A CHURCH WITH A HISTORY
The seventy-fifth anniversary of Ebenezer church was observed with fitting exercises on August 12, 13 and 14, 1910. Anniversary addresses were delivered by Rev. W. S. Phillips, Charles Akers and others. We give extracts from an historical address prepared for the semi-centennial celebration of the church, in 1885, by Dr. William K. McElfresh, which was read in full at the recent celebration. It is in part as follows:
"Prior to the year 1835 there existed in this community a religious order of the Presbyterian church known as Associated Reformers.
A few families, whose religious training was of the Methodist persuasion, had settled in the neighborhood before 1835, but they were not in an organized shape, and whenever they desired to attend Methodist services they went to Jacksonville, where a small society had been formed as early as 1830 or before.
The Jacksonville station was established in 1833. The Jacksonville circuit, which was formed in 1830, was large, embracing a wide territory, numbering a great many stations and circuits now entering into different districts. In 1830 this society had no existence, while its territory was included in the Jacksonville circuit.
In 1835 the Illinois conference appointed to the Jacksonville circuit Rev. James A. Bristow and Rev. W. H. Mindow, M. D. A short time after entering upon their work these pastors arranged to secure a preaching place in this neighborhood and thus number it with other appointments, which at that time constituted the Jacksonville circuit.
It was decided to have preaching in the private house of Peter Akers once in every two weeks, on week day; and accordingly Revs. Bristow and Mindow preached to small audiences who came to receive the word of life as these faithful servants in traveling their extensive territory regularly met the earnest few, who eagerly sought this humble sanctuary to pay their vows to God.
This first place of worship, an old log house, stood just north of the cemetery, intersecting a line running through the center of the cemetery, some few rods north of the road running west.
After a few weeks it was provided that the services should be held in what was known at that time as the "Poppum house," a small log building, weather boarded with rough oak boards. This little cabin stood south and west, a short distance from the residence of Brother Shuff.
It had been arranged by the pastors that on a certain day, the announcement having been made before hand, they would, after preaching, open the doors of the church and give those an opportunity who had letters to hand them in, and they would proceed to form a class and thus organize in this community a Methodist society.
Accordingly, in the month of November, or December, I am not certain which, on Wednesday or Thursday of the week, Rev. James A. Bristow, after preaching, opened the door of the church and the following were enrolled, and from this nucleus the society began, whose semicentennial we celebrate today.
The following are the charter names, the founders of the Ebenezer society:
Samuel S. DUVALL
Loney (s/b Lovey) PATTERSON [name correction sent in by Judy Robinson, ggg-gdau]
There were eleven in all. These all presented letters. The last, Elizabeth Williams, came from the Presbyterians and asked fellowship with this early plant of Methodism.
The little band of eleven did not know that on that cloudy fall day of 1835, when they formed the first Methodist society ever established in this portion of the county that the history of that event would be an item of so much interest as is felt upon the subject today.
Dr. Peter Akers was one of the original members. It may be said of this venerable divine, that among the western pioneers who laid the foundation of Methodism in all this country, he has stood out peerless and in advance of all. He at one time preached in the village of Lynnville upon the subject of Baptism. He was five hours in delivering his discourse. Some stayed and heard the doctor through, others grew faint, returned home, ate their dinner, came back and heard the conclusion. The greatness of Dr. Akers manifested itself in his meek and retiring spirit, never seeking human praise."
"The influence of Ebenezer church has been wide. The manual labor school brought students from far and wide, among them three Indians from the northwest, John Johnson, Peter Marksman and George Copway. Missionaries and ministers have gone out to labor in many fields, this number none stands higher than Kate B. Blackburn, who, under the auspices of the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society, has devoted her life to the young women of Bulgaria.
The labors and hardships of the pioneers who laid deep the foundations for school and church, and who organized this society in 1835, are commemorated in this 75th anniversary. They rest from their labors, but their works do follow them. We are the inheritors of their splendid achievements.
Who will write the history of the 100th anniversary, let him mark well the heroic figures of the founders of Ebenezer society."
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