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

CHURCHES:

BETHLEHEM (MARION)(1827)

Bethlehem Church was organized in 1827 or earlier, but the earliest records now available begin in 1839. This church united with the Muddy River Association in 1827, and in 1829 became a charter member of the Bethel Association. The messengers of Bethlehem Church to the Muddy River Association in 1827 were Dempsey Odum and Obediah West. Messengers in 1832 to the Bethel Association were Elder Charles Lee, Lic. Dempsey Odum, and Lic. Bailey Adams.

This church was the scene of a division on the modern mission question in southern Illinois. Elder Achilles Coffey, in his history, p. 76, wrote: "We will now proceed with the history of the Bethlehem Church, the Ferrels and their party. In the fall of 1839, there were sixty-one members belonging to said church; and when the vote, in relation to the Missionary question was taken, a large majority voted that they did not fellowship the system. The Ferrels and their party, which consisted of about twelve or fourteen in number, remonstrated against the act of the majority and utterly refused to be governed by it. In order to settle the difficulty the church solicited aid. Being present, I was appointed Moderator. Two tedious days were spent in the trial, which resulted in the exclusion of the Ferrels and party on charge of rebellion." The Ferrel party included William Ferrel and his two sons Wilfred and Hezekiah.

Bethlehem Church at first met in a log building, on the waters of Crab Orchard Creek. A later log building was erected on land given to the church by Brother Edmund Wiggs, at the site of the present Bethlehem Cemetery.

SURNAMES OF MEMBERS:

Adams, Anderson, Aanenson, Banks, Barber, Barker, Bearden, Belcher, Bell, Binkley, Blackburn, Bower, Bradley, Calvert, Campbell, Cash, Cloap, Corder, Council, Doty, Durham, Eaton, Enix, Erwin, Everett, Ferrel, Fowler, Fry, Gaddy, Gambill, Gent, Goddard, Gouge, Graves, Groves, Hampton, Harrison, Hartwell, Hatley, Herring, Hicks, Hill, Hilyard, Howard, Hunt, Hunter, Jones, Keaster, Knight, Leathers, Lee, Little, Lyon, Maxey, McBride, McCarver, McCormac, McIntosh, Meredith, Moak, Moore, Morgan, Mosley, Murphy, Murrah, Norman, Odum, Paine, Parks, Prater, Pritchet, Pulley, Rich, Roberts, Robinson, Russell, Sanders, Scoba, Scott, Stilley, Stone, Teal, Teel, Tolbert, Travelstead, Trout, Waggoner, Walker, Ward, Washburn, Welby, West, Whitlock, Wiggs, Winters, Wood, Youngblood.

MT. ZION (1852)

Mt. Zion Church was organized at the home of Brother John Bird on July 10, 1852, by the following named persons, to wit, David Lightner, Margaret Lightner, John Bird, Tabitha Bird, James M. Downey, Benjamin M. Bullard, Elizabeth Jane Groud, Jane Bullard, Sarah Lasley, Martha Hodges, Tilford Brooks, Prudence Brooks and Hanah Clingan. Elders Isaiah Walker and Dennis C. Clay formed a presbytery which pronounced them a gospel church.

The church became a member of the Bethel Association of Regular Baptists, of southern Illinois.

Pastors who served the church include the following: Elders Isaiah Walker, James M. Downey, James Bower, Daniel J. Hutton, Thomas Deremiah, and Harvey I. Little.

The records indicate various places were used for the meetings of the church. In February 1854 it was agreed to build a meeting house with dimensions of 20 by 24. It is not clear whether it was ever erected, but in August 1858 the church appointed another committee to select some suitable place for a meetinghouse, which was later tabled indefinitely. In July 1874 the church agreed to meet in the Robinson Schoolhouse in Williamson County; still later other schools were used, in Johnson and Union Counties, and for a time the masonic building in Goreville was rented for their services. The records of the church close in 1882, although meetings may have been held after that time.

SURNAMES OF MEMBERS:

Bird, Boles, Brooks, Bullard, Bullock, Busby, Butler, Carter, Chun, Clingan, Crowe, Downey, Dunn, Grimes, Hatley, Hedesick, Henderson, Hodges, Howard, Hoyle, Lightner, McGintor, McIntosh, Parrott, Pasley, Robinson, Smith, Stroud, Townsend.

PLEASANT HILL (JOHNSTON CITY/MARION)

Pleasant Hill Church was organized July 19, 1873, at the Pleasant Hill meeting house, near Johnston City. The presbytery consisted of Elders Achilles Coffey, Thomas Deremiah, E. B. Harrison, Josiah Harriss, and Elijah T. Webb. Elder Josiah Harris was chosen moderator and Elder E. T. Webb, clerk, of the presbytery. The charter members were: Manuel Hunter, James Hunter, Jesse Weaver, Henry C. Moore, William B. Moore, John G. Moore, Allen Hunter, Cynthia A. Weaver, Celia A. Ralls, Talitha C. Hunter, Dulcena Hunter, Nancy Slater, Elizabeth Pike, Ruth Brown, Eliza J. Moore, Mary Hunter, Lydia Hunter, Mariah Hunter, Rachel Belcher, Mariah Binkley, Nancy Murrah, Mary Hunter, and Nancy Dougherty.

Their first place of meeting was a log house erected on land donated by Jacob Hunter, about a mile south of Johnston City. In about 1886 a frame building was erected on the same plot of land where the old log house had stood. In about 1914, Susan Hunter Powell purchased a lot on Pine Street, in Johnston City, and purchased the old frame Methodist Church, and had it moved a short distance to the lot, where the "absoluter" faction then met as long as they continued to exist as a church.

The church suffered a division, over the doctrinal issue of "absolute predestination of all things," in November 1899. Both factions continued to meet at the meeting house south of Johnston City, for a few years. The "old-line" brethren built a frame meeting house at 1009 North Monroe Street, in Marion, Illinois, in about 1904, and a parsonage was also erected about the same time.

Some of the early pastors of the church were Elders Edmond B. Harrison, Elijah T. Webb, Thomas Deremiah, Josiah Harris, T. S. Dalton, T. F. Harrison, B. F. Evans, William E. Weaver, and C. M. Weaver. Elder C. M. Weaver, who led the "absoluter" movement, served as pastor of that faction of Pleasant Hill Church from 1896 until his death in 1957. Pastors of the "old-line" faction of the church, after the division of 1899, were Elders C. F. Stuckey, S. I. Gardner, B. F. Querry, A. M. Kirkland, C. F. Stuckey (1907), Henry J. Gwaltney (1910), Delbert E. Baker (1911), Oscar Knight (1923), and Jake Barnett (1930).

SURNAMES OF MEMBERS:

Adams, Aikman, Alexander, Anderson, Atwood, Barham, Bearden, Belcher, Bower, Boyd, Brinkley, Brock, Brown, Chapman, Chesney, Clark, Cleveland, Coffee, Copher, Cox, Davis, Deremiah, Dial, Doty, Doughterty, Eaton, Evans, Gambrill, Graves, Harris, Hill, Hunter, Isenburg, James, Jones, Kawinski, Kirkland, Lee, Lewis, Moak, McCarver, Mitchell, Moody, Moore, Morris, Mosley, Murphy, Murrah, Neal, Nelson, Newton, Norman, Oakley, Odom, Owens, Parsons, Paten, Pike, Pope, Powell, Prible, Pulley, Ralls, Rice, Riley, Rush, Sanders, Simmons, Sizemore, Slater, Smith, Spitler, Stilley, Stone, Story, Stroud, Townsend, Wallace, Weaver, Weir, Williams, Willis, Winacht, Woddard, Wolard (incomplete list due to the earliest records having been destroyed by fire).

EAST FORK

East Fork Church held its meetings in Williamson County from about 1874 until 1890. The exact location has not yet been determined, but it was probably in the close vicinity of the following members during that time period: William B. Moore, William Stilley, and B. F. Evans. See Franklin County for the early history of this church.

ADDITIONAL REFERENCE SOURCES FROM THE PRIMITIVE BAPTIST LIBRARY:

Minutes of the Bethel Association; records of Bethlehem, Mt. Zion, and part of the records of both factions of Pleasant Hill church.

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