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THE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH


THE INDIAN TRIBES, FIFTY YEARS AGO, MADE THEIR TRAILS, AND WILD BEASTS
PROWLED THROUGH THE WOODS AND PRAIRIES, WHEN NUMEROUS SWAMPS AND SWELLING
WATERS OVERFLOWED NEARLY ALL THE ENTIRE COUNTRY; WHEN PESTILENTIAL MALARIA
PROSTRATED ALMOST EVERY FAMLIY; WHEN SNOWS AND STORMS OF UNPARALLELED DEPTH
AND SEVERITY   MADE THE WINTERS DESOLATE AND FORMIDABLE TO A DEGREE BEFORE
AND SINCE UNKNOWN, SO THAT STARVATION WAS AT THE DOOR OF EVERY SETTLER; EVEN
THEN A FEW METHODIST PEOPLE MET TO WORSHIP GOD IN THEIR CABINS, AND
METHODIST PREACHERS WENT TO AND FROM IN THE WILDERNESS, "SEEKING THE OF THE
HOUSE OF ISRAEL'. THE PREACHERS, WERE MEN OF STRONG COMMON SENSE, EARNEST
CONVICTIONS, AND SUCH READY UTTERANCE AS TO COMMAND ATTENTION WHEREVER THEY
HELD DEVINE SERVICE. THEIR APPOINTMENTS WERE COMMONLY FROM TWELVE  TO TWENTY
MILES APART, AND THRY USUALLY PREACHED  EVERY DAY IN THE WEEK, EXCEPT
MONDAY .  THEIR CIRCUTS WERE OFTEN  HUNDREDS OF MILES  AROUND THEM, AND WERE
TRAVELLED  EVERY FOUR WEEKS. RARELY HAVE  PEOPLE HAD AS THEIR FIRST PASTORS,
MINISTERS OF GREATER MORAL FORCE TO DRAW THE  HEARERS AND MOULD THE MINDS OF
MEN TO CHRISTIAN TRUTH AND LIFE, AND FEW PULPIT ORATORS SINCE HAVE SURPASSED
THE FOUNDERS OF METHODISM IN THE DE WITT COUNTY IN SUBDUING ARGUMENT AND
CULTIVATING ELOQUENCE. PRTER CARTWRIGHT, JOHN SINCLAIR, S.W.D. CHASE, NORMAN
ALLYN, AND PETER AKERS, AND OTHERS AS LEADERS IN GREAT RELIGIOUS  MOVEMENTS,
WERE THE PEERS OF ANY MINISTERS EAST OR WEST IN THIS BROAD COUNTRY; THEY
CARRIED THE SIGNS OF TRUE APOSTOLIC  SUCCESSORS, "IN JOURNEYINGS OFTEN IN
PERILS OF WATERS; IN PERILS OF ROBBERS;  IN PERILS BY THE HEATHEN; IN PERILS
BY THEIR OWN COUNTRY-MEN; IN WEARINESS AND PAINFULNESS; IN HUNGER; IN COLD;
AND NAKEDNESS, BESIDES THAT WHICH CAMES UPON THEM DAILY, THE CARE OF ALL THE
CHURCHES."  LET US NOW GIVE THE NAMES OF SOME OF THOSE PIONEER SETTLERS WHO TOOK
LESSONS FROM SUCH PASTORS, AND 'THOSE WHO HAVE KNOWN THEM DURING THE PAST CENTURY
CAN REALIZE, MANY OF THEM WERE WORTHY OF THEIR TEACHERS, AND HAVE BEEN SOLID
FOUNDATION STONES IN THE CHRISTIAN TEMPLE IN THIS COUNTY.

JUDGE WILLIAM  LOWERY, AN AGED METHODIST WITH A LARGE FAMILY EMIGRATED FROM
KENTUCKY, AND STOPPING A WHILE IN EDGAR COUNTY IN THIS STATE, CAME AND
SETTLED ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF SALT CREEK TIMBER, ONE AND A HALF MILES EAST OF
THE PRESENT TOWN  OF KENNY,IN 1829. THAT YEAR, AT THE MT. CARMEL CONFERENCE,
ILLINOIS CONFERENCE  WAS ORGANIZED:  REV. W.L. DENEEN, AN EFFECTIVE AND
PROMISING YOUNG MAN, WAS APPOINTED TO "SALT CREEK CIRCUIT," EMBRACING ALL THE
COUNTRY NOW INCLUDED IN MENARD, LOGAN, MACON, AND DE WITT COUNTIES, AND ALL OF
SANGAMON COUNTY, NORTH OF SANGAMON RIVER.MR. DENEEN ORGANIZED THE FIRST SOCIETY IN
DE WITT COUNTY,  AT THE HOUSE OF JUDGE LOWERY. THE MEMBERS WERE WILLIAM LOWERY AND
WIFE, AND TWO SONS AND THREE DAUGHTERS: RUBEN, FRANK, CECILLIA, NANCY AND ELIZA
LOWERY.  THOMAS ALSOP AND WIFE, WIDOW ALSOP AND DAUGHTER, JAMES KENNY AND WIFE,
AND SON. DANIEL NEWCOMB AND WIFE, HIS FATHER AND SISTERS ELIZABETH AND HANNAH,
WERE ADDED TO THE INFANT CHURCH.

IN THE FALL OF 1831, COL. ANDREW WALLACE, FROM BOURBON COUNTY, KENTUCKY,
CAME AND SETTLED FOUR MILES NORTH-WEST OF LOWERY'S, ON THE NORTH SIDE OF
SALT CREEK; AND IN 1832, THE COLONEL'S WIFE AND DAUGHTER, NOW WIDOW HICKMAN,
UNITED WITH THE CHURCH; IN 1836, JOSEPH HOWARD AND WIFE, AND RUBEN THORNLEY
AND WIFE, RACHEL HOWARD, AND MARY WALLACE, NOW WIDOW REDDICK, OF CLINTON.
THIS SOCIETY MADE QUITE A CREDITABLE  BEGINNING FOR METHODIST HISTORY IN THE
COUNTY.

THE PREACHING PLACE CONTINUED AT JUDGE LOWERY'S FOR SEVERAL YEARS; ALSO AT
DANIEL NEWCOMB'S THEN IT WAS REMOVED TO JOSEPH HOWARD'S HOUSE WHERE IT
REMAINED FOR EIGHTEEN YEARS COL. WALLACE'S HOUSE WAS ALSO A PLACE OF WORSHIP
FOR A LONG PERIOD.  THOUGH THE COL. WAS NOT WAS NOT A CHURCH MEMBER, HE WAS ONE OF
NATURE'S NOBLEMEN. THE PREACHER IN THOSE DAYS HELD CLOSED DOOR CLASS MEETINGS AFTER
PREACHING AND AS MANY OF THE CONGREGATION LIKE HIMSELF WERE TURNED OUT OF
DOORS CLASS HOUR, HE GOOD HUMOREDLY SAID HE WOULD NOT STAND FOR IT; AND HE
BUILT ANOTHER ROOM FOR HIMSELF AND BROTHER OUTSIDERS HAVE ACCOMMODATIONS
ALSO ON CLASS MEETING OCCASIONS.

AFTER THE FIRST YEARS' HARDSHIPS PASSED SOCIAL LIFE WAS GREATLY RELISHED AND
CULTIVATED IN THE HOME CIRCLES; AND PLENTEOUS TABLES WERE COVERED WITH
LUSCIOUS REFRESHMENTS. THE HOUSES WHERE PREACHING WAS HELD OFTEN ENTERTAINED
AT THOSE TABLES TEN, TWENTY AND EVEN FIFTY AT A TIME. NO FAMED VIRGINIA
HOSPITALITY EVER SURPASSED IN GENEROUS ABUNDANCE, SO OFTEN FURNISHED, TO SO
MANY WHO WORSHIPED AT THOSE PRIVATE HOUSES. MRS. HETA WALLACE WIFE OF THE
COLONEL PREPARED ONE OF THESE TABLES; SHE IS STILL LIVING AT THE AGE OF 91.

IN 1834 A METHODIST SOCIETY WAS FORMED AT WAYNESVILLE; AND ONE AY MARION
(NOW  DE WITT)  AND ALSO ONE AT HURLYS GROVE, DENNIS HURLY AND WIFE, RICHARD
KIRBY AND WIFE, CHARLES McCONE AND WIFE, SOME OF THE HUDDLESTON AND
CLEARWATER FAMILY, JOHN WEEDMAN AND WIFE,; ALL OF THESE HAD LARGE FAMILIES
WHO AFTERWARD UNITED WITH THE CHURCH. ABOUT THE SAME YEAR SOCIETIES WERE
FORMED ON NORTH FORK OF SALT CREEK AT BRITTONS AT ISAAC SWISHERS AND IN
TEXAS TOWNSHIP, BUT AT THE LAST NAMED PLACE METHODISM DID NOT SUCCEED VERY
WELL AND IS THE ONLY TOWNSHIP IN THE COUNTY WHERE IT HAS NO REPRESENTATION.

AFTER FIVE YEARS THE NAME SALT CREEK CIRCUIT WAS CHANGED AND CALLED "ATHENS
CIRCUIT" AFTER A SMALL TOWN IN SANGAMON COUNTY CONTAINING THE PARSONAGE;
ABRAHAM LINCOLN LIVED THERE IN THOSE DAYS. CLINTON CIRCUIT WAS FORMED IN
1839. THE SAME YEAR DE WITT COUNTY WAS ORGANIZED AND CLINTON WAS MADE THE
COUNTY SEAT WHEN THERE WERE ONLY TWELVE FAMILIES IN THE TOWN, AND OF THOSE A
SMALL METHODIST SOCIETY WAS FORMED BY REV. GABRIEL WATT. JOHN J. McGRAW WAS
THE CIRCURIT CLERK AND HIS OFFICE IN THE OLD FRAME COURT-HOUSE WAS THE
PREACHING PLACE. THE FIRST BOARD OF OFFICIAL MEMBERS OF CLINTON CIRCUIT WERE
RUEBEN THORNLY, JOSEPH HOWARD, SAMUEL H. MARTIN, NICOLAS MOORE, WOODFORD
TAYLOR, WM. COTTINGHAMAND JOHN CLARK, JOSEPH HOWARD AND S.H. MARTIN WERE
LICENSED TO PREACH AT THE FIRST QUARTERLY CONFERENCE OF THAT YEAR.

IN 1835 HURLY'S GROVE FORMED A PART OF MARION MISSION AND HAD REV. JOHN C.
FRENCH FOR THEIR PASTOR, AND AT THEIR FIRST QUARTERLY CONFERENCE HAD TWELVE
LOCAL PREACHERS, NINE STEWARDS,AND THIRTEEN CLASS TEACHERS BESIDES THE
PREACHERS IN CHARGE ON THE OFFICIAL LIST,AND OF THOSE  IN THIS COUNTY WERE
PAXTON CUMMINS, GABRIEL WATT, DUDLEY RICHARDS, CHARLES McCONE, BENJAMIN DAY,
GEORGE LEMONS, WM. McPHERSON, (WHO AFTERWARD JOINED THE BAPTIST), AND
RICHARD KIRBY. THREE YEARS AFTER CLINTON CIRCUIT WAS FORMED TWENTY-FOUR
MEMBERS OF THE QUARTERLY CONFERENCE WERE IN ATTENDANCE. QUARTERLY MEETINGS
IN THOSE TIMES WERE SEASONS OF GREAT  RELIGIOUS INTEREST DRAWING OFFICIAL
AND PRIVATE MEMBERS TOGETHER FROM A DISTANCE OF TWENTY, FORTY, SIXTY MILES.
THE BUSINESS WAS PERFORMED WITH ORDER AND DISPATCH; BUT TEMPORAL BUSINESS
WAS NOT THEN THE MAIN OBJECT OF THOSE ASSEMBLAGES. THE PRESENCE OF THE
PRESIDING ELDER WAS UTILIZED BY ALL IN ATTENDANCE. THE OTHER PREACHERS DREW
INSPIRATION FROM HIS SUPERIOR WISDOM AND DEEPER EXPERIENCE IN SPIRITUAL
REALITIES. HIS PRESENCE BECAME A MAGNETIC STIMULENT. HIS PREACHING WAS "NOT
IN WORD ONLY BUT IN POWER AND IN THE HOLY GHOST AND IN MUCH ASSURANCE." THE
PREACHERS AND ELDERS THEN COULD TRULY SAY "SILVER AND GOLD HAVE I NONE BUT
SUCH AS I HAVE GIVE I UNTO THE THEE," AND MANY OF THOSE WHOSE "FEET AND
ANCLE BONES RECEIVED STRENGTH" AND LEAPING UP WENT THROUGH THOSE HUMBLE
TEMPLES "WALKING AND LEAPING AND PRAISING GOD".

THE PASTORS AND PRESIDING ELDERS FOR THE FIRST TEN YEARS WERE IN 1829, W.L.
DENEEN; 1830 A.S. PHELPS; 1831 WILSON PITNER; 1832 LEVI SPRINGER; 1833 JAS.
H. DICKENS, EMANUEL METCALF; 1834-5 MOSES CLAMPET, S.P. BURR; 1836  RICHARD
BIRD, MOSES WOOD; 1837 LEVI SPRINGER; 1838-9 GABRIEL WATT. AND THOSE ON
MARION MISSION WERE 1835 JOHN C. FRENCH; 1836 RICHARD W. CLARK; 1837 PAXTON
CUMMINS; 1838-9 HORACE MAYNARD, PETER CARTWRIGHT, JOHN SINCLAIR, AND S.W.D.
CHASE, SERVED IN THE ELDERSHIP.

THE FIRST PARSONAGE WAS BUILT AT HURLY GROVE IN 1838, OF LOGS AND ONLY ONE
ROOM, JOHN WEEDMAN AND RICHARD KIRBY DONATED FIVE ACRES OF GROUND FOR THE
USE OF THE PARSONAGE. THE FIRST MEETING HOUSE WAS BUILT IN 1843 AT HURLY'S
GROVE. DENNIS HURLY, JOHN WEEDMAN, R. KIRBY, JOHN DANNER, WILLIAM McCONE,
AND JOHN DAY WERE THE TRUSTEES. THE FIRST CAMP MEETING WAS HELD NEAR COL.
WALLACE'S IN 1832, CAMP MEETINGS WERE SOON HELD AT WAYNESVILLE AND MARION
AND IN 1840 THE CAMP GROUND WAS LOCATED FOR EIGHTEEN YEARS AT HURLY'S GROVE
AND WAS GREATLY SUCCESSFUL.

THE GIFTED AND ECCENTRIC DR. GODDARD'S PREACHING PRODUCED EXTRAORDINARY
EMOTIONS AMONG THE MULTITUDES IN ATTENDANCE, CONTINUING FOR TWO WEEKS. IN
1818, J.C. RUCKER AND W.J. NEWMAN. ONE HUNDRED ADDITIONS WERE MADE TO THE
CHURCH ON THE CIRCUIT THIS YEAR, AND FIRST METHODIST CHURCH BUILT IN
CLINTON. 1849,  A. DONCARLOS; 1850, WM. HINDALL AND T.A. EATON; 1851, W.
HINDALL; 1852, W.E. JOHNSON,; 1853-4, G. GARNER. the ELDERS PRESIDING DURING
THESE FOURTEEN YEARS WERE  P. AKERS, W.D. R. TROTTER, P. CARTWRIGHT, JOHN S.
BARGER, C.D. JAMES AND H. BUCK.  FOR CONVENIENCE AND BETTER ARRANGEMENT, THE HISTORY
OF THE CHARGES IN THE COUNTY WILL NOW BE GIVEN.

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