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Isaac McCoy and John M. Peck
Early Frontier Baptist Missionaries
By Edward P. Brand
     The same year that John M. Peck settled at Rock Spring, Isaac McCoy settled at Niles, Mich., among the Pottawatomies. In 1829 he had felt obliged to do as Mr. Peck had done nine years before, cut loose from the mission Board and follow his own judgment rather than their judgment. The greatest obstacle to his work among the Indians was the whisky trader, and he had come to the conclusion that there was no future for the race unless they could be placed by themselves and the roving trader kept out. He had persuaded the government of this fact, and had been to the west as a government commissioner to help locate the Indian Territory. The proposal for such a Territory came first from Mr.McCoy, the first establishment there was under his supervision and he and his family were the first missionaries. So it came to pass that in July, 1829, Isaac McCoy and family; wended their way across the state of Illinois on the old State road from Vincennes to St. Louis. Sickness overtook them, and they were obliged to leave their second son, down with bilious fever, at a friendly home near Salem and push on without him. Friday, July 31, they were due to reach Rock Spring with its substantial frame dwelling house and Seminary buildings. We, would give much to know the details of this chance touching of the paths of the two great foundation builders. Did the travelers pass on without recognition? Did they stop? Did they stay all night? Did they merely accost each other at the gate? It is a theme for a painting; those two veterans who were so mightily molding the west, and yet whose paths lay so diverse. Both men devoted, earnest, resolute. Both acquainted with poverty and hardship. Both called of God to an apostleship; one to the race that was passing out and the other to the race that was coming in. Both earning names that could not die. Peck in his prime, just forty that year; sober, positive, deliberate. McCoy five years older; bronzed with twenty-five years of pioneer life and a dozen years of Indian service, sanguine in temperament, cheerful even in his disappointments. Paint them there. The school and farm buildings on one side of the picture and the covered emigrant wagon on the other, and the two heroes shaking hands over the front yard fence!

      The travelers passed on: Mr. McCoy for seventeen years of further service, and then to lay down his life, and Mr. Peck to continue after that for twelve years. One lies in the old cemetery in the city of Louisville, the other in Bellefontaine cemetery, St. Louis; but both are with the Lord who called them to serve, and their works do follow them.


[From Edward P. Brand, History of the Baptists of Illinois, 1930, pp. 99-100. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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