The congregation of the Wilmore Church of Christ, Wilmore, Ks, July 1952. Photo by James Allen Nichols.
The Wilmore Church of Christ was organized in March of 1908 with the following named members: S.L. Smith, J.E. Wright, J.R. Hardie, Howard Stout, Mary Stout, Essie Noel, Clifton Wood, Anna Wood, and Waltby (Naltby?). The officers were S.L. Smith, Elder; J.E. Wright, Deacon; Anna Wood, Secretary and Treasurer. The trustee and building committee consisted of J.E. Wright, J.R. Hardie, and Clifton Wood. The place of meeting at that time was in the old schoolhouse. We have no further record until May 30, 1909, when Brother A.E. Newby is referred to as pastor of the church. At this meeting a W.H. Baker of Indiana is being considered as a pastor for the coming year. In April, 1912, Brother Martin is mentioned as presiding at a meeting to elect board members. I inferred he was pastor at that time. He was; he resigned March 13, 1913. He is again referred to as pastor in 1914.
On March 16, 1913, the new church was dedicated. Brother Tanksley was master of ceremonies that day, and received for the day's service, $40.00. He was called as pastor for half time in May of the same year.
In 1916, C.H. Brown was serving as pastor. T. Vance served in 1918; T.L. Sweeney in 1919; and A.R. Brown in 1920. He is the preacher who married Ernie and me, so he rates especially with us. Most of us old timers remember kindly Claude Large, student preacher who preached half time from 1924 to 1927. I never hear the scripture verse, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free, and he who the truth hath made free, he shall be free indeed", without thinking of Brother Large. He quoted it so often. We had the privilege of visiting with Brother Large a few years ago. He had lost none of the charm and enthusiam that made him a much loved boy preacher.
Next came Harry Carr, another student preacher. The only thing I remember about him is that he never wore a hat. It seems he carried the habit a bit too far and passed out one day in the harvest field while helping Mr. Ridge harvest. Paul Reed preached in 1929. G.M. Martin preached again in 1930. I remember him more as a neighbor than a preacher. He rather boasted about his strong right arm, and said he could do as good a day's work as anybody. He could too. He has helped Ernie (Ferrin) put up wood and fill silos. He got a big kick out of my son, Wendel, calling him "Bruzzer Martin".
The minutes of the board meeting on April 3, 1932, read as follows, "A meeting was called by George E. Kennedy, Chairman of the Board, for the purpose of considering Brother Bennett of Sawyer to be our minister. Motion carried to write Brother Bennett that is he has something pretty good in sight to take that, but if he has not, to come down and we will see what can be done in the field". Perhaps it was well for this church that Brother Bennett had nothing pretty good in sight at that time. Those, you know, were depression years. You know, too, that for the next fourteen years, Brother Bennett served us faithfully and well whether his check was small or large, and your guess is as good as mine about how large it was sometimes. He was always here on time regardless of roads or the weather, and, if he ever came without Mrs. Bennett, I don't remember it. We as a church would indeed be ungrateful if we failed to thank the Bennetts for their untiring efforts in those days. The results of those efforts can, of course, not be measured; but, suffice it to say, we have on record since the year 1925, one hundred twenty-five baptisms. Seventy-five of these were by Brother Bennett. Brother Bennett resigned December 31st, 1946.
C.D. Garrison of Enid, Oklahoma, began preaching for us on March 23, 1947, and preached until June, 1948. He enjoyed much popularity as a preacher. Our next preacher was another Bennett, Robert Bennett, a student preacher from Enid. Then came the Biggers, the Maurice Bigger family. They were with us about a year and a half, and were the first resident preachers since the Martins in 1930.
Since December 30, 1950, James Allen Nichols has preached for us. He plans to leave next month for Princeton, New Jersey, to further his education; so he too will soon be history. Everyone says nice things about James Allen Nichols, and I have observed his conscientious visits to the shut-ins and what I believe to be his sincere efforts to live a life above reproach, I think often of the definition of religion given us in the book of James: "Pure and undefiled religion before God is to visit the widows and sick in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted from the world". However, I have never heard James Allen quote that verse of Scripture. When in years to come we have another meeting such as this, when we open memory's album and look at pictures of the past, I shall hear James Allen as he has stood so many Sunday mornings, quoting the Scripture, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up as on the wings of eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and faint not."
Perhaps we should call to mind some of the evangelists that have been with us from time to time, but I have forgotten most of their names, and there are no records of our revivals that I could find. I remember a Brother Babb, who held a meeting here years ago. He came from Missouri, chewed tobacco, and had four handsome sons, all Christian ministers. Another's name was Hopkins. He bragged about his "Five Little Hoppies", children of his brilliant atheist wife whom he converted. He taught us this verse of Scripture: "Study to show yourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth", 2 Timothy 2:15. Then there was a Brother Roll, now pastor at Coldwater. This is all I seem to remember.
History is events brought about mostly by people. So far we have just talked about preachers. Without preachers, churches soon become things of the past, but without laymen there would be no churches. As I look back into the past, some of the faces and forms that I can see almost as plainly as though they were with us today are the J.E. Wrights, the Cliff Woods, the T.R. Berreys, the Howard Stouts, the Tom DeJarnetts, the D. Fishers, the Ridges, the George Browns, the Sam Hackneys, the Frank Evans, the Everett Chances, Mrs. Bell Helfer, Mrs. Zellikin and John Ruiter.
When we (Nellie May Barnett Ferrin, her mother Anna Aurelia Allender Barnett and Nellie's sister, Geneva Barnett) first came to Wilmore, the Christian Endeavor was a very vital part of the church. Some of the young folk at the time I remember were Harold, Ernest and Prowell Wood, Hattie Booth, Hattie England, George Brown, Cecil and Flake Fisher, George Kennedy, Madaline Berry, Bessie Bell, Frank Stout, Erma Fox, Grant and Lucien Wright, Magel and Blanche Wright, Ura Roderick, Hazel Ferrin, Edna Smith and Bea Chambers.
It seems to me that when there has been no young people's organization, we've lagged behind. This group of young folks bought the church bell. We served an ice cream supper to get the first funds for it. If my memory serves me right, we made $70.00 that evening. I think the bell cost $120.00, but I may be way off on that.
I remember when Claude Large was here; just about everyone went to the young people's meeting. We had a visiting minister call Brother Large on the carpet about it, and he said, "You don't have a youth group; this is the whole church". Brother Large answered, "That's the way we like it and that's the way it's going to be". Our young people's organization of more recent years did much towards improving the basement. Just when the basement was put under the church I don't remember, but it was sometime in the 20's, I think.
It seems only fair to remember some of the faithful and often unthanked Sunday School teachers and superintendents. Some of the teachers of whose classes I have been a part stand out in my mind at the moment as: John Testeman, Mrs. Zellikin, Grant Wright, Mrs. George Brown (Mrs. Brown always knew her lesson. I've never known anyone else who came to the class so perfectly prepared to teach), Mrs. Berrey and Mrs. Ridge. She, too, knew what she taught.
We have had a long list of faithful and capable superintendents, but for a long time Les Trummel has been on the job. He does it well too. I've tried to think of words to describe Les' work as a superintendent. This little verse presented itself in my mind, and I think it does the job nicely:
The longer on this earth we live,
and weigh the various qualities of men,
the more we see the fine stern-featured beauty,
of plain devotedness to duty.
Steadfast and still nor paid by mortal praise,
but finding amplist recompense in life's ungarlanded expanse,
of work done fairly and unwasted days.
(On page 69 of "Comanche County in Pictures", pub. 1988 by Taylor Publishing, is a photo of the church congregation in 1952, the same photo published at the top of this webpage. Wendel Ferrin is the tall man wearing a hat in the center of the back row, he holds his son, Darrell Gene Ferrin. Wendel's wife, Alice, is directly in front of him, and Wendel's mother, Nellie May (Barnett) Ferrin, the author of this history, is to the immediate left of Alice.
Weldon Trummel is the handsome guy who is second from the left in the photo at the top of this page.
I'd be remiss in mentioning Weldon Trummel on this website without also mentioning that I personally believe he was one of the finest men who ever walked. Grandma Nellie and I were talking one time about gentlemanly behavior, and she mentioned Weldon as an example of a man who had a naturally gentlemanly character. Weldon offered to give me a ride from Grandma Nellie's funeral service in Coldwater to the burial service at the Wilmore cemetery, and it was a real comfort that he did so. I could have ridden with family members, but I chose to ride with Weldon. Weldon has always been a personal hero of mine, and I've always felt honored for having been someone he apparently liked. Weldon Trummel was a genuinely decent, dedicated and honest man.
When Grandma Nellie died, all of her pallbearers were her grandsons except for Weldon Trummel, and I believe that she requested that Weldon be one of her pallbearers. My family honors and respects his memory. Weldon Trummel was a very good man.
Through the kindness of Wanda Booth of Wilmore, the original record book of this church has been microfilmed by the Kansas State Historical Society and reseachers may wish to consult that microfilm. The Wilmore Church of Christ was merged with the Wilmore Methodist Church in the 1950's to form the Wilmore Federated Church, which is still active in 1998. The original church church building of the Wilmore Church of Christ was demolished sometime in the 1980's. The Wilmore Church of Christ was an affiliate of the Disciples of Christ church organization.
As yet another example of how RootsWeb makes connections possible, I answered my phone on July 12th, 2001, and found myself speaking with James Allen Nichols, former pastor of the Wilmore Church of Christ! He had been alerted to this webpage by his son and had found my phone number by tracking down a Ferrin cousin who is descended from my great-great grandfather's brother! It's a small world!
I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak with him, and am happy to report that Reverend Nichols was agreeable when I asked if he'd like to contribute his personal memoirs about his time as pastor of the Wilmore Church of Christ to this website. (Thanks again for your call, Reverend Nichols!)
The 1924 Pocket Directory of Wilmore, Kansas: "Rev. A. Large, Pastor. George Kennedy, S.S. Supt."
This website will eventually include a listing of all the churches in Comanche County. If you'd like to have your church featured on this website, and can email me the text you'd like to have on the page featuring your church, I'll be happy to put the information online.
Jerry Ferrin, grandson of Nellie May (Barnett) Ferrin.
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This page was last updated 26 Jan 2006.