Pioneer History of Palestine Association of Regular Baptists

By Charles S. Goff, 1913

The first Baptists Who came to this part of the Illinois Territory helped build, and for a while lived in old Fort Lamotte, just southeast of the present site of Palestine, Illinois. This was the first permanent settlement on the east side of the territory and took place in the years 1810-12. Others of that little band of settlers were Methodists, at least their immediate descendants were.

Many of the early settlers on the Indiana side were Baptists, too.

These Baptist pioneers followed the Apostolic custom of organizing a church wherever practicable. Hence at this time there were a few small churches in the Indiana Territory along the Wabash River.

On Friday, July 7, 1809, messengers from five churches met at the "town of Columbia, on Patoka, Knox County, Indiana Territory," for the purpose of organizing the Wabash District Association. It was composed of the following churches originally: Wabash, Bethel, Patoka, Salem, and Marra Creek, all of which were in or around Knox County, Indiana Territory. Two men whose names are dear to Baptists on this side of the Wabash were messengers to this meeting. They were Isaac McCoy, of Wabash church, and Stephen Kennedy, of Patoka church. McCoy afterwards became a missionary to the Indians and Kennedy became one of best pioneer preachers of Palestine Association. The body drafted a constitution and rules of decorum similar to those of Union and Palestine associations at present.

"When the Lamotte church was organized in 1812, it became a member of the "Wabash District Association. This church on the southern edge of Lamotte prairie and Little Village organized near Russelville in 1817, both by members lettered from Marra Creek church, were the only churches in the present limits of the Association at that time. All the Baptist churches on this side of the river belonged to the Wabash District Association prior to its division over the "anti-mission issue" in 1823. Lamotte, Little Village, Livingston, Darwin and Shiloh, near Bridgeport, Lawrence county, were the only Baptist churches in this part of the State prior to the early forties.

In 1819 Daniel Parker began preaching the ''anti-mission" and "two-seed" doctrine in the Wabash District Association. This locality in southeastern Crawford and northeastern Lawrence counties, is the birthplace of this doctrine and Daniel Parker was its progenitor. He was a member of Lamotte church, hence that church bore the brunt of the conflict.

The movement sprang up independently in three different parts of the United States, and it is doubtful if one leader knew of the others. Rev. Daniel Parker preached it in the Lamotte church and Wabash' District Association in 1819, a Rev. Mr. Jones in the Illinois Association near St. Louis in 1824, and the Rev. Joshua Lawrence in the Kehukee Association in North Carolina in 1827. When the Wabash District Association divided over the issue in 1823, seven of its twelve churches organized Union Association, in Indiana, and the other five stayed with the Wabash which remained "anti-mission." Two of this five were Lamotte and Little Village, the others were in Indiana.

Prior to this division the Wabash District Association had been a missionary body. The year that Daniel Parker came from Kentucky here, 1817, it put on record the following statement: This Association has received with pleasure the circular of the Board of Foreign Missions, and is highly pleased with the information derived therefrom." In 1815 it had appointed Rev. Isaac McCoy corresponding secretary, to correspond with the Baptist Board of Foreign Missions. In 1817 he had an appointment of some kind from the board. Daniel Parker became jealous of the influence of McCoy in missionary work, and when the latter began his work among the Indians, Parker, who coveted the appointment, began venting his spleen by opposing missions.

Little Village church, under Daniel Parker's influence, went bodily with the "Parkerites," as the "anti-mission" brethren were called, and in 1827 Lamotte church was divided.

In the fall of 1841 messengers from six Illinois churches met with the missionary Lamotte church and organized the present Palestine Association, Friday, Oct. 15, of that year. It still exists in Crawford and adjoining counties.

Source: Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Volume 6, Number 1, April 1913, Phillip' Bros., Printers, Springfield, Illinois, 1913.

Submitted by: Judy White

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