History of Methodism In Lisbon 1886


Morris Independent. Republished in the Kendall County Record, July 21, 1886
Edited and compiled by Elmer Dickson

We passed beyond the Grundy County line Sunday and gazed upon the beautiful prairies of Kendall County in the vicinity of Lisbon. Having accepted an invitation to attend the 46th anniversary of the Methodist Society of Lisbon, we entered the precincts of that quaint and staid village. Passing rows of venerable shade trees whose columns have pointed heavenward for many years we reached the Methodist Church where the good people of the surrounding community were gathered. It was a day of peculiar religious meditation for both old and young. There were gathered the "old settlers", many of them the Christian pioneers of a half century ago. The building was crowded. The sister church in the village had taken up its service and pastor and people bowed at the altar where the anniversary exercises were conducted. Several Morris people were present, among them being William Stephen, who had gone thither by invitation to throw some chronological light upon the history surrounding the society's organization. Mr. Stephen was the only person in attendance who was present in 1840 when the class was organized with six members. Mr. Stephen in relating facts of an early date in that section said that he reached Lisbon by stage in 1837. There was one log house erected then, which served as a hostelry for all arrivals. Services were first held in the Grove, where the Congregationalists and Methodists united in worship. After the log schoolhouse with puncheon floor was built in Lisbon the Methodists withdrew and in 1840 commenced holding their services there under the guidance of Reverend J. M. Springer.

The present church building is quite a pretentious structure, being modern within and without. It is enlarged from the original church built many years ago. For which, Mr. Stephen stated, he hauled a load of lumber from Chicago.

Reverend Mr. Kent read an elaborate compilation of facts touching the anniversary. He pictured the natural prairie as the most beautiful flower garden that ever existed under the expanse of heaven. He revelled in its delights for about 25 minutes. In the meantime showing his scholastic ability by reference to both ancient and modern history.

Mr. Hooper, of Plattville, who 30 years ago was superintendent of the Sunday school, spoke some cheering words in regard to the wonderful progress in organized Christian work since those days of Christian seed sowing.

Mr. Dix, another of the time-honored heroes of religious endeavor refreshed the minds of his enlightened hearers of the vicissitudes of 1840. He had watched from those days to these the wonderful advance of civilization until the prairie was dotted here, there and yon by substantial homesteads.

Reverend Mr. Eames now over 80 years old and who accepted the pastorate of the church in 1864 was present to address the congregation, as he stated "for perhaps the last time." His infirmities seemed to lead the congregation to the same belief. He spoke with much emotion and asked for the prayers of the assemblage. He entered up his labor there during the dark days of rebellion when his ministration at the grave was frequent. He rejoiced in the strength that brought him again to the altar.

Mr. Hutchinson read the old church record.

The pastor, Reverend Mr. Burdick, read some choice extracts from a diary kept by Mr. Moore (now deceased) at about the time of the society's organization. The portions read were of a nature of deep Christian solicitude and furnished rich thought for the entire assemblage.

Mr. Burdick is evidently doing good work at Lisbon. The church we learn is in a very prosperous condition.

By the considerate attention of friends we dined in sumptuous style and incurred a debt that no little kindness can repay.


Morris News, Republished In the Kendall County Record, August 4, 1886

An old people's meeting was held in the M. E. Church yesterday morning for the purpose of hearing testimony in regard to the early history of Methodism in this section and especially the Morris Society. An enjoyable meeting was the result. We present below the remarks of William Stephen, as they cover the history of the society quite fully.

I arrived in Chicago, July 2, 1837. At that time the population of Chicago was 4099 whites and 70 colored. Brother Beggs who stayed at my house one night, informed me that in 1832, the Methodists had their first quarterly meeting in January of that year. They had to have their provisions brought all the way from Plainfield with an ox team, a distance of 40 miles, to furnish the necessary food at that first M. E. quarterly meeting held in Chicago. I left Chicago, July 4th, and arrived in Lisbon July 7th. There was only one log house in Lisbon at the time. This was where Levi Hills kept a hotel and post office. I stayed but a short time. I then located in the Township of Nettle Creek. At this time there was only one family living in the whole township, this was the William Hoge family. There was one house in Morris which was near where the gas house now stands.

In August 1837, I heard the Reverend Mr. Beggs preach at Mr. Holderman's house, at Holderman's Grove, Kendall County. At this time, and before, there was a Methodist society in Milford (now Millington.) William Royal was pastor. A year or two later, Brother Springer supplied the place of Brother Royal. At this time there came to Lisbon some Methodists who thought they would like to have a M. E. society formed. Two brethren by the names of Jarvis Moore and Solomon Wells walked to Millington, a distance of 14 miles to get Brother E. Springer to come to Lisbon to form a class. A class was formed July 12, 1840. The class was composed of six members, who are all dead but one. I was there at the meeting. This was the year the Rock River conference was formed.

In 1842 and 1843, Wesley Batchelor was preacher at Lisbon and other points on the circuit. Brother Lacenby was on the circuit. In the fall of 1847, he got thrown from his buggy near Lisbon and was hurt so badly that he died December 22.

In 1852, there was a class formed at Holderman's Grove, west of Lisbon, with five members. The first Sabbath School was formed in 1851 at that place. Mrs. Kellogg and William Witting were the organizers of that Sabbath School. From 1852 to 1861 the society worshipped in schoolhouses. In 1852 a new church was built at Holderman's Grove at a cost of $4,000. F. W. Williams built it and Eli Johnson plastered it. In 1869, the church at Fairview (Holderman's Grove) was abandoned and the remaining members joined at Lisbon. This was the year (1869) that I moved to Morris.

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