Illinois Baptist Preachers, 1830-1835
Besides those already mentioned, or who were in some way connected with the State Convention, there were in the '30's many active Baptist ministers whose names and work should. not be forgotten. Chester Carpenter was one of the earliest preachers in southern Illinois. He helped organize the Muddy River Association in 1820, and the Franklin Association in 1841. Soon after that, to our sorrow, he yielded to his antimission environment, and met no more with the true primitive Baptists.
William Rountree, of the Nine Mile Association, came to Illinois from Kentucky in 1817, and preached regularly as long as he was able to travel. He died in 1856.
Theophilus Sweet came from New York to Illinois in 1820, and was ordained by "Middle Fork of Muddy River" church in 1824. Most of his active life was spent in Sangamon county, the last ten years in Scott county. He died at Winchester in 1856.
William Rondeau came from England to Pope county, Ill., in 1820. He began preaching soon after he came, and continued until his death in 1842. He was an able and useful but very eccenttic man. His home was on a little island in the Ohio river, near Golconda.
Jesse Ellidge was from Jacob Bowers' neighborhood in Kentucky, and came to Illinois in 1822. He was one of the constituent members of Winchester church. In 1832 he removed to Pike county, where his subsequent life was spent and where he died in 1875. He was a faithful and laborious itinerant preacher.
Seare Crane emigrated to Illinois from Ohio in 1823. He was ordained in 1824 by a council of which J. M. Peck was moderator. His work was mostly in Greene county. He was a good man. He died in 1847.
James Solomon was from Kentucky, and removed with his parents to Morgan county, Ill., in 1824. He was baptized in 1829, the first baptism in Apple Creek-and began to preach the following year. His work was chiefly in Macoupin county. He was surrounded by anti-mission prejudices, but firmly stood for the command of the Lord to give the gospel message to the world. He died in 1881.
Peter Rodgers was born in New London, Conn., in 1754, and spent the early part of his life as a sea captain and in naval service. He was ordained in 1789, and in 1828 emigrated to Monroe county, Ill. He was an unusually successful preacher, especially in evangelistic work. He was a son-in-law of Zadok Darrow. He died in Waterloo, in 1849.
Ebenezer Rodgers was one of three brothers, all of whom became Baptist preachers. He was born in Monmouthshire, England, of Welsh parentage, in 1788. In 1818 he emigrated to Kentucky, in 1819 to Missouri, and in 1834 to Illinois. He was returning at this time from a visit to his native land and stopped a few weeks at Alton, with the result that he was called to the pastorate of the two Alton Baptist churches, and accepted. After one year he became pastor at Upper Alton alone. During his pastorate of four years the church trebled in membership, and erected a stone meeting house. He made his home there to the end of his life, in 1854, preaching for churches in the vicinity.
John Browning came to Illinois from Tennessee about 1804. He was baptized in 1831, the first baptism in Big Muddy river; and was soon after ordained. He was a good and useful man. Most of his preaching, as was the custom in those days, in many localities, was at his own charge. He died in 1857.
William McPherson was born in Tennessee in 1809, and began to learn to write by making letters in the sand along the shore of the Tennessee river. In 1829 he removed to Virginia, and in 1831 to Illinois, DeWitt county. He was a licensed Methodist preacher, and was ordained as pastor of the Clinton Baptist church, which office he retained acceptably for eleven years. He died a poor man in 1860, leaving a family of nine children to the covenant promises of God.
Jacob V. Rhoades was born in Kentucky in 1793, and immediately following his ordination in 1831 he came to Illinois, Macoupin county. He helped to organize Mount Pleasant church, in Shipman township, and was its pastor for twenty-seven years. He was a godly, earnest, energetic man and minister. He died in 1872.
Peter Long was born in Kentucky in 1804. His father and two of his uncles were Baptist preachers in Virginia. While he was a boy his parents removed to the wilds of Indiana and there, chiefly by self study, he obtained what education he had. In the fall of the year he gathered the forked tubers of the American ginseng, for which there was a good market, and which grew wild in some parts of the Indiana woods. He
carefully saved the money obtained in this way to buy books, as readers and histories. When nineteen years of age he accepted Christ as his Saviour, and his reading changed to standard religious works, such as he could obtain. When his library became large he set apart half of it for himself, and the other half as a circulating library for the use of his neighbors. In 1831 he removed to Bond county, Illinois, and was ordained there in 1832. In 1833 he aided in organizing the Mount Nebo Baptist church, near Greenville, and was its pastor for forty- three years. He did also much itinerant work, and under his preaching "many were added to the Lord." He had a wide influence, as is usually the case where a pastor remains long with one church. He published for many years the "Western Evangelist," a monthly; also at different times the "Advocate," and the "Pioneer Preacher," two quarterlies. He issued besides several collections of hymns. He died at a good old age in 1891.
Many other Baptist ministers in the state were serving their Lord as best they might during this period, but some were known only over a small territory, and of others no records have been preserved. The pioneer preacher, between his week day toil for bread and his Lord's day toil to carry the bread of life to others, had little time for records. Unless the facts of his life were gathered up for his funeral and preserved, his memory gradually perished from among men. Yet at the last it matters little. The truly valuable records are those which the Lord is keeping that he may know what to give each servant when he returns. He who is thus remembered will be no loser, though he drops out of human remembrance. "Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know thai your labor is not in vain in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 15:58. ==============
[Additional bios in the next chapter.]
[Edward P. Brand, Illinois Baptists -- A History, 1930, pp. 135-137. -- Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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