Methodist Church, Decatur


The first church erected by the Methodists in Decatur was a frame building 25 by 30 feet in size. It was built in 1834 and was the first Methodist church built in Macon county. At that time the congregation was in charge of Rev. Moses Clampit. The church stood on Church street, between Prairie and Main.


The lot was donated by James Renshaw and a bond given, but the deed was not executed until June 25, 1839, with the following names as the first board of trustees: Buel Stevens, Luther Stevens, James F. Montgomery, William Greenfield, J.M. Fordice, Daniel Stickel and Alonzo Lapham. The church was used several years in an unfinished state, but in 1839, by special effort, the church was finished and seated.

SAW IT IN 1839

N.L. Krone came to Decatur in 1839 with his parents and became a member of that church. He has a very distinct recollection of it. It is believed that no pictures were ever taken of the building principally for the reason that it was torn down before the days of photographers in this part of the country. Mr. Krone says that as he remembers it, the church was built of hewn oak timbers. The frame was put up the same as frame buildings of today, but the timbers were of course heavier.


On the outside were placed what were then called clapboards. The clapboards were made from straight grained wood cut into blocks about four feet long. There were then split as thin as possible and smoothed down with a drawing knife. The boards were about as wide as weather boards now are, and lapped over each other about four inches. The interior of the church was plastered, but the walls were not painted or otherwise decorated.


A small box pulpit was at the east end and stood about four feet above the main floor. The seats were of hewn walnut timers and were arranged on each side with one aisle in the middle. There was no organ and no choir. The minister read two lines of a song and the congregation sang them, then the minister read two more lines, etc. The church was heated by a wood stove and lighted by candles.


Some of the earliest members of the church were the families of John Miller, two Crissey families, one Hill and one Lapham family. During the early days of the church preaching services were held only once every three weeks, then every two weeks, and finally every Sunday. The ministers were all circuit riders, with the exception of Rev. William Crissey.


The ministers who had regular charge were as follows:

    Moses Clampit, 1834-35
    S.P. Burr, 1835
    Richard Bird and Moses Wood, 1836
    Levi Springer, 1837
    David Coulson, 1838
    Elijah Knox, 1839
    Arthur Bradshaw, 1840
    Norman Allin, 1841
    W.S. Crissey, 1842
    John Mathers, 1843
    Michael Shunk, 1844
    Richard Bird, 1845-46
    Calvin W. Lewis, 1847-48
    Joel Goodrich and Reuben Andrus, 1849
    Thomas A. Eaton, 1850
    James C. Rucker, 1851-52
    S.T. Sterrett and D. Bardick, 1853


The church was sold, torn down, and it is believed was moved into the country, in the early 50s, probably in 1852. But for five or six years previous to that it was used by General E.A. Smith, a carriage maker, as a store house for carriages. The only other church standing in Decautur in 1839, when Mr. Krone came here, was a Christian church, which stood, according to the memory of one old citizen, about where Powers' opera house is now.

The Daily Review (Decatur), 25 Sep 1904


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