Photo taken in 1967
Contributed by Delaine Donaldson
The following information about the history of the Christian Church at Perry is quoted from the 1880 Pike County History:
Christian Church -- The first meeting for the organization of this Church took place at the house of Nicholas Hobbs, on the southeast quarter of sec. 29, about the year 1837. Nicholas Hobbs and wife, Abraham Chenoweth and wife, Gideon Bentley and wife, Samuel Van Pelt, Wm. Van Pelt and wife, Wm. Chenoweth and wife and others, met at that time for the purpose of organizing a Church. Samuel Van Pelt, Wm. Van Pelt and Nicholas Hobbs were the officiating Elders on this occasion. Religious meetings were held at different private houses throughout the neighborhood until 1839, when the congregation erected a house of worship. This building was a frame 18 by 24 feet in size, and was located on the southeast quarter of sec. 28, which was in the village of Perry. The congregation was supplied with traveling preachers for a number of years, among whom were Elders Wm. Strong and John Kearl. The first Elders elected at the organization were Nicholas Hobbs, Wm. Van Pelt and Wm. Chenoweth. The first Deacons were Abraham Chenoweth and Gideon Bentley. The principal preaching was done by the Elders for the first few years, when the congregation engaged Elder David Hobbs to officiate as Pastor.
In April, 1843, the great revivalist, Elder Wm. Brown, of Kentucky, held a protracted meeting in this church, lasting over two weeks. The religious fervor produced by his efforts was very satisfactory, and some 80 conversions were made. The old church building being too small to hold the immense crowds that were drawn to hear him, one side was removed and a large shed addition was built, which was capable of holding some 500 people. For the next few years meetings were held in the old building, at the school-house, and occasionally in the Baptist church. In 1851 a more commodious house of worship was built on lot 4, block 1, Thompson's addition. It was 34 by 50 feet, with seats for 400 people, and was erected at a cost of about $2,000. The building committee were James H. Chenoweth, David Johnson and Charles Dorsey. Elder Alpheus Brown for a while previous to this had been regular Pastor. Being a carpenter, he is company with John Reed took the contract for and erected this church. Elder Brown continued his services with the congregation. This building was occupied until 1879, during which time the congregation employed the regular services, as pastors, of Elders Donan, Wm. McIntyre, Samuel Johnson, A. G. Lucas, H. R. Walling, Clark Braden and others. During the labors of these worthy and able men, there was much good done, and many accessions were made to the ranks of the Church.
In April, 1879, the congregation commenced agitating the question of the necessity for and propriety of building a more modern and commodious house of worship. A building committee was appointed with full power to examine and adopt plans for the erection of a suitable building. This committee consisted of Jon Shastid, Alex. Dorsey, John S. Dorsey, Bennett F. Dorsey, Matthias Gregory, Jasper M. Browning, Dr. W. D. C. Doane and James Walker. Jon Shastid was appointed Treasurer of the committee, and Alex. Dorsey and James Walker executive officers. Plans were accepted, contracts made, the work vigorously prosecuted, and the building completed by the first of January, 1880. It is built in the Gothic style, is 38 by 64 feet in size, with an auditorium finely frescoed and furnished, and with a seating capacity to accommodate 500 people. It cost about $4,000, and it is a credit to society and an ornament to the town. The present membership of the congregation is about 330. The Pastor is Elder J. T. Smith, who took an active part in, and was one of the main workers in collecting money for, the erection of the new building. The Elders are Jasper M. Browning, Alex. Dorsey and Bennett F. Dorsey. The Deacons are Wm. Love, Wm. M. Browning, Henry Mays and Edward Wade. Clerk, J. E. Smith, and Treasurer D. S. Rickart. The Sunday-school is conducted by Superintendent J. B. Warton, and has an average attendance of over 100.
Also quoted from 1880 Pike County History are the following biographical sketches of persons who lived in with a Perry post office address and who were members of the Christian Church(probably the Perry Christian Church, though such is unclear).
John Blake was born in Adams Co., O., June 26, 1850; is a member of the Christian Church in Perry. He received a common-school education, and his vocation is farming and stock-raising.
Jasper M. Browning; P. O. Perry; born in this township July 1, 1834, is the son of Caleb and Penelope (Power) B., both of English descent. His father is a farmer, who came to this county in 1833, but at the present time is living in Kansas. Jasper M. is also a farmer on sec. 15, where he owns 140 acres of land. In 1865 he married Rachel Allen, and they have 5 boys and 2 girls. Members of the Christian Church. Republican.
F. M. Cooper was born in Morgan Co., Ill., Jan. 19, 1831, son of G. W. and Mahala (Clayton) Cooper, his father a native of N. C. and his mother of Georgia; is a farmer and plasterer. He was married in 1858 to Artemisia Hobbs; and they have 6 boys and 1 girl, and are members of the Christian Church. Mr. C. is a Democrat, in politics.
Lemuel Calhoun, farmer, sec. 11; P. O., Perry; was born in Tennessee May 30, 1829, the son of Hansel and Harriet (Carpenter) Calhoun; educated in the subscription school; emigrated to this county in 1835, and has living on sec. 11 for 27 years. In 1852 he married Mary Elizabeth Thompson. Of their 6 children 4 are living, all girls. He has been School Director; is an Odd Fellow; owns 138 acres of land, and pays all his debts once a year; is a Democrat. Himself and wife are members of the Christian Church.
D. J. Chenoweth was born in this county Jan. 13, 1848, son of James H. and Artemisia C. (Burkhead) Chenoweth, natives of Kentucky, and of German descent. He owns a farm of 20 acres and runs a meat market in Perry. In 1867 he married Eleanor Dorsey, and they have 4 children living. Both he and wife are members of the Christian Church. He is a Republican.
James H. Chenoweth, one of Pike county's oldest and most respected citizens, was born in Nelson Co., Ky., July 9, 1801. His father, Wm. Chenoweth, went to that State from Virginia when a young man, and took part in many an Indian fight on "the dark and bloody ground." He married the widow of John Hinton, whose maiden name was Mary VanMeter; of this family were 10 children, all of whom lived to be grown: William, Jacob, Abraham, Isaac, Miles, James, Hardin, Letitia, Ruth and James H. Jacob, Abraham and James all came to Pike county and were among its more worthy and substantial pioneer citizens. James H., the subject of this sketch, first came to this State in 1832, stopping for a while in Scott Co., and came to Pike in the spring of 1833, locating on secs. 27 and 28, Perry tp., where he entered 240 acres of land.
He at once erected a double log cabin, in which he lived for several years; he then built the frame house which still occupies the site; 30 acres of this farm Mr. C. laid off in town lots as "Chenoweth's Addition to the Town of Perry." Mr. C. is one of the oldest residents of the county, and is a good example of what industry and economy will accomplish. He is now 78 years of age, and is the owner of between 500 and 600 acres of land in this county, as well as land in Missouri.
Mr. C. was married in 1831 to Artemisia Burkhead, of Nelson Co., Ky. One child, Abraham, was born to them in Kentucky; James H., jr., Mary, Joseph K., deceased, Joseph S., Robert A., Ruth, David J., Jacob V. and Susanna R., deceased, were all born in Pike county; the 8 children living are all married. Three, David, Jacob and Ruth (the latter the wife of Chas. O. Turner) are still living in this county. Mr. C.'s wife died Jan. 4, 1874, and Mr. C. is now living with his daughter, Mrs. Turner. Mr. C. was formerly a Whig, but since the organization of the Republican party he has voted with that party. One of his sons, Robert A., served two years during the Rebellion in the 33d Ill. Inft. Mr. C. is a member of the Christian Church, as also was Mrs. C.; and in the affairs of the Church he has always taken a prominent part. All of his children are also members of that Church.
Mr. C. is familiarly known as "Uncle Jim," and no man in the township is better known, and has fewer enemies. He was always full of fun, and liked to fish and hunt, and enjoy himself in such sport. His average weight is 212 pounds. One of his favorite games was tying men who boasted of their strength. He would take his rope and tell his man that he would tie him, giving him leave to fight or do anything but gouge and bite; that was all he asked of the strongest man, and he never yet failed in his object. He drank whisky with the "boys," and sometimes when alone, from the time he was 16 years old until he was 74. At present he only takes wine.
He thinks he averaged a quart of liquor per day for 57 years; and the other day he figured it up, counting only one pint per day, and it made over 72 barrels, of 44 gallons each! He is willing to throw off 2 barrels in the estimate, which would leave even 70 barrels, or 3,080 gallons. Now, if it cost $2 per gallon, it would amount to $6,160; and if the whisky he has drank were sold at 10 cents a drink, allowing 10 drinks to the pint, it would amount to $24,640; and he thinks he has drank twice that amount, or $49,280 worth of whisky! Perhaps he has given away as much as he has drank, which would make a total expense of $98,560! And he is yet stout enough to round this number out to even $100,000, either by drinking the liquor or giving it away!
W. D. C. Doan, M. D., was born in Ohio April 16, 1828, being the son of William and Susanna (Bennett) Doan, from the Eastern States, his father a physician. The subject of this paragraph began the study of medicine at the age of 18, with his father, who died two years afterward; he then finished reading with his uncle, Dr. Elijah Bennett, in Clermont county, O.; at 22 he commenced practice in this tp. He first came to Pike county in 1848, in 1850 to this tp., where he has since lived. In 1851 he married Rachel Hobbs, and of their 4 children but one is living, Rachel Effie, and they have one grandchild living with them, Mary E. Doan Crawford.
The Doctor owns 215 acres of land. Resides on sec. 10. He is one of the oldest practitioners of the county. In politics he is a Democrat, and both himself and wife are members of the Christian Church. His post office is Perry.
Deacon Alexander Dorsey, the son of Charles Dorsey, was born in Rutherford county, Tenn., Nov. 29, 1824; his father was born in North Carolina in 1795, and was the son of Wm. Dorsey, who served for several years in the Revolutionary war. Oct. 16, 1823, Charles Dorsey married Miss Eleanor Broiles, of his native county. She was born June 25, 1805. Dec. 31, 1828, Mr. Dorsey landed in Pike county and wintered in a board tent. During the following spring he cleared a piece of land on which a portion of Detroit now stands. In the spring of 1831 he moved to Perry township and settled on sec. 24, and was one of the leading farmers and stock- raisers of the county. Alexander Dorsey received his education in Pike county; in the winter of 1845-'6 he made a visit to his old home in Tennessee, where he married Miss Jane Fox, who was born in Rutherford county, Nov. 29, 1829. Mr. and Mrs. Dorsey are both members of the Christian Church, and he has been Elder and Deacon for many years, and was a member of the executive committee that erected the new church building.
B. F. Dorsey was born near the celebrated Mineral Springs of Perry, Nov. 11, 1832; he is the fourth son of Charles and Eleanor Dorsey, the former a native of Raleigh, N. C. Our subject on arriving at the age of 18, was married to Miss Matilda, daughter of Elder David Hobbs, who, as well as his wife, were natives of Kentucky, and came to Illinois in 1829, settling in Scott county; and Mrs. Dorsey was born Oct. 8, 1832. They have a family of two children: Edgar, the elder, was born May 9, 1859, and Asa L., March 22, 1861. Edgar married Anna, daughter of M. B. Chenoweth, Dec. 31, 1877; reside at the old homestead and have a little daughter, Dottie D. Dorsey. Asa married Carrie Clark, May 15, 1879: she was a daughter of Job Clark, a native of Ohio, and she was born in this county.
The sons are engaged with their father, under the firm name of B. F. Dorsey & Sons, in importing and breeding Berkshire and Poland hogs, and Spanish or American Merino sheep, sending stock of this kind to Colorado, Michigan, Mexico, Texas and Pennsylvania.. They have a farm of 387 acres on sec. 22, known as the Wolf Grove stock farm. It is said that they have on this fine farm the champion herd of sheep in America. It consists of 500 thoroughbred Merino sheep, one buck in which herd cost Mr. Dorsey $600, and clipped the past season 28 1/4 pounds of wool; another cost $300. They also have a herd of 100 thorough-bred Berkshire and Poland-China hogs. One of these, "Knight of Gloucester, No. 201," was bought by the firm in England, and is worth $560.
They exhibited at the first fair ever held in Pike county, which was in the year 1851, since which time they have exhibited their stock at some of the leading fairs in Illinois and Missouri, and always successful as competitors. They have taken over 600 prizes within the last four years, never failing to carry off the sweepstakes at each and every fair. At the Illinois State Fair in 1879 they took on their herd nine first and four second prizes, including the breeders and sweepstakes in each class. The breeders on which the prize was given consisted of one boar and four sows. They took it on Berkshires and Polands, which was never done at the Illinois State Fair, or indeed at any other State fair, so far as is known to us.
Mr. D. is a member of the Christian Church, and has been for 32 years. He has served 12 or 15 years as Elder.
Charles Dorsey, son of Alexander and Jane (Fox) Dorsey, was born in Pike county in 1855; he had only the benefits of the common school, and has engaged in farming and clerking. In 1877 he was married to Ada Chenoweth, and they have one girl, Anna.
John S. Dorsey; residence Perry; was born in April, 1830, in this county; he is the son of Charles and Eleanor (Broiles) Dorsey, referred to above; by occupation he is a farmer and stock-raiser; he owns 370 acres of land near Perry, and is counted as one of the leading farmers of the county; he devotes considerable time and attention to breeding fine blooded stock, and makes the Poland-China hog and American Merino sheep a specialty; in this business he is connected with his brother, Alexander Dorsey. In 1857 Mr. D. was married to Mary Hardy, and they have four children two boys and two girls. Mr. D. is a member of the Christian Church, and Mrs. D. of the Methodist Church. He is a member of the Town Board of Perry, and has been for three terms.
John W. Dorsey was born in Pike county, Ill., in 1853, and is the son of Alexander and James Dorsey, nee Fox. Mr. D. owns 110 acres of land on sec. 21, in this township, and is engaged in raising fine stock. Oct. 27, 1872, he was married to Sarah Jane Ham, who was born in Chambersburg township in 1856. Their children are: Izzie Jane, Mary L. and Minnie Bell. Mr. D. is a member of the Christian Church, of Lodge No. 76, I. O. O. F., and Secretary of Perry Grange. Mrs. D. is also a member of the Christian Church.
T. B. Dunn was born in the town of Chambersburg, Pike Co., in 1842, and is the son of Harvey and Phadima (Winegar) Dunn; the former was born in Feb. 2, 1806, and his mother, June 29, 1819. His father died Dec. 28, 1868, and his mother, June 11, 1848. Mr. Dunn received his education in the common schools of this county; from 1864 to 1868 was engaged in the dry-goods business in Chambersburg, since which time he has been engaged in farming. April 5, 1864, he was married to Nancy Jane Banning, daughter of Stephen Banning, one of the pioneers of the county. They have two boys and two girls. Both he and his wife are members of the Christian Church. Among the curiosities which he has in his possession is a mirror which came over in the Mayflower.
Joseph A. Gould was born in the town of Perry, Dec. 28, 1853; his parents were Josiah P. and Lucy C. (Watson) Gould. He received his education in the common schools of this county, and by occupation is a plasterer. At the early age of 16 he began to learn his trade, at which he has worked ever since. In 1875 he was united in marriage with Lydia Burnett: they have 2 children, both girls. He and his wife are both members of the Christian Church in Perry. At present he resides in Griggsville.
Matthias Gregory, farmer, sec. 22. Mr. Gregory was brought to Pike county in 1829, and has seen the vast wilderness transformed into a garden, as it were. There was not a house in the town of Perry or Griggsville at that time. Mr. G. was born in Coffee county, Tenn., Feb. 12, 1822, and is the son of Robert and Nancy (Broiles) Gregory, both natives of South Carolina, and of English descent. He received his education in the log school-houses of Pike county. In 1843 he was married to Mary Chenoweth. They have 5 children, all boys, and 3 of them are married. Both he and his wife are members of the Christian Church at Perry. He is a Trustee of the Church, and a member of the building committee. He has served 15 years as School Director. In 1862 he enlisted in Co. B, 99th Ill., under Capt. Matthews.
David Johnston, dec., one of the earliest and most respected citizens of this county, was born in Wayne county, Va., July 13, 1797, and was a son of Larkin and Mary (Davis) Johnston; he emigrated to Kentucky, where he married Miss Sarah Day, daughter of Joseph and Margaret Day, of Kentucky. In 1826 he came to Illinois, locating in Sangamon county; and in 1828 he located on a farm near Griggsville, Pike county, which he improved, and where he lived for two years; in 1830 he moved to Perry tp., where he resided until his death, which occurred in Sept., 1879, when he was at the advanced age of 82 years, 2 months and 8 days. In 1835 he was elected County Surveyor, and served in that capacity for about 13 years. He and his wife Sarah (Day) Johnston had a family of 9 children, whose names were: Mary, now Mrs. David Winslow, of DeWitt Co., Ill.; Margaret E., now Mrs. H. J. Chenoweth, of Perry; Sarah J., wife of Hinson Hobbs, of Kansas; Minerva A., wife of Wm. Taylor, Perry; Delilia, now Mrs. James Hughes, of Clay Co., Neb.; Harvey D., who married Maria Swakyer, and resides in Mo.; Thomas, who married Mary E. Chenoweth, and lives at Marysville, Mo.; Artemisia, now Mrs. James B. Chenoweth, of Clinton Co., Mo., and Ann Eliza, now Mrs. Thomas Seaborn, of McDonough Co., Ill., Sept 9, 1865, Mrs. Sarah J. Johnston died, and Sept. 14, 1871. Mr. J. married Mrs. Sarah E. Lucas. For some years previous to his death Mr. Johnston was engaged in the mercantile business at Perry. Mrs. Lucas was the widow of J. B. Lucas, her maiden name being Adams. She was born in Harrison county, Kentucky, in 1831. By her last marriage she has one son, David L., born Mar. 15, 1874. Mrs. J. lives with her two sons, David L. and James P. Lucas, a son by a former marriage. Mr. J. was a member of the Christian Church for 28 or 30 years, and led an exemplary life. Mrs. J. is also a member of the Christian Church, and has been for 15 or 16 years.
Joseph Kirgan; residence, Perry; was born in Clermont county, O., April 10, 1829; his father, Thomas Kirgan, was a native of Ireland; his mother, Mary (Fred) Kirgan, was a native of Ohio; parents were farmers, in good circumstances; by occupation Joseph is a farmer and has had some experience in milling; at present he is engaged in business in Perry, and owns a substantial residence in town. He was married Jan. 1, 1863, to Sarah Wilkins, who is a member of the Christian Church. He is a member of the order of Odd Fellows.
John Lake was born in this township in 1853, and is the son of Harvey and Elizabeth Lake. He attended the common schools of this county, receiving a good common-school education. He is now engaged in farming on sec. 10. His post office address is Perry. Jan. 19, 1871, he was joined in the holy bonds of matrimony with Mary Olive Seybold, a native of Minnesota. She is a member of the Christian church. Harvey Lake, the father of our subject, was one of the early settlers of Pike county.
Wm. M. Landess, merchant, dealer in hardware, stoves and tin-ware at Milton, succeeding Long & Riggs in this business in 1871, the copartnership being Landess & Colvin. Eighteen monthsafterward Colvin retired, and the business has since been conducted by Mr. L., who carries a stock of $3,000, and has a lucrative trade. He was born in Highland county, O., March 11, 1839; came to this county in 1863 and engaged in teaching school until he began his business career. He was married Dec. 16, 1866, to Miss Jennie Van Pelt, daughter of William Van Pelt, of Perry. They are members of the Christian Church.
Lemuel Martin, farmer, sec. 11; P. O. Perry. The subject of this personal sketch was born Jan. 21, 1854; his parents are Samuel and Amanda (Rounds) Martin; he was the eldest son of a family of 10 children. There were two daughters, however, older than he. Mr. M. was united in marriage with Mary G. Glines, and they have two children, one boy and one girl. Both Mr. and Mrs. M. are members of the Christian Church in Perry. Politically he is a Democrat.
Jon Shastid was born in Tennessee, June 2, 1827, and is a son of John G. and Elizabeth (Edwards) Shastid, the former a native of Tennessee, and his mother of North Carolina. John came to Pike county in 1836, locating at Pittsfield. In 1862 he moved to Perry. He received his education in the common schools and the Illinois College at Jacksonville.. He followed teaching from 1844 to 1868. He taught three terms in the country and has taught in Pittsfield, Griggsville, Perry, Barry, Mt. Sterling and Lewistown. In 1869 he embarked in the commercial business with his father-in-law, under the firm name of Kockill & Shastid, and they have transacted a successful business. In 1864 Mr. Shastid, was united in marriage with Esther Anna Kockill, and both are members of the Christian Church.
William Taylor, the son of Wm. And Charlotte (Philpot) Taylor, was born in Connecticut in 1838; his parents were natives of England.. He received his education mostly in Pike county, where he came in 1850, and went to Ottawa, La Salle Co., where in 1861 he enlisted in Co. E, 26th Ill. Inf., and was discharged in 1863 on account of disability. He was in the battle of Corinth, Iuka, Parker's Cross Roads, Farmington, and several skirmishes while in Missouri.. Has resided in Perry township Collector for 7 years in succession. In 1865 he was married to Elmira Francis. They have two children, both girls. He is a member of the Christian Church at Perry.
October 10, 2014, this church was destroyed by fire.
(At the scene) - The Perry Church of Christ was built in 1878 and stood majestically near the downtown area of Perry. The church had not been used for services for several years but was well kept and maintained. The materials used to build the church, plus the architectural design made it unique. The church burned rapidly Wednesday afternoon after it was struck by lightning. Eight fire departments were called to the scene but mainly to contain the blaze to the church and protect surrounding structures.
October 8, 2014 1:57 p.m. By BETH ZUMWALT
Lightning is being blamed for a fire that totally destroyed an historic church in Perry last Wednesday, Oct. 1 at about 4:30 .m.
Fire fighters from North Pike, Griggsville, Pittsfield, Baylis and Barry responded to the blaze and the Meredosia, Mt. Sterling and Versailles departments were called to bring water to the scene. One firefighter became overheated and was taken from the scene by the Pike County Ambulance but according to Griggsville Fire Chief Larry Bradshaw, he is believed to be doing fine now.
Bradshaw assumed a leadership role at the scene as North Pike Fire Chief Paul Craig was out of town.
Bill Camphouse, who, along with his wife, Christine, oversaw the church, which had not had a regular worship service for many years, made a key available to the fire fighters.
I got a call from Billy Thiele, who told me the church was on fire,Christine Camphouse said. My husband ran up there with the key.
Bradshaw said he and a few other fire fighters entered the church but the fire was all in the attic and the ceiling.
It was roaring, you could hear it up above, Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw said the ceiling was 18-20 feet high and they had no ladder to reach that high.
The front of that church has leaned toward the street for years, Bradshaw said. We werent going to put ladders up against the front.
While Bradshaw said fire fighters were hampered by not having the proper equipment for the situation, given the churchs age and with the head start, he is not sure the outcome could have been better.
We might have been able to save half of it, Bradshaw said. But that might have just mean the other half would have had to have been torn down. We thought we were lucky to contain the damage to the church and no surrounding structures.
Bradshaw said a ladder truck would cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1 million and the maintenance and inspection fees made it impossible for a rural district to have such a piece of equipment with such a limited need.
It's just not feasible, he said.
Bradshaw said as the fire died down, several departments left.
We were there until about 11:30 p.m., he said. We got a track hoe in there to knock it down and get it all up in one pile. North Pike stayed there for several hours watching it, to make sure it didn't flare back up and endanger any surrounding structures.
The Camphouses say there was insurance on the building and they are working with them to get the rubble cleaned up as quickly as possible.
We are hopeful the bell is salvageable, Christine Camphouse said. There was a cabinet along the south wall and when the wall fell, the cabinet did, also. We were able save the cabinet and the papers inside. There were Sunday School records dating back from 1895 to at least 1920. We haven't been able to go through them yet as they got wet. They are drying in our garage now.
The Camphouses say the building is still smoldering but once it is safe to exam the ruins, they are hopeful of saving the bell and maybe a few other things.
The church was built in 1878 and was a board and batton construction in a carpenter gothic style.
It was very unique,Christine said. There were only three in the state.
The church had been added to the National Register of Historic Places.