THE ASSOCIATE REFORMED BRANCH.
In the early days of North Henderson there appeared many warm adherents of the Associate Reformed church. On May 12, 1856, the Rev. M. M. Bigger, by direction of the Associate Reformed Presbytery, of Monmouth, preached in the Associate Reformed church at Spring Grove, where he organized the Associate Reformed church of North Henderson, and twent y-one names were enrolled. On the same day the Spring Grove and North Henderson congregations each extended a call for the half-time services of the Rev. J. C. McKnight, which was by him accepted, and in the following June he was installed in the united charge and entered upon his labors. This pastorate was brief, ending in the release of Mr. McKnight from his charge in the month' of March, 1858.
On June 14, 1858, a joint meeting of the Associate and Associate Reformed congregations of North Henderson was held in the Associate church, at which it was agreed that the two congregations would unite in one organization, which has since been kalown as the United Presbyterian church.
After the union of the two branches it became necessary to erect a larger and more commodious church building. Accordingly during the summer of 1859 the neat, comfortable building, in which the congregation still worships, was erected. The building is situated one mile west of Norwood, is 15 x72 feet in size, and cost about $5,000.
During the dark hours of the rebellion, that began soon after, the congregation gave their undivided support to the union cause. Many of its members bade farewell to friends and relatives, to the happy associations that made the old homes dear, and went forth to defend the principles they loved. The gray haired father and mother knelt under the roof of their cottage home and prayed for the success of the flag, while their sons marched forth to the wild music of war, and gave up their lives in its defense.
Mr. Edie, the pastor, spent some time in the army, administering to the spiritual wants of the soldiers in camp, and to the heroes as they laid mangled and blackened on the field of battle.
After the close of the war Mr. Edie continued his labors for several Years, but finally desiring to change the field of his labors, he offered his resignation. Being strongly urged by his congregation to remain for a time, he decided to do so. In 1869 he again offered his resignation, which was reluctantly accepted. During the period of eleven years, through which Mr. Edie's pastorate extended, 338 persons were added to the roll of membership.
In April. 1879, a call was made to the Rev. J. M. French. which was accepted. He entered immediately upon his labors and had charge of the congregation three and a half years, during which time seventy- six were added to the roll of membership. In June, 1876. the Rev. J. T. McCrory took charge of the congregation and was officially installed in April. 1877, and was released in 1880. In 1881 the Rev. W. A. Spalding began his labors and was installed by the Rock Island Presbytery August 23 of the same year. In the Last few years this congregation has greatly decreased in number, owing to the fact that many of the members have sought homes in the western states, but it is still one of the largest and most prosperous in the county.
The Sunday school in connection with the church is in a very prosperous condition, the average attendance being about one hundred. The land on which the church stands was donated by David Molar. The parsonage stands one mile south of the church on land donated for the purpose by Thomas Likely.
The initiatory movement of organizing this societ y was made by the members of the Monmouth Presbyterian church, who resided in the vicinity of North Henderson. A meeting was called and held in a school-house on Section 29, on March 17, 1853. R. C. Mathews was chosen chairman, and J. D. Porter secretary.
It was unanimously agreed to petition Schuyler Presbytery to organize a church at Norwood, and J. D. Porter was selected to present the said petition. For some reason hot shown by the records the church was not organized at that time.
In the spring of 1854, F. Postlewaite, S. R. Boggs and Thomas Likely were appointed a building committee, and a church building, for which purpose funds had already been raised, was begun. The committte contracted with Russell McFarland, of Oquawka, Illinois, to erect a frame building, 36 X49, which was to cost about $2,100. The building was begun in the fall of 1854 and completed in the spring