Eugene M. Frank Gerald Bunting E.C. Ellis
Bishop Minister Dist. Supt.
Sunday School 9:30 A.M.
Church 7:00 P.M.
First and Third Sundays
THE CENTENNIAL PROGRAM
October 5, 1969 2 P.M.
PRELUDE Miss Donna Oliver
HYMN Church in the Wildwood By congregation
CALL TO WORSHIP
DUET Mrs. Calvin Bishop and Mrs. Roger Scott
REDEDICATION OF CHURCH BUILDING
THE HISTORY OF BETHEL CHURCH
HYMN God Be With You Congregation
The History of Bethel Church,
Montgomery County, Missouri
Prepared by Mrs. Frederick Bohl
It is not our purpose, in this history, to glorify the past; but if
we do not remember what we have been, we cannot understand what we are, or
know what we can be. Every generation holds in trust a rich heritage from
past generations, adds to that heritage, and passes it on to a new
This brief history of our beloved Bethel Church has been prepared,
in the reverent hope and belief that the human successes and failures of
these first hundred years are but an humble foundation for greater successes
and smaller failures as we go forward into our building's second century.
There may be inaccuracies in the following history, and for these we
apologize; but the research has been as through as time and available
materials would allow.
Not much information has yet been turned up about the beginnings of
this congregation. It is much older than the building whose hundredth
anniversary we celebrate today. The earliest known settlement in this area
of Montgomery County was Cobbtown, 1823. It consisted of a father, two or
three sons and a nephew, of the name Cobb, and their families, and was
somewhere southwest of the site of Bethel. John Oliver and Samuel Bishop
settled east and south of this site by 1826. Other known early settlers
were the Maupin family to the north, the Harpers to the south, the Randolphs
to the west, the Walkers and Harrisons.
There is a local tradition that early campmeetings were held on
these acres, and a printed statement in an 1885 County Album, that a church
was organized sometime prior to 1840. A log church was built about that
time, later destroyed, with the early records, by fire.
A second log building was raised; and it was in use until the
present frame structure was erected. The log church was then moved to a new
location, on the farm of Samuel C. Bishop, where it served for a number of
years as the home of the Austin Pate family.
The worshippers in these rustic churches were probably served at
infrequent intervals by traveling preachers. The first possible preacher
for whom a name is known, would be the Rev. J.W. or John Cook. He is known
to have lived on a farm in Callaway County, and to have been the first
Methodist pastor at Wellsville, in 1855, and at Montgomery City, in 1859.
The Rev. Cook was arrested, first by Confederate soldiers, later by
Union soldiers, and possibly died in a military prison in 1861.
During the rest of the Civil War years, the churches of this area
probably were not active; but in 1865, Bethel Church was reorgnized, through
the efforts of William Eads. Among the first members were Mr. and Mrs. C.D.
Maupin, and Mr. R. Harrison.
At the Annual Conference of Sept. 18, 1866, Bethel was in the St.
Charles District of the Missouri Annual Conference. The Rev. George Smith
was the preacher in charge, and his circuit included Bethel, Martinsburg,
Middletown, Montgomery City, Mount Zion, Pleasant Grove, and Wellsville.
Bethel was the oldest and largest group.
In 1868 M.L. Eads was pastor, and a committee composed of C.D.
Maupin, Allen Henley, and E.R. Brown was named to prepare for building a
church. J.W. McDaniel received two acres, one from O.H. Maupin and one from
Wm. O. Randolph, on which to build a church.
Detailed specifications, still in existence, were drawn up by these
three men and J.W. and E.B. Overstreet, builders. The building was to be
finished "on or about October 1st, 1869." The trustees furnished the
foundation, and did all hauling from Montgomery City to the building site.
White pine timbers were rafted down the Mississippi to Clarksville and
brought overland by ox team. Two of the local men who are said to have
helped with the construction were Clifton Hayes and D.J. Whitehead.
The preacher in charge at the time of construction was Henry Craig,
the presiding elder, Andrew Moore, and the bishop G.F. Pierce.
In 1869, Authur T. and Mary B. Maupin deeded land for a burial
ground to the three above named men and Reason P. Harrison and Thomas
The hand-made pews of yellow poplar are said to have been made by
Wm. N. Walker. They were not ready when the church was finished, so the
benches from the old log church were carried into the new building and used
for a time.
In 1870, with Zachary Jones as preacher, the first Sunday School was
started. Jesse Sutton, in 1871, found his new circuit of six churches in a
"cold lukewarm condition." Thos. Penn was pastor in 1872-3. The first
death recorded in the church record was that of William Bishop, Feb. 8,
1873; and the first infant baptism was that of Wm. Franklin Bowers, son of
Phil and Sarah Bowers, by J.P. Nolan, presiding elder, Aug. 31, 1873.
J.Y. Blakey was the pastor in 1874-5. There are two interesting
items in the church records, Feb., 1874: "One hymn book was presented to
the church by E.R. Brown, worth $1.65" and "On motion, a committee was
appointed to investigate the conduct of some of the members who have been
guilty of dancing."
Five members removed by letter from church rolls were James and
Isabella Walker, Dec. 27, 1874. Moved to California. There were 9 teachers
and 35 pupils in Sunday School -- "not using Methodist literature."
The Rev. John F. Shores, 1876-77, presented two old deeds that were
supposed to have been lost, probably the 1868 deeds; but meantime the church
grounds had been recorded at the Montgomery County Courthouse, half in 1870
by W.O. Randolph, half in 1872 by Allen Henley.
On Aug. 28, 1878, twenty-nine adult baptisms may have been the
result of a protacted meeting, under the pastor R.G. Loving. Benjamin
Norris, whose locally famous tombstone may be seen in Bethel cemetery, was
one of those baptized.
Henry Kay was pastor in 1879 and 1880. The closing of the Sunday
School during the winter months, apparently a custom for many years to come,
is first mentioned.
The following years found Bethel under the pastorates of the
Reverends G.M. Edwards, J.R. Taylor, C.E. McClintock, S.P. Roberson, M.L.
Gray and W.O. Medley.
Under Rev. Medley, Hattie Oliver and Charles Dillard were married in
the church, the only known wedding here until that of Beverly Sublette and
Larry Robinson in 1960.
In 1891, Mrs. Camilla V. Oliver gave a strip of land on the east
side of the cemetery to enlarge it. Rev. B.W. Sipple was preaching here in
1891 and 1892. Reverends E.L. Kendrick, Rice, Sysloff, and Kimsey filled
the pulpit from 1893 until Bro. Sipple began his second pastorate here, 1897
to 1899. The 20th century brought us Reverends H.D. Thompson, A.S. Bowles,
W.C. Rice, and then Rev. T.P. Middleton in 1903-04-05. About this time we
have the first mention of Children's Exercises. It was usually held on a
Sunday in June, with recitations and songs by the children and a big basket
dinner at noon. The children lined up by twos to march up wooden steps and
across the wooden porch, to enter the church. They were warned not to step
on the rotted wooden top of the well at the back of the church. The
concrete top now on the well has the date 1916 and probably this and the
present concrete porch and steps were added that year.
Reverends J.R. McMurry, A. Snowden, and R.O. Triplett were pastors
next, and in 1909 to 1911, W.T. May served. Rev. C.L. Uht preached at
Bethel in the years 1912 to 1916. He held at least one protacted meeting
here with a Rev. J.W. Slade of McCredie.
The Sunday School was still closing for the winter quarter and the
Rev. C.K. Shilling, serving the Wellsville-Middletown-Bethel circuit in
1918, found two Sunday Schools active and one "hybernating"! Rev. W.H.
Ellington in 1817 had found three Sunday Schools "doing fairly good work,
yet not as efficient as they might be." Bethel was on circuit with
Middletown in 1920 and B.E. Miller was pastor.
In 1921, '22, and '23, with Rev. W.N. Giddens in charge, Bethel was
back on circuit with Montgomery City. Rev. Giddens was instrumental in
getting the present road in front of the church. Until this time, the road
turned northwest and crossed the creek in two places. When the men of the
community were through cutting away timber and brush, they still had a dirt
road, but the church was much more accessible for the new vehicles known as
W.O.G. Potter, 1924 through 1928, and C.A. Bowles, 1929 through
1934, served two of the longer pastorates here. In 1931, attendance was
hampered by a hot summer; but in 1933 Bro. Bowles found more people
attending church than any time in the past twenty years. Seventeen new
members were added to the church rolls in 1933, several of them being
baptized by immersion in a deep hole in Loutre Creek, south of the church.
There were two very large young people's classes in the thirties. A boys'
class, taught first by Orville Johnson, later by Obe Walker, and a girls'
class, taught first by Katie Johnson, and then by Ethel Cheeseman.
The Montgomery County convention of the W.C.T.U., with the state
president presiding, met here in the thirties. The Ladies Aid Society began
about this time, with an organizational meeting at the home of Mrs. Rosalie
Walker. One of their first projects were the making of a yo-yo quilt which
Mr. Lee Oliver bought for $25.00. Another time, the project was a wool
comforter. The group sponsored at least one young lady in nurse's training.
The young people of the church and Sunday School produced a number of plays,
for fun and profit, which are still fondly remembered.
In 1934, the church roof was repaired, but by 1936, it needed a
complete re-roofing, coast $615.00. Fortunately, Rev. Fred Armstrong, our
pastor for 1935 throught 1939 was the type of man who worked right along
with his parishoners, with hammer and saw.
Fred Statler was pastor in 1940, when the Ladies Aid purchased a
piano and a new carpet for the church. Theron G. McGee served in 1941 and
Mims Thornburgh Workman in 1942-44. Our beloved J.C. McDaniel served five
years followed by J. Preston Cole and J.C. Mongtomery, Jr. Sometime during
this period, one of the huge old trees at the back of the church was blown
onto the east wall of the building, smashing it badly. The damage was soon
repaired but the extent of it is still observable in the cut boards at the
top of the wall. Each siding board of the undamaged lower half reaches the
full width of the church.
The original pulpit area had been a small raised dais, with a
U-shaped bannister communion railing. In the 1940's this was replaced by a
platform across the entire width of the church, the original railing being
used to form a straight line at the front of the platform.
The Reverend E.R. Slovensky, to who we owe a debt for much of this
historical information, came to Bethel in 1953. At least two revival
meetings were held in his time, one with the late Rev. Harold Spicklemeier
of Wellsville preaching, in 1953, and one with Edwin Jones preaching, in
The Rev. Paul White served Bethel and Montgomery City Circuit 1957
through 1960. Fifty-seven members were listed on the revised church roll of
1960. The latest infant baptisms were the three children of Tom and Norma
Wad Korman, by Rev. White on Easter Sunday, 1960.
Three student ministers practised their new professions with Bethel
as their proving ground: Mr. Floyd Blackard in 1961, Mr. Robert Christian
in 1962 and 1963, and Mr. S. Brad Hunt in 1964 and 1965, so as a
congregation, we can feel that we have sent forth new men for God's work on
From 1966 through 1968, we were fortunate to have as pastor, Rev.
Norman Charter, a man born and raised in the London, England, which gave us
our church founders, the Wesleys.
Our present pastor is Gerald Bunting, latest but not last of the
long line of men who have shepherded the sheep in this corner of the Lord's
Miss Charlotte Burtner, Methodist deacosess, served Bethel along
with other churches in Montgomery County, in the early sixies. She worked
particularly with the young people of the community, reviving the daily
vacation Bible school habit here at Bethel, and organizing the MYF, a group
which has since sponsored a great many useful subjects. The MYF has bought
new hymn books, the pictures in the church, a fine Bible Dictionary, and the
American flag; and made the piano, pulpit and communion table scarves, and
the Sunday School attendance board; and contributed substantially to the
latest interior redecoration in 1967.
The Ladies Aid Society became the W.S.C.S. in 1940, celebrated 25
years as the W.S.C.S. in 1965, and, with the Union of the Methodist
Episcopal and United Brethren churches in 1968, reorganized as the W.S.C.S.
of the United Methodist Church.
There is little space left to mention the various activities that
have been associated with Bethel Church, and that have meant so much to the
people of this community down through the years: the Fifth-Sunday basket
dinners; the young people's church camps which our youth attended; the times
Bethel hosted the member churches of the Greater Montgomery County Parish;
the family reunions; the 4-H events; the ice-cream suppers; and Annual
Sunday School Picnics in August, which in late years have taken us as far
afield as the Old German School in Hermann, the Churchill church erected in
Fulton, the Mark Twain birthplace in Florida, and the State Historical
Museum at Jefferson City.
It is staggering to contemplate the number of lives affected in some
way by the activities in this building down through the years. Perhaps Mrs.
Mellie Johnson, a former member of Bethel, now 97 years old, of Paradise,
California summed it up in her letter: "... So the little acorn we planted
has grown to a large oak. It made me very proud to know it. Now old Bethel
is in the hands of the 3rd generation. I hope they keep it alive and it
will serve another 100 years!"
Oldest Existing Membership List - Bethel Church ca. 1872-73
Charles D. Maupin Betty Ward
Virginia D. Maupin Lucy Ward
William B. Maupin John Norman
Mattie E. Maupin Edward C. Poindexter
Allen Henley John T. Randolph
Lucy Henley Mary S. Randolph
Sallie Henley Joseph Poindexter
Fannie Henley Lizzie Poindexter
Thomas Henley Maggie Harmon
Lucy Slaughter Miranda J. Noel
Shelton Oliver Eliza Kelley
Virginia Oliver Mary Ann Stewart
William Oliver Francis Henley
William Bishop Missouri Appling
Poindexter S. Clement Thomas R. Fish
Mattie Clement Amelia Anderson
Bettie Hudson Sarah Bowers
James Walker Asbury Owen
Isabella Walker Fannie Owen
Darthula D. Walker Nancy M. Henley
Fannie Walker Mattie Susan Maupin
Bernard T. Maupin Mary L. South
Arthur L. Maupin Mollie Poindexter
Reson P. Harrison Sarah Bishop
Pirena Norris Cobb Mrs. Jinnie Maupin
Erastus R. Brown Amanda L. McCormack
Jane L. Brown Mrs. Ellen McCormack
Ann Harper Emma Bishop
Thomas R. Turk Mary A. Walker
Sarah W. Turk R.A. Walker
Ann Eliza Turk George Walker
Alice Bishop Marion Walker
Nancy C. Wren Oswin H. Maupin
William H. Moore James N. Spain
Samuel Bishop Lucie A. Spain
Fannie McHoney Z.T. Hayes
Mary Tennison Eliza Hayes
Jacob Quick W.C. Hayes
Emma S. Harris Hellen A. Hayes
William Ward Phebe A. Walker
Mr. Howell Bishop
Mr. S.A. Oliver, Jr.
Mrs. Aretha Johnson
Mr. Stanley Oliver, Chairman
Mrs. Lucile Robinson, Sec.-Treas.
Mrs. Neva Poindexter
Mrs. Elnora Poindexter
Mrs. Bessie Whitehead
Our appreciation and thanks go to all who have helped in any
way to make this centennial worthy of the ocassion.