Church History: Peoria
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Excerpt from the Peoria, City and County, Illinois (1912) by James M. Rice, Volume I, pages 161-170 & 177-191, submitted by Janine Crandell. The pictures are from the 1912 book and the postcards are from my collection, unless otherwise stated.
Note: Click on thumbnails for a larger image...
FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
This church was first organized as a Presbyterian society in December, 1834, and
so continued until 1847, at which time it dropped its connection with
the Presbyterian church, adopted the congregational form of government and
changed its name to that of the Main Street Congregational church. Rev. William
H. Starr became pastor under the new organization and ministered to the people
until October, 1848. In November of that year Rev. Levi Spencer was called to
the pastorate and so continued until April 14, 1853, when his death occurred.
During his pastorate a new church was erected at a cost of $8,000. For some
time following Rev. Spencer's death there was considerable dissension in the
church and eventually twenty-two members withdrew to form a new congregation
known as the Union Congregational church. This was consummated December 8, 1857,
and was organized as a Presbyterian church, known as the Fulton Street
Presbyterian church, identified with the "New School" branch of that
denomination. Rev. Isaac E. Cary was pastor of this newly organized society from
the time it came into existence until August 29, 1860, and his successors were
Revs. Wilber McKaig, November 2, 1860-June 2, 1862; Samuel Wykoff, November 24,
1862-October 3, 1864; Asahel H. Brooks, July 3, 1865-March 4, 1868; Horace C.
Hovey, January 5, 1869-April 13, 1873; Robert Condit, October 27, 1873-November
The two branches (Old and New School) of the Presbyterian church, having in the year 1870 become united under the name of The Presbyterian Church of the United States, and there being at least four churches of that denomination in the city, and there also being in the Fulton street church a large element inclined to the Congregational form of government, a movement was set on foot which eventually resulted in the union of the Fulton street church and the Main street Congregational church, known as the First Congregational Church of Peoria. This was consummated January 31, 1875. The pastors of the church as it was originally organized, succeeding Rev. Levi Spencer, have been: Revs. J. W. Marsh, January 2, 1853-May 1, 1854; Henry Adams, September, 1854-November, 1855; J. Steiner, December, 1855-July, 1856; A. A. Stevens, December, 1856-June, 1866; G. W. Phinny, June, 1866-June, 1867; J. A. Mack, April 1, 1868-June 8, 1870. In September of the latter year, Rev. A. A. Stevens was again called to the pastorate of the church and so continued until February 1, 1882, and it was during his term that the New School, or Fulton Street Presbyterian church, became united with this church, and that the commodious church building at the corner of Monroe and Hamilton streets was erected. Rev. Stevens resigned in February, 1882, but during the last two years of his service here he had had an assistant in the person of Rev. J. Homer Parker. The present magnificent church structure was completed and dedicated September 9, 1883, at a cost of nearly $90,000, and the pipe organ, costing more than $5,000 was donated by the ladies of the congregation as the Stevens Memorial. The successors of Rev. Stevens have been: Revs. E. Frank Howe, 1882-87; D. K. Nesbitt, 1888-92; Caspar Wistar Hiatt, 1893-97; W. C. Haskell, 1898; John Faville.
Out of this congregation have grown the Plymouth church, South Peoria Congregational church, the North Peoria Congregational church, the Averyville church, Pilgrim Mission Sunday school and Washington Street Mission Sunday school. [Note: The First Congregational was destroyed by fire on March 21, 1936, and later merged with Second Presbyterian to form the First Federated Church in June, 1937...see article]
PLYMOUTH CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
In the spring of 1869 the First Congregational church established a Sunday
school at the corner of Fourth and Spencer streets. This was given the name of
Plymouth Mission. Funds were at once secured for the erection of a house of
worship, which was twenty-eight by fifty-six feet in size, and cost $2,000. From
time to time the question of organizing a church was raised but this plan did
not materialize until December, 1888, and it was not until June 2, 1889, that a
society was duly organized, with ninety-six members. The pulpit was supplied by
various pastors until 1889, when, on the 13th of February of that year,
Rev. C. C. Harrah was installed as the first regular pastor. Those who have
served the church since that time are: Revs. D. B. Spencer, 1890-94; S. W. Meek,
1894-98; F. G. Smith, 1898-1900; J. W. Nelson, 1900-[still serving at the time
of this book's publication].
In the summer of 1896, the old church having become inadequate to the needs of the congregation, a magnificent brick structure was erected on the site of the old church, at a cost of $14,000.
UNION CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
July 20, 1884, a Union Sunday school was organized in the northern part of
the city of Peoria and immediately a frame church was erected at a cost of
$2,000, this being located at Pennsylvania and California avenues. January 1,
1890, a church society was organized, first as a Union church, but in 1893 it was
changed to the Union Congregational church. In 1894 a new church was built
at Illinois and Dechman avenues. This structure cost $14,000 and was dedicated
December 1, 1894. The list of pastors who have served the church are: Revs.
E. S. Chandler, 1890-92; D. G. Stouffer, 1892-94; Alexander Monroe, 1894-1900; W. J. Johnson, 1900-[still
serving at the time of this book's publication].
[Note: Grace (and Peace) Lutheran moved into this church building (at Illinois and Dechman) around 1916, and later sold it to Calvary Bible Church in 1959. The structure burned in 1973. Union Congregational moved to a new structure at Knoxville and Nebraska in 1919, but it was destroyed by fire on March 20th, 1970. They later merged with Immanuel Church to create Parkview Church.]
click on thumbnail for a larger image...
Union Congregational Church
submitted by Janis Straesser
GERMAN CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
This society was organized December 6, 1895, with a membership of sixty, many of whom withdrew from the German Reformed church. In 1896 a church edifice at a cost of $8,000 was erected at Reed and Maple avenues. The following have served as pastors: Revs. T. H. Schmidt, 1895-98; William Fritzmeier, 1898-1901; William F. Essig, 1901-[still serving at the time of this book's publication].
ST. PAUL'S PARISH (PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL)
This society was organized in 1848 by Rev. J. S. Chamberlain, minister in
charge. In 1850 a small brick church was erected on Main street and in 1854 this
building was enlarged to meet the needs of the growing congregation. In 1873
plans were procured and arrangements made for the erection of a new church, and
to this end the old church was demolished and a temporary structure built at
North Jefferson and Jackson streets. But about this time a division in the
congregation occurred, which resulted in the formation of the congregation of
the Reformed Episcopal church, and this rendered it impossible to carry out the
proposed plans. The temporary building was then removed to the site of the old
church and was occupied until the present house of worship was erected at a cost
Prior to the organization of the Reformed church, St. Paul's parish experienced many difficulties, resulting mainly from difference between the high and low church elements. Although there was an organization in existence at a very early day, known as St. Jude's parish, yet it seems to have fallen under the ban of the bishop, after which only a mission was maintained until 1848, when St. Paul's was regularly organized. Later a new parish, known as St. John's was formed and a building was erected at the corner of South Jefferson and Liberty streets, which was later occupied by the Jews, but this parish was short lived. St. Paul's is now in a prosperous condition. The rectors have been: Revs. J. S. Chamberlain, 1848-50; John W. Cracraft, 1850-57; Henry N. Strong, 1857-60; Joseph M. Wait, 1860-65; Warren H. Roberts, 1865-69; J. W. Coe, 1869-70; J. W. Bonham, 1870-72; L. Townsend, 1872-75; William Bryce Morrow, 1875-81; Robert Ritchie, 1881-89; Sidney G. Jeffords, 1889—[still serving at the time of this book's publication].
ST. ANDREW'S PARISH
This society is the outgrowth of a donation of land made by John Birket many years prior to his death. On the 7th of November, 1857, Mr. Birket conveyed to Henry J. Whitehouse, bishop of Illinois, and to his successors, in office, certain lots, including those upon which St. Andrew's church now stands. The organization of this society was effected July 10, 1897, with thirty members. A handsome stone church was erected in the fall of 1897, at a cost of $20,000, and a rectory was built, at a cost of $10,000, the property being located at North Madison avenue and Mary street. Rev. Samuel G. Wells became the first rector of the church, assuming charge November 22, 1897. His successor was Rev. Webster Hakes, who took charge June 15, 1900. The present rector is Rev. Thomas Hines [at the time of this book's publication].
CHRIST CHURCH (REFORMED EPISCOPAL)
The contest between the high and low church elements in the Protestant Episcopal church, which led to the separation of one party from the other and the formation of the Reformed Episcopal church, was waged with vigor in the diocese of Illinois. The bishop was uncompromising in his high church proclivities, while among the laity there was a tendency toward a more liberal church government. When news was received of the organization of the Reformed Episcopal church in New York, December 2, 1873, the movement was regarded with favor not only by the low church element but by members of other churches. An invitation was extended to Bishop George D. Cummings of the Reformed church, to visit Peoria to look over this field, with a view to establishing a church. The members of the Second Presbyterian church offered the use of their church that the Episcopalians might hold a meeting, and this offer was accepted. A meeting was held December 16, 1873, at which time an organization was effected. Subscriptions were solicited for the support of a rector and so liberal was the response that Bishop Cummings was authorized to secure a rector. At the time of the organization there were fifty members but this number was soon increased to one hundred. Rev. Mason Gallagher, of Brooklyn, New York, delivered the first sermon on the first Sunday in January, 1874. A call was extended to Rev. Joseph D. Wilson, of Pittsburg, and on the 17th of February, that year, he began his labors. Steps were at once taken to erect a church and in July, 1874, the building was completed, at a cost of $13,000. The congregation also owns a rectory on Perry avenue, which was built at a cost of $5,700. Rev. Wilson was succeeded by Rev. E. B. England, who remained with the church about six years, his successor being Rev. J. W. Fairly, who remained ten years. Rt. Rev. B. B. Ussher then came and remained two years, and was followed by Rev. Henry F. Milligan.
BACON MEMORIAL MISSION
This mission grew out of a mission Sunday school, organized on Thanksgiving day, November 29, 1888, under the auspices of Christ (Reformed Episcopal) church, by Rev. J. W. Fairly, who was at that time the rector, and members of the church. Meetings were first held in a store building at No. 206 Bridge street, and later at No. 602 South Adams street, until October 9, 1892, at which time the new church, erected at a cost of $8,000, on Chestnut street, between Adams and Warner avenues, was completed and occupied. It is named in memory of Charles F. Bacon, a prominent member of Christ church, who was called from this life in the midst of his useful labors. His wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Bacon, later went to India as a missionary but was soon called from this life and an orphanage and chapel at Lalipur, India, have been established as a monument to her memory. Rev. Edward T. Munns, assumed charge of the congregation, September 9, 1891, and has been with the church to the present time. [Note: Bacon moved to Warren and Millman, the former St. Stephen's Episcopal, in 1966. It later became Memorial Baptist, which eventually merged with another church to form Berea Baptist.]
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
The Baptists were among the first to organize a society in Peoria and the First
church congregation built a house of worship, which was dedicated October 17,
1846. On the 14th of November following, Rev. Henry G. Weston was called to the
pastorate and continued with the congregation for twelve years. During his term
of service the church became self supporting, it having formerly received aid
from the American Baptist Home Missionary Society. June 10, 1859, about
twenty-five members withdrew and formed themselves into a society known as the
Tabernacle church, but after four years the two congregations were reunited. A
number of years later, however, twenty-four others withdrew and organized what
became known as the Peoria Baptist church. July 27, 1864, the First church
congregation exchanged their property on Hamilton street for a lot and church
building at the corner of Madison avenue and Fayette street, where the Women's
Club building is now located. In 1890 an elegant and commodious building was
erected at Hamilton boulevard and Glen Oak avenue, the cost being $65,000. Out
of this church have grown the Bethany church and Olive Street Mission. Those who
have served as pastors of the church since Rev. Weston, who was the first
regular pastor, are: Revs. D. E. Holmes, 1862-63; A. Jones, 1864-66; A. H. Stowell, 1866; J. D. Page, 1867; S. A. Kingsbury, 1869; Alexander McArthur,
1872-74; C. J. Thompson, 1874-80; C. E. Heath, 1880-90; D. D. Odell, 1890-93; L.
Kirtley, 1894-1900; George H. Simmons, 1900-[still serving at the time of this
[Note: First Baptist moved to a new location on 411 W. Lake between Sheridan and Knoxville in 1958. The older church at Hamilton and Glen Oak, was razed in 1959.]
BETHANY BAPTIST CHURCH
This society is the outgrowth of a mission Sunday school, organized in 1877, by W. C. Tapping. In 1882 a chapel was erected on North Jefferson street, between Hayward and Abingdon, at a cost of $1,600. A church society was not organized, however, until May 10, 1891, with thirty-eight members. In the following year, 1892, the church building was removed to its present site, North Madison avenue and Hayward street, and greatly enlarged, at a cost of $7,000. Rev. E. O. Lovett was the first regularly installed pastor, who served the church from its organization until December 1, 1895. He was succeeded by Rev. R. S. Sargent, who assumed charge May 11 1896, and remained until November 1, 1897. Rev. J. W. Bayles took charge July 10, 1898, and remained until March 4, 1899, and on the 1st of May of that year Rev. T. K. Reynolds took charge. [Note: This church merged with First Baptist in 1918 but reorganized 10 years later and moved to Perry Street in 1953. Then the church moved to 7229 N. Knoxville in 1976.]
GERMAN BAPTIST CHURCH
This society was organized August 24, 1853, by Rev. John H. Krueger, who had been engaged as a missionary of the Baptist Home Missionary Society, and held services sometimes in the courthouse, while at other times services were held in his own home. He was chosen as the first regular pastor, remaining until November, 1860, when, on account of his health, he was forced to resign. The membership gradually increased and worshipped in the basement of the First church until 1862, when a lot was leased on the corner of South Jefferson (now Warner avenue) and Maple streets, where a small frame church and parsonage were erected. In 1875 they purchased a brick building on Monson street, between Fourth and Fifth, which had been erected by the Cumberland Presbyterians. This building was remodeled and built to, at a cost of $3,200. In 1897 a new structure was erected at Fourth and Fisher streets, at a cost of $3,000 and the congregation still occupies the same as a house of worship. The pastors who have served this church since 1860, at which time Rev. Krueger resigned, are: Revs. C. D. Menger, 1862-66; J. Merz, 1866-69; S. H. Downer, 1869-78; H. S. Deitz, 1878-81; J. Albert, 1882-86; F. Frederick, 1887-90; A. Vogel, 1891-96; A. Jansen, 1897-1901.
MOUNT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH (AFRICAN)
This society was organized in April, 1876, with a membership of twelve. In 1879 a neat house of worship was erected at Seventh avenue and State street, at a cost of $5,600. Rev. Benjamin N. Murrell is the present pastor.
THE GERMAN EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE TRINITY CHURCH
The denomination to which this church belongs is not of foreign origin as might
be supposed, but was founded in Pennsylvania nearly a century ago, by German
speaking people. It was originated by Jacob Albright, a devout man, of Methodist
proclivities, after whom it was sometimes called the "Albright church." The
official designation appears to be the Evangelical Alliance, or the Evangelical
Association of North America. In all essential points it follows the
organization and polity of the Methodist Episcopal church.
The church has a general conference, annual conferences, bishops and presiding elders, and also an order of deaconnesses similar to the Methodist Episcopal church. The main difference seems to be in the fact that their bishops and presiding elders are elected for specific terms of four years each, and then must abide by the decision of new elections. The bishops have coordinate general supervision. They have twenty-two conferences in the United States and all bishops reside in this country. They also have a conference in Canada, two in Germany, one in Switzerland, and one in Japan, and missions in China and Russia. They have publishing houses in Cleveland, Ohio, and in Stuttgart, Germany; also colleges in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, and Ruetlingen, Germany, and seminaries in Tokyo, Japan, and Naperville, Illinois; also a Deaconess Home and Hospital in the city of Chicago. This church has the itinerant system, the pastors being assigned to the various churches by the conferences.
The church in Peoria was organized in 1843, with fifteen members, Bishop John Seybert preaching the first sermon. However, they had no fixed place of worship until 1847, when they erected a small church building on Chestnut street, between Prairie street and Warner avenue, costing $600. In 1853 they built a church at the corner of First and State streets, at a cost of $2,500, which was occupied until 1873, when the present frame building was erected at a cost of $5,700. This building is now for sale and the congregation contemplates the erection of a modern church building. On account of the frequent changes of pastors, it is not deemed advisable to enumerate here all who have served this people in nearly seventy years. The presiding elder of this district at the present time is Rev. H. J. Kiekhoefer, there being four districts in Illinois. The present pastor of Trinity church is Rev. G. W. Engelter. Mrs. Mary S. Harsch is Sunday school superintendent. The board of trustees consists of George Koerner, C. P. Schlenker, John Rudell, J. W. Green and H. J. Kopp. The Sunday school enrollment is 100, organized into classes, home department and cradle roll. The Young People's Alliance, with B. F. Shirer as president, has about 120 members. The denomination maintains old people's homes at Buffalo, New York, and Cedar Falls, Iowa, and an orphanage at Flat Rock, Ohio. We have been thus specific about this church because probably very few American church people know anything concerning it.
There is a second church of this denomination in the city known as
This church is located at the corner of Stanley and Humboldt streets. Regular
preaching services and Sunday school are maintained. Rev. G. J. Degenkolb is the
This church was commenced as a mission German Sunday school in 1896, in the South Peoria town hall, by Rev. M. G. Hallwachs. Under G. C. Gasser, a small church was built and dedicated January 1, 1905, and all services were changed into the English language. This church was served in connection with Trinity church until April, 1911, when the present pastor was assigned in charge. There is now a church membership of twenty. They have a Sunday school of 150 members, also two young people's societies with sixty members, and a Ladies' Aid Society of thirty. George Koerner is Sunday school superintendent, Miss Nettie Sturm, president of Young People's Alliance, Clarence Powers, president of Junior Alliance and Mrs. H. Allowby is president of the Ladies' Aid Society.
The board of control consists of G. J. Degenkolb, pastor; George Koerner, president; Miss Nettie Sturm, secretary; J. Harry Kopp, treasurer; C. E. Lottman and George Umdenstock, stewards; also Mrs. C. E. Lottman and Mrs. George Umdenstock.
GERMAN EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN (ST. PAUL'S) CHURCH
This society dates its organization from December 1, 1853, with twelve members. In the following year, 1854, a church building was erected on Sanford street but in 1863 a lot was purchased on the corner of First and Goodwin streets and the building removed thereto. In 1883 the church was rebuilt at a cost of $1,500 and in 1888 this was replaced by a new and commodious structure, at a cost of $14,500. This church has been instrumental in founding several missions in this county and elsewhere. There is also a school and kindergarten in connection with the church, a new building having been erected in 1898, to replace the old one, which was built in 1863. The present building cost $6,200. From the time the society was organized to 1877 seven pastors served the congregation and from that time to the present, Rev. Frederick B. Bess has served as pastor.
GERMAN EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN TRINITY CHURCH
This congregation was organized June 17, 1857, with thirteen charter members. The following year a small church at a cost of $2,000 was erected at the corner of Warner avenue and Maple street, where the parochial school is still located. In 1875 the old church gave way to a new structure, which was erected opposite the old structure on Maple street, at a cost of $8,000. This is one of the largest congregations of this denomination in the city. The first to serve as pastor of this congregation was Rev. Fred Boeling, who was installed June 17, 1858, and after two years was succeeded by Rev. Paulus Heid, who came in January, 1861, and remained until 1878, his successor being Rev. Gottlieb Traub, who remained until January 1, 1892, and was succeeded by Rev. Otto L. Hoenstein, who remained for a long period. The present pastor is Rev. Ernest Flach.
CHRIST EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH
This society was formerly a mission of Trinity church but was organized as an independent congregation December 9, 1894, with thirty-six charter members. In the summer of 1892 Trinity church erected a building for the use of the mission in the southern part of the city, on Malone avenue and Chandler street, at a cost of $5,000. This building was destroyed by fire June 25, 1895. This was immediately replaced by a new structure, at a cost of $8,000, together with a parochial school building, at a cost of $2,000. Rev. Frederick W. Jass has served as pastor from the time of its organization to the present. [Note: Originally, this church was called the Christ Evangelical German Lutheran Church but the word "German" was dropped during War World I.]
SWEDISH EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN SALEM CHURCH
This church was organized August 4, 1883, with thirty-four members. The first
church was located on Easton street near the Vienna Mills. In the spring
of 1888 the building was removed to Glendale avenue near Hamilton street. This
building was sold in 1896 for $2,800, and the present church, built of brick and
stone, at a cost of $10,000, was erected at Bluff street and Hamilton
boulevard. The pastors who have served the church are: Revs. August Norrbom,
1887-90; E. C. Jessup, 1891-93; Alfred Appell, 1893—[still serving at the time
of this book's publication].
[Note: Better known as Salem Lutheran, the church was razed in 1979.]
The Universalist church was organized May 6, 1843, and among the first members were Orin Hamlin, Dennis Blakeley, Aaron Oakford, Moses M. Webb, J. P. Dennis, John King, Caleb Whittemore, and Norman Howe and wife. At first meetings were held in the courthouse. Rev. F. J. Briggs became the first pastor and his successor was Rev. W. B. Lindell, who remained about two years. The society eventually purchased the building which was located on Fulton street and had formerly been used by the First Presbyterian church. This continued to be their place of worship until 1863. Rev. William Rounseville was pastor from 1853 until 1858 and was succeeded in the latter year by Rev. D. M. Reed, during whose pastorate the church was reorganized as the Church of the Redeemer, with eighty-three members. Subsequently they held services in various buildings until 1867, when a new church was erected and dedicated January 1, 1868, and named the Church of the Messiah. Rev. Reed was succeeded in 1865 by Rev. H. R. Nye, and when the new church was completed Rev. Royal H. Pullman was installed as pastor. His successors have been: Revs. H. B. Smith, J. Murray Bailey, S. A. Gardner, G. W. Kent, W. S. Ralph, George B. Stocking, R. B. Marsh, Frank McAlpine, T. B. T. Fisher and Barlow Carpenter, who is the present pastor. About 1885 the name of the church was changed to Bradley Memorial First Universalist church, in memory of Tobias S. Bradley, who had been a devoted member and liberal contributor to the church, and whose death occurred in 1867. The present church was erected about 1902 and stands on  Hamilton boulevard. [Note: This historic building is currently slated for demolition!]
THE NEW CHURCH (SWEDENBORGIAN)
The First Society of the New Jerusalem church of the city of Peoria was formed a corporate body in January, 1846. The first church building was erected on Jefferson street, near Hamilton, about 1846. In 1855 this building was replaced by a brick structure on Hamilton street, between Madison and Jefferson. In 1896 this building was condemned by the city inspector and the furnishings were sold. Since then no regular services have been held but the society still exists as an organization. The pastors who have served the congregation are: Revs. John Randolph Hibbard, Nelson C. Burnham, Thomas S. Storey, Jabez Fox, George H. Marsten, A. J. Bartels, George F. Stearns, George Nelson Smith, George Hardon, J. R. Hibbard, W. H. Schliffer and Samuel C. Eby.
FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST (SCIENTIST)
On the 29th day of August, 1892, seven persons met together, taking the initial
step in forming a church which would inculcate Christian Science, as taught by
Rev. Mary Baker G. Eddy. A board of three directors, a treasurer and a clerk
were elected, and the name—Church of Christ, Scientist, of Peoria, Illinois, was
adopted. On the 6th of October, 1894, the church was incorporated, and the name
changed to First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Peoria, Illinois.
Beginning the year 1898, with eighty-seven members, efforts were directed towards building a church edifice on the lot on Hamilton boulevard, corner of Bluff street, which had been purchased the previous year. The building was erected during the latter part of the year at a cost, including the lot, of nearly $30,000. The first services, dedicating the building, were held on the 15th of January, 1899.
FIRST METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The building erected by the zeal and energy of Stephen R. Beggs and his willing
supporters in 1840, was 31 feet by 40 feet in size. In 1843, the work having
prospered greatly and congregations necessitating more room, the building was
lengthened by the addition of 16 feet to the rear. In 1841 and 1842 Rev.
Nathaniel P. Cunningham was pastor. Rev. Cunningham was the father of Mrs. J. D.
McClure. By the general conference of 1840 the Illinois conference was again
divided and the Rock River conference formed. According to assignments of
ministers as given by S. R. Beggs, this conference included a large part of the
state of Illinois, and the states of Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and enough
territory was included in one presiding elder's district to form two conferences
In the fall of 1842 N. P. Cunningham transferred to Chicago and was assigned to the church there. By the same conference Chauncey Hobart was sent to the church at Peoria and served until the following fall, when Richard Haney succeeded him. Haney was a giant in stature, and a powerful preacher, who was well known in Peoria by many of the present generation. John Chandler was the pastor in 1845-46. In the latter year, the congregation was incorporated and James Hazzard, George Wilkinson, Samuel B. King, Jesse L. Knowlton, Joseph J. Thomas, John Easton and Asahel Hale were the members of the first board of trustees.
In the fall of 1846 Rev. F. A. McNeal was appointed to the church and in 1847 N. P. Heath; but he being sent off on a financial mission, Rev. McNeal again served the people. In 1848 and 1849 Silas Bolles was preacher in charge, and it was under his administration that the second church building was erected.
The little frame church erected by S. R. Beggs, after having been enlarged had again been outgrown, and the congregations demanded more room, consequently, a new brick building 60x90 feet was erected, with an audience room, which, with a lobby, covered the entire second floor, a lecture room, 42x60 feet, and several class rooms in the basement. This building was very plain. The brickwork was done by Card and Hazzard, and it is thought the carpenter work was done by Thomas & Bain, and the plastering by Loomis & Brown. Finances being short, no more than a base for a spire was ever built, and so remained until May 13, 1858, when a severe hurricane, which passed over the city, partly unroofed the church while it blew the spires off almost every other church in the city.
This building was dedicated in September, 1849, Bishop Edmund S. Janes preaching the sermon. The building had a gallery over the lobby so that the seating capacity was the entire interior size of the building. However, with the entering into the new building an innovation was introduced and musical instruments, and singers were installed in the gallery. The instruments were a bass viol and a flute, the latter of which was played by Edgar M. Banvard, and the former by George Thorpe, as near as can be ascertained.
Of the members of the choir, the following names have been obtained. Stark R. Reed, Joseph Brown, Joseph C. Parker, Edward Story, Mrs. Louise Reed and Miss Marie Banvard, sisters of E. M. Banvard; Miss Mary Reed, daughter of S. R. Reed, and Miss Mary Brown, daughter of Joseph Brown; and Mrs. Leah Benton. Of these Edward Story is the only one of whom we have any information at present time. He resides with his wife and daughter at 212 West Armstrong avenue, Peoria. One rather comical feature, was that when the congregation arose for the singing, all turned their backs to the pulpit and "faced the music."
The Rev. Peter Cartwright was a rough, uncouth, plain-spoken man and a powerful preacher. One of his antagonisms was to instrumental music in the church. It is said that at one time when about to open services, he announced the hymn, and read it as was customary, and casting his eyes up, he saw the bass viol and said, "You will now please fiddle and sing the hymn as announced."
Edgar M. Banvard was about this time superintendent of the Sunday school, but not many years afterwards left for California, and was succeeded by Joseph Brown.
In 1850 J. C. Parks was assigned to this church, and he was followed by C. C. Best, who also was reappointed the next year.
About this time "The Wesleyan Seminary of Peoria" was started and a lease secured on the "Mitchell House," which had been built by William Mitchell, former county clerk, for a hotel, but which was not a success in that capacity and had been closed. It was located on the corner of Jefferson avenue and Fulton street, where the "Star" office and two or three other business buildings are now situated. The seminary was not a success, and the building was afterward remodeled and opened as a hotel, under the name of "The Massasoit House," and did quite a business for some time.
About this time William Jones taught a school in the basement of the Methodist Episcopal church. Some of the names, remembered of scholars who attended that school are: Henry B. Rouse, Walter P. Colburn, Edward S. Easton, Charles Easton, Edwin C. Ely, Selby Whittlesy, a cousin of Ely's, Joseph F. Hazzard, Miss Alice Hill, Emeline Shelly, now the widow of the late Martin Kingman, Mary Mossman, and Virginia Cunningham, now widow of Colonel J. D. McClure, cousins.
In 1852 and 1853, J. W. Flower was pastor and during his pastorate a small mission church, known as Moffatt church, was built on lower Adams street, about opposite where the Barrett Manufacturing Company's plant is now located. This was used as a mission church by the First church for a few years and then discontinued. In 1855, Caleb Foster was appointed to the church.
The general conference of 1856 having divided the Rock River conference and formed the Central Illinois conference the new conference held its first session in the Methodist Episcopal church in Peoria, beginning September 19, 1856, being presided over by Bishop Edmund S. Janes. Since that time six other sessions of the annual conference have been held in Peoria, to-wit: 1871, 1886, 1895, 1900, 1905 and the last session held in Hale Memorial church, commencing September 6, 1911.
By the conference of 1856, Rev. William H. Hunter, who had transferred from the Erie conference of Pennsylvania, was appointed to the Peoria church. At first he was strongly objected to by some on account of his pronounced anti-slavery proclivities, but the events of the next few years wiped out all such objections, and William H. Hunter became a tower of strength to Methodism, not only in Peoria and the Central Illinois conference, but in the nation. He was several times elected a delegate to the general conference. He was also a good business man and financial manager, and by husbanding the very small allowances of his earlier clays and the somewhat more liberal income of later years, he accumulated quite an amount of property. He was, nevertheless, of a liberal turn of mind, and quite often assisted his less fortunate, or more improvident, brethren in the ministry, as well as giving of his means to worthy causes. Almost at the commencement of Rev. Hunter's ministrations to the church here, a mission Sunday school was started in a small brick building on North Jefferson street, which stood where the three-story brick building, the "Annex" to the "Bailie,", now stands. This building was formerly the Swedenborgian church. It had also been used for a private school. In 1857 George B. Parker was superintendent, C. Dunham, secretary and James Hazzard, librarian of this Sunday school. Joseph F. Hazzard has in his possession several certificates of membership in this school, issued to members of his family in April, 1857. However, prior to this, probably in 1855 and 1856, there was a Sunday school, largely under the auspices of Methodist people, conducted in an old frame building which was originally a foundry and had afterwards been used as a schoolhouse, located on the northwest side of Perry avenue, between Fayette and Jackson streets, and which belonged to George C. Greenwood. In this Sunday school, Mrs. Mary E. Phenix was a teacher, and Joseph F. Hazzard and the girl who is now his wife were attendants. About the time of the opening of the Sunday school in the building on Jefferson street, the school on Perry avenue ceased to exist, and a number of the attendants transferred to the new location. A feature about this new Sunday school was that the library books, which were mostly for the younger grade of children were kept in a carpenter's tool chest, loaned by William Comegys. Milton L. Haney, a brother of Richard Haney, was assigned to Peoria mission, and this Sunday school formed a nucleus from which he organized the Second Methodist Episcopal church, whose successor is Madison Avenue Methodist Episcopal church.
In 1857, R. C. Bolles was appointed to succeed W. H. Hunter and he in turn was succeeded by R. C. Rowley. In 1859, S. G. J. Worthington, one of the grand old men of the Central Illinois conference, and father of Judge Nicholas E. Worthington, was appointed to the First church, in Peoria, and remained till 1862, when Rev. J. S. Cumming, a son of Rev. William C. Cumming, who was on the Peoria circuit in 1836, followed. It is said that it was during Cumming's time that the first organ, what was known as a parlor organ, was installed in the church. Also at this time the first camp meeting was held at Oak Hill, and a camp meeting has been held there annually ever since. Rev. Cumming remained until the conference of 1863 again assigned Rev. Richard Haney to the charge, and the next year Rev. C. C. Knowlton. Rev. Knowlton was re-appointed but resigned in February, 1866, and James Tubbs supplied until the conference of 1866, which appointed Andrew Magee.
By the conference of 1868, J. P. Brooks was sent and in the fall of 1869, J. S. Cumming again was assigned to the work, and continued this time for three years. In 1872 E. Wasmuth was appointed. He remained three years. In 1875 A. R. Morgan came for a three years' term, and was followed in 1878 by Selah W. Brown for two years. By the conference of 1880 James T. McFarland, now in charge of the Sunday school publication of the Methodist Episcopal church, was assigned as pastor, William Hunter as assistant, and they remained two years. This brings us to the end of the chapter so far as the brick church building of 1849 is concerned, for in 1882 it was sold and the next year abandoned for church services.
The writer has thought it might be interesting to many to recall the names of many well remembered as being connected with the First Methodist Episcopal church and its activities at the time of, and immediately following its dedication in 1849. Among those best remembered are: Daniel Brestel and wife, and Elizabeth Bowman, their daughter, now living in California, where she has been since 1853; Peter S. Shelly and wife; Enoch P. Sloan, L. Keyon, Nathaniel Curtiss and family; Leonard L. Loomis and wife; James Hazzard and wife, the latter a daughter of Daniel Brestel; Joseph J. Thomas and wife, and daughters, Mrs. Leah Benton and Miss Mary Thomas; Samuel B. King and wife; Samuel Tart and wife and daughter, the latter afterwards the wife of Colonel Chas. H. Deane; Ira E. Benton and Caroline Chandler, who afterwards became his wife; Jesse L. Knowlton and wife; Edward D. Shutts and wife; Father Bowen and wife; Father Bunn and wife and J. H. Bunn; Wm. Comegys and wife; Mother Markley; Mother Slough; Dr. Mossman; Dr. McNeal and wife; Edgar M. Banvard and wife; Mother Banvard and Mrs. Lizzie Sloan; Mrs. Louise Reed and Miss Maria Banvard, her daughters; Nathan Giles; Wm. Giles; Columbus Dunham; Asahel Hale and wife, the latter of the class formed in 1832; Wm. Hale, the first mayor of Peoria, and his wife; Henry Story and wife, parents of Edward and F. M. Story of this city; Levi B. Gibson; James M. Woodbury and wife; Mrs. Cunningham, widow of the Rev. N. P. Cunningham, and mother of Mrs. Colonel J. D. McClure; Stark R. Reed and family; and Clark B. Stebbins, for many years a justice of the peace.
By the conference of 1882, Rev. J. E. Keene was appointed to the First Methodist Episcopal church, and during his incumbency the present church edifice at the junction of Fulton, Franklin and Sixth avenue was built. Mr. Keene was quite a young man, at that time being only twenty-eight years of age. He was transferred from the church at Kewanee. When he arrived here, he found that the old church building had been sold, and the congregation was worshiping in what was known as "The Old Armory," at the east corner of Madison avenue and Liberty street. This latter was in fact built as a Cumberland Presbyterian church and known as the Glover church but not used long as such. Glover was the name of the pastor when it was built.
Mr. Keene found that the lot for the new church building had been purchased, and that his predecessor, Rev. James T. McFarland, had memoranda of some persons who had promised to make subscriptions. Plans had also been prepared and accepted, so that he started in at once to get the subscription in more tangible form, and of sufficient amount, which he found to be a most arduous task. In the meantime a most efficient building committee, consisting of Isaac Brown, J. H. Bunn, and H. C. Lines, now all passed to their reward, proceeded with the construction of the building, with James Bramble, as contractor. But the building was not completed until the fall of 1884. Mr. Keene preached the first sermon in the unfinished building in May, 1884, but it was not dedicated, according to Ira E. Benton, until 1888, when Rev. Peter A. Cool, had taken charge. The dedication services were held October 18, 1888, the dedicatory sermon being delivered by Bishop Charles H. Fowler. The cost of the building including site was about $35,000. Several years after the building was completed finding that there was not enough seating capacity, it was remodeled by tearing out the end-walls of the wings of the transept, and extending them and putting in galleries over them.
Rev. George W. Gue was appointed in 1884 and served the church three years, being succeeded in 1887 by Rev. George C. Wilding, who remained one year. By the conference of 1888 Rev. P. A. Cool was appointed to the church, and reappointed for the second year, being followed in 1890 by Rev. H. D. Clark, who served three years.
In the fall of 1893 T. W. McVety was appointed pastor and remained three years; Rev. Nelson G. Lyons coming in 1897 and serving three years, being followed in 1900 by R. E. Buckey. Since that time the pastors have been Rev. R. Crewes, Rev. O. T. Dwinell, Rev. R. A. Brown and Rev. W. E Shaw, who is now serving his second year.
The church has a very fine parsonage property, located on Hamilton street between Perry and Glendale avenues. The building is a substantial brick, built about two years ago.
The report to the last annual conference gives a total membership in the church of six hundred twenty-four; in the Sunday school of forty-three officers and teachers and five hundred twenty-two scholars, including cradle roll and home department, with seventy-seven members of the Epworth League. [Note: The present church, located at Perry and Hamilton, was built in 1916 and underwent major renovations in the 1950's.]
MADISON AVENUE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
By the session of the Central Illinois
conference which was held in the First Methodist Episcopal church in 1856,
Milton L. Haney was appointed to "Peoria Mission." With the Sunday school which
had been started in the old Swedenborgian
church on Jefferson street, where the "Annex" to the "Bailie" now stands, as a
nucleus, Haney started in to form and organize a church. With such object in
view he proceeded to collect funds, and leased a lot from William E. Robinson,
on Monroe street, near what was then called Eaton street, but now Bryan street,
and in the summer of 1857 erected thereon a plain frame building. Having secured
a building he proceeded to organize the Second Methodist church, with a board of
trustees composed of Samuel Tart, William Goldsborough, Hugh B. McFall, William
Thompson and Nelson Green. The building was quite primitive, heated by stoves,
and lighted at first by lardoil lamps, which were later superseded by camphene
bracket lamps, until one of the members, John Lane, a year or two later,
installed lamps in which it was attempted to burn a dark, foul smelling fluid,
which was the first kerosene oil introduced, and so poor was it, that frequently
the lights would go out and leave the place in darkness. Rev. Daniel Brestel and
Rev. John Borland occasionally preached in this church.
This church building was removed in 1864 to a triangular lot at the west corner of Perry and Eaton streets which adjoined the Masonic cemetery and again removed to a site on Jefferson street, on the north corner opposite the Greeley school building. From there it was transferred to Madison street, near the present site of the Madison avenue church and is now retained as the annex to the newer building.
Among the well remembered earlier members of this church are Rev. James Hitchcock and wife; Chas. McFall, wife and daughter; Mrs. William Hughes; Miss Mary Hughes, her daughter, now Mrs. Dr. L. B. Martin; Mrs. Dr. J. W. Martin; George C. Babcock and wife and two daughters, one of whom is now Mrs. Jennie E. Stouffer, the very efficient truant officer of the school board; Mrs. Mary E. Phenix and two daughters; Judge George B. Parker and wife; Mrs. Mary Stewardson; Father and Mother Borland, the parents of James and Robert Borland and Mrs. Janet Apple; Joseph Giles, wife and two daughters; and a little later Joseph F. Hazzard; John Schleigh and wife; Joshua S. Onstott; Martha Stewardson; and Stephen Martin. Nelson Green and his wife, Hannah, and Mother Sturgis, who became a noted army nurse, must not be forgotten.
Of the early pastors M. L. Haney, who was appointed to the Peoria mission by the conference of 1856, was appointed to the Second church in the fall of 1857, also serving a church in South Limestone at the same time.
By the conference of 1858, R. N. Morse was appointed to this charge in Peoria and was succeeded by George R. Palmer in the fall of 1859. N. C. Lewis succeeded George R. Palmer and remained one year. By the conference of 1861 a young man named T. W. Stewart was assigned to this church, but remained but part of the year, when he raised a company and enlisted in the army, and Henry Apple was secured to supply the place and reappointed by the conference of 1862. He was succeeded by Benjamin Applebee. It was Rev. Applebee, who, recognizing the folly of continuing to pay rent for the lot on Monroe street
went energetically to work, raised money and purchased a triangular lot on the west corner of Perry and Eaton streets, had the church building moved onto it and put in repair.
At this time the male membership of the church was greatly decimated by enlistments in the army and there were but few left; consequently the question of finances for the undertaking was quite problematical; but the pastor was equal to the solving of it. He went out among the business men and solicited funds, even going to saloon keepers, to some of whom he said: "Here, you fellows are the cause of the necessity of churches to a great extent and it is no more than right that you should help pay the expenses; I want some of your money for this work," and he usually got it. Our best information is the cost was about $1,000. Benjamin Applebee died February 22, 1897, aged nearly seventy-seven years. Rev. John Chandler, one of the staunch old time ministers of the Methodist church, whose home was in Peoria, succeeded Applebee, remaining in charge two years.
The conference of 1866 assigned Rev. P. A. Crist to this church and he was succeeded in the fall of 1867 by Rev. H. I. Brown, who is now and has for many years been a resident of this city. By the conference of 1868, no assignment was made to the Perry street church, as it was often called, but Hale Chapel being then in the course of construction, Rev. William A. Spencer was appointed to Hale Chapel, which was as yet not organized, with instructions to fill the pulpit at the Perry street church until the organization of a church at Hale Chapel. This he did and when later his work was transferred to Hale, a supply for the Second church was found by the presiding elder.
Henry Apple was again appointed to this church by the conference of 1869. He was followed by Rev. W. B. Frazelle, for one year; P. A. Crist again, for one year. The. latter afterwards removed to Washington City and was connected with the agriculture and other departments of the government for a number of years. H. M. Laney followed for one year; then P. A. Cool, who remained two years; then George F. Meredith, who remained three years. Meredith was a young man, very sensational, and drew very large congregations, but lasting results for good, from his pastorate, have not been very apparent.
In 1878 Frank H. Gumming, a son of the venerable and revered Rev. Joseph S. Cumming, was assigned to this church and remained three years. He was succeeded by Rev. J. A. Riason, who remained one year and in the fall of 1882 J. W. Frizelle, the present district superintendent of the Kankakee district, was appointed pastor and remained three years. About the time of the pastorate of W. B. Frizelle, the church building was moved from the corner of Perry and Eaton streets to North Jefferson street and about the time of P. A. Cool's pastorate the building was transferred to the present location of the Madison Avenue church. Captain Wm. A. Hall, became a member of the church, and Dr. J. H. Wilkinson took a great interest in it. They were strong financial backers.
Succeeding Rev. J. W. Frizelle came Alexander Smith in the fall of 1885, remaining three years. It was Alexander Smith who took up the work of building a new church and amid many discouragements and much adverse criticism pushed the project to completion, which resulted in the present building, of which the original, constructed under M. L. Haney in 1857, and known as the "church on wheels," is a part. Alexander Smith is the present district superintendent of Rock Island district.
Following Alexander Smith came C. W. Ayling in the fall of 1888; then Laughlin McLean, one year; then D. S. McCown, two years; A. M. Lumkin in 1892 for one year. In 1893, C. W. Green supplied the church three months. About January 1, 1894, Rev. E. R. Fulkerson, a missionary, home on furlough from Japan, took charge of the church and remained five months. He was a brother of the wife of Rev. J. R. Wolf, then pastor of Hale Chapel, and it was through this connection that he came to Peoria. He returned to Japan, in the service of the board of foreign missions.
When E. R. Fulkerson departed, Rev. D. T. Black, a local preacher, a member of Hale Chapel, and a very successful revivalist, took charge for the remaining four months, till the meeting of the conference of 1894. By that conference, Rev. V. Hunter Brink was appointed to Madison avenue, and then reappointed, but deciding to remove from the jurisdiction of Central Illinois conference, he only served one half of the conference year, and was followed by Rev. W. R. Watson, who remained till the conference of 1897, appointed Rev. J. A. Chapman to the charge. Chapman was a fine preacher and very popular and remained pastor of Madison Avenue church five years. After Chapman came Douglas for one year; W. J. Leach, two years; Gilbert, two years; J. B. Rutter, one year; J. N. Brown, one year, and the present pastor Rev. W. D. Evans, for two years.
In the early days, during the revival meeting it was not considered out of place for the worshippers to shout, if they felt like it, and sometimes quite a good many felt like it, and indicated it pretty loudly, so that the rough element nicknamed them "The Ranters," but some of this same element became convinced of the error of their ways and joined these same "Ranters." So strong were the convictions sometimes that persons now living have seen some fall upon the church floor as in a trance and remain so for a long time.
The report to the last session of the Central Illinois conference shows this church to have a membership of two hundred fifty, with a Sunday school of twenty-five officers and teachers and two hundred sixty-six scholars, with an Epworth League of sixty members and with church property valued at $8,000. [Note: This church merged with First United Methodist about 1916. It was the Covenant Church in the 1930's and then later the First Covenant Church.]
Asahel Hale, the founder of Hale Chapel, was born in Vermont, December 10, 1791.
He and his wife, Laura, came to Peoria in 1831, and she being a Methodist,
became a member of the class formed by Zadoc Hall, or Joel Arrington, in 1832 or
1833, while he joined the Methodist Episcopal church in 1840. He invested in a
large body of land lying along the top of the bluff, practically extending from
High street to Elizabeth street and from Elizabeth street along High street and
North street, as they are now, to Chambers avenue. November 26, 1861, Asahel
Hale made his will, and with a wisdom and foresight quite surprising, he
provided for the erection of a Methodist Episcopal church, in what was destined
in coming years to be one of the best parts of the city of Peoria, and upon one
of the most sightly locations. By his will he left one half of his estate for,
such purposes, and at his death which occurred March 23, 1864, there was turned
over to the three trustees he had selected, $11,530.54 to carry out his wishes
in this regard. The trustees whom he had selected were William Giles, Ira E.
Benton and Columbus Dunham. And here again Mr. Hale displayed his wisdom and
sagacity, for three more upright, conscientious and honorable men could not have
been chosen. This writer was personally acquainted with all of them. They were
all members of the First Methodist Episcopal church, as was also Jesse L.
Knowlton, who with Laura Hale, the wife of the testator, were executor and
The moneys left for the church were partly loaned, so that not until the winter of 1867-68, did the trustees of the will decide that it was time to proceed with the building. They then consulted with Joseph F. Hazzard, junior member of the building firm of James Hazzard & Son, and he having spent some time in the office of an architect in Brooklyn, New York, as well as being a practical builder, they employed him to make plans and draw up specifications for the proposed building. In doing this he was guided and controlled by the provisions of the will; for Mr. Hale had so thoroughly digested the matter that he had provided that the building should be a plain, substantial brick structure, with a basement, Sunday school and classrooms, and an audience room above, also that the church should be provided with a belfry and bell. All of these directions were explicitly carried out and a very neat, substantial and commodious building, 40 by 70 feet, erected.
At that time, Henry Grove, a very eccentric and atheistic lawyer, owned a large tract of land directly across Main street and lived there in a one-story frame cottage which remained until a few years ago, when it was removed to make way for the two very neat brick residences now occupying the site. When the drawings for the church were completed it was suggested that, as a matter of courtesy, they be taken and shown to Henry Grove, which was done. Grove looked the floor plans and elevations over, and then said: "Well, boys, I've always been opposed to putting a church on that corner, but I guess it will be a d— sight better for old Grove's property than a saloon; go ahead."
The contract for the building was let to James Hazzard & Son in May, 1868, for $11,500. The corner stone was laid June 22, 1868, and the building was so far completed that the first service was held in the basement, November 1st of that year.
Some two years previous to the organization of Hale Chapel, D. B. Allen had organized a Sunday school in an old shop on Elizabeth street between High and Main street, which had grown to a membership of about one hundred twenty-five, and this school was at once transferred to the new church, D. B. Allen, superintendent.
The building was dedicated January 15, 1869, Rev. R. M. Hatfield, then of Chicago, preaching the dedicatory sermon. The church was organized November 8, 1868. Among the first members were Daniel B. Allen and wife; Isaac Evans and wife; Joseph F. Hazzard and wife; Mrs. Mary E. Phenix and Laura E. Phenix; Miss Mary Cooper, afterward Mrs. H. N. Frederick, Mrs. Laura Hale, J. G. Sansom and wife; H. M. Behymer and wife, and others, of whom but three, Isaac Evans and J. F. Hazzard and wife now remain.
The first board of trustees consisted of Daniel B. Allen, J. G. Sansom, R. B. Van Petten, Joseph F. Hazzard, Isaac Evans, Jonathan Haley, and H. M. Behymer, members of the church; and as the polity of the Methodist Episcopal church allowed the election of a minority of the board from non-members, Henry Grove and Augustine Greenwood were so elected. Greenwood shortly after with his wife, became a member of the church but Grove, while he would attend the official meetings and take part in the business proceedings, would never enter the church to attend a religious service, though his wife became a faithful and useful member. And withall, Grove was a very useful member of the board of trustees, and a liberal contributor to the financial necessities. At the time of the dedication, the cost of furnishings, bell, etc., over and above the building contract, necessitated the raising of some money. Previous to the commencement of the services, J. F. Hazzard was on the walk in front of the church, and Henry Grove coming across the street said: "See here, young fellow, how much money is needed to pay up?" The reply was: "About eighteen hundred dollars." Grove said: "Well, you tell them up there, that old Grove thinks he ought to pay ten per cent of that." So one hundred eighty dollars was subscribed for Grove and he paid it. William Reynolds and wife were also liberal donors.
The Central Illinois conference at its session in 1868 appointed as pastor to Hale Chapel, William A. Spencer, a man who became very prominent in the church, and who would, had he lived, no doubt have been one of the bishops ere this. He was Hale Chapel's first pastor, and Hale Chapel was his first charge, and he remained three years, the full limit of time then permitted by the rules of the church. He became very popular and was greatly in demand for exchanging with other pastors of the city. Henry Grove became fond of him personally, and was a liberal contributor to his support, but not through the church treasury. Rev. Spencer was married just as he came to take charge of the church, and arriving several weeks before the building was far enough along to hold service in, he officiated at the Second Methodist Episcopal church, to which no pastor had been assigned by the conference, until Hale Chapel could be occupied. To Rev, and Mrs. Spencer a daughter was born while they were at the Hale Chapel, and was named Clarissa Hale Spencer. She is now world's general secretary of the Young Woman's Christian Association, with headquarters in London, England. She served a number of years as a missionary in Japan.
Rev. William A. Spencer's term of service ended in the fall of 1871. He afterwards transferred to the Rock River conference, served several churches in Chicago and became presiding elder of one of the districts of that conference. He finally removed to Philadelphia and became general secretary of the Church Extension Society, which position he held at the time of his death. He was a fine singer and loved to sing, ''The Ninety and Nine" and "Help a Little," playing his own accompaniment. The latter hymn was his own composition.
By the conference of 1871, Rev. W. C. Knapp was appointed to Hale Chapel, which, under the administrations of William A. Spencer, had become accounted as one of the best appointments in the conference.
Quite a large number of people had come into the church, including Patrick Galbraith and family, A. J. White and wife, H. M. Summers, D. C. Holcomb and wife, Mrs. Jane Craig and her daughter, now Mrs. Eliza S. Bennett, and very many more, so that the church was in a prosperous condition. About the time the church was being completed, a bell having been purchased, many people living in that part of the city began to ask for a city clock in the belfry of Hale Chapel, and Daniel B. Allen, Patrick Galbraith and possibly another one or two soon raised the money and purchased and installed a Howard tower clock costing about $600, which was a landmark and convenience as long as the old building remained. It was during Knapp's pastorate that the parsonage was built.
Henry Grove still remained on the board of trustees, and at one of the meetings he said, "Mr. Hale's will, which I drew up, provided that if the church should want the triangular lot on the south side of the church, you should have it for four hundred dollars. Better take it; I will pay one hundred dollars on it." So the lot was purchased, and Rev. Knapp raised the means to build a six room house, which was done while he was pastor. Later another pastor came with more of a family and D. C. Holcomb added another room by raising the south wing. Still later other additions were made until it became a nine room house. Rev. Knapp remained as pastor three years. He is still living and resides at Normal, Illinois.
Rev. C. C. Knowlton was assigned to Hale Chapel in 1874 and served two years. He was followed by C. W. Ayling, two years. R. G. Pearce, one year. His health failing he was compelled to take a superannuate relation, and has been for a number of years custom officer at Rock Island, Illinois. William McPheeters succeeded R. G. Pearce and remained one year.
James Haney, son of the veteran Richard Haney was appointed in 1880 and he was succeeded in the fall of 1881 by Rev. C. O. McCulloch, who was pastor two years. Rev. W. F. Wilson came next and was well liked by the church people. Rev. M. A. Head was appointed in 1885 and served two years.
For several years, a quartette, consisting of Walter L. Cleveland, Mary Cleveland, his sister, William J. Steube and Emma Steube, his sister, had charge of the singing. About three years later, Walter Cleveland and W. J. Steube and wife, who had been Mary Cleveland, removed to Los Angeles, California. Mrs. Steube died there, and Walter L. Cleveland is a very prominent and influential member of Boyle Heights Methodist Episcopal church, Los Angeles.
Rev. Tullis succeeded Rev. Head and he and his wife were very popular, especially with the young people, a great many of the latter becoming members of the church during his pastorate, which lasted four years.
John R. Wolf succeeded A. K. Tullis, and served four years and was followed by Rev. D. N. Stafford. About a year and a half later, Stafford went to New Jersey and Rev. J. H. Batten from that conference took his place. He remained until the fall of 1899. He has since gained quite a reputation in the northwest on the lecture platform. His home now is in Grand Forks, North Dakota. His successor was Rev. A. Wirt Lowther, who at once took steps toward the procurement of a new church building. It was found that the lot to the south of the church, which had been purchased and used for parsonage purposes, could be sold and that sufficient room for the residence building could be found on the church lot, west of the church building. Consequently, the old parsonage was moved, and entirely remodelled and the lot disposed of to Dr. J. C. Roberts. The remodeling of the house cost about $1,900. In the meantime a building committee was selected which proceeded to secure plans for a new church building. The contract for the erection of the same was let to Harrison Johns, of Ohio, in the spring of 1900, and gave satisfaction to all. The farewell service in the old chapel was held April 1, 1900, attended by several former pastors and many former members of the church.
HALE MEMORIAL METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The contractor for the erection of the new building purchased the old one, and
at once commenced to wreck it. This accomplished, he immediately proceeded with
the erection of the new church building. The corner stone was laid September 20,
1900, by Bishop Ninde, assisted by Bishop Hartzell and Rev. W. A. Spencer. Mr.
Johns had the building ready for the decorative work early in the spring of
1901. The decorating (art glass work, painting and frescoing) was done by U. C.
Grooms, then a member of the church. The building was completed and dedicated
June 13, 1901, Bishop Charles H. Fowler preaching the dedicatory sermon, J. W.
Powell, of Buffalo, New York, had charge of the finances. The amount subscribed
at that time was something over $11,000. The total cost of church and
furnishings was about $43,000.
The pastors who have served Hale Memorial church are: A. Wirt Lowther, till the fall of 1903; Rev. A. M. Stocking, fall of 1903 to the fall of 1906; then Rev. W. B. Shoop for three years. Up until the time of Rev. Shoop's pastorate the only organ in the church was a reed organ, and in the Sunday school a piano, the gift of Mark D. Bachelder, was in use. In the second year of Rev. Shoop's pastorate he got into correspondence with the secretary of Andrew Carnegie, which resulted in the placing in the church of the very sweet-toned organ now in use, Mr. Carnegie paying one-half the net cost of the instrument, while the church membership paid the other half and also for the necessary changes in the organ loft and rostrum. The cost of the instrument was about $1,875 and the total cost about $2,200.
The present pastor, Rev. Sanford P. Archer was assigned to the church by the conference of 1909.
It was the privilege of Hale Memorial church to entertain the fifty-sixth session of the Central Illinois conference held September 6 to 11, 1911. The program and entertainment were pronounced as never excelled in the history of the conference.
The body of Asahel Hale, the founder of Hale chapel and for whom Hale church is a memorial, lies buried in a little cemetery in Kickapoo township, just above Pottstown, where he and his brother had donated land and built a little church, when they, with George G. Greenwood, operated a mill there, which is still remembered as Hale's Mill.
In the summer of 1870 Jesse L. Knowlton, a merchant, whose place of business
was near the corner of Water and Liberty streets, opposite where the Chicago,
Rock Island and Peoria station now stands, a member of the First Methodist
Episcopal church, recognizing the need for a Protestant Sunday school in the
then extreme lower end of the city, purchased two lots, numbers 11 and 12, in
block 18 of Curtenius & Griswold's subdivision, and at once erected thereon a
The Rev. Joseph S. Gumming was appointed by the session of the Central Illinois conference, in the fall of 1870, to the pastorate of the First Methodist Episcopal church. On the 4th day of December of that year he, accompanied by a number of members of the First church and some Presbyterians, among whom was the late William Reynolds, went to Knowlton's little church, which he had called Wesley Mission, and dedicated it. The next Sunday a school was organized with Jesse L. Knowlton as superintendent. Rev. Gumming attended at three o'clock Sabbath afternoons and often preached. In 1871 he held meetings every evening for three weeks, having about twenty-five conversions. With these and about ten members of the First church, a society was organized which was the origin of Wesley church.
The building erected by Knowlton was a low, L-shape building, built with the idea of accommodating a mission Sunday school. July 24, 1878, the lots were deeded to the First Methodist Episcopal church by M. Griswold. In 1883 Rev. George J. Luckey, then presiding elder of the Peoria district, secured John W. Dieffendorf, a local preacher, then living on a farm, to come to Peoria and undertake the task of raising the means and building a more commodious church building.
Dieffendorf made a success of the church enterprise and was in charge a little less than three years. Succeeding Dieffendorf, the following pastors have served this church: David Tasker, two years; W. P. Ferguson, one year; W. W. Carr, two years; James Johnson, about one and a half years; and G. M. Webber, six months as a supply. In the fall of 1893 David B. Johnson was assigned to this church and remained three years. He was succeeded by the late Rev. J. B. Dille for about one year; and then came G. M. Boswell, who remained two years; Rev. E. H. Alford followed and served three years; A. C. Kelly, one year; Alfred Dixon, three years. Rev. R. H. Figgins two years; Charles Fitzhenry as a supply less than a year; Henry T. Shook two months. Commencing September, 1909, Isaac Woodrow, two years and he was succeeded by the present pastor, F. E. Ball, who also serves the Mossville church.
The report of the conference of 1911 showed that these churches were quite prosperous. Membership, including thirteen probationers, two hundred sixty-five; Sunday school officers and teachers, twenty-five; scholars, three hundred fifty-nine; an Epworth League of fifty-six members and a Junior League of forty-three. Two churches were reported valued at $9,200 and one parsonage valued at $1,600, which belongs to the congregation of Wesley church.
GRACE METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
In 1896 some of the members of the Hale Memorial church who lived in what is now
the extreme northwest corner of the city near the corner of University street
and Knoxville road, believing that a Methodist church could be maintained in
that neighborhood, being joined by a few from the First Methodist Episcopal
church, on the evening of the 11th of December of that year, formed an
organization by electing as trustees, Henry Apple, J. E. Sherwood, James
Flanagan, W. E. Hack and Mr. Miller, and as stewards Sisters Sherwood, Hack,
Apple, Flanagan, Peters, Neff and Mable Nelson, and J. E. Sherwood as
superintendent of the Sunday school. Rev. W. F. Merrill was presiding elder and
he secured J. F. Bliss to act as pastor.
At the present time O. T. Dwinell is district superintendent and Rev. Blackman, pastor. This church reported to the conference of 1911: Membership, sixty-nine; Sunday school, teachers and officers, sixteen; scholars, one hundred sixty-three; church property, $3,000.
The church is now prosperous, with everything paid up to date and money in the treasury and its members are contemplating improvements in the way of a basement and an extension of the wing to better accommodate their increasing Sunday school. [Note: Originally, this church was called Forrest Hill Methodist. Then its name was changed to Grace Methodist in 1905, and finally in 1939, it was changed to University United Methodist.]
FIRST GERMAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
On August 19, 1843, Daniel Brestel resigned his membership on the official board
of the First Methodist Episcopal church to accept the appointment as preacher to
the German people, principally in Tazewell county, a German mission having been
formed. The assignment was probably made by the conference of 1843, the session
of which was then at hand. He probably preached the first sermons in the German
language in Peoria and Tazewell counties.
In September, 1851, several German Methodist families moving from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Peoria, resulted in the establishment of a German Methodist Episcopal church here, H. F. Koeneke being pastor. Especially active in this direction were the Oechsle, Venneman and Buehner families, all of whom the present writer remembers well. The initial meetings were held in a schoolhouse on the west side of Monson street, just south of Fifth (the Hinman schoolhouse, where Bob Burdette was a scholar). A German Methodist Episcopal Sunday school was organized here, and as a result of this, and preaching services, Casper Westemeyer, Herman Albrecht, H. Ludwig and others were brought under the influence of the gospel, and became pillars in the church. After little more than two years of successful labor the first church building was erected at the corner of Fifth and Monson streets, which was completed in 1854, Frederich Fiegenbaum and F. M. Winkler being each a part of the time pastor. The dedicatory sermon was delivered by Rev. G. L. Mulfinger. The site is now occupied by the African Methodist Episcopal church. Several years later, during the pastorate of William Zuppan, this first church was sold and the congregation leased, temporarily, the Cumberland Presbyterian church building, located at the east corner of Madison and Liberty streets. Here the centennial jubilee of Methodism was celebrated in 1866. A short time later the congregation purchased a lot at the corner of South Adams and Chestnut streets for $3,500, and erected thereon a two-story frame church building, at a cost of $7,000, under the pastorate of Rev. C. Schneider. This building is still standing, being used at present by the Salvation Army, and formerly by a German singing society. A stirring revival took place in this church, during the pastorate of Rev. M. Roeder. Under Rev. Chas. Becker a mission chapel was built on the triangular plot at the head of Cedar street near the Webster school, where Sunday school and preaching were held, for a number of years; the property then being sold, and the proceeds applied on a new Mission church on the corner of Sanger street and Oakland avenue, where is now an active congregation. The old mission church at the head of Cedar street was transformed into a dwelling which still stands in the same location.
During the pastorate of Rev. W. H. Traeger, another notable revival occurred in the Chestnut street church. A frame parsonage, fronting on Adams street, and costing $1,700, was erected on the church property during his term of service. The congregation having outgrown the capacity of this building, plans were made for obtaining larger quarters in a more suitable location and, in the following pastorate of Rev. E. E. Hertzler, the property corner of Fifth and Sanford streets was purchased and the present church edifice erected, representing an outlay of $20,000. Previous to this mission, Sunday schools were conducted for a time, one in the north end of the city by Herman Albrecht, and another in the lower end, on Garden street, by Brethren George E. Green and Jacob Hoffmann.
During the pastorate of Rev. C. A. C. Achard, a sweeping revival took place, conducted by Evangelist Hilmer.
In May, 1903, the fiftieth anniversary of the church was celebrated with an appropriate series of meetings, concluding with the dual celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of John Wesley and the semi-centennial of the founding of the congregation, by a union service in the First Methodist Episcopal church, corner Sixth and Franklin streets, on Sunday evening, May 10, 1903, which was addressed (in English) by Dr. George B; Addicks (now deceased), then president of Central Wesleyan College, Warrenton, Missouri, his theme being "John Wesley and his times."
The following pastors have served this church:
Henry F. Koeneke, 1851 to 1852; Christian Koeller, 1852 to 1853; Friederich Fiegenbaum, 1853 to 1854; F. M. Winkler, 1854 to 1855; R. Fickenscher, asst., 1855 to 1856; Christian Holl, 1856 to 1857; H. F. Koeneke, 1857 to 1858; John Haas, 1858 to 1859; Jacob Young, 1859 to 1861; A. F. Korfhage, 1861 to 1862; Chas. Holtkamp, 1862 to 1865; Wilhelm Zuppan, 1865 to 1866; Karl Schneider, 1866 to 1868; Heinrick Thomas, 1868 to 1871; Heinrick Lahrmann, 1871 to 1872; Julius Franz, 1872 to 1874; Gerhard Tinken, 1874 to 1877; Michael Roeder, 1877 to 1880; Phillipp Kuhl, 1880 to 1881; Chas. G. Becker, 1881 to 1884; William H. Traeger, 1884 to 1887; E. E. Hertzler, 1887 to 1891; C. A. C. Achard, 1891 to 1894; Wilhelm Balcke, 1894 to 1897; J. L. J. Earth, 1897 to 1900; William H. Schwiering, 1900 to 1904; E. C. Margaret, 1904 to 1909; William H. Schwiering, 1909 to 1910; E. H. Muelder, 1910 and the present pastor.
Church membership about one hundred sixty; Sunday school, fifteen officers and teachers, and one hundred twenty scholars. This church owns a parsonage property adjoining the church, valued at about $4,000.
The German churches are not connected with the Central Illinois conference, but are under the jurisdiction of the St. Louis conference of the German Methodist Episcopal church.
The mission church heretofore referred to at the corner of Sanger street and Oakland avenue is known as the Sanger Street German Methodist Episcopal church. The organization dates from February 3, 1889. The church edifice is a very neat, tasty, little building and there also is a very comfortable parsonage on the same lot, the whole being worth, probably $8,000 to $10,000.
The pastors have been: G. Schuch, C. W. Hertzler, L. Hermann Kosiski, G. L. Zocher, Karl Buch and H. Schlueter, the present pastor. This pastor also serves a mission church in Jubilee.
THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH: WARD CHAPEL
Thus church was organized in the year
1846 by Rev. Philip Ward, of Bloomington,
with ten members. William Gray (commonly known as "Uncle Billy"), was local
preacher, class leader, steward and a great deal of the time janitor, all in
one. "Uncle Billy" was a good man, and quite a gentleman. He was also very
industrious. At first these people, like others of their day, held their
meetings in the homes of the members and friends; then they rented a small
schoolhouse on Walnut street below Adams, where their meetings were held until
1848, when they transferred to the schoolhouse on Monson street between Fourth
and Fifth streets, known as the Hinman school. This school was on the site now
occupied by the Heneberry Apartment building.
In 1850 they were compelled to find new quarters, and for some time again held their meetings at the homes of their members. About this time a circuit was organized, composed of the churches of Peoria, Bloomington and Galesburg, with Rev. William Brooks as pastor, William Gray still being local preacher and class leader.
In 1853, Rev. William J. Davis was appointed to this charge and proved to be quite an energetic and acceptable pastor; a small frame church on Chestnut street, above Adams, was bought, and answered their purposes until 1866, when they purchased the little brick, at the corner of Fifth and Monson streets, from the German Methodists.
In the early days of their existence, it sometimes happened that these people could not at all times secure the services of a preacher of their own people, and under such circumstances, Daniel Brestel, the carpenter-preacher of the First Methodist Episcopal church, would frequently preach to them.
This congregation purchased the little brick church on Fifth and Monson streets for $2,600. In 1889 the old building was torn down and a more modern and commodious building erected. The building is still in use by them. The following pastors have served them. In 1856, Rev. A. T. Hall; 1857, Rev. J. Mitchem; 1858, Rev. William J. Done; Rev. Mitchem reappointed for 1859. In 1866, when the little church was purchased from the German Methodists Rev. Myers was pastor. The following are without dates: A. T. Hall, Nathan Mitchem, J. Perkins, James Semis, J. M. Perkins, H. Brown, M. M. Beckley, George H. Hand, A. W. White, J. W. Daneson, Henry Simmons, T. A. Clark, A. J. McCracken, Jesse Woods, B. M. Lewis, J. W. Wilkerson, Charles Sheen, S. J. Johnson, S. A. Hardison and H. W. Jamieson the immediate predecessor of the present pastor Rev. J. T. Morrow.
Number of members, one hundred thirty-four. Sunday school officers, seven; teachers seven and scholars one hundred twelve. [Note: Some of the famous speakers who came to Ward Chapel: Booker T. Washington, Langston Hughes, Frederick Douglass and Mahalia Jackson. In 1958, they sold the church building to Northside Baptist and moved to 511 N. Elliott St. where they continue today. The building at Fifth and Monson was destroyed in 1961.]
THE FREE METHODIST CHURCH
In the fall of 1880, William A. Huston and his wife Mary, members of the Free
Methodist church of Paxton, Illinois, removed to Peoria, at which time there was
no organization of that church here, and they were the only members. They
commenced holding neighborhood prayer meetings in the home of the people and
seeing good results, and securing a number of conversions, they were encouraged
to send for Rev. William Manley, chairman of the Galva district of the Illinois
conference of their church, who came in the month of December, 1881, and held a
ten days' revival meeting, which resulted in the organization of the Peoria
society in the building known as the Olivet Mission, on Walnut street, between
Washington and Adams street, which had formerly been Calvary Presbyterian
mission, and at which place the late William Reynolds had for many years
conducted a Sunday school. The society was organized December 29, 1881, with
the following six charter members: Wm. A. Huston, Mary E. Huston, Jonathan
Haley, Belle Orr, Eliza Ward and Cynthia Morris.
In 1882, Revs. W. G. Hanmer, William Kelsey and P. C. Hanna, held a series of revival meetings in the Mission building on Walnut street, which resulted in an addition of fifty members. William A. Huston was the first class leader, and has served continuously in that capacity to the present date,—a period of more than thirty years.
Rev. Manley, who organized the church, has passed away. William Kelsey is now pastor of the Englewood Episcopal Methodist church, Chicago, and P. C. Hanna is the United States minister plenipotentiary to the Republic of Mexico.
The organization of the Free Methodist church is very similar to the organization of the Methodist Episcopal church, including the itineracy; consequently, pastoral changes are frequent.
The following pastors have served this church: Rev. J. D. Marsh, 1882-84; G. W. Whittington, 1884-85; F. A. Arnold, 1885-86; James Sprague, 1886-87; J. T. Taylor and John Harvey, 1887-89; J. D. Marsh, 1889-92; D. M. Smahey, 1892-93; J. T. Taylor, 1893-95; B. D. Fay, 1895-98; W. H. Winter and Lizzie Haist, 1898-1901; Henry Lenz, 1901-03; W. C. Willing, 1903-06; John Harvey, 1906-07; W. J. Bone, 1907-08; R. G. Wilkin, 1908-10; H. J. McKinnell, present pastor since 1910.
The society worshiped in the building on Walnut street ten years. The church building on the corner of South Underhill and Windom streets, West Bluff, was built during the second pastorate of Rev. J. D. Marsh and was dedicated by General Superintendent (Bishop) B. T. Robberts, December 6, 1891. The parsonage on Windom street was built during the pastorate of Rev. B. D. Fay in 1897. The society has a mission church at the corner of Broadway and Nebraska streets, built by members of the parent society. A district parsonage has recently been built on Underhill street, under the charge of District Elder E. G. Cryer. The number of members at the present time, February, 1912, is forty-six. The Sabbath school at Underhill and Windom streets numbers thirty, while the school at Broadway and Nebraska streets numbers eighty. This society is also conducting a Sabbath school at 2021 South Washington street, which has a membership of forty.
They have an active Women's Foreign Missionary society, which raised and paid for foreign missions last year $156.
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Updated March 19, 2005