Arnolds Grove Brethren

The Brethren in Carroll County

The Brethren came first to Carroll County in the late 1830s and early 1840's to settle in an area about four miles north-east of what is now Mount Carroll. But in 1842 with the coming to the area of Daniel Arnold, David Emmert and Henry Strickler, this area came to be known as Arnold's Grove; named after Daniel Arnold who purchased some 260 acres there.

Henry Strickler of that group was a minister with the Brethren and had served very capably in Franklin County, Pennsylvania for 16 years before coming to this area.

        Photo contributed by Nancy Watkins

So it was to be expected that he soon gathered around him all the Brethren and started regular group worship in a small school house building. David Emmert was also a good organizer and promoter so by 1854 a larger and more adequate meeting house was built on a site in Section 29 in Freedom Township along what is now called the Ridge Road.

This group grew very rapidly as many new families came from the East to locate. By 1859 they had extended themselves east as far as Cherry Grove. Because of the distance to travel to Arnold's Grove it was decided to organize and build a church at Cherry Grove too. This church also grew rapidly and with nearby Lanark being settled so fast it seemed wise to accomodate those members in and around Lanark by building another church house there. This church house in Lanark was built in 1876.

M. Eshelman, and J. T. Myers came to Lanark to establish a denominational printing service for the Brotherhood. With the leadership of these talented men and others who also came to join them, it soon called for an organization separate from Cherry Grove. So in 1878 the congregation organized themselves and chose J. H. Moore. as Moderator; John H. Peck, Clerk; and D. F. Eby, Isaac Rowland, and Jacob Arnold as trustees. At the same time it was decided to have Sunday School services.

Another event that helped to give the young Lanark church a good start was that it was decided to hold the denomination's Annual Meeting at Lanark. In the summer of 1880 the big Annual Meeting convened on the Isaac Rowland farm at the south edge of Lanark. The big tents were located in the area near the present high school grounds. It was possible to hold so large a gathering so far west because the railroad had come to Lanark only a short time before, making it possible for delegates and visitors to be present from all parts of the then settled United States. At this meeting the delegates transacted business and policies governing their church. The inspiration of this meeting was a big boost to the morale of the young church. Also it gave the visitors a view of the newly settled prairies of the West and without doubt was a big item in the fast settling and developement of the area. We are told there was much rain during that meeting which caused much mud and discomfort everywhere.

..................of the denominations most talented young men and an excellent speaker. He also was one of the editors for the Brethren Publishing House which by then had been moved from Lanark to Elgin, Illinois, its present location. Under his leadership the church grew and prospered so that by 1910 the old meeting house was no longer adequate and a Building Committee was selected to act on the situation. The committee was comprised of J. T. Eckman, Elmer Zuck, J. F. Hoak, S. I. Newcomer, J. S. Snively and I. B. Trout, the minister. The result was a decision to tear down the old church building and use its lumber toward building a new and modern house of worship. George Sword and son Clarence of Lanark were selected as contractor and builder. They also drew up the blue prints. On April 24, 1910 the last service was held in the old meeting house and the next day carpenters started tearing down the structure and many hands of the members pulled nails and sorted and piled the lumber nearby on the lawn. Also the digging of the basement, the hauling of the lumber and gravel with team and wagon were some of the ways the membership exhibited a strong spirit of cooperation in doing tasks that confronted them. Until the new church was ready, lumber was used to construct a temporary worship tabernacle on the far west edge of the lawn. The new church building was finished and dedicated on January 1, 1911 with Pastor I. B. Trout as main speaker. That church stands today on the ground occupied by the old meeting house at the corner of East Pearl and High Streets in Lanark. It has served the community well over the years but by 1960 it needed added facilities for modern worship.

On September 1, 1962, Reverend Kenneth Hollinger came from Indiana to become the Pastor. It was under his able leadership that a complete remodelling job was done in 1963-64. The structure was sound and solid so it was altered into not only a very serviceable building, but beautiful as well. It is now modern in all its facilities. Reverend Hollinger served conscientiously as Pastor for eleven years and did much for the church and community.

As his successor, Reverend Albert P. Rogers came to assume the Pastorate in September, 1973. He was a native of Worthington, Minnesota and with his family had held Pastorates in Iowa, Kansas and Virginia. He is now carrying on a strong rural church program, being very active in the community as well as the church. He participates in the Freeport Hospital haplain service; serving the needs of any and all who need him there. In addition he does excellent work in his services to the sick and shut-ins. Pastor Rogers is aso active in community Youth programs.

The Church has a strong outreach program in support of Missions and Disaster Areas. In addition to that the ladies of the Womens Fellowship have an outstanding program of Outreach to needy persons everywhere. They meet much of the winter months at regular times for all-day sewing. During these times they sew many garments and layettes for children. Others of them make comforters and quilts. They have pieced and knotted as many as 125 comforters and quilts in a season; some of which are sold and monies received used to replenish material, or sent to Church World Service.

One day each month a number of these ladies go to the Pinecrest Home (Mt. Morris) where they help the residents with special interests or needs. Once a year a picnic is planned and served to a bus load of handicapped persons from the Dixon State School. In 1973 it was decided to build a new parsonage for the pastoral leadership. So accordingly, the old parsonage, located at 327 South High, was sold and a new one built at 623 East Prairie Street. The Lanark Church has not only had an interesting and challenging history, but also anticipates a vital place in the life of the community in the future. We thank Quinter Stitzel for recounting this history of the Lanark Church of the Brethren.

Source: Unknown but believe it to be Goodly Heritage

Church at Arnold’s Grove - The first minister in this church, and even the First in the county of this order of people, was Henry Strickler. He came here In the year 1841, and soon gathered around himself a little band of believers. In 1851, Christian Long, also a minister, moved to this place, and by his active labors in that year forty were added to the church by confession and baptism, and quite a number by emigration.

In 1854, a plain, substantial meeting house, 40 by 60, was erected on the farm belonging to Henry Strickler, Sr., and David Emmert was chosen to the minis- try. Soon after this, Michael Sisler and John Buck were also called to preach the Gospel, and the church steadily increased in number for several year. In 1857, within two months, ninety-six persons were received into fellowship by faith, repentance and baptism.

About this time, Henry Myers located near Milledgeville, David Rittenhouse at Hickory Grove, and John Sprogle at Cherry Grove – all minister, and formerly from Pennsylvania. By their labors, each soon had gathered around him a number of faithful followers; yet all were members of the one organiza- tion at Arnold’s Grove. Thus matters continued until the year 1861, when three new organizations were effected, and called the church at Cherry Grove, the church at Milledgeville, and the church at Hickory Grove. This still left the church at Arnold’s Grove in a prosperous condition. Many, however, have since immigrated to Iowa and Kansas, among the number, Christian Long and Michael Sisler, who now reside in Dallas County, Iowa, leaving John J. Emmert, Jacob Shirk and Jospeh Stitzel as ministers at the present time. Its Membership is about ninety.

Contributed by Nancy Watkins from the History Of Carroll County Pg 372