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Jersey County Page     Jerseyville History
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Jerseyville To-day

Schools and Churches

The early annals of Jersey County and Jerseyville afford meager information concerning the schools and churches of that time. The pioneer “deestrict skule,” built of logs, had a place in the scattered settlements, and in some instances is still standing, the only Alma Mater of numbers of our citizens who have become distinguished. These primitive cradles of learning have for the most part been supplanted by commodious frame buildings with modern conveniences. among the early teachers in Jerseyville were Messrs Samuel CLOUGH, William TRYON, L. S. GURNSEY, George CREGO and Penuel CORBETT. Mr. Corbett was for many years the ruling pedagogue of the place: he was a scholarly man, graduate of Harvard College and classmate of Edward Everett, and was endowed with faculties which especially fitted from for the position. He was a man of strong convictions and great resolutions and numbered among his pupils and students many of the middle aged business men and residents of Jerseyville to-day, among whom we may mention Judge P. D. CHENEY, Horatio WYCKOFF, James CALHOUN, Wallace LIEGH, L. L. KIRBY, Thos. McREYNOLDS, Charley MINER, L. S. HANSELL, Oscar HILL, Amos PERRINGS, John A. SHEPHARD, Charles VanDYKE and others.

Mr. Corbett died in 1878 universally honored and respected by his fellow citizens. In 1849 Miss Virginia A. CORBETT the present wife of Isaac HARBERT Esq. established a select school for young ladies, in the building erected by Miss Mary FARLEY that year and for that purpose and successfully conducted the same several years, until her marriage, when the school in the autumn of 1856 fell into the hands of Mrs. L. M. CUTTING who had but recently arrived from New England. The institution known and remembered as the Jerseyville Young Ladies Seminary was thus started, and with the high aim of imparting to girls and the young women in attendance “advanced and thorough education in the higher English branches, French and Latin languages, vocal and instrumental music, painting and drawing,” Mrs. Cutting had had valuable experience as a teacher in the East and was remarkably well equipped for the work. She called to her assistance teachers of the highest standing and established character, among whom we may mention Misses Kate FOOTE, Harriet M. HENDERSON, Ella V. McGANNON, Maria BLACKBURN, Mary E. ELY, Selina PIERCE, Ada B. JOY, A. BRUMBACH, Julia T. McKNIGHT, Hattie GUNNISON, Belle TUTHILL, and others. These noted teachers held positions at various times during the fifteen years of the school’s existence and the school under the faithful guidance of Mrs. Cutting maintained its high rank of efficiency, and numbers among its Alumnae hundreds of ladies, many of them now wives and mothers living in refined and happy homes in Jersey County and elsewhere. In 1871 the enterprise was abandoned owing to the ill health of Mrs. Cutting who succumbed to the mental and physical stress put upon her during those years of toil, and who has since been and invalid and helpless much of the time. In 1871 it was resolved to build a new district school house in Jerseyville to meet the increasing demand for school facilities. The question was submitted to a vote of the people and the proposition to issue twenty thousand dollar bonds for the erection of the building was carried by a good majority. The bonds were easily negotiated and the building was completed in 1872.

Messrs. H. O. GOODRICH, John CORBETT, and T. J. SELBY were the directors of the district and personally supervised the work of construction and secured for the district an ornamental and well constructed house. In 1873 the first Board of Education was elected under the law requiring such boards in districts of 2,000 and over inhabitants. In 1872-73 Prof. Henry A. ALLEN had charge of the city schools and in 1874 Prof. Joshua PIKE was elected to this position which he has since held, having, during the fifteen years had as his assistants, M. E. ELLENWOOD, J. W. ROBERTS, D. J. MURPHY and Cornelius ROACH. Judicious management has given these schools an enviable reputation and made them second to none in the state; twelve classes have been graduated from the high school and it is a complement to these graduates and the school to state that they are admitted unconditionally to the oldest universities in the land. This year (1889), it was found necessary to increase the seating capacity of the schools and a proposition to issue ten, twenty-year thousand dollar bonds drawing five percent interest with which to construct an annex to the central school building, was submitted to the people, and carried and at this writing the annex is about completed and will be ready for occupancy Oct. 20th. There were some 63 tuition (outside) students last year and this number will be greatly increased the present school year, and we are informed that the revenue from these tuition students will more than pay the salaries of the Superintendent and his assistants. The following is the roster of teachers the present year: Superintendent, Prof. J. Pike; Assistants, J. C. Lebens and Edward Shafer. No. 1, Mrs. H. A. Allen. No. 2, Miss Annie Spencer. No. 3, Miss Nora Carroll. No. 4, Miss Maggie Hand. No. 5, Mrs. M. S. Cox. No. 6, Miss May Van Horne. No. 7, Miss Dora Greathouse. No. 8, Miss A. L. Lynn. No. 9, Miss Francis Hassett. Mr. William Joiner a graduate of Wilberforce University has charge of the colored schools. As stated above the first board of education was elected in 1873 and was as follows: M. E. Bagley, John W. Vinson, Dr. G. S. Miles, Dr. A. K. Van Horne, Herman Roesch and W. H. Edgar. Cuts were drawn for the long and short terms, as under the law two new members were to be elected each year for three years. Messrs Bagley and Edgar drew the long term (3 years) and Messrs Van Horne and Miles the short term (1 year). The succeeding elections to two members each year, up to date were as follows:

Public School

    1874: G. S. Miles and A. K. Van Horne.
    1875: J. W. Vinson and Samuel Bothwell.
    1876: M. E. Bagley and David Houghtlin.
    1877: A. A. Shobe and Morris R. Locke.
    1878: J. Knox Smith and J. W. Vinson.
    1879: D. M. Houghtlin and E. L. H. Barry.
    1880: Benj. Wedding and Geo. W. Herdman.
    1881: R. A. King and J. Vinson.
    1882: D. M. Houghtlin and E. L. H. Barry.
    1883: Benj. Wedding and W. H. Pogue.
    1884: J. W. Vinson and H. Nevius.
    1885: J. S. Daniels and T. S. Chapman.
    1886: Geo. W. Herdman and G. S. Miles.
    1887: Chas. H. Howell and c. DuHadway.
    1888: J. S. Daniels (Pres.) And S. H. Bowman and T. S. Chapman (members).
    1889: Geo. W. Herdman (Pres.) And Elias Cockrell and D. J. Murphy (members).

“You raised these hallowed walls, the desert smiled,
And paradise was opened in the wild.”

The early settlers were not unmindful of their religious obligations and in the absence of church buildings held meetings in private houses. In February 1834 a meeting was held at the house of N. L. ADAMS for the purpose of organizing a church which organization was effected with eighteen original members, Messrs Alexander H. BURRITT, James LUNSDEN and N. M. BOSWORTH being the original Elders. There being a Congregational element in the society, that portion worshiped in the school house located west of Mr. Newton’s residence, while the Presbyterians occupied Mr. KEITH’s shop for about six months. In 1836 steps were taken to build a meeting house but not until 1840 was sufficient funds raised to complete the same and in 1841 it was finished and dedicated. The building was 48 x 48 feet in size and cost about $2,600, and during the pastorate of Rev. Samuel GROSVENOR the building was enlarged and a bell tower was erected and furnished with a bell. During the pastorate of Rev. Jos. S. EDWARDS in 1856 twenty of the leading members withdrew and formed a 2nd Presbyterian church connecting themselves with the Southern General Assembly. After a number of years the Second Presbyterian Church was merged back into the first church, and the property of the second church was finally disposed of. In 1880 the ladies of the congregation took the initiatory steps for building a new church to cost about $15,000, and through their efforts mainly the money was raised and in 1883 the building was completed and dedicated. It is of Gothic structure, built of Grafton stone and is one of the finest church edifices in this part of the state. Rev. Ira C. TYSON is the present pastor and the membership is about 250. The church is supplied with a handsome pipe organ, the munificent gift of Judge P. D. CHENEY, and has all modern conveniences and appliances.

First Presbyterian Church

The first church edifice of the Methodist Episcopal Church was erected during the years from 1843 to 1847 on the lot on the corner of Liberty and Exchange streets, which lot was donated by Major Gershon PATTERSON. The church was dedicated in 1847 by Rev. Peter AKERS D.D. It was a neat frame building 34 x 40 feet and cost about $900. Under the successive ministration in the following years this church greatly prospered until 1868 when the society determined to build a larger and more stately edifice, and in August 1868 the corner stone of the new building planned by Wm. EMBLY was laid and in January 1871 the new house was dedicated, the Rev. Thomas BOWMAN D.D., bishop of the church conducting the exercises. This edifice is 42 x 72 feet in ground area and built of brick, and is a fine specimen of church architecture. During the 32 years since Jerseyville was made a station many strong and devout men have had spiritual charge of this congregation. Rev. John LEEPER is the present pastor and the church has a large and flourishing membership.

It is recorded that the first services ever held by Catholics in Jerseyville were held at the residence of Mr. Wm. SHEPHARD in the fall of 1841, Rev. Father HAMILTON officiating, and after that time services were held in private houses and in the court house. In 1848-49 Wm. SHEPHARD, F. BERTMAN, Wm. KELLY and others purchased from J. A. and J. C. BARR a lot of ground upon which to erect a church, and the building – a small frame one, was dedicated in 1858, though not wholly completed until 1860. During Father SULLIVAN’s ministry, the corner stone of the present stately and commodious edifice was laid (May 1868) but the structure planned by Wm. EMBLY was not finished until July 1871. The building is 55 x 110 feet and is built in the early English style. The height of the tower which occupies the center of the main front is 140 feet from the pavement. The church has sittings on the main floor for 800 persons and 250 in the galleries, and when completed cost $25,000. Rev. Father HARTY succeeded Father Sullivan in 1868 and is the present pastor in charge and the society is a large and flourishing one. It is further recorded that up to 1840 there was neither a church nor a priest between Alton and Terre Haute Ind, where there are now large and flourishing churches.

The German Catholics having withdrawn from St. Francis Church held a meeting in Jerseyville in June 1883 for the purpose of organizing a congregation of that nationality, and in the autumn of 1883 the Second Presbyterian Church then vacant, was purchased for $2,150. The building was remodeled and decorated with excellent taste and upon Thanksgiving day of that year it was dedicated by the Right Rev. P. J. BALTES, bishop of Alton, and the congregation was organized the same day with Rev. F. A. MARKS as pastor who still remains in charge. This building, however was burned on the night of Sept. 19, 1884 incurring a loss of not less than $5,000, including decorations, furniture, etc. A new subscription was at once started and in the year 1885 a new and ornate building occupied the site of the old one. It is built of brick, is 65 x 39 feet, and is highly ornamental, costing about $6,500.

Five persons were confirmed and seventeen baptized in the Episcopal society at Jerseyville in April 1868, the Rev. C. S. ABBOTT of Alton being the rector, and after a varied experience the services during a portion of the time being entirely discontinued, in 1879 during the rectorship of Rev. W. G. VanWINKLE, the congregation sent a petition to the bishop asking to be organized as a mission. This was approved by the bishop and immediately afterward steps were taken toward the erection of a church building. A building committee was appointed and the work was pushed forward as rapidly as possible, and the corner stone fo the new edifice was laid July 22, 1880 with appropriate ceremonies and on the second day of June 1881 the new house was ready for occupancy. It is a neat brick structure with stained windows and handsome furnishing. Rev. F. S. TAYLOR is the present rector and under his ministrations the society has rapidly increased in membership.

First Baptist Church

The first meeting of the Baptist society were held in the old schoolhouse that formerly stood on the MOREAN property on Spruce street and in September 1841 the church was organized with about 30 original members two of whom are now living – Capt. J. E. COOPER and Mrs. Charles JOHNSON. Meetings continued to be held at the court house and elsewhere until 1850 when the building now known as the Cumberland Church was dedicated, the Rev. W. F. BOYAKIN of Jacksonville preaching the sermon. This building after a few years was found to be inadequate for the needs of the society and was sold for $2,000 cash, and steps were taken for the erection of a new and more commodious building, to cost about $20,000, and June 1, 1864 the handsome new structure, corner of Washington and Pearl streets was dedicated, the Rev. J. BULKLEY officiating. In 1882 this house of worship was remodeled and rededicated, the Rev. W. W. BOYD D.D. of St. Louis preaching the dedicatory sermon. Rev. W. H. H. AVERY is the present pastor and the church has a large and flourishing membership of between 400 and 500. Among the former pastors of this church we may mention Revs. E. DODSON, E. J. PALMER, J. TERRY, W. F. BOYAKIN, Justus BULKLEY, L. C. CARR, I. N. HILL, P. P. PERRY, C. R. LATHROP, C. E. TAYLOR, D. HEAGLE and C. H. MOSCRIP.

The German Evangelical Church was organized in 1870 and the same year the society purchased the house of worship of the German Methodist congregation. This building was erected in 1856, is 24 x 36 in area, and though of frame construction is a very substantial and comely structure. The present trustees are Messrs Conrad BORGER, Christian HARMS, Chas. REUTTER, and John FEYERABEND with Chas. Reutter Treasurer and C. Borger Secretary. The present pastor is Rev. Nathaniel LEHMANN. Among the pastors who have served in this church are Revs. Anton Michael WEISSINGER, Fred FRENFELDT, Fred SCHMALE and Fred WURST. The membership numbers about 60.

The Colored Baptists and colored Methodists have flourishing societies at Jerseyville with good houses of worship.

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