Chesterfield Congregational Church History, Macoupin County IL

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Chesterfield Congregational Church History
Macoupin County IL

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Congregational One of the Oldest Edifices in Macoupin County. Article of Interest

Article contributed by Glenda Sue Raffurty McMurry

The following history of the church was read at the V-75th anniversary of its organization, Feb. 6th, 1923.

The Chesterfield Congregational church was organized Feb. 6, 1848 by members of the Spring Cove Presbyian (?) church. The Spring Cove church at first stood on the south side of Macoupin creek, but was moved to the north side of the creek southwest of Albert Dowland's in 1844 to try and hold the Chesterfield members. When the Congregational church was organized in 1848, the building was taken to pieces and moved to Summerville, where it now stands.

There were sixteen charter members of this church, namely: Orin Cooley, Clarissa P. Cooley, John Viall, Josiah Whipple, Almira Whipple, Ebeneezer Upham, Susan D. Upham, Matilda M. Williams. Joseph P. Grout, Joshua Goodell, H. J. Hitchcock, Laurinda Goodell, Susan E. Goodell, Joseph Goodell, Jas. Williams and Matilda Williams.

Rev. T. B. Hurlbut had been preaching for these people sometime previous to their organization. The spirit of Congregationalism was born in England during the memorable struggle for free thought and speech, which resulted in the Puritan movement and was brought to this country in the Mayflower and a portion of it permeates all church constitutions of our denomination. Our constitution says, "The government of this church is vested in the body of believers who compose it." It acknowledges the Divine Redeemer as its head and the Scriptures as its only infallible guide.

At least twelve of the first sixteen members were eastern people and all were intelligent, educated and of a literary turn of mind. During the time preceding the Civil War this church was sometimes called the Abolition church, because its ministers sometimes prayed that slavery might be done away with and one of its deacons was strongly suspected of keeping a station on the underground railway. The church was very particular to get the views of its candidating ministers on the slavery question, and passed resolutions in regard to the same question in 1855.

Long before the church was organized, a Union Sunday School was started by Mr. Z. B. Lawson and others in a log schoolhouse somewhere west or northwest of where the M. E. church now stands. Mr. Lawson was of Baptist faith and never united with the Congregational church, but for over 20 years was the faithful superintendent of its Sunday school, which in those times was noted for its large and well used library.

This church was connected with the Alton Presbytery from 1850 to 1856. It then withdrew and joined the Morgan Conference, later belonged to the Southern Congregational Association, and now belongs to the Springfield Association. In the year 1850 it was voted to hold communion service every three months and in the records of May 4, 1872 we read, "Resolved, That this church use unfermented wine in celebrating the Lord's Supper".

During the 75 years of the church's organization it has employed the following pastors. Some of them dividing their time with the following churches: Walnut Grove, Greene county; Kemper, Mellville, Plainview and Summerville:

Rev. T. B. Hurlbut - 2 years           Rev. Elihu Loomis - 8 months
Rev. James R. Dunn - 4 years
Rev. Calvin Selden - 1 month
Rev. S. P. Lindley - 6 months
Rev. A. A. Mruch (?Murch?) - 1 month
Rev. G. W. Stinson - 1 year
Rev. W. I. Baker - 3 months
Rev. J. C. Downer - 6 months
Rev. Willis Patchen - 2 years
Rev. H. D. Platt - 10 years, 1 month
Revs. Hurd and Nutting - 2 years
Rev. H. N. Baldwin - 2 months
Rev. L. G. Kent - 2 years, 6 months
Rev. W. B. Harris - 2 years, 6 mos.
Rev. Chas E. C. Trueblood - 2 years
Rev. W. D. Clark - 2 years
Rev. H. A. Cotton - 1 year, 6 mos.
Rev. Milo J. P. Thing - 3 years
Rev. J. G. Jeffers - 1 years, 6 months
Rev. Z. T. Walker - 2 years, 2 mos.
Dr. Y. Minavkuchi - 5 months
Rev. S. S. Hebbard - 3 years
Rev. F. H. Brown - 2 years, 9 mos.
Rev. W. T. Campbell - 3 years
Horace Hastings is on the second year
of his pastorate
Rev. Henry McEwan - 1 year pastorate

During this time we have had 28 regular pastors and as near as can be told their aggregate terms of service has been almost 62 years.

Three of these ministers., Rev. Stinson, McEwan and Trueblood were ordained during their pastorates here.

Rev. H. D. Platt had been requested to accept the pastorate here almost a year before he accepted. His genial ways won for him warm friends, even among those who did not agree with his anti-slavery views. One year during his pastorate the church membership numbered 45 and the average attendance at morning service was 74. During the year 1867, Rev. Platt was paid a salary of $400 and the church and Sunday school gave to benevolences $487.35. At earlier times it had been necessary to secure home missionary aid.

During the pastorate of Rev. Loomis, Rev. Robert West, then of Alton but later editor of the Advance, conducted a series of meetings in Chesterfield which resulted in great good to the church. It was during these years that preaching services at the Hazelwood and Albany schoolhouses were begun, also the monthly business meetings.

Rev. Selden was very energetic and though over 60 years of age thought nothing of a 12 or 15 mile walk to visit some one in the parish.

The loss of the records of the church for the second 25 years of its history make it necessary to depend on the memory of older members and such information as can be secured from other sources in regard to the history of that period.

Revs. Hurd and Nutting were professors of Blackburn College.

Rev. L. G. Kent was the evangelist of our list.

Rev. Trueblood was instrumental in the organization of the Daphne Club. This club has at different times added to the social life of some fifty of the young people of the church.

Dr. Y. Minavkuchi was a Japanese who had been in this country 17 years. He served 2 months as community pastor; preaching in the Congregational church in the morning and in the M. E. church in the evening. Chesterfield achieved some notoriety at this time; first for having all three churches without pastors and then all uniting on a Japanese for a community pastor.

The officers of the church are deacons, trustees, treasurer and clerk. As near a complete list of officers as the writer has been able to secure is as follows: Deacons: Orin Cooley, John Viall, Morris Lee, Jas. H. Wilson, Josiah Whipple, B. F. Silsby, S. J. Lee, L. B. Corbin, Dr. L. F. Corgan, William Cook, James Dowland, Chas. Sawtell. Trustees: Orin Cooley, I. S. Sturgies, Morris Lee, Josiah Whipple, Ebeneezer Upham, Amos Goodsell, Eli A. Cooley, E. G. Duckles, L. B. Corbin, Jas. Dowland, William Cook, Robert Carter, Walter Barnstable, William Shires, W. L. Duckles, J. E. Phelps, Charles Jones, Charles Sawtell, Geo. Pursey, Jr., Everett Perring, E. J. Dowland. Treasurer: Morris Lee, S. J. Lee, Dr. L. F. Corgan, S. J. Lee (second term), W. L. Duckles, Mrs. Frank Leach, Chester Towse, Cecil Murphy, Ruth Sawtell, Chas. Barnstable, Charles Jones. Clerk: Ebeneezer Upham, Rev. H. D. Platt, Miss M. M. Williams, Rev. H. N. Baldwin, Rev. E. Loomis. S. J. Lee, Dr. L. F. Corgan, A. T. Sawtell.

The church building was completed and dedicated in the spring of 1855. The building cost some $2000, $250 being obtained from the Church Building Society and the balance was paid by the few members and friends of the church.

The ladies of the church purchased the first communion set, a lady of St. Louis, formerly a member of the church, gave the first pulpit Bible. Miss Arsenoe Loomis gave the first carpet for the pulpit and the sofa and organ were purchased by subscription. The organ was bought through the efforts of Mr. Edwin C. Lawson in 1866. The cost of the organ and freight from Boston, Mass., amounted to $154. In April, 1895 this organ was replaced by a new one of the same make at a cost of $72.50.

The site of the first parsonage is now owned by Charles Wade. This was sold and some years later the house now owned by W. H. Wolfe was purchased. This was later sold and the present parsonage was built in the summer of 1898 at a cost of $600 on ground given to the church for parsonage purposes by Josiah Whipple.

At the opening of the morning service, August 13, 1899, Miss Phoebe Armstrong in behalf of the Mission Band presented the church with a beautiful pulpit Bible, which was accepted in behalf of the church by the pastor, Rev. Z. T. Walker. Following this, Miss Lucetta Lawson surprised the congregation by presenting the church with a beautiful silver communion service, stating that she purchased the gift with $25 left her by Mrs. Clara Whipple Row (?Rew?) of Grinnell, Ia., whose early life had been spent here.

On September 19-20, 1899, at the suggestion of Miss Lucetta Lawson, the church celebrated its fifieth anniversary. The exercises began by a sermon by Paul L. Corbin, the first son of this church to enter the ministry, on the evening of Sept. 19, and the day following an address of welcome by Rev. Z. T. Walker was responded to by Rev. Willis Patchen, the only former pastor present. An impressive communion service was conducted by Rev. J. B. Fairbank of Godfrey. Dinner was served at noon to 150 persons. At the afternoon session a brief history of the church was read by L. B. Corbin. Roll call was responded to by many present and letters were read from former pastors and others. The exercises concluded with a sermon in the evening by Rev. Fairbank.

Paul L. Corbin was ordained at Kemper, Oct. 12th of the same year.

In the autumn of 1900 (?) the seats now in use were purchased at a cost of $150 to $170. There had been one row of long seats in the center with a row of short ones each side and formerly there was a raised platform at the back of the church for the choir and organ. After considerable discussion, a doorway was cut and double doors hung in the vestibule instead of building a vestibule on the outside of the church.

In September, 1903, Miss Lucetta Lawson and Mrs. Edwin Towse presented the church with the table now in use and the pulpit chairs were given by Mrs. E. G. Duckles in February, 1907.

In the autumn of 1904, Rev. Paul L. Corbin left to enter missionary work in China.

In 1907, the will of E. G. Duckles gave $100 to the church for church and parsonage repairs, provided the church raise an equal amount. This was done. In the autumn of 1908 the cement steps and wide walk were made, the bequest of Mr. Duckles being used to pay for the same.

During the summer of 1910 a second-hand square piano was purchased, also the hymnals now in use. In September of 1911 the Daphne Club presented the church with trays and glasses of an individual communion set.

In 1912 a new kitchen was built on the parsonage and the entire interior of the house was re-finished. The present heating system was installed in October, 1913. The church was formerly heated by two stoves in the rear of the church with stove pipes extending the full length of the building.

August 27, 1918 the Daphne Club presented the church with a service flag bearing nine stars, one for each of the eight young men serving in the American army in the World War and one for our Red Cross nurse, each being a member of this church. By request the flag was presented to the church by Rev. Ellis, pastor of the M. E. church.

In April, 1919 the church received by bequest of Mrs. Annie Snell, $25. In November of the same year, payment was made on the piano in August, 1920, the church paying the $125 given by Mrs. Snell to the piano fund, the remainder being raised by subscription. Several absent members contributed.

In August, 1921 the church received word of the death of Mrs. Susan E. Goodell Lee, the last surviving charter member of this church.

Just before her death in November, 1910, Mrs. Hannah Sawtell gave the Aid Society $50. In December, 1922, the society presented the church with a pulpit desk in memory of Mrs. Sawtell.

For so small a membership this church has reason to be proud of those of its members who have taken a great interest in religious work. Miss Lucetta Lawson was sent as a missionary to Utah where she taught for several years. Later she financed an Orphan's Home in Atlanta, Ga., and carried on a successful work until obliged to give up on account of failing health. Rev. and Mrs. Paul L. Corbin are actively engaged in missionary work in Taiku, Ehansi, China, while their two daughters Misses Annie and Clara Corbin are in this country receiving their education with the present intention of returning to China to assist their parents in their work.

Miss Laura Collins has just returned to her work in Africa. Rev. R. L. L. Barnstable, at one time a member of this church, is now a Presbyterian minister and Fred Duckles, also a former member has been engaged in Y. M. C. A. work for a number of years.

The present membership of the church is 198, 75 of these being now resident.

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