Primitive Baptist Church at Waltonville Present Home of The Prairie Historians (1989)
Source: "The Prairie Historian, a magazine of folk history"
Volume 19 March 1989 Issue 1
Submitted By: Stacey Jones
An Account kept in 1905 by Henry Harrison Hartley as the building was being constructed and furnished. Sister Willis was Henry's daughter Mary Elizabeth Hartley who was married to William A. Willis, her second husband.
Short report of H.H. Hartley
Report of Committee on Building Church House at Waltonville 1st Contracted with Samuel Harris for to build The House, and Furnish Everything for $ 900.00 also Contracted with him to make the seats for $ 117.00 March 11th 1905; Settled with our Sam Harris and Paid off all indebteness with the exception of one small bill at Mt Vernon of $ 47.97 W Walker & Johnson, Since writing the above I have Settled that by paying out $25.00 of my own money, also sister Willis Paid out $13.62 for matting for aisles and Table, and has received $3.50 back leaving the church dr To He $10.10 Total indebtness to date $ 35.10 also one dollar to John Hirons $ 2.35 for Stove pipe &, Sereens for Bellfry also Paid our Rooksteel for Painting $18.00
There is many things of minor importance that we have kept no account of little things that the Brethren and Sisters have bought and paid for with their own money that there was no account kept of all of which We feel gratefull for
At our Nov meeting we agreed to Call on Middle forth & Salem Churches for her Ordained authority to assist in the of deacons but there was no one appointed to make the call.
The Old Primitive Baptist Church of Christ Building
Now that we have acquired the old building that once housed the Primitive Baptist and the Church of Christ Congregations in Waltonville, it seems appropriate to say something about the former organization. The Baptist movement came to Illinois in 1787 when Elder James Smith came from Kentucky to Monroe County Illinois Territory and ministered to a group of Baptists at New Design. The first people baptized into the Baptist faith there cut the ice on Fountain Creek and were immersed in its frigid waters in February 1794. Two years later (1796) Elder David Bagley organized the first Baptist Church in the Illinois Territory there. This was the first protestant movement in Illinois. From there Elders spread over the country as it settled, ministering to small groups of Baptist in homes and cabins until the groups grew large enough in each community to establish and maintain their own church. New churches were established at the request of such groups of members living in an area. Shadrach Cheek came from the New Design settlement in a very early day to hold services and establish churches in Perry and Washington counties. Nine Mile and Holt's Prairie were two of those churches. He was also a visiting minister to the little group of Baptists in southwest Jefferson County who were meeting in homes in the 1830's. With the arrival of Elder Joe Hartley in the area, the small group of Baptists petitioned for a church to be established in that area. On May 7, 1842 a group of Elders from Nine Mile and Holt's Prairie and Moses Neal from Salem Church near Benton listened to the articles of faith proclaimed by the small congregation and pronounced them a legally constituted Regular Baptist Church of Jesus Christ. Around 1830 a division had grown up amoung the Baptist churches over the emphasis to be placed upon foreign missions. Those sticking to the old concepts came to be known as Regular or Primitive Baptists while those who espoused the support of foreign missions were called Missionary Baptist. A great many people referred to the believers in the old order as Hard Shell Baptists. When the village of Waltonville was established along the W. C. & W. Railroad tracks a great many members of the Horse Prairie Regular Baptist Church near Winfield, moved to the new community and established homes there. They soon petitioned for a church to be known as the Union Primitive Baptist Church of Waltonville. In 1903 the building now owned by The Prairie Historians wa erected. The first services were held in the building in January 1904. It was a member of The Bethel Association. Other churches belonging to that association were Salem, Middle Fork, Moore's Prairie and Nine Mile. The records of the Bethel Association for September 1923 show Joseph Hicks and Vincent Hamilton as Messengers and M. E. Hamilton as Church Clerk. The Ninety-Sixth Annual Association Meeting was held in the Union Baptist Church in Waltonville, beginning Friday before the Third Sunday in September in 1925. The last Baptist services were held in the building in 1926. After that it remained empty for several years. In 1932 the members of The Church of Christ, who had been holding meetings in the home of the members, or wherever space was available, began to yearn for the old building in which to hold their services. David P. Wells, a rural mail carrier, whose wife was a member of the congregation purchased the building and presented it to The Church Of Christ in Waltonville, Ill. They held services there until late in 1969. The last minister was the late Paul H. Wells. After the collapse of the Waltonville congregation the building was presented to Mt. Vernon and then to Sesser Church of Christ from whom it was purchased by the Prairie Historians. It will now be the home of that organization to be used as a meeting place and a small museum in which to display historical objects of the surrounding area. Small cases will be placed around the walls in which to display tools, documents, pictures, houshold gadjets, and other objects, together with information explaining the use, former owners and other historical information about the object.
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