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Month: April 2016

Lake Fork Predestinarian Baptist Church

Lake Fork Predestinarian Baptist Church

I originally placed a version of this on the Logan County ILGenWeb site, of which I am the County Coordinator. It remains there. Since that time there have been many changes. I no longer know the location of one copy of the records. The one I know of is too fragile to scan further. I understand the Primitive Baptist Library in Carthage, Illinois, has an old photocopy of one set. I am posting the information here using the theory that the more places it is posted the more likely the records will survive.

The Lake Fork Church of the Predestinarian Baptists was the first organized religion in south Logan County and perhaps in Logan County itself. Amazingly, two copies of the contemporaneous records of this denomination have survived. They appear to be identical and are in extremely fragile condition. Many years ago the late Dalen Shellhammer, a genealogist in this area for more than 50 years, read one copy and made some notes. I read pages of the other copy and made additional notes, including some history and genealogy related to the group and its members.

The Lake Fork Church of the Predestinarian Baptists, a strict, fundamentalist group, was organized January 20, 1827, at the house of James Turley by William Kenner, Hiram Bowman and Phillip Stephens. Hiram Bowman was chosen as moderator and James Turley as Clerk. James Turley and his wife were the first white settlers in south Logan County, arriving from Kentucky and locating in section 30 of what is now Mt. Pulaski Township.

The seven original members of the Lake Fork Church of the Predestinarian Baptists were: James L. Turley, Charles Barney, James Scot (sic), Carter Scroggin, Agness Turley, Margaret P. Turley and Phebe Scroggin.

Meanwhile, in Greene County, Ohio, the Regular Baptist Church of Indian Run, for reasons unclear, decided to migrate en masse to Illinois. Most of those who did not migrate in the first wave came within a couple years. The original members of that church were: (men) Abraham Lucas, Michael Mann, Philip Stevens, Solomon Wood, Lewis Chance, John Turner, Ebenezer Perry, James William Wilson, Peter P. Lucas, Joseph Lucas, Thomas Lucas, Samuel Nives, and William Copeland; (women) Sarah Copeland, Elizabeth Chance, Massy/Marcy Kelsey Lucas [wife of Abraham], Sarah Price Lucas [wife of Joseph], Rachel Perry, Mary Lee, Elizabeth Mann, Margaret Smith, Mary Lucas Turner, Sarah Hoblit Lucas [wife of Thomas], Sarah Lucas Copeland, Phebe Lucas Wood, and Elizabeth Stanberry. Most of them ended up in south Logan County and became part of the Lake Fork Predestinarian Baptist Church, soon to become the Regular Baptist Church of Lake Fork (1833).

Religious services were held at the home of James Turley until March 1828 when the home of Boston Finders was purchased. This served as the meeting house until June 1831 when, according to the minutes, Brother Collins and Turner were appointed to choose a spot for a new church building.  “Selected a spot on William Copeland’s land at or near a spring and Brother Copeland agrees to give one acre of land to bild (sic) said meeting house on and to make a deed to the same.”  The trustees were authorized to sell the old meeting house and “convert the money toward bilding (sic) a new meeting house”  (November 1831) [Several researchers believe this spot was north of the Lake Fork ditch a little over a mile south of Steenbergen Cemetery on the east side of the road. Nothing remains.]

In 1836 William Copeland was made Clerk and Michael Mann, Moderator.  The meetings were held on Saturday, before the first Sunday each month.  Many families would come great distances, bringing baskets of food and prepared to stay over night. Michael Mann and Stephen Hukill both preached, as a rule.

In April of 1841 John Turner succeeded Robert Burns, who later joined the church at Buffalo Hart, as trustee.  John R. Burns, who also transferred to the Buffalo Hart church, served as Clerk of the Lake Fork church, succeeding William Copeland in April 1856.

The discomforts caused by cold weather were apparent in the church minutes when in 1856 and 1857 they voted to hold their meetings in Copeland Schoolhouse.  In February of 1857 the minutes show that $618.00 was “in the hands of the building committee” and the church instructed the committee “to go on and enclose the house with windows and doors and the church will be responsible for what is lacking.” This apparently solved their problem as the winter of 1857 they used the “old meeting house as usual.”

July 12, 1859 – James Cheatham was appointed deacon to replace late Carter Scroggin
August 1860 – A. L. Clayton replaced Stephen Hukill as trustee
April 1862 – James Cheatham replaced J. L. Mann as Clerk
May 31, 1866 – Michael Mann, pastor for 30 years, died

In July 1868 the members voted to move the building from “where it now stands to a place near Brother J. L. Mann’s residence.” J. L. Mann and G. N. Simpson were to be superintendents of the moving.  In Nov 1869 they voted to “fense house known as Lake Fork Baptist meeting house with a good plank fense”. The moving committee was discharged and the deed received for the land from J. L. Mann and his wife.

Brothers and Sisters from Buffalo Hart Grove who requested letters of dismissal to form their own church (December 1871) were: Robert and Patsy Burns, John and Lucy Burns, Benjamin and Ellen Luckett, W. A. and Emily Burns and James Elder.

The records for the Lake Fork Baptist Church end in August 1894. There was no mention of the church closing but it is believed that the church closed its doors about this time. No one has located any pictures of any of the church buildings.

To view the records click on the links below. The scans were done by Pamela Erlenbush, a triple descendant of Abraham Lucas.

Lake Fork Church 1

Lake Fork Church 2

Lake Fork Church 3