Hamilton County, Illinois
Genealogy and History

Blooming Grove Church

Pictures and history donated by Kyle Shoultz

Church History

In the State of Illinois in Hamilton County on April 19, 1850 some brethren of the Ten Mile Baptist Church sat in council at the school near Anderson Daily's home.

A grant was received from the Ten Mile church that we be constituted into an independent body. A motion proceeded to call a presbytery, to wit -- Elders: R. Lee, R. Shirley and C. R. Pitman.

1850 Blooming Grove Church

At the May 1850 meeting the record certifies that on May 19 the undersigned presbytery presented themselves for constitution and examination and were pronounced orthodox according to the faith of the United Baptist Denomination—Elder Lee, Elder C. R. Pitman, Elder R. Shirley, and Deacon J. A. Ingram.

The first building was completed in 1850 and Elder R. Shirley was called as the first pastor. Mr. Daily, a hardware merchant in McLeansboro, donated nails for the privilege of naming the church, Blooming Grove, for his native community in Kentucky.

The first meeting house was completed in March 1850 at the cost of $65.00. The house, said to be log, was located in the cemetery grounds and also served as a school.

Blooming Grove Church back

The first Deacons were Lofton Echols, Johon Echols, P. M. Echols, Pressley Maulding, A. D. Bettes, F. Daily, and William Henson Trustees were: Levi Daily, W.A. Compton, A.D. Bettes and William Daily. Discipline consisted of Lofton Echols, John W. Echols, Pressley Maulding, A.D. Bettes, and T. Daily. W.M. Maulding was the church clerk. The collection was small in the early years, averaging from $0.50 to $1.00 each meeting, which usually was held monthly.

In January 1867, the second building, (above) a frame house, was constructed near the front of the present cemetery. A Sabbath school was added in 1869 and an organ was admitted in 1862.

In 1905 a third building was built across from the cemetery on top of the hill. For 66 years this structure, know as Blooming Grove, served its congregation.

During this time improvements included a basement, hardwood floors, Baptistry, educational annex and air-conditioning.

1905 Blooming Grove Church

On January 16, 1971 the building was destroyed by fire, and for the first time in its 121 years there was no meeting place on the hill.

Services were held the day after the fire and the following three months in the Senior Citizen Center in McLeansboro.

The educational wing of the new building was ready for Easter Sunday, April 11, 1971.

Inside the church in 1957

The new structure has several class rooms, kitchen, reception hall, nursery, restrooms and large auditorium.

1978 Blooming Grove Church

In 1978 an additional wing was added with more classrooms and a library. This addition gave the building a "T" shape with the auditorium in the front.

Inside Blooming Grove Church 1978
Inside the church in 1978


History of the Church
Transcribed from the history
by Mildred Rawls Neal and Elsie Auxier
with update by Denise Barker, Church Clerk

Blooming Grove was constituted or organized by the Ten Mile Church according to the following record:

“State of Illinois, Hamilton County, April 19, 1850. On Saturday before the third Lord’s day in April, 1950, after worship, the brethren of the name of Ten Mile sat in council at the school house near Anderson Daily’s whereas we received a grant from Ten Mile church in order that we may be constituted an independent body. On motion proceeded to call a presbytery to wit:
Elders R. Lee, C. P. Pitmann,R. Shirley.

May meeting 1850, Blooming Grove, Hamilton County, Illinois.
This will certify to whom it may concern that on the 19th day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty, the undersigned presbytery attended at Blooming Grove, county and state aforesaid. Whereupon the brethren and sisters whose name are hereunto pronounced orthodox according to the faith and order of the United Baptist denomination and the presbytery extended the right of fellowship and recommending the church to God in prayer.
Elder R Lee, Elder C. P. Pitmann, Russell Shirley, Clerk J. T. Ingram.

1. Job Standerfer 12. Tabitha Bond
2. Andeson Daily 13. Mary Standerfer
3. Lofton Echols 14. Delilah Echols
4. William Reeder 15. Sarah A Reeder
5. Joshua Haile 16. Nancy Haile
6. John C Compton 17. Larkin Brumley
7. John Standerfer 18. Susan Daily
8. John W Daily 19. Mary Daily
9. Levi Daily 20. Phoebe Brumley
10. Louis Daily 21. Mary Brumley
11. Joseph M Haile 22. Elizabeth Compton

The Church met on Saturday preceding the third Lord’s day in June 1850, and elected brother Job Standerferand brother Joshua Haile as candidates for deacons. They also elected elder C.P. Pitman to be their pastor, but after being visited by the committee brother Ppitman said he could not serve the church that year. They elected Elder R. Shirley who became the first pastor of the church. They also elected Lofton Echols who became the first church clerk.


Rev Russell Shirley -- 1850

J. R. Kessell -- 1923

C. P. Pitman -- 1855

Henry Myers -- 1924, 1926

E .W. Overstreet -- 1863

Birchel Page -- 1927

Cal Allen -- 1865,1874,1895

M. C. Holder -- 1928

Ebington Daily -- 1873

Charles Holland -- 1939

Henry Cravens -- 1875,1880,1898

Lowell Matheney -- 1941

J. B. Smith -- 1877

Leaman Irby -- 1942

W. H. Carner -- 1881

J. Will Howell -- 1945

L. C. Estes -- 1886

Sam Mccoy -- 1946

P. C. Elliott -- 1890

Luther Upton -- 1948

G. R. Henson -- 1898

Wm. “Bill” Auxier -- 1965

Calvin Richardson -- 1899

Eugene Rister -- 1970

J. D. Hooker -- 1904

David Wesley, Assoc Sum -- 1970

L. Tucker -- 1906

John Lee Jr -- 1973

G. W. Ingram -- 1908

Kenneth Clark -- 1979

Joe Allen -- 1909

John Smith -- 1982

W. H. McCann -- 1910

Richard West Interim -- 1985

C. E. Hunt -- 1913

Gary Davenport -- 1986

L.L. Smoot -- 1915

Roger Hobbs, Interim -- 2000

Brannon Hall -- 1916

Chris Hortin -- 2001

J. R. Mcduffy -- 1917

Leland Widick, Interim -- 2004

John B Maulding -- 1918,1922,1944

Mark Hutson -- 2005 To Present

This story was told by Rev. John Baily Maulding....
The first church was erected in the old cemetery. I am indebted to my grandfather for the following story. He was chairman of the building committee. The church was built of logs and had a clapboard roof. He went to McLeansboro to secure nails for the roof from a hardware man by the name of Bailey. Mr Bailey offered to furnish the nails provided he be permitted to name the church. This was agreed to and he named it after his home community in Kentucky, Blooming Grove.
The ground for the cemetery and the first church was donated by Tabitha Bond from the estate of her husband, Nastin.These are the same bonds who had the buhr stone incorporated into the bell tower at the church.

Committee on discipline was very active in the early church. Members were excluded for failure in attendance, intoxication, heresay, immoral and unchristian conduct, being destitute of religion, and other causes. They were often reinstated. In 1874 the church agreed to withdraw sending a committee and talk privately with members. In 1869 a man was excluded for trading off another man’s horse and not returning the property. Dancing, horseracing and horsetrading on Sundays as well as ball games on Sunday were offenses for exclusion or discussion as late as 1916. Church was on the third Lord’s day of the month with business meetings on the preceding Saturday at 12 o'clock in the beginning. A later hour was eventually chosen on Saturday afternoon and continued for 68 years or until changed to Saturday night in 1918.
In 1948 Saturday meetings were discontinued and business meetings began on Wednesday. The church continued to have businessmeeting on Wednesday evenings, until 2003, when it began having them on the second Sunday evening after worship services, so more members could attend that teach on Wednesday evenings. In 1944 the first Sunday was added for preaching and in 1961 full time services began. Sunday school began in 1869.

Signals for bell tolling:
The bell was tolled an hour before funerals, not too hard, not too fast.
For a child in infancy to ten years old, it tolled three times.
For ten years to twenty years old, it tolled five times.
For a person twenty years to forty years, it tolled seven times.
For a person over forty, it tolled ten times.
The bell was never to be tolled unless someone was dead or something wrong.

Bell Tower:
The buhr in the bell tower has been the subject of much interest. It is said to have been in the grist mill of Mastin Bond, a pioneer settler, originally and was located east of the church. It became a part of the first frame church. It was raised after the newer building was finished and the parts were purchased by J.D.Hooker, W.C Daily and George Rawls. The amounts paid are told in minutes. The buhr lay in the latters' feed lot until sometime in the 40's when before his passing his son James Rawls brought it back to the church yard where kids had fun jumping from it. The writer can remember playing tag with it, as it was ‘home base’.

In 1905 a new church was built. The impressive white frame house with large gothic windows, vaulted ceiling and steeple was dedicated in August 1905. The debt of the building was paid in less than a year. It was used for 66 years. On Saturday evening January 16 ,1971 it burned to the ground. It was a sad day for members. Onlookers said the bell tolled as it fell from the burning belfry. It is now in the bell tower as one from Belle City and the afore-mentioned buhr stone. For the first time since the church began, there was no meeting on the hill. Services were conducted in the senior citizens in McLeansboro (which is now the Hamilton County preschool ).

Plans were immediately begun to rebuild and with the cooperation from the members and several professionals, the first services held on Easter Sunday 1971. The treasurer of the building funds, Cecil “Pete” Myers, passed on suddenly the same month and his funeral was conducted there. The sanctuary was finished and the new building dedicated on September 12, 1978 a new wing was added with several new sunday school rooms. In 2002 a large new kitchen was added, along with new handicap-accessible restrooms. These new modern conveniences were needed to update our church facilities. In addition, the foyer has recently been redecorated with new ceramic tile, and new walls replacing the old ones. In 2002, we added a drive- up canopy on the east side of the building. This enables people to be dropped off at the door in inclement weather. It is a very valuable asset to our church. The funds for this were made available by one of our members and are very much appreciated.

Additional Information

The church has 3 bells.Lower bellon the outdoor bell tower is the original purchased in 1900.

Top bell on bell tower is from Belle City M.E. Church and was purchased in 1971 for a price of $50.00 and is still rung on Sunday mornings.

Bell in Belfry/Steeple (enclosed-not visible) was given to the Church in 1971 by Marie Cullins and it was believed to be in the very first Blooming Grove building in 1850 and, after that, in the Elm Grove School House just west of Blooming Grove.


Mastin Bond's Millstone
(lower on bell tower)

The buhr stone on the bell tower is said to have come from the gristmill of Mastin Bond, early settler of Hamilton County. This stone was used as a step for the first logchurch building. It was separated from the church at one point but found it’s way back to the church in the 1940’s after being found in a feedlot of George Rawls. It laid in the churchyard until the completion of the new building and tower.



Mr. Echols built the table (pictured below) in the 1850’s around the time the Blooming Grove Church was founded.
table made by Lofton Echols
After being refinished and rededicated, the table is now in the back of the Church Auditorium along with the Church guest register.

Blooming Grove Church fire

"Destroyed by Fire Saturday was the 66 year old Blooming Grove Baptist church located northwest of McLeansboro. The frame structure was levelled despite the efforts of McLeansboro firemen after the fire was discovered at about 3 p.m. An overheated oil furnace may have started the blaze."

Blooming Grove Church Is Destroyed by Fire

Donated by Kyle Shoultz

"It was like watching my own home burn,” is how one sorrowful member of the Blooming Grove Baptist Church expressed himself Saturday afternoon at the scene of the fire which leveled the 66 year old frame structure located northwest of McLeansboro. Despite the efforts of the McLeansboro firemen, the building burned to the ground. The congregation held services Sunday morning at the Senior Citizens Center in McLeansboro. No decisions on rebuilding have been reached yet.

Church member K. P. Mitchell discovered the fire at about 3 p.m. Saturday when he went to the church and opened a door. He found smoke filled the building and he immediately called firemen. Mitchell and others at the scene believed the fire may have been started from an overheated oil furnace. Firemen at first thought the blaze could be contained to the north part of the building, but it apparently was spreading through the attic area between the roof and ceiling. At about 3:45 p.m. the roof fell in and it was only a matter of a short time the building was consumed. Before that, however. Church members and volunteers were able to remove seats nailed to the floor and to save a church piano and organ as well as church records. Other furnishings were removed, but items in one classroom including a 96 year old podium could not be saved as smoke thickened in the building. The library was also lost.

Responding to the fire alarm was a truck from McLeansboro fire department plus McLeansboro firemen and two trucks from the Wayne City rural department. Firemen used an estimated 2,500 gallons of water in the effort to save the building. At that firemen ran short of water once and had to wait for a Wayne City truck to return with a replenished supply. Fire Chief Joe Swartz of the McLeansboro department told the Times-Leader he especially wished to thank Keith Webb and Wilburn Higginson who brought water trucks to the scene. He also added that Sheriff’s department did fine work in keeping roads open to the scene.
The Blooming Grove church structure that burned was constructed in 1904 and dedicated in 1905. However the original church building was erected in 1850 and the church is one of the oldest in Hamilton County.

Blooming Grove Church Fire
January 16, 1971

Recalled by K.P. Mitchell for the 150th Anniversary Celebration

August 2000

At approximately 3:00 PM Sat. Jan 16, 1971, I went to the church to check on a thermostat. Went in the “Men’s Door” (SW corner), the ladies used the doors at the SE corner. Pearl says she and I was the first couple to start going in that door.Upon opening the door, I discovered black smoke filled the building down to within about 2’ of the floor. Rushed down the basement steps, shut off the electric main.

Went outside to go to the class rooms, as I went I shut off the fuel tank valve. Went to the class room west door kicked it open and shut the door to the main building, shut the outside door and went to the east side and opened that door and shut the other main door. As soon as I shut the doors I jumped in my truck and went home blowing the horn all the way there. Pearl came out to see what was wrong. Told her to call the fire dept. as the church was on fire. She called the fire dept. and then started calling other people, including the Risters as Gene was then the pastor. Went back up to the church. Soon the fire dept. showed up and a lot of people came and started getting things out of the building. The seats were fastened to the floor but we started kicking them loose and got them all out. They were fairly new at the time and are still in use in this building today. As you can see pads have been added. Probably about 90% of the items in the church was saved including organ and piano. However the library and a 96 year old podium and numerous small items were lost.

It was believed at first that the fire could be contained to the class rooms on the north end of the church. However the fire burned up into the attic between the ceiling and the roof and came into the main part of the building. Due to the age, dry wood, and large open space it burned rapidly. The bell tolled once as it fell and the steeple collapsed. Of course it cracked from the heat and the fall. It is now on the bell tower out in the yard.

During the fire there was a loud boom. I said “What was that” Someone said it was a fire extinguisher, it landed quite a ways out North in the field. The Wayne City Rural fire dept came down. They sprayed water on the fuel tank so a chain could be fastened and drag the tank away from the burning building. Besides the McLeansboro Fire Dept and Wayne City Rural Fire Dept, there were others that helped. Owners of the National Supply and some people with water trucks. It was estimated about 2500 gallons of water was used to try to put the fire out.

The top bell that is now out on the stand outside came from the Methodist Church building in Belle Prairie. John and I took a winch truck over there and took it down out of the building. The building had not been used for several years and the bell tower was quite rickety, so much so they had been afraid to ring the bell for several years. We raised it up and then had to borrow a hand saw from a neighbor to cut some boards to allow the bell to come down. The steeple did quite a bit of shaking but it came down OK.

Saturday afternoon after the fire some calls were made and we met in the basement of the Court House the next morning. However we could not meet there any more so after checking we were able to meet in the Senior Citizens building until we could meet in the new building. First meeting here was in the fellowship hall wing on Easter Sunday. I believe it was either the fourth or fifth day they were able to work (due to the weather), they were putting the roof on. A lot of work was put in by a lot of people from the Church membership as well as others.


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