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Ebenezer Presbyterian Church, Scotland Township

The church known by the above name was formed in the early part of 1861, by a large number of those who had seceded from the Camp Creek congregation. For a time after the rupture there were no meetings held, but an organization was soon formed, containing the following members: George W. Provine, J. A. Provine, Mary Provine, F. Campbell, Lucinda Knowles, Jane Allison, James Walker, Nancy Walker, Jeremiah Sullivan, Mary Sullivan, Jonas Lindsay, J. T. Lindsay, Margaret Cochran, A. H. Hill, M. C. Cochran, James Hill, Robert McNair, James McNair, Janet McNair Sr., Mary C. McNair, Elizabeth McNair, Milton Knight, Anna M. Knight, Samuel G. Henderson, Mary A. Henderson, Elizabeth A. Henderson, John Clark, Nancy Clark, S. K Clark, Annie M. Clark, Jane Watson, E. F. Watson, M. C. Watson, J. F. Watson, M. H. Campbell, James Clark, Margaret Clark, James Littleson, Janet McNair Jr., Margaret Buchanan, Elizabeth Sullivan, Elizabeth Bailey, Alexander M. Campbell and John Littleson.

George W. Provine, John Clark, Jeremiah Sullivan and Robert McNair were chosen ruling elders, and G. W. Provine, clerk of the session. On the 3d of August, 1861, a meeting of the members was held, at which it was determined to build a church, and they went at it with a will, all giving according to their circumstances. On the 13th of the same month the contract was let for the erection of a building 56x36, and 18 feet to the square. A vestibule and gallery 11 feet wide across the west end was provided for. The price agreed upon was $2,000, and the building was finished in the first part of November, of the same year. It was dedicated to the service of God, on the 21st of December, 1861, and Rev. James M. Chase elected to fill the pulpit of the little flock temporarily. In January, 1862, James Walker, James Clark and J. A. Provine were chosen deacons. On the 25th of September, 1862, Rev. Mr. Chase was duly installed as regular pastor of the church, and continued in that relation until his death on the 10th of February, 1865. In the April following, James T. Bliss was elected stated supply, and occupied the pulpit until May, 1868, during which time a revival was held, and 30 members were added to the church.

In 1866, the society secured an addition to the church lot and erected a parsonage, two stories high, containing six rooms, at a cost of $1,500. A barn was afterwards added, in 1872, at a cost of $200. May 8, 1868, Rev. H. C. Mullen was installed as pastor of the church, at a salary of $800 per annum, and remained until the spring of 1880. In 1874, there was another great revival and 39 members were added to the fold. In 1880, Rev. J. B. Baker succeeded Mr. Mullen as pastor, and remaining but one year, was followed by Rev. J. S. Rankin, the present pastor. With a full membership of 80, the church is in a highly prosperous condition, and is accomplishing a good work in this community among the people of this denomination.

Rev. John G. Rankin, pastor of Ebenezer church, was born in Jefferson county, East Tennessee, March 31, 1821. At the age of 15 he removed with his father's family to southern Indiana, and three years later entered Mill Creek academy and commenced a course of study, with the ministry in view. After two years the family removed to Iowa, and for one year he studied with the Episcopal clergymen of Burlington, Iowa. In 1843 he entered the sophomore class in the Mission institute, established by Dr. David Nelson, near Quincy, Illinois. He graduated from that institution in April, 1845; entered Lane theological seminary in September, of the same year, and graduated May, 1848. He was licensed to preach by the presbytery of Cincinnati, May 5, 1847, and was ordained by the presbytery of Schuyler, September 13, 1849. He was first settled over the Presbyterian church of Warsaw, Illinois, in September, 1848, and remained in that relation nearly 18 years. He was also in Carrollton, Greene county, Illinois, 10 years, and at Monticello seminary, near Alton, between two and three years. One year at Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, and one year pastor in Centralia, Illinois. He commenced preaching to Ebenezer church in May, 1882, removed his family into the parsonage in November, 1882, and has since ministered to the church and is still its pastor.

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 440-441. Transcribed by Karl A. Petersen

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