A History of
Blooming Grove Missionary Baptist Church
Hamilton County, Illinois
1850-1975 by Mildred Rawls Neal
(Written in 1975 for the 125th Anniversary)
Blooming Grove Missionary Baptist Church is located two miles north and one mile west of McLeansboro, Illinois between U.S. 460  and Route 242 on a hill overlooking tbe surrounding countryside.
After spending some time a few years ago reading the minutes of Blooming Grwe Church, notes were taken as it was a slow process reading the handwriting which had microfilmed in order to preserve the original. It now seems that a look back might be in order. The church has been in continuous operation for one hundred and twenty-five years
Dates can be very dry, but let us remember that the church began approximately ten years before the Civil War. The first building of logs was erected soon after. The second building, the first white frame building, was constructed in 1867 or soon after the close of the Civil War The third building which burned only four years ago on January 17, 1971, was dedicated in 1905 soon after the turn of the century. The present brick building was finished later in the year of 1971 and dedicated September 12, 1971.
Ten Mile founded in 1820, and the oldest church in Hamilton County, gave permission for some members to constitute an independent body which became Blooming Grove
No picture was found of the log church which was the oldest or of the schoohouse; in which the first meetings were held and presumably that of the first three years. John Mitchell was said to have taken the picture of the first frame house.
Rev. John B. Maulding, former pastor wrote and read a history of the church for the centennial celebration in 1950. In it he tells the story told him by our mutual grandfather Presley Maulding, of the naming of the church and another on settling some disturbance difficulties and is quoted verbatim from his paper.
Since this is a history, an effort is made to use names of the departed rather living.
-Mildred Rawls Neal
State of Illinois, Hamilton County, April 19, 1850. On Saturday before the Third Lord's Day in April, 1850, after worship, the brethren of the name of Ten Mile sat in council at the school house near Anderson Daily's whereas we have received a grant from Ten Mile Church in order that we may be constituted an independent body. On motion proceeded to call a presbytery to wit: Elders R. Lee, C. P. Pitmann, R. Shirley.
May meeting 1850, Blooming Grove, Hamilton County, Illinois. This will certify to whom it may concern that on the 19th day of May in the year of Our Lord One Thousand Eight Hundred and Fifty, the undersigned presbytery attended at Blooming Grove, County and State aforesaid. Whereupon the brethren and sisters whose names are hereunto annexed below presented themselves for constitution and after examination were pronounced orthodox according to the faith and order of the United Baptist denomination and the presbytery extended the right hand of fellowship and recommended the church to God in prayer. Elder R. Lee, Elder C. P. Pitman, Russell Shirley. Clerk J. T. Ingram.
1.Job Standerfer12.Tabithia Bond
2.Anderson Daily13.Mary Standerfer
3.Lofton Echols14.Delilah Echols
4.William Reeder15.Sarah A. Reeder
5.Joshua Haile16.Nancy J.Haile
6.John C. Compton17.Larkin Brumley
7.John Standerfer18.Susan Daily
8.John W. Daily19.Mary A. Daily
9.Lev! Daily20.Phoebe Brumley
10.Louis Daily21. Mary Brumley
11.Joseph M. Haile22. Elizabeth Compton
The church met on Saturday preceding the third Lord's Day in June 1850, and elect Brother Job Standerfer and Brother Joshua Haile as candidates for deacons. They also elected Elder C. P. Pitman to be their pastor, but after being visited by the committee, Bro. Pitman said he could not serve the church that year. They elected Eld. R. Shirley who became the first pastor of the church. They also elected Lofton Echols the first church clerk
At this meeting also they adopted certain rules of decorum (business). They further adopt an "Abstract of Principles (belief)."
Rev. John Bailey Maulding tells these next two stories in his history and after reading the we can guess where the family got the name Bailey for him.
The ground for the cemetery and the first church was donatated by Tabithia Bond from the estate of her husband Mastin Bond. These are the same Bonds who had the buhr incorporated in the bell tower. The first church was erected in the old cemetery. I am indebted to my grandfather for the following story. He was a chairman of the building committee. The church was built of logs and had a clapboard roof. He went to McLeansboro to secure nails for the roof from a hardware man by the name of Bailey. Mr. Bailey offered to furnish the nails provided he be permitted to name the church. This was agreed to and he named it after his home community in Kentucky, Blooming Grove."
"The question of order was a problem in the early church, and at one time when disturbances were being made around the windows of the church and when anyone went outside the disturbers immediately hid in the woods. The church voted to stop it and appointed my grandfather Presley Maulding and John W. Echols to break it up. They decided to each get a good hickory, roast it in the fire, and hide near the windows. Each grabbed one by the collar and gave him a sound whipping. There was no more trouble."
The church agreed that a school be taught in the first building but no further mention of it was found in church minutes.
Collections were often less than $1.00. In 1856 Raby Daily, first sexton received $1.00 per year for keeping the house and fires. In 1856 there was 22 1/2 cents in the church treasury
A committee on discipline was very active in the early church. Members were excluded for failure in attendance, intoxication, heresy, immoral and unchristian conduct, being destitute of religion, and other causes. They were often reinstated. In 1874 the church agreed to withdraw sending a committee and talk privately with members. In 1869 a man was excluded for trading off another man's horse and not returning the property. Dancing, horseracing and horsetrading on Sunday as well as ball games on Sunday were offenses for exclusion or discussion as late as 1916.
Church was on the third Lord's Day of the month with business meetings on the preceding Saturday at 12 o'clock in the beginning. A later hour was eventually chosen on Saturday afternoon and continued for 68 years or until changed to Saturday night in 1918. In 1943 Saturday meetings were discontinued and business meetings began on Wednesday.
The church has continued to use the third Sunday of the month throughout its history. In 1944 the first Sunday was added for preaching and in 1961 full time services began.
A Sabbath School was added to the church in 1869. It has been continued.
An organ was admitted in 1892. Previously there had been much "harmony" or usually called "old-fashioned singing" which did not use an instrument and seemed to be in a minor key.
In 1867, the church agreed to build a new church building. The committee appointed was Lofton Echols, J. C. Compton, John W. Daily and subscription committee: Presley Maulding, Job Standerfer, James Trotter. This was the first frame building. It faced the north and stood near the front of the old cemetery.
In 1860 an association was held at Blooming Grove. In 1892 John D. Hooker and Henry Cravens were sent as messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention.
Other Baptist churches mentioned in the early minutes included: McLeansboro, Sugar Camp, Knights Prairie, Antioch and Texas Grove which was located on the present Rout 460 [142 in 2000] between the curve and road to Blooming Grove. It was later moved an renamed Delafield.
W. M. Maulding served the church as clerk most of the early years.
Two Cals were often mentioned by older people as early pastors. Rev. Cal Allen was the last pastor of the log church and later in the first frame church at two different times as well 2 holding very successful revivals. Rev. Calvin Richardson was the last pastor of the same church and the one which burned was begun.
Signals for Bell Tolling for Funerals - 1902
The bell was tolled an hour before funerals—not too hard, not too fast. For a child in infancy to 10 years it tolled three times. For 10 years to 20 years it tolled five times. For a person 20 to 40 years it tolled seven times. For one 40 on it was tolled 10 times. The bell was never to be tolled unless someone was dead or something wrong.
The buhr or burr (spelled both ways by Webster) [a hard siliceous rock used to make grinding stones] now incorporated in the bell tower has been the subject of much interest, is said to have been in the grist mill of Mastin Bond, pioneer settler, originally and waslocated east of the church. It became a part of the first frame church. It was razed after th newer building was finished and the parts purchased by J. D. Hooker, W. C. Daily and George Rawls. The amounts paid are told in minutes. The buhr lay in the latter's feedlot until sometime in the 40s when before his passing his son James Rawls brought it back to to church yard where kids had fun jumping from it. Mastin Bond's will mentions a grist-mil His daughter Delilah married Lofton Echols and Susan married Anderson Daily. They with Tabithia Bond were charter members of the church. We can use our imagination and see how the buhr came to be used in the building.
In April 1904, a committee was appointed to recommend whether the church would repair ( build. The committee was: J. W. Echols, George Rawls, A.C. Tedford, Will Henson, J.T Daily, and added in May were W.C., Daily Wm Compton and Shelby Echols.
They recommended and the church agreed to build.
Plans were begun for a new building 32' by 52' located 50' west and as far north as the committee sees or thinks best. The old meeting house and such things as could not be used in the new house were to be disposed of.
The impressive white frame house with large gothic windows, vaulted ceiling and steeple was dedicated in August 1905. Committee for the arrangements was Joe Daily, Douglas Daily, and George Mitchell. The debt of the building was paid in less than a year. In 1915 a gas lighting system was added and a coal house built. In 1950 a basement and furnace were added. Electricity became available and was installed about this time.
In 1960 an Educational Building Annex to the north was dedicated. It contained several classrooms. Also in the sixties several other improvements were made: New hardwood floors, replaster the ceiling and install central air conditioning. Gifts of $1,000 each from J. E. Rawls and Edith Lev did most of the last two. A baptistry was installed and a painting behind it. The first bus was purchased in 1958.
This building which had been Blooming Grove for 66 years burned on Saturday evening, Jan. 16, 1971. After thinking the fire under control the flames burst anew in the dry wood of the old building loft and it was a complete loss. Sorrowing onlookers said the bell tolled as it fell from the burning belfry. It is now in the bell tower as is the one from Belle City and the afore mentioned buhr.
For the first time since the church began, there was no meeting place on the hill. Services were conducted the next day which was Sunday and for the next three months in the Senior Citizen's Building near the High School in McLeansboro.
Plans were immediately begun to rebuild and a contractor engaged, but when it was found that he could not construct the building for some time he released them from the contract. Among the members were a retired contractor, an electrician, a heating and cooling specialist, several who did carpentry work, earth-moving machinery and many willing and industrious workers wherever needed. A brick-layer was engaged. The spirit of cooperation was wonderful. The ladies served from a trailer brought to the grounds by one known for his innovations.
As a result, the east wing or Educational Building was ready for Easter services on April 11, 1971. The treasurer of building funds, Cecil Myers passed on suddenly the same month and his funeral was conducted there.
The sanctuary was finished and the building dedicated on Sept. 12, 1971. It is an inverted L-shaped brick veneer, a few feet west and to the north of the one which burned. The sanctuary is on the west and faces the south. The east wing contains an auditorium and reception area, several classrooms, restrooms, well equipped kitchen and a nursery on a higher level. A new wing of classrooms were added in 1978.
Several gifts include: the painting behind the baptistry by Don Ross of SIU and given by the Terry Sneed Family, the organ replacing a smaller electric one was a fift of Dr. and Mrs. Donald E. Mitchell in memory of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Mitchell and Herman Cullins. A clock in memory of Cecil Myers and Wilburn Cullins and a framed church covenant were given by their wives. A painting of the church which burned was done and given by Ava Ingram and another by a friend and given by Edith Lev. The gifts of time, money, love and prayers cannot be all told.
At present  the Sunday School is having its best attendance on record, we believe with over 100 each Sunday. Within the past few months a hard-top road has replaced the gravel one from Route #142  to Route #460  past the church. The bus is used each Sunday.
Church expenditures the past years have been several thousands of dollars, reflecting the economy of the times. Quite different from the early collectionf of the $1.00 more or less and the 22 1/2cents in the treasury in 1856.
May there be continued growth for another 125 years!
The first building was a log building built in 1853. A picture of this building is not available.
The first frame building which followed the schoolhouse which apparently served for the first three years and the log house erected in 1853 was erected soon after the close of the Civil War and was located near the front of the old cemetery. It faced the north. The buhr was used in this building. Located near the front of the old cemetery it served from 1867 to 1905.
The second frame building 1905-1971 was Blooming Grove Church for nearly 66 years or until destroyed by fire on Jan. 16, 1971. It was 50 feet west of the previous building and a few feet north. An Educational Annex was added to the rear and dedicated in 1960.
The fourth building of the Blooming Grove Missionary Baptist Church was dedicated in September 1971. Easter services were conducted in April of that year in the east wing. The sanctuary is on the west and faces south. The east wing contains an auditorium and reception area, several classrooms, restrooms, well equipped kitchen and a nursery on a higher level.
The get-togethers and good times our young peoples group had at each others houses included those from the Tolley, Williams, Cullins, Myers, Rawls, Gibbs, Hayter, Sneed, Compton, Henson, Bolerjack, Cocke, Huffstutler and several Mitchell families. Most of these are now scattered to other locations due to economical reasons. Several have passed on.
The oldest part of the cemetery is the third row from the front eastward in the middle part between the cemetery road and the ravine. This can be determined by the type of stones and dates on them. The first church, the log one, is said to have been in this area.
In 1905 a row of lots on the west was laid off and in 1906 another row to the west of that. This was after the removal of the first frame church. The graveyard was then fenced.
In 1916 P/2 acres as far south as the Holland cemetery was purchased from D. W. Daily. This includes all south of the cemetery road. In 1916 the trustees were to take the matter of the Holland Cemetery and report. It was started by Berryman Holland as a family cemetery on his farm.
In 1958 after the road was changed and cut across the church yard, a triangular piece of land cut from the Willie Echols farm was purchased by J. E. Rawls and given to the church for a cemetery addition. This is the newer north part.
A church bell was purchased in 1900 and it was placed on top the north end of the 1867 structure. A bell was given to the church in 1971 by Marie Cullins which was in a previous Blooming Grove Church structure and also in the Elm Grove School building. The church had purchased a bell from the Methodist Church in Belle City in 1971 at a cost of $50.00, but it was decided that this bell would be to heavey to be put in the church belfry. Therefore, the bell from Mrs. Cullins was installed in the belfry and a tower was built as a historical marker to hold the bell from Belle City as well as the bell which was burned in the old Church. Also included was the old mill stone from Mastin Bond's mill which served as a step in the first church.
Ebington Daily 1873Cyrus Maulding 1919
Henry Cravens 1873Ed Cravens
John D. Hooker 1880Russell Henson 1922
Leonard Bond 1881 &nbs