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Illinois Genealogy Trails

 Jefferson County Illinois
History of
United Brethren Church, Free Will Baptist Church
The Oak Grove Church
of Meso, Bald Hill Township

The Meso District 136 was created around 1908 by splitting part of the White Corner School District and part of Graphenburg (later called Mt. Pleasant) school districts. Cornelius Meso was the oldest citizen in the community and a Civil War veteran honored by naming the new school district Meso.
Miss Opal Loucks was the first teacher at the school. She was followed by Mr. Marion Strick-land who taught a second term later. Other teachers were Miss Opal Walford, Miss Elsie Hale, Miss Grace Wright (Smith), Mr. Hobart Laur, Mr. Billy Allen (2 terms), Mr. Ray Lisenby, A Mr. Ames, and Miss Christie Hagel.
The Post Office was also named in honor of Mr. Meso. It was located where the Reverend Dan Uhlery place stood.
The district was blessed with two churches. First the United Brethern Church was organized. It had its beginning about 1905 in a bright new tabernacle erected on the farm of Mr. & Mrs. Lewis Showmaker, near the old Tamaroa-Spring Garden Road, south of Meso school about a quarter mile. Mr. Samuel Pitch-ford (my father), Mr. Eddie Hoorebeke, and Mr. Oliver Strickland were the main sponsers and supporters. (Mr. Strickland later moved to Alma, Washington) Then about 1908 the church house was built. My father helped in the construction of the building.
Reverend and Mrs. Dan Uhlery and 3 daughters had moved to the sight of the old Meso Post Office. He took up the pastorate of the new church.
They had Bible study and singing classes besides the regular services. The entire family was good singers. They held a number of meetings which resulted in the addition of members to the church. The daughters grew up and married. Ida became Mrs. Robert Wells, Ann was the wife of Lyman Hall, Lizzie is the widow of John Coffel and resides on the old home place.
Some of the other pastors here were Reverend Ferguson, Reverend C. A. Hall, The Williams Sisters (Ruth who now resides in California) and Minnie (deceased) who was the musician. They were great church workers. Reverend Will Burns, with Luther Clinton as song leader, Reverend Mrs. Mary Mitchell (from Mt. Vernon) served the pastorate with Miss Lizzie Ragan (later Mrs. Sherman Shoemaker). (the following have recently passed away, Willie Hannah 99 years old, Lizzie Unlery Coffell 88, and Mrs. Myrtle Hall.)
The United Brethren finally ceased to function because most of the older members were deceased or had moved away. The Church then became The Freewill Baptist. Mrs. Dora L. Pitchford (wife of S. B. Pitchford) and her daughters invited Reverend George Mathis to come hold a meeting which resulted in a great harvest of souls. The five week meeting resulted in about 60 converts. The church was organized about October 1914 and is now The Oak Grove Church.
Reverend and Mrs. Melvin Othout now pastor the church. Miss Susie Jo Pitchford, great-grand-daughter of S. B. Pitchford, resides with her step-grandmother, Mrs. Edna Pitchford, on the old Pitchford farm.
The history of the United Brethren Church closed out with the regular "Friendship Night" which was an inspiring session with many golden memories. Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Elliston contributed much on some occasions by showing beautiful color slides of places where they had been.

Source: "The Prairie Historian"
March 1974 Volume 4 Number 1
Transcribed By: Abby Newell
by Nona Pitchford Dame


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