Church and Family History Assistance for
Primitive Baptist Churches in Hancock County, Illinois



Middle Creek Church was the first church of any faith organized in Hancock County. It was organized on Saturday before the second Sunday in August 1832, with thirteen charter members, viz., Elder William Bradley, Nancy Bradley, Elizabeth Bradley, James W. Bradley, Ruth Bradley, Thomas H. Owen, Mary Owen, John Massengel, Polly Massengel, Elizabeth Smith, John Bloyd, Sr., John Bloyd, Jr., and Martha Bloyd. The presbytery consisted of Elders William Bradley and John Ray, and Lic. Thomas H. Owen.

The church petitioned for membership in the Spoon River Association and was received in September 1832. In October 1835, this church went into the organization of the Salem Association.

In 1835 Middle Creek Church dismissed several members to organize Providence Church. In 1837 Middle Creek Church sent help to organize the St. Marys Church. In February 1859 Middle Creek Church extended an arm to Rock Creek township. Meetings were held at the Jubilee and West Union Schools, north of Carthage, until the late 1860's. In 1870 a few members were dismissed to help organize Smyrna Church in Bentley. In 1871 several members were dismissed to help organize Rock Creek Church near Ferris.

Pastors prior to 1940 were Elders William Bradley, Thomas H. Owen, Jacob Castlebury, Thomas Jones, Thomas Newton Frazee, B. R. Warren, Lewis E. Frazee, Claud E. Webb, and W. A. Chastain.

According to one source, Middle Creek Church first met in a log church building. The records show that in July 1840 the meeting was held at the home of Bro. James Kimbrough. In October 1840 the church appointed a committee to select a site for a new meeting house. A deed was obtained from George and Mahala Boston for one acre of land, in May 1841, and work then began on the brick building. It was on the hill west of the bridge on Middle Creek, which at that time was along the State Road from Carthage to Rushville (still earlier part of it was probably an Indian trail), in the northeast quarter of Sec. 35 in Carthage Township. In 1865, the church received another tract from George Boston, Jr., joining the property on the east. Part of the interior of the brick meeting house was not finished until about 1851.

In 1892, the old brick church building was torn down. Some of the bricks were used in the foundation of the new, larger, frame meeting house, which was constructed about a mile south of the original location, in Section 2 of Harmony township, on land purchased from Francis S. and Phoebe Austin. In 1940, a basement was installed under this second building.


Abbott, Adkins, Alley, Atchison, Atherton, Berry, Beyler, Bishop, Bloyd, Bobbitt, Booz, Boston, Bradley, Bragg, Brattain, Bryant, Burner, Butler, Byers, Cain, Campbell, Cannon, Carlock, Cason, Castlebury, Cauthorn, Coker, Cox, Cross, Dale, Daughterty, Davis, Davy, Doolittle, Doss, Earls, Findley, Foster, Frazee, Friend, Gardner, Gibson, Goodall, Granger, Griffitts, Grove, Hankins, Hardy, Harris, Harter, Harvey, Haynes, Helms, Hopkins, Hoskins, Howell, Hughett, Hutchins, Jenkins, Jobe, Johnston, Jones, Kennedy, Key, Keyser, Kimbrough, Kirk, Koontz, Lane, Langford, Lanman, Lee, Lemmons, Mabry, Martin, Massengel, Matthews, Matthias, Mauk, McCallister, McClure, McPherson, Mecum, Moss, Murray, Nay, Newell, Newton, Owen, Perkins, Perry, Phillips, Polens, Powell, Preston, Purcell, Robison, Rowland, Rutherford, Slusher, Smiddy, Smith, Sower, Starr, Stowe, Swope, Symmonds, Thompson, Thurber, Tracy, Tucker, Uhler, Ward, Weaver, Welch, White, Wilson, Worrell, Wren, Wright, Wyatt, Young.

A Description of the "Old Brick" Middle Creek Church
An Account of Early Religious Activity in Hancock County
A Tribute to Elder William Bradley, 1774-1850
A Tribute to Elder Thomas H. Owen, 1797-1880
A Tribute to Elder George Walker, 1804-1879
A Tribute to Elder Jacob Castlebury, 1804-1885


New Harmony Church was first organized as an arm of New Providence Church (near Ursa) in November 1834. New Harmony Church was formally organized at the home of Elder George Walker, on the 4th Saturday in June 1835. Elders Joel G. Williams and John Harvey from New Providence Church were appointed to sit in the council. Elders Thomas H. Owen, William Bradley, and others, may have also been present at the constitution.

Elders George Walker, Isaiah Guymon, David Layman, and Andrew P. Tanneyhill probably served this church as pastor (there may have been a few others also). Lic. Pleasant P. Glenn was also a member here.

Elder George Walker built a log meeting house on his own land, with dimensions of about 24 by 30 feet (probably in the mid- to late 1830's). It was located at the site of the Walker Cemetery, which is three miles south and one mile west of Sutter.

New Harmony Church first united with the Spoon River Association in September 1835, at which time the church reported 7 members; the next month, it went into the constitution of the Salem Association, at which time 9 members were reported. The church enjoyed a measure of prosperity in its early history; 27 members were received by baptism in the year 1840. The church reported 60 members in 1843.


Baker, Barnett, Caldwell, Couch, Gillham, Glen, Guymon, Layman, Loftus, Martin, McCrady, Shepherd, Tanneyhill, Vinson, Walker, Williams, Woodworth (very incomplete due to loss of records).

A Study of New Harmony Church, Colonel Levi Williams, the Militia, and the Expulsion of the Mormons from Hancock County, Illinois


Providence Church was organized in September 1835 at the home of Daniel Cain in St. Mary's township. The charter members, most of whom were dismissed from Middle Creek Church, were James Griffitts, Charles Friend, Jacob Castlebury, Josiah M. Huddleston, Paul Brattain, Henry Moss, William Griffitts, Amos Lemmons, Silas Griffitts, John Martin, Mary Griffitts, Catherine Friend, Nancy Keith, Martha Griffitts, Nancy Castlebury, Vashti Browning and Nancy Haskins. The presbytery was composed of Elders William Bradley, Thomas H. Owen and Micajah B. Rowland. Pastors have been: Thomas H. Owen, Jacob Castlebury, George Tracy, T. N. Frazee, B. R. Warren, J. B. Dobbs, Lewis E. Frazee, Claud E. Webb, and Raymond Webb.

In January 1836 a committee appointed by the church reported selection of a site for a meeting house on Jacob Castlebury's land, about 1/4 of a mile south of his residence. It was agreed to erect a hew'd log house 20 by 26 feet, ground high. In April 1837 the church agreed to drop the building of the meeting house on the plan recorded in the records. In October 1837 a new committee was appointed to select a site. In February 1838 this committee reported a site on the S. W. Corner of Bro. Castlebury's land. In March 1838 the church agreed to receive 2 acres of land in a square form off the S. W. Corner of J. Castlebury's land for the purpose of building a meeting house, 20 feet square, of hew'd logs. In February 1839 the church, after deliberation, agreed to relinquish her claim of building a meeting house on the S. W. Corner of Brother Castlebury's land for the present, and agreed to take the logs and other materials for a school house, which may be used as a house to hold meeting in. The first known meeting house owned by the church itself was built on the site of the present house, and the land was given to the church by Jacob and Nancy Brumback in 1851. The present frame meeting house was erected in 1895. A basement was added in 1947-1948. An addition to the front, with modern bathrooms, was made in 1991.


Akers, Albert, Alexander, Allen, Bailey, Barnard, Bean, Beckner, Bolinger, Brattain, Briggs, Browning, Brumback, Buniff, Burner, Burnett, Cain, Cammel, Cannon, Castlebury, Chambers, Clary, Collins, Cook, Cox, Cross, Curry, Davis, Dean, Dodd, Dodderer, Duncan, Eaves, Edge, Eichhorn, Epping, Eptigroves, Feas, Fisher, Fleming, Fowler, Frazee, Friend, Ganion, Gardner, Garrett, Green, Griffitts, Grimsley, Grove, Hardin, Harper, Harris, Harter, Haskins, Hill, Hoard, Hodge, Hopkins, Huddleston, Huff, Husted, Hutson, Jackson, Jenkins, Johnson, Jones, Keith, Kendall, Kennedy, Kirk, Koontz, Krueger, Lemmons, Lionberger, Long, Lowderback, Mabry, Martin, Matthews, Mauk, McClure, McCoy, McFadden, Messmore, Mikesel, Miller, Milton, Moody, Moss, Munday, Murray, Owens, Pasley, Peterson, Pettyjohn, Phillips, Pile, Pollock, Pool, Powell, Rama, Ramsey, Regan, Rice, Ridings, Rigg, Roadcap, Rocky, Rook, Rose, Rouse, Rowland, Rucker, Runkle, Sallee, Samuel, Sanford, Scheuermann, Shanks, Shonce, Slusher, Smart, Smiddy, Smith, Spiva, Summers, Symmonds, Thurber, Tomlinson, Tucker, Vance, Ware, Webb, White, Whittington, Wickert, Williams, Willis, Willison, Wright, Wristen, Young.


Bethany Church was organized on the fifth Saturday in June, 1839, at the home of Mr. John Smith, in McDonough County, with nine charter members, viz., Elder Robert Mays, William Mathews, Thomas J. Hill, Hannah Johnson, Sarah Mays, Jane Smith, Malinda Hill, Nancy Mathews, and Mary Bowen, who were dismissed for that purpose from New Hope Church. New Hope Church had met part of the time in this vicinity, at the home of her pastor, Elder Mays, and others, north of Jobe's Settlement (Blandinsville), near the line between McDonough County and Hancock County, as early as June 1837. Elders Thomas H. Owen served as moderator, and Elder William M. Morrow served as clerk, of the constitution meeting.

Bethany Church united with the Spoon River Association. Elders Robert Mays, George Tracy, and others probably served the church as pastor in its early history. Elder Isaac N. Vanmeter was chosen as pastor in about 1858, and served as pastor for many years.

For many years this church held its meetings in the large brick country home of Benjamin Crabill.

Obituary of Angeline Crabill


Beasley, Blackburn, Bowen, Crabill, Dickson, Haynes, Hildreth, Hill, Johnson, Mathews, Mays, Smiddy, Smith, Tipton, Tracy, Walter (very incomplete due to loss of records).


Shiloh Church was organized at the home of Uriah Dodd, on St. Mary's Prairie, on Saturday before the third Sunday in April 1842. The early members included Elders Moses Frazee and John Harper, and brethren Uriah Dodd, Edward Jenkins, and Elias Johnson.

For the short time that this church existed, it was a member of the Salem Association. It reported 13 members in 1842; in 1843, 15; in 1844, 15; and in 1845, 9. It was not represented in the Association after 1845.


Dodd, Frazee, Harper, Jenkins, Johnson (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Enon Church was organized in or near Nauvoo, probably in the year 1845. Records of Salem Association show that the membership of Shiloh Church on St. Mary's Prairie decreased from 15 in 1844 to 9 in 1845, and some of those members probably organized Enon Church. Enon Church united with the Des Moines River Association in August 1849, her messengers being Elder John Harper and William S. Wright. Elder Thomas H. Owen and his wife moved to Nauvoo in 1847, and were dismissed by letter from Middle Creek Church in March 1848 and July 1847, respectively. Elder Owen served as postmaster at Nauvoo for about two years. In 1849, Elder Owen left for California. In 1851, Elder John Harper moved to Iowa, and the church dissolved by mutual consent.


Harper, Owen, Wright (incomplete due to loss of records).

1849 and 1850 Letters from Nauvoo by Elder John Harper
Research on Enon Church, at Nauvoo, Illinois


Bethel Church was organized on Saturday before the third Sunday in April 1854, at the home of Brother John H. Symmonds. Charter members included A. H. Adair, Joseph Harter, Elizabeth Harter, Elder David Layman, Rachel Layman, John H. Symmonds, Margaret Symmonds, John Poland, John M. Wetzel, John Pavey, Wiley King, Thomas Wristen, Nancy Wristen, and probably others. The presbytery included Elder Jacob Castlebury from Providence Church, and others.

Bethel Church united with the Salem Association in September 1854, at which time they reported 22 members in fellowship. In August 1857 the Church selected a site to build a meeting house, which was completed by September 1858. The deed for one acre of land was recorded in June 1861, to the trustees of Bethel Church, from William Symmonds and his wife Margaret. Bro. John H. Symmonds provided most of the building materials for the meeting house, which was near his home. In September 1873 the church extended an arm to hold services at the Breckinridge school house, and received several members there.

Elders David Layman, Thomas Jones, William J. Preston, B. R. Warren, and Rice Harris served this church as pastor. Her deacons included John H. Symmonds, Joseph Harter, John Poland and Phillip Gabel. Some of her clerks were John M. Wetzel, Wiley King, Joseph Harter, Rice Harris, Abner Cogburn, W. J. Reeder, Sarah E. Harris, and F. Marion Wetzel.

Bethel Cemetery, southeast of Basco, marks the location where the meeting house of Bethel Church once stood.


Adair, Barnard, Bryant, Calhoun, Cogburn, Dorsey, Gabel, Guymon, Harris, Harter, King, Layman, Loftus, McCoy, Pavey, Poland, Preston, Reeder, Smith, Summers, Symmonds, Walker, Warren, Watts, Wetzel, Wren, Wristen, Young.


Smyrna Church was organized in the Bentley schoolhouse on April 16, 1870. The charter members were J. M. Slusher, Robert Hughett, Wilson Thompson, Pleasant Cox, Susanna Burnett, Martha Ann Hughett, Lucinda C. Thompson, Mary Slusher and Eliza Jane Grove. The presbytery was composed of Elders T. N. Frazee, Thomas Jones and William Preston. Pastors from 1870 to 1970 were: Elders Thomas Jones, B. R. Warren, L. E. Frazee, C. E. Webb, Orvel B. Prior, and Vernon R. Hopkins.

In July 1870, Smyrna Church voted to unite with the Salem Association. In 1872, a committee was appointed to raise funds to build a church house in Bentley, with dimensions of 30 by 40 feet. The work was completed in 1873.


Allen, Baker, Blayney, Bolinger, Bond, Boston, Brooks, Burnett, Byler, Cogburn, Courter, Cox, Craft, Cross, Cullison, Curtis, DeLoach, Dittmer, Farmer, Gardner, Gorrigur, Grove, Hardy, Harris, Hildreth, Hopkins, Howel, Huddleston, Hughett, Husband, Jackson, Jenkins, Jones, Keith, Kennedy, Krueger, Leatherman, Logsdon, Lyon, Malloy, Mauk, McCoy, McPherson, Mecum, Mehew, Merick, Metternich, Miller, Morris, Perry, Phillips, Poland, Prior, Rankins, Ray, Reed, Ridings, Robertson, Rossiter, Ruberts, Runkle, Ryan, Scheuermann, Shepard, Slothouber, Slusher, Smith, Strong, Sundberg, Surbaugh, Swearingen, Symmonds, Thompson, Vanbeaver, Varnes, Walker, Webb, White, Willard, Wright.


Rock Creek Church was organized at the Jefferson schoolhouse, near Ferris, on Saturday, July 15, 1871. The presbytery was composed of Elder T. N. Frazee, from Providence; Elder Thomas Jones, and brethren John Jenkins and Ambrose Bryant, from Middle Creek; and Elder John Riley, S. Harris and M. W. Wristen from Bear Creek. The charter members were Jackson Harris, Solomon Stowe, Matilda Stowe, Newton Alsbury, Lucinda Alsbury, Nathan H. White, Arena White, Margaret Butler, Nancy Abbott, and Frances Rama.

Elders D. W. Owens, Rice Harris, L. E. Frazee and W. Frank Harris served this church as pastor. Elder D. W. Owens (June 1874) and W. Frank Harris (1894) were ordained to the ministry by this church. Rock Creek Church united with the Salem Association in 1871. This church held meetings in the Jefferson school until 1906.


Abbott, Alsbury, Bryant, Buhl, Butler, Byler, Fry, Glass, Grisham, Grotts, Harris, Hawkins, Hays, Hetrick, Jenkins, Kerby, Lower, McNeal, McPherson, Murphy, Orr, Owens, Place, Rama, Richards, Riley, Ritchie, Sizelove, Smiddy, Smith, Starnes, Stowe, Tracy, Watts, White, Winship.


Friendship Church was organized November 20, 1880, at the Durham (Tilton) schoolhouse, in Durham township, by the following charter members: David and Elizabeth Byler, William and Hanna Riley, Silas Byler, Catherine Ritchey, Alexana Byler, Anna Grisham, John Byler and Charles Buhl. The presbytery was composed of Elders Jacob Castlebury, James Harper, Rice Harris, Elijah Ping and James M. True, and deacons John Young and B. F. Tucker. A church house was built in 1882, on an acre of land donated by David Byler, about a mile south of Durham. Friendship Church united with the Salem Association in 1881. Her pastors were: Elders Elijah Ping, Rice Harris, T. B. Ausmus, J. L. Bennett, Giles Reeder, L. E. Frazee, C. E. Webb and Raymond Webb.


Bennett, Broadnax, Buhl, Byler, Caldwell, Dixon, Fry, Gardner, Goff, Grisham, Harris, Hildreth, Hutson, Jackson, Markland, Moyer, Riley, Ritchie, Sellars, Smiddy, Stiles, Sutton, Symmonds, Weeks.


Beginning on the fourth Sunday in January 1995, worship services began to be held at The Primitive Baptist Library, 416 Main Street, in Carthage, Illinois, with Elder Robert Webb preaching. Construction began on a new meeting house, at 220 S. Scofield Street, in Carthage, in March 1995, which was completed sufficiently to hold services for the first time by July 23, 1995. The Carthage Primitive Baptist Church was organized on Tuesday, July 29, 1997, by a presbytery composed of four Elders and six deacons. Elder Robert Webb was chosen pastor, and is still serving. The church meets each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. In May 2000, work began on a new dining room addition to the west end of the church building, which was completed by February 2001. In August 2004 Elder Robbie Webb was ordained to the full work of the ministry, and was chosen assistant pastor.


Obituaries in Signs of the Times, Messenger of Peace, and other church papers. The experiences of Elders Thomas H. Owen, Jacob Castlebury, and Lewis E. Frazee (written by themselves) are also available. A collection of letters and articles written by Elder Thomas H. Owen is also now available from us.

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