1879 History of Menard & Mason Counties
Published by: O.L. Baskin & Co., Historical Publishers
186 Dearborn Street

Mason County

Religious, Benevolent, Educational
Page 524

The religious history of Havana dates back almost to its first settlement. The itinerant preachers of the Methodist Church, those pioneer soldiers of the Cross, who are always to be found on the verge of civilization, were here at an early day. Rev. Michael Shunk, whose name appears so often in the early history of Methodism is this section of the State, was, perhaps, the first regular preacher in Havana City or township. The following extract from the minutes of the Illinois Annual Conference, seems to us appropriate in this connection: "Brother Shunk was born at Berlin, Somerset Co., Penn., April 22, 1809; was converted at Masontown, Penn., in 1829; received into the Illinois Conference in 1837. * * * Brother Shunk was ordained Deacon in 1839, and Elder in 1841, by Bishop Morris. He was a pattern to all in his characteristic promptness to meet all his engagements. No condition of weather or roads kept him from his appointments. He was Scriptural and earnest in his preaching, and a faithful Pastor, taking special pains to care for the children, both in the family and Sunday School. He was deeply interested in Methodist literature, circulating periodicals and books largely among his people, being himself a subscriber for the New York Advocate from its first issue."

Reliable data as to the original organization of the Methodist Church in the city of Havana, are somewhat meager. The minutes of the Conference from which we have quoted above, note the fact that Mr. Shunk had charge of the Crane Creek Circuit in 1838, which then embraced not only Havana Township, but a larger scope of country than the present county of Mason. It also shows him in charge of Havana in 1846. The first church of the Methodist denomination, however, was built in the city about 1845-46, and was the first church edifice within its limits. The society was organized some time prior to the erection of the building, but particulars of its exact date appear unattainable. This building served as a temple of worship until 1865, when the present elegant building was erected at a cost of about $12,000. Upon the erection of the new church, the old one was sold to Dr. Paul, who used the lumber himself, but sold the frame to a man living in the eastern part of the county for a barn. This man died before putting it to that use. Re. George m. Fortune is the present Pastor of the Church, which has about one hundred members. The Sunday school was one of the first organized in Havana, and has an average attendance of one hundred and fifty children under the superintendence of Charles L. Harpham.

The following sketch of the Reformed Church is by the Pastor, Rev. George Seibert, and is so well written that we deem no apology necessary for giving it in his own words: "The history of the Reformed Church carries us back to the early settlement of this country for, as early as 1630, adventurers emigrated to this country under the immediate patronage of the Dutch West India Company, which had, in 1623, commenced operations, and, in 1626, set up the ensign of authority by erecting a fort at the confluence of the North and East Rivers. The Puritans were driven to seek a home in this country by persecution. The Hollanders came from a love of enterprise, and though there was every temptation to leave their religion behind in the pursuit of wealth, we find that they did not forget the intellectual and moral necessities of their nature, paying early attention to the culture of their children, and the public worship of God, by making ample provisions for both in the organization of churches and schools, modeled after those of the Netherlands.

'The subject of a church organization here in connection with the Reformed denomination was under consideration as early as 1859. The Rev. Van Derveer of the Reformed Church came to Havana under the auspices of the Board of Domestic Missions, in August, 1859, and preached in Andrus' Hall to good congregations for several months. He organized what is known as the 'Old Union Sabbath School.' After Mr. Van Derveer left, Rev. Mr. Joralmon came and preached for a short time. In 1865, the Rev. Mr. Williamson came and organized what is known as the Reformed Church of Havana. At a meeting held Tuesday evening, October 31, 1865, in Andrus' Hall, for the purpose of forming a church, Rev. Uriah D. Gulick, by direction of the Classis of Illinois, presided, and proceeded to examine candidates for church fellowship. The following persons were received by certificate: Dr. Thomas M. Higgins and Clara Strong, his wife; Harriet Russell, wife of William Caldwell; Robert L. Durdy and Angeline, his wife, and Rebecca L. Rahauser, wife of Joseph Cochrane. On confession of faith: Isabella Trent, wife of Robert S. Moore; Benjamin H. Otis and Anna Mann, his wife, and Joseph Cochrane. In the summer of 1870, the corner-stone of the present edifice was laid under the direction of the Pastor, Rev. Mr. Decker. The church was dedicated in January, 1871, with proper ceremonies. The building cost $5,575.25, of which $3,575.25 was raised East, and $2,000in Havana. The church is an ornament to the city, and a credit to the architect and builder. The present Pastor, Rev. George Seibert, came in March, 1873. The Church has received since its organization in 1865, seventy-four members, of whom about thirty-nine remain in communion. The Sabbath school was organized in May 1869, and has been actively engaged in its legitimate work without interruption up to the present time. It has an average attendance of 100 scholars. The Church has been the home of many who came from other parts of the country, having in its membership representatives from nearly all denominations, and is noted for its adherence to the teachings of the Divine Word, and Zealous in every good word and work."

The Baptist Church was organized in Havana July 14, 1849, with the following original members: Henry Humphrey, S. G. Baldwin, Elizabeth Baldwin, Joseph Brown, Lydia Brown, Andrew Britton, Eunice Britton, Anna and Eliza Howell. The first preacher was that veteran and pioneer Baptist minister of Central Illinois, Rev. J. L. Turner. The church, a frame edifice, was built in 1866, at a cost of $4,000, and is without a regular preacher at present. The Church membership is sixty-three. The Sunday school was organized December 2, 1866, and has at present an average attendance of about one hundred and twenty children, under the superintendence of John W. Jones. The different Pastors who have had charge of the Church since its organization are as follows: Revs. J. L. Turner, J. H. Daniels, F. W. Ingmire, M. P. Hartly, J. M. Wells, J. M. Winn, J. L. Irwin, Sr., C. E. Bristol, R. B. Coon Sr., and Homer E. Morton.

The German Evangelical Lutheran Church (this sketch was prepared by the Pastor, Rev. J. Heiniger) was organized on the 27th of January, 1850, by the Revs. Jacob Schaerer and William Bauermeister, according to the rules and regulations of the Evangelical Lutheran General Synod, of which they were members. Before the organization of this Church, the Germans in and around Havana were visited by an old minister named Bartels, who preached now and then at their residences. The original members of the Church were J. H. Dierker, Fr. Weber, John Peter Kingshaus, H. Beselbeke, Fr. Speckmann, John Kohrmann, J. W. Holzgraefe, G. Wueste, N. and D. Vortmann, Jacob Nies, John Dierker, G. Himmel, I. Himmel, Israel Drone, Simon Frankenfield, Herman Tegedes and John Somenmeier. On the 2nd of December, 1850, the congregation resolved to build a church edifice, and, accordingly, a petition was circulated by the first Board of Trustees, viz.: J. H. Dierker, I. Himmel, G. Himmel, Fred Speckmann and William Holzgraefe, stating that they had secured a lot from Lewis Ross for the sum of $60-whereupon he and Mr. Walker had presented them with $55, Ross having given $30 and Walker $25, and that the remaining $5 had been paid by the said Board. The building was commenced April 14, 1851, and finished and formally dedicated June 1, 1851. The following are the Pastors since organization; Revs. Kobmann, 1850-52; Hunderdose, 1852-53; P. S. Staiger, 1854-57. During a brief vacancy occurring at this time, the congregation was administered to by Revs. G. Grau, of Beardstown, and Reis, from Arenzville, when Rev. A. Tismer came, on the 1st of May, 1859, and remained until 1862; Peter Daniel, 1862-64; A. Recker, 1864-72 (during his administration, the church building was repaired and a vestibule and steeple added, also a little schoolhouse adjoined to the parsonage in 1867). A Sunday school was organized in 1868. Rev. G. Gerken, 1872-78, and Rev. Johannes Heiniger from 18th of August, 1878, to the present time. A change in the Synodical Convention took place in 1867. The Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Illinois was separated into two parts, one part saccepting the name Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Illinois and other States, and the other the Evangelical Lutheran Central Illinois Synod. Rev. A. Recker and this Church joined the former. This change required a re-organization of this Church, which was accomplished by Rev. G. Gergen. A new constitution was adopted March 16, 1873, and signed by the following: J. H. Dierker, Henry Emme, Herman Uthmueller, Henry Hackmann, Louis Telle, Charles Telle, Robert Becker, Andrew Dehm, Leonard Dehm, George Dehm, J. C. Dehm, Fred Dehm, Louis Emme, Henry Hahn, Henry L. Hahn, Louis Hahn, Philip Rubenkonig, William Uthmueller, H. G. Lienisch, Ernst Behre, Leonhardt Schwenk, Peter Meireis, William Wepener, Bernhard Wittwer, J. H. A. Laumeier, Henry Buhrmann and Herman Hackmann. Improvements have been made in the schoolhouse, as well as around the church edifice, and a new organ purchased. There are at present about one hundred and fifty communicants, sixty to one hundred Sunday-school and forty to fifty day-school scholars.

St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church was built about the close of the war. Prior to this, the few scattering families in and around Havana were occasionally administered to by visiting priests from Pekin and Peoria. About the time of the building of the church, a mission society was formed, which was attended once a month by a regular pastor until the beginning of 1878, when, under the administration of Father Ruby, the present neat little parsonage was erected adjacent to the chapel. Father Ruby was succeeded in the pastorate by Father Devine, whose sad and untimely death by drowning is still fresh in the memory of our readers. After the death of Father Devine, which occurred in the early part of the present summer, Father Henry Delbaere was called to the charge, and, at the present writing, is the Pastor. Every alternate Sunday, he administers to the society at Manito. This Church has a membership of about forty families, and a flourishing Sunday school.

Havana Lodge, No. 88, A., F. & A. M., was chartered October 8, 1850, and the following were the original members: George Wright, George R. Wilson, Moses Baldwin, Robert McReynolds, Robly Patterson, Gustavus Vigrus and Mahlon G. Carter, of whom George Wright was Master, George R. Wilson, Senior Warden, and Moses Baldwin, Junior Warden. The charter was signed by Most Worshipful W. C. Hobbs, Grand Master, and W. B. Warren, Grand Secretary. Old Time Lodge, No. 629, was formed by M. W. G. Reynolds, Grand Master, and O. H. Miner, Grand Secretary, by members from Havana Lodge, No. 88, as follows: L. M. Hillyer, Elijah Snyder, G. A. Blanchard, J. F. Coppel, C. W. Emmett, W. S. Dray, Anson Low, J. klB. Jimerson, kC. C. Fager, N. Gary, H. Middlecamp, F. Pollitz, J. I. Tinkham, George Weiner, H. R. Cleaver, H. A. Fager, J. W. Lyke, J. L. Walker, W. H. Webb and O. H. Wright. The first eight names, in the order mentioned, comprised the first set of officers. On the 14th of February, 1877, Havana Lodge, No. 88, and Old Time Lodge, No. 629, were consolidated under a charter issued by Most Worshipful Joseph Robbins, Grand Master, and countersigned by Right Worshipful John F. Burrell, Grand Secretary, as Havana Lodge, No. 88, A., F. & A. M. It was formally organized and set to work by Right Worshipful Luther Dearborn, as proxy of the Grand Master. The following were the first officers under consolidation: H. W. Lindley, Master; E. A. Wallace, Senior Warden; L. R. Haack, Junior Warden; Charles Schill, Treasurer; L. W. Ross, Secretary; S. F. Kyle, Senior Deacon; H. R. Nortrup, Junior Deacon, and William Davies, Tiler. The present officers are: H. W. Lindley, Master; Daniel Brown, Senior Warden; George McHose, Junior Warden; Charles Schill, Treasurer; O. H. Harpham, Secretary; L. R. Haack, Senior Deacon; B. P. Yates, Junior Deacon, and William Davies, Tiler. As a coincidence with the number (88) of the Lodge, its membership at present is also eighty-eight.

Havana Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was organized under dispensation August 3, 1865, by Most Excellent W. M. Egan, Grand High Priest, and, in October following, it was chartered as Havana Chapter No. 86, with the following members: L. M. Hillyer, M. E. High Priest; G. R. Wilson, E. King; A. Briggs, E. Scribe; C. W. Emmett, Captain of the Host; J. F. Coppel, Principal Sojourner; E. Snyder, Royal Arch Captain; G. A. Blanchard, H. A. Fager and E. B. Laughtron, Masters of the Veils; S. Frankenfeld, Treasurer; L. Zolman, Secretary; Isaac L. Tinkham, Tiler, and N. Gary, W. H. Webb, J. M. Shook and A. T. Beck. The present membership is fifty-one, with the following "companions" in office: O. H. Harpham, M. E. High Priest; L. R. Haack, E. King; George H. Sanford, E. Scribe; A. T. Beck, Captain of the Host; E. A. Wallace, Principal Sojourner; Daniel Brown, Royal Arch Captain; H. A. Fager, Treasurer; H. W. Lindley, Secretary, and William Davies, Tiler.

Havana Council, No. 40, Royal and Select Masters, was organized under dispensation December 12, 1867, with the following members: J. F. Coppel, T. L. G. M.; C. W. Emmett, Deputy; HH. R. Cleaver, P. C. W.; W. S. Dray, Captain of the Guard; J. W. Lyke, Treasurer; H. W. Lindley, Recorder, and W. H. Webb, E. B. Laughton, J. W. Kelley and J. L. Irwin. It was chartered at the meeting of the Grand Council in October, 1868. Council and Chapter Masonry were consolidated by their respective Grand Bodies in October, 1877.

Damascus Commandery, No. 42, Knights Templar, stationed at Havana, was organized under dispensation February 10, 1872. The following were the original members: Eminent Sir Luther Dearborn, Commander; Sir Lewis Keyon, Generalissimo: Sir J. F. Coppel, Captain General; Sir L. M. Hillyer, Prelate; Sir C. W. Emmett, Senior Warden; Sir H. G. Belke, Junior Warden; Sir H. A. Fager, Treasurer; Sir Charles Doering, Recorder; Sir I. J. Fasen, Standard Bearer; Sir P. S. Anno, Sword Bearer, and Sir O. H. Harpham, Warder. The dispensation was issued by Right Eminent Sir W. M. Egan, Grand Commander of the State, and at the meeting of the Grand Commandery is the following October, it was chartered under the above number and title. At the last annual report the roster showed thirty-two members, with Eminent Sir O. H. Harphamn, Commander; Sir L. R. Haack, Generalissimo; Sir E. A. Wallace, Captain General; Rev. Sir G. M. Fortune, Prelate; Sir N. Siebenaler, Senior Warden; Sir Charles Schill, Junior Warden; Sir H. A. Fager, Treasurer; Sir Charles Doering, Recorder; Sir William Davies, Standard Bearer; Sir O. H. Shearer, Sword Bearer; Sir W. H. Lindley, Warder, and Sir Isaac N. Mitchell, Captain of the Guards.

The Masonic Fraternity, in company with Anson Low, are at present engaged in the erection of a large and commodious brick building on Main street, the first story belonging to Low and the upper part to the fraternity. The building is 37 x 76 feet; the main hall of the Masons will be 30 x 60 feet, with all the necessary anterooms, offices, etc. The Masonic portion, when finished off ready for occupancy, will cost about $3,000, and will be used by the Blue Lodge, Chapter and Commandery in common. The building will be an excellent one, and an ornament to the city, while at the same time it gives to the Masonic fraternity a beautiful home.

Mason Lodge, No. 143, I. O. O. F., was instituted April 4, 1854, by Thomas J. Burns, D. D. G. M. The charter members were as follows: Edwin Rutledge, David Corey, Hugh Lamaster, John Hair and D. J. Waggoner. The charter was signed by William Rounsaville, Grand Master, and S. A. Cornean, Grand Secretary. The first officers elected were Edwin Rutledge, Noble Grand; David Corey, Vice Grand; N. J. Rockwell, Treasurer, and M. Dearborn, Secretary. The membership at present is fifty, with the following officers: Thomas B. Kettell, N. G.; William Rodecker, V. G.; L. R. Haack, Treasurer; Thomas Covington, Secretary; John S. Kirk, Con.; S. A. Murdock, Warden; A. H. Jones, I. G.; P. B. Geary, O. G.; A. T. Beck, R. S. N. G.; F. S. Coggeshall, L. S. N. G.; Thomas Sea, R. S. V. G.; George Schemerhorn, L. S. V. G.; George Geary, R. S. S.; W. P. Sigerson, L. S. S.; L. R. Haack, Representative to Grand Lodge.

State Encampment, No. 34, I. O. O. F., was instituted May 1, 1856, by John W. Shinn, D. D. G. P., with the following charter members: L. F. Ross, D. J. Waggoner, R. S. Moore, J. C. Kemp, James Boggs, C. W. Emmett, R. R. Simmons and John Covington. The charter was signed by Horace G. Anderson, M. W. G. P., and Samuel Willard, Gr. Scribe. The first officers were L. F. Ross, C. P.; R. S. Moore, H. P.; James Boggs, S. W.; C. R. Emmett, G.; D. C. Metzgar, S.; J. L. Rochester 1st W.; John S. Kirk, 2d W.; J. W. Boggs, 3d W.; P. B. Geary, 4th W.; S. D. Riggs, 1st G. of T.; J. Dunbar, 2d G. of T.; L. R. Haack, Representative to Grand Encampment.

Havana Lodge, No. 743, Knights of Honor, was instituted September 17, 1877. The following are the present officers: L. Aubere, Dictator; I. S. Kirk, Vice Dictator; H. Herback, Assistant Dictator; Thomas Covington, Reporter; G. L. Holzgraefe, Financial Reporter; E. Snyder, Treasurer; George Seibert, Chaplain; H. W. Lindley, Guard, and H. Reynolds, Sentinel.

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