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This webpage reproduces an article in the
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society
Vol. 36 No. 2 (Summer 1943), pp190‑207

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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please let me know!

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p190 Dutch Reformed Beginnings
in Illinois

By Elizabeth Ellis

The Reformed Church of Fairview, Illinois, the oldest Reformed Church west of the Allegheny Mountains, celebrated its centennial in 1937. Organized a century earlier with only eight members, when the town of Fairview consisted of three log cabins, a log schoolhouse and one frame building,1 it stands today practically unchanged, with its original sheathing of black walnut shingles, a monument to the faith of a handful of New Jersey emigrants who were anxious to bring their church to the Illinois wilderness.

Just when the migration from New Jersey to Fairview began is not certain. An account of the settlement of the township of Fairview, taken from a history of Fulton County, in which Fairview is located, states that Matthias Swegle, the first settler, came from New Jersey in 1829.2 The same account says that Peter Pumyea moved to Illinois in 1836, after making a visit to the state in p1911835 when he visited his cousin, Richard Addis, "who had lived for many years in Fairview tp." Peter Ten Eyck left North Branch, New Jersey, for Illinois in 1832, settling first at Macomb and moving to Fairview in 1835.3 As immigration to Fulton County increased, Moses Hall and Benjamin Foster placed their lands upon the market and laid out the village of Fairview, which was later added to by Peter Pumyea and Richard Davis.4 The town was first called Utica but the name was later changed to Fairview. With regard to the name, Mr. Wilson has written:

Why Fairview was selected as the name of the Town, the writer has never been able to learn.

It may have been because from any given point on the Prairie, one could view the whole landscape, or it may have been in honor of the Groves, which were God's first Temples, of which in every direction the settlers on this isolated Prairie had a fair and unobstructed view.

The fall of 1837 found the following families from New Jersey living in Fairview: Aaron D. Addis, Clarkson Van Nostrand, Richard Davis, Darius Gilmore, Peter Pumyea, Stephen Robinson, John S. Wyckoff, Daniel Groenendyke and Stogdenº Wyckoff. Peter Ten Eyck and Edward Cox, unmarried, had also moved there from New Jersey. On August 19, 1837, some of these people met at the log schoolhouse and "the object of the meeting was to take into consideration the establishment of a church in the midst of them." Peter Pumyea was chosen chairman of the meeting and John S. Wyckoff was made secretary. Richard Davis, Daniel Groenendyke and Henry B. Evans made up the committee chosen p192to draft resolutions concerning the organization of a church. They reported as follows:

First, Resolved, that we consider the church of Christ, one of the greatest blessings bestowed on man.

Second, Resolved, that we consider the Doctrines and Forms held by the Reformed Dutch Church of North America, in accordance with our views of the Bible: and whereas, there are some here and in this vicinity, who were in communion with her; and whereas, there are a number here who were baptized and brought up under her protection, and whereas, there are others here who feel friendly towards having an Orthodox church established in this place; and whereas, the greater part of us emigrated from the Revered Classis of New Brunswick, New Jersey, — Therefore, be it Resolved, that we send a Memorial to that Revered body; and solicit them to send a regular ordained minister as soon as convenient, to organize a church in this place to be called the First Reformed Dutch Church of Fairview, Illinois.

Third, Resolved, that John S. Wyckoff and Peter Pumyea be a committee to draft said Memorial and report to this meeting.

The committee must have acted promptly and sent the memorial immediately, for the minutes of the Classis5 of New Brunswick for September 6, 1837, include the following statement:

A communication was rec'd. through Rev. Mr. Williamson from a number of individuals in Illinois who are in connection with the Ref. D. Church asking for a missionary whereupon it was Resolved that the Rev. A. D. Wilson be appointed primarius and the Rev. Ch. Whitshead secundus to visit that region of country and organize a Church of our persuasion and the travelling expenses of said agent be paid and his pulpit supplied by Classis during his absence.6

Thus just eighteen days after the meeting in the log schoolhouse in Fairview, Illinois, the Classis of New p193Brunswick had authorized the sending of a missionary to Illinois, and less than a month later, October 3, 1837, the missionary, the Reverend Abraham Wilson, had arrived in Fairview with discretionary power to decide whether it seemed wise to organize a church there. He visited the people in their cabins and preached to them in the schoolhouse on the Sabbath. After thirteen days, he called a meeting at which a resolution for organizing the church was passed. Clarkson Van Nostrand and John S. Wyckoff were chosen elders and Aaron D. Addis was named deacon. There were only eight members in all, the three officials and five women.7 Mr. Wilson writes:

With these eight souls constituting the entire membership, this mother of the Reformed Dutch church in this then barren western field, was established with its incomplete organization. Had the five female members been eligible to office, it would have taken the entire eight members to have made complete the offices of Elders and Deacons, as allowed by the Constitution of the Church.

If Wilson had any qualms about his temerity in starting this church of eight members in faraway Illinois, he showed none in his report to the Classis of New Brunswick in April, 1838. His report reads in part:

I was kindly received not only by those from whom we had heard the Macedonian cry "Come over and help us," but from others who had removed from different places and made this their residence. I found the people anxious to hear the word.

Whether the meeting was appointed for the day time or the evening, I always found a multitude convened for religious worship.

After preaching a number of times to a large and respectable audience, considering the sparse and scattered population, I proceeded regularly to the organization of a church of Jesus Christ, consisting of eight members, 3 males and 5 females.

p194 The persons who had been previously elected by the members were ordained as Elders and Deacons of the church, October 16, 1837.

The future prospect of this infant church if properly fostered by Classis or by the Board of Missions of General Synod is flattering. If a Minister can be settled among them, or placed there as a Missionary or stated supply; there is little doubt but through the blessing of God a large and efficient congregation can soon be gathered abundantly able to support the gospel ordinances among themselves not only, but to furnish aid to feeble churches.

The site of the contemplated church is in a growing village, the local pleasant and healthy, surrounded by rich and productive soil offering many inducements to those removing to that part of the country to settle there. To evince the zeal and spirit of this enterprise I need only say, that before I left the place and immediately after the organization of the church under the style and title of the Reformed Dutch Church of Fairview, the sum of One Thousand Dollars was raised by subscription for the erection of a house of worship. From subsequent information by letter, I have learned more has been added to that sum: Materials for the building are furnished on the ground, and contracts made to frame, raise and enclose the same. Provided a sufficient number of workmen can be obtained they are encouraged to hope that their house of worship will be completed by the first of October next.8

His report was accepted and the Classis resolved that the Fairview Church should be received under "the care and supervision" of the New Brunswick Classis, and recommended to member churches of the Classis "the Reformed Dutch Church of Fairview as claiming their prayers and pecuniary assistance in their efforts to build a house of worship."9 At a special meeting of the Classis at North Branch, New Jersey, held on June 19, 1838, "to sever connections of A. D. Wilson with the church of North Branch," Wilson was authorized to "organize new churches in the West in communion with this Classis and the R. D. Church."

June, 1838, found Wilson on his way to Fairview. He p195traveled with his wife and seven children, the youngest not yet a year old, taking with him his own teams, wagons and household possessions.10 The trip took seven weeks and must have been a trying experience for the mother of seven children, but I have found no record of the trip, and no reference to either the pleasures or the hardships attending it.

Wilson was an easterner by birth and education. Born at Amwell, New Jersey, on November 15, 1789, he was graduated from Queen's College in 1811 and the New Brunswick Theological Seminary in 1815.11 His first call to preach had been from the united churches of Shawangunk and New Prospect in Ulster County, New York. He served these churches thirteen years, resigning in 1829 because of ill health.12 After two years of rest at his old home in Hunterdon County, New Jersey, he accepted a call of the Reformed Church at North Branch. It was while serving here that he was sent to Fairview to organize the church, and it was this charge that he resigned to go to Illinois.

Wilson's faith in the village of Fairview was justified. By 1838 there had been considerable increase in population through migration. Henry B. Evans, the first merchant of the village, was joined by another, Peter Ten Eyck. The log schoolhouse in which the organization meeting of the church was held, had been built in early 1837 with Stocktonº Wyckoff as first teacher and Peter Pumyea as first treasurer. An academy had been built on Reformed Church property; it was taught p196by S. S. Cornwell and had representatives of eleven families during its first year, 1838, and of twenty-two families during 1839, with five new names added in the spring term of 1840. The church followed soon after the schoolhouse, and when the pioneer minister arrived from the East, he was accompanied by a young doctor, J. V. D. Gaddis, the first in the village. Other signs of growth followed. J. C. Rockafellow set up a blacksmith shop; Selby Harney built a mill on Coal Creek north of Fairview in 1839, and S. B. Suydam built an ox mill in the village two years later. Two tailors and a hatter soon established themselves in Fairview, and by 1845 a tannery and a fanning mill factory had been added.

Thus a very few years saw rapid growth in Fairview, and it was during the earlier of these years that the church building was started. Wilson arrived with his family on July 1, 1838. On October 20, six new members were added to the eight charter members,13 and on October 24, at a meeting of the Consistory, John C. Voorhees was chosen an elder and Cornelius S. Van Liew a Deacon, thus increasing the officers of the church to five. November 26, 1838, marked the laying of the cornerstone and raising of the frame. At this date there were no more than one hundred people living within a radius of five miles of the village, yet this handful of church people, fourteen in all, planned a church which would seat some six hundred people.14 The church was similar to one at Six Mile Run in New Jersey and was to be forty-five by sixty-five feet in size. It was larger than p197the county courthouse being built at Lewistown the same year. Mr. Wilson writes:

Marvelous to behold is this Church built by these pioneers in that early time and in this new and undetermined country. Yet with this consistory of five which included all the Male Members, and were three less than the constitutional requirement of officers, and the Missionary Minister, the building of a church greater in magnitude than the Court House of the County was commenced.

The tremendous task of building the church — which lasted from November 26, 1838, when the frame was raised to October 3, 1841, when it was dedicated — could not have been accomplished by the small group of members alone, but fortunately there were others in the community who were anxious to have a church in the village, although not members themselves.15 The entire neighborhood participated in the framing of the church, which took seven days. From that time on, work continued intermittently, depending largely on the amount of money accumulated for the purpose, which in turn was governed by the financial condition of the village itself. On one occasion the Consistory appointed the minister and Peter Pumyea to visit the churches in the East to solicit aid for the Fairview church. While they were in the East, the Christian Intelligencer carried an appeal for funds signed by the pioneer minister, which read in part:

Could we be assisted to the amount of twelve or fifteen hundred dollars, we should not only be placed beyond the reach of embarrassment ourselves, but confidently believe that our success would lead to other similar enterprises in this region, which will in a very short time result in the organization of a Classis. This hope is grounded p198on the fact that there are many groups of Dutch families in the State, whose character and influence, and whose feelings promise the establishment of several Dutch churches in this region. By their general department,º and by keeping themselves entirely aloof from abolition and other exciting questions, they have secured to themselves and to their Church a large share of good will.16

Wilson and Pumyea returned in July, 1839, with $449. According to some sources this was the only outside help received by the Fairview church.17 However, the minutes of the New Brunswick Classis for September 1, 1840, carried the following recommendation: "Recdº that those churches wh. have not taken collections for the building of the church of Fairview be requested to do so," and it seems probable that some further contributions may have resulted from this suggestion.

Materials and labor were contributed by members and non-members alike, and gradually work progressed. The summer of 1840 saw the windows in, some twenty-seven in all, and then the inside finishing was undertaken. When funds were again exhausted, five carpenters, Richard Garretson, Lawrence Williamson, S. V. Robinson, Michael Stout, and Isaac Hagerman, agreed to work with Cornelius Wyckoff who had the contract for finishing the inside work, at $1.25 a day, with the understanding that the price of the labor "shall remain in the empty treasury, until the Lord shall provide you with means wherewith to pay it; and if the Country and the Church fail, our labor shall perish with it." The expense of the sixty-four pews was met by members of the church, with the over-worked but ever-willing carpenters volunteering part of the labor.

At long last the church was ready for occupancy. The p199pioneer minister had held out hope in his report to the Classis in 1838 that it might be built within a year, but it had taken more than three years. In fact the dedication services were held on October 3, 1841, just four years after Wilson's first visit to Fairview for the purpose of organizing the church. It had started with eight members, gained six at the laying of the cornerstone, and ten more on the day of dedication. Thus the membership had reached twenty-four, ten men and fourteen women. It is indeed impressive to realize that this small group had been successful in completing the church building now being dedicated. That they were justified in building on so large a scale is shown by the fact that the church was filled to capacity for the dedication services. The country was being settled rapidly; no doubt the pioneer minister would find an ever-growing field for his services.

Worship in the new church was not a comfortable experience during the first winter, as only one of the four stoves needed to heat the building had been provided. But the people came, bringing their own foot stoves, their candles, candlesticks and snuffers from home. Sunday morning at the church must have presented an interesting and colorful scene, even though the worshippers were uncomfortable.

The years 1843‑1845 were difficult ones for Fairview. Prices were low in 1843 and transportation charges high, wheat bringing only twenty-five to thirty cents when hauled to Canton or Peoria. A promising crop was destroyed by floods in the summer of 1844 and the winter of 1844‑1845 found the people in greater poverty than at any time since they had moved west. "Hog and Hominy, rye coffee and corn bread were only luxuries," writes Mr. Wilson. However, conditions were improved p200greatly by good crops in 1845; that year also saw increased migration to Fairview. The church responded to these changes, of course, and although the debt was still unpaid in 1846, at which time they issued new notes at six per cent interest, they managed to paint the church, the members furnishing most of the labor.a Membership had grown to forty-two in 1845, and five years later had reached eighty-one. The winter of 1850‑1851 witnessed a great revival in the church. According to Mr. Wilson:

It was the custom of the pioneer minister to preach a sermon on Christmas day of each and every year; and if sufficient interest was manifested by the people to continue prayer and inquiry meetings during the holidays or longer if the spiritual interest demanded it.

This year the meetings continued for six weeks, with sixty-one members joining the church upon confession of faith. Five others joined by certificate during the year, making the astonishing total of sixty-six new members in one year. Even before this increase, the need for more space in the church had been felt and on September 3, 1850, a subscription paper was passed and $602 was subscribed for finishing the galleries. This involved the laying of floors, wainscoting and seating, all of which was completed by Christmas of 1850.

Wilson came to Illinois as a missionary, and in that capacity he did all he could to establish churches in the surrounding territory, although he sometimes found churches of better known denominations already there. He organized the second Reformed Church in Illinois in 1840. A group of people had settled in Peoria County, on the Illinois River, near the headwaters of Copperas Creek. They evidently welcomed the idea of a Reformed Church, and one was organized there by Wilson with p201George G. Sill serving as the first minister. The church was called the Copperas or Brunswick Church. The third Reformed Church in Illinois, called VanderVeer, was established in 1841 in Menard County. Wilson traveled sixty miles between Fairview and this church before its organization, and afterwards until Alexander C. Hillman became pastor. "The name VanderVeer was given to the place in honor of the illustrious family of that name in the state of New Jersey, some of whom were represented in this Colony."

Even before the organization at VanderVeer was completed, and while busy supervising the building of the church at Fairview, Wilson initiated a project, the completion of which furnished a landmark in the history of the Dutch Reformed Church in the West — the formation of a Classis in Illinois. The minutes of the Particular Synod of New York for May, 1841, announced that a request for the formation of a Classis in Illinois had been received and turned over to a committee consisting of the Reverend Jon Van Liew, Isaac Ferris, D. D., and Elder Wortman. The committee made the following report:

The Committee, to whom was referred a communication in relation to organization of a Classis in the State of Illinois, respectfully report — That there are at present two Reformed Dutch Churches in the State of Illinois, and there is a strong probability that a third will be constituted immediately upon the arrival of the Rev. Mr. Hillman.

The Committee, deeming it highly important that a Classis should be organized in the State of Illinois, as soon as practicable, recommend the adoption of the following resolutions:

Resolved, 1st. That as soon as a third Reformed Dutch Church shall be constituted in the State of Illinois, the Rev. Messrs. Wilson, Sill and Hillman, with the Elders of the several churches, regularly deputed for that purpose, be authorized to form themselves into a classis, to be styled the Classis of Illinois.

p202 Resolved, 2d. That as soon as the Rev. Mr. Wilson shall be officially informed that a third Dutch Reformedº Church has been constituted in the State of Illinois, he have power to summon a meeting for the organization of the above classis at Fairview, and that he preach the sermon on that occasion.18

After the formation of the VanderVeer church, therefore, Wilson called Hillman and Sill to meet with him at Fairview to consider forming a Classis of Illinois. They met for two days, the newer ministers being hesitant about taking such a serious step; but Wilson finally convinced them that the Classis should be formed, and the organization took place on November 13, 1841. Elder John G. Voorhees joined Wilson in representing Fairview; Hillman and Elder William Conover represented VanderVeer; and Sill and Elder Harmon G. Bostwick represented the Brunswick church. In accordance with the instructions given above, Wilson preached the sermon. The organization was duly reported to the Particular Synod the following May, the report declaring the need of the Classis for "the prayers and alms of its sister churches in the east, till it shall, by the blessing of God, acquire sufficient strength to sustain itself."19

Wilson's missionary endeavors did not cease with the formation of the Classis. He would go "wheresoever he heard of an open or prospective field." The difficulties of traveling from settlement to settlement were numerous. Wilson's son, who often accompanied his father to neighboring groups, writes:

Our guide for roads across the prairies then, was the pressing down of the tall grass, marking what we called trails. The grass on either side of these trails would in many places be almost or quite as high as the horses and so thick that you could see a Deer but a short distance.

p203 The churches of Brunswick and VanderVeer were each started with a nucleus of Dutch Reformed members from New Jersey. Such was not the case with the Pekin church, the fourth Reformed Church in Illinois. There the minister found it necessary to educate the prospective members to accept the doctrines and creeds of the Reformed Church. "This he found no easy task," writes the younger Wilson.

Man of energy as he was he did not despair; but by relying for help on the great Head of the church, he now concentrated his efforts at Pekin until he gained the victory through the Lord Jesus Christ, and a church was organized there which a few months later was provided with a minister.

Some of the difficulties attending the work of the pioneer minister are illustrated by the following story of one of his many trips to Pekin, where he continued to preach until N. D. Williamson became pastor in the fall of 1843:

As was usually the case it was dark when they reached the west bank of the river. The man having charge of the Ferry Boat had put up for the night on the Pekin side.

By the voice was the only sign of communicating with the man in charge of the Ferry — The minister and Elder (John G. Voorhees) called into use their lung power, until finally they have communication with the man on the others in charge of the boat. When their wants are thus made known, the man rowed his boat over; when they drove their horses on and were safely carried to the other side.

The price charged for ferrying was fifty cents. When the Minister and Elder went down into their pockets to look for the necessary funds, it was found that they were both minus the lucre to pay the ferryman.

The Boatman naturally was angry, and commenced a tirade of abuse, charging them with being dishonest and swindlers. After his passion was somewhat subdued, the Minister told the man who he was, and what was his mission.

He told him where he would preach on the morrow, this being p204Saturday night, inviting him to come out and hear him preach, promising him the preaching would cost him nothing, and if on Monday morning he would again row them over to the west shore, when he returned in four weeks he should have his pay. This pacified the man. . . .

On the next day the Sabbath (as I have heard this related by the Minister) unexpectedly and very much to the surprise of the good Dominie, he noticed the Boatman sitting in the audience paying marked attention to his sermon. Never afterward would this ferryman when he was in charge of the Boat, receive any pay for conveying him to and fro across the river.

The organization of the fifth Dutch Reformed Church in Illinois was directly due to the increased migration from New Jersey. Mr. Wilson writes:

In these early days the settlement of Fairview was widely known among the people in the State of New Jersey.

Whenever referred to in this country by native or emigrant, it was called the Jersey settlement.

Because of this appellation given, a large percentage of the emigrants from that state came here because of their acquaintance with some of the people, or because in their native state it was known as a Jersey settlement. As the result, the years 1850‑51‑52 and 53 brought to this section of the Country an overplus of emigration, and some of them sought other fields for their permanent location. The vast prairies of the state were very fast being settled up. Great lines of railway were being projected and built across them; and to those prairies the people flock, seeking new homes.

As land around Fairview was taken up by new people coming in, a group of Fairview people left for Spring-Lake, where a small New Jersey settlement already existed. The families of Golden, Stout, Henry Rynearson, George B. Van Nortwick, John Hagaman and Littlejohn were among those moving to Spring Lake in Tazewell County, and although not church members themselves, they sent an appeal to the Fairview church, and Wilson went to them, preaching first in the log schoolhouse. The Reverend S. V. E. Westfall, pastor of the p205church at Pekin, also preached at Spring Lake and was appointed by the Classis to organize a Reformed Church there, which he did on May 28, 1854. Westfall and Wilson continued to preach there until the following year when Samuel A. Sumstead became pastor.

Two other churches — at Raritan and Bushnell — were considered direct daughters of the Fairview church, the first because of membership, the second because of Wilson's efforts. The Raritan church in Henderson County was established on August 26, 1855. All save three of the thirteen charter members were former members of the Fairview church. The Bushnell church in McDonough County was organized by Wilson in 1856, and he preached there irregularly for two years until a pastor arrived.

Wilson resigned his pastorate at Fairview in 1856. The only minister of the church since its founding almost twenty years before, it is not surprising that there was some criticism of his methods and some desire for change. When Wilson realized this he offered his resignation, on April 11, 1856, which was accepted at the next meeting of the Consistory. Wilson had the interests of his congregation so much at heart that, unknown to them, he went to New Jersey in search of a minister. Among others he met William Anderson of Peapack and, impressed by his qualifications, urged him to visit Fairview. This Anderson did, meeting the people and preaching to them. Later, he accepted the call to preach there and thus became the second minister of the Fairview church.

Wilson left his church in a flourishing condition. The original eight members had grown to 178. Of these forty-two had moved away, leaving a membership of 136 in p206the home church. With the coming of the new pastor the church passed from its primitive stage to a more sophisticated one. With the new minister came new manners and more fashionable clothing, along with other changes resulting from improved transportation, increased migration and more prosperous times. Conditions as they had been are recorded by the son of the pioneer minister as follows:

When Mr. Anderson took charge of the Church, the average congregation was large. Many of the families lived miles away in country homes, but when the Sabbath came they left these rural homes and wended their way to the house of worship.

Church going was part of their duties in life, and it was as natural for them to repair to their Church on sabbath morning as on a week day morn to their farm duties. . . .

Their pioneer pastor was plain and practical like themselves. He had stood by them in the thickest of the fray, though all their years of struggling hardships. . . .

The preaching of the minister like his life, was the plain Orthodox style of that day, without formality or attempted display. He preached the vengeance of God resting upon Man because of disobedience, and by the terrors of the law he tried to persuade sinners to return to him through the loving Christ.

He taught their children the doctrines contained in the Catechism of the Church, and the older children and Members were examined as to the Faith and Knowledge of the holy scriptures, by a regular Bible class service.

Such had been the preaching, and the instruction of the people, through all the pioneer history of the Church.

The pioneer minister served his church and community well. When he came to Fairview the people provided him with a house but he refused, saying:

No, I will not accept it. I came not among you in your feeble condition to be ministered unto, but to minister. Here for weal or woe, I have come to raise the standard of the cross of Christ, and with you I will stay. Your portion shall be my portion, your God shall be my God, your destiny as yet untried in this wilderness field p207shall be my destiny. And here with you I will share your burdens and build my own house, trusting the Lord to provide for me and mine.20

Accordingly, Wilson built his home across from the church and bought a tract of land near the village where he worked with his sons when not busy with ministerial duties. His home, wrote the son, "was the home of the visitor. His house was a free tavern open to all settlers who were seeking locations, and he used his influence to get them to locate within the boundaries of his Church." Evidently he was sometimes criticized for spending too much time on his farm, for the son makes the following defense:

And I know whereof I speak when I say, that Dominie Wilson never for one moment neglected his Ministerial duties on account of being compelled to labor with his own hands that his family might have sustenance.

On the other hand his farm labor was often neglected for Church work. Many and oft-times, when preaching in his work of organizing churches, would he take a team from the farm in the appointments, losing the work of the team from the farm on Saturday and Monday.

With a family of seven children and a salary which did not exceed $200 for many years, it is understandable that he might need to spend some time on his own farm.

Wilson lived in Fairview twenty years after his retirement. He refused to accept another pastorate but for years substituted in surrounding churches whenever called. He died on July 21, 1876. Fairview had grown from a tiny settlement of a few log houses and a log schoolhouse to a flourishing community, and the church he had founded with the help of eight members had become a strong and prosperous one. His early faith in the western adventure was justified.


The Author's Notes:

1 H. M. B. Wilson, "History of the Reformed Church of Fairview, Illinois." This history of the church, and of the settlement of the town itself, was written by the son of the first minister of the Reformed Church in Fairview. I used the manuscript copy, containing 200 pages, which was lent to me by the daughter of the author, Miss Marge Wilson, now living in Fairview. There are three typed copies of the history in the possession of the Wilson family, each 400 pages long. As information was obtained mainly from this history, individual footnotes from it will be omitted. Footnotes will be included only when material could be checked, or additions made, from other sources.

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2 Charles C. Chapman & Co., pub., History of Fulton County, Illinois (Peoria, 1879), 623. Matthias Swegle was a Methodist.

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3 Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Fulton County (Chicago, 1908), II:1142.

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4 Chapman, pub., History of Fulton County, 624.

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5 Classis is the term used in the Reformed Church for a group of churches in a local area which are bound together for ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Each church is represented on the Classis by its minister and an elder. The Classis has jurisdiction over the churches and ministers within its area.

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6 Minutes, Classis of New Brunswick, Sept. 6, 1847 (MS., Sage Library, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, New Brunswick, N. J.).

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7 The women were Adrian Groenendyke, Eliza Wyckoff, wife of John S. Wyckoff, Eliza Suydam Addis, Charity Van Nostrand, and Catherine Wyckoff, wife of Simon Wyckoff.

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8 Minutes, Classis of New Brunswick, Apr. 4, 1838.

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9 Ibid.

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10 Jerry P. Winter and Victor Maxam, A History of the Classis of Illinois (pamphlet, 1938), 3.

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11 E. T. Corwin, A Manual of the Reformed Church in America, 1628‑1902 (4th ed., New York, 1902), 914.

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12 His son thought that the disease was tuberculosis. However, there was never any other mention of it.

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13 The new members were John S. Voorhees and his wife, Rebecca VanderVeer Voorhees, Cornelius S. Van Liew, Mary Ann Patten Rockafellow, wife of Joseph Rockafellow, Elizabeth Bernbridge Wyckoff, wife of William Wyckoff, and Gertrude Wyckoff, their daughter.

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14 Winter and Maxam, Classis of Illinois, 3‑4.

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15 Some of those mentioned by name by Mr. Wilson were Peter Pumyea, Richard Davis, Daniel Groenendyke, Lawrence Williamson, S. V. Robinson, Edward Cox, Peter Ten Eyck, William Wyckoff, Henry B. Evans, Isaac Hagerman, H. H. Hartough, Richard Garretson, P. B. Van Arsdale, and Stogden Wyckoff.

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16 Vol. 9, no. 41 (May 4, 1839), 162.

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17 Winter and Maxam, Classis of Illinois, 3.

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18 Minutes of the Particular Synod of New York, 1831‑1850 (n. p., n. d.), 6‑7.

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19 Ibid., 11‑12.

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20 Winter and Maxam, Classis of Illinois, 3.


Thayer's Note:

a Yet in 1844 a handsome, large, expensive bell was cast for the church in Troy, NY and brought to the church across the prairie by wagon: it is still regularly rung today. For the historical treasures of today's congregation, and additional background, see the church's History page.


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Page updated: 22 Aug 10