Jefferson County Illinois
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HISTORY OF UNITED BAPTIST CHURCH OF CHRIST at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church
Submitted By: Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Stories handed down from generation to generation tell of a group of local Christians meeting near the Limestone Creek in a log cabin to form a church in 1852. It was first called United Baptist Church of Christ. In December, 1916 the church was reorganized as Pleasant Hill Baptist Church but for many years was known as “Limestone”. The names we found listed as charter members are as follows: Freeman and Mary Walker; B. B. Harvey and wife; R. Whitlock and wife; J. H. Ward and wife; Levi Williams and wife; Hiram Williams and wife; and Frances Mount. At least five of these charter members are buried in Pleasant Hill Baptist Church Cemetery. They are: James H. Ward 1/23/1832 - 12/21/1904 Luvina Ward, his wife 2/14/1823 - 9/9/1904 Hiram Williams 7/22/1817 - 1890 Martha Williams, his wife 2/30/1813 - 7/19/1868 Frances Mount (wife of Wm.) 12/8/1811 - 11/3/1896 The membership has grown to 474 resident members. The first pastor was Elder James Alvin Keele. He was born July 01, 1801 in North Carolina, the son of Richard and Lydia Richmond Keele. He married Nancy Eaton. Elder Keele professed faith in Christ in 1820, and was licensed in 1828. He was ordained on September 17, 1831. He was the first pastor at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in 1840, and the first pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church from 1852-1860. He also helped organize East Salem Baptist Church in 1856. On November 4, 1852, Pleasant Hill purchased its first acre of land for the sum of $5.00. This land was used initially as a burial plot. The first known burial was infant Martha L. Mount September 29, 1857. The deed was made to the Trustees (John F. Walker, Levi Williams, and William B. Harrison) of the United Baptist Church. This is located in the NW corner of the SE Quarter of the W1/2 of the SE Quarter of Section 25, Township 1 South, Range 2 East, Jefferson County, Illinois. (This is known as Rome Township). This is now called the “original” part of the present cemetery. Another acre was purchased for the sum of 50 cents. Part of the sale is listed below. The United Baptist Church at Pleasant Hill joined three other churches to form the Salem Association of United Baptists. This is now known as Salem South Baptist Association. The three other churches and their organization dates were Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Marion County, 1840; Mt. Zion Baptist Church, 1842; Long Prairie Baptist Church, 1852. The Association met in session at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in the following years: 1855, 1865, 1871, 1882, 1898, 1928, 1939, 1948, 1953, 1958, 1963, 1970, 1988, and 2001. In 1867 a frame building 34x40 feet with a lean-to porch was erected at the given cost of $1,375.00. One of the sandstone rocks of the foundation is still visible today. It is located in the original section of the present cemetery. This is thought to be the southeast corner of the building. A small gray granite stone marks the spot. Other small tracts of land have been added either by purchase or by gift, and in 1876 the existing structure was replaced. Another white clapboard building was erected of wood, and that became the center part of the present sanctuary. Maintenance of the cemetery was different in early days. Once or twice a year, the men would come with their scythes and the women with a basket dinner. This was a big cleaning day. In 1961 there was a trust fund set up for maintenance of the cemetery The cemetery has often been referred to as the Westminster Abbey for Baptist ministers. There are a total of 17 ministers buried at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church cemetery. The first minutes of the church were lost by fire so the list of pastors which follows may be inaccurate, but the Salem Association minutes show the following Pastors at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. *Eld. W. P. Proffit (Mt. Vernon) 1870 & 1871 Eld. Isaac A. Dale (Sandoval) 1872 *Eld. R. C. Keele 1873 Eld. E. W. Overstreet (McLeansboro) 1874 & 1875 Unknown 1876 *Eld. Thomas. J. Burton (Dix) 1877 & 1878 *Eld. W. W. Hay, (William) 1878 - 1881 *Eld. W. W. Hay “ 1882 - 1885 Eld. J. M. Billingsley (Ewing College) 1886 Eld. J. T. Payne 1887 - 1890 *Eld. W. W. Hay 1891 - 1898 *Eld. A. L. Smith (Uncle Ab) 1899 - 1929 Eld. Sam McCoy 1929 - 1934 Eld. Frank Hooker 1934 - 1935 *Rev. Ross Partridge 1935 - 19/45 Rev, George Donoho (supply) 1945 - 1945 Rev. John B. Maulding 1945 - 1949 Rev. Ross Davison 1949 - 1950 Rev. W. T. Waring 1950 - 1951 *Rev. Ross Partridge 1951 - 1956 Rev. Bird Green (supply) 1956 - 1956 *Rev Ross Partridge 1956 - 19/77 Dr. Paul Brown 1977 - 1985 Rev. James Feaman (interim) 1985 - 1986 Rev. Carl Watkins 1986 - 1990 Rev. Bob Burton (interim) 1990 - 1991 Dr. Arnold Peterson 1991 - 2004 Rev. Jack Lucas 2005 - Present * Denotes burial at Pleasant Hill Cemetery Jack Lucas became the pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church upon the retirement of Arnold Peterson and is still serving at the present time. Jerry Montgomery is Director of Senior Adult Ministries and Jason Webb is Youth Minister The Rev. A. L. “Uncle Ab” Smith (1899 - 8/1/1929) was one of the best-known and best loved men in Jefferson County. He was born March 10, 1859, the son of William and Jane (Phelps) Smith. He never married. Uncle Ab was converted at the age of 16 years at Oak Grove Church. He later moved his membership to Pleasant Hill, near his farm home, and was licensed to preach by the Pleasant Hill (Limestone) Baptist Church in December, 1888. On May 5, 1889 he was ordained by his church and was its minister for 30 consecutive years. He kept a record of more than 3,000 sermons delivered from this pulpit, exclusive of funerals and annual meetings. Other churches the Rev. Smith served as pastor included Pleasant Grove, Kell (14 years), Bluford, Camp Ground, Bethlehem, Harmony, Panther Fork, Zion and East Salem. Uncle Ab suffered a stroke and during his illness he often preached while sitting in a chair. Pleasant Hill now has a chair which belonged to Uncle Ab. It was given to Ross and Laura Partridge and was given back to Pleasant Hill Baptist Church later. Active in state and national missionary work, Uncle Ab served as moderator of Illinois State Association for two years, was moderator of the local Salem South Association for 30 years and preached the doctrinal sermon for the same number of years. He served as moderator of Kaskaskia Association for two years. In his early life, Uncle Ab lived on a farm in Field Township. He was a member of the County Board of Supervisors from that township for 16 years and served for four years as county treasurer. He was a great lover of nature and traveled extensively in his early life, visiting almost every state in the Union, plus Canada and Mexico. During World War 1 he served as chairman of the Jefferson County Draft Board and was presented with a citation from the president of the U. S. He was honored at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church with an impressive ceremony held in December, 1946. The title of Pastor Emeritus was conferred upon him. The Rev. Smith was possessed with a true spirit of humility and he often said: “I have made many mistakes in life which I deeply regret. I have steadfastly upheld the fundamental truths of the Gospel and as long as God gives me strength shall continue in this, my life’s work.” The Rev. Smith spent long hours reading and was able to keep up with current events of the day. His collection of books, including rare editions on theology and church history, was his prized possession. When in reminiscent mood, Uncle Ab often told experiences of the early days of his ministry. One of his favorites was how he ably took care of a situation during a revival meeting at Horse Creek. “There were several young men who elected to break up the meeting. One night they entered the church just as the meeting opened. They took a front row seat and as I was ready to begin my sermon I saw two of these big fellows scuffling for a revolver. I left the pulpit and taking them by surprise, I cracked their heads together. They left immediately.” After the service Elder Smith boarded his buggy and was surprised when a wheel ran off. “Those chaps had taken the tap off the buggy axle,” he chuckled. “However, all turned out well and soon we were the best of friends.” Back in the horse and buggy days the Rev. Smith would make long trips across country with his faithful mare. He was pastor at East Salem many years, but when he was called to a church further east he delighted in telling about his horse. “It was a task to get that mare past East Salem Church,” he said. Uncle Ab possessed a winning personality. Often he was called to various churches to settle a question that had arisen among members which threatened to cause a division in the church. His tactful approach usually brought peace to the congregation. He often spoke of his early days on the farm. During wheat harvest he would walk as far as Nashville and spend two or three weeks in the field. “Wages ranged from 25 cents to 60 cents a day in those days,” he said, “but of course times were quite different than our modern days.” He had a good word for the horse and buggy days: “One could meditate while riding to church and actually prepare a sermon during the time spent in getting to the next appointment.” Rev. Ross Partridge served a total of 35 years at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church 8/3/35 - 5/30/45, 9/51 - 4/4/56, and 8 /19/56 - 3/1/77 “Brother Ross taught all 8 grades at Ebenezer School in 1943. He drove to school in a Model T Ford. Many times during noon hour, he would take the pupils riding in his car. This was during the time of WW 2 and there were scrap metal drives. Ross put his Model T Ford in the scrap drive. Several members of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church were students of his.” Below is a picture of the third building at Pleasant Hill. This was built around 1876. This building is still part of the present building. Below is a picture of the present building: Below are some pictures of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church thru the years: Picture taken day after Thanksgiving 1958 Aerial View in 1965 New addition built in 1983 New parsonage built in 1963 Ground Breaking for Family Life Center -1999 The Oldest living member of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. Ethel Bruce Pittman of Dix is the 2nd Great Granddaughter of the first pastor of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Elder James A. Keele First Thanksgiving dinner in Family Life Center in 1999 while under it was under construction Building the Family Life Center 1999 This cross built into the East wall of the Family Life Center was made of sand rock from the original foundation of the first church that was built in 1852 on Limestone Creek. Yes, kids, this is how you used to go to church A baptizing at Duncan’s pond Interior picture of sanctuary before remodel in the 1980’s Remodeling almost done The 4th. Annual Picnic for Pleasant Hill Church around the turn of the century Other Pictures

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