Church Started With 7 Members

Submitted by;
Cindy McCachern
Dolson Chapel Methodist Church, Located West of Marshall, Ill, Still
Serves Community
Marshall, IL Feb. 14--The Dolson Chapel Methodist church, located
eleven miles west of here has had a long and interesting history and
is one of the oldest in this part of the state.
After Emanuel Miller entered his land from congress he erected a log
house about 60 rods north of the present church.  The floor was made
of split and hew logs and was called a puncheon floor.
In this pioneer home the first Methodist church was organized with
seven charter members, Mr. and Mrs. Emanuel and nancy Miller, Mr. and
Mrs. John and Barbara Beadle, Mr. and Mrs. William Townsend and Mrs.
Judy Coons.  All have since died and been buried in the nearby
In a few years the first class grew until they erected a log house a
few feet west of the present church which they used for a school
house and church combined until 1866.  At that time the present
building was erected, the logs for it being donated by the people and
taken to a saw mill operated by Goodwin Lyean.
At that time most of the lumber was planed by hand and the seats now
in use were made by William Hutchings and harrison Hurst.  The first
carpet for the rostrum and aisle was woven by Mrs. Martha Hall, the
women donating the rags ready to weave.  The land for the church and
cemetery was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Emanuel Miller.  It was his wish
that the people have a burying ground free of charge.  He was the
class leader and church steward until he moved here about 1884.
When he was steward many of the poorer people wanted to help with the
expenses of the church but they did not have the money.  Mr. Miller
would tell them to cut him a cord of wood or give them other work and
he would pay their part of the expenses.
The church was first called Green Moss but later when it was received
into the Illinois Conference it was given the name of Dolson Chapel.
The first Sunday School was organiezed about 1868.  At that time
there were no lesson helps as they exist today.  Members purchased
small copies of the Testament by the dozens and each class would
select a chapter which they would read and discuss.  The children who
wer too young ot read brought along their spelling books which had
only one picture, that of a boy stealing apples.  The teacher would
have the children spell and then turn to the picture and teach them
how wrong it was to steal even apples, a lesson that they never
For several years Sunday school was held only during the summer
months.  In 1874 the Ever-green Sunday school was organized which met
each Sunday throughout the entire year.
Some of the children that received their training in this church and
Sunday school have departed to various parts of the county to become
ministers, teachers, as well as business and professional leaders and
no one can tell the amount of good which they received in their early
training in this church.

From the Marshall (IL) Herald, 30 May 1975

About Dolson Chapel Church and Cemetery

There is no known record of the organization and the first meeting of the "society" that became officially the Dolson Chapel Methodist Church, locally known as Green Moss.  The exact dates are lost.  The first circuit riders are not listed.  In Perrin's "History of Crawford and Clark Counties, Illinois" published in 1883, we read "The early religious history of Dolson is involved in some obscurity, and it cannot be determined with exactness who the first sermon in the township.  Pioneer missionaries of the Methodist Church held services at the residences of George Coons at a very early day.  A flourishing society was afterward organized.

In a scrap book by Mrs. Eliza (Coons) Nicholson, there is evidence that Emmanuel and Nancy Miller, John and Barbara Beadle, Mr. and Mrs. William Townsend, and Mrs. Judy Coons were charter members.  After meeting in their homes for a time, a log structure near the present building served as a church and Green Moss school house.  This log structure was followed by a larger frame meeting house."  Then in 1866 the present building was erected.  The date is substantiated by the fact that Emmanuel Clapp never tired of telling his grandchildren of how in Civil War days he used oxen to skid logs to the sawmill and then worked as an off bearer" for lumber used in building the church and pews.

Records at the court house, Marshall, Illinois, show deeds to land for the church and cemetery dated 1851, 1898, and 1910.  Knowing these dates and observing that most of the nearby land in Dolson township was entered by 1840, it is fairly safe to say that the church was organized in the middle eighteen hundreds.  In these deeds listed as trustees are:  Emanuel Miller, John B. Beadle, Thomas Nicholson, George Bower, William Townsend, Sperry Claypool, Elisha Claypool, J. W. B. Hutchings, J. L. Hurst, and John Helmer.

From a very incomplete membership roster, kept by Emanuel and Roy Miller through 1859-1910, one finds that the membership of seven charter members grew to 43 in 1859, 65 in 1868, with a maximum of 148 in 1882-94.  Over a span of a century the number of members parallel the growth and decline of the population of the surrounding country side.  Many were members from an early age until death.  However, in the population shift, a great many more were a part of the congregation in their youth before leaving the community.  In the Miller records are listed many class leaders, local preachers, and presiding elders.  During this time and since, pastors from the Grandview, Martinsville, Westfield, and Marshall circuits served the congregation.  One of the local preachers, E. S. Combs, went on to a very distinguished career as a minister and an administrator of the Methodist Conference.

At the present time the conference board of Christian Education of the United Methodist Church has asked the District Superintendent at Mattoon to hold ownership of the church until a lake and park in connection with the Mill Creek Water Shed, is built and it is known whether or not it would be feasible to maintain the property as a retreat center.  Each Memorial Day, flags wave over the graves of a score of U. S. military men.  The will of the late Miss Ethel Burnside has created a trust with the Citizens National Bank at Paris as trustee, to help with maintainance.  Anyone interested in creating similar funds is invited and encouraged to do so.

Additions, corrections, and comments on the above article are solicited.  They may be mailed to:  Forest Montgomery, c/o David Montgomery, Route 2, Marshall, IL 62441.

Green Moss church is located west of Lincoln Trail three miles west of Clarksville, then turn left at BB crossroads and go south 1 mile, turn left another mile.