1915 Disciples of Christ

Knox County.

One of the first churches in this county was constituted in the village of Henderson about 1838. In the forties J. E. Murphy, Smith Wallace and J. E. Martin preached there. Morran Baker was the leader. In 1850 a brick chapel was built. About 1853 Min. Ziba Brown held a revival which added to the church many prominent families of the community. Then James Gaston ministered to the church nine years. Thereafter the congregation dwindled to its end.

In the early times there was a flourishing church at French Grove, in the eastern part of the county.

At Walnut Grove, also, near Altona, there was a strong church before the railroads came.

In 1850 the Union chapel was built five miles east and one north of Galesburg, and a congregation formed there. This church gave E. B. Reynolds to the ministry. John Spooner was the leader here. Among the preachers were Milton Dodge, Jordan Dodge, Robert Wallace, Patrick H. Murphy, Henry Murphy and James W. Butler.

There was a congregation of Christians in Maquon before and after 1870.


Organized 1850, by John E. Murphy and Milton Dodge; present membership, 450; value of property, including parsonage, $5,000; Bible school enrollment, 208.

The pages of the history of the Abingdon Church are covered with smiles and tears, joys and sorrows. Its periods were measured by success and failure. It was a small village in 1849.

Then, some who loved the gospel in its simplicity met for worship in Indian Point Schoolhouse, an old log building, located about one mile west of the present school site; others met in the home of John Dawdy, south of town; others at Israel Marshall's home northwest, and some in the St. Augustine Schoolhouse. Those Disciples thought it no hardship to ride or walk through mud or snow to worship God according to his word.

In 1850, John E. Murphy and Milton Dodge held a series of meetings in the Indian Point Schoolhouse. The interest became intense. People came from Meridian, Cold Brook, St. Augustine from far and near in wagons, on horseback and on foot. Many were obedient to the faith. At the close of the meeting the Abingdon Church was organized.

The charter members were Jane Dowdy (Boydstrum), the sole resident survivor; Thomas and Isabel Roberson, John Boydstrum, Alford and Cassie Dowdy, Elijah Meadows; Jane, Sarah and Julia Meek; Cynthia Brunson, Willis Riggs, Taylor Lomax, Jonathan Bobbitt and wife, John Latimer and wife, John Vertreece and wife, Nathan Bradbury, B. Edmonson and wife, Mrs. John Killam, Israel Maxwell, Eliza and Phcebe Latimore, Lemuel Meadows and wife, William Meadows and wife, Mr. Williams and wife, and Nancy Williams. First elders, William Maxwell and Jonathan Price; deacons, William and Lemuel Meadows.

Besides the two named, the preachers of the early days were John Miller, Livy Hatchett, P. J. Murphy, Isaac Murphy and others.

When the congregation outgrew the first house erected in 1857, they worshiped in the chapel of the Abingdon College building. Since then several houses have been built and used. The last was enlarged and otherwise improved at a cost of $7,000 during the pastorate of F. L. Moore.

During the collee-e period the church was served by Mins. J. C. Reynolds, P. H. Murphy, J. W. Butler, A. J. Thompson, A. P. Aten and B. O. Aylesworth.

The death of the college wrought a division in the church that continued ten years.

From first to last, fifty-two preachers have served the congregation. It is now a fine church, faithful in attendance, missionary to the core and living in the spirit of unity.

In its early years there was neither organ nor choir. They were thought to be sinful. Judge Durham led the songs for many years. The women were taught to keep silent. Mrs. Emma Aten was the first to read a chapter to the edification of the assembly.

Many hundreds have begun the Christian life here, and many have gone in Christ's service into many lands.

East Galcsburg.

Organized 1902, by J. M. Morris; present membership, 75; value of property, $600; Bible school enrollment, 60.


Organized 1871, by Dr. J. B. Vivion; present membership, 878; value of property, including parsonage, $13,500; Bible school enrollment, 714.

Meetings were held here in the sixties, and possibly earlier, by a few Disciples in residences, halls and the office of Dr. J. B. Vivion, who was an intelligent and earnest Christian. The church was constituted in his office.

The Swedish M. E. chapel was purchased and Evangelist Knowles Shaw conducted a series of meetings, adding some strength to the congregation. In 1878 the chapel was moved to West Thompson Street, between Broad and Cedar Streets. In 1892 the present building on North West Street was finished and occupied during the pastorate of G. J. Ellis. In late years the church has made rapid and substantial progress.

Henry M. Bruner and John B. Scheitlan were true supporters and leaders in the earlier years.


Present membership, 116; value of property, $2,500; Bible school enrollment, 106.


Organized 1869, by J. H. Garrison; present membership, 255; value of property, including parsonage, $17,000; Bible school began 1869; present enrollment, 160.

A church of Christ was formed here as early as 1838. There were twelve members. Among them were Min. Jacob Grum, Dr. Hansford and wife, John Karns, a tailor and clothier, and John Eads, an active Christian. As the years passed, so also did this congregation. It was reorganized in a meeting led by Mr. Garrison in 1869, and has steadily advanced into active usefulness. At that time it was increased by a remnant of members from the Union congregation, that had lived northwest of the town for nineteen years.

This church gave H. J. Reynolds to the ministry.

Meridian Church (Abingdon).

Organized 1839, by John E. Murphy; present membership, 80; value of property, $2,000; Bible school enrollment, 90.

Five miles west of Abingdon is an imposing structure that for many years has been known far and near as the Meridian Christian Church. Its records are still in a good state of preservation, from which the following excerpts are made:

May 4th, 1839.

We the undersigned, having met at Bro. Meadows' agreeably by appointment for the purpose of forming a Christian congregation upon the word of God to men, and that the New Testament contains the only rule of faith by which Christians should be governed, we do agree to unite as a congregation to attend to the ordinances of the house of God and the means of edification afforded in his word.

After a discourse was delivered by Bro. J. Murphy, the names in the following list agree to become united as a body of Christians upon the word of God: M. Jpmeson. ??rah Jameson, Lydn'pm Dawson, J. B. Reynolds. Phebe Reynolds, Charles Reynolds, John Dodge, Theodocia Dodge, Thomas Dodere. Jordan Dodge, John M. Dodge, Margarete Dodee, RarVipl Reynolds, Henry Meadows. Polly Mendows, Nancy Meadows. Melirda Meadows, Ephra'm Smith. Hannah Smith, Francis Godard, Seth C. Murphy, Irene Murphy, Elizabeth Murphy, Nancy
Murphy, William Murphy, John Fisher, Elizabeth Fisher, Thompson Brock, Jacob Boydstun, Israel M. Marshall, Stephen Howard, John Dandy, James Holland, Martha Howard, Mother Meadows.

After the names of the Disciples were ascertained, it was thought best to have the officers chosen. J. B. Reynolds and Seth C. Murphy were chosen bishops of the congregation. W. Meadows and T. E. Smith were chosen deacons, and John M. Dodge, recorder.

The people met in schoolhouses, in homes, and often, during the summer season, in the shade of the maple-trees breaking- the loaf and heeding the message from some honest pioneer preacher.

The following from the old records are both instructive and suggestive. The first doubtless came from Vincennes, Ind.:

"Vincennes, January 14, 1842. "To All to Whom This May Come, Greeting:

"That our beloved Bro. Edward Perdue and Sister Jane Perdue, his companion, were members in full fellowship in the Church of Christ at Vincennes and we take great pleasure in recommending them to the care of the Brethren in the Lord wherever they may wish to enroll themselves. Done by order of the church at Vincennes."

"The church of God in Cold Brook, Warren Co., Illinois, recommends to the faithful in Christ Jesus wherever she may choose to attach herself, our worthy and much beloved Sister Sarah Johnson, who has so conducted herself a Christian as to authorize us to commend her to the confidence and watchful care of all God's people.

"Done by order of the church July 8th, A. D. 1842.

"Josiah Whitman. "Jno. G. Haley,


"December 26, 1847, John M. Lodge, who was employed as evangelist, closed his labors with fifty-three additions by baptism.

"February, 1848, brethren were sent as delegates and agreement was entered into that John M. Dodge should be sustained for seven months and to receive eighteen and one-half dollars a month for his services, to proclaim the word of life wherever it was thought best to labor."

Letters received were not simply placed on file, but were made a part of the church record.

During those years many from Kentucky, and other Southern States, found their way into this county. Perhaps as many as fifty letters from the Southern Baptists were placed in the Meridian Church during a period of twenty years.

The roster of the congregation has been revised seven or eight times. Many were received into membership and many have gone out into almost every part of the Union.

They supported liberally evangelists who labored in other fields. This record tells of numerous collections that were taken up for the poor and needy. It tells of the social hour when smiles and tears mingled with joy and gladness. Those who may now read it will learn of the heroic faith and undying devotion of those Disciples to the cause of Christ. It is to-day one of the best communities to be found in the county.

The first church house was built in 1841; the second and present one, in 1880.

St. Augustine.

Present membership, 110; value of property, $3,000; Bible school enrollment, 62.

Extracted 16 Mar 2019 by Norma Hass from History of the Disciples of Christ in Illinois 1819-1914, by Nathaniel S. Haynes, published in 1915, pages 241-246.

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