PIKE COUNTY MISSOURI CHURCHES
RAMSEY CREEK CHURCH
This is the oldest religious organization within the limits of Pike county. More than sixty years ago it was planted in the almost unbroken forests of Calumet, and through the lapse of years that has succeeded it has been vocal with the praises of the Christian's God, from the best data to be had this church was organized about the year 1818 or 1819 by Rev. Stephen Ruddell, formerly of Kentucky. The land upon which the first church, a structure of hewn logs, was built, was deeded by Edmond Mountjoy to the Baptists, and it is claimed by many of the oldest citizens that it remained as one church (Baptist) until May, 1823, when Hughs and Rodgers, known as "New Lights," came out from Kentucky and a protracted effort was held at Ramsey, and several having applied for membership a dispute arose as to who should administer the ordinance of baptism, the Baptist pastor or the "New Light'' preacher, and. Mr. Rodgers having officiated, Rev. Ruddell surrendered his charge of the church and a split at once ensued. Whether this be fiction or fact, certain it is as shown by the records that the Baptists reorganized formally on the 26th day of April, 1823, and that about the same time Dr. H Hughs was sent by his father from Kentucky to look after the spiritual wants of those, who differing from the Baptist teachings, now organized under the name of "Reformers." Among the earliest members, as shown by the old records as belonging to the Baptist Church at Ramsey may be mentioned Edmond Mountjoy, Michael Tilson, Thomas Buchanan, Mary Mountjoy, Nancy Carter, Susan Plunket, Ann Buchanan, Nancy Leah, Gibson Jenkins, Robert Burns, Matthew Sapp, Elizabeth Boxley, Richard Sanders, Jeptha Jeans, Daniel Moss, and others. At this time the Rev. Davis Biggs, who succeeded Rev. Stephen Ruddell, was the pastor in charge. That this view of a controverted subject is correct would also appear from the fact that the records of the Christian Church at Paynesville, which continued to worship in the house at Ramsey Creek until the year 1852, trace their origin to the branch of the Church of Christ which the said records state was instituted at Ramsey Creek on the 2d day of February, 1823. Thus while the organization of the Reformers was earlier than the formal reorganization of the Baptists, it is still manifest that a church organization of some kind antedated the institution of theirs by not less than four or five years, and hence the conclusion that the Baptist Church was originally organized at Ramsey and that the other, or Christian, was a dissenting branch, appears alike reasonable and logical. This church, a large and solid brick structure, is now under the exclusive control of the Baptist denomination, is entirely out of debt, has a membership of seventy five souls, and is possessed of considerable spiritual vitality. It has contributed its part to the religious instruction of the people, and from it's portals have gone out many who, with their families, have assisted in founding or strengthening other organizations of like faith and order within the limits of the association.
DOVER BAPTIST CHURCH
Dover Church, which is situated in the northwestern portion of the township, was organized by Revs. J. B. Fuller, A. G. Mitchell, and M. M. Modissett, on September 8th, 1862, in a beautiful grove belonging to the late William C. Goodman. Their house of worship, a large and well constructed frame edifice, was erected at the junction of the Louisiana & Prairieville and the Calumet Gravel roads, in the fall and winter of 1863. The constituting members were James A. Sanderson and wife, James Anderson and wife, Nathaniel E. Smith and wife, E. H. and J. R. Smith, H. T. Ogden, and Mary E. Goodman, with Mary, servant of James Anderson, and George servant of W. C. Goodman. This church has at present ninety-three members in good standing, conducts a successful and well attended Sunday school, under the superintendency of W. N. Goodman, and has had for its pastors some of the best pulpit talent in the state. Rev. Dr. J. F. Cook is preacher in charge at this time, and James E. Griffith holds the position of church clerk. This church, like Ramsey, is within the bounds of the Salt River Association, and is one of the most flourishing members of that old and respectable religious body.
CORINTH C. P. CHURCH
This church is situated on the Calumet gravel road, about midway between the eastern and western limits of Calumet, and a little north of the center of the townsliip. The house, which is a substantial brick, forty by sixty feet, was erected in the summer of 1867 at a cost of $4,250. The church was organized on the 20th of February, 1868, by Rev. M. M. Tucker and the venerable and Rev. James W. Campbell. The constituting members were F. M. Mackey, Lucinda Mackey, John Wilson, Jane Wison, John T. Mackey, Elizabeth Mackey, Elbert Nunn, Elizabeth Watts, Martha Wilson, Ann M. Kelly, Margaret Mellroy, Mary J. Wilson, Alice E. Mackey, Sarah McLoed, Elizabeth Kelley, and Edna Triplett. Rev. Dr. Tucker was the first pastor in charge and continued until his death to ably and faithfully serve the church which his own efforts had so largely assisted in planting here. The church has a large membership at this time, is both financially and spiritually strong, giving liberally to every cause worthy of Christian support, and living in the bonds of peace and unity with each other. Since their organization the church and Sunday-school have together expended the sum of $4,519.60 in their endeavors to meet their Christian obligations and advance the cause of morality and religion. Rev. Taylor Bernard is the present pastor, S. F. Mackey the efficient superintendent of the sabbath school, and John T. Mackey the clerk of the church.
This church, named for the township in whose northern extremity it is situated, was organized as a Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the year 1857, by Rev, M. M. Tucker, while riding as a missionary within the limits of this Presbytery. The original members were John Turner and wife, Warren Griffith and wife, Martha Pharr, Lucinda Butts, Cyrus Mackey and wife, and Rachael Estes. On account of the house having fallen into a low state of repair, and the location being somewhat inaccessible, the Church disorganized about the year 1871, and the members attached themselves to the churches at Buffalo and Corinth. In 1880 the church was rebuilt, but never reorganized, and although the control of the house is in the hands of the Presbyterians it is to all intents and purposes a free church. The Presbyterians worship here stately and have a minister, Rev. T. Bernard, in charge, although the attendants upon service here belong to the congregation at Corinth. The business of the church is done as though it was a distinct organization, with no connection with nor dependence upon another, and so harmonious have the two congregations been nothing has ever occurred to mar the feelings of either. No regular sabbath-school is kept up at this church. Mr. W. J. Warmsley acts as auxiliary clerk and reports the proceedings of Calumet, the child, to Corinth, the mother.
SALEM CHRISTIAN CHURCH
The organization of this church was effected at Kissinger school-house on August the 5th, 1871, by Elder Wm. H. Martin. The original members were Hendly Kissinger, James H Kissinger and wife, George Wells and wife, T. B. Amos and wife, B. F. Amos and wife, J. W. Beauchamp and wife, John M. Grimes and wife, Richard Hall and wife, Mordecai Amos and wife, Miss E. J. Wells, and others. The first and present elders are T. B. Amos, John M. Grimes, and James H. Kissinger. The deacons were William Wells, William Beauchamp, B. F. Amos, George Wells, and James P. Galloway. Soon after their organization, and in the same year, the members proceeded to build them a church, and an excellent frame building thirty-six by fifty-four feet was put up at a short remove from the school-house where they had first worshiped. The church is in a prosperous condition, gradually extending its borders and widening the circle of its Christian influence. Elder J. M. Henry was its first pastor, and Elder J. B, Corwine is the present minister in charge. Mr. George Wells occupies the position of clerk of the church.
CHRISTIAN CHURCH The Christian Church was organized September 24, 1850, by Elders J.J. Errett and William Mason. The members originally were the following: E. L. Bryant, Hezokiah Oden, Alfred Oden, John Daniel, James B. Arnold, D. W. Arnold, L. A. Bryant, W. B. Bryant, E. W. Crutcher, Emily Strother, Frances Oden, Eliza A, Oden, Mary A. Bryant, Martha J. Burse, Nancy Hickman, Nancy E. Arnold, Sailie E. Crutcher, and Maria McPike.
Since the organization one hundred and three names have been enrolled, but at this time there remain only eight male and fourteen female members in good standing, the rest having died, moved away, or severed their connection with the church. The elders at the organization were S. A. Bryant, W. B. Bryant, and A. Oden, and those still serve in the same capacity. The deacons are C. C. Cash and George Bryant. This congregation worships in the Union church, in connection with the Cumberland Presbyterians, as stated elsewhere.
OLD SCHOOL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH AT ASHLEY
During the month of July, 1829, a number of persons met at what was then known as the republican meeting house, the name indicating that the use of the house was free to all as it had been built by the united efforts of all the neighbors. The building was of logs and stood on the left of the road as you approach Ashley from the south, about the center of the old graveyard on the road, and was used for purposes of worship as late as the summer of 1848. The meeting was held for the purpose of organizing a Presbyterian Church. The country at that time being sparsely settled some had to travel by horseback or on foot seveial miles in order to be present, but this was no obstacle to the hardy pioneers who settled this, county. Among the goodly number present, the following named persons joined in a request to be organized into a Presbyterian Church; viz., Messrs. William Hays, Samuel Baird, Greenlee Hays, James Baird, and also Mrs. Catharine Hays, Miss Hannah Ann Hays, Mrs. Sarah Baird, and Mrs. Sarah L. Findley, from the Stanfords Church, Kentucky, and Mrs. Martha J. Kerr from the church of Stanton, Virginia, whereupon the Revs. William S. Lacy, assisted by Rev. Samuel Findley of Kentucky, proceeded to organize them in due form, they taking the name of the Waverly Church, by which name the church was known until 1855, when the name was changed to that of Ashley Old School Presbyterian Church. Soon after the organization, the congregation built a hewed log house in the woods about three miles southeast of Ashley, and although they were unable to complete the house they continued to use it for a house of worship for a number of years and they finally abandoned it, and moved to Louisville in Lincoln county, where they had services as often as they could procure a minister, having at that time no regular supply, Rev, J. B. Poage having taken up his residence in Ashley 1855, the presbytery of Palmyra, on his motion, authorized the removal of the place of worship to Ashley. Of those present at the organization, there is but one living, Mrs. Margaret J. (Kerr) Elmore who lives about one and one-half miles west of Ashley, where she lived at that time, fifty-three years ago, and where she has continued to reside ever since. Of the early members of the church there is living at the present time Mrs. Martha B. Allison, a sister of Mrs. EImore, who joined the church March 27, 1820; Mrs. Mary Oden, who joined Nov. 25, 1832, and Mr. Osborne N. Coffee, who joined June 10, 1832. The roll of membership contains the names of 276 persons who have been enrolled as members of this church. There are at this time about seventy-five members holding connection with the church. Rev. T. P. Walton is minister in charge at this writing. Officers: P. B. Bell, S. S. Russell, J. C. Wells, and Dr. J. F. Hanna, ruling elders; and W. S. Lowry, W. J. Sisson, and A. D. Piggs. deacons. The congregation has a nice commodious church building, built in 1870 by the members and friends of the church and completed without a dollar of indebtedness, in which they have preaching regularly two sabbaths in the month, sabbath school every Sunday, and prayer meeting once a week.
THE M. E. CHURCH SOUTH
The building in which they worship was built in the summer of 1848, finished during the following winter, opened for public worship in March, 1849, and was the first church building ever completed in Ashley. It was built on land belonging to William Kerr, on the south side of town and by him deeded on March 20, 1859, to James W. Thomas, Robert Riggs, Jesse Henton, John Henton, Nathan S. Gillum, and William Henton. trustees of the M. E. Church South, with the proviso, that when not occupied by their minister's or congregation, it should be free to the ministers and congregation of the M. E. Church, The house was built mainly through the efforts of William Kerr, the citizens generally contributing liberally to assist him. For many years the church was used by all denominations, this seeming to be an era of peace and good will among Christians in Ashley. The negroes having had the privilege, of assembling for worship in the church while slaves naturally claimed the same privilege after they became free. For a time this privilege was granted them, but complaint being made to the trustees that they were abusing the house and leaving it very dirty, they (the trustees) locked the door on them and refused to permit them to occupy the house. That portion of the colored people who held connection with the M, E. Church claimed the right to occupy the house under the proviso of the deed alluded to. This claim led to a contest between the parties in the circuit court, his honor Judge G. Porter sustaining their claim and restoring to them the right to worship in the church when not occupied by the M. E. Church South.
This decision swelled the hearts of the "darkies'' with joy and pride, in consequence of which they prayed louder and sang more lustily than ever before, feeling that the "good Lord '' was on their side. This contest naturally gave rise to some bitterness of feeling between the litigants, and soon the house was closed by the afore named trustees or their successors for repairs. In making the necessary repairs a debt of some $300 was incurred, for which the trustees gave a note secured by mortgage, as they were authorized to do by the trustees of the deed. The house was again opened for worship and occupied as it formerly had been. In the meantime the note became due, the mortage was foreclosed, the house sold under the mortgage and bought by John F. Wight, who had furnished the money to make the repairs, and the darkies were again turned out. The citizens being called upon, responded liberally, and assisted the congregation of the M. E. Church South to pay Mr. Wight's debt, and he, by deed, bearing date August 22, 1874, again conveyed the property to W. P. Burks, A. D. Nally Reuben A. Strotber, Ivy Zumwalt, John T. Morris, A. A. Newland, and James H. Wright, trustees of the M. E. Church South. Since that time they have been dwelling in peace with no shadow crossing their path, and none to molest or make them afraid, for which they too, thank the good Lord.
OLD SILOAM CHURCH (BAPTIST)
Perhaps no church in the country enjoys a more romantic history than that of Old Siloam," as it is now familiarly termed to distinguish it from two o ther churches, both of more recent date and both having sprung from the same source.
The church edifice was a "meeting-honse" that stood on lands then owned by James Moore, near where the Holliday brothers now reside, between Hartford and Ashley. Those who worshiped here were known as United Baptists, and the congregation at first included a number of Christians (Campbellites). This was more than a decade before the separation took place between that are now known as the Regular Baptists and the Missionary Baptists.
Materials are still at hand for an authentic history of this church as far back as 1832, the date of the oldest records now extant, and which were carefully examined recently at the house of Moses Farmer in Indian township, who is their custodian. These records do not, however, furnish any clew to the date of the organization, or to the authorities that officiated. Rev. W. Davis, an aged minister of the Regular Baptist Church, residing in Ashley, thinks that Darius Bembridge and Davis Biggs were the officials in question. The oldest minutes on record have the signature of Davis Biggs as moderator, which goes to corroborate the statement, as the church certainly does not long antedate the year 1832, and hence Davis Biggs was likely present at the organization.
The first page of the old record referred to alludes to a schism in the church between the Baptists and the Campbellites in these words:
"The church met, and after consultation agree that, as many difficulties have arisen among us, principally from what we call Campbellism, we agree to separate ourselves from those members who have embraced those views, and agree to live together as a church at Siloam meeting-house under our old constitution. D. Biggs, Moderator. "George Crews, Clerk" Ministers.—The church remained under the care of Elder D. Biggs until May, 1835, when Elder Ephraim Davis was called to the pastoral care of the church. He remained in charge until September, 1837, when Elder W. Davis, now of Ashley, assumed pastoral control and has ever since sustained the same relation to what is known as the Regular or Old School Baptists. On account of the infirmities of age the preaching is now mainly done by younger men laboring under his supervision. This was the congregation that now worships at the Siloam church, and is the third of the same name.
Meeting house.—For aught we know the '' meeting-house'' mentioned may have been a private residence, bit used for church purposes, for the records describe a church whose erection was contemplated in 1845. It was to "be 40X20, walls eight logs above the floor." The trustees to superintend the building were Willis H. Brown , L. Moore. James Moore, and John South.
It was in September, 1838, that Amos Beck was ordained. Two years later the difficulties began that resulted in a permanent division of the church. About this time occurred the uneeremonious salutation that Amos Beck received from the owner of the ground, who, though not a church member, was bent on controlling the premises, with the church erected thereon, in the interests of the Missionary Baptists. Litigation even ensued, and finally, through defect in the title to the land, or for some other reason the Regular Baptists lost control.
In the spring of 1840 the permanent division of the church took place, and ever since each branch has perpetuated a separate and independent organization. At this time Siloam, Spencer's Creek, Bethlehem, and Bryant's Churches withdrew from the Salt River Association, on account of differences touching missions, etc.
Lest, unwittingly, injustice might be done to either branch of the original church we will quote the language of the record as to the points of dissent, which is as follows:
" Whereas, It is with deep regret and heartfelt sorrow that we have witnessed the great strides that are being made by the various religious denominations in the world to introduce into the church innovations which are calculated to alarm the true followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, in as much as they are not authorized by Holy Writ as a church appendage. They come to us in the shape of societies by the following names, to-wit: Temperance, Missionary, Tract, Sunday-Schools, Abolitionist, and various others out of which we have no hesitation in believing will grow materials calculated in their nature to sap the foundations of our civil and religious liberties.
Resolved, That in as much as there has not been any public action in the Salt River Association on the subject above recited, and therefore it is not known who is for or against these things, we would respectfully and in the bonds of love invite all our sister churches composing that body to take up the subject and examine it, and if they feel to foster the seeds of discord and confusion we shall have to separate, but we hope better things of our brethren.
The above, together with other resolutions of similar import in the form of a letter, were sent to the several churches of the Salt River Association, and their provisions were rejected by all the churches save the three already mentioned, which, in connection with that of Siloam, formed themselves into the (Cuivre) Siloam Association of Regular Baptists.
The Siloam Church now, as governed by the majority, having withdrawn from the association, and a number of members still refusing to sever their connection with it, complaint was made in September, 1840, by Elder Amos Beck.
This matter caine before the church in the following October for trial and resulted in the excommunication of fourteen members, who for a time maintained themselves "on original ground" as the Siloam Church, according to their view of the matter, and finally formed the nucleus in 1851, of the Missionary Baptist Church called Indian Creek.
For the present we take leave of this wing of the church to follow the fortunes of the Regular Baptists, who, upon losing the old Siloam building and the grounds on which it stood, took with them the "church book," "articles of faith,'' and " rules of decorum," determined to build themselves another Siloam. and there preach and defend the old faith.
As early as 1843 arrangements were made for a log meeting-house on the waters of North Cuivre, on the left side of the road leading from Ashley to New Hartford, but a few rods from the point at which the road crosses the stream. The grounds having been secured, an arbor for summer use was erected on them pending the building of the edifice in contemplation. Some of the older settlers still have a vivid recollection of the meetings held under the branches of trees that screened them from the scorching sun.
The house provided for was soon built and used for many years. It was described as a quaint building, having in one corner an inclosure for the colored people with a suitable entrance for them exclusively. The logs that once enclosed this sacred spot are still doing duty in Ashley, and constitute the walls of the church for the colored people that stands near the Union Church.
About the year 1852 M. Moore was ordained as a ruling elder. At the April meeting of 1864 W. M. Jones and Peter L. Branstetter were set apart to the ministry by a presbytory composed of Elders W. Davis, W. Priest, and T. V. Rodgers. The church has at this time perhaps no more compromising defender of the old faith and order than Peter L. Branstetter, and it was through his kindly assistance that access was had to the records without which this sketch could not have been prepared.
NEW SILOAM (REGULAR BAPTIST)
The Siloam church in which the Regular Baptists still worship was built in 1868, and stands in Ashley township though near the Hartford township line. It is a structure of 46x82 feet and cost about $1,000. Elder W. Davis is still serving as pastor, but tells us his preaching days are, about over, and that he must depend on younger men to take his mantle. From the very beginning he was a leading spirit in his branch of the church and in his younger days took great delight in defending the course he took, looking to a separation from Elie Missionary Baptists.
SILOAM CHURCH (MISSIONARY BAPTIST).
It now becomes our duty to revert to that remnant of the original Siloam that remained at the old site after they had been deprived of the church book, articles of faith, etc., or to that part of this old church that, according to the minutes of the Regular Baptists, had been excommunicated.
Notwithstanding all these perplexities, they claimed not only to be a church, but the original Siloam church, remaining " on original ground " in every sense of that word. They had, as they claimed, neither left the old premises nor discarded the old faith and remained within the pale of the Salt River Association. According to their own account, as found in the minutes kept from 1840, it was while Elder William Davis was preaching —about the year 1841—that the noted controversy arose that resulted in dividing the church into two branches that have ever since maintained separate organizations—the Missionary Baptists and the Regular Baptists.
The controversy arose from grave differences of opinion touching methods of church work and especially in regard to the subject of missions. It was, therefore, with respect to the subject of missions that Rev. Davis mainly took exceptions, and as he had a strong following, and was very decided in his convictions as to the path of duty, he proposed that said church would leave the. Salt River Association, alleging that said association had gone into the missionary system, etc." Such is the language of the oldest record of the missionary wing of the church, from which we learn that this proposition was vigorously opposed by a large number who maintained that said association remained on original ground," and therefore refused to leave the association, taking the position that they were properly the Siloam church even after the seceding wing—styled Regular Baptist—had carried away with them the church book, confession of faith, and rules of decorum, all of which, in the language of the record, "we think fully belong to us, and to which we fully subscribe, yet we are drawn to the necessity of adopting the following articles of faith and rules of decorum," which the minutes show to have belonged to ' 'The United Baptist Church of Buck Run. Kentucky."
Of this church the following names appear as the constituent members: Samuel Parsons and Lucy Parsons, Levi Moore and Nancy Moore, Barzel Riggs and Eliza Riggs, Samuel Cruther, Mary Lovelace, Elizabeth Keith, Sarah Keith, Elizabeth B. Morris, Phody Crow, Nancy Griintli, Sister E. Keith, James Moore, L. C. Mick, Reuben (a black man), Rachel (a black woman), Elizabeth A, Dismukes, Joseph Dismukes, George Hughs and Martha Hughs, Lewis Strader and Mary Strader". Accessions 'in 1843: Permelia H. Keith, Matilda E. Rutherford, Ha rmon Hawkins, Thomas Rutherford. Accessions in 1844: H. G. Edwards, K. H. Johnson and wife, John Sisson and wife.
In 1841 David Hubbard served as one of the preachers and John H. Duncan acted as clerk pro tempore.
In 1842 J. C. Musick occasionally preached, and Barzel Riggs was the regular clerk, whose minutes show that Rev, A. D. Landram was at this time called to preach, and accepted at a salary of $25 per annum. Services with more or less regularity were continued until September 20, 1851, when
INDIAN CREEK CHURCH
was constituted at a meeting held for this purpose at the school-house of the Union district, township 51, range 3, west, in Hartford township. At this organization Walter McQuie officiated, and in order to distinguish it from other churches the above appellation was adopted. Of this new church the following were the constituent members: Rev. Lewis Duncan, Thomas Weatherford, Levi Moore, James Shaw, Robert Shaw, Harriet Duncan, Nancy Moore, Matilda Weatherford, Julia Ann Shaw, Catharine Shaw and Margaret Reeds.
This is not a complete list
Source: History of Pike County