The First Presbyterian Church Of Milan

The First Presbyterian Church of Milan, Illinois, originally known as the First Presbyterian Church of Camden, Old School Branch, was organized in April, 1845. The town was laid out in 1843, and as the settlers were mainly God-fearing men and women, they soon felt the need of a religious organization. As the majority of those who desired the church were of Presbyterian belief, they resolved, with Mr. William Dickson at the head, to organize a church of this denomination. To this end, notice was duly given to the people of the town of Camden and vicinity to meet in the meeting house on April 5, 1845. The Reverend Samuel Cleland was the moderator, and the Reverend Thomas Vaill clerk of the meeting. The meeting being constituted with prayer by the moderator, the object of the meeting was stated. Mr. William Dickson presented a number of articles and resolutions for consideration and action, these forming the constitution by which they were hereafter to be regulated. After the second reading they were unanimously adopted. The first services in the town of Camden were held in the mill owned by F. R. Brunot and James Dickson, Reverend Ithamar Pillsbury preaching the sermon from the text found in Luke, 17:35. During the Winter of 1844-45, the services were held at the home of James Dickson, as the mill proved too cold for comfort. It was during the Winter of 1845-46 that Father Dickson built the first church; not so much as the price of a nail was contributed by anyone else. Laborers were scarce and money scarce; so the greater part of the work devolved upon him. The timbers must be taken from the forest and floated across Rock River, as there were no bridges. The task was a difficult one, but the building was completed on May 21, 1846, and dedicated free of debt on the 22d, to the services of Almighty God. Reverend Wilson preached the dedicatory sermon, and Reverend Pillsbury offered the dedicatory prayer. The following Sunday, May 24th, the first sacrament was celebrated. Whether with minister or without, as it often was, the church depended in a great measure on this good man, Father Dickson, to afford the means of grace. Every Sabbath the voice of prayer and praise might be heard. Often he read a sermon to the little band of worshipers, and was ever their leader. The founders or charter members were : William Dickson, Mariam C. Dickson, James Dickson, Ruth Ann Dickson, Sarah Dickson, David M. Dick-son, Francis E. Dickson, William Clark, Almina Clark, Eliza Ann Dickson, Elizabeth M. Dickson, William Pinkerton, Rachel Pinkerton, Edmund Hollister and Emma A. Hollister. During the pastorate of Doctor W. W. Morehead the little church became too small to accommodate the growing congregation. The necessity of a new church brought about the building of the present house of worship. This building, begun in 1866, was dedicated, also free of debt, by Doctor Morehead, on October 4, 1868. The committee who at-tended to this work were: James Dickson and N. D. Bradley. The interior of the building was remodeled in 1902, and is now one of the prettiest and neatest churches in this part of the State. In 1878 the parsonage was built, later a barn was added. In 1894 a pipe organ was placed in the church. The present membership is one hundred and forty. The following have served as pastors since the organization of the church: Reverend Ithaman Pillsburg, 1845-48; Reverend W. W. Bockus, 1850-51; Reverend S. T. Wilson, 1852-54; Reverend Thomas M. Chesnut, 1855-56; Reverend Jacob Coon, 1858-63; Reverend W. W. Morehead, Doctor of Divinity, 1863-71; Reverend Moses Noerr, Doctor of Divinity, 1871-77; Reverend S. T. Davis, Doctor of Medicine, 1878-79; Reverend G. B. Black, 1879-81; Reverend S. T. McClure, 1881-83; Reverend C. F. Carson, 1883-88; Reverend Watson Russell, 1889-90; Reverend W. B. McKee, 1890-93; Reverend D. T. Robertson, 1894-97; Reverend H. W. Reherd, 1897-1901; Reverend Marion Humphreys, 1901-05; Reverend H. Cullen, Doctor of Divinity, present pastor, began his work October 1, 1905.

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

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