Religious History of Honey Creek Township from 1814 to July 1, 1901

Transcribed by Barbara Dix.

Excerpts taken from a Booklet written by Charles S. Goff entitled Religious History of Honey Creek Township, Crawford Co., Illinois, covering a period of time from 1814 to July 1, 1901.

Honey Creek township was settled when the country was new and the Forts at Palestine and Russelville were the general rendezvous for the early settlers who came up the river from Vincennes. The first settlers came to this township in the fall of 1816, being Samuel and Jonathan Parker, who with their families, settled along what is now the Range Road, two and a quarter miles southwest of Flat Rock, where they helped build the Fort at Russelville and occupied it for a year and a half before settling in Honey Creek Township. Samuel Parker was the Father of "Bareheaded John Parker" who was only six years old when his Father settled in what was then a wilderness. In 1920, two more Parker families came from Ky., and settled near here. About this time the Seaney family, Seth, Levi, Lee, Jesse and James Higgins and John Hart and William Carter. The first one to enter land west of the Range Road was Asa Jones. Leonard Simons and Richard Highsmith were other early settlers and they helped build the Fort at Russelville and were the first to sleep in it. Another inmate was Sally Span, who married Richard Highsmith.

Samuel Bussard, Sr., Peter Kendall and Robert Terrell settled here between 1838 and 1842. These people were not adventurers but brave Americans, who sought a home for themselves and families. When their homes were established they sought a home for themselves and families. When their homes were established they sought to surround them as much as posssible with Christian influence, their humble cabins somtimes answered the threefold purpose of dwelling, church and school house.

Many of our imigrants were rough but they did their best. Surrounded at all times with toil and peril, they could trust God and keep their powder dry with a devotion to either that seems contradictory to us of the present, just as I have seen soldiers have a prayer meeting unsurpassed and close with the song, "My Country 'tis of Thee" and three cheers for "Old Glory". These people had the stuff out of which society, churches and governments are made, and preserve them inviolate.

Many early settlers came to this territory by way of Fort Allison at Russelville passing to the northwest from there where they were attracted by the beauty of the hills from the ridge that forms the divide between the Wabash and the Embarrass rivers and from the hills east of Brushy Creek bottom they could look across and see the hills along the Range Road, south of Flat Rock, and other hills toward New Hebron, the hills then covered with heavy timber, the soil was fertile and game abundant and the people found purer and more abundant water in the hills. These facts, coupled with a love of nature, caused the early settlers to seek the now golden hill as they beheld the beautiful scenery from the ridges of southwest Montgomery.

They first erected a one room log cabin almost as primitive as ther red brothers wigwam but more permanent, the logs being round and notched at each end to fit over the under log, the space being filled with small blocks of wood call "chinks" and the daubed with clay, with small square holes left at intervals for windows. No rafters supported the roof, instead there were rib poles running lengthways of the cabin. Four foot clapboards were laid on these and poles laid along on each course to hold them on. A fire place about eight feet wide was built in one end ------- by a stick chimney at the end of the house which was also daubed with clay. These cabins generally averaged about twelve by sixteen feet.

A small patch of ground was cleared around the cabin which was planted in garden and corn. The stock could find forage nearly all year round and with a rifle aided in killing wild game, whose flesh was used for meat and the skin for clothing. Flax was raised, spun into thread and woven into cloth by the women, also cotton was grown on Lamotte Prairie or brought from the south. Mortars were found at many of the cabins to make Hominy. These were simply formed out of a convenient stump or large block into which a large excavation was made with fire and tools, over this a "sweep was erected to which was attached a heavy wooden pestle face with a piece of iron. In such a mill the corn was ground to various grades of fineness, the finest separated by a sieve made of perforated buckskin, while the coarsest made the traditional dish of hominy.

At first there was no mill closer than Palestine, then there was one at Russelville. Later a mill was put up at Charlottesville, called Shaker Mill and another at Crawsfordsville by Edward Allison in 1830 and until the building of the railroad it was quite a metropolis for the early settlers, later a Mill was built at Flat Rock which was first run by water then by oxen and later by steam and in 1870 a woolen mill was attached to it. Sampson Taylor was the first postmaster at this place and it was a flourishing milling point, each customer had to await his turn for his grain to be ground and some times when the grinding was brisk and the customer had to go far it required several days to make the trip. Dr. Hawley put up a tread mill at New Hebron in 1840. Another mill was built at Port Jackson that furnished the people breadstuff from 1855 to 1875 and in the later' 50's a Distillery was built there that supplied liquor. Later on the Roller Mills of G. T. Taylor and Sons at Flat Rock took care of all the grinding in that vicinity.

There was a flourishing Bapist church on LaMotte Prairie at the time settlement was made here. Popular tradition has it that Daniel Parker preached the first sermon, which of necessity had to be at some cabin. Thomas Kennedy, Sr. another Baptist preacher, belonging to LaMotte church, lived at the fort in Palestine during the war of 1812. He was a a little ahead of Parker by virtue of being an earlier settler in Illinois Territory. The Methodist's became strongest at Wesley Chapel in the early 20's. Kennedy and Parker should jointly be allowed the honor of being the first preachers in the little settlement along what is now the Range Road. Early in the 20's the Methodist's and the United Brethern were making systematic effort to evengelize this part of the state. Their preacher's, with those of the Baptists, preached in this settlement at the cabins before the Highsmith School House was built in the early 30's, when it became a religious and educational center. The Jones Meeting House was built in the early 30's, by the Methodists. The Weger School House was built in the early 40's, southeast of the Charley Wegers residence where the range road and that running past the Jones Cemetery unite. The Goff School House was built in '45 and was a preaching point for the Christians and Methodists. About the same time the Methodists had preaching and a class at the Nuttall School House. In the early 50's there was a log school house built at the spring in the southwest part of Sampson Taylor's farm, which burned in the latter 50's after being used three years and they built again just east of Rev. H. J. Jones garden in the latter 50's after a few years the logs were hauled down to the place where Lafayette Parker lives and a school house was built across the road from and a little northeast of his residence. Just after that school house burned, school was kept in the log house that stood Mr. Parker's present dwelling stands, by Sampson Tayler. The school house was later moved to the present location of the Taylor school house.

The Methodist log church in New Hebron, the Boyd Meeting House and the New Providence Church complete to the list of principal preaching points till the early 50's. There were ten church organizations is the Township prior to 1850 and they either had a school house or a church to hold services in.

With the building of school houses religious work took a different form, they being also used for churches. This territory was covered with dense forests where abundant game and occasionally an Indian might be seen but in the 30's. These people began to lay the foundation of church and state amidst toil and danger and from 1830 we began to have a positive religious and educational record of the Township.

The Highsmith School house was not only the first school house but the first permanent preaching point, aside from the cabins in the early 30's. Daniel Parker, Richard M. Newport, Alonzo Norton and Richard Highsmith preached here for the Hardshell Baptists and Thomas Kennedy, Sr., his son Stephen Kennedy, A. J. Fuson and S. D. Monroe for the people of the Missionary Baptist faith. The United Brethern preachers were: Faucett, Charley Mills and Samuel Mills, Rev. John Stewart was one of the earliest Methodists preachers in the Wabash Valley. He organized the Wesley Chapel in 1825 and was one of their pioneer preachers here in the 20's and 30's. The ÿMethodist found most of their members of the south side of the settlement, the Baptist in the center, and the Brethern on the north, prior to 1840. Shadrach Gowins, John Dollahan and J. R. Nell succeeded Stewart as pioneer M. E. preachers, the pioneers of religion in this part of Illinois Territory being the Baptist.

When Crawford County was defined by the Territorial Legislature in 1816 as all that tract of territory within the following boundaries. To wit: "All that tract of country Beginning at the mouth of the Embarass River and running with said river to the intersection of the line dividing Townships 3 and 4, North of Range 11, West of the P. M., thence west with the Township line to the Meridan, and thence due north until it strikes the line of Upper Canada, thence to the line that separates this Territory from the State of Indiana and thence south with said division line to the beginning, shall constitiute a seperate county, to be called Crawford County."

Rev. Faucett was the first United Brethern preacher on the county, preaching at the Highsmith School House in the lattter 30's, next came Rev. Charley Mills and in 1844 a church was organized at the home of J. M. Jones, 1/2 mile southwest of the school house, being the farm house later owned by Dr. H. F. Jones. The services were held alternately between the dwelling and school house until the log school house was built at Union about 1855 when they moved up there. Before this removal they belonged to the Hebron Mission. In 1840 Reb. John Shuey, the Presiding Elder, held quarterly meeting at the school house, Revs. Amos Hedge, James Griffith and W. C. Smith held quarterly meeting for them before the removal to Union. Rev. Samuel Mills U.B. was one of their preachers, and in the early day and for a while resided on the lot east of their present church in New Hebron.

Rev. W. C. Smith was appointed Presiding Elder and rode a horse down to the Highsmith School House from Westfield, Ill., and that night two mischeiveous boys sheared his horses mane and tail and the next morning when he discovered his horse he was reported to have said "if I felt exalted at being Elder, I feel sufficiently Humble to think of riding that horse into Westfield."

In 1860 a log church was built in the log house was built on the site of the present one and in 1881 the present church was built. While making their church home in the log house used also for school at Union a Sunday School was maintained with Jonas Springer as Superintendent which was in latter 50's. The new Providence church was located on the J. G. Maxwell's farm between the Seceder graveyaard and the road, a quarter aof a mile northwest of his residence; there had been preaching at the homes of members of the associate Presbyterian faith with such good results that a church was organized and a log meeting house was built in 1845 at the above named place; they had a great influence and were a strong church with over 200 members. It was customary for them to take their dinners and stay all day. About 1859 the location of the church was moved to a quarter of a mile north of Brown School House the logs from their church being moved ÿup there and the building rebuilt, and it was sometimes known as Bethel church. In the latter 60's the congregation was moved to Duncanville and held church service in the frame church that is still standing and now used by the Baptist Church congregation.

In 1848 a Sunday School was organized under the influence and ministry of Rev. A. R. Rankin. In 1859 Rev. J. D. McNay succeeded Rev. Rankin and he conducted a Sunday School at the Brown School House.

Union Church: The Albright families came to this county from what was commonly called the "Dutch Settlement" near Otterbein Chapel in Montgomery Township and had preaching at Ed. Longenecker's Sr., Josiah Conrad's. John Tohill's and John Wesley's Sr. west and north west of Union where Rev. Blinkenstaff preached for them and was one of their missionaries. The United Brethern gradually supplanted them.

Boyd Meeting House; This building was erected in 1845 by the people of the community for School purposes but after a term or two of school it was wholly used as a church, the church being located 1 1/2 miles southwest of Price School House, about two miles north of Port Jackson and a quarter east of the Free Methodist parsonage. There was preaching at Haskins, north east of the church in the early 40's by the Methodist and Christians. The Methodists were the first in the community as a result of meetings held by Revs. Dollahan and Gowns in 1845; the Christians were next here sometime in the early 50's, organizing in 1858, Rev. Salathiel Lamb preaching for them at intervals and the Rev. Willis Carter preacher for them for 18 consecutive years.

About 1860, the Goff School House burned and some of the members attending church there joined the Christian Church.

In the early 60's Revs. Jackson and Stewart organized a United Brethern church. Rev. John Richey here for the Methodists.

The Goff School House stood stood south of the house on the Francis Goff farm.

Some of the preachers of the Christian church in the early days were Revs. Wm. Corter, Wm. Brush and Wm. Hayward.

In the fall of 1845, Mace Goff came here from Kentucky with a family of 16 children who was influential in building a School House and keeping a Sunday School going in the summer time with a good attendance and interest.

Nuttall's School House stood in the southeast corner of the cross roads at G. M. Crozier's, the Methodists using this building for church purposes. In 1866 they disbanded and transferred their membership to the Jones church. A. M. Nuttall was a class leader and E. A. Nuttall was also an active Methodist and an earnest worker in the church before he moved to a farm south of Flat Rock in the early 50's.

Beckwith Prairie Church were nearly all Presbyterians who came from east Tennessee settling in the Maxwell neighborhood. There were different branches of them. Some of them became United Presbyterians, and part of them called the Associated Presbyterians refused to unite and were called "Seceders". The Beckwith congregation belonged to the "old school Presbyterians", they were organized in 1853 by Revs. E. Howell, Allen McFarland and elder Findley Paull, with 28 members. They held their meetings at Samuel Goulds and William Stewarts residences before the church was built in 1859, the later donating 3 acres of land for church purposes. In the new church building benches, boxes and plank laid blocks of wood served as seats, their first Sunday school was organized in 1861.

Mann School House was neat frame building erected in 1855 for both school and church purposes where a Methodist class and Sunday School was organized by Rev. R. J. Nall. In 1867 the church had 23 members. The Quakers held some services there in the early 70s.

The Methodists class disbanded in 1875, some going Zion Chapel and some to Hebron. Kennedy House, a Baptist church of 11 members were organized in 1860 and met regularly at the home of Thomas Kennedy, 3/4 mile southwest of Pearl Chapel, the ministers being Revs. A. J. Fuson, J. Flemings and Christy preached for them. Later on, this church disbanded, some going to Providence and some to Hardinsville. Thomas Kennedy, Sr. lived in Ft. LaMotte at Palestine during the war of 1812 and was a Missionary Baptist preacher.

Pearl Chapel worshiped in a log school house at Hurricane in 1855. In 1858 the south side of the United Brethern church of New Hebron was lettered off to form a seperate organization and Revs. John Richy of the Methodists, Jackson and Stewart of the United Brethern preached her at this time. In 1875 a School House was built and became their home until a church building was erected in 1887, 1 1/4 miles south of the school house. A Sunday School  was organized of about 50 members. They kept a school regulary until 1893 and then at intervals until 1898 when they became dormant.

Grove School House, more popularly known as "Castle" while its official title was Pleasent Grove, the Methodist holding services there in the latter 50s.

The Baptist came in by the way of Kentucky and arrived in Illinois Territory with the first settlers, where they organized the old LaMotte church, north of Morea in 1812 the first in what is now Crawford County.

During the war of 1812 the Baptist Missionary, Isaac McCoy traveled from Fort to Fort between Vincennes and Terre Haute on horse back armed with a Bible and Musket.

After the Baptist came the Methodists, who stopped at Palestine, emigrating mostly from Ohio, where they erected the first church building and they were strongest at Wesley Chapel. In the' 40s they organized the Hebron Circuit which took in all this part of the country, including Robinson, Palestine, Wesley Chapel, Martin's Mill, Jones Meeting House, Nuttall School House, Pleasant Grove School House, Oak Ridge School House, Boyd Meeting House, Price School House, Hebron, Mann School House and Dollahan Chapel.

Another group of United Brethern came from Ohio and first settled at Westfield, in Clark County, which was the base of operations to carry on religious work and from ther their preachers came into Honey Creek Township. The Presbyterians came from East Tennessee and settled west of Good Hope and on Beckwith Prairie.

About this time the Christians came into the southwest part of the Township from Kentucky and Southern Indiana and had a strong organization both at the Goff School House and the Boyd Meeting House. This is the record of the five great denominations that came into our Township prier to 1845.

The dwelling of Mrs. Dicoy Perrin was used for preaching purposes in the early '40s and later. It was the early girlhood home of Mrs. Rebecca Ann Smith, Mr. Strimple where Reverends Dollahan and Gowins often preached, where a class of nine members was organized with Mr. Strimple for leader. Afterwards they moved to the Pleasent Grove School House. Between the house and barn of George Carter stood a house where A. J. Fuson used to preach. In New Hebron there was preaching where Hezekiah Bussard, Harvey Parker, Sr., Mexey Fry and John Malcolm lived.

The old Macey Goff house, southeast of Robinson and Old Port Jackson Roads used to be a center for the Christians, being a story and one-half high, a double log structure, with a broad hill in the center, and contained abundant room. The funeral of Mr. Goff was preached in this house, who was the writer's great grandfather. It was headquarters for the Christians, especially the ministers. Preaching was held at all the above named places prier to 1860. At first the different denominations "had all things in common" but with the increase in population, there became room for each to organize seperate congregations.

The following table shows the order of organization of each church, viz:

New Hebron, U. B. 1839                 Pearl Chapel, U. B. 1858
Flat Rock, M. E. 1839                 Pleasant Grove, S. H. M. E. 1858
New Hebron, M. E. 1841                 Providence, Baptist 1867
Good Hope, Baptist 1843                 Duncanville, U. P. 1868
Union, U. B. 1844                 Mount Zion, Baptist 1872
Union vicinity, Albrights 1844                 Swearingen Chapel, M. E. 1874
New Providence, Seceders 1845                 Price, S. H. 1875
Goff, H. S. Christian 1845                 Oak Ridge Chapel, M. E. 1874
Boyd Church, Christian 1845                 Hillsboro, Christian 1877
Nuttall's S. H. M. E. 1845                 Mount Pleasant, Friends 1880
Beckwith Prairie, Presby. 1852                 Oak Ridge, S. H. Christian 1886
Mann, S. H. M. E. 1855                 Victory, Free Methodist 1890
Thomas Kennedy, Baptist 1855                 Flat Rock, M. P. 1890
                        Flat Rock, New Church; 1890

The Christians had a preaching place at Hurricane School House, but no organization.

There was a preaching place at the old Nuttall home, where Fillmore Nuttall lived, south of Flat Rock, by the Methodists and in the J. W. Jones home in town. The Methodists and United Brethern had preaching in the old log part of this house in the '50s and later, which was the original home of Robert Montgomery, Sr. before there was any Flat Rock. There was preaching also by the Presbyterians at Samuel Gould's and William Stewart's in Beckwith vicinity before the civil war.

Rev. Joseph P. Merrill belonged to the "Come Outers", professing to heal disease by prayer and faith and at one time had quite a following, but later only a few remained faithful. They held services in school houses and groves and conducted a Sunday School in Martin Township.

As to Sunday Schools the Methodist and United Brethern were the pioneers. The Missionary fraction of the of the Old LaMotte Church was badly tainted by Daniel Parker's effort, anti-effort, and anti-mission doctrines, hence there were no Sunday Schools among the Baptist here in the early days. The modern Sunday School era did not arrive here until about 1870. There has been preaching since 1820 and Daniel Parker and Thomas Kennedy may have preached prior to that time. Public schools were effective for intellectual advancement and spiritual knowledge and experience were conducted along spiritual lines. This kind of reasoning, as fathers saw the multitude of children growing up around them.

Price School House where the Revs. John Dollahan and Shadrack Cowins preached in the latter '40s and in the latter '50s Rev. John Richey all of the Methodist faith preached to this community.

In 1875 a small Methodist Church was organized by Rev. William B. Bruner, with Benjamin Price as Class leader, the class disbanded in 1885 and most of the members went in at Oak Ridge School House. The first baptism recorded on the Circuit Book dates Aug. 29, 1875 when Jonathan Wright and G. W. Helpingstine, Jr. were baptised by William B. Brunner. The earliest Sunday School record dates from 1870 and Benjamin Price was superintendent.

Oak Ridge Chapel. The Christians had a Sunday School here during the war in the old Port Jackson School house, their membership was at Boyd and the Revs. John Richey and Henessee of the Methodists are supposed to have been the first Preachers in that vicinity. The first reliable record begins in 1869 when Washington Helpatine bought the mill and moved here. He belonged to the Baptists conducted a Sunday School in the School House. This House was a frame and stood across the road north and a little east of what remains of old Port Jackson. Immediately before the war there were more followers of Bacchus than any one else who had their headquarters at the distillery.

The first preachers in this community were John E. Cullom and Rev. Manefield in the early ' 70s. Rev. Cullom held a wonderful revival meeting from March 12 to 26th closing the revival with about 50 members. A class was now organized and in 1880 the Oak Ridge School House was built a mile east of old Port Jackson and the class moved into it, while later a better church building was erected in 1894 and named "Oak Ridge Chapel". After moving into the new school house the Sunday School became a positive institution and Samuel McClure was Superintendent for several years first with Mrs. Martha Cullom and Andrew Darnell as Assistants. In 1881 at a reorganization of the school 80 scholars were enrolled.

Mt. Pleasant. The original members of this Church came from Quaker Lane and in the latter '70s held services at members homes and at the Mann School House, where they organized in 1880, however the Church stands a half mile north of the school house.

Oak Ridge School House, where the Christians organized a church on the 29th day of August 1886 with 40 members with with Rev. Crawford as organizer and the following officers: Bishops, I.(Isadel?) Goff, W. H. Tayler, and J. W. Earnhart, Deacons, J. H. Tayler and J. T. Mullins. They reorganized Dec. 4, 1890 and assisted the Methodists in Sunday School work untill 1896 when this church disbanded.

Victory. In the latter '80s the Free Methodists appeared on the field at the Price School House previously occupied by the Methodist Episcopal people, who held services in the school house and grove. Later a handsome house of worship was dedicated on Dec. 9, 1894. Clem Petty owned the ground where the old Boyd Church used to stand and donated a house 1st, and barn in the northwest corner of that 40 acre tract for a parsonage.

Flat Rock. In 1890 a Church was organized in Flat Rock of the Methodist faith, the early members had belonged to the Methodist Protestant churches of St. Paul and Pinkstaff with J.J. Ford and family contributing most for the building and a Sunday School was organized in 1893 with about 40 members.

Flat Rock. The Flat Rock New Church Society was organized July 3, 1890 with J. C. Duncan. A. W. Duncan and S.K. Duncan with their families who constituted the membership.  A temple  was erected in the fall of 1890 at a cost of $1600.  And after its erection there was preaching and lectures with a Sunday School class from the start with an average of 50 members, while the church membership was nineteen.

Hillsborough School House. When the Nuttal School House began to fall into decay the center of learning was transfered to a log house on the site of the Hillsborough temple of learning. During the later part of the ' 60s and early ' 70s the Baptists, Christians and Methodists had preaching here. Later the Baptist and Christians had services but joined forces in a union Sunday School. In 1880 the Baptists built a church at Mt. Zion and the Christians built at Hillsborough.

Duncanville Congregation. This Home Mission Board of the United Presbyterians sent their missonaries into this community, who preached in the homes of some untill in 1880 a building was erected on the county line west of the Geo. Conover place.

The class at Strimples began to meet here at this time, where they had a class of 9 or 10 members and had a Sunday School lead by William Smith. In 1860 James Parker, Sr. was Superintendent. Revs. John Leeper and S. P. Groves preached for them. This organization disbanded in 1866.

In the early '70s the Christians began building up a church and by 1875 had a strong organization, and during the winter Rev. Josiah Clements held a protracted meeting resulting in 17 additions. A Sunday School was maintained with good interest under the leadership of Joe Davis and in 1887 they reorganized again and soon had an enrollment of 62 members.

In the winter of 1875 after the Christians closed their revival the Baptists started a meeting led by Jacob Clements, brother of Josiah Clements when there were serveral conversions, who joined at Good Hope and after that there was a continual clash between the two churches which caused the school directors to forbid the use of the house for church purposes in 1880, when most of the Christians went in at Hillsborough.

In 1889 a "peoples Sunday School" was organized, with John A. Goff as Superintendent and Daniel Adams of the Baptists was Assistant and Johnson Conrad was the principal teacher which lasted two summers with an enrollment of about 40 scholars. About this time the F. M. B. A. lodge disbanded and hired Rev. Hiram Jones to preach for them and soon after that the last preaching and Sunday School was held at this place. Providence.  A few people of the Baptist faith resided in this community and they became a mission of Good Hope where enough members were secured from their congregation to justify an organization and 1867 they organized in the log house at Clark and named it "Providence", afterwards it was known as "Myrtle tree" and "Cornbread" and some who went into this church who had previously belonged at Hardinsville built a log house in 1869 on the Darone farm a 1/4 mile south of the voting place of Precinct No.2 which was never entirely completed and for about 4 years more they met at the church and school house and in 1873 a majority of the members went west and a half dozen or so remaining sold the church and went in at Good Hope where the Revs.A. J. Fuson, William Allen and John L. Cox done the preaching. During the 2 years sojourn in the School House they kept a Sunday School during the summers from 1869 to 1872 with a total enrollment of 67.

At any rate Sunday School work is missionary work on a church's local field and how can they be true to the "Great Comission" and neglect this? Our Grandfathers and Grandmothers attended church under difficulties, walking or going horseback, the girls and women wore linsey woolsey clothing and the boys and  men wore buckskins, later some wore home made jeans. All wore moccasins or went barefoot. Many were the times they had to "coon" logs across creeks.

Christianity increases the value of property and encourages worldly men to live and raise their families in a community where there is religious influences and worldly men are not given positions of trust and from the year 1819 until the present the material progress of Honey Creek Township has relied in a great measure upon Christianity. The first School House erected in this township stood on what was known as "Gray Squirrel Hill" by old settlers about a quarter of a mile west of the range road on the Road running into Flat Rock from the west past Good Hope. Afterwards it was known as "Jones Hill", the building made of logs and daubed with clay the same as other pioneer buildings in that day, having a capacity of about 40 people, the settlers taking an honest pride in their first temple of learning and to them it was great religious  and educational center, erected in 1834 and used until 1855. There were only fifteen families residing in the Township when this house was built.

The Missionary Baptists, Hardshell Baptists and United Brethern had preaching here in the '30s and '40s. It was also the early home of Good Hope and Union Churches. The hardshells had preaching but no organization and were gradually absorbed by other denominations. Revs. Norton, Highsmith and Kennedy have each preached a sermon here at one service in the good old times when preachers thrilled the pioneers with their rugged elequence and sermons that reached the hearts of those who listened.

The United Brethern were first represented in this County in 1838 by three families of emigrants who came from Ohio and settled on what old settlers called "The Cousin Place", a half north of Swearingen Chapel, where they organized as a church of fourteen members by Revs. William Winsett and Titsworth, Samuel Bussard, Sr., Jacob Gear and Edward Longenecker, Sr. being some of the families as Charter members. For two or three years they had preaching at the Samuel Bussard, Sr.home until he moved to Hebron. In 1841 a log church and school house was built in union with the Methodist, the later holding the deed for the property and it was used until the school house was built in the south part of town, for church purposes until the church was built in 1857, the funeral of Samuel Bussard was the first one preached in it.

In 1818 the south side of the congregation was lettered off to form a class at Hurrican School House. This circuit was known as Hebron Mission in the '40s, in 1853 as Robinson circuit and in 1857 it was christened Hebron circuit. Revs. Sparks, Bolton, Shuey, Smith, Belknap,Elwell and Alexander Helton were some of their illustrious pioneer preachers. There was a steady increase of members til 1868 when the class record showed an enrollment of 108. They helped the Methodists in their Sunday School work and in 1859 organized one of their own with an enrollment of about 35. The pastor Alexander Helton gave them the watch word "Don't give up the School" which has been well remembered. Leonard Reinoehl was the Superintendent and the school has maintained an average of 40 since.

The Methodist Episcopal held services at the Jones Meeting House, located a quarter of a mile west of George Duncan's brick house on the William J. Jones' farm built in 1839.It was the first meeting house built in the Township, the Methodists built it and organized a church, it being in the Hebron circuit, later the name was changed to Joy Chapel, but after Flat Rock was laid out as a town it was given the name of the town. The old frame Church was erected 1871 and in 1890 the new brick Church was built. At Joy Chapel 40 members were enrolled in 1867 and 118 in 1875. In the later ' 50s they had a Sunday School with Elijah Nuttall as Superintendent and John Richey as Preacher. Small children were taught there A. B. C. s in the Sunday Schools. Large letters were cut from papers to spell or read verses of scriptures when placed together. Copies of verses for the older children were written and given to them a Sunday in advance.

Like other churches the New Hebron Methodist first held meetings at private houses. In 1841 they built a log church with the help of United Brethren and the people of the vicinity, though built for church purposes it was used for public school, town hall and as an all purposes building, being located north of D. C. Grubaugh's barn in the west part of town. They built a nice frame church 1850 and in 1871 they had 48 members. An organization of rough young men living east of town, calling themselves the "Prairie Devils" frequently disturbed their meetings. One night they came to town and began a disturbance while the male members led by the preacher had a "Free for All" street fight with the result that the "Prairie Devils" lost their respectability and manhood as citizens in the neighborhood.

The New Hebron M. E. Sunday School was organized in 1845, which has continued regularly ever since and is the oldest Sunday School in the Township.

The Good Hope Church were mostly former members of the old LaMotte Baptist Church north of Morea but a split occurred in this church in 1827 between two factions, led respectively by Daniel Parker and Thomas Kennedy, Sr. Parker taught the "two seed" and "anti-mission" doctrine and was the progenitor of the "Hardshell" faith. The Kennedy faction were the "effort" or "Missionary" party.

The old LaMotte church was the first battle ground of the "Missions" and "antimissons" in the United States among the Baptists. Kennedy and his party were left in possession of the church property and on June 24, 1843 the LaMotte Missionary Baptist church lettered of twenty-four members living in the southwest part of the congregation to form a seperate church and on July 16, 1843 they were organized at the Highsmith School House, where Thomas Kennedy,Sr., Stephen Kennedy, S. D. Monroe and Hezekish Shelton preached for them. In 1848 they began building a log church, which was located across the road and north of the Cemetery but was not completed untill 1851. The plank had to be hewn and mussel shells were hauled from the Embarrass River and burnt into lime to be used in mixing mortar. Prayer meetings and preaching were held in members homes, Rev. A. J. Fuson was the first to preach in the new log house. In the year 1882 a new and better church house was built. The first Sunday School record dates from 1870, with Sampson Taylor the superintendent and Hiram Jones, assistant, William Thompson, Sr. was Chorister and William P. Hamilton and William B. Cawood were able workers. These men alternated in leading the School and in the later seventies the anti Sunday School members killed it but it came to life again in 1882 as a result of the Palestine Baptist Association Sunday School Convention being held there, which lasted from Friday night untill over Sunday when a new Sunday School was organized and was continued until 1886 and then lapsed until 1891 when the School resumed with Rev. Hiram Jones as Superintendent, with good interest and attendance.

In 1880 a new Church building was erected, with 40 members enrolled and a union Sunday School was maintained in the log house for seven years with the Christians and they have had a well attended school with an average attendance, the credit for this fine Sunday School belongs to the Conover family up until the early '90s.

Swearingen Chapel. This church was organized in the log Meskimen School House which stood about 300 yards northeast of the Oscar Swearingen residence. Previous to this organization a Sunday School had been conducted by Samuel Swearingen at private residences and at the school house.

Methodist Preachers had visited this community often times and in 1874 they organized a church which has held its own fairly well. They have had a Sunday School since 1873 beginning with J. Wm. Jones and Samuel Swearingen as Superintendents, the later bought all the supplies and the former did most of the work, and the school was run on that basis for several years.

Hillsborough, the church located 3/4 of a mile west of Mt. Zion Baptist church and like it is along the boundary line of Lawrence County, the Hillsborough church was organized Nov. 24, 1877 at the Hillsborough school house with about 90 members. Previous they had preaching at the school house for several years before organizaing and in its palmy days had reached a total membership of 137 and two men have been ordained to the ministry from its membership. Later a nice church building was erected in 1881 and it was a strong religious center, the members from the Christian organization at Pleasant Grove school house joined with them at the time the church was built. While in the school house they run a union Sunday School with the Baptists before organizing for seven years and they had a fine school until 1894 and only part time after that untill the summer of '98, when their Sunday School was discontinued.

A partial history of Sunday School Conventions in the County, the records available show that there was five conventions held from Aug. 13, 1887 to June 30, 1888 and these held from June 16, 1900 to June 1,1901 making a total of ten whose minutes are of record.

Along in the '60s it was felt that a need existed for a united effort in Sunday School work, it being simply an effort of Christian citizens to promote and develop the Christian citizenship by means of the Sunday School.

There were ten Sunday Schools in Honey Creek Township with an enrollment of 420 scholars in 1860, as follows:

Sunday School Number of Scholars
Hebron, M. E. 50
New Providence 55
Hebron, U. B 35
Union 20
Jones Meeting House 50
Mann School House 40
Pearl Chapel 50
Pleasant Grove School House 30
Goff School House 50
Nuttall School House 40
Total 420

The Methodists and United Brethern were the pioneers in Sunday School work. These early Sunday Schools were held mostly in homes and School Houses with very poor accommodations every way, no literature except the Bible. The modern School era did not arrive until about 1870.

There had been preaching here since 1820 and Daniel Parker and Thomas Kennedy may have preached prior to that, the first settlers coming in 1816 and there were only a few to preach to.  As the population increased in the '20s and '30s Sunday School classes and church services began expanding reaching toward the present village of New Hebron.

Three or four conventions were held during the war with Jonas Springer as President which had a tendency to interest different schools in each others work.

From '65 to '80 we had the picnic stage when each school competed with other schools for the honor of getting up the best decorated wagon on the glee club plan and attended the picnic in procession. Able Sunday School workers addressed the assembly on topics pertaining to this work.

After 1880 the conventions were officered as follows: In 1880 J. Wm. Jones was elected untill 1888, then A. Palmer for one year, then J. Wm. Jones untill 1891, then Grant Taylor for one year, and in 1898 J. Wm. Jones was again elected and continued as President for several years: the secretaries were from 1880 untill 1887 William Mckamy, then William B. Cawood for two years, then William McKamy until his death in 1895, Vina Ford until 1901 and Charles S. Goff for several years. Vice Presidents were Harvey Wright in 1887--88 and C. C. Baker in the latter nineties, then William K. Highsmith for several years. It will seem that ex-soldiers in the civil war were largely interested in this work, William Mckamy, J. William, J. Jones, and William K. Highsmith. Places mentioned where conventions were held at Union, U. B. Church, Beckwith, M. E. Church at Flat Rock, U. B. Church at New Hebron and Oak Ridge Chapel, others active in these conventions were E. Aten, Rev. Hugh MacHatton, William A. Hope, Mrs Winters, Josanna Hope, Mrs. E. Aten, James Ransom, Minerva Wilson, Mrs. McDaniel, Newton Griswold, Mrs. Anna Henderson, Mrs. Y. M. Kennedy, Winnie Bussard, Al Barrick, Mabel Lilly, Nelson Hope, Isaac P. Smith, Mary E. Begg, Elijah Wesley, Reed Foxworthy, Ida Young, Reubin Highsmith, Jesse N. Weger, Libbie Wineman, G. N. Duncan, James C. Taylor, Lillie N. Duncan, Flossie Tohill, Miss Cora Fritz, Miss Richart, Miss Allie Kent, Jesse C. Cox, J. Ballard, Mrs. Dora Gibson and others whose names we do not have.


This page last updated on February 05, 2015.