Church and Family History Research Assistance
for Menard County, Illinois




It appears from local history that Clary's Grove Church was organized on December 25, 1824, and that Elder Jacob Gum (a Revolutionary War veteran, 1764-1847) served as the first pastor. Miller's History also states that there were thirteen charter members, viz., George Spears Sr., Mary Spears, Jacob Gum, Rhoda Gum, Samuel Combs Sr., Jane Hash Combs, Ezekiel Harrison, Sarah Bryan Harrison, Aaron Houghton, Elizabeth Houghton, Elijah Houghton, Robert Conover, and Hannah Spears White. The 1874 Menard County Plat Book says the church was constituted by "Rev. W. Crow, Rev. James Rowland, and Rev. Mr. Bradley." We believe the presbytery was composed of Elders William Crow and William Roberts, both of Richland Church, and probably others. Elders William Crow, William Bradley, and Micajah B. Rowland immigrated to west central Illinois in September 1820, January 1826 and December 1827, respectively.

The minutes of the Sangamon Association from 1824 through 1827 are missing, and the records of Clary's Grove Church are not known to exist, so we cannot fully verify the facts. We do know that Elder Jacob Gum moved to Menard County in 1822, and then moved to Knox County in 1827, where he helped organized Henderson Church (the first church of any faith in that county) in 1830.

In the records of Union Church, the minutes of March 1830 state that a "request was received from the Sangamon County Clary's Grove church requesting helps to look into a matter of difficulty concerning Bro. [Joseph] Cogdal for ordaining Bro. William Miller."

An article in the "Petersburg Observer" in April 1922, quotes from the records of Clary's Grove Church, and says that the church was organized on August 23, 1834, with the following charter members: Samuel Combs, Thomas Hash, George Spears Sr., Levi Summers, Robert Conover, Robert Nance, George Miller, David Clayton, Abraham S. Bergen, William Clark, Buford Clark, Henry Bell, George Spears Jr., John Hash, John M. Bingley, Joel Slinker, Williamson Trent, William Williamson, William Davis, Caton Nance, John Slinker, Alex Evans, Frederick Slinker, Samuel Cunningham, Jane Combs, Mary Spears, Lydia Summers, Hannah White, Mary Conover, Lucy Cogdal, Levina Clopton, Nancy Fletcher, Elizabeth Bell, Mariah Spears, Rebecca Spears, Nancy Irwin, Susan Slinker, Jane Bingley, Jane Evans, Elizabeth Slinker, Polly Duff, Elizabeth Tice, and Naky Hohimer. We believe this was a list of names of members at that date, August 1834, but not the date of the constitution of the Clary's Grove Church, since there is proof that the church was already in existence in March 1830, and joined the Sangamon Association in May 1831.

Minutes of the Sangamon Association show that Clary's Grove Church joined the Sangamon Association in May 1831. The messengers, George Spears Sr. and Williamson Trent, reported a total membership of 34. In September 1832 Clary's Grove reported 35 members, and Samuel Combs, George Spears and Williamson Trent were the messengers. In September 1833 J. M. Bingley and Williamson Trent were messengers but statistics are not given. In 1834 Clary's Grove church was not represented. In 1835 Clary's Grove church was represented by messenger Samuel Combs who reported 42 members. In September 1836 Clary's Grove church was represented by George Spears Sr. who reported 38 members. In September 1837 Clary's Grove church was represented by Samuel Combs, A. Bell, and Levi Summers, who reported 55 members. At this session Clary's Grove church was dropped from fellowship of the Association for favoring the missionary principles which the association had resolved to non-fellowship.

As stated above, in 1837 Clary's Grove Church was dropped from the fellowship of the churches of the Sangamon Association, for favoring the modern missionary system. Clary's Grove Church then helped organize and became a part of the Clary's Grove United Baptist Association, which had no fellowship with the Sangamon Association. Some of the minutes of the Clary's Grove Association do exist, and they may contain additional information about this church, but we have not yet studied them closely.


Bell, Bingley, Burgan, Clark, Clayton, Clopton, Cogdal, Combs, Conover, Cunningham, Davis, Duff, Evans, Fletcher, Gum, Harmon, Harrison, Hash, Hohimer, Houghton, Irwin, Miller, Nance, Slinker, Spears, Summers, Tice, Trent, White, Williamson (list is very incomplete due to lack of records).


New Salem Baptist Church was organized on Wednesday after the third Saturday in August 1829. Names of the charter members are not known, but a request for helps to constitute appears in the records of Union Church, in Morgan County, and Elders Micajah B. Rowland and William Crow, and brethren Austin Sims, Strother Ball, and David Gimblin were appointed to attend from Union Church. At that time, what is now Menard County was still part of Sangamon County. The village of New Salem was platted out in October of the same year, 1829. The log meeting house was located about a mile and a half southwest of the reconstructed "New Salem Village" where Abraham Lincoln lived after leaving home, and before moving to Springfield.

The Sangamon Association Minutes list the church as "Salem" until 1832, but afterwards it is listed as "New Salem." The Association met in September 1832 at New Salem Church, probably in a grove near the log meeting house, to accomodate the several hundred or perhaps several thousand persons who attended. This was just a month after Abraham Lincoln returned to New Salem from the Blackhawk War. At this session, the Association expressed publickly its opposition to the modern mission system, and New Salem Church was in full support of that position. New Salem Church also hosted the Sangamon Association at its annual meeting in 1842.

While Abraham Lincoln was serving as postmaster at New Salem, he submitted payment for subscriptions to a Primitive Baptist periodical called the Signs of the Times, either for himself or for others who patronized the post office there.

The Sangamon "United Baptist" Association [after 1835, "Regular Baptist"] was organized at the home of Simon Lindley, in the southwestern part of the county, in October 1823. The Association grew from seven churches in 1823, to 28 churches in 1829 and 39 churches in 1830, when some of the churches were dismissed, to organize four new associations, for the sake of convenience of the churches. New Salem Church, at New Salem, probably joined the association in September 1829, when it was held at South Fork of Mauvaisterre Church in Morgan County. The New Salem Church prospered greatly, having increased to 51 members by the time the Sangamon Association convened in May 1831. New Salem Church sent a request to Union Church for help to ordain two deacons in March 1831 (names not stated).

The pastors of New Salem Church apparently included Elders Thomas Plasters, Robert Bagby, James H. Senter, and Cyrus Wright. We have not yet been able to determine the years they served.

The records of the Sangamon Association prove that about one hundred people, or more, held membership in this church during its thirty years of existence.


Armstrong, Bagby, Bingley, Brunk, Burnett, Elmore, Goldsby, Graham, Greene, Griffin, Hinds, Keltner, Loyd, Miller, Nance, Plasters, Potter, Senter, Sheppard, Watkins, Wynne (list is incomplete due to loss of records).

Abraham Lincoln and the Primitive Baptist Church at Lincoln's New Salem


Hopewell Church, near Atterberry, was organized in about 1882, by Elder J. B. Dobbs and others, and became a member of the Sangamon Association. A frame meeting house was built about two miles southwest of town, on land donated by Christopher and Nancy Atterberry, in March 1883. Pastors included Elders J. B. Dobbs and Thomas J. Witty, both of whom were members of this church. It is believed that the funeral of Bro. Elias Kirby, a member of the church, in 1914, was the last service held in the church building.


Atterberry, Dobbs, Fields, Hughett, Kirby, Lynch, Pestel, Potter, Thompson, Williams, Witty (list is very incomplete due to loss of records).


Indian Creek Church was actually a continuation of the Springfield Church, at Pasfield and Ash Streets, in Springfield, organized in 1926. See Sangamon County.

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