There is one rural church
in Madison county that probably longer and more continuously associated with
the history of the county than any other. That is the Elm Grove
Methodist church down in the southeast corner of South township.
At this late day, local
historians are fortunate in locating one man, a former resident,
who was associated with that congregation at its very beginning
here. Now living in California, Cal Ogburn, has written a history of that church to be filed in
this county’s historical archives. This story is based upon
The history of the Elm
Grove church starts with the infiltration of the earliest settlers
into that part of the county. As early as 1849, within three years
after the first settler arrived here, an organization of
Methodists had been formed in this part of the county.
It was known as “Allcock’s,” after its most
CHURCH & SCHOOLHOUSE
member, Norval S. Allcock, who then lived where the town of Hanley
is now. Among the
other families making up the congregation were the Rays, the
Ogburns, the Allens, the Grays and the Johnsons.
describes Allcock as follows:
“He had come to Madison
county by way of Missouri, from Virginia in 1847, bringing with him a type of Methodism that was as
inflexible as the famed edicts of the Medes and Per—ans. I have
known many religious controversialists in my life, but never one
who was quite as unyielding as he.”
For several years the services of this congregation were held in
Allcock’s log cabin home. The
organization was included with five others in Madison and Warren
counties and constituted what was known as the Three Rivers
Mission. The Rev.
George W. Teas was the circuit rider in charge.
In the fall
of 1851, Norval Allcock sold his farm at Hanley and purchased
Hiram Hurst’s second homestead in Secs. 20 and 29 of South
township. When he
moved to his new location, which was a mile east of the present
Elm Grove church, he took with him the meeting place of the
Methodist organization, of which he was the most prominent member.
As the county settled up and the congregation grew, the group
started meeting in a little log school house in that vicinity.
original Elm Grove church building was not built until 1866.
Even at that date, its construction must have been at great
sacrifice to the pioneer congregation, for its cost was $1,500,
and that was a great deal of money in a frontier community where
there was very little cash. Furthermore, the tenants of the
Methodist faith required that the building must be three-fourths
paid for before it could be started, and must be completely free
of debt before it could be dedicated. Although the building was
completed in 1866, it was not dedicated until four years later.
the pioneers were in no financial position to build a church in
1866, their hand was practically forced, according to Ogburn, by
the following reasons: “Members in the organization had dropped
off sharply that year, in spite of a lengthily series of revival
meetings. This was partly due to the fact that the little log
school house then being used was entirely inadequate as a meeting
place. It was cold, dreary, and too small. Furthermore it was to
be torn down that summer and replaced with a stone building, of
which the location would make it unfeasible as a meeting place. In
addition, there was the menace of the “Democrat Methodists,”
an organization of which had been made in the neighborhood three
years before, and was growing rapidly.”
original Elm Grove church was built in the spring and summer of
1866, mostly of native material, with the members of the
congregation doing most of the work. The building was of frame,
with native walnut furnishings. Its specifications were 24 by 36
feet, and it was built on a site donated by Barnabus Ray,
grandfather of Cal Ogburn.
later, on June 19, 1870, the edifice was formally dedicated. The pastor at that time was the Rev. E. A. Winning. The
dedication sermon was preached by the Rev. H. H. O’Neal, of
|Taken from an
article published in the Winterset Madisonian, date
by Judy Wight Branson