Free Will Baptist Church, of Prairie City
This society was organized in September, 1857, by Elder John B. Fast, assisted by Elders S. Shaw and P. Christian. The first members were as follows:--Elder J. B. Fast and Sarah Fast, his wife; John J. Fast, Samuel Nestlerhode, and Catharine, his wife; William Nestlerhode, William Bolin, Adeline Tainter, and Belch Mary White. John J. Fast was the first clerk of the church.
In the summer and fall of 1866, a church building, 40x60 feet in ground area, was erected, at a cost of about $5,000. At that time there were about 125 members. After Mr. Fast, the pastors have been as follows:--J. Phillips, who came in 1860; Milton McDonald, in 1861; M. S. Hubbell, in May, 1862; J. Reeve, in December, 1863; H. G. Woodworth, in 1865; E. D. Lewis, in 1869; J. J. Weadge, in 1871; H. Blackmar, in 1873; H. G. Woodworth, in March, 1874; he staid until January, 1875, after which there was a vacancy of several months; J. S. Dinsmore was the next pastor, and after he departed there was another vacancy for some time. S. J. Weed came in October, 1882. H. G. Woodworth, the present pastor, was called here in January, 1884.
The present officers are:--J. Vose, L. B. Sanford, A. Record, S. T. Dodge, and J. W. Closson, trustees; A. Record, clerk; Mrs. J. Vose, treasurer. The church now has a membership of 76. Twenty-seven members have been taken in during the past winter, and 43 in the last year. The condition of the church is prosperous. There is a Sunday school in connection with the church with about 70 members. The superintendent is J. W. Closson. The Woman's Missionary society is auxiliary to the church, and has officers as follows: Miss Anna Record, president; Mrs. H. G. Woodworth, vice-president; Mrs. Zachariah Foster, secretary; Mrs. Mantania, treasurer. This society supports a native zenana teacher in Orissey, Hindoostan. This, however, is extra work. They send money to different missions, and this is their regular work. There is also a Children's Mission band, with the following officers: Miss Mary Vose, directress; Miss Kittie Closson, president; W. S. Woodworth, secretary; Miss Myra Everly, treasurer.
Simon J. Weed, present pastor of the Cottonwood Free Will Baptist church, is a native of Gallia county, OHio, born March 11, 1854. He grew to manhood there, and followed teaching for a time. In 1877 he entered Rio Grande college, Ohio, and attended two years. During the time spent in college he had a pastorale at Harris, Ohio, which he held until 1881, when he went to Somerset county, Pennsylvania. He remained there until coming to his present location, which was is 1882. He was married in Gallia county, Ohio, May 15, 1878, to Sarah B. Allison. She died July 23, 1884, leaving one child, which died September 27, 1884.
Source: The History of McDonough County, together with sketches of the towns, villages and townships, educational, civil, military and political history; portraits of prominent individuals, and biographies of the representative citizens, 1885, pages 473-474. Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen