Church and Family History Research Assistance
for Marion County, Missouri

We invite Primitive Baptists in the city of Hannibal,
or anyone interested in attending Primitive Baptist services,
within driving distance in any direction from Hannibal,
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Bear Creek Church, three miles west of downtown Hannibal, was organized on August 5, 1821, at the home of George and Anna Turner. There were ten charter members, viz., Charles Turner, Phoebe Turner, John Rush, Margaret Rush, George Turner, Anna Turner, Francis McRea, Samuel Conway, Suzanna Gregory, and Fannie Wasson. Elder Davis Biggs and Frank Wasson formed the presbytery.

The church met at first in the home of George and Anna Turner, then in an old cooper shop (barrel factory). About this time (March 1822), the church took part in the constitution of the Salt River Baptist Association. In 1829, the church obtained a site and began to build a log building. It took four years to complete, as it was one and a half stories high, with two balconies to accommodate the slaves who attended. This log structure served the congregation for 22 years. In 1856, a new stone church building was constructed. A carved stone over the door indicated that the edifice was the Old School Baptist Church. This sturdy and picturesque building was used by Norman Rockwell for one of his paintings which were included in the Mark Twain book, Tom Sawyer. It remained intact until April 1982 when it was burned by an arsonist, leaving only the stone shell of the structure. The roof has subsequently been replaced, and there is some interest in restoring the historic stone structure.

Pastors of the church included Leroy Jackson (1823), Charles L. Turner (1825), James Latherum (1827), Robert Hendren (1832), Benjamin Davis (1845), William Priest (1853), Walter Cash (1890), W. I. Carnell (1910), and C. C. Melton (1911). Deacons included Samuel Conway, Isaac Ely, Pleasant Glenn, William Kercheval, Thomas King, John T. Minor, Stewart Self, Gabriel Turner, and Jasper Turner. Clerks included Charles L. Turner, Stephen Dodd, Solomon Lucas, John P. Turner, F. M. Turner, Alex Turner, H. Glascock, T. M. Turner, Ella Lear, T. G. Lear, G. W. Brooks, and Mollie Minor.

In 1834, fourteen churches, including Bear Creek, were dismissed from the Salt River Association to organize a new Association called Bethel. In 1838 Bear Creek Church, with seven others, withdrew from the Bethel Association on account of a majority holding to the modern mission system, and entered into a new constitution, the Two River Association. Bear Creek Church remained in this Association until 1911.


Ash, Atkins, Baren, Baynum, Biggs, Bradford, Bradley, Brashears, Brice, Brooks, Brown, Calvert, Campbell, Capp, Chapman, Choat, Cobbs, Conway, Cornett, Culbertson, Davis, Dearing, Dodd, Dodson, Dudley, Ely, Evans, Ferguson, Fisher, Fry, Galasby, Garnett, Gilbert, Glascock, Glenn, Gould, Graham, Green, Gregory, Harrow, Hawkins, Heather, Hendren, Hill, Holman, Hopkins, Huston, Hutchinson, James, Juniper, Kerchival, King, Laird, Lear, Lucas, Maddox, Maupin, McFall, McGee, McRea, McWilliams, Miller, Minor, Mullins, Nunns, O'Neal, Patrick, Priest, Rackbee, Renfro, Robinson, Rush, Self, Settles, Shaw, Shroeder, Sloane, Smarr, Snell, Stout, Strode, Strother, Taylor, Tillett, Triplett, Tuggle, Turner, Waller, Wasson, Whitlow, Willard, Williams, Williard, Wine, Winn, Withers, Woodson, Wooten.


South River Church was also organized in about 1821. The first bulding, erected in about 1830, was of white oak logs, and was located in township 57, Range 5. A brick building, on the banks of the South River, about three miles south of Palmyra, was constructed in 1856. It is believed that Elder William See was the first minister, followed by Elder Jeremiah Taylor. Elders William Fuqua and William Priest also served this church.




Click here to read a first-hand account written in February 1839, by Elder Henry Louthan, regarding the separation from Salt River Association, and Bethel Association, which resulted in the formation of the Two River Association.

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