Harrison County, Missouri
Part of the American History and Genealogy Project

Pioneer Churches


Although in a new country the Harrison County settlers did not lose their religion or neglect their social or moral training. In the year 1841 the religious society or association known as the Christian Church of Bethany, Missouri, was organized on Big Creek by Elder John S. Allen and Ephraim Stewart. After that Parson Allen continued to preach to the church nearly every Lord's day for forty years. He never charged anything for his services and was always a liberal contributor to the good cause.

To him more than any other person are the people of Bethany indebted for the upbuilding of the church here and for good moral and religious teaching. This church now has a splendid church edifice on Alder Street erected in 1900, an imposing and commodious structure equipped with all the modern conveniences of the present day that pertain to buildings of that character, and it bears a memorial window commemorating the life and work of Parson Allen.

The first church organization in Harrison County was in 1841. In that year Elder A. B. Hardin organized a Baptist Society and the same year the Christian Church was organized at Bethany by Elder John S. Allen. Elder Allen first held meetings at Harris' mill and later he held services at the residences of the various members of the congregation. And frequently preached in the groves, "God's first temples."

The first permanent organization of the Christian Church in Harrison County was effected by Elder Allen at the residence of John H. Pointer, about two miles southeast of Bethany in the summer of 1841. The first church building of this denomination was erected in 1846 and was used for church and school purposes. It was located about a quarter of a mile east of Bethany upon a tract of land which had been donated for church and burial purposes. The building was of hewed logs, twenty by twenty-four feet in dimensions. This building answered its purpose very well until its destruction by fire in 1849. In 1856 a brick church building was erected at the cost of $3,500. And in 1872 a larger building, costing $7,000, was built. This building was torn down after having answered its purpose for several years and the present modern and commodious church edifice was erected on the same site.

There are now twenty-two Christian Church organizations in Harrison County. Other congregations of the Christian Church were organized in various sections of Harrison County from time to time as the county became more thickly settled. A Christian Church society was established at Cainsville in 1872. This organization was effected by members of an old society which was organized a number of years previously at Booth's Schoolhouse, three miles northeast of Cainsville. The Christian Church at Booth's Schoolhouse was organized in 1865 by Elder William Moore and this was a flourishing society for a number of years. The Eagleville Christian Church was organized by Elder Lockhart in the sixties. They held their services in the Methodist Church, public halls and other places until 1875, when they erected a building. This congregation was reorganized in 1886 through the efforts of Elder Jasper Coffey. Mount Gillead Christian Church, west of Eagleville, was organized about 1876, and shortly after the organization c building was erected. The Christian Society was organized at Ridgeway May 21, 1882. A society of the Christian Church was organized at Blythedale in 1884 by Elder W. H. Richardson, who preached there for about two years. A Christian Church was organized at Mount Moriah in the sixties. In 1882 or 1883 the Christian Church of New Hampton was organized by Elder W. H. Hook, of Bethany. This church was reorganized in 1884 by Elder Aimyhre, state evangelist of the Christian Church of Missouri. Antioch Christian Church, in the western part of Sherman Township, was organized at an early date in the history of the county and erected a building in the early seventies. Mount Gilead Christian Church in Union Township was organized in 1877.

Elder A. B. Hardin was the first minister of the Baptist denomination to appear in Harrison County, as stated at the beginning of this chapter. He held religious worship here in the southern part of the county in 1841 and through his efforts the first Baptist Society of Harrison County was organized. The Cainsville Baptist Church was formally organized in March, 1845. This organization, however, was a short distance over the county line in Mercer County and about six miles southeast of the present site of Cainsville. The place was known as Goshan Prairie. The Baptists at Cainsville now have a strong organization. And in 1914 a splendid church was completed there at a cost of $20,000. Elders John and James Woodward and Elder W. T. Goodell were among the early day preachers of the Baptist denomination at Cainsville and vicinity.

A Baptist Church was organized at Eagleville by Rev. John Woodward in April, 1864.

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church No. 2 was organized in the northern part of Colfax Township in 1853 and Rev. John Woodward ministered to this congregation at intervals for a number of years. The first house of worship here was a log building which was erected in 1856. This was succeeded by a frame structure in 1877.

In the fall of 1877 a Baptist Church was organized near the home of W. S. Young in Washington Township and Elder J. B. Seat was the first pastor.

White Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church in the southwest part of Madison Township was organized in 1885 by Revs. Woodward, Harper and Withard.

The Pleasant Valley Baptist Church was organized in the southeast part of Marion Township February 7, 1885, by Revs. J. H. Burrows and John Woodward. The first meetings were held in the Pleasant Valley Schoolhouse and later a church building was erected.

The Baptist Church at Blythedale was organized in October, 1885.

The Baptist Society was organized at Mount Moriah in 1862 and the first meetings were held in a store room and their first church erected in 1877. One of the old religious organizations of the county was Mount Pleasant Church No. 1, Missionary Baptist, which was organized in Fox Creek Township in 1851.

The Bethel Baptist Church of Sherman Township was organized March 25, 1886, by Rev. O. E. Newman and a house of worship was erected the same year. Baptist Churches were organized at Bethany, Ridgeway, Gilman City and there are now seventeen Baptist Church organizations in the county, all of which have houses of worship.

The first Methodist Society in Harrison County was organized in Bethany in the early fifties, although the history of Methodism in Harrison County dates from the first settlement of the county by white men. From the best information obtainable it appears that traveling ministers of the church visited the locality in the early, going from house to house and from neighborhood to neighborhood, holding meetings until their influence was felt and impressed upon the people long before and Methodist organization was effected or house of worship built in Harrison County. The first church building erected by the Methodists in Bethany was during the pastorate of Rev. Beardsley in 1870-71. The material for this building was hauled by teams from Chillicothe and the structure cost over $4,000. This building was used for church purposes for a number of years and in 1896 the congregation erected its present church edifice. There are now about twenty-five Methodist organizations in Harrison County.

The Methodist Episcopal Church at Cainsville was organized in 1869 by Reverend Morton. Meetings were first held in the schoolhouse and in 1871 the frame building was erected, which was the first church building of the Methodist denomination at Cainsville.

A society of the Methodist Church was organized a short distance west of Cainsville in Madison Township in 1857. Meetings had been held here by traveling ministers in private residences two or three years previous to the organization of the society. But in 1857 a log house of worship was erected. Several different denominations used this building for worship, but it was known as a Methodist Church. In 1877 this old log building was succeeded by a beautiful frame structure which at that time was one of the finest country church buildings in Harrison County.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Eagleville was organized prior to 1858 and services were held in a log schoolhouse which stood near the village of Eagleville. About 1859 the society purchased a lot in Eagleville and later erected a frame building.

The Methodists organized a congregation at Akron in Clay Township at an early day and erected a building in 1873.

Wesley Chapel, Methodist Episcopal Church, was organized in Washington Township in 1865 or 1866. A frame building was erected in 1873 at a cost of $1,100.

A Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at Ridgeway by Rev. Isaac Chivington in 1881 and the first church building was erected in the fall of that year at a cost of $1,400.

The Methodist Church was organized at Mount Moriah in the latter sixties and in 1877 a house of worship was erected. The Methodists have organizations in the principal parts of Harrison County.

The Presbyterian Church in Harrison County dates from the organization of that denomination at Bethany, September 10, 1865. This organization was effected through the labors of Rev. Robert Speer, who was a pioneer Presbyterian minister of this section. The Presbyterians used the courthouse at Bethany as a place of worship for a few years and in 1868 they procured a lot in Bethany and erected a handsome brick edifice. This building did service for a number of years and about twenty-five years ago was torn down and a new frame building was erected in its place. This building has since been remodeled and enlarged.

A Presbyterian Church was organized at Akron in December, 1863, by Revs. William Reed and Duncan McRuer. David and Morgan Frazier were the first elders. This congregation erected a church building in 1876.

A Presbyterian Church was organized at Blythedale in 1883 by the Presbyterian Missionary Board of New York. At New Hampton a Presbyterian Church was organized February 28, 1885, by Rev. Duncan McRuer.

The first meeting was held in what was known as Foster's Chapel, or Union Church, about one and a half miles south of New Hampton. About a year after the organization of this congregation they erected a frame church building in the village of New Hampton. There were a number of other organizations in the Presbyterian Church throughout Harrison County and at present there are five Presbyterian Churches in this county.

There are two Catholic organizations in this county, one near Andover and one at Oilman City, and services are held regularly at several other towns. Father Powers, of Maryville, Missouri, was one of the early priests who ministered to the Catholics of Harrison County.

There are several other denominations represented in Harrison County, including the Methodist Church South, the United Brethren and others which were organized and established here since the early days' of the county.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints accepts as its sacred books the Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. The Book of Mormon purports to be a record of God's dealings with the people of Ancient America. The Doctrine and Covenants is claimed to be a record of the present day revelations to the church.

The church believes in present day revelation; teaches monogamy and strongly denounces polygamy; presents the theory of Stewardship to God in man's relations with his fellow man; and holds to an organization and belief based upon their understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ. There is no record of any work done by the early organization of the Latter Day Saint Church in Harrison County. The reorganization was first represented in this county by Alexander H. Smith, of Lamoni, in about the year 1870.

Following this work preaching was done at various points in the county by Joseph Smith, T. J. Bell, S. V. Bailey, D. W. Wight, Thomas Wellington, Henry Stebbins, John Harpe and others.

Preaching during these days was largely done in school houses and open air services. Services have at various times been conducted in Lone Rock, Cainsville, Liberty Chapel, Mount Moriah, Ridgeway, Canady Schoolhouse, Hunt Schoolhouse, Smith Schoolhouse, Andover, Oland and Pawnee.

As a result of these meetings branches of the church have been built up at Lone Rock, Cainsville, Pawnee, Andover and Oland. The branches are no longer in existence at Cainesville and Pawnee, both having been discontinued some time ago.

The branch at Lone Rock was organized April 8, 1877. It was partially disorganized in August of the following year but was reorganized in September. L P. Baggerly was the first president of the branch. He has been succeeded by A. J. Ames, Caleb E. Blodget, Charles Jones, J. P. Johnston, Price McPeek, George York and Edward Harp. In 1885 the membership of this branch of the church was forty-nine. Today it is about 125.

The Oland branch was built up as a result of the preaching of those heretofore mentioned, in addition to that of Joseph and Nephi Snively, Miriam Haskins and perhaps others. A church was built in 1904. The organization of a branch occurred in 1907. The following have served in the capacity of presiding elder of the branch: R. S. Salyards, Amos Berve, Earnest Haskins and Flavins Sharp. The membership at time of organization was thirty. It has more than doubled since that time, being at present sixty-eight.

The Andover branch was organized in 1911. There have been but two presiding elders, D. C. White and William Stoll, both of Lamoni. The church membership at this place is about seventy-five.

While there has been considerable preaching done by Latter Day Saint elders in the vicinity of Blythedale, no concerted effort was made in this town until the spring of 1920. A number of the members having moved into Blythedale, protracted meetings were held. As a result of the interest created, a church building was purchased from the United Brethren denomination and regular meetings are now being held.

Bohemian National Cemetery

The Bohemian National Cemetery is situated on section 35, range 26, township 4, consisting of one acre of ground which was donated by Mrs. Josephine Roberts in the year of 1869 for the public use. At that time there were only a few Bohemian-American citizens here, namely, John Posler, Joe Skroh, Joe Sobotka and the Solil family. About that time this part of the county began to be settled by more Bohemian people, who settled on farms. Later on another acre of ground was bought and added to the other acre.

The first person to be buried in this cemetery was Josephine Prazak, who was born in Bohemia in 1829 and died in September, 1869.

The second person buried was Mrs. Anna Posler, born in 1800, in Bohemia and died in June, 1871.
The third person buried was Miss Elizabeth Prazak, born in 1852, died November, 1872, in Bohemia.
Miss Josephine Roberts was the fifth person buried in this cemetery and was born in 1854 and died in July, 1879.
Joseph Skroh, the fourth person buried, was born in 1813 and died in 1875.
Joseph Sobotka, born in 1836, died July, 1902.
John Posler was born November, 1823, came to this country in 1849 and died March, 1912. He was the first Bohemian settler in Harrison County and settled on a farm in 1856, as that was his occupation before coming to the United States. Up to the present time there has been twenty-six children and sixty-nine adults buried in this cemetery, making a total of ninety-five.

This cemetery is under the organization of about fifty members and paying necessary assessment each year for to keep fences and cleanup work and have several hundred dollars on hand in Liberty Bonds and treasury. 

 Harrison County| AHGP Missouri

Source: History of Harrison County, Missouri, by Geo. W. Wanamaker, Historical Publishing Company, Topeka, 1921


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