Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails
Early Peoria County Churches
The First Methodist Episcopal Church is the oldest Protestant Church in Peoria. It did not have the first church edifice, but it can rightfully claim to have had a continued organization for a longer period than any other. Its history, from the date of its organization (1834) until the erection of its first house of worship (1839), has been traced in a former part of this work. Having passed its pioneer state, and having acquired a home of its own, its history thenceforward belongs to the City of Peoria.
The growth of the congregation soon rendered their first house of
worship—which was a frame building 31x46 feet—too small for the purposes
intended, and, about the year 1843, it was enlarged by tearing out the rear end
and extending it fourteen feet. By the year 1847, the church building having
again become too small for the congregation, steps were taken to erect a more
commodious one; which enterprise was consummated in the month of September,
1849, when the new edifice, erected on the site of the old one, was dedicated.
It was a large, plain brick building 60x90 feet, the auditorium occupying nearly
the entire second story, the first or basement story being occupied by a lecture
room 42x60 feet, four class-rooms, a hall and stairway. It was intended to have
a spire, as represented in a cut appearing in "Drown's Record and Historical
View of Peoria," but only the frame-work of the lower section was ever erected.
This was sided up and roofed over with the purpose in view of completing it at a
future day, which day never arrived. In the same year a school for girls, known
as the "Peoria Female Institute," was formed under the auspices of the
Methodists, which, for a time, occupied the lecture room in the basement of this
church, but it was of short duration. This room, as well as one or two of the
was subsequently used for a school room until about the time of the establishment of the public schools. This building cost about $6,000. In 1882 this building and lot were sold with the intention of erecting a new one. This new church was dedicated, October, 1888, the congregation having continued to worship in the old one during its erection. It is located on the corner of Sixth and Franklin Streets; Its original cost was about $25,000, exclusive of the site, but the needs of the church soon demanded an enlargement, which was effected by extending the building to the southward, and by supplying the interior with spacious galleries.
In the years 1841 and 1842, Rev. Nathaniel P. Cunningham was pastor. In the first year of his pastorate, Asahel Hale made the church a donation of 52 feet on Fulton Street by 72 feet deep, as an addition to the church lot. Mr. Cunningham was succeeded in 1843 by Rev. Chauncey Hobart, a preacher of unusual oratorical ability, as well as a hard working and energetic pastor. Having in later years removed to the State of Minnesota, he there became Chaplain in one of the regiments from that State in the Civil War, and later Chaplain of the House of Represen- tatives. He was succeeded in 1843 by Rev. Richard Haney, who, after long and faithful service as a minister of the Gospel, has but recently died. Rev. John Chandler then became pastor for the two succeeding years. During the first year of his ministry the congregation became incorporated, the first Board of Trustees being James Hazzard, George Wilkerson, Samuel S. King, Jesse L. Knowlton, Asahel Hale, Joseph J. Thomas and John Easton. In 1846, Rev. Francis A. McNeal was pastor and, in 1847, Rev. Nathaniel P. Heath was appointed, but he having been sent east to solicit funds for the erection of a new church, Rev. McNeal again served as pastor. During the next two years Rev. Silas Bolles was pastor, and in 1850 he was succeeded by Rev. J. C. Parks, who, without having served out his term, was succeeded by Rev. C. C. Best. It was during his pastorate "The Wesleyan Seminary of Peoria" was established by the church. The Mitchell House—a large brick-building on the corner of Fulton and Jefferson Streets, where the "Peoria Star" is now published—which had been erected by William Mitchell for a hotel, was purchased, and a preparatory school was begun in the basement of the church conducted by William P. Jones. In about two years the project was abandoned for want of support. Mr. Best continued as pastor during the succeeding year (1851). He was succeeded in 1852 by Rev. J. W. Flowers, during whose pastorate of two years a branch church called Moffatt's Church, was established in the lower part of the city. Rev. Caleb Foster was then pastor for one year, after whom, for the ensuing two years, came Rev. William H. Hunter, the veteran who has but recently died. (See Biographical Sketch,) It was during his pastorate that a church called the Second Charge was organized by Rev. Milton L. Haney, who had been appointed to a mission in the city. This second charge occupied a small frame-building, erected for its use on lots owned by William E. Robinson at the corner of Monroe and Eaton Streets.
In 1856 the Annual Conference was held in the First Church presided over by Bishop Janes.
The following named pastors then succeeded to the pastorate of this church: 1857, Rev. R. C. Bolles; 1858, Rev. R. C. Rowley; 1859, Rev. Samuel G. J. Worthington, who was pastor for some time during the Rebellion. His father had been a slave-holder in Virginia, but he was a pronounced anti-slavery man, and did much to encourage the suppression of the rebellion. His son, Judge Nicholas E. Worthington, has for many years occupied a prominent position as member of Congress and Judge of the Circuit and Appellate Courts. In 1862, Rev. J. S. Cummings succeeded Mr. Worthington. During this year an organ was first introduced into the worship. During the second year of his pastorate the first camp meeting was held at Oak Hill, which has been continued annually ever since. In 1864, Rev. Richard Haney again became pastor and was succeeded the following year by Rev. C. C. Knowlton. It was during the winter of the following year there was one of the greatest revivals ever known in Peoria, beginning in December and continuing until April when 160 members joined this church alone. Mr. Knowlton was again appointed in 1865, but having resigned in February, 1866, his place was supplied for the remainder of the year by Rev. ——— —— Tubbs. Then followed Rev. A. McGee for two years, and in 1869 Rev. J. P. Brooks for one year. In 1869, Rev. J. S. Cummings again became pastor and continued for three years. Since that time the following ministers have served the congregation as pastors: 1875, Rev. A. R. Morgan, three years; 1878, Rev. Selah W. Brown, two years; 1880, Rev. James McFarland, with Rev. William H. Hunter as assistant, for two years; 1882, Rev. John E. Keene, two years; 1884, Rev. George W. Gue, three years; 1887, Rev. George C. Willing, one year; 1888, Rev. P. A. Cool, two years; 1890, Rev. H. D. Clark, three years; 1893, Rev. Thomas W. McVety, three years; 1897, Rev. Nelson G. Lyons, three years; 1900, Rev. R. E. Buckey, who is still pastor.
The first building was sold to the German Reformed Church and by them to James McFadden, who made of it, an addition to another building on the corner of Harrison and Water Streets, which he converted into a hotel. The second church building came into the hands of Henry Mansfield, who converted it into a public hall, in which character it continued until a few years ago, when having become unsafe, the second story was removed and the first or basement story was converted into business property, and is still so used. This church has a membership of about 600, a Sunday School of nearly 400, an Epworth League of 150, and a Junior League of about 100.
The Madison Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church church grew out of a mission started by the First Church in 1856, over which Rev. Milton L. Haney was placed about the year 1857. A class of eighteen went from the First Church, who formed the members of this Second Charge. Shortly after that time—the date of which has not been ascertained—a small frame house of worship was erected at the south corner of Monroe and Eaton Streets, on a lot then owned by William E. Robinson, a prominent member of the church. In a few years thereafter it was removed to the west corner of Perry and Eaton Streets, from which location it was afterwards moved to North Jefferson Avenue, thence to Madison Avenue (south side), thence across the street to the site of the present church building, of which it forms a part.
The original Board of Trustees were Samuel Tart, William Goldsborough, H. B. McFall, William Thompson and Nelson Green. According to the custom of that denomination the pastorate has been frequently changed, there having been over thirty pastors, none of whom have served over two years, except Rev. J. W. Frizelle from 1882 to 1885, and Alexander Smith from 1885 to 1888. It was during the pastorate of the two last named, .that the church attained its highest degree of prosperity, up to that time; and it was during the pastorate of Mr. Smith that the congregation erected a neat frame house of worship at a cost of about $10,000. The church maintains a Sunday School of about 125 members, of which W. B. Dimmick is Superintendent. It also has an Epworth League of over thirty members.
Hale Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1840 Asahel Hale, who had as early :as 1831 become a resident of Peoria, and who had early become possessed of a tract of land situated on the brow of the bluff near Main Street, became a member of the First Methodist Church. On November 26, 1861, he made his will, devising the lot on which this church now stands for church purposes, and one-half of his entire estate for the erection of a church edifice thereon. The Trustees named in the will were William Giles, Ira Benton and Columbus Dunham, to whom after his death there was turned over the sum of $11,530.54, which was used for the erection of a church. The contract was let to James Hazzard & Sons in May, 1868; the corner-stone was laid June 22d, and the first service was held therein on November 1st of the same year.
The church was fully organized, November 8, 1868, with the following Official Board: Rev. William A. Spencer, the first pastor, with Daniel B. Allen, J. G. Sansom, R. B. Van Patten, Isaac Evans, Joseph F. Hazzard, W. Behymer and Jonathan Healy. The church has been served by a regular succession of pastors—fifteen in all— Rev. A. W. Lowther being the present incumbent. The congregation having outgrown the capacity of their house of worship, it was determined to erect a new one of more modern style. The first building was of brick, forty feet front on High Street by seventy feet deep. It was built in the prevailing style of the times with apartments for lecture-room and class-rooms in the first or basement story, in which the Sunday School was also held. and the main auditorium on the second floor. It had a cupola in which was a clock, the spire reaching to the height of ninety-four feet. The new church building is of stone fronting on both streets, elegant in style and fitted up with all modern conveniences. Its cost was about $22,000. It was erected during the pastorate of the present pastor; the corner-stone was laid by Bishop Ninde, September 20, 1900, assisted by Bishop Hartzell and Rev. William A. Spencer, D. D., the first pastor, and dedicated June 13, 1901.
During its existence this church has been instrumental in the organization of the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church of North Peoria, now within the city limits. It maintains a Sunday School which dates back to two years before the building of the church, the first few meetings of which were held in a building on the corner of Elizabeth and Main Streets—later in a plow-shop on Elizabeth Street south of Main Street. Daniel B. Allen was Superintendent and Ira E. Benton, Secretary. Upon removal to the church building at its completion, the school numbered 125. It now has about 110, with Prof. J. B. Garner, Ph. D., as Superintendent. The Church has a membership of nearly three hundred, an Epworth League of 80, and a Junior League of about 50 members.
The German Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in September, 1851, by
Rev. H. F. Koendike with sixteen members. Three years afterwards, a church
erected on the corner of Monson and Fifth Streets was dedicated, the dedication
sermon being preached by Rev. G. L. Mulfinger. The first officers were Peter C.
Shelly, Daniel Bristol, J. Buchner, M. Oechsle and William Venneman. A Sunday
School was organized in 1852. In 1867 it was found necessary, in order to meet
the needs of the rapidly growing congregation. to erect a larger house of
worship, which they did on Chestnut Street near the corner of Adams, the cost of
which, together with a parsonage purchased about the same time, amounted to
about $10,000. The building was a frame structure of the prevailing
type—auditorium on the second, and lecture-room and Sunday School on the first
floor—the whole surmounted by a tall spire. The old church was sold to the
African Methodists. In 1890 a new and handsome brick church was erected on the
corner of Fifth Avenue and Sanford Street, just one block west of where their
first church was located. This church has had a regular succession of pastors,
has always maintained a Sabbath School and is in a flourishing condition. It has
a membership of over 260, a Sunday School enrollment of about
the same number, and an Epworth League of about 50. It also conducts a mission with an enrollment of over 100.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in the year 1846, with ten members by Rev. Philip Ward, of Bloomington. William Gray was local class-leader and preacher. Their meetings were at first held from house to house; they then rented a school-house on Walnut Street, where their meetings were held until 1848, when they transferred to the public-school building on Monson Street between Fourth and Fifth. In 1850 they were obliged to resume meetings from house to house under the leadership of Rev. William Brooks, he being pastor of the circuit including Bloomington, Peoria and Galesburg. William Gray was the only class-leader and steward. In 1853, Rev. William J. Davis was appointed to this charge, and it was under his administration the congregation purchased a small frame church on Chestnut Street, which they occupied until 1866, when the German Methodist, at the corner of Fifth and Monson Streets, was purchased for $2,600. In 1889 this building was removed and a modern edifice was erected on the site, which is still used by the congregation. Divine services are regularly held and the church is in a flourishing condition. It has over 150 members, a Sunday School enrollment of about 100, and an Epworth League of about 25.
The Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church, corner of Ann and Eliza Streets, was organized in 1873. It has a membership of 125 or more, a Sunday School of 200, and an Epworth League of about 40 members.
Grace Methodist Episcopal Church grew out of a mission started by the congregation of Hale Chapel. It was organized in 1896, has a membership of over thirty and a Sunday School of nearly one hundred.
The Averyville Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in August, 1893, by Rev. T. W. McVety. The Official Board were William Maxwell, T. J. Sellers, A. A. Phelps, A. M. Sellers, Frank H. Tyle, George Owens and J. E. Anthony. The succeeding pastors have been N. J. Brown, 1895; 0. J. Snell. 1807: L. A. Emert, 1899, and W. R. Carr, 1901. The church was organized in the Village Hall, but the congregation has since erected a church building at a cost of $600. It is now entirely free from debt. It maintains a Sunday School numbering 75, of which Mr. George Adams is Superintendent.
A German Methodist Episcopal Mission Church was organized February 3, 1889, with 14 members and the following Official Board: George Godel, Charles Weregemuth, Eido Janssen, Henry Wichman and Fred L. Block. In 1888, while yet a mission, a small house of worship was erected at the corner of Sanger Street and Oakland Avenue. The pastors have been Charles Schuh, 1888-89; C. W. Hertzler, 1889-91; Louis Harwel, 1891-94; Jonathan Gisler, 1894-97; H. J. P. Peterson, 1897-98, and L. E. Kettlekamp, 1898 to the present time. A Sabbath School is maintained with an average attendance of 55, Eido Janssen being the Superintendent.
German Evangelical Association. This church was organized in the year 1843, with 15 members, Bishop John Seybert preaching the first sermon. It does not seem to have had any fixed location until the year 1847, when it erected a small church building costing about $600 on Chestnut between Prairie Street and Warner Avenue. In 1853 it removed to the corner of First and State Streets, where it erected a house of worship costing about $2,500, which it occupied until the year 1873, when the present building was erected at a cost of $5,700. The denomination to which this church belongs is not, as might be supposed from its name, of foreign origin, but was founded among the German-speaking inhabitants of Pennsylvania nearly a century ago. It originated with one Jacob Allbright, after whom it received the popular designation of the Allbright Church, its real name being "Evangelical Association of North America." In all essential particulars it follows the doctrines and polity of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishops and Presiding Elders are elected by the General and Annual Conferences, and hold their offices for four years. The itinerant system of supplying the congregations with pastors is also followed. As is the case with some of the Methodist churches, this church has had so many changes of the pastorate (there having been over thirty of them) that it is deemed unwise to enumerate them here. Rev. George C. Gasser is at present in charge. The church maintains a Sunday School of about 90 in average attendance, and a mission school in South Peoria (now in the city). Annual Conferences were held here in 1861 and 1887, and that of 1902 is also appointed to be held here.
The Free Methodist Church. This church was organized on December 29, 1881, with six members and the following Official Board: W. A. Huston, William Van Gordon, Jonathan Haley and Anna Hayes. It was at first located on Walnut Street in the building formerly, occupied by the Calvary Presbyterian Church, then called Olivet Mission. In 1891 a frame church was erected on the bluff at the corner of South Underhill and Windom Streets, where the congregation still worships. The first pastor was Rev. J. D. Marsh from 1881-84. According to the custom of the Methodist churches, frequent changes in the pastorates have taken place, the present incumbent being Rev. William H. Winters. A Sunday School of 37 members is maintained, Mr. M. M. Pierson being the Superintendent.
First Presbyterian Church. Although, as stated elsewhere, there had been two organizations prior to 1840, both claiming to be the rightful Presbyterian Church (Old School) of Peoria, for reasons already detailed, this church can claim a regular organization dating only from October 31st of that year. On that date it was organized with twenty-four members; Clark D. Powell, Joseph Batchelder and Henry Schnebly being ordained and installed as Ruling Elders, William Weis, deacon, and William Weis, John A. McCoy, James H. Work, Robert Campbell, George Bernheisel, Samuel Shepler and Samuel Smith being chosen as Trustees. Rev. Isaac Kellar, who had been ministering to the people for some time as a missionary, was chosen as stated supply and continued to minister in that capacity until October, 1847. It was during this period their first house of worship was erected.
Rev. Addison Coffey was the first regularly installed pastor, his installation having taken place on October 26, 1848. He was succeeded in regular order by Rev. Robert Johnston, November 16, 1855; Rev. John H. Morron, April —, 1865; Rev. Jonathan Edwards, D. D., LL. D., September .27, 1871; Rev. Jesse C. Bruce, January 5, 1879; Rev. Thomas A. McCurdy, D. D., September 6, 1890, and Rev. Chauncy T. Edwards, D. D., son of a former pastor, 1896.
From the date of its organization in 1840, until the year 1844, the congregation worshipped in the Court House. In the latter year a new church was erected on the southwesterly end of lot number one in Block Eleven—the same being on the southwesterly side of Fulton Street between Adams and Jefferson Streets. It was substantially built of brick and handsomely finished, its dimensions were forty by fifty feet with a gallery. For that early day it was considered not only a comfortable but an elegant structure. It was only during the past year that it was demo- lished, and it is to be regretted that its history has not been more fully preserved. It successively passed into the hands of the Universalists and the Jews as a place of worship, but finally was converted into a place of business.
The second church building was erected on the north corner of Main and
Madison Streets, and was first occupied in the year 1850. This was a large and
very substantially built brick edifice, constructed in the usual style with
lecture and Sunday-school room in the basement, and auditorium on the second or
main floor. It had a wide portico approached from Main Street by a flight of
steps extending the whole width of the building, and adorned with a row of heavy
Grecian columns. In 1868, it was enlarged by taking in the portico, removing the
steps and placing the main entrance on a level with the street. It was also
furnished with a cupola, a bell and an organ, the cost of the whole being
$16,000. Besides other interesting events connected with it, this building
became historic as the place of holding the General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church in the United States, in the year 1863. It continued to be the place of
worship of the congregation until the year 1889, but has since been converted
place of business. In the year 1889, the congregation changed the location of its place of worship and erected its present elegant brick church at the west corner of Hamilton Boulevard and Crescent Avenue. The cost of this church, including lot, building, organ and furniture, was .about $53,000. It is furnished with two bells, one the gift of members of the congregation.
Out of this mother of Presbyterian churches of Peoria have grown the following: In December, 1853, twenty-eight members were dismissed to form the Second Presbyterian Church; and later it contributed largely to the formation of Grace Presbyterian Church. In January, 1883, a mission Sunday School was organized in Ellis Hall, corner of Main and Elizabeth Streets, afterwards removed to corner of Garfield and Russell Streets/where two lots were purchased and a building erected thereon; subsequently this building was removed to the corner of Barker Avenue and Malvern Street to lots donated by Mrs. Elizabeth Griswold, now deceased. The outgrowth of the work in this latter location resulted in the organization of '"Westminster Presbyterian Church." (See post.)
In June, 1892, "The Presbyterian Alliance" of the city revived, at Jackson Corners, the lapsed Sunday School work which had been long carried on in that neighborhood. This enterprise was, almost from the re-organization until it was constituted as Arcadia Avenue Presbyterian Church, maintained by the First Presbyterian Church. (See Arcadia Avenue Church, post.)
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church met in the building on the corner of Main and Madison Streets in May, 1863. This was the first time this body had ever met west of the Alleghany Mountains, and one of the members of the preceding Assembly, when that body had accepted Peoria's invitation, inquired whether the Com- missioners should bring their tents along. Upon arrival, however, they were agreeably disappointed, and, before the close of the meeting, were greatly pleased with the splendid hospitality shown them. In the expression of their approbation, the committee on resolutions coined the phrase, "elegantly homed."
This meeting occurred during our Civil War when everything looked dark and gloomy. Many heated discussions and differences of opinion were had among the members of the Assembly in regard to the outlook of our country at that time. The pastor of the First Church, the Rev. Robert Johnston, full of zeal and patriotism, and who was often called upon for war speeches when the soldiers were being recruited, was an active member of this Assembly and exerted himself successfully for the entertainment of the members. The venerable Dr. Morrison, Missionary from India, was Moderator of this Assembly. Dr. George P. Hays, of Baltimore, Maryland, was present as a member and made an eloquent address in Rouse's Hall on the "Signs of the Times"—also the Rev. Dr. Wm. M. Paxton, of Pittsburg. at the same time, in the interest of the "Christian Commission" work, the Society which did so much for the soldiers during the Civil War.
Dwight L. Moody held his first evangelistic services outside of Chicago in this church, in 1862, carrying on revival meetings, followed by noon-day prayer-meetings in the lecture room of the church, which were continued for years.
In October, 1874, Mrs. Sarah J. Rhea, of Lake Forest, the devoted widow of a missionary to Persia who had died in the service, organized the Women's Missionary Society of Peoria Presbytery in the First Church. Mrs. Jane G. Johnston, wife of the former pastor/was elected President and held the office for twenty-five years and up to the time of her death. At the same time her daughter, Miss Julia H. Johnston, was elected Secretary of the Society, and has continued to occupy this position, with growing efficiency, during all these years.
The Synod of Illinois held its sessions in the building on the corner of Main and Madison Streets in October, 1876, and the same body met in the new building on the corner of Crescent Avenue and Hamilton Street in October, 1893. In this building also were held the revival meetings of 1857 and 1858, during which period a great revival swept over the country. Again, in 1866, during the revival meetings conducted by Rev. Edward Payson Hammond, many of the meetings were held in this church, as the result of which more than one hundred were added to the membership. Another noted in-gathering took place during the pastorate of the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, D. D., when upwards of forty were received. The membership now numbers 424, with an average attendance at the Sunday school of 204.
The Second Presbyterian Church grew out of an amicable division of the membership of the First Church. During a temporary absence of the pastor, Rev. Addison Coffey, the congregation had been supplied by the ministrations of Rev. Robert P. Farris. The time seeming propitious for the organization of a second church in the city, and the services of Mr. Farris having proved quite acceptable to a considerable portion of the members, he was invited to remain and direct his efforts towards the formation of a new church. The prospects having been found favorable, a meeting of the Presbytery of Peoria was called and held in the lecture-room of the First Church on the evening of December 7, 1853, Rev. W. P. Carson officiating as Moderator and the sermon being preached by Rev. William T. Adams, of Washington. A petition signed by twenty-eight church members and twenty-four as members of the proposed congregation, was presented by Mr. John C. Grier. These were organized into a new church with John L. Griswold and John C. Grier as Ruling Elders, and William Stettenius and George Porter as Deacons. At a sub- sequent date the following named gentlemen were elected the first Board of Trustees: John L. Griswold, Nathaniel B. Curtiss, Henry I. Rugg, William A. Herron, Robert Arthur Smith, William F. Bryan, John C. Grier, Alfred G. Curtenius and John A. McCoy. Services were for a while held in Haskell's Hall, on the second floor of a building located on the south corner of Main Street and Madison Avenue. In the year 1854, two elegant lots were pur- chased on the west corner of Madison Avenue and Jackson Street, upon which the church now stands. Plans for a frame-building were adopted which embraced a suggestion, at least, of the more modern churches, in that its auditorium and lecture or Sunday-school rooms were to be on the same floor. It was to have a tower surmounted by a spire. With the exception of the lecture room and spire the building was completed in June, 1855; the first sermon therein was preached by the pastor on Sunday, July 1st, and the church was dedicated on the Sabbath following. The Sunday-school was organized, January I, 1854, immediately after the organization of the church, John L. Griswold being chosen Superintendent; John A. McCoy, Assistant; David W. Herron, Secretary, and R. J. Swancoat, Librarian. On October 25, 1858, Rev. R. P. Farris resigned the pastorate and went to Saint Louis, where he has, for many years, been engaged in editorial work on a religious paper. He was succeeded, June 8, 1859, by Rev. Samuel Hibben, who continued to fill the pulpit until February 8, 1862, when he resigned and took the position of Chaplain in the Fourth Regiment of Illinois Cavalry, in hope of regaining his health; but failing in that, he returned to his home and died much lamented on June 10, 1862.
The church was then temporarily supplied by different ministers until October 4, 1863, when Rev. William E. McLaren, now Bishop of the Chicago Diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church, became pastor. He was succeeded June 10, 1867, by Rev. Henry V. D. Nevius, D. D., as stated supply until October of the same year, when he became pastor. In February, 1873, Rev. William L. Green commenced his ministrations as stated supply. He was elected pastor on January 28, 1874, and installed October 25, but resigned in February, 1875. He was succeeded by the following pastors: Rev. Lewis 0. Thompson, May 4. 1876. to July i, 1882; Rev. Thomas X. Orr, D. D., October 5, 1883, to December 26, 1893; Rev. Samuel H. Moore, D. D., June 19, 1895, to October 8, 1899, when he resigned and the pulpit remained vacant until October 21, 1900, when the present pastor, Rev. Arthur M. Little, Ph. D., was installed.
In the year 1870, an Industrial School for girls was commenced, having for its object the supplying of clothing to the destitute children of the Sunday School, and the teaching of the children to make their own garments. This school has been continued in successful operation until the present time, with a membership of about 100. The membership of the church is now about 225, and of the Sunday-school 125 in average attendance, of which Fred F. Blossom is Superintendent and George Bryan, Secretary. The church has also well organized Home and Foreign Missionary Societies and a Ladies' Aid Society.
When first erected, the church was supplied with a Mason & Hamlin church melodeon; it afterwards purchased the organ of the St. Paul's Episcopal Church, which remained in use for several years, located in a small gallery over the vestibule. In the year 1872, a new organ was procured at a cost of $1,800, which occupied a platform in the rear of the pulpit. In 1874, the lecture and Sunday School rooms, as originally planned but somewhat larger, were added, the spire completed, the organ replaced with a larger one and other improvements added at a cost of $7,000.
In the year 1888, this building was removed for the purpose of erecting a new one; the original church building being demolished and the Sunday School addition removed to Monroe Street, where, during the erection of the new church, it was used as a temporary place of worship, and where it still remains as an annex to the High School of the City. The corner-stone of the new building was laid April 30, 1889, the Centennial of Washington's Inauguration, the foundation walls having been laid in the autumn preceding. The church was fully completed and dedicated, December 29, 1889. It is a unique structure, built of split boulders of a variety of colors, trimmed with sandstone, with auditorium in the front and lecture and Sunday School rooms on the main floor in the rear. A dining-room (now used for the Industrial School), kitchen and pastor's study, occupy the second story of a portion of the rear building. The cost of the church building, including grading and sidewalks, was about $53,000.
Calvary church. This church has a most interesting history. At a meeting of
the Board of Trustees of the Second Church in the year 1861, and during the
pastorate of Rev. Samuel Hibben, steps were taken to organize a Mission Sabbath
School, and William Reynolds and Thomas G. McCulloh secured a room in the second
story of a building on Washington between Walnut and Bridge Streets. Having
given notice in the public schools and through the papers that a Sunday School
would be organized there the next Sabbath, they attended at the time and place
appointed, to find only seven children, but twelve expectant teachers in
attendance. To this humble beginning Calvary Church, now one of the most
flourishing in the city, owes its origin. Through persistent efforts to make
known the existence of the school, and by rewarding with small coins a number of
urchins on the street to
come and bring their companions with them, the next Sabbath showed an attendance of thirty-six children. The attendance continued to increase until the spring of 1864, when Mr. Reynolds assumed the entire charge, and the place of meeting was changed to Bergen Hall, where it remained for two years. A lease of a lot on Walnut Street between Washington and Adams Streets for the period of ten years, free of rental, was then secured from Charles Ballance, Esq., and Mr. Reynolds, with the aid of Mr. John Wilson, proceeded to erect thereon a frame building 40x70 feet, with an additional room 25x35 feet, for a primary class, the whole costing about $6,000. The school then grew with wonderful rapidity, and, by the winter of 1865, it numbered 500 scholars and 27 teachers. Lay services were then established every Sabbath evening and frequently during the week. It having become evident that a church must be organized, the Superintendent began to look out for a suitable man for the pastorate and, through friends, was introduced to Rev. John Weston, who was just about to complete his course of studies in the Theological Seminary (now McCormick) of the Northwest. He began his labors in April, 1867, and, on June 24th of that year, "Calvary Mission Church" was organized by a committee of the Presbytery of Peoria. The church was organized with twenty members, but such was its phenomenal growth that, early in the year 1876, it was determined to remove to another location and proceed with the erection of a new house of worship. Lots were secured on the corner of First and Fisher Streets where the church now stands; ground was broken April 17, 1876, and the cornerstone laid June 24th, on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of the organization of the church. Portions of the building were speedily finished for use, but the dedication did not take place until June 29, 1879, when it was dedicated entirely free from debt. This result was brought about by the untiring zeal of the Women's Association connected with the church, the contributions of outside friends, the self-denial of the members, and, last of all, by the gift of one dollar from the guests—1,200 in all—who attended the silver wed-
ding of Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, held in the church in connection with the twelfth anniversary of its organization. The entire structure cost the congregation about $26,000.
The organization of this church for work has been most complete. Beginning with one Ruling Elder, William Reynolds, and with twenty members, it now has a membership of 461 and a Sunday School numbering 436 in average attendance. It stands as a monument of consecrated Christian effort, which was specially exemplified in the life of its first Elder and the only Superintendent of its Sunday-School until the time of his death. (See Bio- graphical Sketch). Its pastors have been Rev. John Weston, 1867-1886; Rev. A. C. McGogney, October 31, 1886; Rev. A. Christy Brown, September 20, 1891; Rev. John Weston (second pastorate) June, 1898, to the present time.
This church being itself the outgrowth of mission work, has, during its whole history, been active in the mission field, having, through an organization of young men, been instrumental in establishing several missions, one of which has grown into a flourishing church. (See Bethel Presbyterian, post.)
Grace Presbyterian Church has also a very interesting, history. On March 1, 1862, Mr. D. W. McWilliams, a prominent railroad man, a member of the Young Men's Christian Association as well as an earnest Sunday School worker, procured the use of a passenger coach which was placed on Water Street, in which he, with other workers, proceeded to organize a Sunday School. At first it had only twenty scholars, but in a few weeks, it had increased so that a second coach became necessary. At the end of two months, by the aid of the Young Men's Christian Association, a lot was secured at the corner of Green and Clay Streets, on which was erected a one- story frame building, 28x40 feet, at a cost of $800. Two years later a primary class-room was added at the cost of $300, donated by Mr. H. G. Marquand, of New York. In 1866 the main building was enlarged and a bible class-room added, the whole costing about $1,200. At this time the school had increased to 400 scholars with 28 teachers. It was known as the Fourth Ward Mission School, the teachers coming from various churches in the city. In 1863, evening services conducted by the teachers and officers of the church were commenced in the main room, and during the same year Rev. Hiram Doane accepted an invitation to temporarily preach to the people. He had officiated but a short time when he was appointed Chaplain of the Forty-seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteers and, having entered the service, as elsewhere stated he died in the hospital. For the next five years services were conducted by the officers and teachers. On March 1, 1868, the church was duly organized with 15 members, George H. McIlvaine and Theodore Higbee being elected Elders. In the years 1873 and 1874, a church building, on the site of the present church, corner of Madison Avenue and Wayne Street, was erected at the cost of about $10,000, Mr. McIlvaine donating the lot and Mr. McWilliams the sum of $3,000—a part of the old Clay Street building having been attached as a Sunday School apartment. The name was then changed to Grace Mission Church, but subsequently the word "Mission" was dropped, and the church is now "Grace Presbyterian Church." The church building, erected in the summer of 1873, was destroyed by fire, Sabbath, .September 28, 1890, at the hour of morning service, and the corner-stone of the present brick structure was laid November 28, 1890—just two months from the time of the fire—and the church was finished at a cost of about $16,000.
Prior to the organization of this church, the Sabbath school, begun in the
spring of 1863, had laid the foundation for a church society by most excellent
and successful work. After temporary supplies up to September, 1874, Rev. W. W.
Farris was installed as the first pastor, and remained until July, 1876. Soon
after, Rev. H. S. Beavis was called, and continued until June, 1880. In January,
1881, he was followed by Rev. A. F. Irwin, who completed his labors in 1889.
Rev. J. K. Black was called to the pastorate in July of the same year, and
remained till the fall of 1891. Rev. Edgar L. Williams began his work in April,
1892, and resigned October, 1895, to go into the evangelistic work. The present
pastor, Rev. W. S. P. Cochran, D. D., was installed February, 1896. Mr. D. W.
McWilliams was the first Superintendent of the Sabbath School, followed by Mr.
George H. McIlvaine,
elected December 1, 1866, and continuing Superintendent until the time of his death. At the present time the church is in a state of growing prosperity, having 290 members and a Sunday School numbering 317. On January 1, 1897, this church met with a great loss in the death of George H. McIlvaine, one of its founders, through whose assidious labors and liberal contributions, seconded by a membership of devoted workers, it was enabled to achieve a marked degree of success.
The Westminster Church has grown out of a Mission School originally organized in January, 1853, in Ellis Hall, corner of Main and Elizabeth Streets, by members of the First Church. It was afterwards removed to the corner of Garfield and Russell Streets, where two lots were purchased and a building erected thereon. This building was subsequently moved to the northeast corner of Barker Avenue and Malvern Streets, to two lots donated by Mrs. Elizabeth Griswold in her lifetime. The cost of this first building was about $1,500. The church was then organized on June 2, 1897, with P. W. Petrie, C. Ross Kuhn and Theodore Higbee as Elders, and Eustace H. Smith, Theodore Higbee and William Wilkinson, Trustees. The number of members was then twenty-four. Rev. William Parsons was called to the pastorate and continued to minister to the congregation until March, 1901, when he resigned. The present elegant church edifice, located at the corner of Moss Avenue and Malvern Street, was erected in the years 1899-1900, and dedicated June 4th of the latter year. It is built of brick in the modern style and, with the lot on which it stands, cost $30,000. It occupies a commanding situation on the brow of the bluff overlooking the entire city. It has a membership of 79, and a Sunday School numbering 100 in average attendance, of which Mr. C. Ross Kuhn is Superintendent. It has also established a Mission at Peoria Heights, which is in a prosperous condition.
Arcadia Avenue Presbyterian Church is the outgrowth of another Sabbath School established in the year 1892 by workers from the First Church, whose efforts were warmly supplemented by friends in all other denominations in the community. The first meetings were held in an old school-building placed on the lot which is now occupied by a new house of worship. The church was there organized on October 6, 1896, with 23 members. The congre- gation was supplied with preaching by several ministers until May 9, 1897, when the present pastor, Rev. James Benson, was installed. During the year 1900, a new church edifice was erected on the site of the old one, which had been sold. The corner-stone was laid in November, 1899, and, by March, 1900, the building had so far progressed that the Sunday School room could be occupied and services were held there until the completion of the new building in the month of December of that year. It is a frame building situated at the corner of Arcadia Avenue and Bigelow Street, having an assembly room, Sunday School rooms and auditorium on one floor— the whole costing about $10,000. It was dedicated, December 16, 1900, the following ministers taking part in the exercises: Rev. W. S. P. Cochran, of Grace Church; Rev. Chauncy T. Edwards, D. D., of the First Church; Rev. George A. Pflug, of Bethel Church; Rev. William Parsons, of Westminster Church; Rev. Arthur M. Little, Ph. D., of the Second Church, and Rev. James Benson, the Pastor. The Elders are as follows: Isaac Kellar, William N. Fisher, E. B. Hazen, and George F. Carson; the Trustees, George F. Carson, P. S. Cline, J. C. Poffenbarger, L. Hillis, S. A. Wheeler, H. Kellenbach and C. W. La Porte. The church has a membership of 122, and maintains a Sunday School of 231, of which Mr. George F. Carson is Superintendent.
Bethel Church is the outgrowth of a Mission School carried on for several years under the auspices of Calvary Church, at the corner of Garden and Apple Streets, where it erected a small frame building at a cost of $1,200. The church was organized by a committee of Presbytery on September 29, 1887, with 59 members— Henry J. Marmein and Ireneus E. White being ordained and installed as Elders. Rev. A. Christy Brown was installed first pastor in July, 1890, but resigned the charge to accept a call to Calvary Church in September, 1891. He was succeeded in June, 1894, by Rev. Charles W. Whorrall, and he by Rev. George A. Pflug, the present pastor, in May, 1899. This church now has a commodious house of worship on Antoinette corner of Alfred Street, erected at a cost of $6,500. It has a membership of 114, and a Sunday School numbering 175.
The German Reformed Church (Presbyterian in government) was organized in May, 1869, by a committee of the Classis of Wisconsin, with thirteen original members, and George Kruse and Harmann Borchers, Elders. The church failed to secure the ministrations of a regular pastor until August, 1871, when Rev. John Muller was called, who remained as pastor for nearly twenty-two years. He was succeeded, in August, 1893, by Rev. H. T. Schmidt, who continued as pastor until October, 1895. At this time a division occurred, when a portion of the membership under the leadership of the pastor withdrew and formed the German Congregational Church. The church then remained without a pastor until the present pastor, Rev. Gottlob Zindler, was called in 1896. At an earlier period, a portion of the members had withdrawn to go into a German Presbyterian Church located in the same neighborhood. In 1871, a small frame church was erected on the corner of Persimmon and West Madison Streets (now Reed Avenue), which still continues to be their place of worship. A Sunday School is maintained with an average attendance of 65, the pastor being Superintendent. The church was formerly much stronger than at present because of the withdrawals already mentioned.
First Congregational Church. As related in a former part of this work. this church was organized as a Presbyterian Church, in December, 1834, and so continued until the year 1847, at which time it dropped its connection with the Presbyterian Church, adopted the Congregational form of church government and changed its name to that of the "Main Street Congregational Church." Rev. William H. Starr was the first pastor of the church under its new organization, and ministered unto the people for one year, from October, 1847, to October, 1848. In November, 1848, Rev. Levi Spencer became pastor, and so continued until April 14, 1853, when, to the universal regret of the people of Peoria, his useful life was terminated. During his pastorate, a new and tasteful church edifice of brick was erected on the site of the old Main Street Church, at a cost of $8,000. It was surmounted by a fine spire, which was carried away in the great storm of May 13, 1858, and was never rebuilt in its original form. The tower contained a clock, placed there in the year 1857, the dial plate of which was carried away with the spire, leaving the works and the bell uninjured but invisible from without. This bell has become historic, from the fact that, during the entire period of the Civil War, whenever a victory was achieved by the Union Army, or any other event of importance to the people had transpired, Mark M. Aiken, the veteran Abolitionist, would repair to the church and send forth its peals in token of the glad tidings; and, so vigorously did he pull the rope, that the bell finally became cracked and hoarse in tone, but not entirely useless. Although invisible, the clock still continued to strike the hours of the day and night, a faithful monitor of the flight of time. In the year 1870, upon the return of the Rev. A. A. Stevens to the pastorate, after an absence of four years, the bell-tower was reconstructed, as it now appears in the printed histories of the church, the bell was sent off to a bell foundry and re-cast, with the following motto, furnished by Rev. Mr. Stevens, impressed upon the metal: "Libertatis et Dei Vindex:"(Of Liberty and God the Defender.) The bell was then again suspended in its original position, and remained there until the erection of the new church, when it was transferred to the magnificent steeple of that edifice. There it still continues to send out upon the Sabbath morning air the sweet tones with which the people of Peoria had become so familiar during the war for the preservation of the Union. During the Spanish War it was again brought into patriotic service as the herald of American victories. Colonel Martin Kingman had personal charge of it, and, with the assistance of the sexton, caused it to be rung, first at the outbreak of the war, next on the occasion of the capture of Manila, and on July 3, 1898, when the news arrived of the destruction of the Spanish fleet off Santiago.
The other little old bell, now in possession of the congregation and preserved as a sacred relic, was the first church-bell that ever called the worshipers to the sanctuary in Peoria. It was first hung in the belfry of the Main Street Presbyterian Church, and great was the joy of the people upon hearing it rung for the first time. It continued to be so used until a short time before the erection of the Main Street Congregational church, when it was sold to Mr. William E. Mason, Superintendent of the Peoria Wagon Road Bridge. It was then hung on top of the swing, and served the double purpose of a signal to boats and a fire-alarm for the city. This was an improvement upon the former method of signaling a fire by the cry of "Fire! Fire!" uttered by the human voice. One time, however, in the spring of 1852, the Steamer Amazonia came up the river in a very dark night. She signaled the bridge-tender, who was asleep, and, receiving no response, the pilot believed the bridge to be open, and, without slacking his speed, crashed into it, tearing away a good portion of the span, and bringing the bell down with it. For some time its whereabouts was unknown, and it was supposed to have gone to the bottom. But one day Mr. Mason heard that a man named Faggett, living near Wesley City, had some time before found a bell on the river bank, and the thought struck him that it was the one he had lost. This proving true, negotiations were opened which resulted in the return of the bell to its old quarters, where it remained, doing the same service, for years afterward. A short time before the death of Mark M. Aiken, he by some means obtained control of it, and presented it to the church, where it is preserved as a hallowed relic.
For some time following Mr. Spencer's death, there were serious dissensions in the church. "Three pastors were regularly installed and dismissed within three years and three months after that event. These were Rev. J. W. Marsh, who was pastor from January 2, 1853, to May 1, 1854; Rev. Henry Adams, from September; 1854, to November, 1855; and Rev. J. Steiner, from December, 1855, to July, 1856." The final result was that twenty-two members withdrew, under the leadership of Mr. Adams, and formed another church, under the name of the "Union Congregational Church," with Mr. Adams as its pastor. The church thus formed was, on December 8, 1857, organized as a Presbyterian Church, known as the "Fulton Street Presbyterian Church," and was identified with the "New School" branch of that denomination. Rev. Isaac E. Cary was pastor of this church from December 8, 1857, until August 29, 1860. A plain but substantial house of worship of brick was erected at the corner of Fulton and Monroe Streets, where the Christian church now stands. The pastors succeeding Mr. Cary were: Rev. Wilber McKaig, November 2, 1860, to June 2, 1862; Rev. Samuel Wykoff, November 24, 1862. to October 3, 1864; Rev. Asahel H. Brooks, July 3, 1865, to March 4, 1868; Rev. Horace C. Hovey, January 5, 1869, to April 13, 1873; Rev. Robert Condit, October 27, 1873, to November 10, 1874.
The two branches (Old and New School) of the Presbyterian Church, having, in the year 1870, become united under the name of "The Presbyterian Church in the United States," and, there being already at least four churches of that denomination in the city, and there also being in the Fulton Street Church a large element inclined to the Congregational form of church government, a movement was set on foot which finally resulted in the union of the Fulton Street Church and the Main Street Congregational Church, under the name of the "First Congregational Church of Peoria." This union was accomplished on the 31st day of January, 1875.
Succeeding Rev. J. Steiner—and before the reunion—the following named ministers were pastors of the Main Street Church: Rev. A. A. Stevens, December, 1856, to June, 1866; Rev. G. W. Phinny, June, 1866, to June, 1867; Rev. J. A. Mack, April i, 1868, to June 8, 1870. On September 21, 1870, after an absence of four years from the pulpit of this church, Rev. A. A. Stevens again became pastor, and so continued until the re-union, and, after that time, until February 1, 1882. It was during his second pastorate that the New School, or Fulton Street Presbyterian Church became united with this church, and, during the same pastorate, the magnificent church building at the corner of Monroe and Hamilton Streets was erected. During the last two years of this pastorate, the congregation provided an associate pastor, in the person of Rev. J. Homer Parker, which relation continued until the resignation of Mr. Stevens, in February, 1882. After an honorable and highly respected retirement of nineteen years, Rev. A. A. Stevens has recently deceased, mourned by the entire Christian community of Peoria. (See Biographical Sketch.)
The elegant church building in which this congregation now worships is the result of determined efforts carried on under great disappointments. The first Board of Trustees after the union consisted of Horace Clark, Martin Kingman, James T. Rogers, Jacob Corwin Hansel, Lucius L. Day, Samuel A. Kinsey, Nathaniel K. Beasley, Leslie Robinson, Moses Pettengill, William H. Chapman and R. M. Blair. At a preliminary meeting, held soon thereafter, of the Deacons and Trustees, the sum of $15,000 was raised for the erection of a new church. The lots whereon the church stands, being 92 feet on Monroe Street by 172 feet on Hamilton, were purchased at a cost of nearly $11,000. which sum was raised by the sale of the two churches the congregation then owned. Plans were pro- cured for a church having a seating capacity of eight hundred to one thousand, to be built of stone— the estimated cost to be $33,000, which amount was subscribed. The building was commenced, and the walls were two feet above ground when the winter of 1875-6 set in. The corner-stone was laid May 2, 1876, by the pastor. Rev. A. A. Stevens, who made a brief address, prayer being offered by Rev. Jonathan Edwards, D. D., pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.
When the walls had been raised nearly to the top of the windows, a very serious and unexpected difficulty arose. It was found that the contractor for the stone-work had expended the entire amount which he was to receive for completing the building. The trustees then took the matter into their own hands, becoming personally responsible for the additional sum required. The roof was on before the weather turned cold that year. The original plan was to build the main tower of wood, but new estimates showed that, with little additional cost, it could be built of stone; but, instead of $3,500, as estimated, nearly $12,000 had been expended upon it. In the autumn of 1876, it was discovered that the building in settling had cracked around the tower. This was remedied at a cost of $2,000. After many delays and discouragements, the building was finally completed at a cost of $89,781.10, to which must be added the cost of an organ, $5,086.27, the latter chiefly paid by the ladies and dedicated as the "Stevens Memorial."
The first service in the basement (the main body of the church not being completed) was held on Sunday, June 24, 1877, when the pastor preached an appropriate sermon and dedicated that portion of the building. The main church edifice was dedicated September 9, 1883, at which time the entire indebtedness had been provided for, and was subsequently paid. From that time until the present, this church has enjoyed a great degree of prosperity, the following ministers having succeeded Mr. Stevens in the pastorate: Rev. E. Frank Howe, 1882-1887; Rev. D. K. Nesbitt, 1888-1892; Rev. Caspar Wistar Hiatt, 1893-1897; Rev. W. C. Haskell (acting pastor), 1898; Rev. John Faville, 1899 to the present time. Out of this church have grown "The Plymouth Church," "The South Peoria Congregational Church," "The North Peoria Church," "The Averyville Church," "Pilgrim Mission Sunday School" and "Washington Street Mission Sunday School."
The church maintains a Sunday School numbering 280 in attendance, of which Mr. C. C. Miles is Superintendent.
Plymouth Church. In the spring of 1869, the First Congregational Church of
Peoria decided to establish a Sunday School at the corner of Fourth and Spencer
Streets. It was .given the name "Plymouth Mission." Funds were raised at once,
and a building was erected, 28x56 feet in size, at a cost of about $2,000. The
school was organ- ized, August 29,1869, with an attendance of 150. Many faithful
men and women engaged in this work during the
twenty years of its history, previous to the organization of Plymouth Church. The following named persons have been Superintendents of the school: George Alter, Benjamin Foster, Henry Chapman, E. F. Parker, Henry Binnian, Horace Clark, Luke Sweetser, E. C. Foster, and Frank E. Alden. Of these, Benjamin Foster and Luke Sweetser each served for quite a number of years, being reelected repeatedly, and for about two-thirds of the time of the existence of the school it has been under the superintendency of one or the other of these two brethren. In addition to the Sunday School, prayer-meetings were held, and occasionally there was a preaching service. For most of the time, Rev. A. A.. Stevens was pastor. The largest attendance in the history of the school was 233. The largest attendance on any one Sabbath during the year previous to the organization of the church was 180. Many were helped in the Christian life by the work of this mission. At times the question of organizing a church was considered, but not until December, 1888, did the way for action seem to be clear. At a prayer-meeting of the First Congregational Church, a committee was appointed to take pledges to support a minister at Plymouth Mission, and to recommend to the church such action as seemed best in order to form a new church. M. Kingman, L. Sweetser, E. F. Parker, G. S. Clark, J. T. Rogers, E. C. Foster and B. T. Pettengill were appointed as this committee. December 19, 1888, the committee reported that the pledges justified a forward movement, and recommended that a committee consisting of three Trustees and two Deacons, be appointed to find a pastor, who should be subject only to the advice and control of a Prudential Committee of five and that this Prudential Committee should bring about the organization of a church as soon as it seemed best to do so. At a business meeting of the First Church, February 13, 1889, the committee to select a pastor, consisting of 0. J. Bailey, J. T. Rogers, L. Sweetser and Horace Clark, made their report, and Rev. C. C. Harrah was called to the pastorate of Plymouth. The following persons were appointed as the Prudential Committee: Horace Clark, O. J. Bailey, E. C. Foster, J. T. Rogers and B. T. Pettengill, The meeting-house was improved so as to make it a neat audience room, and regular services were begun April 17, 1889. The church was organized, June 2, 1889, with 96 members. The following named gentlemen were chosen as the first Board of Trustees: James T. Rogers, Luke Sweetser, E. F. Parker, William W. Hammond, George R. Wright and J. W. Ericson. The following named ministers of the Gospel have been successively called to the pastorate: Rev. C. C. Harrah, February 13, 1889; Rev. D. B. Spencer, July 9, 1890; Rev. S. W. Meek, October 3, 1894; Rev. F. G. Smith, March 30, 1898; Rev. J. W. Nelson, December 19, 1900. In the summer of 1896, the congregation had so prospered as to be able to erect a new brick church on the site of the old one, at a cost of about $14,000. It maintains a Sunday School of
over 130 in actual attendance.
Union Congregational Church. On the 20th day of July, 1884, a Union Sunday School was organized in the northern section of the city, and by September 1st of that year a neat frame building had been erected at the corner of Pennsylvania and California Avenues, at a cost of $2,000. The school was so prospered that, on the first day of January, 1800, a church was organized, which, at the first, was a Union Church, but, in 1893, was changed to the Union Congregational Church. The following year the location was changed to the corner of Illinois and Dechman Avenues, where a new church was erected, at a cost of $14,000, and dedicated, December 1, 1894. Leonard F. Houghton and Henry Thrush were the first Elders, and M. C. Blair, B. Ashlands, Mrs. L. F. Houghton, Mrs. Harriet Frye and Mrs. O. P. Walker, the first Board of Trustees. The pastors have been as follows: Rev. E. S. Chandler, May 1, 1890: Rev. D. G. Stouffer, April 1, 1892; Rev. Alexander Monroe, September 1, 1804; and Rev. W. J. Johnson, December 1, 1900.
This church maintains a prosperous Sunday School, numbering 300 in actual attendance. Mr. Leonard F. Houghton has been the Superintendent from the beginning, and it may be safely said, without disparagement of others, that to his zealous efforts and liberal contributions this church owes a large percentage of its prosperity.
The German Congregational Church. This church was organized December 6, 1895, with a membership of 60, many of whom had formerly belonged to the "German Reformed Church." The following named gentlemen constituted the first Official Board: Richard Iben, Jacob Poppinga, Frederick De Vries, Montge Wiarda. The fol- lowing have been the pastors: Rev. T. H. Schmidt, 1895-98; Rev. William Fritzemeier, 1898-1901; Rev. William Fred. Essig, February 1, 1901, to the present time. A church edifice, costing $8,000, was erected in the year 1896, at the corner of Reed and Maple Avenues. The church maintains a Sunday School numbering 80 in actual attendance, Mr. Richard Iben being Superintendent.
First Church. An account of the founding of this church, down to the time of
the erection of its first house of worship, has been given in a former part of
this work. It was erected in 1845, and dedicated October 17, 1846. On November
14th, of the same year, Rev. Henry G. Weston was called to the pastorate, which
office he con- tinued to fill for a period of twelve years. Under his faithful
service the church soon became self-sustaining—it
having before then been receiving aid from the American Baptist Home Missionary Society— and, during his entire pastorate, the church continued to prosper. On December 31, 1858, Mr. Weston resigned his pastorate to accept a wider field of usefulness. It is no detraction from other ministers to say that his ministry in Peoria was one of the most useful, and his resignation the most deeply regretted, of any minister who had ever preached the Gospel in Peoria. The following sketch of his life is taken from the Baptist Encyclopedia:
"Henry G. Weston, D. D., LL. D., was born in Lynn, Mass., September n, 1820. His father was, at that time, one of the firm of True & Weston, publishers of the "Christian Watchman," in Boston. He was baptized in Lynn, in 1834, graduated from Brown University in 1840, and, in the fall of that year, entered Newton Theological Institution; was ordained in Frankfort, Kentucky, in 1843, immediately proceeding to Illinois, where he preached as a missionary at his own charge for three years in Tazewell, Woodford and McLean counties; settled as pastor of the church in Peoria, in 1846, and remained thirteen years; removed to Olive Street Church, New York City, where he remained until 1868, when he accepted a call to the present position as President of Crozier Theological Seminary.
"In connection with the labors incident to these varied and responsible positions, he has been prominently engaged in advancing the general interests of the denomination. He was editor of the Baptist Quarterly from the time of its establishment, and has also served as President of the American Baptist Missionary Union. He has published a valuable treatise on the four Gospels, and, with both pen and voice, has rendered other, useful and extended service. He received the degree of A. M., in 1846, from Shurtleff College, and that of D. D., in 1859, from the niversity of Rochester."
At a banquet given in his honor at the National Hotel, April 23, 1901, by the Men's Social Union of the First Baptist Church, Dr. Weston expressed his deep affection for the church to which he had given the best years of his life, as follows: "During my eighty years of life, I consider God's greatest gift to me to be the love of my friends—that pure, simple, yet lasting and unbroken love that was given me by the people of Peoria fifty years ago. Why did I come? Because I felt it would be mean of me to refuse to give whatever pleasure it might be to those who had invited me back after forty years of absence. If I could go back to the time I was twenty-two years of age, and God should give me the choice of life I would lead, I would put it in God's hands again."
Dr. Weston's visit, at that time, was cut short, and his old flock were deprived of the privilege of hearing him preach; but, a few weeks later, he returned, and then, not only his own people, but a great number of his old neighbors and friends who had not been of his congregation, flocked to hear once more from his lips the message of God's great love to sinful men. And none who heard him on that occasion will ever forget the tenderness with which he urged upon his old congregation to forget past differences, and to come together again and be united in the bonds of Christian love.
After Mr. Weston had left the church, unfortunate divisions occurred, and, on June 10, 1859, about twenty-five members withdrew and organized themselves into a new church, under the name of the Tabernacle Church, but, after four years of separation, this schism was healed and the church became re-united. On September 9, 1878, three members were excluded for nonconformity to a new clause in the church covenant, which required a pledge of total abstinence from intoxicating liquors. Four days later, twenty-four others withdrew, and, uniting with the three excluded, organized the Peoria Baptist Church.
On July 27, 1864, the First Church congregation exchanged their property on Hamilton Street for a lot and church-building at the corner of Madison Avenue and Fayette Street, where the Women's Club Building is now located. (See Universalist Church.) Mr. Isaac Underhill then became the owner of the old church, which, for some years, was used as Cole's Business College. Subsequently, the property was bought by the County of Peoria, and, during the erection of the new Court House, from 1876 to 1878, it was used for the purpose of holding courts, after which it was leased for various business purposes, and finally removed. Its site is now used as a lawn adjoining the jail. The church building at the corner of Madison Avenue and Fayette Street continued to be the place of worship of this congregation until the year 1890, when the present elegant and commodious building, at the corner of Hamilton Boulevard and Glen Oak Avenue, was erected. Its cost was $65,000. The pastors who have ministered to this congregation since the time of Dr. Weston are the following: Rev. D. E. Holmes, 1862-63; Rev. A. Jones, 1864-66; Rev. A. H. Stowell, 1866; Rev. J. D. Page, 1867; Rev. S. A. Kingsbury, 1869; Rev. Alexander McArthur, 1872-74; Rev. C. J. Thompson, 1874-80; Rev. C. E. Heath, 1880-90; Rev. D. D. Odell, 1890-93; Rev. L. Kirtley, 1894-99; Rev. George H. Simmons, 1900 until the present time. Out of this church have grown, besides the two now extinct, Bethany Baptist Church and Olive Street Mission. It has a large membership, and maintains a Sabbath School of 335 members, of which Mr. P. J. Brownlee is Superintendent. Olive Street Mission has a Sabbath School numbering 105, of which Mr. D. S. Long is Superintendent.
Bethany Baptist Church. This church is the outgrowth of a Mission Sabbath School, organized in 1877, by W. C. Tapping. In the year 1882, a chapel was erected on North Jefferson Street, between Hayward and Abingdon, at a cost of $1,600. The Sunday School was held in that building, but without a pastor, until May 10, 1891, when the church was organized, with 38 members, Joel Bassett and S. D. Putney being chosen Deacons, and H. B. Shively, G. H. Nichols, G. J. Corslime, Trustees; C. E. Shively, Clerk; and Mrs. V. Bassett, Treasurer. Rev. E. O. Lovett served as pastor from the date of organization until December 1, 1895; Rev. R. S. Sargent, from May 11, 1896, to November 1, 1897; Rev. J. W. Bayles, July 10, 1898, to March 4, 1899, and Rev. E. K. Reynolds, May 1, 1899, to the present time. In the year 1892, the church building was removed to its present site, corner of North Madison Avenue and Hayward Street, and was greatly enlarged, at a cost of $7,000. It maintains a Sunday School, at which there is an average attendance of 115.
The German Baptist Church was organized August 24, 1853, by Rev. John H. Krueger, who had been engaged as a missionary of the Baptist Home Missionary Society, preaching at Peoria, sometimes in the Court House, but oftener, it is said, at his own residence. He was chosen the first pastor, and continued in that office until November 18, 1860, when he was obliged to give up preaching on account of an affection of the throat. The church increas- ing in numbers, they were given permission to worship in the basement of the First Baptist Church, on Hamilton Street, where they continued until 1862, when a lot was leased on the corner of South Jefferson (now Warner Avenue) and Maple Streets, where they erected a small frame church, with parsonage attached, at a cost of about $700. This they continued to occupy until the year 1875, when they purchased a brick building on Monson Street, between Fourth and Fifth, which had been erected many years before by the Cumberland Presbyterians, which they placed in a good state of repair and added a room for their Sabbath School. This building, with the addition and. repairs, cost them about $3,200. In August, 1897, they completed a new church, which they still occupy, at the corner of Fourth and Fisher Streets, the cost being about $3,000.
The succession of pastors has been as follows: Rev. John H. Krueger, August 24, 1852, until November 18, 1860; Rev. C. D. Menger, February 4, 1862, to May 15, 1866; Rev. J. Merz, May 27, 1866, to January 24, 1869; Rev. S. H. Downer, April 27, 1869, to September 22, 1878; Rev. H. S. Deitz, October 6, 1878, to October 1, 1881; Rev. J. Albert, May 2, 1882, to November 9, 1886; Rev. F. Frederick, March 20, 1887, to December, 1890; Rev. A. Vogel, July 3, 1891, to November, 1896; Rev. A. Janssen, May 16, 1897, to May, 1901. The church maintains two Sabbath Schools, the first of about 100 members, of which Mr. H. Frick is Superintendent, and the second of 50 members, of which Mr. C. Filers is Superintendent.
Mount Zion Church (African). This church was organized in the month of April, 1876, with twelve members. Its first Official Board was composed of Jerry Webb, Benjamin Early and Benjamin Hocking. In 1879, it located on the corner of Seventh Avenue and State Street, where it erected a neat and commodious house of worship, at a cost of $5,600. It maintains a Sabbath School of fifty in average attendance. Rev. W. F. Hart is the present pastor.
The Christian Church. The denomination lo which this church belongs is variously known as "The Church of Christ," "The Disciples of Christ," "The Christian Church," and "The Campbellite Church," the latter from Alex- ander Campbell, its founder. It has no written creed or confession of faith, relying wholly upon the Holy Scriptures as the only rule of faith and practice. It accepts and teaches the fundamental doctrines of the Christian religion as held by other Protestant Churches known as Evangelical; believes in and practices immersion as the only true method of administering the sacrament of baptism, and, in church government, has adopted the form in use by other Baptist Churches. In fact, it is classed with the family of Baptists.
The Christian Church in Peoria was organized in the year 1845, by Elder A. J. Kane, of Springfield, with twelve members. Its first pastor (designated in this denomination "Elder") was William Tilford, who served faithfully until his death, which occurred April 3, 1851. For some years, on account of having no definite articles of faith or belief, the church was looked upon with distrust, and was not welcomed with much cordiality into the company of the faithful. A curious circumstance in this connection, was the action of the Young Men's Christian Association, which, according to the constitution of the parent Society, could admit none who were not connected with some evangelical church which had a definite creed or form of belief. It therefore happened that, when the first Young Men's Christian Association was organized in Peoria, it was a question of whether or not the good members of the Christian Church could be admitted. Happily, however, that condition did not long continue.
For ten years the members of this church continued to meet from house to house, but upon extra occasions would secure the use of the Court House, or the hall of one of the Fire Companies. In this manner they struggled along, having the Gospel preached from time to time by Elders W. H. Davenport, John Lindsay, William Brown, Milton King, D. P. Henderson and A. J. Kane. In March, 1853, a re-organization took place, at the house of Mrs. Eliza White, at the corner of Adams and Green Streets, at which time J. P. Brown was set apart to the office of Elder, and Sampson Shockley to that of Deacon. The membership, at that time, was twenty-six. In 1854, at great sacri- fice to themselves, the members, of this church erected a chapel on Seventh Street, at the head of Franklin, which was dedicated, February 17, 1855, by Elders William Brown and O. A. Burgess, the latter of whom became President of Butler University, at Indianapolis. Either at that time or soon afterwards, the people of Peoria had the great privilege of hearing, in this church, an exposition of their belief from the lips of the celebrated Alexander Campbell, the founder of the denomination. From that period, the church has enjoyed almost uninterrupted prosperity. From time to time its pulpit has been filled by some of the ablest men of the denomination, among whom may be mentioned Elders John Lindsay, who for many years was connected with Eureka College; J. A. Carman, D. R. Howe, John O. Kane, Knowles Shaw, the latter the noted evangelist, who, in 1872, held revival meetings in a tent, which resulted in fifty accessions. During the month of October, 1872, Elder Ira J. Chase became the pastor, and continued to serve in that capacity for some years. By one of those peculiar turns of fortune, which sometimes overtakes ministers as well as laymen, Mr. Chase afterwards became Governor of the State of Indiana. Another circumstance which brought this denomination into prominence, was the fact that President Garfield was a member, and had, in early life, preached the Gospel to its adherents.
In 1875, the church edifice on Seventh Street having become too small, the building at the corner of Monroe and Fulton Streets, which had been erected by the New School Presbyterians, was purchased at the cost of $7,000. This building was occupied until the year 1894, when it was demolished, and a new and elegant brick church erected on the site.
St. Paul's Parish (Protestant Episcopal) was organized in the year 1848, Rev. J. S. Chamberlain, minister in charge; Thomas Squires, Senior Warden ; William Widenham, Junior Warden; and Washington Cockle, George Stewardson, Henry A. Foster, Ezra G. Sanger, Benjamin L. T. Bourland, William Mitchell and Dr. Rudolphus Rouse, Vestrymen. During the same year, a deed was made to the Parish by Bishop Chase of the lot, corner of Main and Monroe Streets, on which the church now stands, with a condition attached which renders it doubtful whether or not it can be conveyed to any other person. The church seems, therefore, to be anchored at that spot for all time.
On April 1, 1850, the following officers were elected: Alexander G. Tyng and
James L. Riggs, Wardens; and John Birket, Rudolphus Rouse, George C. Bestor,
Jacob Schaffner, Matthew Griswold, Ezra G. Sanger and Washington Cockle,
Vestrymen. During that year, the first church building was begun. It was a small
brick edifice fronting on Main Street, and having a small brick tower on each
side of the entrance. (See cut in Drown's History.) In the year 1854, to
accommodate the increasing number of the parish, the sides were torn out, a
short addition erected on the Monroe Street side and a larger one on the
opposite side, thus giving it the form of a cross. An additional entrance was
made on Main Street and a tower erected. In this form, with its walls covered
with ivy, the building presented a very attractive appearance. As thus enlarged,
its cost was about $12,000. About the year 1873, plans were procured and
arrangements made to erect a much more elegant church, and to this end a
temporary building was erected on the corner of North Jefferson and Jackson
Streets, and the old one demolished. But at this juncture the division occurred
which resulted in the formation of the congregation of the Reformed Episcopal
denomination, which rendered it impossible to carry out the proposed plans. The
building mentioned was removed to the site of the old church, and continued to be occupied as the house of worship until the present elegant stone building was erected, which has cost $33,000.
Prior to the organization of the Reformed Church, St. Paul's Parish experienced many vicissitudes of fortune, resulting mainly from differences between the High and Low Church elements. Although there was an organization at a very early day, known as St. Jude's Parish, yet it seems to have fallen under the ban of the Bishop, after which only a mission was maintained until the year 1848, when St. Paul's was regularly organized. Bishop Whitehouse was a pronounced High Churchman, while Rev. J. W. Cracraft favored the more popular side. There was, therefore, no little friction between them. Later, but just at what period does not now appear, a new parish, called St. John's Parish, was formed, which erected a building on the corner of South Jefferson and Liberty Streets, afterwards occupied by the Jews, but this parish was short-lived. St. Paul's was much weakened by the withdrawals of the Reform element, occurring, as it did, at a time when they had no house of worship, and was left in poor condition to erect one. But, under the energetic management of the present rector, all differences seem to have been healed, and the parish is now in a prosperous condition.
The succession of rectors has been as follows: 1848, Rev. J. S. Chamberlain; 1850, Rev. John W. Cracraft; 1857, Rev. Henry N. Strong; 1860, Rev. Joseph M. Wait; 1865, Rev. Warren H. Roberts; 1869, Rev. J. W. Coe; 1870, Rev. J. W. Bonham; 1872, Rev. L. Townsend; 1875, Rev. William Bryce Morrow; 1881, Rev. Robert Ritchie; 1889, Rev. Sidney G. Jeffords, the present rector.
Out of this parish have grown St. Andrew's Parish and St. Stephen's Mission, on South Adams Street. The parish sustains a Sabbath School of about 100 in average attendance, superintended by the rector. Four Diocesan Conventions have been held in this church, the dates of which have not been ascertained.
St. Andrew's Parish is the outgrowth of a pious donation of land made by John Birket many years before his death. On November 7, 1857, Mr. Birket conveyed to Henry J. Whitehouse, Bishop of Illinois, and to his successors in office, certain lots, including those upon which St. Andrew's Church now stands. Some of these lots were donated for parsonage purposes, some for educational purposes, and others for the purpose of a church and burying-ground, for the use ahd benefit of a congregation in union and communion with the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Diocese of Illinois, under the constitution and canons of the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, and of the constitution and canons of the Diocese of Illinois and the authority of the Bishop of the same, in trust to and for the uses and purposes named and limited in the deed. The population in that vicinity being then and, for many years thereafter, very sparse, no immediate use could be made of the lots so donated. Bishop Whitehouse died, and soon thereafter the Diocese of Illinois was subdivided into three, the City of Peoria falling into the Diocese of Quincy, of which Rev. Alexander T. Burgess became Bishop.
John Birket died about the year 1874, and after his death some of his heirs, on various pretexts, laid claim to the lots, and a long controversy arose between them and the church authorities respecting the title. Other compli- cations also arose of a very perplexing nature. That part of the trust relating to the burying-ground could not be executed, for the reason the city had prohibited the burying of dead within its limits. That part relating to education could not be executed, for there was no means of utilizing it for that purpose, and as to the church and parsonage, there was no call for either. By some means, the lots had been placed upon the tax books, and had been sold for unpaid taxes. In this dilemma, the Bishop, through the advice of counsel, designated St. Paul's Parish as the bene- ficiary under the Birket deed, and made a deed of the lots to that parish. Amicable proceedings were commenced between the Birket heirs, on one side, and the Bishop and St. Paul's Parish, on the other, to determine their res- pective rights. This litigation finally resulted in a decree of the Circuit Court of Peoria County, under which the lots were to be sold and the proceeds administered by the court, upon some scheme to be devised, as nearly in conformity with Mr. Birket's intent as possible. The lots were sold by the Master in Chancery for $35,183.25. The three lots where the church now stands, at the corner of North Madison Avenue and Mary Street, were bid in by St. Paul's Parish, or for its benefit, for $6,099. But, it being the intent of the officers of St. Paul's to devote these lots to the purposes of a church, as provided in the Birket deed, the Court relieved them of the purchase and allowed the title, for the time being, to remain as it was. The Court then took charge of the remaining funds, and directed them to be invested in a church and parsonage. A number of members then separated themselves from St. Paul's and organized a new parish, called St. Andrew's. This organization was effected on July 10, 1897, with thirty members; the officers being W. H. Boniface and W. N. Sweeney, Wardens; and L. C. Wheeler, John A. Dickinson, Charles Leveridge and E. E. Kinsley, Vestrymen. Rev. Samuel G. Wells became rector on November 22, 1897, and was succeeded by the present rector, Rev. Webster Hakes, on June 15, 1900.
With the funds arising from the sale of the lots, a very handsome stone church was erected in the fall of 1897, at a cost of $20,000, and a rectory at a cost of $10,000. The parish maintains a Sabbath School of about 125 members in average attendance, Mr. W. H. Boniface being Superintendent. The rapid extension of the city in that direction affords encouragement to hope that this church may be one of great usefulness.
Christ Church (Reformed Episcopal) The contest between the High and Low Church elements in the Protestant Episcopal Church, which led to the separation of one party from the other and the formation of the Reformed Episcopal Church, was waged with vigor in the Diocese of Illinois. The Bishop was uncompromising in his High Church proclivities, while among the laity there was a growing tendency towards a more liberal church govern- ment. This difference in sentiment, at one time, grew so strong as to provoke a newspaper controversy, carried on with marked ability on both sides, between the Bishop and Hon. Charles B. Lawrence, of Galesburg, one of the clearest-minded and ablest jurists in the State. In Peoria, especially, after the beginning of the great evangelistic work, there was a strong party in the church who did not agree with the Bishop; and, when the news of the organization of the Reformed Episcopal Church in New York, on December 2, 1873, had reached them, the movement was regarded with much favor, not only by the Low Church element in that denomination, but by many members of other churches. Among the prominent members of the old church who sympathized with this move- ment, was Mr. Alexander G. Tyng, who, for many years, had been a member of the Young Men's Christian Association, and co-worker with William Reynolds, George H. McIlvaine, D. W. McWilliams, and others in Peoria, and with Dwight L. Moody, B. F. Jacobs and others of Chicago. Mr. Tyng had, for several years, been successfully carrying on a mission Sunday School on Cedar Street, and had been active in co-operation with all evangelistic work in the city. At his invitation, Bishop George D. Cummings, of the Reformed Church, visited Peoria to look over the field, with a view of establishing a church. So inviting was the outlook, that it was deter- mined to proceed at once with the organization. The .session of the Second Presbyterian Church, learning of the situation, at once tendered them the use of that church to hold their meeting, and the same was accepted. A meeting was held on December 16, 1873, at which time an organization was effected.
Subscriptions were commenced for the support of a rector, and so liberal was the response that Bishop Cummings was authorized to secure one immediately. At the time of organization, there were about fifty members, which number was very soon increased to 100. The first meeting of the parish was held, January 12, 1874, at which time the following named officers were chosen: Alexander G. Tyng, Senior, and Charles F. Bacon, Junior Warden; Henry B. Hopkins, P. R. K. Brotherson, H. B. Dox, C. A. Jamison, Charles H. Kellogg, John S. Stevens, Walter B. Hotchkiss, B. F. Ellis, R. F. Seabury, Jr., and Walter P. Colburn, Vestrymen. Rev. Mason Gallagher, of Brooklyn, New York, officiated at the first services, which were held on the first Sabbath in January, 1874, and possibly for a short time thereafter. A call was extended to Rev. Joseph D. Wilson, of Pittsburg, on the 4th day of February, 1874, and on the 17th of the same month, he arrived and commenced his labors. It thus happened that, within the space of two months, this new church had been fully organized and supplied with the regular ordinances of religious worship. The lot on which the church now stands was then secured, and, by July of the same year, the present church building was completed, at a cost of $13,000, in addition to which an organ was procured through the efforts of Mrs. Frances B. M. Brotherson, which cost $3,500, to all of which must be added $2,000 for carpets and furniture.
Rev. Joseph D. Wilson was succeeded in the office of rector of this church by Rev. E. B. England, for almost six years; Rev. J. W. Fairly, for about ten years; Rt. Rev. B. B. Ussher, for two years, and, after him, by the present rector, Rev. Henry F. Milligan.
The congregation has also provided a rectory, on Perry Avenue, at a cost of $5,700. It has a Sunday School, with an average attendance of 75. Out of this church has grown Bacon Memorial Mission, and the Elizabeth M. Bacon Orphanage and Chapel, at Lalipur, N. W. P., India. This church was honored with the meeting of the General Council of the Reformed Episcopal Church, from May 27 to June I, 1885.
Bacon Memorial Mission grew out of a mission Sunday School, organized Thanksgiving Day, November 29, 1888, under the auspices of Christ (Reformed Episcopal) Church, by Rev. J. W. Fairly, the rector, and Alexander G. Tyng, Charles A. Jamison, Mrs. Parmela Williams, Miss Emma Bannister and Weston R. Gales.
At the time of organization, Mr. Gales was made Superintendent, and continued to hold that position until his removal from the city, when he was succeeded, September 9, 1891, by Rev. Edward T. Munns, the present Superintendent and acting minister. The meetings were first held in a store building, No. 206 Bridge Street, and, after some time, removed to a store. No. 602 South Adams Street, where they continued to be held until October 9, 1892, at which time the present building, on Chestnut Street, between Adams and Warner Avenue, erected at a cost of $8,000, was occupied. It is named Bacon Memorial Mission in memory of Charles F. Bacon, a highly respected and useful member of Christ Church, whose life was, some years ago, suddenly cut short in the midst of his useful labors. His wife, Mrs. Elizabeth M. Bacon, subsequently went to India as a missionary, and, within a short period, she, too, has been called away, an Orphanage and Chapel at Lalipur, India, having been established through her influence, which now remains to perpetuate her memory.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCHES.
In the pioneer days, the beginnings of the Catholic Churches were very similar to those of other denominations. A traveling priest or missionary would start out to find those of his faith to whom he could administer the ordinances of religion, then pass on to another point and perform the same offices there. In this way, circuits would be established, to which the missionary would return at intervals. Tradition says that, as early as 1839, a Father Reho, an Italian, visited the few Catholics there were then at Peoria and in the surrounding country, and that, finding a number of that faith at Kickapoo, he built a stone church there in the year 1840, several years before any Catholic church had been erected in Peoria. It is said that one of these missionaries, as soon as the last strokes of the bell at the hour of. twelve had sounded and Christmas morn had been ushered in, would say mass at Kicka- poo, then come to Peoria and officiate at the rising of the sun, and complete his day's labor at noon by performing the same service at Black Partridge, in Woodford County.
In 1846, the Rev. John A. Drew, pastor of the seventy-five Catholic families then resident in Peoria, built the first Catholic house of worship in the city, on Eaton Street, between Jefferson and Madison Avenues. It was a small one-story brick building, situated on the rear of the lots on which St. Mary's Church was afterwards built. Its end, on which there was a small cross, was .towards Eaton Street. After the building of St. Mary's Church, it was used as a school-house until the time of the erection of the Academy. Five years later, Father Montuori, realizing that the church was altogether inadequate to the needs of the parish, which had increased four-fold, set about the erection of a larger building, on the corner of Jefferson Avenue. and Eaton Street. This was a church of some note in its day. For some years after its erection, it was said to be the finest church between Chicago and St. Louis; but this claim can hardly be sustained, for the First Presbyterian Church, erected about the same time, on Main and Madison Streets, was not only more substantial, but, excepting a little exterior ornamentation, a better finished and more artistic structure. St. Mary's did, however, present a striking appearance in a new and undeveloped city. Like some other churches in Peoria, it was intended to have a steeple, but only the first section was at first framed. This was enclosed and roofed over to await developments, but it gave the church an unfinished and unsightly appearance. In a few years, say about 1854 or 1855, this defect was remedied by the erection of an elegant spire, having nine points, one in the center surmounted by a gilt cross, the others in two ranks of four each on the four corners. It was painted white, and was, for the time being, the most striking object in the city. But in the great storm of May 13, 1858, it was blown off, and never reconstructed. Instead of it, there was erected a brick tower, from the ground up, surmounted by four small spires on the corners. In this was placed a bell, which aroused the sleepers at six o'clock in the morning, the pious to pray, the wicked to swear. That bell is now in one of the towers of the Cathedral. It has been unremitting in its duties for nearly half a century, and, while its notes have many times fallen upon unattentive ears, it has been a constant reminder to the faithful of their duty to attend regu- larly upon the ordinances of the sanctuary.
This was the parish church for over forty years, when old St. Mary's Church gave way to the new Cathedral. The opening of the church, on June 4, 1852, and the dedication by Bishop Van de Velde, April 17, 1853, were important events in the early Catholic history of Peoria. On the occasion of this visit of the Bishop, a committee representing the German Catholics, who theretofore had been part of St. Mary's congregation, requested the exclusive use of the new church for the Germans at the eight o'clock mass every Sunday. The old church was offered them instead, and here the first German parish was organized and placed in charge of Father Gipperich, who was transferred from Black Partridge, now called Lourdes. Father Gipperich remained only a short time, but was subsequently recalled to Peoria, and built the first St. Joseph's Church, in 1855, near the corner of First and Spencer Streets. Two years later, he resigned on account of ill health, and died in Louisville, Kentucky. His successor, Father Fortman, died within three weeks after his appointment. In the meantime, the Catholics of Lower Peoria had been gathered into a mission congregation, worshiping in a small frame church, built by Father Coyle. They were attended by the priests of St. Mary's until Father Hurley, resigning the pastorate of St. Mary's Church, became pastor of the newly organized parish of St. Patrick, in 1868.
There were now three parishes in Peoria. The little chapel, erected by Father Gipperich and dedicated under the patronage of St. Joseph, soon became too small for the increasing congregation, and, in 1863, the Rev. Henry Boers, a newly-ordained priest, purchased additional property, enlarged the church, and bought a cemetery of fifteen acres. His successor, the Rev. Father Dieters, appointed in 1867, bought still more ground, again enlarged the church, built a new parochial residence, erected two school-houses, and re-built the convent of the Sisters of Notre Dame, who had charge of three hundred children in the parochial school. At the end of five years of stren- uous labor. Father Dieters was succeeded by the Rev. B. Back.
St. Mary's continued to thrive under the line of worthy pastors who came after Father Montuori, among whom were the Rev. Matthew Dillon, who died while pastor, and was buried from this church; Rev. Henry Coyle, who built the first St. Patrick's Church; the Rev. Abram J. Ryan, the Poet Priest of the South, who has now a perma- nent place in American literature; the Very Rev. Father Hurley, the venerated pastor of St. Patrick's for a quarter of a century; the Rev. John Mackin, for many years afterwards pastor at Elgin, Illinois, and the Rev. J. Halligap, who will always be reverently remembered. During these years, the church was growing vigorously in the city and throughout .Central Illinois. On February 12, 1875, in order to effect a more thorough organization, the new Diocese of Peoria was created, of which the Rt. Rev. John Lancaster Spalding was consecrated first Bishop, May 1, 1877. St. Mary's Church became St. Mary's Cathedral. The pastor, the Rev. M. Welby, having decided to return to the Diocese of Chicago, the Rev. B. J. Spalding was appointed to succeed him.
St. Patrick's was now so largely increased in membership that the frame church on Millman Street became too small. A new site was purchased, on the corner of Saratoga and McBean Streets, on which a large brick church was built, and dedicated by Bishop Spalding, September 12, 1880. It was destroyed the following March, but was at once re-built, and re-dedicated by Bishop Spalding, November 21, 1881.
While Father Hurley was building the new St. Patrick's, the Germans, who also had outgrown their old church, undertook the erection of a new building, and, under the direction of Father Back, the present fine church was completed and dedicated in 1880. That same year, a division of the uptown portion of the parish was formed into the new congregation of the Sacred Heart, and placed in charge of the Capuchin Fathers. They erected a church at the corner of Madison Avenue and Fulton Street. A few years later they were replaced by the Franciscan Fathers, who have since held the charge. Three or four Fathers are in residence at the Monastery of the Sacred Heart, from which, besides the parish, they attend the German Church in Pekin and St. Francis Hospital, in Peoria.
In 1881, the year following the founding of the Parish of the Sacred Heart, another division was made in St. Joseph's. The Germans in the extreme southern part of the city were organized in a separate parish, under the patronage of St. Boniface. In a short time, the Rev. F. Van Schwedler, the first pastor, built a church, school and parochial residence at the corner of Antoinette arid Louisa Streets. At the resignation of Father Van Schwedler, the Franciscan Fathers, who succeeded him, set about the erection of a larger church, which is one of the most recent and best additions to the church architecture of Peoria.
The members of St. Mary's Parish worshiped in the old church until the opening of the new Cathedral, in 1889. The work of erecting this magnificent pile had been begun several years before by Father B. J. Spalding, who did not live to see the completion of his task. He died March 28, 1887. The work was completed by his successor, the Rev. C. F. O'Neill. The dedication, on May 15, 1889, was a memorable event. Assisting Bishop Spalding in the service were Archbishop Feehan, of Chicago, and Archbishop Ireland, of St. Paul; Bishops Ryan, of Alton; Janssens, of Belleville, and Cosgrove, of Davenport. A masterly sermon was preached by Archbishop Hen- nessey, of Dubuque. Nearly all the priests of the Diocese, together with many others, were present.
Father O'Neill lived but a short time after the dedication. The next pastor, the Rev. M. L. O'Connor, was in charge till his death, in 1896. After the lapse of nearly a year, the present rector, the Rev. Francis J. O'Reilly, was appointed.
Father Back continued his pastorate of the St. Joseph's until 1884, when the Rev. C. Rotter entered upon the duties of that office. For many years Father Rotter labored zealously for the material and spiritual welfare of the people. He built St. Joseph's new parochial school, and founded St. Joseph's Home for the Aged, which now provides for the wants of no inmates. At his death, in 1898, the Very Rev. H. Creve was selected to succeed him.
In 1890, that part of St. Patrick's Parish situated in the extreme southwestern part of the city, was found to have increased in numbers so largely as to require a church of their own. Accordingly, the Rev. J. P. Quinn entered upon the work of building up the new parish of St. John's. The substantial brick church and house at the corner of Antoinette and Blaine Streets, erected in the midst of a thriving people, prove how successfully he has labored.
Early the following spring, the Rev. Francis J. O'Reilly gathered together the Catholics of the West Bluff in a temporary church, which had been built in five days. Within a few months, St. Mark's Church was erected on Bradley Avenue, followed, in the course of time, by the parochial residence. Father O'Reilly was appointed rector of St. Mary's Cathedral in 1897, and was succeeded in St. Mark's by the Rev. James Shannon.
No sooner had the two new parishes been firmly established than the saintly Father Hurley, after a quarter of a century of self-sacrificing labor, laid down the burden of life, December 11, 1892. No death in Peoria ever caused profounder or more universal regret. He was succeeded, both as pastor of St. Patrick's and as Vicar- General of the Diocese, by the Rt. Rev. F. J. O'Reilly, whose years of service in the Diocese entitled him to the honor of being selected to assist Bishop Spalding as Auxiliary Bishop of Peoria. His consecration, November, 1900, was the most impressive religious ceremony ever held in the city.
During his four years' pastorate at the Cathedral, Father Francis J. O'Reilly has built St. Peter's Church in Averyville, a mission of St. Mary's, and St. Monica's Church and rectory in East Peoria, which, together with Washington, is now a separate parish in charge of the Rev. H. Fennen. Less than a year hence another parish will have been established on the East Bluff. Within the memory of men yet living, the handful of early settlers have become a multitude. The little upper room, which was their first temple of worship, has developed into eight thoroughly equipped parishes. The Catholic Church has kept even pace with the growth of Peoria.
The German Evangelical Lutheran (St. Paul's) Church was organized December 1, 1853, with twelve members. It had, in succession, seven pastors prior to the year 1877, when the present pastor. Rev. Frederick B. Bess, was installed, having served in that office for twenty-four years. The first church building was erected in the year 1854, on Sanford Street, but, in 1863, a lot was purchased on the cornier of First and Goodwin Streets, and the church moved to that place. In 1883, the church was-rebuilt at a cost of $1,500, and, in 1888, a new frame church was erected on the same site at a cost of $14,500. In 1863, a parsonage, costing $609.50, was erected, and the parsonage now in use was erected in 1894, at a cost of $2,200. In 1883, this church established a mission on the Sand Hill, corner of Easton and Hayes Streets, from which has grown Zion's Lutheran Church, and, in 1893, a mission on Perry Street, out of which has grown the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, corner of Glendale Avenue and Mary Streets. This church has also been instrumental in founding (in 1878) St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Timber Township, and St. Timothy's Lutheran Church at Castleton, Stark County; also, in 1889, St. Peter's Lutheran Church at Emden, Logan County, Illinois.
St. Paul's Church maintains a Sunday School, at which the average attendance is 250, W. Semmelmann being Superintendent. There is also a day-school and kindergarten connected with the church, the first school-building having been erected in 1863, at a cost of $300, and the present one, erected in 1898, at a cost of $6,200.
The Southern District Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Iowa and other States, of which ecclesiastical organization this church is a member, has held two of its meetings here—one in 1891, the other in 1894.
German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church. This congregation was organized June 17, 1857, by Rev. T. Fred Boeling, with thirteen members. The first Official Board was composed of Messrs. C. Schmidt, Daniel Harms, C. Hagemeier, Harm E. Harms, and E. Tegtmeier. In the following year they erected a small church, costing about $2,000, near the corner of Warner Avenue and Maple Street, where the parochial school is still located. Rev. Fred Boeling was installed the first pastor, June 17, 1858, and continued to serve in that capacity for over two years, and was succeeded by Rev. Paulus Heid, January 17, 186l, who continued to serve the congregation until the year 1878. During this long continued pastorate, the church was greatly prospered, and, in the year 1875, a new church was erected on the opposite side of Maple Street from the old one. This is an elegant frame building, costing the sum of $8.000. The membership in 1880 was 800. Rev. Heid was succeeded by Rev. Gottlieb Traub, who, in turn, was succeeded, January 1, 1892, by the present pastor, Rev. Otto L. Hoenstein. This church has been singularly fortunate in having long pastorates—having had but four pastors in 43 years.
Although one of the most conservative churches in the city, it is imbued with an earnest missionary spirit. In 1900, it was instrumental in organizing St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jubilee Township, and, in 1892, another of the same denomination at the corner of Malone Avenue and Chandler Street, in the city. At the present time the pastor also preaches to the people of his denomination at Morton, in Tazewell County. The church maintains a Sabbath School numbering 125 in average attendance, over which the pastor is Superintendent.
Christ Evangelical Lutheran. This church was organized as an independent congregation on December 9, 1894, having been a mission of Trinity Church, of the same denomination, since July, 1892. It had thirty-six original members, Rev. Frederick W. Jass being the first pastor; Fritz Krause, George E. Harms, Albert Folkers and Albert Stuff, Elders; J. A. Rass, Secretary; and J. H. Folkers, Treasurer. The pastor having, on March 11, 1894, been installed as second pastor of Trinity Church, was elected pastor of this church at the time of its organization, and has filled that office ever since. In the summer of 1892, the congregation of Trinity Church erected a building for the use of its newly organized mission in the southern part of the city on the corner of Malone Avenue and Chandler Street, at a cost of about $5,000. This building was struck by lightning and totally destroyed by fire ensuing, on the 25th day of June, 1895. Immediately after this misfortune, the congregation erected, on the same site, its second house of worship at a cost of about $8,000, together with a parochial school-building, which cost about $2,000. Regular catechetical instruction is conducted by the pastor every Sunday afternoon, at which time there is an average of ninety persons in attendance. The church is in a prosperous condition.
Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Salem Church. This church was organized, August
4, 1883, with thirty-four members and the following officers: Nels A. Nystrom,
Aaron V. Venell, P. G. Nelson, James Nelson, Alfred Bergquist and Nels Olson,
Deacons, and Edward Nyland, Charles G. Schwerin and Charles Johnson, Trustee,
and Aaron V. Venell, Clerk. The church has had the following named pastors: Rev.
August Norrbom, January 1, 1887, to October 1, 1890; Rev. E. C. Jessup, June 1,
1891, to February 26, 1893; Rev. Alfred Appell, March 1, 1893, to the present
time. The first church building was located on Eaton Street near the Vienna
Mills. It was on leased ground, and, about April 1, 1888, it was moved to
Glendale Avenue near the corner of Hamilton Street. In the year 1896, this
church was sold for $2,800 and an elegant new one of brick and stone was erected
south corner of Bluff Street and Hamilton Boulevard, at a cost of $10,000, besides the price of the lot, which was $5,000. This church has been greatly prospered. It has now a membership of 430, of whom 265 are adults. It has a Sunday School of 70 in average attendance, Mr. Nels A. Nystrom being Superintendent and Carl J. Appell his Assistant.
The membership of this church is drawn from all quarters of the city, and, the Swedish population being somewhat sparse, there seems to be little opportunity at present of establishing missions of that nationality. The present Deacons are Nels A. Nystrom, Aaron V. Venell, Charles Olson, Clark G. Anderson, August Welander and Herman Celander; the Trustees, James Nelson, Peter Nelson, Oloff Edd, J.. A. Magnuson, Charles J. Florine, Oscar Venell, and the Clerk of the church, Herman Celander.
The Universalist Church was organized May 6, 1843, its first members being Orin Hamlin, Dennis Blakeley, Aaron Oakford, Moses M. Webb, J. P. Dennis, John King, Caleb Whittemore, Norman Howe and wife, with some others. At first they had no house of worship, their meetings being held in the Court House. Rev. F. J. Briggs seems to have been the first pastor, but at what date he began his labors does not appear—probably not until the year 1848. He was succeeded by Rev. W. B. Lindell for about two years. The society about that time purchased the building which had been erected on Fulton Street by the First Presbyterian Church as a house of worship, which they continued to occupy until the year 1863. Rev. William ounseville was pastor from about the year 1853 or 1854, until 1858. He was succeeded on June 23, of the latter year, by Rev. D. M. Reed, during whose pastorate the church was re-organized under the name of the "Church of the Redeemer," with 83 mem- bers. John King and John W. Place were elected Deacons, R. M. Place, Clerk, and Benjamin Pitcher, Treasurer. The first Trustees were Sidney Pulsifer, Tobias S. Bradley, Andrew J. Hodges, John H. Calhoun and Addison S. Norton.
"In January, 1855, a Unitarian Church was organized .under the auspices of Rev. James R. McFarland. They held their meetings for some time over Mr. Joseph Clegg's clothing store, at No. 47 Main Street, but they soon after- wards built a very comfortable house of worship at the corner of Madison and Fayette Streets and held their meetings there for some time." (So says Mr. Ballance.) This church, said to be "very comfortable," was in fact one of the most elegant in the city, although not so large as some of the others. It was built of brick in the Gothic style, with a tall tower, four pointed, in which was a Gothic window, said to be the largest then in the State. The interior was finished in style corresponding with the exterior, and was furrnished with a good organ placed in the gallery. It occupied the site on which the "Women's Club" building now stands. It was built under the inspection of Rev. McFarland, but the congregation seemed to dwindle away after his departure, and, about the year 1863, the church edifice was rented to the Universalist congregation. They continued to occupy it until about the year 1865, when the building, having been sold to the First Baptist Church, the Universalists were, for a year or more, left without a place of worship. Rev. D. M. Reed resigned in 1863, soon after which the Fulton Street Church was sold and the Unitarian Church rented. Mr. Reed then again became pastor and remained with the church until about January, 1865, when Rev. H. R. Nye became pastor. When the church was sold to the Baptists he resigned and the pulpit remained vacant for about a year. The Northwestern Conference of Universalists was held in Peoria in the spring of 1866, when it was determined to erect a church building on Main Street. Ground was broken for it May 18th following. Tobias S. Bradley, one of the Trustees and a large contributor, met with an accident which caused his death in March, 1867, before the church was completed. The new church was dedi- cated. January 1, 1868, and named "The Church of the Messiah," and Rev. Royal H. Pullman installed pastor. A State Convention was held in Peoria in 1870. The following have been pastors: Rev. Pullman, Rev. H. B. Smith, Rev. J. Murray Bailey, Rev. S. A. Gardner, Rev. G. W. Kent and W. S. Ralph up to the time the United States General Convention of Universalists was held in October, 1885. Soon after, in commemoration of the devotion of Tobias S. Bradley to its interests, the name of the church was changed to "The Bradley Memorial First Universalist Church." Rev. George B. Stocking became pastor, April 5, 1886, and the pastors that have followed have been Rev. R. B. Marsh, Rev. Frank McAlpine, and Rev. T. B. T. Fisher, the present pastor. The church on Main Street having been sold to the Masons, a new church has just been completed on Hamilton Boulevard.
The Apostolic Church. This church, which goes by the name of "Amish," was
organized by Johannes Kreienbiel. in the year 1852, with about six members. The
first sermon was preached by Joseph Werker, of the State of New York. This
denomination is unique and not easily described. It resembles in some respects
the Tunkers (Dunkards) and Menonites (Menists), and yet differs from each of
them. Those in full membership are required
to be very rigid in the observance of the rules of the church; the style of their garments is prescribed by authority, their deportment demure, their marriages wholly under control of the parents and the church, their worship exceedingly simple. The men take no part in political affairs, are non-combatants, and, until recently, would not employ a lawyer to assist them in their business. Both men and women are exceedingly frugal and industrious, the young women forming a very valuable class of helpers in private families. Until 1874, their meetings were held in the houses of the members, but in that year they erected a meeting-house on Green Street at the corner of the alley between Madison and Monroe Streets, which cost them about $1,000. The congregation has grown in numbers and strength in recent years, many well-to-do farmers in the vicinity having become members. They now have a very substantial and commodious house of worship containing several apartments erected on the site of the old church. To all appearances the congregation is in a prosperous condition. Their services are held twice every Sunday, once in the forenoon and once in the afternoon.
The New Church (commonly called Swedenborgian). The "First Society of the New Jerusalem Church of the City of Peoria," was formed a corporate body in January, 1846, with the following named persons as Trustees: Charles P. King, Elihu N. Powell and Hervey Lightner. The first church building was erected on Jefferson Street near Hamilton (in the rear of the Lightner homestead) before November 23, 1846; for on that date "the first meeting was held in the new Tempte, a Sabbath School and Bible Class were organized, and the Rev. J. R. Hibbard, 'Presiding Minister of the Association of Readers and Receivers of the Doctrines of the New Jerusalem in Illinois,' was called to consecrate and institute the new Society in accordance with the rules of the General Convention," which was done January 3, 1847. "The following named persons were on the same day baptized into membership: John Hamlin, Dr. Edward Dickinson and his wife, Catharine I. Dickinson, Frances M. Dickinson, Charles Kettelle, William Durst, Dr. Moses Troyer, and Hervey Lightner, who with the following named persons who had previously been baptized—Wm. L. Tabor, Charlotte Tabor, Alexander Cooper, J. G. Green, Jerusha M. Hibbard, and F. B. L. Campbell— affixed their names to the declaration of Charity and Faith."
These were the fourteen charter members of the Society for which the following named ministers successively officiated as pastors: Rev. John Randolph Hibbard, D. D., Nelson C. Burnham, Thomas S. Storey, Jabez Fox, George H. Marsten, A. J. Bartels, George F. Steams, George Nelson Smith, George Harden, J. R. Hibbard (a second time), W. H. Schliffer and Samuel C. Eby.
In 1855, a second house of worship was erected on Hamilton Street between Madison and Jefferson Streets, a plain brick structure capped with stone, costing (including lot) $5.000; and the Illinois Association of the New Jerusalem Church was invited to hold its annual meeting in the new edifice in June of the same year. That body met here several times during a period of thirty-four years—the last time in 1880, during Mr. Eby's pastorate. In 1888 more than $800 were expended in repairing, remodeling, the interior and refurnishing the Temple, and services were continued for several years, Rev. Eby ministering.
The annual contribution by members of the society for various religious and benevolent purposes, was given a few years since as $2,500, but for the last decade this item cannot be estimated.
In 1896 this building was condemned by the City Inspector and the furnishings having been, in part, sold to the Presbyterian Church at Pottstown, it was razed in the spring of that year. It seemed a singular coincidence that only its front walls remained standing when the body of the last one of the charter members of the society, Hervey Lightner, was borne past to its last resting place.
The record of the membership of this Peoria Society, during fifty years of its existence, includes many names prominently connected with the various commercial, professional, educational and industrial interests of the city. Among the names of those still living two are widely known; one, that of Hon. Charles C. Bonney, now of Chicago, who was the originator and President of the "World's Parliament of Religions" of 1893; the other, Lloyd Wheaton, now General Wheaton of military fame. Though no regular service has been held since the demolition of its house of worship, a remnant of the society still exists in an organization of which V. H. Van Buskirk is Treasurer; A. E. Bassett, Secretary; M. M. Bassett and Dr. F. S. Davis, Trustees, and the breath of Divine Providence may yet rekindle the smouldering fire, which, in years past, "gave light to them that sat in the darkness" and warmth to hearts chilled with thoughts of death and doubts of immortality.
The First Church of Christ Scientist. This is one of the latest and most aggressive candidates for recognition as a Christian church. Its doctrines are novel and its form of worship unique. It would be unsafe for any one outside the organization to undertake a delineation of either. The only sure way is to go and see. The congregation in Peoria was organized in December, 1893, with six members. The first Board of Directors consisted of Miss Jennie L. Bryan, Mrs. Mary E. Bailey and Mrs. Harriet A. Peck. Miss Jennie L. Bryan has been First Reader (who seems to stand in place of a preacher) from the date of organization. The growth of the congregation has been phenomenal, having made many inroad's upon the membership of existing churches. In the year 1808, with much enthusiasm they erected a house of worship, of elegant design, on the corner of Hamilton Boulevard and Bluff Street, which, with the site, cost about $30,000. They maintain a Sunday School with about 40 in average attendance.
The very early history of the Jews in Peoria is veiled in obscurity. It is possible that, prior to the year 1847, there may have been some here, but if so their names are not known. In that year, or about that time, came Abraham Frank, A. Rosenblat, Hart P. Ancker, A. Ackerland, Arnold Goodheart and Abraham Salomon—the latter with four sons, Solomon, Frederick, Wolf and Jonas, and his son-in-law, Simon Lyon. These men all engaged in business and all continued to reside in Peoria for many years, except A. Ackerland, who returned to Cincinnati. Subsequent arrivals were as follows: In 1848, Jacob Liebenstein; in 1849, Henry Ullman and Leopold Rosenfeld; in 1851, Abraham Schradzki and Leopold Ballenberg, and, in 1852, Aaron, Harry and David Ullman. These men laid the foundations of Jewish society in Peoria.
In the year 1852 the first Jewish cemetery was purchased and deeded in trust to Leopold Rosenfeld, Hart P. Ancker and Abraham Frank. It was a small plat of ground situated on a spur of the bluff at the intersection of the Pekin road and the Q., B. & Q. Railroad. It was detached from the main portion of the bluff by the grading of that road, which circumstance led to its final abandonment. This was the beginning of Jewish organizations in the city. About this time services began to be held during holidays at various halls, which were conducted by members of the society. This continued until about the year 1863, when they purchased from the Universalists the old Presby- terian church situated on Fulton Street between Adams and Jefferson. Regular services were then held under the direction of the following named ministers: Rev. Marx Moses, from 1863 to 1873; Rev. Dr. E. B. M. Brown, from 1873 until 1875: Rev. M. H. Bloch, from 1876 until 1878. The latter was succeeded by Rev. Dr. David Stern. This was the original congregation of Anshai Emith.
About the year 1872, quite a number of Jews from Russia, Hungary and Poland, known as "orthodox Jews," arrived in Peoria, and, not being satisfied with the advanced ideas of the Congregation of Anshai Emith, instituted services of their own in a hall, and, in January, 1873, purchased a cemetery, the Trustees being Israel Bennett, Jacob Conigisky, Levi Meiers, Lewis Brin and Aaron Mittenthal. They continued to hold the same until about the second day of October, 1874, when the congregation of Beth Israel was organized, and the Trustees of the cemetery turned it over to them. This cemetery is located on the bluff near Oesterle's, overlooking Pleasant Valley, and is still used by the orthodox party. They had worshipped in halls until about the year 1874, when some of the members of the Anshai Emith Congregation, becoming dissatisfied with the views maintained by Dr. Stern, left that congregation and, together with a large portion of the orthodox party, arranged to procure a temple for them- selves. They purchased the church on Seventh Street erected by the Christian (or Campbellite) Congregation, and continued to worship there for some time. Rev. M. Messing was their first pastor, who was succeeded by Rev. Henry Messing and he, in turn, by Rev. F. Fisher.
About the year 1879 the congregation of Anshai Emith purchased the lot with
the building thereon, located on the south corner of Jefferson Avenue and
Liberty Street, where St. John's Parish of the Protestant Episcopal Church had
built a house of worship, and proceeded to erect thereon a temple. It was at
that time hoped that both con- gregations would become united; but all such
hopes were for a time disappointed. Rev. David Stern continued to
preside over Anshai Emith and Rev. Fisher over Beth Israel. Contentions became so violent they entered into the social life of the people. Finally Rev. Fisher left Beth Israel and, about the year 1886, Rev. Edward N. Callisch came as a minister, and through his efforts, ably seconded by members of both congregations, peace was restored, the congregations were united, the temple of Beth Israel was sold and the proceeds turned over to Anshai Emith. In the meantime, while these two reformed congregations were contending with each other, the remnants of the orthodox party who had not joined with .the members of the Anshai Emith in organizing Beth Israel, continued to conduct their own worship in halls as best they could.
In the year 1896 the temple of Anshai Emith was destroyed by fire and, for the next two years, various Christian churches were placed at their disposal for worship. But a lot was purchased on the west corner of Monroe and Hancock Streets, where a temple of elegant proportions and built of Lake Superior sandstone, has been erected. The corner-stone was laid on March 2, 1898, and the temple dedicated September 9th of the same year. Rabbi Callisch was the first minister of the United Congregation and served for four years. He was followed by Rev. S.Greenfield and Rev. L. Isenberg, each for two years; Rev. A. Messing for one year, and he by Rev. Charles S. Levi, the present minister. During his ministry the membership has become nearly doubled, while the Sabbath School numbers about ninety. The officers of the congregation at present are Samuel Woolner, President; David Ullman, Vice-President; A. Raffman, Secretary; M. Salzenstein, Treasurer; Jacob Woolner, William F. Wolfner and Jacob Heim, Trustees; William B. Woolner, President, and Milton Newman, Secretary of the Sunday School.
The Congregation Agudas Achim was organized as a strictly orthodox congregation in September, 1897. It has about thirty-five members and 115 additional adherents. They hold regular services twice every day, and on Friday evening and Saturday morning, which are conducted by members of the congregation. They have purchased, at a cost of $3,000, the church building on Monson Street erected many years ago by the Cumberland Presbyterians, and have spent $1,200 in improving the same. They also expect to purchase the cemetery of the old Beth Israel congregation, which they now use.
The first officers of the congregation were Julius Frankel, President; Max J. Cohen, Vice-president; Abraham Jacobson, Secretary, and Jacob Conigisky, Treasurer. The present officers are Nathan Friedman, President; P. Blumenthal, Vice-President; Samuel Lanski, Secretary; Marks Gumbiner, Treasurer.
The United Presbyterian Church, organized in the year 1851, is now numbered among those that have ceased to exist. It was organized as a church belonging to the denomination known as "The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church," which was a union of the Scotch Covenanters and Seceders. The congregation was very weak until about the year 1853, when a young Irishman named Samuel Glover was called to the pastorate. He infused life into the church, so that, in the course of a year, measures were taken to erect a house of worship. At the ex- pense of a vast amount of labor and travel by the pastor, means were raised sufficient in amount to justify its commencement, the building was. erected and placed under roof in the year 1854, and was dedicated December 23, 1855. The building still stands on the corner of Madison Avenue and Liberty Street, the first story being occupied as the police patrol station, and the second floor by the Odd Fellows. At first it was regarded as having one of the finest auditoriums in the city, and attracted a generous attendance upon the church services, lectures and other entertainments. It was in this church that the composer, William B. Bradbury, gave one of his first public renderings of the then New Cantata of "Esther, the Beautiful Queen." Rev. Glover remained as pastor but a few years, when he was succeeded, about the year 1857, by Rev. John S. McCulloch, who continued in the pastorate until about the second year of the war, when he became Chaplain of the Seventy-seventh Regiment Illinois Volunteers, was captured at the battle of Sabine Cross Road, was in due time paroled, was called to the pastor- ate of a church in Harlem, New York, and afterwards to the Presidency of Knoxville College, Tennessee —an institution of learning for freedmen under the auspices ot the United Presbyterian Church-- where he remained, until very recently. He is now a resident of Omaha, Nebraska. During his pastorate the Associate Reformed Church and the Associate Church (both called Seceders) became united under the name of the United Presby- terian Church, a denomination respectable in numbers and having a highly educated ministry. Its distinguishing features are close communion and the exclusive use of scripture psalmody. This congregation was greatly weakened by the war, several of its members and their pastor having gone into the army. After the retirement of Rev. McCulloch from the pastorate, he was succeeded by the Rev. Thomas P. Stevenson, now of the Presbyterian Church of Spring Valley, in Tazewell County. But the church having become weakened by the loss of members, and having overburdened itself with debt in the erection of a house of worship too expensive for its ability to pay, it became unable to support a pastor and soon afterwards became disorganized. The house of worship was sold for debt and now stands as a sad monument of this well-meant endeavor. It first passed into the hands of the "Turners," and has, in recent years, been used by the Salvation Army, and as an armory for some of the military organizations. There are two churches of this denomination in Peoria County, both located in Logan Township. It has a nourishing college at Monmouth.
Adams Street Baptist Church. This church was organized as a mission in May, 1857, through the personal efforts of Rev. Henry G. Weston, Pastor of the First Church. The meetings were at first held in a school-house belonging to Miss L. Wright. On December 12, 1854, the church was formally organized, a lot was secured on which, in 1855, a neat frame house of worship, costing $1,000, was erected on Adams Street between Persimmon and Locust Streets. In 1858, the church had 51 members, its Sunday School had 17 teachers and 150 scholars; H. A. Calkins, an accomplished teacher in the public-schools, was Superintendent, and its library contained 200 volumes. This church continued to flourish and to spread a benign influence over that section of the city for many years, but for some unknown reason it has become extinct.
The Peoria (Park Place) Baptist Church. This church grew out of a schism in the First Church over the temper- ance question, during a time of great excitement in 1877-78. The congregation of the First Church having amended their articles of faith or covenant, so as to require of its members a pledge of total abstinence from the use of intoxicants, three members were expelled for refusal to comply. Twenty-seven others immediately with- drew and the thirty met on September n, 1878, and organized a new church on more liberal principles. William Bastow, Sr., James H. Sedgewick, Thomas Petherbridge, William B. Carson, John H. Hall, Charles Robinson and James E. Pillsbury were elected the first Board of Trustees and authorized to purchase a lot on which to erect a house of worship. They selected a lot on Fifth Street, extending to Park Place, on which, with much zeal and enthusiasm, a church with a seating capacity of 300 was erected. A Sunday School of 125 members was organized and the church soon doubled its membership. But after a few years its zeal began to abate, and it is now numbered with the extinct churches.
Cumberland Presbyterian Church. A church of this denomination was organized
on March 3, 1855. Rev. S. T. Stewart was their first pastor. They erected a
small brick church on Monson Street between Fourth and Fifth. The church seemed
to prosper for a while under the ministrations of Rev. Stewart and one or two
successors, having a membership of 45 in 1858, and a Sunday School of 18
teachers and 85 scholars, with a library of 600 volumes. Little is known of its
subsequent history. Its church— which is the only remaining relic of its
existence—first passed into the hands of the Episcopalians, the worshipers there
being known as St. John's Parish, with Rev. John Benson, Rector, after which it
was sold to the Jews, by whom it is still occupied.
From Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Edited by David McCulloch, Vol. II; Chicago and Peoria: Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1902.
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