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Early Baptists in Madison County, Illinois
By William T. Norton
[p. 340]
      The First Baptist church of Upper Alton was organized April 25, 1830, by Rev. John M. Peck. The original members were: Ephraim Marsh, D. A. Spaulding, Winston Cheotan, Henry Evans, Jas. D. Marsh, Frances Marsh, Juliet A. Spaulding and Rachel Garnett. In 1833-4 there were forty members, thirteen of which were dismissed to unite with others in establishing the First Baptist church of Lower Alton. At various times, later on, other members were dismissed to establish branches in outlying districts. For over two years after organization the meetings were held in the log school house on Main street, later in the brick school house, corner of what is now Clawson and Edwards streets. Next in what is now the old library building of Shurtleff college, still standing. In 1836, through the efforts of the pastor, Rev. E. Rodgers, the erection of a stone church was begun at the corner of College avenue and Seminary street. This building was dedicated in 1837 and stood until 1869, when the present spacious building on the opposite (west) corner was erected at a cost, including furnishings, of some $20,000. The pulpit of this church has been filled by many noted preachers, including Rev. E. Rodgers, J. E. Tolman, John N. Tolman, Justus Bulkley, E. C. Mitchell, R. E. Pattison. N. M. Wood, J. M. Stiller and the presidents and professors of Shurtleff college. At the present time Rev. M. H. Day is ably carrying forward the work and influence of this historic church, which has sent out its missionaries and teachers literally to the ends of the earth.

[pp. 344-5]
      The first Baptist church in Madison county was organized at Wood River May 3, 1807, by Rev. David Badgley and William Jones. It was one of five churches that formed the first Baptist association, called the "Illinois Union." In 1809 the association met with the Wood River church. The first Saturday in July, 1816, the church purchased 1 1/2 acres of land where the meeting house and cemetery were located, from Joseph Vaughn, for $7.50, and Vaughn donated 1/2 acre and twenty rods. This is where the victims of the Wood River massacre were buried and is still known as the Vaughn cemetery.

      The first Baptist church of Edwardsville was organized April 18, 1828, at the residence of Dr. B. F. Edwards, subsequently the home of Judge Joseph Gillespie. The original members were Dr. Edwards and wife, Rev. Thos. Ray and wife, Jacob Gonterman and wife, Eliza A. Fall, later Eliza A. Adams, of Alton. Among the prominent members, a little later, were Paris Mason and John Adams. subsequently sheriff of the county. The first pastor was Rev. T. P. Green.

      The Baptist church of Troy was organized in 1833 by Joseph and James Lemen, with fifteen members. The organization took place at the home of John Lindley, near Silver creek. It was called "The Union Baptist Church of Christ and Friends of Humanity." The latter part of the title was because of its opposition to slavery. In 1846 it was removed to Troy and the name changed to Troy Baptist Church.

      The Mount Olive Baptist church was organized May 31, 1851, by Elders John and J. V. Rhoads. The former was the first pastor, and the first two deacons were Madison Williams and Richard Young.

      The New Hope Baptist church was constituted as early as 1840. It was situated near the present town of Worden.

      The Bethlehem United Baptist church was constituted August 17, 1849, by Elders J. V. Rhoads and R. C. Keele, with twenty-one members. It was situated south of Bethalto. It soon became a strong and flourishing society. Its first building was erected in 1851. Its first pastor was Rev. R. C. Keele, followed by Rev. John Brown for eleven years. He was succeeded by Rev. John R. Jones, grandson of Rev. William Jones. Its membership at one time exceeded 150.

      The German Baptist church of Fosterburg was organized in 1857, with fifteen members. Rev. Carl Schobs was the first pastor. He was succeeded by Rev. Henry Williams, Sr.

      The Pleasant Ridge Baptist church, located near St. Jacob, was constituted prior to 1844, with twenty-five members. Its first pastor was Rev. Joseph Lemen.

      In 1836 or '37 a Baptist church was constituted at Paddock's Prairie, with nine members. Zenas Webster and Elihu J. Palmer, brother of Gov. Palmer, were its first delegates. Mr. Palmer was ordained by this church August 24, 1840, and became its pastor.

      In 1849 the Baptist church at Rattan's Prairie was constituted, with thirteen members. Its pastor was Rev. Ebenezer Rodgers and its delegate, Luther Lyon. It dissolved in 1851.

      The Providence Baptist church was constituted by Rev. E. Rodgers in 1843. Its members were scattered by the flood of 1844 and never reunited.

      The Baptist church of the Forks of Wood River was organized in 1836, with sixteen members, Rev. Aaron Trabue, pastor. It flourished for a time, but was extinct in 1845.

      The Salem Colored Baptist church on Wood river was organized May 3, 1846, with eleven members.


[From William T. Norton, editor, Centennial History of Madison County, Illinois, and Its People, 1812 to 1912, 1912. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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