EDITOR NEWS: A number of persons have asked me at different times for a copy of the historical talk I made at the dedicatory service of the Baptist Church Nov. 1, 1914. As it would take more time to make copies in the usual way than I can well afford, I have concluded to give you a copy for publication, so that those who care to do so, may file the article away for future historical reference.
I am not accustomed to standing in pulpits and I presume I feel something like the proverbial cat in a strange garret, but I will try to fill my place on this program.
Everything has a history. The Churches and Church edifices of the world have histories. Some are identified with very remarkable events, some less thrilling and some even dull reading. Some of the churches of our own state have interesting histories and our nearby churches have histories that would interest most readers.
The Church whose history we are to refer to today, is unique in many respects from other organizations. It's first organization was composed of a sturdy class of pioneer men and women well fitted in character to be the human founders of a successsful religious organization in a wild country, where even civil law was little respected. The aboriginal Red Man roamed the forest and had his wigwam along the streams. The lonely howl of the wolf and the scream of the panther not infrequently broke the monotony of the long evenings of the pioneer families in their isolated cabins. As a partial offset to the hardships and dangers of frontier life, they lived in the midst of the best quality of game and the forests were ladened with the hum and sweets of the honey bee. The wild hog was here in droves, the deer, the wild turkey, the grouse, the prairie chicken and quail, were among the delicacies that abounded in forest and field and could be had at the pleasure of the settlers.
We find the written history of the organization of this pioneer church to be as follows:
We, Wm. Prewitt, Wm. Chambers, Rebecca Chambers, his wife, Rebecca Mullins, Sarah Wolf, Catherine Mullins and Sarah Griffith, having met at the house of David Mullins, in Mercer County, Mo., on the third of March, 1845, and having formerly been members of a Baptist church, after public worship, conducted by Elder William Henderson, do agree to form ourselves into a United Baptist Capacity.
After drafting and adopting articles of faith, Wm. Chambers was elected Clerk protem, and the name of the church was called Zoar. Among those who united with the church about the time of the first organization were Mary Davis, Jane Keefer, Hannah Hart, Almyra Nordyke, Susannah Chambers, Elizabeth Chambers, Almyra Chambers, Elizabeth Burns, Eliza Bunyard, Debora Lyall, Isaac M. Seay, Israel Nordyke, James T. Chambers, Isaiah Chambers, Franklin Burns, Elizabeth E. Bruce, Henderson Dagley, and William J. Nordyke.
After holding services a few years in private houses, a rude building was erected about a mile southeast of this church building on ground donated by Brother B.F. Burns for church and cemetery purposes. This old building in its rude construction of native lumber with hewn sills, joists and studding, with split logs seats, was the scene of many revival meetings and the place of hundreds of conversions among whom were a number of men who were afterwards ordained and made their mark in the world as successful ministers of the Gospel. Among those, we think of the names of Elders John Woodward, J.M. Woodward, J.H. Burrows, V.M. Harper and W.R. Goodell.
William Chambers, whose name occurs as one of the first and most conspicuous of this church organization, is remembered by many in this community. He settled and lived for many years on the farm just southeast of town, now the home of Nathan Graham, later moved to the large farm known as the Sarver farm, adjoining Mt. Moriah on the northwest. He was for several years the principal merchant in that town. He was the father of James Chambers, the popular hotel man of Mt. Moriah, who presided with much distinction and satisfaction to the traveling public for many years.
Isaiah Chambers and Almyra, his wife, settled and lived until their death, on the first farm east of Cainsville across the line in Mercer County. Your speaker had the honor to be the son-in-law of that noted and highly respected family.
Four generations have appeared upon the activities of life and even the fifth is already making its appearance since this early period in the history of this country, and we know of but one living person whose name is associated with this early history and that is one of the old church deacons and our fellow-townsman, Frank Burns, now past 96 years, very feeble, but his mind is as clear as a bell. He can tell you all about these early days as an eye witness and from personal experience.
All these old pioneers did their work nobly. It is a matter worthy of notice, however, that the two large families that figured conspicuously in this early history and did much to create and maintain a moral atmosphere in this community were the Mullins and Chambers families.
In the year 1870, the membership being mostly in, and near Cainsville, a new church building was erected in what was then the southeast part of this town on a lot donated by Elder John Woodward, and the name changed to "The Cainsville Baptist Church". Since that time, important improvements have been made from time to time and in the year 1906, something over $2,500 in improvements were made to the building.
In 1911, in the months of March and April, a series of meetings were held by Elder Edward James, of Holden, MO., which resulted in some 85 additions to the church, making the building appear entirely inadequate to accomodate the church in its various organizations. The question of a new church building was sprung on the congregation at the close of these services, which grew stronger and more intense as the time passed by, the outcome of which is this modern structure, costing some $25,000, about half of which has been paid, and the remainder we hope to raise at this meeting.
Now, my brethren, I feel that I have taken about all the time allotted me in this history talk, but I feel like I have only partly done my duty, if I should fail to say anything about the pastors who have presided over this church in all these years. This, however, can be only briefly referred to, since my time is short. The first two ministers, Henderson and Blakely, I had not the pleasure of their acquaintances, but I am told they were Godly men and earnest workers in the Cause of the Master. Elder John Woodward was a man well suited to the day in which he lived and labored; a hard and earnest worker in the field of his labor. Much of his early life was spent away from home holding meetings and doing his Master's work, while his faithful and devoted wife took care of the home and the family in the absence of her husband.
Elder Chesley Woodward, the father of John Woodward, came upon the field at a later period, and proved himself to be one of the worthiest of the worthy. No man, no matter how low down he might be in moral character, was ever heard to utter a word against the high moral character of this Godly man.
Elder J. M. Woodward was much like his father, a fair preacher and a sainted life that was a benediction to all who came under the sphere of his influence.
Elder J. H. Burrows is still among us and is too well known for me to command words to add to the character he has made for himself. For thirty years our pastor, that of itself speaks volumes. Eloquent, resourceful, sympathetic and liberal. No name will be written above his name in our church gallery of religious fame.
Elder V. M. Harper, another of our worthy pastors, is still clinging to the brittle thread of life. In his early manhood he was a soldier in the late Civil War, discharged his duty well as a soldier, so we are told, and carries as a souvenir an enemy's bullet in his right lung. Notwithstanding he commenced the ministry without special preparation, which became his life work, except the sword of the Spirit. His friends have good reason to be proud of him for the great success he has made in the field of his labors.
Elder Church preached one year, coming to us from William Jewel College; he was a young man of little experience, but a hard worker, and a good mixer.
Rev. Orlin Jeffreys was pastor of the church less than twelve months; the short time of his labor among us was insufficient to form a correct opinion of his real worth but he did stay in the capacity of a pastor long enough to demonstrate his powers in the fine preparation of his sermons which he delivered with unusual eloquence.
The last but not least is W.A. Boyd, entering now upon his fifth year as pastor; and while he may never rank among the great preachers or a spellbinder in oratory, it must be said of him that he is a great pastor; clean in habits and character, fearless in contending for the right and pointing out the wrong, always at his post in all the chrch services. regular in his pastoral visitations, and a constant visitor in the homes of the afflicted and the sorrowing.
I beg your pardon for having detained you for so long.
Millard F. Oxford