Ministers and Churches, Callaway County

The first minister to settle in the county was the Rev. John Ham, who came in 1815. He was a Methodist, though two of his brothers were ministers of the Baptist church.

Next to come, probably, was the Rev. William Coats, a Primitive Baptist, for whom Coats' Prairie was named, and who settled here in 1817. Campbell (p. 98a) says that the Rev. James E. Welch and the Rev. John M. Peck, both Baptists, preached in the county during the years 1817-1819.

The Rev. John Scripps a Methodist circuit rider, held services in the county in the summer or fall of 1818 and probably was the first minister of his denomination to visit Callaway county in a clerical capacity. "Of the pioneer Christians," says Campbell (p. 98a), ''perhaps Rev.

David Kirkpatrick preached the first Presbyterian sermon ever delivered in the county [1823]."

A Catholic mission which was established at Cote Sans Dessein in 1816 was the first religious organization in Callaway County. Probably before the mission was established the village was visited by the Rev. Fr. Joseph Dunand, a Cistercian priest who was stationed at St. Charles from 1809 to 1815, for all of the inhabitants of the village were French Catholics from Canada. The Cote Sans Dessein church was turned over to the Jesuits in 1823, on their arrival in Missouri, and the church was placed under the ministry of the Rev. Fr. Peter J. Timmermans, who served it between one and two years.

The Jesuits were in charge of the church at least until 1839. The organization passed out of existence many years ago.

The first Protestant church in the county was Salem Primitive Baptist, located on Coats' Prairie, northeast of Reform, which was organized May 31, 1818. A substantial log house was built under the supervision of the Rev. William Coats, and the building was used for religious and school purposes many years. Church services were held in it as late as 1880, and a few of the logs in the structure, though greatly decayed, are still on the ground. The cemetery adjoining the site of the old church probably is the oldest public burying ground in Callaway County.

Miller's Creek Methodist church, organized in 1820 by the Rev. James Scott, of the Cedar Creek circuit of the Missouri conference, was the second Protestant church, in the county. A church house was not built until sometime afterward, however, and services during the interim were held at the house of Samuel and Polly Miller.

Old Cedar Primitive Baptist church, located west of the village of Stephens, was organized July 14, 1821, and Thomas Peyton Stephens was its pastor from 1824 until 1865. It is one of the three Primitive Baptist organizations still maintained in the county, and among its members are grandchildren of Elder Stephens.

The Cumberland Presbyterians were the third Protestant body to establish a church in the county. They organized New Providence, located at Guthrie, on October 4, 1823, and the "History of Callaway County'' (p. 527) says the Rev. Robert Sloan was instrumental in effecting the organization. The church has remained steadfast to its original faith throughout all of the intervening years, and is one of the few churches of the denomination in Missouri which rejected union with the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A., in 1905.

Middle River Primitive Baptist church, in the southern part of the county, was organized in August, 1824, by the Rev. William Coats, and Providence church of the same denomination, located northeast of New Bloomfield, was organized in 1826. Providence went over to the Missionary Baptists when division came, and the congregation now worships in a house in New Bloomfield.

Old Auxvasse church, two miles north of Calwood, the mother of Presbyterianism in Callaway County, was organized on the 31st of May, 1828. A few Presbyterian families settled in that part of the county in 1820, and after 1823 preaching services were held occasionally by itinerant ministers at the homes of the settlers. A log house twenty by twenty-six feet in size, was raised on February 13, 1826, more than two years before the church organization was perfected. In the middle of one side of the house was a door and opposite it was the pulpit and a window.  The constituent members of Old Auxvasse church were: William Meteer, David Kennedy, Mary Kennedy, Reuben Scott, Mary T. Scott, James Tate, Clarinda P. Tate, John Hamilton, Peggy C. Hamilton, Ann T. Hart and Betsey Fatten. John Hamilton and Reuben Scott were elected elders the day the church was organized. The Bev. Charles S. Robinson was the moderator of the meeting.

Millersburg Presbyterian church, now known as White Cloud Presbyterian church, which was organized November 26, 1831, was the second of that denomination in the county, and Concord, organized June 25, 1833, was the third. The constituent members of Millersburg Presbyterian church were: Matthew Culbert, Prudence Culbert, Amerger Lilly, Sarah P. Lilly, William Hamilton, Rebecca Hamilton, Joseph D. Hamilton, Jane E. Hamilton, Margaret W. Hamilton, Andrew W. Hamilton, Frederick Reed, Eliza Reed, John Robison, Barbery S. Robison, and Mary Ewing. The Bev. William P. Cochran was moderator of the meeting at which the church was organized.

Antioch Christian church, three miles south of Williamsburg, organized in October, 1828, was the parent church of the Disciples in the county.   The second organization of the denomination was in Fulton.

The "History of Callaway County" (p. 528) says the original members of Antioch church were Philip Love, Elizabeth Love, Charles Love, Jesse McMahan, Polly McMahan, Joseph Duncan, Nancy Duncan, William Douglass, Greenup Jackman, Mrs. Enoch Fruit, Mrs. John Clark, James Love, Matilda Love, Richard Isham and John McMahan, and their wives.

The Primitive Baptists were the first to organize a church in Fulton. The date has been lost, but it was some time prior to May 15, 1830, for on that day the church obtained title to the lot at the corner of East Sixth and Bluff streets on which the Fulton Negro Baptist church stands. The church was organized at the house of James McKinney, one of its first trustees, and was named Liberty, for one of his sons. The Rev. Theodrick Boulware was its first pastor and continued to serve the congregation until his removal to Kentucky in 1866. A $3,000 brick church house was erected in 1833-34, and though it has undergone many alterations, is still used for religious purposes. The organization died out before the beginning of the present century.

The Methodists probably had the second religious organization in Fulton, their church dating from about 1833, though circuit-riders (among them the Rev. Andrew Monroe) of that denomination visited the town as early as 1828 and held services. The Disciples of Christ effected an organization in the county seat between 1833 and 1835, while the Presbyterians delayed their organization until June 14, 1835. 


© 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