Baptist Churches and Baptists
By the Rev, Wiley J. Patrick, D. D., Bowling Green

Baptists entered this territory in the closing years of the eighteenth century and conformed to the Spanish rule, except in matters religious. In 1808 John Snethen, Sr., of New Jersey, and his wife, who was a South Carolinian Baptist, settled in what is now Montgomery County. Soon public services were established. In 1810 the number of Baptists had been so much increased north of the river that a church was organized. This was under the ministry of Elder Joseph Baker, one of the immigrants. He became pastor. Duncan's Baptist History says that in 1810 of those who came into Boon's Lick Country several of the number were Baptists who came for the purpose of planting the gospel in those wild regions. Among these Baptists were Col. Benjamin Cooper, Captains Sarshall and Braxton Cooper and Elders William Thorp and David McLain. In 1812 on the 8th of April, Elders Thorp and McLain held a meeting in a log cabin in which school was kept, situated only a short distance from Franklin, Howard County, and organized the first Baptist church in the "Upper Country," "Mt. Pleasant."

Ramsey Creek church. Pike County, was organized in 1816 and had as its first pastor Elder Stephen Ruddell.

December 20, 1817, Mt. Zion church, Howard County, was organized. Three ministers were in the membership, Elders David McLain, Golden Williams and Edward Turner.

Elder James E. Welch, on May 31, 1818, organized Salem church in what is now Callaway County. Bethel church, now called Walnut Grove, Boone County, was organized June 28, 1817. The first permanent pastor was Elder William Thorp.

In what is now Marion County August 5, 1821, Elders David Biggs and Frank Worson organized Bear Creek church. The first pastor was Elder Leroy Jackson. Churches were now rapidly multiplied. Several of these churches lived for some years unassociated with any other ecclesiastical body.

The first association body in Northeast Missouri was the Mt. Pleasant Association, which was formed July 25, 1818, in Mt. Pleasant church, Howard County. William Thorp was moderator, George Stapleton, clerk. Elder Luke Williams preached the introductory sermon.

Cuivre Association was formed in 1822 of eight churches situated in "St. Charles, Warren and Lincoln counties. Salt River Association was formed August 29, 1823, at Peno church, Pike County. The sermon was preached by Elder Jeremiah Taylor. Elder Davis Biggs was elected moderator, William Carson, clerk.

Salem Association was formed at Cedar Creek church, Callaway County, October 20, 1827. Dr. David Doyle was moderator and Dr. William Jewell, clerk. Callaway and Boone counties constituted most of the field of this body.

Bethel Association was formed October 17, 1834, at Bethel church, Marion County. Elder Christie Gentry was moderator, William Carson, clerk.

Wyaconda Association was organized at Wyaconda church, Lewis County, in October, 1844.

Little Bonne Femme Association was constituted at Providence church, Callaway County, November 1618, 1839. Overton Harris was moderator; Alia B. Snethen, clerk.

North Union Association was organized at Fabius church, Schuyler County, in October, 1843. Elder A. T. Hite was active in forming the body.

Macon Association was formed at the house of Deacon William Griffin, Macon County, the fourth Saturday in November, 1843. Elder Euphrates Stringer was a leading force in the movement.

Bear Creek Association was constituted at Zion church, Montgomery County, the 18th of May, 1854.

North Central Association was organized at Unionville, Putnam County, September 1, 1865.

North & Missouri Association began life at Fabius church, Schuyler County, September 4, 1868. The officers were: C. Daughters, moderator; J. M. Epperson, clerk.

Linn County Association was constituted at Linneus, November 2, 1872. At the first annual session Elder A. F. Martin preached the sermon and was moderator. L. E. Martin was clerk; J. M. Cornett, treasurer.

Pleasant Grove Association was organized September 21, 1877, at Pleasant Grove church, Scotland County. Elder J. W. Kettle was moderator; Theodore Williams, clerk.

Mt. Salem Association was organized October 19, 1878, at Mt. Salem church, Knox County. The moderator was C. L. Harris; clerk, J. A. Garnett; treasurer, N. S. Naylor.

Mt. Zion Association was formed October 5, 1880, at Mt. Zion church, Howard County. Dr. W. Pope Yeaman preached the sermon and was chosen moderator; B. F. Jackson, clerk.

Audrain Association became a body October 15, 1884, in Mexico. Elder James Reid preached the sermon. Governor C. H. Hardin was moderator; Joel Guthrie, clerk.

The second Cuivre Association was organized at Corner Stone church, Lincoln County, September 18, 1891. Elder P. W. Halley preached the opening sermon. D. T. Killam was moderator; F. L. Dawson, clerk.

The Monroe Association was organized at Salem church, Monroe County, October 4, 1905. Elder R. T. Colburn preached the introductory sermon and Elder W. B. Craig the doctrinal sermon. W. L. Crawford was moderator; H. H. Utterback, clerk, and John A. Gex, treasurer.

In Northeast Missouri there are 39,128 members of Baptist churches, 384 churches, 226 ministers, and church property, including pastors' residences, valued at approximately $950,000. This does not include school property or church endowments. The amount of the latter is small.

The Baptist position of church independence and coordination in the ministry calls for intelligence in office-bearers and in the entire membership of the churches. The young churches in a new country were a thousand miles from a school where their young men could be satisfactorily prepared for the ministry, and out of easy reach of advanced education for secular life. The want must be met. The genius of the denomination demanded it. The deeper sense of the ministers and members felt it. They acted. Bonne Femme church, Boone County, was the first actor. Inasmuch as this was an original advance step, I will give the church record. It may be observed that the first date is only four months after the date of the reception of Missouri into the union of states.

Copy of the Records of Little Bonne Femme Church
"December the first Saturday, 1821.

"The Baptist church of Christ at Little Bonne Femme met according to appointment and after prayer to God for His blessing proceeded to business as follows: first, Brother Luke Williams chosen moderator to serve us today; 2nd, Brother Anderson Woods chosen clerk pro tem today; 3rd, On motion agreed to appoint brother Mason Moss to ascertain of Col. James McClelland on what terms the church can get the land this meetinghouse stands on and how much and report next meeting.
"Signed by order of the church,
Anderson Woods, P. T."

"January the first Saturday, 1822.

"The Baptist church of Christ at Little Bonne Femme met according to appointment and after prayer to God for His blessing proceeded to business as follows: first. Brother Anderson Woods chosen moderator for the present day. Second, The reference from last meeting taken up authorizing Brother Moss to see Col. McClelland to ascertain from him whether the church could get the ground on which this meeting-house stands and how much. And Bro. Moss reported that Col. McClelland was willing to donate to the church from one to five acres of land.

"Third, on motion agreed to appoint three of the brethren of this church (to wit) Mason Moss, Thomas S. Tuttle and Anderson Woods who together with Col. McClelland are requested to lay off and mark out such bounds as they think will be to the mutual interest of all parties and to obtain from Col. McClelland a sufficient title for the land so designated and marked out, and those brethren to make report to next meeting. The title to be for the benefit of the church and a school with an understanding that if the church should dissolve the title of said land to remain in Col. McClelland and the church nor no person under them to have the power to dispose of said land for the purpose of speculation.

Signed by order of the church,
Lazarus Wilcox, Clk.

February the first Saturday, 1822.
"The Baptist church of Christ at Little Bonne Femme met according to appointment and after prayer to God for His blessing proceeded to business as follows:

"First, Brother Anderson Woods chosen moderator for the present day.

"Second, The reference from last meeting taken up appointing Brethren Mason Moss, Thomas S. Tuttle, and Anderson Woods who together with Col. McClelland were requested to lay off and mark out such bounds as Col. McClelland and they should think was necessary for the 'use of this church and a school and the brethren before-mentioned presented a title bond from Col. McClelland made to Mason Moss, Thomas S. Tuttle and Anderson Woods and their successors in office for the use and benefit of this church and a school and the said title bond and all proceedings relative thereto was received and ratified by the church.

"Third, On motion to appoint Brethren Mason Moss, Thomas S. Tuttle and Anderson Woods Trustees for this church in whom this Tittle of the land donated by Col. McClelland for the use of the church is to remain until others are appointed in their place.

"Signed by order of the church,
"Lazarus Wilcox, Clerk"

In this Bonne Femme Academy many were educated, some of whom have become eminent. The Patriot, of Columbia, October, 1841, says of exercises in this school: "The Greek language, which unfortunately is not rendered as prominent in most of our Western colleges as its intrinsic merits deserve, was on this occasion splendidly sustained by J. J. Harvey of Saline and Miss Mary B. Jenkins." This young lady became the wife of C. H. Hardin, subsequently the governor of Missouri.

Stephens College, Columbia

The Rev. G. W. Hatcher has kindly furnished the following account of this institution:

In 1869 the General Association of Missouri Baptists met in Columbia. In that meeting a committee "On State Female College" was appointed to report one year hence. In 1870 that body met in St. Louis with the Second Baptist church and the committee, composed of E. S. Dulin, S. C. Major, R. H. Smith and W. R. Rothwell, reported favoring the establishment of a Baptist college for women.

This report was adopted and steps were taken then and there to locate the school. Three points of location were made: Columbia, Lexington and Jennings Station. The vote resulted in the choice of Columbia. There was in Columbia at that time what was known as "Baptist Female College at Columbia." The trustees of this college offered to transfer to a board of curators, to be held in trust for the general association, all the property of this college, with all its rights and possessions. The offer was accepted and the "Baptist Female College at Columbia" then and there was made by the General Association of Missouri Baptists the Baptist State Female College.

Upon the location of the State Female College at Columbia, Hon. James L. Stephens donated to its endowment the sum of $20,000, the largest sum that had ever been given by one person, up to that time, to the cause of Christian education west of the Mississippi river. On account of this magnificent gift the charter of the institution was so amended that the name was changed to Stephens Female College, which name it still bears and ever will bear.

One of its largest donors, aside from Hon. James L. Stephens, was R. E. Sappington, who during his life gave to it $10,500 and made provision in his will whereby some $5,000 or $6,000 more will be realized. Many more, who might be mentioned, believing that the Baptists of Missouri would "make good" and make Stephens College all that they pledged to do for it, have invested money, prayers and tears in it. With a plant easily worth $250,000, equipped with dormitories for 120 girls, with the best gymnasium in the West, with a musical conservatory un-equalled in Missouri, with a location that cannot be surpassed, right in the heart of the educational center of the state, Stephens College will take its place among the strongest female colleges in the West.

LaGrange College, LaGrange

The Wyaconda Baptist Association, in 1856, voted to establish within its bounds a male and female seminary of the highest order. March 12, 1859, the state legislature granted a charter to the institution as the '* LaGrange Male and Female College." The school was well patronized and in a flourishing condition when its doors were closed on account of the Civil war. At the close of the war people of all parts rallied to the support of the college and the Rev. J. F. Cook, of Kentucky, was called to the presidency. After thirty years of efficient service, President Cook resigned in 1896, and was succeeded by Dr. Jere T. Muir, an honored alumnus of the college, whose superior ability as an educator was evinced by many improvements in the course of instruction during his administration. Dr. Muir resigned in 1905 and was succeeded in the presidency by Dr. John W. Crouch, also an alumnus of the college. During his administration the work of the academy was made complete, the scope of the college work broadened, the endowment was materially increased, and the equipment of the building greatly improved. He resigned in the spring of 1910 and was succeeded by Acting President Charles A. Deppe, of the science department, and upon his resignation from the college in February, 1911, he was succeeded by Prof. C. P. Marks, principal of the academy. In June, 1911, the Rev. Ransom Harvey, D. D., who had been connected with the school seven years as professor of theology and philosophy, was elected president. In the summer of 1911 an endowment campaign was inaugurated and, under the wise and successful leadership of the Rev. J. D. Scott, $50,000 has been secured. A portion of this amount has been designated by the donors for the building of a dormitory for girls.

Hardin College Mexico

The formal organization of Hardin College occurred in Mexico June 10, 1873. The board of directors consisted of: Lewis Hord, Charles H. Hardin, James Callaway, E. J. Gibbs, Samuel A. Craddock, J. M. Gordon, T. B. Hitt, James Carroll, William Harper, Thomas Smith, William H. Woodward, J. D. Murphy and Joel Guthrie. Governor Hardin's gifts to the institution amounted to $70,000. Citizens of Mexico and its vicinity gave the grounds and buildings. The first of September was set for opening the school. The articles of association provide that the endowment "shall be kept at interest or invested in stocks as continuously as possible; and on the third Tuesday in June in every year forty per cent of the gross earnings of rents arising from any real estate herein conveyed and also of the interest, profit and other proceeds arising from any part of the endowment fund being at interest or invested in stocks shall be added to and become a part and parcel of the permanent endowment fund of said college until such endowment fund shall amount to one-half million dollars."

Prof. A. W. Terrill, Mrs. H. T. Baird and Prof. A. K. Yancey filled the presidency of the college, each of whom has passed beyond earth-life. Dr. J. W. Million is now president and under his administration the institution has grown in capacity, range and standard of work and in favor with the people.

Mt. Pleasant College, Huntsville

The best service that I can do in this case is to quote from Elder S. Y. Pitts' history, "The Mt. Pleasant Association." He says:

"In 1853 the citizens of Randolph County, impressed with the need of an institution of learning and wishing to secure to themselves its benefits, determined to erect suitable buildings at a cost of not less than $10,000. Acting on the advice of Hon. William A. Hall to put the institution under the care and patronage of Mt. Pleasant Association, a letter stating the above proposal signed by William A. Hall, H. Austin and P. P. Roby, in behalf of the citizens and accepted by the Association and the institution took the name of the association. Under this arrangement the money was secured and the buildings erected. In 1872 Macon Association agreed by resolution to cooperate with Mt. Pleasant Association in building up Mt. Pleasant College. Mt. Pleasant College during her twenty-six years of existence had been presided over by Rev. William Thompson, LL. D., one year; Rev. W. R. Rothwell, D. D., twelve years; Rev. J. W. Terrill, seven years; Rev. M. J. Breaker, three years; A. S. Worrell, D. D., two years; Rev. J. B. Weber, one year. The college was burned to ashes July 15, 1882, and on August 16 following, the courthouse in Huntsville shared the same fate.''

Bethel College, Palmyra

This institution had a brief but useful career. In 1853 Elder John T. Williams taught a graded school, male and female. In response to a proposition submitted by Elder Nathan Ayres, chairman of the board of trustees, the Baptist Male and Female Seminary at Palmyra was adopted in 1855 and made the school of the Bethel Association. Elder Williams continued for a while at the head of the school. Prof. H. Ellis, Elder R. M. Rhodes and Dr. S. A. Taft and others labored efficiently for the public and denominational good. About a score of years was the period of Bethel's career.

McCune College, Louisiana

In 1857 Elder John T. Williams established a seminary in Louisiana. In 1869 it was incorporated. The first board consisted of N. McDannold, S. B. Ayres, William Major, Addison Tinsley, A. M. Tinsley, M. M. Modisett, Hugh Allen, Elder J. D. Biggs followed Dr. Williams in the presidency and Prof. W. B. McPike was the associate professor and succeeded him as head of the institution. In 1881 the school was reorganized as McCune College, named for A. J. McCune, who had been active in the affairs of the institution. Dr. H. T. Morton, Professor Beeson, Prof. T. J. Musgrove, Prof. E. W. Dow and Prof. Greenwell followed in the order mentioned. It had a career of thirty-eight years.

Baptist Periodicals

The Missouri Baptist Journal was started at Palmyra, January 8, 1866, Elders J. H. Luther and R. M. Rhodes, editors and proprietors. In 1868 it was moved to St. Louis and consolidated with The Record and took the name of The Central Baptist.

The Baptist Battle Flag, a weekly, was started by Elder D. B. Ray at LaGrange, June 1, 1875. The Flag and the Baptist Herald of Lebanon, Missouri, were consolidated in June, 1877, retaining the name the Baptist Battle Flag, and issued from St. Louis. The paper had enthusiastic supporters and a varied career.

Eminent Baptists

Among the many distinguished Baptists, ministers and laymen, of Northeast Missouri, may be mentioned:

Rev. David Doyle
Eli E. Bass
Rev. James Smith
Professor Joseph Flood
Col. John Ralls
David H. Hickman
Dr. J. T. Muir
William N. Biggs
E. W. Stephens
Rev. S. Y. Pitts
Rev. James M. Lillard
Rev. Dr. W. Pope Yeaman
Governor Charles H. Hardin
Elder Noah Flood
Elder William Hurley
Elder Jeremiah Vardeman
Rev. Dr. J. C. Maple
Rev. Dr. R. S. Duncan
Braxton Pollard
Rev. Dr. W. H. Burnham

Riverside Scripture Institute

After three years of unorganized teaching, the Riverside Scripture Institute was organized at Ramsey Creek church. Pike county, August 30, 1894. Elder James Reid was made president. Elder William Callaway, secretary. The institute seeks to preserve and cultivate the student habit, to bring the best results to busy men and women who can spare only short intervals of time from active work to qualify themselves for increased efficiency. The officers of 1912 are: Dr. J. T. Muir, president; R. E. McGuire, secretary; Abe C. Jones, chairman of the executive committee.

In closing, I beg to say that men as worthy and deeds as noble as those mentioned must be omitted because of the limitations of time and space. 


© Missouri American History and Genealogy Project
Created August 16, 2017 by Judy White

Source: History of Northeast Missouri, edited by Walter Williams, Volume I, Lewis Publishing Company, 1913