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

The Early Churches
Transcribed by: Kristin Vaughn.

It is a fact highly commendable of the early settlers of Illinois, that with all the trials and toils incident on settlement in a new and undeveloped country, and the numbers of rough and vicious men who always seek the frontiers, the teachings of the Christian religion were felt and realized in the most remote settlements. What a rebuke, too, is given to the ministers of the present, by the self-sacrifice, devotion and arduous toil of those men who first planted the standard of the Cross of Christ in the sparsely settled frontiers of the West. Without the most remote hope of the least temporal remuneration, exposed to danger and disease, subject to the severest trials and most painful privations, they went out, foregoing all the joys of home and the society of loved ones, only to be instrumental in the advancement of the truth and the salvation of men. Often the pioneer preacher, with no companion but the horse he rode, would start across the wide prairies, with no guide but the knowledge he had of the cardinal points, or, perhaps, a point of timber scarcely visible in the dim and hazy distance, and, reaching the desired settlement, would present the claims of the Gospel to the few assembled hearers, after the toilsome and lonely day's journey; then after a night of rest in the humble cabin and partaking of the simple meal, he again enters upon the journey of the day, to preach again at a distant point. Thus the "circuit" of hundreds of miles was traveled month after month; and to these men we owe the planting of churches all over our land, and the hallowed influences of religion as seen and felt in society everywhere. At this late day, it is impossible to learn who was the first minister who visited the territory now embraced in Menard County. This honor is claimed for at least a dozen different individuals, and three or four different denominations lay claim to the honor of being first to be represented by a minister here. There were at least five different denominations that were represented by ministers coming here in a very early day. These were the Regular, Hard-Shell or Calvinistic Baptists, the Separate (now Missionary) Baptists, the Methodists, the New-Lights, afterward called Disciples, sometimes called "Campbellites," and the Cumberland Presbyterians. We may give a very brief account of each of these separately.

1879 Index

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