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

Mason County

Walker's Grove
Page 667

This grove, to which such frequent reference has already been made, was the nucleus around and in which all the earliest settlements were made. It was known as Price's Grove prior to the purchase of James Walker, in 1837, since which date it has been called by its present name. The grove proper embraces an area of not more than four hundred acres, and, in an early day, was as fine a body of timber as could be found in the county. A fine growth of the oak family, black walnut, soft and sugar maple, hickory, both shell-bark and smooth-bark, white walnut or butternut, mulberry; and of shrubbery, the red but, papaw, dogwood, and many other varieties were found here. But little that is valuable, except for purposes of fencing and firewood, remains to-day. Most of those who erected their log cabins near this spot, in the days of its early settlement, have long since crossed over the still waters, and have been succeeded by a class of unpretending citizens, that for industry, intelligence and moral worth will compare favorable with any portion of the county or State. While the present inhabitants are eager for the daily papers, lest their interests may be affected by the "spring" or "decline" in the "hog market," the pioneers were content with mails once a week, or less frequently during bad weather or high water. Amid the difficulties and discouragements by which they were often surrounded, they had their social enjoyments, as those who have listened to their animated discussions of the respective merits of "gourd-seed" and "flint" corn, or the prominent points of a favorite "coon dog," can abundantly testify. In and around this point were the beginnings of those enterprises which in their nature tend to the permanent establishment and development of society, and which are handmaidens in the onward march of civilization. We refer to churches and schools. "The groves were God's first temples," and here in nature's sanctuary, where the breezes came laden with the perfumes of a thousand flowers, early meeting were held. Rev. Thomas Plasters was the first to lift up the Gospel banner in this section. He was here as early as 1834, and belonged to that order of worshipers known in the West as "Hardshell Baptists," or, as they are otherwise called, the "Forty-gallon Baptist." His preaching was somewhat after the style of the famous "Come, Buck-ah" sermon, recorded in the "Hoosier Schoolmaster." He had "the see-sawing gestures, the nasal resonance, the sniffle and melancholy minor key," which seems to be for an everlasting inheritance to his reverend brethren. And in addition to all these, as he warmed with his discourse, he had a habit of tugging vigorously first at one ear and then at the other, by was of lending emphasis and solemnity to his remarks. Still it was enjoyed by those early settlers who had been for some time without the privileges of the church. He discoursed many times at the residence of James A. Revis, in the southern part of the township. Rev. John L. Turner, who came in 1840, and of whom mention has already been made, was an early minister in the Baptist Churches of this section. Rev. Abraham Bale, who should have been classed among the settlers of 1842-43, was a minister in the same connection. He settled on the farm where George Thomas now lives, and was the second resident minister in the township. He built what is known as Bale's Mill, in Menard County, and which passed from his hands to those of his brother, Jacob, but is at present owned by a son of Abraham Bale. Rev. Ross, a radical Methodist minister, preached at the residence of Solomon Norris, in quite an early day. Of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Revs. William Coder, Wallace and Moreland were among the earliest. A church was built a number of years ago, near the site of New Hope burying-ground, in Walkers's Grove, but was destroyed by fire just about the time of its completion, and before services had ever been held in it. The house was never rebuilt. Another was erected in the Sandridge timber, about the year 1859, but its use has been discontinued for some years, and the building is fast going to rack. Both of these houses were the property of the Baptist brethren, and the latter is the only public house of worship in the township.

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