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History of Belle Rive and Dahlgren, Illinois And Surrounding Territory
Prepared by Continental Historical Bureau of Mt. Vernon,
Dahlgren Methodist Church
In 1870 the L & N Railroad, known at the time as the St. Louis and South Eastern, went through what is now Dahlgren, which was then just a small settlement called Little Prairie. As there were no places of business the residents went to Lovilla, a small village now obsolete, to do their trading and get their mail. At this time the few Baptists and Methodists held union services in the schoolhouse and later in the new depot.
A. M. Sturman and Sons operated a grain and lumber mill a mile and a half east of Dahlgren, and from this mill lumber was hauled to build a Methodist Church. Among the founders and early supporters of this church were A. M. Sturman, Butler B. Underwood, Henry Spencer, Robert Giles, S. N. Hallowell, Columbus Shelton, John P. Stelle and C. W. McNair.
The church was built in the early seventies soon after the railroad went through, and was placed on a circuit with several other churches. Sometimes a pastor served as many as seven churches, and a circuit of five was not unusual.
In 1907 the church was remodeled and made larger. New pews and other improvements added to its attractiveness.
In 1943 a basement was finished to provide additional classrooms and recreational facilities. Since then, many improvements have been made in the basement, including plaster ceiling, fluorescent lighting, coal room, sink and cabinets, gas range and dining tables.
In 1937 a celotex ceiling was put on the auditorium and sanctuary, and in 1957 a hardwood floor was laid. The same year, Mr. and Mrs. John Wesley Graham gave money to build three new classrooms and Mrs. Graham presented the church with a new electric organ and chimes. Then, just before her death in November, 1957, she employed an Evansville contractor to put permastone on the exterior of the church. Mrs. Graham was the daughter of the late S. N. Hallowell, and she and her parents were former members of the church.
During the years several ministers have gone out from the church, among them: Charles Atchison, Cook Kinison, Theodore Cates, George Bunton, Wallace Bunton, George Hall, J. W. S. Kinison, W. A. Sharp and Farrell Jenkins.
F. J. McNair, V.M.
Dahlgren Missionary Baptist Church
This church was first organized under the name of "United Baptist Church of Little Prairie." The location was about two miles east of the present site of Dahlgren, and the membership consisted of both Missionary Baptist and Primitive Baptist people. They were organized about 1850 (the record is not complete as to the exact date of organization, as they started holding services in the homes of members for three years or so.)
The first written record is one where on December 10, 1853, Thomas Belt and his wife Elizabeth issued a warranty deed for an acre of land to Young S. Lowry, James McKnight and Abel Kuykendall, Trustees of the United Baptist Church of Little Prairie.
The church trustees and the directors of Little Prairie School District together built a log building on the above tract of land, and (this bit of information is again by traditional rather than written records) this building was used for day school, meeting house and church meetings for a number of years. We understand that the Fairfield Baptist Association held its first meeting in 1857.
The L & N Railroad was built through this section of the country 1871-1872, and the original village of Dahlgren was surveyed March 9, 1872.
We find from the record of the church that sometime after the village came into existence that the church location was moved; for we find that on May 9, 1874, at their regular meeting: Moses F. Lowry, Jasper N. Cates and William R. Stull were elected Trustees of "Little Prairie United Baptist Church, located at Dahlgren, Hamilton County, Illinois," and that C. Y. Allen was Moderator.
On May 15, 1874, Abel Kuykendall and his wife Nancy issued a warranty to the trustees above named of the "United Baptist Church" for Lot 13 in Kuykendall's Addition, located at Dahlgren, Illinois, and that the lot was three hundred sixty by one hundred forty feet in size.
The frame church building was erected on this lot and was dedicated in 1875. The first meeting of the Fairfield Association that was held at Dahlgren was the following year, 1876.
In 1878 the Primitive Baptist group withdrew from the United Baptist Church and organized a church of their own, Lowry Hill Primitive Baptist Church, located approximately two and a half miles southwest of Dahlgren. From that time the Dahlgren church was no longer called the United Baptist Church, but was called the Missionary Baptist Church.
Dahlgren Missionary Baptist Church has been host to the Fairfield Association the years of 1894, 1915, 1938, and has held numerous meeting days and revival meetings that will be long remembered by the residents of the area. It has had Bible School ever since the year 1934, when it was under the leadership of Lyman Allen. It was put on a unified budget under Harold Menke. It has Sunday School every Sunday, Young People's meeting and W.M.U. as the occasion arises.
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