We whose names are hereunder signed having, this 26th day of February, 1852, met together for the purpose of organizing ourselves as a Church at Belle Plain, Marshall county, Illinois, do adopt the following church covenant.
As we trust, we have been brought by Divine Grace to embrace the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the influence of His spirit to give ourselves up to Him, so we do now solemnly covenant with each other, that, God enabling us, we will walk together in brotherly love; that we will exercise a Christian care and watchfulness over each other, and faithfully warn, rebuke and admonish one another as the case may require; that we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together nor omit the great duty of prayer, both for ourselves and for others; that we will participate in each others joys, and endeavor with tenderness and sympathy, to bear each others burdens and sorrows; that we will earnestly endeavor to bring up such as might be under our care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; that we will seek Divine aid to enable us to walk circumspectly and watchfully in the world, denying ungodliness and every worldly lust; that we will strive together for the support of the faithful evangelized ministry among us; that we will endeavor, by example and effect, to win souls to Christ; and, through life, amidst evil report and good report, seek to live to the glory of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
William BROOKS Nancy LOYD
R. W. RAINS James P. LUCAS Amos WEST
Susan P. RAINS Chas. H. DAVISON Nancy WEST
Nancy McCALLA John P. DAVISON
The meetings were held in the Belle Plain school house and the fourth Saturday in March 1852 it was decided to meet the second Saturday in each month at 3 o'clock p. m. R. W. RAINS was elected moderator and J. P. LUCAS, clerk.
July 16th, 1852, a number of the brethren met together to take into consideration the propriety of setting apart, A. William BROOKS to the work of the gospel ministry. The following delegates were in attendance from other churches: Steuben, Elder W. G. GORDON; Spring Bay, Elder E. S. FREEMAN; Chillicothe, Elder C. D. MERIT; Half Moon, Brother S. CARTON; Stamping Ground, Kentucky, Brother S. LUCAS. After due deliberation it was decided to proceed with the ordination exercises which were as follows: Sermon, Elder C. D. MERIT, 2nd Cor. 3-6; prayer, Elder E. S. FREEMAN; charge. Elder W. G. GORDON; charge to church, Elder C. D. MERIT. The second Saturday in January, 1853, A. C. WEST was appointed deacon. Regular meetings were now held with Elder BROOKS as pastor. Thomas C. SPENCER was elected treasurer in October 1854. At a meeting held June 2nd, 1855, Thomas RICHARDSON, A. C. LUCAS and J. P LUCAS was appointed trustees. A committee consisting of William BROOKS, T. SPENCER and J. P. LUCAS were appointed to raise money to build a meeting house and E. THARP, G. BOCOCK and G. HOLMAN a committee to look up a location for the building. December 15th, 1855, T. C. SPENCER was elected clerk in place of J. P. LUCAS and Abe FRYE was elected treasurer.
January 26th, 1856, a special meeting was held to decide on a location for building a church. Two locations were presented, one near the Hazelwood school house and one in the grove on Crow Creek near Thomas BENNINGTON's. The latter place was chosen the ground being donated by A. J. FRYE for the purpose. On May 31st a meeting was held to reconsider the vote taken on January 26th to build a meeting house on the lot of A. J. FRYE. Three cites for a meeting house were then presented. One near the Hazelwood school house, one near the residence of Brother WINETEER and one in the grove on Brother FRY's land. On motion the one near the Hazelwood school house was selected. A new committee of five, consisting of W. A. BROOKS, J. E. P. BELL, A. J. FRYE, T. C. SPENCER and John WINETEER were appointed to raise funds for the purpose of building a meeting house. October 18th, 1856, the building committee recommended that the church build a house 50 feet long, 36 feet wide and 16 feet to the eaves. A building committee consisting of W. A. BROOKS, T. C. SPENCER, J. E. P. BELL, John WINETEER and Harrison SIMPSON was appointed. November 15th, 1856, Deacon A. C. WEST resigned his office as deacon on account of delicate health and Harrison SIMPSON was appointed. December 20th, 1856, J. E. P. BELL was elected treasurer in place of A. J FRYE. December 11th, 1858, the pastor, together with H. SIMPSON, John WINETEER and J. E. P. BELL were sent as a committee to assist in the ordination of B. F. SCRIVIN at the Meridian church. On January 8th, 1859, a committee consisting of the pastor, A. C. WEST, F. C. SIMPSON and J. E. P. BELL were sent to meet with other churches, meeting to be held six miles northwest of Panola, and if thought proper, to assist in recognizing them as a Baptist church.
April 17th, 1859, the church received a communication from the Meridian Baptist church asking it to join with them in calling an ecclesiastical council to settle some difficulty in their church. The request was denied and on April 30th, a second communication was received and request was again denied. August 20th, a letter from Elder B. F. SCRIVIN, pastor of the Meridian church, was received saying that a council is invited to meet with the Meridian church at Jefferson school house on August 24th.
Also received a communication from Elder G. S. BAILY, asking us to take action in regard to forming a new association to be composed of the churches of the Illinois River Association on the east side of the river. Vote taken by ballot and resulted in 27 for and one against a new association.
August 21st, 1859, Elder BROOKS resigned as pastor, having served since his ordination in 1852. September 17th, 1859, Elder W. M. BROOKS, H. SIMPSON, J. E. P. BELL and T. C. SPENCER were appointed as messengers to go to Metamora on the 21st, to meet with the messengers from the several churches for the purpose of organizing a new association on the east side of the Illinois river.
February 4th, 1860, the church voted to elect another deacon. S. R. DAVISON was elected. February 23rd, a call was extended to L. L. MARTIN as pastor.
March 23rd, 1860, the following churches were invited to sit in an ecclesiastical council to examine Brother E. D. DAVISON's qualifications as a candidate for the ministry and if thought best to ordain him. Said meeting to be held at our place of worship, on the 15th day of March: Tonica, Panola, Metamora, Richland Valley, Rutland, Clayton, Richland, Lacon, Minonk, Meridian, Washburn. March 15th, the council convened with the following churches represented: Rutland, Belle Plain, Minonk, Meridian, Washburn and Richland Valley. Motion was made that in view of the small number in attendance that we adjourn till March 28th. On that date the council convened with the following churches represented: Tonica, Rutland, Minonk, Meridian, Clayton, Washburn and Belle Plain. Brother E. D. DAVISON was called upon and said under the circumstances he would rather withdraw his application if agreeable to the feelings of the church and council. On motion his request was granted.
March 22nd, 1860 Elder MARTIN declined to accept the call extended and April 28th, Elder C. D. MERRIT was elected pastor.
August 22nd, 1860, voted to build a church 30 feet by 44 feet and 16 feet high to the eaves. A building committee was appointed consisting of C. D. MERIT, S. R. DAVIDSON, H. SIMPSON, R. M. SMILIE and J. E. P. BELL. September 1st, 1860, the building committee was invested with power to decide where the church should be located and in September the committee reported that they had bought a lot in the grove of about two acres. Four new trustees were elected as follows: J. E. P. BELL, S. R. DAVISON, John WINETEER and H. SIMPSON. November 9th, 1861, a committee was appointed to raise money and buy more ground to be used as a burying ground. February 15th, 1862, the building committee reported that they had collected from all sources for the erection of the meeting house the sum of $1531.70, that they had paid out for building said house and the purchase of land on which it stands the sum of $1332.36.
Elder MERRIT resigned October 18th, 1864, having served four and one-half years as pastor. February 25th, 1865 Elder J. CAIRNS was extended a call but declined and on June 17th, Elder H. M. DANDFORTH accepted a call to preach one half the time. Elder DANFORTH preached one year and on June 16th, 1866, the church voted to invite Brother E. D. DAVISON to preach one half the time and extended a call to Elder C. CROSS to preach the other half. Elder CROSS preached but one year when a call was extended to Brother NAILER who preached from June 15th, 1867 to November 30th, of the same year, when he resigned. March 1st, 1868, Elder PARKER was elected pastor. He preached for two years. On April 21st, 1869, Louis WINETEER and L. FISHHER were ordained as deacons. April 16th, 1870, Elder BENTON was hired as pastor for six months for $200, and on Feb. 11th, 1871, Elder JAMES was hired to preach one fourth the time for one year. At the end of the year he was hired to preach for full time and continued as pastor till October 1875 when a call was extended to Rev. Charles SANDS who preached one half the time and at the Meridian church the other half. Elder SANDS acted as pastor of the two churches for about seven and one-half years. During the month of February, 1877, a series of revival meetings were held which resulted in the conversion of twenty-nine persons, seventeen of them uniting with the Belle Plain church and twelve with the Meridian church. Several more were received by experience. Elder SANDS resigned in the spring of 1883 and in August of the same year Elder A. J. AMMERMAN took up the pastorate for one \'ear after which no regular services were held.
In 1885 a meeting was held and it was decided that Elder SANDS, who still lived in the neighborhood, be authorized to issue letters of commendation to those asking for same, where he had sood reason to believe them worthy, and the church disbanded.
In 1887 an informal meeting was held with Baptist brethren and sisters of other churches interested, for the purpose of consulting the propriety of repairing the church and organizing for church work. James M. DAVISON of Meridian church and Lee GOODELL of Washburn church were appointed as a committee to solicit subscriptions. On January 28th, 1888, the committee reported that repairs were made and paid for and had hired J. Q. BERRY as pastor. February 28th, 1888 J. J. FAW, Louis WINETEER and James M. DAVISON were elected trustees. In October 1888, Brother BERRY resigned and Brother BRISLEY was elected pastor who preached till May 1889 when Brother P. H. FALK was hired as pastor for one year. At the expiration of the year he agreed to still continue as pastor if the church would agree to pay his expenses from Morgan Park and return each alternate Sunday and paY him a Salary of $300 per year. An effort was made to collect the amount necessary but there being so few Baptists left in the neighborhood it was finally decided to discontinue preaching services.
The old church still stands in the grove, about eighty rods west of the old Belle Plain postoffice, but is very badly in need of repair, as no church services of any kind have been held there since the preaching of Elder FALK in 1890.
Extracted from History of the Baptist Churches of Woodford County, Illinois, author Amos Marshall, published 1913, pages 38-44.