Christian Churches of Northeast Missouri
By the Rev. T, P. Haley, D, D., Kansas City

The eastern counties were populated to a considerable degree before the Missouri territory was admitted as a state into the Union. With this early population were many families who were members of the Christian churches in the states from which they came. With them also came a number of able ministers of the gospel, who settled among them and soon began to preach in dwelling houses, in groves and in the few country school houses that had been erected. Among these were such men as Thomas M. Allen, of Boone county, Joel H. Haden, of Howard county, and Joseph Creath, of Marion county, with others of less power as public speakers. These men soon began to organize churches and the people gathered by them began to erect meeting houses and where this was impossible obtained permission to preach and organize churches in school houses.

Perhaps the earliest churches were planted in Howard County. In this county resided Joel H. Haden, a commanding figure more than six feet in height, weighing not less than two hundred and fifty pounds and finely proportioned. He had a line voice and was a fluent and powerful speaker. He was a man of liberal education, though not a classical scholar, nor a graduate of any college. The common people heard him gladly and understood him and under his ministry many were converted and gathered into congregations. After a time Dr. Winthrop H. Hopkins also settled in Fayette and began the practice of medicine. He, too, was a fine looking man of commanding personality. He soon abandoned his profession and gave himself to the ministry and under his able preaching great numbers were brought into the churches and many congregations were organized. Joel Prewitt, father of Robert Prewitt and Dr. Theodore Prewitt, a farmer-preacher, was possessed of liberal means and preached without salary and for the most part without any compensation. Hampton L. Boone and his brother, W. C. Boone, and many traveling evangelists also aided in establishing churches throughout the county. Prof. John W. McGarvey, who became a distinguished preacher and president of the Bible College at Lexington, Kentucky, was ordained to the ministry in Fayette. Alexander Proctor, another distinguished preacher, was for a number of years the preacher at Glasgow. Noah W. Miller, a graduate of Bethany College, taught school and preached at Roanoke and at other points in the county. Elder T. M. Allen, of Boone County, held many meetings at Fayette, Glasgow and at other points in the county and aided greatly in building up churches in the county. This accomplished and eloquent preacher traveled and preached extensively in Howard and adjoining counties and prepared the way for the organization "of many churches. Under his ministry Hampton L. Boone, a prominent Methodist minister, came into the Christian church and served the church in Fayette and preached throughout the county. W. C. Boone, afterwards a banker, became a member of the Fayette church and a local preacher who did much to build up the churches in the county. In Fayette Dr. J. W. McGarvey was ordained to the ministry and became a distinguished preacher and educator. He was for many years president of the Bible College of Kentucky University, now Transylvania. Alexander Proctor was the first pastor of the church in Glasgow.

Missouri Bible College, Columbia

The ministers who were most prominent in the organization of the early churches in Boone County were Thomas W. McBride, William Roberts, Richard Carr, Richard T. Roberts, Joel H. Haden, Thomas M. Allen and Marcus P. Wills. Hon. Jesse Boulton gives, as a curiosity, the following copy of a church record verbatim:

June 6, 1824.
We the undersigned subscribers, being called upon to examine into the faith and ability of brethren living on and near Bear creek (north of Columbia) desiring to be constituted, find them, in our opinion, sound in the faith and possessing the abilities of keeping in order the house of God. We have therefore pronounced them a church of Jesus Christ under no other discipline or ritual of faith and practice, but the Old and New Testaments, professing at the same time to have charity enough as a church to let each other judge of the doctrines contained in the Scriptures for ourselves. Given under our hands, who are elders and have constituted the undersigned names.
Thomas McBride,
William Roberts,
John M. Thomas.

The early preachers in Boone County were Thomas M. Allen, Marcus P. Wills and Richard Carr. The churches at Red Top in the northern part of the county, Friendship, Bear Creek and Columbia were the first churches formed in the county. The church at Columbia was organized in the year 1832 and about four years afterwards Elder T. M. Allen became its pastor.

The same men who preached and organized churches in Howard and Boone counties were prominent in establishing the early churches in Callaway County. In addition to these men may be mentioned Marcus P. Wills and Absalom Rice. For many years the churches in Fulton, at Stephens Store and New Bloomfield were the prominent churches. At New Bloomfield a debate between the Baptist and Christian churches was held by Prof. R. S. Thomas, of the Baptist church, and the Rev. D. P. Henderson, of the Christian church, many years ago.

The first ministers of the church who preached and organized churches in Montgomery were Elders Sandy E. Jones, Timothy Ford, J. J. Ewell, Dr. Hatchett, Jacob Coons, and T. M. Allen of Boone county, and still later Dr. W. H. Hopson, whose father resided in Fulton. Still later Elder D. M. Grandfield, who after his return from Bethany College where he graduated, located in Middletown, where he taught school and preached, extending his labors throughout the county and the surrounding territory. Near this town also was born the Rev. A. B. Jones, who afterwards was pastor at Fulton and subsequently resided in Liberty, in Clay County, where he taught in a woman's college and preached for the church and in the surrounding country. The churches at Montgomery City and at Middletown have been maintained through all the years and many of the most prominent citizens of the county have been members.

The following churches were reported by the corresponding secretary: Danville, Jonesburg, Middletown, Montgomery City, New Florence, Price Branch, Two Mile, Wellsville.

St. Charles County has not been a successful field for the Christian church. While parts of the county have been visited by the ministers in that part of the state, only one church has been reported, Foristell. The failure to plant churches in this county is attributed to the fact that at an early day the foreign population, especially the Germans, occupied the field. It is not intended to intimate that the people are not a religious and church-going people, but only that they are for the most part members of the Catholic, Lutheran, and other churches, better known in the countries from which their fathers came.

Elders Allen, Jones, Coons, Ford, Grandfield and others have preached and established churches in Lincoln county.

The following churches are reported: Corinth, Elmgrove, Elsberry, Hawkpoint, Linn Knoll, Louisville, Liberty, Troy, Moscow Mills, Olney.

Nearly all the ministers who resided in the eastern part of the state held meetings or served as regular pastors in Ralls County. Joseph J. Errett, S. E. Jones, Timothy Ford, Jacob Coons, D. M. Grandfield and, in later years, J. B. Corwine and E. V. Rice. Elder T. M. Allen, who traveled so extensively over the county, also held meetings. The following churches are reported: Ariel, Bethel, Center, Hays Creek, Huntington, Liberty, Lick Creek, New London, Newport, Ocean Wave, Perry, Pleasant Grove, Prairie View, Renssalear, Salt River, Spaling. At New London J. B. Corwine resided and preached for many years and in the meantime evangelized for many years. A school for young men and young women was maintained at this point. Professors Christian and Laughlin were the principal teachers.

Joseph J. Errett lived and labored long in Pike County and was the patriarch of all the many ministers who lived and labored in the county. J. D. Dawson and son, William, who afterwards became an Episcopal clergyman, lived at Louisiana and served the churches in that region. E. B. Cake, T. A. Abbott, Jacob Hugley, Eugene M. Lampton, William Meloan, E. V. Rice and, in later years, E. M. Richmond served as pastors of churches and on occasion held protracted meetings.

The following churches are reported: Ashburn, Ashley, Bowling Green, New Harmony, Clarksville, Eolia, Frankford, Spencersburg, Louisiana, Paynesville, Salem.

The early preachers in Marion County were Elders Jacob Creath, Dr. David T. Morton, T. M. Allen, Esom Ballinger, L. B. Wilkes, James A. Meng, Dr. W. H. Hopson, and others. From an early day the church of Palmyra was prominent. It established and maintained a female school. Dr. Hopson was the first president of the school. He was succeeded by L. B. Wilkes, who subsequently became president of Christian College at Columbia. In later years E. C. Browning and others served as pastor. The Hannibal church had the services of L. B. Wilkes and Henry H. Haley, C. B. Edgar, J. H. Hardin, S. D. Dutcher, Levi Marshall. The following churches were reported: Antioch, Emerson, Hannibal, Hester, Palmyra, Philadelphia, Mt. Zion, Warren, Woodland, Hannibal 2nd. In the fifties a debate between Dr. W. H. Hopson and Rev. W. G. Caples, of the Methodist Church South, was held in Hannibal and created widespread interest in that part of the state. Several state conventions of the churches have been held at Hannibal.

The early ministers of Lewis County were Jacob Creath, Esom Ballinger, John Shanks, John C. Risk, and later the ministers connected with Christian University at Canton, Missouri. During all the years preachers in the faculty of Christian University and student preachers have preached in the county and in the surrounding counties.

The following churches are reported: Antioch, Buena Vista, Bunker Hill, Canton, Cool Springs, LaBelle, LaGrange, Lewistown, Midway, Monticello, Newman Chapel, Prairie View, Sugar Creek, Williamstown, Mt. Zion, Turpins, Tolona.

Being just north of Lewis County, Clark County has had the services of the same preachers from the faculty and students of Christian University, with much the same results.

The following named churches have been organized and maintained ministers and kept up regular services: Alexandria, Carmel, Fairmount, Elm, Kahoka, Louray, Peakville, Shiloh, Star, Winchester.

In Scotland County the following churches are reported: Antioch, Bible Grove, Concord, Lawn Ridge, Prairie View, Granger, Gorie, Plum College, Memphis, Rutledge, Salem, and Union. These churches have been organized by the ministers and students of Christian University.

The ministers who labored in Audrain County in an early day were Elder T. M. Allen, Dr. W. Hopson and Dr. John A. Brooks. Many meetings were held in the county by traveling evangelists and the following churches are reported:

Farber, Laddonia, Liberty, Friendship, Martinsburg, Mexico, Macedonia, Midway, New Hope, Rising Sun, Rock Hill, Rush Hill, Salt River, Unity, Vandalia. The church in Mexico is one of the largest and most influential in the state.

Thomas McBride, Thomas M. Allen, Jacob Creath and Henry Thomas were the first preachers in Monroe County.

Other ministers have been:

J. W. Mountjoy
William Featherston
Eugene Lampton
John A. Brooks
T. W. Pinkerton
S. McDaniel
Jacob Hugley

The present pastor of the Paris church is F. W. Allen. A third church building, spacious and comfortable, has recently been erected. Before the war James Campbell, Asa N. Grant and others conducted a school under the auspices of the churches in the county, in which many of the young women of the county were educated. The following churches are reported: Ash, Antioch, Fairview, Holliday, Granville, Mt. Carmel, Madison, Mountjoy, Middle Grove, Monroe City, Oak Ridge, Pleasant Grove, Paris, Santa Fe, Union, Woodlawn. In Paris J. C. Fox was one of the prominent members. He was liberal and hospitable. His house was ever the home of the weary and travel-worn preacher. He was a liberal patron of the Orphan School of Missouri. At his death he left a liberal sum to the church at Shelbina and to other charities. Judge Howell, Dr. Gore, the Alexanders, the McBrides, the Crutchers, Judge Race, James Abbernathy, the first editor of the Paris Mercury, Mason and Bean, so long its editors and publishers, the Bodines, the Moss family, the Barretts, Giddings, Vaughns, Eubanks, Beckners, Caldwells, Congers, Bridgefords, Davis, these all contributed to the prosperity and success of the churches throughout Monroe County.

Elders Jacob Creath, Frederick Shoot, Henry Thomas, William Featherston, Wood, and other evangelists have labored in Shelby County and many of the Monroe County pastors have held meetings in the county. Shelbina has been for many years the most prominent church in the county and many ministers from other counties of the state have held meetings there. A new church building has recently been erected. Shelbyville also has a new church building.

The following churches are reported: Clarence, Concord, Hagers Grove, Hunnewell, Lakenan, Lentner, Leonard, Shelbina, Shelbyville, Oakdale, Pleasant Grove, Union, Berea, Union Chapel, Walkerville.

The first preachers in Randolph County were:

Dr. James Shannon, Dr. W. H. Hopson, D. P. Henderson and Samuel S. Church also held meetings in the county. Many prominent citizens were members of the churches from the beginning, W. I. Rutherford, Capt. T. B. Reed, Capt. John J. Allen, Rowland T. Proctor, Ben J. Haley, Abe McKinney, May M. Burton, Capt. Thomas P. Coates, Alexander Hall, N. B. Coates, and Irving Guy, with many others equally worthy and equally useful. The first meeting houses were the school houses and after these the log meeting houses. The first of these was Antioch, midway between Paris and Huntsville. In these weekly meetings were held and preaching one Sunday in the month.

The following churches are reported: Antioch, Cairo, Clark, Clifton Hill, Fairview, Higbee, Huntsville, Liberty, McMullen, Moberly (2), New Hope, New Providence, Renick, Salem, Yates. Moberly has a large church building and a large membership.

The first preachers in Macon County were O. P. Davis, Jeremiah Prather, Allen Wright, and William Fox. Later B. G. Barrow, P. K. Dibble and James U. Wright were preachers in the county and still later Elder Mayhew, E. M. Richmond, D. P. Henderson and Jacob Creath held meetings in the county in the fifties. The first church was organized in Bloomington, the first county seat, and here as early as 1849 a district was held, at which provision was made for sending out ministers to hold meetings and gather into churches the scattered members in that part of the state. After varied fortunes the Macon church has recently built a commodious, modern church building and under the ministry of Elder Munyan is becoming a large and influential congregation.

The following churches are reported: Antioch, Bethel, Bevier, Chariton Grove, Concord, Hopewell, Macon City, LaPlata, New Harmony, Callao, Plainview, Union, Union Grove, Freedom, Mt. Zion, Fairview, Atlanta, College Mound.

J. C. Davis, O. P. Davis, George E. Bow, Elder Hollis Simpson, Eli D. Browden, Sherman Kirk, Davis Errett, Elder Wiskizer, H. A. Northcutt, G. H. Laughlin, Dr. Browden, Elder Willis and others labored in Adair County and organized churches. Preachers residing in adjoining counties have held protracted meetings and organized churches in Adair County.

The following churches reported: Kirksville, Illinois Bend, Pierceville, Sublett.

Lancaster church in Schuyler County was organized as early as 1827 and has kept a record through all the years since, even during the years of the Civil war. The following named preachers are reported: Isaac Foster, William Hadley, Hosea Northcutt, James W. Wright, E. H. Lawson, Josiah Davis.

The following churches are reported: Antioch, Bridge Creek, Coffey, Darby, Downing, Fairview, Glenwood, Green Top, Lancaster, Queen City, Pleasant Grove.

The oldest church in Chariton County is Chariton, near Keytesville, founded by William Burton, of Howard County. It has since either ceased to be or its remains were absorbed some years ago by the church in Keytesville. Brunswick church was next in order. Joel H. Haden, of Howard County, a warm personal friend of Dr. Edwin Price, of Brunswick, father of R. B. Price, Sr., banker at Columbia, on a visit to the doctor, preached in Brunswick and practically formed the church. Afterward Allen Wright, then of Chariton, visited and preached at that church. Afterward came Joel H. Haden, of Howard, and Doctor Hopson, the state evangelist, and the church was founded. The writer was their first pastor and continued from 1854 to 1857. Since that time, except during a few years, including the years of the Civil war, the church has maintained its existence and supported pastors. In the year 1855 a debate was held there by two of the most prominent ministers in the state, W. G. Caples, of the Methodist church, and Moses E. Lard, of the Christian church.

The first church in Linn County was founded at Linneus. Its early members consisted of such families as Col. John Ware, formerly of Boone County, the Prewitts, Colonel Holland, Mr. Burlington, Thomas Browne, and Editor William Penlington, Doctor Ralph and others of like prominence. Churches have sprung up all over the county, at Salt Creek, Cunningham, Rothville, Keytesville and other places. Brookfield and other churches have prospered and maintain pastors.

Milan was the first church in Sullivan County and has been followed by other churches, still existing. There are many churches in the county that maintain pastors and the churches are increasing.

This sketch of the Christian churches in Northeast Missouri will present to the reader some idea of the great work which has been done by the churches in that part of the state. 


© 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