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



The Okaw Church was organized on June 2, 1827, making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest church of any faith in Shelby County. Names of the Elders in the presbytery have been lost. The charter members included James Abbott, Thomas Hill, John Abbott, Francis Jordan, Mary Abbott, Martha Abbott, Francis Tipsword, Elizabeth Reed, Martha Alphin, Margaret Walton, Levi Jordan, James Jordan, Kinching Odom, Elizabeth Odom, John Harris, Prudence Jordan, Mary Dement, James Neal, Sarah Harris, Drusilla Perryman, Ruth Tipsword, Sarah Grant, and three other names which were illegible.

The church united with the Wabash District Association in the fall of 1827. The messengers were James Abbott and James Jordan, who reported 25 members. In 1829, Okaw Church received 25 new members by letter, and increased to a total of 49 members. It was one of the charter members of the Okaw Association in 1831. By 1877, it had become a member of the New Hope Association of Illinois.

The records showed that for several years the members held their meetings at private homes on the Okaw, Flat Branch, Sand Creek, and Richland, the members at that time living in these several settlements or neighborhoods. A log meeting house was erected on Jordan Creek, about four miles northeast of Shelbyville, in Section 13. The Jordan Cemetery is adjacent to the site.

Pastors of this church included Elders William Martin, Charles Harper, Isaac Sidwell, Samuel Pullen, Samuel D. Hefton, Richard Newport, Bro. Gillstrap, Bro. Abbott, Joel Martin, George W. Dalby, and Simeon Huffer.


Abbott, Allphin, Beasley, Bryson, Carnahan, Casey, Cline, Clinger, Coplin, Dalby, Danley, Dawdy, Dement, Denton, Douthit, Elam, Ellis, Ferguson, Forbes, Fortner, Francis, Gillstrap, Goodwin, Grant, Green, Griffith, Halloway, Hammer, Harper, Harris, Hefton, Hill, Hilsabeck, Huffer, Jordan, Manning, Martin, McClain, Miller, Murphy, Neal, Odom, Patten, Patterson, Perryman, Reed, Scribner, Seal, Shaw, Sheets, Sittler, Stephens, Stewardson, Stewart, Thomas, Tindel, Tipsword, Tolley, Toten, Walker, Wallen, Whitehead, Williams, Young (incomplete list due to loss of records).


Hopewell Church, in Shelbyville, was organized in 1828 or 1829, with twelve members. This church united with the Wabash District Association in October 1829, her messenger being Evan Douthit. Hopewell Church was one of the churches which was dismissed to organize the Okaw Association in 1831. In the division of the Okaw Association in 1842, this church went with the Threlkeld faction, and remained a part of that body until at least 1868. Minutes of the New Hope Association for 1877 show Hopewell Church as a member, which continued until at least 1891. Ministers who held membership here included Elders H. C. Shallenbarger and Aaron Hood.


Brown, Dorris, Douthit, Gillstrap, Hood, Hunter, Parks, Rentshaw, Shallenbarger, Stone, Wade (very incomplete list due to loss of records).

NEW HOPE (1830)

New Hope Church was organized in about 1830, with fifteen members, who were dismissed from the Okaw Church. In October 1830, New Hope Church united with the Wabash District Association, her messengers being Shelton Allphin and William Smith. New Hope Church was one of seven churches which were dismissed from the Wabash District Association, which organized the Okaw Association in May 1831. Her membership at this time was still 15, and Samuel D. Hefton was her messenger.


Elam, Elder, Ellis, Hefton, Martin, Neely, Simms, Smith, Stephens, Taylor, Turner (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Old Concord Church was organized by 1830 or earlier, and in 1844, had a log meeting house near the Shelby county line bordering Cumberland county, on the thoroughfare from Terre Haute, Indiana, to Springfield, Illinois. The church later met across the line in Cumberland County.


Clear Spring Church, in the Kaskaskia Association, is listed as being in Shelby County, at least part of the time. The church may have also met part of the time in Fayette County. Very little information is available on this church.


Beck, Goodwin, Massey, Sidwell (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Union Church, at Pleak's Corners, was constituted in May 1844, by members dismissed from the Okaw Church. In April 1852 the clerk reported that earlier records had been destroyed by fire.

Union Church was also referred to as the "Flat Branch Church." The church met in homes of the members until about 1853, when a log meeting house was erected on James Tolley's land in Sec. 12 of Flat Branch township. In 1868, a frame meeting house was built one acre of land, in the NW corner of Sec. 12, Twp. 13N R2E (Flat Branch), about six miles southeast of Moweaqua. One source says this was donated by James R. Scribner, but the deed indicates it was from Elijah W. Allen and wife Lucinda.

Pastors of this church included Elders William Martin, S. H. Pullen, G. W. Payne, William Kester, John Shields, John H. Myers, D. G. Watson, Benjamin Mahon (1857- 1902), Charles Reeves, E. D. Elder, Fred Elder, Albert Modlin and Harold Janes.


Abbott, Adams, Allen, Armstrong, Ashbrook, Base, Brookshire, Brown, Bryson, Byram, Casey, Chadrick, Clark, Cotner, Cox, Davis, Denton, Friesner, Fry, Funk, Gibson, Gilson, Goodwin, Gordon, Hammer, Hay, Herr, Hill, Hines, Hoover, House, Housh, Howser, Hutchison, Immet, Jackson, Janes, Jesse, Kerchaville, Klim, Kuhle, Lamb, Mahon, Mahurin, McCarty, McKim, McQueen, Modlin, Moll, Moore, Neel, Oates, Portwood, Proctor, Reed, Rice, Scribner, Shipman, Slaughter, Snellgrove, Taylor, Thompson, Tolly, Virden, Watson, Weldom, Whitehead.


Center Church first appears in the minutes of the Okaw Association in about 1848, and continued to represent, most of the time, until about 1904. Very little information is available on this church.


Abbott, Cox, Dumsley, Mahlon, Neal, Simms, Tolly (very incomplete list due to loss of records).


Wabash Church is listed in the minutes of the New Hope Association, for 1877. At that time, the church had been reduced to four members, and the association clerk commented that "all the male members have moved to Texas." The location of this church has not been determined.


Point Pleasant Church was a member of the Okaw Association, her messengers being Elder Benjamin Mahon and G. W. Murphy.


New Providence Church was organized on Saturday before the third Sunday in May, 1881, at the Long Grove School. Ten members were dismissed for that purpose from Mt. Zion Church, in Moultrie County. They were: T. Edward Atteberry, Milly Atteberry, William C. Atteberry, Emeline Armstrong, Bell Brown, Coleman B. Davis, Charles Davis, Abraham Funk, Martha Funk, and William Weldon. In the fall of the same year, this church united with the Wabash District Association, and continued to represent for several years. The church received a few new members by letter and by baptism, but apparently ceased to meet by about 1890. Coleman Davis, of Macon, Illinois, served as clerk.


Minutes of the Wabash District, Okaw, Big Spring, and New Hope Associations. We would welcome additional information from anyone who can help.

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