A BRIEF SKETCH OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCHES OF RALLS COUNTY, MISSOURI, AND THE MINISTERS THEREFROM
This article is a continuation of a lengthy study of the Christian Church which will be published in sections. All information and the subsequent photos are courtesy of Ron Leake, president of the Ralls County Historical Society.
CENTER OLIVET. – The oldest of all, it was organized by Evangelist “Sandy” Jones in 1830, several miles north of Center; then was located a mile north of Center for many years, until moved into town, by direction of J.B. Corwine, in 1890; and under his preaching, not long before the move, probably the most successful revival in the County occurred, with 102 new members added. This is a very active and progressive Church. Present full-time resident pastor is Harold Bruce.
HAYS CREEK. – Nine miles north of Vandalia. Organized 1843, by Timothy Ford, a pioneer preacher, widely active in north-east Mo. This has been a very sturdy, conservative Church, the last in the County to permit the use of instrumental music in worship, although not adhering to the faction that made the sad withdrawal in 1906, and asked the U.S. Census Bureau to list them thereafter as a separate body, “The Church of Christ”. Hays Creek’s present half-time minister is John Ball, 508 Ruth Ave., Moberly.
HUNTINGTON. – Organized by J.B. Corwine and Robert D. Chinn in 1888. For over 50 years, this group enjoyed healthy progress, but declined, and though kept alive by John Golden, “folded up” after his death, and in 1962 the building was sold and razed, and the land where it stood, and that of the small cemetery nearby reverted to the farm whose owner originally donated it conditionally.
LIBERTY. – Nine miles north-west of Vandalia. Organized by R.D. Shinn and J.B. Corwine in 1882. This never had a large membership, and in 1923 it dissolved, some of the remaining members uniting with Vandalia. The property is now used quite extensively by a Farm Club, which owns and maintains it as a social center, with 4-H Club use, and assemblies of many wholesome kinds.
LICK CREEK. – Less than a mile south of Perry, which did not exist in 1830, when a Union group representing several denominations constructed a log meeting-house, a little west of the Church that was organized by Henry Thomas, after the Presbyterians and Baptist withdrew, to form units of their own. The large frame rectangular structure soon built on a new site was probably the largest of all rural church buildings in the County. Perry’s beginning and rapid growth led to an amicable division of the members, under the minister, W.M. Roe in 1881. Most of the farm families, however, chose to remain, and continued for over 30 years longer, with the impressive edifice lingering for several years more, for funerals and anniversary and other special gatherings. It was sold and taken down about 1927, and the splendid endowed and enlarged Cemetery now marks the place. It is regrettable that full records of this historic Church have not been made and preserved.
MOUNT HOPE. – Seven miles north of Perry. Organized in 1908 by Paul W. Black, student in C.-S., it is the youngest of the nineteen; and has had a quite happy and useful life, shepherded by students from C.-S. much of the time, and affording a community center. It will be the nearest Church to the Cannon Dam on Salt River, with the resulting Lake on two sides, but not submerging a very large amount of the members’ land. Recently the building has been renewed and improved; and twice a month Dr. J.E. Corey of Maywood preaches on Sunday night, with an unusual practice of having Sunday School precede this evening service.
NEW LONDON FIRST. – Organized in 1834 by “Sandy” Jones and Jerry F. Lancaster. This has long been a strong Congregation. Succeeding the masterful J.B. Corwine as pastors were such able figures as Crayton S. Brooks, Edgar M. Richmond, W.H. Pinkerton, and others; with evangelists of the rank of Thomas Allen, J.J. Errett and Wm. T. Brooks, drawing large numbers. As the County Seat, too, from over the County prominent leaders in outlying Church came to New London, and added to the strength of this central Congregation. The 130 years of its history have not been marked by internal frictions of dissensions from doctrinal of social conflicts of opinion. The present full-time resident minister is Gordon Blauvelt.
NEW LONDON SECOND. – Organized in 1873, with Trustees Manuel Ross, George Washington, Sr., Daniel Morrow, and Smith Doolen, this has continued to the present, as a Negro Congregation of good standing, and a membership that has included men and women of steady faith, and a remarkable strength, to begin a few years after Emancipation as ex-slaves with little or no property. They have survived, too, when the exodus from the County of Colored folks has left only a few of the once almost 2,000 slaves that Ralls contained when the Civil War began. The Congregation has recently enlarged and modernized their building; and they now have regular Sunday School and preaching services. Raymond Brown, 1907 Spruce St., Hannibal, is the minister.
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