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The Churches of Madison County



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Primitive Baptist Churches in Madison County, Illinois          History of Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic Church of Alton            History of the Main Street United Methodist Church of Alton





The Monks of La Trappe

From A Gazetteer of Madison County by James T. Hair, 1866 (Book in Public Domain)


          About the year 1809, a very different order of emigrants made their appearance in Madison County in the vicinity of the mound skirting Cahokia Creek, upon one of which they had a residence for several years, and from which it derived its name of Monk's Mound. They were known as the Monks of La Trappe. The monastery of this order was anciently situated in the Province of Perche, in France, in one of the most solitary spots that could be chosen. It was founded in A. D. 1140, under the patronage of Ratron, Count of Perche. They were a branch of the order of Cistercian Monks. Their monastery had fallen into decay and their rigid discipline relaxed, when the order was reformed by the Abbe Rance in A. D. 1664. Perpetual silence was the vow, every comfort of life was rejected, and a stone was their pillow, bread and water their only food, and every day each removed a handful of earth from his grave. The furious storm of the French Revolution scattered the Trappists. A branch of the order came to the United States in 1804, first established themselves near Conewango, in Pennsylvania; then in Kentucky; next at Florissant in St. Louis, Missouri, and finally in 1809 or 1810 in Madison County, upon the mound and farm before referred to which was the gift of Colonel Nicholas Jarrot of Cahokia.


          They numbered eighty in all, and expected an accession of two hundred others from France, but the climate and situation were not congenial to the austerities practiced by the order. During the summer months, fevers prevailed among them to an alarming extent. Few escaped and many died. They cultivated a garden, repaired watches and traded with the inhabitants. Connected with the monastery was a sort of Seminary for boys. They seem to have been regarded generally as filthy in their habits, but extremely severe in their penances and discipline. No one was ever allowed to speak to another, or to a stranger, except in cases of absolute necessity; neither could he address the superior, without first asking his permission by a sign, and receiving his assent. They were allowed to receive no letters or news from the world, and were compelled to obey the least sign made even by the lowest lay-brother in the community, although by doing so, they might spoil whatever they were at the time engaged in. Their dress consisted entirely of woolen; they eat no flesh, and had but two meals a day. Their dinner was soup of turnips, carrots and other vegetables, with no seasoning but salt, and their supper, of two ounces of bread with water. They slept in their clothing upon boards, with blocks of wood for pillows, but in winter were allowed any quantity of covering they desired. When a stranger visited them, he was received with the utmost kindness by their guest-master, his wants attended to, and everything freely shown and explained to him, and whenever he passed one of the monks, the latter bowed humbly to him, but without looking at him. They labored all day in the fields or in their work shops in the most profound silence, the injunction of which was removed, only from the one appointed to receive visitors, and those engaged in imparting instruction. When one of them was taken ill, the rigor of their discipline was entirely relaxed towards him, and every attention and comfort bestowed upon him, and if he was about to die, when in his last agonies, he was placed upon a board, on which the superior had previously made the sign of a cross, with ashes, and the rest gathered around him to console and pray for him. The dead were wrapped in their ordinary habit and buried without a coffin in the field adjoining their residence. As soon as one was buried, a new grave was opened by his side, to be ready for the next who might need it.


          The first discovery of coal in the bluffs was made by these monks. Their blacksmiths complained of a want of proper fuel, and on their being informed of the earth near a tree struck by lightning was burning, they went to the spot and on digging a little below the surface, discovered a vein of coal.


          In 1813, they sold off their personal property, re-conveyed the land to Mr. Jarrot, the donator, and left the country for France.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 28, 1907

John R. Sutter, Madison county's antiquarian and archaeologist, is puzzling his brain today over the mystery of how a glass bead manufactured in Italy two hundred and fifty years before the birth" of Christ happened to be found in Madison county among the relics of the Mound Builders," says the Edwardsville Intelligencer. "Mr. Sutter confesses that he does not know the answer, and some of his contemporaries in the matter of ancient research are equally puzzled. Mr. Sutter has worn the perforated bead on his watch chain for years. Today he received a letter from David Bushnell of St. Louis, a member of the Missouri Historical Society, recently returned from explorations in Italy. He enclosed with his letter a fragment of an Estrucian glass bead from Bologna, Italy, which corresponds in every way with the watch charm. Mr. Bushnell remembered Mr. Sutter's head, and as the one that he found was of the 250 B. C. period, and the other was discovered in Edwardsville township, he inquired how the gap was going to be bridged."





The First Churches

From A Gazetteer of Madison County by James T. Hair, 1866


          A Sabbath School was organized and taught May 1, 1820, at Upper Alton, by Enoch Long and Henry Snow, and was continued during the summer, which was said to have been the first taught in Illinois. During the year previous, however, the wife of the Rev. Thomas Lippincott, then a merchant at Milton, had gathered into their house on Sabbath mornings for religious instructions some fifteen or twenty children - all there were - and this in reality was the earliest effort made in this direction in the County, and perhaps deserves the name of the first Sabbath School in Illinois.


          The Methodist and Baptist Churches were early planted in Illinois, and there were many preachers of these denominations who labored more or less in Madison County. The Baptists were mostly of the old - or as they are sometimes known, the hyper-Calvinistic school. They were then popularly called Ironsides, but have been since more widely known and famed as Hardshells. About 1818 or 1819, the Rev. John M. Peck came to itinerate among them. He was an able man, as many can testify, and urged his New School, Missionary, Sunday School, Bible and Temperance efforts with great zeal, power and success.


          The Methodist Church furnished many specimens of able ministry and devotion to the work. The principal resort or place of meeting in Madison County was about two miles west of Edwardsville where they had a meeting house and camping ground called "Ebenezer." Among the most conspicuous of their ministers were John Dew and Samuel H. Thompson. Mr. Dew was a man of unusual intellectual power, not very eloquent, or at least oratorical, his strong arguments and vigorous appeals - to the judgment rather than to the passions - were felt especially by thinkers. Samuel H. Thompson was a different style of man. His intellectual powers could not be esteemed equal, yet he could better command an audience and produce more effect upon the public mind than Mr. Dew or any other of the men of his day. He was frequently impassioned, but this did not seem to be the secret of his power. It was more common to attribute it to his strong common sense, combined with strong affections and knowledge of mankind. Gov. Edwards said of him that he was the most powerful man with the people he knew; and if he had made politics his business, would have been wonderfully successful. But, he was devoted to what he considered a higher work, and though he consented to allow his name to be used as a candidate for Lieutenant Governor in after years, he abstained from personal effort, and it was thought lost his election by it.


          The Presbyterians at this time were few, if we except the Cumberland Presbyterians who were active, efficient and successful. The John Barbers, father and son, though not among the first as ministers, were known as among their most efficient laborers.


          In 1819, two ministers came into Illinois as Presbyterian Missionaries. Their names were Lowe and Graham. As their field included Illinois and Missouri, and their time a year or less, they were of course but little in Madison County. Edward Hollister and Daniel Gould were in the County in 1820 as Missionaries of this denomination. Subsequently, Mr. Gould taught school in Edwardsville six months, while Mr. Hollister itinerated mostly in Missouri, occasionally visiting Edwardsville.


          In 1822, two other Missionaries came from New England, Rev. Orin Catlin and Rev. I. N. Sprague. Their labors were mostly in Madison and adjacent counties. Before all these, the Rev. Salmon Giddings, who arrived in St. Louis in 1816 or 1817, came over occasionally and preached, and it was he who formed the churches of Edwardsville and Collinsville, the first of the denomination in Madison County.


History of Madison County, Illinois, Illustrated, With Biographical Sketches of Many Prominent Men and Pioneers

Published By W. R. Brink & Co., Edwardsville, IL; 1882: Pages 301-302  (Book in Public Domain)

THE BAPTIST CHURCH By Justus Bulkley, D. D.


          The first Baptist church organized within the present limits of Madison county was at Wood River. It was constituted May 3, 1807, by David Badgley and William Jones. Among the constituent members were: William Jones, by letter; Elizabeth Jones, Susan Brown, William Stubblefield, Isaac Hill, Lucy Hill, Joseph Cook, Sarah Cook, John Rattan, Mary Rattan, Anne Rose, John Finley, and possibly others. July following Joseph White, James Gillham and Anne Gillham joined, by letter. In June 1809, Abel Moore, Mary Moore, James Beeman and Nancy Beeman were received by letter. In September, 1809, George Moore and Nancy Moore joined by letter.

          In 1808 the first Baptist Association was formed, called the "Illinois Union." It consisted of five churches, Wood River, New Design, Mississippi Bottom, Silver Creek and Richland. It had four ministers, David Badgley, William Jones, Robert Brazil and Joseph Chance, with sixty-two members. Hence Wood River church, with its pastor, was one of five churches to constitute the first Baptist Association in Illinois. In 1809 the Association held its annual meeting with this church. The first Saturday in April, 1811, letters of dismission were granted to William and Elizabeth Jones; but the first Saturday in October, 1814, they were again received by letter. The first Saturday in June, 1815, James Beeman was appointed to get plank to floor the meeting-house, and get two acres of land from Joseph Vaughn, for meeting-house, and graveyard. The first Saturday in June, 1816, Joseph Vaughn offered to sell to the church two acres of land where the meeting-house and grave yard were situated, for five dollars per acre. After consultation, the church purchased one and a half acres, and Vaughn donated a half acre and twenty rods. These pioneers were a hearty, thrifty, social generous people; their hospitality was unbounded. A common foe in the Indians by whom they were surrounded connected them very closely in their friendship, as well as united them for common defense. Their settlements were sparse. Their custom was to hold monthly meetings, beginning on Saturday and holding over the following Sabbath. Their faith was simple and their piety sincere; their preaching was largely oratory and their worship primitive and unostentatious; members were often widely scattered; their mode of travel was on horseback, and attended great danger from a prowling foe; and yet they exhibited great earnestness and punctuality in their attendance upon the stated appointments of the church. One of the members of this church, Mrs. Bates, the mother of the wife of Abel Moore, lived near Jersey Landing; another, Mrs. Askew, sister of Mr. Abel Moore, also lived near Jersey Landing, and yet both came monthly, on horseback, exposed to imminent danger, and yet with great regularity and delight, to attend the stated appointments of the church. During the war of 1812 Elder William Jones became a soldier, and was elected captain of his company. During this period he often preached in the Block House, which stood near the premises of William Gill. This church enjoyed a good degree of prosperity until about 1849, about which time its membership declined, and it was then merged into Bethlehem United Baptist Church."



Centennial History of Madison County, Illinois and Its People, 1812 to 1912, Pages 127-129

Edited and Compiled by W T Norton, Alton Associate Editors: Hon. N G Flagg, Moro and J S Hoerner, Highland Volume 1 Illustrated

Publishers: The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York, 1912




          The first institution of higher education established by members of the Catholic faith in Madison county bears the above name. It has behind it a record of over fifty years of usefulness and successful endeavor. The Ursuline order, founded by Saint Angela of Merici for the purpose of educating young girls, has for nearly four hundred years devoted itself exclusively to this noble work. Spread throughout all Christendom as we find it today, it everywhere adapts itself to the needs of the community. The missionary zeal of their sainted mother is their most precious inheritance, and thus no sooner did the Alton Community number sufficient members to enable it to extend its field of labor, than, in response to urgent appeals, new foundations were made. Those located in this county are at Collinsville and Venice. These missions, together with the Cathedral and St. Patrick's schools of Alton, place the Sisters in charge of nearly two thousand children. The following historical sketch of the Ursuline Academy of Alton is kindly furnished the editor: During the year 1858, Rt. Rev. Bishop Juncker applied at the Ursuline convent of St. Louis, Missouri, for Sisters of the order to take charge of the schools in his Episcopal city. In response to this invitation, Mother Josephine Bruiding, accompanied by Sisters Seraphine Pauer, Ursula Gruenwald, Mary Weiman, Martha Dauam, Antonia Stahl and Cresentia Jobst, arrived in Alton, March 21, 1859.


          A house on State street, nearly opposite to the present site of the Hayner Library, had been rented for their use. Upon their arrival generous friends furnished all necessaries so that on the feast of the Annunciation, the holy sacrifice of the mass was offered in a small room which had been set apart for a chapel. By the activity of those energetic pioneers, the schools were opened on the first of April. Accustomed as we are at the present day to all modern conveniences, it is difficult to realize the heroic sacrifices made in these early days.


          The site of the present convent on Fourth street was purchased in 1860, and a new building was commenced during the year. Mother Josphine Bruiding and Mother Mary Weiman visited Europe in order to solicit the necessary funds for carrying on the work. They were generously aided by the clergy and by the religious of the ancient monasteries of Europe. King Louis, of Bavaria, Francis Joseph, the present emperor of Austria, and other members of the royal house of Hapsburg were liberal in their donations. The Royal Art and Altar societies of Munich donated an altar and several valuable paintings. Aided by the liberality of these foreign friends, as well as by the generosity of the citizens of Alton, work on the new building progressed rapidly, so that on December 28, 1863, it was solemnly blessed by Rt. Rev. Bishop Juncker and dedicated to the Holy Family.


          It would be impossible to adequately recount the kindness with which the Sisters were received both by the Catholics and non-Catholics of the Bluff City. The debt of gratitude due to the Rt. Rev. H D Juncker and Rt. Rev. P J Baltes, of happy memory, can be discharged only by the Giver of every best and perfect gift to whom grateful prayers are daily offered. The paternal interest ever shown by Rt. Rev. Bishop Ryan is deeply appreciated by the Community. Rt. Rev. Bishop Janssen, of Belleville, for many years director and chaplain of the convent, is one whose kindness will never be forgotten. The reverend clergy of the diocese, and especially of the city, have ever by their cooperation and support proved themselves true and generous friends of the institution.


          March 25, 1909, marked a day most sacred to the Ursuline Community of Alton, for on that day, fifty years before, the first mass was celebrated in their little chapel; and ever since it has been their most precious privilege to offer a home to their Eucharistic King. A thousand tender memories were recalled by the Community on this thrice blessed anniversary. Mother Ursula, the only member of the pioneer band still living, told the interesting details of their first coming to the Bluff City.


          Noted as Alton is for its picturesque views, no other point presents more enchanting vistas than those which the academy affords. The location is ideal, the surroundings elevating, while the buildings have been constructed for comfort and convenience. Every apartment has been arranged according to the most approved hygienic laws; the class-rooms are located in such a way as to secure the proper light; the sleeping apartments are large, well-lighted, and thoroughly ventilated; adjoining the dormitories are bath-rooms will hot and cold water. A pleasant refectory artistically decorated with natural ferns and palms, a well equipped gymnasium, and pleasant recreation and reading rooms -- in fact, everything that can conduce to the well-being and happiness of the student.

The education is practical and comprehensive. The course of study embraces primary, preparatory, academic and commercial departments. The curriculum comprises all the studies usually taught in graded and high schools, together with special facilities for the study of French and German under native teachers. The accomplished educators who have severally been at the head of the academy since its establishment, and to whom so much is due for their self-sacrificing lives of labor, are Mother Josephine Bruiding, Mother Mary Weiman, Mother Theresa Gillespie, Mother Lucy Maney, Mother Bernard Walter and the present honored incumbent, Mother Angela Schwartz.








Source: Alton Telegraph, October 12, 1836

It is our painful duty to record the occurrence during the past week, of one of the most distressing accidents which it has ever befallen our town to experience. As the workmen on the new church just erected for the Baptist society were completing the stone work on Saturday evening last, and were about removing the platforms, the main part of the gable end fell with a tremendous crash, carrying all before it, staging, joists, &c., with two men who were at work upon the staging, burying them amid the stone and rubbish beneath, and literally crushing them to death. They did not breathe after access was had to them, and it is supposed they were instantaneously killed. One of the men was a German by the name of John Hamlun, and the other had but a few days previous arrived here from Missouri, whose name, we learn, was Gwynn. How true the language of Holy Writ, that "In the midst of life we are in death."  We know not where the blame of the accident should rest, if indeed blame is attributable to anyone; but we are credibly informed, that from the eves of the building to the peak of the gable end, the work lacked at least five inches of being plumb.




Source:  Alton Observer, Editor: ELIJAH P. LOVEJOY, December 1, 1836

We find the following circular in the "Episcopal Recorder" of Philadelphia, and cheerfully transfer it to our columns:  CHURCH AT ALTON, ILLINOIS


The following circular, of which a copy has been sent to us, is worthy the attention of our readers, especially as there are many congregations in the western country and other parts similarly circumstanced.


The undersigned, the Wardens and Vestrymen of St. Paul's Church, Alton, Illinois, relying upon your devotion to the Church, and believing you would rejoice to see her prosper and flourish in these "western wilds," have so far presumed upon your kindness as to present our claims before you and respectfully solicit such aid, as from an examination of those claims, you should believe us to merit. We are now a feeble flock, collected together by one of the most worthy and devoted of clergymen (the Rev. James De Pui, late of Pottsville, Pennsylvania), consisting of about twenty-five families, and from fifteen to twenty young men; occupying as a place of worship, a room that will contain about a hundred individuals, and the only place that could be procured upon any terms in the whole town. This room is wholly inadequate to our wants, and will not contain over one-third of those who are willing and anxious to attend our Church, but who are prevented, from an inability to obtain a seat. Not a Sunday returns, but we are more sensibly brought to feel how much we are suffering and losing, for want of a proper and sufficiently large place of worship; and so anxious are we that our beloved Zion should not be retarded in its advancement in the earliest stages of its existence at this place, that we have determined to go on and do what we can towards erecting a Church, and for the residue to throw ourselves upon the generosity of our Episcopalian friends throughout the Union.


We have a subscription amounting to about three thousand dollars, with which we contemplate purchasing a lot sufficiently large for a Church and parsonage. A committee appointed to select a suitable site have procured a most desirable lot, the cost of which will be about four thousand dollars, and the Vestry have concluded to purchase the same. We have also authorized a gentleman of our town, now at the east, to procure us a loan, if possible, of five thousand dollars, to secure which we are willing to give undoubted personal, in addition to real estate security. This is as much as the Episcopalians at this place can do, and the question that now forcibly presents itself for the consideration of every friend of our beloved Zion is, whether our Church shall be permitted to languish and die in this most desirable point of the Valley of the Mississippi, when the same spirit of liberality that pervades other denominations, if exerted by ours, would place us on a firm and imperishable basis. Destined as we are at no distant day to become one of the largest and most important towns of the Valley of the Mississippi; seeing other denominations erecting fine Churches with not half the prospects that we have, we have felt as if an appeal of this kind, with a statement of facts, was a duty incumbent upon us, and from the performance of which we could not shrink.


Our town is not yet six years of age, has four houses of public worship, a Presbyterian Church, built of stone, neatly finished, which cost five thousand dollars; a Methodist Episcopal, which cost twenty-five hundred; a Protestant Methodist, of stone, which cost three thousand; and a Baptist, not yet finished, which will cost at least fifteen thousand dollars. In addition to the above, the Roman Catholics and Unitarians have it also in contemplation of erecting, the coming season, houses of worship, and we are credibly informed that the Bishop of Baltimore subscribed five thousand dollars, and the Bishop of St. Louis three thousand towards the Roman Catholic Church and Seminary, besides receiving a donation of land upon which to erect their buildings. This is a true and unvarnished statement of the situation of the other denominations in our town, and we earnestly entreat you to render us as much assistance as circumstances will permit you. Occupying as we do the same attitude of importance in the state of Illinois, that St. Louis does to Missouri - Louisville to Kentucky - and Cincinnati to Ohio - we are calculated to exert here an influence in religion that will extend itself and be felt throughout our entire state. How important then is it, that our Church should be placed in its infancy upon a firm basis, and for respectability not to be surpassed in the Valley of the Mississippi.


Were it not for the length to which this Circular has already reached, we might go on and point out to you by the most incontrovertible arguments, the great advantages and importance of our growing town; but believing there is not point in the United States where it is more important that our Church should be firmly established, and where a happier welfare of our beloved Zion - we must conclude by once more soliciting your aid, with the assurance that whatever it may be in your power to lend us, it will be highly acceptable - and believe us, that your exertions in our behalf will receive our grateful acknowledgements, and in addition thereto, we will offer up our most fervent aspirations that whatsoever you may find it in your power to do for us, may, through the blessing of Almighty God, be restored to you ten fold.  Signed by the Wardens: Eli Hawley and A. B. Roff; and signed by the Vestry: George T. M. Davis, George Kimball, J. A. Townsend, William McGuise, James Morss, Jr., William Porter, B. K. Hart; Alton, Illinois, October 1836.




Source: Alton Observer, March 9, 1837

The Presbytery of Alton is to be organized, at Alton, on the first Tuesday in April next, at 7 o'clock in the evening. Ministers and churches within the following limits are to constitute the Presbytery, viz: The counties of Monroe and St. Clair to be included on the south; and from the northeast corner of St. Clair a line be run due north to the road leading from St. Louis to Greenville, then on that road to Bond co., then on the west line of Bond and Montgomery counties to the road leading from Hillsboro to Bushnell's ferry, thence on that road thro' Carlinville and Carrollton to Bushnell's ferry - the Illinois and Mississippi rivers form the western boundary, including also, the church of Bethel in Bond county, and excluding Carrollton and Carlinville.




Source: Alton Telegraph, September 20, 1837

We have been requested to state that the public services of this Church will hereafter be held in the third story of Mr. Riley's stone storehouse, on the corner of Second [Broadway] and Piasa streets, at the usual hours.




Source: Alton Telegraph, July 22, 1843

The cornerstone of the new Catholic church in this city was laid on Sunday week last, with appropriate ceremonies. Bishop Renwick of St. Louis officiated, and delivered an able and highly interesting discourse. The "Hibernian Society" of St. Louis accompanied the Bishop, and was present at the laying of the cornerstone. The building, we are informed, will progress immediately.




Source: Alton Telegraph, January 27, 1844

A number of ladies of Alton and its vicinity met at the session room of the Presbyterian Church, on the 17th inst., to form a society for benevolent purposes - when the following constitution was adopted:


Whereas, all of us are blessed with a competency, and some enjoy the luxuries of life, while many of our fellow beings are struggling with disease and poverty - without clothing, without fuel - at the inclement season of winter, and in some instances, even without bread; and more than this, they are deprived of the voice of consolation and sympathy under their multiplied afflictions. Therefore, we, the undersigned, being desirous of doing all in our power to alleviate their sufferings, so far as our means, our visits, and our counsel, can do, and having agreed to form ourselves into a society for that purpose, do hereby adopt the following constitution for our government:

Article 1. This society shall be known and designated by the name and style of the "Female Benevolent Society of Alton;" and shall be composed of such ladies residing in Alton and the vicinity....paying annually the sum of 50 cents or upwards. Gentlemen can become members by paying $1.00....

President - Mrs. J. G. Lamb

Vice Presidents - Mrs. J. Bailhache and Mrs. S. G. Bailey

Secretary - Mrs. J. W. Chickering

Treasurer - Mrs. H. Bigelow

Depository - Mrs. I. Scarritt




Source: Alton Telegraph, May 25, 1844

The Methodist Episcopal Church in Alton, just completed, will be dedicated to the worship of Almighty God on Sabbath, June 2d, 1844, at 11 o'clock a.m. The dedicatory sermon, it is expected, will be delivered by the Rev. J. H. Linn, pastor of the "Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church" of St. Louis. Other brethren in the ministry are also expected to be in attendance. The meeting will begin on Thursday night, the 30th inst., and will, probably, be protracted for several days.  N. S. Bastion.


[Note: This church was at the northeast corner of Belle and Fourth Streets.]




Source: Alton Telegraph, June 7, 1845

Messrs. Editors of the Alton Telegraph:

You are aware that there has been some excitement in this community [Godfrey] for some weeks past, growing out of the sale of the building that has been occupied by the Presbyterian Church in this city. Being desirous of correcting wrong impressions, in so far as the Trustees of the Seminary, and myself in particular, are concerned, I addressed a communication to the pastor, Rev. Mr. Norton, which I desired him to read to the congregation. After a few days, he replied that I had not been rightly informed in regard to what he said on the Sabbath, and that he must decline complying with my request to read my communication on the Sabbath, or at a prayer meeting, for obvious reasons, and that he would hand it to the committee. To this I replied that although I might have been incorrectly informed in regard to his sermon, it was nevertheless certain that an impression had been created by that sermon on the minds of the public generally, that the trustees had acted very unjustly and improperly in disposing of the church as they did, and that it seemed to me and to my friends that there could be no reasonable objection to having my own simple statement of the transaction laid before the congregation, as the most direct and simple method of correcting the wrong impressions that had been made. I was not at all tenacious that it should be read on the Sabbath. I had not asked it. But I was desirous that it might be read to the church and congregation. I again respectfully requested him to do this, and intimated that in case he should not feel at liberty to do it, I should be compelled, though reluctantly, to give it to the public through some other channel. It is in consequence of the continued refusal of Mr. Norton to comply with my request that I trouble you, Messrs. Editors, to give this communication a place in your columns. There may have occurred some slight verbal alteration, but it is substantially the same as that sent to Mr. Norton. I feel it my duty here to say that the committee of the Episcopal Church have, in all this transaction, acted in a perfectly fair and honorable manner. 

Respectfully yours, Benjamin Godfrey


[Letter to Rev. A. T. Norton from Benjamin Godfrey, Monticello, May 16, 1845]:


"Rev. A. T. Norton:  Dear Sir,

Having learned from various sources that much dissatisfaction has been expressed by the members of your church and congregation with the Trustees of Monticello Female Seminary, but more particularly with me, in relation to the disposal of the church edifice in which you worship to the Episcopal society, and feeling that these complaints are unreasonable and unjust, I deem it a duty I owe to myself and to the Trustees, to state distinctly that there is no just ground of dissatisfaction with them or myself in relation to this matter. I have evidently been much misapprehended, and consequently misrepresented. Since the building was erected in 1834, I have never had any expectation or wish, but that it should eventually be possessed by the Presbyterian Church, for whose benefit it was erected.  But the Trustees of the Seminary, acting in their official capacity, and myself with them, felt that whatever might be our predilections for any particular society or denomination, we were bound to get as high a price for the building as we fairly could. The Trustees instructed me, as their committee, to act on this principle, and at the same time recorded a resolution, limiting the minimum price.  One of them was of opinion that it was worth $2,000, and the others thought it ought to bring at least $2,000; yet, as it seemed very desirable to sell it in order to relieve the Seminary from embarrassment, they agreed to take $1,600, provided they could get no more. I had no discretion that would justify me in taking from any purchaser less than it would bring. The committee of the Presbyterian Church, on the other hand, evidently aimed at getting it as low as the could. They at first stated to me that they might, possibly, be able to raise $1,000, but not more. They subsequently named $1,100, the $1,200, and then $1,400; during which time several months passed away, and it was becoming more and more doubtful whether they could purchase it at all.


The negotiation was suspended here, when on the 7th of March, I received a communication from the committee of the Episcopal Church inquiring the lowest sum I would take for the building. On the 19th, I replied that $2,000 would purchase it, provided more could not be obtained, and at the same time stated that I did not think there was much prospect of the present occupants purchasing it. So soon as it became known that the Episcopalians were disposed to purchase it, new and more vigorous efforts were made by the Presbyterians; $1,500 and then $1,600 were named. The member of the committee who named this last sum was desirous to know the lowest sum I would take for it. I told him $2,000 would buy it, if no more could be obtained. He then remarked that if $2,000 was necessary to buy the church, the Presbyterians must give it up, for there was no earthly hope that they could raise that sum. The committee had made every effort, and obtained all that could be raised, and it was still short of $1,600. This was on Friday morning. Subsequently, on the same day, I met the Episcopal committee, and offered them the church at $2,000; upon which they offered me $1,750. I declined accepting the offer then, but asked them to let it remain till Monday, to which they assented, on condition that I would let my offer remain, which I agreed to do. When I made the offer as above, I did not think the chance of the Presbyterians was in the least jeopardized, for I did not think the offer would be accepted. In the afternoon of the same day, I met the Presbyterian committee. At this time they offered $1,700, and every member assured me that it was the very highest sum they could think of giving - it being $100 more than was subscribed, but they were willing to pledge the congregation for the additional $100. They most distinctly assured me that they must lose the churchif they could not get it for that sum, and that I might consider this as their final offer. I expressed to them my earnest desire that they might get possession of it, and told them, as I was leaving the door, that I thought they would have it. This opinion was predicated upon the belief that the Episcopal society would not make such an offer as would justify me in declining the offer just made by the Presbyterian committee. I told them, however, that I could not give them an answer till Monday. I had agreed with the other committee to leave it open till Monday, and I wished also to see Mr. Edwards before I closed the bargain. Agreeable to appointment, I called on the Episcopal committee on Monday morning, and declined their offer of $1,750; they then offered $1,850, being $150 more than the Presbyterians had said they would give to save the church. This offer I declined, solely on the ground that I wished to favor the Presbyterian Church; but as I did not feel justified in sacrificing this $150 to the Seminary, I resolved to make it up myself. This determination I expressed to Mr. Corey at the time, together with my great anxiety that the Presbyterians might secure the church, but contrary to any expectation that I had formed, the Episcopal committee accepted of my offer to take the building for $2,000.


Now, I ask every reflecting, candid man what I ought to have done? Although I was willing to give the Presbyterian society $150, that the building might be secured to them, I did not feel able to give the $300, and, acting for a public institution of a catholic character which was in needy circumstances, I certainly could not feel that it would be right to relinquish $300 in favor of any society or denomination, however great my predilections for that society might be. It did not occur to me that I had given any reason for the charge of unfairness, or that the Presbyterian committee, as high-minded, honorable men, could take any exception to my course. That it was my duty to dispose of the church to the best advantage for the Seminary, I supposed was a proposition so plain that it could not be questioned. Such then, sir, is an outline of the course I have pursued, and my reasons for it; and justice requires me to add, that any statement or impressions that may have been made, at all conflicting with this simple account of the transaction, in so far as I am concerned, are unjust.


The building was erected in 1834 at an expense of $1,235.54. When it was tendered to the church and congregation for a series of years, without charge, they were pleased to pass public resolutions expressive of their duty "to exercise special gratitude to God that he had put it into the heart of one of their number to erect a house for His worship," and of their thanks to me for what they were pleased to determinate so "generous" an act. If my views were then such as to induce the belief that it was my duty and privilege to aid the Presbyterian Church in the manner and to the extent I did, I must insist on it, that I have done nothing now that should be construed into evidence that my disposition towards that church has at all changed; or, that can justify any change of feeling on the part of the church and congregation towards me. There is no evidence that I have been any more influenced by personal or interested considerations in disposing of the church as I have for the benefit of the Seminary, than there is that I was influenced by such motives when I erected it for the benefit of the Presbyterian Church in Alton. Yet, for the one act, public thanks is tendered to Almighty God and to me, His humble instrument, but for the other, my conduct is most grievously misrepresented and denounced, and my motives impugned; and this, not only in private circles and along the streets, but, if I have been rightly informed, to some extent in the very sanctuary and pulpit, which they had occupied as almost a gratuity for more than ten years. I will not disguise that I have been much grieved at the course that has been pursued - a course that has seemed to me as ungenerous as it is unjust; and I cannot but hope that after the present excitement has passed by, and the people return to the exercise of their inner reason, and of that charity "that thinketh no evil," they will not only do me but themselves justice in this matter. Allow me to ask of you, as a simple act of justice to me, that you will read this communication to your church and congregation. I am, with sincere respect and esteem, Your Friend and Brother, Benjamin Godfrey."




Source: Alton Telegraph, June 28, 1845

The new Roman Catholic Church, recently erected in this city, will be dedicated to the worship of Almighty God, by the Right Rev. W. Quartier, Bishop of Chicago, on Sunday the 29th inst. A Ladies' Fair for the benefit of the Roman Catholic Church will be held on Wednesday the 25th instant, and the three succeeding days, in the large brick building opposite the Market House, recently occupied by Mrs. Bruner. The doors will be open from 9 am to 9 pm of each day.




Source: Alton Telegraph, July 5, 1845

The Roman Catholic Church in Alton was dedicated on Sunday last to the worship of God. A large and attentive concourse of people from this place and St. Louis were assembled on the occasion, many of whom could not procure admittance and were consequently prevented from witnessing the imposing ceremonies. The church is probably the handsomest finished of any in the State of that denomination, and reflects great credit upon its architect, Mr. William Crane, who is a gentleman in every respect worthy the confidence, esteem, and patronage of the public. The painting is done in an admirable and almost inimitable style, and entitles the artist who performed the work to much praise. This building has been erected at a cost of between twelve and fifteen thousand dollars, which has been principally obtained through the personal and indefatigable exertions of the pastor of the church, the Rev. Michael Carroll.



Source: Alton Telegraph, November 1, 1845
We regret to state that on Wednesday last, while Messrs. Morrison and Hammond, carpenters of this city [Alton], were engaged in conveying shingles to the roof of the Presbyterian Church, now in the course of erection near the corner of Second [Broadway] and Market Streets, the scaffolding on which they were standing suddenly gave way and precipitated both to the bottom a distance of 26 feet. Mr. Morrison fell on his feet, and although his system received a very severe shock, followed by great pain and loss of strength, he happily escaped without serious injury and will probably be able to go about in a few days. Mr. Hammond fell on his side and broke his left arm badly near the shoulder, but was otherwise uninjured. He is now doing as well as can be expected, and it is hoped will ultimately recover the use of his arm.


First Presbyterian Church of Alton



Source: Alton Telegraph, June 20, 1846

The new and beautiful church recently erected by the Presbyterian congregation of Alton was dedicated to the public worship of Almighty God on Sunday morning last, by the Rev. A. T. Norton, Pastor of the Church; Rev. A. Bullard of St. Louis; and the Rev. L. S. Williams of Alton, being present and assisting.  The exercises were very solemn, and seemed to make a deep, and we trust also a salutary impression upon the large and respectable assemblage which the interesting occasion had drawn together. We find the following brief notice of the sermon, the building, &c. in the St. Louis Gazette of Tuesday:


"Mr. Editor: Yesterday, Sabbath morning, the church edifice erected by the First Presbyterian Church and Society in Alton was solemnly dedicated to the worship of the only true God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The House, at an early hour, was crowded to overflowing. The singing, conducted by Mr. Hayden, the leader of the choir, was excellent. The sermon by Rev. A. T. Norton, the Pastor of the church, was a systematic, practical, finished discourse. It did honor to its excellent author. The text was in 1st Kings, VIII:63 - "So the King and all the Children of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord."


Introduction - Places of worship have always been in use and are necessary.

Subject - The Dedication of a place of worship. The harmony, propriety, and act of dedication.

I. The meaning embraces three ideas, viz: Consecration, Initiation, and Speciality.

II. Propriety - 1.  A natural fitness in dedication in general. 2.  A special fitness in dedicating a place of worship.

III. Act of Dedication - Prayer and dedication hymn. Remarks - This is now a House of God, to be used in accordance with the principles he has laid down. 1.  This is a Catholic House of worship, not Romish. Isa. VI:7 - "For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all people." All are invited to come, love, and worship the living God.  2.  It is a place for moral and religious improvement.


This house has been erected at a cost of about $3,509. The audience room on the lower floor is 40 feet by 46, and including the Singers' gallery, 40 by 50. The whole house is decidedly one of the neatest and most appropriate buildings of the kind to be found in all the west. The Society have been perfectly united and cheerful in the efforts and sacrifices they have been obliged to make in building this church. They and their Pastor deserve great credit for the perseverance and affectionate zeal with which they have labored to establish and extend a religious influence in the city of Alton, and through the whole bounds of their Presbytery. May their course still be onward.


[NOTES: Rev. Thomas Lippincott organized the first Presbyterian Church in Lower Alton in 1831. The congregation grew and built this church in 1846. Previously the Virginia House (1838-1843)  and the Central Hotel (1843-1846) were located on this property.  After continued growth, the congregation built a larger church at Fourth and Alby Streets in 1896. This building was converted to an office building, and we know it today as the Laura Building. In later years, the Faulstich Cigar & Billiards, Y.M.C.A. and Grown's Business College were located in this building.]





Source: Alton Weekly Courier, August 30, 1855

To Editor of the Courier: The undersigned, Presbyters in the Diocese of Illinois, anxious to check the discussion going on in the press concerning the private affairs of their diocese, and, is possible, restore peace to the church in Illinois, have, after mature consultation, agreed upon a course of action for the next convention, which, in their opinion, will give general satisfaction and remove all existing difficulties. They therefore earnestly request all conductors of the secular and religious press to suspend further publications on the subject until the convention shall meet, and permit the diocese to manage its own affairs unmolested by foreign dictation. Signed by George P. Giddings of Quincy; Samuel Chase of Jubilee College; Charles Dresser of Jubilee College; and S. Y. McMasters of Alton.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, September 6, 1855

It will be seen by a special notice in the proper column that a camp meeting will commence on the 7th of September next, at the old Salem camp ground on the road from Alton to Edwardsville. Judicious arrangements have been made to preserve good order, and we have no doubt that a large number of the citizens of the county will avail themselves of this opportunity to spend a few days both pleasantly and profitably. This time honored custom of devoting a stated period to public worship in the groves - "God's first temples" - is associated with the earliest recollections of the generation new upon the stage. It was also a custom with the early settlers of our country, when the ability of the people to build churches was less, and men had not learned so well to "shape the vault and hew the architrave." A reverence for, and observance of, the customs of our ancestors in their republican simplicity and unfeigned piety, is well calculated to impress us with the emptiness of luxury, and the vanity of political honors compared with the noble purposes of life to which such scenes allure the mind.




Source: Syracuse, New York Evening Chronicle, October 2, 1855
Words for the Worker, in a series of lectures to working men, mechanics and apprentices, by William D Haley, Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Alton, Illinois.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, October 25, 1855

The dedication of this new church of the First Congregational Society of Alton, to the worship of Almighty God, took place on Sunday last, the 14th inst. The church was filled in every part, and included a large delegation from St. Louis, headed by the Rev. Dr. Elliot of that city, who took a prominent part in the services. The following was the order of exercises:  Voluntary and Anthem; reading Scripture, Rev. G. G. Ward.  Prayer, Rev. Dr. Wood.  Hymn (249), Sermon, Rev. Dr. Hosmer. Dedicatory Prayer, Rev. W. D. Haley.  Hymn (242), Rev. G. G. Withington. Address to the people, Rev. Dr. Elliot. Anthem, Choir.  Benediction, Rev. W. D. Haley.  The music was very fine. The construction of the church is peculiarly favorable for musical effect, great care having been taken to avoid abrupt angles. The splendid new organ was presided at by a master of the instrument, and its deep rich tones, blended with the varied and powerful voices of the choir, recalled to mind the dedication scenes of the temple, when the courts of His house were filled with "sounding praise." Our citizens never before listened to a more powerful and harmonious combined vocal and instrumental utterance. The sermon by the Rev. Dr. Hosmer of Buffalo, N. Y., was a production of great intellectual ability. He stated the doctrines and aims of the denomination to which he belonged, with great clearness and ability, and left upon the minds of his audience a very favorable impression. The address to the people by the Rev. Dr. Eliot, of St. Louis, was greatly abridged on account of insufficient time. Dr. Eliot, however, has frequently addressed our citizens, and his reputation as an able and eloquent divine is already well established here. We doubt not we shall often hereafter have opportunities of listening to him. The new church thus consecrated to Divine Service is a credit to our city, and a monument of the energy and liberality of its builders. It is of stone, stands upon a commanding eminence, has a fine appearance, the design being simple and chaste, and add considerably to the appearance of the city when viewed from the river. The interior of the church presents a very handsome appearance. Sharp angles have been studiously avoided; the pews are elliptical and the ceiling arched. The painting is in imitation of oak. The pulpit recess, cornice and ceiling are beautifully frescoed. A handsome chandelier, costing $250 is suspended from the center of the ceiling. The isles and pews are handsomely carpeted, and the seats are elegantly cushioned, all uniform in style and material. The organ is a very superior instrument, of sixteen stops, with double bass, swell, &c., and cost $1,000. The building is to be warmed by one of Chilson's Furnaces. In fact, the entire fitting up of the church has been conducted with great liberality, and with especial reference to neatness and comfort. The entire cost is between $12,000 and $15,000. A sale of the pews took place on last Monday night. They were first appraised. About thirty were sold. The first choice brought a premium on the appraisement of $35. The pew selected was appraised at $175, making $210 as the price of the first choice.  The sales that evening realized $4,347, which has since been increased by other sales. The Society is almost clear of debt, a rare thing in church building. It is but about two years since the Rev. W. D. Haley, the worthy pastor of the Society, commenced his labors in this city. His unusual energy, seconded by the most commendable liberality of his own Society and friends abroad, has accomplished this fine work. We hope he may meet with like success in every plan he may form for doing good.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, April 24, 1856

The contract for the building of this new church was let yesterday to Mr. J. A. Miller, architect of this city [Alton], whose plan took the premium offered by the society. The contractor will commence tearing down the old church next week. The new church will be a very handsome affair and quite an ornament to that part of the city. It is to be 100 feet long, 44 feet wide, and about 40 feet in the clear. The contract price is $10,000.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, May 28, 1857

The Trustees of the Methodist Society of this city have purchased a lot of ground running 60 feet on Market by 200 feet on Sixth street, and have made preparation for the erection on it of a fine church, of the Romanesque style of architecture. The plans were drawn by Mr. John Chaney, architect, and for style and taste, as well as conveniences, if built according to them, the building will not be surpassed by any other now standing in the city. The basement (10 feet from foundation to ceiling) is to be of stone. The audience room proper is to be 22 feet from floor to ceiling, with capacity to comfortably accommodate 500 persons. The walls will be of brick. The church will occupy an area of ground 40 by 75 feet, fronting on Market street. It will be fireproof, with tin roof. Embracing the tower, the steeple surmounting it will be 112 feet high. It is estimated that the cost of this building will be not less than $10,000, exclusive of the lot for which the Society paid $3,000. Contracts are already being made for the grading of the lot and the laying of the foundation and basement walls of the church which will be pushed on to completion as speedily as possible. Its progress will depend to some extent on the disposal made of the property on which stood the church of the Society, which was destroyed by fire in April.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, June 4, 1857

We are informed that arrangements have been made to commence work on this building in a few days - perhaps next week. It is to be located on Union street, in Hunter's Northern Liberties. It will be forty by fifty feet in size, and will have a basement story, to be used for Sabbath school and other purposes. It will also be supplied with a fine bell. It is expected that the church, when finished, will cost about four thousand dollars; and as the society that has undertaken to build it is not very numerous or wealthy, a fine opportunity is afforded for the worthy exercise of liberality among those who are not members of this particular congregation.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, February 25, 1858

Yesterday morning between four and five o'clock, the Presbyterian Church in Upper Alton was discovered to be on fire, and before the alarm could be generally given, the flames had advanced so far that all efforts to extinguish them were unavailing. The Church, with all its contents, was completely destroyed. It had been open for services on the preceding evening, and it is supposed that the fire originated from a flue. The loss will come very heavy on the congregation.




Source: Alton Weekly Courier, December 2, 1858

The bell of the new Methodist Church was raised to its place in the belfry yesterday afternoon. In size it is thirty-eight inches across the face, and thirty-six inches high. Its weight is twelve hundred and fifty pounds. It was cast by Mr. David Caughlin of St. Louis, and is marked "Alton M. E. Church - 1858." Its cost was $437.  Its tone is "G."




Source: Utica, New York Daily Observer, July 24, 1875

Bishop Baites, of Alton, Illinois, has placed under ban all societies in his congregation whose members send their children to public schools, or give balls or picnics at which intoxicating liquors are sold.




Source: Alton Telegraph, February 12, 1880

In the country school house called White Oak, about eight miles from town [Alton], an energetic, Christian young lady, Miss Fannie Starr, conducts every Sunday afternoon a successful Sabbath school. She is Superintendent and sole teacher; the school numbers over forty pupils, some of them grown men. The occasional visits paid her by some of our Sunday school workers are greatly enjoyed.




Source: Biographical Sketch of Enoch Long, An Illinois Pioneer, by Harvey Reid, 1884 (Book in Public Domain)

..."[Enoch Long] organized at Upper Alton, Illinois, in May 1820, the second Sabbath-school established in this State [Illinois], and was for some time its only teacher." Enoch's sister, Sarah, observes, in relation to the Alton mob at the time of Mr. Lovejoy's death, "that as we had not written she 'hoped that her brothers had nothing to do with it, pro or con.' If the question had been confined simply to that of abolition, her hopes would have been realized; but it had assumed a different form. The vital principal of our Constitution had been assailed by the mob (the freedom of the press and speech). I would ask what son of a Revolutionary father could stand tamely by and see the destruction of that beautiful fabric which he struggled so hard to rear, without blushing with shame. I hope our father has not such a son. I was there to defend the freedom of the press, and I presume all my brothers would have been with me had they had timely notice. Be assured that, should a similar assault again take place, I should feel myself bound to again step forward to the rescue."




Source: Alton Telegraph, August 10, 1893

The work on the new St. Mary's church is progressing rapidly. The window frames are in place and the three entrance doors are taking shape. The contractor expects to have the walls completed by October 1. The new church will be a credit to Alton, and one of the finest architectural structures in Southern Illinois. The length of the building is 154 feet and its extreme depth is 64 feet. The stone tower rises in the air from the northeast corner to a height of 104 feet, and the spire reaches 81 feet higher, making its total height 185 feet. The tower is of trimmed stone, and a huge clock will ornament it near the top. The main entrance will be very handsome. The three entrance doors will be finished in carved capitols and bases, and cut stone mouldings. The outer doors will be of fronze or wrought iron work. The interior will be finely finished. The beautiful groin roof will be frescoed handsomely. The balcony and organ left are situated at the front of the church.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 23, 1901

Recently W. E. Hubbell unearthed among old papers at his home a complete report of the proceedings of the first quarterly Conference of the Methodist Episcopal church, held in Alton in 1842. The Presiding Elder was the famous Peter Cartwright, and he presided over the deliberations of the conference. The secretary was W. F. Ensinger, and the entire membership was made up of men more or less famous as pioneer sowers of religious seed throughout the west. The salaries of the preachers, as shown by the report, were of such dimensions as would most certainly prevent them ever eating any potatoes, if spuds were as costly as now, and if homespun clothing had not been fashionable then, the ministers could never have purchased a dress suit and have enough of their salary left to live on. Mr. Hubbell desired that the relic become the property of the Methodists, and he requested Justice B. C. Few to make the presentation. This the latter did in a felicitious address which showed considerable study of religious history on the part of the speaker, and evidenced his appreciation of the historical value of the document in question. The conference showed a quick appreciation also, and promptly accepted the gift which will in future occupy a prominent and honored place in the cabinet of historical relics of the Methodist church under the care of Custodian Rev. J. A. Scarritt.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 25, 1901

In 1838, the Illinois Conference, which then included the entire State, met in the Methodist church in Upper Alton. At the same time, a camp meeting was held in a grove near a good spring of water, between Upper Alton and Middle Alton. On Sunday there were multitudes present. How many there were from Upper Town, and Middletown, and Sempletown, and Lower Town and Hunterstown, no man knows. And they were there from the American Bottoms, and from Edwardsville, and Liberty Prairie and Rattan's Prairie, and Smooth Prairie (there was no Bethalto or Fosterburg then), and from Brown's Prairie and Brighton, and from Scarritt's Prairie and the regions of Jersey county and Macoupin county, and round about. Steamboat men from the rivers were there. A steamboat load of people from St. Louis was there. Travelers, speculators, adventurers, besides the dozens of preachers were there.  After dinner on Sunday, a half-dozen persons, men and women, began promenading. There was a space perhaps of twenty-five feet all around the seats and pulpit inside of the camp. The numbers of promenaders increased as they walked on until there were dozens, scores, a multitude walking, talking, laughing, and many of the men smoking. A horn blew for the congregation to assemble for worship, which many did. A second horn blew for services to begin, but the marchers marched on. Peter Cartwright read the hymn, then gave it out two lines at a time (hymn books were scarce on this continent sixty-three years ago), and it was sung. Prayer was offered and another hymn was sung, and Peter Cartwright rose to announce his text. The promenaders were still walking and laughing and smoking. They were having a good time, and were swinging round the circle as though they cared neither for the pulpit, the worshiping people, or the consequences. Mr. Cartwright stood and eyed them a moment and then suddenly he cried out: "Every man that hasn't a sore head will take his hat off." Instantly every head was uncovered and everybody was laughing. He next said: "Every gentleman," with emphasis on the word gentlemen, "will find a seat." Then the male dissolved. Hot haste was made to gain seats, and to escape the public eye. Ridicule and sarcasm were terrible weapons in the hands of Peter Cartwright, and he did not hesitate when they were needed to use them. In two minutes he had everybody seated, announced his text and preached.


[Note:  Peter Cartwright, the legendary backwoods preacher,  (1785-1872) was largely responsible for the rapid growth of Methodism in the Ohio River and Mississippi River valleys. He helped start the Second Great Awakening, personally baptizing twelve thousand converts. Opposed to slavery, Cartwright moved from Kentucky to Illinois, and was elected to the lower house of the Illinois General Assembly in 1828 and 1832. In 1846 Abraham Lincoln defeated Cartwright for a seat in the United States Congress. As a Methodist circuit rider, Cartwright rode circuits in Kentucky and Illinois, as well as Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio. His Autobiography (1856) made him nationally prominent.]




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 2, 1901

The colored Baptists have completed and dedicated a very pretty and convenient church on Seventh street [Alton]. Services were held yesterday for the first time. The audience room is as neat and cozy a place as could be desired, and the colored Baptists are rightfully proud of their pretty little church. The large south window of stained glass gives a pretty effect to the room, and the side windows all add to its pleasantness. The people are very happy over the long struggle which has been crowned with success, for a commodious and up-to-date house of worship. It is all paid for with the exception of $1,000. The building cost over $3,000.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 24, 1902

Among the delegates at the Baptist State Convention was Rev. James 'Jim' M. Coon, son of Rev. R. R. Coon, who became pastor of the Alton Baptist church in 1854, removing to Pana, Ill. in 1861. The house known as the English property, corner of Sixth and Langdon streets, was built by Mr. Coon during his pastorate here. Mr. J. M. Coon, as also R. R. Coon Jr., followed their father's profession. The father is a pastor in Nebraska, and the former now an editor and author in Chicago. Rev. J. M. Coon was a pioneer in the work of organizing Baptist young people. He started the first paper (now the Baptist Union), which really made the movement, published the first handbook for young people, and wrote the first history of the movement. He was here in the interest of his new Sunday School Commentary on the lessons for 1903, and also making engagements for his series of lectures on the young people's great uprising, which he has given in hundreds of churches. Mrs. Coon, the elder, still lives at the home of her son in Chicago. Mr. J. Coon left Alton in 1861, and this is his first visit to his early home. Mr. Coon was a pupil in the old public school that was succeeded by Garfield school. No doubt many of the boys who attended that school forty odd years ago will remember that lively little fellow, "Jim Coon," who used to be so popular with all, and whose brightness in all his studies kept him in the front rank. Mr. Coon called on the Telegraph, but unfortunately the editor, an old schoolmate, was absent from the city, otherwise "Jim" would have received a warm welcome.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 7, 1903

Sunday was a notable day at Bethany Sunday school at Godfrey, it being observed as an anniversary and memorial service. The Bethany Sunday school was organized there in 1829 and has been held continuously seventy-four years. Rev. C. Wash preached the morning sermon, it being a noteworthy fact that he had preached at the same place just 38 years ago, making the date of his beginning Oct. 4, 1865. The day was observed as an old-fashioned basket meeting. The afternoon was devoted to reports to the Sunday school by O. W. Maxfield and Miss Nannie Lyon. The attendance was large.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 27, 1904

When the German Methodist Sunday school celebrates on Sunday the fiftieth anniversary of the organization of the school, there will be present two of the oldest members, Mrs. Schaefer of North street and Jacob Miller, living near Edwardsville. Both of them were present fifty years ago when the school was organized. Cards have been sent out to all the old members of the school still living, requesting their presence at the semi-centennial.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 11, 1904

The laying of the cornerstone of the new German Evangelical church took place Sunday afternoon, the ceremonies beginning at 3 o'clock at the site of the new church, Eighth and Henry streets. Two of the original members of the church, Hon. George H. Weigler and Anton Rosenberg, were present at the laying of the stone. The other living members of the church, who joined it in 1852, are Henry Nienhaus, Mrs. Lisetta Stutz, Mrs. E. Meyer, Mrs. Margaret Volz, Mrs. Martha Hoppe. The cornerstone, laid in the northeast corner, was presented by Mr. William Flynn. The stone weighed 1700 pounds, and was inscribed on two faces, "German Evangelical Church, 1904" and "Organized 1852." The contents of the box are a history of the church, names of members and officers, names of the seventeen pastors since organization, the different societies and their officers, and copies of the Theological Magazine, Jugenfreud, Messenger of Peace, Kinder Zeitung, Unser Klemen, Alton Telegraph, Alton Republican, and Alton Sentinel-Democrat of current issue.  There was a large attendance to witness the ceremonies. The address of welcome was delivered by Rev. Theodore Oberhellman, the pastor, to whose efforts is due the credit for the beginning of the building fund. The pastor offered a prayer after a song by the audience, which was followed by a song by the choir. Rev. Gustave Plassman of Nameoki delivered the principal address which was in German. The Junior choir sang and the cornerstone was laid by Rev. Theodore Oberhellman. Rev. Th. L. Mueller of St. Louis delivered an address in English after which the choir sang and a prayer was offered by Rev. J. H. J. Rice of the Congregational church. The program closed with the Doxology.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 3, 1904

The Diamond Anniversary of the Bethany Sunday School to be held August 4 all day and evening, will be an occasion of considerable note. The school was organized in 1829 and has enjoyed a continuous existence from that time to the present. The first superintendent was Nathan Scarritt, and the earlier meetings were held in his barn and later in a school house, which was not on the site of the present Mason school. Mrs. Hauts(sp.?), whose maiden name was Randall, and whose present home is Mt. Carmell, Illinois, was a member of the first meeting and it is to be hoped that she will be present. Among those from abroad who are expected are: Rev. Charles Virden of Pocatonica, Ill.; Dr. and Prof. Waggoner of Lebanon, Ill.; G. W. Waggoner of Upper Alton; Rev. J. Scarritt of Cairo, Ill.; Mr. Henry Ferguson of Carrollton; and ladies quartet of Shipman. Rev. C. Nash will have charge. Many others are expected and letters of greeting have been received from many. One hour in the afternoon will be devoted to a memorial exercise. Refreshments will be served on the lawn both day and evening. The congregation has gone to considerable expense in fitting up the house of worship and outlying ground and putting them into suitable condition for the anniversary celebration Thursday.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 8, 1904

The formal dedication of the new German Evangelical church at Eighth and Henry streets will be held Sunday morning in the new church. The building will be finished Friday evening, it is expected, by the contractors, McClure Bros.  The building is a handsome addition to the church holdings in Alton, and an ornament to its neighborhood. Services will be held in English in the afternoon, and the morning and evening services will be in German. Pastors of the Alton churches and some pastors of German Evangelical churches will participate....




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 19, 1904

The corner stone of the new Washington street Methodist church was laid Sunday afternoon by Rev. G. W. Waggoner, aged 84, who is probably the oldest active Methodist minister in this part of the state. The venerable minister was asked to lay the stone because of his age and because he was the first pastor of the congregation which now constitutes the Washington street church. The ceremony took place at 2 o'clock and was attended by a large number of people notwithstanding the inclement weather. It was found that there were 97 members on the church rolls and on Sunday five new ones were admitted and their names enrolled on the list of members placed in the corner stone, in order to pass the 100 mark. The pastor, Rev. C. L. Peterson, was assisted by Rev. G. W. Waggoner, of Upper Alton, Rev. M. H. Ewers, pastor of the Alton First Methodist church, and Rev. C. C. Hall, pastor of the Upper Alton Methodist church. A good collection was taken up to defray the expenses of laying the stone. The new church is being erected facing Washington street on a fine lot presented to the congregation by Edward Levis. It will be a neat and comfortable structure and an ornament to its vicinity. The builders of the new church have been very successful in all their efforts to raise the building fund notwithstanding the fact that another Methodist church is being erected contemporaneously by the other Methodist congregation.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 13, 1906

The golden jubilee of the Cumberland Presbyterian church and Sunday school will be observed tomorrow with appropriate exercises. The Sunday school was organized the second Sunday in January 1856 by Rev. J. B. Logan. Among the numbers on the program will be an address by Mayor Beall, who was a boy in the Sunday school, and whose name is in the original roll of members of the school. Letters will be read from absent members and former pastors now living. The program will begin at 9 o'clock in the morning, and during the entire day the program will be of a jubilee character. A historical paper on the Sunday school will be read by T. H. Perrin. Among the letters which will be read, written by former members of the Sunday school will be those from Rev. W. C. Logan of Nashville, Tennessee, F. K. Farr of the Cumberland Presbyterian Seminary at Nashville, Tennessee, Rev. E. E. Hendrick, an evangelist, and Rev. Arthur C. Biddle of Pomora, Pennsylvania.  Rev. Dr. D. E. Bushnell will give an address on "The Sunday School;" there will be reminiscences by former members of the school; Supt. J. C. Mench and his assistant, J. E. Turner, will deliver addresses. The program will consist partly of musical numbers. All former and present members of the Sunday school are invited to be present and assist in celebrating the golden jubilee anniversary.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 20, 1906

Fr. O'Reilly was able to announce some good news to the friends of St. Patrick's today. The marble statue of George Washington, which will adorn the niche over the school entrance, arrived today after a two weeks journey from New York. The formal unveiling will take place Thursday morning at 11 o'clock, and the children of all the Alton schools are invited to participate in the program. A musical program will be rendered and patriotic songs will be sung by the assembly. Fr. O'Reilly is preparing a good program and expects to have a big time on the occasion of the unveiling.


Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, February 22, 1906

The unveiling of the fine marble statue of George Washington at St. Patrick's school this morning was a big event in the school. The statue was purchased by the school children to be set up in a niche over the entrance to the school. It stands 6 feet 4 inches in height and weighs 2,080 pounds. It is made of Cararra marble and is said to be the only statue of Washington ever carved from that kind of marble....George Powell and Dora Bennes were the students chosen to life the veil from the statue....Mayor Beall was introduced and he gave an address. Instead of glorifying the Father of His Country, he took the children on a trip from Washington, D. C. to Mt. Vernon, where the remains of the Immortal Washington rest. In word pictures he presented the scenes along the Potomac to the tomb, and made the trip a most interesting one. He told of incidents, how all foreign vessels fired salutes in passing, and how all steamers on the river tolled their bells in honor of the sleeping patriot. At the conclusion of his address, he asked the children what it was that Lafayette, the friend of America, gave to Washington while the latter was President. But none of the children knew. Finally Father O'Reilly responded by saying the "Key of the Bastille."  "Yes!" said the Mayor, "and here it is, which I give to the school," handing it to the Rector. The original of the key given to Washington is among the souvenirs at Mount Vernon, from which Mr. Beall a year ago had a number made and has presented them to friends.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 27, 1906

The old African Methodist Episcopal edifice on east Fourth street is in danger of collapsing, it is said, and persons who live in adjacent houses are afraid of results to them. Members of the church led by John Lawrence, the well known colored orator, recognizing the danger and wishing to preserve the structure have entered upon a money getting campaign and the funds will be used in repairing the building at once. The solicitors are meeting with considerable success in their rounds and business men, professional men, politicians and candidates are subscribing more or less liberally. One office holder in Alton has his name on the list for a $50 contribution, while the others scale downward from that sum. If solicitors continue meeting with as great success as their efforts so far have met, the edifice can be made almost new with the money received.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 15, 1906          

A. J. Hyndman, colored, founder of the Rocky Fork A. M. E. church, died at 9 o'clock Thursday night after a long illness, aged 68. He was a veteran of the Civil War. The A. M. E. church at Rocky Fork was founded in 1862, and immediately afterward Hyndman enlisted in the Union army and served three years. He returned to Rocky Fork after the war and lived there ever since, respected by all who knew him. He leaves three sons and four daughters. The funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon from the Rocky Fork church.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 21, 1906

The members of the Bethany Church at Godfrey are preparing to reach a decision upon the matter of moving their church from Bethany to Godfrey, as published in the Telegraph some time ago. The old church was built in 1850 on ground given by Dr. J. A. Scarritt, and that clergyman, then a young man, helped to build the church as it now stands. Today the Bethany church is suffering from the loss of most of its members. The population of Godfrey has changed, and instead of the old Methodist families who lived there, the community has become settled by German Lutherans, who attend the Brighton church or come to Alton. Accordingly, a proposition has been made for the sale of the church to the Lutherans. Dr. Scarritt and Rev. C. Nash of Jerseyville have been working up the sentiment in behalf of the proposed sale of the old church and the erection of a new one on a lot in Godfrey, now owned by the Bethany congregation. A majority of the members of the church favor the removal, but before any decision is reached some of the old-time members who have moved away from Godfrey are being consulted by mail and their answers are awaited. It is believed that if the church can be sold to the Lutherans and a new church erected in Godfrey, it would be a great help to the Lutherans and also to the Methodists. Bethany was at one time a prosperous church, but death and removals have taken away most of its membership.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 10, 1906

A decision to sell the old Bethany church building at Godfrey has been reached by the congregation, and today Rev. J. A. Scarritt, who has promised to aid the church in erecting a new building in Godfrey, was in conference with Rev. Theo Oberhellman regarding a proposition to sell the building to the Evangelical church. The Bethany church, situated on the Bright road north of Godfrey, was erected 54 years ago. At one time it was surrounded by Methodist families and it flourished, but in recent years German Evangelical families have moved into the neighborhood and have bought the farms of the old Methodist families, so that the Bethany church has fallen off in membership. Rev. Dr. J. A. Scarritt, as a memorial to his family, has offered to give financial assistance in erecting a new building on some property in Godfrey owned by the church. For sentimental reasons it is desired to sell the building to the Evangelicals so that the usefulness of Bethany as a light in the community may be continued. Several offers have been received from farmers who would take the church and use it for private purposes. A tract of several acres of ground covered with a fine grove of trees constitutes the church site. The old cemetery is close by, and it is desired to maintain the church there as the bodies of many of the old fathers and mothers of the community are interred there. If the building can be disposed of to advantage, the Bethany congregation will move to Godfrey, where a new church building to cost about $5,000 will be erected.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 3, 1907

Rev. Fr. Meckel of St. Mary's church today announced the purchase of the dwelling on east Fourth street, owned by Thomas Nolan, and it was taken possession of by the Sisters of the Precious Blood, who will conduct a home there for old men and women having no means of support. Fr. Meckel said that over $4,000 was paid for the property, and that this is only a beginning, if the response is sufficient to warrant an extension of the work. He said that the place will be known as St. Joseph's home, and it will be conducted under the auspices of St. Mary's church. Applications will be received for admission during the month of September, but the Home will not be ready to receive inmates until October 1. Fr. Meckel announced that it is the intention to erect a fine building for the purposes of the home on the seven acre tract purchased from Mrs. Mary Froehlf, on Common street. He says that the expenditures to be made will be commensurate with the demand, and that if it develops there are many old folks who need such a home it will be enlarged. The present quarters of the home will be only temporary to develop whether or not there is a real need for such an institution in the city.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 12, 1907

Rev. J. A. Scarritt, D. D., today announced that the laying of the cornerstone of the new Bethany Methodist church at Godfrey will take place next Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock. The ceremonies will be on the church lot adjoining the Bethany parsonage. Because of the illness of the pastor, Rev. Calloway Nash, the ceremony will be under the supervision of Rev. Dr. Scarritt and other ministers and church members will conduct it. The new church will be occupied by the Bethany Society congregation, which has long worshipped in the old building on the Brighton road. This old building will be turned over to other denominations for holding religious services. The erection of the new church is being made possible by generous assistance from Dr. Scarritt, who helped build the old Bethany church with his own hands, and since the old families have moved out of the neighborhood, he desires to perpetuate the society by having a building erected in Godfrey where there will be more people to attend it. Ministers and members of the church are requested to attend and all friends of the old Bethany Society are cordially invited to attend the cornerstone laying next Wednesday, October 16.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 14, 1907

The Cherry Street Baptist Church, erected to take the place of the old church building which was destroyed by fire, is almost finished. The installation of the heating plant has been delaying completion, but the workmen are engaged at that task now and expect to have it finished within a few days. Early announcement will be made of the date of the dedication of the new church and the ordination of the pastor, Rev. D. H. Toomey, who will be installed as pastor at the same time. The Cherry street congregation have given liberally to build their new house of worship, and for it the work has been a very praise-worthy one. The church will soon enter on another career of usefulness as it ministers to a large territory which has but few churches of any kind in it.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 13, 1909

A Jewish church of the Hebrew practices was established in Alton yesterday, this being the first church of the kind ever started in the city. Rabbi Abronozi of St. Louis came to Alton yesterday, and in the Stafford hall on Belle street he formed the organization of the church. A new Bible purchased in Chicago for $100 was blessed and consecrated and opened to have the membership names inscribed. The placing of these names in the Jewish Bible is an interesting ceremony. The blank lines left in the Bible are lettered and as each letter is called off the members bid whatever amount they can afford for the privilege of having their name inserted there. The bidding last night brought in $395, and Assistant Peiney of St. Louis inscribed the names in the Bible in the Jewish symbols, the same as the book is written in, he being an expert in this line. After the opening of the bible which is on rolls like a map, the election of officers of the new church was held as follows:  Max Rubenstein, president; A. Schwartz, vice-president; N. S. Wittels, treasurer; G. Markoff, secretary; A. Cohn and J. Lipsky, trustees.  After this part of the ceremony, the committee appointed to secure a church room or meeting place reported they had secured a room on Belle street between Seventh and Ninth streets, and the bible was carefully removed to this room. There will be nothing else in the room but the costly Bible, and on each Friday and Saturday night, and on all Jewish holidays, the Jews will assemble and hold their church services and observe the ancient rites and customs of their church. The report yesterday submitted showed there were one hundred Jews in the city who are followers of the old religious customs, and the church starts with this membership. Rabbi Markoff, who has been conducting services in the city for the Jews for the past three years, will be Rabbi of the church. Another important branch of the church established was the charitable fund into which each and every member will pay a sum each week. Then when any member of the faith comes to the city in want, the officers will be empowered to give him that aid that is deserving from this charitable fund. After all of the business, a banquet was spread in the Stafford hall, and an orchestra brought from St. Louis played and the company made merry until 1:30 a.m. this morning. Rabbi Abronozitz stated last night that the new Jewish church in Alton starts with the best prospects of any church he has seen established in cities of this size and with the biggest membership.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, January 20, 1912

As Alton is so widely scattered over the hills, the natural consequence is the increase in number of churches in the city. To enable the worshipers to attend their favorite places, there are regularly established churches and rapidly growing missions scattered all over town. The most thickly distributed church neighborhood is that bounded by Market Street, Sixth Street, Easton Street, and Third Street, where five large, fine churches are located. This is due to the fact that the territory mentioned is in the old original part of the city, which was for many years recognized as the principal part of Alton, and Market Street was the favorite route of travel between the two sides of town. Some of the churches of Alton date far back to the time of Alton's earliest days. The Presbyterian, First Methodist and Upper Alton Baptist are the oldest in years, all of them harking back to the time when Alton was a village. There have been many newcomers since then, some of the later churches being offshoots of the three mentioned. For instance, the Upper Alton Baptist Church was the parent of the First Church of Alton, and it in turn of the Cherry Street Baptist Church. The First Presbyterian was the mother of the Congregational, and likewise was the Twelfth Street Presbyterian. The Unitarian Church is one of  the oldest standing, its site at one time being used by a Catholic church. The Presbyterians formerly had what is the Episcopal Church site. The German Evangelical is an old time church too, of later date, however, than the three originals mentioned as being among the early date institutions. The Catholic church was organized in Alton as a church many years ago, and has gained a strong foothold, owning much valuable real estate and constituting Alton as the seat of the Bishop of Alton diocese. A fair estimate of the value of church property in Alton would place the worth of the churches in the neighborhood of $600,000.


An interesting feature of the churches of Alton is that in the past fifteen years, every church in the old city of Alton, exclusive of Upper Alton, has undergone extensive changes or has been completely rebuilt. The first one to rebuild was St. Mary's Catholic Church, which erected a house of worship that cost in the neighborhood of $100,000. Following this came the Presbyterians, and then came the Baptists, the Methodists, the Congregationalists, the Twelfth Street Presbyterians, the Unitarians, the Cherry Street Baptists, the Washington Street Methodists, the Union Baptists, the German Evangelical. The Cathedral underwent costly improvements, as did St. Paul's Episcopal Church, the German Methodist, St. Patricks, and the Upper Alton Baptist Church. The Upper Alton Presbyterian and Methodists alone remain in much the same state as they were. Such activity on the part of the churches indicates that there is an ambition and a pride in the breasts of the church people of Alton, which makes them loosen on their pocket books.  Not only do they pay liberally for the church directly, but they give liberally for institutions allied with the churches, such as the Old Ladies Home, the Nazareth Home, Neighborhood House, and similar causes.  Pastors of all the churches were asked for articles, and the following responded:



Upper Alton Presbyterian Church:

The Presbyterian Church of Upper Alton was organized January 8, 1837, by Rev. Graves Hurlbut and Lippincot, who are very closely connected with the early history of Presbyterianism in the Alton. The church was the first to be received by the newly organized Presbytery in Alton, which held its first meeting at First Church, Alton, April 4th, 1837, and whose first moderator was the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy. The membership grew steadily from the twenty-three charter members, until in the following spring the number on the roll was in the neighborhood of sixty. In June of 1838, the membership was still further increased by the union of the Congregational Church of Upper Alton with the Presbyterian, making the roll thereby eighty-six. This union seems never to have been a perfect blending of the two congregations, and some thirty years later a number of the Congregationalists withdrew and went into the newly organized First Congregational Church of Alton. The church has had many difficulties and has passed through many vicissitudes. Its first pastor was assassinated, its house of worship burned, its doors closed, its membership almost decimated, but exemplifying one of its cardinal doctrines, it has persevered. The church roll in years gone by shows names which Alton delights to honor, and it has exerted an influence at least commensurate with its membership and resources.  The first pastor of the church was Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy, and he served without compensation until his death in the fall of 1837. On November 16, 1837, Rev. C. G. Selleck was installed pastor, and served until October 1841. Revs. Loomis, Whittaker, Foster, Hurlbut and Barnes held shorter or longer pastorates from that time until 1861, when the Rev. W. A. Adams took up the work and served for six years. Since then, L. I. Root, R. Rudd, J. Huston, the late Samuel B. Taggart, C. M. Brown, D. M. Hazlett, and W. H. Bradley have in succession served the church, the latter being pastor for twenty years. The present pastorate began in June 1911.  The Elders who have served the church, among others, are Enoch Long, E. Dennison, John Manning, W. S. Gilman, R. Scarritt, William Bates, S. W. Ball, J. P. Barton, T. R. Murphy, J. Platt, W. S. R. Robinson.  Also R. H. Saunders, W. H. Bissland, D. D. Hughey, J. McReynolds, J. G. McReynolds, John Bates, and others. The present session is composed of R. D. Beardslee, J. W. Vaughn, R. E. Wilkinson, Dr. Tarry Barnett, and D. E. Kittinger.


The first place of worship was in what was for years known as the Brick School House on the corner of Edwards and Clawson Streets. The first house of worship was built in 1838 or 1839, and was built on the site of the present building on ground deeded by Enoch Long for that purpose. It was constructed of stone, and served its sacred purpose admirably until February 10th, 1858, when after service it caught fire and was burned. The stone of this building after the fire was purchased by that veteran of two wars, Col. A. F. Rodgers, and may now be seen in the foundation of his house on the farm east of the city.  An attempt was made to rebuild immediately, but progress was slow and it was not until November 15th, 1865 that it was finally completed and dedicated. There has been no material change in the building since its erection, save art glass. 


The work at this time is in a healthy state of growth. The Elders and Trustees are alert, the Sunday School thoroughly organized, with a young men's class of twenty-eight and a growing men's class. The Boy Scouts have taken their examinations for second-class, and are keen to become first-class scouts. Plans are maturing for the further excavation of the basement, to allow room for club room and gymnasium. The membership of the church is growing Sunday by Sunday, and the finances - that paradoxical barometer of the spiritual condition of a church - are in hand for the work of the whole year.



Upper Alton Baptist Church:

When the church now known as the First Baptist Church of Upper Alton was organized on April 25th, 1830, by Rev. John Mason Peck, it was given the name "The Alton Baptist Church." It will be remembered that at this date, the post office of Alton was located in what was later, and until recently, the village of Upper Alton, and this district was called "Alton," while that near the Mississippi River was known as "Lower Alton." Soon after the above date, the increase in population and business on the riverfront demanded the removal of the post office to that locality, and the village on the hill assumed the name of Upper Alton, when in 1835 a post office was established there.


Previous to the establishment of this church, the only regular Baptist Church within a radius of many miles was at Edwardsville. Comparative statistics of churches of other denominations are lacking, but this church has probably maintained a continuous existence for more years than any other in this part of Madison County, with the single exception of the Upper Alton Methodist Episcopal Church, which dates back to 1817, the year the original town was laid out. The number of constituent members of the Alton Baptist Church was eight, residing in Upper Alton and Lower Alton, viz: Ephraim Marsh, Don Alonzo Spaulding, Winston Cheatham, Henry Evans, James D. W. Marsh, Frances Marsh, Juliet A. Spaulding, and Rachel Garrett. In February 1833, the number of members was forty, of whom nine were then dismissed "to unite with others in constituting a Baptist Church at Lower Alton." In March, 1834, four were dismissed "to join with others in constituting a Baptist Church at Lower Alton." In March, 1834, four were dismissed "to join with others in constituting a church on the Piasa, or Brown's Prairie, called the Brighton Church."  In March 1837, twelve were dismissed to form a church in the "Wood River Settlement," some three or four miles N. N. E. from this place, called the Bethel, now the Bethalto Church. In May 1864, a branch of this church was organized at Gibraltar, a preaching station of the Theological students of Shurtleff College, two or three miles south on "the American Bottom," and in June 1867, forty-one members residing in that vicinity were dismissed and constituted an independent church called the Gibraltar Church. It will be noted that the Upper Alton Church has thus been a parent hive, whence have gone out colonies that have planted the standard of the Cross in numerous neighboring fields. And indeed, its influence has reached to distant lands, through the score or more who have gone from this church to take up foreign missionary work abroad.


The public meetings of the church, for a little over two years from its origin, were held in a log house which stood on Main Street, then for three or four years, generally in the old brick school house, or in the "meeting room" in Lower Alton, and occasionally in some private dwelling in the "Wood River Settlement." Through the year 1836, the regular places of worship was in the "Academic Hall," the oldest of the Shurtleff College buildings, for many years the College Chapel. Since the erection of the present Chapel building, this has served as the College Library.


In January 1836, it was "Resolved, That we build a meeting house of stone, 45ft x 60ft, with a basement to be used as a chapel, and for such other purposes as the church may think advisable." The subscriptions for the building were procured almost entirely by the personal efforts of the pastor, Rev. Ebenezer Rodgers, father of Col. A. F. Rodgers and Mr. Edward Rodgers of this city [Upper Alton.] While the basement was not finished for occupancy as planned, the main audience room was completed and seated with the pews then in vogue. Those pews were built on rectangular lines, and were supplied with paneled doors which were made to fasten with small brass buttons. As the doors were usually left ajar, the passage through the narrow aisles of a lady wearing the ample crinoline of that day was likely to cause no little commotion.  The building was substantial and well-lighted, and was somewhat pretentious for that day of simplicity. It was surmounted by a three-story spire, which stood for thirty years, and was the condemned as dangerous. The Trustees were considering the removal of the two upper stories of the spire, at an estimated cost of $100.00, when a summer storm kindly took up the matter, removing the desired section and piling it in the churchyard without a dollar's worth of damage to the building. This building, which occupied the northeast corner of College Avenue and Seminary Street, was dedicated in January 1837, the sermon being preached by the pastor, and the dedicatory prayer offered by Rev. Prof. Washington Leverett. "The Stone Church," as it came to be generally called, served the purposes of the congregation for over thirty years. When the premises were sold and a larger tract of land was purchased upon the corner just across Seminary Street from the old location. This was in a way a historic spot, having been the site of the building in which John Mason  Peck published his religious newspaper, "The Western Pioneer and Baptist Standard Bearer." The cottage which occupied a part of the new site, and which had sheltered many families, having lately been occupied by the "Winneshjek Academy," conducted by Prof. Elisha Whittlesey, was moved to a lot further east, where it now bears the number 711 East College Avenue, and is still in service as a dwelling.


Upon the new lot a "meeting house" was built as rapidly as consistent with the superior workmanship which yet marks the structure. For, in spite of its forty years of service, and the improvements which have from time to time been made, the building is practically unchanged in its material parts, and stands unshaken by the wintry winds, and summer storms which have beaten upon it. The building is in the Norman style of architecture, the main room being approximately 50x80 feet, containing 500 sittings, besides a large choir platform capable of accommodating a chorus of one hundred singers. The chapel in the rear accommodates the prayer meetings, and contains auxiliary rooms for Sabbath School work. The original cost of the building was about $15,000. The addition of the organ, the seating and the bowled floor, entailed an outlay of about $5,000.  The last sermon in the old stone church was preached on May 23, 1869 by Prof. Washington Leverett, who assisted in its dedication more than thirty-two years before. The dedicatory sermon in the new building was preached by the pastor, Rev. Nathaniel Milton Wood, the prayer being offered by Rev. Dr. Robert E. Pattison. The new church then, as now, containing the largest church auditorium in the Altons, was immediately put in service, and the old-time stone building was soon demolished. Much of the material in the walls of the old building was used in the construction of the stone stable upon the premises of Mrs. S. J. C. Clarke, opposite the College grounds.


The pastorate of this church has, during the past eighty years, been filled by some men of national reputation, and of sainted memory among American Baptists, Ebenezer Rodgers, Jeremy F. Tolman, John N. Tolman (son of J. F. Tolman), Justus Bulkley, Daniel Read, Edward C. Mitchell, Robert Everett Pattison, Nathaniel Milton Wood, James Madison Stifler, and others. During temporary vacancies in the pastorate, the church repeatedly enjoyed the ministrations of the late Dr. A. A. Kendrick and other members of the Shurtleff faculty, including Rev. Dr. J. C. C. Clarke, who though retired from active educational work, occasionally delights the people by "filling a gap," and Rev. Dr. L. A. Abbott, with words of wisdom based on a rich experience of a half century of preaching.


The present membership of the church is 498, some of these being non-residents who united with the church while residents or at school here, and whose names are still carried on the church roll. Under the wise and vigorous leadership of the present pastor, Rev. Mahlon H. Day, the church is making progress in some new directions. The work among the boys of the congregation was begun by his predecessor, Rev. George D. Knights, who organized the first boys' club in connection with church work in this city. It has been carried on and developed by Mr. Day, and now includes a company of Boy Scouts, which meets regularly, as well as junior work along the same lines. This has been called "the men's year," and this church is abreast of the times with its men's Bible class of 113 members, led by Mr. John Christy, and the active participation of its officers and members in the Men and Religion Forward Movement, which now occupies so prominent a place in the religious world of American.


The interest of the church in the regular work of the Sunday school is evidenced by an average attendance for the past year of the superintendent, Mr. E. J. McPhillips, has an efficient corps of teachers, Mrs. J D. Pare has charge of the primary department, which is such an important part of the work. In the matter of music, this church is prominent among the Alton churches. A volunteer chorus choir of over twenty members directed by Miss Alice E. Marsh, chorister, and supported by Mrs. Elise L. Owen, organist, leads the congregational singing, and gives special music at each service.  The women of the church and congregation sustain a Ladies Aid Society, which is an efficient factor in the work of the church. Mrs. Kate P. Marsh is President, and has directed their work for more than twenty years. The Women's Missionary Society, of which Mrs. W. H. Stifler is President, lends generous assistance in the filling of the church's annual apportionment for missionary purposes. Its allied societies, the "Cradle Roll," and the "Farther Lights Society," are under the direction, respectively, of Mrs. A. M. Jameson and Mrs. M. H. Day.


While this church has had periods of financial stress, it is worthy of note that they closed the year 1911 free from debt.  The Diamond Jubilee of the church was celebrated seven years ago, during the pastorate of Rev. Louis M. Waterman. Its Centennial, eighteen years hence, is expected to find not a few of its present members, and a host of new recruits, still battling for God and humanity.



First Methodist Episcopal Church, Corner of Market and 6th Street, Alton, Illinois:


Nearly a century has rolled by since Methodism ventured into Southern Illinois, or as it was then known, the Indiana Territory. Originally part of the great Northwest Territory, defined and created by the ordinance of 1787 of the Continental Congress, and containing what are now Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, then set off with Indiana as the Indiana Territory. Illinois did not gain a separate territorial government until 1809. Three years previous to that event, namely in 1806, a mission of the Methodist church was established near Edwardsville by the Rev. Mr. Young. Thirteen years later, in 1819, a Sabbath school was begun in Upper Alton, and now claims the distinction of being the oldest continuous Sabbath school in Illinois. A Methodist station was established in Lower Alton in 1829, and appointments were made from 1833. In a few years another society was organized in Middletown, or "Middleton," as it was then written.


The early meetings of the station in Lower Alton were held in a building called Lyceum Hall, on Market Street. Afterward, a frame building which stood on the corner of Third and Alby streets, the present site of the Unitarian parsonage, was purchased from the Baptist society, then about to move to a new church edifice. This structure was bought for $8,000.00 by William G. Pinckard and Mr. Hogan, whose intention was to present it to the society. But the financial depression beginning 1837 seriously hampered these gentlemen, so that they were unable to pay for the property, and at Mr. Hogan's suggestion, trustees were elected, money was raised in the east to the amount of $750.00, but both money and building were finally lost in about 1841. No attempt to secure a church home was made until a year later, when a public meeting of the society was called, and steps were taken to obtain a place of worship. The committee appointed having selected a lot on the corner of Fourth and Beall Streets (now known as Belle Street), were very much surprised when the owner, Mr. J. T. Hudson, presented them with a lot without cost. Thus encouraged, they succeeded in building a brick church, and afterwards a parsonage on the lot adjoining on the east. The church then stood on the northeast corner of Fourth and Belle Streets. When on Wednesday evening, April 15th, 1857, a fire destroyed the planning mill owned by Messrs. Beall, Parks, Morrison, and McDowell, the whole block was involved, including the Methodist church and parsonage.


Again deprived of a church home, they set to work once more, and in 1858 erected the structure recently destroyed on Sixth and Market Streets, and where now stands the present beautiful edifice just completed in 1905. For some time in the early days, all three stations, Upper, Middle, and Lower Alton, were served by one pastor. A union was proposed between Middle and Lower Alton stations in 1841, but was rejected by the Middletown society. Their church building was located near the northeast corner of Common and Franklin Streets, just where the car tracks turn off Common Street. (rest of article unreadable)



Church of the Redeemer, Congregational, Sixth and Henry Streets


The Church of the Redeemer, Congregational, was organized on the evening of Friday, June 3rd, 1879, at the home of Mr. F. T. Lewis. After devotional exercises and full discussion of their purposes by those present, a committee was appointed consisting of Messrs. Samuel Wade, James Newman, and John Atwood, which drew a formal statement of the reasons and motives actuating a charter. Other committees were appointed on church manual, and confession of faith, on hymn books and for securing a pastor for the leadership of the new organization.


Rev. M. K. Whittlesey of Ottawa, Illinois was called as the first pastor, and on October 13, 1870, the church was publicly recognized by council and its pastor installed. Shortly after the action of the council, the church and its pastor were received into the Southern Association of Illinois. Closing a pastorate of two years, Rev. Whittlesey was released to the superintendency of Home Missions for Southern Illinois. Rev. Robert West of Ludlow, Kentucky was called to the pastorate at once. The church received a large addition to its membership as the result of the revival work of Rev. E. P. Hammond. In 1876, Rev. West resigned to enter a larger field of service, and later to be called as editor of the Chicago Advance. He was succeeded by Rev. George C. Adams of HIllsboro, Illinois, who remained with the church four years, and then resigned to accept charge of the Compton Hill church in St. Louis, and later was called to the First Church of San Francisco. REv. E. G. Chaddock of Manitee, Michigan was called, and remained four years. During his ministry, the Sabbath School continued from the _____ as a Mission School, was accepted formally by the church. Rev. H. S. Wills of Forest Grove, Oregon followed in the pastorate for two years, resigning November 15th, 1887, to enter upon a pastorate at Huron, South Dakota. Rev. C. C. Warner of LaSalle, Illinois was called to succeed in the work, and was with the church three years. A union revival conducted in the city by Evangelist H. F. Sayles resulted in forty additions to the church. Rev. J. H. J. Rice began service with the church May 1st, 1891. During this pastorate of fourteen years, the church grew steadily in numbers and strength, and the present edifice, commodious, comfortable and finely appointed for the church service, was erected and dedicated in 1901. Rev. Rice resigned January 1905, and later was called to the Church of Emporia, Kansas. He was succeeded by Rev. Ailan A. Tanner, whose ministry of four years was marked by an increase in the membership of the church, and especially in the quickening of its spirit of benevolence and social service. Rev. Tanner was deeply interested in the social questions before the church, and was widely known as a lecturer on labor conditions. He resigned in June 1909 to accept the call of the First Church in Denver, Colorado, and was followed in the pastorate in January 1910 by Rev. David R. Martin from Sioux Rapids, Iowa, the present pastor of the church.


The officers of the church are the pastor, board of trustees, Messrs. M. H. Boals, E. A. Smith, S. C. Farley, H. H. Hewitt, M. P. Stevens; Board of deacons, Messrs. Thomas M. Guy, William Flynn, Thomas W. Burgess, Richard Holden; Supt. of Bible School, C. C. Stewart; President of Ladies Benevolent Society, Mrs. George D. Duncan; President of Ladies Missionary Societies, Mrs. Ellen Sawyer; Treasurer, H. H. Hewitt; Solicitor, T. W. Burgess; Clerk, Miss Lucie E. Smith.  There are eight charter members remaining in the fellowship of the church.


The Church of The Redeemer occupies a central field of service in our city, and ministers to a large constituency through its various organized departments. It has a most efficient Sunday School, which has always been a nursery for the church. The Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor is constant in its helpfulness. The Ladies Benevolent Society renders valuable assistance to those in need and distress, and is the means of social communication for the church membership. The Ladies Societies for the study and aid of Foreign and Home Missions are thoroughly informed of the larger works of the denomination and contributing annually for their maintenance.


The Church of the Redeemer is well known in the Springfield Association of Congregational Churches, and in our city for its spirit of loyalty to its pastors, of unity among its members, and for its gifts in benevolence. It offers a church home to residents and Christian training for their children and a hearty welcome to visitors and strangers in attendance at its service.



First Presbyterian Church, Alton


Presbyterianism in Alton dates back into the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Dr. A. T. Norton, in his "History of the Presbyterian Church in Illinois," says, "Alton Presbyterian Church was organized by Rev. Edward Hollister and Rev. Daniel Gould, missionaries of the Connecticut Missionary Society, June 9, 1821. He then names eight persons, three men and five women, who were charter members. In March 1826, a little less than five years from the dates of organizations, by a resolution of the Presbytery, the church was incorporated with the church of Edwardsville. In consequence of the removal of all the members of said church except two."  Thus ended the first chapter of Presbyterianism in our city.


The second organization was effected by Rev. Thomas Lippencott, June 19, 1831, who served the newly organized church as stated supply for one year. Two members of the original organization, appear as charter members also in this, viz: Enoch Long and his wife, Mary Long. Thus he read of continuity 1st preserved. Over eighty years of continuous history have been completed. In addition to the five years of the earlier organization.


During this time, a long line of strong consecrated men have served the church as Ruling Elders. The system of permanent Eldership was preserved in the usages of the church until April 26th, 1849, when the limited term system was adopted.  The following ministers have served the church:  Rev. Thomas Lippencott, Stated Supply for one year until June 1832; Rev. Elisha Jenney, Stated Supply for nearly 3 years until April 1835; Rev. Frederick W. Graves, pastor, three and one half years until April 1839; Rev. Augustus T. Norton, D. D., pastor over nineteen years until July 1858; Rev. Cornelius H. Taylor, D. D., pastor nearly ten years until April 1868; Rev. Chester S. Armstrong, D. D., pastor ten years and a quarter until April 1880; Rev. Thomas Gordon, D. D., pastor four and a quarter years until January 1886; Rev. Andrew T. Wolff, D. D., pastor four and one half years until June 1891; Rev. George W. Smith, Ph. D., pastor five years until November 1896; Rev. Henry K. Sanborne, pastor almost eight years until March 1905. The present pastorate began in January 1906. Of this list of faithful ambassadors of the King, it will be noted by comparison that Mr. Norton served the church nearly twice as long as any other pastor, while Dr. Taylor next longest in service, was pastor for ten years. But two of this decade of God's Servants whose completed record we have noted, still live, viz: Dr. Thomas Gordon of Washington, D. C., and Rev. Henry K. Sanborne, pastor of Brooklyn Presbyterian church, Oakland, California. The others have gone home to glory.


As respects to place of worship, the First Presbyterian Church of Alton seems in its history to bear striking resemblances to its proto-type, ancient Israel, in that it has been impelled by a nomadic spirit - a disposition to journey from place to place. From an exceedingly interesting paper prepared by Mr. E. P. Wade and read at the "Laying of the Cornerstone" of the present church building, we have gleaned the following facts: 1. The church first lifted its standard in a log schoolhouse in Upper Alton. 2. Ten years later it takes on new life under the hospitable roof of Deacon Enoch Long, corner of Main street and College avenue. 3. Next, its tent is pitched in the upper story of a frame house on the south side of Second street [Broadway], between Market and Alby. 4.  A year or so later, we find it in Lyceum Hall, the upper story of a building situated on the northeast corner of Alby and Second streets. 5. Then came a more permanent rest for the ark, in the commodious stone church built by Captain Benjamin Godfrey with his own means, on the northeast corner of Third and Market Streets. Here the goodly company tarries for a space of ten years, as destined to tell in their influence on all after history, for this period witnesses the assassination of the martyr-hero Lovejoy.  Captain Godfrey, having deeded this church property to Monticello Seminary in 1845, it was sold to the Episcopalians, who occupy this same corner today, having erected thereon their beautiful frame church on the northeast corner of Third and Alby streets, where the Unitarian parsonage now stands. 6. Then follow the purchase of the lot on the southeast corner of Market and Second Streets, and the building thereon of a brick house of worship at a cost of $3,500, which was dedicated June 14, 1846. This was during the pastorate of Dr. Norton, and this building, remodeled and changed into a business block, is known today as the Laura Building.   It was in this church, through a period of half a century, that God's people continued to worship and hold aloft the blue banner of the covenant, to which their early forbearers have been consecrated. Successive repairs and remodelings had place during this time, until yielding to the encroachment of business interests and increasing noise, the church was sold in 1896.  7. In January 1897, the ground was broken for the splendid new building, which stands today on the corner of Fourth and Alby Streets, and long shall stand as a memorial of the zeal and devotion and self-sacrifice of the men and women who made its erection possible.


Periods of spiritual revival and large ingathering have marked the church's history from time to time. Dr. Norton, in his history, makes special mention of one such visitation in 1849. Many others have had place since. The growth of the church has been regular rather than spasmodic throughout its history, due to the faithful preaching of the gospel and faithful teaching of the Word of God in the Sabbath school. This latter institution, under the leadership of very devoted and efficient superintendents, has ever flourished and proven the most fruitful recruiting territory for the membership of the church. Its present membership is 435, inclusive of the Chapel school of North Alton, while the membership of the church is 313. A good mission point is still maintained at North Alton, whose inception extends back to the pastorate of Dr. Gordon.


 The church has also been distinguished for its benevolent work. The last year's report of benevolence which is fairly representative, is as follows: Home missions $350; Foreign missions $361; Sunday school work $16; Education $32; Church erection $33; Ministerial relief $32; Freedmen $30; Colleges $33; Temperance $168; Miscellaneous benevolences $455; Congregational expenses $3,910.  The full story of the work and warfare and patience of faith and loving devotion of the First Presbyterian church of Alton, as of every other church of God, is known only to God and recorded in Heaven.



St. Mary's Congregation


It was not long after the arrival of Bishop Juncker that the German Catholics of Alton decided upon the organization of a separate congregation, the Bishop favoring their plan. They had been attending services at St. Peter & Paul's Church. But being for the most part newcomers from Germany, and unable to understand English, their desire to have a church of their own where preaching in church and teaching in school could be carried on in their own vernacular, is easily explained. But they were few in number and possessed of scanty means for such an undertaking. Leonard Flachenecker, Michael Lampert, and Lawrence Fabrig were appointed to collect means for that purpose. About 25 families contributed toward the building fund. The church was built in 1858, under the direction of Father Menge, and was also attended for some time by the same Rev. gentleman. Father __. A. Ostrop was the first pastor. The church, small as it was, had a basement which served for school purposes, and for occasional gatherings. It was in this basement that the first fair was held in 1859. In the rear of the basement were a few rooms that were occupied as the pastor's residence.


There was every evidence that the small congregation, under the efficient pastorship of Father Ostrop would soon attain large dimensions and become prosperous in every respect, when on the 2nd day of June 1860, a tornado, sweeping over the town of Alton, demolished all that the small congregation called its own. Nothing but a mass of splinters mixed with plaster was left of the church building, and even the pastor was for a time buried under the debris. The indebtedness of the congregation was $4,000. Father Ostrop did not lose courage. With the permission of the Bishop, he started out on a begging expedition outside of the congregation, city and state, Cincinnati, Dayton and other cities in the east, St. Louis and Quincy offered the poor pastor generous assistance. The debt was paid and soon a new church arose, built on the site of the first one, corner of Third and Henry Streets, and was dedicated December 8, 1861. Soon after a pastor's residence and a frame schoolhouse for boys were built, fronting Third Street. The girls were sent to the Ursuline Nuns. About the same time the land was purchased for what is now known as St. Joseph's Cemetery. A brick schoolhouse was built in 1866. It was in this building where Father Ostrop planned to have a high school, which, however, had but a brief existence.


Much to the regret of the congregation, Bishop Baltes appointed Father Ostrop to the rectorship of St. Boniface Church, Quincy. This was in 1872. His successor at St. Mary's, Alton, were Fathers John Sandrock and Vincent Nagel. The first one, though a picture of robust health, was not destined to spend a long time in administering the affairs of the congregation. It was during the smallpox epidemic in 1873 that he exposed himself more than necessary in attending the sick, and caught the fatal disease which caused his premature death the 10th day of May, much to the regret of the congregation who had learned to love and respect him very highly. His successor was Father Vincent Nagel. With the best will, he was not able to do the work needed, owing to his delicate state of health. He died May 15th, 1874.


One who was to engraft a lasting memory on the minds of the congregation, by his zealous and by his successful undertakings, appeared at the altar as the new pastor, August 15th, 1874. He called the sisters of Notre Dame, for whom he had built a house, attached to the schoolhouse, to teach the parish children. He also bought the adjoining lots, graded them, a prepared a site for the present church, the cornerstone of which was laid July 16th, 1893. Mr. Vincent Wardein was the builder of the fine structure of rock. Mr. Lucas Pfeiffenberger superintended the building. In Thanksgiving day, 1895, the new church was solemnly consecrated. Nobody was more rejoiced than the pastor, Father Peters. Two Bishops, a great number of priests, and many visitors from surrounding places had come to swell the crowd of people that filled the spacious, beautiful church. Father Metzler Foerster and Father Hartmann had assisted the pastor to collect means for the $60,000 church, which at present prices for building would not have been less than $100,000.  The only solicitude the good pastor had after the great life-work was completed that he might pay the $25,000 debt which was left. But God relieved him of this work. He died March 5th, 1896, and sorrow-stricken stood the congregation at his grave. His successor was the present incumbent of the office as pastor, Rev. J. Meckel. during his administration, the old church was remodeled and serves now as a schoolhouse and hall, in which a heating plant was installed; heat was to feed also the parsonage and the other school rooms and dwelling house of the Sisters. Sewerage was provided for, sacristy of the church was enlarged, the old parsonage altered for school purposes and other needs, and finally the new parsonage besides the clubhouse were built. The congregation counts now about 400 families; children attended school about 350. The assistant pastors in the last 25 years have been Fathers J. Foerster, J. B. Wand, Paul Asmuth, A. Hochmiller, F. Neveling, besides _____ assistant priests Fathers St. Schauwecker and J. J. Brune.


We have very fine Catholic Societies: St. Joseph's and St. Boniface Societies of men. The Altar Society, and St. Martha' Societies, besides the C. N. and L. of A., the St. Rosa's and St. Agnes Societies of young ladies and the St. Aloysius and Stanisthus Societies of young men.  In connection with the St. Mary's Church, the Nazareth Home for the aged may also be mentioned, which was founded here about 4 years ago, and is conducted by Sisters of the Precious Blood. This, with the proper support, will become in time one of the flourishing and important institutions of the city of Alton.



The First Baptist Church of Alton


On a certain evening in January 1833, a little company consisting of eight persons, who were of the Baptist way of thinking, met together to consider the practicability of establishing a church of their faith and order. The result of their conference was the determination to go forward with the proposed organization. Accordingly, on Sunday, March 10th, 1833, the First Baptist Church of Alton was duly organized with a membership of nineteen.  Rev. John M. Peck, whose labors were so intimately connected with the religious and educational development of this new territory, was present, and assisted in starting the church upon its career. Rev. Alvin Bailey, who had participated in the preliminary meetings, was chosen the first pastor. The meeting place of the new church was in Lyceum Hall, northeast corner of Second [Broadway] and Alby streets, which was occupied jointly with the Presbyterian Church. Later, the services were held in the stone meeting house which stood where the Episcopal church now stands, under the same arrangement with the sister denomination. In 1834, the church built a house of worship at the corner of Third and Alby Streets, which, however, was occupied by them only a short time, when they sold it to the Methodist Church. A new house of worship was erected at the corner of Second and Easton streets, which, after twenty years of service, was destroyed by fire in 1860.


The men who served the church in the office of pastor were men of considerable prominence in their denomination in their day. The first pastor, Rev. Alvin Bailey, afterward became editor of a denominational paper of considerable influence. In 1834 he was succeeded by Rev. Ebenezer Rodgers, whose descendants are among the prominent citizens of Alton today. In 1836 he was succeeded by Rev. Dwight Ives, who in his pastorate of three years, did more, perhaps, to mold the policy and establish the ideals of the church than any other pastor. He was a man of striking personality, which left its impress upon the church. During a portion at least of the time of his pastorate, he was the only pastor of a Baptist church in Illinois who was entirely supported by one church. For a little over two years, from January 1841, the church was served by Rev. Gideon B. Perry, who was long remembered for his remarkable pulpit power. He was succeeded by Rev. Otis Hackett from 1845 to 1847. Rev. Robert F. Ellis was pastor for six years from 1847. He was succeeded by Rev. R. R. Coon for a period of four years from 1855. In April 1860, Rev. M. Jameson became pastor of the church, and continued until 1869, when he resigned to become a missionary in Burma. He was a pastor greatly beloved, whose influence still abides in the church. At the beginning of his pastorate, the church was confronted with the task of erecting a new church edifice in place of the one destroyed by fire. The present site was chosen at the corner of Fifth and Market Streets, and a substantial building erected. One stipulation in the title to the estate is rather unique, viz: that no entertainment or other exercise shall be held in the church for which any admission fee is charged. Otherwise the title is forfeited.


Mr. Jameson is still a member of this church, and at his present home in Gouverneur, N. Y., is still actively engaged in Christian work and still deeply interested in the home church. The next pastor was Rev. Nathaniel Butler, D. D., who was pastor from 1870 for three years. He was succeeded by Rev. T. G. Field, who was ordained as pastor in 1837, and continued in that position till 1879. He is still held in the highest affection by those who were members of the church at that time. In April 1878, Rev. Levi A. Abbott became the pastor of the church, and enjoyed the longest term of service of any pastor in the pastory of the church, seventeen years, terminating that relation August 1, 1895. The pastorate was notable, not only for its length of time, but also for the abundance of good fruitage. On September 1, 1896, the present pastor, Rev. Martin W. Twing, succeeded to the pastorate.


The present church building was erected in 1900 at a cost, with furnishings, of about $26,000. The church has always had a good degree of interest in the evangelization of the city, and for that purpose has organized and supported many mission stations in different parts of the city, one of which the "Hunterstown Baptist Mission," was organized into the "Cherry Street Baptist Church" in 1903. Eighty-five members of the parent church were dismissed to enter the new organization.


The church has been honored by having good number of representatives engaged in missionary service at home and abroad. Among those who have given themselves to this work are the following: Rev. M. Jameson; Rev. and Mrs. S. E. Samuelson, in Burma; Miss Emma Inveen (Mrs. Upcraft); Miss Beulah E. Bassett, in China; Miss Caroline M. Bissinger and Miss Rose A. Nicolet, in the Philippines; Miss Addie Watts  (continued on page 39)






Source: Alton Telegraph, October 24, 1912

Next Tuesday is the day set apart by the congregation of the Salem Baptist church for wrecking their old church edifice. The members of this old institution some time ago arranged for building a new church and they have been working to this end since then. They have raised a good sum of money and have also done much work toward getting a new building. The old church has stood many years on the present site, probably sixty years or more, and it is doomed to be destroyed next Tuesday. The congregation will meet at the church at 8 o'clock Tuesday morning. Everybody will take their dinners with them and also an implement with which to work. They ask that their friends come and invite the public generally to be present at the wrecking. At 8 o'clock a short prayer service will be held in the church after which the congregation will do as Samson did - pull down the house - but when the house falls the people expect to be on top. Salem church is located a mile above Wood's Station, and is an old landmark.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, December 6, 1913

The bazaar held in the Godfrey Congregational church Thursday was the occasion of five people acquiring five treasures in the line of antiques. Five brass lard oil lamps, which were made in 1843, of cast brass and heavy mould, and used for years to light the Congregational church, were disposed of. Will Winter, Dr. W. H. C. Smith, William Jackson, William Lyons, and Howard Gray got the five lamps. Four of the lamps brought $6.50 each, and one was sold for $5.50. The four which sold for $6.50 still bore the old time frosted glass globes, which came with the lamps, and which served for seventy years in illuminating the church. When coal oil came into use, it superseded lard oil as the fuel for the lamps, but until recently the church was still illuminated with them. No electric lights have been installed. The great chandelier which was suspended from the roof was taken down too, and it has not been sold. The purchasers of the antique lamps have planned to convert them into electrolier stands, and believe they have mad rare finds. Undoubtedly the church had some treasures in those lamps, which are rare, as they are no longer made. The lamps bear the date of their manufacture, 1843. The little Congregational church at Godfrey is an antique of classic design itself. Its furnishings too were of the antique kind. The huge chandelier is almost entirely of brass, and is richly ornamented in brass workmanship.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, October 9, 1914

On Wednesday, October twenty-first, Venerable Mother Ursula Gruenwald of the Ursuline Convent on East Fourth street, will celebrate her diamond jubilee as a sister in the order of St. Ursula. The celebration will be very quiet, owing to the advance age of the venerable nun, who is in her seventy-eighth year. Mother Ursula entered the Ursuline convent in St. Louis in 1854. Five years later, at the request of Bishop Henry Damian Juncker of the Alton diocese, she, with eight other nuns, came to Alton to form a Community. Out of the band of nine who came to Alton, Mother Ursula is the only one who is living. For many years the Ursuline Sisters lived in a rented house on State street, and some fifty odd years ago they erected a new home on Fourth street, the structure which they are now occupying. Many mothers and grandmothers in Alton were pupils of Mother Ursula, and from her learned much that was good and noble....The fact that there was still one of the founders of the Ursuline order in Alton was not generally realized among the Catholics of Alton. Many knew it, and have been looking forward to the time when Mother Ursula would be able to celebrate her diamond jubilee. The anniversary will be of more than ordinary interest in Alton.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 21, 1915

The baptismal services at Fosterburg, Sunday afternoon, attracted fully 2,000 people, and the ceremony was attended with a great outburst of religious enthusiasm. Preceded by a picnic dinner in which 800 people participated and all were given their fill whether they had planned to stay for dinner or not, the baptismal services took on the aspect of a great religious holiday in Fosterburg, and it was by far the greatest event in that line that has ever occurred in the vicinity. In the morning at 11 o'clock about 800 had assembled in Culp's grove where the pastor of the Fosterburg Baptist church, Rev. D. C. Blunt, preached on the subject, "Imitators of Christ."....There were a number of musical features in the morning service, among them a vocal solo by Mrs. Stanley Castle....Dr. George M. Potter, President of Shurtleff College, gave an address on the subject "Impression and Expression." At 3 o'clock the baptismal service was held....Candidates marched down to the improvised pool at Baker's bridge, where a dam had been built. The candidates sang as the marched "Shall We Gather at the River?"....Among those who were baptized were Mr. and Mrs. Voumard and three children. One of their sons who was baptized, Emil Voumard, is to be married Wednesday to Miss Mamie Neuhaus. There was another family group, the Pauls, in which three members of the family were baptized....




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 25, 1915

The Telegraph has received a very entertaining letter written by Mrs. Jessie Hastings Long Dyre, a granddaughter of Enoch Long, in which she tells of some very interesting facts about the realty titles in Upper Alton, where there has arisen some dispute between the Upper Alton Presbyterian Church and the occupants of the next house, the Swift family. Mrs. Dyre tells of how, in days of old, "when men were honorable and their word was good as their bond," the promise was given to a man that he could erect a house on another man's land and he would not be molested, and that for all these years the promise has been made good. She traces the history of the grants to the Methodist and the Presbyterian Church sites, and relates some history that is decidely interesting and worthy of perusal by all who have a taste for old time things. The writer says:

Sabula, Iowa, June 22, 1915. To the Editor of the Alton Telegraph, Alton, Ill.:  Dear Sir: Before stating my object in writing you, allow me to introduce myself as a daughter of Mr. M. H. Long and granddaughter of Enoch Long, both a whom were old time residents and citizens of your city; also the widow of Rev. W. Rankin Dyre, D. D., who was connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church and a member of the Upper Iowa Conference. I have received a clipping taken from your paper, I suppose, concerning the Upper Alton Presbyterian Church and its proposed extension, but in this notice there appear such glaring misstatements that I feel I must state a few facts in correction. These facts being taken from writings of my father and grandfather. The first Presbyterian Church was organized by missionaries from Connecticut in 1821, and as part of the members were Congregationalists, it was organized on the "Plan of Union of 1801." This organization continued until 1826, when all but two of the members (my grandfather and grandmother) had removed. In 1830 or '31, the church was reorganized at the home of Enoch Long, and upon the same basis - "Plan of 1801." Previous to this time my grandfather had become owner of the tract of land known as "E. Long's Addition." He had it surveyed, giving one lot for the Union Church and one for the Methodist Church. In process of time the Methodists erected a building and a deed was given them of the lot. Upon the other lot a building, costing about $8,000, was erected, my grandfather giving about $5,000 of this amount with lot and bell, which I have heard my father say, was considered the sweetest toned bell ever hung in a belfry. In the giving of the lot my grandfather states, the deed of trust was given with the condition that the church was to remain as then organized, otherwise the property was to be forfeited. I have a letter in my possession under date of 1868, in which a request is made for a quit claim deed to the Plymouth Congregational - please note that the "Plymouth Brethren" and the "Plymouth Congregationalists" are very different organizations. Judging from the letters, the Presbyterians were thinking of separating from the "Plan of Union," and this request was made that the Congregationalists might be protected as to their share of the property. What my grandfather did in the matter I do not know. As to the property now owned and occupied by Mr. Swift and family, when Rev. C. G. Selleck was called to be pastor of the church in 1837, an arrangement was entered into by Rev. Selleck and the officials of the church that Rev. Selleck should erect a building upon a portion of the lot occupied by the church and land belonging to my grandfather. My father states that the idea probably was to later purchase it for a parsonage. In the financial crash of 1837, property values dropped. My grandfather lost heavily, as he had gone security for others, and thus the hard times changed original plans, and later Rev. Selleck sold the property to Mr. Russell Scarritt, who lived there some years. Later selling to Mr. Batchelder, father of Mrs. Swift, and whose families have occupied the house these many year. This property has been sold and occupied with the understanding and guarantee that they should never be molested, and in those days, in contrast to the present time, an honest man's word was as good as law, though not in written form. My grandmother and father, who owned the old Long homestead, later owned by Mr. Burnap, deeded a strip of a few feet to Mrs. Batchelder, but this strip was all that was given to Mrs. Swift's family. This property has been occupied in peace these many years, but in these days of greed and gain, these old compacts are forgotten, even by churches. As one of the Long heirs, I know my grandfather or father would not countenance any disturbance, and my opinion is the trustees were too previous with their plans. Why a new organ? Is not a melody full of the true Christ spirit and the love one for the other that our Savior and Redeemer came upon earth to teach us better than grander harmonies combined with discord? Let us hope that this matter be taken into prayerful consideration and the true Christ spirit prevail in every heart, thus creating greater harmony both on earth and in the Beautiful Home Beyond.    Respectfully submitted by Mrs. Jessie Hastings (Long) Dyre.      P. S. The church building mentioned was later burned, the bell melted and later the present building erected, but I do not know what year. This statement of facts will probably enlighten the present members as well as others interested as undoubtedly the older members who knew of them are all gone. Will you kindly print as I have given them? In days gone by my father was a subscriber of your paper for many years. Thanking you for your kindness.  J. L. D.....




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 24, 1916

At their annual meeting held Thursday, the members of the Ladies' Aid Society of the First Presbyterian Church elected Mrs. Hiram S. Matthews of East Fourth street their president for another year. For the past forty-three years Mrs. Matthews has served as president of the Aid society, and not only has she held the position in name, but when there is any work to be done, Mrs. Matthews always comes to the front. Any affair at the church is not complete unless Mrs. Matthews can be present. When the Woman's Auxiliary of the Young Men's Christian Association was organized close to thirty years ago, Mrs. Matthews was elected president of that organization and held the same position throughout all the passing years. During the coming month of April, Mrs. Matthews will celebrate her 83rd birthday, and notwithstanding her great age, is as active as she was twenty-five years ago. A few weeks ago, unaccompanied, Mrs. Matthews went to Chicago and visited relatives, returning to Alton Wednesday much rested after her pleasant vacation and ready to start in again on her numerous duties attending her positions. Mrs. Matthews is much beloved in Alton, and it was with great pleasure her hundreds of friends welcomed her back home when she came Wednesday. Over fifty years of usefulness in a public way has been the record of Mrs. Matthews. During the Civil War she was the leader of the local organization which conducted the fair of the Christian and Sanitary Commission. She has always been deeply interested in all public affairs.





Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, May 4, 1916

Sentiment is going to figure largely in the effort of residents near the Brushy Grove Church and school near Wood River to save the church and school from being torn down and abolished. The old residents who have lived in that vicinity so long and have attended school there themselves, as early as the fifties [1850s], do not wish to see the school house or the church building done away with, and they are going to make an attempt to resist the purpose of landowners to swallow up the land occupied by the church and school and the old road which leads to the church and school. There is also a rumor out that the Lutherans want to acquire the church building to move it to Wood River for a Lutheran Church, after putting some needed repairs on it. The school is over fifty-five years old. S. G. Cooper, Justice of the Peace of East Alton, attended school there in 1859 and 1860. In 1887 additional ground was given by the Hon. D. B. Gillham of Upper Alton for a Baptist Church. The condition imposed on the grant was that religious services should be held once a year. Of late, interest in church work has died out at Brushy Grove, and it may be possible that the will to the land now held by H. H. Stahlhut through purchase from the Gillham heirs may be good. The old road leading to the church and school is not now used, and it is understood that property owners along the old road are seeking to re-acquire the land which was used by the road. In that case all access to the Brushy Grove Church and school will be shut off, and it would be an easy matter for the owner of the land surrounding the church and school to take it up. Whether Mr. Stahlhut wishes this to be done is not known, but at any rate, the legal status of the rights of the property on which the church and school stands is in a bad way, since church services have been discontinued. Henry Rathert, Henry Hendricks, Henry Westerholdt, B. G. Cooper, O. T. Kendall, and others are among those who want to save the school for memory's sake, but they are undecided just what step to make. It is figured out that the best way to save the church and school is to call the old members of the church together and hold a number of Sunday school services each year in order to prevent the legal right to the church ownership of the property from being disputed. The three school trustees are O. T. Kendall, Henry Westerholt, and Ernest Hendricks, and they are said to be at sea as to how the church can be saved if an attempt is made by the owners of the church and school land, and the road owners to take it in. An effort was made about two years ago to have the church repaired and arouse interest in church services. It was painted and a new cupola was put on it, but for some reason the effort to sustain interest in church work at Brushy Grove was a failure.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, August 9, 1916

In recognition of help given to the cause of Methodism in Godfrey by Rev. Dr. J. A. Scarritt, who died recently, the decision has been made by the members of the Godfrey Methodist church to change the name of that institution to the Scarritt Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church of Godfrey....Dr. Scarritt, as a boy, had helped to build the Bethany church and had subscribed to the building fund. He [Rev. J. B. House] said further that when the new church was built at Godfrey, the building was made possible by a gift of $3,500 to the fund by Dr. Scarritt....




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 17, 1917

Harry Paul, who for some time has been conducting what was styled the First Church Primitive, Christian Science, today announced that he had decided to forsake Mrs. Eddy and all her works. He will drop her books in his organization and will take up instead a church which has been known as the Church of Practical Christianity. Mr. Paul has been the head of the Primitive Church organization in Alton. He was formerly a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, but left it and founded his own church.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, July 12, 1919

The German language will gradually disappear from the public services of Catholic churches in the Alton diocese. No official announcement has been made by church officials of the diocese, but it is understood that the language will be dropped. In the Alton diocese there are many congregations composed almost entirely of people of German extraction, and many people of German birth. In these parishes it has been customary to have one or more German services on Sunday. In many of the churches German services were held at other times. Pastors of the churches will gradually give up the services in German and substitute the English language. Because many of the people have been accustomed to services in German for a number of years, the service will not be suddenly dropped. The language will gradually disappear from public services until it has been replaced by English. This applies only to public services. The hearing of confessions will continue in German because many of the older people are unable to speak English fluently enough to confess in English. The disappearance of the German from the Catholic churches of the diocese follows the ejection from public schools and many schools and college, of that language, during the war (WWI). There has bee, so far, no movement for reinstatement of the language. German, as a study, has been generally replaced in the curriculums of schools and colleges by Spanish and French.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 13, 1920

Years ago when there was a plan to destroy the historic fighting ship, Constitution, a poem saved the ship, and money was provided to keep "Old Ironsides" afloat. There is a call for someone to save the belfry of the Godfrey Congregational church, now old, decrepit with its more than 80 years of adorning the landscape, and unless some means is provided for making repairs, the old spire must come down. The Godfrey Congregational church is one of the best specimens of church architecture in this part of the country. The spire, a graceful climax to a well designed building, is a necessary part of the art scheme. The spire has been leaking water for twenty years. Inspection revealed that the repairs would be costly and that it might be cheaper to tear it down than to attempt repairs. The subject is under consideration. Maybe someone will come forward with a plan to prevent the decapitating of this old time church. It is the general belief that the removing of the spire would seriously detract from the beauty of this old time house of worship.



ALTON M. E. CHURCH DAMAGED BY FIRE                    $60,000 Damage

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, April 1, 1922

Fire, believed to have been caused by grounded wires, yesterday afternoon destroyed the auditorium of the First Methodist Episcopal Church at Sixth and Market streets, causing damage believed in excess of $60,000. One of Alton's most beautiful Protestant churches was the victim of flames, as was the largest and finest pipe organ in the city. Art glass windows, including that of "The Resurrection," considered one of the finest in this section of Illinois, were broken. Today, the beautiful church, recently redecorated, which for two weeks has housed immense crowds gathered to hear the evangelist, Gipsy Smith, is but four brick walls, with the interior - organ, elaborate furnishings, Sunday school furniture and supplies - a black heap of debris. The fire was first discovered by Clarence Winger, a carrier for the Telegraph, who was passing the church enroute to his home. He went to the home of the pastor, the Rev. C. D. Shumard, just east of the church, on Sixth street, told him, and an alarm was turned on. A moment or two later, Fire Chief William Feldwisch, on the 5:45 Union street car, on his way home for dinner, saw smoke pouring from the gable windows of the church. He had the car stopped and ran to the main door of the church. He opened it and fell back when great volumes of smoke poured out. Soon Company No. 1 of the Fire Department arrived. As the truck neared the church, one fireman grabbed the hose, stepped off, and as the truck continued on its way, the hose was unwound. The fire was between the slats roof and the ceiling. Smoke pouring from gable windows and tower showed it had gotten a good start, even before the firemen were called. First an attempt was made to enter the main auditorium of the church, but the smoke made this impossible. Presence there meant death, and so great was the smoke that the firemen could see nothing - could not get beyond the main vestibule. There were shouts of "Find the light switch," but none could be found, no one seemed to know where it was, and frantic efforts were made to find an entrance to the basement. With the lights turned on the firemen might be able to see within the building, it was thought. A hose was quickly attached to a plug, and a stream of water turned on the building. It was feared to open the doors, for that would create a draft and the blaze would be given the help it needed to burst forth in greater fury. So one stream was turned on the north gable window. The window is near the top of the middle vortex of the roof on the Sixth street side, and was latticed in shutter fashion. But little water could be thrown between the slats and the work there was only slightly effective. Aided by volunteers, the firemen played a stream on the roof from the south, after climbing to the top of the Fisher house adjoining the church on Market street. The greatest volume of smoke was coming from that point. Fire Company No. 3 had arrived. With more hose available and more men on the job, Fire Chief Feldwisch was able to fight the fire more efficiently. A fireman climbed to the roof on the north side and began prodigious efforts to chop a hole through the slate roof. A few swings of his ax and he would be forced to lean far out over the roof for a few breaths of fresh air, so great was the smoke. Eventually, he succeeded in making a small opening, and a stream of water was placed there. Several streams of water were being thrown on the building at different points, and although the pressure was great because of the pumps, the work of the firemen seemed to go for naught, because the blaze could not be reached. Then, shortly after 6 o'clock, the smoke seemed to take on a brighter color, its volume became greater; curls of smoke rose from a hundred places, at the corners of slate pieces on the roof. Suddenly the great flame, red and roaring, burst forth, with a sound like that of rolling thunder. The great crowd which had gathered fell back breathlessly, in natural fear of the great blaze. The firemen for the first time could see the blaze and they worked with renewed vigor. But the fire had gotten too great a headway and defied the efforts of the fighters. It was not long until the central portion of the roof collapsed with a great, crashing sound. The fireman on the northeast corner of the roof barely missed going too, but stuck valiantly to his task, throwing a stream of water on the flame. The firemen, when it was seen that the interior of the church could not be saved, turned their efforts to keep the blaze in the one building and preventing its spreading to other buildings in the neighborhood. Fortunately, there was no high wind.


The ceiling was the next to collapse, and it was not long until the main floor of the auditorium went too. The church had installed a gas heating system, and the gas mains were broken. Fire Chief Feldwisch said the fire could not be put out until the gas was shut off, because it was escaping and furnishing fuel for the flames. Thomas Hibbard, an employee of the Alton Gas and Electric Company, was sought and finally found in Upper Alton. He was rushed to the church, and after a hole was dug near the church, the gas was shut off. This was about 10 o'clock, and not long afterward the fire was finally subdued.


The pipe organ was given the church about 18 years ago by Mrs. Lucia I. Priest, and was called the Henry C. Priest Memorial pipe organ. At that time, it is estimated it cost in the neighborhood of $6,000. Its value today would be between $10,000 and $15,000. It was insured for $6,000. It was said today that part of the organ may be salvaged. J. W. Gratian, the manufacturer, examined the organ this morning, but left the city at noon and could not be reached for a statement. The "swell box," it was said by a member of the church, was not damaged.


The art glass window portraying "The Resurrection" was in the west wall of the church. For years, officers of the church have feared the window might be broken by winds. But last night the window, for a time, withstood even the attack of the streams of water, with the force heightened by the pumper. The window was generally known as one of the most beautiful in Southern Illinois. Persons who visited the church in the afternoon spoke of the beauty of the window, as the sun, setting in the west, shone through it. Other art glass windows were broken.


Officers of the church this morning expressed belief that the walls of the church were saved, and little, if any, damaged. The pastor's study and the Sunday school room on the east side were but slightly damaged. The Rev. Shumard, pastor of the church, is secretary of the Southern Illinois Methodist Episcopal Conference, and kept all records of the conference in his study. While the fire was raging, he climbed through a window into the study and brought out the records. When the fire had been stopped, it was found that the room was not damaged, and the records would not have been damaged had they been permitted to remain there. While the church was burning, pastors of other Alton churches went to the pastor and offered him the use of their edifices. A revival meeting was to have been held last night, at which Gipsy Smith was to speak, and other meetings were planned for this week.


The church was erected 17 years ago [1905]. When Mrs. Priest presented the organ, it was thought a new building was needed so as to compare with the organ. With the energy which characterized all their work, the members of the church set about erecting a new edifice. Their efforts resulted in the most beautiful and one of the largest of the city's Protestant churches, erected at a cost of $65,000.


A meeting of the official board of the church will be held Monday night. With their characteristic progressiveness, members of the board will go ahead with plans for rebuilding the church. The church was recently redecorated, and it was not so long ago that the church debt was cleared. But the members will embark on a new venture, actuated by that same zeal which has marked their efforts in the past, and if past performances are a criterion, success will crown their efforts.



Afflictions have some compensations. In the dark gloom among the Methodist of Alton, due to the burning of the First Methodist church last night, there was one ray of sunshine. The fact was announced today by B. C. Richardson that in the fire which damaged the church a lot of old window lights in the basement of the church, that were taken out when the old church was dismantled, were destroyed. That lot of glass had perhaps done more than anything else to hasten the building of the church which was damaged last night. A committee was named one time by the church people to buy some windows for the old church. The committee did not realize how bad the glass they selected would look. The glass had a green and yellow and white coloring scheme, and made a bilious appearance. When the old church was dismantled, an effort was made to sell the glass, but no one would buy them, Mr. Richardson said. The glass was stored in the basement of the new church and there it lay safe enough, in all its original ugliness. But the fire which caused the destruction of beautiful art glass windows in the church, also wrecked the hideous panes of glass that were in storage. So the world is safe now from ever having to look on that glass anywhere again.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, June 28, 1922

The new Baptist church at Fosterburg is nearing completion and the time of dedication has been set for Sunday, July 9th, at 2 p.m. About a year ago the old structure was torn down and the men of the church undertook to build the new edifice, under the direction of H. P. Thompson. It was indeed a tremendous undertaking as the men of the church were nearly all busy farmers. After much sacrifice and cooperation on the part of the men, they have succeeded in erecting one of the most beautiful church buildings in the rural districts anywhere. The building is the latest in church architecture. The plans were drawn by O. G. Stelle of Upper Alton. The seating capacity of the church is estimated to be four hundred and fifty. Much credit must be given to the ladies as they contributed very liberally to the new building fund. The speakers for the occasion will be Rev. James B. Little, pastor of the First Baptist church of Benton, Illinois; George M. Potter, President of Shurtleff College; and Dr. N. J. Hilton, Superintendent of the Southern District of Alton. The music will be in charge of the orchestra and choir of the church. The Upper Alton Male Quartette will render several selections, and Mr. Cyrus Daniels will also be on the program. A cordial invitation is extended to all to attend.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, September 26, 1922

Gilson Brown, an elder in the First Presbyterian church, was chosen moderator of Alton Presbytery when that body convened last evening in the First Presbyterian church for its regular fall session. The election of Mr. Brown was carefully planned out by others, but was a great surprise to him. He is the second elder ever to have held the post of moderator of this Presbytery, and by coincidence, the only other one is that post was an elder in the First Presbyterian church, Joseph Hamill. In all the history of Alton Presbytery, therefore, the only lay moderators have been from the one church. D. D. Hughey was the delegate from the session of the First church. It was contrived that he leave the church at the time of roll call, so he could not answer to his name. When there was no response, the pastor suggested that the name of Gilson Brown be substituted for that of Mr. Hughey, which was just what Mr. Hughey had intended should be done. That made Mr. Brown a member of the gathering, and paved the way for what was to happen later when the moderator was to be elected. Probably no one was more surprised than Mr. Brown when he was nominated and unanimously elected. The devotional service was conducted by the retiring moderator, Rev. William F. Jones of Carlinville. The opening roll call found 33 ministers and 10 olders present, but this number was considerably increased today. The following pastors were received into the Presbytery: Rev. A. H. Taylor from New Albany, Ind., who is serving the Rockwood group of five churches; Rev. J. S. Wilbank from Muskogee, to the Staunton church; Rev. H. L. Todd from Indianapolis to Chester; Rev. Franklin L. Gould from Bloomington to Greenfield.  The following dismissals were given: Rev. Dennis N. Park to New Albany, Ind.; Rev. William J. Caldwell to Rushville; Rev. George M. Layman to Rochester.  The election of officers resulted as follows: Gilson Brown, moderator; permanent clerk, Rev. Clinton D. Bowman; temporary clerk, Rev. Amos J. Niebruegge. There was displayed on the wall of the church a tabulated report of the important matters of business, showing growth of the church, and contributions to various causes. In the Presbytery, there has been 501 new members received on confession of faith, and 301 by letters from other churches. There are 8,955 members in the constituent churches of the Presbytery, and 8,944 in the Sunday schools. The Home missions received from these churches $10,153 and Foreign missions received $9,708. The congregational expenses of the sixty churches in the Presbytery were $143,704. The largest church in the Presbytery is that at East St. Louis, the First with 733 members. The second is the First Presbyterian church of Alton, with 661 members. Hillsboro is third with 533; Sparta is fourth with 467, and Greenville fifth with 451. The total of members in the four Alton churches was shown to be 1,322. Special emphasis was being laid today on the meeting this evening when Rev. George P. Horst, D. D., of Chicago, will deliver the address. It will be preceded by a brotherhood supper for all the Presbyterian men of Alton. Supper will be served at 50 cents a plate. Following that the address will be given by Dr. Horst, one of the big men in the Presbyterian church, and representing the General Assembly committee on Men's work. The following were selected as the clergymen to attend the Illinois Synod at Streator, Oct. 17: E. L. Gibson, D. M. Cann, J. J. Bostick, E. W. Gilcrist, D. Breeze, W. B. McAdoo, H. S. Farrell. The alternates are J. N. Morrison, L. D. Weil, W. L. Bobb, Will's Patchen, H. E. Andrews, I. T. Spencer, T. A. McElvain.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, November 17, 1922

Yesterday some of the negroes interested in the Rocky Fork church and burial ground were in Alton conferring with Col. J. J. Brenholt regarding the possibility of anyone seizing or getting possession of the church yard. It is a small tract of ground which for sixty-five years has been used as a site for the church and the burial place of the people in that vicinity. The Rocky Fork neighborhood is settled chiefly by negroes. The church is a negro church and none but negroes are buried in the cemetery. In sixty-five years the patriarchs of the settlement have been buried in the church yard. Recently, the people interested in the church arranged to tear down the old church and erect the new one. The old building came down and lumber was on the ground to put up the new one. Then alarming stories went abroad that someone was claiming to have a title to the ground and was preparing to seize it. That sent a committee to town to consult a lawyer. Col. Brenholt advised the committee that after sixty-five years of tenancy, it was impossible that anyone could set up a title to the property which has been so long used as the Rocky Fork church and graveyard. Construction work on the church will proceed, with the assurance that if there was no other right to the property, that of possession for so many years would be a perfectly good title.




Source: Alton Evening Telegraph, March 23, 1923

Fire caused an interruption of a banquet in the Congregational church at Godfrey last evening, all the people at the banquet table abandoning supper for a while until they could save the old time church building. Then they went back to the supper table and finished the supper, had the program of speeches and enjoyed a pleasant evening. The Godfrey Congregational church is a landmark in this part of the country and it is regarded as exceedingly fortunate that the artistic little country church building was saved, as it is a relic of bygone days, and has an interesting history. Fortunately, the fire did not do much damage to the building owing to the fact that there were so many men present at the banquet to lend their help in fighting the flames....Evidently this chimney [at the northwest corner, that serves a stove downstairs] had been the cause of fire getting out into the frame walls of the pretty little church building and the fire was going at a good rate when discovered. The alarm was given and everybody abandoned the supper and rushed out to fight fire. They tore into the wall of the church and after desperate efforts they succeeded in extinguishing the fire....The Godfrey church is about 85 years of age. It is a striking piece of architecture, standing opposite Monticello Seminary and it would have been a great calamity had it been destroyed. It is a center of much religious activity for the community, aside from being an adornment of the landscape, and had the building burned it would have been a heavy loss, and very difficult to replace.




Source: The Alton Telegraph, December 5, 1933

The old Antioch Church, located near Short Cemetery, four miles northeast of East Alton, which had been closed for 14 years, was to be opened for religious services. The church, founded in 1851, was one of the oldest in the vicinity.




Source: History of Ramsey County and the City of St. Paul, page 567

Dr. Sterling Y. McMasters: In 1846 he became rector of Christ church at Alton, Illinois.




According to the Alton Telegraph, November 26, 2008, St. Mary's Catholic Church of Alton, officially named the Church of the Immaculate Conception, was organized in 1858 to serve Alton's growing German population. Father F. A. Ostrop was the first pastor. The new church was a two-story brick structure with the church on the second floor. The lower floor was devoted to the priest's apartments and classrooms. The church was destroyed by a tornado in 1860.  The present St. Mary's Catholic Church was consecrated November 28, 1895.




According to the Alton Telegraph, dated March 24, 2009, the Zion Lutheran Church of Bethalto will celebrate its 150th anniversary with the theme of "Praising, Serving, Sharing Christ for 150 Years." The church is located at the corner of Route 140 and Moreland Road in Bethalto, It began in 1859 by five families who worshipped in a log structure.  In the 1840s, German and Dutch Lutheran families on the Rattan Prairie (Bethalto) were meeting in homes to worship. The first Lutheran church in the Bethalto area was built in 1842 on the southern edge of Liberty Prairie, near present Route 159. Early services were conducted by circuit riders, including Rev. C. G. H. Schliepsick. Zion Lutheran Church for organized in 1859, under the first resident pastor, Rev. D. W. Warns. Rev. Warns also established Emmaus Lutheran Church at Dorsey.  For the first 50 years, most services at Zion were conducted in German. English services began in 1913 with the arrival of Pastor W. G. Bruegmann.  Zion began its first elementary school in 1877, with the first teacher being Rev. J. G. Neutzel.    The log structure was replaced in 1865 by a brick building, which included four rooms for the pastor's residence. A steeple was added to the church in 1892 to house its 1,000 pound bell. The bell has been moved to each new building. A frame structure was built in 1910.


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