First Baptist Church

This church was organized June 4, 1837, at the house of Lemuel Ludden, which stood just east of the present city limits, near Sechler’s carriage works. There were only seven members at that time, viz: Reverend Titus Gillet, Zachariah Cook, Barbara Cook, Lemuel Ludden, Silah Ludden, Phoebe Skinner and Nancy Taylor. They selected Reverend Titus Gillet as pastor. Meetings were held in private houses, and later in the Court House. On June 8, 1844, the “brick school house,” then standing on Union Square-now Spencer Square-was purchased for $45.34 1/4, and fitted as a place of worship. The first real church building was erected in 1848, on the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Fifteenth Street, where the Memorial Christian Church now stands, at a cost of $3,500. That building was sold, and the present edifice at the southwest corner of the same streets was erected in 1870, at a cost of $18,000. The parsonage on Fifteenth Street, adjoining the church, was built in 1879, at a cost of $2,250, and was presented to the church July 31, 1879, by Mrs. Zeruiah R. Boyer. The church has had a long and varied history, having numbered in its membership many of whom the city has been proud, and who have given character and helpfulness to the entire community. The largest membership at any time was September 23, 1906, when the total reached four hundred. The church is entirely free of debt, and all departments of the work are in active and successful operation. The property is carefully kept by a board of five trustees, and is all in first class condition. The organization is in a thoroughly prosperous condition, and is doing an aggressive work in the evangelization and Christian teaching of the community. Harry W. Reed, Doctor of Philosophy, has been pastor of the church since May 1, 1902.

Source: Historic Rock Island County, pub. Kramer & Company, Rock Island, Illinois, 1908

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