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HISTORICAL MARKERS OF SPRINGFIELD & GREENE COUNTY, MISSOURI

MARKER NUMBER TWENTY

FIRST RELIGIOUS SERVICE IN GREENE COUNTY AREA


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This marker commemorates the first religious service (Baptist) in what was to become Greene County. The marker is mounted on the north wall of the Shiloh Baptist Church several miles northeast of Springfield. To reach this marker go East on Hwy YY (Division Street) 9.2 miles from Hwy 65. Take FR 134 left to Shiloh Church on the right at the top of the hill. The text of the marker reads as follows:

"BAPTIST MEMORIAL

IN 1827 OR 1828, THE REV. WILLIAM MOONEY, BAPTIST MINISTER, CONDUCTED THE FIRST RELIGIOUS SERVICE IN GREENE COUNTY AND, SO FAS AS KNOWN, IN SOUTHWEST MISSOURI, IN HIS AND NEIGHBORING CABINS. THE MOONEY HOME WAS APPROXIMATELY 5/8 OF A MILE NORTHWEST OF THIS SPOT, IN SW COR. OF SE 1/4 OF NE 1/4 OF S 13, 7 29, R 20. ERECTED JUNE, 1934 BY GREENE COUNTY BAPTIST ASSOCIATION. UNIVERSITY CLUB HISTORICAL MARKER NO. 20".

The Baptist Church in Missouri had its beginnings in about 1798 in the St. Louis area, as recorded in The History of the Baptists in Missouri, authored by Robert S. Duncan. In 1801, Thomas R. Music established Missouri's first Baptist church, in Bridgeton. The first organization of Missouri Baptists was formed in 1816, three years before Missouri attained statehood. The earliest Baptist church to be built in what was to become Greene County was the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, near Willard, in 1838.

The summary of the University Club markers, written by Dr. H. Lee Hoover and dated December 5, 1959, states that the first religious service in what was later Greene County was held (as in the marker text) in the home of a "William" Mooney near the Shiloh Baptist Church, in 1827 or 1828. Actually, historical data indicate that only a John and an Edward Mooney are recorded as early residents of the area and that Edward was probably the preacher of the sermons. Also, the date is not entirely certain, since records do not prove that anyone had a cabin, in the area cited, at that early date. The earliest settlers in the locale of present-day Springfield proper were of course the Campbells and the Fulbrights in the 1830-1831 time frame. In any event, the services were Baptist, the preacher was a Reverend Mooney, the location was his and others' homes, in what was to become Greene County.

—Prepared by Albert I. Decker

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