Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


Chapter 19
Church Denomination History

Part 5
Greene County Churches


METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH, SOUTH.

The beginnings of ecclesiastical history in Greene county, as in Springfield, belong to that of the Southern Methodist church. In Woodard's History of Methodism in Missouri we are told that a class was organized at Ebenezer, in 1831, possibly even earlier than the date at which Slavens preached his first sermon in Springfield. The house of worship was erected in 1832, being thus about contemporary with that at Springfield. It was placed midway between two springs, which were about a hundred yards apart. There in 1836 a camp ground was established and used annually for the next twenty years. For four, years previous the camp-ground had been located at Cave Spring. "At this camp-ground," says Mr. Woodard, "thousands have been converted, some of whom have been called to the ministry, among whom I claim an humble place. I suppose this was the largest camp-ground in the state. Of the twenty-five licensed from Springfield circuit between 1831 and 1846, ten are known to have come from the Ebenezer class. Only the Springfield class by which at least twenty-five were recommended for license, exceeded this number." A parsonage was built of hewed logs in 1840, succeeded in 1878 by "a substantial and tasty frame cottage." [639]

An early educational enterprise connected with the Ebenezer church may fitly be recorded here. In August, 1842, the Springfield circuit, meeting on Ebenezer camp-ground, resolved that "it is highly necessary that we take into consideration the establishment of a high school somewhere in the Ebenezer neighborhood, on the manual labor system," appointing James H. Slavens, M. D., then a practicing physician, as agent. Two years later further steps were taken in the same direction, but it was not till 1847 that a two-story frame building was erected, wherein was held the second session of the St. Louis Conference that year. Here in March, 1848, was begun the Southwest Missouri College, Rev. A. H. Mathis, president, assisted by John McNeil and Maria Mathis. Later another building was added and the school was continued until the time of the Civil war. An effort at resuscitation after the close of the war was unsuccessful. A recent report of this church seems to know nothing of the history above narrated, dating the organization and erection of the house of worship in 1846, which was succeeded by a later frame building in 1892. A membership of fifty-five is reported, with a Sunday school of fifty members. There are preaching services once a month, by J. J. Copeland, whose home is at Morrisville, Polk county. The church property is valued at two thousand dollars.

Here is possibly the fittest place for saying some things one would gladly leave entirely unsaid. Missouri was a border slave state and as such was likely the scene of more local disorders during the Civil war and before and after it than other states further north or south. From it went the "border ruffians" into Kansas, then a territory, to meet there the "free state" men, armed with Sharp's rifles, not brought nor used merely for squirrel hunting. There were doubtless atrocities on both sides. John Brown's bands had a crimson stain before he went to Harper's Ferry.

We read in the Apocalypse and "Paradise Lost" of war in heaven. At the present writing European Christendom is engaged in the greatest war ever known in the world's history. Our great war that was the death of slavery is barely half a century behind. Before and during that war the churches on either side were in close sympathy with their respective governments. Methodism in Missouri went generally into the southern church. No church opposed to slavery could thrive in the south prior to 1860. A few ministers and churches did not go with the majority. It was next to impossible that they should escape persecution that stopped not even at the shedding of blood. Rev. R. R. Witten's little book of reminiscences tells of experiences and knowledge of facts along this line, while Dr. Charles Elliott's History of Southwestern Methodism, written near the close of the Civil war, is lurid with statements of the same general sort. [640]

Springfield and Greene county were, during most of the war, under Federal control. Brutal murders on both sides are recorded, in several cases by Federal militia.

We are here specially concerned with the murder on July 28, 1866, of Samuel S. Headlee, a presiding elder of the Springfield district, converted at Ebenezer and studying in the school there, shot, we are told, in Woodard's Annals, in the western edge of Webster county by an assassin abetted and protected by "Northern" Methodists. The fact without particulars, is all that need be stated here.

Mention is made in Woodard's history of the building of a meeting house at Salem, six miles east of Ebenezer, and later at Bethsada, six miles further east. The two organizations housed in these buildings are said to have united in the Elm Spring church. The two seem to have been located in the present Franklin and Jackson townships, in which are now New Salem and Fair Grove organizations.

YEAKLEY CHAPEL.

This church is said to have been organized in 1865, some of the original members being Yeakleys, Lawsons and Joneses. A house of worship was built in 1870 and dedicated the same year. It was burned January 29, 1883. Another house of worship was erected soon after, in connection with which is a cemetery. This church is yoked with Oakland, Bois D' Arc and Elwood, with a parsonage at the last named place.

ELWOOD.

This church, formerly Center church, was organized in 1875 from members of the Yeakley chapel organization, who found attendance at that house of worship inconvenient. They worshiped for several years in a school house before erecting a church building. In 1902 it was removed to Elwood and a parsonage was built. Wilson, Lawson, Richardson, Wiley, are among the names in the original organization. [641]

In the 1883 history mention is made of John's chapel of the Methodist Episcopal church, South, organized in 1875 and worshiping for three years in the Stony Point school house, which was reorganized in 1878, erecting in that year a house of worship near John's mill at a cost of one thousand dollars, of which R. T. John gave one-fourth and the church was named after him. I find no church corresponding to this description existing at present.

Mention is also made of the Kelley chapel congregation, in the west part of Washington township, organized in 1847, and building a log church that year which was succeeded by a frame house in 1872.

OAKLAND.

This church now a part of the Elwood circuit was organized in 1870 by Lafayette McClure. After worshiping for many years in a school house, they erected a house of worship about 1890, which is valued at one thousand two hundred dollars. They have preaching services once a month, Rev. J. N. Looney being the present pastor. The membership is reported at sixty, and there is a Woman's Foreign Missionary Society. A prayer meeting is maintained, but "not regularly."

PHENIX.

This church in Walnut Grove township, was organized in 1889 by Rev. Jacob Shook. The same year a house of worship was built which is now valued at six hundred dollars. A membership of fifty is reported, with a Sunday school enrollment of the same number. The pastor is Rev. J. J. Keller of Morrisville and they have two preaching services a month and a weekly prayer meeting.

FAIR GROVE.

This church was organized by Rev. W. L. McGuire in 1890, in which year a house of worship was erected of wood and later a parsonage. There is a membership of one hundred and twenty-eight with sixty-four enrolled in Sunday school and thirty-four in an Epworth League. Preaching services are held twice a month, but no prayer meeting is reported. A Woman's Missionary Society has fourteen members. The church property is valued at about three thousand five hundred dollars. The pastor, O. S. Firestone, resides here, supplying also at New Salem. [642]

NEW SALEM.

The church at New Salem was organized June 20, 1909 by Rev. R. J. Kyle, and building the same year a house of worship, this church reports eighty-three members, with an enrollment of forty in Sunday school. Dividing his time between this church and the one at Fair Grove, the pastor is here twice a month. The house of worship is a frame building valued at three thousand five hundred dollars. These churches have had as pastors in previous years, J. W. Cox, John Klinger, W. P. Buckner, Jacob Shook, and J. T. Swanson, deceased.

WALNUT GROVE.

Organized about 1870 by Rev. George Winton, this church erected a frame house of worship about 1875, Rev. Jesse Mitchell being then pastor and Rev. T. M. Cobb, the presiding elder when the house was dedicated. This church reports a membership of sixty-five, with thirty in Sunday school. Preaching services are held twice a month and a weekly prayer meeting is maintained. Rev. Jacob Shook is pastor, residing at Morrisville. The church property is valued at two thousand five hundred dollars.

BLADES CHAPEL.

The history of this church dates back to 1844, when the division took place in the Methodist Episcopal church. But it cannot be definitely stated whether it was organized at that time, or at a later period, as a Methodist Protestant church. Among the early members occur the names Garoutte, Laney and Blades. After worshiping for a time in the home of Anthony Garoutte they erected a house of worship known as Old Bethel church, During the Civil war the congregation was broken up, but was reorganized in 1861, the names Brittain and McDaniels also appearing in the membership at this time. In May, 1872, the house of worship was destroyed by fire and worship was held thereafter for some years in the Grandview school house in Pond Creek township. A recent statement dates the organization of this church in 1889, by Rev. James Turrentine, in which year a frame house of worship was erected, valued at two thousand dollars. This house is located four miles north of Billings, being part of the Billings circuit, having services half the time, conducting also a weekly prayer meeting. They report a membership of fifty and a Sunday school of seventy-five, but no other auxiliary organizations. Among early pastors are named Bentley, H. Gardner, James M. Darby, S. Warner, A. A. Lawson, Rev. G. W. Qualls, now of Monett is named as a recent pastor, while W. M. Hartin of Aurora serves in that capacity at present. [643]

MOUNT PISGAH.

In 1867 the Missouri Conference of the Methodist Protestant church was organized in the house of worship of the Mount Pisgah church, on Pierson creek, in the east part of Campbell township, and in September, 1914, that conference held with the same church its forty-eighth annual session. The church itself is thought to have been organized about sixty years ago, but by whom cannot now be stated, nor the date at which the house of worship was built. The present membership is reported it one hundred, with seventy-five in Sunday school and eighty in the Young People's Society of Endeavor. There is also a good Ladies' Aid Society of twenty-eight members. The property is valued at one thousand five hundred dollars. Rev. J. W. Fogle of Springfield is pastor.

GALLOWAY.

The date of this church organization in Clay township is thought to have been about forty years ago. The present pastor is J. W. Fogle, and a membership of sixty-six is reported, with seventy-eight in Sunday school and seventy in Endeavor Society. There is a Ladies' Aid Society of twenty-five members. The church property is valued at one thousand two hundred dollars.

PLEASANT SPRINGS.

This church with the two named above, is on the Springfield circuit with the same pastoral supply. There are thirty-three members, with sixty-five in Sunday school. It is in Wilson township. The property is valued at one thousand two hundred dollars.

CRESCENT.

This church in Taylor township was organized in 1893 by Rev. James Ellis, and a frame house of worship was built in 1904. This is valued at one thousand dollars. A membership of fifty is reported, W. J. Johnson being the present pastor. Sunday school membership not reported.

METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCHES.

STRAFFORD.

This church was organized April 9, 1888 by W. C. McGinty, and erected their house of worship in 1892, to which a small addition was made in 1914, the property being valued at one thousand dollars. Services are held twice each month and a prayer meeting is maintained. The church reports forty-two members with fifty enrolled in Sunday school. [644]

REPUBLIC.

This church reported in the last fall's minutes, a membership of 150 with 49 non-residents, with 225 in Sunday school under 28 officers and teachers, and 30 members each in Senior and Junior Epworth League. The estimated value of the church building is $4,500 and of the parsonage $900. The pastor resigned last fall, having been unable to serve on account of ill health, Rev. H. W. Ormsby, recently from Iowa, has recently been assigned to the pastorate.

PLEASANT VALLEY.

This church, organized in Franklin township by Rev. F. P. Leckliter, in 1905, is united with Battlefield and Strafford in the Springfield circuit. Its house of worship was built as a Union church in 1890 and was bought in 1912 by the Methodist church. It is an exceptional organization in that no Sunday school is reported, nor any prayer meeting. All these three organizations last named are served by Loren C. Rapier of Marionville. The church building is valued at five hundred dollars.

COATES.

This church at Ash Grove, in Boone township, reports nearly fifty members, with a church building valued at one thousand dollars and a parsonage at eight hundred dollars. The enrollment in Sunday school is twenty-six; Epworth League membership, twenty. They conduct a prayer meeting and have preaching services once a month, being supplied, as are the two churches that follow, by Ralph McK. Brewer, of Marionville.

NEW SITE.

Situated also in Boone township, this church reports twenty members and the same number in Sunday school, with twenty-five in the Epworth League. The church building is valued at eight hundred dollars.

CENTER GROVE.

As the name might indicate, this church is situated in Center township, seven miles west of Springfield, has about sixty members with forty-five enrolled in Sunday school, and there is a Ladies' Aid Society of thirty members. The value of the church property is estimated at eight hundred dollars. Services are held here twice a month, once each at the other two appointments. [645]

LUCK.

Organized in Cass township about ten years ago by Rev. John H. Hurley, this church occupies a house built at about the same time, now valued at one thousand five hundred dollars. It is on the Dadeville circuit and is supplied by Rev. J. F. King, reporting fifty or sixty members and a Ladies' Aid Society. Numbers in Sunday school not stated. District superintendent Sidman and D. Kitton, now of Granby, Missouri, are named among former pastors.

District Superintendent W. D. Sidman has devoted considerable time during the past winter to an endeavor to introduce the Every Member Canvass to the attention of country churches under his charge. In this effort he made much use of a set of charts and diagrams prepared by leaders of the Methodist Episcopal church, setting forth very clearly the methods and advantages of this method of raising funds for the local expenses and benevolent contributions of the church. This work has had results quite satisfactory both to the superintendent and the churches.

PRESBYTERIAN.

The history of the Presbyterian churches in Greene county has been told with a fullness that leaves to the present writer, as his most difficult task that of condensation with the suggested wish that a like good fortune had fallen to the lot of the First Christian and Grace Methodist Episcopal churches.

CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCHES (OLD ORDER)

While several of the original Cumberland churches have entered the larger fellowship, others have not seen fit so to do. In this number is included the first church of the Presbyterian faith organized in Greene county.

MOUNT COMFORT.

On July 27, 1835 was organized by Rev. Andrew Buchanan, a Cumberland Presbyterian church to which was given the name Kickapoo, from a tribe of Indians for some years settled in the country in and about what is now Springfield. Later the name Mount Comfort was given to the church which it still retains. Among the twenty members uniting in this organization appear the names Dysart, Whitlock and Allen. Among early pastors are named Buchanan, T. M. Johnston, A. A. Young, C. C. Williamson, W. J. Garrett, D. W. Amos. A log house of worship was erected in 1837, and a frame structure, costing eight hundred dollars in 1859. Other churches were "stricken off" from this, the New Providence ("Danforth") church a little over two years from its organization. At present this church, under the pastorate of Rev. S. D. Belt, Springfield, R. R. 6, has preaching services once a month, reporting about sixty-five members, a Sunday school numbering forty-five, a wood and tool house aside from the church, as also a cemetery. The value of the property is estimated at one thousand five hundred dollars. [646]

PLEASANT GROVE.

Another of the four churches supplied by Rev. S. D. Belt, this church has a house of worship of wood, neither the date of its erection nor of the formation of the church being stated. The reported membership is thirty-five, the enrollment in Sunday school thirty; the value of church property being estimated at one thousand two hundred dollars.

WALNUT SPRINGS.

This church, to which Mr. Belt ministers, reports a building of wood, valued at one thousand dollars, a membership of about forty and a Sunday school of the same size, reporting also a Ladies' Missionary Society of twenty-six. But neither date of organization nor of building of the house of worship is reported.

ROSS CHAPEL.

The organization of this church, supplied also by Mr. Belt, is dated February 20, 1896. A frame building used for worship, is valued at five hundred dollars, having been rebuilt in 1903. Thirty-three members are reported with a missionary society of ten, "not meeting at present," the Endeavor Society, however, meeting every Sunday night.

"NORTHERN" PRESBYTERIAN.

Mount Comfort church, originally known as Kickapoo, has already received attention in its proper place. From that church by vote of Neosho Presbytery, September 27, 1837, was "stricken off another congregation, and on the same day, in the house of Josiah F. Danforth, where they were assembled, was organized the New Providence church, more commonly known ever since as the Danforth church. "While the Danforths and the earlier Dillards lived the old church was the scene of precious spiritual manifestations, but for years a feeble remnant has sighed at the mention of former glory." [647]

A frame house of worship of wood was built in 1890, its value estimated at eight hundred dollars. The church reports a present membership of twenty-six, with forty in the Sunday school. Rev. W. G. Pike, residing in Springfield, is pastor.

Although the 1883 history reports that there were no churches in Wilson township, the residents being "so moral and upright that they can dispense with churches," the church at Battlefield is reported as organized "about 1875," by A. A. Lawson. But the building of the house of worship did not come till 1907. It is united in Springfield circuit with Pleasant Valley and Strafford.

CAVE SPRING—MOUNT ZION.

On the 19th of October, 1839, a number of families from East Tennessee, residing north of Cave Spring were organized into a New School Presbyterian church, bearing the name of Mount Zion. Rev. Ephraim P. Noel was organizer and first pastor. The church was organized in Mrs. Jane Renshaw's house, six of the original members being related to her, Dillards and Applebys being also represented here. After holding services for some time in private houses, a brush arbor was erected in the spring of 1841, and a shed in the summer which was used extensively for camp meeting services. A son of Jane Renshaw succeeded Mr. Noel in 1842, remaining in the pastorate till his death in 1857. A large church building of huge logs with an ample fireplace, was erected in 1845. In 1849 this church dismissed eight members to aid in organizing the New School Presbyterian church of Springfield, as elsewhere related. Later others went to the far West, some to return, others to aid in newer Christian enterprises. The frame structure at present occupied was built at a cost of three thousand five hundred dollars and was dedicated August 22, 1869, with a sermon by Dr. Timothy Hill. Depleted by the Civil war, the church was gathered by Rev. John M. Brown, who found twenty-five members out of an earlier eighty-nine. In 1866 the presbytery of Osage was reorganized in Mount Zion church. In 1899 this church celebrated its sixtieth anniversary. The latest report accessible gives it a membership of eighty-two, with sixty-five in Sunday school and sixty-seven in Endeavor Society. A Ladies' Aid Society reports twenty-three members. The minister, W. R. Russell, lives at Everton.

BROOKLINE.

Organized March 10, 1841 as Cumberland Union church, out of members of the New Providence church, by Rev. C. C. Porter, this church erected a house of worship in 1867 a mile or two from the present town of Brookline. Later a church building was erected at Brookline and the name of the village given the church. During the eighties it was quite prosperous, employing a minister for his full time. It now reports seventy-four members, with one hundred and thirty-eight in Sunday school with preaching twice a month by Rev. H. Pinkston of Verona. A missionary society is reported. [649]

BELLVIEW.

It is recorded that on April 23, 1849, "at the brick school house in Springfield," Dr. Artemas Bullard of St. Louis and Rev. G. A. M. Renshaw of Cave Spring assisted in the organization of a New School Presbyterian church, made up of eight members from the Mt. Zion church and seven others, David Appleby being the leading member and one of the ruling elders. This was the original Presbyterian church of Springfield, out of whose membership was organized eleven years later the Old School Calvary church. After holding services in school house, court house and various other places, this church built the house on Jefferson street occupied later for many years by Calvary church. The present house of worship of Bellview church was erected in 1876 at a cost of eight hundred and sixty dollars, and is kept in good repair with the cemetery grounds in the rear. A membership of thirteen is reported in the last minutes. Rev. U. G. Schell is stated supply of this and three other churches, and A. B. Appleby, grandson of David, is a. ruling elder.

PLEASANT DIVIDE.

A church of this name is reported in the minutes of the synod of Missouri as organized in 1850, having a frame house of worship and a cemetery in connection with it. Ten members are reported, but the number of members in the Sunday school is not stated, nor any ministerial supply and W. D. Ferrell is named as the only elder and superintendent.

WALNUT GROVE.

On July 7, 1853, nineteen members were dismissed from the Cave Spring church to organize the Walnut Grove church. After a brief existence this church was dissolved and the members returned to their former home. The synodical minutes do not indicate the time when the present Walnut Grove church was organized, but give at last report thirty-eight members, supplied once a month by Rev. W. C. Hicks of Bolivar. Numbers of the Sunday school and of the Endeavor Society are not recorded. [649]

OAK GROVE.

In the synodical minutes a church is reported at Oak Grove, organized in 1866 and 1907, with sixteen members and thirty-eight in a union Sunday school, a frame house of worship and a cemetery in connection with the church building. Rev. W. A. Denby of Walnut Grove is named as stated supply.

ASH GROVE.

The Cumberland church of Ash Grove was organized March 22, 1868, the names of Appleby, Clinton, Brown and others appearing in the original membership. A frame building was erected at a cost of two thousand two hundred and fifty dollars. April 16, 1873, a Presbyterian church was organized by Rev. J. M. Brown. During the ministry of Rev. W. L. Hackett, 1903-04, their house of worship was destroyed by fire and they began worshiping with the Cumberland church in their edifice. Rev. S. V. Sydenstrecker, coming the next year, was employed by the two congregations, which remained virtually one, until their formal consolidation in 1907. The house of worship was repaired and a fine manse was erected, both heated by furnace. Junior Endeavor and missionary societies are reported, and a very helpful Ladies' Aid Society. Services are held every Sabbath and the Sunday school reports one hundred and ten members, Rev. David N. Good being pastor. The church property is valued at six thousand dollars.

WILLARD.

In September, 1879, Rev. Enos M. Halbert organized the church of Grand Prairie and was its first pastor. Next came George F. Davis, ministering for the next three years, and again in 1885, the church having become nearly extinct in the interim. A house of worship was erected and dedicated in 1887, and the church took the name it now bears, of Willard. Rev. W. C. Hicks of Bolivar is stated supply. The membership is reported as thirty-one; number in Sunday school not stated.

EVANS.

Organized in 1897, the church at Evans reports fifteen members, with thirty in Sunday school, worshiping in a frame house of worship, Rev. W. G. Pike, of Springfield, being pastor.

BAPTIST.

The Greene County Baptist Association was organized at Friendship church in Robberson township, October 23, 1873, with Rev. J. S. Buckner as moderator and W. D. Sheppard as scribe. Six churches were represented in the organization, including one in Polk county, with an aggregate of three hundred and ninety members. The minutes of 1914 report forty-one churches, including three outside of Greene county, with and aggregate membership of five thousand seven hundred and sixty-two, or if we deduct the membership outside of Greene county, five thousand four hundred and eighty-three. J. S. Buckner served as moderator for thirty years; C. F. Corum was treasurer for twenty years and E. T. Sloan was a clerk fifteen years. These offices are now held by W. O. Anderson, H. E. Richmond and D. P. Brockus, Jr. The last meeting was held with the Walnut Grove church. [651]

MOUNT PLEASANT.

This church in Murray township, was the organized in Greene county. This was in 1838 with thirteen charter members. The first pastor was William Tatum, followed, among others, by D. R. Murphy, G. W. White, J. E. B. Justice and C. F. Corum. Tatum, Simmons, and Johnson are names mentioned in the original membership.

Their first house of worship was erected in 1842. A second in process of erection was wrecked by a storm, December 4, 1880; a third was dedicated January 8, 1882. The present membership is reported as one hundred fifty-seven, with thirty-eight in Sunday school. Rev. Edward T. Sloan is pastor, succeeding M. A. Crocker of Pearl.

LIBERTY.

This church, situated in Franklin township, was organized in 1845. Into this church B. McCord Roberts was received when he passed from the Methodist to the Baptist communion. The name of this church does not appear among the six uniting to organize the Greene County Association. By latest report it had fifty-one members with thirty-eight in Sunday school and six officers and teachers, worshiping in a house valued at seven hundred dollars. There is a Woman’s Aid Society and a Baptist Young Peoples’ Union reported in a flourishing condition. W. C. Armstrong, of Springfield, is pastor, following J. P. Akin. Preaching services are held once a month.

FRIENDSHIP CHAPEL.

Five years passed before the next Baptist church was organized in Robberson township, Frienship being credited to 1850, at the formation of the association with that church ion 1873, when it had sixty-two members, witnessing to its existence before that date. It was for a time extinct, the present organization at Friendship chapel dating from 1894. By latest report this church had twenty-nine members, with forty-five enrolled Sunday school under five officers and teacher. E. T. Sloan, of Springfield, is the pastor, preceded by C. W. Brockus and S. J. Matthews of Willard. The house of worship is valued at eight hundred dollars. [651]

ASHER CREEK.

In 1858 was organized the church of Asher Creek in Walnut Grove township. It now reports eighty-eight members with eighty enrolled in Sunday school and twelve officers and teachers, property valued at one thousand dollars. The pastor is S. Forester Of Springfield, his predecessor having been J. M. Payne, also of Springfield.

CEDAR BLUFF.

This church in Jackson township was organized in the same year, 1858. Last year it was reported pastorless, U. T. Cheek, of Buffalo, having served them the previous year. The church membership was reported at one hundred and eighteen. It is now supplied by W. Z. Stovall. Sunday school enrollment, seventy, with ten officers and teachers. The property is valued at eight hundred dollars. No auxiliary societies are reported.

ASH GROVE.

According to a statement deemed reliable this church was organized May 28, 1859. But 1886 is the date given when the Greene County Association was organized, the membership being then reported as thirty. Internal dissensions arising in this church, involving claims on the property by a seceding body, it was finally decided in 1900 that the body remaining after the secession was entitled to the property, which they have since held. The names of Hosman, Burney, Rush and KiIlingsworth occur among the original members of this church, while among early pastors are the names of T. J. Kelley, J. W. White, J. S. Buckner and B. McCord Roberts. A house of worship erected in 1871 at a cost of nine hundred and seven dollars was dedicated in 1875. This church reported last fall one hundred and eighty-three members with one hundred and fifty enrolled in Sunday school and fourteen officers and teachers. The church property is valued at two thousand dollars. T. G. Hendrix of Springfield is the present pastor, William Mustain and A. B. Elsey having preceded him. They have two Sunday services a month, with Baptist Young Peoples' Union and Woman's Aid and Misisonary Societies. [652]

THE ORGANIZATION OF THE B. Y. M. O.

Being a teacher for about two years of the young men's class of the Ash Grove Baptist church, Dr. G. I. Bomgardner felt the need of being in closer touch with his class. So during the month of March, 1913, he called his class together at his residence (Doctor Hawkins' property), and at that meeting the doctor suggested that they form a secret organization, which would be for the betterment and social welfare of the young men of the Ash Grove Baptist church to take more interest in the welfare of each member, to stand for a square deal in everything socially, politically or religiously, to help to build the organization up as well as to educate and train for a better life, in this world, and the world to come. This plan suited the class. So the class held a meeting that night and Dr. G. I. Bomgardner, as chairman, called the meeting to order, and the Baptist Young Men's Organization was soon effected.

The following were the members: Dr. G. I. Bomgardner, president ex-officio; Ed Say, second president; Ralph Gettys, vice-president; Ralph McKinzie, secretary; Paul Smith, treasurer; Herbert Gilmore, Evert Carter and Lewis Wells.

All of these are charter members. This was an enthusiastic meeting, being held on the 15th day of March, 1913. The next meeting was held the following Saturday. Monthly meetings have since been held and much interest has been manifested all along. Good work is being done by this organization.

PROSPECT.

This church, located in Center township, was organized five years later, in 1864. B. T. Melton, of Bois D'Arc, is reported pastor, preceded by H. I. Brittain of Republic and J. M. Payne of Springfield. With one hundred and nineteen members meeting in a house valued at one thousand two hundred dollars, they make no report of Sunday school or of any auxiliary society, having set the enrollment of the year before at thirty-five, with ten officers and teachers.

ROSE HILL.

Situated in the north central part of Cass township, this church organized in 1866, has for its pastor, S. Forrester, of Springfield, preceded by B. T. Melton and W. Z. Stovall. Church building is valued at one thousand dollars, other property, twenty-five dollars. It reported one hundred and twenty-five members, ninety-five in Sunday school, twelve officers and teachers. There is a Woman's Aid Society connected with this church. [653]

TATUM CHAPEL.

This church, located in Center township, was organized February 17, 1867, Among the original members appear the names of Murray, Thompson, Robinson and Turner. George W. White was the organizer and for many years the pastor. Meeting at first in a school house, they built a house of worship in 1867. They have a membership of eighty-six and a Sunday school of sixty with ten officers and teachers. The value of church property is reported at three thousand dollars and preaching services are maintained half the time. A Baptist Young Peoples' Union is also reported.

HOPEWELL.

This church, located in Pond Creek township, was organized June 15, 1867, the names Garoutte, Skelton, Batson and Howard appearing in the list of original members. A house of worship was erected in 1873 at a cost of about six hundred dollars. Early pastors were D. R. Clark, George Long, Isaac Stanley and D. T. Balcom. By last report they have one hundred members, sixty-four in Sunday school, with nine officers and teachers. B. T. Melton, of Bois D'Arc, is pastor, preceded by C. M. Deavers and Jonathan Stogsdale. The church property is valued at eight hundred and seventy-five dollars.

STONY POINT.

This church is located in the lower part of Boone township and was organized in 1872, Rev. H. I. Brittain of Republic is pastor, M. A. Crocker having preceded him. A membership of sixty-eight is reported, thirty-six in Sunday school and six officers and teachers. The church property is valued at one thousand dollars.

CONCORD.

This church in Walnut Grove township was organized in 1873, the names Claypool, Williamson, Kelly and Bradley appearing in the list of original members. A house of worship, costing about five hundred dollars, was erected in 1875. Early ministers were A. C. Bradley, George White and Nelson Bradley. M. A. Crocker of Ash Grove is the present pastor, the church reporting forty-five members, with five officers in Sunday school and an average attendance of thirty. The church property is valued at two thousand dollars.

FAIR GROVE.

Organized in 1874, this church reports a membership of fifty and sixty enrolled in Sunday school with eleven officers and teachers. They have a Baptist Young Peoples' Union and a Woman's Aid Society. The church building is valued at one thousand five hundred dollars. They have had no pastor for some time past. [654]

REPUBLIC.

This church in the township of the same name, organized in 1874, reports a membership of two hundred and six, with one hundred and fifty-five enrolled in Sunday school under fourteen officers and teachers. E. H. Barb is pastor, J. L. Henry and S. M. Petty having previously held that office. The church building of brick is valued at ten thousand dollars, and services are held every Sunday. There is a Woman's Aid Society, but no Baptist Young Peoples' Union is reported.

STRAFFORD.

Located in the south part of Jackson township, this church was organized April 9, 1876 the names Creson, Lamb, Stanfield, McMurtry being among the original members. Early pastors were Solomon Forrester, J. P. Aiken and D. C. Barb. A house of worship was occupied in 1883, being still unfinished. The estimated cost, six hundred dollars, is reported as the present value of the house now occupied. John F. Killian of Marshfield is reported as pastor, C. J. Barb and W. N. Cain having preceded him. They report one hundred and thirty-two members, with eighty in Sunday school, ten officers and teachers. Sunday services are held twice a month and there is a Young People's Union of forty members, together with a teachers' training class.

BROOKLINE.

In 1862 a Union Baptist church was organized at Little York, two miles southwest of the present village of Brookline, William Phelps being the chief moving spirit. A frame house of worship, erected in 1872, was sold for debt to the carpenters, but purchased and restored to the church by Charles McCluer. Some of the pastors named were J. D. Shelton, George Long, Elisha Clark and S. Forrester. The present Brookline church is said to have been organized in 1882. They report fifty-three members under the pastorate of M. W. Morton of Springfield, J. F. Stogsdill and G. B. Johnson having preceded him. With nine officers and teachers the Sunday school enrollment is sixty. Excellent prayer meetings are reported and there is a Woman's Aid Society. The church property is valued at eight hundred and fifty dollars. [655]

NEW HOPE.

Situated in the north part of Franklin township, organized in 1884, this church reported last fall forty-five members, with James A. Haycraft of Springfield as pastor, succeeding, after an interim, B. F. Ross of Pleasant Hope. A Sunday school of forty was reported with eight officers and teachers. Church property was valued at eight hundred dollars.

HARMONY.

Located near the center of Washington township, this church, organized in 1886, reported last fall one hundred and twenty-seven members with A. S. Hanks of Selmore as pastor, M. W. Morton of Springfield having preceded him in that relation. Six conversions and additions from the Sunday school are reported, that organization having sixty enrolled with seven officers and teachers. Church property is valued at eight hundred dollars.

MACEDONIA.

Located in the southwest corner of Campbell township, this church was organized in 1886. Its report last year was a blank as respects Sunday school statistics. Membership was as the previous year, thirty-one, Thomas Savage being pastor, H. L. Cunningham of Rogersville having served the previous year. Church property was valued at one thousand two hundred-dollars.

CENTER.

This church, in the southeast part of Boone township, was organized in 1888. Rev. M. W. Morton of Springfield is pastor, and the reported membership is one hundred and six, with six received from the Sunday school, which reports one hundred and four enrolled, with twelve officers and teachers. A Baptist Young Peoples' Union is reported. The house of worship is valued at one thousand six hundred dollars.

WILLARD.

This church in Murray township was organized in 1889. T. F. Simmons of Flemington is pastor, J. B. Smith having preceded him. The church reports ninety-seven members, the same number as the previous year. The property is valued at one thousand five hundred dollars. A Sunday school of one hundred members has twelve officers and teachers. [656]

Churches organized in 1894 were Bois D'Arc, in Center township, Friendship Chapel on the west side of Robberson township and Pleasant Home in the south part of Franklin township. In 1900 two churches were organized, Bass Chapel in the center of Jackson township and Central in about the same location in Boone township. Glidewell, a little southeast of the center of Robberson township dates from 1902, and North Star in the extreme southeast of Jackson township and Walnut Grove, in the township of the same name, were organized in 1905.

Mentor in the extreme southeast of Clay township and Spring Hill, near the north end of Robberson, were organized in 1907 and 1908.

Battlefield, in Wilson township, is the latest organized Baptist church in Greene county, organized early in 1915 and worshiping in the Methodist edifice. The date of Robberson Prairie's organization cannot be stated here. Further facts concerning the churches last mentioned are given in the subjoined table:

STATISTICS OF GREENE COUNTY BAPTIST CHURCHES.

Church

Mbshp

S.Sch

Value

Mt. Pleasant, 1838, Murray, E. T. Sloan

157

38

900

Liberty, 1845, Franklin, W. C. Armstrong

51

44

700

Asher Creek, 1858, Walnut Grove, S. Forester

88

92

1000

Cedar Bluff, 1858, Jackson, W. Z. Stovall

118

70

800

Ash Grove, 1859, Boone, T. G. Hendrix

116

---

1200

Prospect, 1864, Center, B. T. Melton

116

---

1200

Rose Hill, 1866, Cass, S. Forester

125

62

1025

Hopewell, 1867, Pond Creek, B. T. Melton

100

73

876

Tatum Chapel, 1867, Center, J. J. Parten

86

70

1000

Stony Point, 1872, Boone, H. I. Brittain

68

32

1000

Concord, 1873, Walnut Grove, M. A. Crocker

45

---

2000

Fair Grove, 1874, Jackson,

59

71

1500

Republic, 1874, Republic, E. H. Barb

206

179

10,000

Strafford, 1876, Jackson, John F. Killian

132

70

600

Brookline, 1882, Brookline, M. W. Morton

53

35

850

New Hope, 1884, Franklin, James Haycraft

45

48

800

Harmony, 1886, Washington, A. S. Hanks

127

67

800

Macedonia, 1886, S. Campbell, Thomas Savage

31

---

1200

Center, 1888, Boone, M. W. Morton

106

116

1600

Willard, 1889, Murray, T. F. Simmons

77

69

1500

Friendship Chapel, 1894, Robberson, E. T. Sloan

29

50

800

Bois D’ Arc, 1894, Center, W. C. Brockus

48

---

1300

Pleasant Home, 1894, Franklin, W. C. Armstrong

32

42

800

Bass Chapel, 1900, Jackson, W. A. Foley

146

42

800

Central Baptist, 1900, Boone, Prinkle

81

45

800

Glidewell, 1902, Robberson, E. T. Sloan

70

32

1200

North Star, 1905, Jackson, M. J. Wilson

78

41

900

Walnut Grove, 1905, Walnut Grove, J. F. Sherman

121

95

3000

Mentor, 1907, Clay, J. J. Parten

80

49

1500

Spring Hill, 1908, Robberson, J. C. Thompson

50

52

800

Battlefield, 1915, Wilson, C. M. Deaver

 

 

 

Robberson Prairie, Robberson, E. T. Sloan

27

40

1000

CHRISTIAN

In tracing the history of churches in Springfield it has been shown quite clearly that churches of the Christian denomination followed at no very long interval the Methodist organization with which Springfield's ecclesiastical history begins. In the county, so far as can be learned, the case appears to have been quite different, though it is not unlikely that dates of organization assigned to some of the churches are more properly to be assigned to a reorganization of churches temporarily quiescent.

BOIS D’ARC.

This church was organized at the Squibb school house in 1870. After worshiping there for a short time the Pleasant Hope school house, three-quarters of a mile west of Bois D'Arc, was occupied for their meetings. Three men and their wives are named as the original members. This body maintained a precarious existence till the coming in 1884 of Rev. F. M. Hooten, by whom they were reorganized with eleven members, none of them named in the previous organization. The village of Bois D'Arc had by this, time begun to be and the plate of assembly was removed to that point, A revival season enjoyed in 1885 added forty-seven to the church. At the close of Mr. Hooten's ministry in May, 1886, there were eighty-seven members. This church now reports thirty-four members, with a house of worship valued at one thousand dollars. Among ministers to this church are named Pope Barbee, Kirk Baxter, William Cochran, Cotton and others. During the past year they have been supplied by E. C. Sechler, a student in Drury College. Rev. J. B. Jeans, of Springfield, has just begun service as pastor of this church. They have preaching two Sundays each month.

REPUBLIC.

This church was organized by Rev. John Lee about the year 1872 at the home of Clark Smith, two miles northeast of Republic. They continued to worship in this vicinity till 1883 when, in the pastorate of Rev. L. F. Acres, they changed to Republic and built there the frame house of worship they now occupy. Among pastors who have ministered to this church are named King, Drennan, A. L. Criley, Powell Smith and W. B. Moore, Clerin Zumwalt, a student in Drury College, residing at Republic, serving them at present. Including a parsonage recently erected at a cost of one thousand two hundred dollars the church reports property valued at three thousand five hundred dollars. There are one hundred and fifty members, two hundred enrolled in Sunday school and forty in the Endeavor Society. A Ladies' Aid Society numbers twenty and a missionary society, fifteen. [658]

WALNUT GROVE.

This church, in the township of the same name, was organized in 1880, beginning then the erection of a house of worship, which was finished the following year. The property is valued at one thousand dollars, the church having a membership of one hundred and twenty, with a Ladies' Aid Society of twenty members. This and the church at Ash Grove are supplied by Rev. J. A. Bloomer, who resides at the latter place, each having two services a month.

ASH GROVE.

Organized in 1881, this church built their house of worship the following year. It is now valued at two thousand dollars. Two hundred and forty members are reported, with a Sunday school enrollment of one hundred and sixty. There is a Woman's Board of Missions with twenty-four members and a Ladies' Aid Society of twenty.

CAVE SPRING.

The house in which this, congregation worship was built about 1890, the church itself presumably organized some time before, by Rev. J. W. Smith. They now report sixty members, with eighty enrolled in Sunday school and thirty in the Society of Christian Endeavor. Rev. Stacy S. Phillips of Golden City is present pastor, preceded by Clerin Zumwalt. The church property is valued at six hundred dollars, there being preaching services once a month.

PLUMMER AND NORTH STAR SCHOOL HOUSES.

This is an organization in Taylor township, having two places of worship, with a Sunday school at each, preaching at each place being once a month, the two schools having an enrollment of about one hundred pupils. A membership of sixty is reported in the church organization. It is understood that there are plans for erecting a house of their own the present season. Rev. D. B. Warren, of Pomona, is the pastor. [659]

BETHANY.

Located in Wilson township, this church had no pastor last year, but is now ministered to by Rev. W. B. Moore of Republic. A membership of thirty-five is reported in the report for 1915, with fifty-five in Sunday school and the value of the house of worship is stated at nine hundred dollars.

CONGREGATIONAL.

Somewhere near forty years ago a Congregational church was organized at Republic, and was for some time quite prosperous, erecting a good house of worship and a commodious parsonage. Depleted by deaths and removals, it has passed into a condition where not even Sunday school services are kept up. In 1880 a promising beginning was made at or near Brookline and a good house of worship was erected. But removals and other causes worked to the dissolution of this body many years ago.

NICHOLS.

The organization, or perhaps the recognition of this church took place August 29, 1892. Rev. Messrs. E. B. Burrows, John Vetter and N. M. Wheat being named as having part, being pastors of near-by churches, the church at Brookline apparently contributing a considerable number to the membership, this organization being possibly a sort of residuary legatee of the life of that church.

This church has been at times linked with Republic, at times supplied from Springfield, Rudolph Hertz, a student in Drury College, having supplied them until serious illness prevented his further services. More recently arrangements have been made for the supply of the pulpit by Parmelee F. Drury, recently director of boys at the Young Men's Christian Association. By last report they have thirty-five members, with a Sunday School enrollment of sixty-five and an Endeavor membership of twenty. The Woman's Missionary Society reports eight members.

COLORED.

Besides the churches of colored people in Springfield, there are a few small organizations in Greene county. At Ash Grove is a church of Cumberland Presbyterians with about eighteen members and one at Cave Spring somewhat smaller, both supplied by Rev. H. A. Harvey, of Marshfield, who has there a larger organization. There is also a church of a very few members at Nogo, meeting in a house in which a very small Baptist church worships. To the first named O. Jeffries has ministered in the past, to the latter Rev. J. S. Dorsey, former pastor of the Washington Avenue church, of Springfield, now residing on a farm northeast of the city. But neither of these churches has regular preaching at present. [660]

GREENE COUNTY SUNDAY SCHOOL ASSOCIATION.

The Sunday School Association of Greene county was organized in 1869 by William J. Haydon, then laboring with great zeal and efficiency as a missionary of the American Sunday School Union in southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas. Later he served as president of the association for ten years. The first president was William R. Gorton, who continued in that office for many years. W. L. Musick, H. O. Bunker and John B. Glass were also at the head of this organization, and more recently James W. Silsby, who has since been the very devoted and efficient secretary. A. A. Mehl has served in that capacity for the past ten years. Faithful and devoted men and women have given services freely and unstintedly to the promotion of the Sunday school cause in Springfield and throughout the whole county, supplementing the work and supplying the deficiencies of the churches, especially in places where these have been able to have but infrequent gatherings for worship. By holding township conventions over Saturday and Sunday for nearly six months in the year, closing with a county convention about the last of September of each year, this organization exerts a great and beneficent influence through every part of the county. It need hardly be added that in this work many of the best men and women in the townships visited have rendered efficient service, gaining in return inspiration and help toward the more successful prosecution of their work, often apparently thankless and fruitless drudgery. Among these may be named W. E. Gorman, of Pearl; W. D. Ferrell, of Washington township; J. A. Brumfield, of Franklin township; John Buchheit, of Fair Grove; T. O. Davis, of Wilson township Albert Cannan, of Ash Grove; W. D. Cloud and H. O. Appleby, Willard; C. A. and Albert Rountree, Nichols; Jacob and William F. Long; Rev. West, Alden; George F. Dennis, Howard Turner, Turner Station. Many others equally worthy are not here named. The State Sunday School Association met in Springfield in 1914, and will hold its fiftieth anniversary in 1915. [661]

The story of the country churches of Greene county has its parallels everywhere throughout the country. They show a tendency in which they by no means stand alone. Every decennial census bears witness to the nationwide drift which builds up the city at the expense of the country. In spite of all that can be said, written or done concerning a "back to the farm" movement the drift continues. To a degree it seems inevitable. After a life of toil and hardship on the farm, farmer and wife are ready to take a respite in a nearby city or village. Or the education of children beyond what is possible in the country school takes them and possibly their parents, too, in the same direction. Quite often they identify themselves with the city church and Sunday school. Having once gained an outlook into the larger world outside, they plunge into the seething tide of its business and are lost for good and all to the country and its scanty Christian opportunities.

Scanty they may well be called when nearly all country churches must content themselves with preaching services one day in a month conducted by a non-resident pastor. Plainly enough the situation is saved only by the weekly Sunday school. But for this the church itself in nine cases out of ten would cease to be. It is well, therefore, that the Greene County Association has maintained for many years a vigorous life, reaching every township in the county in summer sessions over Sunday, and a rousing convention every fall. Great praise is due to the faithful service in this direction of A. A. Mehl and J. W. Silsby, with their helpers. But is this the best solution possible of the country church problem? This problem belongs in part also to the country school.

Possibly the recently adopted plan of county high schools may have a hint toward some improvement in the present conditions of the country church. Could the different denominations, whose differences may not be so vital as they are sometimes thought to be, agree to some form of that federation which is beginning to be adopted in some places and is likely to be increasingly common in the near future, it might be possible to have more than the meager one Sunday a month, with a pastor nearer at hand than now. Better still if suggestions of some students of the country church problem could be carried out, and a minister could be found ready to link church and school and farm in a common interest, making for young and old a center of intellectual life. Many things already accomplished may help to hasten the better day when life in the country shall be no longer a dull monotonous treadmill of weary toil and hopeless isolation. Daily rural mail delivery, improved roads, telephone connections and automobile facilities, and last, but not least, improved agricultural methods, should do much to better conditions in the country and to make life on the farm really desirable. The agricultural department at our State University and our Horticultural Experiment Stations are already turning the mind of college-bred young men toward the honorable business of tilling the soil. The city must still look to the country for her leaders in business; but the country itself will offer to many of her finest sons and daughters allurements and opportunities not inferior to those of the city. With conditions like these the country church may be expected to assume a role far different from that which is hers in a large part of our land today. [662]


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