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

Mason County

Early Preaching, Schools, Etc.
Page 648

The first preaching, as was customary, was at the houses of the pioneers, and among those who ministered to the spiritual wants of the people in an early day, we find the names of Revs. Gardner, Rutledge, Randall, and the venerable Peter Cartwright. These were missionaries in the M. E. Church. Rev. William Perkins, a Presbyterian divine, occasionally preached in the township, but was regularly engaged in the work at Topeka. Transient ministers of other denominations discoursed at times to the people, but none remained to effect church organization save the Methodists. After the building of schoolhouses, preaching was transferred to them, and they were made to serve the triple purpose of meeting-house, schoolhouse and voting-place for the precinct. The first school building erected in the township was the one now known as Union No. 1, and is situated about one and one-half miles south or the village of Forest City. It was built in 1854, and John Covington was the first teacher. Others were built as the increase of population demanded, and at present each district is supplied with good frame buildings. The "old log schoolhouse" of the days of auld land syne has faded away, and comes to us only in visions of the past.

The first Sunday school organized in the township was at the house of Thomas H. Ellsworth, in the spring of 1853. William Ellsworth was the first Superintendent. It continued at the residence of Mr. Ellsworth till the building of the schoolhouse in 1854, when it was transferred to that point. It finally became the nucleus of the first Sunday school established in the village. A number of those who took part in the first organization are at present residents of the village, and take a lively interest in the Sunday-school cause. There are two church edifices in the township outside of the village-the German Methodist, or Albright, and the German Lutheran, or Lutheran Evangelical. The Albright Church was erected in 1856, and, as the congregation grew in numbers, the building in a few years became too small to accommodate it. In 1865, they rebuilt and greatly increased the size of their house. The Church owns forty acres of valuable land, and upon this stands the church building and parsonage. A neatly laid-out and kept cemetery also occupies a portion of the tract. Their Church property has an estimated value of not less than $7,000. It is, perhaps, the wealthiest congregation in Mason County. Most of its members are well-to-do farmers, living in this and adjacent townships. The building is located on a gentle rise of ground, from which a commanding view of the country may be had on all sides; its tall, white spire, pointing heavenward, presents a pleasing appearance to the traveler passing over the line of the P., P. & J. Railroad. The Lutheran Church was built a year or two later, is in the same portion of the township, about one and one-half miles south of Bishop's Station. It is also a frame church, and cost about $1,200. Regular services are held, and a flourishing Sunday school is connected with it. Forest City Township has a large per cent of German population, and, as is usually the case, they are thriving, enterprising citizens, possessed of finely-improved farms, well stocked. Taken throughout its whole extent, this township compares favorable with other portions of the county in its adaptation to the growth of corn and the other cereals common to this latitude.

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