top shadow

1882 History - Chapter 20

[Page 166] Chapter XX – Cottonwood Grove Precinct

The early settlement of what is now Cottonwood Grove Precinct cannot be given with perfect correctness. The precise date of the building of the first cabin by a white man within its limits is obscured in the shadows of half a century, and we are left to conjecture to a certain extent as to the commencement of its settlement by white people. Alexander ROBINSON, from Tennessee, settled here about the year 1816, and still has descendants living in the precinct. He was accompanied by Robert and Daniel McCORD from Virginia. These men came together from Tennessee to Bond County and made a settlement in Cottonwood Grove Precinct, in the spring of 1816. They made their first camping ground where the cemetery now is, and kneeling upon the ground dedicated the land to the service of the Lord, and called the place “Bethel.” In later years, about 1825, a church as built here, which still remains. It was a log structure, with no fire-place or stove. The only warmth was afforded by means of a raised place of dirt in the center of the room on which charcoal, which the members were required to furnish, was burned, the only escape for the smoke being a hole in the roof immediately above the mound. Robert McCORD settled on the northwest quarter of Section 11. He has one daughter, Mrs. Mary MEARS, living

[Page 167]
in Greenville, and a son, Blackburn, living in Iowa. David McCORD settled on the east half of Section 11, where J. T. McCRAKEN now lives, in 1820. James WAFER was an early pioneer in this section. He located northwest of Bethel in 1817. James DENNY settled on Pleasant Prairie, about 1819. During the same year, George DONNELL settled near the mouth of Indian Creek. George and John DENNY, sons of James DENNY, settled on the east side of Shoal Creek, in the north part of the precinct, in 1820 or 1821, and about the same time the JETTs, VAUGHNs AND THACKERs settled in the same neighborhood, on both sides of the creek. William and Lawrence STEWART settled on the west side of Shoal Creek about 1821. Jesse MARGRAVES and others also located along the west side of Shoal Creek about this same time. In 1819, Newton COFFEE came in and settled on JETT's Prairie.

In February of 1880, a church was organized in this precinct by the Free Methodist denomination. The first minister chosen by them was the Rev. J. B. COLT. Among the first members were James ROBB, J. F. NICHOLSON, John PARMALEE, John McCRACKEN, Daniel F. JUSTICE, John F. HUMPHREY and Winnie SINGLETON. James ROBB was chosen Class-Leader, and John PARMALEE was chosen Steward. Early in the spring of the present year (1882), a neat frame church, thirty-six feet long and twenty-eight wide, was erected on Section 31, at a cost of about $700, and John PAMRALEE, James ROBB and J. F. NICHOLSON, were appointed as Trustees. This organization has grown in strength from the beginning, and at present has a membership of about thirty-five, and maintains a good Sunday school

In noticing the early churches of Cottonwood Grove Precinct, one church stands out prominently, and seems to be to a great extent the “mother” of all the Presbyterian Churches in this section. We refer to the “Old Shoal Creek Church.” The original church was organized by Rev. Solomon GIDINGS, of St. Louis, Mo., on the 10th of March, 1819, and is more particularly referred to in a preceding chapter.

The “Pleasant Prairie Presbyterian Church” in Township 7, Range 4, was formed from the Mt. Carmel society of the same denomination, then existing in Montgomery County, on the 24th day of February, 1828. Through the exertions of Rev. Joel KNIGHT, Andrew FINLEY and Joseph BARLOW were chosen Elders, at its organization, and C. G. KEOWN was their first regular pastor. The first Clerk was Andrew J. FINLEY. Among the first members were William, Elizabeth, Andrew and Rebecca FINLEY; Joseph and Harriet BARLOW; Elizabeth, Sarah, Emily and Polly BARLOW; Sarah KEOWN; William and Polly PITMAN; William and Jane KLINE; Nelly BREANCE; Catharine, Polly and Joseph BUCK; Michael, Elanor, Sinah, Catharine, Polly and Palsey FINLEY; Andrew KEOWN, James E. RANKIN, Eli COWDON and James DRISCOL. They have at present a good frame church building sixty feet long by forty feet wide, which was erected at a cost of about $2,200, and the present membership is about thirty in all. James E. RANKAN, the first Superintendent, organized a good Sunday school, which has been conducted here for many years.

In an early day, some of the pioneers of this section built a “sod fence” for some purpose, out of which sprouted a beautiful grove of cottonwood trees. It is from this grove that the village of “Bethel, or Cottonwood Grove,” obtained its name. It was originally called “Augusta,” but the name was afterward changed to “Cottonwood Grove, or Bethel.” It was surveyed on the 9th day of June, 1836, by Asahel ENLOE, for John MITCHELL & Co., the proprietors, and is located in Section 11, Township 6 north, Range 4 west, about eight miles northwest of the county seat (Greenville). It is a flourishing little village, and is surrounded by an intelligent and industrious community.

[Page 168]

The Bethel Presbyterian Church was established here on the 15th day of September, 1826, several years prior to the laying-out of the town. It was the outgrowth of the church already alluded to, as the first church in the county, called Shoal Creek Church. The original church was in 1825 divided into three churches – Shoal Creek Church, Bethel Church and Greenville Church. Of these three, the two last named still exist. The Bethel Church was organized with sixty-two members, and their first house of worship was a log building 20x26 feet. It was heated in a novel manner. A space about six feet in diameter in the middle of the house was left without flooring, thus securing an earthen hearth. A bushel of charcoal was laid there and then set on fire, rendering the house quite comfortable. Among the ministers in Bethel Church for the past fifty years are the following: Thomas A. SPILLMAN, Albert HALE, E. L. HUNTINGTON, Thomas LIPPINCOTT, Samuel FOSTER, Charles L. ADAMS, Charles BARTON, E. B. OLMSTEAD, N. A. HUNT, Robert STEWART, William RANKIN, William H. BIRD, J. S. DAVIS, Charles BARTON (a second term), James H. SPILLMAN, etc. Some years later, when the church had become strong in numbers and wealth, a new church was built a few rods from the old one. It was a frame building well adapted to the wants of the church and the times. A large volume might be written of this pioneer church, but our space is limited and only this brief sketch can be given. A large and interesting Sunday school of both young and old has always been maintained in old Bethel Church.

In 1838, the town of Harrisonville was surveyed by T. S. HUBBARD, for Andrew FINLEY, proprietor. It was situated on Section 32, Township 7 north, Range 4 west, on Pleasant Prairie, about twelve miles northwest of Greenville. For some time this village gave considerable promise, but it gradually died out until nothing now remains of it except the records of the platt.

On the 17th of May, 1856, the town of Elm Point was laid out by Anthony HILL, for William P. LIBBY. It is located on Section 31, Town 7, Range 3, about nine miles in a northwesterly direction from the town of Greenville. It is on the prairie, and is surrounded by a well cultivated country, but has never made much improvement, and at present there is scarcely what might be called a town remaining.

Transcribed by Norma Hass from the History of Bond and Montgomery Counties Illinois, published in 1882, Part I, pages 166-168.

Templates in Time