Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
St. Paul Church
From The Journal-Standard (Freeport, IL), Saturday, June 7, 1997, page 28:
Family of Faith: Rural church marks 150 years, by Harriett Gustason
Curiously, one of the greatest fears for early German settlers here was that of losing their "German-ness." There were 15 German families who came to Stephenson County in 1847 beset by that apprehension. They came resolved to hold onto their language and their culture. These brave souls had survived weeks on the wild Atlantic, but were braced against what was to them an equally formindable fate - that of facing the "English," as they designated almost everyone else. The small but resolute band, like others from their homeland, came with the idea of setting up a "little Germany" in this their new habitat. Having a church was one of their foremost and most urgent needs.
We learn these things from a book put out this year by St. Paul United Church of Christ, a rural church nestled picturesquely on Epleyanna Road near Davis. The volume commemorates the church's 150th anniversary of founding. A committee of six, headed by Merl Niedermeier, put the history together in a beautiful hardback book, "St. Paul United Church of Christ, Family of Faith." Others on the committee were Mabel Bechtold, Marie (Merl) Niedermeier, Dorothy Schlueter, Josie Schlueter and Sherry Meinert. It contains many comments from church members, both humorous and touching. This weekend, families of the church, many of them descendants of that first little troop, will gather to punctuate the anniversary. Bechtold tells us those 15 families had been of the Evangelical faith in Germany. Their goal here was to establish a place "to worship God; to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ; ...promote Christian fellowship and unity; ...render loving service toward mankind; and strive for righteousness, justice, and peace." But they found on their arrival that no church similar to the one they left behind existed in Rock Run township. A small settlement known as Mount Pleasant had formed in the vicinity in 1836 when Thomas Turner of Freeport built a mill along nearby Rock Run Creek. But Turner sold the mill to some Epley brothers, James, Conrad, and John. In 1854 the Epleys built another mill and a village grew around it. It was named Epleyanna for Anna Epley, one of the Epley daughters.
But, we're told, "the scenic town, with its Old World flavor, its creek, cliff and curving hillside roads began to decline after the railroad bypassed it for Rock City and Davis." This, however, did not discourage the Germans who planted a church there within "buggy-riding or walking distance" of their homesteads. The tightly-knitted cluster had first formed their own unaffiliated group and called it the German Evangelical St. Paul Congregation at Rock Run. First worship services were held in homes and were led by Herman Vehmeier, a layman. The next year, "a home missionary," the Rev. Ernest Beine, who also assisted churches in Freeport and Eleroy, served the Epleyanna church. By 1849, just two years after their arrival, the congregation eagerly set about fulfilling their dreams by building a house of worship. Stone was quarried nearby and members provided the labor to build on land donated by Franz Meier. This building, added to in 1860, served as the church until 1885 when the dedicated body build a new frame church. A new school had been built near the church in 1861 and additional land purchased in 1866.
It was in 1854 that St. Paul Church had its first full-time minister, the Rev. Herman Quinius. The congrgation has provided a parsonage for its clergy since 1854. The current one was built in 1890. The German Evangelical Synod of North America, had in 1877, urged churches to establish and maintain German parochial schools to teach and perpetuate the German Bible and language. Followers were warned, "if the German language were surrendered, all would be lost." But some churches were losing younger members due to exclusive use of the German language. Realizing the need, some of the German churches had by the late 1800s succumbed to the trend and were already translating the Evangelical catechism into English. For some years there was a bilingual catechism - one page in German, and the facing page in English. The mixture of languages and the dominance of English in the local culture was growing ever more troublesome to the younger generation. But the die hards, clinging to their original beliefs, thought it to be critical that the German churches in America edcuate their young in their native language. The Epleyanna church maintained a German school until the early 1920s. There are living members who attended the German school when it was later moved to the original stone church. One unnamed member recalls at times there were up to 50 children attending. The schoolmaster also served as custodian, church organist and choir director.
The children were taught reading, writing, catechism and Bible history. Later mathematics and language were added. The children were also drilled in marching and required to present programs for the annual church picnic held in the timber across the road from the church. Later vocal music was added to the curriculum. A wrong note was often rewarded by a rap on the fingers, one member noted. The school was financed by contributions from church members. When the new frame church was built, the old stone structure was taken over for a school house, a purpose it served until 1923. From then until 1958 the stone building was used for Sunday School, meetings, dinners and choir practice. It was torn down in the fall of 1958.
The cornerstone for the second church was laid June 24, 1885. A mere 7 1/2 months later, the dedication service was held. The new church was 44 by 70 feet and had a 140-foot tower. Its steeple dominated the landscape until it was taken down about 1920. A newspaper article called it "one of the handsomest frame churches in this part of the country." It had chandeliers from the C. H. Little Co. of Freeport. Seats were made at the Bamberger and Pfender mill, and the pulpit was "ample to accommodate a goodly number of clergymen and others." The cost of the church was $7,000. A Freeport newspaper of May 20, 1897, told of a service at Epleyanna at which 130 carriages and buggies were present. The frame church "served with distinction and grace along with the stone schoolhouse." In 1934 members dug and enclosed a basement under it which would serve for a dining hall and Sunday school rooms.
In 1952 the santuary was redocrated and remodeled with new pews, hardwood floors and carpeting. The old stone church was removed to make way for a proposed Sunday School addition. But the holiday services at the end of 1958 marked the end of an era, for on Jan. 30, 1959, the 74-year-old frame church burnt to the ground leaving its devoted members in dire shock. The cause was never found. However, "The tragic fire," Bechtold said, "only drew people closer in their resolve to carry on. Almost immediately, the unanimous decision was to rebuild on the site, near the cemetery." Two days later, Feb. 1, 1959, church services were held in the two-year-old gymnasium of Dakota High School where SUnday services continued until Jan. 31, 1960, when Youth Sunday was held in a brand new church building. Hospitality around the area was "much in evidence that year" Bechtold wrote, "as homes, schools, and neighboring churches offered their facilities for meetings, rehearsals and other activities."
Groundbreaking for the new structure of "contemporary" design took place on April 5, 1959, and the cornerstone laid June 24 of the same year. Financial support was generous, we learn, and the debt was retired in 1971. "There is something solemn and sweet about a church bell heard across the miles," said Bechtold. In 1869, a bell was purchased by St. Pual but that was lost sometime over the years. "But the bell that hung in the tall steeple in 1886 is still happily very much with us, as a link to the past, although diminished in tone. "Its inscription reads 'Ich rufe die Lebendegen zur Andacht: und die Toten zur Ruge.' Translated, it means, 'I call the living to worship, and the dead to rest.' Then, it adds the young men of St. Paul's presented the bell in 1886 A.D. to the church."
For the next 63 years, Bechtold says, the bell rang out regularly to begin Sunday School, church, and special services. It tolled to announce a death - once for each year they had lived - and some ministers rang the bell at 6 p.m. Saturdays to announce the coming Sabbath. St. Paul Cemetery, "a serene and reverent place, is held in affection and rememberance of many friends and family who rest there." Benjamin Epley who died in 1850 at age two months was the first marked grave in the cemetery. Since then, there have been approximately 1280 burials there.
Bechtold tells us that as St. Paul church entered the 20th century, "We were still very rural, very traditional; very German." But time changes all things, denominational mergers have taken place, English language has supplanted the German, and families of varying international origins have joined the body of worshippers. Neither language nor nationality are barriers and all those tenacious members of St. Paul's United Church of Christ still faithfully strive to adhere to those original
goals: to worship God; to preach the gospel; promote Christian fellowship and unity; and render loving service toward mankind. No wonder they've lasted 150 years.
A delightful party was given at the Emmert Tea room in Freeport Tuesday night by the Willing Workers class of the Methodist church of Davis in celebration of its 20th anniversary. A delicious three-course dinner was served at 7 p.m. to 54 members and guests. After the dinner the toastmistress, Mrs. Emmerson Hofmeister, took charge of the program, which opened with the singing of the class song, "More Like The Master," with Mrs. Myriah Bliss at the piano. This was followed by a prayer by Mrs. J.M. Beck.
Mrs. Anna Meinert, who has attended the Methodist Sunday School for more than 50 years, gave the history of the class. She told that the class was organized January 6, 1919, with seventeen charter members, twelve of whom were present for the anniversary celebration. The first president of the class was Mrs. Mary Arnsmeier; secretary, Mrs. Anna Meinert, and treasurer, Miss Eliz DeGunther; the charter members, Mrs. Mary Arnsmeier, Mrs. Anna Meinert, Miss Ella DeGunther, Miss Mildred Arnsmeier, Mrs. Lida Meier, Mrs. Elsie Afflerbaugh, Mrs. Florence Alberstett, Mrs. Florence DeGunther, Mrs. Myriah Bliss, Mrs. Edna Price, Mrs. Louisa Rutter, Mrs. Evelyn Bradley, Mrs. Verna Raymer, Mrs. Nettie Lapp, Mrs. Enita Schoch and Stella Glaim.
In behalf of the class Mrs. Meinert presented Mrs. Arnsmeier who has taught the class for over 25 years, with a lovely bouquest of carnations. Mrs. Arnsmeier responded, expressing her appreciation.
Miss Mary Etta Nott, of Freeport accompanied by Miss Fritzenmeier, sang three lovely solos. Mrs. Martin Fritter, also of Freeport, gave two readings which were enjoyed. Mrs. R.L. Bradley read several poems, Rev. J.M. Beck gave a short talk. The program closed with the singing of "Blest Be The Tie That Binds." Each charter member present was presented with a jonquil by Mrs. Verda Mulhal, chairman of the decorating committee.
In the twenty years the class has been organized two members have passed on. They were Stella Glaim and Beatrice Lensgraf. Those present were Mr. and Mrs. William Arnsmeier, Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Armstrong, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Brenneman, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Brach, Mr. and Mrs. Russell Coffin, Mr. and Mrs. E.R. Ditzler, Mr. and Mrs. M.H. Hoover, Mr. and Mrs. E.H. Hofmeister, Mr. and Mrs. George Horton, Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Haas, Mr. and Mrs. M.H. Alberstett, Mr. and Mrs. Edward DeGunther, Mr.a nd Mrs. H.A. Raymer, Mr. and Mrs. R.E. Rutter, Rev. and Mrs. J. M. Beck, Mr. and Mrs. R.L. Bradley, Mr. and Mrs. L.O. Meier, Mrs. Verda Mulhal, Mrs. O.J. Buticofer, Mrs. Elsie Afflerbaugh, Miss Flora Stegner, Mrs. Anna Meinert, Miss Mildred Arnsmeier, Mrs. Emma Howard and guest, Mrs. Myriah Bliss, Mrs. Lillian Roenneberg, Mrs. Neva Warburg, Miss Jean Warburg, Mrs. Jessie Guehring, Mrs. Edna Price, Mrs. Ada Nath, Mrs. Anna LaFurge, Mrs. Esther Helmts, Mrs. Martin Fritter, Miss Marietta Nott and Miss Fritzenmeier. [Journal Standard 2 February 1939]
Embury Methodist church
Rev. Forrest W. Hoisington, who was appointed pastor of Embury Methodist church at the recent session of the Rock River conference of the Methodist church, will deliver his first sermon here next Sunday morning. He comes to the Freeport charge from the First church of Elgin. ..........The new pastor was educated at Lawrence college in Appleton, Wisconsin., and at Harvard university, where he received the degree of bachelor of sacred theology in 1924. Mrs. Hoisington is a graduate of the college for women at Brown university and holds a master's degree from Radcliffe. Before her marriage, she was a member of the faculty at Vassar college. Both Mr. and Mrs. Hoisington come from Methodist parsonage homes. They have three daughters, Ann, the eldest, will be a sophomore next year at Cornell college, Mt. Vernon, Ia. The second daughter, Mary Ellen, will be a sophomore in Freeport high school and the youngest, Barbara, will be in the second grade. [Contributed by Karen Fyock -- June 23, 1944]
First Baptist church
The cornerstone of the new First Baptist church building at the southeast corner of West Empire street and South Blackhawk avenue will be laid Sunday afternoon at a 3 o'clock ceremony. Articles of interest and historical value will be placed in the cornerstone. Guest speaker will be Dr. B. E. Allen, pastor of First Baptist church at Rockford for the past 27 years. Rev. N. A. Wiens, minister at the local church since October of 1945, says that Dr. Allen has served Baptist churches in Illinois longer than any other minister in the state. In February of 1950 committees of First Baptist church completed arrangements for purchasing the West Empire street site. The property has 176 1/2 feet frontage on Empire and is 290 feet deep. Ground was broken last February for the colonial type church. On the building committee are M. H. Bolender, chairman; Clarence Bittner, vice chairman; A. J. Roskam, Harold Brenner and Edward Brown, Jr. The former church property on West Stephenson street was sold last October for $25,000 to Western States Mutual Automobile Insurance company. Razing the church and the educational building next door west began in April of this year. Since that time the 749 member congregation has been holding service at the Y.M.C.A.
First Baptist church was organized in December of 1845 by 14 families led by Rev. James Schofield, pastor of a Baptist church in Bristol, west of Aurora. He had come to Illinois from Chautauqua county, New York. The first place of meeting was the court room of the old wooden court house which stood on the site of the present stone structure. Because the Presbyterians and Methodists were using the same room the Baptists conducted their meetings Sunday afternoon or Sunday evenings. In the fall of 1846 a stoneroom in the west part of Freeport was fixed up and services were held there, but soon the place of meeting was changed to a brick schoolhouse in the southeast part of town. D. A. Knowlton, Sr., donated a lot for a new church building where St. Joseph's Catholic church now stands on the south side of Washington place. Cholera practically wiped out the members of this little Baptist church in 1854. In June, 1862, the church sold its property on Washington place to the German Catholic society and purchased a 60 foot lot on Stephenson street west of Cherry. The first building on this site burned December 26, 1875. For nearly a year following, services were held in the lecture room of the Presbyterian church. Then the Baptists voted to build again. In June, 1876, the new structure was begun. The lower rooms were finished Dec. 3. On June 29, 1879 the entire building was finished and dedicated. The sum of $14,000 had been expanded on the work. During the fall of 1905 and the early part of 1906 the meeting house was extensively remodeled at a cost of $3,419. The front entrance and the front floor were lowered, eliminating several steps. New carpet, pews, lighting fixtures and windows were installed. That remodeled church served the congregation until this last year when it was sold to Western States Mutual Automobile Insurance company. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - September 28, 1951 clipping
First Baptists Lay Cornerstone; Plan To Move In Three Weeks
Several articles of interest and historical value were placed in the cornerstone of the First Baptist church at ceremonies held yesterday afternoon. The Baptists plan to occupy the new building, at the southeast corner of West Empire street and South Blackhawk avenue, ion about three weeks. Placed in the cornerstone were: A Sept. 28 copy of the Freeport Journal Standard; church constitution; membership list; church bulletins of the special and regular service of Sept. 30; photographs of the property purchased, two pictures of the groundbreaking ceremony and a picture of the old church. Several coins were also placed in the box. They were given by M. H. Bolender, local numismatist and chairman of the building committee. Five 1951 coins - A penny, nickel, dime, quarter and half dollar; one 1851 coin and a widow's mite coin from the time of King Herod were placed in the box. Also a tape recording of the groundbreaking service, given to the church by station WFJS; a list of the building committee members and deacons serving the church report. A white Bible was placed in the cornerstone by Rev. and Mrs. Weins. After the ceremonies the builders, representative for the architect, superintendent of building, foremen and Dr. B. E. Allen, pastor of the First Baptist church at Rockford, who was guest speaker at the ceremonies; were entertained by members of the building committee and Rev. and Mrs. Weins at the home of M. H. Bolender, Benson boulevard. There were about 25 in attendance. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - October 1, 1951 clipping]
Will Build Church -- Congregationalists To Vote At Meeting Held Last Evening
It was a very harmonious and enthusiastic meeting at the East Freeport church last night. After a brief but earnest devotional service, led by Rev. B. M. Southgate, of Toledo, Ohio, the pastor, J. G. Brooks, called the business meeting to order, and Mrs. Charles Smith and Mr. L. N. Darsee were elected trustees, enlarging the board to five, and Mrs. William Rubal was chosen financial secretary of the church, taking the place of Mrs. Wilfong, who has moved to Eleroy. After listening to the encouraging report by the pastor of the success Mr. Southgate and he had met with in starting a subscription for a church,. and being encouraged by what seems to all the evident providence of God in the matter, the church voted to proceed at one to secure a lot and start building. They elected a building committee consisting of the pastor, Messrs. William Rubal, Charles W. Smith, L. N. Darsee and Jacob Brubaker. Mr Brubaker, though not a member of this church, lives in the immediate vicinity and is so sincerely interested in this greatly needed work that at the earnest and unanimous request of those present he has consented to help this committee. After careful consideration of several lots of almost equal desirability it was decided to purchase the southwest corner of Taylor avenue and Sheridan street, a most ideal location for a church for East Freeport. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - Freeport Daily Journal June 25, 1909 clipping]
First Lutheran Church
Mrs. Weir, who is 93, has been making baptismal napkins for First Lutheran Church members for almost 12 years. The napkins are all made alike, out of white linen handkerchiefs. Mrs. Weir embroiders a white cross on each one with embroidery floss. One time Mrs. Weir bought three dozen handkerchiefs at a time. Those little 10 cent squares that used to come in handy for stocking stuffers at Christmas now cost 39 or 40 cents. The finished napkins are given to the Rev. Nels Bengston of First Lutheran Church. At baptisms he takes the napkin out of the envelope and dabs the extra water off the infant, then gives the napkin to the family to keep. Mrs. Weir encloses a handwritten note with every handkerchief. Mrs. Weir has been a member of First Lutheran Church for 72 years. The Weir's son, LeRoy, lives in Freeport also. He'll be 69 in March. She and her husband have been married for 69 years and were honored on their wedding anniversary last June with a reception at the church. Mr. and Mrs. Weir have attended every meeting of the True Vow Keepers Club, an organization for persons married 50 years or more. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - Freeport Journal Standard clipping February 23, 1974]
Improvements to be Made at First Methodist
Church People to Spend $10,000 on Edifice in Near Future
During the next few weeks, when the church services are somewhat interrupted on account of the vacation season, extensive improvements and repairs are to be made in the property of the First Methodist Church of this city, Although considered the most modern church in Freeport at the time of its construction, sixteen years ago, the proposed improvements will include up-to-date vacuum steam heating system, the redecoration of the entire interior of the church, the enlarging of certain of the appointments to meet the demands of greatly increased attendance and departmentalization in the SUnday school, some remodeling of the pipe organ and the installation of an electric blower, and extensive repairs or remodeling of the main entrance to the auditorium. The trustees have recently added to the property a fine large garage for the pastor's car, and made other attractive improvements on the interior of the parsonage. These enterprises for the year are involving something over $10,000 expenditure. When this amount is considered in the light of a constantly increasing local expense budget, and the magnificent loyalty shown by the First Methodist people through their Centenary offerings to world missions, it speaks largely and well of the flourishing condition of the church. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - July 10, 1920 clipping]
The Presbyterian congregation was not the first religious denomination to be formed in Freeport, for in 1837 the Rev. James McKean, a traveling missionary, began to hold services here. But it was not until 1850 that this city was organized into a separate Methodist charge, with the Rev. J. F. Devore as pastor. Services were the held in the old court house, in homes of members, and in the red schoolhouse. In due time a building fund was started, and many farmers in the county contributed irrespective of denomination; work began, the pastor, himself hauling materials with an ox team; and in 1851 the half-finished building was dedicated. It was a mere shell, for most of the material had been donated and there was no money to finish the interior. There were no pews and the congregation sat on rough benches. But in 1855 the building standing on the site of the present structure, was finally completed and properly equipped. Then followed a period of comparative progress, until in 1863 some ___ members withdrew to launch the Embury church. However, spirited revivals soon filled the gap, and under the leadership of the Rev. W. C. Willing, who came in 1864, the church building was enlarged to meet the requirements of the increased membership. The present structure was dedicated in 1905, under the ministry of the Rev. James K. Shields. He and F. P. Cleveland, C. E. Mandeville and Delos M Tompkins are among the most prominent who have served as pastors of the church. [Contributed by Karen Fyock September 17, 1932 clipping]
Mennonites to Hold Picnic Tuesday at Shannon
The annual Fourth of July joint meeting of the Science Ridge and the Freeport Mennonite congregations will be held tomorrow at the Brethren church, Shannon. Last year the meeting was held at the Science Ridge church and was largely attended. The general public is invited. The moderator of the meeting is William Pfile and the chorister is C. C. Meck, both of Freeport. The committee has arranged the following program which is to start at 10 o'clock in the morning. Devotions led by Rev. Mr. West of Shannon; special music, address "Christianity the Twofold Citizenship". Rev. A. C. Good, Sterling, special music; address; "Experience of a City Missionary" Rev. A. H. Leaman, Chicago; quartet, Conrad sisters, Sterling. A lunch will be served at noon and the afternoon session will start at 2 o'clock. Devotional service will be conducted by S. E. Graybill of Freeport; quartet Conrad sisters; address, "Against These There Is No Law." Rev. A. C. Good, Sterling; men's chorus, address, "The Church and Its Future," Rev. A. H. Leaman; men's chorus; doxology and benediction. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - July 1, 1933]
Second Presbyterian Church
New Church Cost $35,000 - Commodious structure Rises from Ashes of Old Second Presbyterian - Built in Modern Style
No Line of Church Work is Forgotten in Its Design and Construction
The new Second Presbyterian church, erected to take the place of the old house of worship destroyed by fired January 9, 1910, will be formally dedicated next Sunday. The new structure was built at a cash cost of $29,000, and salvage to the amount of $6,000 was saved from the ruins, making the cost in round numbers, $35,000. The church construction was in charge of R. D. Dirksen, an elder of the congregation, who sublet all the contracts. The building plans were drawn to embody every convenience known in modern church construction. There is a pastor's study, ladies' waiting rooms and separate rooms for the Sunday school classes. The dining room and kitchen in the basement are models in every particular, a large fire place in the dining room, which will seat several hundred, being one of the attractive features. Several large dressing rooms have been constructed in the basement. The lecture room, seating 200, adjoins the auditorium on the main floor and these two rooms can be thrown together by means of a sliding panel. The large room, inclusive of the gallery and organ loft, will seat 560. On the gallery floor is located the ladies' waiting room, also the senior Sunday school rooms. Arrangements have been made so that each class can enjoy privacy, although in the same room. the primary classes will meet in the lecture room on the first floor. The pastor's study is located in the rear of the church and will be accessible from the pulpit. Some of the contractors who assisted in the construction of the church and their trade follows: Sluiter & Brauer, woodwork; Evans, plumbing; Trunck & Dowling, brick; F. W. Ridgway, electric wiring: C. E Schonbach, decorating. The church occupies a commanding and convenient location at a point where three thoroughfares meet - South Galena avenue and Oak and Pleasant streets. Presenting a handsome exterior and a beautifully finished interior, the edifice tells both the liberality of the congregation and the taste and skill of the designers and workmen.
The programmes printed for the dedicatory services contain also the following brief history of the church:
History of the Church
The church was organized by the regular committee of Rock River Presbytery (which then covered all of northern Illinois) Oct. 30, 1847. There were 27 charter members. The three first elders were A. H. Kerr, Samuel Dickey and James W. Barber, and the first trustees, Joseph F. McKibben, Samuel Milliken and John Swanzey. The first building was begun in the fall of 1850 and dedicated free of debt in 1854. It cost $6,000, $900 of which was from abroad, $125 being from the board of church erection. A Sabbath school was organized in 1850 and has always been a prominent activity of this church. In 1895 the second building was erected, the old building being no longer adequate fort the needs of the growing congregation Rev. J. D. McCaughtry was then pastor. This building cost $18,000 and was a beautiful structure serving well the needs of the church for fourteen years, when it was destroyed by fire on Sunday morning January 9, 1910. The building which is dedicated today cost approximately $35,000, and was designed and built (as was the one which burned) by R. D. Dirksen, an elder of the church. The membership of the church, in the sixty-four years of its history, has increased from the original 27 to 485, and the Sunday school from a little handful to 300. The Presbyterian churches located at Cedarville and Dakota are largely the outgrowth of the labors of this church having been supplied with her pastors, and when organized largely made up from her membership. The building of this magnificent structure which is dedicated today, was made possible by the generosity not only of the members but by many other friends of the church in Freeport, also by a gift of $1,500 from Andrew Carnegie, to be applied upon the pipe organ. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - April 7, 1911 clipping]
It was while the pall of discouragement lay upon the organizers of the First Presbyterian church the the Second of this denomination was launched. Perhaps it was thought that the First would never revive. At any rate, in October, 1847, 27 spiritually zealous people, -- among them the John VanDykes, the Wm. Lambs, the J. F. McKibbens -- organized a new church, and the following July called a pastor, the Rev. John Ustick. Within three years the membership had so increased that a building was required, which was completed in 1851 and dedicated three years later. This little church , which stood on the site of the present one, served for 44 years. During the pastorate of the Rev. J. D. McCaughtry, who came here in 1890, it was replaced by a larger edifice, which was dedicated in 1896. In January, 1920, this comparatively new building was totally destroyed by fire, but the spirit of the membership remained undaunted and the building of a new church, the present one, was immediately begun. The Rev. Frank A. Hosmer, Rev. H. M. Markley, and the Rev. R. E. Chandler were some of its best known pastors. [Contributed by Karen Fyock - September 17, 1932 clipping]
The Delta Chi class of the Second Presbyterian church enjoyed a meeting last night at the home of Mrs. E.E. Adamson, 255 West Broadway, 16 members and two guests attending, Mrs. W.R. Oswalkt, the president presiding. The devotions were led by Mrs. Frank Davis. Delicious refreshments were served at the conclusion of the program of the evening, assistant hostesses being Mrs. Thurm Van Matre and Miss Genevieve Glasser. [Freeport Journal Standard 28 May 1938]
St. John's Evangelical Church
The trustees of the St. John's Evangelical Church, South Galena avenue and Union street, will soon make the award of a contract for an addition to be built at the north end of the edifice, at an estimated cost of $10,000. It will be of stone and conform to the general lines of the church as now erected. The addition will be 30 by 60 feet and will extend to the lot line in Union street. To make room for the improvement, the parsonage will be moved further north on the same lot. The choir and organ loft will be in the new part. Ten feet of space will be for the choir and thirteen for the organ. At the rear there will be a passageway of three feet. Large stone piers or buttresses will be built on the east and west sides of the church. They will be similar in design to the imposing piers at the First Presbyterian church. The corners of the new addition will be of stone place in circular shape, the design being the same as at the front portion of the church. Members of the St. John's church have been feeling the need of a larger edifice for some time and decision was reached during the winter to proceed with the work this season. It is a wealthy congregation and the funds for the improvement are said to have been raised in two days. The original stone church was built in 1856. It was repaired and remodeled in 1887. Ten years later other extensive improvements were made, a new front entrance being built, and the steeple was rebuilt and its height increased. The Rev. Daniel Bierbaum is the efficient pastor. [May 17, 1916 clipping]
St. John's Lutheran Church
Fourteen people met September 1, 1888, at the home of John S. Boop to organize a Lutheran Church in Pearl City. A constitution was signed and a building committee appointed. Mr. A. E. Eby donated the lot at South Main and DeVore. In forty days a cornerstone was laid, and seventy-two days later the church was dedicated. The small congregation had been meeting in the Opera House. Members of the Kent Lutheran Church contributed over one-third of the cost of $1,159.24 for church and furnishings. By 1890, because the congregation of 176 needed more room, the church was moved to First and South Streets, its present location. A parsonage was built in 1890. In 1892 a tower was built and a bell from the Forreston Lutheran Church was hung in the belfry. The present parsonage was built in the early 1920's. Rev. Frank Schroer served from February 1, 1924, until his death July 4, 1937. He developed many organizations and activities. In 1936 the Parish Hall was built. The Golden Jubilee was celebrated in 1938. The new church was built in 1949 at a cost of $25,000. Under the direction of Pastor Whitney, the Golden Age community group was formed in 1959. On September 15, 1963, the 75th anniversary of the church was celebrated. St. John's will observe its 87th anniversary in September with over 450 baptized members. Pastor Whitney, who returned in 1972, continues to serve both the Pearl City and Kent parishes. [Contributed by Karen Fyock 1976 clipping]
Cedarville: Rev. H. M. Brannen will lecture in the Lutheran and Reformed church on Friday evening of this week, subject, "Single Life, or Minding Your Own Business." [Unknown newspaper, November 23, 1898 - contributed by Karen Fyock]
Cedarville: Revival services are still going on in the M. E. church under the able readership of Rev. John Roads the pastor. [Unknown newspaper, February 8, 1899 - contributed by Karen Fyock]
Cedarville: Rev. William Canton, presiding elder, preached in the Evangelical church on Sabbath evening. [September 20, 1892 clipping - Contributed by Karen Fyock]
Cedarville: Rev. F. Wetzell will preach in the Reformed Church sabbath morning. [November 22, 1892 - Contributed by Karen Fyock]
Cedarville: Rev. Bear, of Forreston, preached in the Reformed church Sabbath morning, and Rev. Frank Wetzell, of Dakota, will fill the same pulpit in four weeks. December 14, 1892 - Contributed by Karen Fyock]
Miss Baker gave a missionary lecture in the M. E. church Monday evening, to an appreciative audience. [December 14, 1892 - Contributed by Karen Fyock]
Revs. Michaels and Stevens are conducting a revival meeting in the Evangelical Church. Rev. Henry Cullen preached on Monday evening. Rev. Wm. Caton, the presiding elder, is expected to assist in the meetings this week. [6 Feb 1893 - Contributed by Karen Fyock]
The United Evangelical Sunday school elected the following officers: Sam W. Frank, superintendent; Henry Kahley, assistant superintendent; John Fry, secretary; Belle Tobias, assistant secretary; Pearl Spley, organist; Victor Canfil, treasurer; Laura Reamer, librarian; Kathryne Rockey, Chorister. [Unknown newspaper, 11 January 1899 - contributed by Karen Fyock]
The Bible meeting on Sabbath was a success. Rev. J. H. Dillingham, of Arcola, preached the sermon, and Rev. H. Cullen made a plea for the Bible. The society re-elected the old officers, viz. Thomas Bell, president; John Epley, vice president; Henry Richart, secretary; Reuben Siegfried, treasurer and librarian. Local agents - District No. 1, Misses Anna Sills and Metta Rutter; No. 2, Miss Blanche Hutchison; No. 3, Lewis Moses; No. 4, Robert H. Jones; No. 5, John Meyers; No. 6 and 8, Miss Mabel Unangst; No. 7, Mathew Meyers. [unknown newspaper, 19 July 1893 - Contributed by Karen Fyock]
Dutchtown: Baptismal services were conducted by Rev. J. O. Talley at the Bethlehem church Tuesday. [Unknown newspaper, December 28, 1893 - Contributed by Karen Fyock]
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