The Methodist Episcopal class of North Henderson is the oldest church organization in the township, having been organized at the house of David Bruner, in the spring of 1840, by Asa McMurtry, who was at that time on the Mercer circuit, which included all of this county with part of Rock Island, Knox and Warren counties, requiring a month for the minister to make the round of his charge. The original members of this class were : David Bruner and wife, Margaret Bruner (now the wife of W. R. Mathers), John Vestal and wife, Susannah Wood (who was a daughter of David Bruner), and Andrew J. Holmes and wife.
In this township live several members, including the present pastor, Elder John M. Brown, of the oldest church organization in this part of the state, though organized and having its church building in Knox county. It is the Henderson Predestinarian Baptist church, and was constituted August 14, 1830, at the house of D. Roundtree, by Elders Stephen Stricklin and John Logan, the original members being Jacob and Rhoda Gum ; James and Martha Goff; Reuben and Ruth Nance ; John D., Dariah and Mary Roundtree ; Martha, Daniel and Obadiah Fuqua; Nicholas and Deborah Wailes. This church has had a continuous and uninterrupted existence from the time of its constitution until the present, and its records show the proceedings of every monthly meeting, which now lack but one of completing the full period of fifty-two years. This church belongs to the Spoon river association of the Predestinarian Baptist church, formed in 1830, in which connection it has been ever since its constitution. Elder Joseph Jones, who was well known to the pioneers of this county, joined this church in November, 1817, and died January 29, 1818. He had previously been connected with a branch of this church, in this county, called the Regular Baptist Church of Jesus Christ, of Edwards river.
The first record of this church is the minutes of a meeting of the members, held at the house of George Miller, on Edwards river, July 21, 1838, of which meeting Jeremiah Swafford was chosen mederator, and Abraham Miller, Jr., clerk. This meeting was held within the present limits of Perryton township. Meetings were held in the private houses of members until at a meeting held in the house of Gabriel M. Barkley, in Farlow's grove (now in Preemption township), December 22, 1838, the next regular meeting was appointed at the school-house in Sugar Grove (now Perryton township). March 23, 1839, they voted to appeal to Henderson church for letters of dismission and help to constitute them into a -separate church. Their prayer was granted, and the Edwards river church was constituted June 29, 1839, by Elders Joseph Jones, Charles Vandever, and Hiram Bowman. The members at the constitution were : Joseph and Rebecca Jones ; George, Mary Ann, and Julia Ann Miller; Abraham Miller, Jr.; John and Sarah Farlow; Roswell and Mehitable Stanard ; Youngs Green ; Michael Donahoo ; Gabriel M. and Hannah R. Barkley; Mar y Miller ; and Susannah Shelley. Gabriel M. Barkley was chosen first deacon of the church, and Abraham Miller, Jr., first clerk; Gabriel M. Barkley, treasurer; Elder Joseph Jones, moderator and pastor.
The first delegation from this church was Joseph Jones, Gabriel M. Barkley, George Miller, John Farlow, and Abraham Miller, Jr., to sit in council with and constitute a church at William Denison's. It was voted at this time to hold meetings one-half the time at Sugar Grove and one-half the time at Farlow's Grove. The last regular meeting of this church was held October 9, 1847, when, "after consultation and due deliberation being had the church and council thought it expedient to letter each other out and so become dissolved, inasmuch as the members are moving away out of the bounds of this church."
There are but two church buildings in this township. Besides the Methodist Episcopal church mentioned above is the Maple Grove United Brethren church, located on the N. E. I of Sec. 36, in a beautiful grove of soft maple trees. This society was organized in 1869, and built its church the same year, a very neat structure 30 X40 x16 feet. Its present pastor is Rev. Mr. Dilley, resident at Alexis, where is another church of this denomination.
A class of the Methodist Episcopal church was formed at the Mann school-house at an early day, probably soon after the class was formed at David Bruner's, but its early record is not now obtainable. This class was ministered to by David Bruner and other local preachers of the Methodist Episcopal church, transient ministers, with an occasional visit from the minister in charge of the Mercer circuit. The Methodist Episcopal church in North Henderson was the first church built in the township. It was built at what is known as Mount Vernon, south of the village, and was moved into the village after that had become a fact.
History of Mercer and Henderson County
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