One of the oldest Methodist Societies in the County is at Cherry Point. Early in the fall of 1831 John DIXON, a local preacher of Dry Grove, came to Cherry Point to visit his son. While here he held a two-days meeting in the cabin of Thomas BROOKS, situated on the east bank of the little creek on the west side of the ADAMS farm.
A Methodist class was organized, consisting of Thomas BROOKS and wife, Justus JONES and wife, Abram JONES and wife, Joshua EVANS and wife, Thomas DIXON and wife, and probably Barton JONES. The JONES' had just come into the neighborhood. This was the first religious society organized in the Township, and has continued with various degrees of prosperity until the present time.
In the fall of 1831 Win. ROYAL was appointed to the Peoria mission which embraced the territory from Peoria northward without any special limitation. The mission actually embraced a part of the Fox River country. He arranged for services at Cherry Point, but the Black Hawk war seriously embarrassed him in his work. His family occupied a cabin near where Enoch DENT lived for many years, and considering it unsafe here, he removed further south to a place of safety, but returned at the close of the war and filled out the year.
In the fall of 1832, Jesse HALE, an eccentric old bachelor, was appointed to the Pekin mission. Some of his brethren thought he ought to get married, and arranged for him to visit a lady they had selected, and she willing to make the best impression possible arrayed herself in goodly raiment set off with flowers and ribbons in that day quite un-Methodistic. The parties were introduced by a mutual friend and results waited. The preacher viewed carefully the dress of the lady candidate for matrimony and then said, "Sister, are you not afraid the devil will get you?" The sequel was not a wedding.
The following statement of appointments may be valuable for
reference, as giving
the order in which the M. E. Church in this Township has been
served by Methodist
ministers since its organization, in 1831:
1831, Peoria charge, William ROYAL.
1832, Pekin charge, Jesse HALE.
1833, " " Z. HALL, John McHENRY.
1834, " " Joel ARRINGTON, Charles PARKER.
1835, " " Asahel E. PHELPS, J. ARRINGTON.
1836, " " A. E. PHELPS, John McMURTRY.
1837, Hennepin charge, William CUNDIFF.
1838, " " Z. HALL, R. H. MOFFETT.
1839, " " John MARIS.
1840, " " William JUSTICE.
1841, " " Mifflin HARKER.
1842, " " W. JUSTICE.
1843, " " J. H. DEVORE, L. A. CHAPIN (supply).
1844, " " S. P. BURR.
1845, " " S. STOVER.
1846, " " C. BABCOCK, T. F. ROYAL.
1847, " " William C. CUMMING.
1848, " " W. C. CUMMING, A. D. FIELD.
1849, " " R. N. MORSE, N. CURTISS (supply).
1850, " " J. C. PINCKARD, J. W. STOGDILL.
1851, " " H. J. HUMPHREY, G. W. MOWREY (supply).
1852, Magnolia charge, R. N. MORSE, W. H. HARVEY.
1853, " " A. M. EARLEY, J. B. CRAIG.
1854, " " J. MATTHEWS, J. C. LONG.
1855, " " A. KELLER, B. E. KAUFMAN.
1856, " " A. KELLER, C. A. STINE.
1857, " " B. P. WHEAT, T. F. SMYTH.
1858, " " B. P. WHEAT, E. SUMMERS.
1859, Tonica charge, J. G. EVANS, A. E. DAY.
1860, Wenona charge, R. A. COWEN.
1861, " " S. B. SMITH.
1862, Wenona, R. Smithson; resigned the charge in April, 1863, and his time filled
out by A. K. TULLIS.
1863, Wenona, A. BOWER.
1864, Wenona, A. BOWER.
1865, Wenona, W. C. KNAPP; Wenona Circuit, G. B. SNEDAKER.
1866, Wenona, D. D. H. YOUNG; Wenona Circuit, G. B. SNEDAKER.
1867, Wenona, C. C. KNOWLTON; Wenona Circuit, C. SPRINGER.
1868, Wenona, Geo. MONTGOMERY; Wenona Circuit, C. SPRINGER.
1869, Wenona, P. A. CRIST; Wenona Circuit, R. A. COWEN.
1870, Wenona, R. G. PEARCE; Wenona Circuit, R. N. MORSE.
1871, Wenona, R. G. PEARCE; Wenona Circuit, O. JENNE.
1872, Wenona, M. C. BOWLIN; Wenona Circuit, J. P. MITCHELL.
1873, Wenona, M. C. BOWLIN; Wenona Circuit, T. HEAD.
1874, Wenona, W. A. SPENCER; Wenona Circuit, T. HEAD.
1875, Wenona, A. FISHER; Wenona Circuit, E. B. ENGLAND.
1876, Wenona, T. R. McNAIR; Wenona Circuit, E. B. ENGLAND.
1877, Wenona, C. H. BRACE; Wenona Circuit, T. M. DURHAM.
1878, Wenona, C. H. BRACE; Wenona Circuit, T. M. DURHAM.
1879, Wenona, J. G. EVANS; Wenona Circuit, H. C. BIRCH.
Asahel Elihu PHELPS, whose name occurs in the above list, and who was subsequently Presiding Elder, was one of the most profound and brilliant men of Western Methodism. He was not only an orator, but a controversialist of unusual ability, and is remembered all over Central Illinois by the early Methodists as the great defender of their faith.
The little class organized by John DIXON and taken into the Peoria Mission by W. ROYAL was soon depleted by the removal of Thomas BROOKS, Thomas DIXON and Abram JONES and their wives.
The oldest class book in existence is dated August 29, 1834. John SINCLAIR was Presiding Elder, Z. HALL, preacher in charge, and John McHENRY assistant preacher. Justus JONES was class leader, and the additional members were Sally JONES, Joshua EVANS, Elizabeth EVANS and Barton JONES. Justus JONES remained leader of the class until his death in October, 1849, when he was succeeded by his son Daniel W. JONES, who retained that position until his death, in 1853.
In the early part of 1835 the name of Barton JONES disappears, leaving only four members, namely: Justus JONES and wife, and Joshua EVANS and wife. In the latter part of that year the names of Vincent BOWMAN and Martin KENNEDY appear on the class book. In 1836 Hannah RADCLIFF joined the Society, and in 1837 the class was strengthened by the addition of Wm. EVANS, Sarah EVANS, Daniel W. JONES, Joseph LONG, Eliza LONG and Robert BROWN. In 1838 Mary A. BROWN, Almira EVANS and Truman B. HALL were added to the class. In 1839 first appear upon the records the names of George BEATTY, Effie BOWMAN, Louisa JONES, Parmelia BOWMAN, William BOWMAN, John C. BOWMAN and Joseph WARNER. The additions in 1840 were Rachel CALDWELL, Chauncy W. BARNES, Sarah BARNES and Wm. SWARTS.
In 1841 the Society was strengthened by the ALEXANDER family, who moved into the neighborhood from Kentucky. The first death in the Society was that of Joseph WARNER, who died September 5, 1842, at the advanced age of 104 years. In October of the same year Rachel CALDWELL was buried. July 12, 1843, Elizabeth EVANS died with the smallpox and Jane, wife of Wm. EVANS, on the 20th of the same month, and with the same disease. Between 1845 and 1850 the Society was very much reduced, and even threatened with extinction. The Methodist Protestant Church had organized a society, and for a while seemed to have a prospect of taking the community. But in the early part of December, 1849, R. N. MORSE held a series of meetings in the Evans School House, which resulted favorably for the M. E. Church. He was assisted part of the time by Rev. - - JOHNSON of the M. P. Church, but the meeting was in charge R. N. MORSE, and the M. E. Church was most largely benefitted. Thirteen joined the church (also a few from the M. P. Church), at the close of the meeting, and out of the thirteen, five became ministers, viz : C. SPRINGER, L. SPRINGER, M. C. SPRINGER, J. G. EVANS and Z. R. JONES. A new impetus was given to the Society, and in 1852, under the administration of H. J. HUMPHREY, the erection of a church edifice was projected. It was completed in the spring of 1854, and dedicated in April 24, by Silas BOWLES, of Chicago, Revs. A. M. EARLY and J. B. CRAIG being pastors at that time.
The Sandy M. E. Church cost $1,200, Daniel W. JONES, Joshua EVANS and William EVANS being the largest contributors. Since the erection of the Church building the Society has been upon a permanent basis, and is now one of the strongest and most flourishing churches in the country.
Extracted from Record of the Olden Time