History of the Prairie Methodist Church

Transcribed by Barbara Dix

The original Prairie Methodist church was located on the Northwest corner of the J. J. Wattleworth farm. It was a frame building facing the west. The church was organized in 1857 with a class of about sixty members and the church built at that time was among the first, if not the first Methodist church house built in Oblong Township.

The minister in charge at the time of organization and building the church was, Rev. John Leeper, who was one of the leading preachers of the southern Illinois conference. The charter membership covered a large scope of the adjoining country, and was in the Robinson Circuit for a few years. Rev. St. Clair, Rev. English and Rev. Miller preached there when they traveled the circuit on hoseback.

When the Oblong circuit formed this church was made part of it and after several years and during the civil war period the members living west of the church decided to organize a class of their own and hold their services at the Dogwood schoolhouse which they did. The remaining members continued to hold their services at the church.

About the year 1868 or 1869 a Sunday School was organized and held during the summer months each summer as long as the church was used; It being the first Sunday School in that vicinity.

About the year 1875 the members living north of the church decided to unite with the Dogwood Class. Also about this time the church building was declared unsafe to hold large gatherings in. These two facts presented a difficult problem for the few remaining members to solve if their church class was to continue in existence. Conference did not drop them but let them hold their place in the circuit with preaching every three weeks at 10:30 Saturday mornings. This did not prove satisfactory but it gave the members time to make a decision. It was agreed to abandon the church and ask conference to move their class to the Prairie School house, at irregular intervals during the late sixties and early seventies the Lutheran church had held services there as they had quite a few members that were widely scattered and this point was a convenient one for them to meet together and worship.

The old Prairie church building was much larger that the present Sanctuary. It was about 40 by 50 feet with six windows on each side. The house had two doors; one for the men to enter and the other for the women. There was a partition three and a half feet high separating the two sections as it was customary when the church was built for the men and women to occupy different sections. When the building was abandoned it was wrecked and the material bought by Matthew Wilkin and Lewis Henry.

With the removal of the church organization to the Prairie School house. Conference granted their request for Sunday services every three weeks and a Sunday School was formed. Rev. Allen Bartley was their first minister, and the following members comprised the class at the School House; Mr. and Mrs. David Mikeworth, J. J. Wilkin, Lucinda Ikemire, Angeline Ikemire, Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Wattleworth, Mr. and Mrs. Job Randolph, Nancy Akers, Cornelia Randolph, Mr. and Mrs. John Henry, Philander Morgan, Sarah Jane Henry, Cathrine Henry, Mr. and Mrs. William Randolph, William Kirk and Margaret Price.

Rev. Nelson Stauffer was the second minister for this class. He remained two years and with Rev. Bartley did much to overcome their difficulties. During the four years the congregation worshipped in the School House. A number of new names were added to the Church book. During the last year of Rev. Stauffer's stay, in 1880, the plans for the new Church were made. David Mikeworth donated the lot. The building cost $800.00. Five hundred of this was paid in money and three hundred was given in labor and timber, but all in the community helped in some way.

Rev. J. G. Dees, and Rev. J. W. Jackson were sent to the Oblong Circuit the year the Church was completed. It was dedicated Nov. 7th, 1880 clear of indebtedness by the two ministers and Rev. Nesbit, who was there presiding Elder. At the dedication services Peter Henry, J. J. Wilkin, William Randolph, Levi Henry and Job Randolph were chosen as trustees.

From the time of the building of the first Church to the present day, this Church has never been without regular Church services in the community; a remarkable record for a rural Church, and one of which to be justly proud.

During the past years the Church house has been taken care of by younger generations and in the year 1953, a meeting of the Conference was held to make a motion as to the building of an annex and basement, which was granted, and approved by District Superintendent, Rev. Walter A. Smith. This was completed and dedicated in 1954.

Ministers who have preached at the Prairie Church from its organization in 1857 to the present time are; Reverends, Leeper, St. Clair English, J. L. Waller, Jason, Carson, Rutherford, and King, all who preached in the old Church. Reverends, Bartley and Stauffer, who held services in the school house. Revs. Dees, Jackson, Seed, Cullom, Britten, Hale, Tilroe, Merken, D. J. Little, C. D. Lingafelter, C. E. Sale, A. V. Van Houten, P. C. Neil, W. L. Jones, P. C. Carlin, Harris, H. W. Smoot, G. W. Hanks, C. S. Truitt, James Willey, W. L. Rhein, C. C. Cullison, O. O. Maxfield, C. E. McDuffee, G. H. Hall, E. L. Lawler, E. W. Fox, J. M. Clayton, B. H. Cravens, C. C. Lowe, Earl Pinkstaff, Frank Treadway, Niles Stone, James Walker, Claud Hooper, and Richard E. George.

 

This page last updated on February 05, 2015.