This appeal for aid To Grace Church was found among Clara Vance's belongings when we were
searching out history in 1963 for Mothering Sunday.
It best explains our early founders' problems and their personalities.
"The undersigned is a missionary of the General Board of Mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church. Last year, he was appointed to the charge of a large mission in Bowling Township, Rock Island County, near the Mississippi river. His own sympathies being enlisted in their behalf, he made some efforts to obtain collections or contributions for their Church, while on a visit at New York. These were favorablely responded to, though but little has been paid in; and as he cannot spare time to make this appeal in person, he has resolved to issue it as a circular, which needs only to be read to awaken sympathy. Appended is a recommendatory letter from Bishop Whitehouse. He would suggest, that the contributions of individuals of Sunday schools, and of congregations may not perhaps be better applied, during the Christmas season than to this Mission. Donations may be sent to the Missionary by mail at Rock Island city, Illinois, or to the Rev. Dr. Ogilby, of the Vestry Room of Trinity Church, New York.
Dec. 8th 1860
THE MISSIONARY STATION AT PRE-EMPTION PRARIE, IN ILLINOIS consists of Irish families, nearly all farmers, who came to this country from the northern part of Ireland, son after the great famine which prevailed there, fourteen years ago. They are an intelligent, industrious, and well-behaved people. They are all Protestant Episcopalians, members of the old Established Church in Ireland, and have been carefully trained by faithful pastors in the doctrines and duties of Christianity. They were taught the Church Catechism in childhood: and the adults have nearly all been confirmed, and admitted to Holy Communion.
There are about 120 families of these, collected within a space of eight or ten miles square. And allowing five or six persons to a family, (which is in this case a moderate estimate:) it will be seen at once that there are enough of them to form a large congregation, of several hundred persons. But there are besides them about fifty families from the New England and other States, settled in the neighborhood, who have no place of worship, and would gladly attend our services.
These Irish are as usual, a warm hearted and hospitable people, forming by themselves a good sized colony. They are for the most part ardently attached to the Church in which they were brought up and with which ours is in full communion. About six years ago when they had a Church building partly finished it was completely destroyed by one of this fearful tornadoes which occasionally sweep across the prairies of the West leaving utter ruin and desolation in their track.
But they have now another edifice still further advanced toward completion, which has been build thus far, with commendable zeal and self-denial during the last few years of scarcity. They have done according to their ability, and some even beyond their ability, to provide for themselves and their children a sanctuary of the Lord. They do not ask nor look for help, yet they cannot go on without it, and are well
The cheapest missionaries which can be sent and they enable the living teacher to carry on his work to the best advantage.
The hard times, from which the great West is just recovering, arose from a general failure of crops for two successive years before the last two; which owing to severe droughts and other cause, the farmers could scarcely obtain grain enough from their lands to replace that which they had sown for seed. As corn and wheat are their principal articles of export and commerce, it can be easily imagined, how the failure of times must result in penury and privations, to those who depend upon them almost entirely for income and support. Immigration too, which brings much wealth to a new country, had, just before this, been seriously checked. And the preceding years of prosperity had induced habits of extravagance, which were not soon enough amended. The consequences were, of course, an immense drain of specie from the North-west, and a general prostration or failure in business.
During the present year, however, the crops are unusually and enormously large; except in the interior of Kansas, where, from long continued drought, a serious famine has arise. With this exception, the increase has been "some thirty found, some sixty and some a hundred." Another such abundant harvest will restore the North-west to its usual thrift and prosperity. Then many of the churches, which require aid, will need it no longer. Now therefore is the time to lend a helping hand, when the help is needed.
Three years ago, there were as many as 60 Episcopal clergymen in Illinois; but last year they were reduced to 50; and during the present year they are still further reduced to 45 or 40; These are all that remain to do the work of a diocese, about equal in extent to those of New York and Pennsylvania together. But though so many pastors have been driven off by a general failure of the means of support, yet the inhabitants are as numerous as before, and require future aid in their spiritual matters, ever more than ever. Several larger parishes, which two or three years ago gave their ministers $810 or $1,000 a year, can now scarcely raise more than three or four hundred for the purpose. Thus many large and zealous congregations are left without a shepherd, unfed and unattended. "The harvest truly is plenteous; but the laborers are few"
For himself, the Missionary desires to state, that, if his own sympathy for the poor people committed to his charge, were not so deep as it is, he would not desire to continue among them; for the situation has been to him one of personal inconvenience and of pecuniary loss. But he is ready again to incur the risk and do the work, to the utmost of his ability, trusting in the power of Christ to sustain and prosper him. Yet it should be remembered that an equal obligation rests upon all other ministers and members of Christ, to do good to these brethren. And if all Christians do not go in person to visit the poor and instruct the ignorant, yet the least they can do is to provide the means for those who are able and willing to undertake the task. Let each one give according to his ability; and then, if all are not Apostles or Missionaries, yet all may, in one way, preach the Gospel to the poor, by the mouths and ministry of others.
The foregoing statements cannot fail to be of deep interest to all who feel a deserving of it. For they have erected a neat and comfortable building, capable of seating more that 300 persons, Which has been painted externally, plastered, and enclosed with a suitable fence. Every part of the work has been paid for so they are not in debt for one dollar on account of it.
They have exerted themselves commendably, in building a Church thus far with economy and neatness, but they are unable to do much more; and there is still an urgent need for a few hundred dollars, to render it fit for public worship. There are no pews or seats of any kind provided, except a few benches and rough boards. There is no suitable stove for warming the building, and the congregation has often attended a full morning service, during the very coldest weather, without a fire. There are yet no desks, nor pulpit, no communion vessels nor table, no chancel railing nor font, no vestry or robing room, no bell nor organ, no large Bible or parish library, nor books for Sunday Schools.
All these will no doubt be obtained after a while; but most of them are absolutely needed at once, for the proper performance of divine service. And if they were all provided by others, there would still be quite as much effort required of the people for many years, as they will be able to make in order to sustain a pastor among them. Their children, meanwhile, are growing up without proper instruction, and are liable to be lost in paths of vice and error. It is therefore, a matter of utmost importance to them and to the church, that they should be helped in their time of need. For they are beginning to feel greatly discouraged, at the prospect of ever having a Church will established among them. A little assistance now, judiciously applied, would cause them to become, in two or three years, one of the largest of the country congregations in Illinois.
Much sympathy has been excited, of late, for a colony of converted Romanist, under Father CHINOOK, their pastor; and a large amount of money has been contributed for their relief. They are situated in this very diocese, further down the river. BISHOP WHITEHOUSE, the Diocesan, is well acquainted with their circumstances and has lately, at their request, sent them a missionary. But he has asserted, that the Irish colony in Pre-emption is equally worthy of help and sympathy, as they are our fellow churchman, of the same household of faith, and united to us by the strongest ties of brotherhood. So deep is his feeling of interest in the church building for which this appeal is made, that he has contributed $100 towards it himself. He has also written the circular letter appended to this document, strongly commending this as a worthy object of charity, and giving it his heartiest approval.
During the eight months the Missionary has divided between this and his other posts of labor, he has distributed, at Pre-emption and its neighborhood, from private resources $30 worth of Prayer Books, with an immense pile of religious tracts and papers; although these were apportioned carefully, and few at a time. There are still needed for immediate use two or three hundred Prayer Books more, and a large quantity of good reading, for the benefit of young and old. They are not in a condition to obtain these things for themselves; and, many of them are so very poor, that they cannot provide decent clothing. Several of their farms have been sold for taxes, and are likely to be forfeited by the owners. Bibles, Prayer Books and Tracts are the
Hearty concern for the extension of our pure system of faith and worship throughout the land. For love of Christ is shown chiefly by love to whatever for His sake we do them. And however much of good we may have done already, our reward will be the greater, if we do still more. For "there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed by Him, whose of right it is."While we have time; let us do good unto all men, and especially unto them that are of the household of faith."
The parish of Grace Church, Rock Island County, know as Pre-emption Prairie, where the Rev. Mr Sayres is missionary, is an Irish settlement exclusively Protestant, and contains over a hundred and twenty families attached to the Episcopal Church. They have been making an effort for some years past to build a church, and have partially succeeded, but cannot finish it for occupation, without assistance to the amount of five hundred dollars.
The Rev. Sayers who knows accurately the condition of the parish, and the
singular interest which attaches to it, has determined to make an effort to
raise at least a portion of this amount, and I can hearty commend his labor of love.
May 8th, 1860
HENRY J. WHITEHOUSE
Diocese of Illinois
Church of White Pine
Grace Episcopal Church got help.The wood structure was built in in1855 at a
cost of $1,300. The first church was demolished by a tornado and a second building was erected.
The original batting siding was changed to bevel. The leaded-glass windows opened out.
The church was heated by two pot-belied stoves. A coal pile for them was in the back of the church.
--J. Benjamin Clarke
When the church was closed in 1919, the building was sold to Charles Love for $300. He built a farm building of the lumber and it was blown down in a storm.
The ringing of the church bell is an invitation to worship.
The bell from Grace Church was taken to St. John's by Christy Doonan in a Model T Ford with the top down.
The bell was made by the B. M. Rumsey, St. Louis, Mo. In 1878
Note: The bell is still in use, and peals before each Sunday service. (Deacon Paul)