THE GROWTH OF THE CAUSE
State Secretary Oregon Christian Missionary Convention
In this chapter we shall attempt to show as completely as possible a roster of all the churches that are now, and have been, in the state. It would be too voluminous to give a detailed history of each congregation even if we had such a record, though some are richly deserving of it. We shall attempt to show as accurately as we can, from the information available, the date of organization and whether it still lives. Bold faced type indicates that the church so designated no longer lives. Occasionally a
brief comment is thrown in.
"On the Yamhill," somewhere in the northern part of Polk county. The exact location is lost to history. Even the name by which it was known, if it had such, is lost. It lives in history only by the phrase, "On the Yamhill." It was organized by Amos Harvey. His donation land claim was in Polk county near the present village of McCoy. This was the FIRST congregation of Christians only in the state of Oregon, and was composed of 13 members. The date was the month of March. Mrs. W. G. Armsworthy, of Wasco, Oregon, is a descendant of Amos Harvey.
"School District No. 1," was thc first Christian Church organized in Yamhill county, according to the testimony of F. M. York, who had it from the lips of one who participated in it, G. L. Rowland. Saturday, August 1, 1846,
is given as the date, Vincent Snelling as the organizer, and the Ruel Olds place as the exact location. "The first man baptized by immersion was in the Yamhill river just below the Andy Hembree place, on Sunday August 2, 1846. Thc man baptized was Wm. Higgins, a son-in-law of V. Snelling."
"On the Clackamas," was a church organized by John Foster. The day and month have not been preserved, hence it is impossible to tell whether it was the second, or third, congregation organized in the state. The exact location is also lost to history, but it was doubtless not far from the present town of Gladstone. The fact of its existence is known, however, and that is the important fact for a history.
"Blackhawk Schoolhouse," six miles northwest of McMinnville, was organized by Aaron Payne. This church was the progenitor of the present McMinnville church, and Mrs. W. L. Warren, who has been a member at McMinnville for many years, is a granddaughter of Aaron Payne.
"Howells Prairie," was the name of a country congregation near Salem. Nothing more is known of it than the fact of its existence.
Damascus, in Clackamas county. This may possibly have been the church organized by John Foster "on the Clackamas" in 1846, but the name of Damascus does not appear until 1848. There is nothing to indicate an identity of the two congregations. The name Damascus appears on the roll of churches as late as 1893.
Luckimute, also in Polk county, was organized by H. M. Waller on the second Sunday in October. We are indebted for the accuracy of these two items to a little blank book once owned by H. M. Waller, in which these two items stand as the sole entry upon its pages. The book is now prized as a keepsake by Mr. and Mrs. E. R. Huston, Heppner, Oregon, to whom we are immediately indebted for the information.
Rickreal, in Polk county, was organized by Glen O. Burnett, on the first Sunday in May. James McBride and H. M. Waller assisted in setting the congregation in order.
No new names appear on the roll this year.
Pleasant Hill, Lane county, is the only name we have found for 1850. It was organized on August 4. Elijah Bristow was the prime mover in its organization. The church is still alive and active and bears the distinction of being the oldest Christian church in the state still existing on its original location. Until the "flu ban" in 1918 this church carried the record of never having missed a communion service since its organization. "This locality is distinguished by having given to Lane county its first dwelling house, first schoolhouse, first church, first cemetery, and the first wedding ceremony."
Bethany, in Marion county, a little way west of Silverton. Its name appears on the record for the last time in 1893. The old building is still standing in a fair state of preservation. It was erected in 1858 and is now the oldest standing Christian church house in the state. It had a long and honorable record as a church.
Roland, about three miles north of Lafayette. This was doubtless either a schoolhouse church, or a farmside congregation. Dr. James McBride was their most frequent minister.
Central, in Linn county, about seven miles east of Albany. This has always been a purely rural church. The church was organized by the Powell brothers and for many years was one of the strong churches of the brotherhood. Its name was not taken off the list until 1925, but for several years previously they had ceased to report and did not hold services of any character. The name was carried on the list for some time in the fond hope that it would "come back." With the advent of the automobile, and the organization of a church at Crabtree close by, there is very little reason for the existence longer of a congregation at Central. Like other institutions, and like human beings, it served its purpose and did it splendidly, and has now passed on to live only in the memories of those who loved the cause.
Sheridan, in Yamhill county. It still lives and prospers. No record is left of its origin but it has made important history during later years.
Hillsboro (Hillsborough), Washington county. The author has reason to believe that the date was actually much earlier than this but this is the first reference to it in the records. The original spelling of the name is given in parenthesis.
Shaddon Schoolhouse, about a mile and a half northwest of McMinnville. This was the Blackhawk church moved to a more convenient location, and it was the immediate progenitor of the McMinnville church.
Bethel, Polk county, near the present town of McCoy. Glen O. Burnett organized the church and named it after old Bethel church in Missouri. For a number of years before its demise it was ministered to by the veteran I. N. Mulkey. Its name appeared on the record last in 1916, but for several years previously its doors had remained closed. It rendered three score years of glorious service to the cause of Christianity and its name will go down in our history as a church that "though dead, yet it speaketh."
Big Muddy, "near to the dividing line between Linn and Lane counties, September, 1854, with 11 members." This is like an epitaph upon a tombstone--just a brief word of existence.
South Fork, location undiscovered. It is mentioned as a church in reports to the Christian-Evangelist for that year. There are many "south forks," "north forks," and "middle forks," in the geography of that day. There is no ear mark by which this particular South Fork is distinguished from all the rest.
Wallace Butte, in Lane county, was organized in the month of June with 14 members. The length of its life is not known.
Aumsville, in Marion county, was organized as the Mill Creek church in 1855. It still lives in name. That veteran disciple, H. C. Porter, has valiantly maintained a Bible school through the years of its existence. The story is told elsewhere in this history of the preacher who advertised that he would preach the funeral of this church; but when he went to perform his task there were not enough present to act as pall bearers, and the burial was indefinitely postponed.
Amity, in Yamhill county. It has maintained an active existence all through the years and still flourishes.
Chehalem, in Yamhill county. A report in the Millennial Harbinger for that year is the evidence of its existence.
Clear Lake, in Lane county, in the month of June, with 14 members.
Coles Valley, in Douglas county, was a small congregation ministered to by E. G. Browning.
Lafayette, in Yamhill county, is another church reported in the Millennial Harbinger for that year.
Looking Glass Prairie, in Douglas county, was organized in June, with 7 members. Mary Preston was a charter member. A church building was erected, which burned down some years later. The congregation ceased then. During recent years a mission point has been maintained there ministered to by preachers in the county.
McMinnville, Yamhill county, comes into being this year under this name. It was the Shaddon schoolhouse congregation that was moved into town; and the Shaddon schoolhouse congregation was the Blackhawk congregation
moved to the Shaddon schoolhouse. So the real birth of the church known since as the McMinnville church was back in 1847 at the Blackhawk schoolhouse. The honor of being the oldest living church in the state lies between McMinnville and Pleasant Hill. If age is to be determined by continuance in a settled location then the honors go to Pleasant Hill; but if age of organization, without regard to location, is the determining factor then McMinnville is the champion by a full three years.
Myrtle Creek, in Douglas county. Reports in the papers indicate the existence of a church there at that early date. However, it died and was later reorganized. The present church carries the date of 1888 as its birthday.
Spring Valley, was located either in Yamhill county or Washington county. A meeting was held there sometime during the year with 16 baptisms and 31 added otherwise. John Murphey, Glen O. Burnett, and James McBride were the evangelistic team.
Dallas, in Polk county. Its early history is not available, but it remains one of our strong churches to this day and has had a glorious ministry.
Monmouth, in Polk county, was organized in July, 1856, by a group of men who had come to Oregon for the express purpose of organizing a Christian College. Monmouth was the location chosen. "According to the first clerk's book, which has been carefully preserved, 35 pioneers met in July, 1856, and organized a 'Christian congregation; the Bible the only infallible rule of faith and practice. ' Among the charter members were Elijah Davidson, John E. Murphy, Albert Lucas, Squire S. Whitman and others.
When the church was organized meetings were held in a little square schoolhouse which stood on the old public square." T. F. Campbell, for many years President of Christian College, was its minister also for many years.
Winchester, in Douglas county, was cared for by S. D. Evans, a "lay preacher."
Abaca, location unknown. Its existence is revealed in thc files of the Christian-Evangelist for that year. Another historian suggests that this is a corrupted spelling (perhaps a typist's error in composing) of the name Abiqua, which appears as a church on the list first in 1891.
Rainier, in Columbia county, was organized by a Brother Huntington. This church was evidently not long lived. Rainier is now a considerable town; it is gratifying to know that the gospel once had root there; we look upon the place with a longing that it may be so again.
Silver Creek, in Marion county, appears in a report to the Christian-Evangelist for October, 1857. Rather reliable information suggests that this was possibly only another name for the old Bethany church.
Salem First, in Marion county. The news reports mention that A. V. McCarty located with this church in that year, so its organization was doubtless earlier, though we have no means of determining just when. It still lives, is one of the influential congregations in the capital city, and one of the stronger churches among Christian Churches in the state.
South Yamhill, in Yamhill county somewhere, as shown by reports in the papers. It was doubtless somewhere on the South Yamhill river.
Scio, in Linn county. It still lives. For a brief period it tried the experiment of federation, which failed as all
such efforts do. They have some souls which are loyal
to the "Plea."
There is no record of churches organized in 1860.
Hebron, in Lane county. Like many other small churches Hebron has had a halting career. Purely rural in its character it has declined and died, again revived, and the process repeated. Its last reorganization was on December 24, 1922, by C. C. Morgan. It still lives and is ministered to regularly by students from Eugene Bible University.
Eugene First, in Lane county, on March 26. It is now the largest and most influential church in the state. It bears the distinction of having the only set of chimes in any church in the state, being installed in 1925 under the leadership of Elijah V. Stivers.
Antioch, definitely appears on the list, but exact location is not known.
Centerville, location unknown. Records of the state meeting at Eola that year bear the names of delegates from Centerville.
Coast Fork, location unknown.
Eola, in Polk county. A state meeting was held there in 1863, which would make it seem certain that the church was organized at an earlier date. There is no means of identifying an exact date so we are placing it in the year when first mentioned. The old building stood until 1924 when it was torn down. A picture was taken of it before razing it and that now hangs upon the wall of the state office. The old pulpit desk was taken out and is preserved as a relic in the tabernacle at Turner.
Farmington, in Washington county. This was one of the strong early day churches. Its name has been off the church roll for many years, but a Sunday school has been maintained there for most of the time. From time to time it has been revived as a preaching point for students of Eugene Bible University.
Harrisburg, in Linn county, was organized on November 7, by John E. Murphy, with 31 members. The old building, erected in 1870, is still standing and giving service. "Official church records were seemingly lost, but when the old seats were torn out, on a board from the back of one of the seats was found the following inscription, written with a carpenter's heavy pencil: 'Began to build this home in June, 1869, finished on the 17th day of March, 1870, and was dedicated on the first Sunday in April, 1870. The builders were Alfred Simmons and John Martin, and others who helped were Willoughby Churchill, Thomas Roach and Mr. Humphreys.'"
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