History of Churches in Dry Grove, Illinois

The Christian Church is the strongest at Dry Grove. It was organized by James Robinson and Amos Watkins. They held their first meetings at the residence of Samuel Barker. The house was a cabin, just across the road from where Mr. Snodgrass now lives, in the eastern side of Dry Grove. These pioneer preachers lived oil Panther Creek, in Woodford County, and came down to this grove to preach, and start a church, if possible. They were successful. This was in 1842. Belonging to the first list of membership, we find the names of John Harbard, Abraham Staggers. William Beeler, Samuel Harley, Stephen Webb, Francis Johnson, James Ward, George M. Hinshaw and others. After the first organization, the church experienced a season of inactivity. For some time, the cause was at a low ebb. But they revived again, and built their first church in 1850 and 1851. It stood on the site of the present. church, and cost about $600. It was 30 by 40 feet. With the progress of the society, this house became too small, and was replaced by another of more spacious dimensions, in 1864. This building stands on Section a3, near the southwest corner. It is jut in the south edge of the timber. There is a neatly-cared-for and elegantly-ornamented cemetery in connection. Here rest many of the earlier settlers. This is a frame house, 40 by 50 feet. Total cost of building and fitting up, ready for dedication, $2,525. It will seat, comfortably, 350 persons, though there are often a greater number in it at one time. The present Pastor is the Rev. George W. Minier, who preaches semi-monthly. There is a large congregation and nearly two hundred members. There is a meeting of some kind every Sabbath, and a large Sunday school is kept running most of the time, in connection with other services.

The Methodist Church; that has for a long time been of considerable prominence in the Twin Grove neighborhood, was first begun in Dale Township. But it was soon brought over the line. The first meetings, in Dry Grove Township, of this church. were held at the residence of Elias York. The prominent members of the first class were Elias York and wife, Elizabeth Rockhold, wife of Francis Rockhold, and a Mr. Overton and wife. Overton was a son-in-law of Elias York. Prominent among the early ministers were Robert McClun and old Father Goodheart. In 1837-38, there was a great revival among the Methodists, at this point. They were also joined by the United Brethren, Father Mason being one of the prominent workers.

The church-building was erected in 1864. It was located on the east side of Section 34, about one-half mile north of the township line. The original cost of building, exclusive of inside fixtures, was about $2,100. It is 34 by 50 feet. At the time of building, Rev. William C. Johnson was Pastor. They had just had an effective series of meetings, and the church was in a prosperous condition for a country church; there being more than a hundred members. Among these early members were Samuel Brown, Daniel Munsell and wife, John Gillespie and wife, and Mr. Gillespie’s mother. Carlisle Munsell and wife, Mary Henry, R. E. Strimple and wife and mother, Thornton McFee, William Derryman and wife, and Jacob Johnson. The first Board of Trustees for the house of worship, consisted of R. E. Strimple, Daniel Munsell, Carlisle Mullsell, Samuel Sill, James P. Elliott, John S. Gillespie and Thornton McFee. The house is a neat, country edifice, having been recently repainted and fitted up anew. In the fall of 1877, it was moved from the old site one-half mile south, so that it is now in Dale Township. It was moved to the Twin Grove East Side Cemetery. This cemetery is one of the oldest in the neighborhood. It is not under the supervision of any church organization. An association, bearing the name of the cemetery, has it in charge.

In the history of this church, there have been several stirring revivals. The one of most remarkable results was that known as Berkholder’s revival. This took place soon after the church was built. There were more than one hundred joined the church during those meetings. There were seventy received into full connection on a single day. Lately, there has been quite an awakening, under the efforts of Col. Johnson, of Bloomington, who is the present Pastor.

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Le Baron, William., Jr. & Co. The History of McLean County, Illinois: portraits of early settlers and prominent men. Chicago. W. Le Baron, Jr., 1879.

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