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OLD UNION CHRISTIAN CHURCH


"The groves were God's first temples," and in a grove next near where old Union Church now 
stands, C Father Hugh Bowles, commenced preaching the gospel of Christ; and here in this 
primitive temple, on Saturday before the second Lord's day in August 1833  old Union Church 
was organized, seventeen persons entered into this organization, of this number only seven 
remain to tell the old, old story, viz: Anderson Bowles, Margaret Bowles, Rebecca Bowles,  Henry
Hall, and wife Mary Hall and Elizabeth Barnett. The first officers were Hugh Bowles, and Malon 
Hall, Elders Joseph Bowles and Darius Hall, deacons. The following named preachers have 
ministered to this congregation Hugh Bowles, James Scott, Abner Peales, Alfred Lindsey, William
Ryan, W.P. Bowles, Isaac Martin, John England, John G. Campbell, Isaac Stout, Dudley Downs, C.F.
Short, William Knight, R.B. Roberts, Samuel Low, E.C. Craig, L.M. Robinson, and T.T. Holton. In
addition to these regular preachers, noted protracted meetings have been held by John Q. Houston,
Elder Crain, F. Adams and Simpson Ely. At these meetings large additions were made to this 
church.  Over one thousand  persons have beemn connected with this church. The present 
membership, who attend church regularly, is two hundred and fifty, of this number, are 
twenty-five who take active part in the social meetings. This congregation had no house of 
worship until 1838, when the old church was built; this first house was a union church, occupied
part of the time by the Baptists and Methodist, previous to the building of this house meetings 
were held in the grove and in private houses. The present church building was erected in 1864, 
near the site of the old house. It is situated ten miles west of Clinton on a hill near Salt 
Creek, at the foot of the hill are large springs of never failing water, back of the church is 
the old graveyard where many of the early settlers are buried. The cost of the new church was 
$3000. It has a seating capacity of 600. the present officers are Robert Black and Joseph 
Bowles, Elders; David McClimans, William F. Bowles and J.A. Evans, deacons.

The present pastor T.T. Holton has has labored for this congregation fot ten years, has been 
instrumental in settling difficulties in the church and under his preaching it has been 
harmonious and prosperous. He is universally loved and will probably labor for this 
congregation for some time to come.  He preaches for the church one-half of the time,the pulpit
being filled the rest of the time by home talent. Two public discussions have been held at this
church, one between James  Barger, Methodist and W.P. Bowles, Christian; the other between 
Abraham Jones, Baptist and Absalom Forman, Universalistic. The church sustains a good Sunday 
school of seventy five members, C.D. Bowles, superintendent, and they exert a wide influence 
for good. Today, counting  among her membership many of the leading families of the community. 
It is a tower of strength and a potent factor for good. It is the oldest church of this 
denomination in the county and among those who contributed much to its prosperity in an early
day was Father Bowles. He was born in Virginia in 1786, and spent the early part of his life in
Kentucky. His educational oportunities were limited, yet he was a great reader, and an original
thinker, and was well read in history  both ancient and modern, but his greatest texr book was
the Bible, especially the New Testament; of this he could repeat the greater portion. He removed
to Illinois in 1830 and to De Witt county in 1831. Besides old Union, he organized churches at 
Rock Creek and Long Point, in this county and at other points in Logan and Sangamon counties. He
labored upon the farm through the week preaching Saturdays and Sundays, often riding on 
horseback from twenty to fifty miles to reach his appointments. The largest sum of money 
received by him for his preaching was ten dollars, this he gave to a lady who was hurt by being 
thrown from her horse while attending one of his meetings. He spent the later years of his life 
in preaching to the various congregations he had founded, and in December 1846 at the age of 
sixty years was called to reap the reward of his labors.
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