History

 


 

History of the Buffalo Hart Presbyterian Church

Part I

          The first settlers came to Buffalo Heart Grove in the fall of 1824.  Mr. Charles Moore came from the south and built a cotton gin at the east side of Buffalo Heart township and ran it for several years, then moved farther north.  Mr. William Bridges, a native of South Carolina, was a gunsmith and blacksmith.

          In the fall of 1825 Mr. and Mrs. James Lynn, formerly from North Carolina and Kentucky, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Burns, formerly from West Virginia and Kentucky, settled in Buffalo Heart Grove.

          The first religious service was held in the summer of 1826 in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lynn by a traveling minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  There were only four adults and four children present:  Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Burns and Mr. and Mrs. James Lynn and their four children.

          A few years later other families came before the “Big Snow of 1830-1831”.  There were John and Susan Constant, Robert and Mary Cass, the Ridgeways, the Starrs, John and James Robinson and the Greenings.  The Enoses and several others came in the Spring of 1831.  All the religious services these families had were held in their homes by a traveling minister when he came through the “Grove”.

In the minutes of the Predestinarian Baptist Church of the Lake Fork community, southwest of Mt. Pulaski, the Burns, Cass, Constant and later other families attended church there and entered into membership.

          Dr. Barton Robinson, a brother of James T. Robinson, purchased 80 acres of land in West ½ of N. W. ¼ of Sec. 28 upon which he built the first frame structure …. the first church in the “Grove” called “The Chapel” in 1832. He built it to be used by the Episcopalians, but there were not enough people in the community of that faith, so it was then used by all faiths and later purchased by the community to be used as a school.

          The “Old Chapel” was used as a school, a church, a general meeting place for political meetings and a social center for the neighborhood.  It was located on grounds southeast of Arnott Smith’s home.

          Some facts about the “Old Chapel”:  it was 24 ft. by 36 ft., the exterior was clapboard, the interior had a puncheon floor with a 2 ft. high platform across the front, the pulpit was 6 ft. wide and 4 ft. high.  The building was heated by a wood stove; the women and children sat on one side, the men sat on the other side.  Church services were held on Sundays when the traveling minister or circuit riders came to Buffalo Heart Grove.

          The first Sunday School was organized in 1859 by Miss Fedelia Merrick, teacher at the Pottle School (later East Side), at the Chapel and was held on Sunday afternoons, families from all parts of the Grove attended.

          Several years later four denominations …. Baptist, Christian, Methodist and Presbyterian …. built a church south of Buffalo Hart …. at the second crossroads south of Buffalo Hart on southwest corner at a cost of $2,400, which was dedicated in August 1867 and called “Buffalo Hart Union Church”.  The Union Church had no officers except Trustees.  Five trustees were elected March 5, 1869 at 3 p.m.:  Christian, Horace B. Enos; Baptist, S. R. Campbell; Methodist, O. F. Priest; Presbyterian, Harry Cass; Fifth trustee, R. F. Constant.  The Sundays of each month were assigned to a different trustee and he was responsible for having a minister of his denomination to preach that particular Sunday.  They would arrive on the train at Buffalo Hart or if one lived near enough, he would drive or ride a horse to the service.

          In 1871 the people of the Buffalo Hart Community who had attended the Lake Fork Predestinarian Baptist Church withdrew their letters of membership and joined the Buffalo Hart Union Church.  For 29 years this was a Union Church and the last few years Rev. Simon Benson, a Presbyterian, was the Pastor.  He held services every other Sunday.   He lived at Williamsville and served the Williamsville Presbyterian Church on the other Sundays of the month.

          Some of the families who attended Union Church at this time had moved from this community or went to churches in nearby towns.  The Presbyterians who were left and the members of the Williamsville Presbyterian Church held a meeting on March 15, 1896 and voted to petition the Presbytery to organize a Presbyterian Church at Buffalo Hart.  The petition was presented to the Presbytery signed by 73 members.  It was granted and Rev. E. W. Thayer and R. W. Diller from Springfield were appointed to organize the Buffalo Hart Presbyterian Church.  It was organized on May 16, 1896 and the following officers were elected:  Elders:  G. C. Edwards, John B. Wright and John T. Wilson.  Deacons:  F. L. Priest, Harry Cass and George W. Wright.  John B. Wright was clerk of Session.  Rev. Benson continued to serve the Buffalo Hart and Williamsville Presbyterian Churches until April 22, 1898.

          A Women’s Home and Foreign Missionary Society was organized in 1894 by Mrs. R. F. Constant and Mrs. F. L. Priest. 

          Rev. John Roberts was the next minister; he lived at Williamsville and served the Williamsville and Buffalo Hart churches on alternate Sundays from the summer of 1898 to January 1901.

          The Presbytery of Springfield held its fall meeting at Buffalo Hart, September 19, 1899.  The visiting ministers and elders were entertained overnight in the homes in the community.  The following day, after church services, a basket dinner was held on the lawn of the old country church.

          A Christian Endeavor Society was organized and met each Sunday evening.  There was a large attendance of young people. 

          Records show an attendance of 72 in Sunday school.

          August 1896 the Sangamon County Sunday School Convention was held at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.  There were 4,000 children in attendance.  Buffalo Hart took the prize for the highest percentage of attendance at the convention.  Madeline Cass and Tommy Wilson led the Buffalo Hart Procession.  This trip meant a two hour ride through the dust, in buggies, carriages or surreys to the Fairgrounds and a two hour ride home.  R. F. Constant was Superintendent; Mrs. R. F. Constant taught a young Men’s class; Miss Macie Lyon (Priddle) taught a class; Miss May Lyon (Enos) was organist.

          The pastor, Rev. John Roberts, began talking of the possibility of building a new church at Buffalo Hart Station.  On June 27, 1900 a congregational meeting was held and by a vote of 19 for and 3 opposed … “it was therefore determined to build said church”.  The building committee was:  G. C. Edwards, O. F. Priest and John T. Wilson.  “The church was required to give a mortgage on said new church in order to secure loan of $500 from the Board of Church Erection” … Mr. Robert Cass gave one half acre of land.  Some money was received from the sale of the Dawson Presbyterian Church and money was voluntarily contributed by members of the church and citizens of the community, also from interested non-residents.

          Carpenters who worked on the building came from Mt. Pulaski on the Illinois Central Railroad train each day.

          October 1900, this church was dedicated.  Rev. Roberts, Mr. R. W. Diller and Rev. E. B. Rogers had charge of the service.  The budget for 1900 was $437 … there were 63 members.

          Rev. Roberts left the pastorate at Buffalo Hart in 1901 and Rev. Elmer P. Loose, from Kentucky, who had been holding evangelical meetings here and at Williamsville was called to serve both churches.  He lived at Williamsville and preached at Buffalo Hart on alternate Sundays.

          In 1902 some new officers were elected:  Elders:  F. L. Priest, G. C. Edwards, J. W. Richardson and John E. Constant.  Deacons:  James Telfer, John A. Enos, W. S. McCue and W. H. Lyon.  J. W. Richardson was clerk of Session.

          Delegates were always sent to Presbytery throughout the year, meeting at Spring    field, Jacksonville, Lincoln, Decatur, Taylorville or Virginia, Illinois.  It was a long trip and usually an over night one by horse and buggy or by train.

          It is noted that May 12, 1901 the Session met and voted for application to the Home Missions Board for $375 for Pastor’s salary.  In the minutes of session meeting of March 19, 1901 when Rev. Loose received a call from Williamsville and Buffalo Hart churches for his pastoral services … “that your ministrations in the Gospel will be profitable to our Spiritual interests …. and that you may be free from worldly cares and avocations, we hereby promise $700 per year and also to supply and keep in repair a manse at Williamsville.” 

          September 1901 a committee was chosen to procure material for hitch racks and a wood walk.  This walk extended out from the front doors and then turned south in front of the hitching racks for a distance to top of hill going down to the store.

          The Christian Endeavor Society was still active and they raised money by having box socials, ice cream suppers and strawberry festivals, to purchase the bell for the new church at a cost of $75.  It was installed in 1902.  John Enos was its leader at this time.

          June 1892 the Session voted to discontinue asking the Board of Home Missions to contribute to the Pastor’s salary and appointed a special committee to raise the money for salary due the Pastor.

          Rev. Loose left in September 1902 and the following April Rev. C. E. Kalb offered to take charge of the Buffalo Hart Church in connection with the church at Bates, Illinois.  He preached at Buffalo Hart the second and fourth Sundays of each month.  Rev. Kalb served Buffalo Hart until his death on April 27, 1904 after a brief illness.

          Dr. Logan, Springfield, was Moderator at this time and he sent a Princeton Seminary student, Mr. C. R. Pires, to supply the pulpit two Sundays a month.

          In 1904 it was decided to dissolve the union between Buffalo Hart and Bates and go with the Chatham Presbyterian Church in sharing a minister.  October 4, 1904 Rev. Paul Heiligman came to serve the church two Sundays a month.  He served for one year.

          Rev. George C. Lennington supplied the pulpit during the winter of 1906 … two Sundays a month.

          During the summers of 1906 and 1907 George T. Arnold, a student at McCormick Seminary, served the church twice a month.

          Sunday School was held every Sunday during all these years with church services only two Sundays a month.  Very elaborate special programs were given on Children’s Day, Easter, Rally Day and Christmas, for many years under the direction of Mrs. F. L. Priest, Mrs. R. F. Constant, Macie Lyon (Priddle), May Long (Enos), Katherine Constant (Peterson), Ina, Frances and Bessie Priest and Mrs. William McCue.

          New officers elected May 20, 1906 were:  Elder, John A. Enos; Deacon, B. F. Weikel.

          During 1908, 1909, 1910 and 1911 Dr. Logan, Moderator, would supply or send a minister occasionally to preach.  The ministers came on Saturday, stayed all night at the home of F. L. Priest, and after services son Sunday departed on the train.

          Sunday School remained active each Sunday.

          The Ladies Aid Society must have been organized shortly after the new church was built but the first records now available start January 1910 … Mrs. Una C. Richardson was Treasurer and amount on hand, in Sangamon Loan and Trust Co., was $339.26.  The ladies met regularly to quilt.  They were paid $1.00 to quilt a quilt, 75 cents to tack a comfort, aprons were 50 cents and sunbonnets 50 cents.  They served sale lunches, election day lunches, had ice cream socials, strawberry festivals, chicken suppers and sponsored lawn socials.  On the expense side, there were such items as kerosene, candles, express on ice cream, express on bread, meat and supplies for a sale, etc.  They were always generous in their giving to the Pastor’s salary, repair and redecorating of the church, new red carpet (32 yds. @ 75 cents), board and room for minister overnight, to Mrs. Priest from September to May, $10, digging church basement under sanctuary $157.68, paid for regular cleaning of church and cutting lawn in summer and for concrete walks.

          Much of the social life of the community centered around the church and church societies.  For a period of several years, lawn socials were held each month with different families taking turns entertaining at their homes; one winter a box social was held at the Misses Hickman home … the New Years social net $3.80.

          From December 4, 1910 until March 23, 1913, there were no minutes in Session book … Sunday School continued every Sunday, church services occasionally.  Ladies Aid and Missionary Society met regularly unless the “January and Spring thaws” made the roads impassable with mud “hub” deep.

          March 23, 1913 Rev. Robert B. Irwin, Decatur, came as pastor and served the church six years for two Sundays a month.  During this time, usually in the fall, he held several revival meetings, every night for one week.  Billy Sunday, the well-known evangelist and his song leader, Homer Rodheaver, came to the Armory in Springfield and held evangelistic meetings for several weeks.  One night about 30 persons from Buffalo Hart attended, going in on the Illinois Central train, and because of such a large group, the midnight fast train stopped at Buffalo Hart to let them off on their return.

          The old records show history in the making … October 18, 1917 the Ladies Aid Society purchased seven Liberty Loan Bonds for $350 … World War I was beginning for U.S.A.!  May 2, 1918 two Liberty Loan Bonds purchased for $100.  The church was used as a Red Cross center.  The red carpet in Sunday School room was taken up so the room could be more easily cleaned.  Tables were moved in, to be used for rolling bandages and cutting out hospital supplies.  An auction was held on the church lawn for the benefit of the Red Cross.  Grain and livestock prices were at an all time high; the farmers were prosperous and bid liberally at the sale.  A rooster sold for $25.  All eligible young men from the church and community were in service; some were overseas.

          During 1920, 1921, 1922 Rev. Humphrey, Moderator, supplied the pulpit two Sundays a month or sent a student.

          June 23, 1923 Rev. A. J. Davis, Boy Scout Executive of Springfield, was called to serve the church two Sundays a month.  The budget was $600 for 1923.

          The Ladies Aid paid the $500 mortgage on the church, to the Board of Church Erection August 6, 1923.

          1924 the Young People’s class purchased two trays with the individual communion glasses to replace the two silver goblets formerly used.

          Rev. A. G. Bergen was Moderator from 1925 to 1928.

          The Missionary Society contributed generously to Missions and always sent in their apportionments.

          November 1926 the West Side School burned and the school term was finished in the church.  The first four grades in the Sunday School room and the upper four grades in the Sanctuary.  On April 19, 1927 a short time before the school vacation, a tornado struck the community and did a great deal of damage to Buffalo Hart.  The leaded stained glass windows of the church were demolished.  At that time the timber to the south and east of Buffalo Hart was being cut and many families of the timber workers were left homeless.  After the storm passed, dozens of them, many injured, came to the church for shelter.  They lived in the church basement for several weeks until shacks could be built for them.  The Red Cross helped refurnish the rebuilt dwellings and clothe the people.

April 19, 1927 Carrollton, Springfield, Riverton, Chestnut, Buffalo Hart Grove, Cornland suffered from an F4 tornado.  This was the result of two separate tornadoes.  The first one began in Missouri and moved into Illinois near Hardin, and moved across Carrollton before lifting west of Springfield near Loami. 

          There was a big repair job on the church; new windows, the walls papered, floor painted and a new carpet, but as usual the Ladies Aid, members and citizens of the community helped; a play was presented in the hall above the store and the proceeds given and soon the total amount was reached.

Buffalo Hart General Merchandise Store and Post office where the Ladies Aid, members and citizens of the community helped by presenting a play.  Today the old store still stands, however; it remains vacant.

 

          Rev. Davis resigned in September 1928 to devote full time to his duties as Boy Scout Executive and Rev. W. C. Shaffer, Superintendent of the Sangamon County Poor Farm, at Buffalo, Illinois, came to fill the pulpit on the second and fourth Sunday of each month.

          Gas lights were installed in the church in 1936.

          Rev. Shaffer served from 1929 to 1935 when he was called to Fancy Prairie Presbyterian Church.

          Rev. F. L. Gould, Greenview, Illinois, was called to serve the church two Sundays a month from 1935 to 1938.

          Rev. H. S. Crouse, Rochelle, Illinois, served from 1938 to 1940.  He held services each Sunday and lived in Springfield.  He resigned because of ill health.

          Rev. Roy Kale, Springfield, was Moderator from April 1942 until April 1945 and from April 1947 to April 1954.

          December 1940 Rev. F. L. Smith, Fancy Prairie, Illinois, came as the first resident minister; a house was rented for him in Buffalo Hart and later they moved into the manse.

          Pearl Harbor … December 7, 1941 … World War II had begun!  Ladies Aid bought six United States Savings Bonds for $444.  The young men from the church and community were called to serve their country in the European theatre and the Japan area.  They were scattered in many parts of the world.

          In 1943, $3,500 was collected for building a parsonage in the church yard.  Due to war priorities, building materials weren’t available and the money was invested in government bonds.  Then in 1944, a proposition was presented to the church concerning the W. O. Cass property south of Buffalo Hart.  On May 19, 1944 the church purchased the house and twenty acres of land for $4,200, the house to be used as a manse.  Since then the farmers in the community, under the direction of the trustees, have farmed the land and the proceeds put in the church treasury.  The Ladies Aid cashed their U. S. Bonds and put the money in the farm fund.

          The 50th anniversary of the organization of the Buffalo Hart Presbyterian Church was celebrated May 26, 1946.  A large attendance of former pastors, members and friends came to spend the day and attend Sunday School and church services in the morning with a basket dinner at noon and a special program at 2 p.m.

          In the early spring of 1947, electric lights were installed in the church.

          Due to ill health, Rev. Smith resigned in March 1947.

          Rev. William E. Skadden, a minister and lecturer, came to serve the church on April 6, 1947.  During 1947, the manse was repaired and modernized.  Rev. Skadden was instrumental in bringing noted lecturers, singers and entertainers to the church.

          The first vacation church school was held in the summer of 1947 with 102 children in attendance and in 1949 the first communicants class was held for six weeks.

          December 30, 1940 the Dossal curtains were dedicated and two paintings by Salzman, “Head of Christ” presented by Mr. and Mrs. J. A. Enos and “Christ Knocking at the Door” presented by Mr. and Mrs. James Cravens in memory of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Cravens.

          In 1950 a new south entrance was built on to the church.

          In September 1951 Presbyterian Life Magazine was subscribed for and has ever since been sent to each family in the church.

          October 26, 1952 Rev. Skadden held his last service; he had resigned in order to devote full time to his lecture tours.

          A Presby Club had been organized by the young married couples and led by Mr. and Mrs. Arnott Smith.  They met monthly for Sunday supper meetings.  They served suppers, sales lunches, etc. and sent flowers to those ill in the hospitals.

          October 1952 Frank Hodson, a student at McCormick Seminary came and remained until he graduated in May 1956.  He was then called to the First Presbyterian Church, Hominy, Oklahoma.

          The fall meeting of Springfield Presbytery was held at Buffalo Hart in 1953.

          The Richardson Club House was built in the summer of 1954 and most of the dinners, suppers and meetings formerly held in the church basement are now held in the club house.

          During Rev. Hodson’s pastorate, there were plans made for an addition of three educational rooms, but work was not started until the spring of 1957.

          Dr. Richard P. Graebel of the First Presbyterian Church, Springfield, Illinois was chosen our Moderator September 20, 1954; since then there has been an annual congregational meeting with regular election of officers.

          June 23, 1957 the three Sunday School rooms were dedicated at a special service, by the Moderator, Dr. R. P. Graebel.

          June 17, 1956 Thomas D. Brown, a student at McCormick Seminary, was called to serve as pastor.  He resigned May 25, 1958 after graduation, to accept a call to Yates City Presbyterian Church.

          Dr. Graebel suggested Rev. W. E. Skadden, our former supply pastor, to serve the church.  He returned June 1, 1958.

          September 1959 the Fall District meeting of the Springfield Presbyterial met at Buffalo Hart Church with an attendance of 125 women.

          January 1961 church membership was 95.  Budget for the year was $5,390.

          Buffalo Hart Church was honored by the selection of Sydney Roberts as a delegate from Springfield Presbytery to the General Assembly at Buffalo, New York, May 1961.

          September 1961 Buffalo Hart Church entertained Springfield Presbytery for an all day meeting with lunch served at Richardson Club House.

          January 1962 there were 103 members and the budget was $6,110 of which $700 was for Benevolence.

          August and September 1962 false beams were placed on the Sanctuary ceiling and the church redecorated.

          A Women’s Association with three circles was organized in November 1962; this new organization combined the Ladies Aid Society and Missionary Society.

          May 5, 1963 Dr. Graebel received new members into the church and dedicated the remodeling and redecorating of the church, and also dedicated the new hymn books given by the Presby Club.  The club is no longer active.

          Church membership January 1964 was 107 and Sunday School attendance 71.

          A Youth Fellowship group under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. George Drake was formed in 1963.

          A memorial service was held November 25, 1963 at 11 a.m. for President of the United State, John F. Kennedy.

          December 1963 anonymous donors presented a lovely Baldwin organ to the church.  Guest organist Mr. Wendell Kennedy of Springfield presided at the organ for the Christmas church service at 11 a.m. and for the Vesper service at 4 p.m., December 22, 1963.

          Throughout the years many changes have taken place in the community since the organization of the church in 1896.

          After World War I, the model T Ford was popular; road improvements were necessary; with the economic Depression of the 1930’s, the exodus began from farm to cities; radios were installed in homes; Route 54 was built through Buffalo Hart; livestock markets were established in Springfield so the live stock loading pens were not used at the railroad siding and eventually torn down … passenger train service was curtailed … tractors and mechanized equipment replaced the horses and mules on the farms … television was being used … Community Unit School Districts replaced the country schools with their various programs and tended to decentralize community centered church affairs … REA brought electricity to the community; homes were modernized … heating and cooking units were changed from wood or coal to oil, propane gas or electricity.

          Many of our young men were involved all around the world in World War II, Korean Conflict, Berlin Crisis, the Cuban Crisis and Vietnam War.  Medical facilities in Springfield were enlarged.  The general merchandising store at Buffalo Hart owned and operated for many years by David J. Ross closed in November 1967.  The Post Office was closed.  Many students were attending college and universities from high school and the country church continued on, ministering to all and having an honored place in the community.

          The Farm Progress Show, an agricultural exhibition sponsored by the Prairie Farmer Magazine, was held September 30, 31 and October 1, 1969 on the James Cravens farm.  All the churches in the surrounding area were invited to help serve the food.  Buffalo Hart was the host church and many friends from all the Presbyterian Churches in the Springfield Presbytery and many other people volunteered to help.  Mrs. Mary Moody was General Chairman.  Proceeds were $5,265.  This money has been used for improvements to the church, and $1,500 given to the Illinois Presbyterian Home in Springfield.

          September 1970 the front entrance was rebuilt and redecorated; the front double doors on the west side were removed and new doors installed in the south entrance.  New carpet was laid in the vestibule.

          The Women’s Association, which is now one circle, in November 1970 distributed the New Testament “Good News for Modern Man” throughout the entire community as their part in the state-wide crusade.

          December 1970 Mr. and Mrs. George Wilson gave 20 ft. of land on the east and south of the church yard to complete a circular driveway around the church.  It is covered with crushed rock.

          Synod of Illinois was restructured in 1971; there are four Presbyteries instead of the original ten in Illinois.  Buffalo Hart is in the Great Rivers Presbyter; the others in Illinois are:  Blackhawk, Chicago and Southeastern.  The State of Illinois and the State of Indiana is the Synod of Lincoln Trails, with headquarters at Indianapolis, Indiana.  The Lincoln Trails Synod has seven Presbyteries, the four above mentioned in Illinois, and the three in Indiana are:  Ohio Valley, Wabash Valley and Whitewater Valley.  Lincoln Trails Synod has approximately 300,000 communicant members.

          Membership in 1972 was 97 and the budget was $6,070 plus $700 benevolence  … $400 of this benevolence for National Presbyterian work and $300 for Illinois Presbyterian Home.  $180.45 was given to One Great Hour of Sharing and $556 to the Salvation Army Building Fund.

          Several trees in the church yard had died and had to be removed; some new trees were set out.

          A new piano was purchased July 1972.

          Rev. William Skadden was stricken in August 1972 and died at his home in Door County, Wisconsin, October 11, 1972.

          During Rev. Skadden’s illness and after his death, Rev. Shroeder, Rev. Maietta Sr., Rev. Charles Hindman, Rev. Lewis Andrew, Dr. R. P. Graebel and Rev. Gideon Krein filled the pulpit on various Sundays.

           A small room was built in 1972 in the northwest corner of the north Sunday School room and toilet facilities have been installed.

          Two charter members of the church died in 1972 … Mrs. May Lyon Enos on August 26 and John A. Enos on November 8.

          Rev. Lewis Andrew answered the call to serve Buffalo Hart November 26, 1972.  Presbytery appointed him Moderator for Buffalo Hart.

          There are 100 members.  The budget for 1972 is $6,750 plus $700 benevolence.  Mr. and Mrs. Robert Richardson, Helena, Montana, have given 191 shares of stock in St. Paul Companies over a period of years.

          The Missionary Society and now the Women’s Association has always sent in the yearly apportionment and their serving quotas; overseas has been hospital supplies and blankets.  The national sewing has also been hospital supplies and garments sent most often to the Appalachian Mountain area and Ganado Mission in Arizona.

          Since the reorganization of the Synod and Presbyteries, there was a need for a smaller unit for local communication to Presbytery.  So the Springfield Area Mission Council was formed, composed of the six Springfield Presbyterian Churches, Chatham, Farmingdale and Buffalo Hart which meets monthly, first Monday night, on a rotating basis.

          The budget for 1974 is $6,810 plus benevolence $700 … $300 of this benevolence goes to Illinois Presbyterian Home.

          In the agricultural area, farms are larger, hence, there are fewer families and children so our Sunday School has dwindled, but the little white country church still stands as a Monument to the Christian Faith of this community and our future lies in God’s hands.

“One thing I have asked of the Lord,

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord

all the days of my life.

To behold the beauty of the Lord,

And to inquire in his temple.”  Psalm 27

Thanks to my mother, Mrs. May Enos, for writing parts of the first six pages.  Compiled by Dorothy E. Burrus, July 1, 1974

Part II

          As the community celebrated its sesquicentennial September 15, 1974, worship service was celebrated at the church with Rev. Lewis Andrew in the pulpit.  In 1975 there were 104 members with a budget of $7.660.  Mission council was active meeting once a month at various churches.  Part of our benevolences went to Illinois Presbyterian Home.

          Richard Paul Graebel, our former moderator from September 1954 to March 9, 1976, died on that date.

          The Women’s Association met once a month and has always met its apportionment and sewing quotas.  The sewing was sent to the Appalachian Mountains and Ganado Mission in Arizona at that time.  Women’s Association served Easter Breakfast and sent flowers to those in the hospital.  A family night was combined with the Annual Praise Service in November.

          A communicant’s class was held in 1977 with four young people in attendance.  In 1978 there were 75 members and the budget was $8,085.  A committee attended a conference of small churches in Jacksonville in 1978.  The church hosted the Springfield Mission Council and served refreshments.  The Small Church Task Force was working with Buffalo Hart Church to find a minister.  Rev. Howard Milkman, of First Presbyterian Church, was to be our moderator.

          Our church participated in the Major Mission Fund;  members pledged $3,000, which was given over a period of three years.  It was used for Indians in the Southwest and the poor.

          Rev. Lewis Andrew left in June 1979 for Bethany, Oklahoma.  A silver bowl was presented to them and a potluck dinner was held.

          A meeting was held at the church July 30, 1979 and it was decided to yoke with Fifth Presbyterian Church and hire Margaret Zedan as stated supply.  She would serve 2 days for Buffalo Hart and 3 days for Fifth, with Buffalo Hart sharing the other expenses.  Rev. Zedan attended Dubuque Seminary and her ordination was held at Fifth Church with Buffalo Hart assisting.

          The Kaleidoscope, a group of Williamsville High School singers, sang at our church service in December.

          Rev. John Stephens served as temporary supply from June to October in 1979.

          In 1980, there were 67 members.  In December the pews were upholstered in red plush velvet at a cost of $1,449.50.  Rev. Zedan held a Bible Lenten Study from February 20 to April 2, and Good Friday services were held at Fifth Church.

 

          The Gideons spoke at the church in June 1980.

          The Christmas offering was sent to Kemmerer Village.

          In 1982 there were 47 members and the budget was $15,235.

          Rev. Zedan preached her last sermon at Buffalo Hart on February 14, 1982, and went to Howell, Michigan, to serve as assistant pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.  A reception was held for her after the service and she was given a pair of silver candlesticks.

          The Rev. James Webb and Rev. Charles Howe served the church in February and March of 1982.  The two churches invited Rev. Steven Plank, assistant pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, to serve Buffalo Hart as stated supply and interim pastor at Fifth Church from March 15, 1982 until August 3, 1982.

          Vacation Church School was held and ended with a picnic at the church.

          Rev. Plank received a call from Willow Green Presbyterian Church near Rockford and he left after the service September 26, 1982.

          Rev. William Peckham, Rev. Fred Roblee, and Chet June (from Westminster) conducted services during October 1982.  Rev. Roblee was called to Fifth Church for 3 months and to Buffalo Hart as moderator and stated supply from November 28, 1982 to February 28, 1983.  Later the session asked him to stay on three more months.

          We contributed to One Great Hour of Sharing in addition to regular giving, and also to Illinois Presbyterian Home and to the New Life Presbyterian Church in 1983.  We had a very successful Bible school sponsored by the Women’s Association, supplies paid for by the church.

          Presbytery and Synod voted to reunite the northern and southern churches into the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.  They had not been together since the Civil War.

          Our church received the Schober organ on March 26, 1983 from Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth McGee, and they attended the dedication.

          Rev. Patricia Reid was asked to come as a candidate for stated supply in cooperation with Fifth Church on May 15, 1983.  She was asked to serve one year.  White aluminum siding was put on the entire building, and new furnaces installed in 1983.

          The budget for 1984 was $19,146.  On March 25, 1984 the Chapel Singers from Blackburn College conducted the service.

          The budget for 1985 was $19,576.  Ministry Council met at our church in April.

          In June 1986, Rev. Reid submitted her resignation effective August 3, 1986.  Rev. Gregg Dana began serving as temporary supply September 1, 1986.

          The Women’s Association has served Easter Breakfast and the Praise Service Supper for several years.  The Christmas offering was given to Joy Giving Fund, which helps retired mission workers and their spouses and the Southwestern Indians and the poor.

          In January 1987 there were 32 members and the budget was $19,423.  Bible study was held after church, led by Rev. Dana.  Ministry Council held a picnic at the club house in June.  It was during this time that the signs were put on Route 54.

          Gregg Dana married Anne Fisher, also a Presbyterian minister in November 1987, at First Presbyterian Church.  During that year it was approved that we combine the elders and trustees in one body.  This board of Elders serves the spiritual and physical needs of the church.

          World Day of Prayer was held at the church in 1988 with 9 churches invited from the area.  Again Rev. Dana taught the Lenten season Bible study.  Mr. and Mrs. Dwight Moody. Dorothy Burrus and Rev. Dana attended the General Assembly in St. Louis June 7, 1987.

          In 1989 there was a budget of $19,887 and a membership of 28.  Structural work was done beneath the stained glass windows on both sides of the sanctuary.

          The years 1988 and 1989 saw the church celebrating, with other Presbyterians, the 200th anniversary of their church in America.  A bi-centennial worship service was held at 10:30 a.m. at Sangamon State University Auditorium.  Ray and Myrabel Theobald volunteered to assist with the serving of communion to the 1100 persons attending the service.

          There were 28 members in 1990.  The budget was $18,777.  At the January Congregational Meeting, the suggestion was made to sell the farm land.  At a February 2nd meeting, it was decided to farm the acres another year, but to sell during the year.  On November 24, 1990 it was sold in 4 five-acre lots.

          We were entertained by the choir from Williamsville Methodist Church who assisted with our candlelight communion service on December 23, 1990.

          We gave $220 to Contact Ministries for their needs.

          Many meetings concerning small churches were held in 1991 and 1992.  Rev. William Schacht was hired as Rural Ministry Specialist to survey the area for new members.  He did a study of our situation.  It became the concern of the session and the congregation as to whether we could continue as a church.

          The church participated in One Great Hour of Sharing and the Peace Offering.  Rob Hudson, of Helping Hands, spoke at the Praise Service.  Food and supplies were collected for the organization.  A potluck dinner followed.

          Rev. Dana resigned effective December 31, 1992.  Rev. Dana preached his last sermon December 23 at a candlelight service, followed by a reception.  The Dana family was presented with a gift.  Rev. Dana left to be with Inter-Faith Counseling Service in Springfield.

          In January 1993 we had 30 members.  Rev. Jack McIntyre filled the pulpit during January 1993.  1993 was also the year we began having Sunday School again.  Janice Kennedy (Wray) was working on a huge mailing giving information about the church, which went to a large area.  As a result of the mailing, the Illinois State Journal featured Buffalo Hart Church and its congregation in a full-age article with color pictures in the month of March.  As a result two families attended services and one family joined the church.

          Rev. Chase Page came March 1993 as temporary supply.  Holy Week services were held on Maundy Thursday and again on Palm Sunday.  Rev. Page left May 23 to serve First Presbyterian Church at Montross, Pennsylvania.

          The following pastors conducted services in 1993.  Dr. Richard Dayringer; Rev. Jack McIntyre; Dr. Charles Hendricks; Rev. Mary Jessup.  Rev. Jessup preached in June and additional services.  She continues as our Stated Supply.

          Mr. Robert Richardson died July 5, 1993.  He was a liberal donor to our church.

          Ethel Butcher spoke to the congregation at the Praise Service.  The Women’s Association gave $100 to Flood Relief through the Pike County Farm Bureau.  The Deacons gave $400.  Christmas was celebrated December 19 with a candlelight communion service.  The children’s Sunday School class participated.

          June 12, 1994 a picnic with homemade ice cream was held at the church.

          There were three church fires within a 70-mile radius in 1994.  The Bissell Methodist Church burned July 22, 1994.  The Session decided that something should be done to protect our church from arson.  We raised the insurance on the building and took down the signs along the highway.  Sensors connected to motion lights were installed.  The roof was repaired after a windstorm in May.

          New hymn books were purchased in November.  The Praise service was held in November with Paula Brown from the Mini-O’Beirne Crisis Nursery as speaker, followed by a potluck dinner.

          Christmas was celebrated with a candlelight communion service.  The children participated.

          In 1995 there were 34 members.  The church will be celebrating 100 years on September 8, 1996.  The committee is:  Rev. Mary Jessup; Mary Moody; Dorothy Burrus; Janice Wray; and Myrabel Theobald.

          Improvements made in 1995 included painting the interior of the church, new carpet and a new dehumidifier.  The Women served Easter breakfast.  $170 was collected for Blanket Sunday.  The church furnished copies of the Year Book of Prayer so each family might have one.

          A rededication service was held December 1, 1995.  The new hymnals were dedicated as well as the improvements to the church.  A beautiful new cross purchased from memorial funds given in memory of Aaron Moody was dedicated also.

          Praise Service was held November 19, 1995 with Cathy Swartz from Habitat for Humanity as speaker.  The Women’s Association donated $100.

          The Session voted to send $1,000 to Presbyterian Home, $200 to Bissell Methodist Church for use in their new building, the Peace Offering was sent to Contact Ministries, and $200 to Oklahoma for their bombing disaster.  Six people joined the church in 1995.  There were 34 members and the budget was $21,436.  The Women’s Association gave $100 to the First Presbyterian Church of Oklahoma City for use of victims, and $100 to Bissell Methodist Church, as well as $50 to Contact Ministries.

          The Deacons continue to be responsible for the communion services as well as the changing of the paraments in season.

          Buffalo Hart hosted World Day of Prayer March 1, 1996.  Rev. Jessup held Bible study twice a week for 8 weeks in early 1996.

          One of the highlights of our service on Sunday morning is the special children’s sermon given by the pastor.  It is eagerly awaited b y the children - also by the adults present.  The children attend the worship service, through the time of sharing joys and sorrows of the congregation.

          Each person who desires, participates in the birthday observance.  This is a holdover from the time when we had a separate opening and closing service for Sunday School.  The birthday collection was taken during these services.  The one who is celebrating his birthday puts one penny for each year into the small church bank while the congregation sings the birthday song, concluding with “God Bless You, Happy Birthday to You.”

          The worship service has changed according to the needs of the church during the years.  The children now leave the congregation for their Sunday School class after the second hymn and the offering.  If communion is being served, they return before the sacraments are served.

          The church has been ecumenical from the first having been served by ministers of several denominations, and welcoming to its membership those with roots in other denominations.

          Our first century has seen many changes in our small country church and the community, but the church still stands as a place of worship for all.  Our forefathers could not have envisioned the exodus of young people from the community as farms became larger and larger and farmers fewer in number.  Most have been educated to other fields and occupations and have relocated from coast to coast.  Many have become active in churches in other communities.  Many return for visits from time to time to make contact once again with their religious roots.

          Through good years and bad the church has remained - rejoicing in the good years and consoling each other in the bad times.  We continue to welcome new members and to value those who have been with us longer.

Compiled from records by:

Dorothy Burrus & Myrabel Theobald

Spring 1996