LAFAYETTE TOWNSHIP CHURCH HISTORY
Presbyterian Church of Vandalia
The early history of Christianity in Lafayette township is not very well known and many facts and incidents connected with the first preachers and their work have been forgotten. The first meetings appear to have been held from house to house, by pioneer missionaries of the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian Churches and seem to have been well attended. The oldest organization to date is the Presbyterian Church of Vandalia, which dates its origin from the year 1848 at which time it was founded by Revs. Cozad and Ferguson, at the residence of Anthony Eick. About twenty one members went into the organization among whom were: Anthony Eick and wife, Peter Eick and wife, Henry Johnson and wife, William Davis and wife, James Martin and wife, James Davis and wife, John Smith and wife, with the younger members of their respective families. For one year services were held at the dwellings of different members and later at the village schoolhouse. A frame house of worship was erected in the year 1849 near the western limits of the town and cost the sum of $ 500. It was still standing in the mid 1880's although in a rather dilapidated condition. The following pastors have ministered to the congregation at different times: Rev. Peck, Milligan, Ferguson, Cole, Ward, Booth, Fox, Omelvena and Sammis. The society had but few members by the mid 1880's and no preaching was sustained.
The Vandalia Methodist Episcopal Church
This is an old organization and has been one of the aggresive societies of the county. At one time it boasted of a large congregation and the good it has accomplished in the community cannot be told in words. Like many other churches, its membership is much smaller then formerly, owing to deaths and removals. Although it has always maintained its identity and sustained regular preaching. The house of worship is a commodious frame building with a seating capacity of about 250 persons.
Palestine Christian Church
This was near Vandalia and was organized in the year 1863 by Elder James Blankenship with about twenty members. The first meeting was held in a large barn belonging to John Jarvis. Services were afterward conducted at the village schoolhouse which served as a meeting place until 1873, at which time the present neat frame edifice was erectd. This building has a very commodious audience room and cost the sum of $1000. Since its organization, the society has been served by the following ministers: W.B.F. Trent, ___Brown, Joel Dillon, ____Berry, Harrison Hight, Charles Caton, Mr. Castle, Isaac Walton, William Littell, and Harris Gaston.
The membership in 1884 was about thirty. The church officials were: Andrew and Asbury Jarvis, Elders; David Keyfobber and John Jarvis, Deacons.
Church of the Saints
In about the year 1862 or 1863, an organization known as the Church of the Saints sprang into existence near the southeastern part of the township, under the preaching of one George Duncan, whose eloquence and untiring zeal soon attracted a large number of adherents. Mr. Duncan had previously belonged to the Mormons and the doctrine he preached was a mild type of the faith advocated by the Latter Day Saints. The society increased in numbers very rapidly and it soon gained sufficient strength to erect a house of worship which was built of the farm of David A. Criss. While Duncan lived the organization flourished, but after his death, seven or eight years later, it was abandoned, there being no one to take his place.
Pleasant Hill Methodist Episcopal Church
The church property fell into the hands of Mr. Criss who afterward sold it to the Methodists, by whom it was still used in the mid 1880's, under the title of Pleasant Hill Methodist Episcopal Church.
The Pleasant Hill organization was founded about the year 1875 by Rev. ___Bell, with twenty five constitutional members. The second pastor was Rev. Mr. Canady after whom came in regular succession Revs. Cooper, Johnson and Spear. The organization was in good condition as late as 1884 and numbered forty members in good standing. The officers were: James Beatty, Class Leader; Tunis Everly and Levi Day, Stewards; William S. McCrary, Armstrong Kerr, Daniel Johnson, William Need and Edward Willy, Trustees; Robert Biddie, Sunday School Superintendent.