The earliest Anti-Catholic religious denomination, of which there is any record, was organized in Cape Girardeau county in 1806, through the efforts of Rev. David Green, a Baptist, and a native of Virginia. In 1816, the first association of Missouri Baptists was formed, which was composed of seven churches, all of which were located in the southeastern part of the State. In 1817 a second association of churches was formed, called the Missouri Association, the name being afterwards changed to St. Louis Association. In 1834, a general convention of all the churches of this denomination, was held in Howard County, for the purpose of effecting a central organization, at which time, was commenced what is now known, as the "General Association of Missouri Baptists."
To this body, is committed the State mission work, denominational education, foreign missions and the circulation of religious literature. The Baptist Church has under its control, a number of schools and colleges, the most important of which is William Jewell College, located at Liberty, Clay County. As shown by the annual report for 1875, there were in Missiouri, at that date, sixty-one associations, one thousand four hundred churches, eight hundred and twenty-four ministers and eighty-nine thousand six hundred and fifty church members.
Preachers, Preaching and Churches
We are told that the first preaching services in the Big Country, or portion of Jackson county, was north of the present town of Pleasant Hill, near the present line between Jackson and Cass, the date not remembered; the preachers being James Savage and Joab Powell, both early settlers, both living on the Little Blue, and both Baptists. Powell was quite an illiterate man, but possessed of good common sense, natural ability, a good reputation for honesty and industry, and full of the milk of human kindness. He it was of whom it was said, that he took his text in the two chapter of the 1 John and quoted the epistle of General Peter, instead of the epistle general of St. Peter – a made tale, no doubt.
Old Jimmy Savage was pretty much the same kind of man, never read anything but the Scriptures, and not much there; yet he was a man of note among the early pioneers, for he was one of the oldest of them; and so far as we know, these two did the principal part of the preaching for some years, aided by Jesse Butler, and by Wm. B. Savage and Hiram Savage, licentiates, with an occasional sermon by preachers of other denominations.
The first church or worshiping assembly was constituted by the Baptists on the second Sunday in June, 1832, at the home of Warren Reavis, where A. Amos now lives, Sec. 34, Tp. 47, R. 29; or at the house of Wm. Butler, one mile south of it. It was constituted by Elders Enoch Finch and Thos. Stayton, Finch being from the present Greenton, in Lafayette county, and Stayton from near Independence. James Savage was the first pastor and Warren P. Reavis, clerk.
The earliest records were lost during the war of 1861, and the number and names of those who first went into it are not known.
When the narrator of these incidents first came to the county in 1833, and his father and mother united with that church, it numbered near forty members. Savage was yet pastor and was living on Little Blue; but about that time he sold out his farm and mill there and bought the farm of Isaac Dunnaway, to which he moved in the spring of 1834. Reavis was gone and David L. Cadle was clerk and the most influential member.
In additional to Cadle and wife, the following names are remembered as belonging to the church: Thomas Hamlin and Mary, his wife, William Butler, Sr., and wife, Hiram Savage and wife, Wm. B. Savage, William Warden and wife, Hezekiah Warden’s wife, Catherine Bledsoe, Nancy Hopper and Artilla Hopper. The meetings were held at private homes – most commonly at the house of Thomas Hamlin, where George Rheem now lives, Sec. 25, Tp. 47, R. 30; or at the house of Wm Butler, three miles east of Pleasant Hill. This continued until the year 1837 or 1838, when a log meeting house was built where the cemetery known as the Rheem Cemetery now is on the farm of Fred. Edmundson, Sec. 25. The house was built by the voluntary contributions and labors of the brethren and friends. In 1837 Wm. Ousley, a Baptist minister, moved into the vicinity, and after a time became pastor of the church. It prospered until the year 1841, when it numbered over 100 members. In that year and the year following the question of missions divided it. The Lone Jack Church (first called Basin Knob) and one called Bethel being constituted out of a part of it membership –
Basin Knob in 1842, and Bethel in 1843 or 1844. Bethel dissolved or was merged into other churches several years after.
The old Pleasant Garden church still has a name to live. After Ousley and Savage withdrew from it and formed the Bethel church, Elder Hiram Bowman served as pastor up to the time of his death about the year 1872. Many years ago the church sold its old log house and built a frame building about three miles southeast of Lone Jack, on Sec. 33, Tp. 47, R. 29, where its meetings are yet held. It now styles itself the Regular Predestinarian Baptist Church, and belongs to the Mt. Zion association of Anti-Mission Baptists, and is ministered to by Elders Mercer and McVey. That church, which may with propriety claim to the mother church of all the Baptist churches between Little Blue and the Osage River, numbering now less than twenty members.
Lone Jack Baptist Church
Was constituted October 29th, 1842, by Elders Joseph White, Wm. White, Joab Powell and Henry Farmer. It was constituted with fourteen members, their names as follows: Samuel Cunningham, Wilbourn Cunningham, Stephen I.. Easley, William Hopper, Morris Edwards, David Lynch, Frances Cunningham, Catherine Cunningham, Rebecca Easley, Mary A. Easley, Artilla Hopper, Mahala Fox, Minerva Alexander, the last named being the only one now remaining, Henry Farmer (who with his uncle, John Farmer, both Baptist ministers, came to Cass county in 1837), was called as pastor, and served it as such uninterruptedly for twenty years. During which time it grew from 14 to 212 members. Its first meetings were held in a school house, in private houses, or in the groves until 1849, when a comfortable frame house was built at Lone Jack, and the name of the church was changed from Basin Knob to Lone Jack.
Since Since the close of the Civil War, it has had as its pastors, Jeremiah Farmer, Abram Weaver, A. M. Johnson, Solomon D. Brown, Wm. Farmer, I. B. Jackson, Isaac N. Newman, and the present pastor, F. W. Leonard. It numbers now one hundred and twelve (112).
There are three other Baptist churches in the township, New Liberty, Sni Mills and Willow Spring; all of which, as well as Strasburg, in Cass, Elm Spring, in Johnson, and Concord and Chapel Hill, in Lafayette, mainly grew out of the Lone Jack church.
New Liberty Baptist Church
Was constituted in 1859 with the following members: Abram Koger and wife, Elias Duncan and wife, Thornton Duncan and wife, Jacob M. Adams, Sinai Koger, Alias Lynch and wife, William Godney, Flemming Harris and wife, and Sarah Wood.
A frame house costing $700 was erected in 1859, and dedicated by Rev. Josiah Leake.
Since then the following pastors have served the church: Edward Wood, Samuel Shepherd, David S. Miller, Abram Weaver, I. B. Jackson, A. M. Johnson, and Thos. L. Powell, the present pastor; membership 70.
Sni Mills Baptist Church
Was constituted in the year 1875, with the following named members: Nicholas Hutchins, Benj. Hutchins, J. N. Hutchins, John C. Faulkenberry, Louis D. Long, Nathan Hunt, I. Faulkenberry, Lucy Hutchins, Margaret Hutchins, Rebecca Hutchins, and Nancy Williams. The church built a frame house in 1877, costing about $400.
It has had as pastors, S. D. Brown, J. B. Jackson, Charles White, and Dr. L. M. Horn.
Willow Springs Baptist Church
Was constituted in June, 1877, with the following members: Drury Davis, Joseph Haynes, M. Haynes, Joseph A. Jackson, George H. Noel, Mollie Davis, Rebecca A. E. Jackson, Rachel Noel, Sarah J. Noel, Sarah Williams, J. B. Jackson, Helen Jackson, Sidney Jackson, Noel Jackson, Frances Jackson, Frances Jackson, Jr., Elias Duncan, Mary F. Duncan, Wm. Duncan, Ellen Duncan, Samuel Shepherd and Lucinda Shepherd. This church has no house of worship of its own.
Its pastors have been J. B. Jackson, George H. Noel, and Thos. S. Powell.
Although the Baptists have from the beginning predominated in the township, other religious denominations have had a place in the community.
[From The History of Jackson County, MO, 1881, p. 62, 328-30. Documents from Google Books On-line. H/T to Terry Wolever. Transcribed and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
More Missouri Baptist History
Baptist History Hompeage