Early Churches of Knox County, IL

typed and emailed to me by Kathy Mills now in TN... Thanks a million Kathy.....


Early CHURCHES of Knox County, Illinois

According to the last census there were in Knox County seventy-eight churches, worth $432,026, and eight-three congregations, with 11, 388 communicants.


First Baptist Church.—organized with thirty members, January 15, 1848. Edifice, northwest corner of Broad and Tompkins streets; dedicated in 1851; sold, with lot, for $2.000 in 1865, to the Board of Education. Frame building erected on Cherry Street and dedicated April 9, 1868; cost $30,000; burned December 19, 1892. Present church dedicated January 21, 1894; cost $33,800. In 1857 seceding members formed the Cherry Street Church, Rev. S. Kingsbury being the first pastor. The division sorely tried both churches, and Rev. I. Fargo, pastor of the Cherry Street Church, earnestly sought reunion, which finally was suggested by the First Church in a courteous note sent the Cherry Street congregation on October 9, 1864. The reunion was effected November 9, following. Rev. W.W. Moore being pastor. Rev. W.H. Geistweit is now pastor. It has five hundred and sixty members; one hundred and fifty in the Young People’s Union, and three hundred in the Sunday school, which has been made one of the strongest in Galesburg by the efforts of E.R. Drake, Superintendent from 1880 to the present time, with the exception of eighteen months.

Second Baptist Church (African)—organized in the fall of 1865 by Revs. J.W. Jackson and R. DeBaptiste, with ten members. Edifice, corner South and Cherry streets; purchased in 1867; property worth about $5,000. First pastor, Rev. William Falkner; present pastor, Rev. D.E. Murff; membership, one hundred and eight.


Still standing today... click on thumbnails for bigger photos and to see who is preaching.

Swedish Baptist Church—organized in November, 1888. Meetings first held at 314 East Main Street. Sixty-five members, and about the same number of scholars in three Sunday schools, conducted at the hall, near Lincoln Street, and in East Galesburg. First pastor, Rev. G. Karlson. In 1898, the congregation erected a fine new edifice on North Chambers Street, at a cost of about $4,000. It is a handsome church, though small. Dedicated December 18, 1898. Present pastor, Rev. Axel Webster.


St. Patrick’s Church, corner Academy and Third streets. Corpus Christi, corner Prairie and South streets. Rev. J. O’Neil came to St. Patrick’s in 1857 being its first pastor. His successor, Rev. J. Power completed the erection of the church edifice in 1863. In the Spring of 1864 came Rev. M. Howard, who remained until 1877. Rev. Joseph Costa then came to act as pastor, and to build Catholic schools. St. Patrick’s was considered too small and inconveniently located. Therefore, in May 1884, the corner stone of Corpus Christi was laid, the building being dedicated by Bishop Spaulding of Peoria, October 4, 1885. Cost, including lot, $35,000. Rectory just north of church. In 1888 the congregation was divided, half going back to St. Patrick’s where Rev. J. Tonello is pastor. About four hundred families in both parishes. Rev. Joseph Costa, still pastor of Corpus Christi, deserves most of the credit for the new church.


Organized April 11, 1872. Building purchased May 26, 1872; abandoned 1892. New church erected on West Street, near Ferris, in that year; cost $12,000. First pastor, Rev. J.B. Allen; present, Rev. S.B. Moore. Membership three hundred and thirty-two. Sunday school enrollment, one hundred and forty; W. D. Godfrey Superintendent.


At one time the denomination had a church organization here, with John Wheeler as preacher. There is no preacher at present, but meetings are held every Sunday in Carr Hall.


Old First Church—its organization was almost coincident with the founding of Galesburg. In February, 1837, several meetings were held by Galesburg colonists, which resulted in the adoption of a Confession of Faith, on the twenty-fifth of that month. First pastor, Rev. George W. Gale; first installed pastor, Rev. H.H. Kellogg, installed by Knox Presbytery February 3, 1846. By the end of 1845, three hundred and forty-two members names were on the church roll. So many had been Congregationalists that a compromise with the strict Presbyterian form was necessary. In 1854 anti-slavery resolutions were passed, and the attention of the Presbytery called to them. That body would not recede from its position, and on October 6, 1855, the church formally withdrew from connection with the Presbyterian communion, and in 1856 called itself the “First Church of Christ”, instead of “Presbyterian Church of Galesburg”, its original name. At first it had contained all the Galesburg Christians. Hence, when any denomination grew large enough, its adherents withdrew from the First Church and organized one of their own creed. Thus the First Church came to be known as the “Mother of Churches”. Probably to this is due the fact that for several years all good enterprises requiring support from any large part of the community found their starting point in the “Old First”. The building was a great task for the early days. The work required several years, for the colonists had to be their own architects and contractors, masons and carpenters. The first Knox College Commencement exercises were held here in June 1846, but the edifice was not dedicated until June 1848. The audience room was for a long time the largest in Galesburg. The principal meetings of all kinds were held there, and the church came to be the most venerable landmark in the city. But it became unsafe, and on January 1, 1895, the congregation reunited with the First Congregational Church, which had gone out in 1855, and the old building was torn down. Its last pastor (the first pastor of the reunited Central Church) was Rev. O.F. Sherrill. There had been a total membership of 1,828, of whom four hundred and seventy-eight were active members when the reunion was effected.

First Congregational Church—organized November 9, 1855, by forty-seven members of the “Old First”. By February 1858, eighty-two more had joined from the old church. The first pastor was Rev. Edward Beecher. In 1856 the “Brick Church” on Broad Street, between Simmons and Tompkins, was built at an outlay of $15,000. The great storm of May 13, 1858 blew over the tall spire, which was replaced by the short tower now surmounting the edifice. To aid in this repairing, Henry Ward Beecher, brother of the pastor, lectured in Galesburg, donating the proceeds to the church. Mrs. Henry Hitchcock presented the parsonage, on the corner of Broad and North streets. Rev. H.A. Bushnell, the last pastor, resigned in 1894. One thousand and sixty-two had joined the church, of whom three hundred and thirty-one were members when the union with the First Church was agreed upon.

Knox Street Church—this society grew out of the Old Mission Sunday school, and was formed to meet the demand for a church in the southeastern part of the city. Organized in August 1894 by Rev. W.H. Wannamaker, with twenty-two members. Edifice, corner of Day and Knox streets; dedicated June 24, 1895; cost $3,700. Ground is owned for a parsonage. First pastor, Rev. E.E. Day; present pastor, Rev. J.R. Stead. Thirty-six members; one hundred and ninety-three Sunday school scholars, and sixty-five members of the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor.

East Main Street Church—organized August 8, 1894, as the Union Congregational Church of Galesburg. Present name adopted in September 1895. The congregation uses the chapel of “Old First”. Cost of lot, where it has room also for parsonage, and of moving chapel was $4,100. Present membership, seventy-one, with one hundred and twenty in the Sunday school, which was organized August 15, 1894. E.R. Gesler is Superintendent. Rev. B.F. Cokely, first pastor; Rev. Leroy Royce, present pastor.

Central Church—organized January 1, 1895, by the reunion of the First and First Congregational Churches. The congregation met in the “Brick Church” until December 4, 1898, when it moved into its new edifice, on the southwest corner of the public square, where the “Old First” had formerly stood. This is the handsomest church building in the county. It is of raindrop sandstone, and cost $74,000. It seats nearly two thousand, has ample Sunday school room and a large choir loft. It is the pride of all Galesburg, and a lasting monument to local skill and industry, for architects and contractors are Galesburg men; Gottschalk and Beadle being the architects, and O.C. Housel the contractor. Rev. W.A. Vincent is pastor, and W.H. Spinner Sunday school superintendent. There are eight hundred and fifty communicants, and six hundred in the Sunday school; while the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor has a membership of one hundred and sixty.


St. John’s Church—organized by Rev. C.A. Nybladh, with about two hundred and fifty members of the First Lutheran Church of Galesburg, some of whom afterward returned to the Lutheran faith. A fine edifice has been started on the corner of Kellogg and Ferris streets, but it has not yet been completed, owing to lack of funds.

Grace Church—organized in the Spring of 1858. Church built in 1859, on southwest corner of Prairie and Tompkins streets. Property now worth $7,000. Rev. William T. Smithetle, first rector; at present Rev. E.F. Gee is in charge of the parish. Present membership, one hundred and ninety-five, with sixty scholars in Sunday school.


First Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church—organized August 24, 1851 by Rev. L.P. Espjom. The congregation bought the old Methodist Episcopal Church building. Present church, corner of Seminary and Waters streets, built 1869. Parsonage two doors south of church. Property worth $27,000. First pastor, Rev. F.N. Hasselquist; at present, Dr. Peter Peterson. Membership, twelve hundred. Sunday school enrollment five hundred and fifty-six.

Zion Lutheran—in 1889 two hundred families left the first Lutheran Church under the guidance of Rev. C.A. Nybladh, to form an Episcopal Church, now St. John’s. Some wished to return to the Lutheran faith, and accordingly formed a church of their own. They meet in McKnight’s Hall, but have no pastor at present.

German Lutheran Church—organized 1864. Bought the old Universalist Church building, and held services there until 1882 when the present edifice was built on Tompkins, near Seminary Street. Parsonage just east of the church. Rev. A.E. Reinbke, of Kewanee, preaches here every third Sunday. First pastor, Rev. G. Gruber. Church has twenty-five members and a Sunday school with twenty scholars.


The first church organization was formed in 1847 by Rev. J.J. Hedstrom. A small edifice was erected in 1851, on the corner of Kellogg and Tompkins streets, where the present church stands. Peter Cartwright preached the dedicatory sermon. It was merely an appointment in the Knoxville circuit until 1855 when Rev. M.S. Haney was assigned as a regular pastor. In 1872, the old parsonage was torn down and its site, which adjoined that of the church, was thrown into the church lot, and the adjacent property on the west was purchased. On the site thus obtained the present church building was begun. Dedicated February 27, 1876. Its cost was $32,000. In 1895 extensive repairs and improvements were made, involving an outlay of $20,000. The church has eight hundred and twenty members and six hundred and twenty-five in the Sunday school. The Epworth League is flourishing. Rev. T.W. McVety is the present pastor.

African Methodist Episcopal—edifice on Tompkins Street, between Cherry and Prairie; erected in 1876; value about $4,000. Membership about two hundred and fifty; and an enrollment of one hundred in the Sunday school. Rev. J.W. Malone is pastor.


Click on thumbnails for a bigger & better view of Foxie's Photos

Illinois Annual Conference, of the A. M. E. Church,

Held at Galesburg, Illinois, August 29, 1882

Click on photo for a bigger view.

Swedish Methodist Episcopal—organized in 1851 by Rev. J.J. Hedstrom. First pastor, Rev. A. J. Anderson, who came in 1857, just after the first church was built. The present edifice, which stands on the corner of Waters and Kellogg streets, was erected in 1872, at a cost of $17,000. Parsonage completed in 1886, on lot just east of church. Membership, three hundred and ten; Sunday school attendance, two hundred and sixty-five. Present pastor, Rev. Olof Johnson.

Swedish Mission—organized in August 1868, by forty members of the Lutheran Church, who had belonged to the Free Church of Sweden. Church built on Simmons Street, near Kellogg, in 1869. Parsonage on East Grove Street. Property worth $10,000. First pastor, Rev. Mr. Bergenskold. Rev. John Selstrom is pastor at present. The church has two hundred members and a Sunday school enrollment of one hundred and sixty.

photo by Annette Carroll Strange, knox co., IL GenealogyThis photo is of the original families that started the Swedish Mission Covenant Church in Galesburg, IL, including my Great Grandparents, Truls and Chasta Swanson.  Truls and Chasta are shown in this photo, third and fourth from the left.
Truls Swanson became a United States citizen in Warren Co., Ill. on 29 September, 1858.
When Truls and Christina, who were strong Christians, moved to Galesburg, Knox Co., Illinois, they attended the Lutheran church.   However, they soon chose, along with 11 others, to leave the Lutheran church and form a Swedish Mission or Covenant Church.  The 13 charter members founded the new church on August 1, 1868 and the organizational meeting was held at the home of Truls and Christina Swanson,  Thirty-one persons signed their names signifying their intention to join.  The English language was used in Sunday School and on Sunday evenings, but the Swedish language was used at other times. 
I am so happy to be able to send this to you.  The surnames of my families in Galesburg, IL are Swanson, Stromgren and Strange. I believe the Covent Church is still there as I have had or written and got proof of my identify the place of birth for my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, Truls and Chasta Swanson and a Mr. Hawkinson there was a great help to me.
Annette (Strange) Carroll


First Presbyterian Church—see “Old First” Church , under Congregational

Second Presbyterian Church—organized May 29, 1851 by a committee composed of G.W. Gale, D.D. Chairman, with thirty-seven members from the First Church. Merged in “Presbyterian Church” in 1870. Rev. Dr. Gale was the first and Rev. S. Pratt the last pastor. Edifice built on South Street, just east of Cherry, and used till 1856. Then was built a new church, at the corner of Main and Kellogg streets, at a cost of $2,500. On June 12, 1864, the corner stone of a new building on Cherry Street, south of Tompkins was laid. This was completed in 1865 and involved an outlay of $25,000.

Presbyterian Church—organized December 30, 1894 by Revs. R.C. Matthews and T.S. Vaill, with eighteen members. Merged in a union church in 1870. Revs. T.S. Vaill; I.N. Candee, D.D.; G. Norcross, D.D.; and S.T. Wilson, D.D. have been its pastors. Edifice built in 1857, at the southwest corner of Cedar and North streets; removed in 1865 to a lot on Simmons Street, at the head of Boone’s Avenue.

Presbyterian Church of Galesburg—formed by union of the two churches last mentioned on March 1, 1870. Rev. L. Pratt was the first pastor. At that time there were about three hundred members. Rev. W.H. Spence is the present pastor. The church has about five hundred communicants, and the Sunday school enrollment exceeds three hundred. The Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor has a membership of one hundred and fifty. The congregation occupied the edifice of the Second Church on Cherry Street, until it burned, November 30, 1891. The present building, on the corner of Ferris and Prairie streets, was dedicated December 3, 1893. It is a handsome structure, of gray sandstone, and cost $62,000. It was the first of the new stone churches here, and is the finest, with the exception of Central Church. It seats nine hundred in the auditorium proper, and two thousand when the Sunday school rooms are thrown open.


Only one branch in Knox County. Located at Galesburg, with headquarters in its hall on south side of the public square.


The society organization was completed in January 1855. The church was organized under Dr. O.A. Skinner in the Fall of 1857. In the Autumn of 1855, the building of the Second Presbyterian Church was purchased. A new edifice was dedicated in January, 1864, its cost, including lot on the corner of Tompkins and Prairie streets, where the present church stands, being more than $11,000. It was torn down May 6, 1894. The present edifice, a stone building costing $27,000, was dedicated May 5, 1895. Membership, one hundred and sixty, with a flourishing Sunday school. First pastor, Rev. William S. Ballou; present pastor, Rev. G.B. Stocking.


Founded in the early part of 1896 at the time of the great split in the Salvation Army.


Founded in 1858 by members of the Presbyterian and Congregational churches. Later other denominations joined in the work, but ultimately withdrew. At first a railroad car was used as a meeting-place, being furnished through the kindness of Superintendent H. Hitchcock. In 1861 a chapel was built on ground belonging to the Burlington road, and this was moved, in 1866 to its present location, on South Seminary Street, near the Peoria track. At first a city missionary was appointed, Deacon Leonard serving until his death, February 11, 1865. But for some years no such appointment has been made. Much good has been accomplished through this medium, and one church Knox Street Congregational) has grown out of it.


By Hermann R. Muelder, Ph. D. Professor Emeritus of History  Knox College Historian

     Until the recent construction of a multi-storied motel, the center of the city was dominated by an imposing Romanesque church building, constructed in 1897 and 1898 of dark red sand-stone transported from Marquette, Michigan. This is Central Church. It was erected on what had for more than half a century been the site of "Old First Church", located on the public square of Galesburg, near the northern boundary of the grounds of Knox College. All three of these institutions (the town, the college, the church) were founded by a colony from up-state New York that was led to Illinois in 1836 and 1837 by George Washington Gale and others who had been deeply involved in the Great Revival and in the social reforms stimulated by that religious event. The Reverend Gale and several of his associates in the Galesburg colony had previously established a manual labor institute  for the education of the converts of that  Revival and had educated many young men who became important missionaries for causes such as temperance and the immediate abolition of slavery. It was their intention to establish a similar institution on the Illinois frontier and to endow it with the rising values of the land they purchased from the Federal government. Their success was manifest in the founding of Knox College and in the prosperity that it had achieved by the time of the civil war.

By 1846 the colony had erected a wooden meeting house that provided the largest auditorium in west-central Illinois, not only for religious services, but also for convocations, ecclesiastical, political and educational.  From the first, Knox College Commencements were held in this building, as were the programs of the college literary societies that brought to the frontier town some of the leading lecturers and artists of that time.  Here too were convened political meetings consistent with the radical anti-slavery convictions of the members of "Old First", for the original settlers of Galesburg provided much of the leadership for the abolitionism in Illinois when that was an extremely unpopular and even a dangerous activity.

The original colony church was founded under a "Plan of Union" that Congregationalists and Presbyterians had agreed to early in the century.  This Plan facilitated cooperation among the two sects in the newly settled communities of the Mississippi Valley and led to the formation of the mutual benevolent societies. It permitted churches of mixed denominational membership in which Congregational or Presbyterian Laymen and ministers might continue their connection with either denomination and in which churches might be represented in the tribunals of either or both denominations.  Unfortunately, this cooperation broke down during the 1850's.  Locally the Presbyterians withdrew from the colony church to form a church of their own.  The remaining members of the colony church became increasingly restive with actions of presbytery, synod and general assembly and by the end of the decade retained a connection only with Congregational associations.  This sectarian split led to a very harmful dispute between the two denominations over control of Knox College that was not resolved until a trustee with Episcopalian connections led in working out a compromise by which neither Presbyterians nor Congregationalists would have a controlling majority on the board.

The defection of Presbyterians from the Old First Church did not impair its vitality.  By 1855 it had grown so large in membership that an amicable agreement was reached for organizing a daughter church called "First Congregational Church."  The latter built a brick meeting house only a half block south from the mother church, on a site immediately adjacent to the Knox Female Seminary that was being constructed at the same time.  For its first pastor this new congregation installed the distinguished educator, journalist and theologian, Dr. Edward Beecher, scion of the most famous minister's family in American history.  The author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, was his sister; a younger brother was the great pulpit orator, Henry Ward Beecher. Like these and other members of that family, Dr Beecher was an advocate of social reforms, such as equal rights for women, particularly for changes in the constitution of the State of Illinois.  When the newly completed church building was badly damaged by a tornado, Henry Ward came to the aid of the congregation of brother Edward by raising money on a lecture tour in  Illinois.  The church was often referred to as the "Beecher Church" and after it became the property of the college was known for nearly seventy years as the "Beecher Chapel."

One of the divisive irritations between Congregationalists and Presbyterians before the Civil War had been the uncompromising insistence by certain Congregational Leaders on having absolutely no fellowship with slaveholders, even indirectly.  For this purpose they supported a new society, the American Missionary Association, which made educational missions among freedmen one of its special concerns.  Old First Church and its daughter, The First Congregational Church, generously contributed to the A.M.A. A black youth brought from a mission in West Africa by the A.M.A. was enrolled in Knox College and in 1870, at the Commencement Exercises held in Old First Church was the first black man to be graduated from a college in Illinois.  Knox alumni associated with these Galesburg Congregational Churches served as teaching missionaries in the south during the Reconstruction period, one of them becoming the superintendent for the A.M.A of its subsidies to colleges such as Fisk and Talledega. These two churches also became the primary source of support for a city Mission in the southeastern part of Galesburg, among what were presumed to be the less privileged residents of Galesburg.  Among those who took advantage of its Sunday School programs was Carl Sandburg, son of Swedish immigrants.  He would later recall with gratitude the training he got in performing in English before the Mission audiences.

During the nineties the two neighboring Congregational Churches agreed that they should combine to build, under the name of Central Church, a new church building.  The result was the great structure of red stone in Romanesque style, on the exterior, that still stands on the public square.  Its auditorium was shaped in the semi-circular style popular during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, reflecting the strong emphasis placed on the pulpit oratory and on musical performances.  Behind the minister's rostrum there was originally not an altar but a large choir-loft, facing the audience.  The auditorium was quite readily adapted to secular uses such as college assemblies, public meetings, and civic musical presentations.  During the early years of the twentieth century it was actually filled on Sundays by the attractions of the great preaching and of fine choral performances.  The new Central Church came to have a particularly close connection with the Conservatory of Music that was organized, after the example of Oberlin, during the mid-eighties at Knox.  For nearly forty years the choir director and the organist were senior members of the Knox Conservatory.  In 1912, when the College, the City, and the Church celebrated their common seventy-fifth anniversary, the great organ was dedicated to  the memory of the Knox "triumvirate",  -the three professors, all members of this Congregational Church, who loyally served the college during the last half of the nineteenth century, during periods of uncertainty at Knox College and times of much travail for themselves.

By the middle of the twentieth century the connections with the College had become largely ceremonial, for the college itself had become rather thoroughly secular in character; twenty years later most students and faculty would be unaware of the special relationship that once had existed between school and church.  At the mid-century the Central Church was still, however, the place most likely to give a hearing to issues avoided elsewhere.  It had then not yet suffered the adverse effects of lamentable contention over a proposed inter denominational merger that occurred among Congregational churches during the early fifties.

Central Congregational Church Dates

1837 - Colony and church founded, George Washington Gale first minister.  Met first in Log City, then the Colton store, and then the Academy.  The church was first named the Presbyterian Church in Galesburg, but was made up of Congregationalists and the New School Presbyterians from upstate New York. This is the church that came to be known as  "Old First Church."

1837-38 - Old and New School Presbyterians split over the issue of cooperation under the Plan of Union 1801 with the Congregationalists withdrawing from the Presbyterian General Assembly.

1843 - Timbers cut for the meeting house.

1845 - Frame of meeting house put up; also, the church began active fellowship with the state Congregational Association.

1846 - First Knox Commencement held in Old First ( as yet incomplete).

1848 - Old First Meeting House completed. J. Blanchard went east to raise funds for materials the colony could not produce.

1851 - The Second Presbyterian Church colonized out of Old First Church. Now known as First Presbyterian.

1855 - The First Congregational Church colonized out of Old First Church and erected the meeting house that came to be known as the Brick Church and later Beecher Chapel. The mother church withdrew from the presbytery over the issue of slavery, and then fellowshipped only with the state Congregational Association.

1856 - Mother church changed its name to the First Church of Christ in Galesburg and came to be called "Old First."

1895 - Large part of plaster ceiling came down in Old First Meeting House and the building was considered unsafe.

1895 - Old First and the First Congregational Church united to form Central Congregational Church. To symbolize the union their bells were melted down and recast (now weighs 3400lb.) so that the united voices of the past might call the present to worship.

1897 - The corner stone was laid for the present meeting house on the site of Old First. The meeting house of the First Congregational Church was sold to Knox College for $10,000; $5,000 of which was a gift from the church to the college.

1898 - The new (present) meeting house was occupied in December. It cost $75,000.   

1912 - Triumvirate organ installed in memory of Churchill, Comstock, and Hurd.

1962 -  Front of sanctuary remodeled along with basement. Most of the building is as it was built.

Central Congregational Church Windows


John T. Avery -  1841 - 1905. Farmer and Christian leader in Rio and Galesburg.

Robert H. Avery -  died, 1892. Civil War; while a prisoner at  Andersonville busied himself with invention of corn planter; later manufacturer.

Sarah P. Avery - wife of Robert H. died 1898.

A.C. Higgens  - Colonist and Farmer, died 1892

Lucy M. Higgens - A.C.'S wife, died, 1898. Both active in Central Church.

Henry Hitchcock  - 1816-1884, Burlington RR. Supt.

Martha A. Hitchcock - Henry's wife, died 1899; two children Willie H. and Mattie died in 1858 and 1881.

Mrs. S.L. Charles and Maud A. and Cooley Charles - Wife and children of S.L. Charles, business manager Cooley estate.


Matthew C. Willard - 1842 1894, Merchant, Trustee of Knox, Active and generous in all good work.

I. S. Perkins -  1832-1898. Prominent in business, a church Trustee; first to suggest the name "Central Church" for the united churches.


Emma Everest Moore - Knox 1870, died 1890, Wife of Baptist clergyman and missionary.


Amelia F. Bangs - Principal of Knox Seminary, 1873-1879, died 1891.

Mary Allen West  - 1837-1898. Daughter of Nehemiah West. Educator, writer, temperance reformer and County Superintendent of School. She was also a world missionary of the Women's Christian Temperance Union and died while on a mission in Japan.


Nettie Parry  - daughter of builder S.J. Parry; Knox student, died by accident, 1875. Full name Emeline Jeanette.

Caroline Rulf Emrich  - died, 1889, wife of Henry Emrich, Civil War veteran and printer.

H. Cordelia Willard  - 1820-1886. Wife of Silas Willard, merchant, and mother of Matthew C. among founders.

Jerusha Brewster Farnham - wife of Eli Farnham, died 1872. A direct descendent of Elder William Brewster and Gov. Wm. Bradford, of the Mayflower Pilgrims, Worthy of her ancestors.

Eli Farnham - Trustee of Knox, 1845-1882. secretary of the board, Always officially connected with the church.

Jessie Farnham Hinckley  - died 1874, eldest daughter of Eli and Jerusha Brewster Farnham.


George Holyoke  - 1830-1895. Civil war veteran and beloved city missionary.

Emma Dunn Palmer  - Knox 1872, died 1892. Teacher in Knox Academy and Galesburg High School.

Edward Beecher, D.D.  - Noted theologian and writer, brother of Henry Ward and Harriet Beecher Stoe; pastor of the First Congregational Church (Brick church), 1858-1871. Died 1895.

Marie Louise Cooley  - daughter of Edwin A. Earnest in church work; died while a student at Knox.

Flavel Bascom, D.D.  - Prominent clergyman, pastor of Old First Church, 1849-1856 and again in 1872.

Mary Bliss Chalmers - Knox 1873, missionary to Turkey where she died in 1881.

Deacon John Leonard  - died, 1865, A saintly character - "the children's friend and city missionary"


If you have any information, photos, or anything on the beginnings of the any of the churches listed above feel free to email me so we can share it with others... Thanks and happy happy Hunting.....


      In giving a history of the churches of Galesburg, no apology is needed for giving what might at first seem an undue prominence to the old First Church, which truly deserves to be called the mother church. In an historical discourse by Rev. F. Bascom, D. D., on June 22, 1866, commemorative of the settlement of Galesburg he says: “In the infant settlement at ‘Log City’, public worship on the Sabbath was established very soon after the arrival of the first families, with preaching when practicable. Rev. G. W. Gale was their first stated supply. Assisted by Rev. John Avery, he held a series of meetings during the first winter, and the Spirit of God owned and blessed the effort in the conversion of several of the youths in the congregation. They organized their church on the 25th of February 1837, consisting of eighty-two members. Mr. Waters and Mr. Gale officiated on the occasion, assisted by Mr. Noel, of Knoxville, who represented Schuley Presbytery. The church was Presbyterian in its name and ecclesiastical relations, but contained a strong congregational element, out of deference to which the modes of administering its affairs were somewhat modified from the beginning.

      During the summer of 1837, some families, having prepared residences in the village, removed thither, and then public worship was held alternately here and at the grove. The first room used for Sabbath worship in Galesburg, was a store room built by Deacon Chambers. In the winter of 1838 and ’39, the first Academy building was used for religious meetings, which were thenceforward constantly held there until the First Church edifice was opened for worship in 1846. The seven years in which the church worshipped in the old Academy were memorable as a period of spiritual prosperity and almost constant progress. Many were the seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord there enjoyed, and of not a few now in heaven, and of many on their way thither it may be said, “this and that man was born there.” The First Church building though opened in 1846 was not completed until 1848, and for the next three years it was the only house for public worship in the village, and Christians of every denomination were accustomed to worship together there.

      Of the erection of this building an interesting chapter could be written. As yet there was but one church organized in the village, and the founders hoped that such would be the homogeneity of the settlers that no other should be formed until like bees they should be compelled to swarm from overcrowded quarters, so it was determined to build a large building that that day might be far away. When built, it was the largest church edifice in the State outside of Chicago.

      But how to build such a building was a question, for there was no money in the community, but there was what was better—strong faith in the enterprise and willing hearts and hands. Every one was ready to do his share, the farmers cut and hauled logs to the colony mills, thus furnished the lumber needed. They turned out with their teams and drew stone from the neighboring quarries for the foundations which the masons laid up. The carpenters, led by J. M. Holyoke and J. Horn, framed the building, and the entire community, from ‘Dan to Beersheba’ turned out and spent an entire week in raising the heavy and unwieldy frame. Other carpenters gave their time to cover the frame, and C. S. Colton, the only man who had money, furnished paints, which the painters put on for love, and not for pay. And so for four long, weary years the house was in building, when the ladies took it in charge and finished it in so handsome a style as to provoke many criticisms from our neighbors as to Yankee extravagance in churches. The old church for many years was the only large audience room in the village, and was used for concerts, lectures, conventions, college commencements, and other large meetings.

      “The Hutchinsons,” the “Alleghanians,” and other noted bands of singers of the older time, made sweet music within its walls, and nearly all of the world-renowned speakers and lecturers from 1850 to 1860 and later, have been greeted here with large and enthusiastic audience. Mr. Bascom further says:  “Prof. Gale, with the aid of Rev. J. Waters, was acting pastor of the church the first three years.  Mr. Foot supplied the pulpit for one year. Mr. Gale then resumed his pastoral labors for a year, and was succeeded by President Kellogg, who was stated supply for two years.”

      For the next year, the pulpit was supplied by Revs. Marsh, Waters, and Hollister. From May 1844 till the end of 1845, Rev. L. H. Parker was acting pastor. Mr. Kellogg was then installed as pastor and officiated till the failure of his health in the spring of 1847. President Blanchard succeeded him and gave place to Rev. F. Bascom in Dec. 1849, whose pastorate closed in May, 1856. Rev. C. M. Tyler followed and was pastor three years. Mr. Barnard filled the pulpit for six months and was succeeded by Rev. F. T. Perkins who was pastor some years, followed by Prof. W. J. Beecher, now of Auburn Theological Seminary, and he by Prof. Henry Tyler now of Fitchburg, Massachusetts; and he by the present pastor Rev. H. S. Huntington. Surely the church has no right to complain for want of change and variety in its ministerial labors. At the present, its membership is 390.

      The Second Presbyterian Church was organized in May 1854. This church was organized with thirty members dismissed from the First Church for this purpose and in December of the same year, an Old School Presbyterian Church was organized with eighteen members. The pastors of the Old School Church have been Revs. I. N. Candee, Wilson, and Norcross, and of the Second Church Revs. J. W. Bailey, George Duffield, L. Pratt, and M. B. Lowrie, the present pastor. A few years ago, these two churches united forming a strong, efficient and prosperous church. Its membership is now 320.

      The following I take from Miss M. A. West’s Centennial History:

      “In November, 1855, the old hive swarmed again, this time fifty members going off to form the Congregational Church. This also prospered greatly for fifteen years under the pastorage of Dr. Edward Beecher, since that time under that of Rev. M. L. Williston. He tendered his resignation so now the church is without a pastor. It numbers 214.

      “The Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1847 and has had a steady, healthy growth ever since. After worshiping many years in a small church, it has just completed and dedicated the finest church edifice in Galesburg. Rev. Selah W. Brown, Pastor.

      “In 1848 the Baptist Church was organized. For a time there were two Baptist Churches here, each with a small house of its own. They very wisely united and erected the beautiful house which they now occupy. Rev. W. M. Haigh, Pastor.

      “The First Swedish Lutheran Church was organized in 1852. It is a very large body, and has recently erected one of the best houses of worship in this part of the State. Its pastor is S. P. A. Lindahl.

      “The Second Lutheran Church, formed under the lead of Rev. Charles Anderson, have a very neat edifice on Simmons Street.

      “In 1856, a Swedish Methodist Church was formed, which now has a fine building on the corner of Kellogg and Waters Streets. Rev. A. Anderson, Pastor.

      “The African Methodist Episcopal Church was formed the same year. This church has struggled on through great discouragements, having worked hard to build a house of worship, and then seeing it burned just two weeks after its first occupancy. But with courage unabated they have now nearly completed a new building. Rev. C. S. Jacobs, pastor.

      “The Universalist Church was organized about the same time. Their house of worship is on the corner of Tompkins and Prairie. Rev. S. A. Gardner, pastor.

      “St. Raphael Roman Catholic Church has a large membership and a fine house on Academy Street. Rev. M. Howard, pastor.

      “Grace Episcopal Church has a very tasty edifice, corner of Tompkins and Prairie Street. Rev. S. T. Allen, pastor. They number about 65 communicants, and have a flourishing Sunday school.

      “The German Lutheran Church is also on Tompkins Street. Rev. G. Rausch, pastor.

      “The African Baptist Church purchased the house of the Cherry Street Baptists, at the union, where they now worship.

      “The Christian Church building has been moved from Ferris Street to Tompkins Street, fronting the Park and very tastefully fitted up. At present, it is without a pastor.”


The following article, a brief history of the Abingdon United Methodist--- Church recently appeared in the online edition of the ABINGDON ARGUS. (http://www.eaglepublications.com/abingdon.html)

The editor of the ABINGDON ARGUS has given permission to post the; article in its entirety. 

Newspaper: Abingdon Argus---Knox County, IL---United Methodist Church to Celebrate 100 years---September 17 1998 

On Sunday, September 20, the congregation of the ABINGDON UNITED METHODIST CHURCH will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the church building. Bishop Sharon Brown Christopher will be bringing the message in the 10:30 a.m. worship service. All former pastors and their wives along with the District Superintendent, Rev. Terry Clark of Galesburg, have been invited as special guests. 

A potluck dinner will be served at noon. Following the dinner, former pastors will be sharing memories as will be those of the congregation. 

Methodist began meeting in 1832, when a local preacher named HIRAM PALMER began visiting the log cabins of families in the Abingdon area. By 1833 an organized society of seven members were meeting at the log cabin of A.D. SWARTS. The first quarterly meeting was held in 1834 with PETER CARTWRIGHT the presiding elder. The meeting was held in the log cabin of JACOB and BETHSHEBA WEST. In 1839 the congregation moved to the newly built frame schoolhouse on the northwest corner of Jefferson and Pearl Streets, worshiping there until about 1847-48. 

At that time a comfortable church was built on the northeast corner of Washington and Jackson street. But by 1869, the congregation had outgrown its building and began worshiping in the chapel of Hedding College where it worshipped for seven years. 

During the pastorate of D.H. GRAY in 1867-68, the congregation built a two story frame building which was considered a handsome edifice. The building stood on the northeast corner of Latimer and Washington Streets and was built at a cost of $6,000. 

S.T. MOSSER, the church's choir director, raised funds in 1898 for the purchase of a Lyon and Healy pipe organ. Because of the architecture of the building, members decided to build a new building instead of remodeling the old one.  Had they put the pipe organ in the old building there would be no room for the pulpit. Had they moved the pulpit, there would be no room for the worshipers. 

A contract was left to HOOKER and HUGHEY, local contractors, on March 7,1898, for a new building at a cost of $8,170 plus the old building. Much of the old building was used in the new structure. The new pink granite building and equipment were valued at $20,000. Members paid $492 for art glass windows; $600 for pews; $873 for steam heat and radiators; $200 for decorating; $910 for 26,300 Sioux Falls pink granite stones, sills, caps, and corner stone’s. The pulpit and pulpit chairs were donated by W.C. HALL and the pulpit Bible by F. O. CHESNEY. The new building was dedicated December 25, 1898. 

The bell in the steeple was hung in 1899. Tie rods were added for support on the belfry in 1917. The great weight of the bell became a problem for the structure of the church and the bell was placed on the flooring of the bell tower.  A set of electronic carillons were installed to play from the tower in December 1986. 

To accommodate all worshipers, a ramp was constructed outside the northwest entrance to the sanctuary in 1985. A handicap accessible restroom was installed in 1994. 

Over the years repairs and enhancements have been required to maintain the church that we know today. At present the church is valued at approximately $2,000,000. The congregation has become stewards of the beautiful edifice now and they must remain as examples for the generations that will worship in the building in the future. 

Rev. Gene Ramsey, pastor, and the members of the church invite the public to join them in the celebration of this centennial anniversary of the church. 

Permission to post: 

We would be happy to allow you to post the article. Please attribute it to the Abingdon Argus. 

Tom Hutson; Publisher eaglepub@macomb.com




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