The Old Churches
Quad River News--Nov. 20, 1985
By Bill Gladstone


About two weeks ago Lou Goff and Ruth Gladstone changed the display in the case in the courthouse lobby. The theme they used was churches, and they collected several items of historical significance from area churches. It is a tasteful, interesting display and worth your while to see. As I was studying the display, I began to think about the rural churches in Worth County and their disappearance.
The 1902 Atlas of Worth County shows that there were 16 rural churches in Worth County at that time with 10 or them being in Allen and Smith townships. Now, you can take that bit of trivia either of two ways. They just might have needed religion more than the rest of the county or they could have been more religious than the rest of the county.
In Allen Township there were the Union, Freeland, Isabel, New Hope, Rock Creek and Prairie Chapel. The New Hope and the Rock Creek Primitive Baptist are the only two buildings remaining, the rest of them having disappeared many years ago.
In Smith Township was Lott's Grove, Jackson, White Oak and a church which was dismantled and hauled into Iowa and is now the Pleasant Hill Church. A little publication written by the Ringgold Historical Society about the churches in Middlefork Township of Ringgold County states that the church was moved to its present location in September 1918 and that its name had also been Pleasant Hill when it sat in Missouri.
Fletchall Township had the Honey Grove and the Fletchall, and they both are gone.
In Middlefork Township the Fairview Church sat at the cemetery north of Eugene Alderson's home, and the Grand River Church sat near the cemetery which is south of Harold Murdock's home.
The Mr. Vernon Church was in Greene Township, and the Bethel was in Union Township.
No doubt there were some other rural churches which had been built and had disappeared by 1902. We know that a Baptist church had been built in Black's Grove near the Wharton Cemetery and had been dismantled and moved into Grant City in the 1860's. Most likely there were others.
Of all those churches the only two that still have services are the Jackson and Lott's Grove. Sunday School services are held at the Jackson, but Lott's Grove stands alone as the only rural church to still have both Sunday School and preaching services.
The pictures are of the Lott's Grove Church and the Hermix Church, and there is a relationship between the two churches.
In 1894 a group of Baptists and a group of Methodists built the church, and both congregations used the church for several years. Later the Methodists built a church at Hermix, which is a couple of miles on to the east in Harrison County.
For those of you who have an Allendale Centennial Book available, you can notice some interesting differences between the picture in that book and the picture accompanying this column. Originally, the entrance was through double doors in the vestibule, and a large window was were the present entrance is.
It is pure speculation on my part, but probably the change was made because in the inconvenience of handling caskets at funerals. That is the reason a similar change in entrances was made at the Knox Church.
Not only was the entryway changed, but the interior of the church was reoriented. Originally the pulpit was in the west end of the church, but later the pulpit and the seats were turned 180 degrees.
The back of the church faces the road, but it wasn't always that way. When the church was built, the road ran on the west side of both the cemetery and church.
Lott's Grove Cemetery was a burial ground long before the church was built. Before the church was built and named Lott's Grove, the cemetery was called the Butler.
The Allendale Centennial Book states that the first burial there was one Catherine Vassar. I did not find that grave, but I did notice one marker with the date 1856. No doubt that cemetery is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in the county.
Back in the late 1920's and early '30's, when farmers were tough and farming was tougher, there was an old man by the name of Mr. Murdock who worked part time for my father. He was the most patient man I have ever known in my life. There were certain jobs on the farm that my father literally detested doing, and when he would be complaining about them Mr. Murdock would say, "Gilbert, everything earthly has an end."
And so it is with this column. The first Halfway Worth Mentioning column appeared on Aug. 25, 1982. There have been about 60 column since then which entailed hundreds of hours of research and writing. Not one minute of that time do I begrudge, but many times I was frustrated because I could not find out the information I wanted; but it has been a most pleasurable experience.
My thanks goes to all of you who have been so kind and patient to help me with information. But especially I want to thank those of you who expressed your appreciation of the column. Those were the things that really make it worth while.
Most likely, when I run across something interesting about Worth County, I will share it with you.