W. W. (William Wallace) Everts.

Compend of Christian doctrines held by Baptists : in catechism online

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Dimensions.— Whole Building, 165 by 112 feet ; Height, 230 feet ; Audience Room,
105 by 70 feet ; Lecture Room, 70 by 3S feet ; Children's Chapel, lOS by 3S feet.



HISTORY



OF THE



FIRST BAPTIST CHUPiCH,



CHIOAG^O :

WITH THE

viicUs of M^iik ^^^ ^obtnnnt,

AND A

CATALOGUE OF ITS MEMBERS,

January 15th, 1866.



CHICAGO :

CHURCH & GOO DM AX
No, 51 La ?alle Street.

1866.



HISTORY.



In the year 1832 the American Baptist Home Mis-
sion Society was organized in the city of New York,
and among the first of its appointments was that of
the Rev. Alfred B. Freeman, to labor as a missionary
in Northern Illinois. In August, 1833, when Chicago
was a wilderness — when the Indian roamed wild and
free where now are paved streets and marble palaces,
Mr. Freeman arrived upon the field of his labors, and
reared here, upon the shores of Lake Michigan, as
much to the wondering gaze of the savage as to the
gratified vision of the few disciples then dwelling here,
the banner of the Cross. Thanks be unto God, that
banner has never been lowered, but full high advanced,
has waved above every other device of commerce, arts
and learning, gathering under its crimson folds the
emigrant Christians of every clime.

Mr. Freeman found a hospitable home in the family
of the esteemed Dr. John P. Temple, then residing in
Chicago, now of St. Louis. He prosecuted his mission



4 HISTORY OF THE

work from house to house, and seeking out the few
sheep that had strayed into this far-western wilderness,
gathered them together and broke unto them the bread
of life.

The erection of a meeting-house by the few Baptists
of Chicago, and those sympathizing with them, was com-
menced soon after Mr. Freeman began his missionary
labors. It was an humble edifice, designed both as a
place of religious worship and as a school-house, and
cost when completed the sum of six hundred dollars,
one hundred and fifty dollars of which was in arrears,
and remained a debt upon the property.

On the 12th of October, 1833, a meeting was called
of those claiming to be Baptists, with a view to the
organization of a church. Six persons were assem-
bled, holding letters from different churches ; and the
meeting adjourned to the 19th of the same month, for
the same purpose. In the meantime others of the
wandering had been found, increasing the number from
six to fifteen, and it was at this meeting that the First
Baptist Church of the city of Chicago was organized.
Not only was it the First Baptist Church of the city
of Chicago, but, as is believed, it was the First Bap-
tist Church of the North-West, north of Peoria. At
this meeting Peter "Worden was elected clerk, and
Martin D. Harmon deacon. The right hand of fellow-
ship was given by Mr. Freeman to the fourteen sur-
rounding him, and articles of faith, covenant and prac-
tice were adopted.

On the 12th of January following Mr. Freeman was
chosen pastor of the church for one year from tlie first



FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH. 7

of that month ; but alas ! before that period termi-
nated, on the 15th of December, 1834, while prosecu-
ting with unremitting toil his missionary work — seek-
ing out, not only among the people coming to this
place, but also upon the prairies around, the straying
disciples, and endeavoring to organize them into
churches, the good man ceased from his labors and
entered upon that rest that remains for the people of
God. He passed away amid his usefulness and prom-
ise, sending the comforting message to his revered
father : '^ I die at my post, and in my Master's work."
His remains now repose in the old cemetery of the
city of Chicago, where, though hitherto unmarked,
they will soon be designated by a beautiful and appro-
priate monument, secured by the recent liberal contri-
butions of members of the denomination.

During his brief connection with the church there
were added to its membership of fifteen, twelve by
letter and four by baptism. The ordinance of baptism
was administered by Mr. Freeman, in the waters of
Lake Michigan. The administrator and the candidate
going down into the water, amid the quiet of the Sab-
bath — not broken then, as now — people of all sects
gathering upon the shore, and little groups of wonder-
ing Indians looking on from afar, presented a scene of
touching solemnity and interest.

t Five churches had sprung up on the surrounding
prairies, as the immediate fruits of Mr. Freeman's
untiring labors ; and the fatigue and exposure attend-
ing a journey to one of the outposts was the occasion
of his untimely death.

4



8 }IIr?TORV OF THE

III July, 1835, the Rev, I. T. Hintoii was installed
as the second pastor of this church, and a worthy suc-
cessor his labors proved him to be. Previous to this
tune efforts had been made to secure a more convenient
place of worship, and t^YO members of the church had
been sent east, to solicit aid. A lot w^as procured on
Madison street, between Lasalle and Wells, and the
foundation of a house laid, thirty-five by fifty feet.
Subsequently this location was abandoned, mainly on
the ground of its remoteness from the center of popu-
lation, and a lot \vas donated by the State from the
canal lands, under the provisions of the law for dedi-
cation of lots, in towns situated on those lands, to
public purposes. This lot was located at the corner
of Washington and Lasalle streets, being one hundred
and eighty by eight}^ feet.

In the year 1836 Mr. Hinton was sent east, to soli-
cit aid for the erection of a house of worship, and on
his return reported the net proceeds of his mission to
be i^ 8 46. 48. Encouraged by this assistance, the foun-
dation of a building w^as laid on the front part of the
lot given to them, and some of the woodwork prepared
for the designed edifice ; but the disastrous financial
revulsion of 1836 and 1837 occurring, the church was
unable to proceed Avith their contemplated building,
and a very rude structure, on the rear of the lot,
originally put up as a temporary workshop for those
engaged on the proposed church, was fitted up, with
some additions and improvements, which continued to
be the place of worship until 1844. One of the addi-
tions was for a time, if not at present, occupied by the



FIKbT ISArilST CHURCH. 9

colored brethren of tlie Methodist church on Jackson
street.

In 1841 the Rev. Mr. Plinton closed his pcostoral
labors with the church, and removed to St. Louis. He
was succeeded, after an interval of some months, by
the Rev. C. B. Smith, who became pastor of the
church in September, 1842. The next j^ear the pas-
torate became vacant, and a number of members, in all
thirty-two, withdrew, and formed the Second Baptist
or Tabernacle Church.

In August, 1843, the Rev. E. H. Hamlin was called
to the pastorate ; and in January, 1844, the church
resolved to undertake the erection of a new house of
worship, and through many difficulties and sacrifices
on the part of the members, succeeded in erecting a
brick edifice fifty-five by eighty feet, at the cost of
about $5,000, which was occupied until it was burnt
in 1852. The Rev. E. H. Hamlin having resigned
in July, 1845, in October following the Rev. Miles
Sandford was chosen his successor. Mr. Sandford
continued his ministerial labors about two years, when
he resigned, to take the oversight of a church in Mas-
sachusetts.

He was succeeded, in September, 1848, by the fifth
pastor of the church, Rev. Elisha Tucker, D. D., who
came direct from the Oliver-street Baptist Church of
New York city — a man than whom, without dispar
aging others, none more noble, more devoted or more
beloved ever adorned the pastoral office of this church
Tall and well developed physically, with a lofty brow
a prominent and pleasing eye, and a genial counte



10 HISTORY OF THE



nance, Dr. Tucker impressed favorably all who cwne
into contact with him. In the street, in pastoral
visitation, and in the social circle, he was accessible,
cordial and afifable, without lowering the dignity of his
office or rendering himself obnoxious to the reproach
of inconsistency between his daily walk and conver-
sation, and the gospel he sought to inculcate. Of
lofty bearing in the pulpit, having a well-trained and
harmonious voice, earnest in manner, eloquent in dis-
course, speaking from behind the Cross, he enchained
the attention and carried conviction to his hearers.
But alas ! the arduous and responsible duties of his
office in connection with the Oliver-street Church, had
undermined the foundation of his constitution ; and
although laboring with great energy and success in
connection with this church for two and a half years,
he was at length obliged to yield to the encroachments
of a disease which, culminating at length in paralysis,
removed him to the spirit land.

Dr. Tucker assumed the pastoral charge of the
church in September, 1848, and in the spring of 1851
tendered his resignation. This the church unani-
mously declined to accept, but proffered him a leave
of absence for six months, in the hope that by travel
and relaxation he might regain his declining health,
and be enabled to resume his ministerial labors. But
Vain hope I the glorious gospel of the blessed God,
which he had so much loved to commend to dying men,
was his to proclaim no more. During his connection
with the church, two j^ears and a half, as many had
been added to her membership as in the nearly eigh-
teen years of her previous history.



FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH. 11

For the year and a half succeeding the resignation
of Dr. Tucker the pulpit was supplied by Rev. Mr.
Page, Rev. "W. C. Brown, and the Rev. J. R. Balme,
until October, 1852, when the Rev. J. C. Burroughs,
now the President of the University of Chicago, was
chosen pastor. Immediately thereafter, on the twen-
tieth day of the same month, the church building was
destroyed by fire, while workmen were employed in
repairing the roof. It occurred at noon ; and though
apparently it might have been saved, yet so rapid was
the progress of the flames, that before efficient aid
could be obtained all hope of preserving it was lost,
and the house was soon a smouldering heap of ruins.
The next evening a special church meeting was called,
at which it was resolved to take immediate measures
to rebuild a house of worship on the same ground, and
a committee of twelve was appointed to procure sub-
scriptions for this purpose. Subscriptions were raised
and such progress made as to enable the church to lay
the foundations and place the corner-stone on the 4th
of July, 1853, and on the 12th day of November fol-
lowing the house was dedicated to the cause of Christ.
The cost of the edifice was about $30,000.

The Rev. J. C. Burroughs remained pastor of the
church until May, 1856, when he tendered his resig-
nation and entered upon the great work of rearing a
University of learning in our city. It was to his
careful management and unremitting labors that a large
tract of land, comprising some ten acres, in the sub-
urbs of the city, were secured from the donor, the
lamented Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, to the Baptist



12 HISTORY OF THK

denomination, after they had been proffered to another:
and by the united efforts of Rev. Dr. Burrouglis and
Rev. J. B. Olcott a large subscription was obtained,
and the wing of a University building reared. Re-
cently, through the labors of Professor A. H. Mixer,
also a member of this church, large subscriptions have
been made for the Observatory and main building of
the University, both of which are noAv being erected ;
promising to make it one of the largest, best appointed
and best endowed seats of learning on the continent.

In this great work this church has borne a princi-
pal part, and her members, while colonizing in various
parts of the city, organizing new churches, erecting
houses of worship, planting mission Sabbath schools,
and aiding in sending the gospel to the heathen, have
been permitted largely to aid in providing for the edu-
cation of the young men of the North- West.

About two hundred persons joined the church while
Dr. Burroughs was connected with it as pastor. The
State anniversaries of the Baptist denomination, as
also the American Baptist Missionary Union, were
entertained by this church during that period.

Just before Dr. Burroughs resigned the pastorate
of the church, the Edina Place, now Wabash Avenue
Church, was organized in the south division of the
city, almost exclusively from the members of this
church.

Rev. "W. G. Howard, D. D., of the Second Baptist
Church of Rochester, New York, was chosen to suc-
ceed Mr. Burroughs, and he entered upon the pastoral
charge of the church in the latter part of Afay, 1856.



FIRST BArriST rHURCH. J 3

III September following the Union Park Cliurcli was
organized in the west division of the city, principally
from the members of this church ; and in November of
the year following the North Church was organized,
also mainly from members of this church ; and again,
in April following a church was organized at Evans-
ton, twelve miles north of the city, from members of
this church, who had removed their residence from
Chicago to that place.

Yet, notwithstanding so many had gone forth from
this church to rear the standard of the Cross upon
these four new fields of labor, the increase was such
that the groAvth of the mother church was constant
and permanent. In the early part of 1859 Dr. How^-
ard resigned his connection with the church, and
removed to New Orleans. During the period of his
ministry with us about two hundred and twenty had
united with the church.

In May, 1859, Rev. W. W. Everts, D. D., then of
the AYalnut-street Baptist Church of Louisville, Ken-
tucky, was chosen to succeed Dr. Howard, and entered
upon the pastoral charge of the church about the first
of August following, in which relation he has con-
tinued until the present time, with signal success. In
no period of the history of the church has such pro-,
gress been made in works of benevolence, in the
activity and growth of mission Sabbath-school work,
in church extension, and in educational enterprises, as
since Dr. Everts came among us. As he entered upon
the care of the church, he found her laboring under
orreat financial embarrassments. A debt of 814,000



14 HISTORY OK THE

weighed like an incubus upon all her energies, and
stayed her spiritual advancement. About one-half of
this debt was incurred in the erection of our house of
worship, and had remained a drag upon the financial
interests of the church since that time. The other
half had from the same time gradually accumulated by
deficiencies in the receipts of the church, to meet the
interest upon the principal debts, incidental assess-
ments for repairs and improvements upon the church
property, and the current expenses of the church.
The new pastor, feeling that no great spiritual pro-
gress could reasonably be expected while so heavy a
financial burden pressed upon the body, gave his best
energies at once to provide for its liquidation ; and
having laid his plan before the brethren, and gained
their approval of it, at the close of a discourse on the
ever-memorable Sabbath, September 25th, 1859, from
the text, " The love of Christ constraineth us," he
made an appeal to the congregation present to dis-
charge this indebtedness. God heard the prayers of
the church, and touched the hearts of the people, so
that in the brief period of forty minutes pledges were
handed in to the amount of about $12,000. On the
following Tuesday evening a reunion of the church
and society was had for mutual congratulation over
the success of the effort thus made, and there, amid
the jubilations of the assembly, the balance of the
$14,000 was fully made up — a consummation most
devoutly wished — most thankfully achieved. Perhaps
no event of a merely temporal nature has ever trans-
pired, in the history of this church, fraught with so



FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH. 15

much of good, aud opened the way for such generous
and courageous effort in the future to advance the
cause of Christ, as tlie provision thus made for the
discharge of all her financial liabilities.

During the following year the building occupied by
the New-street Mission Sabbath- School, connected
with this church, was removed to another and more
eligible field of missionary labor. The lot upon which
it was located, together with the enlargement, improve-
ment and refurnishing the house, secured to the church
a property free from incumbrance, and of the present
value of about $5,000. The most of this Avas the
donation of a noble Christian lady, temporarily
sojourning in Chicago, to whose active benevolence
our pastor had successfully commended the enter-
prise. The school, taking the name of the donor, has
since been called and known as the Shields Mission
Sabbath School of the First Baptist Church.

During the same year the school formerly known as
the Bremer Avenue School was also removed to a new
location, and a new and beautiful house, combining the
purpose of a school-house and a church, of the present
value of $5,000, was erected. This has since been
known as the Xorth-Star School ; and while it has
gathered the children by hundreds for religious instruc-
tion, it has also, by the blessing of God, been the
happy instrumentality of bringing many more advanced
in years to a saving knowledge of Christ, and within
the fold of the church. This mission now supports a
pastor, (our esteemed brother, Rev. George L. Wrenn)
and regular services are held there on the Sabbath,



16 HISTORY OF THE

and at least one evening of each week. The North
Star and Shields Missions have both attained to great
usefulness, and are truly the glory of the church. The
superintendents and teachers of those schools have
befen principally members of the First Church.

Besides these important and prosperous mission sta-
tions, our pastor, in the year 1862j almost tinaided, so
far as the labor was concerned j and except only by the
liberal contributions to the object^ secured most eligi-
ble lots in the southern part of the city, about half a
mile north of the University, and caused to be erected
thereon a commodious and beautiful brick church — ^the
Avhole property, of the value at the present time, of
not less than §10,000. The same was dedicated to
the service of God in the spring of 1863 — a Sabbath
school, organized and conducted by members of this
church, principally. During the present year, after
the organization of a church from members of this and
the Wabash Avenue Church, under the name of the
Indiana Avenue Baptist Church, the property has been
transferred, by the formal action of this church, to
the church so organized. Rev. J. A. Smith, D. D., is
the pastor;

In 1864j leading members of the First Church, car-
rj'^ing with them the enterprise of the body, removed
to Evanston. The church in that place, which had
virtually become extinct, was resuscitated, and having
built a tasteful church edifice, and settled an able young
pastor, Rev. "W. J. Leonard, now enjoy much prosper-
ity and promise.

In addition to these important missionary enter



FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH. 17

prises, so successfully inaugurated and guarded by this
cliurch — requiring, necessarily, large and incessant
drafts upon tlie time, the toil and the money of the
membership — tlie church proper has maintained a
steady onward progress in the work of our divide
Master. No communion has for a long period oc-
curred without new members being welcomed to her
fellow^ship. The home Sabbath scJiool lias been second
to none, for several years past, in size and interest.
Feeble churches have not looked to this in vain for
timely aid ; and over and above all these, her members
have renewedly and repeatedly made munificent con-
tributions toward completing the foundations of the
University of Chicago. Over three hundred have been
added to the church since Dr. Everts became its pastor.
In the early part of the year 1864, Avhen the church
liad reached a point of usefulness unrivalled in its past
history, and when its membership was larger than at
any period since its organization, the advancing tide
of commercial enterprise, levying new demands upon
the central portions of the city, for the future theatres
of its operations, was heard surging against the walls
of the old edifice, and admonishing tlie church that the
spot so long hallowed by innumerable tender and
sacred associations must soon yield to the march of
events. The conviction had for some time past been
forced upon many of the church, that the centres of
population and business in the city were undergoing
such important changes that the time was not far dis-
tant when our place of worship must also be changed.
And now, when the announcement was made that the



18 HISTORY OF THE

Chamber of Commerce, comprising the largest business
interest of the city, had come to regard the site occu-
pied by us as the most eligible for the great Merchants'
Exchange of the city, and that a good price could be
secured for the property, it was at once resolved,
though not without sincere regrets on the part of
many, that the property should be disposed of, if an
adequate remuneration could be secured. A commit-
tee was accordingly appointed to open negotiations
with the Chamber of Commerce, which resulted in
securing an offer of $65,000 for the property, exclu-
sive of the church edifice. The church voted to accept
this proposition, and in the same action provided that
the house of worship and a portion of the $65,000
should be distributed among the other Baptist churches
of the city, which had been organized in whole or in
part from the membership of this church. The sale
and distribution having been thus resolved upon, a com-
mittee was appointed for the purpose, which after pray-
erful deliberation and mature reflection reported in
favor of the following distribution, which was adopted by
the church — a resolution having been previously formed
that at least one-third of the property should be given
to different Baptist interests of Chicago :

To such members of the church as should unite with
others in forming the Second Baptist Church, in
the west division of the city, the building and
fixtures of the former house of worship, valued at $10,000

To the North Baptist Church 6,500

" Union Park « 4,000

" Wabash Avenue " 3,000

" Berean " 1,000

' Olivet (Colored) " 500

125,000



FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH. 19

About fifty members of the First Cliurcli, residing
in the west division of the city, took their letters, and
together with the members of the Tabernacle Churcli,
organized anew society, under the name of the Second
Baptist Church. This new society caused the old
liouse of the First Church to be carefully taken down
and removed to the corner of Monroe and Morgan
streets, where it was re-erected in its former style
and arrangement, the whole costing about $20,000.
TJie Rev. E. J. Goodspeed was immediately called to
the j)astorate of this new church ; and now, although
but a few months have elapsed, the house is found too
small for the accommodation of its crowded assemblies.

The North Baptist Church, aided by the above dona-
tion, at once purchased a lot and removed their house
upon it, and are now, under the direction of their new
pastor. Rev. A. W. Tousey, moving forward more pros-
perously than at any period in their former history.

The Wabash Avenue Church, by the aid thus
secured to them, at once cancelled their pecuniary
liabilities, under which they had suffered prolonged
embarrassment, and are now themselves also, under
the new pastorate of the Rev. S. Baker, D. D., late
of "Williamsburgh, New York, entering upon a career
of unwonted prosperity and usefulness.

The Union Park Church, with the $4,000 received
by them, purchased a lot upon the corner of "Washing,
ton and Paulina streets, in the west division of the
city, and erected a new house of worship thereon, the
whole at a cost of $28,500. Rev. E. G. Taylor, late
of the Wabash Avenue Church, having accepted the



20 HISTOKY OF THE

pastorate of" tliis churcli, has entered upon liis duties,
and preaclied the dedicatory sermon of tlicir new house
on the 4th of November, 1865.

The Berean, now called the Fifth Baptist Churcli,
have made considerable improvements in their house •
many have been added to their numbers, and they are
altogether in a highly flourishing condition.

Thus the First Baptist Church have been permitted
to behold with pride and gratitude the establishment


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Online LibraryW. W. (William Wallace) EvertsCompend of Christian doctrines held by Baptists : in catechism → online text (page 1 of 5)