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.
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
*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
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
HISTORY OF UNITED BAPTIST CHURCH OF CHRIST
Pleasant Hill Baptist Church