GERMAN BAPTIST, OR BRETHREN CHURCH
Church at Arnold's Grove - The first minister in this church, and even the first
in the county of this order of people, was Henry Strickler. He came here in the
year 1841, and soon gathered around himself a little band of believers. In 1851,
Christian Long, also a minister, moved to this place, and by his active labors
in that year forty were added to the church by confession and baptism, and quite
a number by emigration.
In 1854, a plain, substantial meeting house, 40 by 60, was erected on the farm
belonging to Henry Strickler, Sr., and David Emmert was chosen to the ministry.
Soon after this, Michael Sisler and John Buck were also called to preach the
Gospel, and the church steadily increased in number for several years. In 1857,
within two months, ninety-six persons wee received into fellowship by faith,
repentance and baptism.
About this time, Henry Myers located near Milledgeville, David Rittenhouse at
Hickory Grove, and John Sprogle at Cherry Grove - all ministers, and formerly
from Pennsylvania. By their labors, each soon had gathered around him a number
of faithful followers; yet, all were members of the one organization at Arnold's
Grove. This matters continued until the year 1861, when three new organizations
were effected, and called the church at Cherry Grove, the church at
Milledgeville, and the church at Hickory Grove. This still left the church at
Arnold's Grove in a prosperous condition. Many, however, have since emigrated to
Iowa and Kansas, among the number, Christian Long and Michael Sisler, who now
reside in Dallas County, Iowa, leaving John J. Emmert, Jacob Shirk and Joseph
Stitzel as ministers at the present time. Its membership is about ninety.
The Church at Cherry Grove - As already stated, this congregation originally
consisted of a part of the Arnold's Grove Church, but in 1861 was formed into a
separate body. As soon as an organization was effected, steps were taken to
erect a place of worship, and though the membership was small and their
financial resources limited, by the aid of the Arnold Grove Church they soon had
a house 40 by 64 for use, near the Village of Georgetown. Under the oversight
and care of Elders John Sprogle and Michael Bollinger, the church increased
rapidly, and notwithstanding the large number who have moved away and died,
there are yet 225 members in this church. This church is particularly noted for
its large congregation and activity in missionary work.
In 1874, a house of worship 40 by 60 was built in Shannon, and in 1876, another
in the City of Lanark. In 1875, a number of important events occurred in this
church, one of which more or less affected the entire brotherhood in America. In
that year there lived in Lanark a man by the name of Christian Hope, a native of
Denmark, and a harness maker by trade. He was earnest, zealous worker in the
church, and somewhat remarkable for his simplicity of thought and manners.
During the year, he received repeated calls from his old associates in Denmark
to have the brethren send them ministers to teach them the way of the Lord.
Through the church here, all the churches in Northern Illinois - thirteen in
number - were apprised of the call for missionary labor, and the result was, a
district meeting was called at Cherry Grove meeting house; Nov. 13, 1875, when
Christian Hope was called to the ministry, and on January first started to
Denmark, being the first regular missionary to Europe by the church in this
country. However, before he was chosen to this important station, he had, before
and after his usual working hours at his trade, translated several pamphlets
into his native language, which he carried with him to Europe for publication
and free distribution, the church in America having contributed several hundred
dollars for this purpose.
While this important work was being pushed to completion, a series of meetings
were held, and the result was fifty-two persons were added to the already large
membership. The church now numbered about three hundred, and it was considered
good to form a new organization on the east of the old church, to be known as
the Shannon Church, which was done on the 14th of November, being the fifth in
the county. In 1876, the Brethren at Work Publishing House was established in
Lanark, by J. H. Moore, J. T. Myers and M. M. Eshelman. This, with a new house
of worship in the city, gave this people considerable prominence and energy in
this part of the country, and had no inconsiderable effect on the church in
general. There are now upwards of sixty members living in the city, and the
steady growth of the church in and out of the city attest their prosperity and
permanency. Ministers: H. Martin, M. Bolinger, J. H. Moore, D. B. Puterbaugh and
S. J. Peck.
The Church near Milledgeville - This, as already observed, was organized in
1861, and immediately erected a large and well-arranged meeting-house. The
church has steadily increased in number, and at present has about one hundred
and seventy-five members. Martin Myer, Jacob Hangers, Tobias Meyers, D. M.
Miller, M. Kimmel and Wm. Provout have been the ministers. The church is noted
for its energy and liberality in Christian work.
The Church at Hickory Grove - This church, also, dates its origin from 1861, and
by removals to other parts of the country its membership has been reduced to
about forty. Notwithstanding the apparent disadvantages under which it sometimes
labors, its members have exhibited a commendable devotion to principle and
Christian usefulness. The ministers have been: David Rittenhouse, Geo. D.
Zollers and Jesse Heckler. The congregation has a neat, substantial
meeting-house, seven miles west of Mount Carroll, where meetings are held
The Church at Shannon - The number of members is about seventy-five. Ministers:
Lemuel Hillery, S. Mattes, B. F. McCune. Meeting-house, 40 by 60, with basement.
General Remarks - Characteristics - They are noted for their industry and
integrity. Nearly all farmers, and thrifty and economical. Very good to the
poor, allowing none of their members to be kept by the county. Dress plainly,
wearing neither gold, silver, costly array, nor ornaments of any kind.
Methodist Episcopal - The first organization of the present Methodist Episcopal
Church society of Lanark took place in 1858, in Cherry Grove Township, under the
ministerial labors of Rev. J. D. Brown, who continued to preach for the society
for some three or four years. In 1860, the society built a church edifice in
Rock Creek Township, about one mile from the site of the present City of Lanark,
costing $1,200. In the Winter of 1861, that church building was removed to the
Lanark town site by James C. Wheat and others. Up to 1869, the society had so
increased in numbers and wealth that a new church building came to be considered
a necessity, and arrangements were made accordingly. The work was undertaken,
and on Sunday, the 8th day of January, 1871, the Rev. Dr. R. M. Hatfield, of
Chicago, dedicated the new brick building to the worship of Almighty God. This
church edifice is among the finest in the State of Illinois, outside of the
larger cities, and cost the sum of $20,000. The society now numbers 125 members,
with a good and prosperous Sabbath-school, which was organized in 1862. The
average attendance is one hundred and twenty. The superintendents from the time
the school was organized down to the present time have been, in regular order,
as follows: - Thompson, J. F. Hess, - Goodridge, J. W. Gormany (or Gorman), J.
F. Hess, M. E. Harrish, J. G. Sheller, M. E. Harrish.
The presiding elders in the church have been: Revs. C. C. Bert, David Cassiday,
W. F. Stewart, R. A. Blanchard, F. A. Read, W. H. Tibbals, and J. H. Moore, the
Pastors: Revs. J. D. Brown, Lewis Peck, J. E. Hibbard, O. J. M. Clendening,
Joseph Wardel, S. P. Lilley, J. O. Foster, M. E. Jacobs, Leonard Holt, A.
Newton, T. Cochran, W. H. Tibbals, C. A. Bucks, and A. Campbell, present pastor.
Christian Church - This church society was organized in Freedom Township, June
20, 1843, with eighteen members. James H. Smyth, David Tripp and Garner Moffett
were the first elders, and A. G. Moffett and William Renner were the first
deacons. The members of this branch of the Christian Church accept the Bible,
and the Bible alone, as their rule of faith and practice. In 1865, the Freedom
Township church edifice was torn down, moved to Lanark, and re-erected on its
present site. M. Martin and Thomas Moffett, elders; A. G. Moffett, William D.
Moffett and E. Stover, deacons. Present enrollment of members, 120.
The Sabbath-school was organized in 1867, with twenty-five scholars, and W.
Beans as superintendent. Present membership, 140; Mr. Beans, superintendent.
Present pastor, J. H. Wilson; D. D. Wiley, T. O. Mershon, elders; E. Stover, W.
D. Moffett, H. Shumway, David Mellen, W. T. McLay, deacons; W. Beans, clerk.
Congregational - This society was organized in 1859, by Rev. J. P. Parker, about
three fourths of a mile east of the City of Lanark, and was removed to Lanark in
1863, under the pastoral labors of Rev. Mr. Kilborn. Rev. L. Higgins was pastor
from 1864 to 1872, and was succeeded by Rev. Mr. Coleman, who remained to 1874
or 1875, when the present pastor, Rev. Mr. Paisley, succeeded to the charge.
Their Sabbath-school was organized in 1863 by Rev. Mr. Kilborn, who was the
superintendent one year; Rev. Mr. Higgins, seven years; Rev. Mr. Coleman, one
year, and Mr. George Lattig, one year. Prof. T. Oldt is the present
superintendent. Church membership, 40. Cost of church building, $2,500.
Baptist Church - For several years before Lanark was founded, when these
beautiful and fertile prairies were in their pristine condition - except a few
sparsely settled locations, in which were the humble homes of enterprising
citizens from the Eastern, Middle and Southern States, and who, as a class, have
always followed "the star of empire westward" - Baptist principles were then
represented in Carroll County, by a very respectable proportion of those who
were the advanced guard of civilization.
A profound conviction of the truth and equity of these principles induced the
Baptists of Lanark and vicinity to take preliminary steps toward the
organization of a church. The first meeting was held at the house of Bro. W. M.
Jenks, October 24, 1867, Rev. D. S. Dean, of Lena, in the chair; Bro. J. E.
Millard, secretary. Prayer by Rev. J. VV. Allison, of Bethel Church, Elkhorn.
The next meeting was held at the residence of Bro. J. B. Porter, November 6,
1867, Bro. E. H. Dingee in the chair; Bro. J. E. Millard, secretary.
After some preliminary business, the secretary was instructed to invite the
churches in the association to send three delegates each to meet the society of
Lanark, on the 13th day of November, 1867, for the purpose of organizing a
Rev. J. T. Mason, of Sterling, was invited to preach the recognition discourse.
Committees of reception and arrangements were appointed. The latter obtained
permission to meet in the Congregational Church. Delegates from churches evinced
a deep interest in the work by a full representation.
After devotional exercises, the council was organized by electing Rev. J. T.
Mason, moderator, and Bro. J. E. Millard, secretary.
Rev. J. V. Allison offered the following:
Resolved, That we now unite ourselves together in assuming the obligations of a
Church of Jesus Christ, to be known as the "First Baptist Church" of Lanark.
After some discussion, the resolution was carried.
The constituent membership consisted of twenty-three persons, without a place of
worship. These members were as follows: William M. Jenks, Lizzie M. Jenks, James
E. Millard, Hannah D. Millard, Mrs. H. N. Hemiway, Edgar H. Dingee, Mary Dingee,
John B. Porter, Sarah A. Porter, Mary C. Porter, Maria McWhinny, J. B. Corbett,
Sarah Corbett, Henry Selemire, Hannah Selemire, Julia Ann Newcomer, George W.
Miller, Maria Miller, Ann Eliza Sherwood, Betsey Smith, Mary B. Hemiway, Hattie
Gilbert, Corrilla Dean.
Having rented the school house, now the "Church of God," in which to meet, they
settled the Rev. John Merriam, March 15, 1868, as their first pastor. During his
pastorate, his labors were blessed of God. Nineteen were added to the church -
twelve by baptism. He resigned February 17, 1869. He has closed his activities
in the Church Militant, and now rests in the Church Triumphant from all his
labors. After an interim of about three years, the Rev. N. E. Chapin, of
Wisconsin, was called and, July 17, 1872, was settled as the second pastor of
Bro. Chapin brought to his work in Lanark a ripe and varied experience in the
living ministry; he was profoundly orthodox, and recognized nothing but "Christ
and Him crucified" in his teachings. He resigned February 12, 1875. His ministry
was blessed by many coming to Christ under his ministration of the Word.
The leadings of the Holy Spirit induced the church to take steps toward building
a house of worship of their own. On the 12th day of April, 1873, Bros. E. H.
Dingee, J. B. Porter and George W. Sherwood were appointed a committee to
procure a plan and estimates for a church. The committee reported and submitted
a plan for a church building 32 by 46, drawn by Mr. D. H. Snyder, estimated to
The plan was adopted and the committee instructed to proceed with the work,
which was carried on to completion. The style of architecture is Gothic. The
building has two steeples, the one in which is the bell being the higher of the
two. Their relative height, however, gives a beautiful and symmetrical
proportion to the whole contour of the edifice. The windows, with their Gothic
and magnificent proportion, finished with stained glass, present to the eye, by
very many appropriate designs and monograms, objects of study which, in the soft
and mellow light within, lead the mind to pure, holy and celestial
contemplation. The seats are folding, and made of striated alternations of ash
and walnut wood. The church, has a seating capacity of two hundred and fifty
persons. A baptistry is under the pulpit, with the orchestra facing it. When
fully completed, lot, church and furniture cost $3,818.50, upon which some
indebtedness remains. The church was dedicated, October 8, 1873. Rev. J. T.
Mason, of Sterling, preached the sermon. Rev. N. E. Chapin having resigned
February 19, 1875, Rev. W. E. Bates, of Watertown, N. Y., was called, and
settled July 10, 1875, and ordained September 28, of the same year; having
served his country during the war, using carnal weapons. When honorably
dismissed from the service he entered Madison University, and, after graduating,
he entered the theological seminary. There he obtained that "drill" which so
eminently fitted him for the service of the Captain of his salvation. His
weapons of warfare now are not carnal, but spiritual, and by the use of which
the Lord has blessed his labors. As a soldier of the Cross, he uses no blank
cartridges; he preached the Word without any alloy, and has been successful in
winning souls for his Master. Sister Bates supplements the labors of her husband
by her many unostentatious Christian duties.
The Sabbath-school is, or should be, "the church at work." It is under the
supervision of Bro. J. E. Millard, than whom no man possesses a more perfect
fitness for all its duties. The church obtained many of its additions from this
department of Christian labor. As an evidence of this fact, from Sister J. E.
Millard's class of over twenty young ladies, ten or twelve were brought to the
Savior, through the Word and her prayerfulness as a teacher.
The present teachers, besides the one mentioned, are Brothers Dr. J. B. Porter,
John Forsythe, E. L. Byington, E. H. Dingee, Mrs. W. E. Bates, Mrs. J. H. Myers,
Miss Katie Newcomer, Miss Laura Waters, Miss Minnie Eick. All are faithful and
successful teachers. Bro. Dr. Porter, especially, is one of the most faithful,
efficient and earnest teachers to be found, and as a profound exponent of Bible
truths, his equal can hardly be found outside of the ministry.
The first regular officers were: Deacons, Dr. J. B. Porter and J. B. Corbett;
clerk, E. H. Dingee; treasurer, J. E. Millard; trustees, W. M. Jenks, Thomas W.
Newcomer, J. B. Corbett.
Present officers: Deacons, Dr. J. B. Porter, J. B. Corbett; clerk, E. H. Dingee;
treasurer; Andrew J. Waters; trustees, J. B. Corbett, J. E. Millard, Elliott
Abrahamic Church - This church was organized in 1866; it then numbered about
fifteen members; it now numbers about thirty. They have no salaried minister
employed, but meet every first day for worship, D. Gaus and P. B. Stouffer
officiating al leaders.
The Lutherans also maintain an organization. The history of this society is
substantially as follows:
Sometime during the year 1873, Rev. J. W. Henderson was induced, by some
Lutheran people in and around Lanark, and also by pastors in the Synod, to
remove to Lanark from his prosperous and encouraging work at Tipton, Iowa. He
came to Lanark, with the promise of encouragement from the brethren of the
Synod, and succeeded in organizing a congregation, but, from some cause unknown
to the writer (and unnecessary to mention, if he did know) regular services were
given up within a year or two after the organization was effected.