EARLY DAYS IN MISSOURI
By Judge Joseph T. Thorp.
December 13,1804 to June 14,1890
LETTER No. 10
We will now attempt to give a little sketch of the formation of our religious institutions in early days, and who were first in proclaiming tile way of life to the lost and ruined sons and daughters of Adam. It may be that some may think that a chapter or two on that subject would out of place, but when we examine the precepts of the gospel of Christ as laid down in the book of all books (Bible), We find that it's the most perfect code of morals extant In the world, and I will venture the assertion that the principles there taught have been made the basis of all civilized government. There is no relation in life but what our duty is plainly pointed out-man to his God, man to man, husband to wife. wife to husband, father to child, child to father, brother to sister, sister to brother, and so on through the whole catalogue pertaining to this hate; also Pointing our the degenerate condition of the whole human family, by the violation of the commands of their maker, and subjecting themselves to the penalty that was to follow transgression; also setting Forth the plan that God devised for the recovery. of the transgressor from the awful dilemma he has brought upon himself by transgression. It must be admitted, even the infidel won't deny, that if these precepts were practically carried out it would make better men, women and children, and would raise to a higher state of manhood and civilization, and also make our associations with each other that can't be obtained in any other way. We can't think but what it would be proper to call to our minds some of the old veterans who laid the foundation of religious society as well as civil. In doing so we will let our memory go back to the year 1809 , where we find Elder William T. Thorp - one that advocated the principles of Christianity; Whose love and sympathy for his follow-man and the honor of the cause of God nerved him sufficiently to enable him to go forth publicly to preach Christ, and Him crucified, as the only name given under heaven or among men whereby you must be saved. He was set apart for the ministry in accordance with the usage's of his church Kentucky, and was not unfaithful to his trust, but preached when and where the Lord in His providence cast his lot. For three years he was confined to the Fort and did not preach a great deal, but still the fruits of his labor were manifest by the moral restraint, as well as some professing hope of a free pardon for their sins. Elder David McClain was his associate in the ministry part of the time. He became too much alarmed, and having lost his wife, returned to Kentucky, but came back after the war. It might be truly said of Elder Thorp that he was as one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord-(not in the wilderness of Judge, but in the wilderness the wilderness of Missouri.) His labor was from Fort to Fort, always taking his gun for self protection. At the close of the war emigrants began to come in, and among them some of the old veterans of the cross, to wit: Elders E. Turner, Luke Williams, Wm. Savage, Colen Williams and Anderson Wood. They preached from neighborhood to neighborhood and collected the brethren together and constituted churches. The first church organized was called Mt. Pleasant, close to where New Franklin, in Howard County , now stands, and was organized in 1812 , I believe by Elders Thorp and McClain. They continued their labors , and in the course of two years they had four more churches organized , to-wit; Concord, Salem, Mt. Zion and Bethel, with a membership of about 150 or 160. They were known in those days as Regular Baptists, or Hardshells. These five churches formed themselves into an association, in July 1818, The names of the old pioneers who formed this association are as follows, David McClain, William Thorp, Sam'l Brown, Luke William, William Savage, T. Hare, C.H. McWilliams, J. Crowley, Jos. Litterell, Reuben Gugue, Colden Williams, H. Burnam, Geo. Stapleton, Edward Turner, John Reed, Anderson Woods, and Lazarus Wilcox, (The above is taken from their minutes.) They increased until there were about 21 or 22 churches, with a membership of over 700, with several other ministers, among whom, worthy of notice, were Peter Woods, Kemp Scott, Thomas Fristo, Jr., John London, -- Silckett, P. Stevens, James Barnes, J. Ratlaf, and T. Bowler. I think there were some others, whom I can't call to mind. In all this time the people kept pressing westward, and these old pioneer pilgrims kept pace with the new settlements, bearing the cross, sowing the gospel seed in the morning and not withholding their hand in the evening; not knowing which would prosper, or both be alike good. The Cumberland Presbyterian and Methodist organized congregations (or churches) differed some in their meetings from the Baptists-then held camp meetings. They would select some suitable grove, where they could have water and other conveniences, and would pitch their tents or build huts, and take provisions and cooking utensils and camp on the ground for two or three weeks at a time. Their general rule was to have these camp meetings only once a year, and having no meeting houses, they would hold their meetings from house to house among their brethren. They had but few In the ministry at that date, 1816 to 1819. Among the Presbyterians were Elders ---- (King, Finis, Ewing, Robert Morrow, Daniel Patton, Henry Weaden, Caleb Weaden, Wm. Evans, -- Bentley, J. Faubian, William Redding and J. Gillam. Of Methodist, Elders Law ---Harris and Wm. Ferril. In the year 1820 all the above denominations began to organize churches. Eld. Harris, of the Methodist church, held the first religious service that was he'd in the bounds of the county, in 1820. In a few years they had their camp grounds established. The first one was about two miles east of Liberty, on,-- Jones' place. He was one of the elders in the church , and it was called "Jones' camp ground." The annual meeting s were held there till they went out fashion. They had another in the northeast part of the County, on Jesse Baxter's farm, and he being an Elder, it was called "Baxter's camp ground." And they continued the meeting there till they quit camping out. The Cumberland Presbyterians organized, and from the time we're now speaking of, say from 1820 to 1828. Built up several camp grounds, Elder Henry Weaden and his brother, with their brethren, built one near or on what is now the Winn farm, in the southwest part of the County, which was known as the "Weaden camp ground." Another called "Robertson's cam ground." After our old and honored fellow-citizen, Andrew Robertson, was on his place, about four miles north , a little east , from Liberty. Then came one named after our old and venerable friend, Daniel Patton, one of the upright, honorable and high-minded gentlemen and citizen of our County, who yet lives to bear testimony to the truth of the Gospel of Christ. It was built in the eastern part of the County on his farm 12 or 15 miles from Liberty, and they have built them a church near by and. named it Shady Grove, where they meet to worship the God of Salvation and try to train up, their children in the nurture end admonition of the Lord. Elder William T. Thorp, being among the first to penetrate through the wilderness to the western wilds of Missouri. moreif you want it.
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