous in its membership in Maries County as the Christian Church.   Its churches in this county are members of two old associations—the Bourbois and the Dixon. The Bourbois Association has a total membership of 608 persons, 175 of whom are in Maries County in three congregations—Lone Star, Little Flock and Union Hill. This Association held its thirty-fourth annual meeting October 25,1888, with Mt. Calvary Church in Gasconade County. This would make its organization in 1854. The Dixon Association held its fourteenth session with Liberty Church, Maries County, October 11-13,1888. This was organized in 1874, and includes a membership of 405 persons, but one church of which is in Maries County—Liberty Church, containing sixty-six members.

Little Flock Church was organized April 19, 1884, by Rev. J. H. David, at the home of deacon B. S. Crum, three miles from Vienna. The first members were: B. S, Crum, S. S. Gillespie, John King, Barney Finn (officers), Harriet A. Crum, Sarah Gillespie, Elizabeth knd Hannah Gillespie, A. Antinhisle, (?) Mary A, Myers, Ellen Doggett, S. A. Duncan, M. J. Carroll, Sarah and Mary Copeland and M. Finn. A church was built in 1885, but burned soon after, and it was at once rebuilt. It is a frame (24x40) building, located four miles north of Vienna. There are sixty-seven members, who have been under the pastoral charge of Rev, J. H. David.

IMP Lone Star Church was organized August 29, 1885, by Rev. S. P. Smith with the following officers and members: Elder J. H. David, pastor; H. Skaats, clerk; J. K. Parrish, deacon; N. and M. Giesler, Susan Skaats, Elizabeth Moreland, Esther Griffith, Mary Southard and Mary Copf. These were the remaining members, largely, of old " Hopewell Church," which was organized probably as early as 1850, by Elder Jacob Holman, and at one time enrolled over 125 members. Lone Star has no building, but its congregation of about seventy-two members is still presided over by Rev. David.

The Methodist Churches.

From the time (1760) that Philip Embury introduced Methodism from Ireland into America, past the time (1784) when the church was first organized on this. continent at Baltimore, and even beyond the time (1806) when John Travis was the first man appointed to « Missouri Circuit," it is probable that the territory of Maries County knew nothing of Methodism. It is certain, however, that it came in not far from the time (1836) that the State was organized as Missouri Conference, or within a few years. If this be true, then it was that Maries' Methodism was in one great church and she was compelled to pass through the great separation of 1844 and the succeeding years, when the southern branch became a separate church.

The Methodist Episcopal Church, South.

The southern branch preponderated in Maries County, which, at the organization of St. Louis Conference in 1846, became a member of that, and in 1870, when this conference was divided and Southwest Missouri Conference created, the Maries churches were destined to be divided between them—the Gasconade River being the dividing line. For the first four years Southwest Missouri Conference bore the name West St. Louis Conference. This conference now is composed of six districts, in one of which (Lebanon) the Maries churches are grouped into Yienna Circuit, which includes the Vieana, Bloom Garden and Branson Classes. This circuit has a membership of 150. St. Louis Conference has five districts, the Maries churches being in Salem District and in Lane's Prairie Circuit, one of the fourteen charges composing the district.   This circuit is practically condensed into one point-Bowles Chapel, on Lane's Prairie—and embraces about 100 members. Vienna Church was organized as a class probably as early as 1835, but under that name no earlier than 1855. Among its most prominent members were William Shockley, William Copeland, John Roberson, Thomas Davis, W. Vaughn, W. Blew, James Taff, James Johnson, J. M. Johnson, and others. Of these Revs. J. M.Johnson, W. Shockley and W. Blew were local preachers. Among their pastors have been: Revs. J. L. Logan, T. J. Stringfield, W. H. Son, W. F. Wright, E. E. Sullins and T. P. Hill. The membership is now sixty-five. A brick church was erected in 1871-72, but their present church was built in 1885-86 at a cost of $950. Bloom Garden Church, about five miles southeast of Vienna, was built about 1867-68 at a cost of $1,000. A. H. Hutchison is an official here.

Branson Class was started in 1869, by Rev. Alfred Nichols, with the following members: J. D. Jones, steward and leader; W. J. and Mary Robison, Mary A. Bumpass, Sally Branson and Hannah Jones. They now have ten members, who have been under the pastoral charge of Revs. A. Nichols, P. W. Duncan, J. R. Eddleman, D. A. Gourley(r), W. E. Woodard, J. Williams, ___Reagan, J. L. Logan, T. J. Stringfield, 0. J. Polston, W. T. Pyles, W. H. Son, W. E. Wright, E, E. Sullins and T. P. Hill.   Location, Township 39, Range 10 west.

Bowles Chapel was organized into a church from the several classes of Lane's Prairie Circuit in October, 1884, by Rev. V. J. Millie. The first officers and members were: W. Clark, W. L. Pinnell and M. W. Kinsey, trustees; W. Clark and Elijah West, stewards; Mrs. Lavina James, Ellen West, M. A. Kinsey, Ella Bowles, Mrs. Anna Hefti, Mary Pinnell, Thomas and Susan Lovelas and Joseph and Sarah Carter. They now have 100 members, and on June 21, 1884, had a frame church, which was erected at a cost of $2,000, dedicated by Rev. J. E. Godbey. Their pastors have been Revs. J. H. Dennis, V. J. Millis, S. H. Renfro, W. F. Young, F. Welham and the present incumbent, Rev. A. H. Russell.

The Methodist Episcopal Church did not prosper much in Missouri after the great division, and was practically disorgan-ized during the war.   At the general conference at Chicago in May, 1868, Missouri and Arkansas were made separate conferences—Arkansas and Missouri, south of the river, being consti-tuted St. Louis Conference, which, in May, 1872, at Brooklyn, was limited to Southern Missouri.   The colored memberships were organized separately at the general conferences of 1884 and 188b.   Maries County churches of course belong to the St. Louis Conference, which held its first meeting March 10, 1869, under Bishop Janes, at Sedalia, and its twentieth session, under Bishop Walden was held at the same place March 21, 1888.   At this last conference the territory was divided into six districts: St. Louis Sedaha Kansas City, Springfield, Carthage and Salem, Of these the Maries churches belong to Salem District, which embraces twenty charges, over which Rev. L. C. Sappenfield, of Rolla, presides.   One of these charges, Vichy Circuit, embraces the Maries churches, namely: "Vichy Church and two classes at Lacy and Walker school-houses. This circuit has 137 members, one church valued at $1,500, two Sunday-schools with twenty teachers and 135 pupils. Vichy Church was founded in 1878 by Rev. J. W. Buck, with the following original officers and members: G. B. James, H. M. James and A. J. Little, stewards; Mrs. G. B. James, Mrs. H. M. James, Mr. and Mrs. L. H. James, Mrs. A. J. Little and Mr. and Mrs. M. V Pillson(?). Under the charge of the following pastors their membership has grown to about fifty persons: Revs. J. W. Buck, W. V. Hamel, Daniel Dunlovy, C. S. Revelle, J. B. Benington, A. J. Graves and O. Lunbeck—their present pastor. In 1881 they erected a frame church structure, valued at about $1,500. It has not yet been dedicated. The pastor of this church cares for the other classes of the circuit.

The Catholic Church.

This denomination will be found treated more fully in the Osage County sketch. Its churches in Maries County are members of the Diocese of St. Louis. There are two—one at Vienna and a mission in Miller Township.

The Church of the Visitation of. the Blessed Virgin Mary, at Vienna, was organized about 1860, probably by Kevs. Graham and Goelding. Among its first members were Mr. Felker, Thomas and Dennis Fennessey, William Grant, Michael Owen, all of the so-called " Kerr Settlement," and others.   The first church erected here was as early as 1859, but about 1866 the present commodious structure was built at a cost of some $2,000.   They also have a fine parsonage attached, and a parochial school, which is well attended.   The membership now embraces about ninety families, and the church has been under the direction of the following priests:   Revs. Goelding, J. W. Graham, Thomas Moran, John Gruender, F. X. Deimel, W. Klevinghaus, ___ Hellwing, P. Bremerich, H. Huekestein, W. J. Angenenett, P. A. Trumm, J. F. M. Die! and the present incumbent, Henry A. B. Kuennen.

Holy Trinity Church (Miller Township) was organized m 1873 by Father Cooper in a log church, which, in 1881, was replaced by a neat frame house, valued at $145, and dedicated in 1877 by Father Cooper, located at St. Thomas. The Brinks, McKenneys, Bremers,  Schells, Lollis, Smith, Neismann (?) Makeman, Isenberg (?) and others were the first members. They now have 154 members, who have been in charge of the Vienna priests since Father Cooper, beginning with Rev. P. Bremerich.

The Primitive Baptist Church.

This denomination still has a few representatives in the Pendleton settlement under the congregational name Little Maries Church.   This is a member of Little Piney Association, which embraces the following eh arches: Little Maries, in Maries Comity; Little Hope, in Osage County; Little Flock, in Miller County, and Mt. Zion and Pine Churches on Dry Fork.   Little Maries Church was organize.! about 1845 by Elders Lenox. Newport, D. & and J Woody, Jenkins, G. W. Pendleton and J. G. Wiles.  They erected a log church the same year, and in 1875 built their present log edifice (19x24). Among their pastors have been Elders A. B. Pendleton and O. B. Barton.


The county has no general Sunday-school association, although nearly every church has its school; neither is there any of the associations known as Y. M. C. A., W. C. T. U., etc., except one at Vienna. The Vienna Young People's Christian Association was organized on March 3. 1889.

History of Cole, Moniteau, Morgan, Benton, Miller, Maries, and Osage Counties, Missouri. Chicago, IL, USA: Goodspeed Publishing, 1889.

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