Church Started With 7 Members
Dolson Chapel Methodist Church, Located West of Marshall, Ill, Still
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
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.
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
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
carpet for the rostrum and aisle was woven by Mrs. Martha Hall, the
women donating the rags ready to weave. The land for the
cemetery was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Emanuel Miller. It was
that the people have a burying ground free of charge. He was
class leader and church steward until he moved here about 1884.
When he was steward many of the poorer people wanted to help with
expenses of the church but they did not have the money. Mr.
would tell them to cut him a cord of wood or give them other work
he would pay their part of the expenses.
The church was first called Green Moss but later when it was
into the Illinois Conference it was given the name of Dolson Chapel.
The first Sunday School was organiezed about 1868. At that
there were no lesson helps as they exist today. Members
small copies of the Testament by the dozens and each class would
select a chapter which they would read and discuss. The
wer too young ot read brought along their spelling books which had
only one picture, that of a boy stealing apples. The teacher
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
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
no one can tell the amount of good which they received in their
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
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
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
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.