Sunbeam Postoffice has been a trade center for many years; a store, blacksmith shop, a few residences, two churches and a school house are located here. In the early days thebusiness of the store was very remunerative. Gourly Brothers & Paxton probably did the largest business of any firm which has occupied the store room.
During the rebellion Col. Wil liam I. Nevins was appointed draft commissioner for the county, and the books he then used, containing the name of every man in the county liable to draft for military service, are now in possession of Warren Shedd Post, No. 262, Aledo. Fortunately for many whose names were on these books, the war ended and but few were drawn from this list. Col. Nevins passed away many years ago, but is remembered as a vigorous supporter of the right, of loyalty and good government.
The Sunbeam Methodist Episcopal Church
held its first service at the house of James McBride. In 1844 Rev. Mr. Burr conducted a revival in the barn of George McPherren, people attending it from all parts of the county. in 1855 the church was organized by Rev. James Sheldon, who remained with it two years.
After an unsuccessful effort to erect a church edifice about 1860, George McPherren proposed to advance the money, and a house of worship was built at a cost of $1,400. It was dedicated by Elder Frank Smith who labored for years in the neighborhood. After the dedication a great revival occurred resulting in about seventy accessions to the membership. Among the class-leaders were Horace Williams, Peter Stephens and Abraham Crabtree.
Other pastors who held appointments here were: J. H. Thompson, John Wood, P. Watts, W. B. Morse, J. E. Rutledge, S. .a Elliott, R. Kinnie, William Smiley, C. B. Pershin, J. D. Taylor, A. Beeler, J. B. Smith, W. Matheny, C. W. Smarts, N. T. Allen, N. G. Clark. J. W. Coe, Daniel Syers, R. A. Brown, I. H. Shover, A. P. Beall, T. A. Beall, R. T. Bellew, G. W. Peregoy, C. F. Crane, J. P. McCormick and the present pastor, Henry Brink.
This society is one of the landmarks of Methodism in Mercer county, and has a fine church building and good parsonage. Many pastors who spent their first years here are still living. The church is prosperous, and, under the pastorate of Rev. Henry Brink. bids fair to keep up its reputation as one of the be-t Methodist societies in the county. The present membership is 60.
Sunbeam United Presbyterian Church.
(Contributed by Rev. Hugh B. Speer.)
The first public worship conducted in Ohio Grove Township might be called a "union service." The minister was Rev. John Wallace, an Associate Reformed Presbyterian. The place of worship was the cabin of George McPherren, a Methodist, and the congregation was made up of set tlers of many creeds from miles around. In May, 1842, the Pope Creek Associate Reformed congregation was organized with sixteen members. Out of this organization grew what is now the Sunbeam United Presbyterian church. The sixteen charter members of this church were: Jane Rice, Elenor Moorehead, Phebe Smith, Sophia Hardy, William Moore, William McMichael, Ella McMichael, Josiah Moore, Samuel Moore, of Ohio Grove; George Jay and Agnes Jay, of Keithsburg; John, Elizabeth, Ann, Jane and Elinor Collins, of Linn Grove. John Collins and William Moore were elected ruling elders.
This heroic little band worshipped under very adverse conditions. When the weather would permit services were held in groves and in the barn of Colonel William I. Nevins. In winter public worship was held in the home of some member or in some school house. Rev. J C. Porter, a man of remarkable personality and a powerful preacher, gave this congregation one-fourth of his time. Revs. D. C. Cochran, Fulton, Morrow and Findley also labored here. Following the death of Elder William Moore, the depletion of the membership and other causes, the congregation was reorganized in May, 1852, Robert M. Miller and William M. Hays, being elected ruling elders. After the reorganization the membership was forty-five.
In 1853. Rev. Mathew Bigger began his labors as stated supply. The years 1853 and 1854 saw a remarkable growth, during this time over seventy members being added and the building of a house of worship begun. The church, an exceptionally commodious one, was finished in 1855, and stands today a monu ment to the perseverance, liberality and untiring energy of Judge William M. Hays, who was for many years an honored member. The labors of Rev. John H. Nash began in 1860, and continued for seventeen years.
During this and the following pastorate the congregation reached the acme of its growth, the membership reaching 163. Rev. Nash now resides at Cambridge, Ohio. Rev. D. F. Mustard began his labors in 1877. His pastorate was also richly blessed and the community uplifted by his having lived in it. Rev. H. G. Ferguson took up the work as pastor in January, 1890. He was faithful and efficient in his labor.
This godly man was called to his higher reward by a sad dispensation of Providence, being killed by lightning, at his barn, June 21, 1894. Fol lowing him Rev. J. W. Johnson, now of Red Oak, Iowa, served the congregation acceptably as stated supply for two and a half years. He was followed by Rev. H. B. Tyler, who, at his own request, was released from service at the end of two years. The present pastor, Rev. Hugh B. Speer, became pastor of the congregation, September, 1901.
In addition to those already named, those who have served as ruling elders are: J. H. McCreight, Elijah Forsyth, Samuel Wright, John Torbit, Alex Pollock, David Milligan, N. Reasnor and J. P. Findley. The present elders are: M. M. Cross, D. J. McMillion, M. D., James Saunders and R. D. Speer, Jr. The church is harmonious and prosperous. After suffering many depletions by death and removal, and after heroically facing all the problems of the country parish, it reports today a noble band of 100 earnest worshippers.
History of Mercer and Henderson Counties
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