Richland County

1909 M. E. Church of Olney

The Woman's Foreign Missionary Society

By Mrs. E. B. Haseltine

THE Olney auxiliary of the W. F. M. S. of the M. E. Church was organized in the early 70's, but owing to lack of interest it was discontinued and the records were lost. It was re-organized March 9, 1879, with a membership of thirty-five; Mrs. T. F. Houts being elected president. As far as we can learn from the records the following ladies have served as president: Mrs. T. F. Houts, Mrs. Mary Longwood, Mrs. Cordelia Phillips, Mrs. H. Nall, Mrs. E. B. Haseltine, Mrs. M. N. Powers, Mrs. G. D. Slanker, Mrs. Elma Fahs and Mrs. T. A. Fritchey.

Our auxiliary is increasing in interest and spirituality. We have used the United Study of Missions since its inception, about seven years ago, and a number of the "Woman's Friend" are taken each year. We hold regular meetings the first Tuesday of each month. Thank offering services have been held each year in March. We also give a Christmas offering to the cause. The mite box offering is a feature of the September meeting.

Our special work at present is the support of a Bible Woman in India, and we contribute forty dollars per year to the day school in Nan Chang, China. The sum total raised by our society last year was $240. We are awakening to the fact that "God has given us the heathen for an inheritance."

Through the efforts of some of the ladies of our society the Standard Bearers, the King's Heralds and Little Light Bearers have been organized. The King's Heralds are a potential factor in mission work in our own local church. They hold regular monthly meetings, and nearly every member takes a copy of the "Children's Friend." They always give liberally to some special work aside from their regular dues. This year they have sent $15 to the Industrial Home in Mexico, and have contributed to the support of our beloved Bertha Creek, who, as we all know, is the Children's Missionary of the Northwestern Branch. They have a mite box opening at their September meetings. In fact, they bid fair to outshine their mother society. The Little Light Bearers have the same relation to our society that the "Cradle Roll" has to the Sunday School, and they are in line with the other societies.

And now we reverently bow our heads, and ask the Giver of all good to own and bless our efforts.

"Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish thou the work of our hands."

"If you and I today
Should stop and lay
Our life work down, and let our hands fall where they will,
Fall down to lie quite still,
And if some other hand should come, and stoop to find
The threads we carried, so that it could wind,
Beginning where we stopped; if it should come to keep
Our life work going, seek
To carry on the good design,
Distinctively made yours or mine,
What would it find?

The Standard Bearers

By One of the Members.

IN OCTOBER, 1897, a committee composed of Mrs. Lida Fritchey, Mrs. E. B. Haseltine and Mrs. Elma Fahs, appointed by the W. F. M. S., met with young ladies of the Church and organized a Young Ladies' Foreign Missionary Society, with Miss Florence Edmiston as president. For about a year meetings were held regularly every month, then the interest decreased until the society gradually died out. In January, 1900, under the leadership of Mrs. Fritchey, the Y. W. F. M. S. was re-organized and Miss Stearman elected president. In 1901, the name "Daughters of the Covenant," was given to the Society. In 1904, the name was again changed to The Standard Bearers. Missionary leaflets were used as a basis of study for a time, and later books on Japan and African missions.

Our pastor's wife, Mrs. Robert Morris, is now supervisor and the newly elected officers are: President, Ethel Fitch; First Vice-President, Lulu Winans; Recording Secretary, Flossie Christy; Corresponding Secretary, Ethel Peneton; Treasurer, Lura Bailey.

Woman's Home Missionary Society

By Mrs. T. M. Wharf

THE W. H. M. S. was organized during the spring of 1900, by Mrs. Gegie, of Duluth, Minn., one of the National Organizers of Home Missions. A few months later the society was re-organized by Miss Wood, of Sumner, Ill., the Conference Organizer, and it was called the Woman's Home Missionary Society of Olney, Auxiliary to the Southern Illinois Conference.

The Society being well established with nineteen charter members, the following officers were elected: Mrs. J. W. Loy, President; Mrs. M. C. McGriff, Vice-President; Mrs. T. M. Wharf, Recording Secretary and Treasurer; Miss Lela Myers, Corresponding Secretary.

Although the membership was small, and the amount of supply work, dues and money from all sources did not exceed over $47 for the remaining conference year, yet the Holy Spirit was with us as the source of our strength when opposition arose (from pulpit and pew) bringing us out more than conqueror; and, as the years go by there is a steady increase in membership, finance and supply work.

In March, 1909, the auxiliary numbered forty-three active members. It has paid out during the past conference year, (1908) $114.48 for dues, pledge work, supply work and scholarship. Supplies are being sent to a great many homes, including a Training School for Deaconesses, and also to our precious sister, Bertha Creek, of Darjeeling, India. Boxes of supplies are also sent to ministers on frontier work many of whom are receiving only from $150 to $250 a year, while others are laboring without promise of any certain salary, simply trusting day by day for their daily bread.

The amount of cash for local work is quite small, but a great deal of bedding, provisions and second hand garments have been distributed. Business meetings are held once a month, and call meetings for work as often as needed.

We feel very grateful to our Heavenly Father for leading us thus far safely, and gratefully appreciate any assistance rendered to advance the work, for it has been largely through the efforts of the good people of Olney that has made it possible to bring these results to pass.

Queen Esthers

By Lulu Winans

THE Queen Esther Circle of the Woman's Home Missionary Society of the M. E. Church of Olney, was organized by Mrs. Mabel Hillish in 1903. The following officers were elected: President, Lulu Winans; First Vice-President, Minnie Kramer; Second Vice-President, Margaret Butler; Corresponding and Recording Secretary, Blanche Everett. The first regular meeting was held at the home of Mrs. D. P. Moore, April 24th, 1903. Mrs. Moore was elected Superintendent or Lady Manager, which office she has faithfully filled to the present time. The dues are sixty cents per year. Meetings are held once a month for the purpose of studying the conditions and needs of the Indians, Negroes, Mountaineers, Mormons and Foreigners in our country. Special work has been done to some extent to aid in educating these people so that they may live helpful Christian lives. Money has been raised by dues, mite boxes and sales of different kinds, and help has been given to several organizations working along these lines.

In 1905 and 1906, the Queen Esthers organized The Mothers Jewel Band, and these little ones, too, are nobly helping with the good work. This year we have pledged $15 for the Rebecca McCleskey Home, and will continue to do what we can, by the help of God, and in His name to win America for Christ.

Epworth League Chapter No. 1231

By Eudora Ratcliffe


Because of a growing need among Methodists to care for their young people, societies of various names were springing up over the country having primarily the same object, Christian culture. Some one conceived the idea of union, to which end the secretary of the Young People's Methodist Alliance of St. Joseph, Michigan, began correspondence with other societies resulting in a representative gathering at Cleveland, Ohio, May 14, 1889. Dr. B. F. Dimmick, pastor of the church where the meetings were held, says: "The meetings were exceedingly interesting. They arose at times to the dramatic in excitement, as the members became stirred with the gravity of the question under discussion, and as one after another of the delegations were compelled to surrender some particular and distinctive feature of their society. It was mental surgery without an anaesthetic, but it was inevitable, and it was beautiful to observe how the Christian grace of charity would finally arise superior to selfishness and personal or party pride."

After two days spent in debate and comparison of views it was decided to organize an entirely new society. Various names were wanted, the one chosen, Epworth League, being a slip of the tongue, in speaking of Epworth Hymnal and Oxford league by one intending to prove Oxford League would be best.

In no other than a body of Christian workers could be enacted such a scene as followed the adjournment. "The threatening storm cloud that had hung over the conference all disappeared and the Sun of Righteousness had arisen over the assembly with healing in his wings and had spoken peace to the storm-tossed sea; and during the fina hours of the last session a perfect calm rested upon the conference."

From the history of the Epworth league written for the corner stone by Mrs. George Fitch, the following dates are taken:

"At the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church held at Omaha, Nebraska, May 1892, the Epworth league was officially adopted and made a department of our church. Previous to this there had been a society for young people in the Olney Methodist Church, which was changed to "Epworth League," September 10, 1889, largely through the efforts of the Pastor, Rev. Joseph W. Van Cleve. His interest in the Epworth League and success in establishing it upon a firm foundation cannot be appreciated wholly even by those of us closely associated with him in the work."

The first president was Mrs. Harry Stauffer, and the chairman of the department of Christian work was Edward B. Shaw, whose efficient services in the League was only severed when his Heavenly Father called him home. Among other invaluable workers our own missionary, Miss Bertha Creek, ranks high. What the regular meetings have been in spiritual development of the young people is shown by their faithfulness and consecration.

While the League has never been a money-making society many supplies have been sent to different homes for orphans; teachers have been supported in India; our own needy helped with clothing and bedding; money paid for nurses to care for sick; thousands of visits made to the sick; taking flowers and delicacies to them; the pulpit has been supplied with flowers and funds raised for church improvements.

The present cabinet is composed of: President, Mrs. E. B. Shaw; Vice-President, Spiritual Department, Josie Richardson; Vice-President Department of World's Evangelism, Lulu Winans; Vice-President Mercy and Help Department, Mrs. George Fitch; Vice-President Literary and Social Department, Eudora Ratcliffe; Secretary, Mabel Eichen; Treasurer, Harry Fitch.

Tribute should be paid to one, "Aunt Rhoda" Gaddis, whose young heart enabled her to work with the Leauge, faithfully in her own way, doing invaluable service since the organization of the Epworth League. She entered eternal rest September 13, 1909. Most appropriate services were held on the lawn of her humble dwelling place, conducted by Rev. Robert Morris and Rev. J. W. Cummins, of East St. Louis.

The Epworth League constitution says: "The object of the League is to promote intelligent and loyal piety in the young members and friends of the Church, to aid them in the attainment of purity of heart, and in constant growth in grace, and to train them in works of mercy and help.

Epworth League Juniors

By Mrs. T. A. Fritchey

ONE of the most promising organizations of our Church is the Junior league. Realizing the children of today are the Church of tomorrow, our beloved Methodism is giving special attention to the training of children. The Sunday School is the nursery of the Church, is for instruction in a given portion of the Bible week by week. The Junior League aims to supplement this institution and to do what the school has not the time to do during the Sunday School session teach Bible history, Bible geography, books of the Bible, memorizing scripture and hymns, the Creed, the Catechism, church history, etc. But it also attempts much more. Diligent efforts are made to lead the children to the Savior of the world; and, if a Christian child, to develop and enrich his Christian life; and train the boys and girls into intelligent Christians and intelligent Methodists.

The Junior league of Olney was organized October 1, 1891, within the pastorate of Rev. Joseph W. Van Cleve. It was named Simpson Chapter and enrolled at Central office No. 536. The first records are missing. Mrs. Ashton was the first superintendent and Miss Florence English the first treasurer. They were true to their duty, kept the children together and held meetings every Saturday afternoon.

Early in the pastorate of Rev. C. Nash, Miss Dora Ratcliffe was appointed to take the place of the former superintendent Because of illness it being necessary about a year later to make a change, Brother Nash appointed Mrs. T. A. Fritchey as superintendent; Miss Dora Ratcliffe, assistant; and two teachers, Miss Lora Sheperd and Miss Bertha Creek, now missionary to India. With such efficient and faithful helpers the pastor and superintendent saw the League rapidly growing in numbers and in interest. Meetings were held every Sunday afternoon. Business meetings once a month.

The time soon came when it was necessary to have the League divided into dojwirtments and an officer for each of the six departments. Ere long we divided into classes, had a regular course of study, and practical Christian work enforced in its numerous phases. The Master used every agency and method, and officers and teachers were at times surprised at the growth in grace, and the unfolding of religious life of the Juniors.

Our Juniors have varied in age; they have come from homes abounding in plenty and homes destitute and cheerless, but they are real, tender-hearted, beautiful, religious boys and girls. The children's experiences told in testimony meetings and their sentence prayers are often novel and exceedingly helpful, and inspire us to master the blessed art of the true ministry to children. "Of such is the kingdom."

Our day of graduation is on the anniversary of the Epworth league, when public services are held and diplomas awarded to the children who have reached the age of fourteen. Our classes have never been smaller titan twelve nor larger than nineteen in number. Today many of our graduates are the most active, aggressive and generous members of our Church; active in the Epworth League; many are teachers in the Junior League and Sunday School; one is leader of the evening choir; one the treasurer of our church; and others filling positions of importance in the Church. Many of them began tithing when children. The result has been both development in their own lives and material prosperity of the Church.

The recording angel must note the Mercy and Help Department, for it has done much, such a large amount of local work. Boxes of fruit and candy, flowers, books, pictures, baskets of clothing, fuel, groceries, etc., have found their way into homes of the sick and needy. The superintendent and teachers have only to suggest. The Juniors give gladly and enthusiastically, watching for opportunities to do the things they have been learning.

The Junior League pledge:

"I do hereby promise, by the help of God, to try always to do right, to pray every day, to read every day in the Word of God, to abstain from the use of tobacco, and all intoxicating liquor."

The officers are: Superintendent, Mrs. Robert Morris; President, Ruth Winans; First Vice-President, Hattie Dewhirst; Second Vice-President, Ruth Murray; Third Vice-President, Blanche Archibald; Fourth Vice-President, Leone Pixley; Secretary, Esther Rogers; Treasurer, Margaret Falconer.

Enrollment, Seventy-six.

The last verse of our Junior League song expresses the sentiment of the members: "Long may our league remain, Long may we love its name, Its truths make known.

The motto that we love, 'Look up, Lift up,' shall prove A prayer our hearts to move To God's own throne."

The Guild

By Mrs. J. F. Jolly

THE M. E. Guild, of which this is to be a brief history, was organized from the old societies of the Methodist Church, known respectively as follows: First, the Aid Society, afterwards the Sewing Circle and lastly, the Church Building Association. Of those bodies the writer wishes to speak before giving an account of the work of the Guild.

The books date back only as far as 1895, but the women of the Church had met at intervals long before that date, had sewed, had given public dinners and worked energetically if spasmodically. By the women of the Church is meant, first one little gathering and then another, but through it all one or two were always so faithful they deserve special mention.

Foremost among these was Miss Carrie Ratcliffe; not that she made herself a leader, but the fact that she was always willing, always patient and always at her post, caused her to be selected as directress of the Sewing Circle. Hers was always the self-appointed task of completing unfinished work and the taking of extra orders for work between meetings. Her loyalty to the work and her never failing good humor, endeared her to the entire Society which, aside from a few faithful ones, consisted mostly of a floating membership.

Airs. Nellie Phillips, Mrs. J. I. Moutrey, Mrs. Knoph and many others did faithful and unassuming work in the days of that Society. Mrs. A. L. Redman was a capable leader from the time of her election as president in 1895 to the date of re-organization, which took place at her home and at her solicitation on November 23, 1897, being the christening of the new M. E. Ladies Guild, which was organized and so named on that date. Some outsiders were asked to attend this meeting, one of whom was elected president. The following is a list of officers as elected November 23, 1897: Mrs. John F. Jolly, President; Mrs. A. L. Redman, Vice-President; Mrs. Andrews, Secretary; Mrs. J. L. Zook, Treasurer.

At the first meeting thereafter, Mrs. Andrews resigned the secretaryship, and Mrs. E. B. Shaw was elected to fill her place. The M. E. Ladies' Guild now took up the church work in earnest. Finances were discussed and the members were asked to each earn a dollar and hand in at a given date. The first dollar to come into the new organization was presented by George Elizabeth Jolly, who at that time was a little girl eleven years old. She earned it by making butterscotch and selling it. The Guild denounced the plans of former societies of buying material, sewing it up and selling it at so little real profit. They embarked in new waters, took up new plans of making money, one of the first ventures being the compiling and publishing of a cook book. It was decided for reasons of policy to call this the Olney Cook Book in preference to the Methodist as was first suggested. The work on this was driven unceasingly until the publication in July, 1898. The first lot of five hundred sold so readily a second edition followed, and finally a third edition. This money coming in almost constantly was a great help in Guild work.

This organization tried many new and unique ways of making money, the most successful being an Emporium, run at great expense on Main Street. However, as the members took turns at clerking, the sum of $475.00 was realized, above all expenses. Many other new ideas were tried, some of which were criticized by a few. But many of the pillars in the Church, including the trustees, were most loyal in their appreciation of the financial efforts of the Guild.

Also, let us speak here of the loving helpfulness of Rev. J. W. Cummins during his pastorate. The knowledge of his approval, of his confidence in their ability, and of his faith in their motives being for the right, was always uplifting to the workers in the Guild. He expected great things of them and it was their ambition to come up to the expectations of the pastor and trustees of the church.

Women and men are only God's children and like other and smaller children they are more easily led to their highest achievements by encouragement and sympathy than by harsh criticism.

To return to the Guild and its work. The first piece of property bought was the corner of Elm and Fair, for the sum of $1550.00, from Mr. J. F. Haytt. Mr. Hyatt's price was $1650.00, but he generously donated $100.00 to the Guild. Afterward the property known as the Boffenmyer place was purchased for $1000.00. On this was a cottage and barn, the cottage the Guild moved to the back of the Hyatt place for renting, and donated the Boffenmyer lot to the Church for a parsonage site, on which the parsonage now stands. Soon after the old Lutheran Church, standing between the Hyatt corner and Boffenmyer place, was bought for $850.00, and the debt assumed by the Guild. By hard work and constant alertness the Guild paid off that amount and all other indebtedness thus presenting the Church with ground (including the parsonage site) at a cost of $3,400. In addition to this sum the organization has given $2,000.00, to the new church building, having paid $1,000.00 of it down, and pledged the other thousand to be made in payments.

The books show many hundred dollars paid out as taxes, insurance and repairs on property. All this, while perhaps overlooked by the Church, all meant a continuous money earning on the part of the Guild. The building of the new church in reality is the achievement of the Guild's ambition, but the members are as keenly alive to money making as they ever were in the past, realizing that after the few payments it will take to pay off the promises made, other matters are sure to come up in the way of church furnishings, etc.

The good will to continue earning money is evident at every meeting, the social nature of which is a strong factor in keeping up the business relations and rendering them interesting. Our ex-deaconess, Miss Etta Mae Powell (now Mrs. Schwind, of Vandalia) paid the Guild the highest compliment possible when she wrote of her pleasure in meeting with its members and added: "I consider the M. E. Ladies' Guild of Olney the finest organization I have ever known in any Church." This tribute is doubly dear coming from one of her position and standing in the Church.

The secret of the social side of the Guild as well as the financial success is summed up in one word, "Harmony." Never has there been one unseemly falling out or a bitter feeling expressed at meetings. The members have pulled together and worked with one purpose and for one end.

Six times death has entered the fold and the workers paused and realized that others must step in and help finish the work begun. The following members have passed away since 1897: Flora Adams Byer, Mrs. G. D. Slanker, Miss Carrie Ratcliffe, Mrs. Peter Burnes, Mrs. Eleanor Elliott and Mrs. A. J. White.

The present pastor, Rev. Robert Morris, has been and is all that is most helpful and encouraging to the Guild, filling the place of counselor and friend. In him is a combination but seldom found in one man, a thoroughly consecrated Christian character, deeply and earnestly devoted to his work and at the same time broadly charitable toward all and keenly alive to innocent joy and amusement, thus endearing himself to all who meet him in church work. Adding to this his pleasant smile and ever cordial manner and we have the personality of the ideal pastor.

The latest work of the Guild was the organizing, at the home of Mrs. H. C. Falconer, of the Auxiliary of the Guild, to be known as the "Daughters of the Guild." This body is composed of the daughters of the members of the Guild. They are to be helpers and work in conjunction with the Guild. September 28, 1909, was the date of the organization and the following officers were elected: George Jolly McMahon, President; Mary Ellen Page, Vice-President; Kate Falconer, Secretary; Eugenia Powers, Treasurer.

The other charter members are Lillie Zook, Cleo Ryan Redman, Kathrina Powers, Helen Hoggins and Francis Phillips. At present the duties of the Auxiliary will be light but new work will develop and early training will enable them to meet it. The Guild considers the new Auxiliary the most important factor in its history. It was a beautiful thought, to thus bring in the grand daughters of many of the old time, staunch church members, and to secure, through them, young life and energy for the great work of the future.

Extracted 21 Apr 2017 by Norma Hass from Historical Sketch of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Olney, Illinois, 1841-1909.

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