Churches of Miller County
Early Protestant Churches
There were very few church buildings in the county in the early days of its history. Services were held at schoolhouses, in homes, under the trees, and in brush arbors. The pioneer ministers traveled on horseback or on foot to fill their appointments. Because of their very small salaries most of them were obliged to follow some other line of work in addition to their ministry in order to make a living.
The Baptists and Cumberland Presbyterians began preaching in Miller territory about 1833. Reverends Jacob Chism and John Abbott preached to the “Hardshell” Baptists. Among the Missionary Baptists were Reverends J. N. Brockman, Andrew McCaslin, Blueford Scott, Andrew Kingery, and L. Shelton, who held services in private homes, particularly William Brockman’s, Mr. McCaslin’s, Murkey’s, and Wilkes’. This denomination built Mt. Vernon Church at the beginning of the forties, probably the first church in the county. On September 5, 1845, the first annual session of the Miller County Association of Baptist Churches was held at Gilgal; those in charge were John Brockman, moderator, Z.W. McCubbin, clerk and treasurer. The annual sermon was delivered by W.C. McCubbin. This church at Old Gilgal was located on the point of the hill at the mouth of Little Gravois Creek, just across the creek from Bagnell. John and Finis Ewing were early Cumberland Presbyterians. The Methodists sent Reverend Brashears into this region soon after the pioneer Baptists and services were held at Pleasant Mount. He was followed by Reverends Lorenzo Waugh, ______ Carnes, John D. Reed, and David Henderson. The Christian Church had an Elder in Andrew Bilyeu as early as 1836. One of the first churches of this denomination was that known as Salem Church. Reverends W. Jones and N. A. Davis were among the first prominent pastors.
According to the census of 1860 there were at that time three Baptist churches, two Christian, two Methodist, and one Union church in Miller County. In 1890 there were 59 church organizations, 44 church buildings, with accommodations for 14, 730 persons, and 4, 089 communicants. The Baptists and Disciples of Christ led in the number of church buildings. They had 14 and 13 churches, respectively. The Methodists had three churches, the Southern Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and Roman Catholics two each, and the Methodists South, Cumberland Presbyterians, and Christians, one each. In 1926 the total church membership for Miller County was 2256; the Roman Catholics were second, with 1399; the Disciples of Christ followed, with 1236; of the other bodies, the Methodist Episcopal had 209; Congregational churches 187; Churches of Christ, 135; Presbyterian churches in United States, 52; Negro Baptists, 24; all other bodies 626.
-A History of Miller County, Missouri
By Gerard Schultz, 1933