Bricktown Site of Pioneer Brick Kiln
Dates back to 1835
contributed by Jane Foster

Mrs. M. A. Whisler, wife of the pastor of the Oak Grove Church of the Brethren in the “Bricktown” neighborhood in Cazenovia township, has written the following history of the settlement and the establishment of the church there:

We will go back to the year 1835, when a brick kiln was established about ¼ mile west of the present site of the Bricktown church; an excellent brick was made which the early settlers used. Before this time chimneys were built of wood, sticks and mud.

“The first school house in Cazenovia township was built near the Cazenovia-Partridge township line in 1838, then moved a mile or two east into the settlement known as Bricktown, which derived its name from the brick kiln; here also was a tile shed. This school house was built of unhewn logs and had a wood chimney. A few years later it was moved again ‘across the hollow’ (wherever that is) --- so the Bricktown community built another school house, a frame building, the first of its kind in the township.” (History of Woodford County.)

It was in this school house that Rev. James R. Gish, of Roanoke, (and likely others) came in the 70’s and preached the gospel as understood by his denomination, the “Church of the Brethren,” at that time called the “German Baptist Brethren” (The official name was changed in 1908) They preach no creed, but the New Testament and believe in practicing it literally, and in its entirety.

By the year 1881 an organization was effected with thirteen charter members, as follows: (if we have been correctly informed; old minutes are gone) Mr. And Mrs. Henry Long, Mr. And Mrs. Samuel Holman, Mr. And Mrs. Bernhardt Braun, Mr. And Mrs. John Ivins, Mr. And Mrs. Samuel Henry, Mr. And Mrs. John Lewis and Mrs. Maria Calvert. On going to the records in Eureka, we find that in the spring of 1883 there was recorded a deed for one acre of land from the Michael Wagner farm for the purpose of building a church house, the consideration noted was $40, but it is known that Mr. Wagner gave this to the church. By fall the church was completed, a large crowd being present at the dedicatory service and by vote of the members was named Oak Grove Church, and it has been known by that name in our church literature ever since, but locally it has always been known as the Bricktown Church.

James R. Gish was the first elder and the largest contributor, financially; some years later he donated the lumber to have another room built to the church which was used as a kitchen and later as a Sunday school room. It was in this room that three little girls were playing on the evening of June 6, 1939, and accidentally set the church on fire. The building and its contents were quickly consumed, but the membership which now numbers 78 decided to rebuild at once; work having begun at this date.

Some of the former pastors are: C. S. Holsinger, Samuel Henry, Solomon Bucklew, D. E. Eshelman, J. W. Switzer, Irvin Weaver, Jesse Cook and Daniel Funderburg. The present pastor, M. A. Whisler, came here from Iowa in 1926 and has seen the membership grow from 35 to 78 at present. Let it grow larger and more useful as the years come and go. There is need of a church in this community. May we all work together for the building of Christ’s kingdom on earth!

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