HISTORY
OF
MENARD & MASON COUNTIES, ILLINOIS
1879

Chicago: O.L. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers
186 Dearborn Street
Chicago

The Early Churches
Regular Baptists
Transcribed by: Kristin Vaughn.

These people, generally called "Hard-Shells," have ever been anti-missionary and have opposed temperance societies. They also teach that it is the duty of ministers to refuse stipulated salaries. As a people, they are good citizens, candid and reliable, while their ministers are generally men of good natural minds, yet very few of them are educated. Being Calvinists of the most decided type, it is not to be wondered at that they believed if God made it ones duty to preach the Gospel, He would also enable him to do the work when the time came, without any previous preparation. Hence they, in their preaching, gave the people the truth "just as God gave it to them." If this was really true, all we can say (speaking with reverence), is that God gave them some very much mixed harangues.

Very soon after the settlements were begun here, "Hard-Shell" preachers made their debut also. Some even affirm that an organization of "Hard-Shells" was formed in the vicinity of Salem even before the Baptist Church at Clary's Grove was organized. Grandmother Potter, who was a grown woman, and living within a mile of Salem, in 1820, is positive that the Church there was older by a year or two than that in the grove. But the recollection of all other pioneers is at variance with hers on this matter. Be this as it may, a Regular Baptist Church was organized there in a very early day. The names of ministers, etc., etc., is given in the township history. Other societies were perhaps formed in the county, but, if so, they, with that near Salem, have long since become extinct, so that there is not one at present in the county, and has not been for many years. While we would not say anything disrespectful or disparaging of this venerable people, yet we cannot refrain from relating an anecdote of them, the truth of a part of which, at least, can be vouched for. In the palmy days of the Salem Church, Dr. Allen created considerable excitement on the temperance question, and many signed a pledge of total abstinence. Among those signing the pledge was Minter Graham, the pioneer school teacher of this county, who was a member of the Baptist Church. So soon as this was known to the Church, Graham was tried and promptly turned out. Thus far, the story is true to the letter. But the story, as popularly told at the time, is to the effect that, on the same day that "Uncle Minter" was suspended, another brother was tried for getting drunk, and he, too, was expelled. After this, and old brother arose very solemnly, and, drawing a quart "flask" from his pocket, the bottle being about half-full of whisky, and, holding this steadily between his eye and the light, and inclining his head slightly to one side, addressed the congregation as follows: "Brethering, you have turned on member out because he would not drink, and another because he got drunk, and now I want to ask a question. It is this: How much of the critter does one have to drink in order to remain in full fellowship in the Church?"

We are not advised what answer was given to this important question, but, doubtless, there was a medium well defined and understood by the ministry, if not by the laity.

This denomination of people performed a very important part in the early history of the county, and its members were among the very best men and women of the entire population. Although they have ceased to exist here as a distinct body, yet their influence is still felt, and the results of their labors are seen on every hand. Scattered over the county are a number of persons who once belonged to this Church, but their numbers being too small to form a society in any locality, they are living out of regular connection with any society, calmly awaiting the transfer to the great "congregation above."


1879 Index

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