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Primitive Baptist Churches in Sangamon County, Illinois

Primitive Baptist Church Services in Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois

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Sangamo Church was organized on September 16, 1820. Elder Robert Brazle, of Looking Glass Prairie Church, was the moderator, and Simon Lindley, clerk, of the presbytery. This was probably** the first church organized of any denomination constituted in what is now Sangamon County (as of 1820, Sangamon County had not yet been formed out of Madison County).

Simon Lindley and William Crow were the messengers to the Illinois Association, which met in October 1820, and they reported that Sangamo Church had 27 members at that time. The church represented in the Illinois Association in 1821, with 43 members, messengers Claibourn Jones and Simon Lindley; in 1822, with 44 members, messengers Simon Lindley and William Roberts; in 1823, with 42 members, messengers Strother Ball, William Roberts, and George Davenport.

George Davenport (1781-1845) came to Sangamon County in the Fall of 1819; Simon Lindley (1769-1827) came to what is now Chatham township in April 1820; he and William Roberts were both licensed preachers. Roberts came from Looking Glass Prairie Church, in St. Clair Co. William Crow (1793-1865) came in the Fall of 1820, having received a letter of dismission from Canteen Creek Church, Madison Co., in September 1820.

In September 1823 several churches were dismissed from the Illinois Association to organize the Sangamon Association. The Sangamon Association was organized in October 1823, and this church was listed as a charter member, but its name was given as "Richland," rather than Sangamo (the name just one month earlier). The church was always listed as Richland thereafter. Messengers to the Sangamon Association in October 1823 were Strother Ball, Claibourn Jones, John Ray, and William Roberts, all early pioneers in Sangamon County.

**The claim of Antioch Christian Church is based upon an admitted fact that Stephen England was a Baptist Minister in Kentucky. The "Christian Church" had not yet been "born" in 1820. If Stephen England organized a church May 15, 1820, it must have been a Baptist Church. The records of Antioch Christian Church do not prove what they claim.

For an account of the life of Elder William Crow


Anderson, Ball, Butler, Crow, Davenport, Dillon, Goldsby, Hamilton, Houton, Jones, King, Lindley, Miller, Osborne, Perkins, Pierce, Piper, Purvines, Ray, Roberts, Scott, Stinker, Street, Welbourn, Wright (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Lick Creek Church was probably constituted in 1822 or 1823 (J. C. Powers, in his Early Settlers of Sangamon County, says Simon Lindley and wife and John Bridges and wife, and others, began meeting for worship in this settlement in July 1821). The records of the Illinois Association show that Lick Creek Church was received as a member in the fall of 1823). Simon Lindley, Henry Kinney, and Allen Bridges were messengers to the Illinois Association in 1823; they were instrumental in selecting Lick Creek Church as the site for the constitution of the Sangamon Association (held at the home of Simon Lindley). At the Illinois Association, Lick Creek Church reported 24 members, of whom 12 had been received during the year. Lick Creek Church was not listed as a member of the Sangamon Association in 1828. It appears (but is not definite) that the church dissolved, and that some of her members organized Liberty Church in 1826 (see below).


Bridges, Briscoe, Kinney, Lindley, Meacham (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Island Grove Church was probably located at a settlement by that name, near Spring Creek, but the date is not known. It was probably organized between 1824 and 1827, but in the Sangamon Association minutes for 1828 there is a note that says, "Island Grove Church is dissolved in fellowship." The minutes of Union Church, Morgan Co., show that in May 1827, a request was received from Island Grove church for helps with a difficulty.


Sugar Creek Church is listed in the minutes of Sangamon Association for 1828, and thus must have been organized between 1824-1827 or earlier (minutes of the association for 1824-1827 are missing). Elder Samuel Hutton, Henry Levi, and Abraham Kesler were the messengers. Elder Hutton was ordained in June 1831; he moved to Henry County, Iowa territory, in 1835, being one of the first Baptist ministers to preach in that state.


Spring Creek Church was organized west of Springfield in January 1826 (minutes of Union Church in Morgan Co. for January 1826 show a request was granted for helps to constitute them). Elders Robert Bagby, James H. Senter, and Brice Alsbury were all members of this church. This church united with the Sangamon Association in 1828. Early members included George Davenport, Thomas Burnett, John H. Kendoll, and William Kendoll Sr. The church grew rapidly for a time, then declined; but in 1841, 35 members were received, 18 by baptism and the rest by letter, bringing the total number to 50 members.


Alsbury, Bagby, Brundage, Burnett, Butler, Davenport, Foutch, Haggard, Hamilton, Hazlett, Hinman, James, Kendall, Kendoll, Martin, Pool, Pyatt, Ray, Robertson, Senter, Sims, Steele, Underwood, Wright (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Liberty Church was organized on the second Saturday in June 1826, on Lick Creek, by thirteen members, viz., Elder John Morris, John Hilyard, William D. Morris, Levi Harbour, Simon Lindley, Joseph Hilyard, Morris Hilyard, Ruth Greenwood, Elizabeth Hilyard, Clarissa Huffmaster, Polly Harbour, Polly Hilyard, and Clarinda Morris. The presbytery was composed of Elders William Crow, Thomas Ray, and Micajah Rowland, and Brethren Austin Sims and Peter Robeson.

In November 1834 the church moved her meetings to the meeting house near the Sulphur Springs, and trustees were appointed in November 1837. In December 1847, John Alsbury, G. D. McGinnis, and J. B. Hinman were appointed trustees of the church, and a deed was obtained from William Garrett for one-half acre of land. A letter from John Alsbury, published in the Western Evangelist in 1851, indicates that the church had just constructed a new comfortable house of worship. In June 1866, the church agreed to sell the old meeting house and keep the proceeds in trust, and to donate the land for a burying ground." This is the site of the Sulphur Springs Cemetery. In 1874 the church was meeting in a school house in Curran township, under the pastoral care of Elder C. C. Purvines.

In June 1832 the church dismissed 17 members by letter to form Union Church near the head of Lick Creek. In July 1843 the church appointed meetings at the Fancy Point Schoolhouse, which were blessed, and resulted in Fancy Point Church being organized the following year.

For an account of the life of Elder John Morris


Allen, Alsbury, Boucher, Bowen, Bradley, Bridges, Bundy, Burdell, Burrell, Burton, Burwell, Campbell, Carson, Carter, Clark, Coley, Davis, Dill, Edwards, Evans, Fisher, Fortner, Fosson, Foster, Foutch, George, Gibson, Goodell, Grant, Greenwood, Grider, Hall, Hamilton, Harbour, Hayes, Herring, Hilyard, Hinman, Hodgerson, Huffmaster, Jackson, James, Jarrett, Kimberling, Kinney, Lacy, Lawson, Lindley, Lindsey, McCommas, McGinnis, Meacham, Miller, Minor, Moore, Morgan, Morris, Neal, Peters, Proctor, Purvines, Record, Reynolds, Roberts, Robertson, Rue, Sager, Scott, Shelton, Shirley, Short, Smith, Snyder, Steele, Stice, Strane, Swan, Thurber, Turpin, Walker, Ward, West.


Bethel Church was organized in November 1826, with ten charter members, viz., Michael Mann, Elizabeth Mann, Nicholas Steele, Isabella Steele, Samuel Howell, Mary "Polly" Howell, Charles Alsbury, Jane Alsbury, Margaret Stevens and John Crowder. The first pastor was Elder Michael Mann. The first ordained deacon was Charles Alsbury, and the same year William Kinner was ordained by Elders Bowman and Roberts. The first time the Sangamon Association was held with this church, the meeting place was the barn of John Dunlap.

Bethel Church was called "Springfield Church" at first. One acre of land, in Sec. 17 in the "Springfield District," north of Springfield, was donated to John Dunlap, Valentine R. Mallory, and John Crowder, as trustees of the Springfield Baptist Church, by Samuel and Polly Howell, in April 1830. The name of the church was later changed to Bethel, or Bethel on Otter Creek, and a frame house of worship thirty-two by twenty-six was erected, at a cost of $500, in Fancy Creek township.

The church reported 34 members at the association meeting in 1828. In May 1831 Bethel Church reported 20 members. In 1835, 10 new members were received by baptism. Bethel Church hosted the Association twice, afterward, in 1840 and in 1853. After this, the church became very weak, dwindling to only two members. In 1874, six new members were added (three by baptism), and the church asked to be reinstated in the association after a period of about ten or fifteen years of not being represented. The church later revived, and increased to about fourteen members.

Elders Michael Mann, Charles Harper, and W. Arnold were early members of this church. Elder Arnold was ordained by this church in about 1845. Elder William J. Wheeler was serving as pastor in 1881.


Alsbury, Arnold, Bennett, Brassfield, Brown, Cavanice, Crowder, Date, Dillon, Dunlap, Harper, Hendrick, Howell, King, Kinner, Ludwick, Mallory, Mann, Merriman, Nave, Powers, Smith, Steele, Stout, Williams, Young (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Salem Sugar Creek Church was organized on the second Saturday in January, 1830, at the home of Anthony Deardorff. The presbytery was composed of Elders Aaron Vandeveer and William Rogers, and Bro. George Vandeveer. The charter members were James Ogden, Elizabeth Ogden, Alexander Jones, Susanna Jones, Absalem Meredith and Mary Meredith. Elder Aaron Vandeveer was chosen the first pastor. The Philemon Stout family (descendants of the Stouts of Hopewell Church, Hopewell, New Jersey) were members here for many years. The church dissolved in 1836, and was reconstituted in April 1839.

In 1839 the church agreed to hold meetings for a year in Bro. Stout's schoolhouse. In April 1843 the church agreed to build a meeting house immediately south of the school, on land deeded to the church by Robert Jones. It was completed by October 1843, according to the church records.

In July 1870 the church agreed to build a new meeting house about one-half mile northeast of the old house, with dimensions of 30 by 46 feet. It was completed by March 1871, at a cost of $1,839. A list of contributors is given in the records.

Pastors of the church from 1830 to 1885 included Elders Aaron Vandeveer, Denison Tanneyhill, C. B. Stafford, Elisha Sanders, and William J. Wheeler. The church closed in about 1932. The last pastor was Elder J. G. Sawin.


Adams, Baker, Ball, Bolin, Boyd, Bozier, Brownell, Crow, Crowder, Davidson, Deardrowff, Dickins, Drennan, Dunn, Elder, Fields, Forbes, Garredson, Gillman, Gilpin, Grinstead, Gulliford, Harris, Hill, Hooper, Hurley, Hutton, Jones, Kesler, Kindred, Kirby, Knotts, Knuckles, Lamb, Levi, Lillard, Lolly, Matthews, Meredith, Mitts, Ogden, Peddicord, Penix, Piper, Pittman, Porterfield, Proctor, Pulliam, Rathbone, Richardson, Ritchison, Roberts, Royal, Sanders, Sawin, Shellhouse, Short, Simpson, Smith, Stafford, Stout, Tanneyhill, Vandeveer, Virden, Warner, Watts, Westbrook, Williams, Willis, Woosley, Wright.


Salem Sugar Creek Church granted the request of brethren on the north fork of the Sangamon to constitute in March 1830. Members of this church assisted in the constitution of the church in Springfield three months later. This church was last mentioned in the Sangamon association minutes of 1836, and the church closed about this time, probably due to most of the members having moved away.


Allen, Hancock, Heaton, Morrow, Stears, Smith, Robertson (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Springfield Church was constituted at the school house in Springfield, on the third Saturday in July (the 17th), 1830. There were eight charter members, viz., John Crowder, John Durham, Samuel C. Neal, Sarah Neal, Temperance Watson, Polly Miller, Betsy Gillock, and Nancy Gillock.

The presbytery was composed of John Smith, Patterson Heaton, Jesse Hancock (North Fork of Sangamon Church); John Morris, Abraham Miller, William Kinney, George Campbell (Liberty Church); Aaron Vandeveer, Robert Hannah, Christopher Stafford, David Stafford (Horeb Church); Thomas Meredith, James Ogden, Absalom Meredith (Salem Sugar Creek Church); Charles Hutton, Henry Levi, Abraham Kesler, James Wood (Sugar Creek Church); Samuel Howell, Charles Alsbury, Valentine Mallory, Nicholas Steele (Springfield "Bethel" Church). Elder Aaron Vandeveer was chosen moderator, and William Kendoll, clerk. After the constitution, Elder John Morris served as moderator, and William Kendoll Sr. as clerk, of the first business session. The following month, the church met in the court house in Springfield, and chose Elder Aaron Vandeveer as their pastor, and agreed to join the Sangamon Association, the messengers chosen being John Owens, James Wills, and John Crowder, to bear their letter.

In the first year of the church's existence, it grew from eight members to 51 members. During the five years in which Elder Aaron Vandeveer served the church, it increased to about eighty members.

In 1836 the Association warned its churches to rid themselves of the innovations of the modern mission system; in 1837 the Springfield Church was dropped for departing from the faith of the Association. The church called Elder Jonathan Merriam, an advocate of the modern mission system from the State of Vermont, to come and pastor them. He was instrumental in organizing the Springfield Association in non-fellowship and opposition to the churches of the Sangamon Association.


Crowder, Durham, Francis, Gillock, Haggard, Maxey, Merriam, Miller, Neal, Ogden, Owen, Vaughn, Watson (very incomplete list due to lack of records).


Brethren on Lick Creek requested help to organize a church, in August 1830. From minutes of the association, we find that in May 1831 Lick Creek Church had 20 members, an increase of 9 during the year (or since the Fall 1830 session). Messengers were E. Hinslow and Lewis Richardson. During the next few years, the messengers were Zaza Bowen, Lewis Richardson, and Elder James Wood. The church is not listed in the years 1835 and 1836, but in 1837, represented again, with Levi Tucker and Thomas Hilyard as her messengers, who reported 23 members. Elder Charles D. Alsbury was ordained to the gospel ministry here in November 1849.


Alsbury, Bowen, Bridges, Carpenter, Cloyd, Duncan, Hilyard, Hinslow, Howard, Hurst, Kinney, Montgomery, Richardson, Stout, Tolle, Tucker, Verdan, Ward, West, Wood (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Horse Creek Church, at Pawnee, was constituted the second Saturday in April 1831, at the home of Brother Henry West. The nine charter members were Henry Fry, Jacob Fry, Thomas Westbrook, Prudence Fry, Samuel Westbrook, Henry West, Lenora Westbrook, Allie Fry, and Mary West. Elder Charles Vandeveer and others were present as a presbytery.

Horse Creek Church received 50 members by baptism from 1874 to 1879, and increased to 90 members in 1878.

Pastors who served the church were Elders Charles Vandeveer (1831), James Woods (1836), John Record (1838), Aaron Vandeveer (1841), C. B. Stafford (1844), B. B. Piper (assistant from 1858 to 1866), Elisha Sanders (1866), E. T. Sanders (assistant from 1879 to 1889), and S. A. D. Sanders (1894).

Deacons included Thomas Westbrook, Thomas Willin, T. E. M. Sanders, J. L. Tilley, James Fry, R. E. Sanders, Paris Taylor, Edward Tilley, Harvey Beam, and D. B. Fry. Clerks included Leonard Fry, S. C. Proctor, William J. Wheeler, James E. Fry, W. T. Beam, and Charles E. Tilley. W. T. Beam served as clerk from 1906 until 1928.

Ministers ordained by this church included S. C. Proctor, Elisha Sanders (May 1863), A. J. Sanders (June 1874), William J. Wheeler (June 1874), E. T. Sanders (June 1874), and S. A. D. Sanders (April 1880). The church originally met at what is now New City, in Cotton Hill township. The second location was at the Pawnee City Cemetery, and the last location was in Pawnee.


Beam, Blakey, Boaden, Clower, Dobbs, Field, Fry, Funderburk, Hutton, Kelsey, Lash, Ludwick, Payne, Pique, Proctor, Sanders, Short, Taylor, Thomason, Tilley, Tilly, Vandeveer, West, Westbrook, Wheeler, White, Whitehead, Willin, Williams (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


A church called Union was organized, on the head of Lick Creek, in June 1832, when the following seventeen members were dismissed from Liberty Church: Elder Willis L. Meacham, Mary Meacham, Mary Robertson, William D. Morris, Clarinda Morris, Jeremiah Moore, Susannah Moore, Polly Moore, Deborah Moore, Mary Kimberling, Ruth Reynolds, Margaret Ward, Nancy Jackson, Katherine Davis, Sally Foster, Jeremiah Suiter, and Elizabeth Suiter. In the same year it united with the Sangamon Association. This church dissolved in 1838 and most of the members returned to Liberty Church.


Alsbury, Campbell, Davis, Foster, Foutch, Jackson, Kimberling, Meacham, Moore, Morris, Osborn, Reynolds, Robertson, Suiter, Ward (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Fork Prairie Church was organized in about 1842, with nine members, and united with the Sangamon Association that year.

Elder Christopher B. Stafford was a member here, and served as pastor for many years. He came to Rochester in July 1824. Valentine R. Mallory and S. Elder were also listed as messengers from this church. This church, throughout its existence never exceeded nine or ten members. Fork Prairie Church was listed as a member of the Sangamon Association for the last time in 1866; in the following year, the remaining members joined other churches in the association by relation.


Elder, Mallory, Stafford, Underwood (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Fancy Point Church (on the head of Lick Creek) was organized on Saturday before the third Sunday in June 1844, by the following members, viz., Charles Alsbury, Levi Harbour, John T. Reynolds, John Evans, Emory Grider, Zaras Bowen, William D. Morris, Jane Alsbury, Mary Robertson, Mary Harbour, Ruth Reynolds, Mary Evans, Mary Grider, Nancy Hodgerson, and Crecia Bundy. The presbytery was composed of Elders Robert Bagby, Thornton Shepherd,William Rodgers, and William Crow; and Brethren Curtis Douglass, Richard Hall, Henry Roberts, William Case, and Allen Bridges.

Meetings were first held in the Fancy Point school. In May 1853 the church agreed to circulate a subscription for the purpose of building a meeting house. The site chosen was known as the "Brownfield, south of Jonathan Morris'". In March 1855 trustees were appointed. James P. and America Hilyard gave one-half acre of land to the church in January 1856, as a site for a meeting house, a few miles south of New Berlin. Descendants claim that it was destroyed by a tornado near the end of the 19th century, and that the church then met in a union church building, at the site of the Union (Twist) Cemetery.


Alsbury, Bollin, Bowen, Boyer, Buchanan, Bundy, Campbell, Clayton, Cline, Coons, Crisman, Dodd, Evans, Funk, Garrett, Gatewoods, George, Grider, Gulick, Hammans, Harbour, Harris, Hilyard, Hodgerson, Hudson, Hufford, Johnson, Kipper, Meacham, Morris, Nipper, Purvines, Reader, Reynolds, Robertson, Robinson, Runnels, Scott, Steele, Swearington, Wyckoff.


Buffalo Hart Grove Church was organized on Saturday before the fourth Sunday in May 1872, at a "Union Meeting House, in Sangamon County," probably near Buffalo Hart. Elders Elisha Sanders (moderator), Isaac N. Vanmeter (clerk), John H. Myers, and Lic. J. T. Grant composed the presbytery. There were nine charter members, all of whom were dismissed from the Lake Fork Church for that purpose. Their names were John R. Burns, Robert E. Burns, William A. Burns, James Elder, Lucy Burns, Emily Burns, Patsy Burns, Benjamin Luckett, and Ellen Luckett. Elder John H. Myers was chosen as their first pastor.


Burns, Campbell, Cass, Constant, Elder, Luckett (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Springfield Church was organized in Springfield, on April 1, 1905, with fourteen charter members, twelve of whom were dismissed from Liberty Mosquito Church near Grove City, viz., Elder J. B. Dobbs, J. L. Dobbs, Hiram Calkins, Stuart Flanigan, James Ingolls, O. H. Brookshier, Miranda Flanigan, Lavina N. Dobbs, Valura I. Dobbs, Laura Ingolls, Bethenile Brookshier, and Sarah Alsbury. The presbytery was composed of Elder S. A. D. Sanders (Horse Creek), John A. Conlee (Head of Apple Creek), Daniel M. Masters (Little Flock, Honey Bend), J. D. Austin, John Willeford (Mt. Nebo), and Deacons James Allen (Head of Apple Creek) and L. C. Stone (Otter Creek). After the constitution, Elder James L. Dobbs was elected pastor and moderator, and Stuart Flanigan, clerk.


Springfield Church was organized Saturday, May 29, 1926, at the Coliseum at the State Fair Grounds, with nine charter members, viz., Elder W. A. Chastain, Viola Chastain, Henry Sutton, Rosetta Sutton, Isabel Overstreet, Martha Iaun, Sarah M. Alsbury, Herschel Rogers, and Hiram Calkins. The presbytery was composed of Elders W. C. Arnold, W. A. Fish, John Willeford, D.M. Masters, Delbert E. Baker, Baxter Hale; and Deacons George Conlee, J. W. Allen, Wallace Graven, and Charles T. Bennett.

Go to the transcript of Minutes of the Sangamon Baptist Association - 1823 through 1837

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