Much has already been written about the first church of Sangamon County, Illinois, and is accessible to most persons, so it will do little good to repeat that here. I do want to include the short history that an old man in Fancy Creek Township wrote down for me, when I first started looking for information on the church. At that time, if I took his name, I mislaid it, but when I returned to see him, he had died. Take heart, genealogists, always write down the dates and pertinent information at the time you get it.
The following will be verbatim (spelling and all):
“Organized 1820 by Stephen England who was born in Va. 1773, he was taken to Bath Co., Ky. When young where in due time he became a Baptist Preacher. In 1819 a band of pioneers settled on the north side of the Sangamon River they were headed by Stephen & his wife Ann Harper who became the mother of 12 children.
Mr. England during the year of 1819 invited his neighbors to assemble at his house to worship and on May 15, 1820 he constituted in his own house the FIRST CH. of Christ or Antioch Christian Ch., when the village of Cantrall was layed out in 1860 the Church name was changed from Antioch to Cantrall.
The original organizers of this church were: Stephen & Anna England, Jachoniah & Nancy Langston, Levi & Fanny Cantrall, Mrs. Adelphia Wood, Mrs. Sarah Cantrall and Mrs. Lucy Scott.
In 1823 a log meeting house was built 1 ˝ mi. So. East of Cantrall near what is now Brittin Cemetery, it was of logs with mud chinked walls and greased paper for windows, erected intirely by volunteer labor. The 2nd building was erected 1846 in the village and a 3rd 1873. Mr. England continued serving the church until his death and his last sermon was preached sitting in his chair.”
I believe that Stephen England did see the first log church, and preached a short time there before he died. The second building was probably erected sometime between 1846 and 1850. The third building could not have been erected until after the 1874 Sangamon County Atlas was put together, because there is a sketch of the second building there, so it was probably erected between 1874 and 1876. Both the second and third buildings were white frame, with a bell tower. The bell is hanging in the park at Cantrall, Illinois today. See sketches and pictures following this article.
The first building of the Antioch Christian Church was erected between 1820-1823, and was used until the second building was done between 1846 and 1850. This first log building was located about one and one-half miles southeast of Cantrall, on land owned by Evans E. Brittin, near what is now Brittin Cemetery.
The second building of the Antioch Church was erected between 1846-1850, and was used until the third building was done. This second building was located near where the Catholic Church is.
This sketch taken from the 1874 Sangamon County, Illinois Atlas.
These two pictures taken of the third building of the Antioch Church sometime before the building was torn down in 1964. This third building was done after 1874, since the second building was shown in the 1874 Atlas. This third building was located on the land where the Park is with the Bell tower today in Cantrall, IL.
“The Cantrall Christian Church was formerly known as the Antioch Christian Church. The original building, a log structure, was built in 1820 and located opposite Brittin. Cemetery.
In 1850 a second building was erected, near the Catholic Church in Cantrall. The third building was constructed on this location in 1870, and the name was changed to Cantrall Christian Church.
In 1964 the building was torn down and the land was donated to the Village of Cantrall to be used as a park.
In 1974, this Bell Tower was erected in memory of the Cantrall Christian church. The bell was obtained from the last building.”The above picture was taken October, 1982.